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Apple's new pitch to consumers: Think darker

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New York (CNN Business)For years, Apple touted its products under its "Think Different" tagline. It's classic late-90s, early-aughts Steve Jobs energy.

But if you watched any of the company's iPhone event yesterday, it's clear Apple is thinking differently now about how it markets its products in an era of Covid, economic uncertainty, war and climate change threats.
As my colleague Samantha Kelly notes, the opening of the event felt a bit like watching an emergency first responder training session, taking aim at our deepest fears.
    In a three-minute video, Apple positions itself as a lifesaver in a crisis. The Apple Watch calls for help after a man skating on a frozen river falls through the ice. The watch gives an atrial fibrillation notification to another. A teenager survives a plane crash in the winter by calling 911 on her watch.
      It's a stark tonal shift from Apple's usual pitch -- that its products are tools for creativity. Essentials for aspiring photographers, designers, outdoor enthusiasts capturing epic adventures to share on social media. There was still a bit of that spirit, sure, but it was hard to ignore the darker message that not only do Apple products save lives, not having Apple products could be fatal.
      The new iPhone features, as we wrote here yesterday, were few and far between. The iPhone 14 isn't so different from its predecessor. What is new:
      • Car-crash detection technology on both the Apple Watch and iPhone
      • An emergency SOS tool for iPhones that relies on satellites if, for example, you're lost in the wilderness and cellular service isn't working.
      • Temperature monitoring on the Apple Watch that can be used to track illnesses. In case anyone forgot we're still in a pandemic.
        "It was a little surprising to see Apple reach for the alarmist approach and position their devices as potential life savers," said Ramon Llamas, research director at market research firm IDC.
        The message is: We hope you don't ever need to use these services, but won't you be glad to have them the next time you go out alone in the woods?
        The somewhat cynical reality here is that Apple products are top shelf, and inflation is eating into people's disposable incomes. The company has to convince consumers that its smartwatch, which starts at $250 for the cheapest version and goes on up to $800, is worth the extra cash.

        SHAMELESS PLUG

        Check out this week's Nightcap show as host Jon Sarlin dishes on the latest in the Elon Musk-Twitter feud, Elizabeth Holmes' bid for a new trial, and A+ commentary on the Great Return to Office.

        NUMBER OF THE DAY: $30,000

        General Motors revealed a new electric SUV that it expects will be the cheapest compact electric SUV on the market when it goes into product in about a year. The Chevrolet Equinox EV will have a starting price around $30,000 which will make it among the cheapest electric vehicles of any sort.
        The average electric vehicle available today has a base sticker price of about $47,500, according to Edmunds.com.

        FOOD NEWS

        Welcome to another update from the Unofficial CNN Snack Beat, chronicling all the news that's fit for human consumption. Let's kick things off with a cocktail...
        First up: Boozy Fresca (hallelujah)
        At long last, Fresca Mixed is here.
        The scamps over at Fresca HQ have been teasing this thing since January, and now at last we can stop mixing our vodka and Fresca ourselves, like animals, and buy it a cute little can mixed by the pros.
        Fresca Mixed comes in two flavors — vodka spritz and tequila paloma.
        For the uninitiated, Fresca is pretty much perfect, yet perplexingly less prominent than other zero-calorie sodas. Before flavored seltzer took over the world, there was Fresca, the grapefruity, not-too-sweet, diet-but-not-diet drink. (It's still around, of course, in boozy and non-boozy forms. But like, why can't I order it at most restaurants? People don't know what they've been missing.)
        Next up: Just add water
        OK, trigger warning: This is gonna sound really gross, but bear with me.
        Kellogg thinks it's found a workaround for those moments when you want cereal but you're out of milk. The answer is single-serve "instabowls" of dry cereal and milk powder. Pour in some cold water, let the milk rehydrate, and voila.
        I hear you — the idea of putting water on cereal is objectively horrifying, but my colleague Danielle Wiener-Bronner tried the Raisin Bran Crunch instabowl, and decided it wasn't so bad.
        Honestly, I'm surprised it took this long for Big Cereal to come up with this here in America, the land of Gogurt, Uncrustables and *shudder* microwaveable bacon-egg-and-cheeses.
        Which brings us to our third course of the evening: Snacks.
        Americans, we're a snacking people. But it wasn't always that way.
        As Danielle explains, sales of Doritos, Cheetos, Ruffles, PopCorners, Smartfood and SunChips grew by double digits in the second quarter. The snacks market is growing as our lives and attitudes toward food evolve.
          The three-square-meals model is now something of a relic of the Industrial Revolution. For better or worse, the 2020s are gonna be all about snacks. Read Danielle's whole fascinating history here.
          Enjoying Nightcap? Sign up and you'll get all of this, plus some other funny stuff we liked on the internet, in your inbox every night. (OK, most nights — we believe in a four-day work week around here.)

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