Today in business news: the internet does a spit-take over the cost of Apple’s new headphones, Cisco tries to make Webex cool, and I contemplate why I haven’t already moved to Hawaii. Let’s get into it.
Apple held three unveiling events this fall to hype its hardware and get all the fanboys excited for the holidays. And apparently it’s not done droppin’ products.
On Tuesday, the company rolled out its very, very expensive over-ear AirPods Max and announced a launch date for its Fitness+ subscription fitness service.
Let’s take a look at those headphones first…
- The AirPods Max cost a gut-wrenching 550 bucks. *Cue spit-take. That’s more than an entire iPhone SE ($400). It’s also far more than top-of-line rivals like Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones 700 ($339) or Beats Studio 3 ($349).
- To put it even more in perspective, they cost the same as a PlayStation 5, a roundtrip flight from New York to LA in the Before Times, two mid-range Roombas, half a Peloton bike, or 36 pairs of Bombas socks. For $550 you could buy 4.5 Apple shares, or almost one Tesla share… You get the idea.
- What you get with AirPods Max: The wireless headset comes with noise cancellation and built-in Siri capabilities, and Apple promises about 20 hours of battery life before a recharge. My colleague Samantha Murphy Kelly has the details.
Apple also announced a launch date for Fitness+, which is bad news for Peloton. The announcement sent Peloton shares briefly down 2% in early trading.
- Watch the throne: Peloton, with its sleek bikes and treadmills, has been, shall we say, the Apple of the home gym sector — it peddles high-end lifestyle gadgets to a devoted, almost cult-like fan base.
- Pandemic bump: Peloton became a huge winner in the pandemic as people splurged on home fitness equipment when gyms shut down. But it has to prove it can keep growing once gyms reopen and people are less tethered to their homes.
- David vs Goliath: Now the relatively young fitness brand has to compete with Apple, literally the world’s most valuable company, as it offers a competitively priced service minus the high cost of entry that is the Peloton bike (the cheapest of which will cost you two AirPod Maxes). Kaya Yurieff has more.
THIS WFH LIFE
Cisco just introduced a bunch of new features for Webex, its video conferencing software, aimed at improving the WFH experience. Because even nine months into this thing, some of you still can’t find the mute button or refrain from typing loudly during the presentation… y’all know who you are.
Webex is playing catch-up to boost its appeal as video-conferencing competition heats up. It also needs to prove it’s just as good as its more-youthful, popular cousin, Zoom, which kind of already won the war when “to zoom” became the verb of the pandemic era.
The announcement of new features follows news Monday that Cisco plans to acquire two companies whose products will help (for the love of god please) beef up its service.
Here are a few of the new features:
- Noise cancellation: The app will automatically “detect and suppress” common noises such as rustling papers and loud typing.
- Transcription: Webex will generate searchable transcripts of calls, which is kinda helpful but also a bit creepy. It’s also adding closed captioning, which will make it easier for hearing impaired people to participate.
- Real-time translation: Starting in February, you can listen in on a meeting where the speaker is using a different language. Which, if it works, is pretty cool.
NUMBER OF THE DAY
About 17% of America’s restaurants — 110,000 — have already permanently closed this year, according to the National Restaurant Association, which is pleading with Congress to pass new stimulus to help the industry.
Hawaii needs some economic stimulus and as soon as I’m done writing this I’m packing a bag.
The state is offering free round-trip tickets to Oahu to out-of-state remote workers (me!) who want to live and work there (me!) while contributing to the state’s economy (me me me!)
It’s part of a temporary residency program, cringe-ily named “Movers and Shakas.”
WHAT’S THE CATCH?
Tbh I’m not sure — it sounds kind of perfect.
The pandemic gutted the tourism industry, which Hawaii’s economy relies on, and made remote work normal for millions of people.
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON?
- Cybersecurity firm FireEye said it had come under cyberattack by “highly sophisticated” actors likely sponsored by a nation-state, in a rare and extremely serious instance of a mainstream security vendor being compromised.
- Goya’s CEO named Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez as the company’s “employee of the month,” saying that the congresswoman’s July tweets urging a boycott of the brand boosted sales “1,000%.”
- The US government plans to give SpaceX nearly a billion dollars to beam internet from space to people across rural America.
- AT&T CEO John Stankey defended Warner Bros.’ decision to release its entire 2021 film slate on HBO Max at the same time they hit theaters — a move that sent shockwaves through Hollywood last week. (Warner Bros. is owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, which is also the parent company to HBO and CNN.)
- Boeing was set to deliver a 737 Max to United Airlines — the first delivery of the troubled plane since its grounding almost two years ago.