UK inventor James Dyson to launch electric car by 2020

LONDON (Reuters) – James Dyson, billionaire inventor of the bagless vacuum cleaner, said on Tuesday his company was building an electric car which will launch by 2020, the latest firm to challenge traditional carmakers in a burgeoning market.

Tesla has already shaken up the sector around the world and Dyson said it would now spend 2 billion pounds ($ 2.7 billion) on solid-state battery technology and vehicle design.

Dyson had been developing new battery and electric motor technology for its vacuum cleaners and other products for the past 20 years, he said.

“Battery technology is very important to Dyson, electric motors are very important to Dyson, environmental control is very important to us,” Dyson, aged 71, said at his company’s flagship shop on London’s Oxford Street.

“I have been developing these technologies consistently because I could see that one day we could do a car.”

Dyson told staff in an email that the company finally had the opportunity to bring all its technologies together into a single product.

“Competition for new technology in the automotive industry is fierce and we must do everything we can to keep the specifics of our vehicle confidential,” he added.

Dyson said a 400-strong team of engineers had already spent 2-1/2 years working on the secret project in Malmesbury, Wiltshire, developing the batteries that will power the in-house designed electric motor for the car.

The firm has yet to decide on where the vehicle would be manufactured, although it has ruled out working with any existing auto companies, Dyson said.

Last year, the government said in a report it was helping to fund a new battery electric vehicle at the firm, which will secure 174 million pounds ($ 233 million) of investment in the area and create over 500 jobs.

The entry was quickly changed and Dyson declined to comment at the time in a sign of the secrecy shrouding the project.

Dyson said the firm needed to make the announcement on Tuesday because it was becoming hard to talk to subcontractors, government and potential new employees.

Writing by Paul Sandle and Costas Pitas; editing by Stephen Addison

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Alibaba raising stake in Cainiao to majority, investing $15 billion to grow logistics

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is raising its stake in logistics affiliate Cainiao Smart Logistics Network Ltd to 51 percent from 47 percent by investing 5.3 billion yuan ($ 801.21 million), Alibaba said on Tuesday.

Alibaba also said in a statement it will invest another 100 billion yuan ($ 15.12 billion) in the next five years to expand its global logistics network.

The additional investment will be used in research and development of Cainiao’s logistics data technology, and smart warehousing and smart delivery development, among other things, it said.

Alibaba co-founded Cainiao in 2013, with partners including department store owner Intime Group, conglomerate Fosun Group and a few logistics companies.

Reporting by Kane Wu; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Tech

Here’s How Much Apple iPhone 8 Glass Repairs Are Going to Cost You

If you own an iPhone 8, now might be the perfect time to get a case.

The glass panel on the back of Apple’s iPhone 8 won’t qualify for a $ 29 replacement like the device’s glass screen. Instead, Apple will charge customers $ 99 for the first two back panel repairs. After that, customers could be forced to pay $ 349 or $ 399 for the iPhone 8 or iPhone 8 Plus, respectively, according to Apple-tracking site AppleInsider, which confirmed the cost with a company spokesman.

Apple’s (aapl) iPhone 8 has a new design, featuring a glass back panel. The glass allows for wireless charging coils inside the handset to interact with wireless charging pads, so users can boost battery life without wires. It also adds a design flair that users didn’t have in previous metal iPhones.

However, because the iPhone 8’s back panel is glass, if it takes enough of a beating, it could shatter, forcing users to either live with a jagged device or get it fixed.

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There was some hope among iPhone owners that Apple would offer the same replacement cost as a display since the back panel is made of glass. However, Apple told AppleInsider that it’s categorizing back panel repairs in the “other damage” category, bringing its price to $ 99, plus tax.

To safeguard against that cost, users can of course buy a case to protect the back panel. Opting for the company’s AppleCare+ would extend the $ 99 coverage price to two years. It costs $ 129 for the iPhone 8 and $ 149 for the iPhone 8 Plus.

Tech

Steve Lacy's Newest Song, '4Real,' Is Anti-Pop Genius

Steve Lacy’s “4Real,” which the polymath guitarist released on SoundCloud earlier this month, is a stew of delicious production; it’s got gushing bass, teenage quirk, and the sweet urgency of young love. The song’s borders are intentionally blurred—thematically, structurally—but what Lacy feels is unmistakably obvious: the connection he has to his unnamed partner is no illusion. “We kiss, we hug, we dance and fight/We laugh, make up, then we go all night,” he sings, before diving headfirst into the hook. “It’s such a thrill to love you when it’s real.”

It’s a love letter with punk spirit, and functions as something of an informal admission to the is-he-isn’t-he curiosities surrounding Lacy’s sexuality (without all the high drama others have placed on it). If you want to make something, Lacy told WIRED in April, “grab whatever you have and just make it.” With its echoes of Prince and Bilal, “4Real” confirms Lacy’s decidedly anti-pop undertaking: that a song can, and should, be a nebulous configuration—sometimes with no center, no formal structure, or even a skillful conclusion.

Lacy’s inventiveness is well earned. As a member of Los Angeles-based R&B outfit The Internet, he helped executive-produce the group’s Grammy-nominated 2015 album Ego Death, has collaborated with Kendrick Lamar (“PRIDE”) and Kali Uchis (“Only Girl”), and in February released his 6-track “song series” Steve Lacy’s Demo to much acclaim. The solo collection’s unifying sentiment was its tightly controlled production; at a slender 13 minutes in its entirety, its songs never felt like they might swiftly veer off the tracks. But “4Real” is a different kind of creative proposition for Lacy—it’s raucous and reckless, with hints of madness. It’s a little like falling in love.

When the song suddenly cuts short—Lacy’s own doing, a move reflective of the freeform ethos SoundCloud often incubates—it doesn’t matter. His intention is not a neat resolution, or even a resolution at all, but to unsettle the assumptions of the listener. The DNA of music is meant to be fussed with, and Lacy disbands all formalities with “4Real.” What you think matters, doesn’t. In his hands, there are no rules for true songcraft—and the end result, wherever one lands, is all the more rewarding because of its abruptness, its surprise.

In recent years, artists like Frank Ocean, Young M.A, and iLoveMakonnen have ushered queer narratives in popular music, especially within hip-hop and R&B. With “4Real,” Lacy outlines his own narrative, however indistinct. When he uploaded the song to SoundCloud, the track image featured a pixelated photo of him (presumably) and another person (presumably a white guy) in affectionate embrace; the two look as if they might be kissing. “Is anyone gonna question if that is him and a guy? not that it matters but it would be cute,” one user commented. To which another responded: “I just noticed the same thing. Whatevs, homie’s doin his thing.” Lacy’s intention had come full circle—that beauty can be formed from an undefined place.

Tech

Cisco Systems: Bulls, Here It Comes

Cisco Systems (CSCO) has been caught in a long-term trading range ever since the dot-com bubble burst, and those long the stock have had few had few benefits for their positions with the exception of the stock’s strong dividend yields. But all of this looks ready to change, as short interest in CSCO has been waning for the past 18 months and market valuations are now pushing through critical levels on the monthly price history. Changes at the managerial levels, recent beats in quarterly earnings, and emerging revenue drivers all point in the positively direction in a confluence of events that should bring rewards for bulls that have been holding the stock for a long period of time. In our view, CSCO is on the verge of a major breakout that will define the bullish trajectory from here on a multi-year basis. There is still time to get long the stock, as market valuations have not yet broken above the critical 33.80 level we will discuss here.

In the long-term view shown above, we can see that CSCO has had an interesting price history over the last 25 years. A period of indecision has followed the initial rise-and-collapse and this has created a very strong trading range between 13.95 and 33.80. More recently, markets have been pressuring the top areas of this zone — and this activity has been further supported by a stable earnings performance that has beaten expectations in the last few quarters. In addition to this, the company is showing healthy margin figures while the stock is trading with an attractive 17 PE and a 3.55% dividend yield. This is well above the industry average, and so if you are a dividend investor looking for tech exposure you could do a lot worse than entering into a new position in CSCO at current levels.

Screenshot 2017-09-21 at 4.10.35 PM.png

Analyst recommendations: Yahoo Finance

The bullish sentiment is reflected in the analyst surveys, with the census showing “buys” or “strong buys” for the stock even while it is trading at these relatively elevated levels. The real question here is whether or not the company will be able to breath life into what is viewed by many as an outdated tech entity and so it will be important for investors to identify areas that might boost revenue performances in the next few quarters.

Screenshot 2017-09-21 at 4.12.28 PM.png

The action here could be guided by the contrasts, as the latest earnings report showed that revenues were down year-on-year. This has been the case for seven straight quarters, but the results were mostly inline with the estimates. In the report, CSCO did surpass the consensus earnings estimates once again (at 61 cents in earnings per share). This type of performance has been par for the course since Chuck Robbins took the helm as CEO, and so there is something here for investors to grab onto in terms of the long-term outlook for CSCO’s quarterly performance outlook.

Screenshot 2017-09-20 at 3.46.15 PM.png

Helping matters here will be the significant decline that is now being seen in the US dollar. Relative to its most commonly traded assets, the greenback has lost roughly 9.8% and this will almost certainly lead to upside surprises in CSCO’s earnings performances for the second half of 2017. This is one market element that has come as a significant surprise for most analysts, as the pro-growth policy agenda promoted by US President Donald Trump has had difficulty gaining traction. This has hurt the US Dollar but is something that will come as a significant benefit to companies with significant overseas sales totals. Information technology falls behind only energy in terms of the sectors that stand to benefit from these trends, so bullish investors should expect upside earnings surprises in the next few releases.

CSCO Chart Analysis: Dividend Investments.com

As one of the few true survivors of the dot-com bubble, Cisco Systems has proven itself as a stable investment that is capable of withstanding selling pressure. With a price-to-book value of just over two, the company still looks well-positioned and undervalued. The key area to watch here is the range resistance that is now found at 33.80, as a break here would suggest that a new sheriff is in town and that the sideways sluggishness is over. Bullish readings in the Commodity Channel Index strongly support this upside outlook as there now appears to be very little selling pressure left in the market (with short interest at 0.91% of the total float). The stock’s 3.55% dividend yield is well above the industry average (of 1.39%) and the payout ratios are still seen at sustainable levels. On balance, this points to strong upside in the stock, so we will remain long and collect the attractive dividends associated with this tech superstar.

What is your position on Cisco Systems? We look forward to reading your comments. Stay tuned to Dividend Investors and receive our next alerts by clicking the “Follow” button at the top of the page.

Disclosure: I am/we are long CSCO.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Tech

According to the SpaceX Co-Founder, This Is Why Elon Musk Is Wildly Successful

With businesses that focus on clean energy, electric, self-driving cars and launching into outer space, Elon Musk is on the innovation scoreboard in a big way, and often leading it. But according to a Quora response from his SpaceX co-founder, Jim Cantrell, it’s not just intelligence that’s propelled Musk to where he is.

To be clear, Cantrell isn’t saying that Musk lacks in the brain department (I think we all know that). In fact, he acknowledges that Musk is highly intelligent. He’s simply saying that other factors do Musk more good and that intelligence isn’t always a prerequisite for success.

So what are those factors for success, specifically?

1. Do something you’re good at or have an inherent talent for.

Musk has many different talents–he speaks with conviction, responds fabulously to his customers, and has a knack for pulling together the resources he needs, for example. But his biggest gift, arguably, is his ability to see the genius in what other people would write off, to identify which moonshots are actually worth pursuing. And after he’s identified great moonshots, he’s able to convince others they’re doable.

2. Do something that creates value (and that you can sell now or later).

Although Musk’s cutting-edge electric cars and groundbreaking initiatives solar initiatives are geared toward those who care about the Earth, they’re highly marketable overall, appealing to the need for both travel and energy. Even space travel entices with novelty. In time, it might become a necessity, too.

3. Raw, Pure Passion.

Elon Musk doesn’t spend his days churning out complex math formulas or training with NASA. But he genuinely believes that space exploration and making humanity “a multi-planetary species” is essential to our long-term survival. In the same way, he believes that the fossil fuel industry is a danger and that electric cars and solar are legitimate paths to saving the environment. His sincere concerns drive him to keep innovating on each platform, even when others have doubts.

But what’s really made Musk successful, Cantrell says, is sheer determination. He just doesn’t give up. So dig your heels in. Don’t quit. Even if you ‘fail’, the amount of experience you gain is priceless, including what you learn about yourself. And when you’re learning, improvement is inevitable.

Tech

This Time It Matters: Why Apple Is Falling

Preface
Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL) is dropping hard after its event to announce the new series of hardware, in particular the new iPhone 8, 8 Plus and X as well as the Apple Watch 3.

It’s Different This Time
Normally when Apple stock dives on lukewarm product reviews we stand firmly in our position that the stock market reaction is over blown. Our simple thesis for that response is to look at demand, which is hypnotically strong, every time. That is not the case this time.

A New Risk is Not Obvious But is Enormous
Apple announced a more complicated lineup of iPhones this time around. It introduced the iPhone 8 series which is an upgrade to the iPhone 7, and then it announced the highly anticipated iPhone X (pronounced iPhone Ten).

Then the company made the iPhone 8 available this month, but pushed delivery of iPhone X to early November, which pre-orders stating in late October. That has created a risk.

It turns out that Apple hyped the iPhone X so much, and poured so much new technology into it, that it has left the demand for iPhone 8 lackluster in Apple terms. Here’s what we mean.

If you go to the Apple Store, and try to purchase an iPhone 8, the wait time is essentially 1-3 days for the smaller memory version. Here is an image:

That is for the iPhone 8, in Los Angeles, on Verizon’s (NYSE:VZ) network. The other networks are essentially the same. A normal wait time for a new iPhone release is usually several weeks, let’s say 2-4 depending on where you are in the world.

There are also reports that in store lines are much smaller than before, with one report pinpointing Sydney Australia, where only 30 people were camped out for the new release. Reports from China are similar.

Here are links to two stories:

Turnout for iPhone 8 Launch in Australia “Bleak” as Customers Hold Out for Upcoming iPhone X
The iPhone 8 launch in Sydney saw “a bleak turnout,” reports Reuters, with fewer than 30 people lining up outside of the Sydney Apple Store on George Street. In past years, hundreds of people have lined up for new iPhones on release day.

Apple Falls After Analyst Report Indicates Weak iPhone 8 Demand
Consumers pre-ordered about 1.5 million handsets on Chinese retail website JD.com in the first three days, compared with about 3.5 million for the comparable period of iPhone 7 orders.

Tim Cook just said he “couldn’t be happier” with the iPhone release (and Apple Watch 3). While sales are lower than prior models, there is one reason, a big reason, that he may actually be telling the truth.

Is There a Plan?
One of the headlines that surfaced from the Apple Event was that the iPhone X was very expensive, starting at $ 999 and climbing to $ 1,200 based on the configuration.

It’s possible, maybe even likely, that Apple decided to release the iPhone 8 for less to make it appear that it was not forcing Apple loyalists to buy a far more expensive phone by offering a reduced priced new model (iPhone 8).

In fact, it does appear that even in the bearish analyst notes, each tends to comment on the fact that demand reduction for the iPhone 8 is simply a reflection of the outsized demand for the iPhone X.

If that’s true, then Apple will have an average selling price significantly higher than in prior times, and if demand is in fact to the point where Apple also sells more units, then that would bring a windfall of profits larger than any company has ever seen in one quarter. If that sound overly bullish, it’s just the choice of words — Apple already has the largest earnings ever in one quarter, so this would be a breaking of its own record — also known more simply as, “growth.”

Back to Risk
While there is a rather bullish narrative to wrap around this odd iPhone selection, there is also, in earnest this time, a reasonable bearish thesis.

Apple won’t be delivering its iPhone X until well into November, and if demand is very strong, it might not even be able to deliver before the holiday season in the United States. And while, certainly, if all of those sales simply occur later in the year (or early 2018), then that’s fine, but to consider that a foregone conclusion is a step we are not willing to take with blind faith.

Some consumers, perhaps many consumers, will not wait. And while Apple loyalists may stick around for a later date, the all-important “Android switchers” (those smartphone Android owners that switch to Apple) may not — and that is a real risk and worthy of a stock drop, until proven otherwise.

Apple’s market share in the United States is jumping as Android loses market share — an under reported but critical phenomenon. On January 11th, 2017, 9TO5Mac wrote iPhone market share grows 6.4% in USA, takes share from Android in most markets.

Apple gained 9.1% in the UK, mostly at the expense of Windows phones.

The iPhone grew its market share in Australia, France, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and USA, with Android seeing its own share drop in all of these countries bar Italy, where its growth was less than half that of iOS.

Those are Android switchers and Apple may have just put that group, or at least that trend, in serious jeopardy.

Now What?
We believe the iPhone X is going to be a knock-down drag-out mega hit, and the elevated price will make it yet an even larger success. But, the risk that Apple took, as of right now, is hurting the company both with iPhone 8 sales, and potentially, with Android switchers. And that is not a false narrative — it is accurate.

That risk means the stock should drop, and is dropping.

But, we’re not done yet. What we did not show you, and is easily missed unless you are really looking, is how hard Apple is focusing consumers on the iPhone X over the iPhone 8 — in our opinion.

I recorded a 45 second video arriving on the Apple Store and looking at iPhones. I have turned to video to allow you to make your own decision, as opposed to snapshots, which are too selective and an be used to weave any narrative the author likes.

When you watch this video (below), decide for yourself if you feel that Apple is purposefully pointing people to the iPhone X over the iPhone 8. Here we go:

That’s hardly headline grabbing footage, but we found it noteworthy.

Apple Watch 3
There have been some pretty poor reviews of the Apple Watch 3 surrounding its LTE connectivity and its battery life. This is one of those times where the reviews are meaningless. Demand is strong and that’s all that matters.

Here is a snapshot from the Apple Store for that product:

We see the Watch becoming a runaway success as people learn to use that wearable device as a standalone product — leaving the phone at home on runs, meetings, swims, hikes, and whatever other times such a convenience could be desired.

Conclusion
We maintain our Top Pick status on Apple, but have certainly tempered our bullishness with an undeniable new risk. It might work out very well, but, it might not, and that is a new risk to Apple stock.

The author is long shares of Apple Inc (NASDAQ:AAPL).

Thanks for reading, friends.

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Disclosure: I am/we are long AAPL.

Tech

Review: Leica Sofort

When the Leica Sofort was announced last year, I was sure it was a hoax perpetrated by a savvy Photoshopper with too much time on her hands. Leica, the company best known for its high-end shooters, making a camera out of plastic? It seemed like a perfect joke, like if Bugatti rolled out a hatchback commuter car.
 
But, here we are. Leica released the Sofort to stores last November. You, faithful consumer, can now purchase a camera designed by Leica in Germany that shoots tiny, business card-sized pictures. This is a product that exists, and Amazon can even ship it to you.
 
The Leica Sofort is a great little instant camera. It has the obligatory red dot front and center, and it comes in three appealing, surprisingly un-German colors (I sampled the bright white version but vastly prefer the orange and mint color schemes). And, it’s compatible with either Leica or Fujifilm Instax Mini film packs, which can be bought at just about any Urban Outfitters from here to Rhode Island.

Leica-IL.jpg

 
Having shot most of the instant cameras that are available today, I more or less knew what to expect from the small Leica. That’s because Leica has based the Sofort off of Fujifilm’s Instax Mini 90 Neo Classic, the best instant camera that Fujifilm makes. The two competing cameras have similar lenses, use the same battery, and look like cousins, if not fraternal twins.

Leica Sofort

6/10

Wired

Great design in some eye-catching colors. Intuitive controls make it easy and fun to shoot. Uses utterly ubiquitous, affordable Instax film. Rechargeable battery is convenient, and spares are affordable.

Tired

Square shape can be hard to hold. Shutter button is inconveniently placed. Almost three times the cost of its Fujfilm-made cousin.