Explaining Southern California's economy

PHOTOS: Top 10 California business and economics stories of 2012

Apple Introduces iPhone 5

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Apple introduces the iPhone 5 in San Francisco. It was the first time that the technology juggernaut, the most valuable California company by far, introduced a new device since Steve Jobs' death. Will it be enough to make Apple the world's first $1 trillion company in 2013?

Rupert Murdoch

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The Tribune Co., owner of the Los Angeles Times along with dozens of other media properties, finally exited bankruptcy on New Year's Eve. Now the real fun can begin in the City of Angels: Who will buy the hometown paper? Could it be...Rupert Murdoch?

elon musk

Photo Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk watches Dragon's progress inside of SpaceX Mission Control in Hawthorne in May. The former PayPal founder whose other company in electric carmaker Tesla Motors put California's space business back on the map — and ushered in a new era of private voyages to the stars. But will he really be able to retire on Mars?

George Lucas Poses With A Group Of "Star Wars" Inspired Disney Characters At Disney's Hollywood Studios

Handout/Getty Images

Disney CEO Bob Iger completes a trip of high-profile acquisitions, beginning with Pixar, then moving on to Marvel, culminating with a purchase of Lucasfilm from George Lucas. "Star Wars" now belongs to the Mighty Mouse — and Episode 7 is on the way! But will Disney be able to inject new life into one of pop cultures iconic entertainment franchises?

Reed Saxon

California was crushed by the housing downturn. But fours years after the bottom fell out, the state's real estate market at last began to show signs of life, as the foreclosure crisis fades and a price bubble even began to form in Southern California. Will the market return to normal in 2013?

FORTUNE Most Powerful Women Dinner New York City

Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Time Inc.

Former Google superstar Marissa Mayer took the helm at troubled Yahoo, after a ugly battle between the board of directors and activist shareholder Dan Loeb. Mayer began to make immediate management changes, brought back free food, became one of the most powerful female CEOs on the U.S. — and had a baby! Can she live up to the hype in 2013?

CinemaCon 2011 - Day 2

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

The battle for the future of online content heated up. In early 2012, Silicon Valley and Hollywood dueled in Washington, D.C., over anti-piracy legislation. Hollywood had the lobbying power, embodied by former senator Chris Dodd and the MPAA. But Silicon Valley won a critical skirmish in the eleventh hour by blacking out Wikipedia for a day. Will the combatants be able to strike a truce in 2013?

Job Seekers  Meet With Recruiters At Job Fair

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

At the tail end of 2013, California's unemployment rate dropped into single digits for the first time since 2009. And compared with the rest of the U.S., the state spent 2012 adding jobs at a brisk clip. But will the recovery be able to sustain its momentum in 2013?

 bankrupt pensions

Steven Cuevas / KPCC

San Bernardino fell off its own fiscal cliff in 2012 — and fell fast, declaring bankruptcy quicker than anyone expected. The broke Inland Empire city joined Stockton and Mammoth Lakes in a minor bankruptcy boom in California and set the stage for the municipal bond market's worst nightmare: a long-anticipated wave of defaults in the Golden State. Could that scary event come to pass in 2013?

A sign announcing Facebook IPO is flashe

EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images

It was supposed to be the initial public offering of the century, enriching Facebook employees and investors and reviving a moribund IPO market for high-tech startups. But Facebook flopped in first-day trading and kept on falling in subsequent days. Facebook's lead banker, Morgan Stanley, was blamed for botching the offering. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg went on the defensive. And by year end, Facebook still hadn't recovered it $100 billion valuation. But it topped 1 billion active users before the ball dropped in Times Square to ring on 2013. Will 2013 be the year it bounces back?


This is one in a series of year-end stories that look back at the most memorable pieces KPCC reporters worked on in 2012 and look ahead at a key issue that will be the focus of coverage in the coming year.

How much happened in the Golden State in 2012 when it comes to business? Lots. Lots and lots. The DeBord Report covered most of it. 

The slide show above serves up the business year in pictures for the state with the largest economy and two of America's most storied industries: Hollywood and high-tech.

And if you want to review the business year in links to the original posts...well, I've got that covered, too.

10. Apple introduces the iPhone 5 and the iPad Mini — the first all-new gadgets rolled out by Cupertino since the death of Steve Jobs

9. The long, long, LONG Tribune Co. bankruptcy comes to and end. So who will buy the Los Angeles Times?

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September housing starts, more on Pandit, Microsoft prices Surface

Microsoft Surface

Microsoft

The new Microsoft Surface tablet. Microsoft will price it a levels competitive with the Apple iPad.

Builders haven't been building this fast since July 2008: "Construction activity rose in three of the nation's four regions. The biggest increases came in the West and South. Housing starts increased by nearly 20 percent in both regions." (Commerce Dept.)

Maybe buying Merrill Lynch wasn't such a great idea. Bank of America suffers an expensive quarter: "Overall, Bank of America reported a profit $340 million versus a profit of $6.23 billion a year earlier." (WSJ)

North American energy boom continues: "Exxon Mobil agreed on Wednesday to buy Celtic Exploration for about $3.1 billion in cash and stock, as it sought to expand its presence in the energy-rich shale formations of western Canada." (DealBook)

The beginning of the end for the PC? Intel takes a hit in the quarter: "The big chip maker, whose microprocessors power most desktop PCs and laptops, said it is significantly scaling back production in the fourth quarter in response to weaker than expected demand." (WSJ)

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5 million iPhone 5s in 3 days? Not good enough, Apple!

iPhone 5 launch at AT&T Glendale

Jason Georges/KPCC

Customers line up in the early hours on Friday, September 21 at the AT&T store in Glendale, California, hoping to get a new iPhone 5. Apple wound up selling million, but Wall Street didn't care.

Apple absolutely killed it this weekend, selling over five million iPhones in three days. But for Wall Street, it wasn't enough. The company's stock, which had risen above $700 a share, fell to about $690 today.

Expectations for iPhone 5 sales may have gotten out of hand. They fell a million shy of what some analysts seemed to think was possible. 

Worse, as the Wall Street Journal suggests, Apple may have hit a sort of "speed limit" on production:

Another theory is that Apple may have reached a theoretical limit to how many products can be produced in a specific window of time. Tom Dinges, an analyst at IHS iSuppli, said Apple historically began production of new iPhones in mid-August, a little more than a month from the release date. But, he said, the company may have shortened that production schedule to control information leaks that could come from suppliers.

"For the major opening weekend, we're close to the limit," Mr. Dinges said. "Unless they're willing to widen the manufacturing window, maybe we have seen" the limit for how many units Apple can deliver without more production lines.

Mr. Dinges noted that Apple would need to have roughly half a million iPhones produced per day at a minimum to meet some analyst expectations of 50 million iPhones to be sold during the holiday quarter.

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3 reasons why the Apple iPhone 5 is creating capitalism on the street

Hotly Anticipated iPhone 5 Goes In Sale In Stores

Mario Tama/Getty Images

Customers take photos while waiting on line to purchase the Apple iPhone 5 outside the Apple Fifth Avenue flagship store on the first morning it went on sale. An entire shadow economy has emerged around the iconic device.

Today is Apple iPhone 5 day. At Apple stores across Southern California, hopeful shoppers have lined up in the hundreds to obtain the glistening new gadget. 

These folks will part with money, but they're also engaged in an ad-hoc iEconomy that's using the iPhone — versions both current and past — to generate profits. Here's how it goes...

It's all about real estate. According to LATimes, people who've lined up outside the Apple store at the Grove shopping complex are selling their places on line. Ten kids showed up at sunrise with the goal of selling five spots in line for $300 a pop, for a neat take of $1,500, pretty much all of it profit (they opportunity cost of standing in line at 6 a.m. when you're 19 is pretty much nil). But they miscalculated their market and could only sell the spots for...$100. Still, that's $500 in coin for...standing. In line. In warm and sunny L.A.

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3 reasons why the Apple iPhone 5 will still fail

US-IT-INTERNET-TELECOM-APPLE

DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

Buyers wait outside an Apple Store in New York to get their iPhone 5s before everyone else. The new smartphone notched 2 million in pre-orders in its first 24 hours.

I got a very robust response to my pre-iPhone 5 launch post, "3 reasons why the Apple iPhone 5 will fail," in which I detailed some reasons why the miraculous new device wouldn't be a triumph. I prefaced it all by stressing that I was taking a contrarian position, but I got called out big time for my contrarianism, both in the comments and, more recently, by the Macalope over at Macworld.

Here's a taste:

The Macalope understands that during this bad economy times must be hard at our nation’s public radio stations, with donations falling due to a deficit in our strategic tote-bag reserves.

But that doesn’t really excuse Southern California Public Radio from publishing Matthew DeBord’s “3 reasons why the Apple iPhone 5 will fail” (tip o’ the antlers to Warren Bowman).

Just three? The Macalope thinks maybe you’re not applying yourself, Matthew. The horny one himself can easily make up 15 or 20.

Still, most observers settled on the conventional wisdom that the iPhone 5 was a total snooze-fest that, because of a collection of really boring reasons involving contract lengths, Apple fanboi-ism, marketing, and reality distortion, will sell very well. “Fail” is really putting a stake in the ground. A dumb, dumb stake.

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