Pink slime, the ‘two-pizza rule’ and Apple’s ‘biggest brain’

Planet Business: Board of Trade nostalgia in Britain, while Australia sets a new record

Press in San José are lured to Apple’s new baby, the HomePod smart speaker. Photograph: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez.

Press in San José are lured to Apple’s new baby, the HomePod smart speaker. Photograph: AP / Marcio Jose Sanchez.

 

Image of the week: Apple yarn

From certain angles, Apple’s new HomePod speaker looks remarkably like a roll of yarn. From others, it’s definitely about to attack the USS Enterprise. Either way, the new Apple toy was the subject of many a photographer’s professional eye this week as it was unveiled at Apple’s worldwide developers conference in San José, California. This was a red carpet of a debut for a product Apple modestly claims will “reinvent” home music. It will apparently do this in exchange for $349 – a price tag dubbed “aspirational” by some analysts, and “a seriously big ask” by others. Apple slagged off the competition (Sonos, Amazon Echo), insisting that its voice-activated speaker had “the biggest brain”. This latest lifestyle weapon most likely won’t reach the euro zone until 2018.

In numbers: Pink slime

$5.7 billion

Sum that South Dakota’s Beef Products Inc is suing the US network ABC News for in a record libel case after ABC dubbed its products “pink slime”.

137

Number of times that ABC’s reporter used the term “pink slime” about what the industry prefers to call “lean finely-textured beef”.

80

Percentage drop in revenues at the meat processor, which it attributes to “fake news” by Disney-owned ABC. The network says its reporting was in the public interest and that it may have even understated the dangers.

The lexicon: Two-pizza rule

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos doesn’t like unnecessary meetings, although it seems he’s a fan of pizzas. When he absolutely has to have a meeting, he has a golden rule. Never have a meeting where two pizzas couldn’t feed everyone in the room. That means strictly one-to-ones, then, right? Sadly, the number of people that Bezos believes two pizzas of unspecified size and quality can feed is not recorded, but let’s overlook these critical variables and focus on the principle, which is that too many people at the table turn meetings into unproductive talking shops. So no decorative “room meat”, then, for Bezos. Vital personnel only. Hands off his pepperoni. The key, er, takeaway here? All meetings should have pizzas.

Getting to know: Board of Trade

Theresa May is very clear. She prefers to the 17th century to the 21st. That’s why she has ambitions to “revive” the Board of Trade, a body that was originally known as the Lords of Trade and Plantations back when Britain still had a bunch of colonies on the other side of the Atlantic. It eventually became the Department of Trade and Industry in 1970, but that’s a bit modern for May, who wants to revert to the old name and appoint a load of trade commissioners who will sally forth around the globe in a desperate bid to find someone for the UK to be friends with post-Brexit. The Liberal Democrats, in response, pondered whether the policy idea had been written on parchment, while a Labour’s shadow trade minister wondered if communication by carrier pigeon was next.

The list: Bust-free Australia

Australia has racked up a record 103 consecutive quarters without a recession, meaning its economy did not decline by two consecutive quarters during that whole time. As its gross domestic product (GDP) grew 0.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, it will complete 26 years without a recession this quarter, whatever happens. But why?

1: China. Over the past two decades, China has wanted iron ore and there’s plenty of it to extract from the ground in Western Australia.

2: China. Commodity prices were driven higher in the wake of the global financial crisis by Chinese demand. They’re a little more volatile now, though.

3: China. Other exports to Australia’s number-one market – agricultural goods, tourism – haven’t been doing too shabbily either.

4: Financial services. The banking sector is a big employer and has been described as “the new mining boom”, which might be wishful thinking.

5: Government policies. Spend now, regret later.