Square adds a Lightning connector to its mobile card reader to support newer iPhones

Square made two small product announcements today that should make to easier for small businesses to process credit card payments. The first is an update to Square Reader, the original magstripe card reader dongle the company unveiled as its first product in late 2009. Back then, the Reader relied on the 3.5mm headphone jack of a smartphone or tablet to work with its companion mobile app.

Now, Square says its new Reader has a built-in Lightning connector that allows it to work directly with the iPhone 7 and later Apple devices that ditched the headphone jack without needing an adapter. Although Square has since released more robust all-in-one products like Square Register and contactless NFC chip readers, the simple Square Reader remains perhaps its most ubiquitous product. The new model costs just $10 and is available now from Square’s website.

Image: Square

The second announcement Square made today is that it now supports desktop transactions via its Reader platform. If you’re using an older Reader with a 3.5mm connector, you can now plug it directly into any Mac laptop or Google Chromebook’s audio jack and take payments through Square’s Virtual Terminal app for desktop.

Square is cautioning its users that chip card swipes through its Reader program are not eligible for chargeback protection, as part of the EMV liability shift the US government enacted in 2015 to incentive merchants to switch to chip-supported card readers. Square recommends its $49 contactless chip reader for merchants worried about liability in chargeback scenarios.

YouTube expands non-skippable ads to more creators

YouTube is expanding non-skippable ads on its platform. Today, the company announced that all creators who can already monetize content on YouTube will soon be able to turn on non-skippable ads on all videos. The change is rolling out next week and eligible creators will get a notification in their dashboard.

Advertisers usually pay creators more for non-skippable ads, so this could be a way for YouTubers to incentivize creators to stick around on its platform and produce more content, with each ad sale earning the Google-owned company a cut. If a creator turns on non-skippable ads, even previously published videos on their channel will be able to make use of them.

YouTube is also adding a tool to let creators bulk add or remove non-skippable ads and to track audience engagement and revenue flow from videos that include those types of ads. While the changes likely mean more non-skippable ads on the platform for everyone, since YouTube limited each of those ads to 20 seconds — as of a new rule change in January — the delay before each video shouldn’t be too dramatic.

Sony’s mobile business is shrinking out of existence

It may be time to start prewriting our Sony Mobile obituaries, as the latest earnings report from Sony indicates the company’s already tiny smartphone business has shrunk by almost half. In the quarter ending in July 2018, Sony managed to sell only 2 million mobile devices, down 1.4 million from the same period in the preceding year. Two million phones. I’m pretty sure Apple will have sold more in the time it takes me to write this note of Sony sorrow.

In its 2017 accounting year, Sony sold 13.5 million phones, and back in April its modest estimate for 2018 was 10 million, but now that’s been revised down to 9 million. Anticipating it will make only ¥610 billion ($5.49 billion) of mobile sales for the entire fiscal 2018, Sony is now in a close contest with HTC for the title of being the least relevant global Android device vendor. At least BlackBerry has its promise of uniquely secure phones and keyboards with actual, physical buttons on them. Sony’s signature mobile feature in recent times has been an insistence on shipping massive bezels for way too long.

The overall earnings report from Sony is much more upbeat, with most of its sub-divisions growing at a healthy rate, led by its PlayStation gaming group once again. Sony as a whole is in good financial health, but its chronically ailing mobile business may not last much longer.