Apple reveals triple-camera iPhone; $5 monthly streaming TV undercuts Disney

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Apple's Stan Ng talks about the new Apple Watch series 5 during a special event on September 10, 2019 in the Steve Jobs Theater on Apple's Cupertino, California campus. (AFP)
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Stan Ng speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019. (AFP)
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An attendee looks at the new Apple iPhone 11 Pro during an Apple special event on September 10, 2019 in Cupertino, California. (AFP)
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Apple's senior vice president of worldwide marketing Phil Schiller talks about the new iPhone 11 Pro during an Apple special event on September 10, 2019 in Cupertino, California. (AFP)
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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019. (AFP)
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Apple Senior Vice President of Retail and People Deirdre O'Brien speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019. (AFP)
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Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks on-stage during a product launch event at Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California on September 10, 2019.(AFP)
Updated 11 September 2019

Apple reveals triple-camera iPhone; $5 monthly streaming TV undercuts Disney

  • Apple said the seventh generation of the iPad will start at $329 and be available to order starting Tuesday and in stores on Sept. 30

CUPERTINO, California: Apple Inc. caught up with hardware rivals on Tuesday by revealing a triple-camera iPhone, and it rolled out a streaming TV service priced at $5 a month, undercutting Disney and Netflix.
The announcements came at the company’s biggest marketing event, where it unveils its top products for the year ahead, and showcased an aggressive Apple ready to battle on price.
The long-awaited Apple TV+ streaming television service will be available in over 100 countries, starting in November. The service will not be available in China when it launches, nor will the Apple Arcade video game subscription.
Buyers of an iPhone, iPad or Mac will get a free year of streaming TV, potentially drawing hundreds of millions of viewers to the service. That catapults the new service into a rarified group of companies.
“I think the pricing on the Apple TV service was definitely a positive surprise,” said Michael James, managing director of equity trading at Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles. “That’s why you’re seeing the hammering in some of the other video service-related names like Netflix, Amazon and Roku. Clearly, that was a positive that people were happy to hear.”
There was no bundle with Apple Music or other services as some analysts had expected. But Ben Bajarin, an analyst with Creative Strategies, said the TV service, a $5 a month “Arcade” gaming service and the base model iPhone 11, seem designed to draw in users for the longer term.
“We weren’t expecting Apple Arcade and particularly Apple TV to be priced as aggressively as they were,” Bajarin said. “They know once consumers get into their ecosystem, they don’t leave.”
Apple said its new iPhone 11 will come with two back cameras, including an ultra wide-angle lens and the next generation of microchips, the A13. Prices start at $699, down from last year’s new iPhone that started at $749.
The more expensive iPhone 11 Pro will have three cameras on the back — wide angle, telephoto and ultra-wide. It can create videos with all three back cameras and the front camera at the same time and starts at $999. The iPhone 11 Pro Max with a bigger screen starts at $1,099. The new phones are available to order Friday and will start shipping Sept. 20.
Rivals including Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. already sell phones with three cameras on the back. While Apple once tested the upper limits of what consumers would pay for a phone, it is now giving ground on prices, even making older models available at significant discounts to the latest technology.
“Consumers absolutely still care about cameras. That’s why it was surprising over the last couple of years that Samsung and Huawei got the jump on Apple,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy. “Apple was playing a bit of catch up, but Apple did bring their game, particularly on the video side of the camera, where I do think they’ll have the leg up.”
Analysts expect Apple will sell around 200 million iPhones in the next year, in addition to other devices, and while many of those will be in China, it ensures at least tens of millions of potential viewers for the subscription service.
Hal Eddins, chief economist for Apple shareholder Capital Investment Counsel, said Apple’s lower priced iPhones “aren’t exciting on the surface, but the low streaming price may suck in some new subscribers.” Apple shares gained 0.8%.

CROWDED FIELD
With streaming content, Apple is entering a crowded field dominated by Netflix Inc. (Graphic: https://tmsnrt.rs/2N6OB2j)
Walt Disney Co. will launch on Nov. 12 a $7-per-month service that will contain that firm’s iconic children’s content. Apple is also trying to beat HBO Max with its hit shows like “Game of Thrones,” “Friends” and “The Sopranos.”
Apple’s challenge is to persuade consumers that its family of devices, from its set-top box to phones, are the best one-stop place to watch shows.
“The roll-out of new subscription-based services by Apple paves the way for the introduction of new business models akin to the all-you-can-eat bundles like Amazon Prime,” said Paolo Pescatore, analyst with PP Foresight. “In the future we might even see users pay for a service bundle and receive a new iPhone every year.”
Apple also unveiled an updated watch, the Series 5, with an always-on display, starting at $399, while keeping the older Series 3 starting at $199. Moorhead said the older model would drive “tremendous” business.
Apple said the seventh generation of the iPad will start at $329 and be available to order starting Tuesday and in stores on Sept. 30.


Google enters battle for cloud gaming market

Updated 17 November 2019

Google enters battle for cloud gaming market

SAN FRANCISCO, California: Ever-expanding Google becomes a gaming company Tuesday with the launch of its Stadia cloud service that lets people play console-quality video games on a web browser or smartphone.
The Internet giant hopes to break into the global video game industry expected to top $150 billion this year, with cloud technology that could broaden audiences attracted by rich new features as well as ease of access with no more need for consoles.
But analysts say Stadia’s outlook is uncertain as its faces rivals such as PlayStation Now in an emerging and highly-competitive market.
Stadia plays into a trend in which content — ranging from blockbuster films to work projects — lives in the cloud and is accessible from any device.
“All of these new services are merely pointing out that we don’t need sophisticated hardware in the home to access entertainment,” said Wedbush Securities equity research managing director Michael Pachter.
Google last month sold out of “Founder’s Edition” kits, which are priced at $129.
Each kit contains a Stadia controller and a pendant-shaped Chromecast Ultra wireless connection device that plugs into television sets.
Stadia games are playable using Google Chrome web browser software on computers.
It also works with Google-made Pixel smartphones from the second-generation onward, and on televisions.
Stadia Pro subscriptions, priced at $10 a month in the US, will be available in 14 countries in North America and Europe.

'Underwhelming'
However, analysts say Stadia could wind up as another “bet” that Google walks away from if it fails to live up to expectations.
“Stadia will live or die by its content,” said Ovum senior analyst George Jijiashvili.
“The announced 12 launch titles are underwhelming.”
Subscribers will be able to buy games that will be hosted at Google data-centers, but some free games will be available to subscribers, starting with “Destiny 2: The Collection.”
Stadia on smartphones will work with WiFi connections rather than rely on mobile telecom services.
Being able to play without lags or interruptions is paramount to gamers, and flawed Internet connections could cause frustration. Internet speed will also determine how rich in-game graphics can be.
Some promised features such as integration with YouTube will not be in place at launch.
“Stadia appears to be rushed out the door before fully ready and, worryingly, Google is risking falling short on its promises,” Jijiashvili said.
“These shortcomings however would be easily overlooked if Google can deliver a very reliable and high-quality game streaming service.”
Google appears committed to doing just that, according to Ubisoft senior vice president of partnerships Chris Early.
The French video game giant has been working with Google and its games are among titles coming to the service.
“From what I have seen, their plans are too deep; they are too good, and they are too invested,” Early said. “They are not calling it quits any time soon.”
He expects a long launch period during which Google will beef up Stadia.
“If there is a one-day problem at launch, it isn’t the end of the world; it isn’t even close,” he said, stressing the potential for Stadia to let people play without investing in consoles.
But Pachter questioned whether subscriptions were the right approach.
“The right model is pay as you go or pay for the game and play unlimited without a subscription,” Pachter said.
“Amazon will try one of those and will win the streaming wars.”
Amazon has game studios but no online game service.

Project xCloud
US technology veteran Microsoft has been testing a Project xCloud online game platform.
“Next year, we’ll bring Project xCloud to Windows PCs, and are collaborating with a broad set of partners to make game streaming available on other devices as well,” Microsoft corporate vice president Kareem Choudhry said in an online post.
Sony Interactive Entertainment last month slashed the price of its PlayStation Now cloud video game service by about half in the US to $10 monthly.
Japan-based Sony also boosted the library of games that PlayStation Now users can access through its consoles or on personal computers powered by Windows software.
Sony and Microsoft are also poised to release new-generation video game consoles next year.
“While we expect dedicated consoles to eventually lose relevance in the face of cloud gaming services, there’s no guarantee that it will be Google’s service — rather than Sony and Microsoft’s — that catalyzes this trend,” said Ovum senior analyst Matthew Bailey.