Data Sheet—Thursday, February 23, 2017
In April 2011, Steve Jobs showed me a book that had been prepared by Apple’s architects to show illustrations of the new campus the giant company would build near its current headquarters in Cupertino, Calif.
He was filled with pride about the unusual building, a massive circular structure that would hold 12,000 employees at once. My notes from that day say that Jobs took me through the pages of the book “in the same measured pace that he does slides in keynote presentations onstage.” Because of a later comment he made, people would refer to the new head office as the “spaceship.” That’s not how I saw it that day. Here’s how I described it in my notes: “The building itself is a massive, four-story circular building, with circular glass windows throughout, and office space for two-person offices plus bullpen areas outside the offices for collaboration. From the air, the building resembles the circular dial on an iPod.” Jobs told me the internal courtyard of the building was so big the entire existing headquarters at 1 Infinite Loop, one freeway exit down the road, would fit inside it.
Six years later, Apple is ready to open the house that Steve intended to build. (He died that October; His last public appearance was a presentation to the City of Cupertino requesting permission to begin work.) Apple said Wednesday it will call the campus Apple Park and that a public auditorium for events will be the Steve Jobs Theater. It is a fitting tribute and proportional to how Jobs might have wanted it. Apple was bigger than Jobs. Yet he was its maestro, and so the space where it shows itself—and its products—to the world ought to bear his name.
Companies that build grand temples to themselves often are accused of harboring an “edifice complex.” This proves embarrassing if the building outlasts the company. It is still possible that Apple will suffer this fate. But it hasn’t yet. For now, it will honor its late co-founder’s legacy when Apple employees move in and get down to work.
BITS AND BYTES
Improving PC sales lift HP Inc. in latest financials. The company reported its second consecutive quarter of growth on Wednesday, albeit modest, rising 4% to $12.7 billion. CFO Cathie Lesjak attributed the gain to brighter prospects for personal computers—especially high-end consumer systems and convertible laptop-tablet hybrids. But the company is warning of uncertainty ahead. (Fortune)
Google’s plan to embrace ride-sharing? It’s counting on Waze. The company intends to expand the carpool service offered through its navigation app in the U.S. and Latin America after successful experiments in Israel and San Francisco, reports The Wall Street Journal. Its focus is on helping drivers find, and pick up, passengers interested in sharing rides. (Wall Street Journal, Fortune)
Verizon will expand testing of next-generation wireless network in April. The carrier loves to tout its lead in coverage, reliability, and speed. Naturally, it’s being aggressive about the ramp-up to 5G service, which promises speeds of more than 1 gigabit per second. The trial will be offered to select customers in 11 U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Dallas, and Denver. (Fortune, Fortune)
AMD is angling for a bigger share of the high-end desktop computer market. The chip maker on Wednesday introduced a new microprocessor line that it claims can match the performance of some of Intel’s best chips at half the price. (Fortune)
Square benefits from deals with bigger merchants. The digital payments service, which faces intensifying competition from both banks and long-time rivals like PayPal, managed to grow sales almost 21% in its fourth quarter. (Bloomberg, Reuters)
Microsoft and Airbus catch drone fever. The software giant is leading a $26 million venture round for AirMap, which specializes in navigation technology. Basically, it’s working on an air traffic control service. (Fortune)
Tesla’s former CFO returns as company ramps up for mass-market vehicle. Deepak Ahuja, the former Google finance exec who helped take the electric vehicle company public, retired back in 2015. Tesla, which Wednesday reported a smaller-than-expected loss for its latest quarter, is ramping up for mass production of the highly anticipated Model 3 sedan by September. (Fortune, Reuters)
Cloud computing adoption is growing, the question is how much. A new forecast from market researcher Gartner projects a sales increase of around 18% this year to $247 billion. That’s slightly less than what others are forecasting, but still a huge expansion. (Fortune)
Fitbit CEO offers turnaround strategy after tough year. Although Fitbit’s sales of its eponymous fitness tracking gadgets hit a record of $2.2 billion in 2016, the fourth quarter was a world of hurt. Amid a glut of inventory and weakness in China, sales for the all-important holiday quarter dropped 19%, Fitbit finally confirmed on Wednesday, after two earlier warnings to Wall Street about problems in the quarter. (Back in November, the company shocked investors by projecting sales simply would be flat in the fourth quarter).
Now it’s time to focus on the turnaround. CEO Park has a multi-pronged strategy, including offering a smartwatch with a health and fitness emphasis in the second half of the year. Park spoke with Fortune‘s Aaron Pressman in more detail about that plan.
WATCH FOR IT
It’s Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s turn to open up its books. Cloud computing offerings from the likes of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft are pressuring the data center technology giant’s high-end server and networking gear sales. So analysts will be scrutinizing its projections for the rest of this year closely when it provides a quarterly financial update on Thursday, one day after the other company created through the Hewlett-Packard breakup. (Wall Street Journal)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Check Out Alphabet’s New Tool to Weed Out the ‘Toxic’ Abuse of Online Comments, by Jeff John Roberts
Why Your Appliance Repairman May Finally Be on Time, by Heather Clancy
Inside Verizon’s Decision to Go Unlimited, by Aaron Pressman
Mark Cuban Says Basic Income Would Be ‘Worst Response’ to Automation, by Feliz Solomon
Startup Raises $8 Million to Let You Shop the Internet By Voice, by Polina Marinova
Why Your Next Performance Review May Be More Useful, by Heather Clancy
ONE MORE THING
This may be what Samsung’s next smartphone looks like. Photos purported to be of the Galaxy S8 show a slimmer device, with a glass display that covers almost the entire front. The product introduction is currently planned for late March, with shipments due to start about a month later. (Fortune)