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Apple could change its annual iPhone release schedule, JP Morgan says

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An employee, left, shows a customer the features of an iPhone 11 at Apple store during a product launch event in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Friday, September 27, 2019.

Chris Jung | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Apple could change its iPhone release strategy to launch new devices twice a year starting in 2021, J.P. Morgan analysts predicted in a note distributed on Monday, citing supply chain checks.

The shift in strategy would allow Apple to smooth its traditional seasonality and give the company increased flexibility to change its products within a six-month time frame and compete with other device makers that launch new phones throughout the year.

Since 2011, Apple has released major new iPhones in September and October, setting up the quarter that ends in December to be Apple’s largest, boosted by the holidays and new models. If Apple were to launch new iPhones twice a year, as the J.P. Morgan analysts suggest, it would be a major strategy shift for Apple’s most important product line.

“Based on our supply chain checks, we are expecting a strategic change in the launch cadence with the release of two new iPhone models in 1H21 followed by another two in 2H21, which will serve to smooth seasonality around the launch,” J.P. Morgan analyst Samik Chatterjee wrote.

The analysts also published predictions for Apple’s 2020 iPhone lineup in Monday’s note, predicting that four new iPhone models will launch in September 2020. That’s a change from the three-model strategy Apple has used since 2017. They also believe that Apple will release a low-cost iPhone resembling the iPhone 8 in the spring.

The J.P. Morgan analysts predict all four devices launching next fall will sport superior OLED screens and support 5G networks, although some models will not support mmWave technology, which promises faster speeds.

“The 2H20 lineup will include all OLED phones, with screen sizes of 5.4″ (one model), 6.1″ (two), and 6.7″ (one), broadening the screen size range from 5.8″ to 6.5″ in 2019,” Chatterjee wrote. “We expect the two higher end models (one 6.1″, one 6.7″) to include mmWave support, triple camera and World facing 3D sensing, while the lower-end models (one 6.1″, one 5.4″) will include support for only sub-6 GHz and dual camera (no World-facing 3D sensing).”

The analysts note that the increased screen size options and 5G support could encourage current iPhone users to upgrade.

The J.P. Morgan predictions have slight differences from other early reports about next year’s iPhones. Last month, Korean news site ETNews discussed the same screen sizes but did not mention two different models with 6.1-inch screens and said that “a model will support 5G.”

Leading Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo from TF Securities has predicted that all of Apple’s 2020 iPhones will support 5G networks. He too believes Apple is planning iPhones with 6.7-inch, 6.1-inch, and 5.4-inch OLED displays.

J.P. Morgan is overweight on Apple and raised its 12-month price target to $296 from $290.

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UK politicians ‘don’t do God’ but religion matters in this election

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People hold up placards and Union flags as they gather for a demonstration organised by the Campaign Against Anti-Semitism outside the head office of the British opposition Labour Party in central London on April 8, 2018.

TOLGA AKMEN | AFP | Getty Images

An infamous political tale tells of the occasion when former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair once wanted to discuss his faith in public but was interrupted by his top communications advisor Alistair Campbell who abruptly told him: “We don’t do God.”

The curt riposte to Blair’s desire to talk about his Christian faith reflects a general attitude in the U.K. — both among the political establishment and the general public — that politics and religion don’t mix well.

In the case of the forthcoming U.K. election on Thursday December 12, however, political parties have been unable to dodge religion with controversies over discrimination coming to the fore for both the Conservative and Labour parties.

The bigger prominence of religion in the 2019 snap election, one which will decide the direction the U.K.’s departure from the EU takes, is more to do with identity politics, experts say.

“We’re not a mainstream religious country,” Vince Cable, the former leader of the Liberal Democrats, told CNBC Tuesday.

“This isn’t America, it’s not Poland, we’re a fairly secular country so it’s not the vast majority of people wanting to express a religious view. But I think it’s one manifestation of the politics of identity that is becoming increasingly common,” he said.

“Identity is sometimes about religion, sometimes about color, sometimes about nationality. And I think what is happening is that traditional left-right class alignments are becoming less and less relevant, and it’s identity, in those different forms, that becomes salient,” Cable added.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia

Religious identity has featured prominently in the run up to the election in the U.K. with both the main parties accused of failing to deal with religious discrimination and prejudice within their own ranks.

In late November, the U.K.’s Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis attacked the Labour party for failing to tackle anti-Semitism within its ranks, adding that the party’s leader Jeremy Corbyn was “unfit for office.”

He also said in an interview with The Times newspaper that “the overwhelming majority of British Jews are gripped by anxiety” ahead of polling day as they fear a potential Labour government.

Mirvis’ comments came on the same day that Labour had launched a “race and faith manifesto,” which it said aimed to tackle prejudice across all faiths. Labour has repeatedly denied accusations of anti-Semitism and has expelled party members after complaints of anti-Semitism were upheld yet it remains accused of not doing enough.

The party came under fresh pressure this weekend when it emerged there was a backlog of unresolved complaints over anti-Jewish racism within the party, some dating back years. Shadow Finance Minister John McDonnell apologized to the Jewish community “for the suffering we have inflicted on them.”

People hold banners during a protest, organized by Stand Up To Racism platform, against former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson after his Islamaphobic article, which includes hate crime on women those who wear niqab or burqa, in front of the contact office of Conservative Party in London, United Kingdom on August 09, 2018.

Anadolu Agency | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

While Labour’s reputation has been tarnished in the Jewish community, the Conservative Party under Boris Johnson has been accused of not doing enough to tackle Islamophobia within the party. Johnson has come under fire himself for previous comments in which he likened Muslim women wearing burkas as looking “like letter boxes.”

On Sunday, Conservative Chairman James Cleverly apologized for cases of Islamophobia in his party and reiterated a promise made by Johnson that there would be an inquiry into prejudice and discrimination within the party by the end of the year. Like Labour, the Conservatives have expelled a number of party members for alleged Islamophobia.

Cable, who once led the third-largest opposition party, the Liberal Democrats, said both the mainstream parties had upset ethnic minorities in the U.K.

“The Labour party has got a very specific issue which relates to anti-Semitism … they’ve got to clean up their act and I don’t think they can do that as long as (Jeremy) Corbyn is their leader, frankly,” he said.

“The Tories are tapping into an underlying, often very racist feeling in parts of the country … there is an undercurrent of hostility to ethnic minorities and Johnson has, through his language, has played into that, and I think they (the Tories) are a bigger problem than the Labour Party.”

Ben Ryan, head of research at Christian think tank Theos, told CNBC that the main problem with modern political parties in the U.K. was a failure to engage with faith groups on all sides, and tending to regard the issue of faith in negative terms.

“There’s been nothing really positive from the parties about how they’re going to engage faith groups,” he said. “There’s been almost purely negative messaging about faith groups … and a total absence from the debates of positive things faith groups can offer society. They’re often pillars of social services in the community.”

Don’t mention God

Political parties might have trouble engaging with faith groups but they also have problems dealing with the religious identities of their own lawmakers at times. In fact, Vince Cable’s predecessor Tim Farron, resigned from the leadership of the Liberal Democrats because he said he could not reconcile his faith, and remain “faithful to Christ” with being party leader.

The difference between the U.S. and U.K. when it comes to religion and faith in politics is pronounced.

In the U.S., former President George W. Bush was seen by the Christian right as a way to push a conservative Christian agenda while in the U.K., his then-counterpart Tony Blair (incidentally, both Bush and Blair were religious converts to a certain extent; Bush was born again as an evangelical Christian in 1985 and Blair who converted to Catholicism) was discouraged from expressing views on his personal faith.

When announcing to the nation the start of the 2003 war in Iraq, Blair was apparently dissuaded by aides from ending his message with the phrase “God bless you” — a marked contrast from then-President George W. Bush who told the world that he was spurred to intervene in Iraq because, “God told me to end the tyranny in Iraq.”

Theos’ Head of Research Ben Ryan told CNBC that politicians in the U.K. “are certainly more reserved about expressing their religious identity than in the U.S.”

“It’s easier to treat it (religious identity) as a cultural marker than an explicit expression of faith. It’s more of a muted identity in the U.K. It’s far more unusual for politicians here to put their faith out there. People who have done so have been burnt, like Tim Farron, an evangelical Christian that felt he couldn’t do both,” he said.

“It is becoming a harsher environment in terms of how religious identity can be used against you, particularly for Muslim MPs,” he said, adding “it’s not a left-right thing, it’s affecting all Muslim MPs.” Ryan claimed that the language used by political rivals against Muslim MPs was often religiously charged.

He cited the example of Zac Goldsmith using the terms “radical and divisive” to describe his political rival Sadiq Khan in the race to become mayor of London. Goldsmith was criticized for using the language of extremism to describe Khan.

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Apple Tim Cook seen eating Singaporean foods in Tiong Bahru Market

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Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple, in Sun Valley, Idaho, United States, on July 12, 2019.

Patrick T. Fallon | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Apple CEO Tim Cook started his Wednesday with a Singaporean breakfast in the quaint and charming neighborhood of Tiong Bahru — one of the oldest housing estates in Singapore known for its 1930s streamline moderne architecture.

In a post on his professional Facebook page, Darren Soh said he and fellow photographer Aik Beng Chia had breakfast with Cook at the Tiong Bahru Market and gave the tech CEO a “quick tour.”

On what appears to be Soh’s private page, he said, “Tim tried Chwee Kueh, Carrot Cake, Soya Bean Milk but his favourite was pandan flavoured Gao Teng Kueh.”

Chwee kueh is a dish of steamed rice cakes topped with preserved radish. The carrot cake that Cook tried is likely a savory dish of stir-fried radish cake, and does not contain carrots like the Western dessert. Cook’s apparent favorite dish of the morning, “gao teng kueh,” is a multi-layered cake typically made with tapioca flour, rice flour and coconut milk.

Earlier this week, Cook was in Japan, based on recent photos shared on Twitter.

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Facebook drops 16 spots on Glassdoor’s list of best places to work

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Facebook Chairman and CEO Mark Zuckerberg testifies at a House Financial Services Committee hearing in Washington, October 23, 2019.

Erin Scott | Reuters

Facebook saw its ranking on Glassdoor’s list of the “Best Places to Work” list slide for a second year in a row, tumbling 16 spots to 23rd. Its desirability ranking dropped from 4.5 to 4.4 out of a perfect 5 according to employees, who use the site to evaluate their employers anonymously.

The top three spots on the 2020 list are held by HubSpot, Bain & Company and DocuSign, respectively.

It’s a precipitous fall for Facebook, which claimed reached the top spot in Glassdoor’s 2018 rankings. It fell to No. 7 in the 2019 list, following reports in March 2018 that political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica had improperly accessed the data of 87 million Facebook users.

Facebook’s drop comes as regulators put the social media company in the crosshairs of antitrust investigations. The 2020 Glassdoor rankings show that employees no longer regard working at the social media company as they once did. After the Cambridge Analytica scandal, the company struggled to recruit college graduates and software engineers, former Facebook recruiters told CNBC in May.

Glassdoor bases its ranking on eight factors, including work/life balance, senior management and compensation and benefits. To be ranked, companies must have at least 1,000 employees and receive at least 75 ratings across the eight categories that Glassdoor takes into consideration during the eligibility period.

Among the complaints, employees told Glassdoor that Facebook is now “painstakingly slow” when it comes to making decisions on matters of privacy due to its numerous scandals over the past two years. Employees also complained that high-profile projects are extremely political and there is a lack of work-life balance.

“There’s been a lot of external criticism that’s been coming toward Facebook,” said Glassdoor Community Expert Sarah Stoddard. “There’s a high expectation for employees to be highly productive which leads to long working hours, and that’s a reason we keep seeing Facebook drop.”

Despite its declining score and fall in the rankings, Facebook remains well above the average Glassdoor company rating of 3.5. Employees praised Facebook’s mission-driven culture, the talent at the company and the perks and benefits.

“Employees continue to call out that the mission of the company is part of what drives them,” Stoddard said.

Facebook was not the only tech company to drop in the rankings. Google dropped three spots, landing at 11th place with an award score of 4.5. Apple dropped 13 spots to 84th and an award score of 4.3. Amazon once again failed to crack the list of 100.

Microsoft, meanwhile, climbed up 13 spots, landing at No. 21 with an award score of 4.4.

Here is Glassdoor’s list.

WATCH: Here’s how to see which apps have access to your Facebook data — and cut them off

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