DOJ Looking at Google Maps; Smartphone Demand Softening-TSMC; Apple May Enter 1st Party Financial Services; Dyson’s Wild Headphones With Air Purifier

The EU has been on Google’s case about stifling competition. Now, the US Department of Justice is getting in on the act. Arstechnica.com reports that the DOJ is looking at Google’s bundling of Android Automotive….the product that runs in cars, as opposed to the Android Auto app that runs on phones. The DOJ, like the EU, is looking at the crushing of competition from Google’s bundling of maps…which also requires the manufacturers to take the Play Store, Google Assistant, and YouTube Music. It is a bit puzzling that the DOJ hasn’t gone after the app for phones, as there are  more of those in use than the software in cars (like 2.5 billion), but hey…it’s the government, LOL! Android Automotive is only baked into about 10 vehicles so far, but will be in all 2023 Fords. The DOJ is also taking issue with how Google limits the use of Maps data for app and website developers, and how Google blocks use of Maps data use with any other mapping service. No suit has been filed by the DOJ as yet.

We reported earlier this week about Apple cutting iPhone SE production 20% just weeks after rolling out the new model. Now comes word from TSMC that demand is softening for smartphones. 9to5mac.com says that actually, Apple’s sales are doing better than any other maker, but the slowdown is primarily in China, and is being attributed to increasing chip prices and the Russian war in Ukraine. In addition to phones, PCs an TVs are seeing reduced demand, too. China is the biggest market for cell phones. Analysts at Bank of America say demand in the US for Apple’s phones is still strong. Apple has already had ‘buy now, pay later’ payment plans with no interest charged on iPhones, Watches, and computers. They are reportedly working on a hardware subscription program, where you would basically lease an iPhone for a period of time, then it would go back to Apple and you would lease a newer model. 

Apple has been working under the radar to provide first party financial services without the need for outside partners. According to appleinsider.com, the project is codenamed ‘Breakout.’ Apple wants to do their own payment processing, risk assessment, fraud analysis, credit checks, and other customer service functions. Up to now, Apple has been using Goldman Sachs for the Apple Card and its own financing programs, as well as CoreCard Corp. and Green Dot Corp. Apple would like to offer the Apple Card outside the US. 

Dyson is getting into headphones in the most Dyson way possible: the Zone, a pair of noise-canceling Bluetooth headphones with air purification technology built in, thanks to a bizarre-looking magnetic face visor. It’s both the strangest and most ambitious product that the company has ever made. According to theverge.com, the visor, which looks like a modern, cleaner Bane mask from the Batman universe, doesn’t touch your face, but furnishes a layer of clean, pure air. The rather heavy headset won’t be out until fall, and no battery life figure or price yet (although considering it’s Dyson, it will be a bundle!) Tech reviewers who have had a listen say it sounds very good, but not great or better than other high end headphones. It does have noise reduction…which you need, since the purifier visor has little fans in it.



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