Day: May 3, 2019

Apple Loop: New iPhone Leaks, Embarrassing Fast Charging Plans, Frustrating MacBook Pro Delay

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This week’s Apple Loop includes details of the iPhone XR2 camera, fast charging plans, new TouchID technology, Apple’s quarterly results, Tim Cook on the delayed MacBooks, Apple Music’s waning influence, and more discussions around the right to repair.

The CEO of Google says ‘headwinds’ are hurting its Pixel smartphone business, but experts say that Google owns much of the blame (GOOG, GOOGL)

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  • Google said that sales of its Pixel smartphone declined in the first three months of the year. 
  • Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai cited “headwinds” facing the high-end smartphone industry, echoing the bumpy smartphone sales that Apple and Samsung have recently suffered.
  • But according to industry experts, Google owns much of the blame based on its pricing and go-to-market strategy. 
  • Google has purposefully kept its smartphone business in low gear, say analysts. But that strategy could be due for a big shake up as Google prepares to introduce an affordable version of the Pixel. 
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

During Google’s first quarter earnings call on Monday, CEO Sundar Pichai broke the news to investors that sales of its Pixel smartphone had declined. 

The reason? Pichai skirted around specifics and instead blamed general “headwinds” facing the high-end smartphone industry. 

“Phones definitely across an industry, I think we are working through a phase where there is definite year-on-year headwinds,” Pichai said. 

Read more: Google CEO Sundar Pichai blames a drop in sales of its Pixel smartphone on ‘headwinds’ that are putting pressure on every expensive phone

Google’s chief exec isn’t wrong in calling out the downward trends facing the industry. 

Apple has been rocked by declining iPhone sales as of late — so much so that the hardware giant has recently been making attempts to double-down on the “services” side of its business instead. Apple’s iPhone sales beat analysts expectations in its earnings call on Tuesday, but were still down over 20% from the same period a year prior

Samsung — the world’s largest smartphone manufacturer — reported on Tuesday that operating profits from its mobile phones were down 40% year-over-year

Frank Gillett, a Principal Analyst at Forrester, told Business Insider in a recent interview that the difficult market in which Google finds itself is a real threat to its smartphone business. 

“Ownership cycles are lengthening,” Gillett said. “There’s much less compelling reasons now to upgrade phones, so people are pushing out to three or four year cycles on these high-end phones because they’re so good.” 

Carolina Milanesi, a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, told Business Insider that she agreed Google’s sluggish smartphone sales can be attributed to the current landscape. 

“I wouldn’t say the high-end of the market is shrinking, but replacement cycles are lengthening which must have impacted Pixel 3,” Milanesi said. 

Still, both believe there’s more to Pixel’s declining sales than Pichai’s blaming of the industry. 

“Google is in a tricky place”

The Pixel phone didn’t have an advantage when it came to pricing, Gillett said. At $799 when it first launched, the Pixel 3 was slightly higher in price than the comparable Apple phone — the iPhone XR — which retailed at $749. 

The Pixel’s capabilities, especially in regards to its camera, have also been difficult to market, according to Gillett. 

The Pixel’s main selling point has been the crisp photos it’s able to capture, but the Google-made smartphone only has one rear-facing lens — compared to two cameras on many of the new iPhones and three on the Samsung S10+. Although, much of the Pixel’s photo-making magic lies in its software, Gillett says, being able to communicate those capabilities to customers has been difficult. 

“If someone is convinced that more cameras are better, they’re going to discount Google,” Gillett said. “At a certain point, there’s only so much software can do compared to optics.” 

Samsung S10 Smartphone

And then there’s the delicate situation that Google finds itself in with other device makers. 

Google relies on hardware makers — like Samsung, Nokia, and LG — to spread its Android software on their devices. By selling its own line of smartphones, Google is effectively competing against its own partners. 

Milanesi told Business Insider that the main reason Pixel sales have declined is a lack of “channel presence” — that is, consumers are not able to buy the Pixel phone in enough places around the world. Forrester’s Gillett pointed to Google’s lackluster marketing efforts promoting the Pixel to mainstream consumers. This modest distribution and marketing may not be an accident. 

“Google is in a tricky place because they don’t want to go too hard on pushing their product line, otherwise they’re going to annoy Samsung and everyone else who uses Android,” Gillett said.

For that reason, he says, evaluating whether the Google Pixel is a success requires different criteria.

“We have to think of [Google] differently than say, ‘Can they ever replace Samsung or Apple?’ If they’re smart, they’re not trying to.”

Reading the tea leaves of the “affordable” Pixel

Despite the tightrope Google must walk to keep its partners happy, the tech giant is rumored to have plans of expanding its smartphone lineup this month with the introduction of more affordable devices — the Pixel 3a and 3a XL.

The lower price tag for the new Pixels — reportedly as low as $400 — will make the phones far more accessible to the average consumer. How Google handles the launch — and eventual distribution — of its new smartphones could be an indicator of how the company will treat its hardware business moving forward. 

A modest launch would show that Google is comfortable with slow sales, and considers the Pixel’s primary purpose as setting a high standard for other hardware makers to emulate — ultimately lifting the quality of smartphones running its Android software. 

An all-out marketing blitz could signal that Google has more serious expectations for its smartphone business, whatever the consequences.

SEE ALSO: Experts say that Google may be slowing down on developing its own laptops because they’ve ‘done what it needed to do’

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NOW WATCH: I tried the $1,980 Samsung Galaxy Fold and it’s impressive for a first-generation foldable phone, though far from perfect

Android Circuit: Galaxy Note 10 Leak, Google Pixel 3a Secrets, Huawei Beats Apple

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This week’s Android Circuit includes the leaked Galaxy Note 10 design, weaker batteries in Samsung’s phablet, OnePlus priming the story pump, more Nokia handsets for America, Huawei beats Apple in market share, Google Pixel 3a leaks, and reviewing the popular wireless earbuds.

Geek of the Week: Mitali Palekar’s exceptional Univ. of Washington experience will inform tech career

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Mitali Palekar, a soon-to-be computer science graduate at the University of Washington. (Photo courtesy of Mitali Palekar)

In pursuit of a degree in computer science with interdisciplinary honors at the University of Washington, Mitali Palekar is a recent “Husky 100” awardee, which recognizes 100 undergraduate and graduate students across three UW campuses who have “made the most of their UW experience.”

They should rename it the “Husky Understatement Award” based on just how much Palekar has achieved.

“While it’s so weird to think that I’ll be graduating in a few short months (and starting my first full-time software engineering job!), it’s also allowed me to reflect on how much this university and city has provided me with,” said Palekar, our latest Geek of the Week.

Not content with simply studying, graduating and moving on to professional life, Palekar has immersed herself deeply in the UW community, with a passion for using her experiences to uplift the voices of those around her. She has also interned as an undergrad at tech companies such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Stripe, as well as Uber, where she contributed to both core engineering projects and diversity initiatives.

Before she moves on to a new job as a software engineer at LinkedIn, here’s what else Palekar has accomplished:

  • Undergraduate research assistant in the UW CSE security & privacy lab, researching ways to tackle the challenges that we face with disinformation, smart homes (they just published a paper) and lack of usable secure email communication methods.
  • Contributed to the engineering, design and brand of a Bottomline, a company that she and her team started to enable new graduate software engineers to understand the true value of their compensation. They just reached the sweet 16 of the Dempsey Startup Competition.
  • Served as senior adviser and past president of UW Society of Women Engineers, a 500+ member organization focused on creating a welcoming community for female engineers and technologists.
  • Served as a peer adviser in the Allen School of Computer Science where she shares her experiences with current and incoming students to help them make the best of their UW experience.
  • Part of the TUNE House scholarship program, where she played a part in encouraging the next generation of female technologists through both the TUNE House Roadshow and annual TUNE House International Women’s Day event.

“As a college student and woman in technology, I’ve learned a ton about the experience of women as technologists in a male dominated world,” Palekar said. “For one, I’ve experienced my own set of off-handed comments and unconscious biases, and learned how to deal with them (and hopefully reduce them in the future). But more importantly, I’ve learned about the struggles and experiences others have faced, experiences that have awakened me to challenges that women and other minorities face around the world. At the end of the day, college has taught me how complex the issue of diversity, inclusivity and belonging is, and I’m really excited to bring these perspectives as I enter the working world of tech.”

When she takes a break from school and work, Palekar enjoys dancing, specifically Bharatanatyam, an Indian classical dance form that she’s done since a young age. She also dabbles a bit in swing, salsa, zumba and more, and she enjoys hanging with friends and family and traveling when she can.

Learn more about this week’s Geek of the Week, Mitali Palekar:

What do you do, and why do you do it? Right now, I spend most of my time learning as much as I can. As a student, this has involved working as a software engineering intern, a research assistant and entrepreneur. My hope is that through engaging in a variety of technical projects, I can continue honing my engineering skills while also developing a better understanding of where my interests lie.

At the same time, while I continue to develop myself, I also understand my responsibility to give back to my community and the people around me. As such, I also dedicate some of my time to encouraging young women to try out computer science and develop communities for young women and underrepresented minorities in computer science and engineering through my involvement as a student leader and peer adviser on campus. Through these avenues, I hope to play my role in improving representation, inclusion and belonging of underrepresented minorities in technology, ensuring that we continue to hone different sorts of talent and perspectives in tech.

What’s the single most important thing people should know about your field? Computer science can be for everyone. For years, there has been a stigma around computer science and programming that you must be a specific type of person to be successful. While over the last few years a lot has been changing, we still do not live in a world where all women and underrepresented minorities feel welcome and included within tech. And so, my hope to our readers is — even if you think you won’t like computer science, just give it a shot. Take that one class, go through that one YouTube video, open that one programming application. You really never know; if you end up loving computer science and programming, you might become a huge asset to the field of computer science due to your unique perspectives and ideas. And if you don’t like computer science, at least you’ve learned something new about yourself, so I call that a big win!

Where do you find your inspiration? I find my inspiration from my parents who have worked so hard to be where they are today while simultaneously being kind, loving and caring parents to both my brother and I. Additionally, all the strong, fearless and passionate young women who are my friends, TUNE house roommates and fellow female technologists.

What’s the one piece of technology you couldn’t live without, and why? My phone, without a doubt. It helps me stay connected with my family in the Bay Area, organized with my notes and calendar, reminds me of all my deadlines for the week (so important with all those homework assignments, ha!), enables me to destress with music and encourages me to sleep and stay heathy. Honestly, how did people live without smartphones?

(Photo courtesy of Mitali Palekar)

What’s your workspace like, and why does it work for you? As a student, I end up working in a ton of places: the undergraduate labs in the new(!) Gates Center, on the Allen Center sixth floor balcony, in the quad when it’s sunny, on my bed and sometimes on my desk. There’s always some snacks an arm’s length from my desk cause what’s work without some trail mix to go alongside.

Your best tip or trick for managing everyday work and life. (Help us out, we need it.) Put your phone and laptop on do not disturb / turn off notifications. It’s a life changer, really.

Mac, Windows or Linux? Mac.

Kirk, Picard, or Janeway? Uhhhh, is it weird that I don’t know what these are?

Transporter, Time Machine or Cloak of Invisibility? Transporter.

If someone gave me $1 million to launch a startup, I would … invest it into the company that my peers and I are starting, Bottomline, and see where that goes!

I once waited in line for … every ride at Disney cause Disney is my happy place 🙂

Your role models: My parents for how hard they have worked to be where they are today, all while being present and caring towards our family. Beyond that, I have derived role models from the people whom I have met and learned from over the last few years. These include: Melinda Gates and Sheryl Sandberg for being true pioneers of their times, sharing with everyone their journeys and taking the time to talk to and support women and young girls today. Ali Partovi for taking the time and energy to mentor young technology students and always being open to bounce ideas off of. Ed Lazowska for his passion and dedication to making the Allen School such an amazing work environment. And finally, even though I haven’t met her, Lilly Singh for having an incredible work ethic and for being an undeniable pioneer for Indian women like myself.

Greatest game in history: The dinosaur game when your internet doesn’t work.

Best gadget ever: Google Chromecast.

First computer: Just a plain old windows computer.

Current phone: iPhone XR.

Favorite app: Google Calendar.

Favorite cause: Sharing my experiences with women and underrepresented minorities to encourage them to be best versions of themselves.

Most important technology of 2019: Inclusive AI

Most important technology of 2021: Self-driving cars

Final words of advice for your fellow geeks: Have the courage to follow your heart. And surround yourself with people who care about you, love you and support you for who you are, not what you have done.

Website: Mitali Palekar

Twitter: @mitalipalekar

LinkedIn: Mitali Palekar

EMP Study: Threat To U.S. Grid Is Manageable, Electric Sector Says It Would Be Ready

Source: Forbes Innovation On:

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The Electric Power Research Institute, in its new study, has challenged doomsday theorists who suggest a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse (HEMP) from a nuclear missile attack above Earth’s atmosphere would fry the U.S. electric grid and bring our economy to a screeching halt.

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