Apple World Today News Update: April 18, 2018

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It's hump day, and the week is all downhill from here... Today we have a few stories dealing with competition in the smartphone and smart speaker markets:

  • A head-to-head comparison of the iPhone X and Google's Pixel 2 results in a solid win for the iPhone X...but not for Siri
  • A Wall Street analyst thinks Apple is working on a cheaper version of the HomePod due to lagging sales
  • That same analyst foresees dual-SIM versions of the iPhone coming later this year, both on a less expensive LCD phone and a larger iPhone X
  • The continuing lawsuit battle between Qualcomm and Apple is starting to hurt Qualcomm badly, with rumors of layoffs at the San Diego-based chipmaker

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 Wednesday, April 18th, 2018.

It’s always fun to see what other websites do with Apple’s technology, and today’s hands-on review was from Business Insider, which did a head-to-head comparison of the iPhone X with Google’s Pixel 2 smartphone. First, the iPhone X is in the lead sales-wise, with fourth-quarter 2017 sales of 30 million units compared with 3.2 million Pixels and Pixel 2s sold in the entire year of 2017. The iPhone X grabbed top honors, thanks to its bezel-less design and incredible screen, the App Store, and the new wireless charging support. However, the Pixel 2 was considered better in terms of its camera and also Google Assistant. As Business Insider noted, Google Assistant is more powerful than Siri. For example, when your photos are saved to Google Photos, they’re tagged in a way that makes them easy to find. Making a query like “Show me the picture of a truck I took in Copenhagen” will give you an immediate view of that picture. Siri has a lot of catching up to do.

One Wall Street analyst thinks that Apple working on a less expensive version of the HomePod smart speaker due to the slow sales of the device. Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities estimates that Apple isn’t meeting its sales goals for the pricey speaker, which at $350 is three times as expensive as the Amazon Echo 2 and double the price of Google Home. There’s no word on when the new version of the HomePod is expected.

Speaking of pricing, Kuo also believes that a 6.1-inch LCD iPhone that is expected to be released this year will feature support for dual SIMs, as will a 6.5-inch OLED iPhone…kind of a larger iPhone X. The LCD iPhone could be priced as low as $550 in a standard single SIM setup, making it quite attractive in a lot of markets. The dual SIM model would be about $100 more, and would have two physical slots for the subscriber identity modules. Two SIMs could make it possible for a person who does a lot of traveling to keep SIMs for two carriers in the phone at all times.

Apple’s continuing legal battle with Qualcomm is having an effect on the chipmaker, as the company is now cutting its workforce in an attempt to reduce costs by $1 billion. Apple and its suppliers are withholding royalty payments to Qualcomm as a result of the lawsuits and countersuits, which caused a 90 percent drop in profits for Qualcomm. So how many people will be laid off by Qualcomm? It’s unknown, but word has it that the company will need to file a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification or WARN notice with the state of California, which means that it will be at least 50 people. A $1 billion expense reduction would point to a much larger layoff.

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