Enterprise

Here’s why Apple failed in 2018, according to Tim Cook

Blames China, cheap battery replacements

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Image source: Apple.com

For most of the year, Apple’s 2018 was one of the most turbulent periods in the company’s recent history. Despite launching three new phones, Apple trudged through a flurry of controversies and feuds with other companies. The company is facing a whirlwind of legal battles in different fronts, including China and Germany. Now, as 2019 gears up for its go, Apple reflects on the ups and downs of 2018.

In a publicly available investor’s note, Apple CEO Tim Cook shared his thoughts on what led to a tumultuous 2018. Among others, he enumerated the company’s troubles in China, the cheapened battery replacement program, and the success of non-iPhone properties.


Of course, Apple’s difficulty in China is well documented. For one, the company is up against more popular Chinese brands like Xiaomi and Huawei. Apple is doing poorly in the country. “In fact, most of our revenue shortfall… occurred in Greater China across iPhone, Mac, and iPad,” Cook said. Besides that, the company’s older models are banned because of Qualcomm.

While China (and other emerging markets) caused most of Apple’s downfall, another sizable chunk comes from the lack of iPhone upgrades. Existing iPhone users have stopped upgrading to the latest models. According to Cook, “some customers [are] taking advantage of significantly reduced pricing for iPhone battery replacements.”

In 2017, the company ran into a planned obsolescence issue. Apple purposely slowed down its older models to supposedly promote upgrading. As a result, the company offered a cheaper battery replacement program to stave off obsolescence. Because of increasing prices, most consumers preferred new batteries over new phones. While the decision was right for consumers, Cook is now mulling over the plan’s side effects.

To Apple’s credit, the company is enjoying success outside of the iconic iPhone. Apple’s services, wearables, MacBook, and iPad offerings “grew almost 19 percent.” Their services, including aftermarket care, generated US$ 10.8 billion in revenue. Wearables grew by 50 percent. At the very least, Apple succeeded in other fronts.

With that, Cook remains hopeful for the company’s future. “Most importantly, we are confident and excited about our pipeline of future products and services,” he concluded.

Of course, Apple’s future depends on more than its head honcho’s high hopes. As 2019 begins, the company is still facing several battles elsewhere. Apple is still undergoing an arduous appeal process to reverse China’s decision to pull out the company’s products. The company’s stock crashed by 38 percent since October. The future is still a blurry mess for the company.

SEE ALSO: Apple: New iPad Pro is ‘tighter than previous generations’

Enterprise

Huawei on getting to top spot: ‘This process may take longer’

Admits that there are other priorities

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By now, it’s become clear that the US trade ban saga against Huawei won’t end any time soon. Despite the support of fellow tech companies and occasionally positive news, the Chinese manufacturer realizes that solving this issue is top priority.

It was made even more evident after Shao Yang, chief strategy officer of Huawei Consumer Business Group, admitted that there’s been a change in Huawei’s plan to reach the number one spot in smartphone market share.


“We would have become the largest in the fourth quarter (of this year) but now we feel that this process may take longer,” said Shao Yan.

The New York Times states that he didn’t elaborate on reasons for this shift in strategy, but it’s an apparent response to the trade ban the US has been imposing on the tech giant.

Recently, Huawei overtook Apple for second place in global smartphone market share to trail behind only Samsung. Chipping away at the South Korean brand’s spot will have to take a break for now.

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Computers

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure: Dell embraces a circular economy

Sustainability is at the core of everything Dell does

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As consumers our top considerations when buying a new device are specs, performance, value for money, and design. We rarely think about the impact we and the technology we use have on the environment. The only time we probably ever do is when we need to dispose an irreparable phone or a dinosaur laptop. When that moment comes, we also don’t know exactly what to do or where to bring our old devices.

Fortunately there are companies like Dell that think ahead and consider the entire lifecycle of their products — from sourcing materials, to manufacturing, packaging, shipping, and recycling — and beyond. This approach is called a circular economy.


In a traditional, linear product cycle, recycling or refurbishing is thought of at the end of the product’s life, if at all. In Dell’s circular economy, the concept of waste is designed out of the system. This means sustainability is at the core of everything that they do. Here are some ways Dell is minimizing their footprint as a company while helping us consumers reduce ours as well:

Trade-in and recycling programs, not just for Dell products

Through Dell Reconnect, you can take that old computer sitting in your attic to a Goodwill store for recycling or refurbishing. The program also provides green jobs, and ensures that no environmentally sensitive materials are sent to landfills. The same program allows you to recycle or send back used ink cartridges responsibly as well.

If you’re due for an upgrade, the company can also recycle your old laptop for you, no matter the brand. You may also trade in any eligible piece of electronics, including smartphones and consoles, to earn a gift card that you can use to buy yourself a shiny new Dell laptop.

Packaging made of bamboo, mushrooms, straws

Photo from Dell

To solve mountains of packaging problems we face after unboxing a new device — large fancy boxes, plastic, and foam — Dell has come up with the 3Cs packaging strategy, which stands for cube (size and shape), content (material choice), and curb (recyclability).

For Dell, wasted space inside any packaging is just that — wasted — so the company is continuously finding ways to minimize the amount of material needed to create packaging, as well as reduce box sizes so as to fit more products in storage and during shipping.

More importantly, Dell uses the best possible material to protect the product, and consider that which makes most sense for each region by using what’s locally available. In 2009, Dell was the first to use packaging made from bamboo. Not only is it a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived foams, the bamboo they use also grows near their manufacturing facilities.

In 2011, Dell started developing cushion packaging made of mushroom, which has a smaller footprint compared to the usual protective foam, and is compostable. Recently, the company also started taking ocean-bound plastics like straws back to the economy where they can be reused to make the trays found inside Dell boxes.

The company reuses boxes up to 7 times before they are recycled. So when you buy a new laptop and the box is not in its most perfect form, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. In certain markets, Dell also rewards customers for returning packaging that can be refurbished and reused.

Ink made of smog

Photo from Chakr Innovations

Here’s an unexpected way Dell is putting waste back into the economy and using locally available materials at the same time. Traditionally seen as a pollutant, the company is using ink made from smog in India to print some of its packaging.

A startup called Chakr Innovations developed the device called Chakr Shield which captures 90% of particulate matter emissions from diesel generators. The captured soot is then turned into carbon black, which is used to make ink. Dell is the first to use the ink on a larger scale and it works just as well as regular ink.

Backpack made of recycled windshields

Photo from Dell

Dell doesn’t just make computers and printers, they also make a whole array of accessories, and some of them are made with sustainability in mind. The Dell Pro Backpack 15 is made with a more environment-friendly solution-dyeing process. It’s also water-resistant, which is made possible by a layer of coating that’s made from reclaimed windshields.

Jewelry made of used computers

Photo from Dell

In its effort to reduce waste dumped in landfills, Dell also reclaims gold from motherboards through its recycling programs, reuses them to make not only new motherboards, but jewelry as well. So that old laptop you’re going to trade in for a new one? Parts of it will end up on someone’s finger or ears at some point, not in a developing country that becomes a dumpsite for other companies and countries.

Photo from Dell

Vivian Tai, Head of Global Environmental Affairs for the APJ region says the company is integrating sustainability efforts not for Dell’s benefit, but to provide better value for customers. She says sourcing and bringing what many consider “waste” back to life is challenging but is important to the company. Just this year, Dell already reached two of its 2020 goals: recover two billion pounds of used electronics and use 100 million pounds of recycled-content, plastic and other sustainable materials, one full year ahead of schedule.

Next time you need to buy a new laptop, take sustainability into consideration, too. Technology plays a big role in making our lives easier, and the good that it can do should not end at that but also extend beyond its usual lifecycle. It’s not just big companies who benefit from minimizing our ecological footprint — it’s also us, consumers, and the generations that come after us.

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Apps

Google: Cutting off Huawei is an even bigger threat

Could lead to less secure apps

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For three weeks, Huawei’s biggest concerns were the loss of Android and ARM architecture support. The recent Trump ban created pandemonium for the Chinese company. Since the ban’s announcement, Huawei has struggled with solutions and appeals. Unfortunately, the company’s troubles are not stopping.

In a Financial Times report, Google argues that Trump’s ban will ironically open Huawei to more cybersecurity issues. Likewise, an Android ban will cascade down to the operating system’s supported apps. Users will likely resort to less secure installation methods for their lost apps.


Google further explains that using an Android hybrid (since the platform is open-source by nature) could result in more holes in the system’s security. Huawei’s alternative — either their own custom OS or a forked Android variant — will not offer the same amount of protection.

In related news, Facebook has banned their app’s pre-installs on their future smartphones. Currently, Huawei’s phones come installed with Facebook’s slew of apps — Facebook, Instagram, and Whatsapp. Arguably, all three apps are essential pieces of a smartphone’s ecosystem. As such, smartphone makers often strike pre-installation deals with app developers, allowing devices to come with these essential apps.

Of course, Huawei users can still install them manually through the Google Play Store. However, this method is also in jeopardy. By August 19, Google is forced to sever support for Huawei, pending a permanent resolution. The ban can feasibly take the Play Store with it. If that happens, Huawei users can no longer install Facebook through the usual means. Users will start resorting to Huawei’s own store or APK installs.

Huawei’s continued dealing with bans rings an ominous death knell for the Chinese company. Without a conclusive resolution, the world’s number-two smartphone manufacturer is facing an uncertain, dangerous future for its phones, inside and out.

SEE ALSO: Huawei inks a 5G developmental deal with Russia

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