Apple Passes Coca-Cola as Most Valuable Brand

Best Global Brands 2013

Source: Interbrand

APPLE is the new most valuable brand in the world, according to a closely followed annual report.

adco-articleInlineThe report, to be released on Monday, is from Interbrand, a corporate identity and brand consulting company owned by the Omnicom Group that has been compiling what it calls the Best Global Brands report since 2000. The previous No. 1 brand, Coca-Cola, fell to No. 3.

Not only has Apple replaced Coca-Cola as first among the 100 most valuable brands based on criteria that include financial performance, this is the first time that the soft drink known for slogans like “It’s the real thing” has not been No. 1.

Apple’s arrival in the top spot was perhaps “a matter of time,” Jez Frampton, global chief executive at Interbrand, said in a recent interview. Apple was No. 2 last year, climbing from No. 8 in the 2011 report.

“What is it they say, ‘Long live the king’?” Mr. Frampton asked. “This year, the king is Apple.”

The 2013 report begins: “Every so often, a company changes our lives, not just with its products, but with its ethos. This is why, following Coca-Cola’s 13-year run at the top of Best Global Brands, Interbrand has a new No. 1 — Apple.”

The report estimates the value of the Apple brand at $98.3 billion, up 28 percent from the 2012 report. The value of the Coca-Cola brand also rose, by 2 percent to $79.2 billion, but that was not sufficient to give Coca-Cola a 14th year as Interbrand’s most valuable brand.

Although “Coca-Cola is an efficient, outstanding brand marketer, no doubt about it,” Mr. Frampton said, Apple and other leading technology brands have become “very much the poster child of the marketing community.”

That is underscored by the brand in second place in the new report: Google, which rose from fourth place last year. In fact, of the top 10 Best Global Brands for 2013, five are in technology: Apple; Google; Microsoft, No. 5, unchanged from last year; Samsung, 8, compared with 9 last year; and Intel, 9, compared with 8 last year.

Samsung’s ascent followed the company’s adoption of a new brand strategy called the Brand Ideal, which includes “a greater focus on social purpose,” Sue Shim, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Samsung, said by e-mail. That reflected research indicating American consumers would switch brands to “one that was associated with improving people’s lives,” she added.

I.B.M. — No. 4 in 2013, down a notch from 2012 — is ranked as a business services brand. Otherwise, technology would account for six of the top 10.

“Brands like Apple and Google and Samsung are changing our behavior: how we buy, how we communicate with each other, even whether we speak with each other,” Mr. Frampton said. “They have literally changed the way we live our lives.”

Among other transformative technology brands that performed well in the new report was Facebook, which climbed to 52 from 69 last year, its first year on the list.

However, not all technology brands fared well. BlackBerry, which tumbled last year to 93 from 56 in 2011, has disappeared from the list. And Nokia, which dropped to 19 from 14 in 2011, finished this year in 57th place — “the biggest faller” among the 100, Mr. Frampton said.

Among nontechnology brands, a notable addition to the list was Chevrolet, at 89, the first General Motors brand to rank among the Best Global Brands.

“It feels good to hit the list for the first time,” Alan Batey, global head of Chevrolet at G.M., said in a telephone interview. “It’s a great first step, but we’ve got a long way to go. There are a lot of big brands in front of us.”

The milestone reflects how General Motors has been “making a conscious effort to globalize Chevrolet,” Mr. Batey said, selling the brand in 140 countries in ads that play up attributes like “value for money and designs that move hearts and minds.”

Commonwealth, the creative agency for Chevrolet, “played a key role” in helping the brand make the list, he added. Commonwealth is part of the McCann Worldgroup division of the Interpublic Group of Companies.

Last year, when Coca-Cola finished atop the Best Global Brands list for the 13th consecutive time, an executive at the Coca-Cola Company acknowledged the streak but noted that “nothing lasts forever.”

A year later, the executive, Joseph V. Tripodi, executive vice president and chief marketing and commercial leadership officer, had this reaction: “Of course, we would like to remain on top of the list forever. That said, we are honored to continue to be included among such an esteemed group of global brands, and we congratulate Apple and Google, both valued partners of ours.”

“We’ve seen the value of technology brands rise as they create new ways for people to stay connected virtually,” Mr. Tripodi said by e-mail. “We understand this, as the lasting power of our brand is built on the social moment of sharing a Coca-Cola with friends and family.”

“Creating these simple moments and delivering on our brand promise each and every day remains our focus,” he added, “as we continue to grow the value of brand Coca-Cola for decades to come.”

If it is consolation, Coca-Cola remains far ahead of Apple and Google in likes on Facebook fan pages. Coca-Cola has 73.2 million, compared with 9.8 million for Apple and 15.1 million for Google.

Source: The New York Times

Blackberry in $4.7bn takeover deal with Fairfax

On Friday, Blackberry announced 4,500 jobs cuts in a bid to stem huge financial losses.

Blackberry said in statement that Fairfax, its largest shareholder with about 10% of the stock, had offered $9 a share in cash to buy the company.

But Blackberry said it would continue to explore other options while negotiations with Fairfax continued.

On Friday, Blackberry announced 4,500 jobs cuts in a bid to stem losses.

The Canadian company said it expected to make a loss of up to $1bn after poor sales of its new handsets. In August, Blackberry said it was evaluating a possible sale.

On Monday, the company announced that it had “signed a letter of intent agreement under which a consortium to be led by Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited has offered to acquire the company subject to due diligence”.

The statement continued: “Diligence is expected to be complete by November 4, 2013. The parties’ intention is to negotiate and execute a definitive transaction agreement by such date.”

However, Blackberry said it was not in exclusive talks with Fairfax and would continue to “actively solicit, receive, evaluate and potentially enter into negotiations” with other potential buyers.

Canadian billionaire Prem Watsa, Fairfax’s chairman and chief executive, said: “We believe this transaction will open an exciting new private chapter for Blackberry, its customers, carriers and employees.

“We can deliver immediate value to shareholders, while we continue the execution of a long-term strategy in a private company with a focus on delivering superior and secure enterprise solutions to Blackberry customers around the world.”

‘End game’

Brian Colello, analyst at Morningstar, said that taking Blackberry private would allow the company to reorganise without being under the glare of Wall Street investors.

He said: “Based on the company’s disastrous earnings warning on Friday, I think a deal had to happen and the sooner the better. This is probably the only out for investors and the most likely outcome.

“The benefit to this sort of takeover is the ability for Blackberry and the consortium to reinvent the company without public scrutiny. It appears that the end game is going to be whether Blackberry can emerge as a niche supplier of highly-secured phones to enterprise customers and governments.”

Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, also said that a deal with Fairfax would give Blackberry breathing space to assess its strategic options.

“Early indications suggest a retrenchment to the business market. Wider structural changes such as spinning off Blackberry Messenger and cutting back on hardware are also likely be carefully reviewed.”

Blackberry’s financial problems came to a head this year following disappointing sales of its new Z10 model smartphone.

Released in January – after many delays – the phone has failed to enthuse consumers.

Blackberry shares, which fell 17% on Friday after its jobs cut announcement, rose just over 1% on Monday.

Source: BBC News

BlackBerry lays off dozens of US sales staff

LAYOFFS: Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd cut several dozen jobs from its US sales team on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. — Reuters

LAYOFFS: Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd cut several dozen jobs from its US sales team on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter. — Reuters

Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry Ltd cut several dozen jobs from its US sales team on Monday, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

The layoffs are part of rolling job cuts that have been ongoing for several weeks, the people told the paper.

“I can confirm a small number of employees were laid off today,” a company spokesman told the newspaper, without providing additional details.

BlackBerry, which has bled market share to rivals including Apple’s iPhone and phones using Google’s Android technology, said last month it was weighing its options, which could include an outright sale.

News of the layoffs was first reported by Canadian technology blog Cantech Letter.

BlackBerry could not immediately be reached for comment by Reuters outside of regular US business hours. — Reuters

Microsoft acquiring Nokia’s phone business for $7.2 billion

REDMOND, Washington and ESPOO, Finland – Sept. 3, 2013 – Microsoft Corporation and Nokia Corporation today announced that the Boards of Directors for both companies have decided to enter into a transaction whereby Microsoft will purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, license Nokia’s patents, and license and use Nokia’s mapping services.

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Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will pay EUR 3.79 billion to purchase substantially all of Nokia’s Devices & Services business, and EUR 1.65 billion to license Nokia’s patents, for a total transaction price of EUR 5.44 billion in cash. Microsoft will draw upon its overseas cash resources to fund the transaction. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2014, subject to approval by Nokia’s shareholders, regulatory approvals and other closing conditions.

Building on the partnership with Nokia announced in February 2011 and the increasing success of Nokia’s Lumia smartphones, Microsoft aims to accelerate the growth of its share and profit in mobile devices through faster innovation, increased synergies, and unified branding and marketing. For Nokia, this transaction is expected to be significantly accretive to earnings, strengthen its financial position, and provide a solid basis for future investment in its continuing businesses.

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“It’s a bold step into the future – a win-win for employees, shareholders and consumers of both companies. Bringing these great teams together will accelerate Microsoft’s share and profits in phones, and strengthen the overall opportunities for both Microsoft and our partners across our entire family of devices and services,” said Steve Ballmer, Microsoft chief executive officer. “In addition to their innovation and strength in phones at all price points, Nokia brings proven capability and talent in critical areas such as hardware design and engineering, supply chain and manufacturing management, and hardware sales, marketing and distribution.”

“We are excited and honored to be bringing Nokia’s incredible people, technologies and assets into our Microsoft family. Given our long partnership with Nokia and the many key Nokia leaders that are joining Microsoft, we anticipate a smooth transition and great execution,” Ballmer said. “With ongoing share growth and the synergies across marketing, branding and advertising, we expect this acquisition to be accretive to our adjusted earnings per share starting in FY15, and we see significant long-term revenue and profit opportunities for our shareholders.”

“For Nokia, this is an important moment of reinvention and from a position of financial strength, we can build our next chapter,” said Risto Siilasmaa, Chairman of the Nokia Board of Directors and, following today’s announcement, Nokia Interim CEO. “After a thorough assessment of how to maximize shareholder value, including consideration of a variety of alternatives, we believe this transaction is the best path forward for Nokia and its shareholders. Additionally, the deal offers future opportunities for many Nokia employees as part of a company with the strategy, financial resources and determination to succeed in the mobile space.”

“Building on our successful partnership, we can now bring together the best of Microsoft’s software engineering with the best of Nokia’s product engineering, award-winning design, and global sales, marketing and manufacturing,” said Stephen Elop, who following today’s announcement is stepping aside as Nokia President and CEO to become Nokia Executive Vice President of Devices & Services. “With this combination of talented people, we have the opportunity to accelerate the current momentum and cutting-edge innovation of both our smart devices and mobile phone products.”

Nokia has outlined its expected focus upon the closing of the transaction in a separate press release published today.

Source: Microsoft

Trade-in your third party Apple charger!

SAFETY CONCERNS: People wanting to take part in Apple's USB Power Adapter Takeback Program must bring the unwanted chargers along with a corresponding iPod, iPad, or iPhone to an Apple Retail Store or to an authorised Apple service provider. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013

SAFETY CONCERNS: People wanting to take part in Apple’s USB Power Adapter Takeback Program must bring the unwanted chargers along with a corresponding iPod, iPad, or iPhone to an Apple Retail Store or to an authorised Apple service provider. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013

SAN FRANCISCO: Fears of dangerous shocks caused by unsanctioned chargers for Apple gadgets prompted the company on Monday to announce a trade-in programme.

Beginning on August 16, people with counterfeit or third-party power adaptors will be able to swap them for certified Apple models for the local equivalent of US$10 (RM32.36).

“Recent reports have suggested that some counterfeit and third party adapters may not be designed properly and could result in safety issues,” Apple said in a blog post.

“While not all third party adapters have an issue, we are announcing a USB Power Adapter Takeback Program to enable customers to acquire properly designed adaptors.”

People must bring the unwanted chargers along with a corresponding iPod, iPad, or iPhone to an Apple Retail Store or to an authorised Apple service provider.

Apple said device serial numbers need to be valid to qualify for the adapter trade-in programme, which will continue until October 18.

Last month, Apple began investigating reports that a women in China was electrocuted while using an iPhone that was charging. — ©AFP/Relaxnews 2013

World’s most used app… Google Maps

NO 1: Google Maps, the world's most popular app. - AFPrelaxnews 2013

NO 1: Google Maps, the world’s most popular app. – AFPrelaxnews 2013

According to newly released data recorded over the second quarter of 2013, Google Maps is the most-used smartphone app in the world.

The data, collected and correlated by digital media agency GlobalWebIndex, shows the most popular apps by usage among the world’s 969.49 million smartphone users over the second quarter of 2013.

According to the findings, Google Maps was at the very head of the top ten most actively used smartphone apps with 54% of smartphone users having accessed it in the period of the survey. Coming in second was the Facebook app, which 44% of smartphone users accessed; 35% went on YouTube via the app; and, in fourth position was the Google+ mobile app, used by 30%.

Skype came in lower down the list, being used by 22% of smartphone owners, the same percentage which accessed Facebook Messenger.

According to GlobalWebIndex the top ten most accessed apps by percentage of the world’s smartphone owners are as follows:

01.   Google Maps – 54%
02.   Facebook – 44%
03.   YouTube -35%
04.   Google+ – 30%
05.   Weixin/WeChat – 27%
06.   Twitter – 22%
07.   Skype – 22%
08.   Facebook Messenger – 22%
09.   Whatsapp – 17%
10.   Instagram – 11%

– AFPRelaxnews 2013