The app stores of Apple Inc. and Google are facing a growing number of complaints from companies saying the tech giants are collecting too high a tax for connecting consumers to developers’ wares.percent by the same measure, according to the brokerage firm. The technology giants are expected to earn more than $50 billion each, before interest and tax, in 2020, according to analyst forecast data compiled by Bloomberg.
Nikon Corp. unveiled its first full-frame mirrorless cameras, seeking to make up lost ground against Sony Corp. in the professional photography market.
Apple Inc will release a new low-cost laptop and a professional-focused upgrade to the Mac mini desktop later this year, ending a drought of Mac computers that has limited sales of the company’s longest-running line of devices, according to people familiar with the plans.
The new laptop will look similar to the current MacBook Air but will include thinner bezels around the screen.
The display, which will remain about 13-inches, will be a higher-resolution “Retina” version that Apple uses on other products, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing products still in development.
Apple spokesman Bill Evans declined to comment.
The current MacBook Air, which costs $1,000, remains Apple’s only laptop without a high-resolution screen. The MacBook Air was last updated with a faster processor option last year, but hasn’t seen a major overhaul in several years.
The 12-inch MacBook launched in 2015 was seen as a replacement to the MacBook Air, but its $1,300 starting price put it out of reach for some consumers.
The new MacBook Air will be geared toward consumers looking for a cheaper Apple computer, but also schools that often buy laptops in bulk.
When Apple releases new Macs in the fall, it often does so in October, following the launch of new iPhones.
The company is planning to debut three new iPhones, Apple Watches with larger screens, and new iPad Pros later this year, other people familiar with the plans said.
The Mac has been a steady seller, representing more than 11 percent of Apple sales in the last fiscal year, ahead of the iPad. However, some loyal users have complained that recent updates haven’t met their professional needs.
Apple has sought to address this by releasing a high-end iMac Pro and a new MacBook Pro with an updated keyboard and faster processor options.
Still, in the fiscal third quarter this year, the company said it sold 3.7 million Macs, the fewest in a quarter since 2010. And Apple lags other companies in the education market.
Chromebooks, cheaper laptops running Google’s Chrome operating system, accounted for 60% of devices shipped to K-12 US education institutions in the final quarter of 2017, according to Futuresource Consulting Ltd.
“HP and Lenovo have released products priced similarly to the MacBook Air, gaining share, and in order to remain competitive in that price point, we think a form-factor change is necessary,” Shannon Cross, an analyst at Cross Research, said.
“It should help them rebound some of their Mac sales as things have been getting a bit long on the tooth in terms of their Mac line as they’ve clearly been very focused on the iPhone and services businesses.”
Quanta Computer Inc. and Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. make the current generation of MacBooks and will make the new generation as well, the people familiar with Apple’s plans said.
Apple accounts for about one-third of Quanta’s revenue, according to analysts.
Apple is also planning the first upgrade to the Mac mini in about four years. It’s a Mac desktop that doesn’t include a screen, keyboard, or mouse in the box and costs $500. The computer has been favored because of its lower price, and it’s popular with app developers, those running home media centers, and server farm managers.
For this year’s model, Apple is focusing primarily on these pro users, and new storage and processor options are likely to make it more expensive than previous versions, the people said.
In addition to the new Mac models, Apple is preparing to launch macOS Mojave, a new version of its Mac operating system that adds new features for sorting files and the ability to run iPad apps like Apple News.
The company is also planning a new version of the Mac Pro, the company’s most high-end Mac, for next year, Apple has said.
Amazon.com Inc. is developing a new device that records live TV, working around cable providers and encroaching on TiVo Corp.’s market, according to a person familiar with the plans.
The device, dubbed “Frank” inside Amazon, is a new type of digital video recorder for the streaming era. It would include physical storage and connect to Amazon’s existing Fire TV boxes, the living room hub for the company’s online video efforts, according to the person.
They asked not to be identified discussing unannounced product details. An Amazon spokeswoman declined to comment.
The Frank DVR has the same wireless technology that Amazon’s Echo speakers use to connect to Fire TV boxes. Users will be able to record live TV and stream the video to a smartphone so it can be watched later.
That functionality is similar to offerings from TiVo and Dish Network Corp.’s Slingbox. Amazon hasn’t made a final decision on rolling out the streaming feature, the person said, noting that the plans could either be canceled or delayed.
TiVo shares fell as much as 10 percent in afternoon trading in New York.
Currently, Fire TVs stream live content via the Amazon Channels service, which includes programming from providers like HBO, but the box can’t store video locally. Amazon is also working to better highlight live content to Fire TV users.
The e-commerce giant’s Lab 126 research and development center is working on the DVR, the latest in a series of connected gadgets aimed at the home. The group created the Echo speaker and is building a home robot known as Project Vesta.
Amazon wants to occupy living rooms through its devices and services. The company has been investing in original movies, TV shows and live sports to make its Prime membership an alternative to streaming services like Netflix Inc.
Prime members pay annual or monthly fees for shipping discounts, video and other perks. Customers who watch Amazon video content spend more on other company offerings and are more likely to renew memberships.
Amazon also plans to update its Fire TV stick — a smaller version of the Fire TV box — with newer software, the person added. It’s also looking to get Fire TV software and video content onto more TVs made by other companies.
Right now, Amazon sells Fire TV sets built by Toshiba Corp. and Westinghouse, and is seeking more manufacturing partners to better compete with Roku Inc., which features its software in many TV models.
Fire TV streaming devices are among Amazon’s best-selling products. Earlier this year, Amazon teamed up with Best Buy Co. to sell Fire TV-branded televisions made by Toshiba and Insignia.
Airbnb Inc. is set to debut another almost-hotel—and, according to its development partner, it has many more to come.
YouTube wants to prove to its biggest stars that the popular video service is more than just an advertising business.
The Google-owned company is paying talent upfront sums to use and promote new features, including paid memberships and an enhanced chat, according to people familiar with the deals.
The amounts range from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, said the people, who asked not to be identified as they are discussing terms that aren’t public.
YouTube introduced paid memberships, paid chats and a new merchandising programme earlier this year to placate top talent and keep up with major competitors.
Many people with large followings on the video site have complained that it doesn’t offer ways to make money beyond advertising and that YouTube’s efforts to shield advertisers from controversial content has hurt their sales.
Competitors have seized on that dissatisfaction.
Facebook Inc. and its Instagram service have approached YouTube stars touting their new video features, while Amazon.com Inc’s Twitch and Patreon offer the chance to reduce reliance on advertising by selling subscriptions to fans who want early access to programming or the ability to use certain symbols in chats.
“If YouTube’s not scared of Twitch yet they should be now,” Casey Neistat, a popular filmmaker, and video blogger said in an interview with the Verge in May.
YouTube has responded by making it easier for creators to sell merchandise and by expanding the number of users who can sell a monthly subscription.
The new Super Chat lets fans of a given YouTube star pay to highlight their messages in live streams. Such features offer higher profit margins to YouTube and its parent company Alphabet Inc, which been looking to make money from sources beyond advertising.
“It’s something creators have been asking for, and we’ve built the products hand-in-hand with them,” Neal Mohan, YouTube’s chief product officer, said in an interview at the time.
“We have no new initiative in place,” the company said separately. “We have always invested in our creators’ success and will continue to do so to ensure they have a great experience and can find continued growth and opportunity on YouTube.”
YouTube has in the past offered talent direct payments whenever it felt pressured by new competition, such as Vessel, a short-lived video service that tried to strike exclusive deals with top YouTube talent. In 2014, YouTube paid bonuses to creators who agreed to provide their videos exclusively.
These new YouTube contracts don’t require people to post only on YouTube, but they do prohibit them from posting first on competitors’ sites.
Bitcoin dropped to the lowest level this year as pressure mounts on the embryonic digital-currency sector, with global central bankers raising questions of viability and government regulators increasing scrutiny.
The biggest virtual currency fell as much as 5.1% to $5,832.68 on Sunday, piercing the previous low of the year of $5,920.72 that was set on Feb. 6, according Bitstamp prices.
That bought its decline from the record high of almost $20,000 reached in December to 70%.
On Friday, Japan’s Financial Services Agency ordered six of the country’s biggest crypto-trading venues to improve measures to prevent money laundering.
The companies must submit their plans by July 23.
New pressure in Japan, one of the most crypto-friendly jurisdictions, demonstrated the market’s fragility to regulatory moves in the absence of much positive news.
Peer-to-peer money also came under fresh pressure in recent weeks after two South Korean exchanges said they were hacked. That raised fresh concerns about the security of investor holdings.
India’s central bank gave commercial lenders until early July to stop providing services with any company dealing with digital coins, in an order that’s reportedly being challenged in courts.
Bitcoin pared its slide on Sunday and was down 3.7% to $5,918 as of 8:57 a.m. in New York. Bitstamp is one of the major price sources for cryptocurrencies, which have no unified quotation system and can vary substantially among countries.
Bloomberg’s composite pricing, which includes Bitstamp and other sources, showed Bitcoin closed on Friday at $6,070.19.
In Africa, Paxful, a global peer-to-peer cryptocurrency marketplace, said that virtual currency is popular in Africa.
According to the company, African consumers account for over R500 million transactions per month on the platform.
Notably, half of these consumers are under 30 years old.
Of these consumers, 70% have a tertiary qualification or are studying toward a post-school qualification. 65% are male while 35% are female.
– BLOOMBERG, BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE
Since Google revealed a robo-caller that sounds eerily human earlier this month, the company has faced plenty of questions about how it works. Employees got some answers this week.
On Thursday, the Alphabet Inc. unit shared more details on how the Duplex robot-calling feature will operate when it’s released publicly, according to people familiar with the discussion. Duplex is an extension of the company’s voice-based digital assistant that automatically phones local businesses and speaks with workers there to book appointments.
At Google’s weekly TGIF staff meeting on Thursday, executives gave employees their first full Duplex demo and told them the bot would identify itself as the Google assistant. It will also inform people on the phone that the line is being recorded in certain jurisdictions, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing private matters. A Google spokesman declined to comment.
Google introduced Duplex earlier this month at its I/O developer conference, playing several clips of its assistant booking a hair cut and a restaurant table with impressively casual speech. The demo impressed developers, but mortified others who criticized Google for presenting an artificially intelligent bot that posed as human.
Two days after the demo, Google said the service will be “appropriately identified” on calls. And on Thursday, executives reassured staff that the Duplex team had been thinking about disclosure and ethical implications long before the reveal earlier this month.
Still, Google has yet to say whether the businesses used in its demos knew they were speaking with a Google bot or being recorded. Several U.S. states, including California, Washington, Florida and Massachusetts, have two-party consent laws that prohibit people or companies from recording phone conversations without consent, according to the Digital Media Law Project.
In a May 8 blog post about Duplex, Google said the service will benefit businesses that can’t book appointments online, giving them that option without additional expense or staff training. In the example where Duplex booked a hair appointment, the system said it was calling for “a client.” One of the people familiar with the situation said Google edited some of the recordings to protect the identity of the businesses involved. Although one of the locations was tracked down by tech news site Mashable.
A “60 Minutes” segment devoted to assertions that Alphabet Inc.’s Google wields a destructive monopoly in online search hammered home the notion of the company’s dominance during a time of heightened public concern with technology giants, while not surfacing new allegations.
The segment on the CBS television program highlighted how critics and rivals, such as Yelp Inc., are trying to bring Europe’s antitrust approach to Google to the U.S. Margrathe Vestager, the European Union competition commissioner, told CBS that she is intent on stopping Google’s “illegal behavior” in search, suggesting that the regulator isn’t appeased with the company’s proposed solution for the hefty charges the EU filed last year.
Alphabet shares fell 1.7% on Friday morning when the subject of CBS show was announced. The stock closed the day down 1.3% to R13 710 in New York.
The episode featured guests who argued Google abuses its dominance in search and search advertising. It didn’t show any evidence that U.S. lawmakers or enforcement agencies will target the company, according to a transcript. Nor does the segment mention the potential cases Vestager is pursuing against Google for its Android mobile software and advertising business.
The EU is still weighing Google’s remedy for Vestager’s one formal case, the charge that Google promotes its own services in its shopping search results, which brought a R34.5 billion fine. Europe could eventually levy a fine if it finds Google didn’t comply with its order last year to give equal treatment to shopping search rivals.
Most analysts see long odds of U.S. regulators bringing antitrust charges against Google. Should that happen, the case will probably end in a settlement with little material impact on the tech giant, a Bloomberg Intelligence report said on Friday. Google declined to speak to “60 Minutes” but gave the news magazine a statement denying that it’s a monopoly.
Robert Mugabe’s fall as Zimbabwe’s president is setting the scene for the return of a London mining listing for Andrew Groves and his long-term business partner – and former England cricketer – Phil Edmonds.
Groves is preparing to relist the pair’s Zimbabwe coal, chrome and gold assets in London through the reverse takeover of a cash shell, or dormant company. He sees the ascent to the presidency of Emmerson Mnangagwa, a man who served more than half a century at the side of Mugabe, as beneficial.
“I’d like to build it into a mid-tier mining company,” Groves said, adding that he has a lot of local contacts. “I’ve known Emmerson – the new president Emmerson Mnangagwa – for 15 years. He’s made a huge change already.”
Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former spy chief, became president in November with military backing and has offered to hold elections by July. His administration abolished rules that mining operations must be at least 51percent owned by black Zimbabweans for all minerals other than platinum and diamonds.
Zimbabwe is geologically rich, with deposits of gold, chrome, lithium, coal, diamonds, platinum and iron ore. Mine development stalled under Mugabe, whose policies led to a collapse in the economy and hyperinflation. “Everything has changed in the country,” said Groves, who won’t hold an executive position in the new company. “There’s a huge amount of euphoria.”
Groves and Edmonds delisted their Sable Mining venture, which was trying to build an iron-ore mine in Guinea, less than two years ago. That followed a slump in prices of the commodity and bribery allegations that were denied by the company.
Now renamed Consolidated Growth Holdings, the private company that holds Zimbabwe and Guinea assets is in talks with London-listed Contango Holdings for a reverse takeover.
Past deals by Groves and Edmonds include the sale of Central African Mining & Exploration for about £584m in 2009 after securing copper and cobalt mines in the Congo with the help of Dan Gertler.
OIL TRADED near its lowest closing price in two weeks as concerns about volatility in global markets offset a drop in US inventories.
Futures in New York dropped 0.2percent after earlier gaining as much as 1.3percent. American Petroleum Institute data on Tuesday showed an unexpected decrease in US stockpiles, while equity markets are clawing back on calls to “buy the dip” after extreme volatility earlier this week. Investors are watching if government inventory data also surprises with a decline when released yesterday.
Crude is struggling to extend last month’s largely dollar-driven gains on speculation that US output will impede efforts by Opec to drain a glut. Goldman Sachs Group stuck to its bullish call on commodities, saying the recent global equity sell-off only bolsters its view that raw materials are set to perform well in the months ahead.
“Investors are a bit mixed today, which makes sense after we saw the huge risk-off mode at the start of the week,” says Hans van Cleef, senior energy economist at ABN Amro Bank. “Yesterday’s inventory data showed a different picture, which triggered a small recovery and now we’re waiting for today’s number.”
West Texas Intermediate (WTI) for March delivery was 10cents lower at $63.29 (R762.45) as of 10.25am in London, after dropping 1.2percent on Tuesday to the lowest since January 19. Total volume traded was about 13percent above the 100-day average.
Brent for April settlement fell 2c to $66.84 a barrel on the London-based ICE Futures Europe exchange. The global benchmark crude traded at a premium of $3.84 to April WTI.
US crude stockpiles were reported to be down to 1.05million barrels last week, with storage also shrinking at tanks in the key hub of Cushing, Oklahoma.