Data Sheet—Wednesday, October 26, 2016
Apple has had finer earnings reports than the one it released Tuesday. Sales are declining, and analysts aren’t impressed with the company’s projected return to growth: Extra days in the coming quarter lower the bar. CEO Tim Cook also is characteristically mum on Apple’s next big thing. Cars, TVs, and large-scale content generation are interesting, but specifics are in short supply.
Speaking of supply, there was a silver lining in the details of Apple’s report. Cook repeatedly said Apple was having trouble satisfying demand for its newest phones, particularly the oversized iPhone 7 Plus. Reading between the lines, Apple appears to be having trouble achieving the kind of manufacturing yields it needs to produce the phones in sufficient volume.
“We’ve seen this before,” says veteran analyst Gene Munster of Piper Jaffray. “Historically this is how they’ve talked about production problems, to say they’re supply constrained.”
At a time archfoe Samsung’s competing product is no longer for sale, Apple’s needing to work out the kinks of a new phone—specifically its advanced camera—is unfortunate but not the worst-case scenario. It is evidence that Apple’s quality-control process in intact. Low yields, after all, trump exploding phones.
Fortune has debuted a new newsletter, Brainstorm Health Daily, just in time for our inaugural conference next week focused on the business of health technology. (Catch the event livestream here.) The email begins with an essay by one of America’s preeminent healthcare journalists, Clifton Leaf, Fortune’s deputy editor. (Subscribe here.) In other newsletter news, Fortune’s Erin Griffith is now at the helm of Term Sheet, which gives you the daily scoop on venture-capital deals. You’ll want to read her fresh take on a critical industry. (Here’s how you do that.)
Finally, in a nod to a custom started by the last guy who wrote Term Sheet, I was excited to learn that my followership on Twitter passed 40,000 souls on Tuesday, a milestone that felt worth noting. I particularly like to tweet about things I’m reading throughout the week, so if that’s of interest to you, please follow me here.
Have an informed day.
BITS AND BYTES
Jack Ma's views on data privacy might make Silicon Valley cringe. In a presentation last week for Chinese law enforcement officials, Alibaba's executive chairman outlined several scenarios in which information about mobile payments or e-commerce activity might be used to pinpoint criminal or terrorist activity. (Fortune)
IBM Watson takes a ride, courtesy of GM. The automaker is adding IBM's artificial intelligence to its in-vehicle Onstar communications service. The end game: market services to drivers based on their location. The new OnStar Go feature is scheduled to debut early next year in more than 2 million GM vehicles with 4G service. (Reuters)
Facebook resists being known as a media company. In comments Tuesday at a technology conference, COO Sheryl Sandberg described Facebook as a “platform for all ideas.” Policies that could be construed as editorializing are meant to ensure a “really safe community,” she said. (Fortune)
Alphabet adjusts high-speed network ambitions. Google's parent company is downplaying its original strategy of installing fiber optics technology itself, an effort that has proven costly. Instead, it will prioritize wireless services and partnerships that bring broadband Internet to homes and cities across the United States. Craig Barratt, the CEO of Alphabet's Access division, is stepping aside as a result. (New York Times)
Google introduces giant, digital whiteboard. The 55-inch, wall-mounted computer works in tandem with the company cloud applications suite. It will compete head-to-head with Microsoft's Surface Hub product when it hits the market in early 2017. (Fortune)
This technology could make missing planes a thing of the past. Seventy percent of the globe lacks conventional radar coverage. In those areas, air traffic controllers largely rely on pilots to relay their locations over the radio every 15 to 20 minutes.
By early 2018 Aireon—a partnership between global communications satellite operator Iridium and a handful of air traffic control providers—intends to change that. Instead of conventional radar, it plans to launch a satellite-based communications network that can precisely track passenger aircraft—and in doing so, trim fuel consumption, shorten flight times, and save airlines hundreds of millions of dollars a year. Here's how it works.
WATCH FOR IT
Microsoft readies overhauls for Windows 10, tablet portfolio. The tech giant is hosting an event Wednesday in New York where it is expected to showcase advances in its holographic software along with refreshes for its flagship operating system and its Surface product line. Among the most anticipated announcements: an all-in-one desktop computer. (The Verge)
Meanwhile, here's what Apple might have up its sleeve for Thursday. Get ready for a slimmer series of MacBook Pro notebook computers that sport fingerprint readers and a new touchscreen navigation component. At least that's what leaked photos suggest. (Fortune)
PEOPLE AND CULTURE
Oracle cloud chief Shawn Price passes away at 53. The cause was an aggressive form of cancer, according to close friends who spoke to Fortune. Before joining Oracle, he was an executive vice president at SAP, president of Zuora and chief executive of Savvion, according to his LinkedIn profile. (Fortune)
Your CIO might need a raise. Compensation for 35 of the best-paid corporate technology strategists rose 3-5% in 2015 to an average of $3.6 million, reflecting the priority companies are putting on digital initiatives, according to an analysis by The Wall Street Journal. Among the companies that pay the best are Target, American International Group, and Biogen. (Wall Street Journal)
Ericsson taps new CEO. Swedish businessman and board member Borje Ekholm was named to take over from Hans Vestberg, who was ousted in late July following months of criticism over his leadership and pay. (Reuters)
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
IBM Watson Lends Brains to Slack's Chatbot, by Robert Hackett
Maybe Artificial Intelligence Can Make Software Simple Again, by Barb Darrow
Capital One Is Trying to Bring the Blockchain to Health Care, by Sy Mukherjee
Google-Backed Internet Kiosks Are Coming to London, by Jeff John Roberts
ONE MORE THING
White House wants ban on certain non-competes. It figures that almost 20% of U.S. workers are bound by them—including 14% of those making less than $40,000 annually. (Reuters)