AWT News Update: August 17, 2016

Lots of great Apple news and rumors today that we've already covered on the website, but we have a few other stories we thought you'd find fascinating:

  • Target blames Apple for a drop in store sales during the previous quarter
  • AT&T announces new Mobile Share Advantage plans with more more data for less money, but be sure to read between the lines
  • Intel wants device manufacturers to adopt USB-C as an audio output standard
  • Apple adds 37 new US banks and credit unions to Apple Pay
  • Automatic goes Pro, adding a free 3G connection to it for car data logging and location tracking (see image above)

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below.

Text Version

Hi, this is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and this is the AWT News Update for August 17, 2016.

If you’re Target and your sales are down, what do you do? You blame Apple. Target management is citing a 20% year over year decline in Apple product sales during the previous quarter that caused comparable store sales to decline as well, specifically blaming Apple for a third of the overall drop in electronic sales at Target. Yahoo Finance, which reported the complaining and whining, noted that it could be that Apple’s focused on driving sales through its own channels where profit margin is higher. Target carries iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Apple TVs, Beats headphones and accessories, but doesn’t sell Macs.

AT&T has introduced new Mobile Share Advantage plans that have eliminated data overage charges. Don’t get too excited, though. Once you use all of your high-speed data amount, your data is throttled to 128kbps for the rest of your billing cycle. Looking at the plans, they’ve added some modest improvements in how many GB of data you get for your monthly fee. For example, 10GB of shared data is $80 per month, 30GB is $135 per month. That same 30GB used to cost $225 per month. The company also adds on a $20 access charge per smartphone per month for each plan. If the plans sound good to you — and you should visit AT&T’s website to see more about the new plans — you can contact the carrier next week on August 21 when the plans will go into effect.

Adding confusion to an already crazy world, Intel put out a plea for device manufacturers to start using the USB-C connector as a replacement for the 3.5mm audio jack. That’s right, just about the same time Apple’s going to do away with the audio jack and use the Lightning port instead. USB-C audio will add cheaper noise cancellation capabilities, power management, and of course, a smaller port. The only issue with this is for Apple. If USB-C is added to future Macs, it’s unknown if the company will do away with the 3.5mm audio port or keep it as it did with the MacBook — the only device currently using USB-C. If they did this, why not just make USB-C the standard connector across the board instead of having the proprietary Lightning connector? It’s enough to give you a headache.

Apple added another 37 small, local US financial institutions to the list of Apple Pay partners today. This is in addition to yesterday’s addition of Bank of East Asia and Hong Kong Telekom’s Tap & Go. The two Hong Kong banks are providing some amazing rebates in order to get customers to try out Apple Pay, and we’d love to see that kind of action happening here in the US.

Automatic is a small device that plugs into your car’s OBD or onboard diagnostics port to track how well you’re driving. I have one, and I love getting a weekly report on how efficient my driving is, and so on. Well, the company has just come out with the Automatic Pro, a new model for $129.95 that includes a 5-year 3G wireless data connection to log your data rather than sending that data to your iPhone via Bluetooth. It makes it easier to find where your car is at any point in time, perfect if it’s stolen or you want to know where the kids are.

That’s all for today; We’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.