May 11, 2022

Today's Topics

Hi, we've got 3 charts for you today:

  • It's not in the game. Electronic Arts and FIFA are breaking up.
  • Cyberattacks. Russia is stepping up its cyberattacks in Ukraine.
  • RIP the iPod. Apple is calling time on the iconic device.
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Yesterday Electronic Arts announced it would stop making FIFA-branded soccer games, ending a run from 1993-2022 which made FIFA one of the best-selling games of all time. The series will continue under the brand "EA Sports FC".

EA Sports, it's (not) in the game

EA didn't want to fork over an increasingly large sum for the FIFA license, hence the company will be hoping that gamers look through the name change and keep buying copies of the game — although these days actual game sales is not really where EA makes its dough.

Indeed, EA — like many of its competitors — makes the majority of its revenue, more than 71%, from what it calls "Live Services". That's a broad bucket for sales of extra content, subscriptions, in-game rewards and other digital goodies.

In the FIFA series those sales come mostly through EA's "Ultimate Team" — a format which sees players compete against others, while building their own team of dream players. The best players in the world, think Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, are the rarest — but you can swing the odds of getting those players in your favor by splurging real cash, which millions of people do.

EA hasn't disclosed the numbers for its most recent fiscal year, but in the year before Ultimate Team across its games was worth a whopping $1.6 billion in revenue, more than a quarter of the company's total.

Gone are the days when you might fork over $50 for the latest game and that would be it.

The hybrid war

Russia's on-the-ground invasion of Ukraine has been more aggressive than many expected, and now it seems to be ramping up its cyberattacks on the country as well.

A new report from Microsoft, reported on by The Economist, gives details of 237 substantial cyberattacks that Russian agents have launched against Ukrainian assets.

The report shows that the number of attacks detected has increased since the invasion, but also that Russia's on-the-ground operations and its cyberattacks seem to be coordinated. A cyberattack against a major broadcasting company on March 1st was followed by a missile strike against a TV tower in Kyiv. During the siege of Mariupol some Ukrainians received a fake email from a Russian actor "masquerading as a Mariupol resident and falsely accusing Ukraine’s government of “abandoning” Ukrainian citizens" and the day after a nuclear power company was hacked, the Russian army took over the country's largest nuclear power station.

The true number of attacks is likely to be much higher — this report counts only those that Microsoft detects.

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1,000 songs in your pocket

In October 2001 Apple released the iPod. Its iconic scroll wheel and the slogan "1,000 songs in your pocket" were an instant hit, and within a few years the world of music was changed forever.

The iPod, and other MP3 players, offered an alternative to the mostly-linear way that albums used to be listened to on CD or vinyl — and they were just so much more convenient. "1,000 songs in your pocket" was a powerful slogan that quickly became 2,000, then 4,000 and 16,000 as storage capacity expanded. The fact that most people only had a few hundred songs to fill their iPods with was irrelevant.

Of course nothing lasts forever in tech and this week Apple announced it was going to discontinue the product line, marking the official end of the iPod era — which at its peak saw Apple shift more than 50 million iPods every year. Indeed, before the rise of the iPhone the iPod was the company's crown jewel alongside the Mac — in 2006 the iPod was roughly 40% of Apple's revenue.

More Data

1) Peloton and Coinbase are the latest tech companies to hit the headlines for the wrong reasons. Peloton's turnaround plan is off to a slow start with sales down 15%, while Coinbase reported that crypto trading volumes were down 40%.

2) Cool network diagram showing which foreign countries are googled the most within each country.

3) Samsung and LG have been showing off what could be the future of the smartphone, including foldable and rollable screens.

4) Over $9 trillion has been erased from US equities this year. But being “greedy when others are fearful” is easier said than done — that’s why the smartest investors deploy rules-based algorithms with Composer, which lets you invest like a quant, no engineering degree required.**

5) Andy Warhol's painting of Marilyn Monroehas sold for $195 million - making it the most expensive piece of 20th-century art ever sold.

6) A Nepali mountaineer has ascended to the top of Mount Everest. No big deal except that it was his 26th time of doing it — a new world record.

*See important disclaimer

**This is sponsored content

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