By tomorrow, we'll know the government's official count of people with and without jobs for the month just finished, September. We talk about what we can expect from the Jobs Report for September. Plus, Bank of America's CEO Brian Moynihan is getting another title: chairman of the board. The bank announced the promotion while praising Moynihan for simplifying the company. And now to the campaign to push customers away from websites and into the more circumscribed universe of apps. Among the reasons we are often begged to use the app instead: The app lets companies get far more info about you.
There's an app for that. So stop using the website.
This is the message companies are trying to drum into users. Mobile is, as we know, convenient and personalized—but there is more to it than that. Apps let companies mine far more of your personal data than websites. That is a major incentive to get you to make the switch from web to mobile.
If you try to use the real estate website Zillow on your phone, you are bound to run into a full-screen ad for one of its many apps.
“Now,” says Jeremy Wacksman, who leads mobile strategy for the company, “Zillow can be present in your pocket when you're touring open houses, when you're driving around the neighborhood, when you're laying in bed at night checking something.”
With all its apps, Zillow can keep you company day and night. Wacksman says two-thirds of Zillow's traffic is now on phones. The company has also partnered with Google Now, an app that gathers information from places like a user's web browser, phone GPS and other Google products. Zillow wants to use that data to show people ads for houses before they even know they want them.
Mobile data opens up all kinds of possibilities for companies. For instance, your contact list can help Instagram connect more user accounts; LinkedIn can learn about your social network from your calendar. And, of course, advertisers will pay a pretty penny for that kind of data.
Every year Appthority releases a report rating the security and privacy of top apps. Company co-founder Domingo Guerra says there is so much more information on mobile than web.
“You have the GPS location, so exact coordinates maybe 24-7,” he says. “And then there is access to cameras, microphones, calendars, address books, even vibration of the device.” That is powerful data he says can be sold or leaked to third parties.
Even if your data is not distributed, Domingo says it is uncertain what companies will do with it all. Many of those companies don't know themselves.
“The more data they collect now,” he says, “the more uses they can find for it later.”
If you do switch from a website to its mobile app counterpart, it may not be obvious what information about yourself you are giving up.
In any case, some companies do not leave consumers much of a choice. On Facebook, for example, mobile users can only send messages by downloading its new messenger app, which, by the way, has been criticized for gathering all sorts of personal data.
General Motors CEO Mary Barra is trying to change the conversation. This year’s ignition switch recall, and the hearings and lawsuits that followed, have weighed heavily on the automaker. Barra is now focusing on a new strategy, pledging to boost profit margins, cut costs and grow the company. She’s aiming to achieve pretax profit margins of 10 percent in North America by 2016.
GM’s plan includes new factories in China and streamlining global production. It also focuses on what customers want: new, quieter vehicles, broadband and even a hands-free driving option called "Super Cruise."
Jeremy Acevedo, an analyst at the car-shopping site Edmunds.com, says the strategy is an opportunity for Barra to reinvent the GM brand. “She’s allowed to repaint GM as a new, customer-focused brand, whereas before, it just kind of looked like the old GM that was so interested in driving profits.”
Of course, strong profits are exactly what Barra ultimately wants to achieve. “Our strategic plan,” says Barra,“ is a pathway to earn customers for life and create significant shareholder value in the process.”
President Barack Obama is set to deliver remarks on the economy on Thursday at Northwestern University in Illinois. While unemployment has fallen to 6.1 percent, many people still feel uneasy about the recovery.
So we asked a couple of economic thinkers: What could the president say to tout the economy?
“In particular, you would want to point to the labor market,” says Dan Greenhaus, chief global strategist at BTIG. He says job gains have been steady for months.
“I think there’s this misconception that we need to see 300 or 400 or 500,000 jobs created every month,” he says. “In the context of where the economy currently is, the numbers we’re getting, which are around 200-and-change-thousand a month, are pretty good.”
Wells Fargo senior economist Mark Vitner says things don’t seem better because of the quality of jobs being added, many of them part-time or in low-wage professions. Take New York City, for example.
“There are more than a quarter million more jobs in New York City today than there were prior to the financial crisis,” Vitner says. “But the total amount of income earned from working in New York City is less today than it was prior to the financial crisis.”
Vitner says the lack of improvement in income growth is the driving factor behind the country’s economic worry.
In an interview with NPR, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says that Arab countries "no longer view Israel as an enemy, but a potential partner."