The Washington Post - USA (2020-09-16)

(Antfer) #1


Economy & Business


ViacomCBS to rebrand

its streaming service

ViacomCBS will rebrand its
streaming service Paramount
Plus early next year and add
original series to its lineup,
aiming to carve out a larger
share of the online viewing
The company plans to turn its
U.S. platform, now called CBS All
Access, into a global streaming
service, according to a statement
Tuesday. After a foray into
Australia, Latin America and the
Nordic countries in 2021,
Paramount Plus will roll out to
more international markets.
The relaunch will include a
new slate of Paramount Plus
programs, such as “The Offer,” a
show that looks at the making of
“The Godfather,” and “Lioness,” a

CIA drama from the creator of
The new name is an attempt
to parlay ViacomCBS’s
Paramount studio brand into a
streaming business with broader
appeal. The CBS network,
though widely watched, is
associated with an older
audience — and doesn’t resonate
outside the United States.
Though CBS was a pioneer
among the U.S. broadcast
networks when it created All
Access in 2014, the service hasn’t
threatened major streaming
platforms like Netflix and Walt
Disney’s Hulu.
— Bloomberg News


Legos pushes for
sustainable bricks

Danish toymaker Lego said it

will invest $400 million over the
next three years to step up
efforts to produce its colorful
bricks using sustainable
materials instead of oil-based
The investment will help Lego
reach a target of becoming
carbon-neutral by 2022 in terms
of its production, as well as
phase out single-use plastic in
packaging by 2025, and replace
plastic bricks with ones made
from sustainable materials by
the end of the decade.
Lego’s search for a suitable
alternative to oil-based plastic
has proved difficult. Over the
past five years, it has been
testing many different plant-
based and recycled materials.
Lego uses some 90,000 metric
tons of plastic in its products
each year, but since 2018, the
company has made some of the
less rigid parts of Lego sets, such

as plants and trees, from bio-
polyethylene, made from
— Reuters

Kraft Heinz said that it will sell
several of its cheese businesses
to a U.S. affiliate of France’s
Groupe Lactalis for $3.2 billion.
The deal, which is expected to
close in the first half of 2021,
includes Kraft Heinz’s U.S.
natural, grated, cultured and
specialty cheese businesses —
including its Breakstone’s and
Cracker Barrel brands. The
company will retain its
Philadelphia, Kraft Singles,
Velveeta and Cheez Whiz brands
in the United States and Canada.
It will also keep the Kraft,
Velveeta and Cracker Barrel Mac
& Cheese businesses worldwide.

— From news services



All the usual ingredients of an
Apple fall announcement were
there. Dramatic drone shots of
the spaceship-like campus, a
brief nod to the current woes of
the world, executives rattling off
superlatives about lightly up-
graded gadgets.
But Tuesday’s Apple “event” —
a prerecorded video people
agreed to watch on the Internet
at the same time — was missing
something big: new iPhones.
Where were you, iPhone 12, if
that’s even your real name?
The omission isn’t a surprise,
but it’s still unusual.
F or a company that built its

brand on innovation, Apple has
become pretty predictable. Every
fall Apple announces its latest
iPhones. The company has an-
nounced new iPhones every Sep-
tember since 2012. In 2011, the
iPhone 4s was announced in
However, Apple has delayed
the release of its phones before,
most recently the iPhone X,
which wasn’t in stores until No-

When is iPhone 12 coming?
Analysts expect the new
phones to be announced in Octo-
ber at the earliest. Apple con-
firmed that the iPhone would be
late on an earnings call back in

July, when Luca Maestri, the
company’s chief financial officer,
said iPhone supply was going to
be available a few weeks later
than usual.
A month might not seem like a
big deal, but Apple wants all its
new products released and in
stock ahead of the holiday rush.
That should be especially true if
that rush could be dampened by
fewer people shopping in stores
and families not having holiday
gatherings because of the novel

A month seems long.
What am I even waiting for?
Apple is expected to release
four new iPhone models, ranging

in size from 5.4 to 6.7 inches. If
they follow Apple’s most recent
naming conventions — and the
overused trend of slapping “Max”
and “Pro” on the end of every
product name — we could get an
iPhone 12, iPhone 12 Max, iPhone
12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max.
Minor upgrades could include
tweaks to the exterior design and
better cameras, including a
depth-sensing back camera. As
for design, the new iPad Air that
Apple announced Tuesday has
flat edges, which could be a sign
of what’s to come on any new
The main addition will prob-
ably be support for 5G, the cellu-
lar network that promises light-

ning-fast download and upload
speeds... eventually.
Every new iPhone needs one
big enticing feature to persuade
people to give up the still-func-
tioning iPhone they bought two
or so years ago.
The iPhone 11, for example,
added an impressive lowlight
mode and tried to make “slofies”
happen. Sales of iPhones have
been slowing for years, thanks to
an end to carrier subsidies and
Apple offering inexpensive bat-
tery replacements. But with so
many people stuck at home and
connecting happily over their
WiFi, its unclear whether 5G will
be the jolt in sales that Apple

Why is it delayed?
This is 2020. Up is down, the
country is simultaneously on fire
and fending off hurricanes. Ap-
ple CEO Tim Cook is presenting
products to an invisible audi-
ence, and we’re still in the throes
of a pandemic that has hit Apple
sales, stores and production.
Apple warned investors that
the virus was disrupting produc-
tion back in February. In addition
to issues with its supply chain,
much of Apple’s U.S. staff has
been working from home, and its
stores worldwide have had to
shut down, although many have
reopened with pandemic-related

Omission of i Phone 12 at Apple ‘event’ isn’t a shock, but it’s still a big deal


On Tuesday, Apple gave a star-
ring role at its fall product launch
event to the Apple Watch —
letting it take the spotlight that is
usually reserved for a new
While the absence of the
iPhone’s shadow on Tuesday may
just be a quirk of pandemic-relat-
ed supply-chain disruptions that
Apple says have delayed produc-
tion of its next smartphone, it
also offered t he company an op-
portunity to showcase its six-year
effort to break into the health-
care industry. The Apple Watch is
the physical manifestation of the
company’s health-care play, and
perhaps the most important but
least understood prong of the
company’s new business model
anchored around services rather
than gadget sales. The announce-
ment also comes during the peak
of a global pandemic in which the
conversation about health and
technology has accelerated.
The event was the second one
streamed online from its Silicon
Valley campus, known as Apple
Park, since the global pandemic
forced it to switch to virtual
product launches. The company
also unveiled updated iPads and
new service bundles — but no
new phone, which usually drives
the most interest.
Apple has said its participation
in the health-care industry has
been aimed at helping people,
not necessarily to benefit its bot-
tom line. And at the virtual event
Tuesday, it highlighted vignettes,
showing how the Apple Watch
keeps people healthy, even saving
their lives by alerting them to
heart problems.
“Health-care providers, insur-
ance companies and businesses
are also seeing the benefits of
offering Apple Watch,” Apple
CEO Tim Cook said at the event
Tuesday. “They know it can make
a big difference in the lives of
their patients, customers and
The Apple Watch 6, the compa-
ny announced, will include a new
sensor that can detect blood oxy-
gen levels, often called a pulse
oximeter, which the company

said will deliver helpful informa-
tion about health. Apple execu-
tive Sumbul Desai announced a
new research study with the Seat-
tle Flu Study and University of
Washington that will examine
the relationship between blood
oxygen, heart rate and the coro-
As sales of iPhones have, until
recently, been declining, the com-
pany has been looking for new
ways to make up for lost revenue.
Mainly, it has done so by finding
ways to sell subscriptions for
music, TV and cloud storage. On
Tuesday, Apple bundled its ser-
vices, announcing Apple One, a
new subscription bundle ranging
from $15 a month to $30, which
includes many of its digital prod-
ucts. It also announced a new
service for Apple Watch users,
called Fitness +, which will cost
$10 per month or $80 a year.
But health care is different,
and Apple’s route to profitability
is murky. Unlike other services,
Apple doesn’t charge consumers
or companies for any of its health
offerings, other than for the
watches, which cost from $400 to
$1,500 for the most recent ver-
sion. Analysts say Apple will shy
away from profiting directly from
the data collected by researchers
and drug companies that use
Apple Watches in clinical trials.
On Tuesday, Apple announced
an inexpensive version, called the
Apple Watch SE, which will start
at $279, compared with $399 for
the Apple Watch 6.
While six years is a long time
for the technology industry, it’s a
blip in the medical field, where
change is slow and arduous. Ap-
ple’s investment is only begin-
ning to bear noticeable fruit, and
experts in the pharmaceutical
industry say it could take years
more for the company to become
a major player in the field. As
Apple builds a track record for
producing reliable research
based on watch data, it will
probably add more sensors, ex-
panding the breadth of research
possible with the device. One day,
Apple Watches could be a com-
mon component of drug and
device studies, experts say, even if
that is a far-off and ambitious

which offers software services for
controlled trials. It didn’t play
out that way. “I just don’t hear a
lot about ResearchKit anymore. I
don’t think I’ve heard about it in
two years.” ProofPilot is booming,
Amsden says. ResearchKit is con-
sidered a niche player in the
overall clinical trials industry,
Amsden and others in the indus-
try say.
In addition, ResearchKit isn’t a
full-service offering. Companies
that aim to use ResearchKit for
trials still must have the resourc-
es to create customized software,
and companies such as Thread
Research and Medable have
sprung up to meet that need.
Large drug companies tend to
opt for bespoke software with
actual medical devices for tradi-
tional trials, industry experts say,
rather than rely on ResearchKit.
One executive at a major phar-
maceutical company, who spoke
on the condition of anonymity
because they weren’t authorized
to speak publicly, said that is
slowly beginning to change. The
executive discussed several stud-
ies Apple is working on with
pharmaceutical companies that
haven’t been announced.
In addition to testing the effi-
cacy of drugs, pharmaceutical
companies also conduct more
broad research into health. Those
projects, which tend to benefit
from large numbers of partici-
pants, are more tailored for the
Apple Watch. Apple announced
three new research studies at its
virtual event Tuesday, including
one relating to asthma in part-
nership with the insurance com-
pany Anthem and the University
of California at Irvine.
Apple doesn’t collect fees from
researchers, as it does from soft-
ware developers, so its path to
profitability isn’t as clear. But if
Apple is successful in encourag-
ing more studies and research
using Apple Watch, it may benefit
if the research leads to new
algorithms that would allow Ap-
ple to offer useful advice to cus-
“Apple doesn’t want to make
money off of users’ data. If they
create a large business around
selling data from Apple Watch,
that’s a problem,” Munster said.
That’s because Apple markets
itself as privacy-conscious, and
profiting from health data could
hurt its image. Apple doesn’t
receive data from studies that use
ResearchKit when Apple is not
involved in the study. But he said
the data can help sell more devic-
es: “The data is making the watch
more useful and ultimately mak-
ing their products more indis-

 More at

Watch launch

highlights Apple’s

foray into health

The company is earning credibility in another

industry, but the route to profitability is murky

Apple isn’t alone in its drive
into health care. Google’s Verily is
making a concerted push into the
clinical trial industry.
Amazon, which acquired pre-
scription service PillPack and on-
line symptom-checker Health
Navigator, has partnered with
Berkshire Hathaway and JPMor-
gan Chase to lower health costs.
Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT ini-
tiative is focused on artificial
intelligence in health care. (Ama-
zon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The
Washington Post.)
Apple Watch wasn’t the first
smartwatch, or even the first
health-related one. Fitbit and
Jawbone pioneered the fitness
tracker market and new start-ups
are pushing the ball forward on
hardware. Oura, for instance,
packs a lot of health-related sen-
sors into a simple ring. But none
of those companies have Apple’s
massive install base of loyal cus-
tomers. Apple Watches outsell
the entire Swiss watch industry,
according to a Strategy Analytics
There are reasons to buy Apple
Watches beyond health. For cus-
tomers locked into Apple’s eco-
system, they make for a nifty
accessory that can adjust Air-
Pods’ volume or unlock Mac-
Books without a password. Be-
cause of the sheer size of its user
base, Apple can corral thousands
of research subjects in a short
period of time.
Six years in, Apple Watches
can detect signs of atrial fibrilla-
tion, a potentially deadly heart
disorder. But that detection isn’t

100 percent accurate. False posi-
tives can send patients to the
doctor unnecessarily. It may take
a decade or more before the
watch has the kinds of sensors
and hardcore research necessary
to be a comprehensive health
solution for customers, said Gene
Munster, an analyst with Loup
Ventures, a venture capital firm,
making the watch as a health
device a long-term bet. “I don’t
think they’re close to being there.
I think the current watch is
limited in what it’s picking up
on,” he said.
In the meantime, Apple is
earning “credibility in the indus-
try,” according to Tom Dorsett,
CEO of RazorMetrics, a health
technology company aimed at
lowering prescription drug costs.
Apple gained FDA clearance for
its atrial fibrillation algorithm
and its electrocardiogram. “If
they’re investing in FDA approv-
al, they’re looking to be some-
thing more than a novelty de-
vice,” he says.
It could be some time before
Apple Watches achieve the same
footing as medical devices. For
instance, during Tuesday’s Apple
Event, the company flashed a
fine-print warning across the
screen. “Blood Oxygen app mea-
surements are not intended for
medical use and are only de-
signed for general fitness and
wellness purposes,” it read.
Apple’s first watch, announced
in 2014 and released the follow-
ing April, came with the intro-
duction of ResearchKit, open-
source software that allows medi-
cal researchers to find subjects

for their studies. Using the soft-
ware, academic institutions and
pharmaceutical companies can
enroll Apple’s customers in clini-
cal trials, collecting data on Ap-
ple Watches to learn more about
the human body.
Apple’s ResearchKit has been
used for clinical trials, some of
which it has announced to great
fanfare. Last year, the company
announced three major studies
on women’s health, heart health
and hearing. In terms of the
massive amount of research con-
stantly being conducted by drug
companies and in academia, Ap-
ple isn’t much of a player.
In part, that is because Apple
Watch is limited to a subset of the
population — mainly, to those
who also use iPhones. In the
United States, that’s roughly half
of smartphone users. Those cus-
tomers tend to be more affluent
and have fewer chronic diseases
that drug companies aim to treat.
Apple provides Apple Watches
free to many research subjects
and offers discounted bulk pric-
ing to companies conducting re-
search. Still, the sheer number of
people who own Apple Watches
may make it possible for re-
searchers to find diverse groups
of research subjects.
When Apple launched Re-
searchKit, there were already
companies — many of them start-
ups — charging for similar ser-
vices. Naturally, they viewed Ap-
ple as a competitor with the
potential to dominate the space.
“When ResearchKit came out, I
thought we were toast,” said Mat-
thew Amsden, CEO of ProofPilot,

Apple CEO Tim Cook speaks during a fall product launch Tuesday at its Silicon Valley campus in
California. The company highlighted vignettes of how the Apple Watch can foster wellness.

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Egremont Russet apples sit in a crate after harvest at a farm in
Egerton, England. A parliamentary committee said Britain’s break
from the European Union poses a bigger threat to the country’s food
supplies than the coronavirus pandemic.
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