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THE VOICE ASSISTANT LANDSCAPE REPORT: How artificially intelligent voice assistants are changing the relationship between consumers and computers

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 01:02 PM PST

bii consumer usage and interest in VAs global 2017 accenture

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Advancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology. 

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing them to accurately understand more information, while upgrades to mobile networks are facilitating quick transfers of data to robust clouds, enabling fast response times. In addition, the swell of internet connected devices like smart thermostats and speakers is giving voice assistants more utility in a connected consumer's life. 

Increasingly sophisticated voice assistants and the growing potential use cases they can assist in are driving consumers to adopt them in greater droves — 65% of US smartphone owners were employing voice assistants in 2015, up significantly from 30% just two years prior. Consumers are also eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.

However, there are still numerous barriers that need to be overcome before this product platform will see mass adoption, as both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist. 

In a new report, BI Intelligence explains what's driving the recent upsurge in adoption of digital voice assistants. It explores the recent technology advancements that have catalyzed this growth, while presenting the technological shortcomings preventing voice assistants from hitting their true potential. This report also examines the voice assistant landscape, and discusses the leading voice assistants and the devices through which consumers interact with them. Finally, it identifies the major barriers to mass adoption, and the impact voice assistants could have in numerous industries once they cross that threshold. 

Here are some key takeaways from the report:

  • Voice assistants are software programs that respond to voice commands in order to perform a range of tasks. They can find an opening in a consumer’s calendar to schedule an appointment, place an online order for tangible goods, and act as a hands-free facilitator for texting, among many, many other tasks.
  • Technological advances are making voice assistants more capable. These improvements fall into two categories: improvements in AI, specifically natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning; and gains in computing and telecommunications infrastructure, like more powerful smartphones, better cellular networks, and faster cloud computing.
  • Changes in consumer behavior and habits are also leading to greater adoption. Chief among these are increased overall awareness and a higher level of comfort demonstrated by younger consumers.
  • The voice assistant landscape is divided between smartphone- and speaker-based assistants. These distinctions, while important now, will lose relevance in the long run as more assistants can be used on both kinds of devices. The primary players in the space are Apple's Siri, Microsoft's Cortana, Google Assistant, Amazon's Alexa, and Samsung's Viv. 
  • Stakes in the competition for dominance in the voice assistant market are high. As each assistant becomes more interconnected with an ecosystem of devices that it can control, more popular platforms will have a sizable advantage. 

In full, the report:

  • Identifies the major changes in technology and user behavior that have created the voice assistant market that exists today. 
  • Presents the major players in today's market and discusses their major weaknesses and strengths. 
  • Explores the impact this nascent market poses to other key digital industries. 
  • Identifies the major hurdles that need to be overcome before intelligent voice assistants will see mass adoption. 

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. » Learn More Now
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. » Purchase & Download Now

Join the conversation about this story »

THE AI DISRUPTION BUNDLE: The guide to understanding how artificial intelligence is impacting the world (AMZN, AAPL, GOOGL)

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 12:01 PM PST

global ai commerce financing trend

This is a preview of a research report bundle from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Artificial intelligence (AI) isn't a part of the future of technology. AI is the future of technology.

Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg have even publicly debated whether or not that will turn out to be a good thing.

Voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa have become more and more prominent in our lives, and that will only increase as they learn more skills.

These voice assistants are set to explode as more devices powered by AI enter the market. Most of the major technology players have some sort of smart home hub, usually in the form of a smart speaker. These speakers, like the Amazon Echo or Apple HomePod, are capable of communicating with a majority of WiFi-enabled devices throughout the home.

While AI is having an enormous impact on individuals and the smart home, perhaps its largest impact can be felt in the e-commerce space. In the increasingly cluttered e-commerce space, personalization is one of the key differentiators retailers can turn towards to stand out to consumers. In fact, retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, at a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group.

This can be accomplished by leveraging machine learning technology to sift through customer data to present the relevant information in front of that consumer as soon as they hit the page.

With hundreds of hours of research condensed into three in-depth reports, BI Intelligence is here to help get you caught up on what you need to know on how AI is disrupting your business or your life.

Below you can find more details on the three reports that make up the AI Disruption Bundle, including proprietary insights from the 16,000-member BI Insiders Panel:

AI in E-Commerce Report

ai ecommerce

One of retailers' top priorities is to figure out how to gain an edge over Amazon. To do this, many retailers are attempting to differentiate themselves by creating highly curated experiences that combine the personal feel of in-store shopping with the convenience of online portals.

These personalized online experiences are powered by artificial intelligence (AI). This is the technology that enables e-commerce websites to recommend products uniquely suited to shoppers, and enables people to search for products using conversational language, or just images, as though they were interacting with a person.

Using AI to personalize the customer journey could be a huge value-add to retailers. Retailers that have implemented personalization strategies see sales gains of 6-10%, a rate two to three times faster than other retailers, according to a report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG). It could also boost profitability rates 59% in the wholesale and retail industries by 2035, according to Accenture.

This report illustrates the various applications of AI in retail and use case studies to show how this technology has benefited retailers. It assesses the challenges that retailers may face as they implement AI, specifically focusing on technical and organizational challenges. Finally, the report weighs the pros and cons of strategies retailers can take to successfully execute AI technologies in their organization.

The Smart Speaker Report

smart speaker report

Smart speakers — Amazon's Echo, for example — are the latest device category poised to take a chunk of our increasingly digital lives. These devices are made primarily for the home and execute a user's voice commands via an integrated digital assistant. These digital assistants can play music, answer questions, and control other devices within a user's home, among other things.

The central question for this new product category is not when they will take off, but which devices will rise to the top. To answer this question, BI Intelligence surveyed our leading-edge consumer panel, gathering exclusive data on Amazon's recently released Echo Show and Echo Look, as well as Apple's HomePod.

This report, which leverages BI Intelligence's proprietary data, analyzes the market potential of the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod. Using exclusive survey data, we evaluate each device's potential for adoption based on four criteria: awareness, excitement, usefulness, and purchase intent. And we draw some inferences from our data about the direction the smart speaker market could take from here.

The Voice Assistant Landscape Report

Voice assistant landscapeAdvancements in a bevy of industries are helping intelligent digital voice assistants like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa become more sophisticated and useful pieces of technology.

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are allowing them to accurately understand more information, while upgrades to mobile networks are facilitating quick transfers of data to robust clouds, enabling fast response times. In addition, the swell of internet connected devices like smart thermostats and speakers is giving voice assistants more utility in a connected consumer's life.

Increasingly sophisticated voice assistants and the growing potential use cases they can assist in are driving consumers to adopt them in greater droves — 65% of US smartphone owners were employing voice assistants in 2015, up significantly from 30% just two years prior. Consumers are also eagerly adopting speaker-based voice assistants, with shipments of Google Home and Amazon Echo speakers expected to climb more than threefold to 24.5 million in 2017, according to a report from VoiceLabs.

However, there are still numerous barriers that need to be overcome before this product platform will see mass adoption, as both technological challenges and societal hurdles persist.

This report explains what's driving the recent upsurge in adoption of digital voice assistants. It explores the recent technology advancements that have catalyzed this growth, while presenting the technological shortcomings preventing voice assistants from hitting their true potential. This report also examines the voice assistant landscape, and discusses the leading voice assistants and the devices through which consumers interact with them. Finally, it identifies the major barriers to mass adoption, and the impact voice assistants could have in numerous industries once they cross that threshold.

LIMITED-TIME OFFER:

Access the three in-depth reports referenced above today when you claim our exclusive AI Disruption Bundle. By purchasing the full bundle today you will SAVE 33% 0ff list price! But act now, as this is a limited-time offer.  
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Register for an All-Access membership to access these three reports PLUS hundreds of other reports, data, and daily newsletters! Register for All-Access NOW >>

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THE MOBILE CARRIER LANDSCAPE: How AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint are overcoming slow user growth amid a fierce price war

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 11:06 AM PST

bii big four carrier revenue

This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

It hasn't been smooth sailing for telecoms in recent years. Native voice and messaging services, which once accounted for the vast majority of telecoms' subscriber revenue, are struggling to compete with over-the-top (OTT) apps, like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Viber — and they're losing.

A fierce and ongoing price war among the Big Four carriers is only compounding the pressure telecoms are facing. The consequent resurgence of unlimited data plans is straining carriers' networks, and revenues are suffering.

Nevertheless, telecoms are now better positioned than ever to play a bigger role in their subscribers' lives. Consumers spend more than half of their digital time on smartphones, compared with a third on PCs. This shift has effectively placed telecoms at the front door of consumers' digital experience.

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we examine where the wireless industry stands as a result of the price war and uptick in data demand from consumers. We also look at how technological advancements and the adoption of new product lines could incentivize the next wave of revenue growth for telecoms. Finally, we explore potential barriers to carriers' growth, and examine which of the Big Four carriers are poised to lead the pack.

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

  • Native voice and messaging services, which once accounted for the vast majority of telecoms' subscriber revenue, are struggling to compete with over-the-top apps.
  • A fierce ongoing price war among the Big Four is only compounding the pressure telecoms are facing.
  • Still, consumers' growing dependence on smartphones and data means telecoms are now better positioned than ever to play a bigger role in their subscribers' lives.
  • As digital continues to reshape the wireless industry, telecoms are preparing for the next wave of disruption, including connected cars, augmented reality, and 5G.
  • Despite a plethora of opportunities, several existing and emerging threats could impede telecoms' growth and expansion efforts.

In full, the report:

  • Describes how the US wireless carrier is shaping up.
  • Explores the effect of the fierce pricing wars taking place, and the methods carriers are using to retain their subscribers.
  • Highlights the new technology carriers are using to drive growth and revenue. 
  • Looks at the potential barriers that could limit carriers' growth and examines who's best positioned to come out on top.

To get the full report, subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and more than 250 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now

You can also purchase and download the full report from our research store.

Join the conversation about this story »

A Wikipedia rival just landed $30 million from crypto investor Mike Novogratz

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 10:31 AM PST

Screen Shot 2018 02 08 at 11.22.22 AM

  • A Wikipedia rival just landed $30 million in an equity deal, partially funded by Mike Novogratz's new crypto merchant bank. 
  • Everipedia is moving onto the blockchain to create a crypto-twist of Wikipedia. 


A Wikipedia competitor that is moving onto the blockchain just landed $30 million in funding in an equity deal involving a number of investors, including a fund overseen by Mike Novogratz's new merchant bank Galaxy Digital.

Everipedia, founded in 2015, will use the money to fund a blockchain protocol the company is working on, cofounder and president Sam Kazemian told Business Insider.

The protocol is built around a digital token, kind of like an ether token, which will function as a key to the backend of the online encyclopedia. Holders of the token will be able to create new articles, monitor activity on the site, and update articles. 

"What we are building is a token, not a Chuck-E-Cheese token," Kazemian said. "It has a specific utility."

Those tokens, according to Kazemian, will be airdropped to holders of EOS — another digital currency. The protocol will make the editing process on the site more transparent, Kazemian said. Token holders who want to make an edit will have to put up a small collateral in order to do so, deterring trolls who would have to pay to make dubious edits to articles. The tokens also give holders voting rights over what is added to the site. 

The investment is among the first made by Galaxy Digital, the merchant bank recently launched by Novogratz. 

“We’re delighted to support Everipedia and look forward to the growth of a more modern and inclusive encyclopedia that puts the world’s knowledge on the blockchain,” said Novogratz in a news release. 

Bloomberg reported on Wednesday the crypto enthusiast raised $250 million for the bank. 

Everipedia has 3 million unique visitors a month and over 6 million articles. Still, it's a far cry from Wikipedia's 40 million.

SEE ALSO: High-speed trading firms have been hoping for market chaos just like this

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: VMware CEO reveals which tech will have the most impact on the world, and why Elon Musk is wrong on AI

Forget the Apple 'spaceship' and Salesforce tower — San Francisco’s most eye-popping wonder is the army of giant whales that navigate its waters, and it’s surprisingly easy to get up close

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 10:18 AM PST

humpback whale

Whale watching may not be the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about things to do in Northern California.

Touring San Francisco? Definitely. Visiting wine country? Sure. Seeing Apple's new Spaceship headquarters? Maybe, if you're a tech geek.

But it turns out the area is also a splendid place to catch sight of the leviathans of the seas. Every year, several species, from orcas on up to the biggest of them all, blue whales, make their way down the California coast on the way from Alaska to Mexico and then back again. Just which whales you'll see depends on the time of the year.

Boats that offer whale watching tours leave out of San Francisco and Half Moon Bay, which is about 25 miles south of the City. You can also get whale watching tours on boats that leave from points along Monterey Bay, which is south of San Jose.

In December, I went on whale watching tour with my family on a boat that left out of Moss Landing, which is about an hour south of San Jose on Monterey Bay. We caught sight of more than 10 humpback whales, including three that we're swimming together. At one point, one of the humpbacks surfaced within 50 yards of our boat. It was an amazing experience.

But there was more to see than just humpbacks. Here's more about our unforgettable whale-watching adventure and everything you need to know to have your own expedition: 

SEE ALSO: A photographer captured the astonishing moment a pair of humpback whales breached in perfect unison off Sydney

Whale watching tours leave out of three primary areas in and around the San Francisco Bay Area.

Boat tours leave from San Francisco; Half Moon Bay, which is just south of San Francisco; and from harbors along Monterey Bay, which is south of San Jose. 



Our tour left from Moss Landing, which is about an hour south of San Jose.



Moss Landing Harbor is picturesque and mostly filled with fishing boats.

But it's used for more than just that. Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is located at the harbor and has a research vessel docked there. The ship carries a submersible the institute uses to explore the ocean.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

15 years after 11 uber-wealthy heirs appeared in the controversial documentary 'Born Rich," here's where they are — from the White House to the Amazon

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:30 AM PST

Ivanka Trump Donald Trump White House

• The 2003 documentary "Born Rich" is 15 years old now.

• The film looks into the lives of incredibly wealthy young heirs and heiresses.

• Some of the film's participants regretted appearing in the controversial documentary.


Fifteen years ago, Johnson & Johnson heir Jamie Johnson came out with a documentary exploring what it's really like to inherit a fortune.

He delved into his own experience growing up wealthy, and also interviewed 10 other young, uber-rich heirs and heiresses. Some were friends, and others ran in the same social circles. 

The interviews delved into the attitudes, taboos, and culture of the 1%, and produced an endless number of memorable, outrageous, and, occasionally, tone deaf soundbites.

The resulting film, "Born Rich," took Johnson years to put together, and resulted in two Emmy nominations and a lawsuit from one of the cast members.

But that's all in the past. Here's a look at where all of the "Born Rich" stars have ended up:

SEE ALSO: A look inside the daily life of Ivanka Trump, who works from the White House, likes watching 'Real Housewives,' and doesn't use her phone on Saturdays

DON'T MISS: A look inside the incredible life of Georgina Bloomberg, the heiress to her father's $52 billion empire who once said 'having the last name Bloomberg sucks'

Georgina Bloomberg

Georgina Bloomberg, the 34-year-old second daughter of former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg, is heir to one of the biggest fortunes in the world. Forbes estimates that Bloomberg is worth $49.8 billion.

That's part of the reason she made headlines when she declared at 19 that "having the last name Bloomberg sucks" in "Born Rich."

In the years since the documentary, Bloomberg has established herself as a top equestrian and philanthropist with a passion for animal rights. She's also come around to be more accepting of her family name, telling Town and Country, "It's a last name that now I'm proud of. At 19, I wasn't."



Stephanie Ercklentz

In the documentary, finance heiress Stephanie Ercklentz said she had never dated outside of her "social background," The Daily Mail reported.

She's since married powerhouse investor Chase Coleman III, tying the knot with him in Palm Beach in 2005. Coleman is worth $2.2. billion, according to Forbes.

The heiress and her husband are both private people, Town and Country reported, and have kept a low profile in the press for years.



Christina Floyd

Christina Floyd, the daughter of famous golfer Raymond Floyd, attended Wake Forest University and graduated with a degree in art history.

Floyd remained close friends with fellow "Born Rich" star Ivanka Trump over the years, Town and Country reported. Putting her art history degree to good use, she worked at Sotheby's, where she met art dealer Emmanuel Di Donna, before leaving to run her own firm, Floyd Contemporary.

According to 27east.com, she married Di Donna in 2010, in a beachside ceremony in Mexico.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Trump launches into morning tweetstorm on Russia and White House domestic abuse controversy

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 09:23 AM PST

Donald Trump

  • President Donald Trump tweeted about reports that a Russian with ties to the Kremlin sold purported dirt on Trump to US officials seeking to recover stolen cyberweapons.
  • He also alluded to the abrupt exits of two former White House aides following reports detailing domestic abuse allegations against them.
  • "I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on," he tweeted in response to the reports of US officials paying the Russian to recover hacking tools.
  • In reference to the aides' exits, he tweeted that lives were "being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation."


President Donald Trump went off on Saturday about recent developments that have shaken the White House and the US national security apparatus.

First, he tweeted about a New York Times report which found that a Russian with questionable ties to Russian intelligence attempted to sell unverified "kompromat" on Trump to American spies last year. 

"According to the @nytimes, a Russian sold phony secrets on 'Trump' to the U.S. Asking price was $10 million, brought down to $1 million to be paid over time," Trump tweeted. "I hope people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here. It is all now starting to come out - DRAIN THE SWAMP!"

The Russian got in touch with US intelligence officials in early 2017, after they offered to pay for top-secret cyberweapons that the Shadow Brokers, a hacking group said to be aligned with the Russian government, stole from the National Security Agency in the summer of 2016, the Times reported.

According to the report, the Russian initially demanded a $10 million payment in exchange for the cyberweapons in addition to kompromat on Trump. The price was later whittled down to $1 million, to be paid in separate installments.

US officials made it clear they were only interested in the hacking tools, and that they did not want the purported dirt on Trump. They suspected that the offer of kompromat was part of a disinformation campaign to sow political discord within the US — a tactic the Kremlin had already employed when it interfered in the 2016 presidential race. Officials also suspected that the deal was an attempt to pit the US intelligence community against the president.

After several meetings towards the end of 2017 during which the Russian repeatedly showed up with the purported dirt but without the stolen cyberweapons, American officials cut off the deal and warned the man to go back to Russia and stay there, the report said. 

It's unclear what Trump meant on Saturday when he tweeted he hoped "people are now seeing & understanding what is going on here."

Trump has often accused senior officials at the FBI, the Department of Justice, and the intelligence community of working to undermine his presidency. Most recently, the president latched onto a memo released by the House Intelligence Committee last week — which purports to show surveillance abuses by the FBI and DOJ — as evidence of that theory.

Trump alludes to West Wing turmoil amid aides' abrupt exit

rob porter

Trump also appeared to allude to recent shakeups within the West Wing after two key staffers were forced out amid allegations of domestic abuse. 

"Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation," Trump tweeted. "Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?"

Rob Porter, the former staff secretary, and David Sorensen, the former speechwriter, both left the White House this week after their ex-wives accused them of physical and verbal abuse while they were married.

Colbie Holderness, who was married to Porter from 2003 to 2008, has provided photos to the FBI and news outlets of a black eye she says he gave her. Jennifer Willoughby, Porter's wife from 2009 to 2013, provided a copy of a 2010 protective order she filed against him.

Sorensen's ex-wife, Jessica Corbett, accused him of running a car over her foot, putting out a cigarette on her hand, throwing her into a wall, and grabbing her by her hair when they were alone on their boat, according to the Washington Post.

White House spokesman Raj Shah said the administration "confronted" Sorensen on the matter, after which he resigned.

Both men have consistently denied the allegations against them.

Trump told reporters on Friday that he hopes Porter has a "wonderful career," adding that Porter "says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that."

The White House was roped into the controversy after reports surfaced this week that White House counsel Don McGahn and Chief of Staff John Kelly knew about the allegations against Porter since last year and did not investigate them.

Shah said earlier this week that administration officials "could have done better" in dealing with the allegations.

SEE ALSO: 'Political theater': The House Intelligence Committee's Russia investigation is nearing the point of no return

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A Georgetown professor explains how Martin Luther King Jr. 'has been severely whitewashed'

This mysterious young artist who refuses to reveal her age is being called the 'Andy Warhol of YouTube' with 250 million views — and there are multiple conspiracy theories about her

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:06 AM PST

Poppy, Youtube

  • Poppy is an artist who's gained over 250 million views on her YouTube channel.
  • She has mesmerized and confused viewers with videos such as "I'm Poppy," a 10 minute video featuring her repeating the words "I'm Poppy," that has over 14 million views.
  • She was recently compared to Andy Warhol by New York Magazine.

 

Poppy is a YouTube star who claims she's "from the internet." Her robot-like, soft voice and puzzling YouTube monologues — sometimes sung, sometimes recited — deliver slightly nonsensical messages to her viewers.

"Do you ever think about followers? What does it mean when you have a lot of followers? There's a number after my name. Do you have a number after your name? The number keeps climbing higher and higher," she says into the camera during one of her videos published last year.

Her YouTube channel has over 250 million views, and she and her director, Titanic Sinclear, recently debuted her new YouTube Red show "I'm Poppy" during the Sundance Film Festival. She also released an album on Diplo's Mad Decent records called "Poppy.Computer" that features songs such as "Computer Boy" and "Interweb."

Poppy is influenced by Japanese "kawaii" culture, ASMR videos, David Lynch, and of course, the internet. In a recent profile on the artist in New York Magazine she was compared to Andy Warhol.

Because little is known about the woman who represents Poppy, conspiracy theories from Poppy Truthers have flown around both Reddit and YouTube. Some believe she's a member of a cult, or that Sinclear is keeping her hostage, or that her YouTube Channel — which has videos dating back to 2014, is actually just a marketing campaign for something.

Poppy plays with and responds to these theories within her videos such as "Tide Commercial" and "I Am Not In A Cult."

Below, a look at the artist Poppy.

SEE ALSO: These four women want to help plan your dream funeral

Poppy's first YouTube video came out in 2014. During it, she quietly eats cotton candy.



She and Sinclear have produced over 300 videos for her channel. Her monologues vary in subject, but her words often ring satirically empty. In her video "Politics" she says: "I like politics. I have an opinion. I like politics because it's fun."



The aesthetic of her videos has remained mostly consistent — pale pastel backdrops and generally light colored clothes fill the frame.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's how Amazon's and Apple's new smart speakers stack up with consumers (AMZN, AAPL)

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:03 AM PST

tech adoption likely buyersThis is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.

Smart speakers — Amazon's Echo, for example — are the latest device category poised to take a chunk of our increasingly digital lives. These devices are made primarily for the home and execute a user's voice commands via an integrated digital assistant. These digital assistants can play music, answer questions, and control other devices within a user's home, among other things. 

The central question for this new product category is not when they will take off, but which devices will rise to the top. To answer this question, BI Intelligence surveyed our leading-edge consumer panel, gathering exclusive data on Amazon's recently released Echo Show and Echo Look, as well as Apple's HomePod. 

In a new Smart Speaker report, BI Intelligence analyzes the market potential of the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod. Using exclusive survey data, we evaluate each device's potential for adoption based on four criteria: awareness, excitement, usefulness, and purchase intent. And we draw some inferences from our data about the direction the smart speaker market could take from here.

Here are some of the key takeaways:

  • Amazon's new Echo Show is the big winner — it has mass-market appeal and looks like it will take off. The combination of usefulness and excitement will drive consumers to buy the Echo Show. The Echo Look, though, seems like it will struggle to attract that same level of interest.
  • Apple’s HomePod looks likely to find a place in the smart speaker market but won’t dominate its space like the iPhone or iPad did.
  • The smart speaker market will evolve rapidly in the next few years, with more devices featuring screens, a variety of more focused products emerging, and eventually, the voice assistant moving beyond the smart speaker.

In full, the report:

  • Showcases exclusive survey data on initial consumer reactions to the Echo Look, Echo Show, and HomePod.
  • Highlights the aims and strategies of major players in the smart speaker market.
  • Provides analysis on the direction this nascent market will take and the opportunity for companies considering a move into the space.

Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

  1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
  2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

Join the conversation about this story »

Microsoft has a problem with Xbox that it can't buy its way out of

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:00 AM PST

Microsoft’s Xbox group is in a weird place.

An estimated 30 to 50 million Xbox One consoles have been sold, putting Microsoft in a distant second place in the console race behind Sony's 70-plus million selling PlayStation 4 console. And Nintendo's Switch console? It's a runaway success.

Super Mario Odyssey

In under a year, Nintendo sold over 14 million Switch consoles — it's the fastest-selling console in US history. Nintendo attributes this success primarily to one thing: A lot of really good games you can only play on the Switch.

"We were able to offer multiple hit titles early on for Nintendo Switch that serve as powerful drivers for hardware sales," Nintendo president Tatsumi Kimishima said in the company's latest financial presentation.

The Xbox One, by comparison, isn't doing so great. On paper, it's competitive with or outright better than the competition from Sony and Nintendo.

Starting at $200, the Xbox One is low in price, and jammed with great games, to boot. Even the lowest-end model of Xbox One supports HDR, a high-end video technology that makes games look better on TVs that support. It does everything a set-top box like the Apple TV does, like let you watch Netflix — plus it plays high-end blockbuster games. 

xbox one s

In reality, though, it's the console I'm least likely to suggest to any would-be buyer. 

If you don't own any consoles, the PlayStation 4 has many of the same games, like the latest "Assassin's Creed," and a bunch of great exclusive games, including the critically-acclaimed "Horizon Zero Dawn."

Though the Nintendo Switch doesn't have many third-party blockbusters like "Call of Duty," it has a big edge in terms of exclusives — there's no other way to play the latest "Super Mario" games. That's a pretty big advantage.

And if you already own a PlayStation 4 or PC? There simply aren't many major Xbox exclusive games that make the Xbox One worth owning.

Playerunknown's Battlegrounds

So, what's Microsoft going to do? That's the big question.

Here are some ways they could go:

SEE ALSO: Xbox is in trouble — and Microsoft is considering a major acquisition to fix it

1. Microsoft could buy a game publisher or development studio, as recently suggested by rumors.

The latest rumors suggest Microsoft is considering an acquisition of some sort — a game development studio or publisher that could bolster Microsoft's stable of intellectual properties. 

The companies most recently rumored as acquisiton targets are as follows:

1. EA (makers of "Madden NFL" and "FIFA," among many others).
2. Valve (operators of Steam, makers of "DOTA 2" and "Half-Life" and much more).
3. PUBG Corp. (the South Korean subsidiary of Bluehole Studio that makes/manages the very popular "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds"). 

But does that make any sense? "Close to zero probability of buying EA," Wedbush senior analyst Michael Pachter told Business Insider in an email exchange. 

There's a good reason for that, and it's the same reason that Microsoft's unlikely to most any of the other major game publishers (like Ubisoft, Activision, Take-Two Interactive, or Bethesda Softworks). EA, like many other major game publishers, has a business that's dependent on making games for every platform, including Sony's and Nintendo's. If Microsoft bought one of these publishers, it would be to keep that publisher's games for the Xbox platform.

That makes any such proposition a poor business choice. Not only would the publisher cost Microsoft a ton of money up front just to buy, but it would be difficult to make money back on the investment when they're suddenly limited to only developing for Xbox. 

"That would lower EA revenues — by a lot, unlikely to be made up by growth on Xbox — and would make a purchase prohibitively expensive," Pachter said. Though EA has a large library of intellectual property, losing the revenue of selling that IP on competing platforms would hurt too much. This same scenario applies directly to the other big publishers, from Activision ("Call of Duty") to Ubisoft ("Assassin's Creed").



2. Microsoft could lean in to its PC business and walk away from consoles altogether.

There's a major initiative at Microsoft's Xbox division that's years deep at this point: It's called "Xbox Play Anywhere." 

The concept is simple: Any game published by Microsoft will come to both Xbox One and Windows 10. If you buy it once, you get it both places. If you save your game one place, you can pick up the game where you left off on the other device. It's pretty sweet!

And it may very well be the entire future of the Xbox business. "The next platform might end up being the PC," Pachter said. "The Xbox Anywhere initiative seems to acknowledge that a Windows 10 PC works fine as a game console." 

This doesn't mean saying goodbye to Xbox as a platform. It could live on in software form, as a user-friendly interface on your TV (for instance). Maybe "Xbox" as we know it becomes a component of another device — an Apple TV or a Roku, perhaps.

In the short term, Microsoft is unlikely to abandon the Xbox console altogether. But you can, perhaps, expect Microsoft to shift focus towards the PC. 

"There probably will be a next generation," Pachter said, "but it is likely to be smaller."



3. Microsoft buys Valve, thus acquiring Steam (and much more).

Valve's Steam service, a computer-based storefront and platform for gaming, is huge. Somewhere in the ballpark of 200 million people actively use it every month. 

If Microsoft's looking to the future of Xbox as a computer-based platform that works "anywhere" (instead of only on a dedicated piece of hardware created by Microsoft), buying Valve would certainly be a way to massively bolster that initiative. 

Not only does Valve have Steam — which brings a huge chunk of new users and a lucrative storefront — but Valve also owns a bunch of classic gaming IP. The "Half-Life" franchise, for instance, could finally see its long-promised third installment as a big Xbox exclusive. 

But Valve is a private company, and there's no way to know how much it's worth. Valve takes a 30% cut of Steam sales, on average, and Steam is the most widely-used game store on Earth. "I presume they do around $2 billion in Steam sales, but just a guess," Pachter said.

All of which is to say one thing: Valve could be outrageously expensive to buy, and it's entirely possible that they're not up for sale.



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Incredible photos of the small French commune that held the first Winter Olympics

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 08:00 AM PST

Cahier Museomontagna

Before the Winter Olympics became the spectacle it is today, it began as a modest ensemble of athletes in Chamonix, France.

The snowy, French commune hosted the first winter games with 16 participating nations in 1924.

The event would forever change Chamonix; it propelled the town out of obscurity and into the global spotlight.

As the 2018 Olympics kicks off in Pyeongchang, South Korea, take a look at the history of the city that hosted the first winter games.

SEE ALSO: South Korea spent over $1 billion on these mega-venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics — take a look

In 1924, Chamonix, France held the first Winter Olympics, originally called "International Winter Sports Week."



Before the games, Chamonix was a sleepy ski town.

Four years prior, it had built a cable car system to climb Mont Blannc, the highest mountain in the Alps.



10,000 spectators from across North America and Europe showed up for the Olympics.

Source: The International Olympic Committee



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

All the TV shows that have been canceled in 2018

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:20 AM PST

Lady Dynamite Netflix

It's early in the year, but the list of canceled TV shows is already piling up.

Networks haven't announced many cancellations yet with the exception of ABC, which canceled freshman sitcom "The Mayor" and "Once Upon a Time" (which was once a ratings hit). 

On the streaming side, things are a bit different. Amazon kicked off 2018 with a slew of cancellations, announcing the end of three quirky comedies. It axed Golden Globe nominee "I Love Dick" and comedian Tig Notaro's semi-autobiographical show, "One Mississippi." 

There are many more cancellations to come, especially since networks haven't announced the fates of their fall shows. We'll update this list as more cancellations are announced. 

Here are all the shows that were canceled this year, including those from networks and Netflix:

SEE ALSO: The worst TV show of every year since 2000, according to critics

"The Mayor" — ABC, one season



"Chance" — Hulu, two seasons



"Lady Dynamite" — Netflix, two seasons



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff wants to add $50 billion to the business in 15 years — here's why analysts think he has a shot at it (CRM)

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

Benioff_Trudeau

  • Salesforce, a company known for making big promises, told analysts it expects to see $60 billion in annual revenue by 2034 — up from the $10.43 billion the company is expected to report for fiscal 2018. 
  • To get there, analysts told Business Insider that the company is going to have to expand its product offerings into new industries through development or acquisitions. 
  • But none of the analysts seemed to think that this revenue target is unreachable. 


Salesforce is one of  the hottest companies in enterprise software, and CEO Marc Benioff plans to keep it that way. 

While it took Salesforce a decade to reach its first billion dollars of revenue, the company expects to grow its revenue 600% — from $10 billion in fiscal 2018 to $60 billion — in the next 15 years, according to a slide shown to analysts last month. 

As the founder and face of Salesforce, Benioff is not known for being demure. He does, after all, own the naming rights to the tallest building in San Francisco — not to mention the public transportation center and park that sit behind it. He regularly rents out AT&T park in San Francisco to host concerts with his self-proclaimed friends in hyper-famous rock bands like Metallica. And just this Thursday, he hosted Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in San Francisco for a meeting to discuss diversity (and a $2 billion investment in Canada). 

This is all to say that Benioff goes big, and $60 billion in revenue is a pretty big deal. Only 139 of the global Fortune 500 generate that much revenue on an annual basis, and Salesforce rival Microsoft is one of the few software companies on the list to do it. 

But analysts, in conversation with Business Insider, said that Salesforce's new revenue target is more than just another boast from the company's jubilant leader.

"Like lots of things that Marc does, he forward sells a vision," said Ray Wang, principal analyst and founder at Constellation Research. "I think that they're going to get there. We're gonna see that the combo of M&A and internal growth are going to happen to get to that number."

Salesforce's brand and community are its greatest asset Salesforce_golden

Whether Salesforce grows through acquisitions or product development, much of its success will come from customer brand loyalty, said Wang. People like the Salesforce universe and would prefer to use its tools than look to outside software.

"We're seeing a lot of expansion of existing Salesforce accounts into other areas," Wang said. "They're really trying to build people who are advocates for Salesforce inside organizations, and people that have the training skills." 

This is key because it means that large enterprises may be less likely to use a Salesforce competitor or small startup in the space, even if the product offering is better. 

"I have never seen anything like this in the history of enterprise software where people are just super excited to get badges and are competing for badges with the experts in different areas," Wang said about Salesforce's Trailhead training community. "Let's say Salesforce can activate those customers like that so that inside their own organizations they can adopt salesforce faster and quicker."

"It would be unlike any other enterprise software company in terms of getting adoption," Wang continued. "The last time we saw anything like that was in the 90's when everyone wanted to be an SAP certified consultant or SAP certified individual. And that's what's really interesting about what they've done."

There is potential in industries like government and healthcare 

Salesforce Einstein

While Salesforce made a name for itself selling the Sales Cloud, its customer relationship management software for sales people, the company also sells subscriptions to software with specific tools for industries like finance and marketing.

Analysts see new industry-specific verticals as being a huge area of growth for the company — particularly in under addressed markets like healthcare and the public sector. 

Salesforce actually launched its Government Cloud in 2014, and its Health Cloud in 2016, however both industries remain a very small part of Salesforce's overall revenue compared to its sales products. 

Joel Fishbein, an analyst with BTIG, said he believes Salesforce has single-digit market share when it comes to the federal government, mostly because government agencies have been slow to adopt new technologies.

Currently, Salesforce counts the US Army, Air Force, the Department of Veteran Affairs and The Department of Homeland Security as customers. 

"As the federal government undergoes this digital transformation story, Salesforce is in a very enviable position," Fishbein said. 

Salesforce also has a growing foot print in healthcare, where it works with hospitals and insurance companies including Mount Sinai and Anthem.

Keith Block, Salesforce's Chief operations officer, said that the Health Cloud, along with the Financial Services Cloud, are the fastest growing products at the company. And the global healthcare CRM market is huge, and could grow to a $17.8 billion market by 2025, according to Grand View Research.

Growing its products offerings may also mean going deeper into its existing verticals by adding new capabilities. While Salesforce has always enabled its customers to manage customer relationships, there is opportunity to move into more actionable arenas such as billing and payments, analysts said. 

"CRM doesn't really matter unless you have commerce or clicks. So to be able to carry all the way down into advertising and commerce, I think that's the big growth area for them," said Wang. "I think there are other areas at the edges, looking at the future of work and helping people be more productive."

Salesforce may also buy its way into new markets, as it did with AI 

brett taylor quipAs Salesforce looks to expand its reach, analysts believe the company may look to acquisitions as a fast and easy way of growing its product offerings. But they emphasized that acquisitions are only part of the puzzle. 

Salesforce has made 55 acquisitions since 2007, and almost a quarter of those were made in 2016, when the company spent almost $5 billion buying startups. 

Many of the 2016 acquisitions were in the artificial intelligence sector, which the company used to launch its predictive analytics tool, Einstein. 

There are also numerous startups in the Salesforce ecosystem which integrate with the platform in order to get users through the next step of the sales or marketing process. Acquiring some of these startups would make it easy for Salesforce to expand without developing competing products.

Exactly which direction the company will go in next, however, isn't totally clear. Penny Gillespie, a vice president of research at Gartner, believes Salesforce's acquisition strategy will depend on what the company defines as part of its territory. And that territory could be massive.

While Salesforce is by any means a CRM company, Gartner breaks down CRM into 190 different categories in order to analyze market saturation and trends.

For Gillespie, this means that Salesforce may have competition in areas that it hadn't previously looked at expanding into. And it may expand into an area of CRM that is hasn't yet considered to be relevant to its core business. 

"Depending on the continuing evolution of the definition of CRM, Salesforce may have to expand in other areas outside of its traditional CRM strategy which would most likely be via acquisition," she told Business Insider.

Either way, Salesforce is still seeing double-digit revenue growth

If Salesforce can maintain its current growth rate it will be right on track to hit the first phase of its ambitious sales target.

The company has grown its revenue by about 25% year-over-year for the past two fiscal years (growth was as high as 37% in 2012). Even if Salesforce's growth slows further, the company could easily meet the first target — $20 billion in revenue by 2022 — by maintaining 20% annual revenue growth throughout the next four years.

Fishbein's firm estimates that Salesforce currently has a roughly 30% share of the CRM market, and that only 28% of Salesforce's revenues today are international — a figure he estimates could grow to 40%. 

"They're easily on the trajectory," Fishbein said about the $20 billion revenue figure. "We think they can probably exceed that."

In the short term, it seems likely that Salesforce is on track to report 24% growth for fiscal 2018, which ended on January 31. The company reported $8.4 billion in revenue for fiscal 2017, and Salesforce told investors it expects between $10.43 billion and $10.44 billion in annual revenue when it reports for fiscal 2018 on February 28. 

SEE ALSO: MORGAN STANLEY: Enterprise software companies like Salesforce and Workday could double in value by 2020

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: A CEO spent $6 million to close the gender pay gap at his company

Why caviar is so expensive

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 07:00 AM PST

Caviar is one of the most expensive foods in the world. Selling for up to $35,000 per kilo, it's revered and relished by aristocrats across the globe. But it's an acquired taste. Turns out, caviar wasn't always so valuable. In the 19th century, sturgeon species in the US were so common that there are accounts of caviar being offered in saloons for free, like bar nuts. In Europe, fishermen were feeding the eggs to their pigs, or leaving it on the beach to spoil. What changed?

Similar to true champagne, caviar doesn't come from just anywhere. This, for example, is not caviar. To get the real thing, it has to be eggs from a sturgeon. There are 27 species around the world in North America, Europe, and Asia. But probably not for long. 

Arne Ludwig: In this case, sturgeon will die out because humans are over-harvesting their populations and destroying their habitats.

In 2010, the International Union for Conservation of Nature placed 18 species on its Red List of Threatened Species, making the sturgeon the most endangered group of species on Earth. But lists like these are bittersweet. On the one hand, they can help protect the sturgeon from further population decline.

On the other hand, the rarer that caviar becomes, the more we can't get enough of it. There's actually an economic idea that explains this. It's called the rarity value thesis and it describes how "rarity increases the value of the item." Sturgeon can weigh up to several thousand pounds, and produce hundreds of pounds of roe at a time. The world record belongs to a beluga sturgeon that weighed 2,520 pounds and yielded 900 pounds of roe. Today, she'd be worth about half a million dollars. 

It wasn't until around the 20th century when these freshwater fish and their eggs became a rare commodity. Pollution poisoned their waters and dams blocked their spawning grounds upstream. They had nowhere to reproduce and continued to be overfished for their meat and roe. On top of that, it takes 8-20 years for a female to sexually mature, depending on the species.

She can produce millions of eggs at a time, but odds are that only one will survive to adulthood. In the end, the sturgeon population couldn't keep up with demand and their coveted eggs became the jewels of the luxury food scene. Today, caviar imports and exports are closely regulated in the US., which is partly why it's so expensive. 

Deborah Keane: People forget that every single egg, every one of these eggs is taken off by hand. Now, remember that we're dealing with a raw seafood endangered species. So it is basically like eating and dealing with edible elephant tusks. It is that heavily regulated.

That's why today, the majority of caviar comes from sturgeon farms.

Deborah Keane: Little did I know that by 2011, all wild caviar would become illegal on the planet. When I started there were six farms in the world and only two producing caviar in the world and that was in 2004. Now, there are 2,000 farms.

One farm, in particular, in China called Kaluga Queen produces 35% of the world's caviar. Caviar there is harvested with the classic Russian and Iranian technique, which involves killing the fish and then extracting the eggs. Other farms are exploring a different technique, which doesn't involve killing the fish. It's called stripping. 

The fish are injected with a hormone that triggers their urge to release eggs. Farmers have been doing this for many years, but not to get caviar — just to produce more fish. It wasn't until recently that people started canning this stuff and selling it as caviar.

Dmitrijs Tracuks: The biggest thing is that yes, fish stays alive. You have really small impact on the fish because you do it really fast. You take the fish out of the water, you put it on the special holding facility. The fish has already started to spawn and so all that requires is to press on the belly, massage the belly and the caviar will just flow out of the fish.

The idea behind no-kill caviar is a commendable one, but it has yet to catch on. Either way, with caviar farms in place, this gives the wild sturgeon population a chance to recover. But whether or not, that happens is largely up to us.

 

Join the conversation about this story »

NBCUniversal is building a new ad team to help marketers navigate Snap, Apple News, BuzzFeed and Vox

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:44 AM PST

2018 Winter Olympics

  • NBCU has allied itself with a number of digital media companies, ranging from Snap to BuzzFeed to Apple.
  • Now the company is building out a specialized sale unit, NBCU Code, to help cater to advertisers looking to create unique programs via these different properties.
  • The hope is to go after ad budgets that typically go to digital platforms, and cater to advertisers looking for big audiences on mobile devices.


Over the past few years NBCUniversal has either invested in, or formally partnered with, a slew of big name digital media brands, including Snap, Apple News, Vox Media and BuzzFeed.

Now the media giant is building out a new team aimed at helping its internal sales groups, as well as advertisers, get the most out of its close relationships with these digital players.

NBCU is this month formally rolling out what it's calling NBCU Code, a group of 20-plus specialists who will focus on the company's digital partnerships. The team is being led by Executive Vice President, Digital Sales and Strategy Trevor Fellows, who joined NBCU in August from Dow Jones.

Fellows told Business Insider that as NBCU's portfolio has grown, it's become more crucial to have specialists who can help advertisers execute unique advertising campaigns that exploit the strengths of each of these platforms. While giant advertisers do come to the media company for massive, cross screen deals – like say for the upcoming Winter Olympics – that include ads on everything from linear TV to the web to social platforms, the majority do not.

So the idea with Code will be to cater to marketers looking to create custom ad campaigns with a few of NBCU's partners at a time. Besides Apple News, Vox, BuzzFeed and Snap, Code's purview includes the mobile ad company Kargo as well as NBCU and its partners' YouTube channels.

Fellows said the hope is that Code will tap into some ad budgets that might traditionally go to digital players. Advertisers are particularly looking for large audiences on mobile devices, which not many media companies outside of Facebook and Google can claim, he said.

Besides selling to the outside world, the Code team will also help NBCU's existing sales groups execute on bigger ad packages that include the likes of Snap, Apple, etc. – as each of these properties has different nuances, advertising best practices, and data capabilities.

"Some clients will need a great deal of attention and help working with these partners, and some will just need a little bit of support," he said. "We want to be nimble enough to do both. And we'll be able to create a common data thread when needed."

Fellows said that as many as 50 people inside NBCU could end up spending at least part of their time assisting on Code related deals. 

He noted that Code won't be focused on just selling excess ad space across a network of partners. The idea is to focus on "content development," he said. "This is really the antithesis of just another ad network."

Join the conversation about this story »

NOW WATCH: Here's what might happen if North Korea launched a nuclear weapon

The Macan Turbo is a fire-breathing Porsche sports car in an SUV body

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:37 AM PST

Porsche Macan

  • The Macan compact crossover SUV is the hottest selling model in Porsche's lineup.
  • Last year, it accounted for 39% of Porsche's US sales.
  • The Turbo with Performance Package is the most expensive version of the Macan on sale.
  • Our test car started at $86,445 but cost $96,295 with options.
  • The Macan is the best driving crossover SUV we've ever tested.

Porsche. There is no substitute. Regardless of whether or not you're a fan of Tom Cruise's driving in the movie "Risky Business", you've probably heard this tagline. 

Fortunately for Porsche, it's got the cars to back it up. After all, the iconic Porsche 911 and its two dozen variants remain the gold standard to which all sports cars are measured.

But what if you need room for five passengers, some extra space for cargo, and additional ground clearance for those snowy days? What if you need the Porsche flavor with a bit of extra practicality?

That's where vehicles like the Macan crossover SUV and its big brother, the Cayenne step into the picture. Together, the dynamic duo accounted for nearly 2/3 of all Porsches sold in the US last year. Even more incredible is the fact that these sales figures were only limited by the pace of Porsche's production and not consumer demand. 

Sadly, the all-new second-generation Cayenne won't be around until later this year. But Porsche was able to deliver this stunning sapphire blue metallic Macan Turbo with Performance Package test car for Business Insider to check out.

While the 911 may be Porsche's soul, it can be argued that no car is as important to the company's financial survival right now than the Macan. Last year, the Macan accounted for a whopping 39% of Porsche's sales in the US.

To say the compact crossover has been wildly successful would be an understatement.

The base Macan starts at $47,800 in the US while our Macan Turbo with Performance Package started at $86,445.

With additional options, it left the showroom at $96,295.

Here's a closer look at the Porsche Macan Turbo with Performance Package:

SEE ALSO: Porsche fixed the biggest problem with the Panamera sedan and now it's simply amazing

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The Macan, which derives its name from the Indonesian word for tiger, debuted in the US for the 2015 model year.

Source: Porsche



Aesthetically, the Macan is undeniably a Porsche.



And that's both a blessing and a curse.

 

 



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

Here's every single new emoji we're getting in 2018

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:30 AM PST

2018 emojis

Another year means another set of new emojis. 

After months of deliberation, Unicode — the consortium responsible for choosing the new emojis across all platforms — has approved 157 new emojis, which will arrive on phones sometime later this year.

While there are 157 individual emojis total — including skin tone and gender variations — there are 69 unique symbols.

Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia has rendered the new emojis in an "Apple-like style" so we can see what they'll eventually look like in iMessage.

Here's every new emoji arriving on smartphones in 2018:

SEE ALSO: 17 of the coolest things your Google Home can do

Abacus



Badger



Bagel



See the rest of the story at Business Insider

A Tesla employee who builds robots told us why production hell is actually a good thing (TSLA)

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:27 AM PST

Sheena Tesla

  • Sheena Patterson is a staff manufacturing engineer at Tesla.
  • She's working to build the machine that builds the machine: Tesla's highly automated assembly line for the Model 3.
  • She also knows how to create robots.

Editor's note: Business Insider had the chance to speak with four Tesla employees from different parts of the company to learn more about their work. And what we discovered were some of the coolest jobs at Tesla. This is the fourth in the series. You can read the other profiles here.



Engineers are great at identifying and solving problems. They're students of the practical, scrutinizers of systems, and, at Tesla, pretty much heroes. Few companies in history have so thoroughly combined a compelling vision of the future with innovative ways to design, build, power, and sell cars.

What engineers aren't always great at, though, is talking about engineering. They're technicians, not poets. But Sheena Patterson, a staff manufacturing engineer who's been at Tesla for nearly three years, is the exception.

Her thing is what's called general assembly, which means creating production lines that can mass-produce the equipment that makes the cars Tesla sells.

Tesla's CEO, Elon Musk, calls it "the machine that builds the machine."

Patterson does him one better: "The factory is the symphony, and the car is the song."

A relatively recent graduate of the University of Michigan, Patterson got her start at Ford, where it was trial by fire, working on the launch of the risky aluminum-body F-150 pickup truck that the carmaker rolled out several years ago. Ford then offered her a desk job at its plant in Kansas City, Missouri, but Patterson wasn't ready to hang up her safety goggles and steel-toed boots quite yet.

"I was very much young and awake and ready to do more," she said, sitting in a break area at Tesla's factory in Fremont, California. She's dressed casually in jeans and a plaid shirt, ready for a day spent doing what she loves: working with her hands, "tearing things apart and making them better," as she puts it.

The perfect fit and timing

Tesla Factory

Tesla turned out to be the perfect fit — and Patterson's decision to join the company was perfect timing.

She started just as Tesla was launching the Model X, a complicated vehicle to build. With her expertise in systems design and robotics, which dates to her undergraduate days, she could make an immediate contribution.

She designed a robot that now sits on the combined Model S-Model X assembly line where glass panels are glued and attached to the Model X.

Smaller than the massive orange robots at Fremont that can sling around entire vehicle bodies, Patterson's robot — named Gambit, for the superhero from the "X-Men" comics — is yellow, about as large as an adult, and encased in Plexiglas.

Its job is to apply adhesive — something formerly done by multiple workers, who had to use glue guns and work on tables set up next to the assembly line. Gambit draws adhesive from large barrels and can save Tesla time and money on this delicate phase of production.

It's a glimpse into Musk's plans for factories of the future: almost fully automated, with robots that can build cars so fast that air resistance becomes a problem.

Patterson is smack in the middle of that revolution. She's currently working on the new highly automated Model 3 assembly line.

The assembly line is everything

Tesla Model X

Patterson's daily work routine depends on where Tesla is at with production.

If cars aren't yet being mass-produced, she'll arrive at the factory, make calls to suppliers, conduct design reviews, and then head out to the factory floor to see what's happening with an assembly line.

She's part of a group of about 50 employees, but her day-to-day team has only about half a dozen members.

Once a vehicle is in production, however, the day starts with a walk on the assembly line.

"It's been running all night," she says. "You might have been getting calls; you might not. Sometimes no news is good news."

Then it's desk work, as the engineers use what they've learned to make the machine that builds the machine run better.

"But it's probably 75% on the line," Patterson said.

This routine puts Patterson at the center of what Musk has often called "production hell," a term that has taken on negative connotations as Tesla has struggled since last year to ramp up Model 3 assembly.

But for an engineer, hell can be a type of heaven.

"It's something that manufacturing goes through," Patterson said. "Anytime you do it, it's going to be difficult. But what's really cool here is that everybody is banding around it, while at the Big Three" — General Motors, Ford, and Fiat Chrysler — "it is manufacturing's problem.

"Here we say, 'No, no, no, it's everybody's problem,' because it's just our third car and it's that much more important," she said. "We're still calling up design to come to the floor."

A consequence of this less segregated approach to production, Patterson explains, is that Tesla's vehicles can be more thoroughly designed to be manufactured.

In the traditional industry, vehicles are handed off from one group to the next. But at Tesla, an overarching ambition is to remake the entire manufacturing process — so if engineers like Patterson who are working to increase automation can communicate more fluidly with designers, Tesla vehicles can be designed with those advantages in mind.

Joining the revolution

Tesla Factory

If Musk and Tesla succeed in this reimagining of the car factory, it will be the first new major innovation in manufacturing since Toyota created the famed Toyota Production System in the 1970s and 1980s. And it would add a level of irony if it were to happen at Tesla's Fremont factory, which was once jointly owned by Toyota and GM so that GM could learn the now vaunted "Toyota way."

Patterson has seen automaking from one end to the other. Her first experience with a car factory was on a family trip to India, where she saw a Tata plant and witnessed firsthand old-school manufacturing. Ford advanced her knowledge, but Tesla has taken any abstraction out of her job and compelled her to focus on how things happen in reality, on the assembly line, in real time.

So what's more beautiful to Patterson in the end? The gorgeous Tesla vehicles, or the beautiful assembly line she has helped design and create?

She doesn't miss a beat — the line.

"I get a thrill going to Tesla stores," she said. "And when I tell the people there I work at Fremont, their eyes light up, because I get to work at the factory."

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NOW WATCH: Watch SpaceX launch a Tesla Roadster to Mars on the Falcon Heavy rocket — and why it matters

I tried 11 websites that let you file your taxes online for free — and there's something for everybody

Posted: 10 Feb 2018 06:01 AM PST

woman computer laptop working tech

  • Eligible taxpayers can file their tax return online for free using many different services.
  • Tax season officially began January 29, with a final deadline of April 17 this year.
  • The IRS recommends e-filing your taxes and requesting your refund via direct deposit.
  • Business Insider decided to try the free file version of several online tax services.


Tax day is just around the corner.

Americans have until April 17 to file their 2017 taxes. You won't have to worry about changes brought about by the new GOP tax bill, which President Donald Trump signed into law. It won't affect your tax return this year, and the new tax brackets will only affect income earned starting January 1, 2018. 

Still, you should start tackling your taxes as soon as possible. According to Business Insider's Lauren Lyons Cole, filing early is the best way to protect against tax scams — especially potential identity theft.

Many online tax services offer the option to file for your federal taxes — and sometimes state taxes — for free, as long as you meet certain age and salary requirements. You can check your options using the IRS free file lookup tool — and you can find all of the free online sites here.

The IRS also says the fastest way to get your tax refund is the method already used by most taxpayers: filing electronically and selecting direct deposit as the method for receiving your refund. Your refund should hit your bank account within three weeks of filing online. Often, you'll get your money even faster.

I previously compared two online filing giants, TurboTax and H&R Block, head to head. Then I checked out a number of sites that provide free — or mostly free — tax-filing services.

Here's what I thought of all of the sites, which are listed in no particular order:

SEE ALSO: How to use TurboTax to file your taxes for free in 2018

DON'T MISS: How to use H&R Block to file your taxes for free in 2018

DON'T FORGET: We compared H&R Block and TurboTax for filing your taxes this year — and the winner is clear

FreeTaxUSA

After my comparison of H&R Block and TurboTax came out, a reader reached out to tell me that FreeTaxUSA was another good option for people who want to file their taxes without having their intelligence insulted (his words, not mine).

That's a pretty good way of describing this site. It's straightforward and plainspoken, in terms of its layout and content. You can file your federal taxes for free, but filing your state taxes will cost you $12.95.

According to the IRS, to file your taxes for free at Free Tax USA you must:

  • Have adjusted gross income of $51,000 or less
  • Be between 17 and 61 years of age

You're required to sign up for an account right off the bat. The site is streamlined — you go through tabs dedicated to your personal information, income, deductions and credits, and, ultimately, state taxes. At the same time, you're able to hop between sections.

The formatting is basic, but easy-to-use. That works for me. Overall, I found this to be a good option, especially for experienced tax filers who know what they're doing and don't want a lot of hand-holding.



TaxSlayer

I found TaxSlayer to be a more minimalist experience. It also requires you to start a new profile before embarking on your tax quest. Right off the bat, they try to get you to upgrade, but many taxpayers won't need to do so.

According to the IRS, to file your taxes for free at TaxSlayer you must:

  • Have adjusted gross income of $66,000 or less
  • Be 52 years old or younger

Apparently, there's a free state option for folks in Georgia too, according to the IRS.

My one issue with TaxSlayer was the site made it pretty difficult to jump around. It's definitely a good choice for more linear-minded people who prefer to do things in order.



TaxAct

Like many of these sites, TaxAct allows you to import your old returns, which is nice. This site takes you through several tabs. One quibble: when you click out of a tab, your info is saved, but it forces you to click through the whole section again when you return.

Despite the limited mobility, TaxAct's site isn't confusing to use. It's just more linear. It also doesn't try to pressure you to upgrade as much as some of the other sites.

According to the IRS, to file your taxes for free at TaxAct you must:

  • Have adjusted gross income of $53,000 or less
  • Be 56 years old or younger

Anyone eligible for the earned income tax credit can also receive a free federal return.



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