The Retail-Challenges Edition Wednesday, February 6, 2019

Chief Of Apple Stores Is Leaving After 5 Years In The Job, by Jack Nicas, New York Times

Angela Ahrendts, the former Burberry chief hired by Apple five years ago to oversee its stores, said Tuesday that she will leave the company in April.

The departure is an unusual move for a top executive at Apple, which is facing retail challenges as sales in China have dropped and iPhone sales have turned sluggish.

Apple Names Third Retail Chief In Seven Years For Post-iPhone Era, by Mark Gurman, Bloomberg

In December, as Apple executives worried about demand, the company asked retail employees to promote the new iPhones using methods not seen before. Technicians were told to push iPhone upgrades to consumers with out-of-warranty devices. Senior sales staff had to make sure other retail workers were suggesting upgrades, and easels offering generous trade-in deals for the iPhone XR were erected in stores. Apple’s online homepage was also replaced with reduced iPhone pricing that required a trade-in of older models.

Those tactics may not have gelled with the retail environment Ahrendts tried to create. In an interview with Vogue magazine last week, she said "the tragedy in retail is that it has become about numbers." She also said she missed some things about the fashion industry.

Apple SVPs, by And Now It's All This

To me, Ahrendts’s five years in charge of Retail has been similar to Ive’s time as Chief Design Officer. The Apple Stores look better than ever, but they don’t work as well as they used to. No one I know looks forward to going to an Apple Store, even when it’s for the fun task of buying a new toy. No doubt a lot of this is due to Apple’s success and the mobs of people milling about, but Ahrendts didn’t solve the problem of efficiently handling the increased customer load.

Angela Ahrendts Leaving Apple, by Stephen Hackett, 512 Pixels

From where I sit, this announcement feels unexpected, and I have a lot of questions about how a single person can oversee Apple’s HR and Retail operations.

Sure, Retail is the company’s largest division, but I am concerned Retail is losing a full seat at the table, so to speak. Not everyone agrees, though, and it will be interesting to see how it shakes out.

Sydney Dad Said Staff At An Apple Store Were So Frustrating, He Walked Out, by

“I felt frustrated and I felt like my intelligence was being questioned. I’m not really concerned by the legalities (of whether a store can force you to use a certain payment method) as much as I am the stupidity that transpired.

“Very simply, it was poor salesmanship to insist I should use Apple Pay even though I told them I wasn’t interested.

Security Matters

Security Researcher Demos macOS Exploit To Access Keychain Passwords, But Won't Share Details With Apple Out Of Protest, by Benjamin Mayo, 9to5Mac

Henze is frustrated that Apple’s bug bounty program only applies to iOS, not macOS, and has decided not to release more information about his latest Keychain invasion.

Selling Apple

Apple Goes Behind The Scenes Of 'Shot On iPhone' Film Celebrating Chinese New Year, by AppleInsider

"As a director I need to capture as many details as I possible while dealing Years In Twith different shooting conditions," Zhangke says. "Smart HDR adds texture to my photos and bring memories of home to life. This is how you touch the viewer's heart."

Apple Music Billboards Go Up Around LA Featuring Memoji Grammy Nominees, by Alex Allegro, 9to5Mac

With the Grammy Awards approaching this Sunday, Apple has posted a series of new billboards in Los Angeles featuring nominated artists as Animoji characters alongside the title of their work for which they’re nominated. The billboard reminds us that we can listen to the Grammy nominated albums on Apple Music.

Buying Online

Why People Still Don't Buy Groceries Online, by Alana Semuels, The Atlantic

Back then, ordering groceries online was complicated—most customers had dial-up, and Peapod’s web graphics were so rudimentary customers couldn’t see images of what they were buying. Delivery was complicated, too: The Parkinsons drove to grocery stores in the Chicago area, bought what customers had ordered, and then delivered the goods from the backseat of their beat-up Honda Civic. When people wanted to stock up on certain goods—strawberry yogurt or bottles of Diet Coke—the Parkinsons would deplete whole sections of local grocery stores.

Peapod is still around today. But convincing customers to order groceries online is still nearly as difficult now as it was in 1989. Twenty-two percent of apparel sales and 30 percent of computer and electronics sales happen online today, but the same can be said for only 3 percent of grocery sales, according to a report from Deutsche Bank Securities. “My dream was for it to be ubiquitous, but getting that first order can be a bit of a hurdle,” Parkinson told me from Peapod’s headquarters in downtown Chicago.

The Internet Saved The Record Labels, by Angelina Rascouet, Bloomberg

The rebound can be traced to the same boogeyman that almost killed the business in the first place: the internet. These days, music fans have largely shifted from illegal downloads to paid streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Prime, and Pandora, which generally charge $5 to $10 a month for unlimited access to millions of songs. Even though the labels only get about 0.3¢ each time a tune is streamed, according to the Trichordist, a musician advocacy blog, the pennies add up. Since 2014, record company sales have jumped an average 7 percent annually and streaming has become the top source of revenue, generating $6.6 billion in 2017, up from $1.9 billion in 2014, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry estimates.


The Apple iPhone XR Review, by Andrei Frumusanu, AnandTech

I think the iPhone XR is also priced a tad too high, and if you’re not entrenched in the iOS ecosystem, there are better value alternatives. I count myself among those who wouldn’t buy a smartphone at this price, and certainly not if it does compromise on some features.

A Review Of The iPhone XS Max Smart Battery Case, by Rose Orchard, The Sweet Setup

The first thing you’ll notice about the battery case is that it looks quite similar to the silicone case for the iPhone — it’s actually made of the same material and comes in black or white, which means it’s grippy and resistant to sliding even on the smoothest of surfaces. It’s also heavy. The weight is quite possibly the most negative feature about the case, but it’s unavoidable — even Apple hasn’t figured out how to make batteries weigh less yet.

Apple Lists New 'Neymar Jr. Custom Edition' Beats Studio3 Wireless Headphones, by Tim Hardwick, MacRumors

Apple has added a listing for a new custom-designed pair of Beats Studio3 Wireless headphones that celebrate the 27th birthday of Brazilian soccer star Neymar Jr.

Multiple Users Report That Adobe Premiere CC Bug Blew Their MacBook Pro Speakers, by Ben Lovejoy, 9to5Mac

The incidents seem to occur when using one of a number of Adobe Premiere CC audio enhancement tools, such as cleaning up the audio or enhancing the speech.


House Democrats Want Apple To Answer Questions On FaceTime Flaw, by David Shepardson, Reuters

House Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone and Representative Jan Schakowsky, who chairs a subcommittee overseeing consumer issues said in a letter they were “deeply troubled” over how long it took Apple to address the security flaw.

An Arrest At Apple Shows How Corporate Spies Worm Their Way Into The System, by Scott Stewart, Stratfor

Corporate espionage is a persistent — and growing problem. Great power competition among the United States, Russia and China is driving Moscow and Beijing in their efforts to step up their corporate espionage efforts as they seek to achieve technological parity with the West.

The Chen and Zhang cases bear some striking similarities but also feature some intriguing differences. Together, they illustrate that the threats to in-demand intellectual property will persist even after a successful prosecution and that agents will alter their tactics in response to efforts by corporate security departments to better protect their company's critical information.

Spotify Bets Big On Podcasting To Power Battle Against Apple, by Lucas Shaw, Bloomberg

Spotify Technology SA acquired podcasting companies Gimlet Media Inc. and Anchor FM Inc., a declaration that their specialty is the next big area of growth for the world’s largest paid music service.

Bottom of the Page

Personally, I like to do shopping without having to talk to anybody.

In fact, there are days when my goal in life is to see how long I can last through the day before having to talk to somebody.


Podcasting is not a single business. You can be a toolmaker, and you'll be competing with Adobe and Rogue Amoeba. You can be a creator, and you'll be competing with NPR and BBC. Or you can be in the business of making client software, and only then will you be competing with Apple and NPR and BBC and Overcast.

There isn't a Netflix-for-Podcasts business out there. Audible (an Amazon company) tried and left the business. A content walled garden hasn't been a viable business yet in the radio programming world. (I don't think one can call audio programming podcasts when they are only available on specific clients.)


Thanks for reading.