The CultCast

This week: Apple axes another 190 employees from their self-driving car division—is the Apple car dead? Plus: sleep tracking is coming to the Apple Watch; Apple is “rethinking” their high prices; and we wrap with the story of Apple's first legendary CEO, and you won’t believe who it was...

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On the show this week

@erfon / @lewiswallace / @lkahney

16-inch MacBook Pro - 8 things Apple BETTER get right!

Apple axes 190 employees from self-driving car division

  • Apple’s self-driving car project may be nearing the end of the road.
  • Project Titan was reportedly greenlit toward the end of 2014. Apple hired hundreds of engineers setting out to design and build its own self-driving car. Numerous roadblocks hit the struggling project and the company reportedly changed the focus toward just making the underlying autonomous driving technology instead of a complete car.
  • After rumors surfaced last month that the company slashed its workforce for Project Titan, Apple confirmed today that 190 employees in Santa Clara and Sunnyvale have been released from the self-driving car project.
  • Details of Apple’s self-driving car project were just posted by the company last week. Apple’s cars needed a driver to take over about once every 1.1 miles. By comparison, Google’s Waymo division only had a disengagement every 11,017 miles.
  • It’s unclear what the future holds for Apple’s automotive ambitions from here. Tim Cook has said self-driving cars is the mother of all AI problems. With iPhone sales dropping though, the company appears to be tightening its focus by jettisoning projects that aren’t as promising.

Apple developing its own sleep-tracking tech for Apple Watch

  • Apple Watch could soon add sleep-tracking tech that makes it an even more capable health monitor.
  • Apple has been testing the new sleep-tracking technology at secret sites around Cupertino, a new report claims. And if it lives up to its promise, it could ship as part of the Apple Watch by 2020.
  • The Health app for iOS has included sleep-tracking since 2014. However, it simply pulls in information from the Clock app’s alarm function, although third-party devices and apps can bolster the data.
  • Apple acquired Finnish company Beddit, which makes a sleep-tracking sensor strip, in May 2017. At the end of last year, a new Beddit sleep monitor launched. This was the first version since Apple acquired the company.

Apple ‘very aware’ of concerns over iPhone’s high prices

  • “It’s something we’re very aware of,” Williams said during a question and answer session at Elon University on February 22. “We do not want to be an elitist company … We want to be an egalitarian company, and we’ve got a lot of work going on in developing markets.”
  • Apple COO Jeff Williams says the company is “very aware” of concerns over the rising cost of the iPhone and Mac computers.
  • Apple CEO Tim Cook has already admitted that the company will “rethink” its prices, particularly those for the iPhone
  • Williams goes on to say: “The stories that come out about the cost of our products [have been] the bane of my existence from the beginning of time, including our early days,” he said. “Analysts don’t really understand the cost of what we do and how much care we put into making our products.”
  • Williams described how Apple has built its very own physiology lab, with 40 licensed nurses, and enlisted over 10,000 study participants to develop some of Apple Watch’s most important features.

Today in Apple history: Massive layoffs clear out Apple’s ‘bozo explosion’

  • February 25, 1981: Apple CEO Michael Scott oversees a mass firing of employees, then holds a massive party.
  • At the time, Apple was growing incredibly quickly. With almost 2,000 people on the payroll, Scott thought the company had simply grown too big, too fast. The expansion led to what he called a “bozo explosion,” with Apple employing people he did not consider A-players.
  • The event went on to be know as Black Wedneday.
  • Former Apple programmer Andy Hertzfeld remembers it as bizarre event: “Black Wednesday was one of a number of shakeups which took place at Apple when things were going great. Sales were doubling almost every month, so that was a little unusual I would say.”
  • “I used to say that when being CEO at Apple wasn’t fun anymore, I’d quit,” he tells a crowd of Apple staffers. “But now I’ve changed my mind — when being CEO isn’t fun anymore, I’ll just fire people until it is fun again.” For many people at Apple, the day is the worst in company history — and an early sign that the fun startup culture of the early days are gone forever.


Direct download: cultcast_377.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 1:04am PDT