Trending December 2023 # Taiwan Invasion In 2025 Gaining Credibility; No Time For Apple And Others To Prepare # Suggested January 2024 # Top 21 Popular

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Back in January, a top US Air Force general predicted that a Taiwan invasion would occur in 2025, while the US is distracted by the likely fallout from the 2024 presidential election. That scenario is gaining in credibility among companies in Apple’s supply chain – but they say there is no possible way to put in place the necessary contingency plans.

Production of iPhones would likely be rendered impossible given the company’s complete dependence on both Taiwan and China …

Growing Taiwan invasion fears

It was just over four months ago that the head of the US Air Mobility Command predicted a 2025 Taiwan invasion, leading to a war between the US and China.

A four-star Air Force general sent a memo on Friday to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head.”

In the memo sent Friday and obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025” […]

Minihan said in the memo that because both Taiwan and the U.S. will have presidential elections in 2024, the U.S. will be “distracted,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to move on Taiwan.

While this doomsday scenario has always been feared, it was – until the last year or so – considered to be a rather unlikely scenario. In particular, China is hugely economically dependent on tech manufacturing for Western tech companies like Apple, and was considered unlikely to want to put that revenue stream at risk. Others, however, said that China places politics above the economy, and it’s only the threat of US military action that deters it.

The geopolitical climate of course changed dramatically last year, with the Russian invasion of Ukraine demonstrating that while the West is willing to respond with economic sanctions and military support, it’s not willing to risk going to war.

As we noted back in March of last year, that likely emboldened China. US and UK security services gave the same warning a few months later.

A foolhardy visit to Taiwan by then-U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi dramatically worsened the situation, leading to China conducting military exercises that included practicing a full-scale blockade of the island.

Latest drills by China included 91 incursions in a day

House speakers seem to specialize in increasing tensions with China. Current speaker Kevin McCarthy last month invited Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen to a meeting in California.

China responded with another practice blockade of Taiwan. In the course of three days, Chinese warplanes entered Taiwanese airspace more than a hundred times – some 91 of them in the course of a single day.

No time for Apple and others to prepare

In the scheme of this nightmare scenario, the impact on iPhone production would be the least of the world’s worries. All the same, a new Nikkei Asia report paints a stark picture of the likely technological and economic impact.

Almost half of the 1,500 components in an iPhone and based in either China or Taiwan

Taiwan makes $200 worth of the total materials bill

This of course includes the A-series chip made by TSMC

95% of all iPhone assembly takes place in China

“If anyone hits Taiwan, or there is a serious disruption … the tech and electronics industry worldwide is basically screwed,” said Hsieh Yong-fen, founder of chip and material testing provider MA-tek.

An executive with Unimicron Technology, which makes printed circuit boards for Apple, agrees.

“Our customers then said they wanted some production alternatives that are outside of China and also out of Taiwan over fears of a war,” the executive said. “We were stunned and speechless, and so were a lot of our peers. … How can the supply chain be moved out of China and Taiwan? The majority of electronics supply chains are here.”

Contingency plans do exist, but there would be zero chance of these solving the problem if an invasion happened that soon.

“We have a business contingency plan — the so-called BCP — to prepare for supply chain disruptions, such as a war,” an executive at chip testing equipment maker Advantest of Japan told Nikkei Asia. “But if a military conflict really happens here in the Taiwan Strait, honestly, I think any BCP will be totally useless. It would be doomsday for the chip supply chain.”

Even a blockade of Taiwan, without an actual invasion, would be sufficient to kill iPhone production.

A senior executive at Compal Electronics, a vital product assembler to Dell, HP and Apple said. “If there’s military friction happening to Taiwan, the entire global supply chain will collapse for sure.”

The full report makes for a depressing read.

Photo: RawPixel/CC0

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How To Help Others And Contribute To Apple Health Research

Scientists and physicians can’t learn about health conditions if they don’t know about them. Cures for diseases can take years and years, if there even is a cure to be found. So where do those working on these things get information? How can they experiment, develop medications, or search for causes without data?

If you’ve never participated in a health study before, but are thinking it might be time, Apple makes it easy for you. For women’s health, hearing health, and heart health, the Apple Research app is at your fingertips. You decide which study to take part in and what data you want to share. So if you’re ready to help further research in these areas, here’s how to contribute to health research.

Apple health research

Download the Apple Research app

You may not realize it, but you have a direct link to the Apple Research app right from the Health app on your iPhone. Open Health, hit the Summary tab, and you should see a spot for Contribute to Health Research.

Just tap Get Research App and you’ll be directed to the App Store where you can download the app for free. If you happened to close out that box on your Summary tab, you can get the app by searching or using this link for Apple Research on the App Store.

Get started with the app

After you download the app, you’ll walk through a few prompts that explain how Apple Research works. And you’ll see links with additional details on the screens.

If you’re concerned about the data you’re sharing, Apple states that your data won’t be sold, you choose which studies to participate in and control which data you share, plus you can leave a study any time you like.

And if you’re serious about helping out, you might enable the Apple Research app notifications, although useful, it’s not required.

You can then jump right in and select a study to join. Tap Learn More & Enroll to get started. If you prefer to wait, scroll down the Join Your First Study screen and tap Not Now. You can then open the app later and choose a study when you’re ready.

Participate in a study

When you open the Apple Research app, you’ll see the Open Studies at the top. And if you’re interested, you can scroll to the bottom to learn more about Other Studies that have ended.

Tap Learn More & Enroll to get full details on the study and be sure to read the Expectations and Requirements before you enroll. Note that some studies require you to wear an Apple Watch.

If you decide to join a study, you’ll see the Steps to Enroll which includes filling out a research profile (for the first enrollment) and signing a few forms. You’ll see how long the process will take, so if necessary, you can enroll later when you have more time. Be sure to read the consent forms before you sign! Then simply follow the prompts to complete your enrollment.

Wrapping it up

We’ve all heard about health studies and many take place in physical institutions. But having the ability to further research that can help many people live longer, healthier lives, by not even leaving the house, makes participating a little more appealing. Are you going to check out the Apple Research health studies?

Apple Has Problems And There’S No Easy Fix

Apple has problems and there’s no easy fix

More and more expensive iPhones which last longer, an increasingly competitive smartphone segment, and shakiness in the Chinese market have helped sent Apple’s stock price plummeting today. The Cupertino firm issued a rare warning yesterday that its profits for Q1 2023 would be lower than expected, blaming fewer than expected sales of its star product as one of the key reasons.

As Tim Cook said in an open letter to investors yesterday, “we knew the first quarter would be impacted by both macroeconomic and Apple-specific factors.” Timing of the iPhone XS launch would be one issue, as would supply constraints of its popular products. That particularly impacted the Apple Watch Series 4, iPad Pro, AirPods, and MacBook Air, Cook explained.

However, “economic weakness in some emerging markets” played a part, too, as did the strong US dollar and its impact on international pricing. Most ominous, though, was Cook’s admission that “these and other factors resulted in fewer iPhone upgrades than we had anticipated.”

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the market hasn’t reacted well to the upset. Although Apple still expects to record revenue of approximately $84 billion, and a gross margin of around 38-percent, the slip in projected revenue versus its original guidance has set the stock price into a slump. Down to around $144 at time of writing, it has seen a roughly 9-percent fall today.

It’s fair to say that many have been skeptical about Apple’s strategy with the iPhone X family. The first iPhone X launched in 2023 with a hefty $999 starting price, hundreds of dollars more than Apple had been charging for its previous flagships. While the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus offered a more traditional – not to mention more affordable – route for buyers, Apple’s insistence that the iPhone X represented the future of the smartphone made 2023’s trajectory clear.

The strategy that had seemed to work with 2023’s range, ASP rising even as unit sales seemed to plateau, does not appear to have held true for 2023’s. Signs of that being a possibility came late last year, when Apple confirmed it would no longer be breaking out iPhone sales figures from the rest of its hardware lines. The company had always frustrated analysts and investors by not differentiating between demand for its latest, most expensive models, and that of its older, more affordable phones. Now, it wouldn’t be sharing any details at all.

Undoubtedly shakiness in the Chinese financial sector has also impacted Apple’s quarter, and iPhone sales in particular. That’s an element we’re likely to see affect other companies, particularly in electronics, which have counted on rising demand from Chinese consumers to buoy their performance over the past few years.

“Apple’s China competitors have closed the gap in hardware and in some cases surpassed Apple with their own edge to edge display designs, under display fingerprint readers, 3D face readers, and fast(er) modems,” analyst Patrick Moorhead, founder of Moor Insights & Strategy, suggests. “This absolutely plays a role in Apple’s China challenges when price is factored in.”

Critics might well question whether those rival devices have the same cohesiveness of hardware and software, integration of services, and brand cachet that the iPhone comes with. Nonetheless, side by side with aggressively priced Android phones from Huawei, OnePlus, Oppo, and others, the value proposition of the iPhone is easier to question. Rivals experimenting with alternative form-factors, such as folding phones as Samsung is developing, may not necessarily translate into huge sales, but they do fuel speculation that Apple has ceded some room in the innovation space. That unwelcome situation looks unlikely to change in the short term, too.

“The challenge could be exasperated given all Android premium handsets will have 5G in 2023 and the iPhone won’t have 5G until 2023,” Moorhead says. The majority of Android devices look to Qualcomm for their processor and modem needs, and the chipmaker revealed its aggressive plans for enabling 2023’s 5G devices late last year. Samsung and OnePlus have already signaled they intend to reach the market sooner rather than later with such phones.

In contrast, Apple is believed to be waiting on Intel’s 5G modems – and the carriers to build out the networks such modems require – before it looks to an iPhone 5G. All projections see that as unlikely to culminate until 2023.

Clearly, Apple isn’t having a “bad” quarter in broader terms. $84 billion in revenues for the fiscal 2023 first quarter only look underwhelming when you consider that’s $8 billion less than the earlier guidance led the market to expect. Apple’s traditional conservatism in that guidance has also played against it this time around: by downplaying performance in the past, only to announce estimate-busting numbers, the market has grown to expect even better things than the quarterly guidance might have implied.

As Cook concluded, “we are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services,” and focused on Apple’s attempts to make iPhone upgrades more affordable and painless. Unfortunately for its share price today, that strategy will take time to pan out and reveal its impact. Panicked investors will do their usual shuffling, as the market recalibrates to this new normal.

What seems unlikely, though, is that Apple will be the only market behemoth to suffer through such an adjustment. Past sales of phones from well-known rivals like Samsung have demonstrated that just because there’s a new device in a beloved series, that doesn’t always translate to blockbuster demand. As we ramp up toward Mobile World Congress 2023, the arrival of the Samsung Galaxy S10, and the first 5G devices, only time will tell whether weary consumers are a bigger problem than most companies gave them credit for.

Comment: It’s Time For Apple To Separate Apple Music From Itunes On The Mac

Since Apple Music first launched in 2023, one of the most common requests from Mac users has been for Apple to separate the streaming service from the rest of iTunes. Despite several macOS updates since then, however, Apple has not yet made such a move, with Apple Music still locked inside iTunes.

Last week, we saw the second third-party version of Apple Music created for the web. It’s this app that really showed me how great Apple Music could be if it weren’t buried in iTunes.

Right off the bat, let me say this: I don’t want Apple’s solution to breaking Apple Music out of iTunes to be a web app. Instead, I want a full, dedicated macOS app. Similar to how Books is its own app, Apple Music deserves to be a standalone macOS app.

If we look at the Musish web app, however, there are several good examples of the benefits that come from dedicating user interface space all to Apple Music. The app puts the “For You” interface right up front, making it easy to access your recently played content and other curated playlists.

Further, Playlists are also much easier to access, with your personal playlists and Apple Music-created playlists always available along the right-hand side.

iTunes on the Mac is messy, and it’s only set to get messier as Apple focuses more on Services and prepares its own streaming video service. iTunes hasn’t seen a major visual overhaul in years, despite the addition of such a major new platform in Apple Music.

I’m not a fan of the menu interface for switching between different media types like podcasts, movies, and music. If we’re being honest, these features – especially podcasts, should be broken out into their own individual apps as well, but that’s an argument for another time.

Accessing various parts of Apple Music through iTunes is clunky at best. For instance, going to the “For You” tab along the top completely takes over the interface. This makes it difficult to access things like the full album of what’s currently playing, your playlists, and more.

Of course, one possibility is that Apple plans to use its ‘Marzipan’ initiative that brought apps like Home and News to the Mac from iOS. I truly hope this isn’t the case, though, as those apps aren’t especially great on macOS. The iOS version of Music also isn’t perfect, so the solution isn’t to simply bring that interface to the Mac. Apple Music interfaces all around need some attention.

Finally, giving Apple Music its own dedicated macOS would also – hopefully – mean things would load significantly faster. Because of all of the features crammed inside, iTunes is infamously bogged down and prone to slow performance, crashing, and more. Apple Music could be dedicated to one thing, and be far more lightweight.

Wrap up

Nearly four years after launch, it’s time for Apple Music to become its own dedicated app on macOS. This would bring performance enhancements, a far more accessible interface, and various other improvements. iTunes on the Mac wasn’t designed with Apple Music in mind, and that is really starting to show. Features are hard to access, performance is bogged down, and even the simplest of tasks are cumbersome.

Ideally, a standalone Music app on macOS would integrate Apple Music, as well as all of the content from your iTunes library, much like on iOS.

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5 Ways To Prepare Your Online Business For Holiday Rush

The holiday season is all about those wonderful gifts, new clothes, social gathering and, of course, the good food. You can’t ignore the colorful atmosphere of the festive season and the lovely rush that you see outside and online.

According to a National Retail Foundation survey, 4o percent of holiday shopping starts before Halloween, with another 41 percent in November and about 18.7 percent in December. Additionally, emarketer predicts this year that the retail holiday sales growth will reach 5.7 percent this year. As a seller, you need to buckle up and prepare away ahead of the season in order to make a happy & profitable ending. Here are five ways a business can prepare itself to tackle the holiday.

1. Prep Your Staff

You already have the data about the last year’s holiday season and this should help you to prepare yourself and your staff to plan for this season. If you think that new staff needs to be hired, then arrange it so at the earliest possible time. Analyze the previous holiday season sales- repeat the strategy that worked good for you and alter the ones which didn’t. Your staff needs to be empowered so that they know what’s coming up. Train your team on how to engage with customers as there would be less time and more to do. The promotional offers, special discounts, and deals should reach to the target customers via social media, email marketing and other off line modes. Engage your customers before they are bombarded with all sorts of offers. The existing customers definitely should be treated special and the first-timers too shouldn’t feel any less.

2. Use Live Chat Tactfully

Let you live chat system be a support system for your e-commerce business. People around the holidays are in a rush and they have no time to revisit your site to find things they didn’t find the first time; they will simply switch to another one. Be sure that the staff is adequate and knowledgeable to use the live chat and is quick and skillful enough to resolve the matter in a jiffy. You can’t afford to lose a single customer just because he or she didn’t get a simple query resolved. The staff needs to be trained as well as authorized to solve any matter that comes to them. This saves the customer’s time and increases your sales number. If you haven’t installed live chat yet, you can try tools like Tagove, Zopim, or Velaro.

3. CRM Is Your Friend

A quality Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system like a best friend who keeps all your secrets. This nothing-to-hide system is a blessing for small businesses especially around the holidays. The moment you take the call you know the history of the caller and this should be put to the maximum use. Use the detail of the existing customers to offer them something they weren’t expecting so that they stick around to you even when the competition is tough and other offers attractive. Use CRM to do the thinking part and strategize the process to keep up with the existing customers and gain the new ones. Leading software tools like Skyward CRM and SugarCRM offer custom CRM solutions that fits your organization and help you in all means. They can customize your requirements as your business needs.

4. Gear Up Your Web and Mobile Sites

Whether people are shopping via desktop or through their mobile, make sure the website is never down. The website should be able to handle the traffic, and the transaction processing shouldn’t take more than five minutes. Make arrangements so that the website is working round the clock. Also, have a backup plan in case of an emergency. Emarketer has predicted that the m-commerce sales are going to rise this year to 32.2 percent, almost double than the last year’s 14.2 percent; so, if you aren’t yet on mobile, you’ll potentially lose out on a significant opportunity.

5. Plan Inventory and Delivery

You know what sold like hot cakes last year. A thorough analysis of the last year’s sales would give you reason to stock up the items so that you never have to say no. The range of items with relation to the quality, quantity, and pricing should be stocked up ahead of time, before they become costly to you. Talk to your supplier for the number of items that you would need for the season and also have few other suppliers ready, maybe you would need them.

Stick to the delivery date that you promise your customers and make sure you stick to it. According to NRF, 46.7 percent of consumers said that shipping promotion or free shipping are important factors in their decision on where to shop. Communicate a realistic shipping date to your customer and make arrangements for it. We know you aren’t a superman but an eagerly waiting customer may get miffed by the delay. So, the best thing is to strengthen your supply and make provision for the on-time delivery.

Opinion: It’s Time To Consign Passwords To History, And Apple Should Take The Lead

Her argument is based on something I’ve not only seen myself, but done myself – when I worked for a large company which required monthly password changes. When you force people to change their passwords regularly, they will use a predictable pattern – often nothing more than incrementing a number (something001, something002 and so on). This not only makes it easier to crack existing passwords, but also to predict what a future password will be …

The researchers used the transformations they uncovered to develop algorithms that were able to predict changes with great accuracy. Then they simulated real-world cracking to see how well they performed. In online attacks, in which attackers try to make as many guesses as possible before the targeted network locks them out, the algorithm cracked 17 percent of the accounts in fewer than five attempts. In offline attacks performed on the recovered hashes using superfast computers, 41 percent of the changed passwords were cracked within three seconds.

So passwords are inherently insecure, and measures taken to try to make them less so can actually prove counterproductive.

Apple has of course gone some way toward reducing the dependence on passwords, introducing Touch ID with the iPhone 5s, and very belatedly offering Auto Unlock of Macs via the Apple Watch. I’m very much hoping this will be merely a halfway house to Touch ID on Macs also.

But as I argued before, Touch ID is only a partial solution to the problem. It doesn’t eliminate the need for passwords, and indeed one quiet iOS change earlier this year means we actually need to use our iOS passcodes more often.

Two-factor authentication improves the security of passwords, but far from perfectly. Flaws aside, the clunkiness of this approach, and lack of consumer education, means that many people simply don’t bother.

Passwords are a technology which date back to around 200BC, and first appeared in computers in 1961. It’s not like we can’t do better 55 years (or 22 centuries) later …

HSBC announced earlier this year that it is going all-in on biometric security, replacing both passwords and memorable questions with a combination of Touch ID and voice-recognition – with Apple tech key to the switch. Other financial institutions are also taking similar approaches.

Apple’s current form of Touch ID – the Secure Enclave requiring a passcode to enable Touch ID on device restart and regularly thereafter – means that it can never fully replace a password. But that’s not to say that a technical solution couldn’t be found in future devices that would allow passwords to be abandoned.

Fingerprints and voices aren’t the only forms of biometric security available, of course. We exclusively revealed back in 2014 that Apple was working on iris-scanning technology, and a recent report suggested Apple may be planning this for a 2023 iPhone. Samsung has already demonstrated the feasibility of including it in a mobile device, in the form of the new Galaxy Note 7.

Facial-recognition is another technology that has long been used to unlock Android devices, albeit not with the greatest of track records. But that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the approach itself – early fingerprint readers were just as unreliable until Apple came along with the first technology that was truly up to the task.

In short, we’re at a stage now where passwords are way past their sell-by date, and where there’s plenty of other technology available to replace them.

Why do I think Apple should take the lead in this? For three reasons. First, Apple is all about usability. While the Apple I may have been ground-breaking, Apple’s entire business model since than has been built on taking things that already existed, and making them work the way they ought to. Passwords fail any sensible usability test, and that alone would be reason enough for Apple to be working flat out on replacing them.

So Apple is uniquely placed to take the lead on something that is desperately overdue: turning passwords into something our kids will read about in history lessons. And now is the time to do it.

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