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MCX Member Best Buy Begins Accepting Apple Pay in App, In...

Yesterday, 09:35 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
bestbuy.jpgOn an Apple Pay update shared during today's second quarter earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that Best Buy will begin accepting Apple Pay in its iOS app today, with full Apple Pay support coming to Best Buy stores later in 2015.

Best Buy's move to adopt Apple Pay is notable because Best Buy was previously a member of MCX, the Apple Pay competitor that's pushing the CurrentC payments service. CurrentC, which uses barcodes rather than NFC for payments, remains in testing and will launch later this year.

Best Buy follows MCX member Meijer in offering Apple Pay to customers, and while both companies signed exclusivity agreements, MCX CEO Dekkers Davidson has said that there are no penalties or fines for leaving the MCX program. MCX members are not able to accept both CurrentC and Apple Pay at the same time, so it remains unclear if Best Buy remains a part of MCX.

Apple also announced that the number of locations accepting Apple Pay has now tripled since the service first launched in October of 2014.mf.gif


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Live blog: Apple’s Q1 2015 earnings call

Yesterday, 08:49 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

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As promised, Apple will hold its quarterly conference call with investors and analysts at 2 p.m. PT/5 p.m. ET to discuss its fiscal year 2015 second quarter results. These numbers include sales of 61.1 million iPhones, 12.6 million iPads, and 4.5 million Macs. Apple also reported $58 billion in revenue during FY 2015 Q2. During the latter half of the call, analysts and investors will have the opportunity to ask Tim Cook and company questions regarding today’s results and Apple’s future. While today’s earnings do not include Apple Watch sales and Apple doesn’t plan to disclose sales numbers, expect Tim Cook to at mention the company’s latest device. Stay tuned for our live coverage below:

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Earnings results are up!

– Waiting music is also live. You can listen at home here or refresh to follow our coverage below as the call progresses.

– 11 minute warning!

– We should be close folks.

– Here we go: CEO Tim Cook to lead then CFO Luca Maestri.

– Tim clears throat during forward looking statements disclaimer. Noted.

– Tim greets everyone. Says Apple’s strongest March quarter ever.

– Highest rate of switchers to iPhone than recent quarters.

– Says the App Store had its best quarter ever.

– 27 acquisitions made in last 6 quarters, investing in infrastructure.

– Cook mentions this morning’s Discover card news for Apple Pay, coming this fall

– Best Buy bringing Apple Pay to its app now, in stores this fall

– More than 1,000 apps using HealthKit

– Tim says June quarter off to exciting start with new MacBook which Cook calls the future of the notebook, HBO Now, and Apple Watch

– More than 3500 apps for Apple Watch

– Luca Maestri takes over before Q&A kicks off

– Says Greater China revenue set a new record, now recapping results

– Luca Maestri talking iPad and IBM partnership, says top performer in sales, customer sat, apps

– 22% YOY growth in Apple Store visits, still expanding retail footprint with 40 stores in Greater China by mid-2016

– Maestri discussing stock buyback expansion, expanded 5 quarters, will update program around this time next year

– Q&A begins!

– First question from Bill Shope at Goldman Sachs regarding how profit is impacted by global currency. Maestri says its part of business and results in price increases in some markets.

– Follow up question on customer mix of iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales. Cook says Apple continues to see higher rate of switchers than in previous cycles as mentioned before. Says Apple continues to see reasonable percentage of first time buyers.

– Kate Huberty, Morgan Stanley: Is Watch ramping slower than past product categories? Cook asks if ramp means supply. Cook says demand greater than supply. Making progress on last week or so and working to remedy that. Says communicating earlier ship times for some customers than previously communicated. Says Watch is a new product and will take some time to ramp. Says sometime in late June expects to begin being in position to sell Apple Watch in more countries. Says learnings about different configuration preferences and making adjustments to get in line with demand.

– Follow up question: What’s driving long period of elevated research and development spending? Maestri says current product is much broader than it used to be, developing two iPhones, two iPads, Apple Watch now, developing core foundational technologies more in house now than in the past and spending ahead on some of the products that will generate revenue in the future.

– Gene Munster: Asks what more switchers than previous cycles could mean for marketshare and what Watch impact could be as it ramps over next couple of years. Cook says worldwide iPhone at multiple of the market in each country. Feels good about where Apple is and strong guidance should show company is bullish on current quarter. Pleased with first time buyer number as well. Says tough to find something in the numbers not to like. Cook says about 20% of active install base has upgraded to iPhone 6 or 6 Plus leaving plenty of upgrade headroom and inviting over more switchers and first time buyers.

– Next question from Toni Sacconaghi at Bernstein: Consensus is Apple will ship more Watches than iPads in its first two quarters despite limited supply and current product demand. How should we think about demand in context with other new categories like iPad. Cook says he’s thrilled with Apple Watch launch so far and shouldn’t read any further than that. Says customer response close to 100% positive.

– Follow up question: Watch will have lower margin in third quarter. Will margins be lower than company average in future? Cook says Apple won’t give guidance outside of current quarter. Says Watch gross margins in current quarter are lower than company average, intuitive that they would be. Asked if anything unique about Watch being in its first quarter that will impact margins. Cook says first quarter of a new product is a learning period. Says product being made now is incredible.

– Next question, Shannon Cross, Cross Research: More color on iPhone performance in Greater China? Cook says iPhone led the way with its strong quarter in March as US has strong quarter in December. Says Mac had unbelievable quarter in China with unit sales up 31% “bucking the tide” of PC market. Says App Store grew over 100% year-over-year for Greater China. Apple working significantly to expand ecosystem in China by adding UnionPay payment option and entering many more cities than before. Says online store revenue 3x year-over-year. 21 Apple Stores in Greater China now, 40 by mid-2016. Adding 50 new cities with 2-day delivery in China by next quarter to total 365. Nearly $5 billion in payments made to developers in Greater China, over half made in last 12 months. Middle class expansion cited.

Follow up: What is needed to reenergize iPad? Cook says improve sell through rate, adds that other Apple products do eat into the iPad, IBM partnership in early stages but Cook likes it. Says underlying data makes iPad appear better than sales numbers alone. First time buyer rates and intent-to-buy numbers paint a better picture. Says making an investment in product pipeline as has been planned. Won’t predict when iPad will grow again but strongly predicts that it will.

– Next question, Steve Molonvich at UBS: Asked about decision for specific numbers in latest buyback program. Maestri says Apple is confident in current product lineup and future product pipeline so Apple confident in value of its stock. Company plans to increase dividend each year. Will update in a year based on better information. Program largely funded by raising debt in the United States and overseas. Comfortable with program based on balance sheet.

– Next question very inaudible, Cook asks to repeat second half. Asks if 6 and 6 Plus switcher rate is significantly higher year-over-year. Cook says data comparison isn’t in front of him but many more iPhone users left to upgrade aside from switchers.

– Next question about iPhone sales in emerging markets as Cook cited expanding middle class in China. Cook says looking at emerging markets that revenues were up 58% year-over-year with that being a little over 40% of company revenue.

– Follow up question: HBO Now and similar services as a strategy to sell more devices or something else? Cook says a lot of traction there but won’t speculate about where it will go. Says early stages of media consumption and Apple will be a part of that.

– That’s a wrap. The call will be available on iTunes as a podcast shortly.


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Apple Watch Display Quality Judged 'Excellent', C...

Yesterday, 07:02 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
DisplayMate Technologies has extensively tested the Apple Watch's flexible OLED display and shared the results today based on several categories, including screen reflection, brightness and contrast with ambient light, color gamut with ambient light, and viewing angle variations. Overall, the company found the Apple Watch to have an "excellent smart watch display" with accurate colors and picture quality.

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In a side-by-side comparison with the iPhone 6 display, the display calibration company found that Apple has taken measures to ensure that the Apple Watch display has the same colors, color calibration and color accuracy as the larger smartphone screen. The stainless steel and gold Apple Watches with sapphire crystal displays, however, have much higher reflectance in ambient light and mandatory automatic brightness control to preserve battery life.
"Since the Apple Watch is often used right next to the iPhone 6, Apple has gone to considerable lengths to give them the same colors, color calibration, and color accuracy. The two most significant differences (other than size) are the much higher Reflectance of the Apple Watch with a sapphire crystal (8.2 percent compared to 4.6 percent), and the aggressive Brightness control using a mandatory Automatic Brightness Ambient Light Sensor in order to increase the running time on battery for the tiny watch."
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The full-length report offers a comprehensive look at the Apple Watch's ion-strengthened and sapphire crystal displays, and reiterates that enhanced sapphire, which lowers the screen reflectance of sapphire to be much lower than glass, will soon be available for use in smartphones, smartwatches and other mobile devices. Additionally, DisplayMate's previous tests of the Samsung Gear 2 and Sony SmartWatch 2 displays provide good comparisons to the Apple Watch.mf.gif


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LG says even Steve Jobs would loved the G4

Today, 01:32 AM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Now that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has finally gone on sale the Android world is turning its attention to LG’s new flagship smartphone, the G4. We’ve seen a few glimpses of the leather-clad phone which will make its debut onmf.gif


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LG says even Steve Jobs would love the G4

Today, 01:32 AM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Now that the Samsung Galaxy S6 has finally gone on sale the Android world is turning its attention to LG’s new flagship smartphone, the G4. We’ve seen a few glimpses of the leather-clad phone which will make its debut onmf.gif


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Why Samsung’s design sucks, in a single image

Today, 01:14 AM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
Want to sum up the difference between Apple and Samsung in a single image? Don’t look at the logos. Don’t look at the operating systems. Don’t even look at what their respective gadgets look like. Look at the lines. Lookmf.gif


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Best Buy will accept Apple Pay despite allegiance to Curr...

Yesterday, 11:35 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News

During Apple’s Q2 financial call today, the company mentioned that big-box retailer Best Buy would be supporting Apple Pay in stores later this year, and Best Buy will allow customers to make purchases within the company app using Apple Pay starting today. The news is notable because of Best Buy’s alliance with MCX, or the Merchant Customer Exchange, a retailer’s association that wants to start its own mobile payments platform called CurrentC.

MCX and CurrentC made headlines in November, just after Apple Pay launched, when many MCX members—including Best Buy, 7-11, and CVS—disabled some Near Field Communications (NFC) devices that would allow Apple Pay to work at the chains’ registers. Instead, MCX companies said they would be adopting a more “consumer friendly” option called CurrentC, which would work using QR codes. The most apparent reason for companies to adopt CurrentC seemed to be that it would only work with debit cards—ideally replacing some customers' credit transactions, which require the retailer to pay a transaction fee to the bank, with debit transactions. CurrentC is set to launch sometime this year.

Now Best Buy is saying that it will break ranks with big retailers who have stood in solidarity with MCX, but it still remains committed to working with MCX. "Today’s consumers have many different ways to spend their money and we want to give our customers as many options as possible in how they pay for goods and services at Best Buy,” the company said in a statement.

Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Tim Cook: Component Cost Breakdowns on Apple Products Are...

Yesterday, 10:48 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
During today's Q2 2015 earnings call, Apple CEO Tim Cook noted that Apple Watch margins are lower than the company average, and on a followup question about those margins in the context of the Apple Watch Edition's high price, Cook commented on the inaccuracy of estimated cost breakdowns on Apple products.

"I haven't seen [them for Apple Watch], but generally there are cost breakdowns around our products that are much different than the reality. I've never seen one that is anywhere close to being accurate," Cook said. He went on to say that the Apple Watch's functionality is "absolutely incredible" with a lot of new features and innovative technology.

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We haven't seen cost breakdowns on the components of the Apple Watch hinting at a possible base unit price that would reveal Apple's profit margin, but such component breakdowns are often shared by analysts following device teardowns. The iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, for example, were estimated to have a parts and labor cost of approximately $200, resulting in a 69 percent gross profit margin based on the device's $649 base selling price.

iPhone 5s component cost was estimated to begin at $199, and iPad Air component cost was estimated to begin at $274. All of these estimates, which come from IHS iSuppli, include only part costs, leaving out other expenses like research and development, software creation, marketing, and distribution, which may explain Cook's comments on inaccuracy.

According to Cook, it's "intuitive" that Apple Watch margins would be lower than the company average during the first quarter, as the first quarter of any new product is "a learning period." Cook declined to provide guidance beyond the current quarter, but Apple Watch profit margins could improve in the future as component costs drop as they do over time with any new technology.mf.gif


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How to navigate using only your Apple Watch

Yesterday, 10:45 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
As a sufferer from dysmappia (not a real word), I still get lost in a town I’ve lived in for 15 years. The iPhone and GPS accessibility has allowed me to find my way around pretty much any urban centermf.gif


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11 key takeaways from Apple’s latest blockbuster financia...

Yesterday, 10:40 PM

Posted By x-bot in iDevice News
The iPhone 6 is a monster hit, China is falling hard for Apple, and Tim Cook is delighted with the world’s response to the Apple Watch. And those are just some of the key insights from today’s Apple earnings call.mf.gif


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