Apple Watch, gold and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

With the release of Apple invitations to a March 9 event – most likely for the Apple Watch – smart watches have been in the forefront of news lately. I have said in the past that I would jump on buying the Moto360 watch from Google/Motorola. But I really do have tiny wrists such that they simply looked ridiculous on me when I tried them on. It brings to mind, who would really buy these newfangled devices anyway? Apple is betting that with its focus on fashion (taking out a 12-page ad in Vogue magazine for example) will change people’s negative perceptions on smartwatches. Never mind that the Apple Watch will be very expensive and with fewer features than first announced, it will lead the pack in the current wearables market. I’ve talked at length about it here and why I would still stick to Android wear (just waiting for the slimmer models). So, you might hem and haw for now and skeptics will abound but if you own an iPhone, chances are, you will end up buying it at some point. Which, apparently, is not good for the global supply of gold. According to some reports, Apple plans to sell 1 million units of the gold edition per month. If demand reaches that month, it will use up a third of the world’s supply of gold. Maybe, it’s time to invest in gold futures or gold-mining companies.

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail:

In tech:

  1. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approves net neutrality policy by 3-2 vote; ensuring: no blocking, no throttling and no paid prioritization of online content
  2. Ericson to sue Apple Inc. for patent infringement on tech used in iPhones and iPads after Apple refuses to renew licensing agreement with Ericson
  3. Google acquisitions/deals: acquires Facebook marketing startup Toro for undisclosed amount; acquires technology and patents from mobile-wallet service Softcard; strikes a deal with wireless carriers (AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA, Verizon Wireless) for the Google Wallet app to come pre-installed on Android phones sold by the carriers; invests $300M into Elon Musk’s SolarCity to finance ~25,000 residential solar projects
  4. Other Google news: launches Android for Work to keep work-related accounts/apps separate from personal info; newly-acquired Deep Mind has trained an AI to play 49 different video games
  5. Hyperloop Transportation Technologies, inspired by Elon Musk’s hyperloop idea, will build a 5-mile test track in central California

In retail:

  1. Gap Inc. warns that US West Coast port dispute will cut current year earnings by ~4 percentage points (Financial Times paywall/sign-in required)
  2. New Pebble smartwatch, Pebble Time, raises $1M on Kickstarter in record time
  3. Earnings: Victoria’s Secret owner L Brands poster full-year forecast that miss analysts’ estimatesPrada SpA reported full-year sales that missed estimates as Chinese spending slows
  4. Online retailer Nasty Gal closes $12.7M in funding
  5. Amazon greenlights 21 titles from Kindle Scout, a crowd-sourced publishing platform that allows readers to vote for unpublished authors to get published
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