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More Suggestions of Mixed Reality, Mac Beats PC and Targeting Big Tech

Thursday January 12, 2023. 09:13 PM , from TheMacObserver
realityOS seems more real, the Mac beats the PC market, and President Biden targets “big tech.” 

References to ‘realityOS’ and ‘xrOS’ Spotted in Apple Code

Rumors around Apple’s plans for an augmented reality/mixed reality something seem more solid. On Wednesday, MacRumors says the “preview versions of Apple Music, Apple TV, and Apple Devices apps for Windows were discovered in the Microsoft Store,” and one had a secret surprise inside. 

With individual apps for Music and TV, it looks like iTunes for Windows is fated to take the long walk. The Apple Devices app will apparently handle management of Apple devices on Windows when iTunes is no more. Devices like iPhone, iPad (I assume), and — apparently — whatever Apple calls its augmented reality/mixed reality hardware. Because references to the operating system or systems for that device were found in the Apple Devices code. According to MacRumors:

Upon investigating the new Apple Devices Preview app for Windows, Twitter user @aaronp613 discovered references to both “Reality OS” and “xrOS,” two names that have appeared in repeated rumors as being in reference to Apple’s upcoming mixed-reality headset.

Recent rumors have suggested that Apple will announce its mixed-reality offering sometime this spring, with release planned for later in the year. Very much looking forward to saying, “shut up and take my money.”

UBS Prices Auto Expectations Into Apple Price Target

An interesting calculation from UBS analyst David Vogt on Wednesday. Apple 3.0 ran part of a note Vogt wrote, where in he said he’s factoring whatever Apple might do in cars into his price target on Apple shares. Quoting the Vogt note — “Our $180 price target is ~25x our CY2024 EPS est of $6.55,” that would be $166 according to the analyst, “plus an evenly weighted probability value of Apple’s auto opportunity ($14/share).” 

166 + 14 = a price target on Apple shares of $180. Vogt has a “Buy” rating on Apple stock.

For his part, Apple 3.0’s Philip Elmer-DeWitt wondered “how Vogt calculated that ‘probability value’ and whether other analysts factor that kind of ‘optionality’ into their targets.” At least one does, or has anyway. In December of 2021, Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty said it was time for Apple investors to do just that — even using the word “optionality.” In that note (posted on Apple 3.0) Huberty said:

Today, we know that Apple is working on products to address two significantly large markets – AR/VR and Autonomous Vehicles – and as we get closer to these products becoming a reality, we believe valuation would need to reflect the optionality of these future opportunities.

IDC: Mac Shipments Grow While the Rest of the Market Shrinks

Of the top-five traditional computer makers on the planet, Apple was the only one to see growth in 2022. That’s according to new numbers from market tracker IDC. Cult to Mac highlights the report. While growth was small, up 2.5% versus 2021, you should see the other guys. Running down the top-five:

Lenovo shipments dropped 16.9%

HP shipments dropped 25.3%

Dell shipments dropped 16.1%

Apple shipments were up 2.5%

ASUS shipments dropped 5.7%

Adding up the rest still shows a decline. Shipments in the big blob of “Others” dropped 17.8% in 2022 versus 2021. 

Dire as all of that sounds, the real culprit may be tough compares. In its press release on the numbers IDC said:

It is clear the pandemic boom is over for the PC market, but despite recent declines, annual shipments for 2022 were well above pre-pandemic levels at 292.3 million units for the full year. However, demand remains a concern as most users have relatively new PCs and the global economy worsens.

President Biden Seeks to Unite Left and Right Against ‘Big Tech’

With so much dividing the political parties in the US, President Biden seems to see a common enemy against which they can unite. Poverty? The high cost of healthcare? The state of education in the US? No, silly: It’s a distrust of “big tech.” Engadget outlines an op-ed penned by the president and run in The Wall Street Journal. While expressing pride in big tech’s success, Engadget says he also:

…expressed concern about how some actors “collect, share and exploit our most personal data, deepen extremism and polarization in our country, tilt our economy’s playing field, violate the civil rights of women and minorities and even put our children at risk.”

The op-ed is said to have focused on three key areas: Privacy, content dissemination, and competition. 

On privacy, the piece says President Biden:

…argued that “serious federal protections” are needed (…), including “clear limits on how companies can collect, use and share highly personal data,” such as location, browsing history and communications, as well as health, biometric and genetic data… 

Quoting the op-ed:

These protections should be even stronger for young people, who are especially vulnerable online… We should limit targeted advertising and ban it altogether for children.

As for content dissemination, the president is calling for reform of Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. That section “protects online platforms from liability for what their users do,” according to the report.  He’d also like more transparency regarding the algorithms companies use. The apparent hope is that such transparency would “stop them from discriminating, keeping opportunities away from equally qualified women and minorities, or pushing content to children that threatens their mental health and safety.”

As for competition, President Biden wrote:

When tech platforms get big enough, many find ways to promote their own products while excluding or disadvantaging competitors — or charge competitors a fortune to sell on their platform… My vision for our economy is one in which everyone — small and midsized businesses, mom-and-pop shops, entrepreneurs — can compete on a level playing field with the biggest companies.

“The next generation of great American companies shouldn’t be smothered by the dominant incumbents before they have a chance to get off the ground,” according to the op-ed. He concluded the missive, saying:

There will be many policy issues we disagree on in the new Congress, but bipartisan proposals to protect our privacy and our children; to prevent discrimination, sexual exploitation and cyberstalking; and to tackle anticompetitive conduct shouldn’t separate us. Let’s unite behind our shared values and show the nation we can work together to get the job done.

Negotiations Underway Between Apple and Towson Store Union

Negotiations are finally underway between Apple and the union representing employees at the Towson Town Center store in Maryland. AppleInsider says employees of the store — the first of Apple’s to unionize in the U.S. — can now start bargaining on pay and working conditions. 

All’s well that ends well? Yeah, this may not end for a while. First contracts are among the toughest, it seems. The piece says employers “resist negotiation or draw out the process in an attempt to refuse worker demands.” AppleInsider cites a Bloomberg Law analysis indicating that — on average, “it takes 465 days to sign a union’s first contract.” 

ITC Judge: Blood Oxygen Readings in Apple Watch Violate Masimo Patent

Troublesome news for Apple regarding Apple Watch. MacRumors says a judge for the US International Trade Commission (ITC) has ruled that the device’s pulse oximeter readings violate a patent held by medical device maker Masimo. Launched in the Apple Watch Series 6, the piece says Apple’s device “uses light to detect the amount of oxygen in the blood,” which was apparently Masimo’s idea. Or — an idea Masimo patented, anyway. According to the report:

In June 2021, Masimo filed a patent infringement lawsuit with the ITC asking it to halt imports of the Apple Watch Series 6 because of patent infringements related to blood oxygen monitoring.

While the original suit was aimed at the Series 6, that’s apparently because that’s as high as the numbers went at the time. While blood oxygen readings are not available in Apple Watch SE, the feature has featured in the Series 7, Series 8, and Apple Watch Ultra. Now, indications are that the device’s fate rests with the ITC. A decision on whether to ban the wearable’s import is expected in early May, according to MacRumors. 

Latest Round of Apple OS Betas Out to Public Testers

The rest of the OS beta parade has rolled through. I told you yesterday that Apple had release the second betas of iOS, iPadOS, and tvOS 16.3, watchOS 9.3, and macOS 13.2 to developers. Those betas did not take long to go public. MacRumors says Apple’s public testing program got access to them on Wednesday. If you want to be in with the in-crowd and know what the in-crowd knows, get thee to beta.apple.com. 

Business Connect Lets Businesses Customize Presence in Apple Maps

And finally today, businesses can now take the wheel in Apple Maps. Ars Technica says a new feature from Apple called Business Connect will let participating businesses customize the info-cards that come up for them in Apple’s mapping service. 

For having allowed no control before, the new offering sounds pretty robust. Ars says business owners will be able to update such pertinent info as hours of operation, exact address, “search categories and subcategories,” “about” information and more. They can even make sure the pin that sticks up when finding the business in Apple Maps is actually pinned to the exact location.

Sounds like a lot, but that is just the start. Business Connect will also let businesses upload their own photos and branding, add “action” items like Instacart ordering or finding and reserving parking on SpotHero. And they can populate a “Showcase” with special deals, actions, and promotions. 

For the average user, it may make Apple Maps more useful. For interested business owners, more info is available at businessconnect.apple.com. 

Today on The Mac Observer’s Daily Observations Podcast

President Biden hopes that the one thing the left and the right in congress have in common is a willingness to poke “big tech” in the eye. TMO writer Nick deCourville and I will discuss the president’s op-ed on the issue. Plus — there’s rumor of a touchscreen MacBook on the horizon. We’ll touch on that on the Daily Observations Podcast from The Mac Observer.
Tags: AAPL, Mac, mixed reality
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