iPhone 14 Plus Can’t Even FAIL Properly

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iPhone 14 Plus fails at failing, Apple and Foxconn rerun a play in India, and developers get release candidates of Apple operating systems.

DSCC Data Shows iPhone 14 Plus Outperforming iPhone 13 mini

Interesting notes and an odd assertion today on iPhone 14 Plus. The notes are from Display Supply Chain Consultants (DSCC), brought our way by both MacRumors and 9to5Mac. The DSCC report looks at panel shipments for iPhones from June of last year through next month (somehow), comparing those to the panel shipments for the same period a year earlier. In so doing, they’re able to guesstimate the performance of the iPhone 14 line versus the iPhone 13 line. Looking at a “breakdown of panel shipments by model for the iPhone 13 vs iPhone 14,” 9to5Mac says:

  • Panel shipments for iPhone 14 Pro Max are up 23% versus it’s counterpart in the 13 line
  • Panel shipments for iPhone 14 Pro are up 22%
  • Panel shipments for iPhone 14 are down 36%
  • And — saving the most interesting for last — Panel shipments for iPhone 14 Plus are up 59% versus panel shipments for the previous generation’s iPhone 13 Mini

That last one is strange, I know. Not an apples-to-apples comparison, if you’ll pardon the use of that term. We’ll come back to that. For the latest line as a whole, MacRumors says:

…the iPhone 14 series looks to be marginally more popular than the previous series, with a 2% increase in the number of year-on-year panel shipments as of April, apparently buoyed by increased sales of the more expensive Pro models at the cost of fewer standard iPhone 14 models being sold.

Boy does that discount the 14 Plus, which is a habit just about everybody is in. “A number of reports have suggested the iPhone 14 Plus is selling worse than Apple’s expectations,” according to the piece from 9to5Mac. The number of reports cited in the piece is two. Maybe two and a half. It links to an article written for 9to5Mac back in October, based on an article from The Information, as well an article written for 9to5Mac back in November, based on a Tweet from display analyst Ross Young. 

Okay, But What’s It All Mean, Ken?

A lot is being based on those two sources. The first part of the 9to5Mac headline says, “iPhone 14 Plus sales are too small for Apple…” Okay… I mean, Apple never said so, but — whatever. Writing for 9to5Mac, Chance Miller says near the end of the piece:

…I think we (and maybe even Apple) sometimes forget that not every iPhone can be a best-seller. The iPhone 14 Plus might be missing Apple’s sales target, but Apple is still selling millions of them. Apple needs to decide whether it’s ok having a niche iPhone in the lineup. 

You’re killing me. You’re so close to there, but you’re not there. Apple seems to have decided “whether it’s ok having a niche iPhone in the lineup.” It’s made a few iPhone SEs at this point. It made the iPhone 12 mini, it made the iPhone 13 mini, and now it’s making iPhone 14 Plus. 

Some people “sometimes forget that not every iPhone can be a best-seller.” That is true. That said, the only indication we have that Apple is in that group are pieces like the one from The Information and the Ross Young Tweet, and pieces written based upon them.

Apple and Foxconn Seek Changes to Labor Laws in Indian State of Tamil Nadu

News of a push for new labor practices in India. News that sounds so familiar, I had to make sure the story wasn’t a repost. According to a piece from Bloomberg (via Economic Times), secret sources say Apple and Foxconn are lobbying for changes to labor laws in the Indian state of Tamil Nadu. According to the report:

The suggested changes include allowing factories to operate two shifts of 12 hours each, instead of the previous three shifts that each went on for eight hours.

The piece goes on to say:

The envisioned changes could also encourage more women to work in factories. By having more flexible shifts, women could avoid commuting on night buses — often seen as an unsafe option. 

It all sounds really familiar, right? That’s because it’s all happened, just not in Tamil Nadu. It was just over a week ago that the Financial Times ran a piece on labor law changes in the Indian state of Karnataka. That report had changes in that sate allowing:

…for 12-hour shifts, up from the previous limit of nine hours. It also eased rules on night-time work for women, who dominate electronics production lines in China, Taiwan and Vietnam but are under represented in India’s workforce.

That said, “Apple and its suppliers” seem to be going a bit further in Tamil Nadu. According to secret sources in Bloomberg’sreport, the companies “are also in talks to build large working women’s hostels in and around factory complexes, which would reduce travel time…”

No word in the piece on when changes in Tamil Nadu might be enacted, though they could be big for Apple and Foxconn. That state is home to Foxconn’s biggest iPhone plant on the subcontinent, according to Bloomberg.

Foxconn’s Bangaluru Plans Move Forward

Meanwhile, the changes in Karnataka were apparently aimed at new business — specifically a new Foxconn plant. Earlier this month, a piece from Bloomberg (via Apple News) had Foxconn planning to spend $700 million on a 300-acre facility in Bengaluru, in the state of Karnataka. Secret people said to know something about something said the plant would make parts for iPhones. Additionally, the piece said:

The factory may also assemble Apple’s handsets, some of the people said, and Foxconn may also use the site to produce some parts for its nascent electric vehicle business.

Plans for the plant are moving forward, though a piece from AppleInsider says Foxconn is paying more than originally expected and getting less than it may have hoped. Citing a piece from the Times of India, AppleInsider says Foxconn’s outlay has risen from US$700 million to US$968 million. Additionally, while initial plans had called for the creation of 100,000 jobs at the plant, the latest numbers put the new jobs expected closer to 50,000.

Morgan Stanley: App Store Needs Not Fear Possible Microsoft Mobile Game Store

“Microsoft poses ‘biggest potential threat’ to Apple’s App Store.” That is the gist of a note from Morgan Stanley, according to a piece from CNBC. Spoiler: It’s really no threat, according to Morgan Stanley — at least no time soon. Here’s what happened. 

Earlier this week, Microsoft Gaming exec Phil Spencer said that his company could open a new app store for games sometime in 2024 — if regulators approve Mr. Softy’s $75 billion buy of Activision Blizzard and if the European Union’s Digital Markets Act (DMA) forces Apple to open the iPhone and iPad ecosystems to third-party app stores. 

Those are two ifs worthy of note. They bring us back to CNBC, which had Morgan Stanley saying in a note on Tuesday that if Microsoft makes it past those other two ifs and if it is able to launch its own app store for games on iThings, it would represent an “immaterial risk” to Apple, though it would be a “long-term threat” to keep an eye on.

It would be “immaterial,” according to the firm, because Activision Blizzard and Microsoft “accounted for less than 1% of total Apple Services revenue combined” in 2022. As for why it would be worth keeping an eye on, the analysts say:

If we took a ‘worst case’ view of the world and said the potential Microsoft app store could take all EU gaming revenue from the Apple App Store – given the focus of the DMA is just in Europe, for now – that would equate to 8% of App Store revenue, 2% of Apple Services revenue, and a ~1% hit to Apple company-level revenue and EPS. 

That… still doesn’t sound threatening. And Morgan Stanley seems to agree, even as it uses the word “threat.” Quoting the analysts again:

We estimate the impact of a potential Microsoft App Store on the iPhone would be limited to <3% of App Store revenue and <0.5% of EPS, but it still represents the biggest potential threat to the App Store today.

That is a weird assertion. 

Morgan Stanley has a “Buy” rating on Apple Shares, according to TipRanks. The firm’s price target on the shares is $180.

New Round of OS Release Candidates Out to Apple Developers

New operating systems are just around the bend, my Huckleberry friend — and maybe new hardware as well. First, a big round of release candidates was made available to developers on Tuesday. Pieces from MacRumors note the arrival of release candidates for iOS and iPadOS 16.4, macOS Ventura 13.3, watchOS 9.4, tvOS 16.4, and Studio Display Firmware 16.4 to members of Apple’s developer program. 

Raised Voices, Fewer Duplicate Photos

Additional pieces noted a few new features. They’re not sexy, but they’re not nothin’. For example, one MacRumors piece says iOS 16.4 brings “voice isolation for cellular calls.” Spelled like it sounds, the feature should separate voices from other noises — elevating the former and sinking the latter. According to the report:

Apple says that Voice Isolation will prioritize your voice and block out the ambient noise around you, making for clearer phone calls where you can better hear the person you’re chatting with and vice versa.

Also coming soon — duplicate image detection for the iCloud Shared Photo Library. Another piece from MacRumors points out that Apple added duplicate image detection for the Photos app with the arrival of iOS 16. “If you have duplicate images,” the piece says:

…the ‌Photos‌ app displays a “Duplicates” folder in the Utilities album section. From there, you can merge all of your duplicate images together. 

While that works for the Photos app, it does not work for the iCloud Shared Photo Library. Come iOS 16.4, it will. Three cheers.

Other upcoming iOS 16.4 features we’ve heard about before. They’re said by MacRumors to include “new emojis, Push Notifications for web apps, bug fixes for HomeKit, Crash Detection optimizations, and more.” There is of course no word on exactly when the operating systems will see wide release. Next week feels somewhere between “possible” and “likely.” 

Code in iOS 16.4 RC References Unreleased Earables

And what of this “maybe new hardware” I mentioned? Eh, stick it in your ear, maybe. Yet another piece from MacRumors says this week’s iOS release candidate “appears to hint at a new set of AirPods that could be coming in the near future.” Citing a post from Twitter’s @aaronp613, the piece says under the hood code references unreleased AirPods and an unreleased AirPods case.

While the hints may be there, MacRumors has trouble buying it for a couple of reasons. First — there have been no new AirPods rumored, and second, “it is early for Apple to update the earbuds,” in the site’s estimation, “as they were just refreshed in 2021.” Still, they don’t seem willing to discount the idea entirely. 

New AirPods aren’t the only earables referenced. “Earables,” by the way — not a word. But you could totally hear some idiot saying it, right? 

Yes, I know what I just said. 

Anyway, a piece from 9to5Mac says this week’s iOS release candidate also references an unreleased pair of Beats Studio Buds+. Just like 2021’s Beats Studio Buds, the report says the Buds+ “will have active noise cancellation and transparency mode.” Additionally, code indicates support for “audio sharing, automatic device switching, and ‘Hey Siri,’ just like AirPods and other Beats wireless earbuds…” 

With their apparent inclusion in the iOS 16.4 release candidate, 9to5Mac expects an official Beats Studio Buds+ announcement in the very near future. 

Sunsetting Exposure Notifications API

And finally today, news of a feature finding the exit in the iOS release candidate. A piece from 9to5Mac says Apple is opening the escape hatch for the Exposure Notifications API for COVID-19 contact tracing. 

It was a technological feat in early 2020 when Apple and Google teamed up to launch that API. The plan was to let users know when they had possibly been exposed to COVID-19. This would allow them to get tested and isolate, if necessary. 

The amazing part was the API’s ability to do this while protecting the privacy of people who opted in. Well, that was one amazing part. The other amazing part was the resistance with which the API was met. The U.S. went with contact tracing on a state-by-state basis. Some states used the Apple/Google API. Some did not. Even in states that did go Silicon Valley’s way, there didn’t seem to be a huge push. Now, when iOS 16.4 hits, 9to5Mac says health departments will be able to end their support for the system. Folks in a system dropping support will receive a message, saying:

Your health authority has turned off Exposure Notifications. Your iPhone is no longer logging nearby devices and will not be able to notify you of possible exposures. Previously collected exposure data is automatically deleted.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast 

TMO writer Nick deCourville and I kick around the iPhone 14 Plus story… Plus: Have you heard Steve Jobs’ thoughts on COVID-19? We’ve got a creepy talking A.I. story on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer — online at macobserver.com, or wherever you get podcasts.

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