The new data are from research firm Gartner and suggest the days of double-digit smartphone growth are over.
Check out how much worldwide smartphone sales growth has slowed
Purple Carrot’s boxed meals are now available at Whole Foods
Last week, Sarah Kessler wrote about how meal kit companies like Blue Apron and Plated are having trouble retaining customers. Recent data shows that 50% of customers stick around after their second week, and six months later, only 10% are still signed on.
Today, Purple Carrot, a plant-based meal kit delivery service, is partnering with Whole Foods to sell the boxes in stores. It might be one strategy to curb the "dine and dash" problem in the industry because customers won't feel trapped by a subscription and might be compelled by the convenience of the full set of pre-measured ingredients as they are loading up their shopping carts.
The first kits will be available at Whole Foods' flagship store in Dedham, MA and a three-meal kit will cost $19.99.
[Image via Purple Carrot] ES
Bandier and Hatch collaborate on maternity activewear
During and after pregnancy, doctors encourage women to exercise. But it can be hard to stay fit for many reasons, including the fact that many gym activities are not encouraged for pregnant women.
Today, Bandier and Hatch are releasing a six-piece capsule collection of performance activewear for pregnant and postpartum women. Along with outfits tailored to women's bodies during pregnancy, the brands using the launch to discuss wellness and self-care during this period of life, offering free prenatal fitness classes and panel discussions that demystify fitness and pregnancy.
[Image via Bandier] ES
Lively snags $4 million to take on Victoria’s Secret
Earlier this year, I wrote an in-depth story about the online underwear market, documenting how brands like Lively are taking on the giants of the industry—Victoria's Secret and Hanes—with high-tech products and less sex-heavy marketing.
This week, a direct-to-consumer brand started by a former Victoria's Secret exec, Michelle Grant, just landed $4 million in seed funding. One investor in this round was Leandra Medine, founder of the website Man Repeller.
This brings Lively's total funding to date to $5.5 million, which is still small change in the $13 billion intimates industry. Victoria's Secret brings in upwards of $1 billion in revenues annually, although the brand's sales have slowed this year and it recently slashed 200 jobs. Lively is arming itself for the fight ahead.
Morning intel: Snapchat Story views are down, Toyota recalls 5.8 million cars
• Facebook is reportedly looking into creating a product for broadcasters modeled after Instant Articles—an approach that could help assuage concerns about monetization.
• Google Fiber, Alphabet's attempt to expand internet access, is downsizing. The division is laying off about 130 employees (9% of its staff) and pulling back from eight cities.
• Snapchat Story views have been on the decline ever since the company nixed its Autoplay feature, which would automatically play the next Story when one ended. According to Digiday, view counts have decreased by 15% since the change was made.
• Delta's updated app allows you to track your bags as soon as you check them in, based on when the bag's RFID tag is scanned.
• Toyota is recalling a total of 5.8 million cars across Japan, China, and Europe due to faulty Takata airbags.
Report: Google Fiber to lay off 9% of its staff, pull back from 8 different cities
Google parent Alphabet is dramatically cutting back on its ambitious plans to expand its Fiber internet service nationwide and disrupt the entire broadband market. It is letting go about 9% of staff (or roughly 130 employees), and top exec Craig Barratt, who leads the Access unit that includes Google Fiber, is leaving, reports Bloomberg. In a blog post, Barratt wrote that it is pulling back from eight different cities, including Dallas, Los Angeles, and Phoenix. "I suspect the sheer economics of broad-scale access deployments finally became too much for them," Jan Dawson, an analyst with Jackdaw Research, told Bloomberg. MB
This video shows Uber’s robot truck delivering 45,000 cans of Budweiser
In what's being called the first-ever autonomous delivery, Uber's self-driving truck startup Otto just delivered 45,000 cans of beer for Budweiser. The robot truck drove the precious cargo on I-25 from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, Colorado. "The driver was out of the driver's seat during the entire 120-mile stretch of highway," notes the video. Uber acquired Otto in August for $700 million, and the company is set to launch UberFreight, a service matching truck drivers and fleet managers with freight waiting to be shipped.
Through a new partnership with IBM’s Watson, GM cars will now remind you of all the errands you still have to do
Through a new partnership, IBM Watson's will add some powerful artificial intelligence to GM's OnStar service, allowing drivers to "connect and interact with their favorite brands." Now drivers will get "personalized experiences" on iHeartRadio based on their listening history, will be guided to the nearest Exxon and Mobil gas stations as soon as their gas tank nears empty, and even be reminded to pick up diapers a few miles before arriving home via Watson Personality Insights APIs. The upgraded OnStar Go will be available in more than 2 million 4G LTE-connected vehicles by the end of 2017. [Image: GM]
Samsung Pay strikes deal with MasterCard to tackle online checkout
Since its launch, Samsung Pay has kept its mobile payment method focused on physical checkout while competing wallets pushed their tap-to-pay technology inside apps. But this week Samsung (finally!) decided to make Pay e-commerce friendly. On Wednesday the company announced a partnership with MasterCard to make Samsung Pay a form of payment in digital shopping carts through MasterPass.
The reason Samsung seems to have waited so long to introduce this functionality into its wallet is because it made a bet that the first wallet to be accepted in the most physical locations would be in stores (hence its acquisition of LoopPay). But because paying with a phone is not yet second nature, shopping inside of mobile devices may prove a better gateway for mobile wallet adoption. "Online payments accounted for more than 25% of the 2 trillion won in processed transactions, demonstrating that consumers may be actively looking for solutions to make their online experiences faster, simpler, and secure," said Thomas Ko, VP and global GM of Samsung Pay, in a statement. RR
Evening intel: Colin Powell’s with her, and Chipotle needs a miracle
• Colin Powell, the secretary of state under George W. Bush and a die-hard Republican, said he will vote for Hillary Clinton on November 8. Recall that leaked email in which Powell allegedly said he'd "rather not" have to.
• Apple Inc. beat sales estimates for the iPhone in its fourth-quarter earnings, but sales of the device are still down from last year. Apple shares are down, too.
• Bernie Sanders has weighed in on the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner Inc., saying he will press Hillary Clinton (should she become president, which she probably will) to mount a "vigorous antitrust effort."
• And finally, as Disney-owned ESPN struggles with cord-cutting and a general decline in linear TV viewing, Twitter decides to launch weekly streaming talking-heads shows for NBA fans. Nothing fishy there. CZ
”Peak iPhone” is real
Apple's Q4 earnings report left us with more questions than answers. iPhone sales look to be in a slump, but the newly released iPhone 7 was only available for two weeks during the quarter, so the future remains unclear. Add to the mix the recent developments with Google's well-reviewed Pixel and Samsung's exploding Note 7, the mobile market could be due for a shake-up.
Pandora is losing listeners as it gears up to take on Spotify
Lurking inside Pandora's latest quarterly earnings report is one of its biggest challenges: Fleeing listeners. The streaming music company–which saw its revenue grow 13% year over year–nonetheless reported a slight dip in active users from 78.1 million last year to 77.9 million.
Pandora hopes to reverse this trend by launching its own on-demand Spotify competitor later this year. While there's no guarantee that Pandora will be able to convert lots of listeners into paying subscribers, providing the option may discourage people from closing the Pandora app whenever they want to save songs or dig deeper into an artist's catalog. JPT
How Facebook is coming to terms with controversial content
At the Wall Street Journal's WSJ.D conference, the Journal's Christina Passariello interviewed Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg and chief product officer Chris Cox—and her first salvo of questions involved how the company is figuring out how to deal with controversial content such as Nick Ut's famous photo of a naked girl suffering suffering from napalm burns during the Vietnamese War, which the company initially suppressed before concluding that it was acceptable, and even important, to show.
It's a challenge that the company is continuously in the process of figuring out, especially since it isn't a traditional content site. "A media company is about the stories it tells," said Cox. "A technology company is about the tools that it builds." Facebook remains a tech company, but, as Sandberg said, "We're proud of the role we play in witnessing."
"The really important question," she added, is, 'how do we make sure that people have free expression on Facebook?'" As part of that effort, the company is working with experts on different types of problematic content—bullying, hate speech, nudity—to set the boundaries of what is and isn't acceptable.