In last week’s Apple stock news, we discussed Apple’s plans to shift production out of China with the hopes of avoiding ever-increasing tariffs, the impact of the Fed’s decision to not cut interest rates on Apple’s outlook, and why slowing iPhone sales may be a real cause for concern.
Since then, Apple’s stock has performed at mostly a flat level, as many investors are hesitant to make major movements ahead of this week’s G20 meetings between major political leaders, including a long-awaited sit down between President Trump and China’s Xi Jinping.
This week, we highlight Apple’s dive into the self-driving space, its partnership with Shopify to expand its iMessage Business Chat, and Apple’s broadening presence in the budding tech hub of Seattle.
Apple Acquires Drive.ai, Joins The Self-Driving Wave
On Wednesday, Apple confirmed its acquisition of autonomous vehicle startup Drive.ai. Details about purchase price are yet to be released, but Drive.ai has raised a total of $77 million since it began operations in 2015. The deal comes a week after the Mountain View startup laid off 90 California employees.
Founded by ex-members of Stanford University’s Artificial Intelligence Lab, Drive.ai piqued Apple’s interest due to its recent testing of a free ride-hailing service in two Texas cities. The purchase by Apple, who is alleged to have already hired ‘dozens’ of Drive.ai engineers, arrives a few months after the conglomerate reportedly fired 190 employees from its own autonomous vehicle group, Project Titan.
Looking ahead, Apple’s move could be the match that starts a firestorm of consolidation throughout the self-driving industry, with major tech companies such as Amazon, Uber, Google looking to overtake smaller startups.
“Self-driving is five to seven years away from monetization. And regulatory will be a big issue.” – Dan Ives, analyst at Wedbush Securities
Expansion of iMessage Business Chat into Shopify Online Stores
Shopify, an internet marketplace provider, just gave Apple’s blossoming iMessage-based Business Chat a big boost when it agreed to add the feature to its existing customer communication app, Shopify Ping.
For the over 800,000 online retailers using Shopify to progress their sales, Shopify Ping has provided a medium to communicate with their customers, and answer their pressing questions about various product offerings, in a secure and inviting setting. While the addition of iMessage can only help, many of these companies already expand their omnichannel through the use of platforms such as Facebook Messenger.
Yet, the benefits of adding iMessage Business Chat come in the ability for customers to use Apple Pay to purchase products directly in the chat. The combination of Apple Pay and iMessage creates the potential for transactions to take place before the customer has time to second guess their purchase.
As major technology firms such as Apple and Facebook look for new avenues to monetize their services, it will be intriguing to see if this newfound form of payment, sometimes referred to as ‘message purchasing,’ becomes widespread due to its simplicity or fizzles out due to its prospective harm to consumers’ wallets.
Apple Set To Add 2,000 Jobs In Tech Hub 2.0: Seattle
In an announcement made on Tuesday, Apple revealed plans to create an additional 2,000 jobs in Seattle within the next five years. Despite currently employing 500 workers in the city, Apple wants to gain more engineering and computer science talent, and expects an additional 200 Seattle-based employees by the end of the year.
The move by Apple comes amidst a larger trend of major technology companies, namely Amazon and Microsoft, to place their headquarters in the northwest city. One main reason Seattle has become a popular spot for these multinationals to park their base is due to the fact that Washington state law prohibits an income tax from being in effect.
The arrival of thousands of jobs is supposed to spur widespread economic development. Yet, the allure to technology companies has brought with it a substantial cost to the city’s established residents, in the form of immense homelessness and affordable housing issues. Put simply, the large influx of workers with higher salaries than the existing residents pushes housing costs through the roof, thus creating rapid homelessness.
To put the problem in perspective, a Seattle housing lottery that aids low-income individuals with their monthly rental payments received over 21,500 applicants in 2017 only to have enough funding for 3,500 entrants.
“As Seattle continues to grow, we must act urgently to address the pressures that follow — from tackling affordability to new affordable housing to increasing transit,” – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan