Data Sheet—Monday, January 9, 2017
I took a walk down memory lane by rereading Apple’s news release, a detailed cornucopia of bold achievements along with a dash of trademark Steve Jobs hyperbole.
The superlatives in the description of this revolutionary gadget were not exaggerations. It was no understatement when Apple bragged that the “iPhone … ushers in an era of software power and sophistication never before seen in a mobile device.” As well, the sensors Apple trumpeted in the original device—“an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, and an ambient light sensor”—would transform industries. Without iPhone’s sensors there would have been no Uber, for example.
There were some whoppers, however. Jobs promised the gadget that became his crowning achievement was “literally five years ahead of any mobile phone.” In fact, Google launched its first Android-powered phone the next year, and subsequent years brought a multitude of improved versions. Apple also crowed about its exclusive launch partner, Cingular, which would become AT&T Wireless, “the best and most popular carrier in the U.S.” That turned out to have been a Jobsian howler as AT&T’s spotty network made it one of the worst and least popular cell-phone companies. AT&T nevertheless enjoyed iPhone exclusivity for years.
The iPhone transformed industries, and it also transformed Apple. The decade of the iPhone completed Apple’s journey from tech-industry afterthought to the world’s most valuable company. And yet, iPhone sales now are slipping, so much so that Apple CEO Tim Cook missed his performance targets for the last fiscal year, dinging his pay.
By the way, Apple typically releases its products shortly after announcing them. In the iPhone’s case, the unveiling preceded the debut by six months. That means on June 29 we’ll have another opportunity to dissect the iconic product’s history.
The next U.S. president promises to be a game changer of a different sort. I highly encourage you to sign up for Fortune’s latest newsletter, Trumponomics Daily, in which our man in Washington, Tory Newmyer, will break down the government’s impact on private enterprise.
BITS AND BYTES
Uber thinks urban planners deserve to know more about its riders. The ride-sharing company has created a public website, called Movement, where it eventually hopes to share ridership data about activity in all of its markets. Initially, the app includes analysis covering Washington, D.C., Sydney, and Manila. The move could be a boon for city governments struggling to keep up with Uber’s impact on traditional transportation options. (Fortune, New York Times)
Russia says “nyet” to LinkedIn. The country forced Google and Apple to remove the social network’s mobile app from their marketplaces, not really a surprise considering its decision to block the website a few months ago. The issue is where user data is stored: Russia requires it to be held within its borders. (Fortune, New York Times)
IBM is still churning out way more patents than any other company. It earned a record-breaking 8,008 of them during 2016, with a large majority focused on artificial intelligence, cognitive computing, and cloud services. This is the 24th straight year that IBM has topped this particular list. The next closest company was Samsung, with 5,518 patents. (Fortune)
Barry Diller wants some of your screen time. IAC/InterActiveCorp’s video-sharing site Vimeo is preparing to launch on-demand services that are similar to what Netflix and Hulu offer, reports Bloomberg. Like its would-be rivals, you can expect IAC to invest substantial money in original programming. (Bloomberg)
Jaguar Land Rover pounces on connected car startup. The British automaker, which is a subsidiary of Indian’s Tata Motors, is making a $15 million minority investment in software company CloudCar. It plans to use the technology for services related to its first all-electric vehicle, announced last year. (VentureBeat)
This is what Volkswagen’s electric microvan might look like. The German automaker is showing off a concept design for its all-wheel drive Microbus (called I.D. Buzz) at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. The vehicle, due out by 2020, will have a range of 270 miles and is meant to be used in either a self-driving or manual mode. (Fortune)
Let the collaboration software consolidation begin. Atlassian is plunking down $425 million for project software maker Trello. The San Francisco-based startup has about 17 million users, including employees at National Geographic, Pixar, Adobe Systems, and Google. Atlassian’s most successful product is JIRA, a project tracking tool for software developers. But the company is also a player in the broad collaboration software category dominated by well-backed companies like Slack and (more recently) Microsoft. (Fortune)
5 things to know about the future of Google’s self-driving car company. John Krafcik, the CEO of Waymo—the sproject that recently spun out to become a business under Alphabet—made it abundantly clear Sunday just how serious the company is about bringing autonomous vehicles to market.
A day before the North American International Auto Show kicked off in Detroit, Krafcik provided more than just a first look at the self-driving Chrysler Pacifica minivan. This is the first time Waymo is providing details about its business model, the technology inside the vehicle, and its timeline for testing on public roads. Read Kirsten Korosec’s coverage for Fortune.
SURVEYS AND STUDIES
Don’t mess with my battery life. Many logistics or transportation businesses have begun using GPS-enabled mobile devices to track the movement of employees, a strategy justified by concerns over operational efficiency or the need to track time for certain jobs. Among those who resent that intrusion, the primary concern is whether or not that reduces the gadget’s power-life rather than privacy, according to a survey by software company TSheets. (Fortune)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
U.S. Chipmaker Nvidia Will Help Mercedes Bring an AI-Powered Car to Market, by Kirsten Korosec
The Next iPhone Could Help Apple Set New Sales Records, by Don Reisinger
Drone Registrations Are Still Soaring, by Jonathan Vanian