Amazon continues to flourish

For some time now, Alphabet, the parent company of our beloved Google, has been holding the position of the runner-up, right behind Apple Inc. in the global market. In recent events, has just surpassed Alphabet in acquiring the position of the second most valuable company in the world. This is the first of such occurrence. Apple Inc. has been valued at $889 billion for the past two years. As of now, Amazon’s market capitalization is $7 billion ahead of Alphabet, with $768 billion and $761 billion respectively.

This should not come as a surprise since Jeff Bezos, the founder and CEO of Amazon, has recently been proclaimed by Forbes as the wealthiest man in the world. At a net worth of $130 billion, he holds the label of the first and only centi-billionaire in the United States. Over the past 5 years, Amazon has been experiencing a positive growth in market value. At present, it has acquired a growth of 2.69 percent in its stock price as opposed to Alphabet’s 0.39 percent decrease.

In addition to three of these tech giants, Microsoft is also in the game, placing fourth. The company’s market capitalization is valued at $717 billion as of today.

Due to the comparably small gap between the top three firms, any change in positions between them will not bring about too much of a commotion. Besides, with the obvious and consistent growth that Amazon has seen recently, it is highly possible for it to surpass the rests and safely secure the position as the most valuable company across the world.

Amazon has been venturing towards different industries. They range from shopping to banking as well as healthcare. The Motley Fool has even insinuated at the company’s possible endeavor in being a “major hospital supplier”. With Bezos brisk success in recent years, it would not be surprising if they continue to achieve excellence in any possible plans. To put it briefly, a $5,000 investment in from 21 years ago would have gotten you a million dollars today.

On the other hand, Google is seemingly losing its grip as the firm is already anticipating a further decline, particularly in their share of the country’s advertisement industry. At the moment, Google seems to be directing its effort on the invention and production of hardware like speakers, in order to compete with the other tech giants.

For instance, Apple has found its success in various products, ranging from iPhones to Apple watches. Two years ago, Apple had introduced the AirPods, a pair of wireless earphones. This product was a huge success such that its purchasing demand far surpassed the supply. It is not easy and there are hardly any goods or services, that are not necessities, that can achieve that, especially when it is not the most affordable item. However, Apple has always been able to acquire demand for its product since brand loyalty is one of the most significant element that has led to its top spot in the global market. This is clearly evident from the series of Apple products. For instance, the series of iPhone, up till iPhone X, has consumers queueing up to purchase it. In spite of the passing of the late Steve Jobs, Apple is still coming up with each products’ successor. Take the Apple Watch for instance. From its debut in 2015, the Apple Watch has not lost its popularity within the market. From the first, to Series 2 and the latest Apple Watch Series 3. Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple has revealed that the sales of the newest batch are twice the sale of the second batch.

With Apple’s consistent growth, will Amazon be able to surpass its market value or will Apple be able to hold on to the top spot?

Featured image via flickr/ simone.brunozzi

Steve Jobs’ 1973 application

Steve Jobs mementos have always been highly sought after at auctions. In 2014, a buyer paid $40,000 for a signed contract that was dated back to 1978. Then, a magazine with his mere signature was procured at the remarkable price of over $50,0000 last October. There was an auction that took place in the course of 8th March to 15th March, presented by RR Auction. A newspaper featuring the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference from a decade ago containing his signature was placed at a value of $15,000 easily sold for $26,950, a price that is almost twice of its worth. On top of the newspaper clipping, there was also an autographed technical manual of Mac OS X from 2001. Valued around $25,000, the highest bid was placed at $41,806.

Back in 1973, Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple had applied for a job through a handwritten form. In time, it has become a valuable piece of artifact that people are willing to pay an astronomical amount to acquire it. This job application was previously taken off the market through Bonhams, the auctioneers of treasured collectibles and such. It was sold for the price of $18,750 in December 2017, just a few months ago. Following that, the item was, once again, up for bid. It was found on RR Auction at an estimated value of $50,000.

It was eventually auctioned off at an incredible price, triple of the estimated value at $174,757. That is a sum of over two hundred thousand in Australian dollars and about £125,416, as reported by RR Auction. Oddly enough, the highest bid for the job application came from London. The bidder has chosen to remain anonymous and the only thing we know at this point is that he or she does their business online.

Who is this mysterious person who paid thrice the amount of the anticipated price? Bobby Livingston, the Executive Vice President of RR Auction suggests that the people who were after the job application are most likely businesspersons in the line of tech industry who have been observing Steve Jobs and the expansion of Apple as well as those who hold a high regard towards his ideology and capability. So far, this piece of history has turned out to be the priciest possession of Steve Jobs within the auction.

“The document to them resonates emotionally about who Steve Jobs was, … Here he was with nothing, and now he’s one of the most important people in the 20th century,” Livingston coherently articulated.

Aside from these autographed items, a number of his personal possessions, including bathrobes, have also been in the market. Few examples of these are his electric razors and leather jacket. A buyer paid $22,400 for the latter.

“Past generations might have collected The Beatles, but in the last 10 years, we’ve seen a huge growth in our technology auctions. There’s a market developing for Steve Jobs and other late-century icons of technology,” Livingston commented with regards to the collectors of Jobs’ possessions.

In this precious job application, we could see that there was nothing exceptional that would have pointed to Jobs’ future success. The company and job position were not even listed on the sheet.

In spite of what you would think, Jobs was an English lit major. He put “reed college” under the address column. At the time of the application, he had just dropped out of Reed College after having enrolled in the Fall term of 1972. However, he was still living in Portland, Oregon, where his campus was located. He remained there for the following year and a half to audit courses. Funnily enough, these courses were on the subjects of calligraphy, dance and Shakespeare.

Next to Driver’s License, he wrote “yes”, but he proceeded to answer with “possible, but not probable” when questioned about access to transportation. He scribbled “electronics tech or design engineer. digital. – from Bay near Hewitt-Packard” under Special Abilities. It was actually Hewlett-Packard. In addition, he expressed his skills with computers and calculators.

Click here to see the actual image of the job application.

As you can see, the entire form was filled with misspelled words and barely any capitalization as needed. It is certainly interesting to see such an ordinary or even below average application. Who would have thought that this young fellow applicant would one day turn out to be a prominent figure in the tech industry, who was also well-known globally? From a nobody to somebody who had, for the most part, changed the world.

The most extraordinary element of this application is still the fact that it was handwritten. Livingston has expressed his excitement towards the outcome of the auction, but he has pointed out the ultimate irony. The world will be losing out on documents like this – handwritten – since we are living in a digital age. Ironically, this change is attributable to the man whose handwriting this belongs to, Steve Jobs himself.

“There are personality traits in his handwriting that because of him and autocorrect, we’re going to lose,” Livingston continued.

Featured image via Wikimedia

Apple is dominating the tech industry

Back in 2010, there was a virtual magazine subscription called Next Issue, but was rebranded as Texture by Next Issue Media in 2015. Now, Texture has over two hundred magazines available electronically on most systems including Windows, Amazon, Android and iOS. All it requires users to do is to pay a fixed monthly charge and access to articles from all of the magazines will be available in its entirety.

Initially, the application was created by several large magazine issuers collectively and supported by the financial assistance of external investors at a total sum of $50 million. The main idea was to become the dominant platform for tablet (i.e. iPad etc.) users to subscribe to magazines. Since people have been going onto the internet to do so, Google has been that platform for them.

In an era where smart devices and gadgets have become a necessity, it was assumed that magazines too, like other entities, will be highly sought after in electronic form. However, this plan took a hit when The Daily, a highly popular digital magazine by News Corporation went under. Even so, Texture apparently has had couple hundred thousand of clients by 2016 as disclosed by John Loughlin, the CEO of Texture, initially recounted by The New York Post. If that is the case, why did Next Issue Media let go of Texture?

In recent news, Apple, the iOS devices’ company has announced its official acquisition of Texture. Fortunately for those who are not in possession of an iOS device, Apple has confirmed that Android devices will still be able to get a hold on the application. It seems that Texture employees too, are secured in their current post as Apple has procured the staff in addition to the firm. This leads us to the next question. If Next Issue Media is willing to let Texture go, presumably because of its low demand in the market, why is Apple rushing to acquire it and at what cost?

Moreover, Apple, on its own, already offers digital magazine subscription services online. Hence, for what reason could it be for Apple to bid for another magazine service? Eddy Cue, the Senior Vice President of Apple issued a statement as presented below:

“We’re excited Texture will join Apple, along with an impressive catalog of magazines from many of the world’s leading publishers. We are committed to quality journalism from trusted sources and allowing magazines to keep producing beautifully designed and engaging stories for users.”

Likewise, CEO of Texture has also issued a statement to express their contentment:

“I’m thrilled that Next Issue Media and its award-winning Texture app are being acquired by Apple. The Texture team and its current owners, Condé Nast, Hearst, Meredith, Rogers Media, and KKR, could not be more pleased or excited with this development. We could not imagine a better home or future for the service.”

In 2014, Apple has taken over Beats, the brand of quality speakers and headphones. In addition to the gadgets and products, Apple had also taken over their music streaming service. With that, they turned it into the current Apple Music, which is as high in demand as Spotify. Within the same year, Apple once again recruited another brand, BookLamp. This application highly resembles Texture such that books are to BookLamp as magazines are to Texture. None of these is new because Apple has always been on the look to expand its empire. Another case in point is Apple’s recent acquisition of Shazam, another music streaming application.

Though we remain to be in the dark regarding Apple’s possible vision for Texture, an article by Ars Technica have made a suggestion. Even though nothing conclusive was disclosed in the statement issued by Apple’s Senior Vice President, arstechnica shed light on the phrase “trusted sources” and suggests that there’s a hidden meaning behind it. The article refers to the present as a time when reporters and publishers have voiced their opinions about large tech companies like Facebook and Google that are believed to have contributed to the biases in media as they are the one who controls the spread of news. Such actions have become noticeable that many heads have been turned and it has become public knowledge to take the content found on these platforms with a grain of salt.

Nonetheless, that is still just an assumption and we can only wait for Apple to announce their plans for Texture, if any, in the future.

On a different note, however, these multinational tech companies have surpassed mere dominance on the web. Just a couple of weeks ago, Jeff Bezos, the co-founder of Amazon has been proclaimed as the richest man in America. With that said, Amazon and Google, as well as Facebook, have provided digital magazine subscription services at one point or another. One way or another, they are further expanding their empires by dominating the market. At the moment, they are still attempting to grab every opportunity available in their industry. What happens when they have completely monopolized the industry? Will they dive into other industries and in turn dominate the world?

These companies are the perfect example of how the capitalist system is helping the rich get richer while the poor continue to suffer. Shouldn’t we be examining this news through a more economic and political aspect?

Featured image via flickr/ Luke Wroblewski

Xiaomi: Alternative for Android Smartphones

Attributable to the 21st-century advancement in technology, there are not many folks out there who are not in possession of a smartphone. As a matter of fact, smartphones are no longer considered as a luxury item, instead, they have become a necessity to our generation just like water and oxygen. They are the first thing that we look at every morning and the last thing we have our hands on before we go to bed. As a result, the industry behind all of this technology has skyrocketed in recent years. As the demand for smartphones increases, it should come as no surprise that different brands of suppliers are contending to get ahead.

With the United States’ dominance in the global market, foreign suppliers have long been anticipated to demand entry to the circle. Many have not been able to pass the barriers to entry, in addition to minor factors. This is because the United States has maintained a strict policy in these affairs on the grounds of upholding national security interests. ZTE, one of the smartphone manufacturer that originated from China obtained the position as the third runner-up in the United States market last year. Samsung is another multinational conglomerate company that, as we all know, is a leading smartphone provider.

A recent report from the Wall Street Journal reveals a new player in the competition amidst android smartphone providers across the States. Xiaomi, another multinational firm from China, has made its way into Spain earlier on, after finding success in Southeast Asia and India.

“We’ve always been considering entering the U.S. market,” Lei Jun, the Chairman of Xiaomi, expressed in the event of China’s legislative session that takes place once a year in Beijing, China.

Conversely, Xiaomi is not new to the United States market. They have been the retailer of quality gadgets such as television set-top unit for android, cameras, speakers, headphones and so forth for some time now. Due to the exclusivity of the smartphone market, however, Xiaomi has not been able to navigate through government policies imposed by the United States.

Despite the complicated regulations and proceedings, Jun is determined to overcome these challenges. He insisted that Xiaomi, as a firm, will familiarize themselves with United States rules and regulations in the course of months. At the meantime, they will continue to enhance and upgrade their products based on customers’ demands.

Though this may sound promising, the encounter with Huawei may suggests otherwise. Prior to this, Huawei had introduced its featured smartphone, Mate 10 Pro, in the United States. They were considered as a prospective partner by the local phone service provider, AT&T. In spite of that, their plans ended unsuccessfully due to government interference.

Many people are putting down their iPhones in exchange for Android devices that allow more room for customization. As we look forward to Jun’s promising plans, the anticipation of these smartphones offered by Xiaomi will no doubt be exciting for all the Android users out there! In fact, consumers in Southeast Asia have expressed their approval online since the appearance of Xiaomi gadgets many years ago. With an addition to the competition, other smartphone providers will undoubtedly improve their products in order to keep up. As a consequent to an increased number of substitute products, the manufacturers will have to lower their cost of production in order to compete, which means that the final benefactor in the smartphone market will be the consumers who holds the purchasing power.

The two leading brands, Apple and Samsung, will experience a decrease in value. This is because with more participants in the run for a portion of the pie, their halves become smaller. Replacing the pie with market value shows the loss that Apple and Samsung will suffer from, as more companies get ahead.

Featured Image via Flickr/Jon Russell

Tax breaks entice Apple to build a data center in Iowa

Apple announced plans Thursday to build a $1.3 billion data storage center in Waukee, IA, a suburb of Des Moines. Construction will begin early next year, and the facility will be operational by 2020.

According to the AP’s David Pitt, the Iowa Economic Development Authority has given Apple $208 million worth of state and local government tax breaks to facilitate the project, which will bring 500 short-term construction jobs and 50 permanent positions to the area.

The subsidies include a $188 million in property tax breaks and $19.6 million in sales tax waivers.

Apple will purchase 2,000 acres (87.1 million square feet or 3.12 square miles) worth of land for the 400,000-foot facility, leaving plenty of room for future expansion. The center will operate entirely on renewable energy, like all of Apple’s data centers, the company’s press release says.

“Apple will be working with local partners to invest in renewable energy projects from wind and other sources to power the data center,” according to the press release.

The company will donate $100 million to Waukee’s Public Improvement Fund, which is dedicated to revitalizing streets, parks, and libraries, and building new community facilities. The Fund’s first project will be the construction of a youth sports complex.

Iowa governor Kim Reynolds, Waukee Mayor Bill Peard, and Apple CEO Tim Cook joined together in front of Iowa’s capitol building to make the announcement, Bloomberg reports.

Cook said Apple had chosen Iowa as the site of the data center because of the state’s “world class power grid,” as well as its thriving community of computer developers.

Microsoft, Google, and Facebook all have data centers of their own in Iowa. In some circles, the state is known as the Silicon Prairie. State and local governments in the area enticed those companies with tax breaks similar to the ones it gave Apple.

“If we want to grow this economy and provide more revenue, then we should be doing what we can to bring jobs and businesses to the state of Iowa,” she said. “This puts Iowa on the world stage. This gives us the opportunity with a global company like Apple to say we are the place to be.”

But critics of the subsidies warn that data centers are not economic catalysts so much as they are big, cement buildings staffed mostly by machines. The facilities are, more or less, exactly what they sound like: giant warehouses containing servers that store data. Apple’s Iowa facility center house information concerning Siri, the App Store, and iMessage, per the company’s press release.

Once the computer systems at data centers are operational, says Michael Hiltzik of The LA Times, such facilities need only limited human oversight and maintenance. That is to say, companies don’t hand out a ton of paychecks at data centers.

Iowa is spending $208 million to bring 50 permanent jobs to the state—each such job, in other words, will cost taxpayers $4.16 million, Hiltzik notes.

Some argue that with an $815 billion market cap, Apple hardly needs help from the taxpayers of prairie states like Iowa. “It’s a net fiscal loss that it’s a straightforward giveaway in the economy to a company that’s extraordinarily wealthy and it makes no sense from an economist’s point of view. It only makes sense from a politician’s point of view,” said David Swenson, per the AP’s Pitt.

Still, governments throughout the 50 states are giving tax breaks to tech behemoths to encourage them to build data centers. In 2009, for instance, North Carolina gave Apple $321 million worth of incentives to build a data center in Maiden, NC that would employ 50 permanent employees.

In addition to those in Iowa and North Carolina, Apple has data centers in California, Nevada, Oregon, according to The New York Times. 

According to that publication, Apple’s cost estimate for the Iowa facility breaks down as follows: $110 million to purchase and prepare the land, $620 million in construction costs, $600 million worth of computer equipment and $45 million worth of “other equipment.”

Featured Image via Wikimedia Commons

Continued Apple-Qualcomm Legal Battle Leads to iPhone Ban Request

Qualcomm has requested the U.S. International Trade Commission to ban the import of certain iPhones that do not use Qualcomm chips, as well as ban Apple from selling any devices that have already been imported. The complaint accuses Apple’s iPhone of infringing six of Qualcomm’s mobile patents.

If successful, the ban would affect the importing and selling of the iPhone 7, 7 Plus and possibly even future iPhones. These include the models running on both AT&T and T-Mobile, as well as including certain iPads. Instead of Qualcomm chips, the devices utilize Intel’s 4G chips, while phones from other carriers including Verizon use Qualcomm’s processors. While these parameters limit the scope of the ban, the limited scope also increases the likelihood of the ban going through. Furthermore, by targeting devices that do not use Qualcomm’s chips, means that the ban avoids hurting Qualcomm’s chip business, which makes a lot of revenue from supplying Apple.

According to Don Rosenberg, Qualcomm’s general counsel, the crux of Qualcomm’s argument is that Apple utilizes its technology without paying for it. Despite negotiations on both sides to address this, neither has budged in compromising the price and yet Apple still continues to use the technology despite infringing on Qualcomm’s patents. This left Qualcomm with no choice but to request the aid of the U.S. Trade Commission.

The ITC will start investigating the complaint in August, followed by an expected trial date sometime next year, meaning that any decision, and ban, would not be implemented for 18 months. Qualcomm is also pursuing a new patent infringement case in the Southern District of California. Rosenberg expects this second case to be put on hold until the ITC makes a decision concerning the first, but acts as a backup plan should the first case end in a ruling in favor of Apple.

This is not the first fight in a drawn out tussle between the two companies, with Apple also pursuing legal action against Qualcomm. Apple has reported that Qualcomm has been engaging in illegal business practices at the expense of Apple and the entire industry by forcing companies to pay royalties for technological breakthroughs that Apple believes Qualcomm has not been responsible for. Apple has repeatedly stated that they believe in intellectual property and respect its implications, but Qualcomm has refused to negotiate a reasonable price and expecting an unfair rate for use of the standard technology used in Apple products.

Apple and Qualcomm have been engaged in legal fights over patents since January, with Apple observing that Qualcomm did not give fair licensing terms for its technology, which Qualcomm justifies by stating that no modern mobile device, including the iPhone, would be possible without relying on Qualcomm technology.

The six patents in question are all responsible in some way for ensuring mobile devices performance can operate with improved efficiency while limiting the power use so the battery is preserved. One of the patents covers technology that bundles radio waves use by mobile devices for connections, providing network options that enable the quickest transition onto the fastest connection radio frequencies. This allows mobile devices to stream in high-quality graphics while also maintaining and increased battery life, two aspects that are fundamental to iPhones wishing to push the boundaries of mobile devices can do.

The technological capabilities apply to current iPhones in production but are also expected to play a role in future iPhones, which means a further infringement of Qualcomm’s technology. While it is not sure as to whether the ban will be successful, the limited scope on specific devices does increase the chances of success. Also, should these legal battles gain public attention, then the hit to the reputation of Apple could see customers boycotting a device that uses others technology without respecting intellectual property. However, this case can also backfire, should customers agree that Qualcomm’s royalties are not justified by the use of technology, or that the patents themselves are not justified.

Apple has won a legal battle before in order to ban certain Samsung phones that infringed on its patents, however, the devices in question were already old, and no longer in mainstream circulation within the U.S. anymore. Therefore, there will be some nuances that differ that court case ruling to this current one.

Featured Image via Flickr/Kārlis Dambrāns

Unprecedented Leak Reveals Details About Three New iPhones Expected Later This Year

Historically, Apple is notoriously hush-hush about its new products, especially its iPhone. Leaks promising new features on a given Apple product are rare, vague, and probably false.

Information regarding the iPhone 8, iPhone 7S, and iPhone 7S Plus, however, has been leaking profusely over the past two weeks or so.

Famed iPhone insiders Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities and Mark Gurman have just produced the leak to end all leaks, delineating 25 new features of all three iPhone models, which are expected to release this autumn.

The screen on the 7S will measure 4.7 inches, making it almost a full inch narrower than the 5.5 inch screen on the 7S Plus. The iPhone 8 boasts a 5.8 inch screen, and the highest screen-to-body ratio of any phone in history (screen-to-body ratios express screen size as a percentage of total phone size, so a high screen-to-body ratio means the screen constitutes most of the phone’s body).

The two augmented iPhone 7 models will bear LCD displays similar to the one found on the current iPhone 7, although improvements in contrast ratio and/or resolution are not out of the question.

The iPhone 8 will be the first iPhone to feature an OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diode) display. Whereas pixels in LCD displays are all illuminated by a single backlight, each pixel in an OLED display illuminates itself. The contrast ratio of an OLED display far exceeds that of an LCD.

The iPhone 8 may employ ProMotion display technology, which allows for variable refresh rates, so that a user can can choose between improved graphics performance and economic battery usage. A vaguely defined “Apple Neural Engine” will handle ProMotion and perform AI tasks.

The physical home button is absent from the iPhone 8, as is the Touch ID system which allows iPhone 7 users to unlock their phones and access secure applications and functions using their fingerprint. In lieu of Touch ID, iPhone 8 will use a 3D scanning front camera to verify a user’s identity by way of facial recognition.

The new iPhone 7 models will retain touch ID, but lack facial recognition.

The iPhone 7S will have just one rear camera, while the 7S Plus and the 8 will pack dual rear cameras. The rear cameras on the 8 may improve upon those of the 7S Plus.

The 7S will have 2GB of RAM (Random Access Memory), while the 7S Plus and the 8 will have 3.

For all three models, Apple will offer just two storage capacity options: 64 or 256 GB.

The Lightning port found on every iPhone since 2012’s iPhone 5 will remain on all three new models. The standard charging cable sold with all three phones will be USB-A to lightning, but speculation is that all of the phones will support faster USB-C power delivery. USB-C to lightning cables will likely be sold as optional extras.

All models will sport glass chassis and metal frames to support wireless charging, which will probably require an optional accessory

The headphone jack has been removed from all three models, but stereo separation in the iPhone 8’s internal speakers will be enhanced.

The three new members of the iPhone family will boast DRAM (Dynamic Random Access Memory) speeds 10-15% faster than those of the iPhone 7. The DRAM increase will give the new phones improved Augmented Reality (think Pokemon Go) performance.

The new phones are expected to be officially announced simultaneously, but the iPhone 7 augmentations are projected to release in August or September, while the iPhone 8 release is anticipated in October or November.

Many believe the iPhone 8 will mark the Apple smartphone’s greatest leap forward since the iPhone 5 hit the market in 2012. Experts expect the phone to break sales records, and nobody expects Apple investors to part with their shares.


Featured image via PixaBay.

Apple’s Preventative Measures Against Leaks of Corporate Secrets

Apple goes to great lengths to prevent leaks and ensure any information regarding their products remain concealed. Their methods include hiring NSA, FBI and secret service experts on a global scale to ensure that only Apple is privy to its product information. But considering the value of future products and how they are made leads to continuous efforts to discover what Apple’s next big hit is. Doing so results in a lucrative exchange given the right buyer.

While Apple is safe at home in the U.S. its interests are at larger risk internationally, with a large source of leaks originating from supply chain partners in places including China. The most valuable items that can be sold are parts of new products followed by information on what Apple is working on, both readily available in supply factories where the new products are being built. Apple is certainly aware of the risk involved, resulting in constant screening of 2.7 million people per day Apple and its manufacturing partners find necessary to undertake. Despite such rigorous preventative measures being in place, corporate secrets are still able to be smuggled out due to the creativity of leakers.

Parts are making their way out of factories in various ways, from being stashed in bras to being flushed out into sewer system for later collection. Black market dealers entice factory workers into attaining parts or photos offering top dollar rates, including up to a year’s salary worth. The reason the supply chain is such a prominent target is the nature of partnership, and Apple’s responsibility or lack thereof over supply chain workers. As long as the workers receive fair wage compensation for the work they provide based on local laws, Apple is not obligated nor has it the direct power to direct the employees working under their partners. While product discretion is certainly enforced, as evidenced by the millions of screenings per day, it is up to the manufacturer to organize worker salaries. This indirect relation makes supply chain workers vulnerable to offers that encourage the stealing of parts at Apple’s expense.

Part of being an employee involves agreeing to participate and reinforce a company’s culture. Apple takes its product reveals seriously, considering the financial detriments that can occur should parts or information of a product be leaked. Competitors, counterfeit makers and the press all gain a significant advantage even if only one subject has access to the leaked information, because Apple is then put in a disadvantaged position that can only serve to benefit others. When parts are leaked, it is not just the reveal and the surprise that is lost, but the competitive edge that Apple holds is also lost. This highlights why parts of products are so valuable, beyond the parts themselves, because the research and logistics involved are benefitting others at no major cost.

However, Apple’s global security team have had an impact on reducing corporate espionage in their supply chain to the point that security leaks will be more common on Apple’s campus than its cumulative international supply chain. The methods involved include inserting members of the global security team into product teams to prevent leaks, and, failing that, identify the source of the leaks. Like the leakers, members of the security team are also required to think creatively, resulting in what has been described as a trench warfare over corporate secrets. The protection of its secrets are so vital, that Apple are willing to continue hiring experts in order to prevent leaks of corporate secrets of any sort. One thing that is certain, Apple does not appreciate having its secrets revealed.

Featured Image via Flickr/C_osett

Apple Wants to Save the Planet by Using Recycled Materials

Since Apple released its new environmental report, the company says it’s going to do what it can for the good of the planet. It seems like it was only last year that Apple bragged about all the money they saved in recycling. That amount included the $40 million it saved in re-used gold from older devices. Yet this year the company says that it plans to change the way it uses raw materials in the devices it makes.

With its new idea, Apple has hopes that it will be able to use only recycled materials to create future products. Yet there’s still quite a lot to be done if Apple wants to even start this project. First, the company has to find a way to make sure that used iPhones come back to the company instead of ending up abandoned in the junk pile. The closer the company gets to using recycled parts, the better things will be for all iPhone users.

Apple also has strong faith in its restoration of materials. The company has Liam robots that are capable of taking apart over 2.4 million iPhone 6 models per year. The line that possesses the Liam robots are capable of salvaging 1,900 kg of aluminum for every 100,000 phones that are disassembled. The company has also, in fact, built Mac Mini units with the recovered materials taken apart by Liam.

It wasn’t too long ago that Greenpeace made it embarrassingly known that companies like Netflix, Amazon, HBO, ASUS, and Acer use coal and gas power to run their servers. Therefore, Apple wasn’t afraid to make it known that its data centers are completely renewable. This means that things like FaceTime, iMessage and Siri are running on 100 percent renewable energy sources.

Rather than purchasing their energy from the wholesale market, Apple wants to be able to own as much of its own power generation as possible. This effort extends to Apple desire to own, and even control, all of its computers. In order to make this desire a full reality, Apple is doing what it can to build, run, and buy its very own wind and solar energy farms. It plans to fully cut the middle man out using this effort.

Apple says that by 2020 it wants to have a source 4 GW of power generation that will be able to power over 725,000 homes. That power source will span out between sites that are owned and operated by Apple.

The project is the brainchild of Lisa Jackson who joined Apple back in 2013 after leaving her position as head of EPA. Since then she’s been behind the wheel in driving Apple toward converting to renewable energy. In fact, since she started, Apple has gone from the bottom of Greenpeace’s list to the top three for the last three year in a row.


Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Increases Stakes in Apple and Airlines

Warren Buffett’s conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway bought stock aggressively in last year’s fourth quarter, almost quadrupling its stake in Apple and increasing its stake in the four biggest U.S. airlines by a factor of seven.

As of Dec. 31, Berkshire owns 57.4 million shares of Apple, now worth $7.74 billion, according to a regulatory filing. Three months earlier the company owned just 15.2 million shares.

Berkshire’s initial investment in the iPhone maker attracted attention last year, due to Buffet’s widely-known aversion to technology companies, excluding IBM. Buffet explains his avoidance is a result of feeling outside of his zone of competence.

The new, sizable share makes Berkshire Hathaway one of Apple’s 10 biggest investors. Thomas Russo, a partner at Gardner Russo & Gardner which currently holds 4,912 shares of Berkshire, said: “I’m stunned to see the size of that Apple position.”

Though unclear who made which investments, it is strongly believed that Berkshire’s initial investment in Apple came from Todd Combs or Ted Weschler, Buffet’s deputies. However, there is a precedent for influence, as seen last year when Buffet paid $32.1 billion for Precision Castparts, formerly a Combs investments. Russo seems to entertain this possibility, “It is quite possible Warren woke up and began to understand the virtues of Apple that he had been neglecting, or, like with Precision Castparts, Todd or Ted had an affinity for Apple that sparked interest from Warren.”

The filing also reported a $9.3 billion airline stake, with investments of over $2.1 billion in each of American Airlines Group, Delta Air Lines, Southwest Airlines, and United Continental Holdings.

Berkshire further disclosed new stakes in Sirius XM, a satellite radio company, and Monsanto, a seed company being bought by Germany’s Bayer.

The filing appears to reflects a majority of the $12 billion of stock Buffett claims to have bought between the Presidential election on Nov. 8 and the end of January. Larger investments of the holding company, like Wells Fargo, Coca-Cola, and International Business Machines are usually made by Buffet, but over the years the billionaire has given his deputies  Combs and Weschler more to invest.

Shares of American, Delta, Southwest, and United Airlines, as well as Apple, Monsanto, and Sirius rose in after-hours trading. Increases like these typically occur when investors notice Berkshire has accepted a company into its conglomerate.

Alphabet’s Earnings Remain Consistent

Alphabet, unlike many of is tech conglomerate peers, remains consistent in earnings. Fourth quarter results announced on Thursday that Google’s parent company beat analyst exceptions as revenue rose 22% to $26.06 billion. Alphabet’s net income also rose from $4.92 billion a year earlier to $5.33 billion.

Alphabet is distinct from Apple, Amazon and Facebook due to the company’s search engine. Google’s search engine is a necessary tool for anyone using the internet. While Apple is profitable, its earnings come from fluctuating preferences of smartphone buyers, and the consumer can delay purchasing an iPhone. Amazon, in order to retain customers who can shop elsewhere, is liable to push quality profits aside in order to invest in faster delivery times or even bigger data centers. Facebook’s volatility can be attributed to its relative young nature.

Even the perceived threat of the shift toward mobile devices has worked out in the company’s favor. According to research from, Google’s market share on searches made on desktops is approximately 78%, while it is above 90% on searches made on mobile devices. Mobile devices also pull in more ad revenue–the ads occupy a larger portion of the screen on smaller displays, which increases the likelihood that a user will click on them.

The quarter saw a 36% rise in clicks on Google ads, but a 15% decrease for what advertisers paid per click. While Alphabet did not release results for Google’s other websites, the company runs ads on Youtube, where more than a billion people watch videos every month, according to Google.

Amidst this success, Alphabet has experienced mild setbacks. The company’s earnings per share were reported to be 11 cents below analysts’ estimates at $7.56. The company explained this shortfall was the result of paying more in taxes in the United States but did not explain why. Alphabet’s effective tax went from 5% a year earlier to 22% this quarter.

Alphabet’ stock reached a record high on Wednesday and dropped 2% in after-hours trading on Thursday.

Apple and FTC Both Sue Qualcomm

On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against Qualcomm for anti-trust violations. Three days later,  Apple also filed a lawsuit against the mobile chip giant overcharging “excessive royalties” and withholding payment. The FTC alleged Qualcomm of using anticompetitive practices to maintain a  monopoly on a critical semiconductor used in cellular devices, while Apple seeks $1 billion in rebate payments.

The FTC accused Qualcomm of charging Apple an unfair amount to license its cellular patents. According to the suit, Qualcomm had used its monopoly position in the market to force “onerous and competitive supply and licensing terms.” The FTC’s complaint against Qualcomm also states that it “maintains a ‘no license, no chips’ policy under which it will supply its baseband processors only on the condition that cellphone manufacturers agree to Qualcomm’s preferred license terms.”

Apple agreed in its lawsuit that Qualcomm has a monopoly on mobile chips that can support CDMA interfaces, used by networks like Verizon and Sprint. Apple added that Qualcomm “has unfairly insisted on charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with.”

Stacy Rasgon, a senior analyst at Bernstein Research, said, “It looks like Qualcomm’s business is now under attack from all fronts. It’s not just from the government but from its largest customers now.” The chip supplier has faced allegations from other countries too; South Korea fined Qualcomm $890 million last month for forcing phone manufacturers to sign unfair patent licensing agreements in order to gain access to its modem chips. Apple accused Qualcomm of withholding payments in response to Apple’s cooperation with South Korean regulators investigating the company in question.

Apple seeks $1 billion in rebate payments it claims has been wrongfully withheld “for responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies investigating them,”, according to a statement.

Qualcomm has denied the charges levied by Apple, claiming various regulatory bodies have encouraged Apple to attack it. Don Rosenberg, general counsel for Qualcomm wrote in a statement that the claims are “baseless”.

“We welcome the opportunity to have these have these meritless claims heard in court,” the statement continues, “where we will be entitled to full discovery of Apple’s practices and a robust examination of the merits.”

Netflix, Amazon, and Others Fail Greenpeace’s Clean Energy Report

Apple topped Greenpeace’s clean energy report for the third year in a row, while companies like Netflix, Amazon Web Services, and Samsung were much further down the list. Greenpeace, an environmental organization founded in 1971, compiles an energy index on companies every year.

This year Apple scored a clean energy index of 83 percent, an ‘A’ based on Greenpeace’s criteria. Facebook and Google received 67 and 56 percent, respectively. Switch, a data center provider, scored 100 percent. This clean energy index indicated how much clean energy each company uses from renewable resources. It also accounts for the companies’ willingness to make public how much energy they consume, as well as their commitment to using renewable energy in their data centers.

Because of the size of these companies, they wield no small amount of influence in the industry. Thus the Greenpeace report, “Thinking Clean: Who is Winning the Race to Build a Green Internet”, takes into account the role these companies play in influencing others to follow their lead. The report notes that Apple has a “catalytic role within its IT supply chain, pushing other IT data centers and cloud operators who help deliver pieces of Apple’s corner of the internet to follow their lead in powering their operations with renewable energy.”

Facebook was also named in the report for being the first major internet company to pledge to be powered by renewable energy completely. In fact, its five latest data centers are renewable powered.

Google was named for being less transparent in sharing facility level energy demand data. The company has, however, been progressing toward a renewable powered cloud service, and is currently improving its release of renewable energy in new markets.

Netflix, Amazon, Samsung, and a plethora of other companies were called out in the report. The company scorecard revealed that Amazon scored an “F” grade in energy transparency, “D” in renewable energy commitment, “C” ins renewable procurement, and “B” in advocacy. The higher grade in advocacy is a nod to the company’s increased advocacy with policymakers and utilities companies in clean energy and climate control this past year.

Netflix scored “F’s” in energy transparency, renewable energy commitment, and advocacy. Netflix accounts for one-third of North America’s internet traffic, and announced in 2015 that it planned to lessen its carbon footprint. Greenpeace notes that this plan does little to increase the investment in renewable energy.

Since the release of the report, Greenpeace has started a campaign across multiple social media platforms to raise awareness about the companies that received poor grades. A video entitled “Green Netflix” has been released, calling out Netflix in its use of non-renewable energy.

Apple’s AirPods Finally on Sale

After Apple Airpods had been on delay since their supposed launch in October, they have now gone on sale. The reason for the delay is still uncertain but Apple tried to placate its customers by saying it required “more time” before the AirPods were “ready for our customers”.

Apple announced that the AirPods would be “shipping in limited quantities” and that customers should “check online for updates.” Customers can expect to see AirPods in Apple Stores and other Apple authorized stores within the next week.

AirPods go great with the iPhone 7, which is one of the first smartphones that comes without a headphone jack. AirPods are equipped with a W1 chip that allows for better audio. It also has a longer lasting battery life that will give users up to 24 hours of listening time.

AirPods are sold with a charging case and a USB cord for $159 and can be found here. They are sold in over 100 countries which include Japan, Australia, China, France, Germany, and the U.S.

Foxconn Employee Faces Ten Years for Massive Theft

A manager at Foxconn, part of Apple’s manufacturing chain, can face up to ten years in jail for stealing iPhones and selling them. The manager, who is only being identified by the name Tsai, sold over 5,700 iPhone’s to stores in Shenzhen, China, between the years of 2013-2014.

It is reported that Tsai had eight other employees remove iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s, which were marked to be scrapped, from the manufacturing line and sold them throughout China. Tsai and his comrades collected a total of $2.2 million before they were discovered.

The thieves were caught during one of Foxconn’s internal audits and reported to the Taiwanese authorities. Earlier this year, Tsai and his accomplices were arrested and charged with breach of the company’s trust but have since been released on bail.

Foxconn has a history of poor working conditions which, in the past, has led to employee suicides. The company also didn’t do too well during the first quarter of 2016. Their profits declined by thirty percent and as opposed to recent yearly earnings of NT (New Taiwan) $25.7 billion, they only made NT $17.7 billion this year.

How Long is the Wait for Apple’s AirPods?

Apple says it needs “a little more time” before the new AirPods, Apples wireless earbuds, will be available for customers. The AirPods were announced at the beginning of September but since then their release date keeps getting deferred.

Customers have been impatiently awaiting the release of the AirPods since October. One consumer wrote to Apple demanding to know the exact release date and even threatened to seek business elsewhere. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, promptly responded to the email saying, “Thanks for your note. Sorry for the delay—we are finalizing them and I anticipate we will begin to ship over the next few weeks”

AirPods can provide users with up to 5 hours of high-quality music playback. The rechargeable battery case also allows for up to 24 hours of battery life. With just a tap of the finger, users can switch from iCloud to Siri, which will allow them to check things like battery life. Although consumers can be on the lookout for a possible release between now and January, AirPods are still titled as “currently unavailable” on Apple’s website, which means a specific date really can’t be determined.

Samsung Insists the Galaxy S7 is Safe

Samsung still insists on the safety of its devices even though there has been a report of a Galaxy S7 exploding in a man’s hands. According to a Canadian newspaper, Amarjit Mann says his S7 felt hot in his pocket. When he took it out, the device exploded resulting in third-degree burns to his hands. Mann says he plans on filing a lawsuit against the South Korean electronics company. In response to this incident, the company made a statement saying,

“Samsung stands behind the quality and safety of the Galaxy S7 family. There have been no confirmed cases of internal battery failures with these devices among the more than 10 million devices being used by consumers in the United States; however, we have confirmed a number of instances caused by severe external damage. Until Samsung is able to obtain and examine any device, it is impossible to determine the true cause of any incident.”

This incident only adds to the blows Samsung has received from the reports of the Galaxy Note 7 being defective. The Note 7 had been intended as a major boost for Samsung. It was the first large released product since the Galaxy S7 and the S7 Edge. However, shortly after the Note 7 was released, reports on overheating batteries catching fire began to pour in. The company offered to placate its users with replacements of the defected devices, but Samsung ended up recalling all the devices once replacements began to catch fire as well. Along with the loss of almost $5 billion in profit due to the suspension in production of the Note 7, two class action lawsuits were filed against the company.

Despite the money loss and the lawsuits that have been filed, the company’s image doesn’t appear affected by the ordeal. In a recent poll, ninety-one percent of Samsung customers said they would choose a different phone made by the company rather than choosing another brand. Samsung also claims that eighty-five percent of the replacements done on the recalled Note 7 were other Samsung smartphones. It is also reported that, in response to the new iPhone 7, Samsung will release a new glossy black version of the Galaxy S7 sometime next month.

Will Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google’s Parent Company Meet High Expectations?

The four tech giants (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Alphabet) are reaping in tons of profit this year.The companies are valued at $1.8 trillion combined. All four will report their earnings for the quarter next week.

These four tech giants may boost the Nasdaq, the American stock market, to an all-time high. Nasdaq is only 3% away from last year’s high at 5,232.

Microsoft is setting an example with its new cloud business reaping profits. Microsoft reported an increase of 5% and surpassed an all-time high back in December 1999. If you combine Microsoft’s $440 billion market value to the other four tech giants, it will amount to at least $2.2 trillion.

Apple, on the other hand, is not doing so well. Apple stock has declined by 6% and stocks may drop more due to the iPhone’s waning popularity. Market analysts are expecting a dip in revenue for the quarter. At this rate, Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, will have to convince investors to stay with something other than the iPhone.

Amazon is having an amazing year and is anticipating an all-time high and Amazon’s Prime Day sales are the cause. Analysts are estimating a six-fold increase in revenue.

Although Alphabet is down by 3% this year, it may change with analysts estimating a 15% increase for Alphabet. Alphabet, however, needs to beat analyst predictions to get back on track.

Facebook is best off in comparison to the other tech giants. Facebook recently hit one billion users on Messenger and Facebook continues to expand. With this milestone, analysts predict that sales will increase by 50% and revenue will skyrocket up to 60%.

If these tech giants meet our high expectations, Nasdaq will be on the road to a new record high.

Apple Watch Sales Decrease by 55%

The Apple Watch, which was released last year, has seen sales drop 55%.

Market intelligence firm IDC reports that 3.6 million orders of the Apple Watch were shipped during the first three months of its release. However, watch sales have declined to 1.6 million in the last quarter in spite of discounts.

Apple plans to release another smartwatch, the watchOS 3, with updates to its operating system this autumn. The watchOS 3 will consist of new features and improved performance. Along with the watchOS 3, Apple will return with the new Apple Watch 2 (also coming out in the fall).

Research analysts suspect that consumers have refrained from buying Apple Watches due to the anticipation for newer Apple Watches. IDC’s research manager for Apple Watches and wearables predicts that the Apple Watch market will return to its original success when the new Apple Watches come out with new applications and a cell-phone connecting features.

iPhone 7 Leaks Introduce New Battery, Earpods, and iPhone SE

With the recent iPhone 7 leak, Apple is introducing a few improvements. The iPhone 7 will be similar to the iPhone 6 but will have more battery life, longer ear pods, and better camera technology. The iPhone SE, on the other hand, was a huge flop.

Apple, like any other company with a mobile product, is planning to increase battery life. Compared to the iPhone 6S the battery life will increase 14% (1715 mAh to 1960 mAh). This increase in battery life is due to the removal of the headphone port and combining it with the charging port. Another factor comes from tweaking the current components.

Apple will also be sporting longer ear pods. The design for the ear pods is relatively similar except for a bulky extension that consists of a lightning connector. By combining the charger port and the headphone port, it is likely that there is a need for an authentication chip, thus explaining the bulky extension.

In addition, the iPhone 7 is going to improve its camera technology. This is shown physically through the iPhone 7’s protruding camera lens. Despite the unattractive bulge, the camera will capture better images. Apple will probably conceal the protruding lens and focus on the imaging in its marketing plan. Investments in Apple’s camera technology continue with Apple opening a new research lab in France to improve the iPhone’s camera sensor by hiring engineers from STMicoelectronics.

While the iPhone 7 is garnering positive attention, the iPhone SE isn’t doing so well. It seems like Apple has run out of ideas. Apple is creating the same product, except it’s a little faster than before. This seems a bit unoriginal of Apple, but the iPhone SE was popular specifically because of its small size and its particular attributes. The iPhone SE is, quite bluntly, relying on its brand name.