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Given that I make my living writing about Silicon Valley, I pride myself at not being an early adopter. I find that by avoiding the bleeding edge, I can refrain from wasting time on never-will-be technology while maintaining a connection to the real world of technology users. Sometimes, I’m just stubborn. This explains why I still don’t have an Apple Watch (Also: I adore my inexpensive Timex Iron Man and wear-all-night FitBit Alta); why I wrote my book about Apple on a Windows PC; and why I got my first iPhone in 2012. (Oh, and a few months ago, I let an Apple retail employee talk me out of upgrading my iPhone X.)
Apple fans (and foes) may notice my conflation of early adopterdom with owning Apple’s latest toys. That leads me to an area I probably am relatively on top of: Apple Pay and the Apple Card. I started using the payment system when there were few places that accepted it. I still get an irrational tingly feeling when I hear the ping of acceptance that my transaction has gone through. And Monday, in the three minutes between finishing the always -lucid Jean-Louis Gassee’s review and needing to leave for an appointment, I applied for and received my first Apple Card. (Aaron wrote a delightfully detailed review last week.)
What Gassee explains so well is that whatever shortcomings the nitpickers and other experts find, the Apple Card just works. The application process and insertion into my Wallet app was a breeze. The cash-back system is similar to other cards. But the card I’ve been using for years is based on airline miles, not cash. And if I’m to get a rebate every time I use the magical Apple Pay, well, I’m really going to enjoy that. It also simultaneously weirded me out and somehow pleased me that for the first time in my life I’m a Goldman Sachs client.
Aaron noted yesterday that JP Morgan Chase is discontinuing its Chase Pay app. As Gassee notes, other consumer finance companies should fear Apple treading on their ground.
On Twitter: @adamlashinsky
I can’t seem to face up to the facts. The un-burger is going to the chicken coop next. KFC said it will try using a fried chicken-like product with Beyond Meat’s plant-based technology. The trial starts today in a store in the Atlanta suburb of Smyrna, which will offer “Beyond Fried Chicken” nuggets in a six or 12-piece combo meal.
Don’t let the Americans have all the fun. The BBC says it will introduce its own voice-controlled digital assistant, dubbed Beeb, next year. The creation will be able to understand people with British accents better and be incorporated into the BBC’s iPlayer app, as well as licensed to device makers.
If at first you don’t succeed. Beaten in the market to more advanced chipmaking techniques, chipmaker Globalfoundries is taking to the courtroom. The U.S.-based, Abu Dhabi-owned company sued rival Taiwan Semiconductor for patent infringement. Globalfoundries, spun out of AMD a decade ago, also sought an import ban on all sorts of products using TSMC-made chips, including iPhones, Airpods, and Apple Watches.
Roiling the waters. The humans eavesdropping on tech services scandal took another twist as German authorities said they were probing Facebook over the matter. Facebook “is currently the subject of a separate investigation,” the Hamburg Commissioner for Data Protection said on Monday. But elsewhere in Germany, a court in Duesseldorf suspended a February ruling that restricted Facebook’s collection of user data in the country.
In-and-out charger. A startup spun out of Cambridge University has devised a new battery technology that could reduce recharging times for electric cars and other devices to just a few minutes. Echion Technologies says it has developed a material to replace graphite in lithium batteries. But it’s still in the prototype stage, with commercial tests planned for next year.
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ON THE MOVE
The head of AT&T’s traditional communications businesses, John Donovan, is retiring and the company has not yet named a successor. Donovan oversaw wireless, wired, and satellite units which generated 80% of AT&T’s annual revenue…The developer of Google News, Krishna Bharat, has returned to the company after four years at startup Laserlike, which was recently acquired by Apple…Seattle startup Remitly hired Kim Vu as its new head of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Vu had been a local market exec at Bank of America… Struggling energy tech pioneer FuelCell named board member Jason Few as CEO, after firing prior boss Arthur Bottone in June.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The grotesque Jeffrey Epstein scandal has not intersected much with the world of tech we cover here–until now. Turns out Epstein was a benefactor to MIT’s famed Media Lab and personally backed investments of Media Lab director Joi Ito. That has generated intense pressure on Ito to resign, as Boston Globe columnist Adrian Walker explored in a piece on Sunday.
What the future holds for Ito—until last week a highly regarded leader—is unclear. Perhaps he can make a persuasive case that he can lead the kind of change that will weed out bad actors with fat checkbooks but dubious intentions. Or, just as likely, his willingness to associate with Epstein and take his money even after his conviction will prove an insurmountable obstacle to staying.
The success of a grifter like Epstein always raises haunting questions. Among them are why so many brilliant minds couldn’t see past his money and veneer of glamour. Jeffrey Epstein was a walking red flag. But somehow visionaries who claim to see into the future were oblivious to the horror right before their eyes.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
Chinese A.I. Startup Megvii Files for an IPO in Hong Kong Amid Protests By Naomi Xu Elegant
How Facebook’s New Privacy Tool Will—or Won’t—Affect Its Ad Business By Danielle Abril
This Company Just Passed Google As No. 2 in Smart Speakers By Lisa Marie Segarra
Slack Spreads Its Wings: What’s Next for the Newly Public Company By Michal Lev-Ram
What D23 Expo’s Newly Revealed Mega-Slate Tells Us About Disney+ By Isaac Feldberg
VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger: Bitcoin Is ‘Bad For Humanity’ By Jonathan Vanian
How Learning Can Catch Up With Technological Change By Fred Swaniker
BEFORE YOU GO
Disney has been hyping all its upcoming projects at the D23 Expo this week, but does the next Star Wars movie even need to be hyped? A new trailer for The Rise of Skywalker released on Monday begins with a compilation of greatest hits clips from all eight prior movies, but ends with a major surprise. True shocking plot twist or just a bit of hokey misdirection? We’ll have to wait until Christmas to find out.