Apple Offers $2.5bn To Address California’s Housing Crisis

In this file photo taken on September 10, 2019, the Apple logo is projected on a screen before the start of a product launch event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California. Josh Edelson / AFP

 

Apple said Monday it would commit $2.5 billion over the next two years to help address the shortage of affordable housing in California and reduce homelessness.

The move by Apple follows similar initiatives from Silicon Valley peers Google and Facebook, which each have pledged $1 billion for housing programs.

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook in a statement.

“Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.”

Apple said data showed some 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of 2019 and that its efforts are geared to help “community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers” who cannot find affordable lodging.

Apple said it was working with California Governor Gavin Newsom on several programs to address housing and homelessness.

The iPhone maker said $1 billion will go to the state’s affordable housing fund that will extend credit to develop and build additional housing faster and at a lower cost.

Apple also said it would make available land it owns in San Jose worth some $300 million for homes.

The company is committing $200 million to support new lower-income housing in the Bay Area, including $150 for a public-private partnership.

It will also offer $50 million to support the efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley with the nonprofit group Destination: Home.

“We have worked closely with leading experts to put together a plan that confronts this challenge on all fronts, from the critical need to increase housing supply, to support for first-time homebuyers and young families, to essential philanthropy to assist those at greatest risk,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environment and social initiatives.

AFP

Apple Offers $2.5bn To Address California Housing Crisis

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 14, 2016 the Apple logo/AFP

 

Apple said on Monday it would commit $2.5 billion over the next two years to help address the shortage of affordable housing in California and reduce homelessness.

The move by Apple follows similar initiatives from Silicon Valley peers Google and Facebook, which each have pledged $1 billion for housing programs.

“Before the world knew the name Silicon Valley, and long before we carried technology in our pockets, Apple called this region home, and we feel a profound civic responsibility to ensure it remains a vibrant place where people can live, have a family and contribute to the community,” said Apple chief executive Tim Cook in a statement.

“Affordable housing means stability and dignity, opportunity and pride. When these things fall out of reach for too many, we know the course we are on is unsustainable, and Apple is committed to being part of the solution.”

Apple said data showed some 30,000 people left San Francisco between April and June of 2019 and that its efforts are geared to help “community members like teachers, firefighters, first responders and service workers” who cannot find affordable lodging.

Apple said it was working with California Governor Gavin Newsom on several programs to address housing and homelessness.

The iPhone maker said $1 billion will go to the state’s affordable housing fund that will extend credit to develop and build additional housing faster and at a lower cost.

Apple also said it would make available land it owns in San Jose worth some $300 million for homes.

The company is committing $200 million to support new lower-income housing in the Bay Area, including $150 for a public-private partnership.

It will also offer $50 million to support the efforts to address homelessness in Silicon Valley with the nonprofit group Destination: Home.

“We have worked closely with leading experts to put together a plan that confronts this challenge on all fronts, from the critical need to increase housing supply, to support for first-time homebuyers and young families, to essential philanthropy to assist those at greatest risk,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president for environment and social initiatives.

AFP

Apple Records Strong Profits In Services, Wearables

Photo: Don EMMERT / AFP

 

Apple on Wednesday reported strong-than-expected profits for the past quarter, fueled by growth in digital services and wearables that helped offset slower iPhone sales.

Profit in the quarter ending in September dipped four percent from a year ago to $13.7 billion while revenues edged up two percent to $64 billion.

READ ALSO: Twitter Bans Political Adverts Worldwide On Its Platform

Apple, set to launch a new streaming television service this week, saw strong revenue gains in its services segment, which includes music, digital payments and software, and in its segment for wearables and accessories that include its Home Pod, Apple Watch and earbuds.

Chief executive Tim Cook said Apple saw its best-ever revenue gains for the fiscal fourth-quarter period.

“With customers and reviewers raving about the new generation of iPhones, today’s debut of new, noise-canceling AirPods Pro, the hotly-anticipated arrival of Apple TV+ just two days away, and our best lineup of products and services ever, we’re very optimistic about what the holiday quarter has in store,” Cook said.

AFP

Apple Boss Cook Meets Chinese Regulator After HK App Criticism

File Photo: Tim Cook, CEO of Apple Inc . Aris Oikonomou / AFP

 

The CEO of Apple, Tim Cook, has met with the top market regulator in China, a statement said Friday, a week after the tech giant faced heavy criticism over an app Beijing accused of supporting Hong Kong protesters.

Apple removed HKmap.live from the App Store after a barrage of criticism by Beijing, which is stepping up pressure on foreign companies deemed to be providing support to the pro-democracy movement in the semi-autonomous city.

Chinese state media said the app allowed protesters in Hong Kong to track police — but the move to withdraw it prompted accusations the firm was putting business interests above human rights.

According to a statement on the website of China’s State Administration for Market Regulation, Tim Cook met with Xiao Yaqing, the director-general of the State Administration for Market Regulation, on Thursday in Beijing.

“The two sides had in-depth exchanges on a wide range of topics including expanding investment and business development in China, protecting consumer rights and interests, and fulfilling corporate social responsibility,” the statement said.

Communist Party mouthpiece The People’s Daily said last week in an opinion piece that by stocking the app, Apple was “mixing business with politics, and even illegal acts”.

“Apple’s approval for the app obviously helps rioters,” the article said. “Does this mean Apple intended to be an accomplice to the rioters?”

Cook last week defended the decision to remove the app in an email to Apple employees shared online, saying they received “credible information” that the app was being used “maliciously to target individual officers for violence and to victimize individuals and property”.

The makers of HKmap.live lashed out at Apple’s removal as “censorship” and “clearly a political decision to suppress freedom”.

Other international brands have faced criticism in China over the tense summer of unrest in Hong Kong.

Hong Kong airline Cathay Pacific, jewellery brand Tiffany, and the National Basketball Association all met with censure for appearing to support the protests.

Netflix, Apple Cross Swords In Indian Streaming Market

 

 

Competition in India’s booming streaming market is heating up as Netflix joins forces with a director of Bollywood feel-good blockbusters and Apple launches its TV platform for 99 rupees ($1.39) a month.

Netflix announced late Wednesday a long-term partnership with Karan Johar’s Dharmatic Entertainment to make a range of new fiction and non-fiction series and films for the platform.

Johar has directed eight films including “Kuch Kuch Hota Hai” with Bollywood megastar Shah Rukh Khan, and “Raazi”, nominated for best picture at next week’s Indian International Film Academy (IIFA) Awards, dubbed the Bollywood Oscars.

“It’s going to be P.H.A.T — pretty hot and tempting,” said Johar, whose Dharma Entertainment is one of India’s biggest production firms and which already teamed up with Netflix for the successful “Lust Stories” anthology.

READ ALSO: Rihanna Stages Savage X Fenty Show At New York Fashion Week

Netflix launched in India in 2016 and two of its Indian-made series have won critical acclaim — “Sacred Games” starring Saif Ali Khan and Nawazuddin Siddiqui, and “Leila” with Huma Qureishi.

But Netflix faces stiff competition in Asia’s third-largest economy as Amazon’s Prime Video, Disney’s Hotstar, Alt Balaji and other local platforms jostle for digital subscriptions and eyeballs.

US technology giant Apple on Wednesday announced the launch of its streaming platform Apple TV+ in India, hoping to upend competition.

Netflix is available in India from 199 rupees a month and as millions of first-time users access internet in Asia’s third-largest economy, analysts expect competition to intensify.

India’s video-streaming industry is expected to grow at nearly 22 percent per annum to 119 billion rupees ($1.7 billion) by 2023 according to consultancy PwC, Bloomberg News reported.

Netflix chief Reed Hastings has said the company’s goal is 100 million customers in India — almost 25 times its estimated subscriber base there as of this year, Bloomberg said.

Apple Unveils iPhone 11 Models, Reduces Price

Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller introduces the new iPhone11 and iPhone 11 Pro during a product launch event at Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California, on September 10, 2019.

 

Apple unveiled its iPhone 11 models Tuesday, touting upgraded, ultra-wide cameras as it updated its popular smartphone lineup and cut its entry price to $699.

The newest handsets come as Apple seeks to spur new upgrades in a slumping global smartphone market.

The new iPhones are “jam packed with new capabilities and an incredible new design,” Apple chief executive Tim Cook told a launch event in Cupertino, California.

The surprise from Apple was the reduction in the entry-level price at $699, down from the starting level of $749 for the iPhone XR a year ago even as many premium devices are being priced around $1,000.

Apple additionally unveiled a more expensive “Pro” model of the iPhone 11.

It also set launch dates for its original video offering, Apple TV+, and its game subscription service as part of efforts to reduce its dependence on the iPhone.

The TV+ service will launch November 1 in more than 100 countries at $4.99 per month and will include a “powerful and inspiring lineup of original shows, movies and documentaries.”

Apple is featuring scripted dramas, comedies and movies as well as children’s programs in the service, which will compete against streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon.

“With Apple TV+, we are presenting all-original stories from the best, brightest and most creative minds, and we know viewers will find their new favorite show or movie on our service,” said Zack Van Amburg, Apple’s head of video.

Apple said customers who purchase an iPhone, iPad, Apple TV, iPod touch or Mac will get the first year of the service for free.

The company’s online gaming subscription service, Apple Arcade, will launch next week, offering exclusive titles for mobile and desktop users.

The new service, which will also cost $4.99 per month, will include more than 100 game titles made for Apple devices.

“You can’t find these games on any other mobile platform or subscription service, no games service ever launched as many games, and we can’t wait for you to play all of that,” product manager Ann Thai told the Apple media event.

Apple also unveiled updates to its iPad tablet and Apple Watch smartwatch.

AFP

Apple To Unveil New iPhone On September 10

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 14, 2016 the Apple logo/AFP

 

Apple sent out invitations on Thursday to a September 10 event at its Silicon Valley campus where it is expected to unveil a new-generation iPhone.

In its trademark, tight-lipped style, Apple disclosed little about what it plans to spotlight in the Steve Jobs Theater at its headquarters in the city of Cupertino.

For years now, Apple has hosted events in the fall to launch new iPhone models ahead of the Christmas holiday shopping season.

READ ALSO: Huawei To Launch New Handset Without Google Apps

Introduction of “iPhone 11” handsets would come as the global smartphone market tightens and Apple makes a priority of selling digital content and services to fans of its hardware.

New iPhones are expected to boast improvements including ramped-up processing power and camera capabilities, but no radical changes or offerings for super-speedy 5G telecom networks that are starting to take shape.

Apple last month delivered stronger than expected results in the just-ended quarter as growth from services helped offset weak iPhone sales.

Chief executive Tim Cook said the company had its “biggest June quarter ever — driven by all-time record revenue from services, accelerating growth from wearables, strong performance from iPad and Mac and significant improvement in iPhone trends.”

Long the driver of Apple’s money-making machine, iPhone revenue overall was down 12 percent from last year to $26 billion.

The premium smartphone market has grown fiercely competitive and overall sales have cooled as a lack of stunning innovation has caused people to wait longer before upgrading to new models.

Rivals in the premium smartphone market also field champions to fight for market share during the prime shopping season.

Google typically holds a Fall event to launch new Pixel smartphones powered by its Android software.

Samsung recently introduced a new-generation Galaxy Note large-screen handset starting at $950 and said it will work closer with Microsoft so that services function better across its array of devices.

Apple lost more ground in the shrinking smartphone market last quarter, with a sales tracker saying the tech giant was pushed off the top-three seller list by a Chinese rival.

Apple fell to fourth place in global smartphone sales, shipping 35.3 million iPhones in the second quarter compared to the 36.2 million units shipped by Oppo, according to a report from IHS Markit this week.

South Korean consumer electronics titan Samsung remained in first place with 23 percent of the market, having shipped 75.1 million smartphones, China’s Huawei shipped 58.7 million smartphones to claim 18 percent of the market, IHS Markit calculated.

Other smartphone market trackers such as Counterpoint Research and International Data Corporation concluded that while iPhone shipments sank in the second quarter, Apple remained in third place what it came to global shipments.

AFP

Apple Replaces iTunes With Three New Apps

Photo: Don EMMERT / AFP

 

Apple on Monday announced the demise of its groundbreaking iTunes platform in favour of three more tailored apps, as it refines its offerings to be a stage for digital music, films, podcasts and more.

iTunes transformed the way people buy and listen to music after its launch in 2001, but is now being phased out, Apple senior vice president of software engineering Craig Federighi said, while helping kick off the technology giant’s annual gathering of developers in Silicon Valley.

“The future of iTunes is not one app, it’s three,” Federighi said.

“Apple Music, Apple Podcasts and Apple TV.”

Since the launch of iTunes, lifestyles have shifted to streaming music, video and more from the internet cloud as online data centres and high-bandwidth connections gave rise to on-demand entertainment expectations.

The iTunes software let users manage and listen to music collections as well as buy digital versions of songs.

“There is no reason for iTunes to exist, period,” said Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

“If I want music, I have an app. If I want TV, I have the app. That is how people are thinking today.”

The transformation of iTunes into three separate apps comes with Apple preparing the international launch of an eponymous TV+ later this year.

The new content will be available on an upgraded Apple TV app, which will be on smart television sets and third-party platforms including Roku and Amazon’s Fire TV.

The California company showed off its podcast app on Monday as well, and said that service would be tailored to work independently on its smartwatch.

Some features from iTunes will be melded into the other Apple apps.

It remains to be seen what will become of the iTunes version tailored for Windows-powered computers, or how people will be able to move music libraries they have amassed.

Software innovations and improvements revealed at the opening day of the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) touched the company’s entire line-up from wrist-wear to iPhones and Car Play along with smart assistant Siri.

The innovations come as Apple shifts to emphasize digital content and other services to offset a pullback in the once-sizzling smartphone market, and with many news organizations struggling to monetize their online services.

Apple is aiming to leverage its position with about 900 million people worldwide who use at least one of its devices.

Apple sign-in

The packed WWDC audience cheered when executives spoke of improvements that promised to make it easier for one app to work across the array of devices.

Apple is apparently trying to get app makers looking beyond the iPhone to the company’s family of hardware with a message of “better together,” Milanesi reasoned.

“It is about the breadth of those devices together,” the analyst said.

As high-end Android-powered phones made by Google become more attractive to iPhone users, having apps that extend experiences across Apple Watch, iPad, TV, and Mac help keep them loyal to the brand, according to Milanesi.

“Not only are you driving more engagement with Apple, but you are also lowering the risk of having users go elsewhere,” she said.

Next-generation iOS software powering iPhones coming out later this year was reworked “top to bottom” to be faster, according to Federighi.

Apple chief Tim Cook and other executives focused on privacy features of improved software across the range of devices.

Protections being added to iOS mobile operating software included the option of giving apps permission to access location just once, instead of all the time, and letting users know when apps are tracking their whereabouts.

A new “Sign In With Apple” feature will be launched as an alternative to logging in using Facebook or Google accounts.

“This can be convenient, but it can also come at the cost of your privacy,” Federighi said.

“These log-ins can be used to track you.”

The iOS log-in feature will let people sign into apps using AppleID information, but provides the option of masking user names or email addresses with randomly generated information.

“The entire experience is meant to help you have control over your data,” Federighi said, to applause.

“A lot of love for random addresses here.”

Apple also announced changes that will make iPads easier to use as auxiliary screens for Mac computers and even perform a bit more like laptops themselves with capabilities like multiple windows operating simultaneously.

The company unveiled a new Mac Pro high-performance desktop computer aimed at professionals, with a starting price of $5,999.

Apple previewed its iOS 13 for mobile devices, which includes a “dark mode” display, an upgraded maps application and faster access through its facial recognition sign-on.

AFP

How Huawei Sanctions Can Hurt US Tech Firms

A Huawei logo is displayed at a retail store in Beijing on May 20, 2019. FRED DUFOUR / AFP

 

The tough sanctions imposed on Huawei by President Donald Trump could deal a blow to the many US firms that make up the Chinese tech giant’s supply chain.

American firms last year sold an estimated $11 billion worth of components to Huawei, which was put on a blacklist last week by Washington over national security concerns as trade frictions grow between the US and China.

Trump’s executive order could effectively ban makers of US hardware and software from selling to Huawei by requiring a special license from Washington.

The Commerce Department on Monday delayed the sanctions on Huawei for 90 days, saying the additional time was needed to allow for software updates and other contractual obligations.

The agency said it was granting Huawei a “temporary general license” through August 19 allowing for transactions “necessary to maintain and support existing and currently fully operational networks and equipment, including software updates and patches, subject to legally binding contracts and agreements” signed before May 16.

Hardware and software

Bloomberg News reported that US-based chipmakers Intel, Qualcomm, Broadcom and Xilinx have indicated they would halt shipments to the Chinese firm which is the world’s number two smartphone maker and a leader in telecom infrastructure and super-fast 5G networks.

Google said it would comply with the US order, leaving Huawei without access to critical services for the Android operating system such as Gmail and Google Maps.

Microsoft, which supplies the Windows operating system for many Huawei devices, did not respond to an AFP query on how the order might impact the Redmond, Washington-based firm.

Bob O’Donnell of the consultancy Technalysis Research said any ban would almost certainly affect Microsoft.

“If it affects Google I don’t see why it wouldn’t affect Microsoft,” O’Donnell said.

“Any version of Windows comes from Microsoft, since there is no open-source version.”

Moving toward independence

Roger Kay, founder and analyst at Endpoint Technologies Associates, said the ban is likely to accelerate efforts by Huawei and other Chinese firms to develop their own sources of microprocessors and other components.

“The short-term effect on both American and Chinese companies are inevitably negative,” Kay said.

“The longer-term effect is that Huawei and other Chinese companies turn away more sharply from American suppliers.”

Neither Intel nor Qualcomm responded to queries on how they would respond to the order on Huawei.

Avi Greengart, founder of the research firm Techsponential, said a ban on sales to Huawei could hit a wide range of large and small US firms including Corning, which makes the popular Gorilla Glass for smartphones, and Dolby, a producer of video and audio software for handsets.

“When you think about all the software and hardware components you get a pretty big list,” Greengart said.

“The US is a big part of the global supply chain.”

Few firms offered public comments on their response to the Huawei executive order.

But one, California-based Lumentum Holdings, a maker of optical and laser applications, said it would comply with the executive order and that Huawei accounted for 15 percent of its revenue so far in the current fiscal year.

Risks to Apple

Greengart said Apple could also suffer from any protracted crisis over Huawei, estimating the iPhone maker gets about 17 percent of its revenues from China.

Even though Apple might benefit in the premium smartphone market in Europe, “I think the risks are higher than the rewards for Apple,” Greengart said.

“If there is a backlash against Apple in China, that could have damaging long-term effects.”

Greengart said that Google might not see a major impact for the moment.

“Ironically (the ban) won’t affect Google much because Google doesn’t make money selling Android.”

Patrick Moorhead, of Moor Insights & Strategy, said he sees a limited impact on US firms in the short run.

“The impact to the US companies depends on the length of the ban but also how indexed they are in sales to Huawei,” Moorhead said.

“Neither Intel, Google or Nvidia do more than three percent of their business with Huawei, so short-term, it shouldn’t be an issue.”

O’Donnell said a bigger risk is that Huawei and other Chinese firms step up efforts to develop software and hardware that allows them to break free from Silicon Valley.

“The longer-term question is: does this drive Huawei to develop a third mobile platform?” O’Donnell said.

“China is already developing its own technology infrastructure, and this plays into the whole notion of a separate internet in China, which would be a big deal.”

AFP

Spotify Lodges EU Complaint Against Apple Over Unfair Music Competition

 

Swedish music streaming giant Spotify said Wednesday it had filed a complaint with the EU Commission against Apple, accusing its US rival of stifling competition in the online music market.

“In recent years, Apple has introduced rules to the App Store that purposely limit choice and stifle innovation at the expense of the user experience — essentially acting as both a player and referee to deliberately disadvantage other app developers,” Spotify said in a statement.

Why Chinese Shoppers Are Straying From Apple Products

 

 

Shanghai student Xu Yechuyi wanted to buy a new iPhone last year but couldn’t afford one at Apple Inc’s flagship store, so she opted for a used, three-year-old iPhone 6S at less than a third of the sticker price.

The purchase made Xu, 22, one of many consumers priced out of stores and resorting to China’s rapidly growing second-hand handset market, bartering via text-messaging apps and spending money on Apple products that never reaches Apple.

“I think there is a real demand for this sort of second-hand market from less affluent consumers like me,” said Xu.

The second-hand trend adds to challenges Apple faces in the world’s biggest smartphone market, where it has long been losing ground to domestic makers of high-end yet lower-priced handsets such as market leader Huawei Technologies Co Ltd

The first iPhones in China in 2009 brought Apple record profit. But the launch last year of its most expensive handset ever – priced 9,599 yuan ($1,397) – coincided with an economic downturn and a slowing smartphone market, while deteriorating Sino-U.S. trade relations stoked support for local rivals.

Poor iPhone sales in China prompted Apple on Wednesday to lower its quarterly revenue forecast for the first time in over a decade, hammering its shares and those of its suppliers. Chief Executive Tim Cook blamed the trade war and the economy.

Several leading Chinese technology companies also lowered forecasts in the past year, including e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and search engine provider Baidu Inc, with both citing the impact of the trade war.

Meanwhile, consumer confidence has tumbled since the middle of last year, with its impact rippling through the economy, from overall retail numbers to box office receipts and car sales.

As confidence falls and the economy continues to slow, analysts said the market for used smartphones can only expand. China’s iiMedia Research forecast 144 million users of second-hand smartphones in 2019, up to a third versus last year.

“The macro environment is just not in Apple’s favour,” said Singapore-based IDC senior research manager Kiranjeet Kaur. “People’s spending power is coming down.”

In west Beijing’s tech district, one worker surnamed Zhou at a phone refurbishing firm said she had seen a rise in users looking to upgrade old iPhones instead of purchasing new ones.

Apple Cuts Sales Forecast As China Sales Weaken, iPhone Pricing In Focus

(FILES) In this file photo taken on September 14, 2016, the Apple logo/AFP

 

Apple Inc on Wednesday took the rare step of cutting its quarterly sales forecast, with Chief Executive Tim Cook blaming slowing iPhone sales in China, whose economy has been dragged down by uncertainty around U.S.-China trade relations.

The news, which comes as a spotlight grows on Beijing’s attempts to revive stalling growth, sent Apple shares tumbling in after-hours trade, hammered Asian suppliers and triggered a broader selloff in global markets.

The revenue drop for the just-ended quarter underscores how an economic slowdown in China has been sharper than many expected, catching companies and leaders in Beijing off balance and forcing some to readjust their plans in the market.

“While we anticipated some challenges in key emerging markets, we did not foresee the magnitude of the economic deceleration, particularly in Greater China,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said in a letter to investors.

Apple finds itself in a tricky position in China, a key market for sales and where it manufactures the bulk of the iconic products it sells worldwide, after the high-profile arrest in Canada of the CFO of domestic rival Huawei Technologies Co Ltd

Since the arrest last month, at the request of the United States, there have been sporadic reports of Chinese consumers shying away from Apple products. Even before then, local rivals like Huawei had been gaining market share over Apple.