Consumer Electronics

Tim Bradshaw

Expectations are high as Apple prepares for its biggest event since the launch of the iPad four years ago. At the Flint Center in its Cupertino backyard, Apple is expected to unveil not just new iPhones but a push into payments and wearable devices. Tim Bradshaw and Richard Waters bring live updates from the event, with input and insights from other FT reporters around the world.  

Tim Bradshaw

Apple has sent invites out to members of the media for a September 9 launch event at which it is expected to unveil new iPhones and potentially a new wearable device.

The looming launch of what pundits have dubbed the iWatch will make this Apple’s most closely watched event since Steve Jobs unveiled the iPad in 2010. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

The Kickstarter community has funded many innovations in the past few years.

The Pebble smartwatch raised $10.3m in 2012, shooting the starting gun on the wearables trend that Apple is about to leap into. The Oculus Rift virtual reality headset raised $2.4m, only to be acquired by Facebook for $2bn two years later. SmartThings raised $1.2m for its first connected-home kit before being snapped up by Samsung. New ideas like Hello’s Sense sleep-monitoring device just keep coming.

But one crowd-funded gadget this week emerged to trump them all. After two years at the top, Pebble has lost its crown as the most-funded Kickstarter of all time. And it has lost it to… a freezer boxRead more

By Jonathan Soble and Lindsay Whipp

OK, so you know selfies are a thing – who doesn’t? But what about encasing that selfie-taking mobile phone in a case shaped like a Chanel perfume bottle?

Meet the Smelfie (Perfume + Selfie) – a thing, apparently, among women in China. And it hasn’t escaped the notice of product designers at Sony. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Nest’s smart thermostat costs $250. littleBits wants you to make your own for $59. Read more

To accompany its preliminary quarterly earnings guidance on Tuesday, Samsung Electronics for the first time issued an explanatory note, to address “investors’ concerns about uncertainties”. Here are some of the key issues facing shareholders after Samsung’s 24 per cent year-on-year earnings decline. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

GoPro’s stock leapt more than 30 per cent on its first morning of trading on Thursday, valuing the action camera maker at around $4bn.

Nick Woodman, GoPro’s billionaire founder and chief executive, who still owns almost half of the company, spoke with the FT shortly after ringing the Nasdaq opening bell. Here is an edited transcript of our conversation about how he got here and how he plans to build a media business around millions of people taking photos and videos of themselves. Read more

Smart watches, TVs and cars featured prominently on Wednesday as Google laid out its plans for pushing its Android smartphone software into new fields. At its annual I/O developer event in San Francisco, “wearables” had pride of place, with news that the first smartwatches based on Android Wear are now on sale – before Apple unveils its much-anticipated iWatch. With Android TV and Android Auto, on the other hand, Google was playing catch up with Apple. The event pointed to how the battle for the next big tech markets beyond the smartphone will be fought. Richard Waters and Tim Bradshaw were at the Moscone Center for this round. 

Sarah Mishkin

What can a company that proposes using drones to deliver goods instantaneously do to impress?

Amazon tried hard with its Fire phone, the first smartphone ever from the e-commerce giant. It sort of succeeds, but the best thing about the phone is the vision of what it could become after a few rounds of refinements and tweaks. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Apple’s annual developer conference saw chief executive Tim Cook and head of software engineering Craig Federighi dominate the stage. Apple showed off new operating systems, including iOS8 and the newly-minted OS X Yosemite, as well as HealthKit, its first foray into fitness tracking, and HomeKit, a connected home platform. Not to mention tools for developers and a new programming language called Swift. Tim Bradshaw, Richard Waters and Sarah Mishkin give the rundown and reaction from the Moscone Center in San Francisco. 

Tim Bradshaw

Image from @tim_cook on Twitter

Even before the ink is dry on his $3bn acquisition of Beats Electronics, Apple chief Tim Cook is still “on the prowl” for more deals.

That was Mr Cook’s phrase when asked in last month’s earnings call whether Apple would consider making large acquisitions, before he had sealed the iPhone maker’s largest ever transaction.

In April, he said that Apple had made 24 acquisitions in the last 18 months. That number has now risen to 27, Mr Cook told the FT on Wednesday, and looks set to keep growing: Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Watching the Apple faithful grapple with its imminent acquisition of Beats Electronics has been fascinating.

The only thing Apple watchers seem to agree on is that nobody saw it coming, even though Reuters reported talks about some sort of tie-up over streaming music more than a year ago. It’s the ultimate example of Apple doing something nobody could imagine Steve Jobs doing. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Tim Cook onstage at an Apple launch (Reuters)

Apple just announced that its biggest new slate of product launches in years is finally arriving soon.

This declaration came not from a black-clad stage or rising on a spotlit podium, but buried in a regulatory filing following Wednesday’s quarterly earningsRead more

Tim Bradshaw

Apple returned to its old forecast-busting ways on Wednesday, reporting better-than-expected revenue and iPhone growth. Even though iPad sales underwhelmed, Wall Street cheered the second-quarter results with an 8 per cent spike in after-hours trading. Apple also added $30bn in new dividends and share buybacks to its existing $100bn capital return programme, alongside a seven-for-one stock split.
Tim Bradshaw and Sarah Mishkin bring live commentary from Apple’s conference call and reactions from the market.  

Tim Bradshaw

A cheeky Apple advertisement appeared in several newspapers on Tuesday. Above a vast array of solar panels, it read: “There are some ideas we want every company to copy.”

The ad ran not only during Apple’s latest bout of patent litigation against Samsung, which continues in a San Jose courtroom, but on Earth Day, an annual reminder of our environmental responsibilities.

Apple used Earth Day to launch a new video ad, ‘Better’, narrated by chief executive Tim Cook himself, and a new portion of its website dedicated to its green achievements. These include powering its data centres with 100 per cent renewable energy, as well as 120 of its retail stores.

But perhaps more remarkable is that Mr Cook let Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental initiatives, give an open and sometimes unscripted talk at Stanford University on Tuesday night. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Lytro caused a lot of excitement among photography enthusiasts when it launched in 2011. Billed as the third evolution of the camera after film and digital, Lytro’s unique “light-field” sensor allowed snappers to “shoot first, focus later”, as well as other “computational photography” tricks such as shifting perspective or add 3D elements to an image after the photo is taken.

However, the Silicon Valley start-up’s first camera was aimed not at hardcore photographers, but at a mass market. The $500, flashlight-shaped device was described by the FT’s Chris Nuttall as “an amusement for now”, due to issues such as a small screen/viewfinder and counter-intuitive controls, even if he predicted the underlying technology was “likely to change photography radically in the long run”.

Three years and one CEO change later, Lytro is back with a new device, the Illum. It is aimed more directly at those snap-happy early adopters, professionals and “aspiring amateurs” who were most enthusiastic about its technology in the first place but perhaps found version one fell short of their hopes. Read more

In the canon of Apple top executive departures following the death of Steve Jobs, the retirement of numbers guy Peter Oppenheimer should give the least cause for concern. Read more

Here’s Apple’s play in the world of cars, and it’s called, er, CarPlay. Read more

Sirgoo Lee, chief executive of the South Korean mobile messaging company Kakao, chuckles when asked about Facebook’s acquisition of rival WhatsApp for $19bn. “All I can say is that’s a lot of money,” he says.

While it has a strong presence in India and Hong Kong, WhatsApp is a marginal player in many parts of Asia writes Simon Mundy. Kakao, Japan-based LINE and China-headquartered WeChat dominate mobile messaging in their respective home territories, and are fighting for control of the market in southeast Asia. The Japanese internet company Rakuten, meanwhile, last month spent $900m on Viber, an Israeli company that provides similar free calling and messaging services. Read more

Tim Bradshaw

Friday’s Personal Tech column reviewed the Narrative Clip, a small wearable camera that takes a photo every 30 seconds. Although it is a well-made product, I encountered some difficulties with the privacy aspects of wearing such a device, and felt that the images it produced were not worth the social awkwardness that it created.

Narrative’s co-founders are a thoughtful bunch and Oskar Kalmaru, the start-up’s chief marketing officer, sent the FT these comments in response: Read more