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Data Sheet—Apple’s Chip Move Signals Desire to Control Key Technologies

April 3, 2018, 1:58 PM UTC

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Good morning. Fortune digital editor Andrew Nusca here, in for Adam.

Intel stock wavered after the closing bell yesterday after a new report appeared claiming that Apple would use its own chips, rather than Intel’s, in future Mac computers. The effort, code-named Kalamata, “comes as part of a larger strategy to make all of Apple’s devices—including Macs, iPhones, and iPads—work more seamlessly together,” reported Ian King and Mark Gurman of Bloomberg.

We’ve seen this picture before, though it’s been awhile. It was way back in 2010 that Steve Jobs himself, skinny as a rail, debuted the ARM-based Apple A4 chip alongside the then-new iPad in San Francisco. “Jobs took inordinate pride when he unveiled the A4,” wrote Apple watcher John Gruber. “Doing custom silicon in-house was a new direction for Apple.”

Eight years later, the empire reportedly strikes back. Though Mac sales don’t mean as much to the company as they once did—in Apple’s most recent fiscal quarter, the product line represented just 8% of overall revenue—a switch to home-brewed chips sends several clear messages.

The first: That Intel, after all these years and billions of dollars spent, still hasn’t created market-leading mobile chips. (And won’t.) The second: That the modern Mac is becoming so iPad-like that ARM architecture, built for low-power devices and not general computing, may be preferred. And third: That Apple, flush with cash, continues to operate with the conviction that the extraordinary overhead of developing semiconductors in-house is worth the competitive differentiation and performance that a home-grown chip brings.

As CEO Tim Cook said in a 2009 quarterly earnings call: “We believe that we need to own and control the primary technologies behind the products we make.” It’s a perspective that keeps an otherwise commoditized industry interesting, and one that should give pause to every one of Apple’s corporate partners.

Andrew Nusca


In demand. J.P. Morgan Chase's top blockchain executive, Amber Baldet, is leaving the bank to form her own company, Fortune reported. Baldet oversaw Quorum, the bank's blockchain ledger offering adapted from digital currency Ethereum. Christine Moy, a senior product manager at the bank, will take over Baldet’s role running the blockchain group.

Going down. A model developed by researchers at ETH Zurich university could have predicted the largest past crashes in the price of bitcoin. And it's flashing a warning sign now, indicating that bitcoin may be trading at three to six times its fair price. Instead of a sudden crash, this time the price may drift lower for a while, the authors write: “The current market resembles that of early 2014, which was followed by a year of sideways and downward movement." Bitcoin has already declined almost 50% this year, prompting nine hedge funds that focused on the currency to close up shop, Bloomberg reports.

The endless story. Panera Bread is the latest victim of a data stealing hack attack. The restaurant chain's web site lost information on millions of online customers including names, email and physical addresses, birthdays, and the last four digits of  credit card numbers, cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs writes.

Sorry/not sorry. Mark Zuckerberg's 2018 apology tour included a stop talking with Vox founder Ezra Klein. In an interview published on Monday, the Facebook CEO detailed the company's efforts to combat fake news but said it's not easy policing all content. "It’s just not clear to me that us sitting in an office here in California are best placed to always determine what the policies should be for people all around the world," he said.

Attention to detail. Model Naomi Campbell stopped by Apple's new headquarters to chat with design chief Jony Ive for an interview in British Vogue. It's a pretty soft discussion of Ive's life and career. He says it's hard to tune out and relax. "The difficult thing with being a designer is that it isn’t something you just do in the studio," he tells Campbell. "If you walk around with your eyes open and truly see, and think about what you see, then you’re constantly wondering, 'Why is that like this? Why could it not be like that?'"

Groupthink. A few days after Satya Nadella's big shake up at Microsoft, designed in part to spread artificial intelligence into more products, Google is also reorganizing to bolster its AI efforts. John Giannandrea, who oversaw search and AI, is leaving the company and his kingdom is being split in two. Ben Gomes, who headed search engineering, takes over search and Jeff Dean, the cofounder of Google Brain, will oversee a new, separate AI unit. Google is also moving to ban extensions from its Chrome browser that "borrow" computer processing power from users to mine digital currencies.

Dance all night, play all day. Shares of Spotify start trading on the New York Stock Exchange today under the symbol "SPOT." Without a traditional Wall Street bank underwriting the offering, the share price could take a few hours to settle down, Bloomberg's IPO reporting expert Alex Barinka notes.


The market for selling hardware and software to schools seems more appealing than ever, as more technology increasingly finds its way into the classroom. That's probably why Apple decided to boost its efforts in the education market last week. But Amazon appears to be going the other way. Frank Catalano at GeekWire has the story of Amazon's decision to shutter its popular TenMarks education software division. The history of tech companies in education has been uneven, he notes:

But overall, Amazon’s decision to shut down TenMarks illustrates a tension between technology companies and K-12 education: Schools want consistency and predictability, but tech companies (especially startups chasing revenue) want traction or they’ll rapidly pivot or simply cease to exist. That can be to the detriment of students and teachers who have adopted the products and relied on them for teaching students and storing student progress data, often year-to-year.

Even Apple, which trumpeted its desire to return to education technology greatness last Tuesday, once sold off its PowerSchool student information software to the education company Pearson in 2006, then effectively exiting the market for education-specific software. PowerSchool, now owned by private equity firm Vista Equity Partners, has since become a dominant force in U.S. K-12 school districts. IBM, similarly, used to be a big player in education. Now that’s a role tech giants Google and Microsoft have.


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The Chinese space station Tiangong 1 plunged to earth over the weekend but fell harmlessly in the Pacific Ocean, as mentioned yesterday. And though your odds of being hit by space debris remain one in 300 trillion, there are three more objects coming down this week. India's PSLV R/B is due at 6:30 p.m. ET tonight, Kazakhstan's FLOCK 2E-3 drops Wednesday night and another Kazakh satellite, FLOCK 2E’-6, arrives Friday morning.

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