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Posts tagged with "apple"

The Art of the Apple Event

Jason Snell:

People who aren't journalists may not realize the neat trick Jobs pulled. Product announcements are basically press releases: They're publicity. They're arguably news, but they're boring news — and a cynical writer could view them as free PR for the company putting out the press release. Rewriting a press release is one of the lower forms of journalism.

Covering an Apple event didn't feel like that, and it still doesn't. It feels like an event, and when you're reporting on it, you're not rewriting a press release — you're covering something as it happens live, just as if you were in the White House briefing room during a presidential press conference. In the end, these Apple events are just product announcements — the brilliance is that the stagecraft makes them much more interesting to journalists and fans alike.

I've only ever been to one Apple event (coincidentally, where I also met Jason), and I couldn't agree more. It was a product announcement, but it felt like a surreal movie premiere full of nerds. I loved it.


Apple, FBI, and iPhone Security: A Roundup of News and Links

Apple made headlines around the world last week when Tim Cook announced, in an open letter to their customers, that Apple would oppose a court order requiring it to circumvent iOS security features. Since then, new developments in the story have broken and many have contributed with explanations of why the outcome of this battle between Apple and the FBI is significant.

Our relative silence on this topic at MacStories is not because we don't think this story is important. To the contrary, we believe it is incredibly important and we applaud the principled stand that Cook's Apple has decided to make. But we are hesitant to wade into this important debate, which can be incredibly technical, when there are far smarter minds out there who better deserve your time and attention.

To that end, we've compiled a list of useful news articles, opinion pieces, and other resources that we believe are worth a few minutes of your time.

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Apple Q1 2016 Results: $75.9 Billion Revenue, 74.8 Million iPhones, 16.1 Million iPads Sold

Apple has just published their financial results for Q1 2016 for the quarter that ended in December 2015. The company posted revenue of $75.9 billion. The company sold 16.1 million iPads, 74.8 million iPhones, and 5.3 million Macs, earning a quarterly net profit of $18.4 billion.

“Our team delivered Apple’s biggest quarter ever, thanks to the world’s most innovative products and all-time record sales of iPhone, Apple Watch and Apple TV,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “The growth of our Services business accelerated during the quarter to produce record results, and our installed base recently crossed a major milestone of one billion active devices.”

“Our record sales and strong margins drove all-time records for net income and EPS in spite of a very difficult macroeconomic environment,” said Luca Maestri, Apple’s CFO. “We generated operating cash flow of $27.5 billion during the quarter, and returned over $9 billion to investors through share repurchases and dividends. We have now completed $153 billion of our $200 billion capital return program.”

For the first time, Apple has included supplemental material alongside its financial results, noting that "in constant currency, Q1’16 revenue would have been $5 billion higher". "$100 of Apple’s non-U.S. dollar revenue in Q4’14 translates into only $85 U.S. dollars today", the company noted in a document available here.

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Google Paid Apple $1 Billion to Keep Search Bar on iPhone

Joel Rosenblatt, reporting for Bloomberg:

Google Inc. is paying Apple Inc. a hefty fee to keep its search bar on the iPhone.

Apple received $1 billion from its rival in 2014, according to a transcript of court proceedings from Oracle Corp.’s copyright lawsuit against Google. The search engine giant has an agreement with Apple that gives the iPhone maker a percentage of the revenue Google generates through the Apple device, an attorney for Oracle said at a Jan. 14 hearing in federal court.

It's not surprising at all that Google is paying Apple for the benefit of being the default search engine on iOS, but this is the first time it has been confirmed, and a dollar figure provided. But it is also an awkward revelation for Apple, which has recently started to more aggressively position itself as the company that protects its user's privacy. Remember Tim Cook's note on "Apple's commitment to your privacy"?

A few years ago, users of Internet services began to realize that when an online service is free, you’re not the customer. You’re the product. But at Apple, we believe a great customer experience shouldn’t come at the expense of your privacy.

Our business model is very straightforward: We sell great products. We don’t build a profile based on your email content or web browsing habits to sell to advertisers. We don’t “monetize” the information you store on your iPhone or in iCloud. And we don’t read your email or your messages to get information to market to you. Our software and services are designed to make our devices better. Plain and simple.

Apple's subtle (or perhaps not so subtle) privacy dig at Google looks a bit absurd and hypocritical in light of this court transcript. Apple may not build a profile on its users to sell to advertisers, but it lets Google do that (by default) and then profits from Google's actions.

Unsurprisingly, Google and Apple weren't happy about the disclosure by an Oracle attorney and sought to seal and redact the transcript. As Bloomberg reports;

The specific financial terms of Google’s agreement with Apple are highly sensitive to both Google and Apple,” Google said in its Jan. 20 filing. “Both Apple and Google have always treated this information as extremely confidential.”

The transcript vanished without a trace from electronic court records at about 3 p.m. Pacific standard time with no indication that the court ruled on Google’s request to seal it.


Apple Opening Europe’s First iOS App Development Center in Naples, Italy

Interesting announcement from Apple this morning: the company will open the first iOS App Development Center in Europe – the second globally, as noted by VentureBeat – in Naples, Italy:

Apple today announced the creation of Europe’s first iOS App Development Center in Italy, to give students practical skills and training on developing iOS apps for the world’s most innovative and vibrant app ecosystem.

The iOS App Development Center, to be located at a partner institution in Naples, will support teachers and provide a specialized curriculum preparing thousands of future developers to be part of Apple’s thriving developer community. In addition, Apple will work with partners around Italy who deliver developer training to complement this curriculum and create additional opportunities for students. Apple expects to expand this program to other countries around the world.

Details are scarce at this point, but according to Repubblica, Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi lauded Apple's commitment to innovation for "over 600 people" (a figure only Renzi shared) and announced he is going meet with Tim Cook tomorrow to discuss the initiative.


Apple Acquires AI Company Emotient

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on Apple's latest acquisition of AI company Emotient (confirmed by Apple):

Apple Inc. has purchased Emotient Inc., a startup that uses artificial-intelligence technology to read people’s emotions by analyzing facial expressions.

It isn’t clear what Apple plans to do with Emotient’s technology, which was primarily sold to advertisers to help assess viewer reactions to their ads. Doctors also have tested it to interpret signs of pain among patients unable to express themselves, and a retailer used it to monitor shoppers’ facial expressions in store aisles, the company had said.

As I argued in a section of my iOS 9 review last year, my experience with Apple services is that, when it comes to intelligence, they've consistently been less proactive and slower than Google's. Two examples: I can search for photos by subject in Google Photos, and the Google mobile app sends me time to leave alerts that actually make sense.

The differences in intelligence between Google and Apple come with separate sets of trade-offs. The question for Apple should be: are there more ways to leverage AI to provide useful services while still prioritizing user privacy? How can Siri and iOS' Intelligence features expand without comprising on Apple's vision? Is that even possible without having to rely on cloud-based deep learning for user data in the long term? Is Apple considering new approaches that are somewhat in the middle?

It's from such standpoint that I consider Apple's AI acquisitions (Perceptio, VocallQ, and now Emotient), and it'll be interesting to see what iOS 10 holds in this area.


Apple Names Jeff Williams Chief Operating Officer, Phil Schiller Adds App Store Responsibilities

This morning, Apple announced some major changes to its executive team:

Apple today announced that Jeff Williams has been named chief operating officer and Johny Srouji is joining Apple’s executive team as senior vice president for Hardware Technologies. Phil Schiller, senior vice president of Worldwide Marketing, will expand his role to include leadership of the revolutionary App Store across all Apple platforms. Apple also announced that Tor Myhren will join Apple in the first calendar quarter of 2016 as vice president of Marketing Communications, reporting to CEO Tim Cook.

Jeff Williams has been with the company since 1998 and has overseen the entire supply chain since 2010. Johny Srouji joined Apple in 2008 to lead the development of the A4, the company's first system on a chip.

Also of note, Phil Schiller is now taking additional responsibilities for the App Store:

Cook continued, “In addition, Phil is taking on new responsibilities for advancing our ecosystem, led by the App Store, which has grown from a single, groundbreaking iOS store into four powerful platforms and an increasingly important part of our business. And I’m incredibly happy to welcome Tor Myhren, who will bring his creative talents to our advertising and marcom functions.”


With added responsibility for the App Store, Phil Schiller will focus on strategies to extend the ecosystem Apple customers have come to love when using their iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Phil now leads nearly all developer-related functions at Apple, in addition to his other marketing responsibilities including Worldwide Product Marketing, international marketing, education and business marketing. More than 11 million developers around the world create apps for Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, OS X, watchOS and tvOS — as well as compatible hardware and other accessories, and customers have downloaded more than 100 billion apps across those platforms.

The App Store has long been criticized by the developer community for lacking proper accountability and a public figure in charge of the platform. It'll be interesting to see how the App Store platforms will evolve and adapt following Schiller's extended role.


A Transcript of Apple’s Q4 2015 Earnings Call

Serenity Caldwell and Jason Snell, writing for iMore, have already put together a transcript of Apple's Q4 2015 earnings call. This is where you want to go to get all the details shared by Tim Cook and CFO Luca Maestri earlier today, such as this tidbit on the iPhone Upgrade Program:

Rod: On the Upgrade Program, can you envision a time ever, maybe in the U.S. or elsewhere, where you would not have to come into an Apple Store to take advantage of the upgrade? You might be able to do that somewhere else?

Tim: That's a really good question. We actually solved that problem back in 2007, but then quickly had to change it in order to scale in a major way. And so that is something that we is always in our mind, that one day from a customer experience point of view, we would like to make things as easy as possible for the customer. And to some degree, you can already do that with buying online. But there are many different plans and so forth that people buy that they have to come in for. Yes, over time we'd love to have that automated, working with our partners with service providers.