The latest on iPhone sales in China, a questionable report from a questionable news source, and Apple gives Mastodon a vote of confidence.
Analysts React to December iPhone Sales in China
Last week, Counterpoint Research issued a note saying iPhone sales were up 6% last month. That’s compared to the same month a year earlier. Those were not official numbers, it seems. Research firm gonna research, yo.
Apple 3.0 ran a couple of reaction notes in the wake of official numbers form the China Academy of Information and Communications Technology. Lag as they will, those were for December, not January.
In his note, UBS analyst David Vogt saw explosive growth for iPhone from November to December. According to his note:
While local brand shipments improved 21% Nov to Dec, iPhone shipments far outpaced the local brands increasing 88% month-over-month and +20% YoY in December…
A couple of things to note — first, the CAICT report does not break out iPhone sales specifically, only practically. What it tracks is domestic versus imported. While iPhone is not the only smartphone imported to China, it’s the only one that sells in real numbers. That generally leaves analysts to read the “imported” numbers as iPhone numbers.
Easing Investors’ Worries and Concerns
The other thing to note, as Vogt did — the surge of iPhone sales in December was on the heels of iPhone sales that slowed to a trickle in November. That was thanks to a series of problems (from COVID-lockdowns to hiring issues) that hindered iPhone production.
The way the analyst sees it, the December surge should ease investor fears around the supply chain and iPhone production. Vogt has a “Buy” rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $180.
The other reaction note was from Evercore analyst Amit Daryanani. Though staring at the same numbers, Daryanani says the December iPhone numbers in China were up about 17% year-on-year, not the “+20%” listed by Vogt. Maybe Daryanani doesn’t give all of the “imported” sales to Apple? Whatever the case, he figures iPhone numbers in China will be strong for January and February when they are reported “as iPhone inventory builds up and the majority of the unmet demand from Oct/Nov will likely be fulfilled…”
Daryanani has an “Outperform” rating on Apple shares. His price target on the shares is $190.
NY Post: Sources Say Apple Axing Contract Workers
There’s a story that’s starting to pop up a few places. According to one headline, “Apple has begun firing contractors amid mass tech layoffs…” That headline cites sources of the unnamed variety.
There are a few — issues, let’s say, with the story. The first, we don’t know who the sources are. The second — the paper with the headline was the New York Post. That takes us to a subset of issues — one, how connected to tech dealings, Apple dealings, and dealings in Silicon Valley is the New York Post. And two — it’s kind of a sensationalist paper.
Back to our first set of issues with the report — as the headline indicates, these are not Apple employees being let go, though that may be in name only. “According to people with direct knowledge,” reads the report:
…the iPhone maker over the past few days has started to cut ties with hundreds of contractors — workers technically employed by outside agencies who work alongside Apple employees on projects – in what looks like a stealthy move to cut costs.
“Instead of waiting for contracts that are typically renewed every 12 to 15 months to expire,” the piece has the sources indicating that “Apple is firing contractors outright…”
Between the intricacies of pay and hiring practices, the lack of info on who these contractors are said to be, and the news source quoting the unnamed sources — I’d be hard pressed to say that this is a thing that’s happening. But, the talk is out there. FYI.
Playtime for Apple’s Public Testing Program
At least some of the developer betas about which I told you last week are out to the public testing peeps. MacRumors ran a couple of pieces on Friday, one saying that versions 16.4 of iOS and iPadOS were out to developers, and another saying the same for macOS Ventura 13.3.
Apple Studio Display Gets 16.4 Firmware Beta
That last one brings a weird thing with it. Yet another piece from MacRumors says Apple has released the 16.4 firmware beta for its Studio Display. While regular firmware updates are sent to the displays automatically, the beta’s a bit different, limited to Macs running the macOS 13.3 beta. If yours is one of those, MacRumors says you can go to System Settings, then Software Update to get the beta on your display. And if all of this talk of livin’ on the edge leaves you feeling left out — you can get info on Apple’s public testing program at beta.apple.com.
Apple’s Messages Apps Adding Rich Previews for Mastodon Posts
In with the OS betas, there’s a new feature coming in the next round of Apple’s OS updates that reads like a vote of confidence for Mastodon. A piece from iDownloadBlog says the upcoming update will see the Messages app bring “native embeds for Mastodon posts that come with more details than standard URL previews.”
For folks who don’t know, the piece says Mastodon is “a federated social media service…” Think of it as a social media idea that sort of ends up like a social media platform, running on individually controlled servers, beholden to no one corporate owner or shareholders. It’s been around for a few years, though it was little more than a nerd retreat before Elon Musk took over Twitter. Once that happened, people looking for somewhere to go that wasn’t Twitter found Mastodon. And Apple seems to think it has legs. According to iDownloadBlog:
The Messages app in iOS 16.4, iPadOS 16.4 and macOS Ventura 13.3 now supports native embeds for Mastodon post links. But instead of simply adding visual previews to Mastodon URLs shared via Messages, Apple provides additional rich information similar to the tweet balloon previews in iMessage.
According to the piece, such details “include the author’s name, post text and any underlying attachments in the Mastodon post…” Prior to last week’s betas (and for users on the current public releases or earlier), all a user got or gets is a link to the post with no preview of what’s on the other side.
T-Mobile Offers Subscribers Free Year of MLS Season Pass
If you’re a T-Mobile customer, you’ve apparently got a year of free Major League Soccer available. Engadget says “Big Fuchsia” is giving T-Mobile and Metro by T-Mobile subscribers Apple’s MLS Season Pass for free. Starting tomorrow — Tuesday, Feb. 21, the piece says would-be watchers can download the “T-Mobile Tuesdays” app from the App Store, sign in with their phone number, and get the offered perk.
Soccer fans hoping to score the season don’t have to be Apple TV+ subscribers, nor do they need Apple hardware. MLS Season Pass will be available on the Apple TV website, or through the Apple TV app, which is available on game consoles, streaming devices, smart TVs… just about anything modern that’s attached to a screen or has a screen attached to it.
Apple TV+ Series ‘Shrinking’ Stays Strong in Reelgood Top-Ten
The dramedy series “Shrinking” shows little sign of doing so. Cult of Mac says the Jason Segel/Harrison Ford series on Apple TV+ has turned up on the Reelgood top-ten for the third week in a row. The movie and TV search engine showed the show showing at No. 5 for the week of Feb. 9 through Feb. 16.
Applications Open Thursday for Apple Studios Directors Program
And finally today — are you a mid-career director? I don’t know what that is, so I suspect I’m not. If you suspect you are though, you may want to apply for the Apple Studios Directors Program. Billing itself as “an inclusive initiative focused on expanding opportunities for mid-career directors across the US,” Apple says the goal of the program “is to identify innovative and diverse visionaries,” and then… show ‘em how it’s done, I guess. According to the initiative’s site:
The six-month program offers masterclasses focused on building and sustaining a career as a working episodic director. The program will feature discussions with seasoned industry professionals focusing on the craft and business of directing, opportunities to participate as shadowing directors on Apple Studios series, and a one-of-a-kind experience in Apple Park tailored to inspire innovation and creativity.
When they say inclusive, they’re talking about types of candidates, not numbers. “Under-represented minorities and women are strongly encouraged to apply” for not one, not two, but three openings in the program. The one-week application period runs from 9 a.m. PST this Thursday, Feb. 23 through 11:59 p.m. PST on Wednesday, March 1.
Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast
TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts joins me to talk over a few Apple sentiment stories. Plus — the cluster-thing that is social media, and Apple’s vote of confidence for Mastodon. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.