Apple’s Insufferable Money Machines

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Perilous times for Apple Watch, Gen Zs are insufferable ATMs or something, and colorful new sound machines from Beats.

White House Won’t Block Apple Watch Import Ban That May Never Happen

Apple Watch may be in a bit of danger. AppleInsider says the White House will not be coming to Apple’s aid, which could cost the wearable dearly. According to the report, “President Biden has decided not to block a possible Apple Watch import ban…” Possible, if things fall AliveCor’s way.

We talked about this at the very end of December. That was when the US International Trade Commission ruled that Apple Watch infringes patents held by medical device maker AliveCor. The patents in question are tied to the ECG readings on the device. 

What a piece from 9to5Mac said at the end of last year was that the ITC had declared a Limited Exclusion Order and a cease and desist that could ban the sale and import of Apple Watch Series 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. That order actually did ban the sale and import, though it also suspended enforcement of the Order until all appeals between the two companies had been heard.

Appealing to the White House for Relief

One of those appeals was apparently to the White House, which did not find it appealing. On Tuesday, AppleInsider ran a piece saying it had been told by AliveCor that “the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling in its favor has been cleared by the White House.” But, you know — it’s a patent case, so it’s still not done. In the December report I mentioned earlier, 9to5Mac said the:

…Patent Trial and Appeal Board (PTAB), said [at the start of Decemer] that AliveCor’s technologies are “unpatentable,” which means that they’re too obvious or too general to be patentable.

Wouldn’t you think that that would do it? Then again, wouldn’t you think a ruling from the ITC would do it?

The next step, it seems, is for someone to hear AliveCor’s appeal of its patent invalidations. Should that be overturned, one assumes Apple will have other legal recourse to pursue. 

Seriously, by the time this is over, we’ll probably be flying jetpacks to work and wearing Apple Watch Series 23 Mega or something.

Gen Z Apple Users Are Insufferable ATMs or Something

So, I guess Apple is evil. Or really, the blue bubble/green bubble indicators in iMessage are. The Financial Times ran a decidedly strange story on Tuesday about the lock Apple has on Gen Z users in the US, with growth among the group in Europe as well. Let’s start with some of the business stuff. According to the report:

  • Gen Z users — those born after 1996 — make up 34 per cent of all iPhone owners in the US, versus 10 per cent for Samsung, according to new data from Attain, an adtech data platform.
  • …when market intelligence group Canalys did research in western Europe it found 83 per cent of Apple users under 25 years of age planned to keep using iPhone. The percentage of Android users of the same age who plan to stick with Android was less than half that.
  • …iPhone grew its overall market share of actual phone usage from 35 per cent in 2019 to 50 per cent last year, according to Counterpoint, enabling Apple to grow its profits even as the broader market stagnates.
  • The piece quotes Shannon Cross of Credit Suisse saying, “The strength of the Apple ecosystem creates a moat that is fairly impenetrable by the competition… It really makes it hard to change the trajectory. Apple is just going to continue to gain share over time.”

And those numbers are no joke. “Globally,” says the Financial Times

…for every 100 iPhones shipped, Apple sells 26 iPads, 17 Apple Watches and 35 pairs of AirPods, according to Canalys. For Samsung, 100 smartphone shipments leads to fewer than 11 tablets, six smartwatches and six wireless earbuds.

Coming from a business-focused paper, one might expect stats like those to be the thrust of the article. But the piece spends a significant amount of time focused on how haughty Gen Z can be about their Apple products versus folks who use Android — especially when it comes to the stigma of the green bubble. Well, that and the lower quality of images and videos shared from iMessage to SMS. According to the 24-year-old CEO of one company quoted in the piece:

A green message — anyone with an Android — throws off the entire chat, because now the whole thing has to be SMS… So the social pressure to get an iPhone is pretty insane.

Not that it’s all about that. A 26-year-old marketing specialist interviewed for the piece says he would never consider an Android phone. That’s not due to any social pressure, though. Rather, it’s because he would lose the seamless connectivity he currently enjoys between his iPhone, his Apple Watch, and his MacBook Air. 

While the Financial Times seems to be haughty about Gen Z’s iPhone haughtiness, it’s hard to argue with the financial sense. It’s a weird story for the Financial Times, as I say. 

Beats Adds Three New Colors to Beats Fit Pro Line

An Apple subsidiary is shoving a bit of color in your ears. MacRumors says the Beats by Dre brand is adding three new hues to the Beats Fit Pro lineup. “Originally launched in late 2021,” the piece says:

…Beats Fit Pro are an alternative to Apple’s AirPods Pro which offer many of the same features such as active noise cancelation (ANC) and an H1 chip for Apple-specific features like “Hey Siri” and Find My support and automatic device switching, but in a more fitness-focused design.

Plus, like a Quinn-Martin production, they are “In Color!” New to the palette — Tidal Blue, Volt Yellow, and Coral Pink. They join the existing color range, which includes  Stone Purple, Sage Gray, Beats White, Beats Black, and the the neutral skin-tones Moon, Dune, and Earth. 

The three new colors go on sale this Thursday, Feb. 23 for the standard Fit Pro price of $199.99. They’ll be available through the Beats site — and through Apple’s online store. With the rest of the of the range available in Apple’s physical stores, one assumes the new colors will be at your local retailer come Thursday. You may want to check before heading out, though — just in case.

Rovio Shuffles Angry Birds Titles in Apparent Play for In-App Purchases

Strange happenings among the angry birds. 9to5Mac says the “Rovio Classics: Angry Birds” title is either getting hidden or going away — depends on your platform. In a post on Twitter, the publisher said:

…due to the game’s impact on our wider games portfolio, we have decided that Rovio Classics: Angry Birds will be unlisted from the Google Play Store on Thursday, February 23. Additionally, the game will be renamed to Red’s First Flight in the App Store pending further review. Rovio Classics: Angry Birds will remain playable on devices on which the game has been downloaded, even after it has been unlisted.

So the game still works. If you have it you can still play it. And if you know what you’re looking for, you can still get it for iOS. What’s going on? 9to5Mac figures it has to do with what the old game doesn’t have: In-app purchases. “From what it sounds like,” says the 9to5 take:

…more (or enough) people may be playing the classic which does not have in-app purchases like Angry Birds 2, Journey, Blast, and Friends. That’s the most likely factor hurting the “business case” for Rovio’s apps going forward.

That certainly seems to be supported by the Rovio post. After acknowledging the potentially sad feelings of folks who’d worked on the games and the fans who play/played them, the post said:

We hope those fans can continue to bring that passion to our live Angry Birds slingshot games such as Angry Birds 2, Angry Birds Friends, and Angry Birds Journey, where our goal every day is to craft the best possible experience for players.

The piece also points out that the changes do not affect Angry Birds Reloaded. That’s the version of the game playable now in Apple Arcade.

Apple Tops Fortune’s Most Admired List for 16th Consecutive Year

And finally today, congrats to Apple for the 16th time in a row. Fortune has put the house the Mac built at the top of its list of the world’s most admired companies. That’s the 16th consecutive time at the top, according to a piece from iMore

While times may look tough for tech, a blurb from Fortune says companies in other industries still look up to them. They’re certainly looking up on the list — the top three among the most admired are tech titans. Running down the top-ten:

  1. Apple
  2. Amazon
  3. Microsoft
  4. Berkshire Hathaway
  5. JP Morgan Chase
  6. Walt Disney
  7. Costco Wholesale
  8. Pfizer
  9. Alphabet
  10. American Express

Oddly, the aforementioned blurb says Amazon and Microsoft tied for second. That may have been an “in their hearts” thing though. While the results are said to be “based on a poll of some 3,700 corporate executives, directors, and analysts,” it’s possible that money made the difference between silver and bronze. 

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO writer Nick deCourville joins me to talk about the Financial Times piece on Gen-Z and Apple. Plus: an odd request from Florida’s Attorney General to Apple. That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

One thought on “Apple’s Insufferable Money Machines

  • Ken:

    As you’ve averred, this is a patent case. That the PTAB ruled that AliveCor’s technology is not patentable should have resolved the matter, but in the spirit of redundancy, I repeat myself. This is patent case. Ultimately, somebody wants/needs to put money in motion, preferably between squabbling parties.

    Yours truly is not worried about a ban on Apple Watches. Remember the threatened ban on Blackberry, and how this was going to destroy businesses, life, the universe and everything? Following the requisite level of drama, this extinction level event was simply cancelled by money (and data) moving between RIM and the Saudis So, anticipate sufficient drama and dire predictions of doom to make Chicken Little proud, followed by a deft deflection of crisis worthy of a Hollywood disaster flick – only less dramatic, less compelling and more predictable.

    And speaking of Hollywood, if they do decide to ban the Apple Watch – including those already in theatre, let me paraphrase Charlton Heston by saying, they’ll have to pry it off of my cold, dead wrist.

    Besides, we won’t be flying jet packs. By the time the tempest settles in this teapot, the Apple Watch will feature VPT (virtual private teleportation) that will open one’s own personal portal to anywhere in the universe – perhaps even the multiverse. Just saying.

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