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Apple events are the gifts that keep on giving. It’s handy for us tech bloggers because it gives us a chance to dust off our Easy-Bake Ovens and cook up a batch of hot takes on developments that will impact many sectors of tech for at least the next nine months.
It’s also handy for any non-Apple company that wants to make an unflattering or unpopular news announcement in under the media and the public’s radars.
I mean, just look at the resources that go into covering Apple’s events. It seems like most publications run liveblogs, which vary from serious transcriptions of whatever’s happening onstage to off-key banter that’s barely related to Apple. Then there are the photos, the longer posts, the columns, the features… phew. The rest of the world seems to stop when Apple takes the stage.
For instance, we observed three instances where unflattering news announcements by non-Apple companies coincided with yesterday’s media event. (For the record, we don’t know if it was intentional, but the timing was definitely convenient, regardless.)
First was the news that 21st Century Fox has acquired a majority stake in National Geographic, the iconic magazine run by a nonprofit organization for more than a century. Fox will own 73 percent of the National Geographic Group and reportedly plans to turn the flagship magazine into a for-profit venture.
People are understandably worried about how this new ownership might change National Geographic. Some are concerned about Rupert Murdoch’s personal views coloring the magazine’s coverage; others are worried that Fox’s habit of misleading viewers could transfer to the centenarian publication.
Then there was the announcement that Intel plans to stop supporting the Science Talent Search, an annual competition in which high school seniors compete for prizes, it has sponsored since 1998. (The event itself dates back to 1942 — not as old as National Geographic, but still fairly well established.)
The society behind the Science Talent Search is looking for a new sponsor now . It seeks $6 million annually and a five-year commitment. Intel plans to keep its sponsorship going until 2017; after that the company’s checkbook will close.
And finally there was the death of a much younger entity: Amazon’s Fire Phone — a giant black eye for Amazon’s otherwise successful push into gadget-making. The pet project that never managed to catch on despite rock bottom pricing, access to all of Amazon’s content stores, and a heavy marketing push is done.
Amazon revealed yesterday that it has sold through its entire stock of Fire Phones — despite all odds — and that it doesn’t plan to make any more of them. That doesn’t come as much of a surprise given the phone’s lack of popularity, but the company’s decision to announce that the same day the new iPhones came out seems to indicate just a little bit of shame about the product’s failure.
For all of the panache shown on Apple’s stage and the company’s ability to drum up desire for new products with just a quick presentation, sometimes it’s more fun to see what other companies are trying to bury (intentionally or otherwise) during those keynotes.