Why people trust Apple with their health data more than Google or Amazon

Tim Cook was the second highest-paid executive of 2016, pulling in $150,036,907

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Tim Cook was the second highest-paid executive of 2016, pulling in $150,036,907

Would you trust a technology company like Apple, Amazon or Google with your health data?

More than 1,000 people participated in my Twitter poll on the topic, and the majority of people responding that they would. Only 37 percent of people responded that they would not share their data.

Among those who opted to share their health data with a tech company, one clear winner emerged: Apple.


Apple ‘working on non-iPhone Apple Watch’

The current Apple Watch range requires an iPhone to be paired via Bluetooth

Apple is working on an Apple Watch that does not need to be paired to an iPhone, according to a report.

Bloomberg reports that the new Watch will connect directly to LTE mobile networks.

The company has begun talks with providers in the US and Europe about offering the device later this year, the report says.

Apple launched the Watch in 2015 but is yet to share any sales figures.

In a recent call to investors, Apple boss Tim Cook said his firm’s watch was the best-selling smartwatch in the world.

But in the wider wearables market, Apple lags behind Chinese firm Xiaomi and San Francisco-based Fitbit, according to Strategy Analytics.

Intel modem

While originally positioned as a luxury device, Apple has more recently focused on the fitness credentials of the Watch.

Untethering it from the iPhone would open up a range of new functionality – such as allowing users to download songs on the move, even if they do not have their smartphone with them.

“Apple clearly has big plans for Watch both in the health segment and as a gateway to the connected home,” said Carolina Milanesi, consumer tech analyst at Creative Strategies.

“Direct network connection helps in both making sharing data more reliable and faster.”

However, there will be concern about the battery life of the device. Most of the computational heavy-lifting on the current Apple Watch is done via the paired iPhone.

According to Bloomberg’s report, the new device’s modem will be manufactured by Intel.

The device would come on to the market several years after Apple rivals Samsung and LG launched their own cellular-enabled smart watches. However such devices have tended to be too large to gain any kind of mainstream popularity.


Apple has the green light to test next-generation 5G wireless tech – here’s what that means

In July, the FCC approved Apple’s application to test next generation “5G” wireless technology near its headquarters in Cupertino, California.

Apple applied for the permit back in May, Business Insider first reported.

This means Apple can now legally start testing technology that could drastically increase the speed and bandwidth of a wireless connection.

The name 5G suggests the technology is a successor to the 3G, 4G, and LTE networks offered by carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile. “These assessments will provide engineering data relevant to the operation of devices on wireless carriers’ future 5G networks,” according to Apple’s application.

Does this mean that Apple is working on a next-generation iPhone with a 5G modem? Not exactly.

A ‘simple’ test

transamerica wireless

Apple isn’t likely to build its own 5G network and take on AT&T or Sprint. The iPhone giant applied for an experimental license, which tech companies apply for all the time.

The specific technology that Apple applied to test is called millimeter wave, specifically, on the 28 GHz and 39 GHz bands. Apple’s application is vague, experts told Business Insider, but the testing it plans to do is relatively straightforward.

It looks like “Apple is setting up a test network at its corporate HQ with the aim of testing technologies that have been proposed for the 5G standard,” OpenSignal analyst Kevin Fitchard told Business Insider shortly after Apple applied for the license.

“It’s just an experimental license, which companies that have no interest in being operators apply for all the time,” he continued.

“This seems to be simple one-way transmission from the fixed transmitters to a receiver, which could be mobile or fixed,” wireless consultant Steve Crowley told Business Insider in an email after Apple’s initial application was made public.

Apple could be testing basic stuff like how reliable signal strength is, or how signal strength varies with distance.

Apple Headquarters Infinite Loop 6

It doesn’t look like Apple already has 5G iPhones it’s testing. According to the application, the transmitter needs to be fixed, which isn’t realistic for a mobile device. Plus, Apple is only planning to test millimeter wave for a year, according to the application.

Ultimately, Apple might just be keeping up with the Joneses. “Google, Samsung, Microsoft, they’ve all been given licenses for this a while ago,”Tristan Veale, analyst at Futuresource Consulting told Business Insider.

“It makes sense that Apple would be on board” with 5G, he continued.

Early days

One of the most important things to understand is that 5G isn’t a single technology. It’s basically a marketing term for a next-generation network that’s comprised of several different technologies.

The “millimeter waves” mentioned in the application are a significant part of the 5G standard. They are high frequency waves that can carry a staggering amount of data.

“I think it’s perfectly acceptable to call millimeter wave part of the 5G spectrum,” Veale said. But it’s only a part of the combination of technologies that will eventually make up a 5G connection.

“By using a bunch of fancy multiple antenna and beamforming techniques, 5G can extend the range of those high frequencies without consuming enormous amounts of power,” Fitchard said.

Ultimately, a body called 3GPP still has to finalize technical specifications for 5G, so it’s years away at the soonest.

“The cellular standards body called 3GPP, they are making really pretty great progress in moving 5G along,” Saul Enbinder, VP at Spirent Communications told Business Insider.

“You’ll see more an more use cases demonstrated through 2018. Real 5G service probably starts to show up in 2019, 2020 timeframe,” he continued.


How Apple could become a $1 trillion company

Apple reported its earnings this week, and with a surprisingly positive report the shares spiked again as Apple signaled a potential huge iPhone release.

With that jump, Apple’s market cap is now over $800 billion. This year alone, shares of Apple are up almost 35%. If Apple’s promise plays out — or exceeds — what Wall Street hopes for the September quarter, we may soon be asking ourselves whether or not Apple really will fulfill the promise of a company that could hit a market cap of $1 trillion. The company is of course one of a very long list of companies benefittings from a massive run up in the public markets, but there is still quite a bit to do.

With a potentially huge quarter on the way, a cash pile of hundreds of billions of dollars, an ever expanding line of products and a ton of good will heading into the back half of the year, we may see that question answered sooner rather than later. So let’s run through a couple key factors that Apple is going to have to address if it’s going to hit that largely symbolic but massive milestone nonetheless.

Get a blockbuster iPhone out

This is an obvious one. Apple’s core business is the glass slate in your pocket. It’s how you interact with the Internet, with every online service, and your core communications channel to the rest of the world. But even as we potentially move toward an end point for the smartphone — as in, if we’ve potentially already perfected the form factor and use case — Apple still has to come out with a fresh look and design.

Apple has the luxury of a consistent customer base and can wait while other companies discover new user experiences that it can wrap into the phone and then adopt the best of those. You could argue that, prior to iOS 7, Apple didn’t explicitly need to overhaul the interface into something with a more modern look. It didn’t have to ditch the green felt in the Game Center. But customers still crave new as both a status symbol and a feeling of new novel user experiences. Apple was arguably behind in the people-like-big-phones movement, and then when it finally caught up it unlocked an insane amount of customer demand that delivered some of the company’s best quarters in its history.

This feeds, critically, into the second point…

Lock people into buying the iPhone as a “hub” with an expanding portfolio of edge products

We’ve started to see a lot of moves by Apple to expand into new product categories like the Apple Watch. But with the emergence of newer products like the HomePod and the AirPods, it seems more and more likely that Apple could morph into a company with a portfolio of niche products that keep people locked into iOS. All of these products are powered by your phone, and as more and more of the computational user experience moves into a distributed environment — voice, wrist and such — Apple can make a very strong case for the iPhone as the hub of this universe of distributed products.

That, like everything else, forces lock-in as people have to buy the hub. The iPhone continues to become more and more powerful, but even with redesigns and upgrades, it’s still a multi-functional glass slate. New user experiences are starting to blossom into a movement that could change the way we interact with the Internet. But again, you still need to own the hub, and the hub is Apple’s core business.

Grow those incremental edge businesses, even if they’re niches

While Apple will probably always be a phone company, each incremental product that’s able to operate at a profit by nature will expand Apple’s value. Altering the calculus of the company’s operations (going from a “phone” company to an “everything internet” company) will require a reassessment of how to value it. Google, for example, at one point jumped ahead of Apple to become the most valuable company in the world but more or less has returned to the reality that it’s an advertising company and hasn’t shown the promise of becoming something more full-stack in terms of how we interface with the internet just yet.

Amazon, Google and company are all working to pick off niches of this area. Amazon is where you buy things, and you can do so with your voice (with the added benefit of asking questions). Google is where you search for things. Microsoft is, well, Microsoft, and so on and so forth. While Google is the arbiter of Android — which powers most devices on the planet — it’s not really in the same scope as Apple which is uniquely a device company. Each additional device or service, which creates that positive feedback loop of locking a user further and further down its rabbit hole, has the opportunity of adding incremental value to the company.

Services can become a Fortune 100 business, but the success of the HomePod (and its seeming perception as a speaker before an interface) would be like adding a Sonos. Apple can choose to try to own the full stack of content, music or other experiences from the actual human sensation to where it’s stored on the Internet. The company will always be gauged differently and will probably always be greater than the sum of its parts (in this case, the sum of the niches). But, each of those successful niches will create additional value regardless.

Build out a massive services business that surprises Wall Street

Apple has a huge edge here because it’s able to basically will content deals into existence. One of the great things about building this kind of a business is that it can be wildly consistent and continue to grow methodically. Certain elements can be hits-driven, such as original content, but Apple has so much power and weight that it can strong-arm exclusive music deals. Facebook was able to create a massive messaging ecosystem with Facebook Messenger by simply funneling people to the app, and Apple can do the same with products like Apple Music.

Consistent is good. Very good. It means that even when Apple might stumble on certain quarters it can generally rely on that amount of revenue — or income — to buoy its results. You can look at Amazon as an example case, where its retail business has some of the tightest margins in the universe but its server business continues to be very efficient at generating actual profit for the company. With that, Amazon could basically point to it on an earnings report and explain that it can have a portfolio of business lines that can in the future become billion-dollar-plus revenue streams.

Apple likes to say that its Services business will be the size of a Fortune 100 company soon enough. That’s not out of the realm of possibility, as every developer has to build for the App Store and Apple is able to get out these additional services like Apple Music that it has always executed well. If this business continues or begins to outperform, it’s an incremental addition to the company.


Why Apple and other tech companies are fighting to keep devices hard to repair

Apple is the largest company on Earth by market cap, and its success is derived from selling brand-new high-end smartphones consistently month after month. At the peak of its iPhone business, back in 2015, Apple sold a staggering 231.5 million smartphones. Though sales have begun to slow, that one device alone still accounts for more than 50 percent of Apple’s entire business. The company’s second quarter earnings results for 2017, reported on Tuesday, showed a quarterly profit of $8.7 billion, a majority of which came from the sale of 41 million iPhones.

But one of the reasons Apple can sell so many new devices is that we keep tossing aside our old ones, either because the battery life has grown worse or a new, more advanced model just came out. Advocacy groups say this is by design, and that companies like Apple are keeping supposedly neutral standards bodies from implementing environmentally friendly measures that could increase device longevity and cut down on the number of new units manufactured.

Apple isn’t alone here, but the iPhone has become emblematic of this mindset and what environmental groups consider excessive wastefulness. The company makes it difficult to repair its products by using proprietary screws, unibody enclosures, and other manufacturing and design techniques that make it so only Apple or computer repair experts can easily take them apart. The company also makes it notoriously difficult to replace its batteries, by gluing them to other components and burying them beneath layers of complex, sensitive parts. Instead, Apple incentivizes consumers to trade in or discard models that are just 18–24 months old for newer ones.

A new report, out today from trade group the Repair Association, details how the tech industry, through practices like fighting repairability, has undermined and openly combated green technology standards that would cut down on manufacturing waste. Authored by Repair Association board member Mark Schaffer, who runs an environmental consultancy, the report lays out how Apple, HP, and other manufacturers use their outsized influence over the groups who regulate the manufacturing of electronic devices. These companies, which the report says effectively get to decide how their environmental practices are regulated, then get to slap gold certification labels on their products, all while ignoring pressing issues like repairability and reusability.

“What’s happening internally at these companies is the environment team is getting overruled,” says Kyle Wiens, the CEO of teardown company iFixit and a board member of the Repair Association. “Ostensibly, it’s their job to make the company more environmentally friendly. Practically, the company is telling the environment team, ‘Make sure we’re not getting constrained in any way.’ Now you’ve got the fox guarding the henhouse.”

It’s important to note that these are not government-enforced regulations. The first ever environmental standards for electronics were established in 2004 through an Environmental Protection Agency-funded effort. However, that resulted in the establishment of a standard by the existing Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), which is a professional association made of up not of government regulators, but academics, nonprofits, and a large number of corporate representatives with corporate interests in mind.

From there, the process has evolved to include other standards boards organized under a third-party group known as the Green Electronics Council, which itself oversees the Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). EPEAT decides when a company’s products can be deemed bronze, silver, or gold certified, and it takes input from across the industry on what those tiers actually mean and what new criteria should be included over time. It’s that process that Schaffer says tech companies like Apple and others have diluted to protect their businesses at the expense of the environment.

Phone batteries-verge-04

Apple, in a statement given to The Verge, said it is continuously working to improve sustainability efforts, but the company remains committed to keeping tight control over how its products are made and repaired. “Highly-integrated design allows us to make products that are not only beautiful, thin and powerful, but also durable, so they can last for many years,” the company said. “When repairs are needed, authorized providers can ensure the quality, safety, and security of repairs for customers. And when products do reach end of life, Apple takes responsibility for recycling them safely and responsibly.” The company adds that it’s continuing to invest in environmentally friendly recycling efforts, like its Liam bot for disassembling iPhones, as well as “pioneering a closed loop supply chain where products are made using only renewable resources or recycled material to reduce the need to mine materials from the earth.”

Still, Apple feels that it’s doing enough, and many members of the tech industry feel the same about their own practices. Wiens and his company iFixit have a say in the standards process that would push the industry to go further, with one vote on these boards alongside other NGOs and environmental advocacy groups. However, as Schaffer’s report makes clear, electronics makers like Apple and others dominate these discussions with more voting power and a larger presence. In the case of the most recent IEEE server standard vote, electronics manufacturers represented 41 percent of the group, the largest of any category. Third-party industries represented 28 percent, while academia and public advocacy each represented just 7 percent of the board. (The remaining amount belongs to what are labeled as “general interest” groups.) If any stipulation arises that may hurt the manufacturers’ businesses, they simply vote it down as a unified block, according to the report.

“I’m no longer involved in the meetings and voting because it’s just a waste of my time,” says Sarah Westervelt, a policy director at the Basel Action Network, a nonprofit dedicated to combating the export of toxic waste from electronics manufacturing to developing countries. “EPEAT has lost its original goal of being a driver for redesign.” Westervelt, who spend hundreds of hours with other NGO members to draft recommendations for EPEAT, says that manufacturers, by their voting power, have weakened the standards by making the gold tier too easy to achieve. “I think there’s a real opportunity here,” she adds. “I believe that whoever has the authority and the vision for governing EPEAT needs to try and create a new set of parameters for participants.” She points out that, at a certain point, the tech industry’s chemical suppliers were enlisting family members to pay for IEEE memberships to help vote down new environmental measures.

Much of the problem arises from the simple fact that corporate representatives, on company payroll, are sent only to prevent unnecessary costs. “We sit across the table at these standards development meetings, and we can argue,” Wiens says of the process. “And they [Apple] say things like batteries shouldn’t be replaced by the user, and they say our authorized service network can take care of that.” But Wiens points out that there’s no feasible way for Apple Stores, of which there are less than 500 worldwide, can serve the hundreds of millions of iPhone owners out there. Apple has also historically made it difficult and prohibitively expensive for users to get their screens repaired, only last year dropping the price from $99, with AppleCare+ insurance, to $29. Not until June of this year did Apple agree to provide its proprietary screen repair machines to third-party service centers.

A central issue, Schaffer argues in his report, is that tech companies don’t want more demanding standards, because that would mean losing out on lucrative contracts with local, state, and federal governments. These governmental organizations require that products purchased for use in schools and public departments meet the highest green certification standard under EPEAT. Having new, more stringent standards means running the risk of a new product labelled with a less-than-perfect certification, which could lead to a loss of big contracts. “The US federal government is the largest purchaser of consumer electronics,” Wiens says, “so if you’re on the list, that determines whether the government can buy the device.”


Apple Shares Jump on Excitement for Next iPhone

Story image for Apple from New York Times

Apple reported impressive profit and revenue growth in its just-completed fiscal third quarter, helping send its shares up 5% in morning trading on Wednesday.

But most Wall Street analysts were more focused on the bread crumbs Apple offered about expectations for its next line of iPhones expected to be announced in September. And on that score, the news was very good indeed. Apple said it expected to pull in as much as $52 billion of sales for the upcoming quarter, well ahead of Wall Street’s $49 billion average forecast from before the earnings announcement.

Morgan Stanley analyst Katy Huberty pointed to the strong revenue forecast and what she termed confident-sounding remarks by Apple executives. “Strong results and guidance clear the path for AAPL shares to outperform in the early innings of an iPhone supercycle,” Huberty wrote.

Longtime Apple follower Toni Sacconaghi at Bernstein Research was a bit more cautious. By his read, updated basic models, what he dubs the iPhone 7S line, will be available on time in September. But he gave only a 10% chance that Apple will have enough stock on hand to meet demand for a rumored new highly-desirable, high-end model, perhaps called the iPhone 8, at a higher price. He sees a 50% chance that the high end model won’t reach customers at all until October or later and a 40% chance of “limited quantities” in September. Rumors of a possible delay have been emanating from Apple’s Asian supply chain for months.

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“Apple’s Q3 results were strong and broad-based, particularly since they came on the eve of Apple’s potentially biggest iPhone introduction in years, and at the outset of new software offerings,” Sacconaghi wrote. “That said, we didn’t learn much about the iPhone 8 and its timing–other than the iPhone business itself is stronger going into the cycle that most had thought, and that new offerings won’t all be materially delayed.”

Such delays for a higher end model, likely with an OLED display, won’t hurt Apple much, according to J.P. Morgan analyst Rod Hall, who also pointed to Apple’s strong revenue guidance. Many customers will snap up new LCD-screen models while other wait for the OLED model to arrive.

“We believe this strength relates to the iPhone and probably to the two new LCD models which we believe are likely to begin contributing meaningfully in September while the OLED ‘iPhone Pro’ model looks more likely to materially impact December quarter numbers,” Hall wrote.

Still, some analysts saw an much less impressive picture for the upcoming iPhones. Andy Hargreaves at KeyBanc Capital Markets said the rate of iPhone sales from the past quarter were about in line with the prior four years. To Hargreaves that indicated no large build of customer demand for the upcoming new iPhones.

“While it is generally positive that Apple continues to sell iPhones at a healthy clip, the stable demand pattern suggests pent-up demand for the new iPhone is not building,” he wrote. “This raises questions about the ability of Apple’s new iPhones to drive the outsized upgrade rates and growth in new users that consensus estimates anticipate.”

Apple sells many things besides iPhones of course. The company reported its first increase in iPad sales in more than three years and also showed a strong 22% jump in revenue from services including sales of digital media, subscriptions to Apple Music, and purchases of online storage space on iCloud. And Mac computer sales rose modestly even as the overall PC market contracted. For Barclays analyst Mark Moskowitz, those three areas could also bolster Apple’s (AAPL, +4.73%) share price.

“Overall, these three factors could be the bigger reason for the brighter Sep-Q outlook,” he wrote. “In such a case, we think it is important for investors to consider the outlook may not be rosy just because of the next iPhone.”


Why Apple Is Experiencing Another Growth Spurt

John Ternus, vice president for hardware engineering at Apple, discussing the iMac product line at the company’s World Wide Developers Conference in June. CreditJim Wilson/The New York Times

SAN FRANCISCO — At 41 years old, Apple is a respected elder of the tech industry. But rather than easing slowly into retirement, the company is going through another growth spurt.

On Wednesday, Apple’s stock surged 5 percent to a record high of $157.14 after it reported surprisingly strong financial results. It is now worth $822 billion, more than any other company in the stock market. And that is before it releases a hotly anticipated new lineup of iPhones this fall, on the 10th anniversary of the original model. Analysts say the new phones could drive sales up by more than 10 percent next year.

Apple is not alone. Other aging tech giants like Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet, the parent of Google, and younger players like Facebook have also managed to post strong growth despite their tremendous size. The secret to their vigor, according to analysts and investors, is the vast amount of data they have about customers and their ability to sell all sorts of products to those customers.

“This handful of companies is writing the operating system for the new economy,” said Brad Slingerlend, lead portfolio manager of Janus Henderson’s global technology fund. “The bigger companies are both able to collect data and use that data to build into adjacent businesses.”

For Apple, which is far more dependent on hardware sales than other tech leaders, the recent performance is all the more impressive after its dismal 2016, when quarterly revenue fell for the first time in 13 years and the company’s sales in China dropped through the floor.