Apple

Apple CEO Tim Cook and President Trump toured a Texas computer factory to tout US manufacturing

President Donald Trump and Apple CEO Tim Cook toured a Texas manufacturing facility on Wednesday, getting a glimpse of a factory used by Apple to assemble the Mac Pro desktop. The tour was a public symbol of Trump’s close relationship with Cook, and also provided an opportunity for the president to showcase a leading American company that’s manufacturing in the U.S. as Trump struggles to put into place the first piece of a U.S.-China trade agreement. “I would always talk about Apple, that I want to see Apple building plants in the United States, and that’s what’s happening,” Trump said in a brief conversation with reporters after the tour. “And Tim Cook is someone I greatly respect.” The relationship between the two men has been cultivated over the past few years through dinners, meetings and Cook’s membership on key presidential advisory councils. Cook and Trump were joined by White House advisor Ivanka Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, while in Washington, D.C., the House Intelligence Committee continued its impeachment hearings. Trump touched on the hearings in the briefing with the media. The plant toured on Wednesday, operated by Flex, assembles the Mac Pro, a high-end computer that starts at $6,000. A previous model of the computer was made in the same facility starting in 2013. Apple doesn’t own or operate its own manufacturing and instead contracts with companies like Flex. A Flex spokesperson declined to comment. During the tour, Trump posed with an engraved metal plate reading, “Designed by Apple in California. Assembled in USA,” a reference to the Apple slogan that used to be printed on iPhones. For Apple, the relationship with Trump enables the iPhone maker to communicate at the highest level its position on several trade-related issues, including tariffs. As part of Trump’s trade war with China, a 15% import tax will start to affect iPhones in December. “The nice part here is you don’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said on Wednesday. “When you build in the United States you don’t have to worry about tariffs,” Trump said. He repeated that he’s “looking at” whether to exempt Apple from tariffs on Chinese imports. Apple doesn’t break down its Mac sales by product line, but it’s among the company’s lowest-volume computers and the only one to be assembled in the U.S. Apple shipped 218 million iPhones in 2018, with the vast majority assembled in China. The Mac Pro is “an example of American design, American manufacturing, and American ingenuity,” Cook said. In June, Apple announced a new Mac Pro design. The company didn’t specify where it would be manufactured, but the Wall Street Journal reported that it would be assembled in China. Earlier this year, Apple applied for tariff exclusions for 15 parts needed to assemble the computer. When 10 out of the 15 exclusions were granted in September, Apple said it planned to manufacture the Mac Pro in the same facility in Texas that was used for the previous model. The Mac Pro computer will go on sale in December. “We thank the administration for their support enabling this opportunity,” Cook said in a statement at the time. Apple also announced on Wednesday that it will begin construction on a planned Austin campus that could have the capacity for as many as 15,000 employees.

Apple will build new Mac Pros in Texas amid tariffs

Apple’s insanely expensive new desktop computer will be made in the United States — not China, the company announced Monday. The $6,000 Mac Pro will be built at Apple’s Austin, Texas, plant following US trade regulators approving 10 requests for tariff exemptions filed by Apple for computer parts. “The new Mac Pro will include components designed, developed and manufactured by more than a dozen American companies for distribution to US customers,” Apple said in a statement. The Mac Pro had been assembled at the Austin plant since 2013, but Apple announced earlier this year that its new computer would be made in China — prompting furor from President Trump, who has been critical of the company’s reliance on Chinese factories. “Apple will not be given Tariff wavers (sic), or relief, for Mac Pro parts that are made in China,” Trump tweeted. “Make them in the USA, no Tariffs!” Apple at that time said “like all of our products, the new Mac Pro is designed and engineered in California and includes components from several countries including the United States.” The new Mac Pro is slated for release this fall with an entry-level price of $5,999. It’s designed to be paired with Apple’s new $4,999 Pro Display XDR monitor, which in turn is mounted on a $999 Pro Stand. That means Apple’s new supercomputer will cost at least $12,000 before boosting any of its specs. Apple shares were up 0.6 percent Monday morning, at $219.10.

Apple gets ready for life after the iPhone with services push

On Monday, Apple will do something it has never done when making a product announcement — focus largely on other companies, not itself. Apple is expected to launch two services on March 25, including its rumored video streaming service, at an event in Cupertino, Calif. that will be attended by Hollywood celebrities such as JJ Abrams and Jennifer Aniston. This is in stark contrast to past events, which have largely featured tech journalists, Wall Street and industry analysts. As part of the video streaming service, Apple is expected to place a heavy emphasis on selling others’ services for them, according to a report in Recode. It will work similar to the App Store and Amazon’s successful Amazon Channels initiative, in that it will sell the services for them and take a cut of the transaction. Apple is also likely to unveil some of its own content, some of which stars Aniston as well as Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell and others. On Sunday, The New York Times reported that five of the first shows that Apple has funded as part of its big content push have already been completed. Apple, which has not yet given a name to the service, is also said to be wooing other cable companies, such as HBO, Starz and Showtime ahead of the launch, according to Bloomberg. Earlier this week, Apple unveiled new iPads, new iMacs and new AirPods. They were all introduced with simple press releases and without the usual fanfare Apple has given its products in the past, a stark reminder that Apple sees itself as more than just a consumer electronics company. CEO Tim Cook, who has become increasingly active in touting the company’s business outside of its iPhone, has previously said the company would double its service revenue by 2020 from 2016 levels. Revenue attributed to its Services-related business totaled $10.9 billion in its most recent quarter, up 19 percent year-over-year. To effort this along, Apple is said to be spending at least $1 billion on content, a venture that has been marred by reports of intrusion from Apple executives wary of content that might be considered overly graphic or anti-technology. Earlier this month, The New York Post reported that Cook has been seen on the set on one of the Apple-funded shows “See,” a futuristic sci-fi drama starring “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa. Several of the company’s top brass, including Cook himself, have given notes to writers and showrunners, a process that has been deemed “intrusive,” according to the Post’s sources. Apple’s push into television and movie making is being led by two executives it hired away from Sony, Jamie Erlicht and Zack Van Amburg, who were responsible for shows such as “Breaking Bad” and “The Goldberg’s.” Monness Crespi analyst Brian White, arguably Apple’s biggest supporter on Wall Street, believes the event will kick into high-gear the mindset that Apple is trying to shape how it is viewed. Apple is no longer just about iDevices, but rather a ubiquitous and indispensable part of everyone’s lives, White believes. “In our view, Apple’s digital ecosystem remains a major differentiator, developing hardware, software and services to create a unique experience with devices working seamlessly together on Planet Apple,” White wrote in a note to investors. White added that Apple, which had more than 1.4 billion active devices at the end of its most recent quarter, will be well-positioned as more devices become a computer, allowing it to sell more services. “As more ‘things’ become a computer, we believe Apple is well positioned to benefit and unveil even more new services,” White continued.

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Apple to patch FaceTime privacy bug

Apple Opens a New Window. said on Monday it will issue a fix for a bug that lets iPhone Opens a New Window. users hear audio from users who have not yet accepted a FaceTime video call. The software patch will be issued by the end of the week. The bug allows an iPhone user placing a call using Apple’s FaceTime video-calling feature to hear audio from the recipient’s phone even if the recipient has not yet picked up the call, according to Reuters. In certain situations, the bug also broadcast both video and audio from the recipient’s phone, the technology news website the Verge noted. Apple’s group FaceTime was temporarily made unavailable due to an ongoing issue, according to Apple’s system status webpage. The Cupertino, California-based company was not immediately available to comment on the update on its system status page. Apple announced the feature last summer, but then removed it from early test versions of its iOS 12 operating system. The company launched the feature in October. Apple will report its fiscal first quarter results after the markets close on Tuesday.

Polaroid. Walkman. Palm Pilot. iPhone?

The iPhone is arguably the most valuable product in the world, representing the backbone of Apple Inc.’s AAPL -1.03% half-trillion-dollar hardware business and undergirding its software-peddling App store. It remains the envy of consumer-product companies world-wide. If history is any indication, though, America’s favorite handheld device will someday take up residence with the digital camera, the calculator, the pager, Sony’s Walkman and the Palm Pilot in a museum. Although it’s hard to imagine the iPhone dying, change can sneak up rapidly on contraptions that are deeply entrenched in American culture. Consider it was as recently as the mid-1990s when I spent an hour a day during my senior year in high school in a room full of electric typewriters learning to type. Today, I spend most of my working hours using that skill to bang away on a keyboard, but I have rarely touched an actual typewriter in 25 years. “Over time, every franchise dies,” said Nick Santhanam, McKinsey’s Americas practice leader in Silicon Valley. “You can innovate on an amazing mousetrap, but if people eventually don’t want a mousetrap, you’re screwed.” Kodak, Polaroid and Sears are all examples from the recent past of companies that held too tightly to an old idea. Today’s tech giants, ranging from Netflix (having already reinvented itself to be dependent on advertising-free streaming video) to Google parent Alphabet Inc. (counting advertising as 86% of revenue), should take note of those painful demises to avoid the same fate. Apple’s mousetrap is anything but broken. Representing 60% of Apple’s revenue, the iPhone outsells 96% of the companies on the Fortune 500. The phone carries the bulk of the $545 billion valuation that Morgan Stanley assigns to Apple’s wider hardware business. Apple, for the better part of the 2000s, was the master of the next big thing: the iPod, the MacBook Air, the iPad, the iPhone. Apple wasn’t always first, but its products were easier to use, thinner, cooler. With the success of the iPhone since it arrived on the scene, the next big thing has been harder to find. Apple has had no breakthrough on TV, a modest success with its watch, a stumble in music and a lot of speculation concerning its intentions for autonomous cars or creating original programming. Now, as in a comic-book movie, we’re all left to wonder whether Apple’s greatest strength could be its biggest weakness? Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook acknowledges the latest iPhone delivery trends indicate his company faces a potential inflection point. “Apple has always used periods of adversity to re-examine our approach,” Mr. Cook said in a Jan. 2 letter to investors. Apple has a legacy of invention, Mr. Cook says. That’s something the Cupertino, Calif., company is eventually going to need. In a CNBC interview Tuesday, he pointed to rapid growth in services and “wearables”—such as watches or ear buds—as reason for optimism. Someday, Apple will be known more for its contribution to health care than its sleek gadgets, Mr. Cook says. Whatever shape it takes, Apple’s evolution will be closely watched if only because reinvention is so hard to pull off. A decade ago, Nokia’s dominance in handheld devices evaporated after executives failed to create a compelling operating system to make their pricey smartphones more user-friendly. Finnish executives have told me on several occasions that Nokia knew it needed to rapidly change, but lacked the urgency and resources to do it. There are success stories, to be sure. The Model T almost entirely underpinned Ford Motor Co.’s rise a century ago, when the Detroit auto maker owned roughly half of the U.S. car market. Without “The Universal Car,” Henry Ford likely would have been forgotten. A closer parallel to Apple is Microsoft Corp. Its best-known product, Windows, was so dominant that it drew extreme regulatory scrutiny while vaulting the Seattle software company atop the personal-computer market before cloud computing existed. Both Ford and Microsoft adapted and survived. Iconic vehicles like Ford’s Mustang coupe or F-150 pickup prove companies can live a productive life after the initial hit product fades. Microsoft’s transition to cloud computing with its Azure product, meanwhile, has vaulted the company back near the top of the race for the title of world’s most valuable company. Still, it’s a slog. “It’s hard to be a two-trick pony,” former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told me Thursday. “It’s amazing to do one. It’s super amazing to do two. Doing three? I have a lot of respect for a company that can do three tricks. … It’s just hard to come up with concepts that can make that happen.” He said Apple’s line of Mac products is one trick and the so-called i-Series (iPhone or iPod) was a second. “If they had stopped with the iPod, where would they be?” They succeeded because “they pushed beyond” with a phone. By all accounts, the iPhone’s run—nearing the dozen-year mark—has been remarkable, especially when you consider the average company in the S&P 500 remains in the index for only 15 years. Mr. Cook’s legacy, however, hinges on how well he pulls off Apple’s next act.

Indeed…  Thanks to John D. Stoll for that reality check.

Apple’s next iPhone may have a ‘secret weapon’

Apple’s next iPhone could feature powerful camera technology built by rival Sony. The so-called “3D camera” would turn the real world into a video game – using revolutionary augmented reality (AR) tech. Apple is tight-lipped about this year’s iPhone 11, to the point where we don’t even know the gadget’s real name. But a new report suggests Apple has shown interested in a three-lens camera system that could debut on this year’s iPhone. According to Bloomberg, Sony is “boosting production of next-generation 3D sensors”, which could revolutionize phone cameras. Apparently, this is “after getting interest from customers, including Apple.” The report notes that Sony will kick off mass production “in late summer”. Apple typically launches new smartphones in September, so the production timeline could work for a new iPhone. So what’s the big deal with Sony’s new camera tech? Smartphone makers are investing heavily in augmented reality, which overlays computer-generated images onto the world around you. Common examples include Snapchat filters, or the Pokémon you see in the Pokémon Go app game. To achieve high-quality AR, cameras need to be able to work out depth – understanding how far objects are away from each other. This makes it possible to place CGI objects much more accurately, so they seem more realistic. Sony’s system uses a “time of flight” method that sends out invisible laser pulses and measures how long they take to bounce back. This can create more detailed 3D models are a distance of up to five meters. With very accurate AR, it would be possible to turn the real world into a convincing video game. One example included a game where phone owners could use hand gestures to cast magic spells in a virtual game. Sony regularly supplies camera hardware for lots of rivals in the smartphone industry. It counts Apple, Google and Samsung among its customers, and controls about half of the camera chip market. Of course, there’s no guarantee that Apple will use any of this new camera tech in its next iPhone model.

Ready Player One…coming to an iPhone near you

Apple spending $11B on Texas campus, data centers

Apple has announced that it is putting its cash pile to work. The technology giant will invest $1 billion to build a new campus in North Austin, Texas and another $10 billion for new data centers. It is all a part of a five-year investment aimed at creating 20,000 jobs in the United States. The Cupertino-based company said on Thursday it would also to set up new sites in Seattle, San Diego and Culver City, California and expand operations in Pittsburgh, New York and Boulder, Colorado over the next three years. “Apple is proud to bring new investment, jobs and opportunity to cities across the United States and to significantly deepen our quarter-century partnership with the city and people of Austin,” said Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. “Talent, creativity and tomorrow’s breakthrough ideas aren’t limited by region or zip code, and, with this new expansion, we’re redoubling our commitment to cultivating the high-tech sector and workforce nationwide.” Apple has faced increasing political pressure to ramp up investments at home since 2016, when then presidential candidate Donald Trump targeted the company for using Asian factories for the bulk of its manufacturing. Data centers in North Carolina, Arizona and Nevada are being expanded. The new Austin campus will be located less than a mile away from its existing facilities, Apple said. Apple’s technology rival Amazon.com last month ended a months-long search for new headquarters, picking locations in New York and Virginia.

Great news!!   🙂