iPhone malaise, Venezuela rallies, luxury potato chips

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 last month in a staff memo. But a loss is still likely.

Nationwide rallies rock Venezuela. In what’s being dubbed “the takeover of Venezuela”—by the opposition leaders encouraging the demonstrations—protestors will vent their frustration over the country’s economic crisis. The rallies follow the suspension of a recall referendum drive against president Nicolas Maduro. Amidst widespread food shortages, analysts have warned of potentially violent unrest.

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.

While you were sleeping

Apple reported 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%.

…And it is apparently developing a car operating system in Canada. Over the past year it’s hired about two dozen engineers from BlackBerry’s QNX, an automotive software provider, Bloomberg reported. The tech giant tends to keep R&D projects at its California headquarters.

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.

Australia reported better-than-expected inflation numbers for the third quarter. Consumer prices rose 0.7% from the second quarter, compared to a consensus forecast of 0.5%. That makes a rate cut in November less likely.

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 (paywall).

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.

Rodrigo Duterte let Beijing know the South China Sea was theirs long before being elected president. In an interview with China’s state broadcaster CCTV, he scoffed at the Philippines’ legal challenge to China’s maritime aggression.

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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