6 Most Important Things in Business Today

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Two Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) shareholders expressed concern that iPhone use may hurt child development. They made a number of suggestions to the company’s board about how the problem could start to be remedied.

Ticket sales of “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” hit a wall in China. According to The Wall Street Journal:

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi” opened to a soft $28.7 million in China this weekend, less than the prior two installments in the series. That signals that Walt Disney Co.  hasn’t succeeded in its efforts to gain momentum for a prized franchise in the world’s second-largest movie market, where it previously wasn’t well known.

“Star Wars: The Force Awakens” opened to $52.5 million over two days in 2016 and last year’s spinoff “Rogue One” took in $32.4 million on its first three-day weekend.

Volkswagen and Uber teamed up with at U.S. chip company Nvidia Corp. (NASDAQ: NVDA) to advance self-driving cars. According to Bloomberg:

Nvidia Corp., trying to spread its industry-leading graphics chip technology into new areas, said Uber Technologies Inc. and Volkswagen AG will use its artificial intelligence expertise to help bring self-driving cars to the roads.

Uber, the largest ride-hailing company, will use Nvidia processors and software for its forthcoming fleet of self-driving vehicles, the chipmaker’s Chief Executive Officer Jen-Hsun Huang said at the CES consumer electronics show Sunday in Las Vegas. Volkswagen will deploy Nvidia technology to develop an intelligent co-pilot system, the companies said, and Huang was joined on stage by Herbert Diess, VW brand chief.

SpaceX made a secret launch of one of its rockets. According to CNBC:

SpaceX successfully launched a secret U.S. government payload called Zuma on Sunday and landed its rocket back on Earth, in the company’s first mission of 2018.

The Zuma spacecraft was attached to one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. It was launched into orbit from the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The Falcon 9 successfully landed back to base.

Consumers who use voice assistant technology often cut back on smartphone use. According to CNBC:

Two thirds of people who use digital voice assistants like the Amazon Echo or Google Home use their smartphones less often, according to a new survey published by tech consultancy Accenture.

The results suggest that the next big wave of consumer technology will be centered around these digital assistants, and may spell trouble for smartphone makers like Apple and Samsung— who lag behind Amazon and Google in this emerging space.

The online survey, conducted by Accenture and Harris Interactive, included 21,000 people from 19 countries and was conducted in October and November 2017.

New tax laws will trigger a wave of share buybacks. According to CNNMoney:

 Wall Street can’t wait for the roughly $1.2 trillion in foreign profits that S&P 500 companies are sitting on to get returned.

Some of that money will go toward creating jobs and rewarding workers with a raise or a bonus. But analysts believe the bulk of it will be used to reward shareholders.

In fact, Bank of America forecasts that companies will devote $450 billion — or roughly half the remainder after paying taxes — to stock buybacks. That’s a huge windfall that doesn’t even include buybacks inspired by the lowering of the corporate tax rate to 21%. It nearly totals the entire amount that S&P 500 companies bought back in 2016.