Morning Business Memo:
The executive who has overseen Apple’s new Maps app has been shown the exit ramp. Apple Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is reported to have fired Richard Williamson after widespread criticism of the app. Apple CEO Tim Cook issued a rare apology for the mapping problems after the company replaced Google Maps with its own version on iPhones and iPads using IOS 6. The new service had mislabeled streets, misleading driving directions, missing images and incorrect addresses. The firing of Williamson follows a shakeup in Apple’s senior management, announced late last month.
It will almost certainly take several weeks for the retail industry to know if they can celebrate a rise in holiday sales. A firm that analyzes customer traffic says stores had a strong 8.2 percent rise in foot traffic over the four-day Thanksgiving weekend. But Chicago-based-ShopperTrak reports total sales rose only 2.7 percent compared with the same period a year ago. ShopperTrak counts foot traffic and sales numbers from 40,000 retail outlets across the US.
The growth in online shopping is a clear trend, and mobile appears to be a stellar performer. Global strategy executive Lars Kamp is tracking the rise in mobile use at the consulting firm Accenture. He tells ABC News Radio “mobile is everywhere and it’s growing.” More than ever consumers are using mobile devices even before they go shopping. “They pull out their mobile phones their smartphones and actually search for shops they want to go to and they actually check if certain inventory is ready if they can get the best price.” Inside the store, says Kamp, “there’s price scanning involved, downloading coupons for getting the best deal.” But he says “showrooming” continues to be a growing trend–shoppers look over the goods in stores then buy them online, a difficult challenge for traditional retailers.
That hot little car the Fiat 500 is getting bigger and going electric. Two new versions of the Italian-styled mini-car are appearing at the Los Angeles Auto Show this week: The “500e” is the brand’s first all-electric model in the US. while the “500L” comes with four doors and significantly more room than a regular model. The first 500 hit U.S. showrooms two years ago with a retro look but also more fuel-efficient than the 1950s original. Since then several variations of the remake have rolled out.
Fiscal cliff worries are a drag on the stock market. The Dow Jones index fell 89 points yesterday and stock futures fell this morning. Global stock averages are down, and according to analysts concerns about what an across-the-board tax hike would do to the US economy are the leading cause of investor angst.
Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC NEWS Radio ABCNews.com twitter.com/daviesabc