Apple Worth 1 Trillion Dollars

Apple has become  the first US company to reach a market value of 1 trillion dollars ($1,000,000,000,000) . The hi-tech firm has beaten  its rivals Microsoft, Google  and Amazon to pass the magical mark. Apple’s stock is now worth $207 per share, an all-time high. If it were a country, Apple would rank 17th in the world, on par with Indonesia.

Before Apple, only China’s oil giant PetroChina made it over the 1 trillion dollar  mark  back in 2007.  It’s value declined sharply shortly afterwards when oil prices collapsed.

Apple was founded in 1976 in a California garage by Steve Jobs. In the first two decades the company was famous for producing computers. Later on Apple developed its revolutionary MP3 player, the iPod, which also saved the company from bankruptcy 20 years ago.

The iPhone, the world’s first smartphone, was introduced in 2007 and has become the company’s flagship product. Up to now over 1.3 billion iPhones have been sold. Although Apple is currently selling fewer new models, sales and profits are rising. It is also making money by selling music and apps.

In 2017, Apple  has made profits in the range of $50 billion, selling over $220 billion worth of products .

Apple may soon be joined in the 1 trillion dollar club by other hi-tech giants . Amazon and Microsoft are close to the mark and may be passing it soon.

 

Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California
Apple headquarters in Cupertino , California – Image: Daniel L. Lu

Words

  • all-time high = the highest point ever reached
  • although = while
  • bankruptcy = situation in which you have no money left and cannot pay back what you owe to others
  • collapse = here: to go down very quickly
  • close = near
  • currently = at the moment
  • decade = ten years
  • decline = to go down very fast
  • develop = to design and produce a new product
  • flagship = the best and most important product
  • found- founded = here: to start a new company
  • introduce = here: to bring to the market
  • join = to be together with others
  • market value = what a company is worth on the market
  • on par = on the same level
  • profit = the money you get by selling products and services after  your costs have been paid
  • rank = position
  • reach = get to a certain point
  • revolutionary = something completely new and different
  • rival = another company that wants to be more successful than you are
  • share = a part of a company that belongs to you
  • stock = the total value of all the company’s shares
  • value = what something is worth

New Eurostar Service Between London and Amsterdam

Eurostar, the company that operates train services between Great Britain and the European mainland through the Channel Tunnel, will start a new service between London and Amsterdam in April. The company has said that the new route is another step towards connecting major European capitals to the UK by rail.

Trains will travel twice a day between London and Amsterdam via Brussels and Rotterdam. The journey will take about three hours and 40 minutes.

Eurostar will offer tickets starting at £35 one-way, which is expected to compete with cheap budget airlines on the route between London and the Dutch capital.

The service especially targets businesspeople who prefer comfortable foot space and WiFi. In addition, Amsterdam has become increasingly popular among UK tourists. Over 4 million passengers travel between London and Amsterdam, one of Europe’s busiest air routes, every year.

Travel between the UK and Western Europe has increased strongly in the last two decadesSince the start of Eurostar services in 1994,  the number of travellers between London and Paris, Eurostar’s first route,  has doubled.

While passengers leaving London will be able to travel to Amsterdam without interruption, travellers from Amsterdam to London will be required to undergo passport and security checks in Brussels. This is only a temporary measure and only should only last until the end of 2019.

 

Eurostar high-speed train
Eurostar high-speed train – Image: Kabelleger / David Gubler

Words

  • budget airlines = airlines that offer cheap tickets, but not as many services as other airlines do
  • capital = the most important city in a country; where the government is
  • compete = here: to be able to attract as many passengers as airlines do
  • connect = link together
  • decade = ten years
  • double = to be twice as much
  • especially = above all
  • foot space = room for your legs when you sit
  • in addition = also
  • increasingly = more and more
  • interruption = to stop something
  • mainland = the European continent, without the islands that belong to it
  • major = very important
  • measure = law, action
  • offer = sell
  • one-way = only to a destination; not back again
  • operate = here: to run a service
  • popular = liked and well-known
  • prefer = like
  • require = need to; must
  • security check = here: officials check your passport and see that you don’t bring anything illegal into a country
  • service = here: a train that travels between two cities
  • step = stage, phase
  • target = aim at a certain group of people
  • temporary = only for a short time
  • twice = two times
  • undergo = here: you must do something
  • via = through; by way of
  • WiFi = wireless internet connection

Amazon Go – The First Automated Store

Amazon has opened its first automated store to the public. Amazon Go is a grocery store located on the ground level of the corporation’s Seattle headquarters.

The store, which offers food, salads and boxed meals could revolutionize our shopping experience in the future.

As soon as you arrive at the store, a cell phone app connected to an Amazon account registers your presenceEverything that happens in the store is tracked by hundreds of infrared cameras. When you pick up items from the shelves they are automatically put into your virtual shopping cart. The cameras also detect when you put an item back on the shelves and remove it from your cart. The moment you walk out your account is charged without making any physical payment.

The technologies used at Amazon Go are the same as with driverless cars –  computer tracking, weight sensors on shelves and complicated algorithms.

The 1,800 square foot store has been open to Amazon employees for a year. Now the public can also shop there.

However, not everything has been running smoothly in the store’s opening year.There were hardships to overcomeFor example, it’s hard for cameras to distinguish between different flavours or products that look the same. They also have problems handling people who move around or identifying shoppers with similar body sizes and clothes.

Even though there are no checkout counters and cashiers who make you wait in line, there are shop assistants who restock goods and help customers find their way around.

 

Amazon Go store in Seattle
Amazon Go store in Seattle – Image: SounderBruce

Words

  • account = here: the  services of a company that you use
  • algorithm = set of instructions that are followed in a fixed order and used  for solving problems
  • automated = using computers, cameras and machines
  • boxed meal = meal that has already been cooked and is ready to eat
  • cashier = person who you pay money to in a shop
  • charge = you have to pay money for the goods you buy
  • checkout counter = place where you pay for products when you leave a store
  • complicated = difficult
  • connect = link
  • corporation = big company
  • detect = discover, notice
  • distinguish = find the difference between two things
  • driverless = without a driver
  • employee = a person who works there
  • even though = although, while
  • flavour = the taste of something
  • hardships = problems, difficulties
  • headquarters = place from where a company operates
  • however = but
  • identify = find out the name of someone
  • infrared = light that gives out heat but cannot be seen
  • item = product
  • located = to be found; situated
  • overcome = solve
  • physical payment = real money you pay with in a store
  • presence = someone is present
  • public = here: everybody
  • register = record
  • restock = bring in more items to replace those that have been bought
  • revolutionize = to change completely the way you do something
  • shopping experience = the way we shop
  • similar = almost the same
  • smoothly = here: the way it should; without any problems
  • track = watch closely
  • virtual = not real; here: your Amazon account
  • weight sensor = small object that finds out if there is something on the shelf or not

Ford To Invest $11 Billion in Electric Cars

The Ford Motor Company has revealed plans to invest over $11 billion dollars in the development and production of electric cars by 2022. The announcement was made public at the Detroit Motor Show.

The American carmaker plans to produce 16 fully battery-driven vehicles and 24 hybrid cars by 2022. At the moment the Focus is the only Ford car that can be driven by batteries alone.

Apart from producing electric-driven cars for the North American market, Ford also aims at increasing sales to China, the largest growing car market in the world. In addition, it wants to become the world’s leader in fuel-efficient trucks. The car producer also plans to bring a battery-driven SUV on the market by 2020.

Instead of creating completely new electric vehicles from scratch, Ford wants to electrify cars that are already popular because people will know what they get and buy more easily.

Automobile manufacturers around the world are under pressure to develop electric cars because many large countries, including China, India, France and the U.K. have said they would phase out vehicles powered by internal combustion engines within the next two decades. They also face fierce competition from companies like Tesla, a car-maker that specialises in innovative technologies.

As battery costs are going down rapidly, carmakers may find it easier to produce electric cars with higher mileage and at cheaper prices.

 

The electric version of the Ford Focus at an Amsterdam automobile show
The electric version of the Ford Focus at an Amsterdam automobile show – Image: Overlaet

Words

  • aim = target , plan
  • announcement = official statement
  • apart from = other than
  • battery-driven = run by a battery
  • billion = a thousand million
  • competition = trying to be more successful than other companies
  • decade = ten years
  • development = working on a new product
  • electrify = make electric
  • fierce = here: strong
  • from scratch = to start something from the beginning without using anything that has existed before
  • fuel-efficient = car that burns fuel in a more effective way than usual; it does not need as much fuel as others do
  • fully = completely
  • higher mileage = here: to make an electric car that can travel more miles or kilometres before you have to recharge it
  • hybrid car = a car that has both a petrol or diesel engine and an electric motor
  • in addition = also
  • innovative = new way of doing something; often better than existing methods
  • instead of = in something’s place
  • internal combustion engine = engine that produces power by burning petrol or diesel; it is used in most cars
  • invest = spend money on …
  • make public = to say something for everyone to hear
  • manufacturer = producer
  • phase out = to slowly stop using or producing something
  • popular = well-known and liked by many people
  • production = here: making cars
  • rapidly = quickly
  • reveal = announce to many people
  • sales = selling cars
  • SUV = sport-utility vehicle = car that is bigger and is made for travelling over rough ground; mostly with a 4-wheel drive
  • under pressure = to make someone do something  by using arguments and threats
  • vehicle = a machine with a motor that is used to take people or things from one place to another

One of the Biggest Diamonds Ever Discovered in Lesotho

The fifth biggest diamond ever discovered has been unearthed in a mine in Lesotho, a small landlocked country surrounded by South Africa. The stone has a weight of 910 carats and the size of two golf balls.

The diamond is especially valuable because it belongs to a category of gems that are colourless and do not have grave impurities.

The diamond was found in the Letseng mine, which in the past has been famous for the size and quality of gems discovered there. Diamonds that come from the Lesotho mine usually sell at a high price. Since 2006 the mine has produced some remarkable diamonds, including the Lesotho Promis, a 603-carat diamond found in 2006.

The newly found diamond will now be cut into smaller stones and polished. After that, diamond traders can actually say how much the diamond is worth, probably around $40 million.

Gem, the British based company that operates the mine together with the Lesotho government, expects its shares to recover after prices fell and a new mine had to close in Botswana.

The largest diamond ever discovered is still the Cullinan, a 3,106-carat gem found near Pretoria in 1905. It was cut into several stones including the Great Star of Africa, the largest cut diamond in the world. The rest has been cut into the gems that are in the British Crown Jewels.

 

Cut and polished diamond
Cut and polished diamond – Image: Steve Jurvetson

Words

  • British-based = its main headquarters are in the U.K.
  • discover = to find for the first time
  • colourless = clear, so that you can see through it
  • Crown Jewels = objects that are a symbol of the British monarchy, kept in the Tower of London
  • especially = above all
  • gem = beautiful stone that has been cut into a special shape
  • government = people who rule a country
  • grave = serious, bad
  • impurity = object that is not very pure; with other substances that are mixed into it
  • including = also
  • landlocked = country that has no coast
  • mine = deep hole in the ground that people dig in order to find coal , gold and other metals or minerals
  • operate = to run a company; the owner of …
  • polish = to make something smooth, bright and shiny by rubbing it
  • recover = here: to go up again
  • remarkable = unusual, surprising
  • share = part of a company that belongs to an individual
  • surrounded = all around it
  • trader = person who buys and sells things
  • unearth = to dig something up from the earth
  • valuable = worth a lot of money
  • weight = how heavy something is
  • worth = how much money you can get by selling it

Equal Pay For Men and Women in Iceland

Iceland has become the first country to make it illegal to pay women less than men. The new law, which took effect on January 1, imposes a fine on companies and government organisations employing more than 25 workers if they pay men more than women. The Scandinavian country wants to eliminate the pay gap between the sexes completely within the next four years.

Iceland has been considered the world’s fairest country in terms of gender equality for the past nine years. In a country where half of the parliamentarians are female, women still earn about 15% less than men. The new Icelandic law aims at helping to change the attitude towards women in business and politics.

According to the World Economic Forum, a Swiss-based non-profit organisation,  there is a global  58 % difference in pay between the sexes.  Economic experts predict that, if the current trend continues,  women will have to wait over two hundred years to get equal pay and the same opportunities at work.

There is also a lack of female politicians. Only a quarter of the world’s politicians is female and fewer than one in five ministers are women. Only 23% of the world’s parliamentary seats go to females.

 

Women campaigning for more rights and gender equality in Iceland
Women campaigning for more rights and gender equality in Iceland – Image: Magnus Fröderberg/norden.org

Words

  • according to = as reported by …
  • aims at = wants to achieve something
  • attitude = the feelings you have about someone or something
  • considered = thought to be
  • current trend = if the situation of today goes on
  • eliminate = get rid of; do away with
  • employ = to give a person work
  • equal = the same
  • gender equality = the same chances and opportunities for men and women
  • global = worldwide
  • illegal = against the law
  • impose = to force people to accept something
  • in terms of = if you look at or observe closely
  • lack = not enough
  • law = rule or regulation that a country has
  • non-profit = to use the money you get to help other people
  • opportunities = chances
  • parliamentarian = member of parliament
  • pay gap = the difference in the amount of money men and women get for their work
  • predict = to say that something will happen in the future
  • quarter = 25%
  • seat = here: an elected member of parliament
  • Swiss-based = organisation that operates out of Switzerland
  • take effect = start; become law

China Bans Ivory Trade

China has put a ban on all ivory trade in the country.  The ban came into effect on January 1 of this year. 67 official ivory processing factories and shops were closed last year and a remaining 100 were shut down on December 31. A similar ban in the U.S. went into effect in June 2016.

The Chinese decision to stop the ivory trading business has been welcomed by the World Wildlife Fund and other organisations as a major effort in protecting the world’s elephant population. It is estimated that over 30,000 African elephants are killed every year.

Chinese citizens regard ivory as a status symbol. People buy jewellery, chopsticks and other objects made of ivory, leading to the development of one of the world’s largest ivory markets. When trading ivory was officially banned worldwide in 1990, China continued to sell it through shops and factories. The legal trade also brought illegal ivory into the country.

However, there is a major concern that the new law does not apply to HongKong, an important ivory trading hub. Authorities in the former British colony are working on a ban of their own, expected to take effect soon. On the other side, customers will probably go to Laos, Vietnam or other Asian countries, where trading laws are not so strict.

In the past year, ivory prices started to go down as more and more Chinese shops were closing. The ban will have a big impact on African countries, especially Kenya and Tanzania,  where most of the elephant poaching is taking place.

Elephant tusk with a carved decoration
Elephant tusk with a carved decoration

Words

  • apply = take effect
  • authorities = government organisations that have the power to make decisions
  • ban = to forbid something; not allow
  • citizen = a person who lives in a country and has rights there
  • concern = feeling of worry about something important
  • development = growth
  • effort = try
  • especially = above all
  • estimate = to calculate how big something is by the information that you have
  • former = in the past
  • however = but
  • into effect = start to work
  • illegal = not allowed; against the law
  • ivory = hard, smooth yellowish-white material from the long teeth of elephants
  • jewellery = small things that you wear for decoration, like necklaces or rings
  • legal = allowed by the government
  • major = important
  • official = allowed by the government
  • poaching = to shoot or catch animals illegally
  • processing = here: when you make an elephant’s tusk into jewellery and other objects
  • protect = here to keep animals safe
  • remaining = those that were left
  • similar = almost the same
  • status symbol = something that you have that you think shows high social rank or position
  • strict= here: law that must be obeyed
  • trading hub = here: a place where ivory is bought and sold
  • welcome = to be glad that something has happened
  • worldwide = around the world
  • World Wildlife Fund = organisation that tries to save and protect endangered animals

 

 

Singles Day Achieves Record $25 Billion

Singles Day is the biggest e-commerce day in the world. Organized by China’s Alibaba, shopping sales on November 11 hit a record $25 billion,  40% more than on Singles Day 2016. In contrast, Prime Day, organized by Amazon achieved only $1 billion in sales. During the Thanksgiving and Black Friday weekend of 2016 American online shoppers spent $5 billion.

Singles Day started out as an informal holiday in China, celebrating people who stayed single. Similiar to Valentine’s Day in the western world Singles Day took place on 11/11 .  In 2009, Alibaba turned it into a shopping holiday and in the past 8 years, sales have steadily increased.

Although the event targets mostly Chinese customers, shoppers came from  220 countries.  Over 80 brands took part in the event, with Nike and Xiaomi Corp. among the biggest winners.  Household goods and electrical appliances were the most bought products, but customers sought bargains for almost everything, ranging from cheap toilet paper to rice.

At its peak Alibaba’s computers handled 250 000 transactions per second, most of them coming in via mobile phones. In the weeks before the event was held, Alibaba had helped  600,000 companies upgrade their computer systems to make them fit for Singles Day.

The event was also turned into a gala in Shanghai where celebrities Nicole Kidman and tennis star Maria Sharapova counted down the seconds until the world’ largest sales event started.

Many critics of the event say that Singles Day is environmentally controversial.   It creates an enormous amount of wasteAccording to Greepeace, 1 billion packages were delivered in the days that followed the event.

Alibaba’s Singles Day is a display of Chinese spending power. The company’s owner, Jack Ma, is one of China’s richest men. He has been investing heavily in new technologies including automated stores which use facial recognition systems.

Singles Day in China
Singles Day in China – Image: Chrionexfleckeri1350

Words

  • according to = … as said by
  • achieve = here: reach a number of sales
  • automated = where everything is done automatically, without people helping
  • although = while
  • bargain = to buy something cheaply, for less money than usual
  • billion = a thousand million
  • brand = type of product made by a company
  • celebrate = here: in honour of, to show respect for
  • celebrity = famous person
  • controversial =  here: to cause a lot of disagreement
  • critic = a person who is against something
  • customer = a person who buys something
  • deliver = to bring to a person’s home
  • display = to show something
  • e-commerce = buying and selling things with computers over the Internet
  • electrical appliance = things you use at home and need electricity, like a cooker or washing machine
  • enormous = very large
  • environment = nature and the world around us
  • facial recognition = when a computer image of a person can find out who they are
  • handle = deal with
  • heavily = very much
  • household goods = things that you need in the house and use every day
  • in contrast = the difference between two things
  • including = also
  • increase = to go up
  • informal = not official
  • record = highest
  • sales = buying and selling products
  • seek – sought = look for
  • steadily = slowly
  • target = people who the event aims at; potential customers
  • transaction = here:  the sales of a single product
  • upgrade = here: to give a computer more power, so that it can do more things
  • via = by way of, through
  • waste = unwanted things that you throw away and don’t need any more

Disney Plans New Streaming Service

Entertainment giant Disney has announced that it intends to start its own streaming service in 2019. Subscription prices will be much lower than those of  Netflix and other competitors but the new service will not be able to compete with Netflix as far as quantity goes.

In addition to showing films like Toy Story 4 and Frozen 2,  Disney is also planning the production of a new Star Wars trilogy, a Star Wars TV series and several Marvel movies. The company is also working on TV adaptations of Pixar’s Monsters, Inc.

Disney will also launch a new  ESPN streaming service next year. It will feature many sports events including Major League Baseball, soccer and others.

Netflix has been streaming Disney and Pixar content for several years. Now Disney wants to pull their own content from Netflix’s services. A survey conducted shortly after the announcement of the new streaming platform showed that two out of 10 Netflix subscribers were willing to switch to Disney.

The world’s largest streaming service has announced that it will spend up to $7 billion on their own productions in 2018. They hope that focusing on original content will make viewers stay on board.

Consumers will have a tough time choosing which service offers the best content. In some cases, they may have to have several accounts in order to watch all their favourite shows and films.

Disney will produce its own Star Wars films
Disney will produce its own Star Wars films

Words

  • account = here: an agreement that lets you use a service; you have to have a username and password to log in
  • announce = to say officially, in public
  • billion = a thousand million
  • competitor = here: a business that does the same thing and wants to have more success
  • conduct = carry out
  • consumer = person who buys something or uses a service and pays for it
  • content = films and TV shows
  • focus on = concentrate on; give special attention to
  • in addition = also
  • intend = plan; if you want to do something
  • original content = the films and TV series they produce themselves, not the ones they buy from other companies
  • quantity = here: the number of TVs shows and films that people can watch
  • streaming service = a service that shows TV shows and movies on the Internet  whenever you want to see them, not when they are broadcast on a TV channel
  • subscription = here: the money you pay every month in order to watch a streaming service
  • survey =  a set  of questions you ask a number of people in order to find out what they want
  • switch = change to another service provider
  • tough = hard
  • viewer = a person who watches a TV show or movie

Vatican Bans Cigarette Sales

Pope Francis has announced that the Vatican will ban the sales of cigarettes and other tobacco products in the Roman Catholic state beginning in January 2018. A spokesperson for the Vatican said that the mini-state cannot allow the sales of a product that is clearly damaging to a person’s health.

Vatican employees, diplomats and a few other fortunate ones who have a so-called “shopping card” are allowed to buy cigarettes, groceries and even gas in the duty-free stores of the small country. Some employees have been buying cartons of cigarettes and selling them cheaply on the streets of Rome.

The Vatican earns about $11 million a year through the sales of cigarettes. Tobacco products are the second-largest source of income after tax-free gas.

Italy, which has a 22% sales tax has been urging the Vatican to stop selling products tax-free. It is thought that about 5,000 employees, diplomats and other residents are in possession of such a card and can shop in the Vatican’s stores.

Birds-eye view of the Vatican
Birds-eye view of the Vatican – Image: Dnalor_01
License CC-BY-SA 3.0

Words

  • announce = to say something officially, in public
  • ban = forbid, not allow
  • damage = to do physical harm to someone
  • duty free = sell products without paying any taxes
  • earn =  here: to get money for the products that you sell
  • employee = someone who is paid to work for someone else; worker
  • fortunate = lucky
  • groceries = food  and other goods that are sold at a supermarket
  • in possession = to have something that is yours to keep
  • mini-state = very small country
  • sales = selling a product
  • spokesperson = someone who has been chosen to speak for a company, country  or the government
  • source of income = the place from which the money comes that you earn
  • urge = to strongly suggest that someone should do something