‘Seriously, Come Back to the Office’

Observation Deck Featured Image 4

Apple may be getting serious on the back to work thing, another Epic rant from Tim Sweeney, and Apple may be sinking big bucks into cinema.

Apple Reportedly Leaning on Employees to… Show Up for Work

Here’s a weird story: Zoe Schiffer, Managing Editor @platformer, hit Twitter on Thursday with… something that seems to have come as a surprise to some. “NEW,” began the Twitter post:

Apple is tracking employee attendance (via badge records) and will give employees escalating warnings if they don’t come in 3x per week.

In a follow-up post, Schiffer said:

At Apple, some orgs are saying failure to comply could result in termination, but that doesn’t appear to be a company-wide policy.

I know I’ve not worked in a traditional work setting for about 15-years, and I know there’s been a pandemic. But is showing up to work now optional for work? 

Articles written on the posts highlighted recent reports that Apple was looking at ways to limit spending. But I have to go back to my original question. You can debate whether Apple should have called people back to the office (as we’ve done over the past couple of years) and you can debate whether the return to work-at-work was or is necessary (something else we’ve done over the past couple of years), but — traditionally, anyway — employers get to say where work will be done. 

Apple wasn’t the only company addressed in Schiffer’s Twitter posts, by the way. So was Twitter. “ALSO,” said the first Tweet:

Elon Musk sent Twitter employees an email at 2:30am saying the “office is not optional” and noting SF was half empty yesterday.

So “not optional” as in they can’t go? Or they have to?

No platform for nuance is Twitter.

Apple Removes Sprint as Option for Device Activation

The wireless carrier Sprint is a thing of the past as far as Apple is concerned. Odd that it took this long — Sprint was actually acquired by T-Mobile back in 2020. Three incredibly long years later, a piece from MacRumors says Apple will no longer let people activate iPhones on the truly unCarrier. Same goes for iPads and Apple Watches with cellular connectivity. “Apple has also removed remaining references to Sprint from its online store,” according to the report. 

That said, I guess Sprint is still kind of a thing — emphasis on “kind of.” Going to the site sprint.com immediately rolls one into T-Mobile’s site. “Sprint customers have technically been using the T-Mobile network since shortly after the acquisition,” according to MacRumors. The site still thinks there may be bumps, though. The MacRumors piece says:

Former Sprint customers who are experiencing issues related to their service should contact T-Mobile for help as they will need to move their Sprint accounts to T-Mobile to activate their devices.

Epic CEO Already Angry About Apple’s Mixed Reality Future

From the “Trolls gonna troll” file, Epic CEO Tim Sweeney is worried about Apple and the metaverse, or says he is anyway. AppleInsider had Sweeney speaking this week at Game Developers Conference 2023. It seems that Apple’s anticipated mixed reality headset has him scared or bummed or something. Citing an interview with GameIndustry, the piece has Sweeney saying:

[Apple will] either try to crush the metaverse, or extract all the profit from it. One or the other. Apple doesn’t let you use a competing browser engine. So they can do the same thing with the metaverse, so [they] can say, ‘you must use Apple’s limited metaverse engine, you can’t build your own, you can’t use Unreal.

Speaking of unreal, AppleInsider says it’s not sure where that comment came from. The piece says Unreal is used in iPhone and Mac development, which makes its inclusion in Apple’s mixed reality hardware seem likely.

What he says he wants is an open metaverse. Quoting Sweeney again:

If we just build this thing in an open environment then companies can live on their merits… We very much like that because we have a history of winning on the merits when given the chance and we’re terribly frustrated at markets like iOS where you just can’t make an Epic Games Store for iOS because Apple says ‘You can’t compete with us’!

Sweeney also says he’d like to see robust antitrust laws brought to bear against the Cupertino-company. Quoting the CEO one more time:

We see them as utterly dominating this business if they’re allowed to use their market power and hardware to do so. So we’re fighting that. The other challenges I think can all be overcome.

If you’ll allow me to editorialize — briefly:

This guy makes me mental. 

There is a chance — it’s not certain, but there is a chance that Apple is about to do for VR and mixed reality and eventually AR what it did for MP3 players and smartphones and tablets. Apple was not first to any of those categories. But it defined them. It made them. Whether it can do it again with VR and mixed reality and eventually AR remains to be seen. And Tim Sweeney is already angry because, if it goes the way MP3 players and smartphones and tablets went, he’ll probably have to pay a commission to be included.

Guy makes me mental.

Report: Apple to Spend $1B a Year on Theatrical Release Films

Apple’s looking to spend a billion dollars at the movies. That’s the word in a Bloomberg report, highlighted by Yahoo! Finance — a billion dollars for movies to run in movie theaters. 

To this point, most of Apple’s time in theaters has been about awards eligibility — releasing films for the requisite week or two in select cities, then promoting those films and waiting for Oscar. Oh — and running those films on Apple TV+. Now though, Yahoo! has Bloomberg indicating that Apple:

…plans to spend $1 billion a year to produce movies that will be released in theaters, and has already approached movie studios about partnering on certain titles for releases this year and in the future.

Films already in the works that could see such treatment include Matthew Vaughn’s Argylle, Ridley Scott’s Napoleon, and Martin Scorsese’s Killers of the Flower Moon.

If the plan comes to pass, Apple will be following a path reportedly being blazed by Amazon. In a report last November, Bloomberg said the online super-seller was planning a box office blitz. That had Amazon planning to invest a billion dollars a year producing 12-15 for theatrical release.

The report is seen as promising for ticket sales, which did better last year than the year before but are still falling short of pre-pandemic levels. That said, potentially good news was good enough for investors on Thursday. Talk of Apple’s alleged billion-dollar plan caused shares of theater chains to pop. When the day was done, IMAX closed up 2%, while shares of Cinemark ended the day up just under 6%. AMC had risen early on the news, though shares ended the day unchanged.

Report: ‘Ted Lasso’ Season 3 Premier Views Up 59% Versus Season 2

And finally today — a huge score for Apple’s soccer push. I am referring, of course, to “Ted Lasso.” The first episode of the third-season of the Apple TV+ comedy hit premiered a little over a week ago — and it apparently crushed it. 

Deadline cites numbers from audience analytics firm Samba. According to the report, “About 870,000 Samba TV-measured U.S. households tuned in to the first episode in the first four days since it debuted on the streaming service…” By that firm’s reckoning, the season-three premier was up roughly 59% from season-two’s premier. That one saw 546,000 households tuning in over its first four days, according to Samba. 

While Deadline seems to be onboard with Samba’s methodology, the deafening silence from Cupertino does leave the site wondering. Apple never gave out hard numbers for “Ted Lasso” (or any other title). However, Deadline points out that Apple “did say that Season 2 delivered the streamer’s biggest premiere day ever, largest opening weekend ever and No. 1 debut across all series and movies.”

That was then, so what gives now? Even if the Samba numbers are sound, Deadline thinks the season three premiere may have missed Apple’s own goal.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

Apple’s call for people to — seriously — get back to the office piqued the interest of TMO Managing Editor Jeff Butts and me. We talk that over. Plus — Jeff thinks Apple’s next OS updates will hit Monday or Tuesday… but I feel like there’s something missing. Find out what on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.