Apple iOS 12.2, Apple News+, Apple Card

Screen Time is pretty good, but can always use more. It has that very Apple feature cycle where you expect more easy release, but they tend to keep it overly simple. The second item below should be good:

Screen Time
– Downtime can be configured with a different schedule for each day of the week
– A new toggle enables easily turning app limits on or off temporarily

And a review of Apple News+:

Currently, magazines offered by the service are a mix of rich, responsive content based on Apple News Format and fixed, high-resolution “scans” that behave like pages of a PDF document. I was happy to see that the majority of magazines I’m interested in such as Wired, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorkerhave been built with Apple News Format, which brings a host of advantages: layouts are richer (with animated elements, swipable galleries, and more), text can be resized, and each issue offers a Table of Contents that lets you jump directly to a specific story or section of the magazine.

And then the Apple Card, mostly from a competitive angle:

…and Apple just took on a bevy of competitors including the following:

following: 

  • Capital One and other credit card issuers such as American Express, Bank of America, and Citibank. 

  • In a blog post, MasterCard highlighted its involvement with Apple’s digital first card. Apple is using MasterCard’s token services and M Chip technologies. 

  • Banks that have built in personal finance apps and rely on credit cards for margin.

  • Apps like Intuit’s Mint. 

  • Payment apps like PayPal and Venmo that have an app presence but not a physical one. PayPal also issues its own credit and debit cards with Synchrony Bank as the issuing bank. 

  • An architecture and financial setup that makes Apple Card as compelling as a rewards program. Customers get three percent Daily Cash on all purchase made with Apple; Two percent with Apple Card and Apple Pay usage and one percent with the physical card; and one percent with the titanium Apple Card. 

And: “Apple Card will be available this summer.

So, add Apple to the FUD list on your opening, vendor pitch slide, esp. for banks. “What will they do next?” your slide will imply, “stealing your customers, making you just a backend, at best.”

Then, some analysis from the financial analysts at Keybanc:

Apple’s services efforts appear less compelling the further away from user lock-in they go. Apple began its presentation by showing the definition of services: “the action of helping or doing work for someone,” an insinuation that its services business is an act of kindness bestowed upon the Company’s users and content partners. The irony in this is that Apple’s Services segment generates the vast majority of its profit in areas where Apple faces no competition or has a massive advantage due to user lock-in. In other words, its success in Services to date appears to be more a result of leverage over user control than a result of kindness or service to its ecosystem participants. The services announced today ventured beyond the walled garden of iPhone-linked services into markets with more-established competition. In these areas, we believe Apple’s rate of success and profitability are likely to decline vs. its current lineup of services.

They’re not too hot on Apple Pay being a big deal:

The ability of Apple to transition from a mobile phone maker to a trusted and highly engaged financial service offering remains an open question, yet we applaud innovative efforts and see the greatest disruption occurring on the issuer side of the equation with the non-traditional pick of Goldman. The choice of Mastercard and rewards construct largely follows industry standards and showcases the power of the traditional payment processing value chain (e.g. V, MA). The decision to omit a card number and thus encourage Apple Pay usage online is interesting, but is unlikely to be a needle-mover within the e- commerce landscape (e.g., PYPL). A rewards structure linked to Apple Pay Cash is interesting but is likely to yield relatively small payment volumes and we see limited demographic overlap with Venmo or Square Cash (e.g., PYPL, SQ).

Link: Apple bringing medical records to iPhone, Apple Watch

“It all works when a user opens the iPhone’s health app, navigates to the health record section, and, on the new tool, adds a health provider. From there, the user taps to connect to Apple’s software system and data start streaming into the service. Patients will get notified via an alert if new information becomes available.”

Sounds cool. We’ll see. Apple often takes 2-3 years to actually have software that works well and is useful. And then, as with Photos, they fuck it up 2-3 years late.
Original source: Apple bringing medical records to iPhone, Apple Watch

Smart Lock-in

iPhone, Samsung, Dell VenuePro

To read most of the coverage from afar, Microsoft did an excellent job of messaging that 2012 could be a big year for WindowsPhone 7. As one piece puts it:

There’s a curious thing happening in the smartphone space at this year’s CES. Two Windows Phone devices — the HTC Titan II and the Nokia Lumia 900 — are the most hyped, talked-about phones at the show. Yeah, that’s right: Windows Phones.

From what I can tell, I’m one of the few people who’s used two WP7 phones over the past year: a Samsung Focus (sent to me by Microsoft for reviewing while I was RedMonk) and a Dell VenuePro (my current “work phone”). They’re both beyond just fine: they’re good phones in hardware and operating system. The core problem they have is a lack of apps, specifically, the apps I already use and like in iOS-land.

Anchored by Apps

There are, it should be said, lots of apps for WP7 (30,000+ back in August…but, compare that to 500,000+ in iOS-land). The problem is that they don’t have the apps I want to use, specifically, all those iOS apps I’ve spent money on over the years. As Ed pointed out to me awhile ago, the annoying catch here is that, even if the pay apps I wanted were in WP7…I’d have to pay for them again. And, with estimates of 60 apps downloaded per iOS device, that’s a lot of apps people need to take with them. Of course, this is just the case when you switch between Windows and Mac (or Mac and Windows): a license for Office or Creative Suite in Windows won’t translate from Windows to Mac.

Thankfully, most mobile apps are cheap – much cheaper than desktop Office ($119) or Creative Suite (from $280 to $1,500, or so). In reality, I make enough money that I’d pay for the apps twice. But, they don’t always exist in the first place. Indeed, many of the apps I depend on in iOS land aren’t (or weren’t last time I looked) available in WP7-land: Flipboard (hands down my most used app), EchoFon, even an official tumblr app.

Ooogling WP7 phones at CES

For WP7 to be successful, Microsoft needs to ride all of those app authors to create WP7 versions of their apps. The same is true for Windows 8 – where, at least, Microsoft already has one of the world’s most important “apps,” Office (important as in “the [army|company|etc.] runs off [PowerPoint|Excel]”). App vendors like Evernote have a good track record of going balls out here, and I’ve seen a handful of apps developed for WP7 that are more than just quick ports: they take advantage of the tiles, integrating into the sharing functionality through-out the phone, and so on. It’s got to be tough for an app vendor, though: supporting iOS, Android, and WP7 is a hefty bought to sign up for.

HTML5 is good for who exactly?

Arguably, “HTML5 fixes this,” but I’d argue that each platform vendor (Apple, Google, Microsoft) is just barely incented to make HTML5 as good as their native app frameworks. What we’re discussing here is a major point of customer lock-in, thus, a major element of any mobile/tablet strategy. Each of these “post-PC” platforms (iOS, Android, WP7, and Windows 8) needs to differentiate on the entire platform experience – HTML5, really, takes away the ability of any OS to be different. If I can simply take all my “apps” (written in HTML5 so that they’re really web apps or web apps that I download a la Tiddlywiki to my mobile “desktop”) with me when I go…there’s little reason to stick to one mobile platform: I just skip around to the one that has the beast hardware and network. (Imagine if you actually selected a device because of the carrier’s QoS!)

Don’t get me wrong: as a user, I’d love my apps to be cross-platform and achieve that HTML5 nirvana existed and I could just take my apps with me from platform to platform. But that’d make these “smart phones” into “dumb phones,” which is definitely not anything the mobile platform creators are looking to do. On the other hand, I’d suggest that the cross-platform dreams of HTML5 suite just about everyone else’s interests: the app makers would be available on everyone’s devices, the handset makers would avoid this whole app lock-in problem, and the carriers could differentiate on service instead of platform exclusiveness. Historically, the platform providers tend to win out because they’re willing to play the long game of locking users into awesomeness, while the other parties go for quick wins quarter to quarter. We’ll see if it pans out differently this time.