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Cobalt crisis coming? Apple in direct talks with miners of battery mineral

Rocky future

In case you had any doubts the future is going to run on batteries, Apple’s latest move may help convince you. Bloomberg says the Cupertino tech giant is in talks with mining companies that pull the mineral cobalt out of the ground, since that’s one of the primary ingredients in batteries. Until now, Apple just relied on battery makers to round up the stuff, but Cook and company apparently see a cobalt crunch on the horizon.

They apparently want to lock down a cobalt supply line before Elon Musk’s Telsa electric car company – and pretty much every other car company – dominates the battery market. As you can imagine, cars use a lot more of the stuff than cell phones, so until someone comes up with a cobalt-free battery that works as well or better, you can bet the fight over cobalt is just getting started. Bloomberg says about a quarter of the cobalt mined in world goes into portable device batteries.

Is that a Snapdragon on your head, or…

Mobile World Congress is coming up next week, and while the annual tech fiesta in Barcelona is typically focused on phones, that is slowly changing as the chips that power our smart phones find their way into other devices, like “always on” and cell-connected PCs, and now, VR headsets. Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 845 chipset is set to make it’s big debut at MWC, most likely in the new Samsung Galaxy S9 smartphone, but also in a VR headset.

Fortune says the chipmaker will be bringing a “reference design” VR headset to the show that runs on the 845, and it’ll be part of Qualcomm’s new “Snapdragon 845 Xtended Reality platform.” The headset will feature dual 4-megapixel displays, and it’ll be a standalone device rather than relying on a tether to a PC. With low-cost stand-alone headsets coming from other VR equipment makers, the timing might be right for Snapdragon setup.

Pista means “expensive,” right?

Hey, we know, your Ferrari 488 GTB just isn’t cutting it at the track. Really, we feel your pain. Solution? The new Ferrari 488 Pista, a new track-focused version of the gorgeous supercar that still street legal, but cuts weight and adds power. The twin-turbo V8 gets a light massage to put out 710 horsepower, while also losing weight.

The body has been reworked a bit to better flow air and cool off that heavy breather of an engine. Team Prancing Horse has also teched up the 488 a bit more by including something called the Ferrari Dynamic Enhancer, which apparently re-works the braking performance to let you hang the rear end out a bit more exiting that big turn at the local track. And be sure to pop for the carbon fiber wheels as well.

Price? The base 488 is a quarter million dollars, so expect the Pista version to be… a bunch more than that. Hey, you know the rule: Want to go faster? Just add money.

We’ve got more news on our Facebook page and YouTube channel, and be sure to tune in to this week’s DT podcasts: Trends with Benefits (general tech shenanigans)  on Thursdays, and Between the Streams (movie and TV topics) every Friday.

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