Weekend Roundup: Apple’s Next iPhone; IBM’s Big Move

As the tech world gears up for Apple’s big announcement next week, another tech giant unveiled a daring and potentially risky plan for survival. Let’s jump into some of the tech stories of the week!

Apple’s Next iPhone is Imminent

The debut of the next iPhone is imminent, with Apple sending out notices for a virtual Oct. 13 event. As typical for the iPhone, tech punditry has spent the past several months speculating feverishly about new features; right now, the popular consensus seems to be that the next iteration of the ultra-popular smartphone will feature support for 5G, and come in a variety of sizes and colors. 

Beyond that, though, it’s anyone’s guess—if the rumors of an upcoming augmented reality (AR) headset are true, then the next iPhone will probably boast the computational firepower necessary to support such a device. Above and beyond that, it seems likely that Apple will roll out a number of other new devices at the event, possibly including a cheaper HomePod, a pair of over-ear headphones, and the long-delayed “location tags” (a.k.a. the Tile competitor).

For developers and other technologists who build for iOS/macOS, these product events are always a bit suspenseful. In theory, Apple’s annual WWDC gives technologists everything they need to build that year’s generation of apps and services for Apple’s ecosystem—but there’s always the chance that Apple may reveal some secret, unexpected device that overturns even the best-laid developer plans. 

Google Paying Out Diversity Grants

Over the past several years, Google has struggled (along with other big tech firms) to truly diversify its employee ranks. The company has promised at several points to do more to promote diversity—and that includes its external-facing efforts, as well. To that end, the company has paid out $5 million to 76 startups that display geographic and demographic diversity. 

The startups either previously participated in Google’s Founder Academy, an eight-month-long program of startup mentorship, or were aligned in some way with a Google partner organization, such as the Black Founders Exchange. Jewel Burks Solomon, who heads Google for Startupstold TechCrunch that the decision to fund those startups wasn’t “about just writing a check but also our ability to work with the founders through the programs over time.” 

IBM Spinning Out Its Legacy Business

Hundreds of tech companies are all-in on the cloud. But for older companies that still earn massive revenue from building out and maintaining on-premises tech stacks, the rush to the cloud presents a particular conundrum: what to do with that aging legacy business, particularly if it continues to generate significant cash?

IBM is just such a company, and it’s decided to spin out its infrastructure-services business in order to devote its corporate energies to cloud computing. This spinoff will have revenues of $19 billion, according to the Financial Times, while serving as IBM’s “preferred partner” for all things infrastructure.

IBM isn’t the first tech giant to make this kind of radical move. A number of years ago, Hewlett-Packard split into two companies, HP and HPE (Hewlett-Packard Enterprise). It’s a tricky maneuver for any company to pull off, full of hard decisions, but IBM’s leadership clearly feels that focusing all of its attention on the cloud is necessary for its survival. “I am excited about the path ahead and the tremendous value we will create by having two companies focused on what they do best,” IBM CEO Arvind Krishna wrote in a statement accompanying the news. 

If IBM wants to become a business-cloud giant, it’s going to need to put in quite a bit of effort, as it currently lags well behind AWS and Microsoft Azure in that space. It will also need to fend off Oracle, another tech giant with a substantial legacy business that’s looking to aggressively retool itself as a cloud provider.

Have a great weekend, everyone! Stay safe!