Cat robots that bite, Apple’s $3tn first and BlackBerry’s Waterloo

Planet Business: Cancelling January, one event at a time

Image of the week: What happens in Vegas

Congratulations to Yukai Engineering for delivering the first great "but why?" of 2022. The Tokyo company has fully embraced the spirit of Las Vegas's annual Consumer Electronics Show by exhibiting Amagami Ham Ham, a stuffed cat robot that comes in two models, Yuzu and Kotaro, both of which are characters from a toy line by Japanese manufacturer Liv Heart.

The important thing to know about Amagami Ham Ham is that it bites. Well, it nibbles on your fingertip, a “somewhat pleasing sensation”, the makers claim, having been programmed with an algorithm branded a “Hamgorithm” that selects one of 24 nibbling patterns from “massaging” to “suction”. A crowdfunding campaign to make this product a retail reality is expected to follow in the spring, assuming civilisation hasn’t completely collapsed by then.

In numbers: Three times a trillionaire

$3 trillion
New year, new goals: on Monday Apple became the first company in the world to breach a stock market valuation of $3 trillion. (That's a three followed by 12 zeroes.)

Months since Apple surged past a mere $2 trillion in value, thanks to soaring demand for iPhones, MacBooks and even iPads during the pandemic.


Percentage of the value of Wall Street's S&P 500 index that Apple accounted for earlier this week, according to Refinitiv data. That's the highest for a single stock in the history of the index.

Getting to know: John Chen

John Chen is the chief executive of BlackBerry Ltd, originally known as Research in Motion, the Canadian technology company that gifted the world the BlackBerry, the pre-iPhone smartphone dubbed the CrackBerry by those over-attached to their devices.

But amid the declining relevance of its phones, the Waterloo, Ontario-based company stopped making hardware in 2017, doubling down on its cybersecurity software instead.

This week Chen, who has led this great pivot since 2013, announced the final decommissioning, pulling the plug on the infrastructure and services used by anyone who had held on to their classic phones, meaning they will “no longer reliably function”.

Chen, who came to BlackBerry via enterprise software company Sybase, says he “vividly” remembers getting his first BlackBerry: “It seemed like more than just an object made of hard, black plastic. It was also a rite of passage,” he wrote in a blog post. Still, no time for sentiment in this new year corporate clear-out.

The list: And they’re off

An important lesson to learn from 2021 and 2022 is that you should never try to do anything in January. You should especially avoid organising an event that involves the mass gathering of people flying in from all corners. It will inevitably be cancelled, like this lot.

1 Davos In bad news for crack teams of security personnel who like to ski on the job, the World Economic Forum, traditionally held in the Swiss town of Davos, has been postponed for a second year.

2 JP Morgan healthcare conference It's never a good look to hold an in-person healthcare event while a pandemic rages, so the bank's 40th annual conference, which had been due to fill the hotel rooms of San Francisco, has gone virtual.

3 Film festivals Staying in California, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, scheduled to start this week, is off, while the Sundance festival in Utah and Rotterdam festival in the Netherlands have moved online.

4 Various CES events While the Consumer Electronics Show went ahead, multiple tech behemoths including Amazon, Facebook, Google, Intel and Microsoft declined to make the trip to the Nevada desert.

5 Donald Trump's "press conference" The event due to be held on the anniversary of the Capitol riot was cancelled not because of Covid, but because nobody except Trump thought it was a good idea.