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Apple shows the way with iPhone X

While brands like Huawei, Xiaomi, Vivo and Oppo are offering less expensive alternatives at a range of $300 or even lower, Apple is upping the ante with the iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone Ten”) priced at $1,000 for the 64-gigabyte model which was launched during the iPhone’s 10th anniversary celebration in Cupertino, California.

Described by Apple CEO Tim Cook as the smartphone that will “set the path of technology for the next decade,” the iPhone X is packed with an array of features that had the audiences whooping and applauding. The features include updated cameras, super retina display using OLED technology, longer battery life and wireless charging, among others.

However, it was the “augmented reality” (AR) features that practically stole the show, as it made everything seem more exciting for users. AR is technology that makes use of digital information or computer-generated inputs – such as sound, video, graphics, GPS data – to “augment” a person’s perspective of the real world, as shown in the photo of a basketball court with a dinosaur romping in it.

Sources say the unique facial recognition technology that allows the owner to unlock his unit just by staring at it and then swiping up – no need to input a four-digit password or do a fingerprint scan – was also a big hit, and so was the introduction of the “animoji” which has been under development since 2011.

Those familiar with emojis know that these are the cute-looking digital icons that people use to express feelings or ideas. However, the animojis are digital icons that can be controlled to imitate one’s facial expressions, made possible by the facial recognition hardware of the iPhone X. According to Apple, animojis can track more than 50 facial muscle movements, enabling them to show amazing animation and expressiveness. Users can also record animated messages and send them via text. As noted by those who were present during Apple’s big reveal, the use of animojis could even become a status symbol among smartphone users in the very near future.

Some, however, have expressed concern about the facial recognition feature being a security risk, since anyone could unlock your iPhone X by just putting it in front of your face – others say the same risk also goes with the fingerprint scan technology because thieves can force the owner to press his finger on the phone to unlock it as well.

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According to Morgan Stanley, the AR market could soon be worth $404 billion in the next three years, and Apple is counting on this to spike up the sales of the iPhone X. Quoting an analyst, Bloomberg reported that the $1,000 iPhone X could “add as much as six percent to Apple’s 2018 earnings per share” – but that will also depend on whether the new model becomes a hit since it faces stiff competition from lower cost brands, especially those manufactured by Chinese companies like Huawei and Xiaomi that also introduced new, cheaper priced phones at about the same time as Apple launched the iPhone X.

While iPhone loyalists may not be deterred by the stiff price, a recent survey showed that although one in five (or about 20 percent) of iPhone users say they are willing to spend more than $1,000 for the new iPhone X, only about 11 percent will actually buy. In any case, Apple seems to have things covered as it also launched less expensive models like the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, priced at $699 and $799, respectively. The iPhone X will be available for pre-orders starting Oct. 27, with deliveries to commence on Nov. 3.

The high cost of climate change

Many countries are experiencing severe storms and hurricanes that are causing devastating floods, among them the United States which was hit by Hurricane Harvey followed by Hurricane Irma. Together, the natural disasters are estimated to have caused $200 billion in damages, comparable to the losses during Hurricane Katrina which hit the US in 2005.

Many experts have been saying that climate change is causing hurricanes and tropical storms to be more severe due to weather patterns associated with warmer temperatures and strong humidity that feed into the storms and hurricanes. In South Asia, more than 41 million people have been displaced due to floods brought about by storms. According to the World Resources Institute, the damage could reach as much as $215 billion a year by 2030 to countries in South Asia – impacting the business of many companies all over the world who source their products and raw materials from these countries.

Analysts say that one reason for the devastating damages is the lack of resiliency planning by governments for public infrastructure projects. Last year alone, losses attributed to flooding was estimated at $87 billion for the whole of Asia which suffered through 320 natural disaster events, according to Munich Re, the biggest reinsurer in the world. Between 1995 and 2015, flooding accounted for about 47 percent of all weather-related global disasters, reported the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, with 95 percent of the 2.3 billion people affected living in Asia.

Filipinos know very well the high cost of natural disasters because almost four years since Typhoon Yolanda, many survivors have yet to fully recover from the devastation, with many feeling they have been victimized all over again by unscrupulous contractors who used their misfortune to enrich themselves, using substandard materials for the housing projects.

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