Apple News

HBO Max hits 28.7M subscribers in Q3, but few are over-the-top – TechCrunch

AT&T painted a rosy picture of HBO Max adoption during the company’s earnings report on Thursday. Despite not being available on Roku, one of the top streaming platforms in the U.S., AT&T said new HBO Max activations more than doubled from second-quarter levels, reaching 8.6 million in Q3.

In total, 28.7 million customers were eligible to stream their HBO Max subscription by the end of the quarter, the company said.

Of these, 25.1 million came from “wholesale” agreements — meaning a pay TV provider of some kind, like Comcast, Charter, Verizon [TechCrunch’s parent], or AT&T’s own DirecTV, for example. But only 3.625 million were direct “retail” subscribers.

Combined, both HBO and HBO Max topped 38 million subscribers in the U.S. and 57 million worldwide. The 38 million figure put the company ahead of its previously announced year-end target of 36 million, the report said.

However, AT&T’s numbers alone don’t paint a true picture of who’s really watching HBO Max content.

AT&T touts its quarterly “activations” without clarifying that only a small portion of customers are choosing to sign up for HBO Max directly by paying $15 per month for a subscription. A larger portion are simply becoming eligible to watch the streaming service through their existing HBO subscriptions — but many haven’t yet signed in and actually streamed.

In fact, some significant portion of these 8.6 million new “activations” may not yet even know that HBO Max exists — especially if the service is unavailable on their favorite streaming platform, like Roku . Or they may know it exists but can’t find it on Roku, so they think it just hasn’t launched.

Roku finally took this issue into its own hands, and is now working around the stalled negotiations by adding support for AirPlay 2 on its newer devices. This will give Apple customers a way to stream from apps that haven’t launched on the Roku platform itself.

AT&T also said it’s continuing to invest in HBO Max, having poured around $600 million in the service during Q3, bringing its investment to $1.3 billion for the year so far. And it’s on track for an estimated investment of $2 billion by year-end.

The company also said consumer engagement on the new platform was doing well, up nearly 60% from HBO Now levels. But it offered few other metrics of success, other than saying its “library” titles have been “performing incredibly strong” with its customer base. In addition, only 1 or 2 pieces of leased content have made it into the HBO Max top 10, but AT&T admitted it could have launched with a stronger slate of original programs.

On the product side, AT&T said it would be pushing out software updates every 45 days to improve the user interface and usability of the app. And it’s still on track to launch an advertising-supported version of the service (AVOD) in 2021, as planned, and expand internationally.

“AVOD not only allows us to broaden the offering [and] the amount of content we put on the platform,” explained AT&T CEO John Stankey, “it allows us to hit a different price point and attract different segments of the market and as a result of that we think that will be an important market expansion capability for us,” he said.






Carolina’s Computer Repair Center powers on

In the age of endless Zoom calls, there is no tool more important to faculty and students alike than the laptop computer. But what happens when disaster strikes?

From coffee spills to broken webcams, Carolina’s Computer Repair Center can help — even during a pandemic.

The CRC works mainly behind the scenes, fixing broken hardware in any Lenovo, Dell or Apple computer a Carolina community member brings in. Despite the circumstances, said CRC Manager Peter Bolish, the CRC has still provided roughly 600 repairs this year, compared to 800 by this time in 2018.

“Given the constraints that we have to be up against and the safety precautions we have to take, being down only 200 repairs is pretty great,” Bolish said. “We’ve actually been seeing a lot more microphone and camera issues that we probably wouldn’t have seen in years past just because they weren’t used as heavily as they are today.”

The CRC closed in March after most on-campus operations went remote. Because of the difficulty of doing hands-on computer repair from home, Bolish said he and his team tried to provide service in other ways.

“We tried to supplement with our colleagues and our other services, like phone and chat,” Bolish said. “But from that day, we started planning on how we were going to reopen safely and how we were going to provide the high level of service that people have come to expect.”

In addition to hand-washing, physical-distancing and wearing masks, one of the innovations that came from these safety considerations was the installation of a locker that allows for contactless pickup and drop off of computers for repair. Erin Towne, ITS Service desk walk-in and chat manager, said the locker was installed with the goal that students would still have access to all the same services that they normally would, including those provided by the Carolina Computer Initiative, a program developed in 1997 to ensure that Carolina students, faculty and staff have easy access to high-quality and affordable technology.

“It was really important that we honor the CCI warranty and even provide an increased level of service to non-CCI students this year because we know that there are no computer labs,”…


developers join anti-Apple coalition over antitrust concerns

“The outpouring of interest we’ve received has exceeded our expectations,” Sarah Maxwell, a spokeswoman for the coalition, said in an emailed statement. “As we bring on new members and hear their stories, it’s evident that too many developers have been unable to make their voices heard.”

The soaring membership of the coalition represents a remarkable shift in thinking, as companies and individual developers take the risky step of speaking out in an effort to change the way Apple operates. Many developers and smaller companies are dependent on Apple for their livelihood and don’t have the resources to cope if Apple removes their app or prohibits them from updating it. Some of Apple’s peers have also stepped up to advocate for changes to the App Store. Earlier this month, Microsoft expressed support for the coalition when it announced guidelines for its Microsoft Store, based on the coalition’s recommendations. And Facebook publicly criticized Apple for changes that will make it more difficult for companies to advertise in iPhone and iPad apps. It comes as the big technology companies have come under increasing scrutiny.

Earlier this month, the House Judiciary Committee released a scathing, 450-page report that criticized Apple and other big technology companies for allegedly using their power to quash competition and stifle innovation for their own financial gain. A section of the report focused on the practices Apple employs on its App Store, where it strictly controls what software can be used on Apple devices and how it can be installed, while collecting 30 percent fees from many developers who make software for iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system.

Apple did not respond to requests for comment. Apple has denied that it is a monopoly or that it uses anticompetitive business practices.

Companies that rely on mobile apps, games and other software tools for Apple devices once feared ending up on Apple’s bad side, and it was rare to hear a critical word about the company spoken in public. The Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant has the final say on which mobile apps are approved for iOS devices and what software features those apps are allowed to utilize.



The Taycan, Porsche’s Electric Car, Becomes First to Integrate Apple Podcasts

Luxury carmaker Porsche (OTC:POAHY) is deepening its partnership with Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL).

After successfully integrating Apple Music into its all-electric Taycan sedan last year, the company has announced it will offer full integration of Apple Podcasts into the Taycan’s touchscreen display.

A pair of hands holds a cell phone in front of a steering wheel.

Image source: Getty Images.

Keep your phone in your pocket

The move is part of a software integration trend in the automobile industry. As touchscreen control pads become more commonplace in automobile cockpits, car companies are no longer forced to require customers to plug their smartphones into the car to access popular features.

Instead, many automakers are simply bypassing the “middleman” device, and integrating apps and features directly into the cars themselves. Nissan, for example, is planning to offer an integrated “heads up” navigation display in its upscale, battery-electric Ariya crossover SUV, which will project route information directly onto the windshield.

Up until now, though, integration of Apple features was only available through Apple’s CarPlay, which requires plugging in an Apple device to access. Most major automakers offer CarPlay on at least some of their latest models.

Keep your eyes on the road

Porsche and Apple have forged a unique relationship when it comes to integration, an area where Apple has lagged competitors. Taycan owners can already stream more than 70 million songs from Apple Music ad-free, and will now have similar access to podcasts. The Taycan also features a voice activation system so drivers can control the audio without needing to look away from the road. 

Other features that have been added to the Taycan for the 2021 model year — which began this month — include time-synced lyrics on the passenger-side touchscreen and automatic payment at Plug & Charge locations. 


Bitcoin Breakout: Eat My Dust Amazon, Apple, Facebook And Google

Priced just above $13,000, bitcoin is up 80% on the year, which is outpacing the year-to-date returns from leading equity performers in the S&P 500 including most of the infamous FAANG members. Source…