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Apple and Android are destroying the Swiss Watch industry

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In Q4 2017 – essentially during the last holiday season – market research firm Canalys found that more people bought Apple watches than Swiss watches. Two million more, to be exact. Brian Heater has more data but this news is quite problematic for the folks eating Coquilles St-Jacques on the slopes of the Jura mountains.

The numbers are estimates based on market data but they still point to a trend. In Q1 2016 Apple shipped 1.5 million watches to Switzerlands 5.9 million. The intervening quarters were about the same until the launch of the Apple Watch 3 in September 2017, just in time for holiday shopping. The boost of a new phone and a new watch at the same time meant a perfect storm for upgraders, driving the total number of Apple Watches sold past the Swiss watch sales numbers.


This switch does not mean Apple will maintain that lead – they have one product while Switzerland has thousands – but comparing a single company’s output to an entire industry’s in this case is telling.

Wearing watches is, as we all remind each other, is passé.

“I check the time on my phone,” we said for almost a decade as phones became more ubiquitous. Meanwhile watch manufacturers abandoned the low end and began selling to the high end consumer, the connoisseur.

Take a look at this chart:

Sales of low- to mid-tier watches – and a mid-tier watch can range in price between $500 and $3,000 (and I would even lump many $10,000 watches in the mid-tier category) – were stagnant while the true cash cows, the expensive watches for the ultra-rich, fell slowly from a high in 2014. This coincides with falling purchases in China as what amounted to sumptuary laws reduced the number of expensive gifts given to corrupt officials. Sales are up as December 2017 but don’t expect much of a bump past the current slide.

As a lover of all things mechanical – I did ruin a few years of my life writing a book about a watch – I look at these trends with dismay and a bit of schadenfreude. As I’ve said again and again the Swiss Watch industry brought this on itself. While they claim great numbers and great success year after year the small manufacturers are eating each other up while nearly every major watch brand is snooping around for outside buyers. There is no money in churning out mechanical timepieces to an increasingly disinterested public.

As time ticks ever forward things will change. The once mighty Swiss houses will sink under the weight of their accreted laurel-resting and Apple will move on to embedded brain implants and leave watches behind. The result, after a battle that raged for more than four decades, will be a dead Swiss industry catering to a world that has moved on.

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Adecco Group acquires recruiting startup Vettery for $100M

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The Adecco Group, a global HR services firm headquartered in Switzerland, announced today that it has acquired Vettery.

The financial terms were not disclosed, but a source with knowledge of the deal told us that the price was a little over $100 million. (It’s not clear how much of that is cash versus stock.)

We’ve reached out to the Adecco Group for confirmation and will update if we hear back. A Vettery spokesperson declined to comment.

Vettery was launched in 2014. Shortly after that, co-founders Brett Adcock and Adam Goldstein told me that they’re hoping to reinvent the traditional recruiting process. They’ve created a marketplace where job candidates browse offers, schedule interviews with the employers that interest them and receive a signing bonus from Vettery when they take a job — all assisted by an on-staff “talent executive.”

The company says it now works with more than 4,000 employers to fill positions in IT, sales and finance. It’s raised a total of $11.9 million from investors including Greycroft and Raine Ventures.

According to Adecco, Adcock and Goldstein will continue to lead the Vettery team.

“The acquisition of Vettery accelerates the development of the Adecco Group’s digital strategy, broadening our offering into the fast-growing digital permanent recruitment market and complementing our professional recruitment businesses,” said Adecco Group CEO Alain Dehaze in the acquisition release. “Digital innovations have the potential to transform the recruitment industry and the Adecco Group is taking the lead.”

Recent Adecco acquisitions include life sciences staffing company BioBridges and career transition firm Mullin.

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Sonos One is the speaker to beat for those that want great sound and smarts

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The connected speaker wars are upon us, and one day they will be detailed in history books for all to remember. But here now, it can be hard to cut through the various narratives surrounding the options out there and pick a winner. Now that the cards are on the table in terms of offerings from the major players, however, it’s pretty clear that Sonos has the best option available for most people.

Sonos One, the connected speaker that the company released last year, is a terrific sounding Wi-Fi-enabled speaker that also has built-in support for Amazon’s Alexa, which is if not the best smart assistant out there, then at least tied for first with Google’s Assistant.

On the sound front, Sonos has the most experience of any of the top three companies making smart speakers worth your consideration, too. The Sonos One is, in many ways, just an updated version of the Sonos Play:1 that’s acoustically very similar – but that’s actually a really good thing. The Sonos One, like the Play:1, is a terrific sounding audio device, especially given its size and physical footprint.

I’ve been using a pair of Sonos Ones for the past couple of weeks, and it’s clear that they do a great job of filling a room with sound, thanks in part to Sonos’ sound shaping tech that uses a two-minute setup process involving waving your phone around to properly model the audio they put out for your space.

Individually, a Sonos One is already a strong contender even against the Google Home Max and HomePod for sound quality for most people (who don’t need the additional power or won’t notice the auditory improvements afforded by the larger speakers) but the Sonos One has a another neat trick up its sleeve, since it can form a stereo pair with a second Sonos One. This provides true sound separation, meaning left and right channels reproduced as they were actually meant to be, instead of via some simulated stereo separation effect (which can be pretty cool, as HomePod reviews show, but which ultimately can’t match true stereo separation).

Another huge benefit of Sonos vs. the competition: the Sonos One integrates out of the box with the rest of your Sonos setup, should you have one. You can control all speakers via voice, and group them together for whole home/room-by-room playback. Google’s Home Max can work together with Chromecast-enabled speakers for similar multi-room streaming setups, and HomePod is set to get an update that will add multi-room and stereo syncing, but Sonos One offers both of these now, and using a method that’s proven to work.

There’s also pricing to consider. Sonos One, in a bundle with two, is available for $349 right now, which is the same price as a single HomePod. It’s an unbeatable deal, given the other advantages listed above, especially since it means you can see if you like it alone, or equip multiple rooms with Alexa smarts and quality connected sound in one go.

There are reasons to consider other options, to be sure, especially if you’re 100 percent committed to the Apple ecosystem of device and services, but in general for most people, for most use cases, Sonos One is the far better choice.

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Stride, Atlassian’s Slack competitor, opens its API to all developers

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The arrival of Stride, Atlassian’s Slack competitor, was probably the company’s biggest launch of 2017. While the company generally allows developers to easily integrate with its products, Stride’s API remained in closed beta for significantly longer than the product itself, which exited beta last September. Today, however, Atlassian is opening the Stride API to all developers.

As the company notes, this is the first API that sits on top of the new Atlassian API platform. Thanks to this, Stride developers will get access to a new app management console that makes it easier for them to manage their app’s credentials, for example. In addition, Atlassian is also making a new documentation interface available for Stride developers.

The Stride team stresses that third-party apps in Stride are “first class citizens.” Unsurprisingly, developers can create new Bots and other experiences that center around sending and receiving messages. Apps, however, can also display their own user interface for showing contextual information in the Stride sidebar with the help of a JavaScript API.

Developers can also include app cards inside conversations and create action buttons (or even build a pop up dialog for when they need to show multiple button actions, for example). These buttons can both act on Stride itself (to open the app sidebar or a dialog, for example) or call on a backend service (which could be any REST endpoint). The team also notes that Stride apps can upload files (think presentations, videos and pictures) into conversations.

Atlassian says about 1,000 developer signed up for early access to the API.

What’s maybe more important, though, is that the company also says that “tens of thousands of teams” now use Stride. That’s not exactly at the same level of Slack, which has more than 6 million active users, or Microsoft Teams, which is now in use by more than 125,000 teams, but it shows that there’s some momentum behind the platform. The modern workplace, after all, seems to have a need for an ever increasing number of tools that provide constant interruptions.

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