Apple’s iPhone malaise, Twitter’s paradox, Netflix hallucinogens

Good morning, Quartz readers!

What to watch for today

Elon Musk tries to silence the Tesla doubters. The electric car company’s quarterly results are a chance to “throw a pie in the face of all the naysayers on Wall Street who keep insisting that Tesla will always be a money-loser,” its CEO wrote in a staff memo.

India and Russia discuss closer military ties. Russian defense minister Sergei Shoigu will meet with his Indian counterpart Manohar Parrikar in New Delhi to talk about the joint funding of a new fighter jet and a missile defense system.

Australia releases inflation data. Traders don’t expect the country’s central bank to cut interest rates further, but particularly weak inflation numbers could tilt the balance.

While you were sleeping

Apple’s iPhone sales fell for the third straight quarter. The company’s quarterly revenue and profit were roughly in line with expectations, but shares fell 2% in after-hours trading. China revenue plummeted nearly 30%.

Flipkart’s CFO resigned.  Sanjay Baweja, who joined two years ago from Tata Communications, will leave at year’s end.  Once a clear leader in India’s e-commerce market, Flipkart is now struggling with growing competition from Amazon India.

Obamacare premiums skyrocketed. The US government announced that fees will rise 25% next year, which Donald Trump cited as evidence that the health insurance plan was “blowing up.” However, increased subsidies mean that most consumers won’t pay much more.

Uber’s autonomous truck made a historic beer run. The Otto self-driving truck delivered 45,000 cases of Budweiser between two Colorado cities, in a pivotal test that could spell eventual doom for human truckers. Otto received $470 for the delivery.

Volkswagen’s $14.7 billion US settlement was approved. A federal judge gave the go-ahead for a deal—one of the biggest settlements in corporate history—between the carmaker and 475,000 owners of polluting diesel vehicles. Buybacks will begin next month.

Quartz markets haiku

Markets are spooked
The traders’ big fear? There’s too
much tranquility ☯️

Quartz obsession interlude

Oliver Staley on the paradox of Twitter—a cultural success and a business failure: “The company hasn’t had a profitable quarter in the three years since it went public, it was unable to find a buyer recently during a very public attempt to sell itself, and, according to Bloomberg, it’s now planning on laying off 8% of its employees, about 300 workers. More ominously, user growth is stalling.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Elon Musk’s Mars plan has a slew of critical flaws. The effort is too large in size and cost and there’s little benefit in reducing the journey time to four months.

Muslim Americans can’t win in the presidential election. It’s Donald Trump’s Islamophobia versus Hillary Clinton’s pro-drone stance in the Middle East.

The US military has a Terminator conundrum. Autonomous weapon systems are central to its future plans.

Surprising discoveries

Red Bull has created 11 billionaires in Thailand. Chaleo Yoovidhya, the inventor of the energy drink, left behind $22 billion for his heirs.

Virtual assistants are being sexually harassed. Siri, Alexa, and Cortana have to dodge personal questions and flirtatious comments from human users.

The Vatican is cracking down on cremated ashes. They can’t be displayed, scattered, or distributed to family members.

Hallucinogens may be the future of entertainment. Netflix’s CEO thinks “pharmacological” competition is a few decades away.

Luxury potato chips are retailing at $11 each. A Swedish microbrewery is selling the snacks, which are made by hand from gourmet ingredients.

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