"Apple Park" Is Almost Complete

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, May 25, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Apple Park
In September 2014, the cleared land once home to Hewlett-Packard was little more than a field of dust. Today, as the first of 12,000 employees prepare to move in, it is the location of Apple's gleaming new headquarters.

Officially called Apple Park but still better known for its "spaceship" nickname given for its futuristic design, a new drone video posted in recent days by Matthew Roberts shows the sprawling, 176-acre Cupertino campus in the final stages of construction.

While at first glance it looks pretty much complete, closer inspection reveals work continuing in a number of areas around the site, including at the Steve Jobs Theater, the company’s subterranean 1,000-seat auditorium featuring a 20-foot-tall glass cylinder, 165 feet in diameter, supporting a metallic carbon-fiber roof.

Apple employees are expected any day now to begin transferring to the distinctive, doughnut-shaped main building, which is wrapped in the world’s largest segments of curved glass and topped off with a covering of solar panels that will help power the campus. The process of moving all 12,000 workers to the new site is expected to take up to six months.

Besides the main building and theater, the tech giant's new base includes a 100,000-square-foot fitness center to keep Apple’s team in top shape, a research and development facility where Jony Ive and co. will endeavor to cook up the company’s next big success, and expansive landscaped parklands.

Notably, Apple claims its new HQ is the world's largest naturally ventilated building and is therefore not expected to require heating or air conditioning for nine months of the year.

"Steve's vision for Apple stretched far beyond his time with us," Apple boss Tim Cook said in a statement earlier this year. "He intended Apple Park to be the home of innovation for generations to come. The workspaces and parklands are designed to inspire our team as well as benefit the environment. We’ve achieved one of the most energy-efficient buildings in the world and the campus will run entirely on renewable energy."

Fans of the company, or those with an interest in stunning modern architecture, are invited to drop by Apple Park's visitors center, which, as everyone should expect, includes an Apple Store as well as a cafe.

The design of Apple Park is the work of acclaimed architect Norman Foster, though it was the former Apple boss and co-founder Steve Jobs who drove the ambitious project forward in the years and months leading up to his death in 2011.

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Is Apple Discontinuing The iPad Mini

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, May 24, 2017 | | 0 comments »

iPad Mini
Apple’s iPad mini was first introduced in 2012 as an option to the much larger, thicker, and heavier 9.7-inch iPad. There was no 5.5-inch iPhone Plus, so the iPad mini made a great choice for light reading and effortless web browsing, email, and gaming.

The market is not stagnant, however, and the dynamism resulted to a redesigned iPad Pro to be launched this summer that should offer everything the current 9.7-inch iPad features, but in a smaller footprint with a larger 10.5-inch display.

On the other side, there’s the 5.5-inch iPhone 7 Plus, which is large enough to negate the need for a tablet for many users. The device you take everywhere, that’s always with the user, that has the best camera, and that has everything else they need. Therein lies the problem, and that’s why sources close to Apple says that the iPad mini is being phased out.

Not one to ever be shy about disrupting the company's own lineup, BGR's source beats the Apple drum and states that there's "fierce cannibalism of our own products" and that the iPad mini has just been "sized out of its own category." BGR added that the numbers are "very clear" as far as sales are concerned, which is most likely the biggest reason the company plans to eliminate the littlest iPad.

It's not clear if Apple plans to continue selling the iPad mini for a period of time without further updates, or if it will pull the device at some point in the near future.

Separately, while not a surprise, BGR was told Apple plans to share "record numbers" in the company’s updates at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) 2017 next month that were not discussed in the recent earnings conference call.

Additionally, the company's strategy concerning stock buybacks will continue. This could mean the company might leverage stock to help fund acquisitions of small and large companies instead of having to pay cash, which Apple doesn't have much access to since most of its cash hoard is held overseas. Apple has resorted to issuing debt largely to fund dividends paid to shareholders due to the very issue of non-repatriated cash.

If Apple is confident about the company's long-term outlook, then it's smart and less expensive to buy back stock at the current market value and then use that stock as part of a purchase strategy, instead of trading higher value stock in the future for the same transaction.

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The Siri Speaker Is In Testing Stage

Posted by Kirhat | Monday, May 22, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Siri Speaker
Apple's rumored smart Siri speaker has been in development for years, but it has progressed lately to the point in development where employees have been testing it at their homes for months, Bloomberg reported last 9 May.

Apple is rumored to be preparing to launch a smart speaker soon, possibly at the company's annual conference in June.

Apple often has its employees test unreleased products at home, usually when the devices are nearly finished and being prepared and bug-tested ahead of a launch.

The Siri speaker would connect to the internet and users could talk to it through Apple's voice assistant, Siri. It would compete directly with Amazon's Echo speakers, although Apple hasn't publicly commented on the device nor suggested how it could be marketed.

Sound quality is said to be a differentiating factor between Apple's device and the Amazon Echo, with Apple aiming for better speaker and microphone technology. Described as having "excellent acoustics performance," the speaker is said to run a version of iOS and it may include some sort of Beats technology, as well as support AirPlay.

Facial recognition could be an included feature, allowing the device to detect which member of a household is in the room and adjust accordingly, and it may also support integration with a variety of third-party apps, following the introduction of the iOS 10 SDK that allows developers to add Siri integration to their apps.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo discussed the speaker in a recent research note:

"We expect Apple’s first home AI product will have excellent acoustics performance (one woofer + seven tweeters) and computing power (similar to iPhone 6/ 6s AP). Therefore the product is likely to be positioned for: (i) the high-end market; (ii) better entertainment experience; and (iii) higher price than Amazon Echo."

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WWDC May Offer Some Laptop Updates

Posted by Kirhat | Friday, May 19, 2017 | | 0 comments »

WWDC Laptop Updates
Citing a report from Bloomberg, Andrew Cunningham of ArsTechnica indicated that there may be more than just software updates at Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) next month.

Most notably, both the MacBook Pro and the 12-inch MacBook are supposedly being refreshed with Intel's latest "Kaby Lake" CPUs, which boost clock speeds and include slightly better GPUs that can accelerate the encoding and decoding of some 4K video streams. The 12-inch MacBook was last updated a little over a year ago, while the MacBook Pros were only introduced in October.

Cunningham also surmised that Apple could also update the MacBook Air design with new processors, since, despite the design's age and non-Retina display, its position as Apple's cheapest laptop is still helping it sell well. The current Air dates to mid-2015.

The update would be a bit of a burn for anyone who rushed out to buy a new MacBook Pro in October and November after a year and a half without an update. But an update would at least be a sign that Apple is serious about adopting new Intel architectures as they're available.

The MacBook Pro's October refresh was awkwardly timed, coming very late in the Skylake architecture's life but a handful of months before new Kaby Lake CPUs suitable for MacBook Pros would be released. A summer release would get Apple back in sync with Intel's calendar for future refreshes.

As always, Apple's plans are subject to change, and, in recent years as Apple's stable of operating systems has grown, WWDC has remained mostly software focused. The last big hardware announcements at WWDC were in 2013, when Apple pre-announced a new Mac Pro and introduced a new MacBook Air refresh alongside a couple of other odds and ends. Rumors have also suggested we could see a new iPad and an Amazon Echo-esque Siri speaker at WWDC, which would be quite a bit of hardware given that everyone will also likely to see new major releases of iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS at the same keynote.

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The Beauty and Fitness Influencers of 2016

Posted by Kirhat | Thursday, May 18, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Influencers
Forbes magazine released a few months ago its first-ever "Top Influencers" list spotlighting those who've made major bank off of social media. This list includes the biggest money-makers who made their living becoming visible online.

The debut ranking first looks at influencers in the beauty, fitness, and home spaces, but the list will be published quarterly and will cover fashion (coming in September), travel (coming in June), food (coming in December), and more.

The combined following of the 30 social media stars featured is 250 million.

According to the report created with social insight platform Captiv8 and influencer analytics firm Traackr, if they have seven million subscribers or more on YouTube, vloggers could make up to US$ 300,000 per post for a video partnership.

Additionally, top influencers could make US$ 187,000 per Facebook post, and US$ 150,000 per Instagram post. Even on the "lower" end of the spectrum–those who have around 100,000 followers–you could make up to US$ 5,000 per Instagram post.

That's not even counting what they make with book deals, apps, and clothing lines, supplement brands, and other companies they start. Kayla Itsines, for example, made US$ 17 million her "Sweat with Kayla" app alone in 2016. Meanwhile, Michelle Phan co-founded cosmetics box Ipsy, which was valued at US$ 500 million in 2015.

With that said, here are some of the big names Forbes called out:

BEAUTY
  1. Zoe "Zoella" Sugg (@zoella)
  2. Michelle Phan (@michellephan)
  3. Huda Kattan (@hudabeauty)
  4. Nikkie de Jager (@nikkietutorials)
  5. Shannon Harris (@shaaanxo)
See who else made the top 10 beauty influencers here.

FITNESS
  1. Kayla Itsines (@kayla_itsines)
  2. Jennifer Selter (@jenselter)
  3. Emily Skye (@emilyskyefit)
  4. Michelle Lewin (@michelle_lewin)
  5. Joe Wicks (@thebodycoach)

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Apple-Qualcomm Fight Is Expected To Intensify

Posted by Kirhat | Wednesday, May 17, 2017 | | 0 comments »

Apple-Qualcomm Fight
The Google vs Uber fight may be more interesting and dramatic, but there is no doubt that the Apple vs. Qualcomm patent fight will equally be more important and offer some spectacle. Case in point: Qualcomm last 28 April issued a press release to tell everyone in the world that Apple has been a bad, bad company.

Titled "Apple Continues to Improperly Interfere with Qualcomm’s Agreements with Contract Manufacturers," the new statement is about Qualcomm’s revised guidance for the third quarter in light of Apple's recent actions. Needless to say, this fight stands to have a dramatic impact on Qualcomm’s performance.

Apparently, Apple told Qualcomm that "Apple is withholding payments to its contract manufacturers for the royalties those contract manufacturers owe under their licenses with Qualcomm for sales during the quarter ended March 31, 2017," and it will continue to do so until the patent dispute is settled.

As a result, Qualcomm now expects revenue between US$ 4.8 billion and US$ 5.6 billion for the third quarter. Its prior guidance was between US$ 5.3 billion and US$ 6.1 billion.

Comparatively, Qualcomm reported US$ 6.0 billion for the third quarter of fiscal year 2016. In other words, iPhone money is really important to the chipmaker.

"Apple is improperly interfering with Qualcomm’s long-standing agreements with Qualcomm’s licensees," executive vice president and general counsel of Qualcomm Don Rosenberg said.

"These license agreements remain valid and enforceable. While Apple has acknowledged that payment is owed for the use of Qualcomm's valuable intellectual property, it nevertheless continues to interfere with our contracts. Apple has now unilaterally declared the contract terms unacceptable; the same terms that have applied to iPhones and cellular-enabled iPads for a decade. Apple’s continued interference with Qualcomm’s agreements to which Apple is not a party is wrongful and the latest step in Apple’s global attack on Qualcomm. We will continue vigorously to defend our business model, and pursue our right to protect and receive fair value for our technological contributions to the industry."

Things are definitely going to get interesting ...

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