• Apple AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million in 2019
    Bloomberg

    Apple AirPods Shipments Expected to Double to 60 Million in 2019

    (Bloomberg) -- Shipments of Apple Inc.’s popular AirPods wireless earphones are expected to double to 60 million units in 2019, according to people familiar with the Cupertino-based company’s production plans. This has been driven in part by “much higher” than expected demand for the pricier AirPods Pro model unveiled in October.The $249 AirPods Pro -- which offer noise cancellation and water resistance -- have surpassed expectations and demand for them is pushing Apple’s assembly partners against capacity and technical constraints, a person familiar with the matter said. Multiple suppliers are competing for the business of manufacturing the Pro earphones, though some are still building up the technical proficiency. There’s currently a wait time of two to three weeks for the AirPods Pro on Apple’s U.S. website.The most advanced form of wireless headphones is called “true wireless,” defined by the absence of a wire not just between the headphones and the music source but also between the two earbuds -- and the AirPods are the category-leading example. Taiwan-based Inventec Corp. and China’s Luxshare Precision Industry Co. and Goertek Inc. manufacture the AirPods for Apple.Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment on the product’s shipments.The pickup in AirPods sales this year has been helped by the launch of two new iterations: the Pro model in October and a $199 upgraded version of the original in March. The first AirPods were released in 2016. The runway is also mostly clear for Apple to have a successful holiday season, with Microsoft Corp. delaying its rival true wireless buds until spring and Google also not launching its new model until 2020.At the end of August, Apple was the clear leader in the global true wireless earphones market, according to Counterpoint Research. AirPods shipments have dwarfed every alternative and the Beats Powerbeats Pro, another Apple product, also feature in the top 10 sellers. While Samsung Electronics Co.’s Galaxy Buds have emerged as a recognizable competitor, Apple moreover ranked as the most preferred brand for future purchases of true wireless headphones in the U.S., the researchers said.“Apple also edged rivals because true wireless as a category is the preferred choice over wireless earphones, due to factors like better sound quality, portability, and ease of use,” Counterpoint analyst Pavel Naiya wrote on Sept. 26.Wearables like the AirPods and Apple Watch have become a crucial growth driver for the Cupertino company, which is adapting to plateauing iPhone demand in a mature smartphone market. In the past quarter, Apple’s iPhone sales shrunk to $33.4 billion from the prior year’s $36.8 billion, whereas the Wearables, Home, and Accessories segment -- composed of the Apple Watch, AirPods, Beats, HomePod and Apple TV groups -- generated $6.5 billion in revenue, growing by 54%.Total shipments of the AirPods Pro for the year will be determined by how well and how quickly the assemblers overcome the production challenges they currently face. If the overall AirPods range hits 60 million units in 2019 as is now expected, Apple should retain its 50% share of the true wireless market, which Counterpoint expects to surpass 120 million shipments for the year.\--With assistance from Mark Gurman.To contact the reporter on this story: Debby Wu in Taipei at dwu278@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Peter Elstrom at pelstrom@bloomberg.net, Vlad SavovFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Bloomberg

    Oracle’s Largely White Board Attracts Congressional Scrutiny

    (Bloomberg) -- Oracle Corp. should increase the racial diversity of its board, a group of U.S. lawmakers said, putting a greater spotlight on the company’s hiring and management practices.“The fact that African Americans make up 13% and Asian Americans make up 5.6% of the U.S. population but 0% of Oracle’s board and leadership team is inexcusable,” said the lawmakers in a letter dated Nov. 22 from the House Tech Accountability Caucus and Tri-Caucus, which includes the Black, Hispanic, and Asian Pacific American Caucuses.The criticism is the latest call for the second-largest software maker and its billionaire Chairman Larry Ellison to improve diversity and inclusion. Former employees and the U.S. government have sued the Redwood City, California-based company, alleging it systematically underpaid women and people of color.Thursday’s letter is the second time this year that Oracle has attracted congressional scrutiny for its diversity practices. In January, the Congressional Black Caucus and House Tech Accountability Caucus wrote a letter to the company expressing dismay about allegations of pay discrimination.The letter dated Friday was signed by Representatives Robin L. Kelly, Joaquin Castro, Karen Bass and Judy Chu, who are chairs of the various House caucuses, among other lawmakers.The Tech Accountability Caucus has previously criticized Amazon.com Inc. for its tepid record of appointing non-white people to its board, and Facebook Inc. for allowing marketers to use ethnic affinity to target ads for housing, employment or credit.Amazon has since adopted a policy pledging to consider a diverse slate of candidates for any open board seats, and added Rosalind Brewer and Indra Nooyi as directors. Facebook in 2016 updated its ad policy to disable ethnic targeting for certain ads.“We respectfully request a prompt response from Oracle Corporation regarding our diversity concerns,” according to the letter. The group requested an executive-level briefing with the Congressional Tri-Caucus to discuss the issue, but said it would otherwise accept a written response within 14 days or via a phone call. Oracle didn’t respond to a request for comment.Oracle, in a February response to the earlier congressional letter, said it wouldn’t “intentionally discriminate against women and people of color” and was committed to a diverse, nondiscriminatory work culture, according to the lawmakers.Oracle is also contending with a January lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Labor, which alleged the company short-changed female and minority workers some $400 million in wages.The allegations stem from a 2014 audit by the unit, which enforces equal pay and other non-discrimination matters for federal contractors. Records show that Oracle paid women and minority employees less than others and steered them into lower-level jobs, the department has said in court papers. It also alleged that Oracle used H-1B visas to hire scores of Asians and paid them less than employees who were U.S. citizens.In 2017, three female engineers sued Oracle, alleging underpayment as compared to male engineers completing the same tasks. An analysis conducted on their behalf showed the company paid some women about $13,000 less per year on average versus male counterparts. The plaintiffs are seeking to represent more than 4,000 similarly situated employees.Oracle has denied the allegations in both cases.(Updates to show Oracle didn’t respond to a comment request in the eighth paragraph)To contact the reporters on this story: Nico Grant in San Francisco at ngrant20@bloomberg.net;Anders Melin in New York at amelin3@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jillian Ward at jward56@bloomberg.net, Andrew PollackFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

  • Panasonic has no plans for new Tesla battery plant in China: CEO
    Reuters

    Panasonic has no plans for new Tesla battery plant in China: CEO

    Panasonic Corp has no plans to build a new battery plant for Tesla Inc in China, the Japanese company's chief executive said, as it struggles to make profits from its existing battery business with the electric vehicle maker. "We don't have any plans at the moment to set up a production site in China for Tesla's Chinese business," CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters at a strategy briefing on Friday. "It is up to Tesla to decide whether it would use Chinese-made batteries from other manufacturers or get batteries from our Gigafactory 1 (in Nevada)," he said.

  • Panasonic has no plans for new Tesla battery plant in China - CEO
    Reuters

    Panasonic has no plans for new Tesla battery plant in China - CEO

    Panasonic Corp has no plans to build a new battery plant for Tesla Inc in China, the Japanese company's chief executive said, as it struggles to make money from its existing battery business with the electric vehicle (EV) maker. "We don't have any plans at the moment to set up a production site in China for Tesla's Chinese business," CEO Kazuhiro Tsuga told reporters at a strategy briefing on Friday. "It is up to Tesla to decide whether it would use Chinese-made batteries from other manufacturers or get batteries from our Gigafactory 1 (in Nevada)," he said.

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