Planet Business

The ‘Grand Mac’, the ‘tough phone’ market and why it’s good to be a data scientist

 

Image of the week: Little, Medium and Big Mac

First developed in the 1960s, the Big Mac, like its parent company, has been showing its age, and the great minds at McDonald’s have now determined that it is not the taste that’s the fundamental issue, but the size. So, give a cheesy hello to “Mac Jr” and (doing its bit for the obesity crisis) the “Grand Mac”. These bigger and smaller versions of the fast food chain’s signature burger are being tested in parts of Ohio and Texas and may eventually be rolled out across the US. Elsewhere, it’s trialling “all you can eat” fries. Of course, everyone knows McDonald’s hasn’t been the same since it lost its ketchup contract with Heinz.

Photograph: McDonald’s via AP

In Numbers: Clocking off

3

People aged 40 and over perform at their best if they work just three days a week, according to very clever economic researchers in Melbourne, Australia, who seem determined to give new meaning to the phrase “life begins at 40”.

25

Optimal number of hours that people should work, according to the report, which concluded work was a double-edged sword that could “stimulate brain activity” while at the same time causing fatigue and stress that “potentially damage cognitive functions”.

6,500

The work habits and brain test results of this number of 40-plus men and women in Australia were analysed in the study – a generous Kickstarter donation to any researchers who fancy replicating it for the under 40s.

The Lexicon: Tough phones

Yes, miracles happen, and when you drop your smartphone on a hard-tiled floor, sometimes it doesn’t smash and it’s okay to stop screaming. But beyond the mainstream, there is an actual market for properly sturdy “tough phones”. Construction giant Dewalt has joined rival company Caterpillar by putting its brand to tougher devices that can survive a long drop on to concrete and can operate in all manner of hideous temperatures. So-called tough phones must be water and dust proof and they have to be robust enough to be operated with gloved hands, James Booker of British company Tuffphones told BBC News. The good news is they also have bigger batteries.

Getting to know: Starboard Value

New York-based Starboard Value is the “activist” hedge fund pushing the sale of one-time Silicon Valley golden child Yahoo – and it’s pushing it hard. In March, it launched a proxy fight to remove Yahoo’s entire board, not just its under-fire chief executive Marissa Mayer. Trust is somewhat lacking between Yahoo’s management and Starboard Value’s chief executive Jeff Smith, who cites a litany of promised strategic moves that never transpired. The number one thing it wants now is a sale of the core Yahoo business to the highest bidder – if a bidder “cared enough for it”, they might even pay more than $10 billion for the pleasure. But Smith has also questioned the “capability and credibility” of the management to follow it through.

The list: Best jobs of 2016

US recruitment site CareerCast.com has come up with its annual list of the best and worst jobs based on income, sector outlook, stress levels and other factors.

For the third consecutive year, “newspaper reporter” came bottom out of 200 jobs considered. So that’s nice. But which jobs were rated highest?

5 Diagnostic Medical Sonographer People who know how to read ultrasounds beyond “It’s a boy!” will find themselves in much demand as the technology advances.

4 Audiologist Calling all experts on hearing problems and balance disorders, there are vestibular abnormalities out there that need your help right now.

3 Information Security Analyst The volume of “sensitive content” stored in “the cloud” has made this job title a synonym for “competitively salaried person with lots of disposable income”.

2 Statistician It’s the second-best job out there in 2016, says CareerCast. You can prove anything with facts.

1 Data Scientist It’s a lucrative profession in a high-growth sector. We would offer some empirical evidence for this, but as a humble newspaper reporter, we’re struggling with the difference between “data scientist” and “statistician”.

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