Skip to Content

Data Sheet—Friday, July 28, 2017

Aaron in for Adam today. It was back in February that I first caught wind of the idea that Apple might decide to price a new model of the iPhone at $1,000 or more. Mark Sullivan’s anonymously-sourced piece in Fast Company said a special 10th anniversary edition of the iconic smartphone would have special features and a price tag “very likely north of $1,000.”

It seemed a little preposterous at the time, but in the ensuing months, the idea of a even-more-expensive iPhone has gained credibility. And much of Sullivan’s reporting was consistent with the forecast from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, he of the most accurate Apple rumor track record, from way back in November that Apple was prepping three new models for 2017 including one with a fancy OLED screen.

Now, with the expected launch of the new phones just a few months away, chatter about the high-priced special edition has exploded.

Some think it’s a mistake. Apple analyst Abhey Lamba at Mizuho Securities, worries that because Apple will be including the best new features, like the OLED screen, only on the top 2017 model, customers who can’t afford it won’t upgrade at all, hoping the cool features will trickle down to cheaper models in 2018.

“While some near-term upgrade activity may be associated with failing hardware of aged devices, customers with the flexibility to extend the life of their devices may choose to do so until OLED panel and incremental functionality are more widely available,” Lamba writes. “As a result, the product cycle could end up being more prolonged this time around versus prior launches.”

But others see an opening for Apple to capture more revenue by moving up market. Tech columnist John Gruber of the web site Daringfireball.net, says it’s fitting for Apple to add a deluxe “Pro” model to the iPhone line as it has done with iPads and Mac computers, especially because the company probably can’t source enough of the OLED screens this year to include them on every phone.

“In the same way it made sense for Honda and Toyota to create their Acura and Lexus divisions to sell higher-end cars without eroding the value or popularity of their best-selling Accords and Camrys, it makes sense for Apple to create a premium tier for the iPhone, the best-selling product the company has ever made and likely will ever make,” Gruber says.

I’m on the fence. What do you think? Will you go for the top-end iPhone? Delay a purchase until next year? Maybe opt for one of the top new Android phones already out instead?

***

You may be wondering about today’s Google doodle, depicting a march by African Americans of an earlier era. It’s worth clicking through and reading the history. It was 100 years ago today–July 28, 1917–that thousands of black people marched down Fifth Avenue in New York City to form the Silent Parade. A protest against violence attacking black communities, the parade was one of the first public marches for civil rights. Something to think about as we ponder the current political climate. Have a great weekend.

Aaron Pressman
@ampressman
aaron.pressman@fortune.com

NEWSWORTHY

No way, no how. Meg Whitman likes her current job just fine and has no interest in running embattled ride service Uber. The CEO of Hewlett-Packard Enterprise took to Twitter last night to turn down the job she has surely not been offered yet. “We have a lot of work still to do at HPE and I am not going anywhere,” she tweeted. “Uber’s CEO will not be Meg Whitman.”

Mixed bag. On Wall Street on Thursday, Intel and Verizon impressed, but Amazon and Twitter disappointed. Surprising strength in the PC market prompted Intel to raise its revenue and profit forecast for the rest of the year, sending its shares up 1% in premarket trading on Friday. Verizon showed it could compete in a world of unlimited data plans, adding 614,000 regular monthly customers. Its shares shot up 8% on Thursday.

Even with sales up 25%, Amazon’s profit came in below expectation as the e-commerce giant invested heavily in video, new data centers and other growth areas. Its shares slumped 4%, stripping CEO Jeff Bezos of the title of world’s richest man that he’d briefly grabbed from Bill Gates earlier in the day when Amazon shares were on the rise. Twitter shares crashed 14% on Thursday after it reported lower revenue and weak user growth.

Martian time-slip. Speaking of the world’s richest folk, Elon Musk’s SpaceX startup raised $350 million of new backing in a deal that valued the rocket maker at $21 billion. That marks only the seventh private startup backed by venture funding to surpass the $20 billion level. How many can you name? I’ll put the answer below.

Window opens. Online real estate listing service Redfin priced its initial public offering at $15 a share on Thursday night, above the expected range of $12 to $14. That gives the still-money-losing startup a value of $1.2 billion. Trading starts later on Friday under the symbol “RDFN.”

Batten down the hatches. Wikileaks published more hacking programs stolen from the CIA. The digital tools dubbed “Achilles” and “SeaPea” target the Macintosh while “Aeris,” seemingly named after the character in the Final Fantasy video game series, cracks computers running Linux.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

Samsung Dethrones Intel as World’s Biggest Chip Maker by Jonathan Vanian

Apple Is Discontinuing the iPod Nano and Shuffle by Tom Huddleston, Jr.

Ransomware Cost Surpasses $25 Million Mark by Barb Darrow

The Surprising Passion Project Shared By 5 of the World’s Billionaires by Chris Morris

Killer Car Wash: Hackers Can Trap and Attack Vehicles by Jeff John Roberts

Why Verizon and AT&T Are Jumping Like Hot Tech Stocks by Aaron Pressman

Lyft Drivers Aren’t Happy With Their Taco Bell Rides by Don Reisinger

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Can an electric shock help curb your spending? That’s the provocative question that the Financial Times offered up this week in a story (subscription required) looking at a new bracelet device called Pavlok. Inventor Maneesh Sethi says the bracelet, named after the famed Russian psychologist Ivan Pavlov, can be programmed to deliver a mild shock if the wearer does something they are trying to avoid, like opening the Facebook app. Sethi explains the logic:

The thing is, there are lots of positive stimuli in the world, and people get addicted to checking their phones. With this, your hand reaches in for your phone and it zaps you.

FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE

A few interesting longer reads I came across this week, suitable for perusing over the weekend.

Inside Andy Rubin’s Quest to Create an OS for Everything
Here’s some free advice: Don’t try to break into Andy Rubin’s house. As soon as your car turns into the driveway at his sprawling pad in the Silicon Valley hills, a camera will snap a photo of your vehicle, run it through computer-vision software to extract the plate number, and file it into a database. Rubin’s system can be set to text him every time a certain car shows up or to let specific vehicles through the gate. Thirty-odd other cameras survey almost every corner of the property, and Rubin can pull them up in a web browser, watching the real-time grid like Lucius Fox surveying Gotham from the Batcave. If by some miracle you were to make it all the way to the front door, you’d never get past the retinal scanner.

How Jony Ive Masterminded Apple’s New Headquarters
“We always joked that one of the greatest sources of our inspiration was the fact that there was just so much stuff out there that we didn’t like,” says Newson. “The negativity sort of became a positive source of inspiration.”

Hunting for Antibiotics in the World’s Dirtiest Places
Back at his lab, he pulls out a handful of tubes that he collected during his walk and labels them: shoe, bathroom-door handle, tree, bench, handrail. He reaches for a stack of petri dishes, each holding a layer of clear-yellow growth medium. One by one, he opens the dishes, swipes the tip of a swab over the agar, closes and marks them, and sets them aside to be incubated.

WHO THE DRUGS KILL: Young Asian-Americans in Southern California’s MDMA- and Ecstasy-Filled Rave and Festival Circuit Are Dying in Alarming Numbers
The end result is a cultural imperative not to talk about these things, and therefore not to connect dots that can’t possibly exist. In fact, it was only when I asked to speak to MK that he began to question the link between ecstasy use, race, and the string of rave deaths, despite the fact that two of them had directly impacted him.

BEFORE YOU GO

A massive sculpture by artist Wolfgang Buttress is comprised of 170,000 pieces of aluminum weighing a combined 44 tons. Inside, 1,000 LEDS flash and flicker based on the activities of a nearby beehive, while also mixing with the sounds of violins, cellos, and other instruments. Buttress explains:

In a way, it is a very calm, meditative space. The thousands of pieces of metal have a repetition and delicacy. It changes as the light and weather conditions change–the pieces sparkle or are more gray. It kind of transports you.

Oh, and those six startups valued at $20 billion or more? WeWork, Palantir Technologies, AirBnb, Xiaomi, Didi Chuxing, and Uber.

This edition of Data Sheet was curated by Aaron Pressman. Find past issues, and sign up for other Fortune newsletters.