AFP says third-party system intrusion behind early-access super fraud – Security- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

The Australian Federal Police has revealed that a third-party system intrusion led to a small number of fraudulent applications to the government’s early access superannuation scheme.
The Australia Taxation Office on Wednesday evening said the fraudulent activity had been detected after a “small number of people … had their personal details unlawfully used”.
It said while ATO systems had not been hacked, which ATO commissioner Chris Jordan reiterated that at the senate inquiry into the government’s COVID-19 response on Thursday.
Related: How ANZ, Fintel Alliance sniffed out early super access fraud scheme
“As far as we know, our systems have not been compromised, however … there are obviously people in intermediaries that have access to our systems,” Jordan said.
But AFP commissioner Reece Kershaw said that a system relating to a single third-party had been intruded, though did not indicate if this was a super fund or another ATO intermediary. 
“We do have our cyber team on this, and there has been an intrusion into a third-party,” he said.
“So we’re looking into that and how that system was intruded in particular and the actions taken from there. It’s quite sophisticated.”
He also confirmed that the fraudulent activity was not the result of a government system breach.
“It’s a third-party that sits outside of the government network,” Kershaw said.
Kershaw said that although the AFP was in the early stages of investigation, the fraud could have impacted as many as 150 victims.
“We have actually identified some bank accounts and had those bank accounts frozen with approximately $120,000 all up,” he said.
“No government system has been. It’s a third-party that sits outside of the government network.” Kershaw reiterated.
ATO chief information officer Ramez Katf, who also appeared at the committee, said although as many as 250 third-parties connected to ATO systems, there were a number of controls in place.
“We have a lot of different levels of scrutiny and controls that we put in place between us and a number of third-parties,” he said.
“We have about 250 different third-parties that connect to our systems, either transacting with us, providing us with data or accepting data. 
“And we’ve put in place a number of layers, requiring them [third-parties] to put in place some levels of security that they need to comply with. 
He also said there were “a number of layers that try to prevent any of those fraudulent transactions and activities”.
“From our side, we track the transactions as they come through and we look for patterns, and look to try and identify those,” he said.

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Safari will now block third-party cookies by default, delete a site’s local storage after seven days – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: The digital footprints used by advertisers to track users around the web will now be blocked by default in Safari, following in the footsteps of Firefox, Tor Browser, and Brave. Google has yet to ship its own block on third-party cookies, presumably because it needs to figure out the tech to replace them.
Apple recently seeded iOS and iPadOS 13.4 as well as macOS Catalina 10.15.4 to users, with several new productivity features as well as performance and bug fixes.
With those updates, the company also delivered an interesting change to how Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention works. It’s no secret that Apple is a privacy-focused company, but now it wants to take a step forward and block all third-party cookies in Safari by default, which means advertisers won’t be able to track and follow you around the web.
This makes it the first mainstream browser to implement these changes, with the Tor Browser being the first to actually feature full third-party cookie blocking by default. Then there’s Brave, a browser used by over 10 million people and which is close in terms of privacy, save for a few exceptions. Mozilla joined the club with Firefox 69, which also included protection from websites trying to do cryptocurrency mining on your hardware.

Most Safari users won’t notice the changes, as ITP has been doing this in some capacity for some time now. As noted by Apple’s John Wilander, the WebKit engineer that developed the feature, “it might seem like a bigger change than it is. But we’ve added so many restrictions to ITP since its initial release in 2017 that we are now at a place where most third-party cookies are already blocked in Safari.”
Anti-tracking measures aren’t the only new thing is Safari, which will now limit local storage for websites to just one week, after which it will be automatically deleted. This move could potentially break Offline Web Apps, which is only further indication that Apple never really wanted to support them.
Earlier this year, Google made a similar commitment to make user tracking via third-party cookies obsolete in Chrome, but has planned to achieve that by 2022. The case could be made that the company can do it a lot sooner if it really wanted to, but advertisers have asked it in an open letter to drop the idea altogether, as it would “choke off the economic oxygen from advertising that startups and emerging companies need to survive.”
For its part, Google itself initiated this new direction, so it’s probably working on an alternative technology that could successfully replace third-party cookies and make advertisers happy while protecting user privacy – only time will tell.

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Google’s Advanced Protection Program will start blocking third-party Android app installations – Blog – 10 minute

In brief: One of the main benefits of owning an Android phone is the ability to easily install and access apps outside of the Google Play Store with relatively few restrictions. However, members of Google’s Advanced Protection Program (APP) might not be able to continue this practice for long — with only a few exceptions, APP participants will not be able to install third-party Android apps in the future.
They will only be able to download apps that were grabbed directly from the Google Play Store (or other official app stores), according to TechCrunch. This is a logical move on the surface — third-party apps can pose a risk to those who don’t know what they’re doing, and APP users are generally going to care more about security and privacy than others.
However, APP participants are also likely to be pretty tech-savvy, and it’s not that difficult to avoid downloading malware-ridden third-party apps if you know what to look for. As such, this move might be met with some resistance from those who like the APP’s other protections — such as support for physical security keys — but also want the freedom to use their devices as they please.

In other related news, the APP will now enable Google Play Protect by default for all participants (and it can’t be switched off). Google Play Protect offers advanced malware protection for Play Store apps, including those that have already been downloaded onto a user’s device.
If you feel the security benefits the APP can bring are worth the trade-offs, or if you want to learn more about the Program as a whole, feel free to visit the official sign-up page right here.

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WhatsApp’s popularity is understated due to third-party clones – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: WhatsApp is one of the hottest mobile apps on the planet yet surprisingly enough, its popularity may actually be understated due to the prevalence of third-party clones that are quite popular around the globe.
As Quartz recently highlighted, that’s because oodles of people are also using third-party versions of the app. These WhatsApp mods, as they’re called, can be downloaded outside of official app stores or shared between devices meaning they aren’t represented on most official download lists.
Why skirt the official (safe) version of WhatsApp and gamble with something that has been tinkered with?
Bryan Pon, co-founder of analytics and insight firm Caribou Data, said the draw for a lot of people is the fact that modded apps are a lot more capable than the standard WhatsApp. One popular mod in use across major African markets, GB WhatsApp, lets users restore deleted message, send and receive larger media files and operate multiple accounts.
Despite using a third-party app, users can still communicate with those who prefer the official version of WhatsApp.

In three of Africa’s largest mobile Internet markets, GB WhatsApp ranks second in popularity only behind the official version of WhatsApp. That makes it even more popular than the official Facebook app (Facebook owns WhatsApp).
Regardless of the popularity of modded versions, it is unlikely that WhatsApp will significantly tweak its official offering to mirror the features found in alternatives. “WhatsApp has always been about trying to be a streamlined app—just trying to be as simple and as secure as possible,” Pon noted.
Masthead credit: Spiral wave by ngirl.

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As Google Chrome crumbles the third-party cookie, what’s next for adtech?- Tempemail – Blog – 10 minute

For 25 years, third-party browser cookies have tracked the journeys of internet users. These maligned lines of code are unlikely to celebrate a 30th anniversary, however, with Google revealing plans to block them across its Chrome browser by 2022.
Given Chrome’s mammoth 66% monopoly on the browser market, the move has raised big questions about the future of cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad-serving for the adtech industry.
Right now, hundreds of third parties track people every time they hit a domain. Privacy laws, including the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) have already turned the tide against mass-surveillance and now Google will effectively crumble the third-party cookie when it rolls out its Privacy Sandbox API.
Justin Schuh, director of Chrome engineering, outlined his intent to “render third-party cookies obsolete” in an announcement on the news. This single API change is likely to alter the fabric of adtech as we know it, having ramifications for digital marketers across the globe. The tech giant will be working over the next two years to iron out some of the creases emerging from the obsolesce of the cookie.
So what happens next?
The early indications are not encouraging for adtech companies.
Immediately after the announcement Criteo’s stock crashed, as did other vendors in the space that have built up cookie-reliant audience databases.
Greg Paull, co-founder and principal at consultancy R3, said “retargeting focused adtech companies” such as Criteo were most likely to face instant obstacles.
“They have to adapt by fundamentally changing their business and moving away from the third-party data ecosystem,” said Paull. “There might be an immediate loss of some programmatic revenue which is third- party cookie reliant, which could be a big hit for some publishers, but in the long-term it improves their bargaining position.”
However, the play from Google is far from a shot out of the blue. Browsers including Safari and Brave beat Chrome to the punch, and the industry has had time to come to terms with the fact its main source of data collection was being phased out.
But that doesn’t mean Google is killing adtech. Signals such as clicks or conversions will still be stored in its browser instead of being broadcast to third parties, all in a bid to anonymise user data.
Writing in AdExchanger Ari Paparo, chief executive of Beeswax said view-through attribution, third-party data, DMP and multitouch attribution will be “dead” under the proposals. We’re now facing a world with significantly less measurement and targeting.
Nonetheless, Paul Gubbins, programmatic lead at video adtech company Unruly branded Google’s a “positive step forward for consumer privacy” that will force a restructure of the industry. He believes it is time to build a joint-up ID solution to fill the void.
“We may end up at a point in time with so many fragmented identifiers and methodologies that we struggle to still deploy the practice of data-driven advertising such as real-time bidding.”
Ben Gott, senior vice-president, analytics leader EMEA of Merkle, predicted that Google will introduce an ID solution to replace the cookie, which “could be a new ecosystem that they could own.”
There is also a feeling that Google is pulling up the ladder after itself.
Johnny Ryan, privacy advocate and Brave browser thought leader, said that the change will be good for the web, but was critical of the two year gestation period. He doesn’t think it is a selfless act from the tech giant.
“Google is building a moat. It doesn’t don’t need third-party cookies to track people. It has code live on virtually every single website and app.”
As a result, we’re going to see a lot of consolidation repositioning and new product offerings in adtech. Gubbins joked that execs are quickly brainstorming contextual ad plays after years of leaning into microtargeting.
Many existing products will simply fail to work without the third-party cookie, said James Parker, chief solutions officer of data and planning at Jellyfish.
“There’s going to be a limited amount of platforms where you can join all the data together. We are kind of going back to the days of media mix modeling.”
Google will continue to generate all the first-party data it needs to assure market dominance, particularly on YouTube. Matt Keiser, founder and chief executive of LiveIntent thinks the move will benefit the triopoly.
“In this new world, companies like Facebook, Amazon and Google will continue to thrive because they continue to have access to first-party data. However, you know who else has access to first-party data? Anyone who drives audiences to their websites: Publishers and advertisers.”
There is an opportunity for bigger publishers – think the size of WarnerMedia – to capitalise by building upon actionable profiles on loyal, engaged audiences – essentially building their own walled garden.
The larger the audience, the more appealing the proposition. Those who can deliver sophisticated targeting, actionable insights, and a brand-safe environment alongside quality content could benefit. Smaller publishers who can’t deliver on this may struggle as an emphasis returns to contextual placements.
Keiser said: “The agencies and ad-tech providers and those who have been mastering third-party data will lose their privileged position in this new world. You used to have the power if you sat across many publishers and brands like an agency or an ad-tech provider but now: it’s the first-party data owner who chooses whether to share.”
Scott McDonald, president and chief executive of Advertising Research Foundation is “sanguine” about the announcement. He doesn’t really believe “multi-touch attribution ever really worked the way it was promised”.
Marketers had “false confidence” in the third-party data solutions they’ve been relying on for the last few years in his opinion, McDonald said.
We’ll likely see a return to brand awareness and direct response campaigns. A return to the traditional cornerstones of advertising where every movement and action of the consumer isn’t attributed to single ad.
“This notion that every single thing could be accounted for through a clickstream, it’s kind of tempting and it’s kind of acted like a drug and intoxicated many marketers that should’ve known better,” McDonald said.
He concluded that advertisers will be informed of how many people clicked on their campaigns. What’ll be fuzzier is who did it, and where. But that is OK for McDonald, he’s happy that the “illusion” of the medium’s effectiveness is being reduced.

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Amazon has lifted its FedEx ban for third-party sellers – Blog – 10 minute

In context: Amazon made a somewhat controversial decision prior to the holidays when it banned its third-party sellers from using FedEx Ground and Home (Air was still usable) to deliver their products. Though FedEx insists the ban had a “minuscule” impact on its business, the timing was decidedly inconvenient. The holidays are easily the most crucial time for product sales and shipments, and thus, they’re quite important for companies like FedEx.
Amazon’s decision didn’t come entirely out of the blue, of course. The company itself claims that the FedEx ban was a result of “declining performance” from the shipping giant. However, it’s possible that the ban could have been retaliatory in nature.
FedEx had ended its ongoing relationship with Amazon proper earlier in 2019, citing concerns regarding the retail giant’s own expanding shipping infrastructure — FedEx wanted to avoid working so closely with a direct competitor.
Even Amazon would likely admit that this reasoning is sound, but tech companies have been known to hold on to petty grudges from time to time.

Still, speculation aside, it seems Amazon has decided its rival shipping firm has been suitably punished for the time being. In an email sent to its merchants (viewed by CNBC), Amazon stated that FedEx’s delivery performance is once again meeting its lofty expectations, so the restrictions have been lifted.
Third-party vendors can once again use FedEx Ground and Home to ship their products, while still qualifying for Prime classification. Some sellers may remain frustrated, of course. After all, many were forced to make potentially-unwanted changes to their shipping infrastructure right before the biggest sales season of the year.
However, for others, this news might take more of a positive, “better late than never” tone. A stable relationship between Amazon and shipping firms like UPS and FedEx is ultimately a good thing for sellers, as it gives them more options for getting their products in front of customers.

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Google wants to make third-party cookies obsolete – Blog – 10 minute

Why it matters: Google wants to kill third-party tracking cookies with the goal of making the web more private and secure. Obviously, this has a huge impact on how advertisers and Google itself do business. To that end, Google wants to ensure that marketers are able to generate ad revenue while keeping identifying information private.
Third-party cookies are a popular way for advertisers to track users across the internet. As part of its initiative to make Chrome more privacy focused, the company is planning to end support for third-party cookies within the next two years. Justin Schuh, Director of Chrome Engineering, elaborated more in a recent blog post:

“After initial dialogue with the web community, we are confident that with continued iteration and feedback, privacy-preserving and open-standard mechanisms like the Privacy Sandbox can sustain a healthy, ad-supported web in a way that will render third-party cookies obsolete. Once these approaches have addressed the needs of users, publishers, and advertisers, and we have developed the tools to mitigate workarounds, we plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome. Our intention is to do this within two years. But we cannot get there alone, and that’s why we need the ecosystem to engage on these proposals. We plan to start the first origin trials by the end of this year, starting with conversion measurement and following with personalization.”

The Privacy Sandbox that Schuh is referring to set of open standards it was developing with the aim of protecting user privacy while not interfering with the advertising business. This is obviously important since Google’s core business is selling advertisements. Privacy Sandbox looks to limit fingerprinting by allowing personalized ads without the user divulging personally identifying information (PII).
Many browsers, including Firefox and Brave, outright block third party cookies. However, Google argues that this hurts the users in the long run and actually encourages workarounds such as web fingerprinting. Because users cannot delete or clear their digital fingerprint, they cannot control how their information is being used and subverts the will of the user.
Google also bluntly points out that blocking cookies without an alternative way serving relevant ads harms publishers’ ability to make money. This is the part that affects Google directly so it would make sense that the company not harm its primary revenue stream.
Some of the measures Google is implementing in its own Chrome browser include limiting insecure cross-site tracking by ensuring third-party cookies are only accessed over HTTPS. They’re also developing new techniques to detect covert tracking and other anti-fingerprinting measures to discourage their use.
To be fair, Google doesn’t want to do this alone and is open to other solutions that don’t impede on a user’s privacy. The company been trying to work with standards organizations such as the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). Schuh suggests giving feedback via the web standards community proposals on GitHub or through the W3C itself.

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Monster.com says a third-party exposed user data, but didn’t tell anyone – gpgmail


An exposed web server storing résumés of job seekers — including from recruitment site Monster — has been found online.

The server contained résumés and CVs for job applicants spanning between 2014 and 2017, many of which included private information like phone numbers and home addresses, but also email addresses and a person’s prior work experience.

Of the documents we reviewed, most users’ were located in the United States.

It’s not known exactly how many files were exposed, but thousands of résumés were found in a single folder dated May 2017. Other files found on the exposed server included immigration documentation for work, which Monster does not collect.

A company statement attributed to Monster’s chief privacy officer Michael Jones said the server was owned by an unnamed recruitment partner, which it no longer works with. When pressed, the company declined to name the recruitment partner.

“The Monster Security Team was made aware of a possible exposure and notified the recruitment company of the issue,” the company said, adding the exposed server was secured shortly after it was reported in August.

Although the data is no longer accessible directly from the exposed web server, hundreds of résumés and other documents can be found in results cached by search engines.

But Monster did not warn users of the exposure, and only admitted user data was exposed after the security researcher alerted gpgmail to the matter.

“Customers that purchase access to Monster’s data — candidate résumés and CVs — become the owners of the data and are responsible for maintaining its security,” the company said. “Because customers are the owners of this data, they are solely responsible for notifications to affected parties in the event of a breach of a customer’s database.”

Under local data breach notification laws, companies are obliged to inform state attorney generals where large numbers of users in their states are affected. Although Monster is not duty bound to disclose the exposure to regulators, some companies proactively warn their users even when third-parties are involved.

It’s not uncommon for companies to warn their users of a third-party breach. Earlier this year after hackers siphoned off millions of credit cards from the American Medical Collection Agency, a third-party payments processor, its customers — LabCorp and Quest Diagnostics — admitted to the security lapse.

Monster said that because the exposure happened on a customer system, Monster is “not in a position” to identify or confirm affected users.


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Apple Has Begun Software Locking iPhone Batteries to Prevent Third-Party Replacement


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Apple has begun locking its batteries with software to prevent third-party replacements from reporting their status properly. The company is apparently activating a feature that it’s previously built into its products. The message persists, even if you swap in a genuine Apple battery, and it’s an attempt to shove customers towards using Apple and Apple-authorized resellers to the exclusion of third-party stores.

According to Justin at The Art of Repair, via iFixit, the message will pop up if you replace the battery on an iPhone XR, XS, or XS Max. The messaging from Apple pops up in both the latest version of iOS 12 and the iOS 13 beta.

Image by iFixit

But the real kicker here is the fact that this message happens even with a genuine Apple battery. There’s a Texas Instruments microcontroller attached to the Apple battery and it’s capable of acting as an SHA-1/HMAC authentication device. This means the battery can have an authentication code that’s locked to the specific phone and can only be changed by Apple or an authorized reseller. Swapping in an authentic Apple battery doesn’t work because the authentication key associated with that battery is different from the authentication key your phone expects to receive. According to iFixit, the only way to bypass the problem is to remove the microcontroller from your original battery and attach it to the new one. Hope you’re comfortable with a soldering iron.

As iFixit writes: “This “Service” indicator is the equivalent of a “Check Oil” light that only a Ford dealership can reset, even if you change the oil yourself.”

But we can’t say it’s a surprise. In 2017, Apple was caught lowering the performance of older devices without ever notifying end-users it had done so to preserve battery life. The company created a cheap battery replacement program for users who suffered severe device performance problems without knowing why and offered $29 battery upgrades rather than the typical $99 fee it charged. Last year, Tim Cook blamed iPhone owners who took advantage of this program for the company’s sales shortfall, rather than acknowledging it might have something to do with Apple’s decision to raise iPhone prices and kill its cheapest product (the iPhone SE).

When Apple reported its revenue recently, investors seized on two trends: The decline in iPhone sales and the surge in Services revenue. While Apple is making less money from iPhone sales, it’s making significantly more money from investing in other areas of the iDevice ecosystem. Unlike Google, which makes its Android money from advertising and rapacious data collection, Apple is also doubling down on the idea that it’s the company that keeps your information private.

But if Apple isn’t going to keep impressing Apple investors by selling more iPhones, it’s going to need to make considerably more money per user in order to compensate. Viewed with this lens, a lot of Apple’s decisions the past few years make a lot more sense. Why did the company introduce ‘Error 53‘ to lock-out third-party repair shops? To drive more repairs to Apple. AppleCare prices have gone up for most products over the past few years. Apple supports fast charging on its phones, but ships the same 5W phone charger it has used for years. Why? Because if it gives you the fast charger for free, it makes less per device. If you buy the fast charger yourself, you’ve just handed Apple pure profit based on typical cable mark-up. Why has Apple embraced building laptops with short display cables that can’t be fixed without buying a $500-$700 display panel and keyboards that can’t be fixed? Because if laptop repairs are insanely expensive, buying AppleCare looks less like a warranty you won’t use and more like a smart move to save yourself tons of money down the line. Apple was caught bricking repaired devices again last year. You don’t hear about these issues happening to other companies.

If you have to pay Apple’s fee to have a fully functional battery, it means Apple can set the price of repair high enough to encourage you to buy another phone instead. This is particularly true for people who don’t live near an Apple Store or authorized reseller, because Apple knows most people would rather buy a new device than be without one for however long it takes to ship the product off and get it back again. This is exactly what Tim Cook complained about when he blamed lower iPhone sales partly on buyers who purchased $29 battery upgrades instead. Battery repairs on the iPhone X, XS, XS Max, and XR are $69, where other battery replacements are $50. All of these little price increases add up. In Apple’s ideal world, third-party repair shops don’t exist. All device repairs and revenue are handled by Apple, at Apple-approved pricing.

I’m not going to go so far as to claim that Apple killed the iPhone SE purely to improve its iPhone average selling price and to increase revenue per iPhone purchase. But I will note, at the very least, that Apple improved both of those metrics as a result of chopping off its bottom-end product family. Data from Consumer Intelligence Research Partners in 2018 showed that the iPhone SE sold reasonably well. It wasn’t huge, but it accounted for what looks like 7-8 percent of iPhone sales as of June 2018, roughly on par with the 6S and 7 Plus.

iPhone SE sales weren’t huge, but it definitely had a market.

Knocking out the SE raised the minimum price for an iPhone from $350 to $450. It may also be cheaper for Apple to make newer devices based on the iPhone 7 body rather than the SE, which used the older 5S-style design. Good for Apple? Undoubtedly. Good for its customers? No.

Apple is far from the only company that’s taken an aggressive stance against customer right-to-repair. Console manufacturers shipped hardware with illegal “You cannot open this enclosure without voiding your warranty” stickers for years. John Deere has refused to allow farmers to repair their own tractors. But this is why right to repair legislation is important. Apple tries to frame this issue as one of consumer trust. That’s deeply ironic, considering Apple has repeatedly demonstrated that it cannot be trusted not to sabotage device performance in order to improve its own bottom line. I didn’t used to make that argument, but the company’s conduct during its battery fiasco, combined with Tim Cook’s willingness to blame his own customer base for opting to repair Apple’s screw-up changed my mind.

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