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The headline on Apple’s news release at a minute past the stroke of midnight Thursday was “Apple to Build New Campus in Austin and Add Jobs Across the U.S.” There was a sub-headline too, about the iPhone maker also beefing up in Seattle, San Diego, and a location in Los Angeles, which Apple identified with curious specificity as “Culver City.”
If subtext were substituted for headline, the statement would have read: “Apple Has Message For Donald Trump: We’re Really Committed to America.” The release went on to note that Apple employs 90,000 people “in all 50 states” and that in addition to the major investments it is making in these four places, it’s also adding jobs in Pittsburgh; New York; Boulder, Colo.; Boston; Portland, Ore.; Nashville; and Miami.
The message, repeated several times and in various ways, was clear: We may do essentially all our manufacturing in China (awkward!), and our products may famously be “designed in California,” but we’re an all-American company and our employees vote in lots of different states. What’s more, we’re no General Motors, closing factories and laying off workers. (We did that a long time ago.) We’re growing.
A couple thoughts:
- Apple long has been a proudly committed headquarters-oriented company. The action was in Cupertino, Calif., and only Cupertino. That’s what the “designed in California” tagline refers to. I’m not so sure that’s really changed. But many Apple employees will be doing many things outside of Cupertino now. Apple says the Austin workers will be engaged in “engineering, R&D, operations, finance, sales and customer support.”
- To its credit, Apple didn’t run a demeaning auction for its new sites. It quietly chose them. That’s not to say the losing companies for Amazon’s headquarters competition didn’t get something out of their efforts. After all, contests grow from contesting. But they lost. And Amazon made them feel like losers. Apple didn’t. At least not publicly.
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Tweakers. Aside from its U.S. office expansions, Apple also said it would issue a software update to iPhones in China. The move is an effort to revamp a couple of minor features that a Chinese court ruled violated two patents held by Qualcomm. The court ordered a ban on sales of older iPhone models, but Apple has said all models continue to be available for sale while it appeals the ruling. Qualcomm meanwhile sought to have the ban extended to cover Apple’s new XS and XR models.
Duck and cover. A bizarre series of threatening hoax emails and phone calls spread across the country on Thursday, reaching schools, businesses, hospitals, and other locations. The emails threatened to set off bombs unless ransoms were paid in bitcoin. But no bombs were found.
Money machinations. Maybe it won’t be the startups that disrupt the finance industry with new technology? Microsoft, the world’s biggest software firm, is partnering with BlackRock, the world’s biggest money manager, to build an easy to use, intuitive retirement savings platform that will be offered to employees of any company. Or maybe it will be the startups. Startup Robinhood, maker of the popular free stock trading app that bears its name, said it would add checking and savings accounts to compete with banks. Paying 3% on savings, Robinhood offered terms roughly 30 times better than the average bank account.
It’s not you, it’s me. Speaking of large and small players at war, grocery delivery startup Instacart announced on Thursday it was ending its partnership with Whole Foods now that the high-end supermarket chain is owned by Amazon, which has a few ideas of its own about delivery service. Whole Foods provided only about 5% of Instacart’s revenue, Recode reports. At the other end of the dealmaking spectrum, Starbucks said it had partnered with Uber to deliver coffee and food through Uber Eats. The move comes three years after a failed coffee delivery deal with Postmates.
Questionable claims. Amid the so-called Golden Age of television, almost 500 scripted original shows were produced this year. Online companies like Netflix and Hulu produced the largest share, 33%, according to the way research from FX Networks sliced the market. Broadcast networks produced 30%, basic cable channels 29%, and premium cable services 9%. But why should free online services like Facebook Watch be included with premium online services like Netflix to hit the 33% share figure while cable is split into two categories between free and premium? Doesn’t make sense to me unless you’re stretching for that “for the first time ever” headline.
Subscription stinker. On Wall Street, Adobe reported mixed fiscal fourth quarter results. Revenue grew 23% to $2.46 billion, slightly better than analysts expected, while adjusted earnings per share of $1.83, rising 45%, slightly missed expectations. Adobe shares, which have gained 42% so far this year, slid 2% in premarket trading on Friday.
Taking issue. On Thursday, we offered food for thought from a story in The Guardian about fact checking problems at Facebook. Later in the day, the social network posted a lengthy response to the article’s key points. “Contrary to a claim in the story, we absolutely do not ask fact-checkers to prioritize debunking content about our advertisers,” Facebook wrote. “Three new separate pieces of research have all found that the overall volume of false news on Facebook is decreasing.”
FOR YOUR WEEKEND READING PLEASURE
Demon Underneath: John DeLorean and the Invention of the Future (The Outline)
Long before Elon Musk, a visionary automaker showed how ugly the American Dream could be.
23andMe Informed Me My Husband and I Are Related (The Cut)
After 38 years of marriage, I thought I knew my spouse. Then I got an email from the personalized genomics company 23AndMe with the subject line, “You have new DNA relatives.”
Dreyfus Acts Out (The New Yorker)
The actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus on challenging comedy’s sexism, fighting cancer, and becoming the star of her own show.
I Used All the Best Stuff for a Week and It Nearly Broke Me (Vox)
My name is Rebecca Jennings. I am 26 years old, and I live in Brooklyn, New York. Every morning, I wake up on a Casper mattress covered with Brooklinen bedding. I brush my teeth with a Quip toothbrush, then floss with Cocofloss. I do exactly 45 minutes on the elliptical at the gym downstairs in a matching set from Outdoor Voices.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
What makes humans human? Scientists say self-awareness is one key characteristic, though some animals also seem to recognize that they exist. For decades, researchers have been testing to see if animals could recognize themselves in a mirror as a check for self-awareness (humans babies don’t pass until they become toddlers). Now a debate has broken out over whether the tiny cleaner wrasse fish passed the mirror test in experiments by evolutionary biologist Alex Jordan.
Jordan’s findings have consequently inspired strong feelings in the field. “There are researchers who, it seems, do not want fish to be included in this secret club,” he said. “Because then that means that the [primates] are not so special anymore.”
If a fish passes the mirror test, Jordan said, “either you have to accept that the fish is self-aware, or you have to accept that maybe this test is not testing for that.” The correct explanation may be a little of both. Some animals’ mental skills may be more impressive than we imagined, while the mirror test may say less than we thought. Moving forward in our understanding of animal minds might mean shattering old ideas about the mirror test and designing new experiments that take into account each species’ unique perspective on the world.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Postmates Has a New Autonomous Rover That Will Bring You Deliveries By Danielle Abril
Google Maps Adds Lime Scooters and Bikes to its Transportation Suggestions By Emily Gillespie
Twitter Has Become the Modern-Day Colosseum By Michael Fontaine
BEFORE YOU GO
Talking Heads frontman and musician extraordinaire David Byrne is, like many of you, concerned about the state of the world. So he’s compiled an interesting and eclectic list of protest songs. “The power of song to give voice is eternal…in fact, it’s more widespread than ever,” he writes on his blog.