AWT News Update: February 9, 2017

Samsung factory fire image via Sina Weibo

Samsung factory fire image via Sina Weibo

Today's Apple news stories are all over the place...which made this a very fun podcast:

  • E-commerce company Square now has an iPad app for retailers that goes well beyond its small business apps of the past
  • There's speculation that new iPads may be coming out soon, and depleted stocks of the iPad Air 2 are a good sign that an iPad-specific product rollout may happen in the next month or so
  • Irony: a fire at the plant that made batteries for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook gets an honorary degree, tells students about his inspiration

The text version of the podcast can be viewed below. To listen to the podcast here, click the play button on the player below. Note to Apple News readers: you’ll need to visit Apple World Today in order to listen to the podcast.

Text Version

This is Steve Sande for Apple World Today, and you’re listening to the AWT News Update for February 8, 2017.

Square is the c-commerce company that started the whole “use your iPhone as a way to accept credit cards” movement, and it has spawned a number of competitors. That’s no problem, because Square keeps innovating in ways that keep storekeepers happy. The company has released a new point of sale app for iPad called Square Retail, which moves the focus of Square from small businesses to retailers. The app includes functions for building the point of sale system shopping cart with a search interface and barcode scanning function. That same app now has a customer database that can track sales and create a profile of a customer’s buying habits. The system tracks inventory in real time, purchase orders can be managed, and the system can even track stock across multiple locations. But no store is possible without employees, so Square even added employee management tools to Square Retail, with a timecard and scheduling functions built in. Square for Retail is being set up as a service at just $60 per month; of course, Square also takes a 2.75 percent fee for every credit card based transaction. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing more iPads being used as point of sale systems in businesses around your area.

We’ve been speculating that new iPads may be just around the corner, and now AppleInsider is suggesting that the iPad Air 2 may be replaced by a newer device. Popular configurations of the iPad Air 2 are no longer available for purchase from authorized Apple resellers, pointing to a possible inventory drawdown for the tablet. Those resellers aren’t the only ones who are showing low stock; Apple itself has wait times for the the silver, gold and space gray versions of the iPad Air 2. So what’s going to happen? Well, perhaps the current 9.7-inch iPad Pro will become the next version of the iPad Air, with new models of the iPad Pro coming in both the current 12.9-inch and a new 10.5-inch model. The iPad Air 2 has been around for almost two-and-a-half years at this point, so it’s about time that it gets a replacement.

We hate to keep making light of Samsung’s Note 7 battery issue, since that could theoretically happen to any manufacturer including Apple. But of all the ironic things to happen, a fire broke out today at the Samsung SDI factory responsible for making the batteries on the discontinued Galaxy Note 7. The factory is in Tianjin in northern China and the fire was describe as minor…although it was noted that 110 firefighters and 19 fire trucks were on the scene. It appears that a possible cause of the fire could be faulty batteries. Amazing, huh?

And finally, Apple CEO Tim Cook received an honorary degree from the University of Glasgow today. During a “fireside chat” after the degree was conferred on Cook, he told students not to use money as the primary motivating factor for their work lives. Cook cited a difference between doing what you love and just working for money, and noted that a drive for money “will wear out fast, or never be enough.” Asked about his inspirations in life, Cook said that Steve Jobs was the main influence on his professional life. Cook told the students that Jobs “took a risk with me when I was 36 years old. I recognized that I had been on the wrong path and was rudderless. He had a focus that was unlike any other. His thinking was so pure, he wasn’t trying to maximize his wealth or anything else.” Cook went on to say that Jobs’ priorities were his family, Apple and Pixar in that order “with little else”.

That’s all for today; I’ll be back tomorrow afternoon with another edition of the AWT News Update.