Smartphone Sales Projected Lower; Lyft Pulls e-Bikes in SF; Amazon- Buying Part of Reliance Retail-India; Apple Manager Segues to AR TeamPosted: August 1, 2019
At a point, markets get saturated, and growth tails off or even drops. Smartphone sales seem poised to do this. According to Gartner, smartphone sales are looking to drop 2.5% down to 1.5 billion. The biggest declines for this year are projected to be in Japan, Western Europe, and North America. Japan is already off 6.5%, Western Europe is softer by 5.3%, and North America down 4.4%. The blame is being put on slower upgrade cycles combined with pricier phones on top of a soft economy. Sales are even off in the world’s biggest smartphone market, China. A bump in sales is expected in the second half of this year and next year…propelled for at least a while by the introduction of blindingly fast 5G service.
Amazon is apparently in talks to buy 26% of India’s Reliance Retail. Businessinsider.com says the deal could give Amazon access to Reliance’s huge network of stores, which will be a major factor in fulfilling online grocery orders in the future. The e-commerce market in India is expected to be worth $200 billion by 2026…growing from $38.5 billion just two years ago in 2017. Amazon did $8.8 billion in India last year, but according to reports, may be passed up by Walmart brand Flipkart in 2023.
A veteran, high-profile software exec at Apple has reportedly been moved over to the AR team. According to 9to5mac.com, Kim Vorrath…who’s led program management for Apple’s software team for over 15 years, has transferred over to the AR team. The AR team is led by Mike Rockwell, VP of AR and VR for Apple. Vorrath is not a household name outside of Apple, but she originally reported to Craig Federighi, and oversaw keeping software teams on schedule and testing releases for bugs. It’s expected that the demanding exec will bring better order to the AR team in the manner she had with software.
We’ve all laughed at the meme about wanting to see a liar’s pants actually catch on fire. Now, Lyft…in a move to prevent this from actually happening…has pulled its electric bike fleet from San Francisco after a couple caught fire while in use! Theverge.com reports that the bikes had previously been pulled temporarily nationwide in April after a braking malfunction was found. The company has spent months integrating the dockless electric bikes with the docked manual bikes they operate. The e-bikes have also been operating in San Jose since June and Oakland since July 12th. Presumably, they will freeze fleets in those cities too until the problems are worked out.
Apple Squeaks Out Good Quarter on Subscriptions; Samsung Takes Big Hit With Memory Sales Down; Verizon Rolls Out 5G to 4 More Cities; China May Beat Emissions PledgePosted: July 31, 2019
Apple put up a record profit for their 3rd quarter with $10 billion on $53.8 billion in revenue. According to macrumors.com, they barely beat last year’s quarter at $53.3 billion. iPhone sales were softer, but Apple saw a nice increase in its services revenue…up 16% for the quarter. For the first time in years, the iPhone amounted to less than half Apple’s revenue. Another bright spot was Mac sales, which were up. With a new Mac Pro that is configurable again, and new MacBook Pro and MacBook models, Apple expects to see that trend continue. Also, in the services area, the Apple credit card will be out in a couple weeks, and the company expects to see its streaming TV business to add to their services revenue. Apple is looking to hit revenue of between $61 and $64 billion in their 4th quarter.
Samsung profits in the second quarter took a huge 50% drop, primarily due to lesser memory demand, and slower sales of its flagship smartphones. Zdnet.com reports that Samsung said operating profit was 6.6 trillion won, a drop of 56% from a year ago. The memory business remained the biggest segment of their tech business. Their mobile business was also down at 1.56 trillion won…it was 2.67 trillion last year. Samsung said sales had dropped on their high end Galaxy models, and competition in the medium and cheap phone segments ate into profits. With new Galaxy models in the mix, they expect things to pick up through the holidays.
Verizon is full speed ahead on rolling out 5G. Engadget.com says the carrier has added service in Atlanta, Detroit, Indianapolis, and Washington, DC. As with earlier cities, the 5G service is only available in limited areas, typically around public spaces like stadiums, parks and college campuses. In the nation’s capitol, coverage areas include landmarks such as the White House, George Washington University, the National Mall and Ronald Reagan National Airport. Verizon already had 5G in select areas of Chicago, Minneapolis/Saint Paul, Denver, and Providence.
Like a little positive news, you say? With their huge population and rapid economic development the last 20 years, China has become the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gasses (although on a per capita basis, theirs are half of those of the US). According to arstechnica.com, China pledged in the 2015 Paris agreement to have their emissions peak and stabilize before the end of the agreement’s window in 2030. Now, a study indicates that they will peak in the early 2020’s. Chinese researchers say that there is still more the country can do to beat the numbers even more. China has been building out solar installations at a multiple of what the US has been doing, for example, and has the capacity to increase its renewable energy output further.
200 Police Departments Partner with Ring; Nintendo Down Ahead of Switch Lite Launch; Capital One Hack; Zooming Contact LensesPosted: July 30, 2019
George Orwell is nodding and smiling wryly somewhere. Businessinsider.com reports that at least 200 police departments have partnered with Amazon’s Ring. A number have attended a seminar on how to use the ‘Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal!’ The portal is a map of approximate locations of Ring cameras in a neighborhood. It allows police to reach out to homeowners with Ring cams and request access to their footage. This lets cops sidestep the normal requirement of a warrant needed to obtain security footage. To quote Ron Popiel, ‘but wait…there’s more!’ Police that sign with Ring also get free cameras (one got 15) and get a $10 credit for every app download the police are credited with encouraging towards buying more Ring cams. The deal requires police to ‘encourage’ residents to download the Ring app. Welcome to 1984…a bit late, but definitely here.
Nintendo has reported a 10% dive in quarterly profit, way short of expectations. According to reuters.com, they sold 2.1 million Switch consoles, getting the installed base up to 36.9 million. Part of the decline is attributed to the fact that Nintendo will roll out the Switch Lite in September for $199.99…a hundred bucks off the price of the regular Switch. The Lite version lacks the TV dock and detachable controllers. In addition to the Lite release, Nintendo is looking for a boost in sales in November due to release of the Swtich’s first full Pokemon games…Pokemon Sword and Pokemon Shield.
Sigh…another day, another giant data breach. Techcrunch.com says this one is at Capital One, and affects 100 million customers at least. The breach was found July 19th. It appears to expose people who applied for credit cards between 2005 and 2019, and includes “names, addresses, zip codes/postal codes, phone numbers, email addresses, dates of birth, and self-reported income” of those who’d applied, as well as information like “credit scores, credit limits, balances, payment history, contact information”. They also estimate the hacker grabbed 140,000 Social Security numbers and 80,000 linked bank account numbers. The good news is, the Department of Justice says a Seattle engineer named Paige Thompson was arrested in connection with the hack. The hope is, the data didn’t get out of her control…but….
Ever wanted Telescopic Vision like Superman has? You may get your chance. Engadget.com reports that scientists at UC San Diego have built a prototype contact lens that is controlled by eye movements. Wearers can make the lenses zoom in or out by just blinking twice! The lenses are made of stretchy polymer films that respond to electric signals generated by your eyes when they make a movement. Don’t plan on getting a pair soon…they just work in a special rig so far, with electrodes placed around the eyes of test subjects.
All iPhones Will be 5G in 2020; Netflix & YouTube in Your Tesla; Hot Features on Upcoming Pixel 4; Euro YouTubers Going UnionPosted: July 29, 2019
The three iPhones expected to launch in 2020 will feature support for 5G, according to the latest rumors. Previously, it had just been thought the two top line models would have 5G connectivity. Macrumors.com reports that Apple likely will offer 5G in all models to better compete with lower-cost Android smartphones that will support 5G. Since Apple’s acquisition last week of Intel’s smartphone modem chip business, Apple has more resources for developing the 5G iPhone. The carriers are expected to provide higher subsidies for phones that have 5G, so that makes offering it on the less expensive iPhone XR a no brainer for Apple. This year’s iPhones…due out in September…will still use Qualcomm modems, and won’t offer 5G.
Elon Musk has long touted the potential that the in-car displays found in Teslas have for drivers: they can not only provide information, but entertainment as well. To that end, he says that the cars will soon be able to stream video from Netflix and YouTube.
According to electrek.co, Tesla has already unveiled games that drivers can play on the displays.
The games only work while the car is parked, and players can use the steering wheel as a controller. The same is the case here, although Musk notes that when regulators approve self-driving, Tesla will allow passengers to stream video while the car is in motion. Musk didn’t unveil a timeline for the feature to roll out.
The Google Pixel 4 phones are picking up some cool new features when they roll out in October. Businessinsider.com notes that Google is touting ‘ambient computing.’ That’s a way of saying they are developing motion controls for the Pixel 4, powered by Google’s “Soli” motion-sensing radar. Soli has been in the works for 5 years now. They will bill the feature as ‘Motion Sense,’ and it will allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence calls just by waving your hand! The Motion Sense engine will also allegedly bring facial recognition that’s as secure and complex as Apple’s Face ID. Google says their version will be more efficient and seamless. Unlike with Apple, the Pixel 4 won’t have to be directly in front of your face and require a swipe up to start the process. They say the Pixel 4 will “proactively turns on the face unlock sensors, recognizing that you may want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion.” It sounds like some blockbuster features coming in October that should really ignite excitement around the Pixel 4 phones!
The disruptors may be getting some disruption themselves. Engadget.com says a group of YouTubers is teaming up with Europe’s largest trade union to lobby for greater transparency. Until recently, the YouTubers Union was a community group with little power of its own, but it has now teamed up with IG Metall, the German Metalworker’s union. IG Metall is one of the oldest unions in Germany.
The YouTube Union was formed last year amid tensions between YouTube and the content creators who post videos to the platform, but as a community group rather than a true union it had little power to back up its position. The new joint initiative, called FairTube, aims to pressure the platform to be more transparent about its rules and decisions, especially in regard to monetization or demonetization of videos.
75 Million New iPhones 2nd Half of 2019; Samsung Will Re-Launch Galaxy Fold in September; eBay Starting Delivery Service; Uber Testing All-in-One SubscriptionPosted: July 25, 2019
Apple’s suppliers are apparently gearing up to crank out 75 million new iPhones in the second half of this year. Macrumors.com reports that the number will match what was produced in the same time frame last year…showing that Apple thinks sales will stabilize after sales dips from the substantial increase in average prices that came with the X and XS models. Analysts have started checking more closely with suppliers since Apple stopped reporting numbers for iPhone sales as well as unit sales for their other devices. The latest, greatest iPhones should bow around the third week of September.
Samsung will try a do-over after the disastrous launch of the Galaxy Fold this Spring. According to 9to5google.com, Samsung says they have made the top protective layer of the screen much harder to remove, by extending it beyond the bezel so it looks like part of the structure, not like a peel off temporary protection. They say that the improved Fold also “features additional reinforcements to better protect the device from external particles.” It will be rolled out in ’select markets,’ which Samsung didn’t name, in September…and is STILL a whopping $1980!
eBay will launch its own fulfillment service called Managed delivery next year in the US. Theverge.com says it will provide end-to-end packaging and deliveries to its sellers. eBay claims its sellers send 1.5 million packages per day in the US and they expect that 40-50% of the items listed on the site will qualify for the new plan. They are shooting for tow to three day delivery. In a trial run, a seller said eBay charged $3.99 to send a package from California to New Jersey. He had spend $3.09 previously….not counting the cost of packing supplies. The man said that was reasonable since he didn’t have to spend any time packing boxes and readying them to send off.
Taking a page from Amazon Prime’s playbook, Uber is looking at a monthly subscription service that would roll up ride-hailing, Uber Eats delivery, and bike and scooter rentals. Theverge.com reports that they are testing different versions in San Francisco and Chicago, but could start rolling the subscription out to other markets soon. It will set you back $24.99 a month, and includes price protection or a fixed discount on every ride-hail trip, free delivery on Uber Eats, and free rides on Uber’s Jump bikes and scooters.
Latest on 3 New iPhone Models; Apple in Talks to Buy Intel Smartphone Modem Biz; Google Settles on Age Discrimination Suit; Tesla- New Architecture for Robots to Install Car WiringPosted: July 23, 2019
Late rumors about the 3 upcoming iPhone models…the updates to the XS, XS Max, and XR, have Apple staying with the Lightening port, instead of moving to the USB-C like the iPad Pro received last year, and the MacBook Pros before that. According to 9to5mac.com, the XR will NOT be getting an OLED display like the XS and XS Max successors, but will stay with the same screen and resolution as the present model. All 3 phones will be getting an updated Taptic Engine, but 3D Touch will be going away…if that was something you ever used. The Taptic Touch requires a slightly longer press to get an additional function than 3D Touch. The XS and XS Max successors will get 3 rear cameras as has been touted in pictures and mock ups. One will be a wide angle shooter. The wide angle lens will also enable a feature called Smart Frame, which captures the area around the framed area in pictures and videos, so the user can later adjust the framing or crop the pictures later. The front facing cam will get an upgrade, including support for slo-mo recording at 120fps. All 3 phones will probably be shown off at an Apple event around the third week of September, as has been the case for the last several years.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Apple is in advanced talks to acquire Intel’s smartphone modem business for a billion dollars. That bundle of cash would net Apple Intel’s patents and staff, and it could be sealed by the end of this week if all goes well. When Apple settled with Qualcomm, Intel had announced that it was getting out of the 5G smartphone modem business, and the company said they wanted to focus on its more profitable data infrastructure business. Apple has already been working on developing its own modem tech, but will rely on 5G modems from Samsung and Qualcomm in 2020.
Google has settled a lawsuit that accused them of discriminating against older job seekers. The tech giant will cough up $11 million dollars. CNET.com says they also agreed to train managers on age bias, and form a committee focused on age diversity, and to investigate age bias complaints. The suit had accused Google of a ‘systematic pattern or practice of age discrimination’ against job applicants who were 40 and over. Look for Google and other tech companies to now be more sneaky in the ways they find to discriminate against older workers.
A revolutionary new architecture for wiring harnesses that allows more robot automation in assembly and fewer materials has been revealed. According to Electrek.co, it will first be used in the Model Y compact SUV and the Tesla Pickup truck. Since the Model Y shares greatly with the Model 3, it will also find its way into that assembly line later. Elon Musk said the Model S has about 3 kilometers of wiring harnesses but they got it down to 1.5 for the Model 3. The new system will cut even that down to just 100 meters. In addition, it is built with a hub system and is more rigid, which allows robots to install it much more easily.
2020 iPhones May have 120Hz Displays; Huawei Apparently Helped North Korea with 3G; Equifax- Fined up to $700 Million by FTC; Etsy Picks up Music Marketplace ReverbPosted: July 22, 2019
About this time of the year…a couple months before the next iPhones drop, we always get rumors about the NEXT year’s models. Here’s a fresh one from macrumors.com…the 2020 iPhones may have a switchable refresh rate for the screen from 60 Hz to 120 Hz. The faster refresh rated gives a smoother on-screen experience. They have apparently been talking with screen makers LG and Samsung about the feature. The iPad Pros already have a variable refresh rate, but use LCD panels…the top line phones have OLED. The higher rate is particularly cool on video and games. It’s early…might not happen…so stay tuned!
The US has slapped strict sanctions on huge Chinese telecom Huawei, which has long been suspected of stealing US tech. Now, gizmodo.com has picked up a Washington Post story that Huawei helped build out a 3G wireless network for North Korea, violating the sanctions. Still unknown is how much the Chinese firm was involved. A company called Panda International did a lot of the work, but it appears it may be a cutout used by Huawei. Huawei denies the report. They are already under the microscope by the Department of Justice for fraud, obstruction of justice, and stealing trade secretes from T-Mobile.
Remember a couple of years ago when there was a big flap over hackers stealing credit data on 147 million Americans from credit bureau Equifax? The FTC does, and they just hammered out a settlement with the company that could mean up to $700 million in fines. Techcrunch.com says it would be the largest fine ever issued by the FTC by quite a bit…around 20% of Equifax’s 2018 revenue. The UK already fined them the equivalent of $624,000, the maximum under the regulation there at the time. Equifax will also have to endure third party security assessments every two years.
Etsy is buying Reverb, a marketplace for new and used musical instruments and electronic gear. The cash deal is worth $275 million according to venturebeat.com. Etsy is something of an eBay for instruments and gear. You may never have heard of it, but I bought a really great retro ‘recording’ sign for my home studio for a very nice price. Instead of expensive (and industrial looking) cast aluminum, it’s in a beautiful wood case. Much nicer for a home. Etsy says they plan to continue running Reverb as a standalone brand.