Apple cuts 200 staff from its Project Titan autonomous car division
- Apple’s secretive efforts to develop a self-driving car — its so-called ‘Project Titan’ — have taken a hard turn in 2019 after it emerged that the iPhone-maker has reassigned 200 employees previously involved in its development.
- CNBC reported that the layoffs had been expected and were seen as an imminent restructuring under Project Titan’s new leadership, long-time Apple veteran Bobs Mansfield and Doug Field, Apple’s former VP of Mac hardware engineering who rejoined from the company in October after a spell with Tesla.
- CEO Tim Cook previously called Apple’s car push “the mother of all AI projects,” indicating that, despite the mystery, it is certainly taking up a huge amount of focus for the company.
- This isn’t the first time Apple has restructured the project.
Apple laid off 200 people from its self-driving car unit Project Titan
- Apple has laid off 200 people from its secretive self-driving car division Project Titan, CNBC reported.
- Business Insider has contacted Apple for clarification.
- Apple's Project Titan has been going since 2014, although the actual details of what it's up to are hazy.
- The firm was initially thought to be working on an electric car, but senior hires in 2016 signalled that it had shifted to developing software for self-driving cars.
- In 2018, news emerged that Apple was testing self-driving cars in California, but CEO Tim Cook indicated in interviews that the firm was more focused on autonomous vehicle software.
- Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced earlier this month that the company was laying off more than 3,000 employees.
- Business Insider contacted Apple to ask whether it planned to employ any of the ex-Tesla workers.
Apple shrinks autonomous vehicle team by 200 employees
- Apple has dismissed as many as 200 people from Project Titan, its secretive autonomous vehicle project, reports CNBC.
- The New York Times has reported that “hundreds” of employees left the project between 2016 and 2018 as a result of these changes in direction.
- CNBC reports that this latest change is being described internally as a restructuring, thought to be related to the project’s relatively new leadership.
- Last year, Apple hired Tesla’s chief vehicle engineer Doug Field, who is reportedly running Project Titan alongside longtime executive Bob Mansfield.
- However, despite this apparent reduced focus, the amount of self-driving cars Apple is testing on the roads has continued to increase, with the company having more registered test vehicles in California than Google’s autonomous spin-off Waymo as of March 2018.
Apple just dismissed more than 200 employees from Project Titan, its autonomous vehicle group
- Apple dismissed just over 200 employees this week from Project Titan, its stealthy autonomous vehicle group, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
- Other employees who were impacted by the restructuring of Project Titan are staying at Apple, but moving to different parts of the company.
- Of late, Apple CEO Tim Cook has touted his company's initiatives in health as the key to its future growth.
- "I believe, if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the question, "What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?" it will be about health," Cook told CNBC's Jim Cramer.
- Meanwhile, Apple executives have remained mum in recent months on the company's car prospects, which appear to have been scaled back from the initial rumored vehicle to a focus on software.
- Fully self-driving cars remain experimental, even for major players in the field such as Waymo, Cruise and Tesla.
Apple Recharges Race to a Better Battery by Hiring Executive Away From Samsung
- Apple has hired an executive from Samsung SDI, the battery making affiliate of Samsung Electronics, to help lead its own battery work.
- Soonho Ahn joined (aapl) Apple in December as global head of battery developments, after working as a senior vice president at Samsung SDI since 2015, according to his LinkedIn profile.
- At Samsung SDI, Ahn led development of lithium battery packs and worked on “next-generation” battery technology, the profile says.
- Apple has been working on its own MicroLED display technology for future devices, which would help wean itself off Samsung in other areas.
- Apple has also been in talks to buy cobalt, a key component of battery packs, directly from miners.
- As device makers release products with similar functionality, differences in key features like battery life and performance are becoming more important, and Apple is seeking a competitive advantage in those areas.
Why Apple shares are worth looking at now, after a tough few months
- On January 2, CEO Tim Cook released a letter to investors saying the company was expecting revenue to come in around $84 billion.
- There have been some reports that about 11 million customers took advantage of the battery discount, when in a normal year Apple would generally expect around 1 million-2 million battery replacements.
- Apple also sought to alleviate investor angst by highlighting some positives, including services generating more than $10.8 billion and hitting a new quarterly record in every geographic segment.
- Cook also highlighted that Apple expects to report a new record figure for earnings per share.
- That might seem a little counterintuitive at first blush given iPhone revenue is declining, but revenue outside of the iPhone business was reported to have grown by almost 19 per cent year-over-year, including record revenue from services, wearables and Mac. In addition, Apple has been prolific with its share repurchases.
Hulu will make its basic plan cheaper as Netflix gets pricier
- Hulu is structured quite differently from Netflix, though; while Netflix licenses some shows from other content providers, its primary focus is on original content produced just for the online platform.
- That doesn't bode well for Netflix if true, as the service is still offered at an unsustainably low price given the cost of producing high-quality original series and films in the volume that Netflix needs to achieve its long-term goals, not to mention steep licensing fees for third-party programming.
- Apple has made moves that signal the service will be available beyond Apple hardware, and it has made numerous content deals with high-profile industry talent, suggesting that it is not just a specialty play but an aggressive move to launch a new service at the scale of Apple Music.
How Tim Cook’s Data Broker Registry Might Actually Work
- In an op-ed in TIME last week, Apple CEO Tim Cook called for a new federal privacy bill and a registry for data brokers that buy and sell data from third parties.
- That law stops short of Cook’s proposal, requiring only that companies that handle data from people who are not their direct customers register as data brokers with the state.
- For instance, Facebook spokesperson Andy Stone told WIRED the company is not required to register, pointing to a report written by Vermont's attorney general that specifically states that social media companies "fall outside of the scope" of the law.
- Even some data brokers have come around to the idea of a federal privacy law, as long as it levels the playing field for all industries in all states.
- Companies like Facebook and Google, meanwhile, which at least have a direct relationship with consumers, eagerly point to third-party data brokers as the real source of the problem.
Apple Pay scores major retail partners
- Apple Pay is expanding its merchant acceptance network to several major US retailers, quick-service restaurants, and convenience store chains, including Target, Taco Bell, and Speedway convenience stores, according to an Apple company statement.
- Target is among several major US retailers — including Walmart — that avoided Apple Pay acceptance; this was likely because it was trying to push adoption of its own mobile wallet, which it launched in late 2017, though it offered Apple Pay within the Target app for online purchases.
- But late last year, Target reportedly enabled Apple Pay acceptance at a San Francisco location, which customers inadvertently discovered during self-checkout when the option for the mobile wallet was available.
- Target is joining other major retailers that began accepting Apple Pay last year, including all 750 Costco stores in the US, 8,400 CVS Pharmacy locations, and 95% of 7-Eleven locations in the US.
Global climate change could boost iPhone sales, Apple reports
- Looking on the bright side is everyone’s favorite optimistic tech company, Apple, which reckons it’ll be good for iPhone sales.
- In a recently-published report, the iconic tech firm suggested that safety features like “SOS,” which connects iPhone and Apple Watch users with the emergency services, could spur “increased customer loyalty and demand” in the face of catastrophic weather events.
- Apple identifies several climate-related risks to its business, including potential risks to the infrastructure it needs to manufacture and sell its products.
- Off the top of my head, the best example I can think of is the 2011 Thailand floods, which caused a global shortage of hard disk drives (HDDs).
- If Apple is truly concerned about its environmental credentials, may I humbly suggest it starts making it easier for punters to repair their laptops?