Apple Could Make More iPhones Outside of China; Intel’s New Sunny Cove Chips & Archetecture; Amazon NYC Warehouse Workers Push for Union; Top 10 2018 Google Searches

With the continued threat of higher tariffs from the Trump Administration, Apple is looking at moving more iPhone production out of China. Techcrunch.com says Apple is looking at more production in India, and in Brazil, where Foxconn has had a factory since 2011. If there ends up being a 10% tariff, Apple (through Foxconn) will probably stay with China. If the tariff hits 25%, Apple will say goodbye to production in China (with the exception of phones built for sale within China proper.)

Starting new year, Intel will release Core and Xeon chips with a new architecture…the add a number of instructions that accelerate frequently used workloads like cryptography and compression. Intel claims a 75% improvement in compression performance. Arstechnica.com reports that Sunny Cove chips will be built using the 10nm process. It is a derivation of Skylake, but can execute more instructions in parallel with lower latency.

In news that will give Jeff Bezos heartburn, Amazon workers in New York City are pushing to unionize. They are working with the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, and according to the verge.com want to address safety concerns, long unpaid security checks, what they term unreasonable hourly quotas, and insufficient breaks. A leak recently of an anti-union training video Amazon made has increased interest. Among other things, the video encourages managers to express opinions like ‘Unions are lying, cheating rats.’ Even the raise to $15 per hour doesn’t begin to cover things for workers living in NYC, which is also true of other costly areas like Connecticut and the San Francisco Bay Area.

Because we love lists, and think it gives us insight into what the collective of humanity is (or was) thinking about, here are the top 10 Google searches of 2018: #10 (imagine some echo on the numbers if you must) Kate Spade; at 9, Stephen Hawking; XXXTentacion was in the 8th slot; #7 Anthony Bourdain (note that all of these people had died); the #6 most searched was Meghan Markle; 5 actually wasn’t a person…it was ‘Black Panther’ the movie; Stan Lee was 4th; #3 was Mac Miller; in 2nd place was Avicii; and the top spot was the World Cup. Don’t you feel so much more informed?

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Facebook Warned About Russia in 2014; Shopping on Phones Explodes, Top 5 Amazon Items; 10% iPhone Tariff Threat

Things just keep looking worse for Facebook when it comes to protecting user data. Businessinsider.com says a Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 about a potential giant data issue involving Russia. This info is coming out after the British Parliament got hold of a cache of sealed Facebook documents. UK politician Damian Collins, who reviewed the documents, made the disclosure today at a hearing in front of the International Grand Committee. Mark Zuckerberg refused to show for the hearing, sending policy chief Richard Allen. Allen if this information had been given to an external body (like an agency of the US government) at the time. Allen refused to answer. The documents are sealed under court order in California, but they were published in the United Kingdom under UK parliamentary privilege.

A couple months back, a panicked friend told me ‘My phone is my life,’ as it was temporarily missing. That is more true that ever now. Cnet.com reports that total sales on smartphones through Cyber Monday was $2.2 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year! On Cyber Monday, phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of actual sales. Overall Cyber Monday sales were $7.9 million, so the mobile component was substantial. Since the 1st of November $50.6 billion has been spent online, up 20% from last year!

Amazon has announced its 5 best sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Topping the list, according to bgr.com, the Amazon Echo Dot at $29.99 instead of $50 In the #2 spot, AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity (still on sale at $59 btw). The third place seller was the adored Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Programmable Pressure Cooker…still at $30 bucks off. Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones bagged the 4th place spot…and those are now sold out. #5 was Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, which is still available at a $20 discount.

Yesterday, Donald Trump threatened to slap a 10% tariff on iPhones and MacBooks imported from China, and the stock acted accordingly. Today, Tim Cook is visiting an Idaho school district with Ivanka Trump to talk tech. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far, Cook has gotten Trump to lay off Apple products. Macrumors.com says in 2016 Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to each classroom via its ConnectED initiative. Will a ‘charm trip’ with Ivanka keep tariffs off Apple products again? Stay tuned.


Apple Talking to Goldman About Financing Your iStuff; Mercedes Building an E-Sprinter Van; UK Government Looks to Bolster Gig Workers’ Rights

Apple is in talks with Goldman Sachs to offer consumer financing for people buying iPhones, Apple Watches, iPads, etc. 9to5mac.com reports that it is a type of loan or finance deal, not a credit card. It would allow people buying an iPhone X for a grand to finance it with Goldman instead of charging to a high interest credit card. It’s possible that any deal Apple makes with Goldman would also roll up the iPhone Upgrade Program. There are no further details, and it’s not a done deal…stay tuned.

You see Mercedes Sprinter delivery vans on the freeways and streets all the time…even more so in Europe. Now, according to engadget.com, Mercedes is planning an -Sprinter version. It looks like it would be geared at city deliveries, where short hauls wouldn’t need a huge range and the accompanying huge battery packs. Mercedes says the costs are on par with running diesel vans, but without the smog issues. The e-version will be much more connected…allowing fleet managers to schedule maintenance and order parts, and consumers…with a camper van, for example…to be able to turn the heat on in the van while returning from a hike. The e-Sprinter should debut in 2019.

The ‘gig’ economy is a two edged sword…it allows work flexibility, albeit without the benefits of a regular job. Now, the government in the UK is looking at a plan to get and improve benefits for gig workers like sick pay, holiday pay, and stable contracts. Cnet.com says such regulations will provide a much more stable workforce without continued fights, as with Uber, over whether the workers are employees or not.


GM Buys Self-Driving Car Kit Startup; Mini Fuel Cell for Drones; & Apple’s Event

General Motors has announced it is acquiring San Francisco based Cruise Automation, which is making sensors to turn regular vehicles into self-driving ones. Techcrunch.com reports that the price is undisclosed, but Fortune reports its over a billion dollars. GM had already partnered with Lyft. GM President Dan Ammann says the automotive giant plans to integrate the Cruise tech into its fleet of vehicle brands as soon as possible! Since GM sells about 10 million cars a year worldwide and 3 million of those in the US, that would put a substantial number of self driving cars on the roads in just a few years!

Pohang University of Science and Technology has built a miniature fuel cell they say can keep a drone in the air for an hour, rather than the usual 15-20 minutes batteries provide. Slashdot.org says the miniature fuel cells could also find their way into smartphones and other devices in the near future. The new type of fuel cell is claimed to have increased performance and higher long term durability.

Apple sent out invites to the tech media yesterday to an event at Cupertino Monday, March 21st. In their usual cryptic style, it merely says ‘Let Us Loop You In.’ It’s widely expected that Apple will show the new 4 inch iPhone SE, a revamped 9.7 inch iPad which may get the Pro designation, and new bands for the Apple Watch. Since it’s Apple, there could always be ‘one more thing!’ Stay tuned!