Strong turnout for world’s first glimpse at Apple Watch

admin   •   April 10, 2015   •   2619

SYDNEY/SAN FRANCISCO | BY PAULINE ASKIN AND NOEL RANDEWICH

An Apple Watch is displayed at ‘Apple Watch at Isetan Shinjuku’ inside Isetan Shinjuku department store in Tokyo April 10, 2015.
REUTERS/ISSEI KATO

(Reuters) – Consumers in Australia flocked to Apple Inc’s (AAPL.O) store in Sydney on Friday to get the world’s first up-close look at the tech giant’s smartwatch, which the company expects will be its next runaway hit.

The Apple Watch, CEO Tim Cook’s first new major product, was available for pre-order online and to try out in stores – but not take home.

On April 24, consumers will be able to buy it online or by reservation at retail locations including high-end fashion boutiques in Paris, London and Tokyo, part of Apple’s strategy of positioning the wearable computer as a must-have accessory.

On Friday morning Apple’s Australian flagship store in Sydney’s financial district was packed with those hoping to peek at the device, although just around 20 die-hard fans queued out front, modest by the standards of a major Apple launch.

Alexander Bock, a backpacker from Germany, stood outside the shop’s towering glass facade. He hopes to save enough money to buy the sports version of the watch, he said.

The Apple Watch sport starts at $349 while the standard version comes in at $549 in the U.S. High-end “Edition” watches with 18-karat gold alloys are priced from $10,000 and go as high as $17,000.

“I feel naked without a watch. I think I will buy the Apple watch with the sports band … I’m working very hard right now so I can buy this watch,” Bock told Reuters.

The watch marks the Cupertino, California company’s debut in a fledgling wearable technology market.

Based on recent customer interest at its stores, Apple expects demand for the watch, which allows users to check email, listen to music and make phone calls when paired with an iPhone, to exceed availability at launch, it said on Thursday.

Reviewers this week praised the watch, which also helps users monitor their health and exercise, as “beautiful” and “stylish” but gave it poor marks for relatively low battery life and slow-loading apps.

For women, the various sizes and wrist bands make this smartwatch more pleasing than earlier versions from Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) and others, said Kantar World Panel market analyst Carolina Milanesi, who has been wearing the watch for a few days.

At the Apple Store in Omotesando, a high-end shopping district in the heart of Tokyo, dozens of shoppers huddled around two glass displays, snapping pictures of the range of options available on the different watch models.

“I actually tried it on briefly, and it’s so light it doesn’t feel like it’s on my wrist,” 26-year-old salesman Yosuke Hosoi told Reuters.

NOT FOR EVERYONE

Sales estimates for 2015 vary widely. Piper Jaffray predicts 8 million units and Global Securities Research forecasts 40 million. By comparison, Apple sold nearly 200 million iPhones last year.

“Is it for everybody? No, but I don’t think any wearables are yet,” Milanesi said.

Apple’s watch is widely expected to outsell those by Samsung, Sony Corp (6758.T) and Fitbit, that have attracted modest interest from consumers. It will likely account for 55 percent of global smartwatch shipments this year, according to Societe Generale.

Underscoring its marketing strategy, Apple is selling the watch through a handful of high-end stores including Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and Isetan in Tokyo.

Still, experts said Apple’s offering was unlikely to displace the market share of luxury-brand watch makers.

“This is just Apple’s interpretation of the watch, I don’t think watch makers should be worried at all,” Stephen Fenech, editor of the Tech Guide website, told Reuters.

“This is just Apple’s expression where they’ve combined what they are good at with the fact that it’s a watch with style so I think there’s going to be room for everyone.”

JMP analyst Alex Gauna said he and others on Wall Street would be at stores this weekend to gauge consumer reaction.

But the typically long queues at its stores on product launch days could be a thing of the past as the company emphasizes online sales, according to a leaked internal memo from retail chief Angela Ahrendts, reported by Business Insider.

“The days of waiting in line and crossing fingers for a product are over for our customers,” she wrote.

“This is a significant change in mindset, and we need your help to make it happen. Tell your customers we have more availability online, and show them how easy it is to order.”

A spokesman for Apple in Sydney declined to comment on the memo, citing company policy.

At an Apple Store in Hong Kong there was no queue, although half a dozen customers gathered near the shop door, cheering when it was opened. Demos were by online registration, after which a Reuters reporter received a demo without having to wait.

“I didn’t know it’s the first day. I am here to buy an iPad,” said a 26-year-old customer who gave her name only as Ms Jian, visiting from China’s Chongqing. “I will take a look at the watch later.”

Apple shares closed 0.76 percent higher at $126.56 on Thursday.

(Writing by Matt Siegel in SYDNEY; Additional reporting by Devika Krishna Kumar in Bengaluru and Teppei Kasai in Tokyo; Editing by Bernard Orr, Dean Yates and Christopher Cushing)

Firefighting plane crash kills 3 in Australia

UNTV News   •   January 23, 2020

Workers try to put out a bushfire behind a row of factories near West Queenbeyan, Australia, Jan.23, 2020. EFE-EPA/MICK TSIKAS AUSTRALIA AND NEW ZEALAND OUT

Sydney, Australia – Three people were killed when a water-bombing plane fighting bushfires crashed into a large fireball in Australia on Thursday amid rising temperatures that have further fueled the blazes in the country.

The New South Wales authorities said the C-130 Hercules tanker aircraft went down in the Snowy Monaro area, south of the Australian capital, Canberra, in the afternoon.

“Three people have lost their lives after a large tanker crashed. Our thoughts and prayers and heartfelt condolences go to their families,” New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian told reporters.

She said the disaster was a “stark and horrible” indication that the fire season in Australia was far from over and the “dangerous work” being undertaken to control the blazes.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said the contact with the aircraft was lost shortly before 1.30 pm.

“Tragically, there appear to be no survivors as a result of the crash down in the Snowy Monaro area. It has impacted heavily with the ground.

“Initial reports are that there was a large fireball associated with the impact of the plane as it hit the ground,” he said.

Fitzsimmons said there was “no indication at this stage on what caused the accident”.

The victims in the plane crash were not immediately identified but the commissioner said all three aboard were residents of the United States.

Canberra Airport was closed on Thursday after the Australian authorities once again activated its fire alert over rising temperatures, which in some places exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

The flights arriving in and departing from the country’s ninth busiest airport in terms of the number of passengers were suspended around midday due to a fire raging nearby, the airport said in a statement on social media.

The authorities once again activated its fire alert on Thursday over rising temperatures, which in some places exceeded 40 degrees Celsius.

In the Sydney region, where the mercury reached 41 degrees, it is feared that severe heat conditions, strong winds, and potential storms could aggravate the situation.

Strong winds in the mountains posed an increased risk of fires, said the meteorology bureau of New South Wales, the capital of which is Sydney, and. Some 84 fires, 40 of them uncontrolled, are burning in the region.

“There’s every potential for flare-ups and new ignitions to come out of some of these fire grounds,” Fitzsimmons said.

The authorities in the Australian Capital Territory, which includes Canberra, were also on alert against the danger of fires before temperatures begin to fall again on Friday.

Bushfires, which have been raging since September and which worsened on New Year’s Eve, have claimed 32 lives and affected more than 1 billion animals.

The fires have razed more than 2,500 homes and 180,000 square kilometers (some 69,500 square miles) of land, an area equivalent to the size of Syria.

These fires, which experts say have been more intense this year due to global warming, have emitted so far 400 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, an amount equivalent to the country’s average annual emissions, according to the global environment monitoring program Copernicus.

A survey by the Australia Institute published on Thursday found that 57 percent of the people surveyed across the country of 24.6 million inhabitants felt the impact of fires and smoke, while 26 percent experienced health problems as a result.

The report also underlined that about 1.8 million people were unable to work because of the fires, and the loss in productivity was estimated at AU$1.3 billion ($894 million).

“Australia is in the grip of a national climate disaster. The social, economic and medical impacts are vast and only just starting to become clear,” said Tom Swann, a senior researcher at the Australia Institute. EFE-EPA

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One man and his dog: Rescuing koalas from Australia’s bushfires

UNTV News   •   January 16, 2020

A handout image provided by animal trainer Ryan Tate showing Taylor, an English Springer Spaniel that is helping to locate and rescue koalas in danger in the Australian bushfires. EFE/RYAN TATE

Sydney, Australia – A dog trained to track down animals has been helping Australian forest guards find koalas in danger amid the huge bushfires razing the land and claiming the lives of millions of animals in the process.

Taylor, a four-year-old English Springer Spaniel, puts her nose to the ground and sniffs around the wooded terrain in order to detect the iconic marsupial native to Australia, which has become one of the main victims of the vicious fires.

Accompanied by her trainer Ryan Tate, the animal stops in her tracks next to trees where she detects the scent of a koala.

The koalas are usually found clinging to a trunk several meters off the ground, and once Taylor has located one the forest guards are able to rescue and move it out of harm’s way.

The white and brown spotted pooch has helped rescue at least 15 koalas in the eastern state of New South Wales since the forest fires broke out in September, razing an area of land larger than the size of Ireland.

“In optimum conditions we have seen her recognize and hone in on a koala from 125 meters away,” Tate, who owns an animal training center, told Efe on Thursday.

The animal has been trained to “prioritize the scent of the live animal and sit as close to it as she can.”

She comes from a litter of dogs who all work “professionally” to find animals, including turtles, lizards and snakes.

The pair is able to cover between 10-35 kilometers of forest each day.

Since September, the bushfires have swept across an area of ​​more than 80,000 square kilometers, claiming the lives of 28 people.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology said Thursday that heavy rains that would alleviate the dry climate that fuels the fires were not forecast until March.

According to estimates by protectionist groups, forest fires have killed over 8,000 koalas, a species already classified as “vulnerable” and under threat from drought, diseases and deforestation.

The severity of the forest fires has stoked fears over the disappearance of the koala – whose population stands at around 80,000, according to the NGO Koala Australia Foundation – if the situation continues and the remaining eucalyptus stock is not protected.

Up to 1 billion animals, mainly mammals, birds and reptiles, are estimated to have been affected by the devastating fires, according to Australian ecologists. EFE-EPA

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Australians demand PM’s resignation amid bushfires

UNTV News   •   January 10, 2020

Sydney – Thousands of Australians on Friday protested in several cities demanding Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s resignation over his failure to act on raging fires and his lack of commitment to the climate crisis.

The protests were organized by the student-led organization, Uni Students for Climate Justice and members of the Extinction Rebellion movement.

Anneke De Manuel, one of the organizers, told EFE that they were demonstrating because unprecedented fires were burning since September and urgent action against the wildfires and climate change was required.

She also emphasized the need for an immediate and complete transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies as well as Morrison’s resignation.

The bushfires that have been raging since September have claimed the lives of 26 people, destroyed more than 2,000 homes and an area twice the size of Belgium, and have killed or destroyed the habitats of one billion wild animals.

The police authorities in the southeastern state of Victoria said they have insufficient resources as the majority of personnel are fighting bushfires affecting the southeastern region of the country.

During wildfires, Morrison has refused to acknowledge the connection between the climate crisis and wildfires by arguing that attention should be on casualties and on controlling the flames.

According to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology, climate change is influencing the frequency and severity of dangerous fire conditions in Australia and other parts of the world.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal and Morrison, before becoming the prime minister, gave a speech in Parliament with a piece of coal in his hand to defend mining companies against appeals to reduce production.

The demonstrators have also demanded for subsidies to polluting industries to be canceled and used instead to finance firefighters, to help in controlling bushfires and to care for communities affected by the flames.

Despite Morrison publicly apologizing for having gone on holiday to Hawaii with his family as fires tore through forests and property in his country, citizens have criticized his handling of the crisis. EFE-EPA

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