Apple Could Double the Cost of the Next Apple TV

Apple Launches Upgraded iPod
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

New product could include a number of new features, report says

The next Apple TV could take a bigger chunk of your paycheck.

According to 9to5Mac, the fourth-generation Apple TV could be priced as high as $149 or $199, almost double the current sale price of $69 for a third generation device. Apple TV was originally priced at $99 after its launch in 2012, and the price was reduced in March. 9to5Mac reports that Apple plans to continue to sell the third generation product as an entry-level model alongside the more powerful new Apple TV.

Much has been leaked about the new Apple TV, although the device won’t officially be revealed until an Apple event on Sept. 9, according to the report. There are hints that the new product could include a number of new features, including Siri support, a new remote control, an App Store, plus a Software Development Kit and a fresh new interface.

Apple has also reportedly been working on a “skinny bundle” where users could pay a set monthly fee to access a range of must-have programming.

TIME Apple

Apple’s Siri Will Give You Hints About the Upcoming iPhone Event

Apple Poised to Sell 10 Million IPhones in Record Debut
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

She doesn’t promise to be helpful

The tech world is on the edge of their collective seat in anticipation of Apple’s upcoming Sept. 9 event, when the tech giant is expected to unveil its newest iPhones.

If you’re like just about every tech blogger under the sun, and want the inside scoop on what Apple CEO Tim Cook will reveal at the event, you now have an option besides stalking the apple-obsessed blogosphere: just ask Siri.

Ask the robo servant to “give me a hint,” and you’ll be served with a variety of answers, from the admonishing to the playful, like, “look deep within yourself and you will find the answer. Especially on 9 September.”

These answers aren’t probably any more insightful that the predictions of Apple bloggers, but they will at least give you something to do before the big day.

MONEY Opinion

Self-Driving Cars Won’t Arrive Anytime Soon

JOSH EDELSON—AFP/Getty Images Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff takes a ride in a self-driving car at Google headquarters in Mountain View, California on Wednesday, July 01, 2015.

To reap the benefits of a driverless future, most cars on the road will need self-driving capabilities and be able to communicate with each other.

There’s no question that the idea of an autonomous or “self-driving” car has a great deal of appeal. There’s also no question that a world in which most of the vehicles on the roads are automated will be safer and more efficient than today’s jammed highways.

But when is that world coming? Some tech enthusiasts would have us believe that a self-driving future is just around the corner. But investors hoping to ride this trend should consider the possibility that it will be many years before the idealized self-driving future will be a reality.

The future vision is compelling
When people talk about the promise autonomous or “self-driving” cars, they generally mean vehicles that both drive themselves and communicate with the other vehicles and infrastructure around them.

Once the roads are flooded with these vehicles, the argument goes, accidents and traffic jams will be greatly reduced — and travel by car will be safer, swifter, and more pleasant.

That all sounds true to me. Companies (and regulators) are already working hard to bring about that future. But there’s a catch: To get all of the great benefits, most of the cars on the road have to have self-driving (and intercommunication) capabilities.

That’s why I think that a fully self-driving future is probably still a long way off, even though self driving cars are already heading to market.

Self-driving cars are already emerging …
It’s possible to argue that the first self-driving car has already arrived — but only for an extremely limited definition of “self-driving.”

Daimler‘s DAIMLER AG DDAIF -1.28% Mercedes-Benz already has an extremely limited self-driving feature available on a couple of models: It can take the wheel in stop-and-go highway traffic. But it only works up to 37 miles per hour, and it doesn’t work when you’re not bumper-to-bumper on a clearly marked highway.

General Motors, Tesla Motors TESLA MOTORS INC. TSLA 0.83% , and a few other automakers are expected to release similar systems over the next 18 months or so. In fact, Tesla has promised that a software update for existing Model S sedans will enable some limited self-driving abilities in the near future, possibly before the end of 2015.

For now, these first systems will mostly be gadgets in expensive luxury cars. Think of them as increasingly smart versions of cruise control rather than as robots that can drive your car.

But the expectation is that these systems will get more sophisticated over time, and automakers will gradually add them to mainstream models as costs come down. Meanwhile, the U.S. government is already working on standards for vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications, and a few automakers — again, starting with luxury brands — are rolling out some very limited capabilities.

… but a self-driving future is still many years away
I’ve talked to several auto-industry executives about the likely timeline for self-driving cars. All agree that fully self-driving vehicles won’t be available for a while yet. That’s partly because the government is still figuring out the rules for such vehicles, and partly because the technology still has to overcome some big technical challenges: For instance, rain can be very confusing to a self-driving car’s sensors.

These executives say that while many manufacturers have promised self-driving cars by 2020, it’s likely to be several years after that before true, fully self-driving vehicles are available to the mass market.

But even if those cars were to hit the market tomorrow, there’s another reason it’ll take a long time before that utopian self-driving future emerges: It’s what the auto industry calls “replacement rate.”

Here’s the key figure: The average vehicle on U.S. roads today is over 11 years old. Vehicles built today are much more durable and reliable than the vehicles of 20 or 30 years ago. People (and businesses, and governments) are keeping them longer.

It’s possible that most every new car on the U.S. market will have self-driving capabilities within a decade. But even if that happens, it’s likely that it will takeanother decade before most of the cars on U.S. roads have that ability.

That is, unless some sort of big disruption happens.

Even the Apple Car won’t change that
The alternative view is that the emergence of self-driving technology leads to a sudden move away from the idea of private car ownership. Instead of dealing with the hassles of owning (and driving, and parking, and fixing, and insuring) cars, people will opt to subscribe to an automated car service that can take them wherever they need to go, without the hassles.

I think it’s likely that Apple (among others) is looking to create such a service. There has been a lot of speculation about an Apple car, but I don’t think Apple wants to enter the auto business. I think the company is exploring the idea of creating a premium car service using automated electric cars.

Uber is also believed to be working on such a service, and it’s a safe bet that other companies are as well. But even if that alternative vision is the one that prevails, it’ll almost certainly be many years before it spreads beyond the city environments where Uber is succeeding with human drivers now. And in the meantime, people outside those cities will still be buying (and probably driving, at least part of the time) familiar-looking cars and trucks from the established automakers.

Either way, that self-driving future is more than just a few years away.

John Rosevear owns shares of Apple and General Motors.

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TIME Apple

Here’s When Apple Is Unveiling the Next iPhone

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook shows off the new iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch during an Apple special event at the Flint Center for the Performing Arts on September 9, 2014 in Cupertino, Calif.

The company sent out event invites today

Apple just sent out invitations for a media event on Wednesday, Sept. 9. The company is expected to use the event to unveil the next iPhone, among other announcements.

Apple’s invite also teases something to do with Siri, the company’s digital personal assistant. It’s long been known that the next version of Apple’s iPhone software, iOS 9, will pack big Siri improvements. But it’s also possible Siri is coming to an upgraded Apple TV set-top box, which some observers expect the company to unveil at the September event.

Meanwhile, here’s what happens if you actually ask Siri to give you a hint:

TIME Apple

Apple Is Now the World’s Second-Biggest Wearables Maker

Apple Watches on display in Madrid, Spain on June 26, 2015.
Pablo Cuadra—Getty Images Apple Watches on display in Madrid, Spain on June 26, 2015.

It's catching up on Fitbit

The term “wearables”—as in wearable technology, the next evolution of mobile electronics—has been on the lips of technologists for some time. It’s supposed to be the future—an $80 billion market, some estimate.

The potential of this nascent market has been rather hard to quantify. (So has the definition. Smart watches? Sure. Glasses? Perhaps. “Hearables“? Sure. Clothing? Well…) But a new IDC report shows that a trend line is emerging.

According to the market researcher, the worldwide wearables market grew 223.2% in the second quarter of 2015, as measured by total shipment volume across all vendors. (That figure: 18.1 million units, up from 5.6 million unit in Q2 2014.)

Bigger news: Apple is now the number-two vendor behind Fitbit.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company shipped 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015, “just 0.8 million units behind Fitbit’s 4.4 million units.” Apple has been mum on its Apple Watch sales, so this is rather interesting. (And squares with what Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said during the retailer’s latest earnings call.)

To give you a sense of Apple’s impact on the category, consider that two of every three “smart wearables,” in IDC parlance, shipped this quarter were Apple Watches. That’s both affirming for Apple, which has a lot riding on its latest major device, and Fitbit, which has managed to beat back Cupertino’s competition despite only selling wearable devices with more basic functionality.

IDC believes Apple will eventually be the wearables market leader. That’s not a surprise, though the dark horse in all this is Samsung, which has demonstrated in smartphones that a quick follow can be just as competitive as a category-defining product. (Even though, it should be noted, Samsung has been selling such devices for far longer than Apple. Lenovo-owned Motorola, too.)

The breakdown:

1.) Fitbit. 4.4 million units shipped in 2Q15. 24.3% global market share. Up 159% from the same quarter a year ago.

2.) Apple. 3.6 million units shipped in 2Q15. 19.9% global market share. No YoY growth figures available because it wasn’t selling wearables a year ago.

3.) Xiaomi. 3.1 million units shipped in 2Q15. 17.1% global market share. No YoY growth figures available because it wasn’t selling wearables a year ago.

4.) Garmin. 700,000 units shipped in 2Q15. 3.9% global market share. Up 40% from the same quarter a year ago.

5.) Samsung. 600,000 units shipped in 2Q15. 3.3% global market share. Up 119% from the same quarter a year ago.

One catch to all this? Another recent report from Argus Insights suggests that consumer interest is slowing for wearables, sliding precipitously from the 2014 holiday season. A seasonal cycle like other consumer electronics, unhappiness with the products on the market, or something deeper? We’ll find out.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Gadgets

Here’s How Apple Is Saving Best Buy

Paul J. Richards—AFP/Getty Images A salesperson scans an iPod Touch at the Best Buy store in Fairfax, Virginia on Nov. 27, 2014.

The two companies are getting even closer

Best Buy continued its remarkable turnaround last quarter, with a big assist from Apple.

The largest U.S. electronics retailer reported a rise in domestic comparable sales of 3.8% for the second quarter, well ahead of Wall Street’s expectations, and posted a better than expected profit. While Best Buy has helped its cause by cutting costs and adding floor space to growing categories like smart homes, home theaters, and shops-within-a-shop for top brands, it has also been getting a lot of help from Apple and its roster of red-hot products.

“Demand for Apple Watch has been so strong in the stores and online,” Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly told Wall Street analysts on a conference call. The retailer expects to be selling the device, which hit the market in June, at all of its 1,050 big-box stores by the end of September, he added. Initially, Best Buy had planned to have watches in 300 stores by the holiday season. (It started selling the watches in early August.) Apple did not provide specific sales numbers for the watch in its second-quarter earnings last month, but Best Buy’s comments provide more evidence of the device’s success.

Joly also announced steps that will deepen Best Buy’s relationship with Apple. It is currently updating its Apple shop-in-shops at 740 stores, including new fixtures and more display tables for phones, computers, and tablets. The work is already complete at 350 stores, and will be finished at another 170 in time for the key holiday season. He also said that Best Buy will begin selling AppleCare product service and support this quarter, and will start testing out being an authorized service provider at 50 stores.

Beyond Apple, there was a lot for investors to cheer: e-commerce sales grew by 17%, showing that Best Buy can hold its own against Walmart, Target, and Amazon.com, and suggests it has licked the “show rooming” phenomenon, where shoppers go to a store to browse and try products out, then buy them on Amazon, behavior that a few years ago led many to question Best Buy’s long term viability.

“The company continues to gain meaningful traction online and therefore enhance its formidable competitive position,” said Moody’s analyst Charlie O’Shea in a research note. Moody’s raised its credit rating on Best Buy to Baa1 on Monday.

And in a development that should worry Sears, Best Buy reported strong appliance sales, a key driver of its comparable sales jump.

Still, Best Buy sounded a note of caution about the current quarter, forecasting U.S. sales to be flat or grow by a low single-digit percentage rate.

As for all the stock market drama of late? The jury is still out on whether consumers will pull back.

“It is difficult to know, though, if the recent volatility in the financial markets will affect overall consumer spending,” Chief Financial Officer Sharon McCollam said in a statement. “To date, however, we have not seen a measurable impact versus our original expectations.”

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com.

TIME Apple

Here’s a Big Clue About Apple’s Next Event

Apple Shares Take A Beating On Wall Street
Andrew Burton—Getty Images The Apple logo hangs on the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue on August 5, 2015 in New York City.

It could be a massive happening

Just call Apple the king of hype. Blogs and tech geeks have devoured leaks about new technology updates from the secretive company for years, but that fascination has evolved to a new level: guessing the building in which Apple’s next gadgets will be announced.

According to the local blog Hoodline, San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium has been mysteriously booked for a 7,000-seat “private event” until September 13th, fueling speculation that Apple is planning to announce the iPhone 6S in the space.

Many Apple watchers expect the company to announce its new phone on Sept. 9. The iPhone 6S is rumored to feature sensitive Force Touch technology, which gives phones the ability to differentiate between hard touches and taps, among other upgrades.

The blog reports an unusual amount of security around the events space, with some sidewalks on the perimeter of the building even being shut down.

Hoodline reports that the events application in question identifies the goings-on as a “trade show,” and the mysterious events planner has received permission to hang misshapen-star-shaped logos in some of the windows. And while Apple’s logo doesn’t match that description, speculators are still optimistic: “that could just be something that Apple’s using as a placeholder to throw off the scent,” Yahoo Finance writes. MacRumors was more skeptical, pointing out that the space is booked under “Adams and Associates”–a company without known ties to Apple–and that the designs for the star logos are a bit too detailed to be decoys.

Fortune has reached out to Apple for comment and will update this story with any reply.

TIME Apple

Apple Is Leading the Dow’s Comeback

The Dow plunged 1,000 points on open but Apple's stock is green.

Shares of Apple recovered in Monday afternoon trading after slumping badly along with the broader market as investors fretted about a weak economy in China.

The stock, which was at one point the worst performer of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, is now the best performer. It is up around 2%, even as the broader index is down more than 180 points. Two other tech firms – Microsoft and Intel – were the only other stocks trading in positive territory among the 30 shares that make up the DJIA.

Apple has depended on China for growth in recent years, so it made sense the shares would be hit by concerns that a weak economy there could result in fewer gadget sales. But the upward move could be because some investors sensed a buying opportunity. Apple’s shares are trading at around $108 apiece currently, the lowest level since January. The stock has lost around 20% of its value in the past month.

The recovery could also be attributed to a rare move by CEO Tim Cook to reassure investors. Cook sent an e-mail to CNBC’s Jim Cramer, telling the host that Apple’s growth remained “strong” through July and August with growth of iPhone activations accelerating in recent weeks.

TIME Apple

Tim Cook Says Apple Is Fine Despite China’s Tanking Markets

Apple Unveils iPhone 6
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images Apple CEO Tim Cook.

China is a particularly important market for Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC Monday that the gadget maker’s performance in beleaguered China remains strong, comments that come as the company’s stock has tumbled into a bear market.

Part of why Cook perhaps felt compelled to weigh in: worries of a China-led global economic slowdown have kicked into high gear, with U.S. stocks also bruised. These fears have hit firms with great exposure to the China market especially hard. Apple’s shares have slid some 23% over the past month.

“As you know we don’t give mid-quarter updates and we rarely comment on moves in Apple stock,” Cook wrote in an e-mail Monday morning to CNBC host Jim Cramer.

But Cook went on to sound practically bullish about the market’s recent performance. He said Apple’s growth remained “strong” through July and August, with growth of iPhone activations accelerating in recent weeks. The App Store has also posted record growth the past two weeks, he said. Cook went on to tout the potential of the market, especially with the expanding middle class in China.

China is a particularly important market for Apple, with sales growth in that region outperforming the overall company’s performance. For the latest fiscal year, Greater China sales totaled $29.85 billion, up 135% from just three years earlier. The Greater China segment includes China, Hong Kong, and Taiwan.

Apple has successfully outmaneuvered competitors in the market. Unit growth for iPhones surged 87% in the most recent fiscal quarter, while research firms have estimated the smartphone market expanded by only 5%. That means Apple has been easily stealing market share. Revenue has also been boosted by strong Mac sales and revenue from the company’s App Store.

TIME Apple

Here’s Why Apple Is Fixing iPhone 6 Plus Phones

Verizon Store Stocks Shelves With New Apple iPhone 6
George Frey—Getty Images The camera and flash of an Apple iPhone 6 Plus.

The camera isn't picture perfect

Apple is taking steps to fix “a small percentage” of iPhone 6 Plus phones with defective cameras that take blurry pictures, according to a company statement.

The tech company is specifically addressing units that were bought between September 2014 and January of this year, and has set up a special website where customers can see if their serial number falls within the range of phones affected.

If your iSight back-of-phone camera is not working properly, Apple said they would replace it free of charge.

Complaints about the camera from a sub-section of Apple iPhone 6 Plus users have been bubbling in forums since last year, with some blaming the phone’s Optical Image Stabilizer feature as the main culprit. The company’s newest iPhone 6S smartphone is rumored to be launching soon, with an announcement expected on Sept. 9.

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