What’s New With Apple?

8024486It’s time.

The world’s been holding its breath … the iPhone 6 has arrived.

At this point, for me at least, nothing is shocking anymore. Nothing is so new that I cannot contain myself and I MUST own the new iPhone immediately!

According to a recent article in Forbes, this will be Apple’s most challenging launch. Why? Because for once, Apple is actually late to a trend. Last week the rumors of an extra-large iPhone were confirmed when Apple announced the new design for the 6. Apparently, the latest trend in smartphones is to make them “phablet” size. This word was just recently added to my vocabulary, and the best way to define it is as what would happen if a smartphone and a tablet had a baby — a phablet.

This particular smartphone design has proven to be most successful in developing nations because it is small enough to be a phone, yet large enough to function much like a tablet for watching videos and other such activities.

The Forbes article gives some statistics, “Over 70% of Internet users in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa, 47% in Saudi Arabia and 44% in India use their smartphones to watch online video.”

I understand and appreciate the many benefits of this phablet phenomenon, but for me, I think I’ll stick with my pocket-sized iPhone 5.

———-

Paige Ferise, a sophomore at Butler University, is interning in the Indiana Chamber communications department this summer.

Kiplinger: Heavy Load for the BRICS

The economic engines of the BRICS (that's South Africa added to Brazil, Russia, India and China) countries are slowing down a bit, according to analysts from Kiplinger. Of course, there is still growth expected in each of the countries.

(By the way, our latest BizVoice magazine features a story on international business but skips the BRIC contingent. South Africa is included in a much larger look at business prospects in all of Africa. Check it out online or in our interactive version).

Back to the BRICS, here's what Kiplinger has to say:

  • Brazil: 2% growth this year and not much more in 2014, partially due to reduced exports to China and continued union protests
  • Russia: About 2.5% this year, maybe 3.5% next. A $14 billion investment in infrastructure and small business lending will help, but hostile climate toward overseas capital is a long-term problem
  • India: 5%, a drop from the 8% annual growth for much of the past decade. High inflation (10%) and decreases in investment and savings rates are troublesome
  • China: 7% this year and slightly more in 2014. Wage increases will make it difficult to maintain massive government investment
  • South Africa: 2%, a drop from 2.5% in 2012, with a similar outlook for 2014

Guest Blog: Reset Africa; Obama Tours the Continent

The following is a guest blog by Asoka Ranaweera, managing partner of Grid2Grid LLC, a company based in Washington, D.C. that advises investors on structuring investments and developing projects in West, East and Central Africa. Ranaweera penned this back in July, and was a source in our upcoming BizVoice story, "Africa Under Construction," set for release in the new edition next week.

I am sitting in a hotel in Dar es Salaam Tanzania. The town is buzzing with anticipation and excitement. Any day now, President Obama will touch down and thousands of Tanzanians will be out to greet him. Everywhere you go and almost everyone you speak to will have something positive to say about our President and Michelle Obama.

By some remarkable coincidence, President George W. Bush and Laura Bush are also in town. President Bush is on a regional tour, and is fondly remembered by many Africans for providing billions of dollars in funding for combating AIDS and for starting the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), which has had a significant impact in countries like Tanzania.

As I ponder the countless hours of traffic jams, security roadblocks and searches to come, my attention wanders toward the hotel bar. I see a large group of Chinese businessmen and women enjoying a drink and chatting animatedly. Dar es Salaam is abuzz not just with Obama’s visit, but also by the sounds of an economy growing at an average of 7% per annum.

Wherever you might look in Tanzania, you will find Africans, Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and Arabs vying for a slice of Tanzania’s economic growth and business. Meanwhile, as I left Washington, D.C. for Dar es Salaam, President Obama was getting some flak for embarking on a weeklong tour of Africa at the expense of U.S. taxpayers.

Rather than thinking about Africa as a place where development is now taking place rapidly, many in the American press still view it from a 1980s perspective. Meanwhile, Brazil, Russia, India, China, Turkey and many other countries are increasingly seeing Africa as a land of opportunity, a place to trade, invest and to develop bilateral relations with African people.

Africa is where all the economic action is taking place these days with 15 of the 20 fastest growing economies and approximately 300 million people attaining middle-class status in the last 20 years, according to the African Development Bank (AFDB). It’s possible that in the years to come, Africa will overtake Asia to become the fastest growing region of the world.

In 2009, President Obama visited Africa for about 20 hours. His election at the time energized many Africans into believing that his Kenyan heritage would lead to greater cooperation between Americans and Africans. Unfortunately, that never panned out; President Obama and his administration had huge domestic challenges to overcome such as the global financial crisis, which we are all still recovering from.

As we entered the recession, many Americans realized that Africa — a continent long associated with starving children, conflict diamonds and corrupt dictators — was growing and that altogether a new dynamic was shaping it. And we also came to the understanding that countries such as China had come to have a profound impact on the continent and that Africa was now a destination for business, trade and investment. Thus after more than four years of being primarily absent from the scene directly, President Obama is finally back, and this time his advisors say it is with the intention to “reset relations with Africa."

Afrophiles hope that this could be the beginning of a more concerted and directed engagement with the continent, especially in light of the fact that many people both at home and in Africa believe that this belated engagement has its roots more in economic competition than anything else.

Interestingly enough, from my experience America is more welcomed and viewed in higher terms in Africa than in any other part of the world. Africans feel a strong affinity for all things American and have been yearning for our support and partnerships. Africans in this generation are more likely to ask for investment and trade projects to promote bilateral investment than that dreaded term, "aid." And so the dynamic today is so much more different than it was.

As I get ready to leave the hotel for a meeting downtown, I hear a few Tanzanians discussing what President Obama will be doing in the country. It turns out he will be visiting Symbion, a U.S. company that is playing a significant role in the power generation sector. I am relieved to hear we as American business people are doing something constructive with the Tanzanian people.

As I am being driven through the streets of downtown Dar es Salaam, we almost collide with a high speed convoy. And I am told that we just saw Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse on his way to the statehouse. It turns out this is the first official state visit to Africa by a Sri Lankan leader; times have really changed and I hope we hit that Africa relations reset button sooner rather than later.

Education: Can We Learn from Finland?

Film maker and entrepreneur Bob Compton recently spoke to our friend Gerry Dick at Inside INdiana Business about his new film, "The Finland Phenomenon." The film analyzes the differences in our cultures, and how academic achievement is rewarded in the country. It also examines how Finland seems to take a more practical approach to education, where many students don’t embark on "a forced march" to attend college, but become well-educated to fill valuable roles in the country’s workforce.

Compton’s previous film on education, "2 Million Minutes," earned much notoriety — and criticism — for his comparisons of Indiana’s educational system to that of India and China.

Business Potpourri: Did You Know …?

A weekend-plus of reading left me with a few business-related nuggets to share:

  • According to one respected analysis, 38 state economies are growing. Seven (Wyoming, New Mexico, Minnesota, Illinois, Maryland, West Virginia and Rhode Island) are expected to turn around soon; two (Maine and Mississippi) should reach that point early next year; and three (Nevada, Michigan and Georgia) are still in the waiting game.
  • Twenty years ago, employee performance pay (bonuses, incentives, stock options, etc.) accounted for less than 4% of total payrollls; today, that number is at 12% and growing.
  • Cell phone applications are all the rage, with a new one intended to help avoid rage on the road. It will assist with finding the nearest E85, biodiesel, hydrogen or other fuel station, along with where you can charge up your electric vehicle.
  • Within 20 years or so, four countries (China, India, South Africa and Brazil) will account for 40% of the world’s water use.
  • California is not expected to gain any additional seats in the House of Representatives — marking the first time that will have happened since the state joined the union in 1850.
  • A simple retail sales greeting chance may make a big difference. Instead of “Can I help you?” and getting, “No, thanks, I’m just looking,” as a response, try  “Hello. What brings you into the store today?”
  • Pointing out problems within an organization is OK unless it develops into a culture of complaints. One way to keep the whining under control is to require that all complaints be accompanied by at least one proposed solution. This will force people to take a closer look at the problem, and often they’ll realize it’s not that big of an issue after all. Or they may have a legitimate complaint and now they are focused on solutions instead of just problems.
  • The once-required white page phone directories are becoming a thing of the past. In three states (Florida, Oklahoma and Ohio) where distribution is by request only, just 2% of phone users ask for a copy. Savings in paper and energy costs could be substantial.

Image is Everything in a Greener World

So who’s the greenest of them all? If perception is reality, then AdvertisingAge has the answer. This report illustrates who’s done the best job of being — check that — appearing to be the greenest companies around.

Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods lead the 2010 ImagePower Green Brands Survey’s list of top 10 U.S. brands perceived to be the greenest, with Aveeno and Microsoft joining the list this year. The fifth annual study also found that in the U.S., people are more concerned about the economy than the environment, while in developing countries, such as Brazil and India, the environment takes precedence.

Making the top 10 brands list in the U.S. after Burt’s Bees and Whole Foods were, in order, Tom’s of Maine, Trader Joe’s, Google, Aveeno, S.C. Johnson, Publix, Microsoft and Ikea.

The survey, released this week, was done by WPP companies Cohn & Wolfe, Landor Associates and Penn Schoen Berland in partnership with Esty Environmental Partners, a corporate environmental strategy consultant. They did online interviews from Feb. 27 to March 24 with 9,022 people in the U.S., Brazil, China, France, Germany, India, U.K. and, for the first time, Australia.

The survey found that more than 60% of consumers around the world said they want to buy from environmentally responsible companies. In the U.S., though, 35% of those surveyed said they plan to spend more on green products, down 4% from 2009. That reflects the U.S.’ focus on economic worries. "Almost 80% of the [U.S.] consumers said they were more concerned about the economy that the environment. That’s the highest of any other country," says Russ Meyer, chief strategy officer for Landor, San Francisco.

In developing countries, however, the split goes the other way. Of those surveyed in Brazil, for example, 72% were concerned about the environment while 25% cited the economy. "India’s got a split like that, too—59% and 32%," Meyer says. "It’s interesting to see. There’s a bit of a Western bias that the West is further advanced in thinking about sustainability. India, China—those economies are already on their way to mending, and not so in Europe and the Americas."

Decade a Good One for Global Growth

Not a lot of Americans are going to look back fondly on 2009 in an economic sense. But if you expand the viewpoint to a longer time frame and make it more global in nature, a George Mason University economics professor says it was a pretty good decade.

According to Tyler Cowen, national leaders around the world are embracing the commercialization of their economies. He writes:

Putting aside the United States, which ranks third, the four most populous countries are China, India, Indonesia and Brazil, accounting for more than 40 percent of the world’s people, and all four have made great strides.

  • Indonesia had solid economic growth during the entire decade, mostly in the 5 percent to 6 percent annual range.

  • Brazil also had a consistently good decade, with growth at times exceeding 5 percent a year.

  • Elsewhere in South America, Colombia and Peru have made enormous progress and Chile is on the verge of becoming a "developed" country.

  • To be sure, in Africa, there is still enormous misery; nonetheless, overall standards of living rose in a wide variety of countries there, with economic growth for the continent as a whole at more than 5 percent in most years.

In a given year, an extra percentage point of economic growth may not seem to matter much. But, over time, the difference between annual growth of 1 percent and 2 percent determines whether you can double your standard of living every 35 years or every 70 years. At 5 percent annual economic growth, living standards double about every 14 years.

Chamber to Host Indiana Premiere of “2 Million Minutes” Sequel

Bob Compton, one of Indiana’s most successful entrepreneurs and venture capitalists, has made a sizeable splash in national education circles with his production of "2 Million Minutes," a film that compares the lives of high school students in Carmel, Indiana, to those in China and India.

On October 6, the Indiana Chamber will host the Indiana premiere of "2 Million Minutes: The 21st Century Solution," a sequel to the first film that highlights an open enrollment school in the U.S. that is teaching "average" children at an extraordinarily high academic level. This school, located in a largely low-income area, helps demonstrate that American students are capable of competing academically with the best in the world if given the right curriculum, the right teachers and the right inspiration and expectations. Learn more and view a short trailer for the film.

The Indiana premiere will be held on October 6 at 11:30 a.m. in the Indiana Chamber Conference Center. Compton will introduce the film and will lead a brief conversation following its showing. Lunch will also be provided. This is a free event but space is limited and reservations are required.

To learn more, send an e-mail to Amy Elifritz at [email protected] or call (317) 264-6865.

Survey: Asia, India in Line for More VC Dollars

Venture capital has long been concentrated in California and Massachusetts. No news there. Many people, however, will cite improved efforts in recent years by Indiana private and public sector leaders to attract those VC dollars.

The 2009 Global Venture Capital Survey, though, indicates that job might become a little more difficult in coming years. Why?

  • More than half of venture capitalists are now investing outside their home country
  • Fifty-four percent of investors anticipate working with additional international partners in the next three years
  • Asked where their dollars are most likely to go over those 36 months, the top answers were Asia, 50%; India, 43%; and South America, 36%. Only 17% forecast increased U.S. investment

There is still room for states to set themselves apart. Nearly 60% responded that government can play a key role by establishing favorable tax policies. Fifty percent noted that more support for entrepreneurial activity is also important.

On the other hand, maybe more international dollars will find their way here. Another very good reason for the U.S. to avoid protectionist policies that shut the door on international trade and investment.

Out of the ‘Slums’: Economic Lessons from an Oscar Winner

Did you watch the Oscars last night? Well, if you haven’t heard, the awards confirmed the fact that "Slumdog Millionaire" is not a bad picture. (It also confirmed that "Wolverine" is surprisingly deft at singing show tunes. Take that, Magneto.)

But according to Reason magazine’s blog, "Slumdog" is much more than an interesting tale of gameshow prowess. It also serves as an illumination on the plight of India, begging discussion about the progress the country has made by freeing up its markets and ultimately its people, and the steps it still needs to take to help its poor rise above poverty:

For decades would-be entrepreneurs staggered under the weight of corruption and bureaucracy. Want to import a computer for your business? You’d have to get permission from a bureaucrat. Want to sell food from a small cart? You’d need all kinds of licenses. 

But in the 1990s, India emerged as a high-tech powerhouse. What changed?

"In the 1990s India started liberalizing its economy," says (Shikha Dalmia, Reason Foundation senior analyst), "and it did three things: cut taxes, liberalized trade, and deregulated business." Although they failed to cut the kind of red tape that entangled Slumdog‘s orphans, the reforms did make it easier for more Indians to start businesses and hire employees.

"One IT company doesn’t just employ computer professionals," says Dalmia. "It also needs landscaping services, cleaning services, and restaurants. There was this tremendous spillover effect that allowed people to lift themselves out of poverty."

Since the early 1990s, India has cut its poverty rate in half. About 300 million Indians—equivalent to the population of the entire United States—escaped the hunger and deprivation of extreme poverty thanks to pro-market reforms that increased economic activity.

Yet here in America we’re turning away from market reform. Says Dalmia, "It’s just this great conundrum that at the same time that deregulation and markets have produced such dramatic results in India, they are falling into suspicion in America." Dalmia’s prescription for India is at odds with what politicians have chosen to "stimulate" the United States. "What India needs to do is continue apace with its liberalization effort, but expand it to include the poor. Release them from the shackles of government corruption and government bureaucracy."