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Apple Launches New Recycling Lab In Austin

Apple has announced it has opened a 9,000 square foot recycling lab in Austin, Texas that is says will apply machine learning and robotics to improve on traditional methods to recycle products. The new lab will work with Apple's engineering teams and persons from academia to "propose solutions to today’s industry recycling challenges" according to Apple's statement.

Apple also recently revealed it has nearly doubled the number of its suppliers that have committed to run production of its devices on renewable energy, now a total of 44 suppliers. The iPhone maker has allocated $2.5 billion in green bonds so far and says it -- along with its suppliers -- participated in clean energy generation that roughly equaled the amount of electricity needed to power 600,000 US homes just last year.


Apple has now quadrupled the number of locations US customers can send their unused iPhones to be disassembled by its recycling robot, Daisy. The company says Daisy is capable of disas…

Blue Origin Inks Satellite Launch Agreement With Telesat

Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos celebrates with the company's team after a successful rocket test launch

image : Blue Origin

Blue Origin, the private aerospace company launched by Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has entered an agreement with Canada's Telesat that involves deployment of a Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation aimed at delivering fiber-like broadband services to locations on Earth for the company.

This marks as the fifth satellite launch contract Blue Origin has inked for its 313 ft New Glenn rocket, whose seven BE-4 main engines will generate 4 million pounds of thrust at takeoff, capable of ferrying 45 metric tons, or close to 100,000 pounds of load, to low earth orbit.

A concept of Blue Origin's New Glenn orbital rocket

image : Blue Origin

Telesat says the satellites planned for launch will provide solutions including accelerating 5G expansion and providing fiber-like high speed services for rural and remote communities. It'll work with Blue Origin, combining expertise, capabilities and resources for the launch of the planned Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite constellation.

Blue Origin expects the New Glenn rocket to have a first flight in 2021 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The company also just launched and landed its re-usable New Shepard vertical-takeoff, vertical-landing (VTVL) rocket, ferrying research and technology payloads to space that will be received by astronauts later this year.

Blue Origin's New Shepard rocket

image : Blue Origin

“Blue Origin’s powerful New Glenn rocket is a disruptive force in the launch services market which, in turn, will help Telesat disrupt the economics and performance of global broadband connectivity,” Telesat CEO Dan Goldberg said in a statement. “Telesat and Blue Origin share a vision of leveraging state-of-the-art space technologies and engineering excellence to improve the lives of people around the globe and give our respective customers a significant and sustainable advantage in their own highly competitive markets.”

“We are excited to be partnering with this industry leader on their disruptive satellite network architecture. New Glenn’s 7-meter fairing, with its huge mass and volume capabilities, is a perfect match for Telesat’s constellation plans while reducing launch costs per satellite.” Blue Origin CEO Bob Smith also added.


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Private equity giant Hellman & Friedman buys into home security startup SimpliSafe at a reported $1 Billion Valuation

image credit : SimpliSafe

Boston based home security startup SimpliSafe which provides self-installed security systems which are used by a huge number of homes in the U.S. has now sold a major interest in the company to Global private equity and investment giant Hellman & Friedman for an undisclosed sum which according to various sources values the company at a huge $1 Billion

The company which last raised $57 million in a Sequioa Capital led round and has been growing very well with the company counting over 300,000 customers as far as 2015 and a vast number of consumers currently making use of its suite of home security products.

This majority acquisition represents another move by Hellman & Friedman making huge acquisitions and bets in the technology space with the investment company's tech portfolio including notable companies like DoubleClick, Getty Images, Customer experience solutions company Genesys amidst other of its notable investments.

SimpliSafe will now conti…

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Apple Reportedly Cuts Production Plans For New iPhones By 10%

According to a report from the Nikkei Asian Review, Apple is cutting current production plans for new iPhones by 10% signalling expectation of a further hit in iPhone sales for the year after it recently lowered revenue guidance for its fiscal 2019 first quarter ending 29th of December 2018 due to lower iPhone sales.

Nikkei says Apple asked suppliers late last month to produce fewer of new iPhones for the January-March quarter of this year. This will be the second time in two months that the company has slashed production rate of the iPhone if this stands true.


Overall planned production volume will be reduced to 40 million to 43 million units for the January-March quarter from an earlier number of 43 million - 47 million units scheduled for production, Nikkei says.

Apple this previous week lowered revenue guidance for its fiscal 2019 first quarter to $84 billion for the period citing emerging market challenges and lower than anticipated iPhone revenue, primarily in Greater China. Th…

Ford Slashes Thousands Of Jobs In Europe To Improve Profitability

Automaker Ford has announced it's slashing thousands of jobs in its European operations as part of structural cost improvements to improve near-term financial performance. The company made this known in a statement issued to investors.

“Ford aims to achieve the labor cost reductions, as far as possible, through voluntary employee separations in Europe and will be working closely with social partners and other stakeholders to achieve this objective.” The company said in its statement.





These job cuts will affect both salaried and hourly workers across its operations in Europe. Ford is ending production at its plant in Bordeaux, France that manufactures small automatic transmissions by this year August and has began discussions to end production of the C-MAX and Grand C-MAX vehicles at its German facility.

It's also considering "significant restructuring options" for its Russian joint venture, Ford Sollers and plans to merge its UK headquarters and Ford Credit Europe’s…

Intel Opts Out Of 5G Modem Market

Intel has announced it's exiting from the 5G smartphone modem business, cancelling 5G modem products scheduled for launch in 2020. The company says it'll still continue to invest in its 5G network infrastructure business and complete an assessment of opportunities for 4G and 5G modems in PCs, IoT devices, and other data-centric devices.

Intel recently said it expects its 5G modem chips to not appear in phones until 2020. A now complete pull-out from the market might affect its biggest customer, Apple, although the iPhone maker recently settled a long legal spat with chipmaker Qualcomm (Intel's exit from the 5G modem market is a likely explanation for the sudden settlement). Both companies have reached a multiyear chipset supply deal and a six-year license agreement, including a two-year option to extend.


Intel will continue to meet current customer commitments for its existing 4G smartphone modem product line. “We are very excited about the opportunity in 5G and the ‘clou…

Daimler Leads $170 Million Series E For Sila Nano

Sila Nanotechnologies (“Sila Nano”) -- a battery startup founded in 2011 by Silicon Valley battery engineers and a Georgia Tech professor of materials science -- has raised $170 million in Series E funding led by Daimler, with participation from new investor 8VC alongside returning investors Sutter Hill Ventures, Siemens Next47, Matrix Partners, Chengwei Capital, and Bessemer Venture Partners.

This funding brings the total raised by Sila Nano to $295 million and values the company at more than $1 billion as confirmed by its CEO Gene Berdichevsky to TechCrunch. Former General Electric CEO Jeff Immelt and Daimler executive Alex Nediger are joining Sila Nano's board as part of this investment.


Daimler has formed a strategic R&D partnership with Sila Nano thanks to its investment. The German automaker is focusing on the Mercedes-Benz EQ line of electric vehicles for this effort. Mercedes-Benz has previously announced it's putting in around €10 billion ($11.28 billion) towards…

Amazon Starts Shipping Echo Auto After More Than 1 Million Pre-orders

Amazon has began shipping the Echo Auto, part of the host of Alexa enabled devices announced last year September by the company which included a microwave, clock, security camera, smart plug, the Echo Sub, Echo Input and re-designed versions of already existing devices.

The company tells TechCrunch over 1 million pre-orders were placed by consumers signalling high interest in the device which connects Alexa to users' smartphone and then plays through car speakers, enabling tasks like playing music, opening the garage door, finding the nearest gas station and checking the news while on the go possible.


For now, the Echo Auto is only available on an invite-only basis with a few users having taken delivery in time for Christmas according to VP, Alexa Voice Service and Alexa Skills Steve Rabuchin. Why the device has stayed in pre-order status for so long is not clear but Bloomberg last month reported issues encountered by several Amazon retail stores in North America and Europe in ke…

Apple Acquired Texture For At Least $485 Million: NY Post

Apple paid at least $485 million for magazine subscription service Texture -- one that's the foundation of its recently unveiled News+ subscription service -- according to a piece from the New York Post. The paper says Apple paid $100 million upfront to four media publishers -- Meredith, Hearst, Rogers in Canada, and Condé Nast (who collaborated to launch Texture) -- and private equity backer KKR, with a further $145 million minimum payment due for the first year and a minimum of $240 million due for the second and third years.

The NY Post also said that Texture -- which Apple has said it will shut down -- had about 240,000 subscribers as at the time of acquisition. Apple is replacing it with its news subscription service that provides access to more than 300 popular magazines. The company has signed up popular media names like The Atlantic, Entertainment Weekly, Sports Illustrated, The New Yorker, Food & Wine, The Cut, Grub Street, Real Simple, ravel + Leisure, and Woman'…

Apple Reportedly In Talks With Potential Sensor Suppliers For Driverless Cars

According to Reuters, Apple has held talks with at least four companies who count as potential suppliers for lidar sensors for driverless cars while it still works on an its own lidar unit. The companies involved are not named in the report. Such a move could indicate Apple's renewed ambitions to get into the driverless vehicle market even after layoffs that affected more than 200 from its self-driving vehicle project in January.

Citing three persons familiar with the discussions, Reuters says Apple is seeking lidar units that would be cheaper, smaller and more easily produced on a mass scale that current technology. It says Apple is setting a high level with demands for a “revolutionary design”. Such effort may indicate Apple looking to develop the entire chain of hardware that'll power self-driving vehicles using custom tech.


Whether Apple wants to develop its own driverless vehicles or build hardware and software elements for self-driving vehicles is not yet known. Self-dr…

Uber ATG Raises $1 Billion From Toyota, Denso, and Softbank

Uber Advanced Technologies Group, the company's unit responsible for development of driverless vehicles has raised $1 billion in funding from Toyota, Denso, and Softbank Vision Fund. Toyota and Denso will put in $667 million into the round while Softbank Vision Fund funds the remainder $33 million. The investment values Uber ATG at $7.25 billion post money.

This investment comes on the heels of Uber filing for an IPO. It also further deepens an alliance with Toyota which invested $500 million in Uber last year August. Uber and the Japanese automaker have agreed to work on the deployment of modified driverless Toyota Sienna vehicles by 2021. Toyota will also contribute an additional $300 million over the next three years to help cover costs related to the development of these vehicles.


December last year, Uber received approval from the state of Pennsylvania to re-commence driverless vehicle tests on public roads months after a fatal crash that resulted in a pedestrian death. The …