😯 Apple and Google's lofty ambitions

New MacBooks that pros have been waiting 6 years for, plus new flagship phones from Google.

👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.

In this edition

  • New products from Apple and Google

  • Instagram is losing ground among young audiences

  • Netflix has now 213.6M subscribers

Apple and Google’s lofty ambitions

This week, both Apple and Google presented new products that aim to define the brands for the foreseeable future (as did Samsung, but its announcements were minor by comparison)

First, let’s start with Apple’s introduction of the redesigned MacBook Pros (both 14- or 16-inch) with its latest iteration of M1 chips (or SoCs, system on a chip, as they should be called).

You can watch a 13-minute cut of the 45-minute event below. I watched live and Apple revealed other products (most people will be interested in the third generation of the AirPods), but you could rightly call the event as the MacBook Pro 2021 unveiling.

The company seems to have listened to the community and brought back everything the pro-users have been asking for. The funny thing is that Apple was the one that took it all away years ago or made it worse (keyboards + TouchBar).

We will have to wait for reviews but if only half of the charts comparing the new Pros with the best Intel-based laptops are true, these new notebooks will cement Apple’s ambitions to have a truly integrated system on each device.

On a recently aired Axios on HBO series, Intel CEO, Pat Gelsinger said he wants to get Apple back as a customer. Well, good luck with that if the new M1s prove to be what Apple says they are.

After years of producing Pixel phones and deciding whether to build just a reference smartphone for the Android or go for the flagship label, Google announced its Pixel 6 ($599) and Pixel 6 Pro ($899) phones and says they are what they see as Android flagship smartphones.

Again, find a 12-minute cut below but let’s talk about the controversial design. Based on many videos or reviews I have seen (I haven’t held the phones yet), the design is underwhelming and the back camera bump will not be for everyone, given how people are used to holding phones nowadays.

Still, we know little about the true capabilities of the phones. Google says it takes very, very good photos. We will have to wait and see for ourselves.

The Pixel 6 has Google’s own chip Tensor, which similar to Apple’s chips should make the phones faster and need less energy.

I would very much like for Google to make a flagship phone that would challenge be having an iPhone. I don’t think it will happen with this generation but Google is getting closer and closer.

🤦‍♂️ Facebook might get a pass on GDPR rules, if a draft ruling by Ireland’s Data Protection Commission will be ratified. FB will then simply bypass GDPR. [Vice]

📈 Apple’s recent privacy rules are seen to kneecap FB, Google and others on iPhone, yet Apple’s own search ad business has tripled. FT has some really nice charts showing how the rules changed the market. [FT]

🤔 A new report revealed Instagram is losing young users. The app is still the biggest among direct competitors, the problem is it scores third when compared to Snapchat and TikTok in a younger userbase. A survey of 13- to 44-year-olds who had left Instagram for competitors showed that people of all ages were using YouTube and TikTok more, with teenagers specifically gravitating more to Snapchat. [NYT]

  • I really recommend this podcast interview with Michael Sayman who was 16 years old when Facebook recruited him to join the company. He talks about how the company builds products for kids and teens. Later, he worked for Google and now for Roblox. He is only 25.

🙃 Facebook plans to rebrand the company with a new name. Not unseen (Google > Alphabet) but usually not done in a turmoil of scandals in which the name change might reflect poorly. [The Verge]

  • Wired points out Facebook is using deceptive math to hide the problem with hate speech detection.

  • ALSO: Facebook has quietly abandoned the phrase “Hey Facebook” as a wake word for its Portal video-chat devices. The shift came after customers indicated they were confused by the phrase “Hey Facebook” and it was hurting usage of the device. [The Information]

📈 Industry news: UK's The Telegraph says it passed 500K paid digital subscribers. Le Monde has reached 400K digital subscribers, according to its president and publisher Louis Dreyfus.

📊 A new ranking compiled by Press Gazette reveals the newsrooms that count the most members. Guardian is at the top, followed by Die Zeit and De Correspondent. [PressGazette]

📺 Netflix news: Leaked internal documents have shown that, according to the streamer’s internal estimates, Squid Game will create $900M in value for the company. The series cost just $21.4 million to produce. [Bloomberg]

  • Netflix has now 213.6 million subscribers globally. The company posted strong Q3 results. It has pronounced Squid Game its biggest TV show ever, with 142 million households having watched it during its first 28 days of release.

  • Hundreds protested at Netflix’s Vine Street office in support of the streamer’s trans employees after Dave Chappelle’s latest comedy special, The Closer.

  • Netflix is shifting the way it ranks its most popular titles. Hours viewed ‘is a slightly better indicator of the overall success of our titles’.

🪄 A new research suggests there is no magic recipe for creating the perfect headline. Though, A/B testing is a big help and can drive meaningful CTR increase (up to 20%). [NiemanLab]

ℹ️ Facebook Journalism Project released a new guide: 10 Steps to Build a Thriving Reader Revenue Business. [Download here]

👀 A profile of the SmartNews news discovery app. It launched in English in the US in 2014, and is now available in more than 150 countries and has a valuation of $2 billion. The app uses a combination of algorithms and human curators. In US, the app is winning over users by selling the promise of political neutrality. [Rest of World]

1️⃣ TheFix.media launches German edition. A big leap into the centre of journalism. Offering our facts-based, solutions-focused approach. [Olaf Deininger]

2️⃣ Digital revolution: High-end digitization solutions from the biggest Norwegian daily. The biggest Norwegian daily restructures its front page and launches a synthetic voiceover for stories to retain subscribers. [Daryna Shevchenko]

3️⃣ The blessings and dangers of Spotify’s free podcast hosting platform. Wondered how podcasting evolved into the giant that it is now? There are always two sides to a coin. [David Tvrdon ]

4️⃣ What works in fighting disinformationIt is very difficult to filter false information as it appears in many forms, and data shows who is most susceptible to this. [James Breiner]

[ 📬 Get The Fix newsletter delivered to your inbox every week with the latest insights, news, and analysis about the European media market. Sign up here > ]

€ 🎙 Contextually relevant ads were 2.2x more memorable and had 43% higher neural engagement than contextually irrelevant ads, according to data from GumGum. Also, Kantar's study found marketers increased investment in podcasts in 2021 and would continue to invest more in 2022. [MediaTel]

🎧 Apple has a new page explaining how automatic downloads work on Apple Podcasts. If a listener hasn’t played a show that they follow for more than 15 days, or hasn’t played the latest five episodes, Apple Podcasts pauses automatic downloads for that show to preserve local storage. [Apple]

✨ A truly fascinating read: The untold story of how Apple built a retail empire on trial and error. [Fast Company]

😯 Raya, a social network for the elites with subscription. It has a rigorous user selection process and a rigid code of silence for accepted members. [New Yorker]

😅 Students stealing each other’s notes via “copy image text” feature on iPhones. Love it! Just watch the video, you will thank me later.

❓📊 Poll: Which recently announced product are you most excited about?

  1. New AirPods.

  2. 14-inch M1 MacBook Pro.

  3. 16-inch M1 MacBook Pro.

  4. Pixel 6.

  5. Pixel 6 Pro.

  6. Not excited.

🙌 Thanks. I used HandyPolls to create this poll (instructions).

Last poll results: Did you like Squid Game? 44% haven’t watched it yet, 27% yes, 17% don’t care.


👀 If you like having your news curated for you - and why wouldn't you? you're reading this - then you might also enjoy What Happened Last Week. Every Monday, journalist Sham Jaff brings you under-reported world news stories, in words that you actually use. As she says herself, it's the newsletter for people who would like to read the New York Times but don't. 👉 You can sign-up here


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