Apple is hoping it can help keep the doctor away with a slew of new offerings it’s rolling out focused on keeping people fit during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Cupertino, Calif., tech giant on Tuesday launched an all-new virtual workout subscription service called Fitness Plus, which competes with the like of Peloton as more people seek to keep in shape without having to go to the gym.
The $9.99-per-month service includes access to workout classes in sports including cycling, running and yoga, and works across the company’s devices, including the Apple Watch and iPhone.
The new Fitness service was unveiled at the company’s first virtual-only product launch event, which took place at its headquarters. The crowds of tech journalists, bloggers and staffers who normally pack the event were relegated to watching it on the company’s website or its YouTube channel.
And it marks the latest effort by CEO Tim Cook to grow revenue tied to the sale of services, like music, TV and news. To that end, Apple on Tuesday launched a new services bundle of all its subscriptions called Apple One that caters to customers working at home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
For $14.95 per month, customers will receive access to Fitness Plus as well as Apple Music, Apple TV and an iCloud storage plan, while $29.95 per month adds Apple News and Apple Arcade.
The iPhone maker on Tuesday also introduced a new Apple Watch Series 6 that monitors blood oxygen, a tool that’s become increasingly popular during the coronavirus pandemic. The Series 6, which starts at $399, now also has sleep tracking capabilities as Apple continues its quest to make the watch a must-have health tracking device.
The tech giant also introduced a new, cheaper Apple Watch SE. The $279 device will feature the same speeds and design as the Series 5, but will sell for more than $100 less than the Series 6.
Apple also refreshed its iPad lineup, with the base-level $329 iPad getting faster processors.
The iPad Air — which was first introduced in 2019 and serves as the midpoint between the entry-level iPad and the high-powered iPad Pro — got a full face lift, and now features an all-display design.
The new version of Apple’s popular tablet, which starts at $599, got rid of its home button in favor of a display similar to that of the iPad Pro with just a thin bezel surrounding the screen.
Rather than install FaceID technology — which is included in the iPhone 11 as well as the iPad Pro — Apple has built a fingerprint scanner into the iPad’s side button. It marks the first time that Apple has built a biometric scanner into anything besides the home button.
The new iPad Air comes in five different colors, including blue and green and rose gold.
Shares of Apple were up just 0.1 percent following Tuesday’s presentation, at $115.48.
LVMH sues Tiffany to get out of $16 billion takeover deal
Louis Vuitton owner LVMH is escalating its efforts to wiggle out of a $16 billion takeover of Tiffany & Co. with a new lawsuit blasting the jeweler’s business prospects as “dismal” thanks to the coronavirus pandemic.
The luxury conglomerate led by French billionaire Bernard Arnault filed a new lawsuit Monday claiming that it’s entitled to back out of the blockbuster acquisition because Tiffany has suffered a “material adverse effect” from the COVID-19 crisis, which led the 183-year-old retailer to post a $65 million loss in the spring.
“The business LVMH proposed to acquire in November 2019 — Tiffany & Co., a consistently highly profitable luxury retail brand — no longer exists,” LVMH said in its counterclaim, filed in Delaware Chancery Court. “What remains is a mismanaged business that over the first half of 2020 hemorrhaged cash for the first time in a quarter century, with no end to its problems in sight.”
The lawsuit is the latest in an ugly battle that kicked off earlier this month when LVMH — whose stable of high-end brands includes Fenty and Christian Dior — claimed it could not complete its proposed merger by the Nov. 24 deadline. At the time, the French company blamed US tariffs policies for spoiling the wedding, saying the French government told it to wait until Jan. 6 of next year to close the deal in response to the US’s threat to impose tariffs on French goods.
Tiffany, popular for its engagement rings, quickly sued to stop LVMH’s from walking away from the November 2019 agreement. A Delaware judge last week agreed to fast-track proceedings in the two companies’ legal battle. A trial is expected to start in January.
On Tuesday, the New York-based jeweler, which has blasted LVMH’s tariff claims as “excuses,” called the latest arguments “specious,” saying it has returned to profitability after a single quarter of coronavirus-fueled losses.
“LVMH’s specious arguments are yet another blatant attempt to evade its contractual obligation to pay the agreed-upon price for Tiffany,” Roger Farah, chairman of Tiffany’s board, said in a Tuesday statement.
“Had LVMH actually believed the allegations made in its complaint, there would have been no need for LVMH to procure the letter from the French Foreign Minister as an excuse for its refusal to close,” he added.
Tiffany has plenty of cash on hand and has continued to operate in an “ordinary course” of business as required, the company said.
LVMH has argued that the French government letter it cited for seeking to postpone the deal was a binding order barring it from proceeding. France’s foreign minister has said he sent the letter after his office received an inquiry from LVMH.
With Post wires
Coca-Cola enters alcoholic drinks market with Molson Coors
There will be more than just fizz when Coca-Cola launches the alcoholic version of its Topo Chico sparkling water along with beer giant Molson Coors Beverage in the United States. It will be the beverage giant’s first alcoholic drink in the country.
The launch, planned for next year, will help Coca-Cola push further into alcoholic drinks and expand its market beyond Latin America and Japan, where it sells Lemon-Do drink.
Coca-Cola bought the Topo Chico brand in 2017 from its second-largest bottling partner in Latin America, Arca Continental.
For Molson Coors, the launch is expected to strengthen its portfolio of low-alcohol spirits, including hard seltzers, which have seen surging demand.
Molson Coors said on Tuesday that it would roll out Topo Chico in the first half of 2021, its third hard seltzer to hit the shelves. The low-calorie drink will compete with the popular White Claw beverage as well as other hard seltzers from companies, including Anheuser Busch Inbev.
Molson Coors said last month that it tied up with D.G. Yuengling & Son to brew and sell Yuengling beers in the West Coast in efforts to boost its business.
Papa John’s sales continue to soar amid COVID-19 pandemic
Papa John’s sales have continued to soar during the coronavirus outbreak as hunkered-down consumers opt for ordering pizza in lieu of other restaurant options.
The once-struggling pizza slinger has racked up six months of double-digit growth, capping the three-month period ending Sept. 27 with 24 percent comparable sales growth in North America. Comparable sales, or sales at stores open at least a year, rose 18.4 percent in September, the company said.
Some of the growth is attributed to a marketing campaign with the company’s newer spokesperson, former NBA star Shaquille O’Neal, who became a director of the company in March 2019 and is also an investor in nine Atlanta area stores.
Last week, Papa John’s said it will be opening a new Atlanta headquarters next summer, an effort some industry watchers say will distance the company from its controversial founder, John Schnatter, who has sued the chain and claimed that he was wrongfully pushed out of the company.
He stepped down as CEO in 2018 and was later pushed off the board for his derogatory remarks about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
Shares of the company were up by more than 2 percent in morning trading.
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