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BITS from the NY Times

Pearl employees eating lunch at the company’s offices in Scotts Valley, Calif.
Pearl employees eating lunch at the company’s offices in Scotts Valley, Calif. Anthony Cruz for The New York Times

Daily Report

Can a company be successful like Apple, without being Apple to the core?
I’m sorry about that pun, too, but it gets to a key point in Vindu Goel’s article about Pearl Automation, a start-up with many former Apple employees. Management’s aim is to duplicate the small teams and excellent design of Apple, among other things, without Apple’s infamous culture of secrecy.
Pearl aims to make products that give older cars some of the features of new vehicles, like backup cameras. It’s a good market to attack: According to a 2015 report by IHS, the average age of cars and light trucks on roads in the United States is now 11.5 years. People keep new cars for six and a half years.
Cars are better built than they were in the past, so they wear longer, but that means drivers may miss out on lots of new safety features, particularly as more high-tech software and microcontrollers go inside the vehicles.
The Apple work structure, of small teams with lots of accountability for all engineering decisions, makes particular sense when you are selling safety. And, of course, Pearl is not yet considered wildly successful or an iconic designer, so for now at least it is easy to forgo Apple’s secrecy.
Based on reviews at a half-dozen websites, Pearl’s first product, the backup camera, seems to have the reception of an Apple product, with high user ratings and a very high price. Pearl’s camera rig is about $500, and there are lots of competitors selling cameras from $60 to $140.
That high price may be a big deal when people are looking at something to throw into their older car. There are also complaints about the software, and how well the solar charger works when it is cloudy. On the other hand, the camera can be removed from one vehicle and put on another, meaning the cost could be stretched beyond one vehicle.
And software tends to improve, particularly if lower-level employees writing the code have a clear view of what everyone in the company is doing. That’s possible at Pearl, but not at Apple.
— Pui-Wing Tam
Pearl employees. More than 50 of the company’s 80 or so employees worked for Apple at some point.

Growing a Different Apple

By VINDU GOEL

At Pearl Automation, former Apple employees are blending their old employer’s high quality standards with less paranoia and more openness.

France Lets Workers Turn Off, Tune Out and Live Life

By ALISSA J. RUBIN

A raft of measures meant to balance modernity and tradition will make it easier to unplug from work email, protect the environment and get divorced.

BITS
At Google offices in France.

What U.S. Tech Giants Face in Europe in 2017

By MARK SCOTT

Many of Silicon Valley’s largest companies face a growing list of regulatory challenges — and potentially large fines — in Europe this coming year.

A CNN article served up via Google AMP, a method of loading mobile web pages more quickly.

Google Helping Mobile Publishing? Some Publishers Are Not So Sure

By DAISUKE WAKABAYASHI

AMP, a method of loading of mobile web pages more quickly, has raised concern among small publishers worried they are losing control of their content.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket exploded minutes before a planned test-firing of its engines at Cape Canaveral, Fla., on Sept. 1.

SpaceX Says It’s Ready to Launch Rockets Again

By KENNETH CHANG

The company says it has determined the likely cause of an explosion in September that led to setbacks in its schedule.

Pawan Poojary, 18, left, and Jayesh Dubey, 19, were part of a scheme targeting Americans run from a call center in Thane, a suburb of Mumbai, India.

India’s Call-Center Talents Put to a Criminal Use: Swindling Americans

By ELLEN BARRY

The availability of computer-savvy, young, English-speaking job seekers and efficient technology have contributed to the growth in cyberfraud against Americans.

For Non-Tech Companies, if You Can’t Build It, Buy a Start-Up

By LESLIE PICKER

With more than $125 billion in acquisitions last year, more non-tech companies than ever are forgoing building technology in-house and acquiring start-ups.

TECH TIP

Where to Go if You Forget Your Hotmail Password

By J. D. BIERSDORFER

If you’ve been automatically logging in for so long that you’ve forgotten your account password, visit Microsoft’s reset page.

TECH TIP

How to Automatically Label New Gmail Messages

By J. D. BIERSDORFER

You can set up filters in your Gmail settings that tag incoming messages with a custom label for easy sorting.

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