Tech: Samsung pulls exploding Note 7s
Samsung said this week that it is ceasing production of its explosion-prone Galaxy Note 7 smartphone just six weeks after the devices went on sale, said Brian Chen and Choe Sang-hun in The New York Times. “The drastic move is highly unusual in the technology industry, where companies tend to keep trying to improve a product rather than pull it altogether.” But after two months of trying to fix the device, which was meant to be an iPhone rival, Samsung engineers have been unable to figure out exactly why some Note 7s spontaneously catch fire. It ’s a devastating blow for the South Korean company, which makes nearly half its revenue from smartphones.
This unprecedented fiasco “will change the smartphone industry,” said Will Oremus in Slate.com. Samsung’s reputation for reliable products is now in tatters, with customers receiving special fire-resistant boxes and gloves with which to return their devices, and the company’s shares lost some $17 billion in value this week. This disaster will hopefully lead other companies to be more careful about rushing products to market in order to best rivals. Samsung in particular has developed a reputation for jamming as many features as possible into its phones with tight production deadlines. Maybe, just maybe, the “insane smartphone hype race” will finally slow down.
Economy: Job creation remains steady
“U.S. companies maintained their steady pace of hiring in September,” said Chico Harlan in The Washington Post, with the economy adding 156,000 new jobs, according to data released last week. The unemployment rate ticked up from 4.9 to 5 percent, but “largely because the labor force swelled with scores of new would-be workers.” Although the new jobs figures were slightly below analysts’ expectations, the September report continues a long stretch of reliable hiring, with the nation adding an average of roughly 182,000 jobs per month this year.
Courts: Consumer watchdog ruled unconstitutional
The government’s independent consumer protection agency, created in the wake of the financial crisis, now has a shorter leash, said Kevin McCoy in USA Today. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled this week that the structure of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional, because its chief is only “loosely accountable to the president,” a setup the judges called a “gross departure from settled historical practice.” The ruling makes CFPB Director Richard Cordray removable by the president at any time and for any reason. The agency has not yet said whether it will appeal.
Food: Amazon plans convenience stores
“Amazon is pushing deeper into the grocery business,” said Greg Bensinger and Laura Stevens in The Wall Street Journal. The e- commerce giant plans to build its own convenience stores selling “produce, milk, meats, and other perishable items,” according to people familiar with the matter. The company is also looking to introduce curbside pickup locations for online grocery orders, and is even developing license-plate reading technology “to speed wait times.” The grocery stores will be open to customers of the AmazonFresh grocery delivery service, available to Amazon Prime members for $15 per month.
Energy: OPEC keeps pumping oil despite cap deal
OPEC oil production hit a record high in September, even though members struck a deal that same month to cut supply and end a crude glut that has depressed prices for two years, said Ivana Kottasova in CNN.com. The energy cartel’s crude production soared to nearly 33.4 million barrels a day last month, some 1.3 million barrels above last year’s daily production average. Member states Libya, Iran, and Nigeria were exempted from the cap, and they are now eager to boost production after recent oil-industry woes.
Why moms might be the best workers
“Kids, it seems, are the ultimate efficiency hack,” said Jenny Anderson in Qz.com. Despite the fact that women with children receive 10 to 15_percent less pay than peers without kids, a working paper from the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis suggests parents are actually the superior performers. The study, which looked at the published work of nearly 10,000 economists, found that women with children produced more work than their childless colleagues “at nearly every stage” of a typical 30-year career. This proved to be true despite dips in productivity of 15 to 17_per cent while raising toddlers, compared with those with no kids. But the women studied made up for that lost output “by being hyperproductive” before having children and then again while they were growing. The crash course i n extreme multitasking that comes with kids probably doesn’t hurt, either.