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Apple loses the plot with iPhone XR

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Color me indifferent.


(Screenshot by ZDNet)

Happy new trade war.

Apple CEO Tim Cook believes that trade tensions incited by the US have contributed to a slowing iPhone market in China.

This isn’t, though, the whole story.

Last week, it was worth wondering whether Apple was having trouble marketing three new iPhones, all more advanced than the iPhone X.

And then it released a new ad for the iPhone XR.

Also: The 10 best smartphones of 2018

Here we have hordes of humans wearing variously-colored jumpsuits, parkouring through a tough neighborhood.

Because that’s what you do in tough neighborhoods.

Theirs is a very curious invasion. Some have been trapped in white vans for possibly hours, yet their purple jumpsuits are remarkably clean. Others leap from heights in order to keep up with the fleeing masses.

They break down barricades, too. Where are the police when you need them?

Wait, what has all this got to do with the iPhone XR? I’m very glad you ask, as I suspect viewers might be perplexed too. At least for the first 52 seconds.

It’s only then that the words “Make room for color,” appear on the screen.

Ah, so this is all about the fact that the XR comes in all sorts of bright, pretty colors, and the XS in merely a couple of restrained tones?

Well, perhaps. The next words on the screen are “Liquid Retina Display.” So the display is quite nice and reveals bright colors in all their glory, even if it’s not quite as good as the XS’s?


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Ah, so it’s a poor man’s version of this very famous Sony Bravia ad that, instead of colorful humans rolling through the streets, had colorful, bouncy balls.

It’s odd to see Apple mimic an ad that won almost every award going in 2006.

Cupertino has tried offering a few different reasons for buying the XR. It’s the display. It’s the battery. It’s the colors.

This doesn’t mean that the phone is selling badly. Apple insisted at the end of last year that the XR was the best-selling iPhone every week since its launch. I confess I bought one because it seemed appreciably cheaper and, for my purposes, just as good as the XS.

Still, one gets the feeling that Apple hasn’t managed to offer clearly delineated characters for its three new iPhones.

With this ad, the dilemma is entirely exposed.

Buy the iPhone XR for its display? Ah, if only Apple’s premium positioning would allow it to talk about price.

Previous and related coverage:

Apple iPhone XR review: Lower cost comes with camera, reception compromises

Apple switched up release strategies a bit in 2018 with the two high end $1,000+ models released initially, followed by one priced $250 to $350 less. The iPhone XR arrives in six color options and honestly it may be the best option for the masses.

Apple’s iPhone XR: Bad marketing or sneakily clever?

Do people know what the iPhone XR is for? Or is it serving its purpose, as one study suggests, in attracting Android users?

iPhone XS and iPhone XR cheat sheets

Get to know your iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, or iPhone XR better using these handy cheat sheets. Discover secret button combination, shortcuts, and gestures to make using your iPhone even easier.

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Revolut to allow users to donate to the homeless via the Beam crowdfunding platform – TechCrunch

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The world is entering a huge cost of living crisis, which will inevitably result in a rise in homelessness. But donating to homeless people has yet to go fully digital.

Challenger bank Monzo allowed the opening of limited accounts for the homeless using methods like a benefits letter or one from a homeless shelter, for instance. But the solutions are patchy.

Howwever, with many homeless people now packing smartphones, ideally there should be simple ways of supporting them rather than shrugging away an excuse about not carrying cash.

Since launching in 2017, the Beam social enterprise has run a platform where homeless people can crowdfund themselves. For example, here’s Ali who wants who wants to move into a stable home.

Beam says it has since raised £3.2m from members of the public and supported over 850 homeless people into stable jobs and homes by matching them with ethically-checked landlords and employers.

Beam currently operates across England, Wales and Scotland, and says it plans to launch internationally in the coming year.
 
It’s now teaming up with Fintech unicorn Revolut to allow users to donate directly to homeless people through the Revolut app, making it to first UK homelessness organization added to the Revolut Donations feature. Revolut says its Donations scheme means 100% oof the money goes straight to the chosen charity or organization.

Revolut users will now be able to donate to Beam, help homeless people raise funds for training, work tools, travel costs, childcare or rental deposits, directly through the app. Funds donated to Beam through Revolut Donations are distributed equally between Beam’s beneficiaries. The impact of the donations can be seen via the Revolut impact page.

Beam claims 100% of beneficiaries reach their target within an average of 16 days.

Commenting in a statement, Alex Stephany, Founder and CEO of Beam, said: “Just as Revolut has empowered customers to make the most of their money, Beam is showing there’s a new way to support homeless people for the long-term.”

Christopher Guttridge, General Manager – Lifestyle Products, added: “By enabling users to donate electronically, and pass 100% of the donation to those who need it most, we hope that the Revolut community can support the great work that Beam and its technology is doing to solve homelessness.”

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HBO Max is removing 36 titles and creators are not happy – TechCrunch

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HBO Max is continuing its content removal spree with 36 titles going off the service this week including 20 of its in-house productions. Other titles include originals from HBO and Cartoon Network along with a few acquired titles. The development first reported by Variety noted that this move was aligned with the big HBO Max-Discovery+ merger slotted to take place next year.

In order to prepare for the merger, the company has been silently removing titles for some weeks now. Earlier this month, during its quarterly earnings call, Warner Bros. Discovery said HBO Max will start showing Discovery+ reality shows from Chip and Joanna Gaines’ Magnolia Network starting September 30.

“As we work toward bringing our content catalogs together under one platform, we will be making changes to the content offering available on both HBO Max and discovery+. That will include the removal of some content from both platforms,” the firm said in a statement to Variety. We have reached out to HBO Max to learn when exactly these titles will be removed.

The company is likely removing titles to cut costs and make way for newer titles in the combined service. While it’s just a money-saving tactic for the streaming giants, creatives are worried that their hard work in creating shows will be wasted because of executive decisions.

Julia Pot, the creator the of animated show “Summer Camp Island” said on Twitter that the makers didn’t have much information about the reasons behind this move. We have asked HBO Max for a comment on its communication with creators, and we will update the story if we hear back.

Here is the full list of titles being removed from the service:

HBO Max and HBO Originals

  • 12 Dates of Christmas
  • About Last Night
  • Aquaman: King of Atlantis
  • Close Enough
  • Ellen’s Next Great Designer
  • Esme & Roy
  • The Fungies!
  • Generation Hustle
  • Generation
  • Infinity Train
  • Little Ellen
  • My Mom, Your Dad
  • My Dinner with Herve
  • Odo
  • Ravi Patel’s Pursuit of Happiness
  • Summer Camp Island
  • Share
  • The Not-Too-Late Show with Elmo
  • The Runaway Bunny
  • Theodosia
  • Tig n’ Seek
  • Yabba Dabba Dinosaurs

Cartoon Network

  • Dodo
  • Elliott From Earth
  • Mao Mao, Heroes of Pure Heart
  • Mighty Magiswords
  • OK K.O.! – Let’s Be Heroes
  • Uncle Grandpa
  • Victor and Valentino

Licensed Titles

  • Detention Adventure”
  • Messy Goes to Okido
  • Mia’s Magic Playground
  • The Ollie & Moon Show
  • Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures
  • Make It Big, Make It Small
  • Squish

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Tiger Global leads new funding in savings and investments app Jar – TechCrunch

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Tiger Global has led a new funding round in Jar, the Indian fintech that is helping millions of Indians save small amounts to invest in digital gold as the startup gears up to launch a host of new offerings including insurance, mutual funds and lending.

Jar said Thursday it has raised $22.6 million in its Series B financing round. The funding values the one-year-old startup at over $300 million, it said, and saw participation from Folius Ventures, Panthera Capital, Prophetic Ventures, Yes VC, WealthFront founder Adam Nash and Founders Fund principal Zachary Hargreaves as well as early-backers Arkam Ventures, Rocketship.vc and WEH.

TechCrunch previously reported the early deliberations of the round. The Bengaluru-headquartered startup has raised over $58 million to date.

Even as banks in India have opened a billion accounts for citizens in the South Asian market, a significant number of individuals don’t maintain any savings. In the event of an unplanned expense or emergency, many are forced to rely on friends and family or shark lenders for capital injection.

Part of the reason why so many Indians never save or invest is confusion, explained Nishchay AG, co-founder and chief executive of Jar, in an interview. “Should they invest in mutual funds, stock market, crypto, various schemes from banks? The choices are aplenty as the world around them is littered with ads,” he said.

Jar is removing the pressure by giving people an asset class that Indians can relate to: gold.

(To say Indians, who have a private stash worth $1.5 trillion of the precious metal, have a fascination with gold would be an understatement. For generations, Indians across the socio-economic spectrum have preferred to stash their savings — or at least a part of it — in the form of gold. In fact, such is the demand for gold in India — Indians stockpile more gold than citizens in any other country — that the South Asian nation is also one of the world’s largest importers of this precious metal.)

A familiar asset class is part of the solution. Jar’s other value proposition is just how easy it has made it for its users to save and invest. On its eponymous app, the startup allows users to choose from different savings options such as roundups – where the nearest round number after a transaction gets saved automatically, as well as setting recurring savings amounts and performing one-time execution, explained Misbah Ashraf, co-founder of Jar.

Jar has rapidly gained traction since launching the product a year ago. Its app has amassed over 9 million registered users and each day it is clocking over 220,000 transactions, it said. The startup, which is seeing an average monthly growth of 20%, is also spending far less on attracting new users: less than $1.5 per user, it said.

Jar’s eponymous app. The startup also lets users keep a track of who all they have lent money to, and send them reminders.

“By starting with digital gold, a well-understood and well-loved asset class in India, Jar’s savings app has quickly gained trust and traction with young earners interested in developing a saving and investment strategy,” said Alex Cook, Partner at Tiger Global, in a statement. “We are impressed with the company’s rapid growth and are excited to double down as they expand into new asset classes.”

The startup, which employs about 90 people, is now gearing up to broaden its offerings. “We are working on building the most ubiquitous and contextual platform to help people navigate the financial options without getting intimidated,” said Nishchay.

Jar, which is also looking to hire another 50 people, is developing and testing secured and unsecured lending, mutual funds, fixed deposits, peer-to-peer loans, and insurance, he said. The startup plans to roll out these new offerings in the coming quarters, he said.

Misbah, whose inspiration to starting Jar was his family’s personal struggle with finances, believes that Jar has been able to help people build a habit of financing savings. These customers, most of whom he said live in small cities and towns of the country, “are now ready to explore evaluating other instrument options,” he said.

India has become a key fintech hub in the past decade as scores of banks, startups, and other institutions have raced to tap what many believe is the last great growth market.

For years, local legacy banks and mutual funds have been trying to tap India masses with their products. But their non-personalized offerings and over-reliance on local credit bureau’s books have cut their customer base to just 30 million individuals.

“Manufacturing a product is one thing and being able to sell it is another. All these institutions are good at manufacturing. For selling, you have to be aligned with the individual’s persona, idiosyncrasies, insecurities, cognitive load and the cultural significance. That’s an art and science by itself,” said Nishchay in an earlier interview.

“Jar’s growth story would be incomplete without the mention of the guard rails that have preemptively been put in place to make growth a controllable output versus it an incomprehensible vector. The company has an equal measure of thoughtful execution as well as a high standard of transparency where stakeholders ranging from employees, partners, and investors are fully aware of key initiatives and priorities. We are sure this approach is helping create a sustainable company with a predictable growth trajectory,” said Rahul Chandra, Managing Director of Arkam Ventures, in a statement.

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