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Apple wasn’t the only smartphone brand struggling in China this fall

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If there’s any consolation for the company, it’s that many of its Chinese competitors were in the same boat. Huawei’s phone shipments surged 23.3 percent, but Xiaomi and other big names saw their units plunge as well. Even the sister brands Oppo and Vivo, which have been historically strong, barely improved their numbers. Handsets like the Find X and NEX S couldn’t overcome economic headaches, then.

It’s not certain how Apple could turn things around in the near future. The company’s Tim Cook did hint at adjusting prices for some countries, but slightly lower costs would still make the iPhone expensive compared to many of the offerings from Chinese competitors — and that won’t change the economy. Simply speaking, things might not get better until there’s either an economic recovery or a larger change in Apple’s lineup.

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GM’s Arīv electric bikes are launching in Europe first

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Even though the company designed and engineered the bikes in Michigan and Oshawa, Ontario, it will release them in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands first. GM says it chose those locations “due to the popularity of lithium-ion battery-powered e-bikes in those markets,” which makes sense if you think about it.

The compact e-bike called Arīv Meld will set customers back between €2,750 and €2,800 (approximately $3,200). Meanwhile, the folding e-bike called Arīv Merge, which users can fold up and roll on two wheels if they want to, will set buyers back between €3,350 and €3,400 (around $3,900). Both models are now available for pre-order on Bike Exchange and will start shipping in the second quarter of 2019.

Ariv

Arīv Meld

ArīvArīv Merge

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EU’s Vestager says not precluding Facebook case in future

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EU's Vestager says not precluding Facebook case in future

FILE PHOTO: The entrance sign to Facebook headquarters is seen in Menlo Park, California, on Wednesday, October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Facebook is not currently in EU regulators’ crosshairs but it may well be in future because of the crucial role played by data, Europe’s antitrust chief said on Tuesday.

European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager’s comments came two weeks after the German cartel office ruled that the world’s largest social network abused its market dominance to gather information about users without their consent.

Vestager said she has no case against Facebook regarding its market power for now but nevertheless was monitoring the market.

“We have some concerns. One thing is that we don’t have an open case now, that doesn’t preclude we don’t have a case in future. We are looking at the market very closely,” she told a European Parliament hearing.

The European Commission has previously indicated that Facebook’s issues could be better handled by privacy enforcers rather than by competition regulators.

Vestager has taken on tech giants including Google and Qualcomm in recent years and handed down million-euro fines for abusing their market power.

Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; editing by David Evans

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LendingClub forecasts bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss

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LendingClub forecasts bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss

(Reuters) – Online lender LendingClub Corp forecast a bigger-than-expected first-quarter loss on Tuesday, and revenue that missed Wall Street estimates, sending its shares down 5 percent in after-market trading.

FILE PHOTO: A Lending Club banner hangs on the facade of the the New York Stock Exchange in New York, New York, United States December 11, 2014. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid/File Photo

For the first quarter, the company expects net revenue between $162 million and $172 million, below analysts’ estimates of $181.2 million, according to IBES data from Refinitiv.

LendingClub also forecast a first-quarter loss between $20 million and $15 million, compared to Wall Street estimates of a loss of $5.14 million.

For the full-year 2019, LendingClub forecast a loss that was bigger than Wall Street estimates. However, the company said it was targeting profitability on an adjusted basis in the second half of the year.

LendingClub CEO Scott Sanborn said in an interview that the lower-than-expected guidance was due in part to seasonal weakness in the first quarter and economic uncertainty both in the United States and overseas.

“There is a lot of uncertainty both globally and domestically,” Sanborn said.

He added that the company would focus on achieving profitability in the second half of the year by cutting costs through initiatives such as outsourcing some business processes.

The company plans to transition its loan servicing platform, to an off-the-shelf solution operated by a third party, Sanborn said. This would allow LendingClub to redeploy engineers to more “value-add” activities, Sanborn said.

LendingClub is one of the largest companies that operates an online platform that connects consumers looking for loans with individuals or institutional investors such as banks.

The San Francisco-based lender has been working to boost investor confidence since May 2016 when an internal investigation into loan malpractices led to the ouster of then-CEO and founder Renaud Laplanche.

Like other online lenders, it has also faced concerns from investors who fear companies in the nascent sector may struggle to grow fast while keeping the quality of their loans in check.

Excluding items, the company posted a smaller loss in the reported quarter on the back of higher loan originations which rose 18 percent to $2.87 billion.

LendingClub’s overall revenue rose 16 percent to $181.5 million.

The San Francisco-based company posted an adjusted loss of $4.1 million, or 1 cent per share, in the fourth quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to a loss of $7.3 million, or 2 cents per share, a year earlier. (reut.rs/2EiMdjC)

Reporting by Anna Irrera in New York and Bharath Manjesh in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta and Susan Thomas

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