BUSINESS NEWS MARCH 21st, 2016
SMALL IS BIG AGAIN AS IPHONE SE DEBUTS: APPLE HOPES
CUPERTINO, Calif. The low-key launch, held at the technology company's Cupertino, California campus rather than its traditional splash at a much larger venue in San Francisco, did not wow tech experts or investors. But the new mid-range model was seen as necessary to counter the dominance of cheaper phones running Google's Android system. "There are people who want that smaller screen size," said Bob O'Donnell of TECHnalysis Research. "You do a price cut when you need to drive the market a bit more," though he questioned if the price was low enough to generate significant demand. Apple is hoping the cheaper model will stimulate overall iPhone sales, which it expects to decline this quarter for the first time since it essentially created the smartphone market nine years ago. The new model did not allay investor concerns that Apple, which celebrates its 40th birthday on April 1, has no obvious blockbusters in its pipeline.
CARNIVAL CORP GETS CUBA'S APPROVAL TO BEGIN CRUISES
Cruise operator Carnival Corp (CCL.N) said on Monday it received approval from Cuban authorities to begin operations to the country, starting May 1.The approval comes a day after U.S. President Barack Obama's historic visit to Cuba.Carnival said this was the first time in over 50 years that a cruise ship was approved to sail from the United States to Cuba.The company will use the 704-passenger vessel, the MV Adonia, for its Cuba cruises, on the small side for the company, whose ships typically carry 2,000 to 3,000 people.Carnival had received U.S. approval last July to operate cruises to Cuba under its Fathom brand, set up to run cruises with humanitarian and cultural themes to the Dominican Republic.
CRISIS FORCES THREE-WEEK PARTIAL GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN
Atlantic City Mayor Don Guardian said on Monday that the city's financial crisis will force a partial government shutdown for three weeks, with city hall closed for the period and public employees working without pay.Police and firefighters in the New Jersey seashore city, which is dominated by its gaming industry, have agreed to work without pay for the three-week period, which will begin April 8, said Guardian, who spoke in Jersey City where he was attending a panel on casino expansion in the state.The city should begin receiving second-quarter 2016 tax payments on May 2, when it expects to be able to reopen City Hall.The city is "making every effort to find solutions prior to the April 8th deadline," Guardian said in a statement.The gambling hub's tax base has been decimated by casino competition in neighboring states. Four of Atlantic City's 12 casinos shut in 2014 and remain closed, putting thousands of people out of work.
U.S. TOP COURT AGREES TO HEAR SAMSUNG-APPLE PATENT FIGHT
The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday stepped into the high-profile patent fight between the world's two fiercest smartphone rivals, Apple and Samsung, agreeing to hear Samsung's appeal of what it contends were excessive penalties for copying the patented designs of the iPhone. Samsung Electronics Co Ltd paid Apple Inc more than $548 million in December related to a jury verdict from 2012. It is seeking to pare back the $399 million of that amount that was awarded for infringing on the designs of the iPhone's rounded-corner front face, bezel and colorful grid of icons, saying they contributed only marginally to a complex device. A Samsung spokeswoman said in a statement the court's review "can lead to a fair interpretation of patent law that will support creativity and reward innovation."