Apple announced some new phones today, and they’ve got real silly names.
Every other year, like a curse, Apple released new models of the iPhone. This year’s are called the iPhone Xr, iPhone XS, and iPhone XS Max. These are baffling names, though I know once they’re in the wild I’ll be dying to have one. One issue I’ll probably have is saying the name of whichever model I choose.
While the “X” was pronounced as “ten” at the keynote, I can’t help but read these names as the “iPhone Excess” and “Excess Max.” They sound a little bit like the name of a fighting game or an anime. Is this the stupidest naming convention since the Xbox One X and Xbox One S? The internet seems to think so.
Todd Howard also showed up at the keynote to talk about Elder Scrolls: Blades, which was announced at E3 this year. He’ll just show up anywhere, at any time, it seems like. Glance over your shoulder—Todd Howard might just be waiting for you.
Let’s be real: the only reason why we’re making fun of these names is because a lot of us are going to buy them. Do you think I should get the Xr, or the XX Action Core Plus R?
With fall quickly approaching, it’s that time of year again in the tech industry as well: iPhone season. To that end, kicking off in a few hours for Apple’s annual iPhone event, with this year’s event being branded as “Gather Round”.
Apple’s event is once again taking place at the Steve Jobs theater on the Apple Park campus. And while the company isn’t giving up anything in advance, it’s a foregone conclusion that we’ll once again be seeing multiple iPhones, along with potentially some other iOS devices. How will Apple iterate on the iPhone X design? What’s happening to Apple’s cheaper, traditional phone models? What will be this year’s “notch”? We’ll find out here in a few hours.
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the iMac G3, the original iMac that was designed by Jony Ive and was one of the first computers released by Steve Jobs after he rejoined Apple in 1997. It launched on August 15th, 1998.
But before you go and get all misty-eyed over Apple’s cute little computer that could, try taking a minute to remember what was so great about the iMac G3. In the end, what you’ll realize is that the only good thing about Apple’s first iMac was its design, most notably the striking shade of Bondi blue baked into its translucent, plastic body.
I will wholeheartedly admit that in 1998, when pretty much every other desktop was a boring shade of beige, the iMac G3 was a revelation. The thing looked more like a giant piece of candy that a computer. Meanwhile, over in Windows land, the coolest thing at the time was probably the cow-print boxes Gateway computers came in.
I also remember when my high school bought a whole roomful of iMac G3s to complement its existing PC lab, and after seeing the brightly-colored case and remembering my Dad’s weird and interesting monochrome NeXTSTEP PC, which was also made by some guy named Steve Jobs, I thought: This thing is going to be cool. Oh, how wrong I was.
The iMac G3 featured other innovations, like a hidden cable management compartment, the use of USB ports instead of Apple’s older proprietary connections, and an integrated design that made it a bit easier to set up than a traditional desktop. But those were small bonuses. They weren’t enough to save the iMac from being bad.
But what about that handle, you say? Please. With a listed weight of 38.1 pounds, handle or no handle, that iMac wasn’t something you wanted to move around very often. And despite Jobs’ claims that the 233 MHz IBM PowerPC 750 chip in the iMac chip was blazing fast, real-world testing done by PC World and others showed that wasn’t really the case.
And this is before we’ve even talked about the issues inherent to all-in-one computers, such as the increased difficulty of upgrading components post-purchase, the inability to reuse the display, and the general lack of customization.
But the truly worst thing about the original iMac was its mouse. Seemingly designed purely for looks, Apple’s one-button monstrosity is possibly the least ergonomic peripheral I’ve ever used. It felt like you were trying to move the cursor around by pushing a hockey puck, and even though in hindsight I appreciate Apple’s use of a cord sporting USB, the cable on the iMac G3’s mouse was hilariously short, too. After just two years on the market, the Apple USB mouse was unsurprisingly replaced by the still annoying, but much better Apple Pro Mouse.
In later years, Apple expanded on the iMac G3’s striking looks by adding even more fruity colors to the line, including lime, strawberry, indigo, and more. Like the original Bondi blue model, those versions looked pretty sweet. I must say, however, that some of the limited-edition iMac flavors like Blue Dalmatian and Flower Power may have gone a bit too far.
In the end, if the legacy of the original iMac is enough to get Apple to spruce up the next batch of iPhones with fun, lively colors, that’s something I can get down with—just so long as we don’t let our emotions prevent us from seeing the iMac G3 as it really was: a sneakily expensive, yet frustrating all-in-one that wasn’t actually all that fast, with an innovative, but not fully polished design, an awful mouse, and a great color scheme.
A day after posting strong results for the third quarter of fiscal 2018, Apple has become the world’s first publicly traded company with a market capitalization of over $1 trillion.
At press time Apple’s stock cost $206.90 and its market capitalization was $1.017 trillion. Meanwhile earlier this morning Apple’s stock hit $207.50, so it is likely that the company will stay around a $1 billion market cap mark in the coming hours or days before either heading north or south.
Apple’s best Q3 results ever were driven by strong sales of iPhones as well as a massive increase in revenue it gets for its services. In fact, while the company’s iPhone earnings for the quarter grew 20% year-over-year because of higher smartphone ASPs, Apple’s services revenue grew 31% year-over-year as the company has been expanding its offerings for some time now. At the same time, sales of iPad tablets and Mac PCs dropped 5% year-over-year.
Originally founded as a maker of computers in 1976, Apple expanded to dozens of product categories in the 1990s, many of which were unsuccessful. After Steve Jobs returned to Apple as the CEO in 1997, he axed most of the product lines to focus on PCs. Starting from 2001, the company started to expand its family of products once again with the iPod music player that was followed by the Apple TV in 2006 (called iTV originally), the iPhone in 2007, the iPad in 2010, the Apple Watch in 2015, and the HomePod in 2017. In addition, the company acquired Beats Electronics in 2014. It is evident that the company branched into three new categories of products in the last eight years and while sales of Apple Watch and Beats products are increasing, Apple’s corporate revenues are growing mainly because of higher iPhone selling prices, such as the iPhone X at $999.
While Apple is without any doubts ahead of other US-based high-tech companies in terms of market cap, it is not the world’s most expensive firm per se. Depending on who is doing calculations, the valuation of Saudi Aramco state-controlled oil and gas company is between $1.2 billion and $1.5 billion. Therefore, Apple still needs to grow further in a bid to become the world’s most valuable company in history.
Screenshot: ustwo (Monument Valley 2)
Apple is ending its affiliate program for apps which could mean the end of review sites like TouchArcade that have relied on a cut from Apple to keep their mobile game review sites afloat. The tech giant made the announcement in its August newsletter saying that members of the program will stop receiving commissions starting October 1, a move the editor of TouchArcade, Eli Hodapp, called a “big middle finger” to his site and others like it.
“Moments ago, Apple announced that they’re killing the affiliate program, citing the improved discovery offered by the new App Store,” he wrote in a post that went up on the site late yesterday. “It’s hard to read this in any other way than ‘We went from seeing a microscopic amount of value in third party editorial to, we now see no value.’”
TouchArcade has been around since 2008, offering reviews and news about new mobile games worth paying attention to. Mobile gaming is huge, and Hodapp says a respectable couple million readers pass through TouchArcade each month. That traffic, however, doesn’t result in much money from ads. To keep the lights on, the site has long used affiliate links. Basically, every time you click through a TouchArcade link to a game on the App Store and buy it the site receives a small commission. “Each individual purchase was almost inconsequential, but when you put them all together it’s sort of in line with the plot of movies like Superman III or Office Space,” Hodapp wrote citing cinematic examples of small amounts of money adding up to huge sums. TouchArcade and other outlets covering iOS games and apps rely on the revenue brought in through the affiliate links to stay alive, but in May of 2017 Apple cut the commission rate from 7% to just 2.5%.
Hodapp told Kotaku in an email that revenue from affiliate links had also fallen due to the shift toward free-to-play games filled with microtransactions and supported by in-game ads. He said that because TouchArcade focuses mostly on premium games that people have to pay upfront to play, the affiliate links were still an important. “I’m not super sure just how big of a dent this is going to make in our bottom line, but it’s going to be significant,” he said.
In 2015 the site launched a Patreon to try and help with funding following drop-offs in ad buys. “Without financial support from developers buying advertising, some sites have closed,” Hodapp wrote at the time. “TouchArcade, being the largest site, is the farthest up the proverbial river, but the drought has reached us too and even our continued existence is in question.” Crowdfunding from Patreon currently brings in $4,045 of a $10,000 monthly goal, with other funding coming largely through Amazon and App Store affiliate links.
Apple’s relationship to gaming has been fraught ever since it launched the iOS App Store back in 2008. Apple’s desire to have tight control over its technology and platforms was a problem cited by Doom developer John Carmack in a Facebook post in May. “Apple has made this move because if you watch Apple as a company, everything they do is to gain more control over a market they’re in,” said Hodapp. This is just another step forward in that plan, as they clearly want the App Store to be the sole source of curation of iOS content.” Apple did not respond to a request for comment.
Last year’s App Store redesign included a more visible editorial team devoted to in-house curation of games on the platform as well as changes to how they were featured. In my experience the App Store is still incredibly hard to navigate, even when searching for popular games like Fortnite Battle Royale. With more obscure games, it can be even harder.
One of the most notable changes was the addition of the spotlight feature, a way for Apple to highlight a different game every day whether or not it was the most popular. Think stuff like Florence, the innovative romance game inspired partly by earlier mobile successes like Monument Valley. However, Hodapp argues that publicizing a few games off the beaten path doesn’t make up for the general state of the rest of the App Store’s gaming section.
“Third-party sites have always done a better job of highlighting great apps and deals,” tweeted Marianne Schultz, editor of AppShoper, another site that relies heavily on affiliate links. “I’d rather have a trusted third party recommend apps to me over Apple, who has a vested interest in selling you every single app in the App Store, regardless of quality or usefulness.”