Alibaba’s historic IPO, iPhone 6 goes on sale and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

The highly-anticipated IPO of Alibaba is finally here under the ticker “BABA” at the NYSE. The offering price of the shares were at $68 yesterday, giving the company a market value of $168B and making this the largest US-listed IPO since 1995. The stock finally opened at $92.70, lifting market capitalization to $236B. You can read a live blog of the IPO here.

Infographic from Alibaba’s IPO filing with the SEC

Meanwhile, the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus goes on sale today, September 19, becoming available first in Australia. The devices are also available in: Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, France, Germany, Puerto Rico, Canada and the United States. The new iPhone models are not available in mainland China while Apple waits for regulatory approval from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT).

Read on for this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail.

In tech:

  1. Larry Ellison, founder of Oracle, steps down as CEO but will remain as co-chairman and chief technology officer (CTO) of the business software company
  2. SAP, another business software company, acquires expense and travel management company Concur Technologies for $8.3B
  3. Apple’s iOS 8 and Google’s Android L updates will offer default device encryption (Android has offered optional encryption since 2011), which means that the companies will not be able to “unlock” phones on government requests
  4. Amazon introduces 6 new tablets and e-readers; pre-orders started Wednesday to arrive sometime in October
  5. Microsoft lays off 2,100 employees as part of a previously announced plan to reduce workforce by 18,000

In retail:

  1. Home Depot confirms data breach from 56 million cards in its cash register systems in US and Canada
  2. Earnings reports: Jewelry maker Richemont reports 5-month sales slide in Asia, 4% increase worldwide at constant currency rates; founder returns as chairman; Prada SpA first half profits down 21% on slowdown in Europe and Asia; Zara owner Inditex first half profits fell 2.4% while revenue grew 5.6% on aggressive expansion in Asia and Eastern Europe
  3. UK-based online fashion retailer Asos Group issues profit warnings, the third in 6 months; as US sales stall and sales in rest of the world outside Europe reverse
  4. Neiman Marcus Group acquires Munich-based online luxury site for an undisclosed amount; has annual sales of $130M
  5. Jimmy Choo courts investors with a prospectus promising 10% annual sales growth  ahead of IPO decision

A handy guide to the iOS 8 upgrade

News and commentaries, Technology

Yesterday, Apple released iOS 8 and Twitter exploded in what could only be a first world problem with a multitude of complaints. As of this writing, #iOS8 is still trending, which begs the question, should you or shouldn’t you? If you want to join the modern age of Android users where you can use Swype keyboard, act on notifications *within* the notifications window, instantly edit/share pics “in seconds”, send messages by voice, project your device screen on TV, use a camera timer – then you need to upgrade. To be fair, iOS 8 offers other nifty features which I will outline below.

But first, you need 5 GB of available storage
This is probably the loudest complaint. You will not be able to download iOS 8 unless you have 5 GB sitting free on your device. You can start deleting those baby videos and awesome selfies, which I found to be the fastest path to free storage or you can go the roundabout way and download the update through your computer. By the way, this doesn’t mean that the upgrade will take up all the space, the iOS itself is ~900 MB (on the iPad) but it needs that much free space in order to download.

iOS 8 is compatible with the following devices
Screen Shot 2014-09-18 at 10.14.52 AM

Most exciting features so far
Other than the ones I mentioned above, here are some notable features, some of which Android users will be salivating over (features can be had through third-party apps and not built in to Android):

  • The new Health app which will probably make your Fitbit redundant
  • Searchable photo library by date, location (geo-taggging has to be enabled), album name (I tried the same feature on my Nexus and was also able to search for “sunglasses”, “baby” – a little eerie)
  • Revamped iCloud Drive allows for seamless editing between devices
  • iOS users already shop more than their Android counterparts (I do shop more in my iPad because there’s a lack of shopping apps for Android) and this feature will drive that even more – scanning your credit card within Safari:


  • Time-lapse video mode to capture “the experience of the sun setting” (similar to Instagram’s Hyperlapse)
  • Family Sharing allows for up to 6 people to share purchases from iTunes, iBooks and the App store – you can set it up via Settings>iCloud>Set up Family Sharing
  • HomeKit programming protocol for developers will allow for third-party devices to connect with your Apple device

The kinks so far and miscellaneous notes
Before you upgrade, consider the following:

Weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

Here are the most relevant news this week in tech and retail.

In Tech:

  1. Apple’s Q1 results show strong iPhone sales, record revenues; company authorizes a stock split, shares surge at 8% and activist investor Carl Icahn is pleased
  2. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments that will decide the fate of Aereo, the startup that lets subscribers watch live TV for $8/month
  3. Microsoft finalizes acquisition of Nokia’s phone unit
  4. Google+ lead Vic Gondotra is leaving Google; media speculates on the death of Google+
  5. Zynga founder, Mark Pincus to leave chief product officer role, remains chairman on the board

In retail:

  1. Nike fired the majority of FuelBand teaminsists that FuelBand is still alive and well
  2. Amazon Q1 earnings meet expectations with 23% rise in sales despite a report saying that online sales tax has reduced consumer spending
  3. More Amazon news: Prime members now have access to HBO programs and Pantry, a service that delivers bulk grocery items for $5.99/four-cubic-foot box
  4. Kering, owner of Gucci, reports higher than estimated quarterly sales
  5. UK fast fashion retailer Primark to enter US market via Boston; will occupy the former Filene’s Basement space