Sep 02

The Siri focused invites are out and that means it’s new iPhone time.

Our thoughts on what to expect this time next week.

apple invite sept 9 2015

 

Intrestingly Apple are hosting this event at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco, California. This is a far larger venue than usual. Significant? Who knows?

What we do know is that Apple will show the new and greatest iPhones, expected to be called the 6S and 6 Plus S. We can also expect to learn more on release details of iOS 9 for mobile anb the latets OS X EL Capaitan. These were shown at WWDC in June so we know the overview of these upgrades. Expect an update on Siri and most likely an updated Apple TV.

iPHONE 6S ROUNDUP

  • iOS 9 expected to support Force Touch, just in time for iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s base model to have 16GB of storage
  • 12MP camera, 4K video recording, possible OLED display
  • Same as iPhone 6 on the outside, faster LTE chip inside

What else have we learnt from the rumor mill?

From the various blogs and rumor mills, it’s clear we can expect three new things. The first is a vastly similar if not identical design as its predecessor, but with a few minor modifications. The shell is said to be slightly thicker, making it more rigid, helping to avoid a repeat of the so-called “Bend-gate” issue from last year. The thicker shell may also house an improved, longer-lasting battery. But what’s more likely is that Apple will bring its Force Touch technology from the new MacBook to the new iPhone. That would bring pressure sensitivity to the device, opening up a whole range of possibilities for developers.

We’re also expecting an improved 12-megapixel camera — a significant bump on the current models — allowing for super high-resolution 4K video recording. It’s also likely that we will see a beefed-up A9 processor alongside more memory, making the smartphone faster and more responsive.

While it’s reported that Apple will drop the cheaper “C” phone model, the iPhone will still come in two sizes: the regular 4.7-inch iPhone 6S, and the 5.5-inch iPhone 6S Plus.

iOS9 – The iPhone magic source

iPhone line upAlong with the new iPhone, the company’s mobile operating system iOS 9 is also expected to land at the event. The software, first announced at Apple’s developer conference in June, comes with a familiar look and feel, but with a wealth of new features.

We’ll see an “intelligence” update to Siri, which will expand its search results and answers, add support for more in-built apps, and offer third-party support.

And there’s more. Mac users will see a desktop refresh with OS X 10.11 El Capitan, the operating system that lands with the company’s line-up of desktop and notebooks.

The focus of the updated software is to squeeze out more of what you already have, like better performance, and faster speeds — in some cases as much as four-fold. That’s done by bringing Metal, the core graphics technology used in newer iPhones and iPads, to the Mac, offering a welcome boost to app rendering performance. And, there are other updates, such as Split View (which to many Windows 7 and later users will be reminiscent of Snap), and smarter Spotlight search, among other features.

And, for the wearable crowd, expect the anticipated update to Apple Watch to land at the event, which comes with new watch faces and greater customization.

Apple TV Refresh or Game Console?

Numerous reports have pointed to a long-awaited refresh of the platform. Almost everything there was to leak has leaked — at least, so we think.

With the new hardware and software, Apple is said to want to “actively complete” with gaming consoles, putting the pintsized box in the big-wig league of consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. The box is also slated to include Siri, pushing the device to the same realm as competitors like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire Stick.

The software and hardware improvements may open the platform up to App Store additions in the coming months. We may also see the launch of a cable-cutter friendly Apple-branded television streaming service down the line, potentially rivaling services like HBO and Netflix.

How much will it cost? Some are saying as much as $199, more than double the price of the device now.

Will there be a “Just One More Thing” moment?

Apple has, at least in the past couple of years, pushed out a small yet generous “one more thing” to take away from the presentation.

Some have read into the size of the auditorium booked by Apple: is it a hint that we may see something significantly larger, like a car? Project Titan lives, but it may be a while until we see it.

All will be revealed this time next week. The pitch will be live on Apple you can see and hear it live.

Jul 24

Apple Watch sales numbers are shrouded in mystery, as Apple has not released definitive sales numbers. A few weeks ago a lone report suggested the sales had dropped off a cliff. A story by MarketWatch columnist Brett Arends with the blaring headline “Apple Watch Sales Plunge 90%” epitomizes this attitude. There was a nugget of truth behind Arends’ headline — a sales estimate from Slice Intelligence — but it was ripped out of context in order to mislead reader. The Slice report was not covered in full and only represented sales on-line and ignored the transition to Apple selling in store.

apple-watch_large

In this week earning report Apple provided no concrete data points, sticking with its rationale that such data would be useful for competitors. Apple did say that sales beat its internal expectations, while noting there were supply constraints throughout the quarter as it ramped up production. Apple Watch wasn’t even available at Apple Retail Stores until mid-June. Tim Cook did directly dismiss those reports that sales had fallen since launch. Apple Watch had the highest sales in June, completely undermining Slice Intelligence’s dubious findings.

Since the earnings report a number of more established research firms have updated their sales forecast for the Apple Watch. The Strategy Analytics estimate shows the Apple watch Capture 75% of the global smart watch market during the launch quarter while Samsung grabbed 7% market share.

Strategy Analytics suggest Apple sold 4 million watches during the second quarter with Samsung selling less than 400,000 in the same period.

Other analysts have adjusted their own apple watch sales with the consensus standing 2.2million to 3 million units sold. These numbers imply that the Strategy Analytics estimate is towards the top end of range. However they do always imply Apple watch has become the dominant market leader.

Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, added, “We estimate Apple Watch shipped 4.0 million units and captured a dominant 75 percent smartwatch marketshare worldwide in Q2 2015. Apple Watch launched in sixteen major countries and saw decent take-up from iPhone loyalists in the United States and elsewhere. Apple Watch has clearly raised the bar for the global smartwatch industry. The ball is now in the court of rivals, like Samsung, to respond.”

With the launch of the Apple Watch the global smart watch market has expanded significantly with an estimated market growth of over 400%.  Strategy Analytics report that Smartwatch shipments were higher this quarter  than the whole of 2014,  when Samsung topped the market  with a commanding 74% of global market share.

Samsung and Apple combined now account for eight and 10 Smart watches sold leaving other manufacturers combined with 900,000 smart watches of which Pebble is a leading contender.

The smartwatch race has similarities with the smart phone race in the apple and Samsung are the two dominant players and the remainder take the crumbs from the table.

During the earnings release conference call Tim Cook said Apple what sales of Apple Watch exceeded expectations but did not specify actual sales numbers.  His only concrete comment was the apple what sales during the first nine weeks on availability higher than sales of the original iPad and iPhone Windows Devices were first available for sale.

Jul 15

This morning the Apple Pay screen is now live on the iPhone.

This lets you add a bank card to Passbook. Until today that option was not available.

It’s dead easy to add a card. Just follow the set up instructions, hold the camera to the the credit card and the iPhone sucks in the cards details.

Apple pay set up Set up Apple pay

 

 

You will then be asked to verify the card. By this time the card’s issuers will have sent you a text or email with a code. Simply enter the code into the iPhone and the card is ready for use.

You can see the cards in the Paybook app and you can set a defiantly card to use.

 

Apple pay card ready for use

To add your Watch you have to add the card to the Watch in the same process as initially adding it to the iphone. Plus you need to add a code to the Watch to increase security.

Then to make a purchase you just hold your Watch up to the Card Terminal in a retailer that accepts Pay by Touch, that most UK retailers and the job is done. On the Watch just double click the long button to show the card you are using.

Pay by Apple watch

Fist transaction carried out in a Marks & Spencer in Guildford. Cashier was excited as it was their first Watch experience.

Very neat and rewarding experience.

 

Jul 06

According to 9-5 mac website, Apple appears to be planning to enable its Apple Pay iPhone mobile payments service in the UK on July 14th, according to sources at multiple retailers. Apple has informed some Apple Retail employees in the UK that Apple Pay support will go live on that Tuesday, while an internal memos for supermarket Waitrose plus an additional retail partner indicate the same date.

applepay2 applepay

Apple will also begin training its local staff on supporting Apple Pay on July 12th. Apple has begun enabling its mobile point of sale systems in England-based stores to take NFC payments and has been preparing materials to promote the Apple Pay launch in stores. It is plausible that different stores will have different launch dates, but the presence of the same, at least tentative, date makes July 14th a very possible widespread start date.

Announced for July at the June Worldwide Developers Conference, the U.K.’s Apple Pay launch will mark Apple’s first expansion of the service outside of the United States. Like in the U.S., a PIN won’t be required for usage, but the launch will include a £20 cap per transaction, as also noted on the above memo sent to us and posted across the web. However, a source tells us that U.K. systems will be updated in the fall to process higher values. Apple is also currently working on bringing the service to Canada later this year in addition to China and South Korea in the future.

Looking forward to checking out local Waitrose on Bastile day, perfect execuse to pick up some wine and cheese.

Jun 07

The Daiky Telegraph reports that Apple Pay in the UK will be announced at this week’s WWDC in San Francisco.

Apple pay with applel watchThe Silicon Valley giant is expected to make the announcement on Monday in San Francisco at WWDC, its annual jamboree for software developers, industry sources say. The service will be switched on in around two months, they said.

It will mark a major development for the payments industry. Multiple attempts by mobile operators and banks to get contactless mobile payments up and running in Britain have failed amid industry infighting and consumer indifference.

Apple has been in talks with banks and retailers about its launch since last year, sources said, and has the clout to drive adoption by both industry and consumers.

The iPhone accounts for more than 40pc of smartphones sold in the UK, and owners tend to be big-spending consumers.

Much of the infrastructure for needed for Apple Pay is already in place thanks to investment in contactless debit and credit payment technology. The iPhone contains a wireless microchip similar to those in contactless payment cards, allowing Apple Pay users to store their details and to wave the handset over a terminal to pay.

Apr 01

Tesla announced today — a day with very little real news and a lot of “fake news” — that it has created the Model W, a new smart-watch to compete head-on with the forthcoming and insanely hyped Apple Watch.

Tesla Model WFrom the official Tesla press release:

PALO ALTO, Calif., April 1, 2015 – Tesla today announced a whole new product line called the Model W. As many in the media predicted, it’s a watch. That’s what the “W” stands for.

This incredible new device from Tesla doesn’t just tell the time, it also tells the date. What’s more, it is infinitely adjustable, able to tell the time no matter where you are on Earth. Japan, Timbuktu, California, anywhere! This will change your life. Reality as you know it will never be the same.

(Tesla is having some fun here with the kind of reverential talk that often issues from Jony Ive’s mouth. Well played, Tesla.)

Here’s the full-sized promo image from Tesla:

Tesla Model W promo

 

 

Below the picture of the new Model W, Tesla inserts: “Warning, current version requires wrist strength of an orangutan.”

The joke works well because of Apple’s rumoured movement on Tesla’s turf with a new Apple Car. That hasn’t been confirmed, however.

Apple watch will be available to pre order on April 10th with shipping on April 24th.

Feb 27

Apple have just sent out invitations to a media event to be held Monday, March 9 in San Francisco with the standard 10 AM PST or 6 PM UK  starts time.

Apple event

 

The event is called “Spring forward” which coincides with the commencement of daylight savings time which in the US starts on March 8.

One can safely assume this is the official launch of Apple watch. At this point we still don’t know much about the watch details. We can expect this event to fill the gaps about prices, battery life , straps options and of course shipping dates.

There are also rumors of additional updates to the MacBook there and or iPad product might as well.

We will of course know more on March 9.

Feb 14

The temptation of an Apple iPhone for a thief is dropping, thanks to Apple’s decision to implement a remote kill switch via Find My Phone that can erase and disable a phone once it’s missing. A recent report from Reuters found that iPhone theft fell by 50 percent in London, 40 percent in San Francisco and 25 percent in New York. The drops represent theft activity as measured during the 12 months following Apple’s introduction of the remote locking feature in iOS7, released September 2013. With the most recent release, iOS 8, Apple made its so-called said “kill switch” active by default, in accordance with California regulation. 

find_my_iphoneApple’s Activation Lock requires a user to authorise a wipe or fresh install using the existing iCloud details and of course password, ensuring that a thief can’t go ahead and just wipe the phone easily to use it themselves or prepare it for an eBay sale. Apple is the first major manufacturers to switch to implementing the system by default, rather than through user opt-in, which means it is present on a larger percentage of Apple phones. All iPhone 6 and 6plus iPhone have it on be default given that they shipped with iOS 8 pre-installed.

Stats from last year indicated that Apple’s implementation of the Activation Lock were having a significant effect, but Apple’s combined iOS 8 adoption rate (currently at over 70 percent) and the fact that it’s now on by default means that the risk associated with stealing a modern iOS device is even greater. The aim is to make smartphone theft ultimately as futile as stealing a credit card, whereby a user ‘cancelling’ their hardware renders it close to worthless.

Smartphone theft is often theft of opportunity, meaning a thief weighs reward vs. risk, including factors like how difficult it is to recoup an investment on something they’ve taken. Activation Lock doesn’t automatically render iPhones using it worthless to thieves, but it skews the value proposition considerably, and reduces reward (an iPhone sold for parts is worth far less than a fully functional unity, for instance).

Apple seems committed to coming up with new ways to protect user devices and data when it comes to theft, given its early pioneering of phone tracking tech via Find My iPhone. Patents awarded to Apple have also described systems whereby the phone requires positive ID of the user to even display an unlock prompt, and technology which can monitor and report on unidentified users in the background.

Feb 04

Yes it’s that time again when Apple returns cash to stockholders in the form of a dividend worth $2.8 billion

Apple new photo applicationNext week THursday, February 12, Apple will pay shareholders of record a quarterly dividend of $0.47 per share, but investors will need to buy shares by February 5th (to have settled ownership of the company’s stock by the market’s close on February 9) in order to qualify for dividend.

Apple has been paying its shareholders a dividend about a month and a half after the end of each fiscal quarter ever since it declared its modern dividend plan in the summer of 2012. This dividend will be the third to occur since the company issued a 7-for-1 stock split. That split also converted the dividend from $3.29 per share to 47 cents per share.

Following its stock split, Apple has been busy buying its own stock and spent $17 billion in the September quarter and an additional $5 billion of stock in open market purchase during its December quarter (Apple’s Fiscal Q1 2015). The company now has 5.825 billion shares outstanding down from nearly 6.6 billion in early 2013. That’s a significasnt drop in the number of shares outsrtanding.

AAPL Dividends & Buybacks

Dividends are a minority portion of Apple’s shareholder capital return program, the majority of which has been earmarked for buying back outstanding shares.

Buybacks increase the scarcity, and therefore value, of Apple’s stock by taking shares off the market and retiring them. Removing shares from circulation also enhances the company’s closely-watched earnings per share metrics. Over the last four quarters, Apple has repurchased $45 billion worth of its stock off the market or via accelerated repurchase programs.

The repurchase of shares has slightly reduced the total dividend Apple pays. While the company reports $2.8 billion in dividend payments for FYQ1, at $0.47 per share the 5.825 billion shares outstanding would appear to total $2.73 billion, a $70 million reduction over the previous quarter’s dividends.

“The Company also plans to increase its dividend on an annual basis, subject to declaration by the Board of Directors,” Apple states in its 10-K filing.

Over the past calendar year, Apple has paid out $11 billion in dividends to its shareholders, distributing about $2.8 billion every quarter, although that number is dropping in tandem with buybacks.

Apple’s volume of stock buybacks have also now reached the 5 percent threshold to qualify for inclusion in the “NASDAQ BuyBack Achievers Index,” as well as the PowerShares Buyback Achievers Portfolio, as noted in a report by ETFtrends.

In total, Apple has spent $72.9 billion on stock buybacks since initiating its capital return program, including an opportunistic $14 billion share grab initiated after the stock plunged more than 8 percent last January following the company’s holiday Q1 release which detailed its highest ever quarterly revenues and operating profits—results that the tech media depicted as “disappointing.”

Combined with dividend payments and net share settlements, Apple has spent $102.7 billion on capital return since mid 2012, but still holds over $178 billion in cash.

Feb 02

During last week quarterly earnings call Tim Cook revealed that the Apple Watch will go on sale in April

Apple Watch

Apple doesn’t launch “new” products very often. Sure, it introduces updated versions of existing products, like the iPhone, but truly new products? In the past 15 years, there have been three: the iPod, the iPhone, and the iPad. All were hugely successful, and all put a new twist on what came before.

Now, we have the Apple Watch. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, development on the Watch is on schedule and shipments are expected starting in April. The company has launched a somewhat limited developer program — more APIs will be available over time — but nonetheless, app makers are already testing out apps in a watch simulator on OS X.  By the way its not an iWatch but an Apple Watch. Get it right.

“The creativity and software innovation going on around Apple Watch is incredibly exciting,” Cook said during the conference call last week,  “We can’t wait for our customers to experience them when Apple Watch becomes available.”

In true Apple fashion, Cook wouldn’t commit to any sales predictions aside from some predictable generalizations.

“My expectations are very high on it. I’m using it every day and love it and I can’t live without it,” said Cook. Some Apple employees seem to be enjoying it as well. Readers on the MacRumors Forums have been collecting photos of Apple Watches spotted in the wild, suggesting that more and more Apple employees have been issued the devices for early beta testing.

Unlike the iPhone 6, which launched within weeks of its introduction last September, the Apple Watch will go more than six months between its public reveal and its on-sale date. Something similar happened with the iPhone, which was six months from introduction to launch, and the iPad, which was around 3 months.

When the iPhone was introduced, the App Store wasn’t even in the cards. Steve Jobs didn’t think it was necessary, but he was eventually turned around, and the App Store launched a year later. The iPad could run all of the iPhone’s apps, and developers quickly began developing apps specifically for its larger screen. As for third-party apps? “We’re seeing some incredible innovation” on the Watch, said Cook on the call.

Some very special developers got an early peek at the Apple Watch before it was even launched, and I’m sure there are high-profile developers who currently are working on Apple Watches ahead of everyone else.

The Watch isn’t going to be a massive $100 billion revenue generator for Apple — it’s an accessory to the iPhone, and a pricey one at that. Instead, it’s going to be one more piece in the ecosystem that keeps customers locked in. Apple’s churn, the amount of iPhone owners who leave for another smartphone platform, is extremely low. Much of this can be attributed to the App Store and iTunes, but for every Apple product that someone buys in addition to their iPhone, that’s one more reason for them to keep using Apple’s products rather than switching to a competitor. However if it sells say 30 million units in the first year at an average selling price of $495 that’s a tidy $15 billion revenue boost. And if the watch makes Apple Pay a must have then more Watches in use will drive iPhone sales which will drive Watch sales.

That’s the goal of the Apple Watch — locking customers in. The revenue generated by the device will be a nice bottom line booster, however.

 

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