Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘apple

It’s Tariff Time!

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TGIF. It’s a good day to take a quick glance at some key economic fundamentals that could impact the consumer tech landscape.

U.S non-farm payrolls rose by 164K in July, and the jobless rate held steady at 3.7% (near a 50-year low).

Average hourly wages for private-sector workers advanced 3.2% from a year earlier. GDP increased at 2.1% in the second quarter, down from 3.1% in the first.

Manufacturing output has declined since the end of 2018, and an overseas manufacturing decline could hold U.S. growth back.

The U.S.’ largest trading partner is now Mexico, not China — speaking of whom, President Trump hit the Middle Kingdom yesterday with 10% tariffs on $300 billion in Chinese goods that included consumer products like apparel, toys, and cellphones.

Yes, that means iPhones, too!

Current estimates suggest about a 15% increase on electronics like laptops, smartphones, etc.

They go into effect August 30th, so you have 28 days to shop ’til you drop for any bargains.

Wonder if Gazelle’s traffic is seeing a post-tariff bump!

Written by turbotodd

August 2, 2019 at 11:25 am

Apple’s Service, Vietnam’s Boon

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Apple made plenty of moolah in its fiscal Q3, some $53.3B, nearly half of that ($26B) from iPhones. The story: Its services was up 1% YOY to $10.2B. Wearables, Home, and Accessories generated $5.5B, a 50% YOY increase. Diversification for Apple, good, dependency on iPhone moolah, bad.

Contrast those numbers with Samsung’s, which posted an operating profit of $5.6B on revenue of $47.4B, down 4% YOY. Hurry up and make that Fold fold faster!

Some crypto news that caught my eye: Coindesk is reporting that Chinese importers in Russia are buying up to $30M a day of tether from Moscow’s OTC trading desks. They apparently use the cryptocurrency to send large sums back to China, and they use tether instead of bitcoin because tether is designed to maintain U.S. dollar parity.

Speaking of China, who’s now benefiting from Chimerica? Good morning, Vietnam!, where Samsung already assembles half its handsets. Vietnam has greatly benefited from the U.S. tariffs on China, and even Apple and Nintendo are also said to be shifting certain workloads from China to Vietnam. 

Written by turbotodd

July 31, 2019 at 1:55 pm

Posted in 2019, china, smartphone

Tagged with , , , , ,

Apple Pie and Salsa Verde

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Greetings. I’m just back from a week’s vacation in Mexico City, where I slurped tequila like it was beer and where I (largely) ignored the tech industry.

I DID manage to get a TelCel SIM card while I was at the Mexico City airport, and I have to say, I’m not sure how I would have managed my trip if I hadn’t had a smartphone with Internet connectivity.

From the dating apps like Bumble and Tinder which I used to meet all those nice women from Mexico, to Google and Apple Maps to find my way around, to Uber to get my way around, to Yelp to find good restaurants (HINT: I didn’t find any BAD restaurants in all of CDMX!)

I want to thank the good people of Mexico, and mi amigos who I was traveling with (you know who you are) for a great week of downtime. I don’t think we left many stones unturned, and we capped it all off by seeing the inaugural game of this season’s La Liga season with a match between America and Monterrey.

So now that I’m back to reality, what IS going on in the world of technology? I haven’t even tried to backtrack as to what I missed, but what I see going on at the moment caught my eye was that Apple is in advanced talks to buy Intel’s smartphone modem chip business (in a deal valued at worth $1B).

From the WSJ: “[The deal] would give Apple access to engineering work and talent behind Intel’s year’s long push to develop modem chips for the crucial next generation of wireless technology known as 5G, potentially saving years of development work.”

So there you go, it’s all about (and will increasingly be about) 5G.

Also on the Apple front, Apple app developers beware: Apple’s own mobile apps routinely appear first in search results ahead of competitors in its App Store. Like that’s a surprise.

On the Chinamerica front: Huawei has laid off more than 600 workers from its US-based Futurewei research arm, as a result of being put on a trade blacklist by the U.S. government. That’s more than 2/3s of the workforce.

They must be picking up the slack in Mexico City, because every other billboard I saw had “Huawei” on it.

A VC round to note: Autonomous Industrial robotics firm Fetch Robotics raised $46M in a Series C round led by Fort Ross Ventures. Fetch’s robots are powered by cloud-based software systems, which means their ‘bots are likely ready to scale.

The question I have is, is the world ready? Ready or not, here they come!

And speaking of robots, despite Tesla having a giant new machine that helps the company more quickly produce the Model Y, the company’s higher-end sales are being eroded by Model 3 gains.

What was it Clayton Christensen or someone said about chewing your own leg off?

Just so long as I can have some of that infamous CDMX salsa verde with it!

Written by turbotodd

July 23, 2019 at 2:18 pm

Posted in huawei, venture capital

Tagged with , , , ,

Bixby’s Store

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Happy Monday morning, Happy Independence Day (Short) week here in the U.S.

So there’s more coming out re: Jony Ive’s departure from Apple. 

From a TechMeme headline summarizing a WSJ piece: Jony Ive was dispirited by Tim Cook’s lack of interest in the product development process and frustrated inside a more operations-focused company

If it’s TL;dr for you, the article feels human-centric design got pushed to the margin after Jobs’ moved on, and supply chain- and ops-centric Tim Cook was focused on what he did best, which was NOT human-centric design.

The key question is, what happens next, and it’s probably too soon to tell. But considering that the companys last major innovation on Ive’s watch (and post Jobs) was the Apple Watch, which  introduced on April 24, 2015…well, it may be about time to introduce something new and innovative. 

Can they? Will they? As President Trump likes to see, “We’ll see what happens.”

Meanwhile, on the Samsung front…that company has launched its Bixby Marketplace, which is a dedicated store where third-party developers can offer their own Bixby-compatible services. The store is now open for both US and South Korean customers.

Think of Bixby as Samsung’s Siri or Alexa equivalent.

More about the new store:

The marketplace is available through the main Bixby page on Samsung phones, though the company eventually intends to include it as part of the main Galaxy app store. Through the marketplace, users can search for services — which Samsung calls “capsules” — that enhance Bixby.

These capsules are categorized by type, such as “travel and transportation,” “food and drink,” “sports,” “shopping,” and “productivity,” and many well-known apps are featured at launch, including from Spotify, Uber, Google Maps, Yelp, and YouTube.

And there’s much more.

Recent funding rounds..Industrial AR headset maker RealWear raised an $80M Series B…Israel-Based NeuroBlade AI chip maker raised a $23M Series A with support from Intel Capital…Zero-commission wholesale marketplace Tundra announced a $12M Series A…China-based robotic process automation startup Laiye raised a $35M Series B…and AI-based fraud detection and prevention system provider for banks raised a $10M Series A.

Written by turbotodd

July 1, 2019 at 10:18 am

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes at Apple

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Big news at Apple this week…Longtime creative guru Jony Ive will be leaving Apple later this year after more than 20 years at the company. Ive is leaving to start LoveFrom, his own creative agency, and has already landed apple as its first client.

Daring Fireball noted “this dropped like a bomb,” apparently because nobody in the media had been given a heads up. Uh, this is Apple we’re talking about, when do they ever warn the media about anything of significance.

John Gruber continued::

It makes me queasy to see that Apple’s chief designers are now reporting to operations. This makes no more sense to me than having them report to the LLVM compiler team in the Xcode group. Again, nothing against Jeff Williams, nothing against the LLVM team, but someone needs to be in charge of design for Apple to be Apple and I can’t see how that comes from operations. I don’t think that “chief design officer” should have been a one-off title created just for Jony Ive. Not just for Apple, but especially at Apple, it should be a permanent C-level title. I don’t think Ive ever should have been put in control of software design, but at least he is a designer.

I don’t worry that Apple is in trouble because Johnny Ive is leaving; I worry that Apple is in trouble because he’s not being replaced.”
Another reaction, from Stratechery:

I understand Gruber’s angst. It is precisely that sort of dictatorship, first and foremost in the person of Steve Jobs, that made Apple, Apple. Again, though, I think Ive is in part a cautionary tale: he did his best work under Jobs, while the last few years have been more fraught from a design perspective; if Ive was not entirely up to the task of being the ultimate arbiter of all things Apple, who can be?
That is why the conclusion I had after WWDC feels more applicable than ever: it is less that Jony Ive is leaving Apple, and more that Apple, for better or worse, and also by necessity, has left Jony Ive and the entire era that he represented. So it goes.

Others reported that I’ve had only been coming into the office twice a week since the release of the Apple Watch in 2015… hey, the only constant in the tech industry is change. Enough said.

But there’s more change at Apple. The Mac Pro, which had been touted by Apple CEO Tim Cook as having been manufactured in the U.S. (right here in Austin, actually), will now be outsourced to Quanta Computer Inc. in China.

Why this matters? From The Wall Street Journal:

While the Mac Pro isn’t one of Apple’s bigger products, the decision on where to make it carries outsize significance. Apple’s reliance on factories in China to manufacture its products has been an issue for the company, especially under President Trump, who has pressured Apple and other companies to make more in the U.S.

The spin:

Final assembly is only one part of the manufacturing process,” [an Apple] spokesman said, adding that the company’s investments support two million American jobs. The Mac Pro is Apple’s most powerful computer, used primarily by a small group of professionals working in industries such as film and videogames.

The global supply chain for tech manufacturers is a long and winding Silk Belt and Road!

Meanwhile, back on the AI front: Somerville, Massachusetts has become the second U.S. city (behind San Francisco) to ban facial recognition usage in public space. From Vice:

The "Face Surveillance Full Ban Ordinance," which passed through Somerville’s City Council on Thursday night, forbids any “department, agency, bureau, and/or subordinate division of the City of Somerville” from using facial recognition software in public spaces. The ordinance passed Somerville’s Legislative Matters Committee on earlier this week.

The ordinance defines facial surveillance as “an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying an individual, capturing information about an individual, based on the physical characteristics of an individual’s face,” which is operationally equivalent to facial recognition.

Now if someone could just find an AI bot to clean up all the poop in the streets of San Francisco!

Written by turbotodd

June 28, 2019 at 12:12 pm

Posted in 2019, apple, artificial intelligence, china

Tagged with , , ,

Apple Drive

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It’s already Wednesday?

I’ve got a jet plane to catch, but before I did, I wanted to convey a couple of stories that caught my eye.

First, back to the “Chimerica” trade wars.

The New York Times is reporting that U.S. tech companies that include Intel and Micron have found ways to sell millions of dollars of products to Huawei despite the Trump administration’s ban.

How?

Industry leaders including Intel and Micron have found ways to avoid labeling goods as American-made, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorized to disclose the sales.

Goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made. The components began to flow to Huawei about three weeks ago, the people said.

The sales will help Huawei continue to sell products such as smartphones and servers, and underscore how difficult it is for the Trump administration to clamp down on companies that it considers a national security threat, like Huawei. They also hint at the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world’s electronics industry and global commerce.

And…Apple says it has acquired autonomous driving startup, Drive.ai, as well as hiring dozens of the company’s engineers and taking over its autonomous cars. 

The company was once valued at $200M, and Axios reports this deal and the hires “confirm that Apple hasn’t given up its autonomous driving project.”

No purchase price was disclosed.

Let’s hope this isn’t the road to nowhere for Apple and its autonomous driving strategy.

Written by turbotodd

June 26, 2019 at 9:37 am

No Slackers

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Greetings from my South Austin bunker on a hill.

There’s an onslaught of relevant tech news this AM. First, let’s cover off the mo-nay situations.

Slack is expected to go public today, and it’s direct listing reference price has been set at $26. That would value Slack at roughly $15.7B

In case you didn’t know what a direct listing is, The Wall Street Journal explains:

In a

direct listing

, a company simply floats its existing stock onto a public exchange without raising any money or using underwriters. The company doesn’t choose an IPO price or who gets to buy in the night before trading begins, as is the case in a traditional IPO. Spotify Technology SA, which made its trading debut in April 2018, is the only other major company to go public via direct listing.

I think, therefore I Slack. All day, every day.

So, good luck, Slackers everywhere.

You know who’s not Slack? Apple, which, according to a report from Nikkei and as reconnoitered in The Verge, is looking at moving between 15 and 30 percent of its hardware production out of China and has apparently asked key partners like Foxconn, Pegatron, and Wistron to “evaluate the available options.”

The catalyst for the shift is the ongoing trade war between China and the US, which is expected to intensify at the end of this month with the

introduction of 25 percent tariffs

on devices including phones, laptops, and tablets. However, Apple reportedly wants to shift production regardless of whether the trade dispute gets resolved.

Florida’s Riviera Beach has decided to pay $600K in ransom to hackers that took over its computer system. It was a classic email spearphish attack that led to ransomware situation, and, according to a report from the AP, spokeswoman Rose Anne Brown “said Wednesday that the city of 35,000 residents has been working with outside security consultants, who recommended the ransom be paid.”

I guess that whole “We don’t negotiate with terrorists” thing is an outdated trope when it comes to the cyber realm, because it appears more and more municipalities are paying the ransom, as opposed to just saying “No.” Call me old fashioned, but just saying “Yes” simply invites more such attacks.

And yes, the payment is being made via Bitcoin.

Closing on a positive note. Fresno-based Bitwise Industries, which offers training for software developers, has raised a $27M Series A round led by Kapor Capital, which will allow the firm to potentially expand its training to other unusual suspect, underserved cities for tech (like El Paso, Texas, and Knoxville in Appalachia).

As James Fallows writes in The Atlantic:

“Some people have had opportunities by accident, and others do not,” she said [Irma Olguin, from venture firm New Voices Fund]. “We need to make those opportunities less a matter of chance and serendipity, and more a matter of deliberately creating opportunities and exposing young people to different possibilities for their lives.”

Written by turbotodd

June 20, 2019 at 10:52 am

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