Apple World Today News Update: March 15, 2018

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Steve's finally back from his Spring Training trip, and has several timely news items for today's podcast:

  • Are you a Team AWT member? Keep an eye on your email inbox for something new...
  • Apple's App Store has been blocked in Iran today, although nobody is owning up to who's doing the blocking
  • Media giant iHeartMedia has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, struggling with streaming competitors like Apple and Spotify, ad revenues flowing to Facebook and Google, and a lack of radio listeners
  • Google's changing its wearables brand from Android Wear to Wear OS in hopes of being more competitive with the Apple Watch line

The text version of the podcast can be read below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Apple News readers need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update podcast for Thursday, March 15, 2018. Beware the ides of March and all that stuff!

If you’re a member of our Team AWT group of supporters, keep an eye on your email inbox over the next few days. We have something new up our sleeves that we’ll be announcing, and we think it will be a fun new feature for Apple World Today. Not a member? We’ll have more information about the new feature for everyone soon, and we think it may make you want to join Team AWT.

Apple’s App Store has been blocked in Iran today, although nobody is quite sure who is doing the blocking and why. About 3:30 PM today local time, Iranian users began experiencing service interruptions. One researcher was able to access the App Store using a VPN, which suggests that the restriction has been set up to block users attempting to access the store from certain IP addresses. Apple has not announced that they are behind the blocking and has not responded to a request for comments. The company has banned some apps created by Iranian developers in the past, and Apple is forbidden by US sanctions from selling hardware or distributing software in Iran. 

There goes another one. A media giant — iHeartMedia — has just filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. If that name sounds familiar, it’s the operator of almost 850 U.S. radio stations and also runs streaming and concert businesses. It used to be known as Clear Channel, but changed its name to reflect its migration to online streaming services through iHeartRadio. The company has suffered primarily because ad revenues are moving from traditional media to Google and Facebook. Listeners aren’t spending a lot of time listening to traditional radio stations, since it’s now possible for them to listen to podcasts, on-demand services like Apple Music and Spotify, or just enjoy music they’ve purchased. iHeartMedia has made other changes that have resulted in a loss of listeners, including using generic or repetitive programming and eliminating many local DJs.

Finally, Google’s apparently going to be targeting iPhone users who want to use its wearable platform. The company today rebranded its Android Wear brand as Wear OS, saying that the change “better reflects our technology, vision, and most of all — the people who wear our watches.” According to Google, a full third of the owners of Android Wear watches purchased in 2017 used iPhones. Don’t expect the name change to change the fortunes of Google wearables — Apple and Fitbit have most of the wearable market tied up, Android Wear 2.0 was released over a year ago and was heavily criticized, and many Android Wear watches never received the 2.0 upgrade. Competition is a good thing; it’s now up to Google to see if Wear OS can make inroads into the market dominated by Apple.

That’s all the news for today - join me tomorrow afternoon for another edition of the AWT News Update.