It just so happens that the credit card that the Pressman household has used to pay for Apple iTunes purchases for the last, oh, almost 20 years or so, recently gutted its rewards program. Well, maybe “gutted” is too strong a word. Let’s just say diminished. It’s not a huge amount of money, but still a surprisingly large amount, that we spend every month on apps, app subscriptions, music, music subscriptions, movie rentals, iCloud storage, and even the occasional in-game purchase of Simpsons Bucks, or something. And that doesn’t include our infrequent but major purchases of hardware from the Cupertino crew on an almost annual basis (with this laptop and its awesome circa-2014 keyboard aging, the rumored, new 16-inch MacBook Pro sounds enticing).
So perhaps we are a good candidate for the new Apple Card, arriving on the scene any day now. Should I get an Apple card?
Start with the original value proposition of the Apple Card as laid out by Apple vp Jennifer Bailey back in March. The card will have no annual fee, no late fees, no over-limit fee, and no international fees. That sounds like a good deal. The offered interest rates will be between 13.24% to 24.24%, based on creditworthiness, a slightly lower range than Apple’s old branded Visa card offered with Barclays. The range also seems firmly centered around the average 17.80% average rate on new credit card offers, according to creditcard.com’s weekly surveys. Our current card has a pretty good rate, within the low-end of Apple’s range, so we could do the same or a tiny bit better, depending on the rate Apple offered to us. And there’s promise of more useful information about spending, including seeing on a map where purchases were made. If you have any older teens with one of your cards in their wallet or purse, you’ll be as excited as I am about that feature.
Finally, there is the rewards calculation. Apple’s new card effectively will rebate 1% of typical purchases, 2% when used through the Apple Pay app, and 3% on anything bought from Apple. So given that there’s no annual fee and our current credit card won’t offer us anything close to the equivalent of 3% off our Apple purchases, it sounds like we’ll be applying.
Last week, Apple released the full terms and conditions of the new card and while there was nothing terribly surprising, there are some limitations that don’t apply to every card. For example, you can’t use the Apple Card to buy “cash equivalents,” which includes everything from casino chips to digital currency tokens. And no using the card on a “jailbroken” iPhone. Oh, and did I mention you have to have an iPhone or iPad and an iCloud account with two-factor authentication enabled?
So what’s in my (mobile) wallet? Probably soon an Apple Card.
On Twitter: @ampressman
Fighting the violence. In far more serious matters than how to pay for your apps, the nation was again struck by tragedy from gun violence over the weekend in El Paso, Texas, and Dayton, Ohio. The El Paso shooter posted a manifesto on the web site 8chan, which has also had links to prior incidents. That prompted Internet security firm Cloudfare to withdraw its protective services from 8chan, with CEO Matthew Prince condemning the site as a “cesspool of hate.”
You asked for it. Seeking to appease antitrust regulators, Google said next year it would begin offering European Android users a choice for the default Internet search option on their phones. But search providers will need to bid over their position in the list of choices.
The war for the couch potato. The latest survey of Internet video boxes found Roku in command, with 39% of the market, and Amazon in second, with 30%. That left Apple and Google fighting over a shrinking portion of the pie with their hardware, Parks Associates said.
Lend a hand. After dumping its old-fashioned entertainment portfolio, Fox Corp. is adding digital assets. The Murdoch-controlled company is paying $275 million for 67% of Credible Labs, an online marketplace for mortgages and other consumer loans.
Smooshed. Even before Monday’s looming stock market crash, a financial warning from a fairly small player in the corporate technology gear market unleashed a bloodbath among the stocks of major hardware vendors on Friday. Silicon Valley-based NetApp warned on Friday morning that its sales in its quarter that just ended would be between $1.22 and $1.23 billion, or about 17% less than the same quarter a year ago. Its share lost 20%. But investors also pushed stock of Dell Technologies down 9%, Hewlett Packard Enterprise down 6%, and Cisco Systems down 4%.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Not that very long ago, teen messaging sensation Snap seemed to be in big trouble, with a shrinking user base, shrinking advertiser base, and shrinking stock price. But times have changed in 2019, with growth returning and the stock recovering to the tune of a 209% gain year to date. One reason for the turnaround was the arrival of Jeremi Gorman, formerly the head of Amazon’s global ad sales, as Snap’s new chief business officer. CNBC’s Michelle Castillo has a well-sourced profile of Gorman’s role at Snap and her importance in the recovery, though she didn’t get time with the exec herself. One change under Gorman: Snap knows its audience.
“They were selling to us that Snapchat was, ‘Hey, you could reach everybody.’ Everybody knew that really wasn’t the case,” said Jim Cridlin, global head of innovation and partnerships at media agency Mindshare. Instead of saying advertisers don’t need Facebook, Snap recently has changed its tune. “They’ve realized, ‘We’re not going to sell that way. The story we can tell is the incremental reach we can bring to those other platforms,’” Cridlin said. “Focusing on Gen Z and acknowledging that’s where their strength is has helped media buyers get their head around where Snap fits…They’ve been a lot more honest.”
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BEFORE YOU GO
Chess, Go, poker, what other past times can artificially intelligent computers ruin next? Knitting? Yes, it seems the fine folks at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, known as CSAIL, have designed a few programs that can automate the knitting process. One feeds just a picture of an item of clothing to a neural network to create machine instructions for knitting a duplicate. The second lets even novices design garments using a simple CAD-like software program. Sorry, grandma, we’ll be ordering up our own mittens from now on.