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Higher Priced Smartphones Mean Lower Purchases

This year and last, Samsung, Apple, and, recently, Google set the bar higher for smartphones pushing their price bar higher than ever before. It was somewhat necessary to recoup the costs of R&D, production, marketing, and the like. It also helped inflate the smartphones’ status as premium products to die for. It appears that they may be digging their own graves in the long run.

High-end components, of course, are more expensive than more common ones, but the rate of price increase doesn’t seem proportional to the build costs. The gap seems to grow even more for each new generation of smartphones.

Business considerations aside, this rise in prices has a double-edged effect on consumers. On the one hand, they paint the picture of a product that only a few can afford, which has the ironic effect of making it even more desirable. Apple has been doing it for years.

On the other hand, it is actually and factually something very few people can afford. That ultimately meant that fewer people actually bought the new phones, which may have contributed to last month’s decline in smartphone shipments last quarter, when the most expensive non-luxury phones shipped for the first time. 

The lower sales numbers become an even bigger problem in the context of the current practice of releasing flagship smartphones every year. Some, like Samsung, even release twice a year. Others release multiple ones at the same time or spread them over the months. Long story short, there are dozens of new phones every year.

The smartphone market is changing and so is user habits. Smartphone vendors aren’t, although some, like LG and HTC, may have noticed, even though they already had lower prices. Samsung may have seen clues, but it isn’t one to change directions so quickly. Apple is one that’s unlikely to change at all. High-end smartphones are becoming luxury items that very few can afford. And whatever few can afford, very few will buy. And that may spell trouble for the companies that rely on them to survive.


Uber Health


Uber Health allows health care professionals to arrange Uber rides for patients traveling to and from the facility for non-urgent visits. Rival ridesharing service Lyft launched a similar service at the end of 2017.

Uber Health’s dashboard offers “simple billing, reporting, and management,where organizations can easily keep track of what they’re spending on rides.

Features include flexible ride scheduling for patients, caregivers, and staff, allowing rides to be booked immediately, within a couple of hours, or even up to 30 days in advance, if necessary. This makes it easy to plan a follow-up appointment with the patient while they’re present at the facility, allowing both parties to agree on a mutually convenient time and date.

Riders won’t need to have the Uber app. Ride notifications will be sent via text message to a mobile phone. Although the company says it’s also planning to set up alternative options such as landline calls.

It’s not clear who will pay for the rides. More than 100 healthcare organizations — among them hospitals, clinics, rehab centers, senior care facilities, home care centers, and physical therapy centers — are already conducting trials with Uber Health, and the dashboard is available to all such facilities from this week.



Levi Jeans & Automation

Eureka Lab [Photo: courtesy of Levi’s]
A team of designers took weeks to figure out exactly where to fade the indigo and position the tears for the most authentic vintage look. Then, factory workers used sandpaper and harsh chemicals to make it look properly worn in. The jeans were probably washed for hours so that the blue color would fade out–even though those dyes would inevitably end up polluting the groundwater. It could take weeks for a team of Levi designers to figure out exactly where to fade the indigo and position the tears for the most authentic vintage look.

They now have a new laser technology that will, in a snap, do what now takes much longer. The breakthrough uses infrared light to etch off a very fine layer of the indigo and cotton from a pair of jeans, creating the same kind of faded finishes and tears in 90 seconds flat.

This new tech, which Sights will automate many new aspects of the company’s denim-making process, from the design and prototyping to the manufacturing, to catering to consumer demand.

[Photo: courtesy of Levi’s]

The company employs 13,500 workers around the world—not including those that work in third-party factories. Levi’s jeans are sold at 50,000 retailers in 110 countries. This will will mean retraining hundreds of people and changing the time it takes to get products to stores. But by introducing these laser-wielding robots into Levi’s factories around the world, it has the potential to eliminate many repetitive, dangerous tasks that are an everyday part of the job for denim workers.

[Photo: courtesy of Levi’s]

[Photo: courtesy of Levi’s]

Between 80 and 100 billion never-worn garments are sent to landfills globally every year. This new technology will shift our model from ‘sell what you make’ to ‘make what you sell,’ which will absolutely improve their overall inventory health.

Google Plans To expan It’s Workforce In Chicago


Google plans to expand its workforce in Chicago, as part of the company’s plan to add thousands of U.S. employees this year.

But it’s unclear exactly how many of those new jobs will be in Chicago. The company plans to invest in new or expanded offices in nine states, including Illinois. There will be jobs for thousands of people in a variety of roles — engineering, operations, sales and more. Mountain View, Calif.-based Google currently has more than 800 workers, mostly in sales, at its Midwest headquarters in Chicago’s Fulton Market district. The office is in 1KFulton, a 10-story former cold storage building at 1000 W. Fulton Market that Chicago developer Sterling Bay redeveloped into loft offices. 

Move Over Millenials; Here Comes Gen Z

Image result for gen z

Gen Z was born around the mid-1990s.

Behavioral characteristics:

More cautious (e.g., less underage drinking, higher seat-belt use) and perhaps slightly more introverted than Gen Xers or Millennials

■ Less cynical, more accepting — culturally and otherwise — than their Gen X parents

■ 1st generation to be born with ubiquitous digital technology, so they deal in and expect shorter timeframes of action and reaction


Digital profile:

■ More private on social media (preferring Snapchat to Facebook)

■ Realistically accept their lack of cyberspace privacy and anonymity, so they are comparatively preoccupied with the appearance of their online profiles; want to look good, clean, on background checks.


Professional approach:

Not as tied to their college majors for their career tracks

■ Seek both job flexibility in assignments and job-growth potential

■ Less concerned with perks, dress codes, etc., than Millennials

■ Preoccupied with their ability to pay off student loans

■ More unisex/gender-neutral in their career paths

They are the largest and most ethnically diverse generation in the U.S. And they have grown up with access to seemingly whatever they want, whether it be information, music, entertainment or, let’s be honest, ways to block advertising.  Nielsen reported last year, that 97 percent of Gen Zers had smartphones and 78 percent had tablets, ahead of the 95 percent of millennials and Gen Xers with smartphones—and the 70 percent of both groups with tablets.


Amazon Cutting Hundreds Of Jobs & Hiring 50,000


The Seattle office is said to have been overstaffed in some departments (Source: Getty)
Sources say that the move came after a hiring spree resulted in some departments being overstaffed. But Amazon responded that it was making small reductions in some areas but continuing with “aggressive hiring” in others.

The company is thought to be consolidating its established retail business, while expanding other units.

The news comes as Amazon hunts for its second US headquarters, a quest which has attracted a flurry of bids from American cities keen to host the company. It has shortlisted 20 cities as possible locations for its new HQ.

Amazon plans to hire 50,000 workers at the new office.

The tech titan is in a race with Google parent Alphabet and Apple to become the world’s first company valued at a trillion dollars this year. All three posted massive sales numbers in their latest updates.


Waymo v. Uber Reached A settlement


Both sides in the Waymo v. Uber lawsuit have reached a settlement, and the case is being dismissed with prejudice. Judge Alsup granted the motion to dismiss, and with that, the case is, in his words, “ancient history.” 

 Waymo gets 0.34 percent of Uber’s equity at the company’s $72 billion valuation, which works out to a value of around $245 million. Waymo had originally sought a $1 billion settlement last year before the trial got underway, but Uber rejected that deal. Both sides are responsible for paying their own legal fees. “This is all equity; zero cash,” said a source familiar with the settlement. Meaning, Waymo is invested in Uber’s future.

According to a source, Uber cannot use any of Waymo’s hardware or software trade secrets as one of the conditions of the settlement. That’s interesting, especially since the trade secrets at the heart of the case were all related to hardware. Judge Alsup had instructed Waymo to bring a separate lawsuit against Uber if it wished to block the company from using its software.

Uber sees this as a big win, especially since it clears the deck for the company ahead of its expected public offering and avoids years of costly appeals and lastly, the settlement reflects the difference between Uber’s old and new leadership.

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