Apple Tackles California’s Housing Crisis Amid Apple TV Plus Questions

November 9, 2019, 2:30 PM UTC

A week after Apple debuted its Apple TV Plus video-streaming service, there’s disagreement over how well it’s done.

One news report said that Apple executives are pleased with the number of people who have watched shows. But another report said interest on social media in its shows, including The Morning Show and See, is less than some competing series on Netflix and Hulu.

Apple’s week wasn’t entirely about Apple TV Plus, however. The company also announced a $2.5 billion initiative to tackle California’s housing crisis that could ultimately reap profits from the mortgage interest that buyers would pay. Democratic Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders pointed that out when criticizing Apple for investing its cash instead of simply donating all of it.

Read on for all of the big Apple headlines this week.

Is Apple TV Plus succeeding?

Apple is “thrilled” with Apple TV Plus’ early success, Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported this week, citing people who have knowledge of Apple’s thoughts on its streaming-video service. The sources said Apple TV Plus attracted millions of viewers in its first few days, but the company didn’t say how many people actually signed up for the service. Those reports followed a study from researcher Parrot Analytics, which analyzed social media buzz around a variety of streaming shows, that found interest in Apple’s original series, including The Morning Show, Dickinson, For All Mankind, and See, was far behind that of alternatives on other streaming services like Netflix and Hulu. Netflix’s The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance was the most discussed streaming show of the past week, according to the report.

Apple’s plan for California’s housing crisis

Apple said this week that it’s committing $2.5 billion in funding to help reduce California’s housing crisis, which has left millions people without affordable housing. The lion’s share of that money—at least $2 billion—will be used to fund loans, with interest, to help people pay for more affordable housing. Apple said that all the capital it gets back, which should be more than the $2.5 billion, would be reinvested in the housing plan. Sen. Sanders quickly slammed Apple’s plan, accusing the company of “hypocrisy” and of “throwing pennies at a crisis [it] helped create.” Sanders called Apple a “tax evader” and said the company has “portrayed its entry into the housing business as an act of philanthropic altruism,” suggesting the company is doing it for profit.

Yet another Apple China problem

Regardless of whether Apple TV Plus is doing well, it’s unavailable in one of Apple’s most important markets: China. Apple TV Plus, along with Apple News Plus, iTunes Movies, and other Apple services, are banned in China because of that country’s censorship regulations, Bloomberg reported this week. Unless Apple censors its Apple TV Plus programming for China, it’s possible the company won’t be able to make its service available to the billion people across the country.

Apple skips congressional hearing

This week, Congress held a hearing about China and its relationship with the technology industry. Lawmakers invited representatives from both Apple and the popular, China-based video social network TikTok, to join, but both failed to show. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO) said Apple represents “the danger of American tech companies’ operations in China.” He went on to say in prepared remarks that he’s concerned that “Apple’s business model and business practices are increasingly entangled with China.” Apple did not say why it sent no representative to speak at the hearing.

A popular Apple Watch

Apple Watch is still the “clear industry leader” in smartwatches, research firm Strategy Analytics reported this week. Global Apple Watch shipments grew 51% year over year to 6.8 million in the third quarter. Samsung’s 1.9 million smartwatch shipments—up 73% year over year—were enough for second place.

iPhone 11 Pro’s camera is good, but not the best

Camera quality research firm DXOMark this week released its findings on the quality of the iPhone 11 Pro Max’s camera. It gave the camera a score of 117, or third place behind the duo of Huawei’s Mate 30 Pro and Xiaomi’s Mic CC9 Pro Premium that are tied for first place with 121. The iPhone’s camera earned high marks for detailed photos and fast autofocus, but it picked up less detail with still image flash and video recording. Still, it was an improvement over the iPhone XS Max, which scored106 in a DXOMark test last year.

One more thing…

Apple announced a new employee benefit this week that gives parents returning to the company after leave a four-week “grace period” during which they would earn full-time pay, but have the option to set their own hours or work part-time. Apple told Fast Company that the new policy applies to all new parents. The policy was announced alongside expanded mental wellness benefits, including access to more counseling and telemedicine options.

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