A lot of people are optimistic about the Apple Car…

A lot of people are optimistic about the Apple Car…

Feb 18, 2015

“A lot of people are optimistic about the Apple Car, but for all the wrong reasons” By Steve Kovach, Business Insider There hasn’t been this much hype about a nonexistent Apple product since Steve Jobs was quoted in his official biography as saying he had finally “cracked” TV. It was the line that kicked off a thousand blog posts: When is the Apple television coming? What will it be able to do? What will it look like? Analysts like Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster assured us the Apple television was imminent.  That was over three years ago, and Apple has yet to launch a television or even an updated version of the Apple TV box. Starting last Friday and through the long weekend, all anyone in the industry could talk about were the various reports that Apple is working on a top-secret car project. The Wall Street Journal said the car will be an Apple-branded electric vehicle that currently resembles a minivan. (A minivan?) Reuters reported Apple is working self-driving technology. The Financial Times reported Apple has a secret research lab filled with automotive experts trying to work on new products for cars. And an Apple employee emailed Business Insider to say the company’s working on something that will “give Tesla a run for its money.” Within a few days, there was so much smoke about Apple’s secret ambitions for the car that there has to be fire. But as neat as it sounds, there are some who are overly optimistic about Apple’s ability to turn cars into its next major business. A Cantor Fitzgerald analyst implied that Apple’s car could be the company’s next iPhone. Silicon Valley entrepreneur and investor Keith Rabois thinks Apple will be able to turn cars, which are modestly profitable, into something that’s suddenly and magically able to mint profits. All of those thoughts are wildly optimistic. As Business Insider’s Jay Yarow wrote a few years ago, the iPhone is a once-in-a-lifetime megahit. I’ll probably be an old dude or dead before someone comes up with a product that fundamentally changes the way people live and interact with each other. For all the talk and criticism about Apple “needing” to find its next big thing, Apple has proven that it can do...

Give a Little Bit of Heart and Soul

Give a Little Bit of Heart and Soul

Feb 12, 2015

By Rebecca Carnes, Design-2-Part Magazine “A machine can be computerized, not a man” – Spock, Star Trek The designers and engineers of the new Apple Watch would beg to differ with Spock. Not to mention the designers and engineers of countless other new “wearables” on the market that can monitor your heart rate, track your sleep patterns, alleviate lower back pain, alert you when you have an important new text, and even send a love “tap.” Wearables have crossed over from techy fitness trackers into intimate devices that are sleek, attractive, and essentially an extension of ourselves. Send your own heartbeat to a loved one with the “Digital Touch” feature of the new Apple Watch, due out next month. Photo courtesy of Apple.   The Apple Watch — due out next month — claims to be the “most personal device ever,” acting as an electronic expression of what you like, who you are, and even who you love. It will not only play music, work like a credit card, manage apps, check the weather, and transcribe dictated messages, but also send someone else your own heartbeat as an endearment. The “Digital Touch” feature allows you to emotionally connect with other Apple Watch wearers “wrist to wrist” by sketching a quick picture for a friend, forwarding a short voice memo, and sending a loving heartbeat. You can even “tap” someone via a vibrating sensor to get their attention — think Facebook’s “poke” or a “Yo” from the Pebble smartwatch.   But the Apple Watch debut has been delayed since last September and its lack of presence at January’s 2015 International CES (consumer electronics show) in Las Vegas last month has opened the door for other wearables on the market to move into the spotlight, and not just the ones for your wrist. Where Does My Wearable Go? At the 2015 CES, wearables seemed to be migrating from the wrist to other target points on the body, such as the stomach. The new Belty, by French company Emiota, is billed as the world’s first “smart belt.” The chunky, metallic belt connects wirelessly to your smartphone to loosen and tighten as you sit or stand and make...

Tim Cook's Plan for Manufacturing Apple's Macs in the U.S. Should Lead to the Bay Area

By: Tim Cassidy, Mercury News When Apple moves the manufacturing of some Macs to the United States next year, the company obviously should put the factory in the Bay Area. It’s a no-brainer. What’s that you say? I’m the one with no brain? Look, Silicon Valley is in Apple’s DNA. It’s the company’s birthplace. It’s where Steve Jobs in 1984 famously launched the first Mac factory, a plant in Fremont he helped design to spit out one Macintosh every 27 seconds. “This is a machine that is made in America,” he said at the time. It was a memorable moment. But my argument for bringing the Mac back is all about the Bay Area having the people and the proximity to Apple’s headquarters to make the company’s manufacturing experiment a success. This goes beyond sentiment, though even the most analytical are subject to the nostalgic pull of the company’s legacy. “I think it would be great if Apple brought its production back to the Silicon Valley,” says Enrico Moretti, the UC Berkeley economics professor who this year published “The New Geography of Jobs,” a study of why certain places generate certain kinds of work. “That’s where it started. That’s where it historically belongs.” That doesn’t mean he thinks it’s going to happen. And many share that view, given the Bay Area’s expensive land, high wages and steep taxes (though companies, including Apple, have shown great creativity in reducing their tax bills). But hear me out. First, let’s look at what Apple CEO Tim Cook said earlier this month about bringing some Mac production back next year: Apple will spend $100 million on the initiative, which will be carried out by a contract manufacturer. (Think Foxconn and the like, but probably Foxconn.) We can assume that the U.S. Mac factory is going to be a relatively small operation, given that Cook is talking about only a piece of a small slice of what Apple makes. (Annual figures: 125 million iPhones, 58.3 million iPads, 18 million Macs.) Let’s stipulate that Apple isn’t going to give up its enviable profits on the Mac to make the move, because you don’t end up sitting on $121.2 billion in...

Made in America, Again

By: Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review Bringing manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is politically savvy and can make economic sense. At a dinner for Silicon Valley big shots in February 2011, President Obama asked Steve Jobs what it would take to manufacture the iPhone in the United States. Apple’s founder and CEO is said to have responded directly: “Those jobs aren’t coming back.” In December, Apple reversed course, saying it planned to assemble a line of Mac computers in the U.S. With that, Apple joined a wave of companies that say manufacturing in this country makes sense again. Companies that say they’ve brought back jobs include General Electric, Michigan Ladder, and Wham-O, which in 2010 hired eight people to make Frisbees in Los Angeles instead of China. An MIT study in 2012 found that 14 percent of companies intend to move some manufacturing back home.The idea is known as “reshoring.” Although Chinese wages are a fraction of U.S. labor costs, rising shipping rates, quality problems, and the intangible costs of being far from headquarters all add up. That’s why some companies have begun to rethink the manufacturing equation. MIT Technology Review interviewed Harry Moser, head of the Chicago-based Reshoring Initiative, about the trend. Moser, a former industry executive whose family has been involved in American manufacturing for a century, says he grew up “experiencing the glory of U.S. manufacturing.” He created the initiative to help companies compare the real costs of manufacturing at home and abroad, and to track the experiences of those who are returning. Why are people talking about reshoring all of a sudden? It’s actually been happening over the last few years. The obvious answer is that Chinese wages are doubling every four years. The consultants who five years ago were helping people offshore are now helping them inshore. And then you have President Obama making a big deal over how to reduce imports and start making stuff again. How much of Apple’s plan to manufacture in the U.S. is real, and how much is window dressing? There’s a lot of speculation about that. Some people say it’s politics. From what I can tell, the units Apple produces in the U.S....

Experts Are Skeptical About a Renaissance of U.S. Manufacturing

By: The New York Times Apple plans to join a small but growing number of companies that are bringing some manufacturing jobs back to the United States, drawn by the growing economic and political advantages of producing in their home market, report Catherine Rampbell and Nick Wingfield in Friday’s New York Times. But some experts remain skeptical that the move will inspire a broader renaissance in American manufacturing. On Thursday, Apple’s chief executive, Timothy D. Cook, who built its efficient Asian manufacturing network, said the company would invest $100 million in producing some of its Mac computers in the United States, beyond the assembly work it already does in the United States. He provided little detail about how the money would be spent or what kinds of workers might benefit. “I find it hard to see how the supply chains that drive manufacturing are going to move back here,” Andre Sharon, a professor at Boston University and director of the Fraunhofer Center for Manufacturing Innovation, told The Times. “So much of the know-how has been lost to Asia, and there’s no compelling reason for it to return. It’s great when a company says they want to create American jobs — but it only really helps the country if those are jobs that belong here, if it starts a chain reaction or is part of a bigger economic shift.” Over the last few years, companies across various industries, including electronics, automotive and medical devices, have announced that they are “reshoring” jobs after decades of shipping them abroad. Lower energy costs in America, rising wages in developing countries like China and Brazil, quality control issues and the desire to keep the supply chain close to the gigantic American consumer base have all factored into these decisions. Even so, the impact on the American job market has been modest so far. Much of the work brought back has been high-value-added, automated production that requires few actual workers, which is part of the reason America’s higher wages are not scaring off companies. American manufacturing has been growing in the last two years, but the sector still has two million fewer jobs than it had when the recession began...