U.S. adults saw their ownership of smart speakers soar 128% in 2017

If we told you once throughout 2017, we told you a number of times that the smart speaker was having a great year. We also told you to expect the product to appear under many a Christmas Tree during the holiday shopping season. Now, a new survey from National Public Radio (NPR) and Edison Research reveals that 16% of American adults own a smart speaker and that is up a whopping 128% from last January. Sure enough, 7% received the device as a holiday gift, and 4% found their first smart speaker when they ripped the wrapping paper off their holiday present.

A rather simple device that combines …


Russian iPhone prices soar 35% as Apple Store

The store was taken offline last week as as a dramatic drop in the value of the Russian ruble forced Apple and other western companies to adjust their prices in response.

An iPhone 6, which last week cost 39,990 rubles, now costs 53,990 rubles — a 35% increase. An iPad Air 2 prices shot up 31% to 37,490 rubles.

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The decline in the value of the ruble meant that Apple (AAPL, Tech30) and other western companies weren’t getting as much money when they converted the rubles into dollars. That can often mean a loss on the sale. Before Apple’s price increases, many of the items on the Russian Apple Store site were cheaper than they could be found anywhere else in the world.
Those price increases bring the price of an iPhone 6 to just under $1,000, and an iPad Air 2 to about $685. On Apple’s U.S. store, an iPhone 6 costs $649 without the benefit of a cell phone carrier subsidy, while an iPad Air 2 costs $499.

The value of the ruble has plunged earlier this month on concerns about collapsing oil prices and Western sanctions is driving up inflation in the country. Oil is the nation’s primary export and the major source of revenue for the government. But steps by the Bank of Russia to raise interest rates and support Russian banks helped stem the decline in the currency late last week.