Apple Watch Takes Center Stage Amid iPhone Excitement

In Apple’s universe, it’s usually iPhone news and rumors that takes center stage. But this week, it’s Apple Watch that hogged the attention.

First, a report said the Apple Watch come with a new feature that would allow it to connect to cellular networks without having to be tethered to an iPhone. It was quickly followed by an analyst report providing more information about the LTE chip. And most recently, a report detailed how many Apple Watches the company may sell this year.

 Story image for Apple from Fortune

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But the news didn’t end on the wrist. There was also talk this week of Apple’s (AAPL, -0.21%) efforts in entertainment, and surprisingly, it mulling over a change to the design of App Store icon after years of leaving the image alone.

Read on for a quick look at this week’s biggest Apple news:

This is Fortune’s weekly roundup of the biggest Apple news this week.

  1. The next Apple Watch, which could be announced in September, may come with an LTE connection, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo told investors this week. The feature would provide Apple Watches with a cellular connection, eliminating the need for it to be linked to an iPhone for an Internet connection. It would be the first Apple Watch to come with LTE since the smartwatch was introduced in 2015.
  2. Just a day later, Kuo wrote another note to investors to clarify that the LTE compatibility won’t mean that Apple Watch will be capable of placing and receiving calls on its own, as some users had hoped. Instead, the LTE connection will only allow for data transfers, meaning people who want to place calls through the Watch must tether it to an iPhone.
  3. Although Apple won’t reveal the number of Apple Watches it sells, unidentified suppliers told supply chain news site DigiTimes on Friday that the company is expected to ship 15 million units in 2017. That figure could jump to 20 million in 2018, the suppliers say.
  4. In response to last weekend’s Charlottesville, Va. rally and violence, Apple this week stopped allowing far-right sites integrate Apple Pay in websitesthat used the mobile-payment service to take payment for merchandise. According to a report, Apple blocked access to Apple Pay on three white supremacist websites. It was part of a broader effort by Apple to speak out against hateful speech and violence.
  5. Apple CEO Tim Cook blasted President Donald Trump this week for his comments following Charlottesville. Cook said that he didn’t agree “with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.” Cook also said that Apple would donate $1 million to both the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League.
  6. Apple has allocated $1 billion in its budget to acquiring original video content, according to The Wall Street Journal. Apple will try to buy shows to bolster a video service the company is reportedly working on that would compete against Netflix and Amazon Video. The Journal‘s sources said Apple wants to use the money to produce 10 TV shows.

One more thing…Apple has used the same App Store icon, featuring an “A” made up of a pencil, paintbrush, and ruler, for years. The new design features three sticks all arranged in an A. It’s a simple change, but it’s one that people have been chatting about on social media all week. And some are not too happy.


Apple has an idea for car sensors that could drastically reduce crashes

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

Getty Images
Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, California.

Apple has scoped out an idea for Bluetooth sensors that help cars communicate with each other, according to an updated patent published on Thursday.

Sensors, likely Bluetooth short-range wireless technology, would scan the surroundings, communicating with other cars, sensors and a GPS system, updating a drivers’ dashboard display to reflect obstacles like ambulances or cars passing.

The patent doesn’t describe the technology as a self-driving car, but rather, compares it to a souped-up version of parking sensors blind-spot detection systems that are already commonplace in cars today.

Source: USPTO

Just because a technology is patented doesn’t mean it will ever see the light outside of Apple’s headquarters — indeed, most patented technologies are never commercialized and this might not be either.

And the idea of vehicle-to-vehicle communication isn’t new: The CAR 2 CAR Communication Consortium was founded in 2002. Broadcom, for instance, has already been working on similar technology for years.Qualcomm has several solutions, incorporating Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and 3G/4G LTE.

Apple did not immediately return a request for comment.

Still, it makes sense for Apple to be doubling down on this type of technology for a few reasons.

Apple CEO Tim Cook has said that the company is investing heavily in building autonomous systems — and one major application of that technology is cars. Apple already has a modified mobile operating system, CarPlay, that’s designed to be used in the car. As autonomous vehicles take over more of the drivers’ traditional duties, systems like CarPlay could be more widely used.

Source: USPTO

Apple is also interested in improving wireless connections in general. With its latest wireless earbuds, AirPods, Apple revealed a new W1 chipto improve performance. While it’s a bit of a leap to draw a line between the two, one of the inventors on Apple’s automobile patent lists his occupation as iOS Bluetooth engineer. Not to mention that a recently disbanded automotive sensor company, Pearl Automation, was flush with former Apple engineers.

If Apple does build the fabled iCar, it may actually be required to have this type of vehicle-to-vehicle communication system. A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposal would require vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems, predicting the technology could “prevent or reduce the severity of up to 80 percent of non-alcohol-related crashes.”


3 Funds That Crush Apple And Pay 9%+ Income

I write on high yield assets that deliver a reliable income stream. Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.

Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg

If you’ve held Apple (AAPL) for a long time, you’re probably feeling pretty smug. And you should—the stock isway up over just about any time period and has nearly doubled in the last five years:

Apple’s Sparkling Performance

Clearly, Apple is an amazing stock. But what if I told you we can top that 96.3% gain in the next five years?

All we have to do is go someplace most investors aren’t. I’m talking about high-yielding—and almost totally ignored—closed-end funds.

The three I want to show you today are the PIMCO Dynamic Income Fund (PDI), the Tekla Life Sciences Investors Fund (HQL) and the Western Asset Mortgage Defined Opportunity Fund (DMO).

Because here’s something that might surprise you—they’re all beating Apple, and not by a little bit.

Apple Gets Schooled

Before I get to why these funds are soaring, let me show you three reasons why it’s better to buy into them than Apple.

#1: You Get Paid Upfront

Let’s cut right to the chase. These funds are better because they pay out more in dividends.

Apple’s dividend yield is a measly 1.6%. So even if you own $1 million of Apple stock, you’d get just $1,333 in monthly cash income. That’s poverty wages for a millionaire—ridiculous!

These 3 funds are in another league entirely.

HQL pays a 9.9% dividend, and DMO is paying 11.3%. PDI pays a tad less, at 9%, but it also has a habit of paying massive special dividends at the end of the year. I’ve written before that PDI’s special dividends will likely shrink in the future, but even without them this fund boasts a massive cash payout.

And if you put all 3 of these income studs in a $1 million portfolio, you’d trigger $8,417 in monthly dividend payments (even better, two of these CEFs—PDI and DMO—actually pay dividends monthly, just like 4 other high-yield investments I recommended a couple months ago).

That’s a six-figure income that you can get passively—without selling a single stock! Apple can’t hold a candle to these funds’ massive payouts.

#2: Safety Through Diversification

With Apple, you’re buying a great company. But you’re just buying one company.

With PDI, HQL and DMO, you’re getting exposure to hundreds of companies. And while all of them are smaller than Apple, many of them are bargains because they get a lot less attention than Cupertino’s fruit company.

And this extra layer of safety goes beyond that.

Because all 3 funds buy some combination of stocks, bonds and private equity stakes—meaning there’s upside, some insulation from a market correction and exposure to investments that most folks just can’t buy. This broad base is a big reason for these funds’ gangbuster returns.

#3: They Can’t Wait to Put Cash in Your Pocket

One of the problems with companies like Apple is that it’s in no rush to return profits to investors. While Apple has a profit margin of 20.9%, investors are only getting that 1.6% dividend yield!

That’s partly because Apple wants to keep that money and invest it in new ventures. But it also means Apple has $257 billion in cash it isn’t using for anything—and it isn’t getting much of a return, considering interest rates are near zero!

That isn’t Apple’s fault; it’s a complicated story, but a mix of tax codes and an overvalued venture capital market make it hard for Apple to make a lot of savvy acquisitions.

The CEFs I prefer don’t have either problem. Since they focus on returning as much capital to investors as possible while still investing in growing ventures, we get a bigger portion of the fund’s profits than we’d get with Apple. Plus we get our share immediately in the form of cold, hard cash.

Finally, these funds are no slouches in a place where Apple fanboys and girls think the company has the market cornered: innovation. The people managing these funds are specialists who run them as if they were managing actual companies.

Tekla and Western Asset Management hire industry experts to make investments in very specialized and highly complicated sectors and assets—things your typical stock picker is not going to pick up on. That, again, makes their funds act a lot more like companies than diversified mutual funds or ETFs.

The bottom line?

I like to think of funds like these as Apple+. You’re getting access to top-notch experts making wise bets on the future, just like you would with Tim Cook’s company. But you’re also getting a far bigger income stream, much more diversification and superior returns. That’s why I like CEFs much more than regular stocks—and you should, too.

Disclosure: none

Michael Foster is the Lead Research Analyst for Contrarian Outlook. For more great income ideas, click here for our latest report “7 Great Dividend Growth Stocks for a Secure Retirement.”


Tim Cook’s Charlottesville email to Apple employees: “Hate is a cancer”

The Apple CEO sent an email to employees about the events that took place in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend that saw one woman killed at a white supremacist rally, reports BuzzfeedIn the email, Cook said “hate is a cancer” and that he “disagree[s] with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights.” Cook also announced Apple will give $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. You can read his full email below:

Story image for Apple from Reuters


Like so many of you, equality is at the core of my beliefs and values. The events of the past several days have been deeply troubling for me, and I’ve heard from many people at Apple who are saddened, outraged or confused.

What occurred in Charlottesville has no place in our country. Hate is a cancer, and left unchecked it destroys everything in its path. Its scars last generations. History has taught us this time and time again, both in the United States and countries around the world. We must not witness or permit such hate and bigotry in our country, and we must be unequivocal about it. This is not about the left or the right, conservative or liberal. It is about human decency and morality. I disagree with the president and others who believe that there is a moral equivalence between white supremacists and Nazis, and those who oppose them by standing up for human rights. Equating the two runs counter to our ideals as Americans.

Regardless of your political views, we must all stand together on this one point–that we are all equal. As a company, through our actions, our products and our voice, we will always work to ensure that everyone is treated equally and with respect. I believe Apple has led by example, and we’re going to keep doing that. We have always welcomed people from every walk of life to our stores around the world and showed them that Apple is inclusive of everyone. We empower people to share their views and express themselves through our products.

In the wake of the tragic and repulsive events in Charlottesville, we are stepping up to help organizations who work to rid our country of hate. Apple will be making contributions of $1 million each to the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Anti-Defamation League. We will also match two-for-one our employees’ donations to these and several other human rights groups, between now and September 30. In the coming days, iTunes will offer users an easy way to join us in directly supporting the work of the SPLC.

Dr. Martin Luther King said, “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” So, we will continue to speak up. These have been dark days, but I remain as optimistic as ever that the future is bright. Apple can and will play an important role in bringing about positive change.


Apple is bringing a billion dollar checkbook to Hollywood and wants to buy 10 TV shows

Apple is officially open for business in Hollywood.

The company is telling content makers it wants to spend $1 billion on its own stuff over the next year. That’s music to studios’ ears, and a tune they have been expecting for some time — especially after Apple hired two top Sony TV executives in June.

We still don’t know what Apple wants to do with that content: The Wall Street Journal says Apple wants to make up to 10 “Game of Thrones”- or “House of Cards”-scale shows, but that’s not enough to launch a full-scale subscription service.

For context: HBO spent about $2 billion on content last year, and Netflix is spending $6 billion. While Apple is now formally competing with those guys for content, it certainly doesn’t want to beat them. It wants them streaming their shows on Apple devices, and selling their services via Apple’s iTunes store, where Apple can take a cut of the monthly fee.

But Apple’s all-but-official announcement is a sign that it’s done with its first, halting effort to make its own programming, which it used to augment its Apple Music service. You don’t hire those guys, and spend that kind of money, as a marketing exercise.

Reminder: The list of guys writing checks in Hollywood now includes Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Facebook and Google; Verizon and AT&T are coming, too. You should stop reading this and start writing your spec script.


Chinese Developers File Antitrust Complaint Against Apple

A group of Chinese app developers has filed a complaint against Apple, alleging that the company had violated antitrust regulations in its App Store. And the complaint is only the latest sign of Apple’s increasing trouble in the country.

The complaint, which was filed with Chinese regulators, accuses Apple of anticompetitive and monopolistic behavior. The group of developers allege that Apple charges excessive fees for in-app purchases, doesn’t give explanations or details for arbitrary app removal, and doesn’t respond to queries in Chinese — putting local developers are a disadvantage — according to The Wall Street Journal.

The case was filed by Beijing-based law firm Dare & Sure, and sent to two separate Chinese regulatory entities: the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration for Industry & Commerce. “Steve Jobs represented the American dream. But Apple’s unequal treatment of China’s young developers stops them from realizing their China dream,” Dare & Sure’s Lin Wei said in a statement.

Apple began cracking down on illegitimate apps earlier this year, which resulted in the removal of over 58,000 Chinese apps. According to the developer’s complaint, Chinese app makers never received sufficient explanations for their apps being removed — and were often left waiting months before they were able to get their legitimate apps back onto the marketplace. Additionally, the developers allege that Apple takes too high of a cut for in-app purchases — around 30 percent. In China, in-app purchases on mobile platforms like Weibo are widely used for everyday transactions — from buying public transit tickets to ordering food.

China is an extremely important market for Apple, and specifically, its App Store. Apple made more money in China via its digital marketplace than any other country, according to research firm IDC. Apple’s iOS also has an edge over Android — its largest competitor — as Google Play is blocked within China.

An even bigger issue, Lin contends, is that Apple’s App Store doesn’t appear to have legal registration in China, making it technically illegal for the company to provide internet content within the country, according to The Financial Times. Apple, for its part, says that it does comply with all “local laws and regulations.” Despite that, analysts and tech executives are predicting that “Apple’s troubles [in China] have just started.” Specifically, as the company shifts from being, primarily, a hardware manufacturer to more of a content provider. The Chinese government notoriously restricts the flow of information and content, which could bring Apple’s Services business into further conflict with local regulatory bodies.

The Cupertino-based tech giant has already compromised on several issues in China. Last month, Apple removed all major VPN apps in the country in accordance with new Chinese regulations that required the anonymity platforms to be explicitly approved and licensed by the government. The company also recently opened its first data center in China, allowing it to store user information locally.


Chinese developers target Apple with antitrust suit

Image result for Chinese developers target Apple with antitrust suit


Apple is facing complaints of anti-competitive behavior in China, according to The Financial Times.

The case, filed by a Chinese law firm on behalf of 28 local developers, alleges Apple violated antitrust regulations by abusing its control of the iOS App Store by charging excessive fees for in-app purchases and removing apps from its local store without detailed explanation.

In a statement, Apple noted that its App Store guidelines apply equally to all developers across all countries, and in the chance an app is removed from the App Store, developers have the opportunity to request a review to reinstate the app in a timely manner.

The complaint comes as Apple continues its efforts to maintain strong ties with China’s government, which has heavily restricted the ability of western technology companies to compete.

  • A few weeks ago, Apple announced the removal of several virtual private network (VPN) services from its App Store in China. This move came as the Chinese government had been pressuring the firm to ban all VPNs — which allow users to bypass China’s heavily regulated internet — that aren’t approved by state regulators.
  • Earlier this month, the company announced plans to begin storing its Chinese users’ data on servers run by a Chinese government-controlled company. This could arguably give the government access to users’ personal information. Meanwhile, CEO Tim Cook has taken a hard line against sharing user data with the US government.

Apple is looking to China as a key growth market, but has struggled in the region in recent quarters. With the Google Play store for Android smartphones being blocked in China since 2010, the Chinese app market plays to Apple’s advantage; China accounts for Apple’s largest source of iOS app revenue, according to App Annie. The country is also the firm’s largest market outside the US, accounting for over one-fifth of Apple’s total revenue in the 2016 fiscal year. However, revenue derived from China has fallen for six consecutive quarters, to $8 billion in fiscal Q3 (that ended June 30) 2017, down 10% from fiscal Q3 2016.

Laurie Beaver, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on app monetization that:

  • Provides key factors driving the expected growth of global app revenue
  • Evaluates the top app monetization strategies
  • Looks at emerging trends to help developers navigate the app ecosystem
  • Explains the challenges that developers face to compete in the app market
  • And much more
  • [Source”cnbc”]

Apple on Track to Become First Trillion-Dollar Company

Apple Inc. (AAPL

Apple Inc

) is on track to become the first trillion-dollar company in the stock market, according to RBC Capital’s Amit Daryanani and Amitesh Bajad. In a note earlier today, the analysts wrote that Apple’s latest iPhone release will set the company’s stock up for the necessary gain.”From a near-term perspective, we would note historically AAPL stock has done rather well into product launches with median return 90 days prior to launch at 15.6% (median outperformance vs. S&P 500 at 10.9%). This, we think, sets up AAPL well heading into the product cycle this time around,” the analysts wrote. RBC currently has an Outperform rating on the stock with a price target of $176. At that level, the Cupertino, California-based company would have a valuation of $910 billion. The analysts attributed Apple’s future growth to strong gross margin performance and better trends in mainland China. (See also: Apple’s Q3: Investors ‘Sit Back and Wait’ on iPhone 8 Bombshell.)

According to reports, Apple plans to release three iPhones later this year. With an expected price range of between $900 and $1,100, two of the three iPhones are expected to be more expensive compared with previous versions. In a note earlier this year, analyst firm Goldman Sachs estimated that Apple’s margins will receive a middling to substantial boost of between 2% and 6.3% from the “hardware premiumization” trend. (See also: Apple’s $1,000 iPhone 8 Seen Fueling Stock Price.)

Apple has reported disappointing sales in China for the past couple of quarters. Most analysts believe that this is because the company is viewed as another smartphone hardware company there and has been beaten to the punch by cheaper vendors. However, the company is reportedly changing its strategy and boosting its presence in the smartphone services market in China. It has discontinued services and removed offensive apps from its iTunes store. Apple has also invested in R&D centers in the country and kowtowed to the Chinese government’s requests. The results are showing. Even as revenue from its hardware sales in the region declined, the company reported that sales from China’s App Store exceeded those of its U.S. counterpart this past quarter. (See also: Apple Names First Managing Director for China.)

RBC Capital has set a time frame of 12-18 months for Apple to reach the $1 trillion valuation target. In an interview earlier this year, Warren Buffett similarly voted for Apple to reach the trillion-dollar milestone soon. (See also: Is Apple an Undervalued Bank?.



8 Apple iPhone 8 Alternatives To Buy That Are Also Apple


For a moment between the leaks and rumors, when I was actually able to consider it all — I thought about saving up and buying an Apple AAPL +0.37% iPhone 8. The Apple iPhone 8 could finally be the iPhone that looks less like an iPhone and more like a Samsung. The Samsung Galaxy Note 8 screen leaks are pretty close in size and OLED greatness as the iPhone 8 screen leaks. My point is, that even with a insanely high price point and an inter-dimensional quandary, the iPhone 8 could be worth it.

Then again, it might not. $1200 for a cell phone? That’s a little wild. I literally just bought a 1998 Subaru Legacy for $1200. Of course, the price point is not only what the market will bear, but come the September keynote, something that tech journalists and fans will be cheering. Even with production delays, the iPhone 8 is still expected to be released at the same time as the iPhone 7S and iPhone 7S Plus.

Also see: Apple Finally Invents Instagram, Revolutionizing Your iPhone Photos

Gordon Kelly, who writes most of the iPhone leak articleshere at Forbes, suggests auctioning the iPhone 8 if you are able to get one before Christmas. He says this is the sensible option. While I’ve done that type of thing before (with a pair of Yeezy Boosts), perhaps you are just better off spending your $1200 on something else. Though, you’d still want something Apple related right? Well, here are eight Apple products well under $1200 you might want to buy instead of an iPhone 8:

  • Apple Newton MessagePad 2000. You can get one on eBay for under $200 in working order. Stylus pens are making a comeback, so why not be a total tech hipster and attend your morning stand-up meetings with this retro device in hand?
  • Apple Bandai Pippin. One of the worst video game systems of all time was limited to under 42,000 units actually released before it royally failed. Still cheaper than many modern cell phones. Plus you know you have a hankering to play Gus Goes to the Kooky Carnival in search of Rant.
  • Apple MacBook Air. Sure, we like our computing power in our pockets, but you can get two refurbished MacBook Air laptops for the price of one iPhone 8. Totally worth it and perfect for back to school.
  • A bag full of iPod Shuffles. Recently discontinued, now is the time to stock up on used iPod Shuffles. You can probably get about 40 4th generation iPod Shuffles for the cost of one iPhone 8. This was a great little device, I still have two. One of my favorite Apple products ever.
  • Macintosh Portable. I figure if typewriters are making a comeback, it’s only a matter of time before people start lugging around 16 pounds of 1 MB SRAM.
  • An Apple Watch. Just kidding. Apple Watches are terrible devices. Buy a Swatch instead.
  • Apple iPod Touch. Oddly enough, even with phones on the market with more storage than a base model iPod Touch, Apple still makes this. It’s not like you use your phone for actual phone calls anymore. If you hate your data plan and use WiFi like a boss, save some coin and get an iPod Touch for a fraction of the cost.
  • Around 3600 actual apples. It’s August, which means apple season is starting. Let’s say at 99 cents a pound, about three apples to a pound, you can get more than 3600 hundred apples for the price of an iPhone 8. That is some quality fiber and vitamin C right there.

Before you start taking out my knee-caps in the comments, I agree, this is total fluff. I just told myself at the start of the week that I needed to write some sort of silly tech listicle. I understand that I am no better today than the junk advertorial articles you see grouped together at the bottom of a Huffpo article.

Disclaimer aside, we are an always connected culture, consuming content in pace with our breathing. The Apple iPhone 8 will be another consumption device, programmed to be beautiful and wallet draining. It’s luxurious and smooth. So consider this instead — you can buy some nostalgia, or fruit.

Or you could just buy an iPhone 7S or iPhone 7S Plus. These will most likely be cheaper phones with a more traditional Apple iPhone design. There is a bit of wariness when considering the total sea change in design elements of the iPhone 8. I think I’ll stick to drawing on my MessagePad 2000.


Why people trust Apple with their health data more than Google or Amazon

Tim Cook was the second highest-paid executive of 2016, pulling in $150,036,907

Getty Images
Tim Cook was the second highest-paid executive of 2016, pulling in $150,036,907

Would you trust a technology company like Apple, Amazon or Google with your health data?

More than 1,000 people participated in my Twitter poll on the topic, and the majority of people responding that they would. Only 37 percent of people responded that they would not share their data.

Among those who opted to share their health data with a tech company, one clear winner emerged: Apple.