Category Archives: Apple

Locked out from the inside: the prices for iPhone 5s in Brazil are just… no

Gold is best

It’s been almost 5 days since carriers and stores opened at midnight and started to sell the new iPhones 5s and 5c in Brazil. And this is how long it took me to recover from the blow of the incredibly high, borderline offensive prices and disappointment in the entire situation.

Now Brazilians are used to the scenario. Video games, books, gadgets, computers, you name it, we have the most expensive prices for anything down here. News of this sort are as common as soccer scores to the point that they don’t even get that much attention anymore. However, just a few weeks ago the entire gaming community felt like they were being victims of a prank when Sony announced that the Playstation 4, which is being sold in the US for $400 would be sold for R$4000 (or U$1742) down here.

The PS4 is being referred to as PS4K now. People quickly did the math and found out that it is actually cheaper to fly to the US, buy it over there (hotel and food included) and come back with it rather than buy it here. And the rejection was so overwhelming that Sony underwent a press blitz to try and explain the prices, even breaking down financial information and blaming an old enemy of ours: taxes. However they weren’t very convincing, as the Xbox One starts at U$957, which is already an absurd price but became really cheap after the PS4 news.

So, back to the iPhone. We had been really excited, as for the first time we didn’t have to wait too much for the rollout. For the first time we’d have the new iPhones in November instead of December. But as the (unconfirmed) release date got closer, some scary information started to leak. First, the price table from Saraiva, a major retailer in Brazil. The prices for the unsubsidized 5c were U$871 for the 16 GB model and U$956 for the 32 GB. Meanwhile, the unsubsidized 5s would start at U$1174 for the 16 GB, then U$1261 for the 32 GB, and a whopping U$1348 for the 64 GB model.

Oh, before I forget, minimum wage here is U$295. Per month.

As the days went by, all sorts of prices began to hit the news. Some a little lower, some a little higher, but all of them around the same ballpark as the original Saraiva prices. A sense of disappointment began to take over. Even when the release date (which had been a rumor up until last monday) was finally confirmed, people were’t particularly excited about it anymore.

Then, one day before the release, carriers (which historically hold out on the prices until the last second) began to unveil their prices. And that’s when the real mess starts. Because in the US, things are way simpler than down here. You have 2 sets of prices. You have the on-contract price, and the off-contract price. And that’s it. Your service level or data plan has zero influence on the price of the device (thanks for the help, @jasonpbecker).

Here, however, things are a little different down here. You have 4 major carriers (TIM, Vivo, Claro and Oi), and they have an average of 6-8 different plans, ranging from around U$50 (60min of phone use, unlimited SMS, 2GB of data) to U$300 (where everything is unlimited). Now for each plan, from each carrier, iPhones have a different price.

Then came thursday. The big day. Only it didn’t really feel like the big day. If last year things felt a little cold, this year made last year feel like a blast. Traditionally carriers make big events in flagship stores inside malls with music, food and celebrities, as well as huge lines, and when the clock ticks midnight, sales officially begin, and unless you bought a phone within the next 12 hours, you were bound to wait a couple of months until you had a second chance.

This year however, lines were really short. Only the minority that hadn’t been put off by the prices decided to go check things out in person. Some went so they could see and hold the new models for the first time (keep in mind that we haven’t really seen that many around yet). Some went just to see with their own eyes if those were the actual prices. And some went still hoping to buy one, maybe knocking off a few hundred bucks with the help of all the accumulated points with their carrier relationship program.

I stayed home and followed on twitter as people tweeted their current situation. Up until that moment, Vivo (which is my carrier) was the only one who hand’t officially released the prices for the iPhone. And then we found out why.

You see, down here you can choose between a 1-year contract (remember the 6-8 different plans?) or a pre-paid no-contract line. Carriers tend to charge a lot more for the pre-paid, so people feel inclined to get a contract line. When Vivo unveiled the official off-contract iPhone 5s prices, they managed to turn the Playstation 4 into a great deal.  The prices for the 5s were U$1481, U$1743 and U$1960, while the contract prices started at U$763 (5s 16 GB) on a U$159/mo plan.

At around 3am Apple unveiled the prices for unsubsidized iPhones 5s and 5c directly from the Apple Store website:

- 5c: U$871 and U$1046.
- 5s: U$1220, U$1394 and U$1568.

Notice how the 16 GB 5c and the 16 GB 5s prices don’t overlap. We are currently the only country in the world with this U$174 price difference between the two, as far as I know.

The next day I went to my carrier and decided to see how much a space gray 16 GB 5s would cost me, if I renewed my (expired) 1-yr contract and traded all my 39.000 points accumulated in these 4 years that I have been a client. Since LTE isn’t exactly a stable service yet, I decided to stick with my 3G plan. The dude from the carrier started typing on his computer, picked up a calculator, started typing over there as well, and I must confess that I started to feel a little hopeful.

He stopped fiddling with the keyboards looked up, made a dramatic pause (I swear), and said “U$1264“. I thought that he was joking. Only he wasn’t. Turns out that with my carrier, every 5.000 points you get an amazing U$6.50 discount on a new device, and renewing my 1-yr contract would give me $0 discount.

I left the store, and on my way to the car I realized that it would actually be cheaper to buy the unsubsidized iPhone from the Apple Store website instead of the iPhone from my own carrier, and renewing my contract for another year. How insane is that?

I really wish that this had been a different release. Not only this was the fastest rollout ever, but also for the first time retailers and even the Apple Store started selling the new iPhones from day one. Last year it took over 6 months for the Apple Store to start selling the iPhone 5. And this coordinated release might have a positive impact on sales. But I don’t really expect good sales numbers from down here. I looked up and asked around, and there isn’t a single place where any device or any model or capacity is sold out.

Instead of an exciting release that we are used to seeing all over the world and especially in the US, this year we were left with a weird release and an overall sense of powerlessness. It feels like the new iPhone isn’t for regular Apple users or even for early-adopters and tech users, but flat out for people who have got so much money, that ironically they won’t even know how much they paid for it. I was excited to get one, but as it is I guess that I’ll have to wait until I have the opportunity to bring it from the US, or maybe wait for the next version, if that takes too long. Talk about forward thinking.

It’s a shame. I was excited about it.

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Jony Ive biography trailer is really disrespectful towards Steve Jobs

The book Jony Ive – The Genius Behind Apple’s Greatest Products by Leander Kahney has just been released. And to try to help boost sales, a sort of trailer was produced, where the narrator describe’s Ive’s personality while his many accomplishments are numbered.

It isn’t a particularly good video. It tries to mimic Apple’s refined visual aesthetics for their videos, but falls short and ends up a little bit corny instead. However this isn’t the biggest problem here.

I had a real problem with the last sentence. “Did we give credit to the wrong guy?”. 

What a cheap and unfair shot. What an complete lack of respect. This video didn’t need this.  I’ve been curious about this book for a while, and although I know that the author obviously has got nothing to do with this video, I have to say that it made me want to read it a little less now.

Video via The Loop

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Separated at birth: Tim Cook and Ryan Stiles (Two and a Half Men)

Tim Cook / Ryan Stiles

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Data shows that the iPad Air adoption rate is 5x higher compared with the iPad 4

iPad Air

Not bad at all. Feels like Apple hit a home run with the iPad Air. It’s been a while since the general attitude (coming from both press and customers) towards a new Apple product has been so positive.

Data from  Fisku, via MacRumors

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BBM and the App Store Top 25

Remember the post  BBM and the top of the App Store, in which I defended that despite all the stories of the surprising and overwhelming success of the app at the App Store, I expected it to fall below the Top 25 list within two weeks?

BBM

It took 10 days.

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The $399 iPad 2 doesn’t make sense

iPads

During the event earlier this week, Apple announced that the iPad Air will take over the top-of-the-line spot, starting at U$499, while the iPad 2 will keep on being sold for the same U$399 as before. The original iPad mini will also keep on being sold for a reduced price of U$299, while the Retina iPad mini will start at the same U$399 as the iPad 2.

The iPad 2 price doesn’t make that much sense to me. I completely understand the decision to keep on selling this model, as It appeals to those who want an iPad but don’t care about having the latest iPad. And the data disclosed today by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners is a proof of that, as it shows that the iPad 2 was responsible for 22% of the total US iPad sales in the last quarter.

iPads CIRP

Trusting data like this is rather risky, however, as they’re always based on estimates and… educated guesses. But assuming for argument’s sake that this data is accurate, the current price policy for the new iPad line seems unapologetically confusing.

You have the iPad 2 carrying a 2-year-old hardware (no Retina, A5 processor) being sold for the same price as the new iPad mini (with Retina and the A7), and for just U$100 less than the iPad Air (Retina, A7). Meanwhile, the first iPad mini (which has the same specs as the iPad 2) had its price cut from U$329 to U$299. Even if you leave aside the fact that in 2 years the production cost for this hardware (especially the A5 silicon) has been invariably reduced, the fact that the mini had a U$30 price cut and the iPad 2 didn’t is rather confusing.

If in the last quarter the iPad 2 was responsible for 22% of the total iPad sales in the US, the iPad mini represented a total of 32% of the pie.  With the first mini costing less but not the iPad 2, I’m not sure what Apple expects to happen here. Reducing the iPad 2 price to something around U$349 would have seemed like a reasonable thing to do, although even so it would still seem a little costy, considering the options provided by the rest of the line.

As one sweaty soon-to-be-retired-CEO once said, “let’s just see what happens”. I am honestly hoping to see how my assessment of the situation is wrong 3 months from now. But I’m looking very hard and I can’t see it now.

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BBM and the top of the App Store

Tero Kuittinen, for BGR:

“A day after being released, BBM became the most popular messaging app in the world. By 3:00 p.m. on Tuesday, it was ranked as the No. 1 free iPhone app in 66 countries”.

Sounds like a short run to me. I give it 2 weeks before it drops below the Top 25. Remember Nokia Here? No. Exactly.

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iOS 7 calendar reveals how the months will be organized from 2038 on [Updated]

If you’re into the habit of missing appointments, Apple might have solved your problem. Not right away though, but starting in 2038. That’s because according to the iOS 7 calendar app, the months of February, April and May will happen twice a year, making it a total of 15 months between January and December.

The month of October, however, will be removed from the calendar, which could point to a different schedule of iPad announcements.

2038

The news is especially good for those who complain that February is too short, as the second February that comes right after the first one will have 31 days, even on leap years.

Taking a closer look, it’s also possible to see that Apple will please specifically their most lazy users, as months will be composed almost completely by Saturdays.

Semana 2038

There is no word as to changes in the Chinese and Jewish calendars, however within the next 25 years new information is expected to come up.

Tip by @Dandrive, via Blog Do iPhone Twitter

Update: The always well-informed Felipe Kellermann told me that this is a problem that affects every 32-bit Unix-based system. Contrary to what I originally thought, this is not a silly iOS 7 bug, but a rather bigger problem. Yikes.

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Kit Kat: in bed with Android, but still using the iPhone

This has become quite a common story. Celebrities get some money in exchange for a stealth spontaneous post praising an Apple competitor, despite them having iPhones and iPads as their real personal devices. Jessica Alba, OprahDavid Ferrer and Dani Calabresa (who?) are a few examples of this sort of situation.

However, this is the first time that a brand does the exact same thing. Early last September, Kit Kat and Google announced a partnership to name the next version of Android as Android Kit Kat. The chocolate brand is also making a world-wide sweepstake that places the little green robot on their packages and tout at the chance to win hundreds of tablets.

But none of that was enough to stop the Brazilian branch of the brand from making a Facebook post suggesting that the perfect kit for a night out includes your wallet, your car keys, your Kit Kat, and… your iPhone, of course!

KitPhone

In the post comments (it’s in Portuguese) some people pointed out the irony, which prompted the brand to make a new post (in Portuguese again) featuring an Android phone, and saying “Oh, yeah, iPhone users were being left out since our partnership, so this was an homage to them”. Sure.

I don’t get how this sort of thing happens after a world-wide really expensive deal is announced. But I also don’t get how such a poor Photoshop job to remove the car brand in the car key gets approved as well, so…

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Took a while, but here it is: “Why Record iPhone Sales Might be Rotten for Apple”

Yes, that’s exactly the title of a text that appeared yesterday at the ABC News website.

Right off the bat, the author condescendingly asks for the patience and understanding of “Apple lovers pillory me and say that I have no idea what I am talking about“. He repeats the attitude a couple more times during the text, and I did decide to give it a shot and read his text with an open mind. But it didn’t work. Turns out that knowing beforehand that you are about to talk out of your ass doesn’t make it better that you’re talking out of your ass.

In case you have the time, read the entire text, especially if you’re in need of a good laugh. If you’re in a rush, here are the highlights:

“To me though, all this over-the-top fanfare and even the record-breaking first weekend of sales could actually be cause for concern.”

Yes. 9 million phones sold in 3 days are a clear sign that there is something seriously wrong. Just as the 5 million units sold last year were a sign, and so were the 4 million the year before that.

“Let’s face it this new iPhone is just an upgrade, a refresh, dare I say a sequel. I am sure that true tech devotees will tell me how wrong I am, that this new device is smarter, faster, revolutionary, etc. But to me and millions like me it seems a lot more evolutionary. It looks a whole lot like the last iPhone and the one before that and the one before that too.”

Indeed. Except for what’s new, it really is pretty much he same as the last one. I’m glad we got that out of theway. I pity these million tech devotees who, contrary to you and millions like you, think it’s enough to buy products that are faster, smarter and better than their last version. Maybe one day they will realize that uhm… evolution is the enemy of innovation… I think?

“And you know what else looks the same, the way Apple staged the release of the 5S and the 5C. Just like every launch since the first iPhone hit the market we watched people wait in line, sleep outside the store and ham it up for the cameras once they got their hands on their shiny new device. (…)

This is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs. (…)”

Right. Every single iPhone since Steve Jobs was around was unvelied exactly in the same way, and this is why this is no longer the Apple of Steve Jobs.

“(…) do they find a way to create another “must have” new product, new category, new something that we never thought we needed and we can’t live without?

The ball is now squarely in Tim Cook’s court.”

Sandy, here’s a tip: Tim Cook already answered this question even before you asked it. The ball never left your court.

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