Apple makes moves into healthcare as it looks to help fight diabetes
Apple has reportedly hired a team of biomedical engineers to develop sensors to treat diabetes.
The engineers are expected to work out of Palo Alto, California, close to the tech giant’s corporate headquarters. The project, meanwhile, is part of a secret initiative to bring Apple into healthcare, which was initially envisioned by its late co-founder Steve Jobs.
Apple isn’t the only consumer tech giant looking to move into healthcare. Last year, GlaxoSmithKline and Google parent Alphabet unveiled a joint company aimed at marketing bioelectronic devices to fight illness by attaching to individual nerves.
Perhaps tellingly, a Google spokeswoman declined to comment on reports it is developing the diabetes technology.
Emirates trolls its rival United Airlines in reactionary campaign
Emirates has taken a direct stab at the United controversy, which saw the US airline forcibly removed a passenger due to an overlooked plane.
Taking direct aim at United, Emirates has released a new ad that ends with the slogan: ‘Fly the friendly skies: This time for real.’ It is a slightly modified version of United’s iconic ‘Fly the friendly skies’ messaging.
The ad opens with a quote from United’s CEO Oscar Munoz, who criticised the likes of Emirates last year when he said: “Those [Gulf] airlines aren’t airlines”.
In response to his comments, Emirates uses the social media ad to reference TripAdvisor, which shows it is the most popular airline in the world.
The Times launches Facebook group in bid to generate new subscribers
In a bid to win over future subscribers, The Times has started a Facebook group dedicated to discussing Brexit-related topics.
The group, which started last month after the newspaper noticed a rise in comments on Brexit-related articles on its website, is called “52|48” due to the percentage split of leave and remain voters.
The News UK-owned newspaper wants to introduce new readers to its content by giving them snippets of content that sit behind its paywall, with the hope that the discussion will convince them to pay up.
Since August, The Times has been experimenting with an open-access model, where in exchange for a name and email people can read two articles for free.
Facebook Messenger grows to 1.2bn monthly active users
Facebook’s VP of messaging products David Marcus has revealed its Facebook Messenger app now has more than 1.2 billion monthly active users.
The messaging app, which previously surpassed 1 billion users last July, launched a concrete advertising platform last year.
In a blog post, Marcus says: “We now have over 1.2 billion people actively using Messenger every month. And I keep on hearing powerful stories about how our product is becoming a more important part of your daily lives.
“So from all of us here at Messenger, a heartfelt thank you to all of you for giving us a chance to build something good and more meaningful for you.”
Google’s new Areo app lets you order a plumber
Google is trialling a new app in India’s Bangalore and Mumbai called Areo, which combines food delivery and home services into one platform.
You can use Areo to order meals from your favourite restaurants in the spirit of a Deliveroo. However, where it stands out is its ability to book local pros like carpenters, plumbers, electricians and make-up artists. It can book local providers on the time you specify.
A Google spokesperson says it is “constantly experimenting with ways to better serve [its] users in India,” which makes it sound like it’s exclusive to the country. “Areo makes everyday chores and ordering food easier by bringing together useful local services like ordering food or hiring a cleaner in one place.”
Wednesday, 12 April
Tesco returns to sales growth for first time in seven years
Tesco’s like-for-like sales were up in 2017, it first growth in seven years as its turnaround continues to take hold. Sales at its core UK business were up by 0.9%, while food was up 1.3%. Total revenues increased by 3.7% year on year to £55.9bn but pre-tax profits dropped by almost 40% due to a charge related to its payment to the Financial Conduct Authority and Serious Fraud Office after Tesco was found to have overstated its profits in 2014.
“Today, our prices are lower, our range is simpler and our service and availability have never been better. Our exclusive fresh food brands have strengthened our value proposition and our food quality perception is at its highest level for five years. At the same time, we have increased profits, generated more cash and significantly reduced debt,” says CEO Dave Lewis.
“We are ahead of where we expected to be at this stage, having made good progress on all six of the strategic drivers we shared in October. We are confident that we can build on this strong performance in the year ahead, making further progress towards our medium-term ambitions.”
Cigarette brands denied right to appeal over plain packaging
All cigarette packs bought in the UK will have to have plain packaging next month after the tobacoo industry was told by the supreme court that it could not appeal against the new laws.
The legal decision means the new law will come into force on 20 May. The rules requiring tobacco to be packaged in dark brown packs with no branding came into effect last year, but it was still possible to buy branded packs as they were slowly phased out. From 20 May all packs will have to be plain.
Tobacco companies had tried to prevent the introduction of the law, arguing that it would infringe their intellectual property rights.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt responded to the decision, saying: “Standardised packaging will cut smoking rates and reduce suffering, disease and avoidable deaths.”
United CEO finally issues apology after passenger removal scandal
The CEO of United Airlines has finally apologised to the passenger it forcibly removed from one of its flights after he refused to leave voluntarily when the flight was overbooked.
The incident took place 2 days ago. Despite passengers having already boarded, United claimed it needed four seats to accommodate staff and asked for volunteers. Three agreed but the fourth refused, saying he had to be at work at a hospital the next day. Rather than try to find someone else, United called the Chicago Aviation Security Officers who forcibly removed him.
No one should ever be mistreated this way.
Oscar Munoz, United Airlines
United had up until now claimed it was the fault of the passenger, with CEO Oscar Munoz claiming he was “disruptive and belligerent”. However he has now issued an apology as the scandal threatened its business, with the share price falling and £1bn wiped from its value.
“No one should ever be mistreated this way,” says Munoz, adding that he is committed to “fixing what is broken so this never happens again”.
Asda reignites row over ‘farm’ brands as it relaunches value range
Asda has reignited a row over so-called ‘farm’ brands with the relaunch of its value range. The supermarket chain has rebranded its Smart Food price range as Farm Stores, reintroducing the brand for both meat and fresh produce after dropping it in 2001.
It follows a similar move by Tesco, which introduced its own value farm brands last year. It claims the brands have been a big success, but they have been widely criticised by farming bodies, which claim they are a marketing scam and mislead consumers.
An Asda spokeswoman says: “We know how important quality produce at a great price is to our customers. We’re reconnecting with our heritage by bringing back the Farm Stores brand to Asda – a name that our customers remember and trust for great value quality produce.”
Food giants using stealth price rises to beat Brexit
UK supermarkets are reportedly imposing ‘stealth’ price rises on less popular items to offset cost increases without losing business, according to government statistics reported in The Times.
The price of food and drink rose by 1.2% in the year to March, but supermarkets have been increasing the price of less frequently purchased items where consumers are less likely to notice an increase. For example, dental floss has increased in price by almost 17% in six months, with lightbulbs up by almost a fifth, according to data my price comparison site mysupermarket.com
Tuesday, 11 April
Google releases pay methodology in attempt to prove no gender gap exists
Google has responded to Department of Labor claims that it underpays its female staff members. The statement explains the “gender-blind” way the company makes its salary calculations. It says this is based on the role, job level, job location and recent performance ratings.
Google says analysts calculating the salary have no access to gender information before it is fed into the company’s pay equity model.
The response comes after the US Department of Labor’s Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs said it had found systemic compensation disparities against women “pretty much” across Google’s entire workforce.
Twitter adds third-party measurement for viewability & audience verification
Twitter has inked partnerships with third-party measurement vendors, including Moat and Integral Ad Science. The partnerships will be used to measure viewability for video ads and will allow advertisers to compare attentions metrics on Twitter to other channels.
Twitter already partners with Nielsen and comScore, but the new partnerships mean the company will be able to focus on audience verification metrics such as demographics, reach, frequency and GRPs.
Broadband prices penalise loyal customers
The cheapest broadband prices shoot up by an average of 43% or £113 per year after introductory offers end, according to data from Citizens Advice.
More than a third of customers are unaware of the price increases, which the report dubs “loyalty prices”. They include a 67% increase on a BT 12-month contract and a 53% increase for those using Sky after 12 months.
700 jobs under threat as Jaeger falls into administration
High street fashion chain Jaegar has collapsed into administration, putting 700 jobs at risk.
The company has struggled to find a buyer and yesterday (10 April) appointed AlixPartners to oversee the process following failed attempts by Better Capital, the company’s owner, to sell the 133-year-old business.
The company had been on the market for around £30m.
Shell admits dealing with money launderer
Shell has admitted it dealt with a convicted launderer when negotiating access to an oil field in Nigeria.
The news comes after emails showing Shell’s negotiations with Dan Etete, who was convicted of money laundering on a separate case.
The firm and an Italian oil company paid $1.3bn to the Nigerian government to access the oil field and that $1.1bn was passed to a firm controlled by Mr Etete.
Monday, 10 April
Greenpeace protests at Coca-Cola’s HQ over 100 billion throwaway bottles
Greenpeace has installed a piece of art at Coca-Cola’s European headquarters to hold the soft drinks giant accountable for the production of over 100 billion throwaway plastic bottles every year – based on analysis by the campaigning group.
The group believe that single-use plastic bottles, that make up nearly 60% of all the drinks packaging Coca-Cola sells globally, is on the rise around the world and that the company is failing on its recycling efforts.
In a blog post Greenpeace says: “Coca-Cola tells its customers it’s their responsibility to recycle, but the soft drinks giant got less than halfway towards its 2015 target to get a mere quarter 25% of plastic bottles from “recycled or renewable sources. In fact, Coca-Cola currently uses a miserable 7% recycled content on average across its global plastic bottle sales.”
It also said that “after missing its 2015 target, Coke now has no further global targets to use more recycled content across its plastic bottles”.
Tesco set to announce jump in profits
Tesco is set to announce a bigger than expected jump in its annual profits this week. Chief executive Dave Lewis will provide some reassurance of the financial health of the business on Wednesday (12 April), with profits set to exceed the £1.2bn predicted by City analysts.
Lewis recently announced the acquisition of Booker, the UK’s largest food wholesaler and owner of convenience brands such as Londis and Budgens, in a £3.7bn deal. It caused concern for some shareholders but the move would ensure Tesco has the UK’s biggest convenience operation, with the potential of taking on the thousands of stores Booker owns.
Brewdog valued at £1bn following private equity investment
The craft beer maker announced that US private equity firm TSG Consumer Partners acquired a 22% stake for £213m, giving the business a market value of around £1bn.
Founders, Martin Dickie and James Watt, say the sale is the first steps towards launching an IPO in the next five years as well as plans to expand in Asia and Australia. Watt does not believe the investment will damage Brewdog’s reputation.
Retailers bank on Easter boost
Spring weather and payday timing is set to boost bank holiday shopping for retailers, with high street footfall expected to increase 8.8% compared to last year.
After six months of decline the numbers are expected to be up on the high street, in retail parks, and shopping centres, creating much needed footfall over the Easter period.
Wonga suffers data breach
Up to 245,000 customers in the UK may be affected by a data breach at Payday loan firm Wonga. The company is “urgently investigating illegal and unauthorised access to the personal data of some of its customers”.
The information stolen includes names, addresses, phone numbers, bank account numbers and sort codes. Wonga began contacting customers on Saturday, offering support through a dedicated phone line.
In a statement, Wonga says: “We are working closely with authorities and we are in the process of informing affected customers. We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience caused.”
Google accused of gender discrimination
US Government officials have accused Google of large-scale gender discrimination, as data suggests that women working for the tech giant face “systemic compensation disparities” compared to male counterparts.
This is according to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) who alleged that Google violated federal law by discriminating against female employees in the salary department.