More Articles

x5: Apple Announces iPhone X, US Loosens Self-Driving Guidelines & More


Apple marks 10 year anniversary of the iPhone with big announcements

Apple inaugurated its latest event for the first time in its new campus. While it had big announcements on the Apple Watch and Apple TV, the main attraction was the new range of iPhones. The iPhone 8, which looks very similar to its predecessor has a few new features including improved display and studio level camera which reads depth and focus.

The event was then rounded off with the announcement of the iPhone X, a product “that will set the path of technology for the next decade” just like the original iPhone did. The phone features edge to edge “super retina” display, facial recognition and wireless charging among many others.

Why This Matters

A decade ago, Apple changed the face of the mobile market with the introduction of the iPhone. Over the years since Steve Jobs’ passing many have considered the company to have stagnated. While Apple’s technology made some progress, Samsung captured a chunk of market share. In fact, Samsung are already storming ahead with ideas of building a foldable phone for the next Galaxy Note. Competition in the smartphone market is really heating up and for Apple to get back to its best days, it’s not just good technology but it will need to appeal to those that are on the fence about its brand.

Square makes a move into banking

Federal banking regulators have been more open to new banks opening up and Fintech companies like Square are taking advantage of this. Square, which provides merchant services and mobile payments, has recently applied as an industrial loan company in Utah. It has already been lending out money to small and medium-sized businesses with a partner bank. As they grow this part of their business, they will need to become more independent in dealing with regulators and their clients.

Why This Matters

This move seems like an almost natural next step for Square since the company is so closely involved with small businesses through its payment services. This could give its clients a more centralized way to manage their finances. Square may not be offering traditional banking services but it may still run into problems. There are large sections of the public that have filed complaints about non-financial companies in the past and these are surfacing against the Fintech companies that have applied for the industrial bank charter.’

US loosens guidelines for self-driving vehicles

Last week, The US Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao released the new guidelines for the use of autonomous vehicles in the United States. The original guidelines, set by the Obama administration, had a strict checklist of safety expectations. The new version now makes those safety guidelines voluntary. These changes have come after automakers put pressure on the existing government to reverse regulations and red tape.

Why This Matters

This new set of guidelines has its pros and cons. The benefit is that we may see automated cars on the streets very soon. We could even see an increase in the number of companies putting resources into self-driving technology, snowballing into a level of sophistication that could change how we live for the better.

But will this come at the expense of safety? Since the industry has now been given the freedom to self-regulate, safety checks may not be as thorough as they should be. There are already large parts of the public that are skeptical about this technology and a handful of injuries or fatalities could really hurt progress. The responsibility then, is on automotive and tech companies to ensure that their cars are fit to go out onto the streets.

Automotive retailers finding space in Canadian malls

There’s a growing trend of automotive showrooms opening in malls around Canada. Most recently, Mercedes Benz opened up a Mercedes me location in CF Markville in Markham, ON. This is following its first location in the Aberdeen Centre in Richmond, BC. This trend isn’t all that new. Over the last year Tesla opened in three locations including Yorkdale Shopping Centre. Porsche opened a pop-up in Square One and the Mississauga mall is expected to host a Genesis Motors showroom in October.

Why This Matters

Automotive purchases are generally very informed decisions. Retailers primarily get buyers at the point at which they’re already interested and rightly so—car purchases are a big decision. That may not always be the case with luxury brands like Mercedes who can target consumers earlier in the purchase cycle. Unfortunately, many of these dealerships aren’t located in areas with high foot traffic.

This is where retailers can benefit from locations in malls. Many luxury car brands have found homes in higher-end locations such as Markville, Yorkdale and Square One. There they are surrounded by other luxury retailers. With foot traffic coming from a largely relevant audience, car brands will be able to create more direct awareness and possibly improve sales. This is a trend that may be here for a while to come.

Zero-waste grocery store opens in Ottawa

An independent grocery store, Nu Grocery, has opened in Ottawa that has made it a mission to reduce waste through a unique method of shopping. Customers bring their own reusable containers from home, take as much food as they need, weigh it and pay accordingly. And if a customer doesn’t have their own containers, Nu Grocery has their own proprietary brand or compostable bags. It also has an online shopping program and recycles all packaging.

Why This Matters

In the last few months, we’ve seen a lot of news about Amazon and their recent takeover of Whole Foods. Every other grocery chain has been on high alert since. Meanwhile, this small chain in Ottawa is focusing less on price and more on the bigger picture. It’s an interesting approach to the traditional grocery shopping experience. By bringing their own containers, customers are more aware of how much food they’re buying. This can significantly help people reduce food waste on top of doing away with plastic bags.