The Week in Mobile: October 23 – 29, 2016


Apple year-over-year revenue decline, Microsoft open-sources Cognitive Toolkit, Shake Shack goes mobile and more

Each week we round up the top news stories, think pieces and other content that centers on the fast-paced, quickly changing world of mobile technology. We tell you which companies are employing clever mobile strategies, illuminate new ways of thinking about mobile and offer a peek at meaningful trends in the industry. This content is designed to inspire you and your company to take advantage of the many benefits mobile can offer.

Apple’s Revenue Declines for First Time in 15 Years

At the end of the 2016 fiscal year, Apple’s revenue dropped to $217 billion, marking a $16 billion decline year-over-year. The decline is the first in 15 years and follows a three-month drop in iPhone sales. However, the company expects to see an improvement in sales over the holidays, as the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus continue to be in high demand. While Apple has been able to keep up with demand for the iPhone 7, the company has been unable to keep pace for the iPhone 7 Plus. And Tim Cook says he’s “not sure” if the company will be able to meet those demands by the end of the year.

Overall, smartphone sales growth has slowed, but are still increasing. According to a report from Gfk, smartphone sales are up by 6.6 percent year-over-year due to expansion in China. The outlook isn’t as positive for the smartwatch market. According to IDC, smartwatch shipments were down by 51.6 percent in Q3 2016 compared to Q3 2015.

Google Expands Android Pay with Visa and Mastercard

Google is partnering with Visa and Mastercard to bring Android Pay to hundreds of thousands of additional online sites. In early 2017, Android Pay users will be able to make mobile payments on websites where digital payment systems Visa Checkout and Masterpass are accepted. Meanwhile, Samsung Pay penned a similar deal with Mastercard in order to bring the payment technology to online retailers for the first time. In the coming months, websites supporting Masterpass will also accept Samsung mobile payments.

Microsoft Unlocks AI with Open Source Cognitive Toolkit

Microsoft is unlocking its deep learning technology for third-party developers with the public release of its Cognitive Toolkit, which is now open source and available on GitHub. That means developers will have access to the same tools Microsoft has used to create its speech recognition technology, Skype Translator and Cortana. What’s more, Cognitive Toolkit is fast and can function on a solo laptop, so anyone — from independent developer to established company — can leverage the technology.

Snap(chat) Raising Funds in Advance of IPO

Following Snap’s decision to drop the “chat”, the company announced that it is working to raise as much as $4 billion in its upcoming IPO, which is being led by Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs. If Snap is able to raise the funds, the result could be a valuation of as much as $35 billion. It is still unclear when Snap plans to file for the IPO, but it’ll likely be early next year according to experts.

Shake Shack Rolls Out Mobile Ordering

Popular east coast burger chain, Shake Shack, is embracing mobility with a new app that allows users to place orders from their smartphone. For now, the app can only be used at Shake Shack’s original location in Manhattan and the company has not released a timeline for additional roll out. However, following a growing trend of order-ahead apps, it’s likely Shake Shack will expand the program to serve customers nationwide once testing is complete.

Bank of America Introduces Banking Bot

Bank of America introduced its first bot, an AI assistant named Erica (it’s going to be hard to keep up with all these bot names), that will use predictive analytics to help customers monitor personal spending. The bot will be available through Bank of America’s mobile app starting next year. Once officially launched, users will be able to engage with Erica via voice command or text in order to track spending habits and identify new ways to save money. Erica’s alerts and advice are supplemented by articles and videos that provide more information. BoA has also partnered with Facebook to create a bot for Messenger.

Continental Unveils Smartphone Car Key

You may never have to worry about misplacing your car keys or fob again thanks to auto supplier, Continental. The company introduced a new digital key system that allows users to unlock and start their car using a smartphone. Digital keys housed on a user’s smartphone communicate with supporting vehicles over Bluetooth. According to Continental, the technology will be available in a yet-to-be-named 2018 car model.