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TECHNOLOGY: Apple is trying to reclaim its major innovator status (by making you wash your hands)

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Photo: Apple

By Margarietha de Villiers Scheepers, Senior Lecturer Entrepreneurship and InnovationUniversity of the Sunshine Coast & Martie-Louise Verreynne Professor in Innovation and Deputy Pro Vice-Chancellor, RMIT University

Market commentators view Apple’s announcements at this week’s Worldwide Developers Conference 2020 (WWDC) as one of the company’s most important strategic moves of the past decade.

Among the key announcements were details of the watchOS 7 – with a pandemic-inspired handwashing detection feature – and plans to end Apple’s reliance on Intel for Mac processing chips.

While Apple still views itself as an innovator, critics point out many of its product innovations in recent years have been incremental – with calls for an entirely new product category. And consumers have been finding it increasingly hard to distinguish between Apple and competitors like Samsung.

Will we ever again see something from Apple that truly changes the market?

We think Apple’s newest updates may be early signs it is, in fact, looking to get back on the map as a “business model innovator”. This describes how an organization creates, delivers, and captures value through business activities.

As the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School professor Raffi Amit explains, Apple has renewed its business model many times – from changing the music industry with Apple Music to creating a community of independent app providers through the App Store.

A pro-hygiene smartwatch
In today’s COVID-19 world, Apple’s new watch OS7 (expected to be released later this year) will offer automatic handwashing detection.

Motion sensors, the microphone (which will listen for water sounds) and on-device machine learning will detect when a user is washing their hands. The watch will then start a 20-second timer.

By monitoring the frequency and duration of handwashing, preventative health care will be in the hands of users.

Apple uses its wealth of consumer trend data, combined with advances in machine learning, data, and analytics to offer an intensely human experience to suit users’ lifestyles. By focusing on the customer’s journey, Apple is in a unique position to create products with superior customer value.

For the WatchOS 7’s handwashing feature, the customer journey starts by reminding users to wash their hands when they get home. The health app monitors the process, even detecting if a user stops prematurely. By focusing on each step of this “journey”, Apple aims to provide peace of mind and address customer anxieties during the pandemic.

In the market of fashionable wearables, Apple’s smartwatch dominates. Last year, the Apple Watch outsold the entire Swiss watch industry.

In line with a strong trend towards personalization, Apple’s WatchOS 7 also offers customizable watch faces, sleep tracking, improved workout apps with dancing, and several built-in acoustic health features such as monitoring ambient sound levels.

Breaking up with Intel
Apple’s long-awaited breakup with Intel was confirmed at the WWDC 2020. Chief executive Tim Cook announced the company’s plans to transition to using its own Apple silicon processors for Macs.

Currently, Mac computers operate with Intel’s x86 desktop chips. By 2021, these will be replaced with the custom-designed processors’ Apple has already been using in newer iPhones and iPads – spelling the end of a 15-year partnership between Apple and Intel.

The move is part of Apple’s continued strategy to gain as much control as possible over its product ecosystem and development processes. It could also be seen as a reaction to Intel’s hesitance to meet its requirements.

Intel has fallen behind in the industry’s race to miniaturize and has experienced production delays and shortages. Apple’s new processors promise more power efficiency, are lighter, and have superior performance for 3D graphics and for apps using artificial intelligence.

Similar to other tech giants, Apple is expanding its capabilities not just through acquisition, but also by developing its in-house capabilities.

And while the Apple-Intel partnership only amounted to 5% of Intel’s overall sales, the breakup will still impact Intel’s image as a market leader in chip manufacturing.

Read more: Apple’s iPhone 11 Pro wants to take your laptop’s job (and price tag)

An insulated ecosystem
It’s likely the decision from Apple signals their intent to exert more control over developers, suppliers, and customers through the Apple product ecosystem. Indeed, Apple’s tendency to entrench its customers in this ecosystem has raised concerns.

For instance, larger players like Netflix, Spotify, and Amazon Kindle have been fighting back against Apple’s policy of forcing users to use Apple pay to purchase their apps, which sees Apple collect up to 30% of the revenue upfront.

While companies such as Netflix can reach users independently through online marketing, smaller app developers are forced to pay the Apple tax of 15-30%.

Still a leading innovator?
At the WWDC, Cook framed the newest announcements as evidence of Apple’s ongoing commitment to innovation.

For many consumers, the most exciting updates will be Apple’s new internet-based technologies. These include spatial audio for AirPods Pro, a feature that creates a more realistic surround sound experience and the new CarKey function which will be compatible with the 2021 BMW 5 Series. This will let drivers unlock and drive their car using their iPhone, thanks to a specialized NCP (network co-processor) chip inside the phone.

It seems Apple does want to excel as a business model innovator. The company’s innovations – even when incremental – still drive product value. And this is used to turn profits which can then be reinvested into broader business model innovation.

This may be why shareholders and enthusiasts remain confident about Apple’s future.

The article first appeared in The Conversation.

Used under the Creative Commons Licence.

How is China responding to coronavirus outbreak? (VIDEO)

The recent outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus has already affected nearly 2,800 people in China, mostly in the Wuhan city of the Hubei province.

January 27, 2020, by Newsclick

The recent outbreak of a new strain of the coronavirus has already affected nearly 2,800 people in China, mostly in the Wuhan city of the Hubei province. The virus has also spread to other countries with a handful of cases being reported from Japan, the US, Canada, Taiwan, Nepal, etc. In this discussion, NewsClick Editor-in-chief Prabir Purkayastha talks about the virus, how it spreads, and the measures are taken by the Chinese government to contain it.

Source- Newsclick

Holistic reforms needed to address dominance of digital platforms: ACCC

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By SAT News Desk

MELBOURNE, 29 July: Australia needs dynamic reforms to take care of the dominance of digital platforms, says the recently released report by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC).

The ACCC’s ‘Digital platforms inquiry – final report’ (June 2019) considered the impact of online search engines, social media and digital content aggregators (digital platforms) on competition in the media and advertising services markets. In accordance with the Terms of Reference, the ACCC has examined the implications of these impacts for media content creators, advertisers, and consumers, focussing, in particular, on the impact on news and journalism.

The report contains 23 recommendations, spanning competition law, consumer protection, media regulation, and privacy law, reflecting the intersection of issues arising from the growth of digital platforms.

A media release from the ACCC says: “During the course of its Inquiry, the ACCC identified many adverse effects associated with digital platforms, many of which flow from the dominance of Google and Facebook.

These include:

The market power of Google and Facebook has distorted the ability of businesses to compete on their merits in advertising, media and a range of other markets
The digital advertising markets are opaque with highly uncertain money flows, particularly for automated and programmatic advertising

Consumers are not adequately informed about how their data is collected and used and have little control over the huge range of data collected News content creators are reliant on the dominant digital platforms, yet face difficulties in monetizing their content Australian society, like others around the world, has been impacted by disinformation and a rising mistrust of news.

“The dominant digital platforms’ response to the issues we have raised might best be described as ‘trust us’,” Mr Sims said.

“There is nothing wrong with being highly focused on revenue growth and providing increasing value to shareholders; indeed, it can be admired. But we believe the issues we have uncovered during this Inquiry are too important to be left to the companies themselves.”

“Action on consumer law and privacy issues, as well as on consumers’ data,” Mr. Sims said.”

The ACCC recommendations include:

- Requiring designated digital platforms to each provides the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) with codes to address the imbalance in the bargaining relationship between these platforms and news media businesses and recognize the need for value sharing and monetization of content

- Addressing the regulatory imbalance that exists between news media businesses and digital platforms, by harmonizing the media regulatory framework

- Targeted grants to support local journalism of about AU$50 million a year
Introducing measures to encourage philanthropic funding of public interest journalism in Australia

- ACMA monitoring the digital platforms’ efforts to identify reliable and trustworthy news

- Requiring the digital platforms to draft and implement an industry code for handling complaints about deliberately misleading and harmful news stories

- Introducing a mandatory take-down ACMA code to assist copyright enforcement on digital platforms.

The report also recommends about digital platforms’ impact on Australian media businesses and how Australians access news, empowering consumers, protecting privacy, continued scrutiny of digital platforms and expert regulators and agencies to play complementary roles.

A BBC report says: “A 12-week consultation process on the proposals is now under way, after which the Australian government can act on it.

ACCC chairman Rod Sims said the regulator was currently running five separate investigations into Facebook and Google.

He called for “a lot more transparency and oversight” of the two companies and added that breaking them up remained a possibility.

Both firms said they would engage with regulators.”

“The Morrison government labeled the world-first findings “groundbreaking” and said Facebook and Google needed to be held to account for their activities,” reports the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

The SMH further says: “The DIGI, the industry body representing Google, Facebook, and other tech companies operating in Australia, called on the government to assess the ACCC’s recommendations against an “innovation test”, warning about impacts on Australia’s “global standing as a place to invest in technology”.

DIGI managing director Sunita Bose said the sector was closely examining the recommendations to “ensure they don’t bring unintended consequences to all digital businesses and the choice of digital products available to Australian consumers”.

The full ACCC report can be accessed at – https://www.accc.gov.au/media-release/holistic-dynamic-reforms-needed-to-address-dominance-of-digital-platforms

- The report has been prepared using the ACCC media release, BBC report and Sydney Morning Herald report as sources.

Video: Gurmeet Ram Rahim gets 20 years for rape

Source: The Citizen.

Celebrate diversity, not simply tolerate it, says Premier Daniel Andrews

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‘Victorian. And proud of it.’ policy launched

By Neeraj Nanda

MELBOURNE, Sunday 19: The Victorian Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews today called upon the community to celebrate diversity, not simply tolerate it. He was launching along with Deputy Premier James Merlino, Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott and Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton who joined hundreds of community leaders at the Punt Road Oval to launch ‘Victorian. And proud of it’.

The new multicultural policy aims “to build on Victoria’s proud immigrant history and reaffirm the shared values that make us a stronger, safer and more harmonious community.”

“We are stronger for our diversity – but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy. In the face of extremism and fear, we need to reaffirm what is most important to us.”
“Being a Victorian isn’t just about where you live. It’s about contribution and belonging, Premier Daniel Andrews said.”

The policy includes a series of initiatives to encourage Victorians – from all walks of life, all circumstances and all cultural backgrounds – to contribute and belong.

“Being a Victorian isn’t just about where you live. It’s about contribution and belonging.”
Quotes attributable to Deputy Premier James Merlino
“As a child of a migrant this is my family’s story – we are proud to have been an integral part of building this country.”

The policy is underpinned by the Victorian Values Statement, which articulates the values all Victorians should live by – one law for all, freedom to be yourself, discrimination is never acceptable, a fair go for all and that it is up to all of us to contribute.

A media release from the Premier Hon. Daniel Andrews office says, “Victorians are encouraged to read the stories of their fellow citizens on proud.vic.gov.au and share their own. To achieve a strong and cohesive Victoria, the Labor Government will:
- Ensure every Victorian knows their responsibilities and rights under the law through a $2.3 million awareness program
- Promote civil dialogue among Victorians and strengthen supportive social networks through a Right to Debate initiative
- Help young people avoid being manipulated and drawn to extremism by way of a Digital Literacy and Digital Citizenship program
- Reduce discrimination in the delivery of a $1 million Anti-Racism Action Plan.”

A print and broadcast advertising campaign around ‘Victorian. And proud of it.’ will also begin today.

In his speech, Minister for Multicultural Affairs Robin Scott said, “To build a strong and fair society takes work, but we all deserve to enjoy the benefits of a dynamic and diverse
Victoria.”
“We all have something to contribute. To foster everyone’s sense of belonging, so they feel pride in their home and their state, is one of the most important things government can do,” he said.