September 9, 2022

Today's Topics

Today marks the first of 10 days of national mourning in the UK following the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with flags flown at half-mast and books of condolences opened across the country. We explore:

  • 70 years. Queen Elizabeth's remarkable reign, in context.
  • Apple. Tim Cook's tenure at the tech giant has been fruitful.
  • Minimum wage. The lowest pay rates across the states.
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Operation London Bridge

The sad news of Queen Elizabeth II’s passing was confirmed yesterday. The Palace announced that the 96-year-old monarch had died peacefully at Balmoral, her beloved summer residence, setting in motion a plan for her funeral known as Operation London Bridge.

The Queen's passing comes just a few months after she celebrated her Platinum Jubilee, marking 70 years on the throne, and just a few days after meeting the new UK PM, Liz Truss.

Leaders and notable figures around the world lined up to send tributes and the Queen’s son, now King Charles III, issued a statement mourning his mother, the longest-ruling British monarch in the nation's history.

A 70 year reign, in numbers

All told, over her 25,782 days as monarch, Elizabeth II made 82 state visits, met with 5 popes, owned 40 Welsh Corgi dogs, met 13 US presidents (missing LBJ) and advised 15 different British prime ministers. Her 70-year reign was the second longest of any monarch in history, only behind that of Louis XIV of France who was just 4 years old when he ascended to the throne.

Most British people have only ever known the monarchy with Queen Elizabeth at the helm, with around 80% of the population born after her reign began. With Charles now king, and the next two heirs in the line of succession also male, God Save The Queen may not be sung in Great Britain for a very long time.

Apple's latest iPhone reveal — complete with a full roster of supporting acts — took place on Wednesday. Millions tuned in to see the iPhone 14 and a refresh of Apple's most-popular wearables, including new AirPod Pro's and a more resilient Apple Watch.

If it ain't broke...

Critics will complain that, even with some cool design updates, the iPhone 14 is more of an evolution than a revolution on the product side. That's a fair critique — and one that's been levelled at Apple many times since Tim Cook took over as CEO from Steve Jobs in 2011. The strongest rebuttal to that criticism is seen in the chart above: during Cook's tenure sales have more than tripled and the company's share price is up more than tenfold.

While the product line-up may not have changed dramatically, Apple's Services division is undergoing a revolution. Services include the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay, Apple TV and a new area of intense focus — advertising. Just 18 months since Apple made major changes to its privacy policy, which made it harder for digital ad platforms like Facebook to target ads at users, they're now beefing up their own advertising effort. The company is reportedly looking to double its advertising workforce, suggesting that even Apple can't resist the high margin temptation of selling advertising space on its most valuable properties.

The one surprise from the announcement was that iPhone prices won't be going up in the US or Canada, bucking the inflationary trend seen in so many other industries. The company, it seems, is comfortable sacrificing some margin on the iPhone in order to keep the device at the center of the Apple ecosystem.

The next big product innovation from Apple? You may have to wait until the Apple Car.

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Fast food workers in California might be looking at a hefty pay rise after the Golden State governor signed a bill that could see minimum wage within the industry jump to $22 an hour. As charted above, California’s minimum wage is already the nation’s joint third-highest, with the base level at $14 an hour — or $15 for companies with over 25 employees.

Wage against the machine

As inflation erodes the value of people's pay packets, workers are increasingly seeking out more rewarding employment opportunities in one of the tightest labor markets on record.

At the same time, union support in the US has hit a 57-year-high, with the approval rating for labor unions now sitting at some 71%. High-profile unionization efforts at corporate giants like Amazon and Starbucks have sparked conversations on pay and working conditions at an increasing number of companies.

In states like Texas, Georgia, and some 18 others, there isn’t a state-set minimum wage. That means that, for workers covered by the Fair Labor Standards Act, they default to the federal minimum of $7.25 an hour — a figure which hasn’t shifted since 2009.

More Data

• New data from Gallup reveals the unhappiest countries in the world.

• Shares in ride-hailing company Lyft jumped 17% yesterday after rumors circulated on social media that General Motors was contemplating another bid for the company.

• ‘Metaverse’, ‘shrinkflation’, and ‘ICYMI’ are just some of the 370 words added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary this year.

• The NFL season is back under way and FiveThirtyEight have put their predictions together — see if you can beat them.

• Microsoft Excel has met its spreadsheet match. Equals is "what Excel would look like if it were built for today". Check out the future of spreadsheets.**

• On Wednesday we wrote about the strength of USD, now the dollar is edging towards a symbolic milestone against the Chinese renminbi.

• College grads tend to marry other grads (81% of the time), a phenomenon that holds even more strongly if the person's parents also went to college, according to a new study.

• How sustainable is fake meat? Interesting study and research from Ars Technica.

**This is sponsored content.

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