Essentially Cancelled

From The Verge, The Essential Phone 2 has reportedly been canceled:

Essential has canceled plans to develop a second phone and is exploring selling off the entire company, according to Bloomberg. Much of the details remain up in the air. Talks of a sale sound like they aren’t very far along, and the report says that Essential still has plans for future products.

One thing that does sound certain is that Essential’s second phone — at least as it was originally planned — isn’t going to happen. Bloomberg says the development was canceled and that engineers are now working on a smart home product, which is supposed to be released next year. That may be the Echo competitor that Essential announced a year ago, but which we haven’t heard a word about since.

The Essential Phone shipped months and months after they said it would be available last May, and then when it did launch, they cut the price $200.

Andy Rubin created the Android operating system, and he came to market with a decent phone, but the Android market is very crowded and Rubin clearly was not able to convince people to buy his phone over a Google or Samsung phone.

Categories:

Business, Product

Never go full robot.

“The guy telling everyone to be afraid of robots uses too many robots in his factory”:

Elon Musk says Tesla relied on too many robots to build the Model 3, which is partly to blame for the delays in manufacturing the crucial mass-market electric car. In an interview with CBS Good Morning, Musk agreed with Tesla’s critics that there was over-reliance on automation and too few human assembly line workers building the Model 3.

Earlier this month, Tesla announced that it had officially missed its goal of making 2,500 Model 3 vehicles a week by the end of the first financial quarter of this year. It will start the second quarter making just 2,000 Model 3s per week, but the company says it still believes it can get to a rate of 5,000 Model 3s per week at the midway point of 2018.

You went full robot. Never go full robot.

“I trust Apple a lot less.”

I got my iPhone’s battery replaced, and I’m angry Apple didn’t tell me to sooner:

Two weeks ago, I went to an Apple Store and had a new battery put in my iPhone 6S. The very next day, I realized how unusable my old battery had been making my phone.

The repair restored functionality that had been seeping away so slowly I hadn’t really registered the loss. Apps now load when I tap them, not when they feel like it. The keyboard doesn’t freeze when I try to reply to emails in Outlook. My phone no longer clings to its charging cable like it’s a hospital drip, and the battery itself has stopped taking surprise nosedives from 40 percent charge down to zero when I have the temerity to go outside in the cold. (Yes, cold weather kills batteries.) The trust is back in my relationship with my phone, but as a result, I trust Apple a lot less.

I’m angry too.

As an admitted fan of Apple I won’t lie, this is bullshit. I’ve always known, always, that performance degraded on my previous iPhones when I upgraded to the latest version of iOS. I didn’t need an official statement from Apple or any other company to confirm or deny my suspicions.

And now here we are getting new, discounted batteries from Apple.

Categories:

Business, Technology

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Apple continues to eat the watch industry’s lunch.

Apple sold more watches than Rolex, Swatch, and the rest of the Swiss watch industry combined:

Apple is one of the biggest watchmakers in the world.

How big? Based on newly available statistics, it now seems certain that Apple outsold the entire Swiss watch industry combined last quarter.

Yep. The company best known for making iPhones outsold Rolex, Omega, and even Swatch last quarter — combined.

That’s according to Apple Watch sales estimates from industry researcher Canalys and IDC, and publicly released shipment statistics from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Canalys estimates that Apple sold 8 million Apple Watches in the last quarter of 2017.

Another industry who’s lunch Apple is eating.

Keep the success of Apple Watch in mind when you read stories about apps ditching it.

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Schnatter is the one who should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.

The papa of Papa John’s is leaving the CEO seat:

Papa John’s is a major NFL sponsor, and Schnatter wasn’t shy about sharing his thoughts about players who took a knee during the national anthem to protest the treatment of black Americans, particularly by police.

President Trump earlier this year publicly criticized players who chose to kneel, ratcheting up the controversy.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said on a conference call with investors in November. “The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country.”

Fuck that guy. Good riddance.

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Business

Net Neutrality Dismantled

F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules:

The Federal Communications Commission voted on Thursday to dismantle landmark rules regulating the businesses that connect consumers to the internet, granting broadband companies the power to potentially reshape Americans’ online experiences.

The agency scrapped the so-called net neutrality regulations that prohibited broadband providers from blocking websites or charging for higher-quality service or certain content. The federal government will also no longer regulate high-speed internet delivery as if it were a utility, like phone service.

The action reversed the agency’s 2015 decision, during the Obama administration, to better protect Americans as they have migrated to the internet for most communications. It will take a couple of weeks for the changes go into effect, but groups opposed to the action have already announced plans to sue the agency to restore the net neutrality regulations. Those suits could take many months to be resolved.

Today was a very bad day for Americans.

Categories:

Business, Politics

America’s Retail Apocalypse

America’s ‘Retail Apocalypse’ Is Really Just Beginning:

The reason isn’t as simple as Amazon.com Inc. taking market share or twenty-somethings spending more on experiences than things. The root cause is that many of these long-standing chains are overloaded with debt—often from leveraged buyouts led by private equity firms. There are billions in borrowings on the balance sheets of troubled retailers, and sustaining that load is only going to become harder—even for healthy chains.

The debt coming due, along with America’s over-stored suburbs and the continued gains of online shopping, has all the makings of a disaster. The spillover will likely flow far and wide across the U.S. economy. There will be displaced low-income workers, shrinking local tax bases and investor losses on stocks, bonds and real estate. If today is considered a retail apocalypse, then what’s coming next could truly be scary.

Not every mall can get an Apple Store to lift sales by 10 percent.

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Business

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Holden Shuts Down

Australia Mourns the End of Its Car Manufacturing Industry:

Kane Butterfield started working for Holden at 19 in a small South Australian town built around making the distinctly Australian cars.

But on Friday, after 17 years with the company at its Adelaide auto plant, he and hundreds of other employees bid it farewell, as the factory officially closed, putting an end to car manufacturing in Australia.

“I think it’s pretty tragic really that we’ve let go of one of the best cars around the world,” Mr. Butterfield, 37, told a crowd of reporters gathered outside Australia’s last functioning car factory.

Business people love to talk about innovation and “disrupting” but you don’t hear them talk much about the working class employees getting “disrupted” out the doors of their companies.

Categories:

Business, Career

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The Slow Death of Retail

Lord & Taylor Building, Icon of New York Retail, to Become WeWork Headquarters:

From the moment it opened its doors more than a century ago, the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan has stood as an icon of old-school retail.

Its Italian Renaissance design, complete with grand entrance arch and copper cornice, was a 676,000-square-foot temple to commerce — and was named a city landmark a decade ago.

But after Christmas next year, less than a quarter of its space will be home to Lord & Taylor’s flagship store. Instead, the retailer said on Tuesday, the Midtown Manhattan fixture will become the new global headquarters of WeWork, the seven-year-old office space start-up. Lord & Taylor will rent the bottom floors, redesigning them into a smaller version of its department store.

In selling its flagship building to a WeWork joint venture for $850 million, Lord & Taylor and its parent, the Hudson’s Bay Company, are bowing to pressures that have increasingly weighed on the retail industry. It is an acknowledgment that even the grand physical shopping spaces of old can now fetch higher values as offices catering to millennial workers.

Earlier this month my wife and I were in New Jersey for my sister’s wedding and we took a day trip into Manhattan. I noticed a significant number of empty retail spaces all over the city — many more empty spaces then when we moved out in 2012.

The state of retail seems very polarized. You’re either Apple commanding $5,546 per square foot or you’re folding.

Categories:

Business

The App Store

Back in June, Horace Dediu took a look at 9 years of numbers for the App Store:

The App Store is almost 9 years old. In that time it has generated about $100 billion in revenues, of which about $70 billion has been passed on to developers and $30 billion was kept by Apple. It’s very likely that running the App Store for 9 years did not cost $30 billion so, if it were an independent “business unit” it would probably have been and still be quite profitable.

But Apple does not run “business units” with separate Profit and Loss statements. The App Store is a part of Services which is an amalgamation of non-hardware sources of revenues but that does not mean it’s a business. The purpose of Services isn’t to turn a profit or define its value through some metric of financial performance.

The purpose of Services is to make the experience for the Apple user better. The combination of good experiences allows Apple to be perceived as a valuable brand and that allows it to obtain consistently above-average profitability through pricing power. I like to emphasize that the iPhone at over $600 in average price is more than twice the average price of all the other smartphones and captures over 90% of all available profits.

The fact that Apple doesn’t have business units is important and it’s what makes the company so hard for analysts to define and for competitors to compete with.

At the end of the day, yes, Apple is a company that manufactures physical gadgets but like Dediu points out, if you take away software or services from the equation, Apple falls apart.

It’s all connected.

Categories:

Business, Technology

Too Much CBD Oil for Nate Diaz

Coach: Nate Diaz ‘needs to get paid at least $20 million’ for Conor McGregor trilogy:

Conor McGregor’s huge paycheck for his boxing match with Floyd Mayweather could mean more money for his future UFC opponents — at least that’s what Nate Diaz’s boxing coach Richard Perez is hoping for.

Diaz’s last two fights under the UFC banner were against “The Notorious” in 2016, and he made $2.6 million dollars in disclosed pay in those bouts combined. After seeing what McGregor made against Mayweather, and the potential money that could be made in a trilogy bout with McGregor in the UFC, Perez expects 10 times more.

“At least $20 million, $30 million,” Perez told Submission Radio. “Come on. UFC’s making a whole lot of money, a whole lot of money and they’re pocketing it. They’re giving more to McGregor, so it’s not fair because it takes two in that ring to draw a crowd – I mean, a good two fighters. It’s just like Mayweather when he fought Berto. It was not even sold out at all. It was embarrassing. It’s because that guy couldn’t draw a crowd. See, that’s what I’m saying, it’s the fighters that draw the crowd, and Nathan and McGregor, third one would be outstanding. Everyone knows that. So he needs to get paid at least $30 million easy.”

Nate Diaz is out of his fucking mind if he thinks he can get $20 million to fight McGregor in the UFC.

Conor pocketed a base of $30 million (over $100 million after the final numbers were tallied) for his boxing match this past Saturday with Floyd Mayweather.

McGregor and Mayweather are both businessmen and promotion machines who work to generate the inevitable buzz that builds up around their fights. They did a 4-city world promotional tour before their fight. Nate Diaz can barely form sentences.

Can Diaz fight? One hundred percent. Diaz is an incredible fighter, but when you’re asking for $20 million, you have to bring more to the table than your fighting skills and the ability to throw water bottles at your opponent.

Categories:

Business, Sports

“Boxing is different from when I boxed. Those guys are businessmen up there.”

Mike Tyson reacts to the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight back in 2015:

It’s almost like I’m in, I wouldn’t say church, but a library. Maybe I’m just a Neanderthal. I wanted to kill the other guy. I’m a natural born killer. I want to win in dramatic fashion and hurt people. They make one guy the good guy and one guy the monster and they sell it and make a lot of money. Boxing is different from when I boxed. Those guys are businessmen up there.

He really was a killer in the ring.

C.E.O.s Disbanding

Trump’s Council of C.E.O.s in Disarray Following Remarks on Protest:

President Trump’s main council of top corporate leaders appeared on the verge of disbanding on Wednesday, said people briefed on the matter, following controversial remarks from Mr. Trump on Tuesday when he equated white nationalist hate groups with the protesters opposing them.

Late Wednesday morning, Stephen A. Schwarzman, the chief executive of the Blackstone Group and one of Mr. Trump’s closest confidants in the business community, organized a conference call for members of the president’s Strategic and Policy Forum.

On the call, the chief executives of some of the largest companies in the country were debating how to proceed.

One option under serious consideration was disbanding the forum altogether.

If the forum does survive, several C.E.O.s were expected to resign from it.

This how you hit Trump where it hurts, with business.

Trump prides himself on his business acumen and all the connections and “friends” he has in the business world, so there’s nothing more insulting to Trump than to have his business council collapse.

It may not affect his pocket book, but it’s a loss and it’s symbolic.

Update: Trump is throwing in the towel with his “Manufacturing Council & Strategy & Policy Forum,” as a winner does.

Categories:

Business, Tromp

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Paying for Shit

SoundCloud stays afloat with emergency investment, as CEO steps aside:

SoundCloud today announced that it has closed the investor round necessary to keep it going for the foreseeable future. As part of the agreement, Alex Ljung will step aside and former Vimeo leader Kerry Trainor will become SoundCloud’s new CEO, with Mike Weissman as COO. Ljung will stay on to “fully focus on the role of the chairman and the long-term.” Billboard reports the exact amount of the investment is $169.5 million, which, says Ljung, makes this infusion “the largest financing round in the history of SoundCloud.”

Companies these days seem to be averse to the stupid, old idea of charging money for a product. It’s all about getting funding, which is not generating revenue.

I know, I know, SoundCloud does charge for their service, but they didn’t until last year.

Seriously, people. If you want a quality product, you have to pay for it. What is so wrong with this idea? This then raises the question, Is SoundCloud a quality service? Many podcasts syndicate their content on SoudCloud, but I get mine from iTunes and I already pay for Spotify Premium.

Remember, when you’re not paying for the product you use, you are the product being sold.

Categories:

Business, Music