AT&T's latest earnings suggest it needs to make its offerings more attractive (T)

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AT&T’s feeling the burn of slow wireless customer growth and declines in DirecTV Now subscriber volume in its Q4 earnings results.

The second-largest US wireless carrier by volume added 3.8 million wireless net adds during the quarter, down over 7% from the 4.1 million sign-ups in Q4 2017.

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AT&T added 232,000 postpaid smartphone subscribers, a 42% YoY drop from last year, and lost 410,000 tablet and other branded computing device subscriptions, a significant increase from the 230,000 net loss the prior year.

On the entertainment front, AT&T’s DirecTV Now skinny bundle service lost 267,000 subscribers, or about 14% of its user base. DirecTV Now currently has about 1.6 million subs, down from 1.86 million at the end of Q3, marking the first time that it’s lost customers in nearly two years.

The results suggest AT&T needs to make its offerings more attractive to remain strong in the increasingly competitive US wireless market. AT&T can drive up customer loyalty and lure subscribers from its rivals by focusing on the following areas:

  • Shoring up value in its wireless plans by offering perks that resonate with subscribers. AT&T’s been pulling back on its previously offered media content since the summer. For example, it dropped its $15 monthly discount for DirecTV Now in November, and many subscribers are unwilling to pay for the service now, suggesting that the discounted service wasn’t a significant value-add to AT&T’s wireless plans. Introducing more must-have services — such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime or a new video service disruptor leveraging its media assets from Time Warner — that consumers would pay for as stand-alone products can help the carrier increase its plans’ value. This is crucial because value is the chief sore spot for AT&T; the carrier came in dead last on value for cost for the second year running, according to Business Insider Intelligence’s Telecom Competitive Edge Report (enterprise only).
  • Emphasizing its market-leading rollout of mobile 5G. AT&T added 3.2 million connected devices during the quarter, up 23% from last year. That’s nearly 14 times the number of postpaid smartphones it added and double the number of connected devices Verizon signed up. Moreover, connected devices are becoming a larger contributor to AT&T’s wireless subscriber volume: They accounted for 33% of its base in Q4 2018 versus 27% in Q4 2017. AT&T should market its leading 5G efforts and network to position itself at the forefront of the next standard of connectivity. In doing so, we think the carrier could improve the perception of its network and continue the momentum in connected device adds.

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Netflix has canceled 'Fuller House' after 5 seasons, but most viewers abandoned it after season 1

fuller houseNetflix

  • Netflix renewed “Fuller House” for a fifth and final season this fall.
  • Viewership dropped dramatically after its first season, according to data from analytics company Jumpshot.
  • Data suggests the show held on to a loyal fan base that might have helped it last five seasons, though.

Netflix announced on Thursday that “Fuller House” would return this fall for a fifth and final season.

The show is one of only a handful of Netflix originals to reach five seasons. But its predecessor, the 1990s sitcom “Full House,” lasted for eight seasons.

Viewership data from analytics company Jumpshot, provided to Business Insider, could explain why Netflix pulled the plug. 

READ MORE: Netflix’s ‘The Punisher’ viewership is down 40%, but there’s a sliver of hope for fans of the Marvel show

“Fuller House” was a hit when it first debuted in 2016, but viewership fell by 52% from season one to season two in their first month of release, according to Jumpshot. The drop was much smaller between season three and four, and viewership only fell by 10%.

That suggests that the show held on to a loyal fan base after casual viewers jumped ship, and might be why Netflix kept it around for five seasons. But it probably wasn’t enough to renew the show past this upcoming final outing.

The first season had the biggest single-day viewership by far of the series on the day it dropped, and each premiere after that paled in comparison. The graph below compares day-by-day views for the series:

asdffuller house dataJumpshot

Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Netflix rarely releases viewership data. The company has pulled the curtain back on a few movies and TV shows recently, but only for massive hits. It said that 45 million accounts viewed “Bird Box” in the first week (an original film record), and that 40 million households were expected to watch “You” in the first month.

Netflix says it counts a view as an account watching at least 70% of a movie, and 70% of a single episode for a TV show.

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The squabble between Apple, Facebook, and Google shows how the 3 have become gatekeepers with enormous power

AxiosAïda Amer/Axios

  • Apple’s latest move to lock out Facebook and Google employees from their internal iPhone apps is a show of how much power tech companies have. 
  • Each company has the power to say no to certain actions it finds impermissible, by either users or other tech giants.

Apple’s move this week to lock out Facebook and Google employees from internal versions of their own iPhone apps was a strong stand on behalf of user privacy. At the same time, it was a stunning display of the absolute control Apple has over what runs on the phones it makes.

Why it matters: The squabble reminds us that all these companies have become gatekeepers with enormous power. One way to map the contours of their turfs is to examine where each can say “no.”

Apple controls our phones (if they’re iPhones).

  • If you have software to distribute to iPhone/iPad users, you are at Apple’s mercy — if the company kicks you out of the store, you’ve got no customers.
  • Android has more users globally than iOS, and it’s less tightly controlled by Google.

Facebook controls our access to people.

  • Through its billions-wide “social graph,” it controls much of the world’s interpersonal communication, so if Facebook removes your account, you can’t connect to your personal network.
  • Others, like LinkedIn and Twitter, have more specialized versions of this power.
  • To be sure, email and phone calls remain an option.

Google controls our access to information.

  • It’s the starting point for getting answers to nearly every question we have — via search, maps, YouTube’s video trove and many other services.
  • If Google chooses to block some piece of content, it can render that information effectively invisible to much of the world.
  • Wikipedia and other websites still offer independent knowledge sources, but more often than not Google works as their prime distributor.

Amazon controls our access to goods and many software services.

  • Its online store is the most powerful funnel for purchasers around: If a product isn’t listed there — or if it’s listed too low — a huge number of us simply aren’t going to buy it.
  • Through Amazon Web Services, Amazon runs the backend for a large chunk of the internet industry. That gives it the power to shut down apps and sites that depend on it — at least until they can move their products to some other cloud provider.

These powers to say “no” depend on market-dominant positions and near-monopolies.

  • Many of them, like Google’s power over information or Amazon’s power over e-commerce, can theoretically be challenged by competitors but in practice would be very hard to dislodge.
  • Some, like Apple’s power over iOS apps, are absolute.

The big picture: The early, “permissionless” internet and web found a key to growth by connecting the world and bypassing gatekeepers.

  • We’ve come nearly full circle in two decades.
  • Many innovators working in the crypto/blockchain world hope to reverse that trip — but haven’t yet built systems and products that the mass of users are willing to embrace.
  • By contrast, most of the work in machine-learning-based artificial intelligence that’s already beginning to be widely adopted depends on proprietary dragon-hoards of data controlled by large companies.

Long view: Tech has seen dominant gatekeepers before, like IBM and Microsoft, lose their centrality and evolve into mature money-making machines with lower public profiles.

  • But the tenure of the current crop of tech giants shows few indications of approaching obsolescence.

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Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug that allowed people to eavesdrop on other people's iPhones without consent (AAPL)

tim cookApple CEO Tim Cook.Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
  • Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug which was publicized earlier this week. 
  • It was called a major privacy flaw and allowed anyone with FaceTime to potentially listen into your iPhone’s microphone. 
  • Apple said in a statement that the bug has been fixed on its servers and that a software update is coming next week to re-enable any features that have been turned off. 

Apple has apologized for the Group FaceTime bug that allowed people to eavesdrop on other people’s iPhones without consent.

When the bug was publicized earlier this week, it was called a major privacy flaw, and has even drawn calls for investigations from officials like New York Attorney General Letitia James

In a statement issued by Apple on Friday, Apple apologized for its error. 

“We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process,” according to Apple’s statement. 

Apple said that it had fixed the bug on its servers, but to turn the feature back on will require an iPhone software update, which is coming next week, according to Apple. Apple had previously said that the software update would be released this week. 

It also thanked the Thompson family, which several media reports said had reported the bug to Apple earlier in January before the bug became widely known. 

The bug allowed anyone to listen into an iPhone’s microphone by starting a FaceTime videoconferencing call and adding their own number as a third party on the call. That was enabled by Group FaceTime, a new feature introduced in 2018. 

The bug was particularly embarrassing given Apple’s recent campaign touting its privacy bona fides compared with those of rivals like Google.

Here’s Apple’s full statement: 

“We have fixed the Group FaceTime security bug on Apple’s servers and we will issue a software update to re-enable the feature for users next week. We thank the Thompson family for reporting the bug. We sincerely apologize to our customers who were affected and all who were concerned about this security issue. We appreciate everyone’s patience as we complete this process.

We want to assure our customers that as soon as our engineering team became aware of the details necessary to reproduce the bug, they quickly disabled Group FaceTime and began work on the fix. We are committed to improving the process by which we receive and escalate these reports, in order to get them to the right people as fast as possible. We take the security of our products extremely seriously and we are committed to continuing to earn the trust Apple customers place in us.”

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50 cool cars from the last 30 years teens missed out on

Honda S2000 2005A 2005 Honda S2000.Honda

  • Many cool, funky, and interesting cars, trucks, and SUVs have come and gone over the past three decades from marques like Honda, Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, BMW, Mazda, Subaru, and Jeep
  • Entire brands such as Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Plymouth have disappeared. 
  • Business Insider put together a list of 50 cars with nameplates that have been discontinued over the past 30 years.  
  • These weren’t always the most commercially successful models, but they were certainly memorable.

Much has changed in the car business over the past 30 years. Some great names in the have come and gone. Marques such as Hummer, Pontiac, Saab, and Plymouth have all disappeared. While names such Supra and Bronco are set for a return after a period of dormancy. 

The pace of change has been dramatic. The old fashioned five-speed stick shift has now transformed in six or seven-speed manuals transmissions that are itself set to be rendered extinct by ten-speed automatics and CVTs. Monsterous V8s have fallen out of favor. Instead, turbocharged four-cylinders, V6s, and hybrid electric drivetrains reign supreme. At the same time, the once-dominant sedan has fallen victim to the consumer’s insatiable demand from crossover SUVs. 

Horsepower has also become commonplace. When the Dodge Viper debuted in 1992 with 400 horsepower, it was a figure that seemed insurmountable at the time. These days, there are hybrid Volvo station wagons with more juice. Horsepower is also very affordable. A 460 horsepower Ford Mustang GT can be had for just $35,000 while a 707 horsepower Dodge Charger SRT Hellcat costs a “mere” $68,000. 

Read more: 40 hot cars we can’t wait to see in 2019.

Cars arguably have never been better. 

But there’s also been some seriously cool, funky, and interesting cars that have put out to pasture. Cars that today’s young drivers in the US have unfortunately missed out on. So we here at Business Insider have put together a list of 50 cars that have been discontinued over the past 30 years.  

These weren’t always the most commercially successful undertakings, but they were certainly memorable. The cars, trucks, and SUVs on this list aren’t ranked in any particular order as they are all worthy of being on this list. They are also all nameplates that we offered for sale in the US but are no longer around. Which means models like the BMW M3, Audi RS6, Acura NSX, and Chevrolet Corvette won’t be on this list regardless of the awesomeness of its previous incarnations. 

Here’s a closer look at 50 cars today’s teens missed out on in alphabetical order.

Get the latest Ford stock price here.

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