Apple’s next big moneymaker is its biggest headache in China

Apple CEO Tim Cook attends the China Development Forum in Beijing, China, March 18, 2017.

For Apple, this summer is closing with good news and bad news.

On the one hand, its financials suggest that as iPhone sales plateau globally, it can count on software to spur growth. Revenue in Apple’s “Services” category—which includes sales in the App Store, as well as Apple Music subscriptions and other media—hit $7.27 billion for the three month-period ending July 1, making it the company’s second-largest business unit.

On the other hand, that growth is increasingly threatened in China, where Apple’s software ambitions face tough challenges as Beijing continues its efforts to wean the country off foreign technology.

The most recent incident came this week when Beijing-based law firm Dare & Sure announced it had filed a complaint (link in Chinese) to China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), which oversees antitrust issues, and the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC), alleging that Apple has been engaging in monopolistic behavior. Representing a group of 28 developers, the firm argues that Apple deletes apps without sufficient explanation, and that its standard 30% take on in-app purchases is unfair. In April, when the firm first announced it was looking for Chinese developers (link in Chinese) to potentially represent, it wrote:

“Some of Apple’s behavior when operating the App Store, when coupled with its absolute advantageous market position, will or already has produced a negative impact on market competition. If Apple cannot explain the reasoning behind this behavior, or cannot prove that this sort of behavior creates benefits in the market that make up for its negative impact, this sort of behavior ought to be subject to China’s anti-monopoly regulations.”

In response to the complaint, Apple said in a statement sent to Quartzthat the App Store “has published guidelines that apply equally to all developers in every country,” and added that it holds “workshops in China throughout the year” to help Chinese developers. It did not address the lawsuit directly.

The SAIC did not reply immediately to Quartz’s request for comment. The NDRC couldn’t be reached for comment.

It’s not clear if the complaint will turn into a case. It’s also not the first of its kind—in 2012, a group of iPhone owners filed a suit against Apple arguing that its 30% take from the App Store was anti-competitive, and the case has yet to close. But the suit marks one of several instances where Apple’s software business has come under pressure in China.

In late July, Apple removed dozens of VPN apps from China’s App Store due to government demands. While not a wholesale removal, the ban nevertheless follows the government’s wider crackdown on software that circumvents the so-called Great Firewall, which blocks access to websites like Google and Facebook.

In May, Chinese tech giant Tencent removed a button in its chat app WeChat that had allowed users to donate small sums of money to bloggers and media personalities. Apple argued that the button was in violation of its policy of taking 30% of from in-app purchases. It also came not long after WeChat launched an app store of its own, which, if it becomes successful, could compete against Apple’s.

Before those incidents, the government targeted other software offerings from Apple. In January it forced Apple to remove the New York Times app from the Chinese App Store. Last year, the government forced Apple to shut down its Chinese iBooks and iTunes movie stores.

Apple needs Service revenue from China just as much as from everywhere else, if not more. For its most recent earnings (and for the third quarter in a row), the Greater China region (which includes Taiwan and Hong Kong) remained the only part of the world where total revenues, which come overwhelmingly from iPhone sales, did not grow annually.

Apple has taken additional steps lately that might help smooth the course in China. Recently it announced it would open a data center in China, in swift compliance with the recently-implemented Cybersecurity Law. It also created a head of Greater China position, and appointed native Chinese-speaker and longtime Apple executive Isabel Ge Mahe to take on the role. As long as these incidents continue at the same pace, she’ll have her hands full.

 [Source”cnbc”]

Apple’s Greater China business now has its own managing director for the first time

Apple has appointed Isabel Ge Mahe as its first vice president and managing director of its business in Greater China.

China-born Ge Mahe is tasked with managing Apple’s China business, and she will report into CEO Tim Cook and COO Jeff Williams when she takes up the role, which is based out of Shanghai, “later this summer.”

Ge Mahe is currently located in California, where she has spent the last nine years heading up Apple’s wireless technologies software engineering teams. That includes the development of cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC, location and motion technologies in products, and Apple said she has also overseen its Apple Pay, HomeKit and CarPlay technologies.

“Everyone at Apple is proud of the contributions we make to the communities where we do business, and I am looking forward to deepening our team’s connections with customers, government and businesses in China to advance innovation and sustainability,” Ge Mahe said in a statement.

That mention of government in her statement is interesting since it hints that Ge Mahe may take a leading role in liaising with authorities in China. Apple this month announced plans to develop its first China-based data center, a move that is thought to be related to the country’s new cybersecurity laws which went into effect June 1, and this appointment may also be connected.

While there are many business reasons to have a Greater China MD — Apple’s revenue from the region can make or break its quarterly earnings report — having a lead may help with sticky issues in the country. Earlier this year, for example, Beijing authorities summoned Apple to explain its standards for live-streaming apps. The government has since shuttered a number of live-streaming services that it found were in breach of its media standards.

[Source”cnbc”]

Apple continues its trend of inclusive emoji with “woman in headscarf,” “breastfeeding,” and more

Apple is taking yet another leap toward making its emoji slate more inclusive with its latest release, which will feature “woman with headscarf” and “breastfeeding” icon options.

The update will also include a new “bearded person” emoji, more mythical creatures like “genie” and “zombie,” and expressive new smiley faces intended to convey such emotions and behaviors as “mind-blown” and “vomiting.”

The company previewed its new emoji on Monday in conjunction with World Emoji Day, which falls on July 17 because that’s the date depicted by the iOS calendar emoji. The newest additions will become available later this year.

Apple’s newest digital icons are in line with the company’s recent and largely praised moves to take emoji in a more universal direction.

Over the past half-decade, Apple has drastically expanded the diversity of its emoji palette in response to widespread requests for a more representative slate. After an update to include art for LGBTQ couples in 2012, African-American icons were added in 2014. An update in 2015 further expanded the skin tones on offer, and included five races all based on the Fitzpatrick scale, a skin color classification system developed in 1975.

Most recently, the 2016 update saw Apple equalizing its gender representation, adding gender options for single-parent families and new female athletes and professionals — leveling out the largely male representation among sports emojis.

Of the company’s shift toward more diverse digital representation, Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton told MTV back in 2014, “There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

Other noteworthy icons in Apple’s 2017 update include new food entries (sandwich, coconut), new animals (zebra, T. rex), and additional new smileys (“starstruck”).

 [Source”timesofindia”]

Apple continues its trend of inclusive emoji with “woman in headscarf,” “breastfeeding,” and more

Apple is taking yet another leap toward making its emoji slate more inclusive with its latest release, which will feature “woman with headscarf” and “breastfeeding” icon options.

The update will also include a new “bearded person” emoji, more mythical creatures like “genie” and “zombie,” and expressive new smiley faces intended to convey such emotions and behaviors as “mind-blown” and “vomiting.”

The company previewed its new emoji on Monday in conjunction with World Emoji Day, which falls on July 17 because that’s the date depicted by the iOS calendar emoji. The newest additions will become available later this year.

Apple’s newest digital icons are in line with the company’s recent and largely praised moves to take emoji in a more universal direction.

Over the past half-decade, Apple has drastically expanded the diversity of its emoji palette in response to widespread requests for a more representative slate. After an update to include art for LGBTQ couples in 2012, African-American icons were added in 2014. An update in 2015 further expanded the skin tones on offer, and included five races all based on the Fitzpatrick scale, a skin color classification system developed in 1975.

Most recently, the 2016 update saw Apple equalizing its gender representation, adding gender options for single-parent families and new female athletes and professionals — leveling out the largely male representation among sports emojis.

Of the company’s shift toward more diverse digital representation, Apple’s vice president of worldwide corporate communications Katie Cotton told MTV back in 2014, “There needs to be more diversity in the emoji character set, and we have been working closely with the Unicode Consortium in an effort to update the standard.”

Other noteworthy icons in Apple’s 2017 update include new food entries (sandwich, coconut), new animals (zebra, T. rex), and additional new smileys (“starstruck”).

[Source:-VOX]

Apple adds PayPal support to its ecosystem

Apple, apple paypal, Apple online payment, Apple new online payment methods, apple news, latest Apple news

Apple has now added the support for online payment gateway PayPal for purchases through its ecosystem, including iTunes, the App Store, Apple Music and iBooks across iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices using a PayPal account. The PayPal support is available for users in the US, Britain, Canada, Mexico, Australia, Austria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain.

“This provides a secure and versatile payment method to meet the growing demand for digital entertainment,” Bill Ready, Executive Vice President and COO of PayPal, wrote in a blog post.

“PayPal’s availability across Apple’s services further expands our vision of providing customers a variety of ways to easily make mobile purchases, such as asking Siri to make a payment using the PayPal app,” Ready added.

The move is seen as a respite for Apple users as they can make purchases by just logging into an account instead of filling out card information again and again.

Customers with a new or existing Apple ID can select “PayPal” as their payment method from their account settings in the App Store, Apple Music, iTunes (and iBooks) from their iPhones, iPads, iPod touch and Macs or on iTunes from their PCs.

Once PayPal is selected, all future purchases with the customer’s Apple ID will be automatically charged to their PayPal account. This includes purchases of apps, music, movies, TV shows and books as well as Apple Music subscriptions and iCloud storage.

 

[Source”timesofindia”]

Apple to set up its first data centre in China

Image result for Apple to set up its first data centre in China

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Personal online information belonging to Chinese owners of iPhones and iPads — including private messages, photos and device backups — is to be stored locally in China for the first time, as Apple opens its first iCloud data centre on the mainland. Apple’s move follows Beijing’s introduction last month of tighter cyber security rules and reflects the concessions foreign multinationals must make to tap the world’s largest mobile market, which is increasingly important for iPhone sales.  The US tech group’s new facility in Guizhou will be jointly operated with a Chinese internet company, as part of a $1bn investment in the southwestern province.  Announcing the relocation of mainland Chinese customers’ iCloud data from the US, Apple sought to head off potential security concerns from its tens of millions of users in the region.  “As our customers know, Apple has strong data privacy and security protections in place and no backdoors will be created into any of our systems,” it said in a statement.  Apple already complies with legally valid requests for data from law enforcement authorities around the world, including China. Nonetheless, moving customers’ iCloud data to a Chinese facility will make it easier for the authorities to go through the legal motions required to obtain that private information.  Under US law, foreign governments have to undertake a process, which can sometimes take years, to obtain data about their citizens that are stored on servers in the US. China’s new cyber security law requires all data collected on the country’s citizens or areas relating to broadly defined issues of national security to be held on servers in China. Transfers of data abroad must first be reviewed and approved by regulators. Until now, Apple has serviced its Chinese iCloud customers using data centres outside the country, primarily in the US. Some Apple media systems, including parts of its iTunes and iBooks digital content stores, were transferred to servers in China a few years ago, but those systems did not include any personal data.  Related article China’s cyber security law rattles multinationals Businesses warn rules will increase costs and leave them more vulnerable to spying Last year, Apple fought a request by the US government to break down the encryption protections built into its iOS operating system, as investigators sought to access a dead terrorist’s iPhone. Apple also said last year that it had rejected a Chinese demand that it hand over its iOS source code.  The Chinese law means Apple must store its iCloud encryption keys there securely. Apple will retain control of the keys but, in certain instances, such as credit card information, only the user holds the key to their data, meaning the iPhone maker would be unable to comply with any request from law enforcement.  Other US tech groups including Microsoft, IBM and Amazon already offer their cloud infrastructure services in China through local partners. Google has no data centres in China.  “It’s not a new direction. China has been increasingly requiring different types of data be stored within China,” said Mark Natkin, managing director at Marbridge Consulting. “It’s indicative of an effort China is making to ensure that user data from online and mobile services provided to Chinese users is stored in data centres in China.”

[Source”cnbc”]

Baby Driver took its inspiration from an old, obscure British music video

If Baby Driver felt like a feature-length, slightly more filled out version of a music video, that’s because it is.

The inspiration for Baby Driver came to Wright a decade ago when Wright directed a music video for the band Mint Royale’s “Blue Song.” The video, which Wright directed after his cult sitcom Spaced came to an end and before he did Shaun of the Dead in 2004, starred British comedian Noel Fielding. In the video, Fielding plays a getaway driver who must wait for three bank robbers — including a young Nick Frost — to return. The entire sequence of events in the video is dictated by the song, not too unlike how Wright uses music in Baby Driver.

Wright told Entertainment Weekly that it was around the time of directing “Blue Song” that he got the inspiration for Baby Driver. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams saw the video, he told Wright it would be an incredible feature, giving Wright the extra boost he needed to really attack it.

While Wright’s extension of “Blue Song” into Baby Driver is an interesting origin story, he’s not the only director to find some inspiration in music videos. Everyone from Spike Jonze to David Fincher have taken some aspect of their early career work on music videos into their feature films.

Take Jonze as an example. The director made a name for himself working on music videos way before he ever did his first feature-length directorial debut, Being John Malkovich. When asked by Mentorless what it was like transitioning from a medium based entirely around one song and 3-5 minutes of footage, Jonze said it was scary but ensuring he worked with people who he knew from music videos and people who knew what his vision was made it easier.

Going from music videos to features was definitely scary because I didn’t know how I would do in terms of working with actors. But that was the main thing I wanted to focus on, was the performances and learning what it meant to direct actors. Also the other thing that helped was all of my friends that I’d made working on music videos with came and worked on our first movie together. And Acord, KK Barrett, Casey Storm, Thomas Smith our first AD, Eric Zumbrunnen our editor, that made it a lot more comfortable and it felt like the first day on set was not as shocking as I thought it would be.

Fincher is another perfect example. Although the director is better known for his work on award-nominated and winning movies like The Social Network, Fight Club and Zodiac, Fincher has a soft spot for music videos. And, for those who like to study a director’s entire body of work, much of Fincher’s work that he did in music videos can be seen in his films and vice versa.

Like Jonze, Fincher came up during one of the most creative periods of MTV’s history, when music videos were still being celebrated and young directors were getting a chance to make interesting shorts for all sorts of artists. Fincher, Jonze, Harmony Korine (Spring Breakers) and a plethora of other filmmakers were getting a chance to execute the most conceptual of ideas, eventually taking what they learned working on music videos and bringing them to major motion pictures.

The importance of the music video on film and future filmmakers goes all the way back to 1983 when Michael Jackson, arguably the biggest musician of the time, called up director John Landis (The Blues Brothers, Animal House) and asked him to direct the video for his song “Thriller.” That video would go on to inspire Jonze.

“It had some magic that made it shine,” Jonze told The Guardian in 2013. “When I started directing videos myself a few years later, it was like a touchpoint. I didn’t have this thought intellectually at the time, but when I watch it now I realize that there’s no reason for a lot of it; it’s so free and loose. There’s the car running out of gas and it’s like a movie, then it just keeps going, as if they’re saying: ‘That’d be cool, let’s do that.’”

Wright’s is the most thought out continuation of a music video that we’ve seen, but he’s in no way the only person who was ever left inspired by a four minute short based around one song. He also certainly won’t be the last.

Baby Driver is currently playing in theaters.

Apple has to get over its privacy hang-ups and launch better services

 

Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple.

Apple announced recently that it had hired two big Sony TV executives to head up Apple’s original video strategy. It’s the strongest signal yet that Apple has grand plans to offer its own slate of original video content to compete with the likes of Netflix, Amazon and HBO.

Yet as Apple brings more high-quality content to its users, it’s likely to highlight a growing dilemma: Is it going to start offering better services to users with less privacy, or continue offering inferior services with strong privacy?

On Ben Thompson’s Exponent podcast from two weeks back — “Fruitful Clapping” — he discusses how Siri stops using your utterances/voice queries after 6 months (based on this Wall Street Journal article). That’s problematic to improve Siri’s algorithm. You can’t compare utterances today to utterances a year ago.

Google or Amazon would never do that. Why does Apple? It’s supposed to be for enhanced user privacy.

Here’s a Tim Cook 2015 speech on privacy:

“We believe the customer should be in control of their own information. You might like these so-called free services, but we don’t think they’re worth having your email, your search history and now even your family photos data mined and sold off for God knows what advertising purpose. And we think some day, customers will see this for what it is.”

It sounds great — in theory. But the rubber meets the road when you start interacting daily with your favorite services.

Spotify knows what music you like better than you do.

Apple Music gives you the world but doesn’t have that same magical insight into you — but you have better privacy.

Google Photos organizes my photos magically in the background. It delights me that it’s somehow able to recognize my child from ages one to 15 as the same person through facial recognition software. It now has 500 million monthly active users — presumably many on iOS.

Apple’s Photos app makes me tag hundreds of photos of the same person to group them instead of recognizing them. The reason is Apple is doing facial recognition on the device instead of in the server.

The lead that Google has is only going to get greater. You, the Apple user, won’t have as good an experience — but you have better privacy.

Netflix offers up personalization of your video interests. That’s been part of their DNA since the company was founded in the ’90s as a website: Netflix.com.

Apple’s yet-to-be offered streaming video service with great content from the two hotshot new ex-Sony TV executives will likely have no such personalization. You’ll probably see a top 10 list instead — but you’ll have better privacy.

Do Apple users want better privacy or better services? Consumers are voting every day with the apps they click on and use. Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram. If it’s a choice between convenience and delighting users with smarter services versus privacy, we’ll go with the former all day long.

Apple thinks it is doing this in the name of user privacy, but — as Ben Thompson asked on his pod — what happens if users move over to Google and Amazon? Are the privacy concerns of Apple users now being best served if they’ve outsourced privacy to their competitors?

Apple users deserve better services. Users are willing to give up privacy if they trust you and believe they’ll get better services from you.

It’s time for Tim Cook to embrace better services once and for all. That means more machine learning, more algorithms, more cloud-based power.

The argument that Apple will never be good at services because it never has been is baseless. If that were true, Apple would never get into original content. It would never make an acquisition more than $400 million. It would never have launched iCloud. It would never have opened an Apple store.

Apple needs to go where its users want it to go. If it doesn’t get serious about Siri and learning what its users want, it will continue to fall further and further behind Google and Amazon in the same

[Source”indianexpress”]

Look Out Spotify, Apple Music: Tesla Considering To Launch Its Own Music Streaming Service

Spotify and Apple Music may soon find a new challenger in the music streaming service industry from an unlikely source: electric vehicle manufacturer Tesla.

According to reports, Tesla has been speaking with the music industry on the possibility of creating its own music streaming service that will be bundled with its electric vehicles.

Tesla To Enter Music Streaming Scene?

Sources in the music industry claim that Tesla has spoken with all the major music labels on licensing a music streaming service. The service will be bundled with the company’s vehicles, such as the electric sedan Model S, the electric SUV Model X, and the upcoming mass-market electric sedan Model 3.

The full scope of Tesla’s ambitions was not made clear, but sources believe that the company is looking to offer multiple tiers for the planned music streaming service. The tiers will start with a web radio service, such as the one offered by Pandora, which will be enabled by the internet connectivity already present in Tesla’s electric vehicles through their dashboards.

The whole plan is seemingly not yet fully formed, but Tesla is already doing its due diligence by asking about acquiring the rights to stream albums and songs from the top artists from all over the world.

Tesla CEO Elon Musk actually hinted that the company was exploring music products at the latest shareholder meeting of the company in June. He said that it was difficult to “find good playlists or good matching algorithms” for music that drivers want to hear while on the road, and that the company will be announcing how it will solve the problem within the year.

Why Will Tesla Challenge Spotify And Apple Music?

The big question is why Tesla is planning to go through the trouble of creating its own music streaming service, when it can instead integrate Spotify or Apple Music into its electric vehicles. Tesla already has a deal in place to include Spotify in electric vehicles sold outside the United States, so such a setup can be done if the company wants to.

The labels will not turn down Tesla’s overtures if it pushes through with creating its own music streaming service, as it will be another source of revenue. From the comment of a Tesla spokesperson, it appears that the company is indeed serious about its plans.

“We believe it’s important to have an exceptional in-car experience so our customers can listen to the music they want from whatever source they choose,” the spokesperson said, adding that Tesla’s goal is to “achieve maximum happiness” for its customers.

While Tesla is considered as the market leader in the burgeoning electric car industry, it will be jumping into a music streaming space that is currently dominated by Spotify, with 50 million premium subscribers, followed by Apple Music, with 27 million paid users and looking to pose a bigger challenge to Spotify by launching a $99 annual subscription option.

How Tesla’s music streaming service will stand up against these two remains to be seen, but it will have to offer something beyond the usual features if it wants to make a significant impression in the industry.

[Source”pcworld”]