Two Tales of Apple and China, Artistic Beats Earbuds and Using Apple Pay at the Grocery Store

Observation Deck Featured Image 4

A trimmed target for Apple, two tales of Apple and China, and my grocery store is finally getting Apple Pay.

Morgan Stanley Trims Apple Target, Stays ‘Overweight’ on Apple

Another financial firm has weighed in on Apple’s iPhone 14 Pro warning. You probably remember but I’ll remind you anyway — the Cupertino-company issued a press release Sunday evening saying that waits for iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max will be extended. It also stressed that demand remains strong for the two Pro phones. That led to a number of analysts analyzing, with one running behind — I’m looking at you Morgan Stanley analyst Eric Woodring. 

Apple 3.0 has added his missing missive to its mix. Like most Apple analysts, Woodring stresses what Apple stressed — that it’s a supply problem, not a demand issue. “Said differently,” says the note:

…we believe this situation equates to more of a deferral of iPhone demand than a destruction of demand, which does not change our [Overweight] thesis.

The title of his note has Woodring arguing that Apple’s press release presents an opportunity to “buy the dip.” The only problem there — there hasn’t really been one. AAPL shares have picked up about half-a-percentage point each day for the past two. As indicated in his note, Woodring maintains an “Overweight” rating on Apple shares. He’s trimmed a bit off his price target though — dropping that from $177 to $175.

Two Tales of Apple and the Middle Kingdom

Financial Times Looks at Apple’s Relationship with China

Two looks at Apple and China from two big publications Tuesday. First, the Financial Times reiterates what a lot of people have already decided: That Apple’s manufacturing is too tied up in the Middle Kingdom. When it works, it works well, giving Apple access to a workforce able to make its products and a buying class more than willing to buy those products. 

If there was new news in the piece, it was this: Apple is said by the Financial Times to be the most profitable tech company in China. Like — just the China part of Apple. According to the report:

Operating profits in greater China — which includes Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and mainland China — have shot up 104 per cent over 24 months to $31.2bn in the financial year to September, eclipsing the $15.2bn earned by Tencent and the $13.5bn from Alibaba in their most recent 12-month period, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

That is Apple generating profits that beat China’s two biggest tech companies combined, according to the report.

Of course, the problem with having all of your eggs in one basket — what happens when something happens to that basket? Additionally, the report says critics “argue Apple’s reliance on Chinese manufacturing has made it acquiesce too readily to authoritarian demands.” Apple declined to comment for the Financial Times piece, though the paper pointed to the company’s usual argument — it follows the law of the land in the lands where it does business. 

NYT: Making Old News New?

Going a bit darker is the New York Times. It’s an article worth knowing about, though I’m not sure it’s worth reading — you know, unless you want to. 

Like the Financial Times, the Gray Lady focuses on Apple manufacturing being too tied up in China. The piece uses Sunday’s warning about iPhone 14 Pro/Pro Max waits to illustrate. It also talks a lot about Apple’s now dead plan to use storage from China’s Yangtze Memory Technologies Co in iPhones made for China in China. If you’re a regular “Mac OS Ken” listener, you know that story. I covered it on the 18 October edition, thanks to a Nikkei Asia piece. We also talked about it on the 18 October edition of the  Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.

But — you know … more people read the New York Times than listen to “Mac OS Ken.” So, if you suddenly hear talk about something you heard here a little over three-weeks ago — blame “the paper of record.” 

Kroger SoCal Subsidiary Ralphs Now Accepts Apple Pay

News that I have been waiting for since the start of the pandemic (and never thought was coming): The grocery giant Kroger has started accepting Apple Pay at its nearly 200 Ralphs stores in Southern California. 

I have seriously been DMing Ralphs on Twitter off and on for months asking why this hadn’t happened yet and when it was likely to. Now, a piece from MacRumors says all 184 SoCal locations are accepting Apple’s contactless payment solution. The piece says the news is particularly notable because Kroger had been working its own payment angle. Instead of Apple Pay, the report says:

[Kroger] offers its own service called Kroger Pay, which allows customers to scan a QR code at checkout to pay with a card stored in the Kroger app. The only other Kroger subsidiary to accept Apple Pay is QFC in the Northwest.

Squeaky wheels on the left coast it seems. No word on whether Kroger and its other subsidiaries will follow Ralphs on the Apple Pay route.

Semi-Mysterious Software Updates

Apple Outs New Round of OS Developer Betas

Tuesday was a day of sort of vague software updates from Apple. MacRumors ran a series of posts yesterday, saying that Apple has seeded the second betas of macOS Ventura 13.1, iOS and iPadOS 16.2, watchOS 9.2, and tvOS 16.2 to developers. Not super-vague, though if you’re not in the developer program, they’re shrouded in mystery.

Firmware Updates for AirPods Pro 2 and Beats Devices

Greater mysteries lay in the things you stick in your ears. 9to5Mac says Apple has started dropping a new build of AirPods Pro 2 firmware into the stoppers. It’s still version 5.1.58, though the build number has changed from 5A377 to 5B58… and I’m pretty sure I just sank your battleship. 

What does the update do? As usual, you’re not cleared for that information. All Apple says is that the build includes “bug fixes and other improvements.” That said, 9to5Mac thinks/hopes the update addresses issues around audio drifting and audio syncing. According to the report:

Audio drifting is an issue with headphones where the sound shifts between each side of the two earbuds. The audio will move back and forth between earbuds and can also get out of sync with videos. For AirPods Pro 2 specifically, affected users say they are experiencing a combination of audio drifting and shifting, as well as volume levels randomly increasing or decreasing.

Maybe this fixes that. Maybe it doesn’t. You’ll have to wait to find out since there’s also no way to prompt the update. Apple’s standard line is that “new firmware versions will install when the AirPods are connected via Bluetooth to your iPhone,” according to the report.

AirPods aren’t Apple’s only in-ear noise machines. A piece from MacRumors says the Cupertino-company also released new firmware for Beats Studio Buds, Beats Fit Pro, and Powerbeats Pro. If you’re wondering what the updates do, you should meet the people packing AirPods Pro 2. You guys could start a support group. If you’re wondering how to prompt the update, you should meet the people packing AirPods Pro 2. You guys could start a support group.

Apple Announces Special Edition Melody Ehsani Powerbeats Pro

How about some new Powerbeats Pro units to go with your new Powerbeats Pro firmware? Another piece from MacRumors says Apple subsidiary Beats has announced a couple of new pairs, offered “in collaboration with fashion designer Melody Ehsani.”

Each pair is sort of spilt in color, with the units on one coming in pink and red, while the earphones in the other are each a blue and yellow split. Both pairs feature a sort of crude drawing of an eye and the words, “If you can read this you’re too close.”

The special edition stoppers will start selling this Friday 11 November on Apple’s site. The company has yet to state a price for the units. While MacRumors says Powerbeats Pro usually go for $249 a pair, available models in Ivory, Navy, and Black are currently selling through Apple’s site at a $50 discount. 

New Apple Vancouver Flagship Opening Soon

And finally today, how about a new place to pick up your new Powerbeats Pro units to go with your new Powerbeats Pro firmware? Once more to MacRumors, which has Apple announcing a new flagship store opening next week. Vancouver, Canada will be home to the new Apple Pacific Centre store.

One store comes to town, one store leaves. The piece says the standalone store “will replace Apple’s existing store inside the adjacent Pacific Centre shopping mall,” a location that opened in 2008. Located on the corner of West Georgia and Howe Streets across from the Vancouver Art Gallery, MacRumors says the outdoor store is set to open on Friday 18 November.

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast 

I get to talk with one of my favorite industry people about one of my favorite topics: Creative Strategies Principal Analyst and CEO Ben Bajarin hits the show to talk augmented reality, virtual reality, Facebook, Apple, and the metaverse. That’s all today 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.