The Lure of the Middle East

The Middle East region centered on countries around Western Asia usually includes the following: Bahrain, Cyprus, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. Most of these countries, especially those that border the Persian Gulf, have vast reserves of crude oil and benefit greatly from petroleum exports.

The region is a strategically, economically, politically, culturally, and religiously sensitive area that comprises about 5% of the world’s population or 371 million people. The region is also experiencing major security challenges and is adjusting to the recent oil price drop. As such, growth is expected to average 2.2 percent in 2015. This however has not deterred big brands like Apple and Netflix which are beginning to take notice of the region and have begun expanding there.

Apple is opening its first two stores – in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. The store in Dubai’s Mall of Emirates is said to be the largest to be ever built. Previously, shoppers of Apple products had to purchase their products through resellers or when on holiday abroad. The company has been growing fast in the Middle East in the past few years. Sales of iPhones were up 50% year on year in the third quarter last year and Apple’s revenue in emerging markets was up 58% in April. It is also planning to expand to Saudi Arabia.

Netflix is another company that is planning to expand in the region. Joris Evers, vice president and head of communications for Europe, Middle East, and Africa confirmed their plans as part of their global expansion by 2016. Netflix currently has 69 million subscribers in more than 50 countries worldwide – 43 million of which are in the U.S. It is aggressively stepping up its global efforts with recent international launches in Spain and Italy. The company is expected to grow by 22% by 2019, gaining 10 million new subscribers in the U.S., 10 million in Europe, and the rest in other international markets.

In April, the Starz network actually launched its Starz Play Arabia across 17 territories in the Middle East and North Africa, making the first-Starz expansion outside the U.S.

Other big brands are also looking into the region such as UK-based cosmetics company Lush which plans to open 50 stores over the next three years. Uber has also been said to invest $250 million to expand in the Middle East and North Africa, which are some of ride-sharing’s fastest growing markets.

 

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Apple and Google Top World’s Most Admired Companies 2015

Fortune recently came out with a list of the world’s most admired companies for 2015. The list is a report card on corporate reputations and looks at a company’s performance based on the following attributes: innovation, people management, use of corporate assets, social responsibility, quality of management, financial soundness, long term investment value, quality of products and services, and global competitiveness.

For this year, Apple came out on top for the eighth year in a row. Google and Berkshire Hathaway, led by Warren Buffett ranked second and third respectively. E-commerce giant Amazon.com came out fourth followed by Starbucks.

Four new companies landed on this year’s list – Chipotle, CVS Health, salesforce.com and financial services giant USAA. However, consumer criticism and security hacks have caused Mcdonald’s and Target to slip.

2015 Admired Companies

Fortune, together with global management firm Hay Group, conducted the research for The World’s Most Admired Companies. The list comprised of 1,400 companies; 1,000 came from Fortune’s 1,000 largest U.S. companies by revenue; 400 was from Fortune’s 500 global database with revenues of $10 billion or more. The list was made up of different companies representing 55 industries across 29 countries.

What other global companies should be included in the list?

Read the full report here: http://fortune.com/worlds-most-admired-companies/apple-1/

Global Update: Samsung versus Apple – The Race Continues

Samsung unveiled its new watch-phone, the Galaxy Gear, today headlining the innovation of “wearable” devices. For the most part, Samsung used to be seen as lurking in the shadows of Apple, constantly following their innovation instead of creating its own. Today, the tables have turned as Samsung beats Apple in launching its smartwatch.

The Galaxy Gear is expected to be in stores as of September 25th at the price of $299. However, Samsung is not the first to launch such a product. Pebble began selling its smartwatch online back in January 2013 and from stores this past July. Apple is expected to release a similar product as well as Sony. These devices function in conjunction with specific smartphones or even an iPod touch in order to allow for more convenient uses.

What is your opinion on the new Galaxy Gear? Is Apple really falling behind? Post your views in the comment section below!

Jeopardy!

In most countries, obtaining space of an existing distribution center is a simple matter of paying rent. In what country is the process a good deal more complicated than this?

 

Answer in the comment section below. The answer will be revealed at next week’s “Jeopardy!”

Answer to last week’s “Jeopardy!”: What are the five most valuable global brands in the world? According to the annual review by BusinessWeek and Interbrand, the top five are Coca-Cola, Apple, IBM, Microsoft and GE.

Apple Patent Ruling Vetoed

The intellectual property rights debate is once again in the spotlight. The Obama administration overturned an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling against Apple. This veto marks history as no such decision has been made against the ITC in more than 25 years.

Smartphone companies are increasingly relying on patents to outrun their competitors. Apple and Samsung, the most notable pairing, have been battling out patent issues in the courts for the past two years.

This veto allowed for the initial June 2013 ruling to be overturned that banned the sale of older iPhone and iPad models due to a patent infringement with Samsung at the time.

The United States Trade Representative Michael Froman believes the veto is vital in order to prevent harm to both consumers and the U.S. economy.

What is your opinion about the ruling being vetoed? Post your thoughts in the comment section below.