Recent Articles By Charlotte Henry [RSS]

Apple's Executive Reshuffle Hint at the Company's Future

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Dierdre O'Brien

Over the last few months, there have been a number of changes in Apple’s top executive team. They include the departure of Angela Ahrendts and Bill Stasior, as well as the promotion AI boss John Giannandrea to the executive team. On their own, most of the moves are only somewhat interesting. When looked at together, they indicate a shift in focus for Apple, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

The changes, which can be traced back to last year, have included high-profile hires, noteworthy departures, meaningful promotions and consequential restructurings. They have rattled rank-and-file employees unaccustomed to frequent leadership changes and led Apple to put several projects on hold while new managers are given a chance to reassess priorities, according to people familiar with the matter.

Assessing Apple's Shift to Services

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Apple’s so-called shift to services, largely prompted by falling iPhone sales, has been much discussed, not least here on TMO. However, there’s a reason for that – it matters, profoundly, to the future of the company. On March 25th a number of services are expected to be unveiled by the company at a special event. Axios reporters Sara Fischer and Ina Fried nicely summed up where the company is in this transition, why it is happening, and what we can expect next.

What started out as cloud storage and extended support contracts, Apples’ “services” revenue sector has expanded to include Apple Music and will soon likely expand further to news, video and gaming. Apple has made an aggressive push into media and entertainment over the past year, which has sparked rumors that it could one day sell a bundled subscription, where consumers could potentially pay one fee for an array of entertainment and media services.

Just 12% of U.S. Patent Inventors are Women

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Data released in February 2019 by the U.S. Patent and Trademarks office revealed that in 2016 just 12% of inventors with a U.S. patent were female. This is actually a fall from the 1980s when the number hit 21%. A report from MarketWatch outlined that the reasons for this fall mirror many of the reasons there is a lack of women in STEM fields more broadly. They include gender bias and societal expectations as well as difficult workplace environments.

The number of patents with at least one woman inventor grew from 7% in the 1980s to 21% in 2016, according to an analysis released this month by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. But there’s a long way to go: Women made up just 12% of all patent inventors in 2016. “There’s untapped potential,” said Amanda Myers, the acting deputy chief economist at the USPTO. “There might be very intelligent and creative women who are not accessing the innovation system. That has real consequences for economic growth as well as our global competitive position.”

Electric Vehicles are Getting Cheaper. But That Doesn't Mean We're Buying Them.

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Volkswagen Bus Electric Minivan

Electric vehicles are getting cheaper. Research suggests that come 2022, they will cost the same as gas-powered vehicles even without government subsidies. However, that does not mean consumers are going to make the decision to go electric. As well as cost, the lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles is a problem. Wired looked into the issues surrounding the adoption of electric vehicles.

If you live in the U.K., Germany, France, the Netherlands, or Norway, an electric car is already a better deal, according to another recent report from the International Council for Clean Transportation. It compared an electric VW Golf to the Golf’s hybrid, gas, and diesel versions over four years, and found that the electric version was cheapest in each of those countries because of subsidies and tax breaks along with the savings in fuel cost. The difference is biggest in Norway, where the electric Golf is 27% cheaper than one running on diesel.

Inside the Renovated Apple Store in Natick Mall

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The Apple Store in the Natick Mall, Massachusetts reopened Saturday. It followed 9 months of renovation work. The store is twice the size after Apple took over a JCrew store next to its original site. It features a new Forum, a Video Wall and, of course, the pivoting glass doors. 9to5Mac shared some pictures of the upgraded retail spot.

A brand new Forum, Video Wall, and signature pivoting glass doors welcome shoppers to the new Apple Natick Collection. Natick’s store is the 7th out of 11 stores in Massachusetts to be updated with Apple’s contemporary design language. Like all recent designs, the space is significantly wider than it is deep, opening the storefront to its surrounding environment. In order to increase customer capacity, Apple absorbed a former J.Crew store next door.

Sir Tim Berners-Lee Wants to Fix the Web with New Startup

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Sir Tim Berners Lee, the inventor or the World Wide Web, has a new, a project. Called Inrupt, it wants to develop a new web structure to put people back in control of their data. Data would be stored on an individual’s “pod” instead of a company’s server. Wired spoke to Sir Tim about the project.

Inrupt aims to drive the development of the Solid platform and transform it from an innovative idea to a viable platform for businesses and consumers. “My group in the CSAIL [Computer Sciences and Artifical Intelligence Laboratory] Lab at MIT had been working on Solid for some years,” Berners-Lee says. “The initial goal of Inrupt is to add the energy and resources of a startup to the open-source efforts to make the Solid movement happen.”

Allstate's iCracked Purchase Could be a Win For Consumers

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Insurance company Allstate’s purchase of repair firm iCracked Tuesday confirmed its position as a key player in the right to repair movement. Malcolm Owen on AppleInsider commented that the deal could help Allstate speed up device repairs claims process. In the future, customers may only have to be without a phone for hours, not days.

At the same time as bolstering its consumer offerings, acquiring iCracked also makes Allstate a major force in the right to repair movement in the United States, due to its business involving third-party repairs. Repair.org executive director Gay Gordon-Byrne confirmed to Motherboard the outfit has already loaned a lobbyist to assist the push for legislation in New Hampshire. The purchase is already being seen as a positive for the movement, with iFixit CEO Kyle Wiens claiming “I’m optimistic that this partnership will elevate the visibility of the work that we’re doing together.

It's Not Just Amazon - Lots of Residents Don't Want a Tech Giant as Their Neighbour

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This week, Amazon scrapped plans for a New York headquarters. However, it is not just in Queens where local residents don’t want a tech giant setting up a campus. As Rick Noak pointed out in the Washington Post, there is growing opposition from people in Berlin, Melbourne, and Dublin to tech firms expanding in their cities.  In Melbourne, the opposition is to an Apple flagship store. They may be thousands of miles apart, but residents in these cities share some coming concerns.

Tech companies bring in small armies of workers but these are rarely recruited from the neighborhoods in question and the new arrivals drive up prices for locals. There is also often opposition to the companies on ideological grounds or simply the fact that a global corporation is taking over key parts of beloved neighborhoods. While city leaders may love the new additions, residents don’t.

Software Pirates Violating Apple's Developer Program Rules, Distributing Hacked Apps

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Software pirates are using enterprise developer certificates to put hacked versions of popular apps on iPhones. An investigation by Reuters found illegitimate versions of apps such as Spotify, Angry Birds, Pokemon Go, and Minecraft have been distributed away from the App Store. The modified versions of the apps allow iPhone users to avoid adverts, fees, and game rules. However, they are in violation of Apple’s developer program which stipulates the apps can only be distributed via the App Store.

Illicit software distributors such as TutuApp, Panda Helper, AppValley and TweakBox have found ways to use digital certificates to get access to a program Apple introduced to let corporations distribute business apps to their employees without going through Apple’s tightly controlled App Store. Using so-called enterprise developer certificates, these pirate operations are providing modified versions of popular apps to consumers, enabling them to stream music without ads and to circumvent fees and rules in games, depriving Apple and legitimate app makers of revenue.

Amazon Cancels Plans for New York Campus

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Amazon announced Thursday it has canceled its plans to build a corporate campus in New York City. The proposal had faced opposition from some unions and lawmakers, such as Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the New York Times reported. In particular, opponents were aggrieved by a proposal from city and state officials to give the company $3 billion incentives package.

It was a remarkable win for insurgent progressive politicians led by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, whose upset victory last year happened to occur in the district where Amazon had planned its site. Her win galvanized the party’s left flank, which mobilized against the deal. As recently as Wednesday, the governor had brokered a meeting between Amazon executives and the union leaders who had been resistant to the deal, according to two people briefed on the sit-down. The meeting ended without any compromise on the part of Amazon, according to the people.

5G Security Concerns and Huawei

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huawei logo

As the rollout of 5G comes ever closer, there has been an increased focus on Chinese firm Huawei’s role in the network. Many Western countries have raised concerns that the company is an arm of the Chinese state and used for spying. This something Huawei has repeatedly denied. Late in 2018, U.S. President Donald Trump was reportedly even considering an executive order that would have banned the use of Huawei equipment, Bloomberg News has a nice roundup of the current state-of-play.

5G isn’t easier to hack than its predecessors, but it will eventually connect many more devices than in the past, so protection from outside malign forces becomes a larger concern. Some nations are worried that Chinese 5G equipment, chips and software could be outfitted to spy on other nations.