Sep 13, 2018

Axios Login

By Ina Fried
Ina Fried

There's plenty of Apple analysis in today's Login, but if you still have questions, I'm doing a Reddit Ask Me Anything session at 10am PT this morning on the new crop of Apple gear.

1 big thing: Apple's mastery of incremental upgrades

Apple CEO Tim Cook. Photo: Ina Fried/Axios

There was nothing terribly unexpected from Apple on Wednesday and yet the company may still have done enough to keep the Apple profit machine chugging for at least another year.

The bottom line: The new high-end iPhones add some cool new camera tricks, while the more moderately priced iPhone Xr offers a splash of color and brings the iPhone X features to the mainstream. The Apple Watch added a bigger screen and several health features that could move it from a nice-to-have to a must-own.

What we didn't get: Anything much in the way of surprises. All the key details on the iPhones and Apple Watch had leaked. Nor were there new iPads or Macs, and Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad — announced a year ago — remains MIA.

What's next? I'd expect at least one more Apple event this fall, with updates to the Mac and iPad lines.

The headlines you might have missed:

  • Apple added an insurance option that covers loss and theft, but you'll still pay a hefty price.
  • Apple will stop selling the iPhone SE (and all of its remaining models with a headphone jack).
  • Apple got its first FDA approvals in conjunction with the health features of the Apple Watch. Digital health could be a huge new area for the company, and it's learning how to play the regulatory game.

What they're saying:

  • Loup Ventures analyst Gene Munster says the new iPhones should help Apple increase average iPhone prices. He notes the new lineup ranges from $449 to $1,149, with an unweighted average of $765 — that's up 20% from last year. "Once again, Apple has shown their mastery of pricing tiers."
  • Asymco's Horace Dediu praises the new health features of the Apple Watch Series 4: "It’s incredible that after a mere 4 years Apple Watch is a life saving device. Literally, a priceless product."
  • Many other Apple watchers commented on how the fall-detection and heart-monitoring features could help them or a loved one.

Investors weren't impressed: Shares of Apple fell slightly after the Apple event, closing regular trading at $221.07, down $2.78, or more than 1%.

Our thought bubble: Do we really need a special event for each new crop of iPhones, especially during the "s" years when change is more incremental?

Go deeper: You can check out our coverage of the event here. We also have short hands-on videos of both the new phones and the Apple Watch Series 4.

2. Google post-election video spurs outrage

Screenshot from video embedded on Breitbart.com

Google has a new political headache in the form of an internal video of company executives responding to the 2016 presidential election and lamenting the outcome.

Why it matters: Google, along with Facebook and Twitter, is already under fire over concerns from the right that Big Tech has an anti-conservative bias.

What it shows: The video, which was leaked to Breitbart and posted online Wednesday, features Google executives telling employees that the outcome of the election was not what they preferred.

  • "I know that most people here are pretty upset and pretty sad about the election," Google co-founder Sergey Brin says. "Myself as an immigrant and a refugee, I certainly find this election deeply offensive and I know many of you do too."
  • CEO Sundar Pichai said that some employees had said they feared the outcome of the election. "There are people who are very afraid ... There is a lot of fear, so I think it's important to reach out and be aware of that fear."

What it doesn't show: There's no evidence that the executives' political positions had any impact on the company's products.

Yes, but: Political experts say there is more than enough in the video to fuel concerns for those on the right and wouldn't be surprised to see an eruption from President Trump.

  • Trump tweeted several weeks ago that Google search results were "RIGGED."
  • The Justice Department is reportedly exploring an investigation of social media companies.

Go deeper: Axios' Sara Fischer has more here.

Separately: Bloomberg Businessweek has a fresh cover story exploring the noteworthy absence of Alphabet CEO Larry Page amidst all the big issues facing the company.

3. CNN rejoins Snap for its new content push

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Snapchat is letting more than 20 news partners create curated "stories" with user-generated content from its platform as part of a new content push on its media section, Discover.

CNN, which left Discover last year after mixed results, will be involved along with more than 20 other launch partners, Sara reports.

Why it matters: The move is part of a broader push by Snapchat to help more people discover and interact with the billions of user-generated photos and videos uploaded to its platform everyday.

It also lowers the barrier to entry for media partners to get on Discover, which will help Snapchat add scale to its editorially curated media section.

How it works: Snapchat is letting the selected companies use publicly submitted photos and videos that its users upload to its platform to create their own curated Snapchat "stories" (strings of related photos and videos) that live in Snapchat's Discover section.

  • Partners will cover areas of editorial expertise, meaning that a pet-focused site will curate publicly-available Snaps of animals, for example.
  • Snapchat will give these editorial partners tools to create the "stories" (officially called "Our Stories") and some partners will also leverage their own talent to create and submit Snaps.

The bigger picture: Because Snapchat is so focused on making its camera the center of its platform, it tends to lure more real-time, on-the-ground documentation of real-life events than other social media platforms.

Read more of Sara's piece here.

4. Tech groups move to shape privacy debate

With Congress looking to perhaps impose new legislation around online privacy, tech companies are trying to make their voices heard, according to Axios' David McCabe.

Driving the news: The Internet Association, which represents companies including Google and Facebook, released a group of principles they said should guide any new privacy regulations.

Why it matters: Lawmakers are accelerating their examination of privacy in the U.S., with a Senate panel announcing Wednesday it would question representatives of key companies on the issue.

  • That includes the idea that users "should have the ability to request the deletion of the personal information they provide to companies when it’s no longer necessary to provide services."
  • It also has more specific proposals, like making sure regulations apply not just to internet companies but offline firms, too.
  • BSA, a software trade group, released a statement saying that consumers "should be able to request information about whether organizations have personal data relating to them and the nature of such data."
  • Both groups followed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in indicating that federal law should take precedence over state privacy regulations.

What they’re not saying: That privacy rules should require users to opt-in to data collection.

The big picture: Privacy is shaping up to be a bigger issue this fall, fueled by new rules in Europe and a bill in California.

  • The Senate Commerce Committee said on Wednesday it would hold a hearing later this month on privacy with witnesses from companies including Apple, AT&T, Amazon, Google, Twitter and Charter Communications.
  • The Trump administration is expected to produce its own privacy principles this year.

The bottom line: The tech industry sees the likelihood of regulation rising and hopes it can shape it.

5. Take Note

On Tap

Trading Places

  • Bobby Lo, CEO of Vurb, is leaving Snap two years after the company was acquired for $114.5 million. (TechCrunch)
  • Verizon made official the exit of Tim Armstrong, CEO of its Oath unit. (Axios)

ICYMI

6. After you Login

This British TV presenter was really fed up with the amount of time her kids spent playing Fortnite.

Ina Fried