The beta version of Apple’s Business Chat has been launched for users in Canada and the United States giving users a new way of communicating with businesses. With Business Chat users will be able to contact customer service, schedule appointments, place orders directly from their Messages app. Some of the corporations that have signed up to participate in the beta launch include Wells Fargo, Marriott, Lowe’s, Hilton, TD Ameritrade, Home Depot and Discover.
In order to interact all that businesses need to do is tap the Messages icon and then type in the message they want to send to a business. Customers of Home Depot can for instance request for quick help with regards to a home improvement DIY project from their Apple devices without having to go to the store physically or call customer care representatives. Placing of customized orders will also be possible as all that users will be required to do is send pictures of what they are looking for. This is expected to improve the accuracy of orders. With some businesses it will be possible to buy using Apple Pay within Business Chat.
Capital return plan
This comes in the wake of a Wall Street firm indicating that the capital return plan of Apple is bound to grow bigger. According to Citi Research proceeds from the tax reforms that were carried out last year in the United States will be used for the share buyback program as well as to pay dividends. Citi Research has consequently reiterated the buy rating for shares of Apple.
“… we expect investor focus to be on the impact from Apple’s capital returns strategy, which we estimate could be a $100 billion increase, the 2H18 lineup, and continued strength in Apple’s Services segment,” wroteJim Suva, an analyst in client note.
Suva’s price target for shares of Apple remains $200 per share and thus per the closing price on Wednesday the share would have to appreciate by 16.5%. According to Suva in the next earnings call Apple will raise capital return program from the current $300 billion to around $400 billion.
Per Suva the increase of $100 billion in capital returns is double what Apple has added in the last two years. This is likely to a lead to a doubling of the annual share buyback. For the last five years the share buyback has averaged $32 billion per year. Apple is expected to report its second-quarter earnings early next month.