📍Apple’s AirTag problem, explained

In 2009, BlackBerry had 20% of the global smartphone market. Yesterday, Apple hit a $3T market cap. The lesson: Name your company after fruit. It’ll work out — sometimes.

🚨Reminder: This week we’re giving away $4k in Airbnb gift cards. Enter the raffle by sharing The Hustle using your unique referral link below. The raffle ends Jan. 7, 2022, at 11:59pm ET.*

Today’s rundown:

  • AirTags: Apple’s $29 privacy problem.
  • Lab-grown meat: The numbers behind the meat of the future.
  • Not so fab: Semiconductors have a serious job shortage.
  • Around the web: Hard-drinking hamsters, 5 ways to stick to your New Year’s resolutions, and more wild internet finds.

Let’s do it.


Apple’s AirTag problem, explained

Apple’s website states that “privacy is a fundamental human right,” but one of its new products apparently didn’t get the memo.

AirTags, the company’s coin-sized location trackers, have reportedly been used for stalking, and it’s freaking people out, per The New York Times.

First, what are AirTags?

AirTags are 1.26-inch discs equipped with Bluetooth and location-tracking capabilities, and are part of Apple’s “Find My” suite of tools that help users track items.

While “Find My” tracks Apple products automatically, AirTags let users track everything else (e.g., wallet, purse, puppy).

AirTags use the entire iOS device network to report location — and since Apple products are everywhere — that means more exact locations than other tracking devices.

Now the scary part

Bad actors have been dropping the tags in purses and behind license plates to track people unknowingly.

Despite Apple adding safety features, victims have reported a range of issues, including:

  • Late notice: Victims of unsolicited tracking receive a vague notification reading “AirTag detected near you,” but some report it taking 4+ hours or even days to get the notification.
  • Difficulty finding the AirTag: The tiny size of AirTags makes them hard to find, causing victims stress.
  • Weak responses: Apple encourages victims to reach out to law enforcement, but some say police don’t always take the claims seriously.

Also, if you don’t have an iPhone, you won’t get a notification at all.

Apple has pushed several new safety features…

… including an update prompting AirTags to beep when they’ve been away from their paired device for one day, and an app allowing Android users to manually scan for AirTags in their proximity.

Critics argue the beeping noise is faint, and the Android app requires proactive use.

But it’s not all bad — here are 10 creative (noncriminal) ways to use AirTags for good.


New year, new subscription: Sweetgreen piloted a new subscription offering called Sweetpass, which costs $10 and gives users $3 off per day for 30 days. #ECOMMERCE-RETAIL

Battery boom: The EV market is set for monster growth, with 13 battery gigafactories expected to open in the US by 2025. #CLEAN-ENERGY

Headset hustle: IDC estimated Oculus sold between 5.3m and 6.8m VR headsets in 2021, up from 3.5m in 2020. #EMERGING-TECH

Stolen apes: OpenSea froze $2.2m of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs after the owner reported them stolen. #FINTECH-CRYPTO

Letdown: Doctors argued the Apple Watch has had an underwhelming impact on patient health care given its potential. #BIG-TECH

MFM: Shaan explains how Miss Excel makes $100k per day on TikTok. #MFM

timeline of cost of growing cell-based shrimp

The lab-grown meats are coming

“Honey, I was thinking of printing some steaks for dinner.”

We’re not that far away from that phrase being used colloquially.

A lot’s happening with lab-grown meat at the moment, and, interestingly, significant innovation in the space is coming from the Holy Land.

Last year, Jerusalem-based Future Meat, which lab-grows chicken, lamb, and beef products, raised $347m; Aleph Farms raised $105m; and Redefine Meat raised $29m.

Even the meat eaters are interested: Tyson Foods, one of America’s largest meat producers, participated in Future Meat’s funding.

Is the meat affordable?

Not yet, but it’s getting there. Back in 2013, lab-grown burgers cost $330k per patty.

Today, Future Meat can make 1 lb. of chicken for $7.70, down from $18 last year. And Singapore-based Shiok Meats hopes to launch lab-grown shrimp at $37/kg. next year, down from $7.4k in 2019.

As to how the meat looks, while the image of steak being printed from tubes labeled “fat,” “blood,” and “muscle” is not especially appetizing, consider this: Is a chopped-up cow much better?


We’ve got a massive semiconductor worker shortage

The semiconductor industry is in a pickle.

Intel has earmarked $100B+ on chip fabrication plants in coming years. Its competitors — Samsung and Taiwan Manufacturing Semiconductor Company (TMSC) — are putting up similar sums.

All this money…

… can’t buy enough people to actually run the plants. Per The New York Times, there will be a shortage of up to 300k semiconductor workers in the US by 2025.

The skill shortage runs the gamut from technicians to run the plants to researchers to design the newest chips.

One big issue: Silicon isn’t sexy. Today, university grads with engineering degrees — especially Ph.D.s — are taking their degrees to software, which often pays better too.

How to train the next generation

The semiconductor firms are implementing new recruiting plans, per NYT:

  • US chip manufacturers are lobbying for more foreign work visas to fill the gap
  • Leading Taiwanese universities are launching semiconductor-specific courses together with TMSC
  • 12 Chinese universities have already created chip-focused colleges to fill the void

With semiconductor chips a geopolitical flashpoint for the 21st century, making silicon sexy is a matter of national security.


2021 year in review, by Trends

That was a funky rebound year. Unexpected, even.

Some icons to cherish it by: More remote work living. The new-age space race. Metaverses. NFTs. Squid game memes. A 400-meter ship blocking the Suez Canal that foreshadowed our bottlenecking global supply chain.

We made 150+ market predictions last year…

… by stripping trends and digging data. See our top 2021 hits and misses.

Trendsters got the early word on simmering niche industries like biohacking, mental fitness, sextech, pet funerals, exclusive health clubs, and much more.

2022 is full of new opportunities, and we’re always delivering.

For inside scoops, access our newsletter and community of 17k members.


🚗 On this day: In 1996, General Motors announced its first electric car, the EV1, at the Greater Los Angeles Auto Show. It made ~2.5k of them before production ceased.

😴 That’s interesting: A study found that sleeping more at night had no real impact on workers in a poor urban environment in India, but afternoon naps improved productivity, cognition, and well-being.

💡 Useful: Uptime is an app that turns books, classes, and documentaries into 5-minute “knowledge hacks.”

🤓 How to: If you made a resolution for the new year, try these 5 science-backed techniques to ensure you keep it.

🤯 Whoa: This optical illusion is super trippy. Just stare at the center of this page for 30 seconds and then…

🐹 Wait, what: Hamsters not only love to drink, but they can also hold their liquor. A single hamster can drink the human equivalent of 1.5 liters of Everclear a day.

AirTag meme

Genius. (Source: Memedroid)

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