Is there anything to discuss in techland this morning other than the Apple iPhone launch in Cupertino, Calif.?
Well, sure. The CEO of Social Finance, Mike Cagney, is stepping down. I had lunch with him four months ago, and he appeared onstage at Brainstorm Tech in July. SoFi, as it’s known, seemed to be the one big “fintech” company that hadn’t had any major hiccups. Now it has as Cagney’s misbehavior toward women at the company seems to have caught up with him.
And one of New York’s longest-serving technology analysts, Toni Sacconaghi, issued a report Monday on the future of electric vehicles. Sacconaghi, who long has covered the likes of Apple, HP, Dell and so on, has begun covering Tesla. It is, after all, the ultimate hardware company. He predicts electric vehicles (EVs) “will represent 60% of the automotive market unit sales by 2050.” He hedged his prediction, however. He thinks it is likely he’s being too conservative.
But I digress. For all the knowing criticism of Apple having lost its innovation mojo, the tech world will stop what it’s doing and watch the proceedings from the Steve Jobs Theater Tuesday morning when Apple unveils new phones, watches, TV-watching devices, and more.
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The top topic of conversation Monday was whether consumers would buy a $1,000 phone. The question missed the point. Of course consumers will. The question is how many. And my guess is that Apple thinks not that many will need to initially for the product to be a hit. Diehards will have to have it. The rest of us will wait until the glitches are worked out and the price comes down.
I will be in Cupertino this morning tweeting, talking, commentating and reporting. Tomorrow I’ll summarize.
Almost here. Best day of the year for Apple fans? The iPhone maker unveils its new iPhones at 10 a.m. PDT/1 p.m. EDT and people with the Safari or Microsoft Edge browser or an Apple TV can watch live. We’re expecting three new phones, a revamped Apple TV, and the third iteration of the Apple Watch. And maybe one more thing?
Still a ways off. Samsung has been showing off prototypes of foldable screen phones for almost five years, but it’s getting closer to actually selling one. Mobile unit chief Koh Dong-jin says “our current goal is next year” for the bendy phone.
Even farther in the future. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao will announce new federal guidelines for autonomous cars that tone down voluntary rules issued by the Obama administration that the car industry didn’t like. The guidelines could quickly become moot, however, as Congress is moving to enact a new law governing self-driving cars.
Oversight. Late Monday, the Senate Committee on Finance informed Equifax CEO Richard Smith that it wants to hear more—a lot more—about how hackers breached the credit bureau’s systems. Senators want more information specifically about the types of data that may have been accessed beyond social security numbers and birthdates.
It’s working. Amazon’s Whole Foods price cutting spree, or perhaps just news of its takeover, caught the attention of grocery shoppers. Foursquare Labs says data collected from its popular app shows 25% more people visiting Whole Foods stores in the first two days after Amazon took over compared to the same days the prior week.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
Excitement about cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and ethereum remains sky high–maybe too high, according to U.K. lawyer Preston Byrne. In a lengthy blog post seeking to refute the conventional wisdom that cryptocurrency is the future of everything, Byrne lays out his “bear” case about why the trend might end rather badly.
As a result of the wildly outsize returns we’ve seen to date, we have already seen institutional money coming into the space via firms such as Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Draper Associates, and Sequoia. If the rumours are true, hundreds of millions if not billions more in institutional money is sitting on the sidelines, waiting to be deployed. I think the bull case is wrong, transparently short-termist, ethically bankrupt, and will deal tremendous damage to the reputations of the technology and its promoters before the end of the day.
It’s an interesting if digressive read that will challenge your assumptions, if nothing else.
BEFORE YOU GO
Phony eclipse glasses for sale? Who would do such a thing? New York Times reporter Heather Murphy tries to track down where some of the dangerously counterfeit shades originated. It’s a winding tale, but the villain isn’t exactly clear in the end.