Why has Apple Stopped Growing?

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The iPhone, Mac Book, iPad and iPod-there is no denying that Apple successfully creates and sells some pretty amazing technology. In fact, Apple has been deemed the biggest financial bull run of any technology company in history. You just have to look at the numbers to see that; the company grew from $13.931 billion in revenue in 2005 to $170.910 billion in 2013. The tech giant stole its title as one of the best by securing revenue growth year after year. In January, Apple CFO Peter Oppenheimer predicted that Apple will generate the same amount of revenue this past quarter as it did last year and most analysts agreed. Apple did successfully generate more revenue than ever during the first fiscal quarter of 2014, but many believe that the remainder of the 2014 fiscal year may not bring the same growth that the company is accustomed to. This could possibly be the first year since Steve Jobs returned to Apple and turned the company around that revenue will not grow from one fiscal year to the next.

What’s the reason for the lack of growth? IPhone sales, which represent 56% of Apple’s revenue, would be the first place to look for that answer. Moving forward sales are expected to be flat and stay relatively level. On the other hand, Apple’s iPad doesn’t have the same success story or foothold as its cousin, the iPhone. While the phone industry allows the iPhone to sell at an average cost of $637 each and be re-purchased by consumers every two years or so, the iPad has not found the same success in growth opportunity. The iPad is the most recent device Apple invented, spawning an entire category of devices and dozens of copycats, however they are steadily being labeled as something we can do without. Smartphones have edged out the necessity for a Tablet and many other devices. Those that do feel the need to own an iPad are not replacing them as frequently as you would a lost, stolen or broken iPhone. In addition to the stability of the iPhone and lack of growth in iPad profits, consumers are realizing that they can end up purchasing more affordable alternatives. If you want to watch a HD movie on a tablet, and two products offer the same experience, why do so on one with the Apple pricetag?

Though it is anticipated that Apple will not see growth, we can’t count the innovative tech giant out just yet. Rumored launches for later this year include a larger iPad and iPhone, as well as the iWatch which may provide incremental growth in revenue. It might not rake in the massive revenue that they are used to, but it’s still enough to build on top of its current base.

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Treehouse Offers Four-Day Work Week

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All too often we are asked to stay a little late for work. Ryan Carson, a new grad working his first time as a software developer, wasn’t exempt from this phenomenon. Working 48 hours to finish a project for a startup company made him start to think, what if companies could prevent burnout by limiting work hours? In 2010, he created Treehouse, a company that develops online courses in website-building, code writing and mobile apps. Though the company is smaller and headquartered outside of Silicon-Valley, it still offers some large scale perks. The best perk is that every weekend starts on Thursday night. Gigats took a look at the benefits and downfalls to a four-day work week and how it is panning out for Treehouse.

If you’re thinking those four-day weeks are probably comprised of 10-hour long days and not as fantastic as it sounds, you’d be wrong. Carson says that the company maintains a normal schedule throughout the week. The four-day work week perk has proven to be an excellent recruiting tool. The benefit has allowed Treehouse to attract top talent, and retain it. One Treehouse developer regularly gets job offers from Facebook and Google and continues to decline, citing their lack of a four-day work week.

Working the short week does come with its challenges, though. Carson never bites off more than he can chew, carefully selecting projects and dedicating concentrated time. He cuts out unnecessary meetings and avoids the time suck of Email. Instead, Treehouse staff use a service called Hipchat that allows businesses to set up chat rooms. Treehouse also utilizes an online tool that they designed called Flow, which allows employees to post daily updates on specific projects.

Even though the work week can get a bit hectic and become a time crunch, Carson says he doesn’t plan to move away from it. The company has financially been successful even without working Fridays and seen tremendous growth.

What do you think of the four-day work week? Would the perk attract you to a career with a company?

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Striving for Work Life Balance

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Arianna Huffington, author of “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” wants everyone to know that there is more to life than work. Our culture is made up of many who prioritize success, money and power above our own well-being. Huffington recently shared insights on how to slow down before we burn out and obtain a better work-life balance while at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.

Huffington recommends various strategies to help keep you balanced and centered and how to approach life differently- moving away from survival mode and the relentless pursuit of success. Huffington’s main suggestion for improving your work life balance is to make micro-changes. Start out small, altering just one habit to tip the balance back toward sanity. For example, try to get 30 minutes more sleep per night, or begin meditating for 5 minutes each day. By starting out with small changes you can eventually move towards a larger life transformation. Simple changes such as these have huge, scientifically backed benefits and can lead to improvement in physical and emotional health, as well as boost creativity, confidence and decision-making skills.

Huffington believes that our society gives us “endless signals” to continue to focus on climbing the career ladder and measures success on two metrics: money and power. It’s important to remember that aside from those two things, we should also keep in mind our own well-being and continue to strive towards maintaining a healthier work-life balance.

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The Future Belongs to Google

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It’s no surprise that technology has helped and will continue to help shape our lives and our work place. With tech giants like Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Google the advancements in technology are numerous and continue to alter how we operate in our daily lives. But which of these companies does the future really belong to? Mudit Kakkar, Engineer, analyst and writer believes that it rests in the hands of Google.

Google has an uncanny ability to know where we are and what we plan to do next. What started as a simplistic search page has spawned a democratization of the Internet. While Google doesn’t always produce the best possible product right from the gates, they will go back, hone it and turn version 1.0 into a relic. Google is talented when it comes to changing interfaces and adapting its services. By constantly changing, tweaking and fine-tuning its products, Google is able to remain relevant. Kakkar says that Google doesn’t wait for something to break before finding a resolution and believes that the company operates under the unspoken mantra that prevention is better than cure. It is this continuous improvement that Kakkar believes separates the company from others that are struggling to stay on the map.

While excellent software or hardware design was always an honor reserved for Apple, in 2011 Google made the decision to rival the company. CEO, Larry Page presented a vision of a revamped Google and put his design team to work, an approach that continues to drive the company. Acquiring companies like Android, and other seemingly offbeat products allows Google to expand its horizons while continuing to sharpen existing products. Google continues to remain hard at work to make our lives easier, more connected and rather enjoyable. Beyond striving to set itself apart from its competitors, Google has happy employees, fosters innovation and continues to grow.  Google’s willingness to take on off-the-wall projects, such as Google Glass, driver-less cars, and robots, and continue to perfect its current products, is what makes them the harbingers of tomorrow.

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Can Handwriting Reveal Job Aptitude?

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You may want to start practicing your cursive. Recently, many handwriting experts, called graphologists, are claiming that millions of people can be denied jobs based on what their handwriting reveals about their personality and aptitude for the job.

Graphology is the practice of determining aspects of a person’s personality and mental status from their handwriting. Do you write with a forward slant? That’s the sign of an outgoing personality. Think you have a back problem? Take a look at your descending letters (such as j, g or y) to see if there is a break. As neat as it may sound to have your handwriting analyzed by a graphologist, is there any actual validity to the practice of judging a person for job aptitude based on their handwriting?

Graphologists believe that a page or two of handwriting can help distinguish an accountant from a chef, and a go-getter from a lazy person. There is after all a stereotype when it comes to doctor’s writing, right? Most critics of the practice claim that any success in job placement based on graphology can easily be explained away. Scott Lilienfield, author of 50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology, points out the contents of a handwritten application letter can be full of biographical information which can predict job performance. In addition, he states that often by the time a graphologist has received an application to review it has already been through some sort of process that eliminated the bad apples and landed it into a pool of people who are qualified for the job.

For the most part the use of graphology and other odd hiring practices is marginal, so there is no need to start perfecting your writing now. Continue to work on building your resume and gaining valuable work experience and you should be one step closer to finding the right job for you.

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Music at Work

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According to the digital music service, Spotify, 61% of people stream music during the workday with 36% saying that it’s what gets them through their 9-5. Finding that one thing that can get you through the day just a little faster and with a bit more enthusiasm is important, but we have to make sure it isn’t at the expense of others. Gigats took a look at proper work-place music etiquette and the rules for whistling while you work.

Everyone has varying tastes in music. One persons’ motivational jam can sound like nails down a chalkboard to another. Remember to keep the volume low if you work in an open space without walls. Spotify reported that 10% of respondents admit to judging a co-worker based on their choice of music, so make sure you aren’t listening to anything loud enough that you wouldn’t want others to hear. Also, we all have that tune that just makes us want to get up and dance, but try your best not to tap or hum along to a song as it can create an unwanted distraction.

Where and when you wear your headphones is an equally as important factor. Try not to wear your headphones 24/7- it can create isolation and make it difficult for co-workers to communicate with you. Make sure that your music doesn’t become a higher priority than your co-workers. If someone comes to your desk, remove both of you ear phones and devote your full attention to avoid sending the signal that you are only partially listening. You should also never wear your ear phones away from your desk. It doesn’t matter if you are just going down the hall to make a copy, if you are going to step away from your desk you should leave your head phones behind.

Another helpful tip for keeping the office peace when it comes to music is to try to attain a group consensus. Have a conversation regarding the company policy and don’t hesitate to ask your co-workers if they mind if you listen to music while you work. If you all decide to play music out loud, the safest bet is to stick with mainstream music or to compromise- classical music one day, pop hits the next.

Maintaining the office harmony doesn’t mean you need to give up your music. Just make sure that you follow these basic music etiquette practices to ensure the best office surroundings for everyone.

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Building a Resume

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Building a strong resume is important for your job search, and recently job seeker, Leah Bowman, landed herself in the news for taking the task literally. When a potential employer asked Bowman for a persuasive advertisement she looked to a large part of her childhood to help her out- Legos.

Using her graphic design skills and love for the buildable blocks, Bowman used the Lego Digital Designer to create a brick version of herself.  The Lego Brick version came complete with assembly instructions that highlighted Bowman’s skills, creativity and initiatives.

Bowman’s inspiration for building the Lego version of herself stemmed from her frustration with the boring application process. Bowman stated that it’s easy to be edged out by competition, so she wanted to find something that had a little more “umph” than just a regular resume.

It is becoming more common for individuals to mix up the standard resume. Whether it’s implementing a QR code, or creating witty advertisements writing a resume has never been more fun. How do you think Bowman’s resume stacked up against the competition?

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Americans are Ditching PTO

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According to a recent survey run by Harris Poll , American employees who receive paid time off use only 51% of it, on average. Why are Americans leaving money on the table in the form of unused time off and scrapping the Caribbean Cruise? Job security. Employees aren’t taking time off that they have earned due to their concern for keeping their job. While 44% of employees believe that it is likely they could find another job in 6 months if they lost their job, the remaining 56% aren’t as confident.

The 51% of the paid time off that we are taking isn’t directly resulting in a traditional vacation, either. Employees are using time off to accomplish other things, like the 11% who reported that they used it to interview for another job. Another 61% report that they still did some work while they were away from the office. Due to the growth of technology, it is difficult to fully “vacate” our work for a couple of weeks. We are finding that just one full day away from work is a luxury, but more than that feels like a hassle.

While 25% of Americans still report taking all of their eligible time off, it is becoming evident that the word “vacation” doesn’t mean what it did in the past in the eyes of employers and employees. The good news is that 85% of Americans who receive paid vacation or time off took at least some of it in the past 12 months- but clearly there is room to take more.

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Mad Men Workplace Policies

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Our favorite show about the Ad Man we hate to love is coming back for its final season this weekend. The first half of the seventh and final season of Mad Men returns this Sunday on AMC. The next season of Mad Men will focus on Don Draper grappling with a new decade and some of our other favorite characters, like Peggy Olsen, taking control and figuratively “wearing the pants.” Throughout the course of the show Peggy Olsen has represented the changing face of women at work.  Peggy began as a naïve, demure secretary to the smooth-talking Don Draper and has developed into a force to be reckoned with, taking Draper’s job as Creative Director- but like many women today, she still faces her challenges.  In January, during the State of the Union Address, Obama discussed doing way with work place policies that “belong in a Mad Men episode.” Citing the gender pay gap, he discussed changing policies that disadvantage women. Here at Gigats, we couldn’t help but think of the ways that businesses can venture out of the Mad Men era, change workplace policies and keep women at work.

Aside from the obvious suggestion of closing the wage gap in which women earn .77 cents to every dollar that a man earns, there are several things that can be done to allow working women to become even more successful. Currently, there is a concept of an “up-or-out” culture; a woman or man with strong credentials is punished for choosing not to move up a corporate ladder. For working mothers, this is a large source of frustration. They desire to continue to contribute and add value to a company and are content with remaining “in the middle” for the sake of their family or other outside reasons. Changing the concept that you must move up to be successful would provide everyone with more options in the work place. Another way to do away with Mad Men work policies, would be to provide varying benefits, including offering housework, elder care assistance for employers with care-giving responsibilities, providing flexible work hours, and offering paid sick time and paid parental leave.  Women spend approximately 30% more time on housework and childcare than men do. Additionally, the average caregiver for elderly parents is a 49-year-old working woman. Benefits that guarantee assistance in the home free up the opportunity for individuals with significant responsibilities outside of the workplace to focus more on their career.

There is evidence to support the fact that women at work, and in leadership roles, yield positive results for families, business, the economy and society. Just watch an episode of Mad Men this season and you’ll find yourself cheering for the confident, successful women who have grown into dominant roles. While typewriters and 8am Old Fashions have pretty much been done away with, there is still room to rid ourselves of work place policies that should have been left in a different decade.

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Work Day Stress

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It could be your daily commute or your work load, your coworkers or a poor work-life balance. Regardless of the source, it’s likely you experience work-induced stress. Not to worry, you aren’t alone. A recent survey found that approximately 8 out of 10 Americans are stressed by at least one aspect of their jobs.

The Work Stress Survey, headed by Everest College and conducted by Harris Interactive, found that there were varying sources for our headaches at work. Harris interviewed 1,004 adults 18 years and older and asked them to name their biggest stressor. The top two stressors on the list were low pay, and that pesky daily commute. Following close behind were other factors, including a heavy work load, annoying coworkers, the inability to advance, and overwhelming bosses.

Wendy Cullen, vice president of employer development at Everest, advises that employees should take control of their own situation and pursue new skills if they are becoming too worn down by their daily work stress. The research conducted falls in sync with Stress Awareness Month and was completed in hopes that employers will use the results to make improvements in the workplace.

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