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Tim Cook to Apple employees: iPhone activations in US, Canada set new record

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After Apple cut its Q1 revenue forecast by $9bn, CEO Tim Cook reminded employees in a memo obtained by Bloomberg that there are still some bright points, including a record number of new iPhone activations in the US and Canada on Christmas day. 

The note about record activations comes as Apple for the first time did not report quarterly unit sales of the iPhone, which it’s done since the launch of the iPhone in 2007. However, Cook admitted to staff that Apple didn’t set a new record for iPhone sales in Q1. 

The memo, aimed at pepping up staff after cutting its revenue outlook for the first time since 2002, reiterated Cook’s note to investors that it missed its target due to lower than expected iPhone sales in China. 

Cook told investors Apple didn’t see the size of the slowdown in China coming, which Apple believes was made worse “by rising trade tensions with the United States”, referring to the US-China trade war. It also saw lower than expected upgrades in some developed markets. 

But Cook told employees that Apple expects to “set all-time revenue records in key markets including the US, Canada and Mexico, Western European countries including Germany and Italy, and countries across the Asia-Pacific region like Korea and Vietnam.”

Also, Apple’s installed base of active devices is now higher than it’s ever been. Asymco analyst Horace Dediu estimates Apple has just over 1.4 billion active devices, about a 100 million more than the 1.3 billion that Apple reported last February.   

Cook said Apple would not use negative external forces as an excuse for its performance, nor wait for conditions to get better. 

“This moment gives us an opportunity to learn and to take action, to focus on our strengths and on Apple’s mission – delivering the best products on earth for our customers and providing them with an unmatched level of service. We manage Apple for the long term, and in challenging times we have always come out stronger.”

Apple’s today also announced that the App Store saw record levels of spending over the holidays totaling $1.22bn between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve. The $322m spent on New Year’s Day 2019 was also a single-day record for the App Store. 

Tim Cook: “This moment gives us an opportunity to learn and to take action.”


Image: CNET

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Instagram tests ditching video posts in favor of Reels – TechCrunch

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Instagram is testing a change that turns video posts into Reels, the company confirmed to TechCrunch. The company says the change, which is currently being tested with select users around the world, is part of Instagram’s plan to simplify video on the app.

“We’re testing this feature as part of our efforts to simplify and improve the video experience on Instagram,” a spokesperson from Meta said in an email.

A screenshot posted on Twitter by social media consultant Matt Navarra shows that people who are part of the test will see an in-app message that says “video posts are now shared as Reels.”

The message indicates that if your account is public and you post a video that ends up being turned into a Reel, anyone can discover your Reel and use your original audio to create their own Reel. If your account is set to private, your Reel will only be visible to your followers. The message also notes that once you post a Reel, anyone can create a remix with your Reel if your account is public. However, you can prevent people from remixing your Reels in your account settings.

As with any other test, it’s unknown when or if Instagram plans to roll out the change more widely. If the change does become permanent, it may pose some challenges. For example, it could be difficult to post a horizontal video if it gets uploaded in a vertical Reels format. In addition, Instagram did not say how this change will affect current videos on Instagram.

The test comes as Meta has been betting big on Reels. As part of its Q1 2022 earnings, the company revealed that Reels now make up more than 20% of the time that people spend on Instagram. It’s not surprising that Instagram is looking to expand Reels even more by replacing video posts altogether. If the company does end up making this change permanent, it could boast about people spending even more time viewing Reels. 

Last year, Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app was “no longer a photo-sharing app,” noting the company was prioritizing a shift into video amid significant competition from TikTok and YouTube. The company then took a step toward its larger goal of making video a more central part of the Instagram experience by combining IGTV’s long-form video and Instagram Feed videos into a new format simply called “Instagram Video.”

If Instagram decides to turn all video uploads into Reels, it would consolidate the company’s video elements even further. Last year, when Mosseri laid out Instagram’s priorities for 2022, he said the company would double down on video and focus on Reels. He even hinted that Instagram would consolidate all of its video products around Reels and continue to grow the short-form product, which indicates that this change may have always been the plan.

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Crypto wants its own iPhone – TechCrunch

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Image Credits: TechCrunch

Apple’s relative hostility to the desires of crypto developers hasn’t gone unnoticed, and as the industry buckles down for a bear market, some of its proponents are pushing forward plans to rebuild the iPhone with their own industry’s best interests at heart.

Hello and welcome back to the Chain Reaction podcast, where we unpack and explain the latest crypto news, drama and trends, breaking it down block by block for the crypto curious.

This week, my co-host Anita was off, so I was joined by TC+ Senior Crypto Reporter Jacquie Melinek, who discussed some of the wild happenings in crypto, including FTX’s flirtations with Robinhood and the latest drama at Celsius.

We also talked about the big surprise announcement of the week: the Solana-backed Saga smartphone. The new device will operate with crypto capabilities baked into its silicon while serving as a regular Android-based smartphone as well. The device doesn’t ship until next year, allegedly, and Jacquie and I had plenty of thoughts, so listen along above!

Our guest: Doodles CEO Julian Holguin

This week, I chatted with Julian Holguin, who is the CEO of the NFT project Doodles. The collection of 10,000 NFT profile pictures is one of the most popular crypto projects on the web and Holguin just banked funding from Alexis Ohanian to push the startup behind the art even further.

Chain Reaction podcast episodes come out every Thursday at 12:00 p.m. PDT. Subscribe to us on Apple, Spotify or your alternative podcast platform of choice to keep up with us every week.

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Visby Medical tests positive for a Series E extension at $1B+ valuation – TechCrunch

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Medical diagnostics company Visby Medical raised $100 million in a Series E round earlier this year. Today, the company told me it extended that round by an additional $35 million at the same valuation as the rest of the round. This financing will enable Visby Medical to scale production capacity from tens to hundreds of thousands of monthly tests. It will also further expand its product lineup to include COVID + influenza A/B combination testing, antimicrobial resistance panels, and deliver at-home PCR diagnostics to consumers.

“The valuation is just over $1B post-money,” a spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch over email. “The extension is at the same valuation as the rest of the round, which we think demonstrates that these are long-term investors, not influenced by short-term fluctuations in the public markets.”

The company told me it consciously sought out investors that would be eager to continue to invest long-term. The original $100 million was led by Ping An Voyager Partners and joined by the Healthcare of Ontario Pension Plan (HOOPP). The round also included participation by existing investors including John Doerr, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, ND Capital, Artiman Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, Blue Water Life Science Advisors and Nissim Capital.

The extension round of an additional $35 million was led by Lightrock, who joined existing Series E investors including John Doerr, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, ND Capital, Artiman Ventures, Pitango Venture Capital, Blue Water Life Science Advisors and J Ventures.

“At Visby Medical, we are revolutionizing patient care by developing diagnostics that healthcare providers can use to test for any infection at anytime, anywhere,” said Visby Medical Founder and CEO Adam de la Zerda, PhD in a statement to TechCrunch. “Especially during these times of market slowdown, our investors have shown significant confidence in Visby’s innovative technology and mission. This funding will enable us to further our goal to provide the world’s first instrument-free handheld PCR platform to accurately and rapidly test for a variety of serious infections to anyone who needs it.”

Visby’s PCR diagnostic technology is being developed in multiple therapeutic areas and is aimed to address a critical and growing global need: to combat the significant rise in infectious diseases, including on-the-spot STI rapid testing solutions.

The financing goes to show that there’s still money out there, and it’s encouraging to see that companies are more forthcoming about announcing both round extensions — which traditionally have been frowned upon by the investment community — and valuations as part of their funding journey.

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