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Apple has been awarded the most valuable brand in the world for a second consecutive year, worth an estimated $119 billion, according to the Interbrands 2014 Best Global Brands list. There are four technology companies in the top 10 this year, though tech remains extremely fickle, forcing companies to try to adapt to changing customer demands.
"A lot of our thinking about this year's report is really around the 'Age of You,'" said Alfred DuPuy, Interbrand Executive Director.
Trailing behind Apple is Google ($107.4 billion), a 15 percent increase year-over-year, and Coca-Cola round out the top three - with IBM, Microsoft, General Electric, Samsung, Toyota, McDonald's, and Mercedes-Benz round out the top 10 overall most valued brands in the world. As an honorable mention, Facebook's value increased 86 percent, and the company jumped up to No. 29 on the list - and will likely continue to rise.
Foxconn is in the headlines again, where it's being reported that around 1,000 workers at Foxconn's factory in southwest China walked off their jobs, to go on strike. The workers are demanding higher pay, after a recent increase in production, and reduction in overtime.
The company is working with labor unions and its workers, in order to find a resolution for their issue. Foxconn has said that these strikes haven't halted production at the Chongqing production site. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that these issues started when management "continuously increased production volumes, and even required individual workers to take on tasks that used to require two workers to handle. The increase in workload wasn't compensated. Some workers are not happy because the company (Foxconn) has reduced overtime hours, a key component of their salaries".
These claims are coming from the WSJ's source, who is a Foxconn employee who wishes to remain anonymous. With around 30,000 workers at its Chongqing factory, the 1,000 or so workers on strike only represents a small number of workers, but is still a large amount of people to be on strike at once.
Ever enjoyed a Red Bull, but wondered why you didn't grow wings? Well, so did Benjamin Careathers, who has sued the energy drink company. Careathers filed a lawsuit last year with the US District Court of the South District of New York, arguing that Red Bull mislead him and consumers about their claim that "Red Bull gives you wings", as well as the claims of increased performance, concentration and reaction speed.
His suit argued: "Such deceptive conduct and practices mean that (Red Bull's) advertising and marketing is not just 'puffery,' but is instead deceptive and fraudulent and is therefore actionable". The result of his lawsuit? Red Bull agreeing to pay $13 million to settle the US class-action lawsuit, for his claims of false and misleading advertising.
The settlement includes many millions of people who had purchased at least one Red Bull in their life, over the last 12 years. Red Bull has offered class members the option of either a $10 reimbursement, or $15 worth of Red Bull products, which probably won't give you wings. This means that if you've purchased one if their energy drinks between January 1, 2002 and October 3, 2014, you can claim either of the two options from Red Bull, without proof of purchase required.
AMD has just announced its new Chief Executive Officer, with Dr. Lisa Su stepping in to replace interim CEO Rory Read. Read will stay with AMD, supporting the transition of Dr. Su as the new CEO in an advisory role, staying with the company for the rest of the year.
Before sitting down into the Iron Throne of AMD, Su was responsible for AMD's embedded and professional products, but stayed in this position for a short period of time before jumping into the position of CEO. Su was the GM of Global Business units. Su is AMD's first female CEO, with a slew of women taking serious roles in the IT industry of late.
Samsung is anticipating a massive drop in its profits for Q3 2014, with the company forecasting an operating profit of $3.8 billion for Q3 2014, which represents a massive 59.7% decline compared to the same three-month period from 2013. Total sales for the quarter are expected to be at around $43.9 billion, which is a 20% drop from the same quarter of 2013.
Analysts had expected much better results from the company, which just launched its Galaxy Note 4, and has had an extremely good run with its Galaxy S5 smartphone. But, these declines are going to represent the biggest the company has experienced in five years. Analysts were expecting the South Korean electronics giant to have operating profits drop by 42% to $5.52 billion, while sales were pegged at dropping 14% to $47.6 billion.
Right now, according to Sanford Bernstein analyst Mark Newman, Samsung's only strong spot on its upcoming earnings report is its memory department.
The lack of central-backing of bitcoin, among other long-term concerns, has left investors worried about bitcoin - and the value of the most popular cryptocurrency dropped to just $290.83 over the weekend. The sudden decrease was a shocking 18 percent drop in less than 24 hours, though have increased at the start of the week back up to $330.
"It's actually a lot harder to get bitcoins than it is to spend them and there have been some suggestions that that's caused a supply/demand imbalance... PayPal integration would also improve that onboarding process," said Hugh Madden, bitcoin exchange ANX co-founder.
It's true that a growing number of companies are accepting bitcoin payments from customers, but the cryptocurrency's volatility, related to speculative trading, will remain a problem that won't go away anytime soon.
During the Sibos 2014 financial services industry in Boston, Bill Gates weighed in on the Bitcoin discussion, where he was asked about the digital currency and its potential to ease the cost of payment transactions for moving money from one place to another.
Gates was in favor of Bitcoin, where he said: "Bitcoin is exciting because it shows how cheap it can be. Bitcoin is better than currency in that you don't have to be physically in the same place and, of course, for large transactions, currency can get pretty inconvenient". Gates said that there will be a time in the near future where financial transactions will "be digital, universal and almost free".
Although Gates had positive things to say about Bitcoin, it wasn't all good news, as he is worried over the anonymity of the digital currency. He added: "The customers we're talking about aren't trying to be anonymous. They're willing to be known, so Bitcoin technology is key and you can add to it or you could build a similar technology where there's enough attribution where people feel comfortable that this is nothing to do with terrorism or any type of money laundering". After the mammoth year Gates had this year, I'm interested why he's not investing heavily into Bitcoin, yet?
According to The Wall Street Journal's sources, HP could be splitting itself into two separate companies, under the same roof. One side of the new HP would deal with its PC and printer operations, while the other would do software and services to its corporate and enterprise customers.
We should hear about the deal sometime today, according to The Journal's sources, with the separation to take place sometime in 2015. This could all be part of Meg Whitman's plans, as the fresh CEO of HP, joining back in 2011, promising a five-year restructuring project. This restructuring project included a major overhaul of the printer and PC business in 2012, and layoffs totaling 45,000 staff, which saves the company some $4.5 billion per year.
Microsoft might not make much money from its Windows Phone division, but that doesn't matter: it makes up for it in droves with the royalty fees from Android handset owners such as Samsung and HTC. It was recently revealed that Samsung has handed over $1 billion per year to Microsoft for the use of these royalties, making Microsoft bundles of cash for doing, well, not much at all.
Considering the Entertainment and Devices Division, where the Xbox brand, Kinect and Xbox Live sit, oh and not to mention Skype, and Windows Phone, only made $848 million last year - the $1 billion Microsoft raked in from Samsung means the company made more from its loyalty fees to just one company - Samsung - than it did for all of those massive brands and divisions, combined.
Remember, this is just the money Samsung pays Microsoft, and doesn't represent all of the other Android handset manufacturers on the market. Microsoft has quite the stranglehold on Android it seems, with the Chinese Ministry of Commerce approving Microsoft's purchase of Nokia having Microsoft said the authorities: "concluded after its investigation that Microsoft holds approximately 200 patent families that are necessary to build an Android smartphone".
It feels like so long ago that Facebook announced it was acquiring WhatsApp in a deal worth $19 billion in cash and stock, but the deal has just been approved by the European Union.
One of the bigger concerns about the acquisition in Europe was that the deal would hurt the communication in the telecom market, but the EU has said that the acquisition will not impact the competition. European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia said: "We have carefully reviewed this proposed acquisition and come to the conclusion that it would not hamper competition in this dynamic and growing market. Consumers will continue to have a wide choice of consumer communications apps".