Smartphone shipments in North America fell to a five-year low of 36 million units for the first quarter of 2019, down by eight million units or 18 percent from a record high of 44 million in the same quarter last year.
Canalys, which reported Q1 2019 North American smartphone shipments yesterday, said this was the steepest regional fall ever recorded.
Apple’s overall iPhone shipments were down 19 percent, from 17.9 million units last year to 14.6 million units this quarter. Of these, about 31 percent, or 4.5 million, were the iPhone XR, which Apple has previously said is the best-selling model.
Apple’s just released Q2 2019 results covering the three months to March 31 recorded a decline in global iPhone revenues from $37.6 billion in the quarter last year to $31 billion in the current quarter. Analysts estimated Apple shipped between 37 million and 42 million iPhones globally.
Counterpoint research estimated that in February iPhone XR sales accounted for more than 26 percent of all iPhone sales worldwide, while iPhone XS Max was the second best seller, accounting for 13 percent.
According to Canalys, the iPhone XR was the top selling smartphone in the quarter in North America, accounting for 13 percent of the total 36.4 million units shipped. Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Galaxy S10e each accounted for 6 percent.
Samsung shipments meanwhile grew 3 percent year-on-year to 10.7 million units.
SEE: Top 20 Apple keyboard shortcuts for business users (free PDF)
Apple still dominates the North American market with a 40 percent share of shipments, followed by Samsung with 23.2 percent.
Canalys notes Apple’s sales in North America were helped by its trade-in promotions, including last year’s temporary offer up to $100 more on an old iPhone when buying a new iPhone XS or XR.
Apple just this week launched an iPhone trade-in ad that positions environmental considerations as the central motivator for consumers, while also conveniently helping new sales when that happens.
“Apple has shown how vital trade-ins have become by moving the mechanism to the front and center of its ordering process, and it now frequently uses the net price in its flagship iPhone marketing,” said research analyst Vincent Thielke.
“The momentum of trade-in promotions in Q2 and Q3 will determine the extent to which Apple can counter negative market forces, such as longer device lifecycles. But the key challenge in coming months remains that its latest iPhones are just not different enough, though new ones are on the way. For its performance to improve in 2020, Apple will need to emphasize radical new features that are most likely to impress consumers.”
After buying Bungie, Sony goes all in on live service games – TechCrunch
After buying Bungie earlier this year, Sony is moving fast to integrate the company’s expertise into its broader vision.
In an investor presentation Thursday, Sony Interactive Entertainment CEO Jim Ryan outlined a near future for the company that focuses heavily on continually updated online games inspired by Destiny, Bungie’s long-running hit.
Sony expects to spend 49% of its PlayStation Studios development budget on live service games by the end of the year. By 2025, Sony plans to bump that to 55%, up from just 12% in 2019. By the end of 2025, Sony projects that it will have 12 different live service games of its own, up from just one now.
The company declined to answer questions from TechCrunch about which of its franchises might get the live service treatment, but the presentation cited God of War, Horizon Forbidden West, Spider-Man, The Last of Us and Uncharted in a list of its noteworthy single-player first-party titles. Sony-owned studio Naughty Dog has been hiring for a standalone multiplayer game, so a new game could indeed emerge out of The Last of Us or Uncharted’s virtual worlds.
Bungie is best known for creating the Halo franchise, though most recently the studio has become synonymous with Destiny, a fresh sci-fi series the company developed after leaving Halo with Microsoft. Like Halo, Destiny is a futuristic first-person shooter with precise, satisfying mechanics. But Destiny’s real appeal is Bungie’s impressively seamless online multiplayer experience that brings players into central hubs where they can explore and run missions together, making it more akin to World of Warcraft than a traditional FPS like Call of Duty.
Three years after splitting with Microsoft, Bungie signed onto a 10-year partnership with Activision. The company eventually split with Activision, too, paving the way for Sony to snap it up earlier this year for $3.6 billion. Bungie will remain a standalone game studio on the other side of the deal, à la Naughty Dog.
Just after the Bungie acquisition was made public, Sony CFO Hiroki Totoki confirmed the company’s plan to weave Bungie’s live game service know-how into its broader gaming offerings.
“The strategic significance of this acquisition lies not only in obtaining the highly successful Destiny franchise, as well as major new IP Bungie is currently developing, but also incorporating into the Sony group the expertise and technologies Bungie has developed in the live game services space,” Totoki said.
In bringing Bungie under its wing, Sony is buying a lot of knowledge about how to build online multiplayer games that expand over time, keeping players coming back for more. This kind of experience, usually called a “live service game,” explains how Fortnite is still one of the world’s most popular games years after it first made headlines for luring casual gamers and hardcore streamers alike into its colorful, chaotic world.
It’s also an extremely lucrative business model. Live service games generally have an in-game storefront that invites dedicated players to buy digital goods like character skins and clothing. Those assets cycle in and out, creating scarcity and nudging players to spend real cash to collect them. In a given content season, players in games like Destiny 2 and Fortnite can pay to earn a special set of these cosmetic virtual goods with a “battle pass.”
Some live service games, like Final Fantasy XIV, require players to pay for a monthly subscription to access the most recent content, while others are free to play. Happily, these days, most free-to-play games no longer require a paid subscription through Microsoft or Sony’s own premium subscription services.
Live service games add expansion content over time, and players often pay to access the new stuff, even while the core game remains mostly the same. For game makers, the real allure is maintaining a game that can live and grow over time, raking in revenue for years rather than burning bright and fizzling out a few months postlaunch.
Twitter investors sue Elon Musk over acquisition shenanigans – TechCrunch
The world’s richest man isn’t above trying to get a discount, apparently.
In a new lawsuit, Twitter shareholders are suing Elon Musk, alleging that he manipulated the price of the company’s stock for his own benefit in the course of agreeing to buy the company. The lawsuit represents a group of Twitter investors but would allow any shareholders to receive financial compensation.
The suit was filed Wednesday in federal district court for Northern California and argues that Musk intentionally drove down the company’s stock to secure a better deal. “The fair market value of Twitter securities has been adversely affected by Musk’s false statements and wrongful conduct,” the complaint states.
The lawsuit cites Musk’s decision to waive due diligence as a condition of the acquisition and his subsequent suspiciously timed claim that Twitter had misrepresented the number of bots on its platform.
“At the time, Musk was well aware that Twitter had a certain amount of ‘fake accounts’ and accounts controlled by ‘bots’ and had in fact settled a lawsuit based on the fake accounts for millions of dollars,” the complaint states. “Musk had tweeted about that issue at Twitter several times in the past, prior to making his offer to acquire Twitter with full knowledge of the bots.”
The suit alleges, as many people observed at the time, that Musk was likely trying to secure a discount by casting doubt on his commitment and disparaging the company. Since Musk’s initial commitment to purchase the company was announced, tech stocks — including Tesla, which accounts for the vast majority of Musk’s wealth — took a dive.
Following Musk’s comments, Twitter shares also dipped significantly, a phenomenon that the suit alleges is “highly unusual” given the company’s agreed-upon buyout price.
While Musk claimed the deal was on hold, there was no formal mechanism in place that would back up that claim. Even within Twitter, company leaders encouraged employees to proceed as though nothing had changed, noting that there was “no such thing” as casually pausing a binding agreement to buy the company.
The suit also alleges that Musk deliberately delayed filing a disclosure form when his stake in the company exceeded 5%, allowing him to continue to buy shares at a discount. After the form was filed and Musk’s purchases became public knowledge, Twitter stock soared by nearly a third.
“Musk’s disregard for securities laws demonstrates how one can flaunt the law and the tax code to build their wealth at the expense of the other Americans,” the complaint states.
Instagram is currently down for some users – TechCrunch
If you’re having problems accessing Instagram today, you’re not alone. The social media giant is currently experiencing some problems, according to reports on third-party web monitoring service Downdetector. The website indicates that issues began at around 12:30 p.m. EDT. NetBlocks, which tracks global internet usage and disruptions, has also noted that Instagram is facing intermittent international service outages.
Reports indicate that users are experiencing various issues with the service, including not being able to log back in after being logged out. Some users also reporting seeing a “Welcome to Instagram” message when logging on as though they have a new account. Others are unable see past a few posts or only seeing posts that were uploaded weeks ago. Some users are also reporting that they’re unable to refresh their home screen and are seeing a “we’re sorry, but something went wrong” notice.
Instagram and its parent company Meta have yet to acknowledge the issues. TechCrunch has reached out to Meta to learn more about the issues and will update this article once we get a response.
This story is developing…
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