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iPhone 11 Sales Success Hides Apple’s Potential Risks And Rewards

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Strong initial sales of the iPhone 11 family have pushed up Apple’s share price since September’s launch event, but don’t assume that Apple has turned the corner. Tim Cook and his team have worked the calendar to give the new iPhone portfolio a sales advantage over last year’s models.

And there’s a small surprise ready to be launched next year as well.

Apple CEO, Tim Cook openS the door of the newly renovated Apple Store at Fifth Avenue on September... [+] 20, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images)

Apple CEO, Tim Cook openS the door of the newly renovated Apple Store at Fifth Avenue on September… [+] GETTY

Since the launch of the iPhone 11 family, investors have reacted positively towards Apple and the new devices, as Tae Kim notes for Barron’s:

Last month, the company unveiled the iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, and iPhone 11 Pro Max. Those new phone models have faster processors, improved camera quality, and better battery life. The new iPhones became available Sept. 20.

Since then several Wall Street analyst have raised their price targets on Apple stock, citing improving iPhone sales momentum.

Apple shares are up 7.8% over the last month, versus a 1.4% decline for the S&P 500, and a 1.6% drop for the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address. Apple unveiled several new products including an... [+] iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro, Apple Watch Series 5 and seventh-generation iPad. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Apple CEO Tim Cook delivers the keynote address. Apple unveiled several new products including an… [+] GETTY

It’s worth nothing that this year’s iPhone roll-out make a direct year-on-year comparison of iPhone sales not as straightforward as previous years.

First up is the release schedule. Apple presented the three iPhones (the 11, the 11 Pro, and the 11 Pro Max) on September 10th; going on sale ten days later on September 20th.

Although the iPhone XS and XS Max made their debut at roughly the same time (oh, let’s be precise, it was one day later, on September 21st 2018), the iPhone XR was announced on September 12 last year, but was not released to retail until October 26. That means the equivalent iPhone 11 has a six week head start over the iPhone XS

Measured over the year this is unlikely to make a difference, but measured over Q4 that’s a significantly increased sales window, and could boost sales of the iPhone 11 family this quarter.

Then there is the handset that is being replaced. Putting aside Apple’s geekerati who’ll be happy to buy the latest product as quickly as possible, the majority of iPhone sales are synced to carrier contracts.

If you assume that the average iPhone consumer is on a two-year contract then the iPhone 11 handsets are being pitched as replacements for the iPhone X, and that makes the new handsets less attractive. Although Moore’s Law has seen improvements in the camera and hardware specifications, for most users the differences between the iPhone X and the iPhone 11 will be minimal and could depress sales.

Compare that to the iPhone XS, which was pitching itself as a replacement for the iPhone 8 family. Tha iPhone 8 carried the older physical design, making the upgrade to the XS line superficially more attractive. The iPhone 11 does not have that advantage.

And in all this, remember that Apple no longer releases unit sales as part of its quarterly earnings calls. Any sales projections and reporting can only be estimates by third parties.

Apple iPhone SE (image: Ewan Spence)

Apple iPhone SE (image: Ewan Spence) EWAN SPENCE

Taking a slightly longer term view, there’s also something else of interest. As noted by Barron’s, the sales pattern of the iPhone 11 family is currently following the post-launch sales pattern of the iPhone 6S from 2015. As sales of the iPhone 6S fell away after the holiday season, Apple revealed the iPhone SE. Launched in March 2016, it help boost sales at the lower end of its portfolio and lift the iPhone’s market share.

If the iPhone 11 family follows the ‘burn brightly and burn quickly’ path of the iPhone 6S, then history could repeat itself again. I’m expecting the heavily rumored iPhone SE 2 to make an appearance in March 2020.

Source: iPhone 11 Sales Success Hides Apple’s Potential Risks And Rewards

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Apple TV+’s head of scripted and unscripted shows has left the company

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Apple has lost one its streaming service’s top personnel, just a couple of weeks after TV+ went live. According to Deadline, Kim Rozenfeld, the head of current scripted programming and unscripted content for Apple TV+, has stepped down from his position. Deadline’s report didn’t expound on the circumstances behind Rozenfeld’s departure, but it did say that he signed a first-look deal with Apple for his production company, Half Full Studios. His LinkedIn page also says he left Apple this month, and that he has a “development, producing and consultant deal with Apple TV+ for scripted and documentary series” under his company.

Rozenfeld was one of the first people from Sony TV that Zack Van Amburg and Jamie Erlicht (former Sony TV heads) hired when they went to Apple. There was clearly a shift of some sort in the division after launch, though it’s still unclear what that means for TV+. Now that he’s exited, the service will combine its development and current programming teams under a single group of executives. Matt Cherniss, who was Rozenfeld’s counterpart as head of scripted development, will now also head up the service’s current scripted series team.

Source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/apple-tv-kim-rozenfeld-steps-down/

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Apple pulls app that let you stalk people you follow on Instagram

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In October, Instagram phased out the “Following” tab. That’s because it shared a lot of information about what your friends and the people you follow were doing on the social network — maybe too much — and Instagram said some people were surprised their activity was showing up there. And now, the company is apparently keeping others from re-creating that idea: Apple has removed Like Patrol from the App Store, according to CNET.

At the end of October, Instagram sent a cease-and-desist letter to Like Patrol, an app described by its maker as the Following tab “on steroids,” and on Saturday, Apple reportedly removed it from its iOS marketplace entirely.

Like Patrol went beyond the Following tab in some potentially creepy ways, with a number of features that could let users stalk someone’s behavior on Instagram without them knowing. CNET reports that the app could notify you if someone you followed interacted with a post from a man or a woman, for example, and the app’s makers apparently claimed to “have an algorithm to detect if they were posts from attractive people.”

CNET reports Like Patrol was able to track Instagram users by scraping their public profiles for data — which violates Instagram’s policies, according to a Facebook spokesperson who spoke with CNET in October. Apple told CNET it removed Like Patrol for violating the company’s guidelines, but didn’t explain further.

Source: https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/11/20959419/apple-instagram-like-patrol-app-following-tab|

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Fitbit users fear privacy invasion after $2.1bn Google acquisition

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Google’s recent acquisition of Fitbit for $2.1bn has left many users worried the tech giant may soon have access to their most intimate health information – from the number of steps they take each day to their breathing patterns, sleep quality or menstrual cycles.

Fitbit, founded in San Francisco in 2007, tracks the health data of 28 million users. In a blogpost following the acquisition on Friday, Fitbit claimed user data would not be sold or used for Google advertising. “Consumer trust is paramount to Fitbit. Strong privacy and security guidelines have been part of Fitbit’s DNA since day one, and this will not change,” the company said in a statement.

Still, dozens of Fitbit wearers complained on social media over the weekend about the Google takeover. “I tossed my Fitbit into the trash today,” one user tweeted. “I intend to sell my Fitbit and delete my account,” said another.

Google already keeps a trove of information on people, including location data, search history and YouTube viewing history. The company also creates advertisement profiles of users based on information such as location, gender, age, hobbies, career, interests, relationship status, possible weight (need to lose 10lb in one day?) and income.

I have a knee-jerk reaction to Google having any of my dataResearcher Veronica KB Olsen

Veronica KB Olsen, a research fellow at Cern in Geneva, said she immediately requested her data be deleted upon hearing news of the merger.

“I am usually careful about big tech companies gobbling up too much data, but especially Google,” she said. “I have a knee-jerk reaction to Google having any of my data. I try to opt out of most of the stuff they do.”

Because Olsen is based in Europe, Fitbit is required to delete her data if she requests it under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which went into effect in 2018. Under GDPR, users are also entitled to copies of their own data.

But users in any location, even outside the EU, can delete their accounts via the Fitbit website. The company said it would then permanently delete data associated with the account after a seven-day grace period.

Olsen was sent a copy of the data collected during the last year she owned the device, a huge tranche of information that included her heart rate taken every few seconds. She said that even if Fitbit claims it does not share health data with Google, she didn’t want to take a chance by giving it more information.

“The more data points you have on someone, the more you can build a profile of their life,” she said.

The Fitbit acquisition comes despite recent antitrust scrutiny faced by Google after a US government inquiry into its impact on competition was announced in September. The investigation is meant to focus on the company’s advertising practices but could extend to its acquisitions of competing firms.

Google founded its own fitness tracking service, Google Fit, in 2014, but it has relied on third parties such as Fossil and Tag Heuer to produce Android-compatible smartwatches.

Even if Google claims it won’t use Fitbit health data for advertising, the acquisition is probably bad for user privacy, said Paul Bischoff, a privacy advocate with Comparitech. Just because the companies say user data will not be used for advertising now does not mean that won’t change, he said.

“Fitbit says health and wellness data will not be used for advertising, but that leaves plenty of other information for Google to gather, including users’ locations, device info, friends’ lists, messages, profile photos, participation in employee wellness programs, and usage logs,” he said.

Source: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/05/fitbit-google-acquisition-health-data

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