Slick new gadgets are usually the stars of Apple’s splashy events. But on Monday, the company will put the spotlight on subscriptions and services.
A star-studded new TV service is expected to headline Apple’s event at the Steve Jobs Theater in Cupertino, California. Apple will likely unveil a news subscription service built into a reimagined Apple News, as well as one bundle to rule them all, tying all the services together with Apple Music. Plus it’s always possible for the show to wrap up with “one more thing.”
In other words, Apple is taking on a new field of rivals — just as two of Apple’s existing competitors are crying foul.
In the last two weeks, Spotify and Kaspersky Lab have filed complaints with regulators alleging Apple stifles services that directly compete with its own. The two companies, a streaming music giant and a cybersecurity mainstay, made similar allegations of Apple abusing the marketplace power of its App Store to strangle rivals’ features, promotions or pricing.
(Apple rejected Spotify’s claims and hasn’t commented on Kaspersky’s. Apple declined to comment for this article.)
These kinds of disputes over antitrust concerns seem wonky and far-removed, but they could affect apps and services you use every day. They could trigger changes to how easily you can buy services from Apple rivals and how much you pay for them. And with Apple about to widen the kinds of services already offered by companies on its platforms, more of your favorite apps could be sucked in.
Top 5 things we want from Apple’s TV service
Apple’s dominance hasn’t gone unnoticed. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, a Democratic presidential nominee, has called for the breakup of tech titans including Google, Facebook and, yes, Apple.
“What we’re really facing here is an existential crisis of … a new economy,” said Rivka Gewirtz Little, a payment strategies analyst for IDC. “We are living in a marketplace economy where innovation is unending, but we still haven’t answered the questions of monetizing it with fairness.”
Another powerful regulator has shown she’s also listening to gripes against Apple.
Margrethe Vestager is the EU’s competition commissioner. You may know her from the billions of euros in fines the EU has slapped on Google. A day after Spotify filed its complaint against Apple to her office, Vestager tweeted about the “strong message” Spotify’s chief was sending.
Even though these complaints are being filed in Europe or Russia, action against Apple could affect customers around the world.
Would Apple “want to have two different systems in different jurisdictions? That’s just not how the internet economy is being set up,” said Barbara Sicalides, an antitrust lawyer at the firm Pepper Hamilton.
Team of rivals
Apple and Spotify are the world’s two most dominant forces in streaming music. With 96 million paying customers, Spotify is the world’s biggest. Apple Music, with more than 50 million subscribers, is next.
But Apple’s expected services Monday could bring it into more direct competition with a flock of other services you use.
Netflix, Hulu and other subscription video services will be in Apple’s competitive crosshairs as it releases its $1 billion-plus slate of original shows from the likes of J.J. Abrams, Brie Larson, Oprah Winfrey and Reese Witherspoon. Offering add-on video subscriptions would bring Apple head-to-head with Amazon Prime Video and its Channels model — even bumping against traditional partners like wireless company AT&T, which offers a VRV bundle of niche genre streaming services.
And Apple’s news service, which is expected to offer a single subscription that unlocks access to a range of magazines and newspapers, would mean Apple vies for membership dollars against any subscription-based publisher that doesn’t participate in Apple’s bundle.
Don’t expect to read the New York Times there, for one: The newspaper’s CEO said he was “leery” of the concept.
One of his misgivings — not wanting to give up part of the Times’ $15-a-month digital subscription — feeds into one of Spotify’s main accusations of how Apple stacks the deck against competitors: the App Store’s 30 percent fee.
It’s something lots of services gripe about. For any digital good or service sold in an iOS app, Apple takes a 30 percent cut. That means anytime Spotify signs up a new $10-a-month Premium member inside its iPhone app, Apple takes $3. That fee drops to 15 percent once a subscription lasts longer than a year.
Spotify says that because Apple Music doesn’t face the same tax, Apple has an unfair pricing advantage: Spotify has to choose between charging iPhone customers $3 more or live with earning 30 percent less than its biggest competitor for every iOS member.
Google’s Android mobile system has a powerful marketplace too, Google Play, and it also extracts similar fees. But services can release apps for Android outside Google’s marketplace — known as sideloading — more readily than for Apple. Epic Games does that with Fortnite, which is why the insanely popular game is available in the App Store but not Google Play. Tim Sweeney, the CEO of Epic, has called Apple’s charges a “parasitic loss.”
Politics aside, the solution is to open up iOS to secure software installation from the web and other sources.
That way, the App Store can reflect Apple’s values on the merit of content, without forcing the outright censorship of content they disagree with.— Tim Sweeney (@TimSweeneyEpic) August 10, 2018
But Apple’s response to Spotify’s complaint underscores an uneasy point if you’re a fan of these rival services. “Spotify wouldn’t be the business they are today without the App Store ecosystem,” Apple said. Spotify wants to “avoid contributing to maintaining that ecosystem for the next generation of app entrepreneurs.”
One part of that is indisputable: Spotify wouldn’t be a giant without the App Store’s gateway to 900 million active iPhones. Spotify’s recourse against Apple has been to simply stop selling in-app subscriptions. But for services still aspiring to the scale of Spotify, opting out of the App Store may not be an option.
The second of Spotify’s complaints last week, echoed by Kaspersky’s claim Wednesday, may also unsettle fans of Apple’s soon-to-be competitors. Both say Apple withholds their app updates as a way of dulling the rival’s competitive edge — using its App Store policies to crimp features or prevent you from knowing about bargains.
Spotify alleges that starting in 2016, as a way to kneecap a rival while Apple Music was ramping up, Apple began rejecting Spotify’s app updates. Last year, for example, Apple rejected the app because the word “free” was in Spotify’s app screenshots on the App Store, it said.
And according to Kaspersky, after iOS rolled out its own parental controls, Apple prohibited a type of coding that let competitors’ apps offer similar features. Kaspersky Safe Kids was hosted in the App Store without incident for nearly three years, the company said, until last year’s iOS 12 update meant Apple itself became a rival.
Apple has dismissed Spotify’s claim. “The only time we have requested adjustments is when Spotify has tried to sidestep the same rules that every other app follows,” it said. Apple hasn’t responded to Kaspersky’s allegation.
“There’s a level of closed-off protectiveness and lockout that Apple has long functioned on,” Little said. “You can’t get other apps on the damn thing.”
That could mean challenges ahead for video and news apps on your iPhone. And maybe others, depending on what Apple has in store with “one more thing.”
Foxconn Said to Shift Some Apple Production to Vietnam to Minimise China Risk
Foxconn is moving some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam from China at the request of Apple Inc, said a person with knowledge of the plan, as the US firm diversifies production to minimise the impact of a Sino-US trade war.The development comes as the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump encourages US firms…
Foxconn is moving some iPad and MacBook assembly to Vietnam from China at the request of Apple Inc, said a person with knowledge of the plan, as the US firm diversifies production to minimise the impact of a Sino-US trade war.The development comes as the outgoing administration of US President Donald Trump encourages US firms to shift production out of China. During Trump’s tenure, the United States has targeted made-in-China electronics for higher import tariffs, and restricted supplies of components produced using US technology to Chinese firms it deems a national security risk.Taiwanese manufacturers, wary of being caught up in the tit-for-tat trade war, have moved or are considering moving some production from China to countries such as Vietnam, Mexico and India.Foxconn is building assembly lines for Apple’s iPad tablet and MacBook laptop at its plant in Vietnam’s northeastern Bac Giang province, to come online in the first half of 2021, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was private.The lines will also take some production from China, the person said, without elaborating how much production will shift.”The move was requested by Apple,” the person said. “It wants to diversify production following the trade war.”Foxconn said in statement: “As a matter of company policy, and for reasons of commercial sensitivity, we do not comment on any aspect of our work for any customer or their products”.Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.Taiwan’s Foxconn, formally Hon Hai Precision Industry, on Tuesday announced a $270 million (roughly Rs. 1,200 crores) investment to set up a new subsidiary called FuKang Technology – a move the person said was aimed at supporting the Vietnam expansion.The contract manufacturer also plans to make television sets at the Vietnam plant for clients including Japan’s Sony, with the start of such production slated for late 2020 to early 2021, the person said. Sony declined to comment.The factory will also make other electronic products such as computer keyboards, the person said.Shifting iPad production to Vietnam will mark the first time Foxconn has assembled the device outside of China.The firm already plans to spend up to $1 billion (roughly Rs. 7,400 crores) expanding an iPhone assembly plant in India as “strongly requested” by Apple to diversify production beyond China, people with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters in July.Foxconn and peers such as Pegatron are also considering building plants in Mexico, people with knowledge of the matter said, as Washington promotes near-shoring production.Foxconn Chairman Liu Young-way in August told investors the Sino-US trade war had split the world into two, saying his firm aimed to provide “two sets of supply chains”.Other iPad assemblers include Taiwan’s Compal Electronics and China’s BYD Electronic International.© Thomson Reuters 2020iPhone 12 Pro Series Is Amazing, but Why Is It So Expensive in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Surface Laptop 4, Surface Pro 8 Images Allegedly Leak, Tipped to Launch in January Next Year
Surface Laptop 4 and Surface Pro 8 alleged images have been shared by a tipster on Twitter. The images seem to be from a US FCC filing with the two Microsoft laptops placed next to a ruler for measurements. The tipster also shared model numbers for the two laptops with the Surface Laptop 4 reportedly…
Surface Laptop 4 and Surface Pro 8 alleged images have been shared by a tipster on Twitter. The images seem to be from a US FCC filing with the two Microsoft laptops placed next to a ruler for measurements. The tipster also shared model numbers for the two laptops with the Surface Laptop 4 reportedly having model number 1950 and the Surface Pro 8 coming with model number 1960. Additionally, a report states that the two laptops will be launched as early as January next year.The two images shared by tipster Cozyplanes on Twitter are said to be of the rumoured Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 and the Surface Pro 8. They look like images taken from an FCC listing and show the back of the Surface Laptop 4 and the front of the Surface Pro 8. There also seems to be an LTE variant of the Surface Pro 8 that is said to carry model number 1961.The leaked image of the Surface Laptop 4 doesn’t really provide any information other than the black colour for the back panel, rounded edges, and a Microsoft logo. Similarly, the alleged leaked image for the Surface Pro 8 shows the front of the laptop with thick bezels as seen previously on Surface Pro laptops, a white back panel, and some grooves around the body.Additionally, a report by Windows Central states that the Surface Laptop 4 and Surface Pro 8 could launch as early as January 2021. The two laptops could feature Intel 11th generation processors with Intel Iris Xe graphics. It adds that the Surface Laptop 4 will come with AMD variants as well. Further, Microsoft may start releasing the Surface Duo in more markets after the Surface devices launch. Lastly, there might be a black variant of the Surface Go 2 that might launch in January, as per the report.Microsoft has not shared any information on the Surface Laptop 4 or the Surface Pro 8. They could come with iterative upgrades compared to the current generation models without any major external hardware changes.Will Apple Silicon Lead to Affordable MacBooks in India? We discussed this on Orbital, our weekly technology podcast, which you can subscribe to via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, or RSS, download the episode, or just hit the play button below.
Xbox Series X restock inventory for Black Friday: Buy from Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy and Target – CNET
This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family. Just this month, Microsoft debuted the Xbox Series X ($500) and its little brother, the Xbox Series S ($300). But just like the equally impressive PS5, they’re more or less…
This story is part of Holiday Gift Guide 2020, CNET’s gift picks with expert advice, reviews and recommendations for the latest tech gifts for you and your family.
Just this month, Microsoft debuted the Xbox Series X ($500) and its little brother, the Xbox Series S ($300). But just like the equally impressive PS5, they’re more or less impossible to get hold of. That’s too bad, because the Xbox Series X is a mighty gaming beast. Hook it up to your TV and it offers nearly full compatibility with the Xbox One gaming library, smooth 4K gaming and the ability to pause and resume up to four titles at once. But even though the inventory landscape has been bleak so far, there may still be some opportunities to get a console in the coming days. While most retailers haven’t been particularly forthcoming about when they expect to have more units for sale, a few have been more upfront. Walmart, for example, has been keeping customers informed about exactly when it’s dropping new inventory via Twitter. The last inventory drop at Walmart happened on Wednesday (Thanksgiving Eve) and we’re waiting for Walmart’s next announcement on Twitter.Walmart isn’t the only retailer being open about their inventory. Antonline is doing much the same, just with less notice. The retailer is tweeting availability at the time of drop, engaging directly with customers and gamers. An Antonline representative also said, “We have a strict one-per-customer policy and are doing many checks to get these into the hands of real gamers and not scalpers.” Here’s Antonline’s most recent tweet about a drop. As you can see, you’ll probably want to follow the retailer for the tweets to be useful:Best Buy and GameStop are also teasing Xbox availability for Black Friday week, but without any specific details. Unlike Sony, which conducted an online-only launch for the PS5, Microsoft stocked the shelves both online and in stores. But as you scour the web and brick-and-mortar stores for inventory, temper your expectations: They’re nowhere to be found and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better: Microsoft is now saying that Xbox inventory could be tight through April 2021. If you still want to try your luck, here’s a list of the major retailers selling the Xbox Series X. Our advice is to seek out the $500 retail price, and avoid those pricey retailer bundles (which include extraneous controllers, accessories and games).
Best Buy was the last retailer standing back in the preorder days of September, but now stands ready for your Xbox Series X purchase as inventory allows.
Amazon is selling the Xbox Series X and the less expensive Series S from this same product page.
Walmart does a solid job of noting availability windows for PS5 and Xbox on its Twitter feed. You might also want to visit the retailer’s Xbox landing page for both new consoles.
GameStop had touted “very limited number of Xbox Series X and S console bundles for purchase” but those are currently sold out.
This is Target’s product page for the Xbox Series X.
This is where you can purchase the Xbox Series X at Newegg when the retailer has inventory.
If you want to get the latest on the Xbox Series X, there’s probably nowhere better than Microsoft’s own Xbox Series X home page. Here you’ll find the latest specs, announced game titles, details on the new controller and more.
Are you already getting desperate? Are you willing to pay a premium of hundreds of dollars over the list price? Listen, we wouldn’t do this and we don’t recommend you do it, either. But if you want to take that path, StockX is a reputable eBay-style site that will let you buy and sell new Xbox and PS5 models — as long as you’re willing to pay upwards of $750.
Xbox Series X and Series S offer a fine-tuned, streamlined…
Black Friday and Cyber Monday 2020
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