What's Up With Apple: A Giant iPad, Another Lawsuit and More

In September, Amazon announced its Echo Show 15, a 1080p, 15.6-inch, Alexa-driven touchscreen and smart speaker system designed to be hung on a wall. A variety of software widgets, including to-do lists, music, and smart home management, are also available.

On Sunday, Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman wrote in his weekly newsletter that it’s time that Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) gets serious about the smart home market and “launch a giant iPad as a new hub.” A couple of issues need to be solved, though.

First is price. Amazon’s Echo Show 15 costs $250. A 12-inch  iPad Pro starts at $1,100. A 15-inch iPad is not going to compete on price, that’s for sure. Second, Apple’s Siri voice assistant must get better. Amazon’s Alexa and Google’ Assistant are both superior says Gurman, who also notes that Apple’s current share of the smart speaker market is just 5% while Amazon (69%) and Google (25%) dominate:

A high price and a lackluster voice assistant won’t turn Apple into the king of smart home devices, but moving in this direction could be the beginning of a real presence. And that would be a good thing for the industry and the Apple faithful.

Last week, Apple filed a lawsuit against telecom behemoth Ericsson accusing the Swedish company of “strong-arm tactics” in negotiations over renewing Apple’s license to use Ericsson’s mobile network patents. Apple requested, and the federal District Court for Eastern Texas allowed, the company to file the complaint under a seal of confidentiality.

At issue is what are known as fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms. These ensure that essential patents are available (for a price) to competitors. Apple’s lawsuit claims that Ericsson is violating the FRAND terms by charging too much. Ericsson, which filed suit against Apple in October, claims that Apple is essentially demanding that it be able to set the value of Ericsson’s patents using “Apple’s self-declared methodology.”

Briefly noted:

A report from Taiwan’s Commercial Times claims that Apple plans to upgrade its own semiconductors every 18 months. That means that the second generation of the company’s M1 silicon will be out by the second half of next year. The M1 series of chips use Taiwan Semiconductor’s 5-nanometer production process and the M2 series will use the firm’s 4-nanometer process, enabling the chip to pack more cores into the same amount of space.

A report in the Times of India cites a Chinese-language publication, ITHome, that claims Apple is about to begin trial production of the rumored iPhone SE 3.

Reuters reported exclusively on Sunday that Apple has requested India’s Competitive Commission to toss out a case alleging that the company is harming competition by forcing app developers to use the App Store to distribute their products in exchange for a 30% cut of the sales price. Apple argues that its share of the Indian market is less than 5% and that the company “is not dominant in the Indian market … Without dominance, there can be no abuse.”