Apple surprises no one with the iPhone SE, Apple thinks owning an old PC is “sad,” Spotify boasts 30 million subscribers, Microsoft considers buying back digital games, and Liam is the robot that hates iPhones.
The New Old New iPhone SE
Yesterday, as it’s prone to do every six months or so, Apple held a press event to show off its latest wares. The company launched several new products, including a new, smaller, iPad Pro, a bunch of new Apple Watch bands, iOS 9.3, and, most notably, the iPhone SE. Which is a modern example of the emperor’s new clothes if ever I saw it.
The iPhone SE is the latest iPhone likely to grace the pockets of Apple fanboys and fangirls around the world. It has very similar specs to the iPhone 6S, but in a package that closely resembles the iPhone 5 from 2012. This is… odd, to say the least, and the lower starting price of $399 isn’t enough to save it from scathing criticism.
Some technology sites are lapping it up, describing this as a stroke of genius that will help Apple shift millions of iPhones in new territories. That may well be true, so from a purely business point of view the iPhone SE is a solid product. However, in the bigger scheme of things this new iPhone reveals a company that’s completely run out of ideas.
A 4-inch screen isn’t big enough for gaming, editing video (4K or otherwise), or any of the other things people do with modern smartphones. Which is why Apple followed the herd and went bigger in the first place. Apple is talking the iPhone SE up as being better than the iPhone 5s, but of course it is, as three years have passed since the latter was released!
And then there’s the name, which apparently stands for “Special Edition”, taking Apple down the path once reserved for Android handsets. The iPhone SE will sell, especially in emerging markets, but unless the iPhone 7 blows the competition out of the water when it’s launched later this year, it’s another sign that Apple’s innovative side died with Steve Jobs.
Apple Brands Owners of Old PCs “Sad”
Apple has suggested it’s “sad” that so many people are using PCs more than five years old. The jokey slamming of 600 million people came from Apple’s Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller. He was shilling (obviously!) the new iPad Pro, and suggesting most existing iPad Pro owners formerly used a Windows PC, when he said:
“Windows PCs were originally conceived of before there was an Internet, before there was social media, before there was app stores, and this is an amazing statistic: There are over 600 million PCs in use today that are over five years old. This is really sad. It really is.”
Is it? Really? There are all sorts of reasons people could be using 5-year-old+ PCs. They may not be able to afford anything newer, they may have upgraded the internal components, they may prefer legacy equipment to the current crop of products, or they may simply be happy with the computer they currently use. And at least they’re not contributing to the environmental disaster being caused by our over-consumption of electronic goods. That’s not sad, it’s sensible.
Spotify Claims 30 Million Subscribers
We have 30 million @Spotify subscribers, but none of them are in Cuba … yet. So cool to see Cuba opening up! https://t.co/nZa67f0l8U
— Daniel Ek (@eldsjal) March 21, 2016
It appears that Spotify has quietly passed the 30 million paying subscribers milestone, with Daniel Ek, the founder of the music streaming service, tweeting the news. Ek was reacting to U.S. President Barack Obama’s visit to Cuba, suggesting that the relationship could be a good thing for his company.
As noted by The Verge, in 2014, Spotify had 10 million paying subscribers, and in 2015 it had 20 million. So, if these numbers are correct, it suggests the Spotify bandwagon is rolling on regardless of the competition provided by Apple Music, Jay Z’s Tidal, and others.
Microsoft Might Buy Your Old Xbox Games
Microsoft might be considering a scheme whereby it buys back digital games once you have finished with/got bored of them. The catch? The company would only offer 10 percent of the price you paid for the game, and then only in store credit to spend on other games.
This is according to a new “Xbox Customer Survey” from Microsoft which appeared on Reddit (via NeoGAF). It asks:
“If the digital games store for the console you owned offered customers the option to “sell back” their digital games to the store for 10% of the purchase price in store credit, would you be interested in such an offer?”
This is, of course, a terrible deal for gamers, but then as it stands right now you cannot sell digital games on at all. Microsoft is clearly banking on people accepting that something is better than nothing. Or you could continue buying games on disc, allowing you to make some money back when you’re done with them.
Liam Rips Apart Old iPhones
And finally, as part of its environmental initiative, Apple has revealed Liam. Liam being a robot whose sole job is to dissemble old iPhones, stripping out the gold, lithium, copper, silver, platinum, and other key ingredients of which we only have a finite supply.
It’s important to note that while Liam is doing a fine job, Apple could still do better in terms of wasting important resources. Building a business reliant on people upgrading every year or two despite their current handset being perfectly functional is the real problem here.
Your Views on Today’s Tech News
Are you likely to buy an iPhone SE? Do you own a PC more than five years old? Which music streaming service do you subscribe to? Would you sell a digital game for 10% of its original price? What do you think of Liam?
Let us know your thoughts on the Tech News of the day by posting to the comments section below. Because a healthy discussion is always welcome.
Tech News Digest is a daily column paring the technology news of the day down into bite-sized chunks that are easy to read and perfect for sharing.