Titan shake-up, battery maestro snatch and a look into China

Apple dismissed over 200 employees from Project Titan.

The mysterious group that is home to their autonomous vehicle research got a shake-up, but the dismissals from the group were seen internally as anticipated restructuring under the relatively new leadership. — I wouldn't read much into it.

Context: “We continue to believe there is a huge opportunity with autonomous systems, that Apple has unique capabilities to contribute, and that this is the most ambitious machine learning project ever.”

Apple hired Samsung SDI leader of battery R&D.

Soonho Ahn joined Apple back in December as "head of battery developments". The move suggests that Apple is considering designing their own iPhone batteries, currently made by SDI.

New iPads on the horizon.

The seventh generation of the iPad and the fifth of the iPad Mini are coming, as they just appeared in a major consumer regulator database. — My guess would be March or April.

Apple took the iPhone SE out of retirement for a last ride.

A surprising revival of a much beloved (if now, old-ish) phone, but only for a few days in the US, as the remaining stock sold out. A clearance. — The news prompted questions of an hypothetical successor.

iPhone sales fell 20% in China last quarter.

Sales went down from 14 million a year ago to 10.9 million last quarter. Huawei took the lion share and breached an incredible 30% of the sales, according to Strategy Analytics.

Context: The Chinese smartphone market had a very bad Q4 2018, as reported by almost every other metric and consumer sector. Apple fell 22%, while the smartphone sales in China fell 11%. That's rough. Let's see how 2019 starts.

Context (II): Our friends at Counterpoint gave a few more points for the November month, where the iPhone fell 20% from a year ago. That's worldwide data. The XR was then the most popular, as Apple said. Here's their chart:

The moral case for iMessage on Android.

Interesting article. The gist of it seems to be that Apple puts profits first and "humanity" last when it comes to iMessage. A bit grandiose, but I get it.

By keeping a secure, lightweight, devoid of ads and user tracking, multi-platform messaging platform to iOS and macOS, other users must use other stuff. If you have an iPhone or an iPad, but also a Windows or Android machine, iMessage's value diminishes.

Context: iMessage as "the platform" is a US-only thing. Even in other countries with huge iOS penetration such as Australia or the UK, WhatsApp rules with an iron fist.

This Tuesday Apple will share their 2019 Q1 financial results.

The first in the no-units era, and a very critical at that, after Tim Cook's letter to investors three weeks ago. It will be full of things to ponder for a few days. 

More from the orchard

  • Noyb: Austrian privacy campaigner Max Schrems slaps Amazon, Apple, Netflix, others with GDPR data access complaints in their streaming services.

  • WSJ: Foxconn Looks Beyond China to India for iPhone Assembly. — Vietnam is a solid option.

  • CNBC: Apple is in talks with private Medicare plans about bringing its watch to at-risk seniors.

  • FT: Apple recruits prominent Facebook critic for privacy team.

  • Wareable: Apple fitness band hinted at in new patent.

  • 9to5Mac: Images show Apple preparing News app in iOS 12.2 for new magazine subscription service.

  • Apple: Apple Pay finally accepted at Target and Taco Bell in the US (among others) and ING in Spain.

  • iMore has a very interesting iPhone XS Smart Battery Case Review.

  • Motherboard has an interview with John Callas, Apple's ex-security expert that went to the ACLU recently.