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EU moves ahead with plans to standardize phone chargers by 2024

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The U part of USB will soon be one step closer to reality after a move by European lawmakers on Tuesday to force Apple and its rivals to all use the same charging ports for their handheld devices.

The European Parliament voted 602-13 in favour of mandating USB-C charging ports for all handheld electronic devices by as soon as 2024.

The law is believed to be the first in the world designed to standardize charging ports for things like laptops, cameras, mobile phones and other gadgets. Currently, most manufacturers use a version of the USB standard, which stands for Universal Serial Bus.

Apple, famously, does not, choosing to use its proprietary lightning port for most devices in its ecosystem.

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Under the new law, any electronic devices sold in the European Union must use the USB-C standard by 2024. Laptops will have an extra two years, until 2026, to adopt the new style.

A win for consumers

Alex Agius Saliba, the lead negotiator for the 27-nation bloc, says the new law will be a win for consumers and the environment.

“We are replacing this pile of chargers,” he said, holding up a fistful of cords, “with just this,” he said, showing off a single USB cord.

That mess of wires is more than simply an inconvenience for consumers; the European Union estimates in a research paper that standardizing charging ports could cut down on €250 million (around $338 million) of e-waste brought about by obsolete hardware.

Business analyst Dan Ives, managing director with Wedbush Securities, says the move is a “clear shot” at Apple, which has fought the change at every step of the way.

“Clearly, the EU is going on the warpath on this issue,” he told CBC News in an interview.

Outlawing old chargers would have had a disproportionate impact on consumers and the environment, Saliba says, which is why the bloc is trying to put the onus on manufacturers to gradually phase out older products.

Most manufacturers already use some version of USB, but Apple does not. Half the chargers sold with mobile phones in 2018 had a USB micro-B connector, while 29 per cent had a USB-C connector and 21 per cent an Apple lightning connector, a 2019 an EU-sponsored study showed.

The company started using USB-C for some of its laptops in recent years, and is reportedly working on a version of the iPhone that does the same.

Apple has previously argued that a move to standardize chargers would create more electronic waste, not less.

Technology analyst Carmi Levy says ultimately Apple is likely to start using USB-C technology for all their devices as soon as they can. “It’ll be an efficiency play,” he told CBC News. “Simpler supply chain in a time of supply chain challenges.”

He doesn’t expect the company to try to make multiple versions of their devices to abide by various regulations around the world. “Long story short, this will impact consumers in Canada, the U.S., and every other major market where Apple is currently active,” he said. “If other countries choose to follow the EU’s lead, it’ll be a largely ceremonial gesture.”

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Musk: Apple wants to block Twitter from its app store – Al Jazeera English

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The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said on Monday that Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

Elon Musk has accused Apple Inc of threatening to block Twitter Inc from its app store without saying why in a series of tweets that also said the iPhone maker had stopped advertising on the social media platform.

The billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla said on Monday that Apple was pressuring Twitter over content moderation demands.

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The action, unconfirmed by Apple, would not be unusual as the company has routinely enforced its rules and previously removed apps such as Gab and Parler.

Parler, which is popular with conservatives in the United States, was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk, who took Twitter private for $44bn last month, said in a tweet.

He later tagged Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking, “What’s going on here?”

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“It wasn’t clear to me how far up the Apple food chain that idea went internally and without knowing that, it isn’t clear how seriously to take any of this,” said Randal Picker, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School.

The world’s most valuable firm spent an estimated $131,600 on Twitter ads between November 10 and November 16, down from $220,800 between October 16 and October 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

In the first quarter of 2022, Apple was the top advertiser on Twitter, spending $48m and accounting for more than 4 percent of total revenue for the period, the Washington Post reported, citing an internal Twitter document.

Twitter did not immediately respond to a Reuters news agency request for comment on the report.

‘Go to war’

Among the list of grievances tweeted by Musk was the up to 30 percent fee Apple charges software developers for in-app purchases, with Musk posting a meme suggesting he was willing to “go to war” with Apple rather than paying the commission.

The fee has drawn criticism and lawsuits from companies such as Fortnite-maker Epic Games while attracting the scrutiny of regulators globally.

The commission could weigh on Musk’s attempts to boost subscription revenue at Twitter, in part to make up for the exodus of advertisers over content moderation concerns.

Companies from General Mills Inc to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition, and Musk said earlier this month that the company had seen a “massive” drop in revenue.

Advertisement sales account for about 90 percent of Twitter’s revenue.

The self-described free speech absolutist, whose company has in the past few days reinstated several Twitter accounts including that of former US President Donald Trump, has blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers.

Ben Bajarin, the head of consumer technologies at research firm Creative Strategies, said that Musk may be reading too much into a regular process Apple goes through for app reviews.

“App review from Apple is not perfect by any means and a consistently frustrating process for developers but from what I hear it is a two-way conversation,” he said.

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Oil: Why Goldman Sachs is still bullish despite headwinds

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Goldman Sachs strategists say the supply situation for oil will “inevitably” require “much higher prices.” (GETTY)
Goldman Sachs strategists say the supply situation for oil will “inevitably” require “much higher prices.” (GETTY)

Goldman Sachs is holding on to its bullish 2023 call on the global oil benchmark as prices test new year-to-date lows.

Strategists at the New York-based investment bank see Brent crude (BZ=F) averaging US$110 per barrel next year, due in large part to supply overshadowing headwinds for demand.

Oil prices danced around positive territory on Monday as investors responded to news of street protests in China over government efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19 amid record case counts. At the same time, investors are awaiting final details of the G7 nations’ price ceiling on Russian oil, set to take effect on Dec. 5.

Brent crude was down 0.18 per cent to US$83.45 as at 1:09 p.m. ET on Monday, largely erasing 2022 gains fuelled by Russia’s war in Ukraine. Meanwhile, U.S. benchmark West Texas Intermediate gained 1.25 per cent to US$77.23 per barrel, after trading near its lowest level of the year.

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Goldman Sachs predicts a strong U.S. dollar and weaker demand expectations will remain a “powerful headwind to prices.” However, the bank says the supply situation will “inevitably” require “much higher prices,” due to lack of investment in the industry, as well as low spare capacity and inventories.

“We are tactically cautious, structurally bullish,” Goldman Sachs strategists wrote in a wide-ranging outlook for next year. “We reiterate our bullish price view, and expect Brent crude oil prices to average US$110 per barrel in 2023.”

Goldman Sachs says seasonal demand from heating is likely to pick up as temperatures drop during the winter months. The strategists also note the impact of so-called gas-to-oil switching, where certain utilities and industrial consumers swap more expensive natural gas for refined oil products like diesel or gasoline.

“At the same time, we believe the EU embargo on Russian oil will demand an unachievable redirection of flows, causing Russian production to fall by 0.6 million barrels per day, at the same time as OPEC+ has agreed to an effective cut of 1.2 million barrels per day,” the strategists wrote.

They add that it would also take a “hard landing” for the U.S. economy to justify sustained lower prices.

Goldman Sachs’ structural bullishness echoes comments from RBC Capital Markets in June.

“The supply-side shock absorbers have been removed from the market,” analyst Micheal Tran wrote in a note to clients.

Tran described the oil market at the time as caught between “the strongest fundamental oil market set up in decades, maybe ever,” and a deteriorating macroeconomic backdrop threatening the outlook for demand.

Jeff Lagerquist is a senior reporter at Yahoo Finance Canada. Follow him on Twitter @jefflagerquist.

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Apple threatening to pull Twitter from its app store, Elon Musk alleges

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Elon Musk accused Apple of threatening to block Twitter Inc. from its app store and says the iPhone maker has stopped advertising on the social media platform because it is afraid of free speech.

In a series of tweets on Monday, the billionaire CEO of Twitter and Tesla accused the smartphone maker of no longer advertising on Twitter, insinuating it is because the company is trying to censor content on the internet.

“Apple has mostly stopped advertising on Twitter. Do they hate free speech in America?” Musk said.

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Later in the day, he also said Apple is considering removing Twitter from its app store, without providing any evidence of that.

He later tagged Apple CEO Tim Cook’s Twitter account in another tweet, asking “What’s going on here?”

Although Apple has said nothing about any such plan, it would not be without precedent. The company routinely enforced its rules on to third-party apps in its app store, a policy that led to the removal of apps such as Gab and Parler, which is popular with U.S. conservatives.

Parler was restored by Apple in 2021 after the app updated its content and moderation practices, the companies said at the time.

War of words

Musk also said “yes” in response to a user question on whether Apple was threatening Twitter’s presence in the app store or making moderation demands.

Apple did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The company spent an estimated $131,600 US on Twitter ads between Nov. 10 and Nov. 16, down from $220,800 US between Oct. 16 and Oct. 22, the week before Musk closed the Twitter deal, according to ad measurement firm Pathmatics.

A rising list of firms from General Mills Inc. to luxury automaker Audi of America have stopped or paused advertising on Twitter since the acquisition.

Musk, a self-described free speech absolutist, said earlier this month that Twitter had seen a “massive” drop in revenue and blamed activist groups for pressuring advertisers. Ad sales account for about 90 per cent of Twitter’s revenue.

The platform has in the past few days reinstated the account of former U.S. President Donald Trump, as well as comedian Kathy Griffin and U.S. House Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene.

The Trump reinstatement prompted a coalition of civil rights activists to say last week that they were urging Twitter’s advertisers to issue statements about pulling their ads off the platform.

At a presentation for advertisers in May, some ad agencies and brands were already skeptical on concerns that Musk would scale back content moderation and security protection on the platform.

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