New iPhone Leak Confirms Apple’s Significant Decision – Ewan Spence


Apple is set to sacrifice screen quality for margins in this year’s iPhone portfolio. The latest reports from the supply chains and analysts suggest that the Cupertino-based company will choose cheaper LCD screens for the new iPhones expected in September 2018. That’s great news for Apple’s bottom line, but it leaves the iPhone lagging behind Android devices in terms of quality and appearance.

The advantage of OLED screens are well-known at this stage. Key is the reduced power requirements – especially important as the display can be one of the biggest drains on a smartphone’s battery. The screen has a much wider viewing angle before colors start to become washed out, and the colors presented by an OLED screen can be much more vibrant and ‘pop’ out of the screen.

In contrast, LCD screens require more power (the entire screen must be backlit, including ‘black’ pixels, unlike OLED where individual pixels provide the illumination). The colours will be washed out, the viewing angle is narrower, and motion blur is far more prevalent.

I would assume that the significance of choosing the cheaper LCD screen will be weighing heavily on Apple’s mind.

Last year’s new iPhone mix of the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus and iPhone X include the first OLED-equipped iPhone (in the shape of the X) and two LCD based units (the iPhone 8 family). Tim Cook and his team were counting on a surge of interest in the advanced iPhone X (advanced compared to other iOS devices, I would argue the X simply offered parity with high-end Android-powered smartphones).

That super-cycle never appeared, suppliers had orders cut in the quarter following the launch, and while the iPhone X may have broken Apple’s internal records, the external evidence points to it falling short of the ambitious targets set by Cupertino.

I suspect that talk of Apple upping the availability of LCD units will simply be Apple reflecting the same sales pattern as last year and ordering parts on that basis, not on the mirage of iPhone X sales it was hoping for.


But there are other advantages to keeping a mix of LCD and OLED in the portfolio. Not only will staying with cheaper LCD displays on the lower priced handsets increase the average revenue per handset, it will increase the attractiveness of Apple’s higher-end iPhones which will ship with the OLED technology.

As Apple’s market share of the smartphone market continues to fall, it is increasingly reliant on boosting the average revenue per handset or switching customers to handsets with greater margins. Keeping the high-end as expensive and as desirable as possible to make upselling from the ‘cheaper’ $799 handsets will be a key strategy.

The new iPhone models are expected to be announced at an Apple event in early September, with availability of the first US models in late September.

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In the shadow of Apple’s WWDC, the PC industry looks to rediscover its relevance

Computex has always been the Wintel show. Before the age of Android-running, Qualcomm-powered smartphones, the dominant software-hardware combo in the world of personal computing was that of Microsoft’s Windows OS and Intel’s CPUs. But now Microsoft is preparing for a post-Windows future and Intel is scrambling to figure out what else it can do beside […]

via In the shadow of Apple’s WWDC, the PC industry looks to rediscover its relevance — Sound Books

Here’s How Apple Could Automate Stereo Pairing For a Typical HomePod Setup

In my HomePod Diary piece yesterday, I included what was almost a throwaway comment: One oddity is that you have to assign the left and right channels manually. Given that most people will, I imagine, orientate the speakers so that the volume controls are the right way up, I would have thought a pair of HomePods…

via Here’s how Apple could automate stereo pairing for a typical HomePod setup — 9to5Mac

Alexa Flash Briefings : What Marketers Need to Know – Michael Stelzner

Alexa Flash Briefings: What Marketers Need to Know featuring insights from Chris Brogan on the Social Media Marketing Podcast.

The Social Media Marketing podcast is an on-demand talk radio show from Social Media Examiner. It’s designed to help busy marketers, business owners, and creators discover what works with social media marketing.

In this episode, I interview Chris Brogan, a digital marketing advisor for large businesses. He specializes in customer experience marketing with a focus on emerging technology. He’s also host of the new podcast, Making the Brand.

Chris explains why now is the time to tap into the Alexa platform.

You’ll also discover how to save time developing flash briefing content and managing your audio.

Here are some of the things you’ll discover in this show:

Alexa Flash Briefings

Chris’s Start With Smart Speakers

Chris says he’s never on the bleeding edge of anything. The first time he encountered a smart speaker, he wasn’t impressed. You could ask it to play a song, but he doesn’t play music nonstop in his house and has nicer speakers than that device.

However, when Chris learned about Alexa flash briefings and similar technologies on other platforms, he saw a business application for a conversational interface. For example, when Chris bought a Windows laptop to play a game with his son, he set up the laptop through Cortana, the Windows conversational interface.

Cortana, the Windows conversational interface, is a black vertical box with a blue dot in the center. A white field at the bottom indicates a Windows device is listening.

In retail shopping, to compete with Amazon, Google Home partnered with Walmart and eBay. Apple has Siri. Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce, just announced he’s trying to make a conversational interface for doctors so they can do prescriptions and patient care through an audio device as well.

As the major technology companies come out with their own conversational interfaces, the increasing competition suggests these companies know something about this technology that regular folks don’t. As the technology continues to emerge, Chris thinks the current opportunities mean that now is the right time for marketers and companies to start thinking about how to use it.

Listen to the show to hear Chris discuss how conversational interfaces are like Jarvis from the movie, Iron Man.

The Potential for Alexa Flash Briefings

As artificial intelligence and voice recognition technologies continue to improve, natural language processing allows people to interact with a device without using perfect syntax. The software doesn’t have to hear all of the words perfectly. It can guess the meaning from context.

For instance, any of these devices can respond to a user who says, “Blank product, tell me about the weather,” or “Blank product, is Ed Asner still alive?”, or “Blank product, when is the next time Avengers: Infinity War is playing in my neighborhood?” In all sorts of cases, you can use this technology instead of looking at your screen.

Chris believes voice technology is in the same place as mobile several years ago, when people were saying, “Mobile’s coming. Mobile’s coming.” After mobile truly arrived, websites that didn’t prioritize mobile stopped appearing in Google search results. Similarly, because voice technology can now understand what we say regardless of inflection, accent, and so on, magical things are happening.

Industry leaders are talking about the increased adoption of smart speakers. A very recent article from PSFK said 65% of people age 25 to 49 interact with an AI assistant (which is another term for a smart speaker) at least once a day. Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, says voice and conversational AI represent a new age of computing.

However, PwC notes that people’s misunderstanding of what smart speakers do or lack of trust in the technology has slowed adoption. For marketers who haven’t added a smart speaker to their homes, Chris notes that a marketer’s biggest curse is thinking that everyone is like them. He emphasizes that Echo Dot was the top-selling product on Amazon for the 2017 holiday season.

Amazon's Echo Dot was a top seller for Christmas 2017.

In fact, millions of people have smart speakers. A recent survey from NPR and Edison Research found that about 39 million people in the U.S. use some type of smart speaker. However, the platform is content-starved. Alexa has only about 1,000 or so flash briefings. This lack of content presents an opportunity for marketers.

Furthermore, Chris believes more people will continue to buy smart speakers because they’re so convenient. To illustrate, you can say, “Order some more double A batteries,” and Alexa will say, “The last ones you ordered were these Duracell Procells. Do you want that again?” Then, you can say, “Sure,” provide your code, and it’s done. You don’t have to look up from what you’re doing.

The low cost of this technology is also likely to drive adoption. iOS users can test how Alexa works via the Amazon iOS app. You can purchase a basic smart speaker for about $40 to $50.

Listen to the show to hear my thoughts on how smart speakers compare to bots.

How People Use Smart Speakers

Most smart speaker users buy one for every significant room in their house. For example, Chris’s parents didn’t think they were going to like their smart speaker, but now they have one where they do their computing and another in their bedroom. Chris thinks they’ll likely add a third one soon.

Typically, the first smart speaker is placed wherever a person hangs out the most, like the home office or kitchen. Although people add a smart speaker with one use case in mind, they add more speakers as they discover other uses. The number-one use is listening to streaming music, but people quickly move on to setting a timer or alarms, listening to news, and finding recipes.

Amazon Alexa Skills Kit web page introduces the tool and includes tabs where you can learn, design, build, and launch a skill for Alexa.

To improve your health, you might track your calories by adding calorie-tracking software to your smart speaker. Then you can say, “Blank device, I just ate a pastrami sandwich. Take care of that,” and the speaker will add the calories in your sandwich to the tally.

Right now, Amazon has a massive share of the smart speaker market. About 30% to 40% of users have an Echo, and another 30% percent have an Echo Dot. Google’s smart speakers, Google Home and Home Mini, are the second most popular option. Right now, smart speakers are an Amazon product with a couple others in the wings.

Beyond the smart speaker, a bunch of motor vehicles have this technology built in because people don’t want to leave their smart speakers behind. The newer, smarter fridges, including Samsung and several others, can integrate with this technology, too.

Amazon calls the apps developers can build Alexa Skills, and you can create those with the Alexa Skills Kit. The available skills are growing exponentially. In November 2016, 5,000 skills were available, and a year later, the number grew to 25,000. This nascent growth is another reason to start getting into Alexa right now.

Listen to the show to hear my thoughts about different ways people might use this technology in the near future.

Marketing Basics for Alexa Flash Briefings

At a high level, to create an Alexa flash briefing, you record and upload an audio file. Lots of people create these briefings to share a daily version of some of their content, such as news, sports, weather, and so on. Although a briefing can be as long as 10 minutes, the briefings that people stay subscribed to are almost always about 1 minute.

Alexa flash briefing listings have a gray speech bubble with a round logo of the producer such as USA TODAY or NPR. The listings also include a star rating and description.

People often listen to their flash briefings while they’re getting up and ready in the morning. After you say, “Alexa, play my flash briefing,” the briefings to which you’ve subscribed such as tech or weather or business, begin playing one at a time. Each briefing typically begins with the name of the content producer, so NPR’s flash briefing will say “From National Public Radio, here’s . . .”

If you don’t like a particular briefing, you can say, “Skip that one,” or “Next.” Chris likes getting some of his news from flash briefings. He also listens to understand what other people are doing so he can find out how he can add to that landscape.

Next, I play one of Chris’s flash briefings:

“What would Blockchain possibly have to do with gaming? Well, it turns out it’s something really cool, and something I’m involved in. This is your Making the Brand flash update. I’m Chris Brogan.

“If you don’t play a whole lot of video games, you might not have realized that they’ve changed a lot since the way-old days. Not only do you just walk around and play in certain game worlds, but you have the opportunity to pick up items and things and create characters that are very uniquely yours.

“What happens, though, is that if you decide you want to sell a product or sell your game or trade your game and then pick up something new, where does that stuff go? How do you trade it in? What’s next? The ability to add tangible value to a digital asset is something rather important and that Blockchain handles rather well.

Chris Brogan's Alexa flash briefing for Making the Brand shows a caricature of Chris riding a shark and holding a flame. In the background is a rainbow.

“Blockchain, which is the transfer of value ledger that’s underneath a lot of different products like Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, adds itself [sic] a really good place for being with video games. Collectible games, sort of like Pokémon, for instance, are a perfect site for this sort of thing.

“And just a personal teaser: I’m involved with a company that’s going to do this kind of work. So get in touch. I’m Chris Brogan. For the full podcast, go to or check it out wherever you see podcasts.”

With this flash briefing, Chris is trying to accomplish three things. The first is audio branding. Chris wants people to keep hearing his voice and become interested in his podcast. Second, at the very beginning, before a little musical part, Chris has a teaser to keep people wanting to hear his flash briefing. Third, Chris wants to pique listeners’ interest in his business pursuits.

Instead of promoting his flash briefing, Chris tested how his briefing could grow organically. Because Chris is mostly a marketer at heart, he didn’t stay totally quiet about his flash briefing, but he’s been trying not to connect his briefing with his existing audience. Chris took a similar approach with his podcast and loves attracting listeners outside his sphere.

To subscribe to a flash briefing, a user can add a skill via the Amazon website or smartphone app so the briefing plays on their speaker. For instance, to add Chris’s flash briefing, you could search Skills for “Making the Brand” or “Chris Brogan.”

Add an Alexa flash briefing skill via your desktop browser by clicking the yellow Enable button in the Get This Skill box. The box also includes icons for emailing and sharing the skill via social media.

However, Amazon search is a little less than favorable. Because Amazon and Google compete directly with each other, Amazon can’t use Google search.

Listen to the show to hear how Chris’s approach to promoting his podcast impacted listeners’ perception of him.

Alexa Flash Briefing Metrics

Amazon provides few stats, but the ones they do provide include unique customers, number of plays, maximum per hour, and average per hour. With these metrics, you can begin figuring out who’s paying attention.

Although Chris’s numbers are very small, they’re moving in the right direction. His customer base has been bouncing back and forth over just a few hundred. At the time of this podcast, his metric for maximum per hour was a few hundred people, but Chris says it’s usually a half-dozen or so. However, since March until the day of this recording, his subscriptions are up 295%, his plays have grown 1,000%.

Chris says these numbers indicate the opportunity Alexa flash briefings present and encourage him to keep paying attention.

Listen to the show to hear more about Chris’s feelings toward his Alexa flash briefing metrics.

How to Create a Flash Briefing

An Alexa flash briefing is available for only 24 hours and then disappears. However, unless you’re working for a news outlet that delivers breaking stories, you can batch-process your audio uploads for several days in one sitting, which streamlines the work of delivering a flash briefing every day.

Have a process in place to create and deliver your Alexa flash briefings consistently.Having a process helps Chris remember to upload content regularly so he doesn’t accidentally run out of flash briefing content and thus subscribers don’t receive a briefing from him.

To batch process Alexa flash briefings, Chris follows the same process he does for his podcast. The only difference is that flash briefings are smaller audio files that he schedules for each day instead of once per week. Because most podcasting software isn’t made for bulk scheduling, the process can seem manual and tedious.

That said, Chris says the overall process isn’t that hard and he processes all of his flash briefings himself, including editing the audio and adding music. The idea of creating daily content can seem daunting, but Chris’s workflow still leaves him time to run a business, a podcast, a blog, two websites, and a newsletter.

Although Alexa flash briefings are supposed to disappear after 24 hours, Chris notes that he had issues with his scheduling process at the start. A setting in his podcast hosting software, Libsyn, kept the files instead of letting them disappear. As a result, all of Chris’s flash briefings were playing all the time; listeners heard five or six briefings in a row instead of just one.

Fortunately, Jeff Smith, who runs, reached out to Chris and fixed the problem.

Content Planning:A 1-minute Alexa flash briefing lends itself to content that helps you build niche audiences. As an example, a fun idea for Krispy Kreme might be a donut pairing of the day. Although 1 minute sounds like nothing, over time, Chris has found that 1 minute is a great length.

To begin planning Alexa flash briefings, Chris uses Feedly, which is a powerful tool for gathering and parsing a lot of information quickly. With Feedly, Chris has crafted alerts on different search terms, which results in about 1,000 potential data picks each day. Chris speeds through all of this content like a little bitty Bloomberg machine. If something’s good, he adds it to a folder for the briefing.

Chris Brogan uses Feedly to develop content ideas for his Alexa flash briefing. The website has a gray background, the text Welcome to Feedly in black, and a green button that says Get Started For Free.

After curating the topics he wants to discuss, Chris clarifies his own take on the topic. His goal is to provide a recipe for how to use a technology like Blockchain, chatbots, or other topics he covers day after day. After his audience hears all of these ideas via his Alexa flash briefings, Chris hopes to inspire people to use them in their companies and also turn to him for more insights.

Although Chris curates content, he emphasizes that his flash briefing doesn’t just regurgitate a bunch of ideas. Chris pinpoints how he can provide help with a specific topic, develops a story about that topic for his flash briefing, and uses that story to guide people toward checking out his other offerings. Chris always references the original story but also provides original content.

Audio File Creation: After you have your content, your next step is to record and edit the audio for your flash briefing. On macOS, you can use GarageBand to record and edit the audio. On Windows, people often use Audacity. You also need to host the audio file online. This process is similar to that for podcasting, so resources for beginning podcasters can explain how this process works.

Alexa Skill Creation: Next, you create an Amazon skill that delivers your flash briefing. To start, sign up for a free developer’s account. You can provide your existing Amazon passcode and information, or you can make a separate email. Then you select the option to create a new Alexa skill.

A form appears with several fields you need to fill out. In one of the fields, you need to provide an RSS feed URL, which tells the skill where to find your audio files. To get this URL, Chris uses Libsyn, which is one of the big services for hosting podcast audio files. You can set up a Libsyn account for as little as $5 per month.

Chris Brogan uses Libsyn to host the audio files for his Alexa flash briefing. The Libsyn website has navigation items for podcast hosting, premium content, pro features, events, and support.

When you’re done filling out the form, you follow the on-screen prompts, and read and accept the agreements if you’re okay with the terms. After Amazon takes a day or two to review your flash briefing, you’re good to go. You’re live. It’s really that easy. The whole process takes about 10 minutes.

Since setting up his flash briefing, Chris has rarely returned to the Amazon development tools. Most of the time, he uses Libsyn to load files for his Alexa flash briefing.

However, Chris does use the Amazon site to check his metrics because Amazon has to pull the flash briefing audio file only once to play it many times. By checking metrics in Amazon instead of Libsyn, Chris hopes to avoid inaccuracies. Although his numbers are still low for now, he would hate to think his flash briefing was playing only once, when it was actually playing much more than that.

Listen to the show to hear more about why now is the time to start creating Alexa flash briefings.

Discovery of the Week

With Adobe Capture, you can find out the exact colors in any color scheme, whether it’s a printed piece or a nature scene.

Say you’re out and about in the world and see a color scheme you want to use in your digital marketing. You simply open the app and aim it at the color scheme you want to capture. The app then identifies the key colors along with their hexadecimal color codes. You can export the color scheme so you can work with it in Adobe Creative Suite, too.

Adobe Capture creates a palette from an image you capture with a mobile device. The website shows an illustration of a bird and a palette created from the illustration, which includes light gray, yellow, orange, and reddish brown.

Adobe Capture is a free mobile app for iOS and Android.

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Monzo, The U.K. Challenger Bank, Finally Rolls Out Apple Pay


Monzo, the U.K. challenger bank, has finally added Apple Pay to its mobile-only current account. The just over three year-old fintech says it has been one of the most requested features for its banking app, with over 2,000 mentions of Apple Pay on Monzo’s forum, whilst its customer support team have been asked about the functionality more than 13,000 times. In other words, the rollout can’t come soon enough. Noteworthy, Monzo was able to add Google Pay all the way back in October 2017.

Meanwhile, many of its passionate and vocal users will be wondering what took Monzo so long (as an aside, rival challenger Starling was able to add Apple Pay in July 2017). The upstart bank, which usually makes a virtue of its community-driven approach and transparency hasn’t been able to say (or even fully acknowledge that the feature was coming), likely because Apple imposes strict rules on the ways its partners communicate working with the tech giant. And when you sign an NDA with Apple it’s not untypical for it to stipulate that you don’t talk about said NDA.

What we do know is that — similar to Apple’s iOS App Store when submitting an app — the Apple Pay approval process for a new bank partner is not for the faint-hearted. Industry insiders tell me that Google Pay has less hurdles to jump in comparison.

Now that the feature is live, Monzo is talking up the security and privacy aspect of using Apple Pay, noting that when you use a credit or debit card with Apple Pay, the actual card numbers are not stored on the device, nor on Apple servers. Instead, “a unique Device Account Number is assigned, encrypted and securely stored in the Secure Element on your device… [and] each transaction is authorised with a one-time unique dynamic security code”.

Of course, most people simply like Apple Pay for its convenience, letting you use your phone to pay rather than fumbling for a debit or credit card, and when shopping online not having to repeatedly enter card details.

Cue Monzo’s Tom Blomfield waxing lyrical in a company statement about Apple’s design and UX. “Apple is famous for building beautiful products with simple, intuitive interfaces. Their design thinking has long been a source of inspiration for us. Monzo’s mission has alway been to make sure everyone can use and manage their money effortlessly, and with Apple Pay we are one step closer to achieving that,” says the challenger bank’s co-founder and CEO.