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Embattled Apple unveils new products including iPhone 13

Apple still possesses massive reach in the digital world and beyond, and manages to be worth over $2 trillion.

apple-event Seen on the screen of a device in La Habra, Calif., Apple CEO Tim Cook introduces the new iPhone 13 smartphones during a virtual event held to announce new Apple products. Source: Jae C. Hong

APPLE CEO TIM Cook strode through a slickly produced video today to launch a new iPhone, with few hints of the exceptional string of troubles facing his company including policy reversals, a spyware attack and legal fights.

Cook, from an empty, darkened auditorium, raved over upgraded cameras, brighter screens and new features for some of the Silicon Valley giant’s other devices like the iPad.

“These are the best iPhones we’ve ever created,” Cook said, noting Apple’s work to design the “very best products and services to enrich people’s lives.”

Yet a head-spinning series of problems have occupied the recent public discussion of one the world’s most valuable companies.

Due to a long and loud fight over its online app marketplace, a judge ordered Apple last week to allow developers to sidestep its hefty commission on purchases.

It delayed a plan to scan its customers’ devices as part of a child abuse prevention move, after privacy advocates hit back over the risk of opening a backdoor for government surveillance.

And then yesterday it was forced to roll out an urgent fix after cybersecurity researchers found a weakness that allowed Pegasus spyware to infect Apple devices without users so much as clicking a malicious message.

That said, Apple still possesses massive reach in the digital world and beyond, and manages to be worth over $2 trillion.

Its fans cheered the release of the updated products today, including analyst Daniel Ives who noted “the supercycle for Cupertino,” referring to the California city that is home to Apple’s headquarters.

“Apple remains in the midst of its strongest overall product cycle in roughly a decade,” he added.

Array of challenges 

It is true the company has racked up massive profits driven by the demand for its devices as much of the world hunkered down at home due to the pandemic.

At the same time legal battles, new laws and the scrutiny of regulators around the world has added up to a series of challenges against the company.

apple-event New iPhone 13 smartphones Source: Jae C. Hong

As Cook expounded on iPhone developments, a group fighting to loosen Apple’s control over its App Store tweeted its verdict on the new handset.

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“Today’s rollout of the iPhone 13 only tells us one thing: new iPhone, same bad App Store,” wrote Coalition for App Fairness.

“It’s time for @Apple to #OpenTheAppStore and level the playing field for app developers and innovators.”

Apple has started to cede ground on its App Store dominance, including in an agreement with Japanese regulators.

It also faces the legislation adopted by South Korean lawmakers, which banned Apple and Google from forcing app developers to use the tech giants’ payment systems.

Yet when the verdict came in a California court on Friday, Apple barely complained about the ruling ordering it to ease control over its App Store.

Instead it heaved a public sigh of relief the judge had not found it to be an illegal monopoly, which could have opened doors for regulators and prosecutors to go after the tech giant.

“We consider this a huge win for Apple,” it told reporters. 

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