"Free" Apps on the App Store

Across the iTunes and Mac App Stores today, a minor but also notable change is taking place with regard to how Apple is marketing its iOS and Mac applications. Instead of free apps being labeled as FREE, the download button now reads GET. The change likely has to do with increased pressures from the European Commission, which this summer, succeeded in forcing Google to relabel apps that offer in-app purchases.
— TechCrunch

By accident or design, the App store(s) are going towards a terrible downward spiral in the race to the bottom in terms of pricing. This is preventing quality and Indie Apps from thriving on the App store and Apple's In-App purchase scheme is mostly to blame for this. While I understand why Apple did this, its time, Apple seriously reconsidered the strategy in place here. From the recent saga of the Monument Valley upgrade pricing woes to the terrible stories of thousands of dollars spent in In-App purchases on stupid games, this In-App purchase scheme is costing a lot of people a lot of time and money and frankly it does not seem healthy for the platform. The EU demanding Apple to, first explicitly mention that an App offers In-App purchase and now (via TechCrunch), not terming any App that offers In-App purchases, as "FREE" are good countermeasures, but not solutions. 

I am not a proponent of the yesteryear Microsoft Software strategy of over charging people for crappy software and upgrades, but again I hate the other extreme of this spectrum as well. While quality and value are in the eye of the beholder, there are way too many Apps in the App store that deserve much more monetary remuneration than they are getting and this has to stop. It is not entirely Apple's fault, we as consumers have a tendency to try to get the best bang for our buck (I just din't want to say we are cheap), but again for any market to thrive, there has to be a balance in pricing and value. I say put an end to this In-App purchase scheme, all together and that is the only way out! 

The Mac App store now says "GET" instead of "FREE" on Apps that offer In-App purchases (Source: Apple)

The Mac App store now says "GET" instead of "FREE" on Apps that offer In-App purchases (Source: Apple)

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus: Which is more popular?

Apple is most definitely not going to reveal the split up between the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus sales numbers, probably for ever. We can wait for the analysts to play around with the numbers and reverse calculate the split between these two models, based on the profit the iPhone earns this quarter and its average selling price. Or we can look around for some usage analytics data, like this one, from Applovin. 

In general, the 6 Plus is much more popular in APAC countries. While in North America, Western Europe, and Australia the iPhone 6/6 Plus ratio is much more aligned with the global average, APAC countries seem to have taken to the 6 Plus in greater numbers. In a region where phablet sales equal that of laptops and tablets combined, 6 Plus usage is consistently over 35% higher than iPhone 6 usage in the APAC countries.
— Applovin

No surprises here. Of course the iPhone 6 Plus seemed popular in the beginning because Apple sort of under estimated the demand for a humungous iPhone, mainly in the Western countries. But the more iPhone 6 Plus owners I talk to, who did not plan to purchase a 6 Plus originally, the more I am convinced that people love it. Be it our craving for having the best iPhone or bigger the better (like in buying TVs, for example) attitude, the 6 Plus has ended up in more pockets in the Western countries than expected. But overall there was never any doubt that the iPhone 6 will clearly outsell the 6 Plus, the questions was by how much margin and the most common number that has been floating around was, for every iPhone 6 Plus sold, there were three or four iPhone 6 models sold. And that seems to consistent with many studies so far (another one on this from John Gruber, here).

Source: Applovin.com

Source: Applovin.com

And the 6 Plus is more popular in Asia than the West, due to either weaker purchasing power in Asia, requiring consumers to choose between a smartphone and a tablet and/or that Asians, in general don't want too many gadgets, lying around in their household. 

About those always tangled Earphones

I don't know what Apple does with so much money and why it can't invent a better, tangle free Earphones (or pods) for all their devices. I am no audiophile and I am perfectly happy with the audio quality of the (in)famous Apple while earphones, though the same can't be said about its fit. But the biggest thing that keeps bugging me is how badly they get tangled in my pockets. Whatever I do, I don't seem to find an acceptable solution. That is why this video from CNET was so apt to my situation. Come on Apple, please do something about these earphones! 

Apple's EarPods (Source: Apple.com)

Apple's EarPods (Source: Apple.com)

Nokia, the new Xiaomi?

Nokia (at least what is left of it after the Microsoft buy out!) announced a new Android tablet, costing around $250 and it appears as though, it forgot to hire its own designers this time, instead chose to borrow, rather heavily, from Apple designers, albeit without their consent (via The Verge). There is of course only one way to design a modern tablet and why should Apple get all the credit, its not like Apple invented the modern tablet or anything, right??

The only things missing here to complete the iPad mini look are a home button, chamfered edges, and an Apple logo. There’s even “Natural Aluminum” and “Lava Grey” color schemes, and a cover that looks suspiciously similar to Apple’s Smart Case. Nokia’s own N1 website also looks like it’s straight from Apple.com.
— The Verge
Every detail matters for Nokia, apparently in ripping off Apple (Source: Nokia.com)

Every detail matters for Nokia, apparently in ripping off Apple (Source: Nokia.com)

Apple's iPad mini webpage (Source: Apple.com)

Apple's iPad mini webpage (Source: Apple.com)

Eddy Cue promotes Apple Pay

As a promotion to the recently announced Apple Pay, Apple's Eddy Cue, went on a shopping trip with a local California TV channel reporter (follow the link for the video).

While we are on Apple Pay, a couple of points to note on Apple Pay are:

  • Certain stores still might require you to sign your name in addition to Apple's Touch ID authentication depending on the amount of the transaction.
  • Certain Debit card purchases still require a pin to be entered in addition to Apple's Touch ID authentication

None of these are too much of a deal breaker and in spite of these intricacies, Apple Pay is still way more secure (in terms of privacy) and way faster than traditional card transactions.

Apple Watch and the iPhone: Different strategies

Apple has often been criticized for the lack of choice in the iPhone models, other than the generation of the iPhones and the internal specifications like the amount memory. Every one of the more than 500 million iPhone users have one of the three or four generations (mostly) of the iPhones and there is no way to choose an iPhone based on your personal choice of design, other than color and more recently on the screen size. But still no two iPhones out there look alike, even if they are the same model, and this is because most of the iPhone users have a protective case on their iPhones and Apple has been happy to cede this space of customization to third party case makers.

Other than a few color and size options, the iPhones don't offer as much choice for the buyers as the Apple Watch does (Source: Apple.com)

Other than a few color and size options, the iPhones don't offer as much choice for the buyers as the Apple Watch does (Source: Apple.com)

The scenario with the most recently announced Apple Watch, though is very different. There are two sizes of the Apple Watch, then there are different models, like the Sport, the Regular (?) and the Edition, then there are a bunch of straps with different colors and designs, the Apple Watch itself can be chosen from a few colors (and not to mention the different watch faces that can be chosen as the display, that make the total number of permutations and combinations to choose from, more than two million). So clearly Apple's strategy on the Watch is very different compared to the iPhone and this is a deliberate move. Apple has been very vocal about touting the Apple Watch as the most personal devices Apple has made till date and when a device is this personal, people should have a lot of options to choose from. Moreover the iPhones spend most of their times inside the pockets, whereas the Apple Watch is going to be on display on your wrist for everyone to see. So the fashion component of the Watch also demands a lot of choices to available in the first place. 

Apple Unveils Apple Watch—Apple’s Most Personal Device Ever... And there are over 2 million ways to customize the watch face as well, so there’s something for literally everyone!
— Apple
Apple Watch offers a lot of options for customization (Source: Apple.com)

Apple Watch offers a lot of options for customization (Source: Apple.com)

Who is buying the iPhone 6 models

Who's buying the iPhone 6 models (via MacRumors)

Who's buying the iPhone 6 models (via MacRumors)

Looks like most of the people (80% of the survey respondents) that are buying the iPhone 6 or the 6 Plus are previous iPhone owners, compared to only around 62%, last year this time. This is not surprising as a lot of people were waiting to upgrade to the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus from iPhone 5 or even 4S for that matter and if you remember Tim Cook himself said that the iPhone 6 models would usher in "the mother of all upgrades".

Other interesting tidbits are that, contrary to popular belief, though more number of previous (supposedly bigger screen) Android users prefer iPhone 6 Plus over iPhone 6 (around 31%), almost equal number (25%) of previous iPhone owners (who are used to smaller screen iPhones) also preferred the bigger iPhone 6 Plus over the 6. A note of caution though; this survey was conducted on an extremely small sample of 300 recent iPhone buyers (by CIRP via MacRumors).   

The time is 9:41

The time is always 9:41 on any iPhone (Source: Apple.com)

The time is always 9:41 on any iPhone (Source: Apple.com)

I have seen this one before and found it to be extremely interesting and it has Steve Jobs' Apple written all over it, the sweating of the details... Interesting read. 

In the land of the iPhone 6—Apple’s version of it, at least—it is always, it seems, 9:41. And that is, like pretty much else at Apple, by design. Even the time on Apple’s ubiquitous phone carries a marketing message.
— The Atlantic

The best iPad Kick Stand

Microsoft has been trying really hard to compete against Apple's iPad and Macbook (Air in particular) with its recent aggressive Ad campaign. Though there are no signs that these Ads are creating any kind of momentum towards Microsoft away from Apple, Microsoft is at least trying, right? But the more they try, it seems that the more unlucky they are getting. Like the recent incident where in spite of Microsoft pushing its Surface computers to special events like Football games and Election coverage as a marketing move, people who are supposed to be using them invariably seem to prefer the iPad. So yet another publicity push for Apple, again sponsored by one of its rivals! 

The worst slight came last night when CNN commentators discussing the 2014 US mid-term elections were caught using their Surfaces as stands for completely different tablets (probably iPads).
— The Verge
Source: Twitter via The Verge

Source: Twitter via The Verge