Prepping for Apple’s Earnings Call and Another Call for Sideloading

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Prepping for the earnings call, a Federal agency calls for sideloading, and Samsung teases a move on mixed-reality. 

Apple 3.0 Sizes Up Expectations Ahead of Apple Q1FY23 Earnings

Whether with dread or antici…pation, today is the day for which a segment of Apple watchers and all of Wall Street have been waiting. Apple is set to report numbers for the first quarter of fiscal year 2023 — aka “the holiday quarter,” for once, the darkest time of the year where Apple is concerned. 

Over at Apple 3.0, Philip Elmer-DeWitt says, “[e]xpectations are so low it wouldn’t take a very big surprise […] for Apple to beat them.” iPhone sales will be down year-on-year, thanks to the COVID-related closure of the Foxconn plant in Zhengzhou. Mac sales will be down thanks to the lack of new models last quarter, which the same quarter a year earlier did have. “Only Services, Wearables and iPads are expected to show any kind of year-over-year growth,” according to Elmer-DeWitt.

The 11 independent analysts he follows are looking for revenue of $123.82B, which would pretty much be flat versus the same quarter a year ago, on earnings per share of $2.02. Pros are less optimistic. The nine he follows are looking for revenue of $121.77B — down 1.75% on EPS of a buck-94. 

Apple’s Q1FY23 Earnings Set for Today

And with that, the betting window is closed and the horses are on the track. Apple is set to report December-quarter earnings this afternoon. Numbers will hit in a press release after the bell ~4:30 EST/1:30 PST. Then at 5:00 EST/2:00 PST, Apple analysts and Apple execs will go to the phone for their quarterly Q&A. You can hear that as it happens on Apple’s site. It’ll be made available as a podcast soon after. And — of course — we’ll hit the great and the gruesome right here on Friday.

NTIA Calls for Sideloading and Third-Party App Stores for iPhone

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration is officially calling for sideloading and third-party app stores for iPhone. AppleInsider highlights the NTIA’s report. While the Administration says the mobile app store model as it stands today “has provided a range of benefits to both app developers and users,” it “has also created conditions of competition that are suboptimal.”

Quoting parts of the report’s executive summary:

The policies that Apple and Google have in place… have created unnecessary barriers and costs for app developers… ranging from fees for access to functional restrictions that favor some apps over others.

…in some areas, such as in-app payments, it is unclear how the current system benefits anyone other than Apple and Google.

While Apple and Google provide reasons why some measures might be in place, such as the benefits to users in increased security and privacy protections, and to developers in terms of access to markets and development tools, many commenters challenge the technical necessities of these choices and question whether other models could provide similar if not greater benefit.

And you start to get the idea. The report says:

This report concludes with a series of recommendations, including:

  • Promoting alternative means of app distribution, by, for example, considering measures to limit pre-installation or reducing restrictions on sideloading, competing app stores, and competing browsers that would allow fully-featured web apps.
  • Considering measures to remove technical limitations on developers, by, for example, improving the fairness of mobile app store review processes, permitting broader in-app purchasing options, support stronger antitrust enforcement and encouraging interoperability.

Whether you’re excited by the report’s findings or disappointed, real action seems fairly unlikely because — Congress. AppleInsider says the report argues that:

“…given the growing importance of [the app] ecosystem to our economy,” and also to the people of the United States, Congress should “pursue measures… to open the ecosystem to greater competition.”

There is political hay to be made, so… maybe. It’s not the fastest moving body, though. 

Perhaps the most amazing thing that happened Wednesday — Apple responded to the report on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the company told AppleInsider:

We appreciate the report acknowledges the importance of user privacy, data security and user convenience.

Nevertheless, we respectfully disagree with a number of conclusions reached in the report, which ignore the investments we make in innovation, privacy and security…

The whole report is available to read on the web, though to borrow a line from Beetlejuice, the thing reads like stereo instructions. I do hope to read the report in the coming days, though I’m not sure I want to keep falling asleep quite that much.

Samsung Exec Teases Move Into Mixed-Reality

Will Samsung beat Apple in the race to a mixed-reality something? Engadget says the South Korean electronics maker has told The Washington Postthat it is working on something in “extended reality.” Since Samsung makes hardware, hardware is the assumption, though the company did not announce any such device during yesterday’s Unpacked event in San Francisco. 

About the only thing known about the hardware is that it’ll use chips provided by Qualcomm. As for the OS, Engadget says it’ll run on “a new, Google-designed version of Android designed with wearable displays in mind…” Though this is not Meta’s fork of Android for its Quest devices, the piece says Samsung’s mixed-reality hardware will “entail partnerships with Meta and Microsoft…” 

Smoke and mirrors? Or something actually on the way? No indication of a timeline from the Engadget article. While Samsung mobile president TM Roh says the company has been working on its mixed-reality machines for a while, he seems to sort of hedge, saying “the ecosystem has to be ‘somewhat ready’ before launch.”

Start the clock.

Spatial Audio Hits 700 Titles on Netflix

Spatial audio has made its way to more Netflix movies and shows. Cult of Mac says the video-streaming giant has added the audio format, “which lets (…) tv shows and films offer a surround sound-like experience” minus the surround sound hardware. An early report from the site indicated that Netflix was using Apple’s version of spatial audio, though it turns out the service has actually rolled its own. Even so, it says that “Netflix spatial audio brings an immersive, cinematic sound experience on any device with no additional equipment required…”

What’s funny is the Cult says Netflix has “greatly increased” the number of movies and shows with spatial audio. With who knows how many tens-of-thousands of titles and episodes available though, the piece says spatial audio is now live “on 700 of the streaming service’s most-popular watched titles…” for a price. 

Now, maybe you’re thinking, “Are you calling me a deadbeat? I pay for my Netflix.” You might not be paying enough, though. According to Cult of Mac. the Standard Netflix plan is $15.49 per month, though that does not include Spatial Audio nor 4K video. Standard tops out at 1080p, according to the report. If you want 4K and Spatial Audio on way less than the Netflix catalogue offers, that requires the Premium plan, which runs subscribers $19.99 per month.

MLS Season Pass Subscriptions Open Ahead of Season’s Start

The 2023 Major League Soccer season doesn’t start for another few weeks, but your subscription to it is available now. Apple issued a press release Wednesday, announcing the global availability of MLS Season Pass through the Apple TV app. While the season does not kickoff until Feb. 25, the release highlights lots of free content available beforehand. “To get ready for the 2023 Major League Soccer season,” the release says:

…fans can enjoy a wide variety of free on-demand content that celebrates the action, excitement, and distinct culture of MLS, including content from MLS clubs, 2023 player profiles, the best league and club highlights from the 2022 season, full replays of classic matches, and documentary-style vignettes.

Could be a good primer for the soccer-curious, I suppose. Once play begins, the release says:

…MLS Season Pass will feature every live MLS regular-season match, the entire Audi MLS Cup Playoffs, and Leagues Cup all in one place, with consistent match times and no blackouts — a first in live sports broadcasting. 

As stated before, subscriptions are open now. They’ll run viewers $14.99-per-month or $99 if you buy the full-season up front. Apple TV+ subscribers get discounts on those prices — either $12.99-per-month or $79 for the full slate if you pay in advance. 

Apple Tops Fortune List of World’s Most Admired Companies

And finally today, while Wall Street may not be overjoyed with Apple’s earnings today, the company’s compatriots have mad respect. Fortune (via Apple News) is out with its 25th annual list of the world’s most admired companies. That list is actually divided into a few lists — some for individual industries and one list to rule them all. As it has for sometime now, Apple sits atop both lists on which it shows — Computer Industry and the great big list of All Stars. The way Fortune puts it:

When a company scores well on both rankings, it’s likely executing at an Olympian level, both in public and behind the scenes. Apple’s 16-year streak at No. 1 on the All-Stars list is a tribute to its historic cash-machine-like profitability and the reliability and popularity of its devices. But its top ranking in the computer industry—for the 13th time in 14 years—shows that it’s also impressing the competitors who know it best.

So, investors might be bothered these days. Employees may not be into everything the company does. Various global governments may not be big fans. Businesses and businesses that do what Apple does like the way Apple does business.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and I talk over the NTIA report (because we have to) and Samsung’s mixed-reality talk (because we want to (well… I want to)). That’s all today on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

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