Disney CEO departs Apple’s board with video showdown looming

Robert Iger has been involved with Apple since 2006, when he helped Disney buy Pixar. (AFP)
Updated 14 September 2019

Disney CEO departs Apple’s board with video showdown looming

  • Both Apple and Disney are taking aim at the rapidly growing video streaming market that Netflix pioneered.

SAN FRANCISCO: Walt Disney Co. CEO Robert Iger has stepped down from Apple’s board of directors as the two companies prepare to launch competing video streaming services aimed at market leader Netflix.

Apple disclosed Iger’s departure in a regulatory filing, but his resignation became effective on Tuesday. 

That was the same day that Apple announced that its long-awaited video streaming service will debut on Nov. 1 and cost only $5 per month, less than half the price of Netflix’s most popular plan.

Disney is gearing up to launch a video streaming service for $7 per month later in November.

The competing services raised potential conflicts of interest that apparently prompted Iger to step down after spending nearly eight years on Apple’s board.

Apple praised Iger as an “exemplary” board member and one of its “most trusted business partners” in a statement.

Iger responded in kind. “Apple is one of the world’s most admired companies, known for the quality and integrity of its products and its people, and I am forever grateful to have served as a member of the company’s board,” he said in a statement.

Iger, 68, became involved with Apple in 2006 when he negotiated a $7.4 billion deal to buy computer animation studio Pixar, a company run by Steve Jobs. That made the Apple co-founder Disney’s largest shareholder, and Jobs took a seat on Disney’s board, which he held until his death in 2011.

Both companies are taking aim at the rapidly growing video streaming market — a field that Netflix pioneered along the way to amassing more than 150 million subscribers worldwide. But the intensifying competition could slow Netflix’s growth, a threat that came into sharper focus earlier this summer when the company disclosed its first quarterly decline in U.S. subscribers since 2011.

Without elaborating, Apple said its relationship with Iger and Disney will continue “far into the future.”

The Cupertino, California, company didn’t say whether it intends to replace Iger on what is now a seven-member board.


Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

Updated 19 October 2019

Huawei in early talks with US firms to license 5G platform: executive

  • Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive
  • Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009

WASHINGTON: Blacklisted Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei is in early-stage talks with some US telecoms companies about licensing its 5G network technology to them, a Huawei executive told Reuters on Friday.
Vincent Pang, senior vice president and board director at the company said some firms had expressed interest in both a long-term deal or a one-off transfer, declining to name or quantify the companies.
“There are some companies talking to us, but it would take a long journey to really finalize everything,” Pang explained on a visit to Washington this week. “They have shown interest,” he added, saying conversations are only a couple of weeks old and not at a detailed level yet.
The US government, fearing Huawei equipment could be used to spy on customers, has led a campaign to convince allies to bar it from their 5G networks. Huawei has repeatedly denied the claim.
Currently there are no US 5G providers and European rivals Ericsson and Nokia are generally more expensive.
In May, Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment provider, was placed on a US blacklist over national security concerns, banning it from buying American-made parts without a special license.
Washington also has brought criminal charges against the company, alleging bank fraud, violations of US sanctions against Iran, and theft of trade secrets, which Huawei denies.
Rules that were due out from the Commerce Department earlier this month are expected to effectively ban the company from the US telecoms supply chain.
The idea of a one-off fee in exchange for access to Huawei’s 5G patents, licenses, code and know-how was first floated by CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei in interviews with the New York Times and the Economist last month. But it was not previously clear whether there was any interest from US companies.
In an interview with Reuters last month, a State Department official expressed skepticism of Ren’s offer.
“It’s just not realistic that carriers would take on this equipment and then manage all of the software and hardware themselves,” the person said. “If there are software bugs that are built in to the initial software, there would be no way to necessarily tell that those are there and they could be activated at any point, even if the software code is turned over to the mobile operators,” the official added.
For his part, Pang declined to predict whether any deal might be signed. However, he warned that the research and development investment required by continuously improving the platform after a single-transfer from Huawei would be very costly for the companies.
Huawei has spent billions to develop its 5G technology since 2009.