Fresh off the IT Block on 21st August 2020
elcome again all - It's been a busy August! Let's see what news we have for you today...
Apple officially becomes the world's largest company, Spotify goes down worldwide for over an hour, why Netflix is implementing a shuffle option & Uber rolls out subscription service...
Apple officially becomes the world's largest company
It isn't surprising to hear this, but Apple has just been confirmed as the world's largest company - Technology companies in general have taken a much lighter hit from the coronavirus pandemic, and Apple's success is no exception.
Revenues were around $60 billion for the third quarter of 2020. Sales were anticipated to be rather dismal when coronavirus took hold, but Apple has managed to shake off the doubters. Their unit sales of iPhone models jumped by almost 50% compared to this stage last year, that's something pretty extraordinary, especially in a pandemic.
It just goes to show how technology companies can stand firm even in harsh lock downs - Companies around the world are realising more and more that they need these devices for their day to day work, as well as their personal lives.
Apple's portfolio of MacBooks and iMacs make them a huge contender in the laptop and desktop market, these devices are a great match up against the well held Windows devices. Thanks to Apple's impressive range of products on offer during the first half of this year, their share price has rocketed back up, almost reaching $470 USD per share. This is essentially what has bumped them up to the top spot.
Apple are the first company in the USA to be valued at more than $2 trillion USD, the only other company in the world to reach this feat was Saudi Aramco in 2019. The Saudi oil giant took a massive hit however, and the pandemic forced them to lose 10% of their share price. They are now worth an estimated $1.8 trillion USD, meaning Apple take the top spot.
The next company in line is unsurprisingly in the technology market for a lot of its operations. Amazon is valued at roughly $1.7 trillion USD, and has also seen tremendous growth throughout 2020. They are now one of the most expensive shares in the technology stock market. This is thanks to their portfolio of Alexa devices, their online marketplace, and their on-demand movies and television subscriptions like Amazon Prime.
Apple is looking forward to a potentially bigger second half of 2020 - With 5G starting to roll out more widely, gigabit broadband speeds are going to be something people want and need. Whether it is for being at home, or operating their phones/laptops from the office (Or remotely), 5G connectivity is certainly a prospect that can fuel more growth for Apple.
Since its low point in March, Apple is one of the handful of massive technology firms that will continue to grow. Some companies that are just like Apple who have potential for massive gains include Samsung, Facebook, and Microsoft (365, Teams & DocuSign).
Spotify goes down across the globe for more than an hour - Plus how artists are switching concerts for live streaming
On Wednesday 19th August, Spotify received reports from thousands of users that their app wasn't working via mobile or the desktop service. The fault was said to be affecting both Spotify's free and paid users.
Spotify is one of the world's largest music streaming services, so up to 300 million of their users could have been affected - Luckily the problem only lasted for around 90 minutes, with Spotify tweeting that things looked fixed and "good to go".
As music streaming becomes more of a necessity rather than a luxury, Spotify, just like Apple music and SoundCloud, has seen immense growth in paid users. More than 6 million new paid users have been added to the service since the start of the year, a record for Spotify.
Although artists are releasing plenty of new music on the Spotify platform, the revenue they earn is largely through concerts and touring countries. Due to restrictions that are still preventing concerts from happening without social distancing, many artists are opting with the live streaming route on platforms like Twitch, Facebook and YouTube.
Popular artist Post Malone was one of the highlights from earlier in the year - He live streamed a 75 minute concert in tribute to Nirvana, a popular grunge band back in the 90s. All of the proceeds went to supporting the WHO's (World health organisation) fight against coronavirus. Many artists are doing this kind of charitable work, but others are seeking the opportunity to earn a living from live streaming music on the likes of Twitch.
A report published by StreamElements and Arsenal·gg showed that Twitch's "music and performing arts" category of streamers saw an almost 400 per cent growth in April 2020. There was an estimated 17 million hours of watch time, compared to roughly only 3.6 million the same month last year.
Although Twitch has had plenty of positive attention, more recently artists have expressed their frustration to Jeff Bezos, Twitch's CEO, over how song royalties work in the service. Currently, users who host live streams can openly play unlicensed songs without being suspended for copyright. Not only this, but artists have reported they have received no royalty payments from Twitch when songs are being played mid-stream. On YouTube for example, the use of licensed music is a big part of video creation, and users must pay for a license if they wish to play music in their videos, to avoid being given a copyright strike.
Jeff Bezos has yet to change this policy, but it is definitely a big sum of earnings that are potentially being withheld from artists. Twitch is the most popular streaming service, and with millions of users viewing those streams with music playing in the background, you can only imagine the royalty payments that might arise due to the frustrations raised by artists.
Why Netflix is testing a shuffle option
Let's all agree on something - Netflix is hard to do...
It takes time to find the right movie, and you can often spend as much time searching for the right film or TV show to watch, as you spend actually watching it.
Luckily, Netflix believe they have the best alternative to those stuck searching, a shuffle option. A little bit like how Spotify use their shuffle, Netflix is aiming to roll out a similar feature. Users will have the option to shuffle play a random show or movie. Well, when we say random, we mean that it will be based around what you have watched in the past i.e. similar genres,the same creators.
As cinemas return to normal screenings, movies like Tenet & Black Widow could fill the gap a lot of people have been struggling with while using Netflix. Streaming services are great for the choice, but they don't necessarily beat a night out going to watch a blockbuster at the cinemas, even if they are the cheaper option.
Americans can now subscribe to Uber
As Uber continues to struggle making a profit (Not that a prolonged period of profit has ever happened for Uber anyway), the driver and food delivery service has announced their new subscription service for most of the USA.
For $25 a month, Uber customers can get 10% off UberX, UberXL, and Uber Comfort rides, as well as 15% off Uber Black, Uber SUV, and Uber Premier rides. As for UberEats, the appeal isn't as big...
Up to 5% off orders that have a value exceeding $15 USD - But there is free delivery for these orders. The good news for Uber drivers is that they'll still get paid the same amount per trip as they would be doing now, although Uber's average payouts aren't the most attractive. The gig economy is a bit of a controversial sector with how workers are paid, as they are generally self employed.
UK based JustEat recently pledged to switch from self employed to employing people directly, as staff were susceptible to not having insurance when doing their deliveries. Especially during lock down when food deliveries are more common, it is important that workers are both paid legally, and given the required protection for things like theft, injuries and delays.
Shifting back to Uber - Their discounted services might seem like a great incentive, but even they have admitted that a COVID-19 vaccine is what's needed to really get the gig economy working at capacity again. Gig economy workers will be either overworked, or under booked, depending on whether they are delivering food or driving people to their destination - The latter is likely to bounce back once a vaccine brings back signs of normality.