- Nvidia's CEO reportedly slams rival AMD's new 7-nanometer gaming graphics card (NVDA, AMD)
- Amazon is reportedly building a Netflix-like service for video games
- Activision loses major developer in split with 'Destiny' maker Bungie
- Laptops with the 'holy grail' of screens are finally coming this year
- AI 101: How learning computers are becoming smarter
- MacKenzie Bezos deserves half of Jeff Bezos' fortune because there would be no Amazon without her (AMZN)
- Startups are betting that letting people work from home, an RV, or a New Zealand mountaintop will lure top talent away from Silicon Valley
- Google's top lobbyist reportedly sent his staff a blank organization chart making employees fear for their jobs (GOOG)
- Millennials are piling into Apple after it warned of a slowdown linked to China (AAPL)
- Amazon watchers say the company has accelerated its efforts to sell its own products — and that's worrying regulators around the world
- I went to the biggest tech show in the world after not going for the past 7 years — and the tech I saw was shockingly old news
- Amazon struck a blow against Google by buying a tiny Israeli cloud company for a reported $200 million-plus (GOOG, GOOGL, AMZN)
- Snap CEO Evan Spiegel claimed Instagram makes you feel ‘terrible’ and Snapchat doesn’t. But data suggests he’s wrong. (SNAP)
- These are the top issues with voice discoverability, monetization, and retention — and how to solve them
- South Korean taxi drivers are setting themselves on fire in protest of a proposed ride-sharing app
- Here are the Facebook execs who insiders think might leave next (FB)
- The best mechanical keyboards you can buy
- If MacKenzie Bezos gets half of Jeff Bezos' fortune, she'd become the fourth-richest person in the world — and he'd fall from the No. 1 spot
- Check out these robot suitcases that automatically follow you through airports
- 'Black Mirror' creator tells fans to 'f--- off' if they don't like making choices during Netflix's 'Bandersnatch'
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 01:45 PM PST
Huang described the performance of AMD’s latest Radeon VII graphics processing unit as "lousy," according to Gizmodo, which was at the roundtable attended by media outlets. AMD says the new chip can provide up to 36% higher performance than its previous top-of-the-line graphics cards.
Huang described the announcement as "underwhelming" and said Nvidia's RTX 2080 would "crush" the Radeon VII in benchmarks.
On Sunday, Nvidia said it was bringing its RTX 2080 graphics processing unit to gaming laptops and also introduced the GeForce RTX 2060, its cheapest graphics card that can provide ray tracing, a niche technology that it has been touting in its GPUs. Ray tracing allows for more cinematic and realistic visuals.
AMD's latest GPUs do not support ray tracing, and will cost $699 when they're available February 7. For comparison, Nvidia's RTX 2060 sports a starting price of $346. Its top GPUs cost at least $1,000.
AMD CEO Lisa Su responded to Huang's comments, suggesting he probably hasn't seen the new GPU before revealing why AMD isn't all in on ray tracing just yet.
"The consumer doesn't see a lot of benefit today because the other parts of the ecosystem are not ready," She said, according to Gizmodo. "I think by the time we talk more about ray tracing the consumer's gonna see the benefit."
And analysts have also noted Nvidia's struggles with its transition to ray-tracing chips.
"When you turn on the ray tracing, it affects the overall performance of the GPU pretty substantially," Christopher Rolland, a semiconductor analyst at Susquehanna International Group recently told Markets Insider.
"Nvidia promises people real-time ray tracing, but you practically can't use it. That's definitely a disappointment."
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 01:29 PM PST
Amazon's already a major video game retailer, and it operates the largest video game livestreaming service in the world with Twitch.
The company's next move into gaming, though, is even more ambitious: Amazon is working on a Netflix-like service for playing games, according to a new report from The Information.
Like Sony's PlayStation Now, the new service from Amazon will reportedly allow players to stream games rather than having to buy and download individual titles. The company is said to be discussing potential games for the new service with game publishers, but it sounds like plans are still early; the streaming service isn't expected to arrive until 2020 "at the earliest."
Amazon has yet to officially announce such a service, and a representative didn't return a request for comment as of publishing.
But even without official confirmation or an announcement, multiple jobs listings spotted by The Verge point to Amazon building just such a service. One such listing even explicitly says, "This is a rare opportunity to take a technical leadership role to shape the foundation of an unannounced AAA games business."
Logic also points toward Amazon making such a service.
Amazon is one of the few tech companies with a cloud computing infrastructure already in place, worldwide, to pull off such a challenging technological issue. It's called "Amazon Web Services" (AWS for short), and it's the type of infrastructure required to pull off video game streaming on a mainstream consumer scale.
Sony's PlayStation Now largely obtained its infrastructure from two companies that Sony purchased: OnLive and Gaikai. In the case of Microsoft's Project xCloud, Microsoft is relying on its Azure cloud infrastructure. Google, similarly, has a cloud infrastructure built out for use with its Project Stream initiative.
Both services promise high-end video game streaming on low-end tech, and that idea comes with a lot of potential: No more buying expensive game consoles. Instead, the heavy lifting would be offloaded to a cloud server somewhere and beamed into your home.
Though several services have attempted such a feat, none have upended the video game industry in the way that Netflix and other streaming services upended the film and TV business.
Read the full report over at The Information.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 01:20 PM PST
Video game publisher Activision and blockbuster video game development studio Bungie are parting ways, in a huge move that sees Bungie take the publishing rights for "Destiny" with it.
Activision is most well-known for publishing the "Call of Duty" franchise, but has become just as well-known in recent years for its work on the "Destiny" franchise — published by Activision, and developed by Bungie.
The two companies signed a 10-year contract in 2010, specifically aimed at turning "Destiny" into a major video game franchise. It's coming to an end one year early, and the terms appear to be amicable.
"We have enjoyed a successful eight-year run and would like to thank Activision for their partnership on 'Destiny,'" the blog post says. "Looking ahead, we're excited to announce plans for Activision to transfer publishing rights for 'Destiny' to Bungie. With our remarkable 'Destiny' community, we are ready to publish on our own, while Activision will increase their focus on owned IP projects."
The 10-year, $500 million contract between Bungie and Activision led to the creation of "Destiny" and "Destiny 2," as well as a variety of expansion packs and other additional content.
Previous to "Destiny," Bungie was already an iconic game development studio: It was the studio that created the beloved "Halo" franchise. When Bungie left Microsoft in 2007, it left behind the "Halo" franchise as terms of the split.
Notably, that doesn't appear to be the case here, as Bungie specifically says that the "Destiny" franchise publishing rights are transferring to Bungie.
Activision issued the following statement regarding the split, via social media:
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 12:53 PM PST
LAS VEGAS — OLED displays on laptops made a big comeback at CES 2019, where several new models sporting the superior display technology were announced.
OLED displays are superior to the regular LCD displays that most laptops use in several ways. For one, they produce a perfect black color that doesn't look gray, like most LCD displays. That's because parts of the screen — individual pixels — will actually turn off when displaying a scene with the color black, whereas an LCD display always has a backlight turned on behind the display itself.
Since OLED displays don't have backlight behind the display, they're also more power efficient than LCD displays. That translates to better battery life, which is something we've seen with smartphones that come with OLED displays over LCD displays.
OLED displays also produce beautiful contrast between light and dark areas of a scene, making for a striking picture.
One of the most notable laptops of CES 2019 was a prototype model of the new Razer Blade 15 that will come with a 15-inch OLED display. So far, the Razer Blade 15 with an OLED display is still in the works, but Razer said it's planning a 2019 release. There's no details surrounding its potential specs or price tag, either.
HP, Dell, and Lenovo also announced new laptops with OLED displays.
HP's new Spectre X360 15 is expected to become available in March 2019, with pricing details to be announced closer to launch.
Dell is releasing three new laptops with OLED displays in March 2019, including a new XPS 15 model and two gaming models — the Alienware m15 and Dell G7.
Lenovo's new Yoga C730 will also sport an OLED screen when it's also released in March 2019.
Laptop makers have been reluctant to adopt OLED displays in the past, as they can easily drive up the cost of a laptop beyond what a buyer is willing to pay. Indeed, OLED displays are expensive for both the laptop maker and the buyer. Most TVs with OLED panels, for example, are significantly more expensive than those with traditional LCD displays.
But it appears at CES 2019 that the price of OLED technology has dropped to a manageable level. Still, while there's no pricing details for the models above, expect them to cost more than similarly-specced laptops with LCD displays.
SEE ALSO: The best computer we saw at CES 2019
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 12:34 PM PST
Many companies use the term artificial intelligence, or AI, as a way to generate excitement for their products and to present themselves as on the cutting edge of tech development.
But what exactly is artificial intelligence? What does it involve? And how will it help the development of future generations?
Find out the answers to these questions and more in AI 101, a brand new FREE report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, that describes how AI works and looks at its present and potential future applications.
To get your copy of the FREE slide deck, simply click here.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 12:31 PM PST
Apparently, there was no prenup. And in Washington, where the couple lives, assets acquired during a prenup-less marriage are split 50-50.
If you're married to the world's richest person (Bezos' net worth is $137 billion!) who is entirely self-made, do you deserve to get half?
For MacKenzie Bezos, absolutely. For one simple reason: There would be no Amazon without her.
MacKenzie Tuttle and Jeff Bezos met in 1992 when they both worked for hedge fund D.E. Shaw. MacKenzie graduated from Princeton and became a research associate at the firm where Bezos was a vice president. Her office was next door to his, and three months after they began dating, in 1993, they were married.
While at D.E. Shaw, Bezos came up with the idea for Amazon. MacKenzie was supportive from the beginning, despite the high probability that his venture would fail (after all, almost all startups do).
Brad Stone writes in The Everything Store: "At the time, Bezos was newly married, with a comfortable apartment on the Upper West Side and a well-paying job. While MacKenzie said she would be supportive if he decided to strike out on his own, the decision was not an easy one."
MacKenzie later told CBS: "I'm not a businessperson. So to me, what I'm hearing when he tells me that idea is the passion and the excitement... And to me, you know, watching your spouse, somebody that you love, have an adventure — what is better than that, and being part of that?"
In 1994, at ages 30 and 24, respectively, Jeff and MacKenzie decided to blow up their cushy lives.
They road-tripped across the US in search of a new home and headquarters for Amazon. MacKenzie drove while Bezos punched out a business plan and revenue projections in the passenger seat. After starting in Texas and buying a beat-up car, they wound up in Seattle.
The pair brainstormed the name "Amazon" together after almost choosing a different name: Relentless.com. MacKenzie became Amazon's first accountant, despite being an aspiring novelist.
She did a lot of other grunt work, like most early startup employees do, from driving book orders to the post office to handling the company's bank account and line of credit. She met early Amazon investor John Doerr and partied with the team in Mexico after Amazon's IPO.
But beyond her early role in the company is the significant role any spouse plays in a partner's career.
Both Warren Buffett and Sheryl Sandberg say that the most important career decision you can make is who you marry.
Sure, there's the sacrifice one partner might make to allow the other to pursue a demanding career. But that's not what Buffett was getting at.
"Marry the right person," he said at the 2009 Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. "I'm serious about that. It will make more difference in your life. It will change your aspirations, all kinds of things."
Would the notion of opening an online bookstore have taken hold of Bezos as forcibly if he hadn't met MacKenzie? Would he have executed on that vision in the same way, hired the same people and taken the same kinds of risks with a different partner?
These are impossible questions to answer. But it's not outrageous to suggest that a person's motivations, attitudes, and goals are influenced by the most important person in their life.
Regardless of whether a spouse is listed as a partner on a business masthead, many couples operate as a team focused on a grand, overarching enterprise and work in tandem to achieve common goals. That's part of the reason many state laws recognize the concept of community property.
Buffett has said that without his first wife, Susie, who died in 2004, he would not have built his fortune.
"What happened with me would not have happened without her," he said in a 2017 HBO documentary.
What happened to Bezos would not have happened without MacKenzie.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 12:09 PM PST
On New Year's Day, David Biggar — a support manager at anti-malware company Emsisoft — moved into a fixer-upper RV with his wife.
He's planning to leave his home in Caldwell, Idaho behind him. Biggar isn't sure where he and his wife want to grow old together, so they're going to hit the road and find out — somewhere warmer, perhaps, in the south, or on the coast.
He's not leaving his job behind, though. In fact, Biggar will keep working from wherever he can find WiFi — a luxury he's afforded because his whole companies works remotely, from wherever in the world they happen to be.
Emsisoft is just one of a growing number of all-remote tech companies, including well-known startups like GitLab and Zapier.
This kind of arrangement is attractive to both employers and employees: Salaries in Silicon Valley might be sky-high, but so too is the cost of living. By hiring remotely, employers can find the best talent, wherever they are in the world, while also saving on both salaries and office space. And for their part, employees like Biggar get to work from wherever they want.
"The funnest, neatest thing is being able to up and go, as long as it doesn't impact work performance," Biggar told Business Insider. "Having the flexibility is amazing, instead of being tied down to an office or a schedule."
In 2017, 5.2 percent of U.S. workers employees worked from home, according to the last census. As it becomes more socially acceptable in America to work from home, it's similarly encouraged startups to choose the all-remote path.
"People are just getting to used it," Adam Ozimek, senior economist at Moody's Analytics, told Business Insider. "Technologically, it's been possible for a while. It takes a slow cultural change to allow people to work from home."
Indeed, towards all-remote companies are changing. Megan Quinn, general partner at Spark Capital, says that just five years ago, most investors would balk at putting money into an all-remote startup. Now, it's seen as less of a factor — Quinn herself led Spark's investment in design platform InVision, which is all-remote.
"The thinking was you had to have everyone in the same four walls," Quinn told Business Insider. "That's changed really dramatically in the last five years."
Recruiting the best talent
In Silicon Valley, there's a war constantly raging to recruit the very best talent. Startups and mega-corporations alike try to lure new recruits with the promise of lavish perks to go with their famously high salaries.
By hiring only remote workers, though, startups are finding that they can bypass that battle altogether. Rather than go toe-to-toe with corporate giants in the major metropolitan areas, all-remote companies are finding success by recruiting from places that traditionally aren't thought of as tech talent hubs.
Take, for example, Clark Valberg, CEO and co-founder of InVision. After the company raised its first round of funding, he was trying to figure out how he was going to hire engineers. Valberg was based in New York, and Google had just opened a New York office. He realized that, as a startup, it would tough to compete with Google.
"How are we going to hire for engineers when Google is competing for every single engineer we want to hire?" Valberg recounts to Business Insider. "What if we worked with people in places like Arizona? It was basically a hack. It started as a talent hack. I think a lot of companies are thinking of going remote because of the talent crunch."
Quinn said that while she had some concerns about all-remote companies, the fact that InVision was remote didn't have any impact on her decision to invest, positively or negatively. Rather, she says that she was impressed by the quality of talent on the InVision team.
"It's the fact that they're able to bring the best team possible because they opened their talent pool from San Francisco Bay Area to the entire world," Quinn said. "It's more about the people they're able to bring into the community."
These employers can be appealing to anybody looking to leave the San Francisco Bay Area, too. Zapier, an all-remote startup that helps integrate business software, actually provides a "de-location package" for people who want to move away from the Bay Area. After it started offering this deal, applications shot up about 50 percent, says Wade Foster, CEO and co-founder of Zapier.
Notably, Foster sees the "de-location package" less as a cost-cutting technique, and more as a recruiting tactic.
"The de-location package started because we had many folks in the Bay Area who were interested in Zapier because it meant they could work at a fast growing company and move out of the Bay Area," Foster told Business Insider. "It's a way to appeal to a certain set of folks who would rather work and live somewhere else."
Cutting costs and living where they want
Still, for many companies, hiring only remote workers is indeed a cost-cutting measure.
"The advantages of an all-remote firm is that you don't have to buy new office space," Ozimek, the economist, said. "There are cost savings to the firm by going all remote. You get to reach into a wider number of labor markets. You can cast a wider net. You can hire people living in a low-cost of living area."
Christian Mairoll, founder and CEO of Emsisoft, made his company all-remote for this reason. When he founded Emsisoft over 15 years ago, he didn't have the capital to invest in hiring talent from more competitive markets.
"It was just far out of reach," Mairoll told Business Insider. "I was never a fan of external funding. I was never a fan of venture capital. When the software was reaching a viable level, as you can imagine without a marketing budget, it was a long process."
Meanwhile, he found developers in Russia and Siberia who were excited about doing work for Emsisoft, and whom Emsisoft could pay at competitive rates for their areas, in turn. And soon, Emsisoft was able to hire more employees and the company grew.
Nowadays, Mairoll lives in rural New Zealand, where he tends to his sheep, chickens, and fruit trees in between meetings with Biggar and Emsisoft's other 40-plus employees. He doesn't ever plan to open an office for Emsisoft.
"That's not the nature of the business," Mairoll said. "I don't think it can be mixed very well. When you combine local offices with remote work, you quickly separate the remote workers and don't see them as full members of the team anymore. I don't think it would be a smart plan to start a local office."
When employees are spread all over the country and worldwide, not seeing your co-workers face-to-face can be a challenge to building a cohesive company culture. Still, employees at all-remote companies find a way to connect with each other, even if it they mainly interact on chat apps like Slack, or video conferencing systems like Zoom.
At Zapier, employees will occasionally have remote dance parties, where employees record and share gifs of themselves busting a move. At popular code-sharing service GitLab, a bot pairs random employees up for "coffee chats," where they can talk about work or anything else they want. At Emsisoft, employees meet virtually Sunday evenings to play online board games.
"Something that I like about the culture is the ability to get to know people's quirks," Priyanka Sharma, director of alliances at GitLab, told Business Insider. "I've had coffee chats where we talk about work or growing vegetables at high altitudes in Colorado. I get to hear about interests and activities that are really different."
Many of these companies also host regular real-life meetups for their employees, which can sometimes be fairly lavish. GitLab hosts a summit every nine months, with the location changing each time — the next one will be in New Orleans. InVision has rented out resorts and water parks for its employees.
Not all fun and games
It's not all fun and games, though: Remote work requires constant communication. With colleagues all over the world, employees lean heavily on services like Slack and Zoom to collaborate.
"I live on Zoom," Sharma said.
Quinn says that investors like herself coach entrepreneurs to make sure they fully understand the limitations of relying on these tools for collaboration.
The secret, these companies have found, is transparency. Time zones mean that employees might not always be awake at the same time, so it's important that as much information as possible is stored out in the open, so employees can make the best possible decision even when their teammates aren't online.
"You want to be able to solve those problems with the best information available," Foster, the CEO of Zapier, said. "When you're asleep at night and someone needs to make a decision, they need to have access to that information."
GitLab tries to apply this transparent approach to its entire corporate culture. For example, its handbook is completely open to everyone, and any employee can edit it, document how they do their work, or recommend improvements. It posts its goals publicly, such as how it plans to go public in November 2020.
Dave Munichiello, who led GV (formerly Google Ventures) in its investment in GitLab, recalls that when he was at first "hesitant and skeptical" about the company's all-remote approach, but was ultimately proved wrong.
"I was a bit skeptical about the fact that a company could scale," Munichiello said. "I was worried about the cost of a company being geographically separated, but what we learned was what's very important here was great documentation."
Still, Munichiello warns that all-remote is only the right strategy if the team is completely on board with the idea and is confident that they can communicate effectively.
Unexpected pitfalls of remote
At the same time, the introduction of all-remote workforces introduce unique challenges.
For instance, Barbie Brewer, chief culture officer at GitLab, says that hiring outside of Silicon Valley gives it access to upper-tier talent that would otherwise go ignored. At the same time, it's surprisingly complicated to figure out how to compensate that talent fairly — if pay is based on each employee's cost of living, it raises the very real possibility that two people doing the same work with the same job title will see a huge disparity in their salary.
"Paying someone in San Francisco the same as you'd pay someone in Nigeria might be nice on paper, but in reality, one of you will be very well-off, while the other is average," Brewer said. "Or one will be very poor and not able to afford a place to live while the other is doing great. We try to have parity as much as possible, but that doesn't mean everything based on where you live will be the same."
To try to normalize the pay range, GitLab has committed to a policy that no employee will be paid less than 41% of what an employee would be making for the same work if they lived in San Francisco.
What it's like to work remote all the time
At the same time, employees see tangible benefits in not having a physical office.
Employees at all-remote companies don't have to commute, have lots more flexibility around working hours, and generally get more hours in their day for family time, medical appointments, physical fitness, and other important things that can otherwise go neglected.
Brewer, for her part, says that working remotely has allowed her continue working while taking care of her children, and more recently, start chemotherapy treatments without having to take time off.
Elsewhere in the world, Frank Huisman left a job where had to drive over 100 miles from his farm in rural Portugal to get to work. The company had an apartment that he could stay in on weekdays, but he still found it exhausting to drive two hours after a long workday to return home for the weekend.
Now, as a quality assurance manager at Emsisoft, he uses the time that he was spending on his commute to instead clean the stables and run errands like groceries and going to the post office.
"I don't really miss working in an office," Huisman told Business Insider. "There are a lot of advantages to working remotely. There's no cars, no traffic jams...On the computer, I can really focus on my work. I think the biggest challenge is to keep focused and to make yourself be honest to your employer that you really make the hours."
Indeed, GitLab's Sharma says that it's very important for remote workers to be self-starters, while at the same time making sure you find ways to separate your work life from your home life. She says it's tempting to default to working from your bed in pajamas — so she makes it a habit to get dressed for work, even though she's not going into an office, just to make sure her brain shifts gears into work mode.
"The one thing you do is wake up, get dressed, and then you start work," Sharma said. "Just that one thing has made my day so productive."
Nailing that balance, though, has many rewards, she says.
"I've had the privilege of working with people around the world," Sharma said. "My worldview has changed. I've learned about other parts of the world without leaving my room. I've really learned and appreciated that intelligence and competence doesn't have a zip code...I think the world is changing and remote is making that happen."
Biggar would likely agree. He'll start his day with coffee and breakfast with his wife at a nearby restaurant, where he will begin doing his work. This routine is about to change when he takes off in his RV with his wife, but for the most part, his work schedule won't.
"It's really kind of a dream job. I can't imagine anything better, especially since I'm getting older," Biggar said. "As long as you can arrange your priorities right and be responsible, this is an amazing kind of thing."
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 12:08 PM PST
Some employees at Google responsible for lobbying DC lawmakers are fearing for their jobs after a company executive hinted at restructuring their team.
Karan Bhatia, Google's VP of global public policy, is rethinking the roles of employees on the company's policy team in Washington, Bloomberg reports. Bhatia, who was named to the executive position in June, reportedly shared with the policy team an empty organizational chart with only one named filled in — his own at the top. The rest of the spots were blank boxes, according to Bloomberg.
After Bhatia was hired, the company's top lobbyist, former Representative Susan Molinari, resigned last year, effective December 31, although she told Bloomberg she's agreed to stay on as an advisor. She was head of policy for the Americas.
The changes in this DC policy team follow a tumultuous year at the company. For instance, Google vowed to limit the kinds of military contracts its cloud unit would pursue after a huge internal brouhaha. Google's plans to launch a search engine in China with censored results, known as Dragonfly, were cancelled after the project faced backlash from the company's privacy team. In December, Congress questioned Google CEO Sundar Pichai for 3 1/2 hours regarding concerns over privacy and transparency, including allegations of political bias in search results.
Before joining Google in June, Bhatia served as GE's president of government affairs and policy. He also served as the deputy U.S. trade representative under George W. Bush.
Google declined comment.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 11:52 AM PST
Apple last week sounded the alarm on a holiday sales slowdown, but investors on Robinhood, a no-fee trading app popular among millennials, brushed off the company's warnings and instead snapped up shares.
Last Wednesday, the tech giant said its revenue for the holiday quarter would be more than 7% below what it had expected and blamed slumping sales on a slowdown in China. Seven days later, the Nikkei Asian Review reported that Apple late last month asked its suppliers to cut production on new iPhones by 10% for the January-March quarter.
Apple shares were hit hard over the past week, down as much as 10%, but that didn't scare millennials away from the stock. According to weekly data tacked by Markets Insider, Apple is now held by 235,900 Robinhood traders, up 15,095 from a week ago. The smartphone titan has consistently been the favorite stock or Robinhood users, outranking all the others in each of the past nine weeks.
And millennial's affection for Apple has strengthened as shares have weakened.
On November 1, the company posted underwhelming iPhone sales and said revenue for its holiday quarter would be on the low end of analyst expectations. During that week, a net 14,013 Robinhood users added Apple to their portfolio, allowing it to reclaim its crown as the most-popular stock on the app.
In mid-November, a handful of iPhone suppliers, including the main Face ID technology provider Lumentum and iPhone radio-frequency chip supplier Qorvo, cut their outlooks, citing a drop in demand from one of their biggest customers. At the time, Apple became the first stock to pass 200,000 owners on Robinhood, with a net 2,845 users buying the stock that week.
Since peaking at $233.47 on October 3, Apple has lost 35% of its value. During the same time period, the number of Robinhood investors holding shares increased by 30%, or 55,000.
Apple was down 12% in the past twelve months.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 11:36 AM PST
By selling more products of its own, Amazon is becoming a competitor to the outside manufacturers it hosts on its platform — and that's worrying regulators around the world.
Why it matters: Governments have rarely tried to rein in Amazon's ambitions, allowing it to avoid most of the recent scrutiny directed at other large tech platforms. But the increased focus on Amazon's house-brand offerings suggests it may now be Amazon's turn.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 11:26 AM PST
LAS VEGAS — Thousands of people flock to Nevada in the first weeks of January for the biggest annual tech show in the world — and this year, I was one of them.
I hadn't been back to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) — or Las Vegas, for that matter — since 2012, which was the last time I had been sent on assignment to cover the tech showcase.
Seven years is a very long time in the world of technology. Just think about smartphones made seven years ago: We were on the iPhone 5 and Samsung Galaxy S3 back then.
So, I was expecting the 2019 show would be different. Better. More interesting.
Perhaps, I would see tech that addressed issues that have only gotten more important over the past decade, like climate change.
That didn't really happen.
What I saw in 2012, I saw in 2019
At CES 2012, 8K displays were the star of the show. In 2019, 8K displays are still the star — albeit more companies are making them than ever before.
Electric cars and concept cars were also a hit back in 2012. It's the same deal in 2019.
In 2012, I took dozens of photos of smartphone accessories, robots that can clean your home and keep you company, and smart appliances that talk to each other. In 2019, I felt like I was seeing all the same stuff again, including Roomba knock-offs, smart refrigerators and washing machines, and smart home-monitoring equipment.
And, of course, I saw dozens upon dozens of people napping in the showroom floor. Many of them lined the hallway leading to the media rooms, but most of them set up shop in one of the hundreds of massage chairs on display at CES. That was just like my last trip, too.
Some things are definitely better
For what it's worth, the Consumer Electronics Show has certainly improved in some areas.
Cars, in particular, seem to have vastly improved. Most companies are now pushing all-green, all-electric, and mostly autonomous experiences. And while their outside form factors haven't changed too drastically, companies are experimenting with more unique designs for the car's interior, to provide more customizable experiences. This year, one of my favorite exhibits was from Magna, which showed how seats could automatically shift around in a next-generation car or van to fit the changing needs of the passengers.
I also noticed fewer instances of female objectification — "booth babes" — than the last time I attended CES, and that's a good thing. Still, I was not happy every time I saw a woman wearing an ornate, revealing outfit for the sole purpose of presentation, and I still saw this more often than I would like.
These women are not expected to talk to people; just to stand, smile, and look pretty as random men take their pictures. While I didn't notice as many gross instances as I did in 2012, I was still disappointed to see so many companies like Nikon failing in this regard.
You can't stuff the genie back in the bottle
The last time I was at CES, it was Microsoft's final year of attending, and having a big booth, at the show.
Years later, I definitely notice the impact of bigger companies pulling out of CES.
The biggest companies commanded the most attention at CES 2019: Google, Amazon, Samsung, LG, and the big automakers like Mercedes-Benz were on everyone's lips. Smaller companies did have some unique inventions to show off, but they didn't offer anything nearly as impressive or futuristic as the bigger companies, which makes sense. Tech giants have more money to spend toward research and development, sales, advertising, and of course, having massive booths and hotel suites at the biggest tech show in the world.
Still, the absences of Microsoft and Apple at CES are meaningful. They're two of the most influential tech companies in the world and they choose to hold their own events throughout the year instead of participating in this massive show. And that sets a precedent. It wouldn't be surprising to see Google and Amazon ditch CES in the coming years, too, for similar reasons — perhaps to give their own announcements more oomph and exclusivity.
CES is probably not going to change anytime soon
While some attendees go to CES every single year, many people are first-timers, and this show is their first glimpse into the future. And that's great!
Overall, I like what CES symbolizes — optimism, and progress — which are nice things to think about at the start of a new year.
But I hope CES continues to improve: I hope it finds a way to keep bigger companies coming back to the show, and I hope it encourages even more outlandish innovations, displays, and presentations to make the show feel a little more different from year to year.
I also hope CES finds a better way to showcase tech that addresses prevalent and immediate issues, like climate change, because if that tech was at the show I couldn't find it.
CES does a great job at introducing people to the world of cutting-edge consumer tech. But for those people who go every year, or every few years, it doesn't offer much in the way of newness. Many technologies shown off are iterative improvements, not radical reimaginings.
CES may not be able to control the companies that attend and present at the show, but I hope to see the Consumer Technology Association, the group that operates CES, try harder to make each show look and feel a little different from past years.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 11:05 AM PST
Tiny Israeli company CloudEndure confirmed on Thursday that Amazon Web Services has acquired it.
CloudEndure, founded in 2012, has raised $18 million from investors including Dell, VMware, and Israeli venture-capital firm Tamar Ventures. So assuming those reported prices are accurate, investors will see a hefty return on CloudEndure.
Word of the deal leaked over the last week, setting the industry gossip mill abuzz — word on the street is that this represents a brilliant coup on the part of AWS that should frustrate the heck out of Google.
CloudEndure makes a tool that lets companies easily back up and move their data and apps from their own private servers and data centers to the cloud, without downtime.
It works with AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon's newest bestie, VMware.
CloudEndure isn't the only tool that does this. Amazon has its own in-house tool for cloud migration. Amazon has created a lot of out-there hardware for doing this, including a computer box called Snowball Edge that vacuums out data from servers to be shipped back and uploaded in AWS and a semitruck called the Snowmobile that does the same.
There are also migration tools developed by Deloitte, one of AWS's big cloud-consulting partners, and tools from other startups, including CloudVelox, Racemi, and Attunity.
So, you can't help but ask, why would Amazon pay a premium for CloudEndure?
CloudEndure happens to be the partner that powers Google Cloud's free migration service. So points out Peter Groucutt, a managing director of London-based Databarracks, a consultant that helps companies with their data backup and transfer needs. Groucutt tells the Computer Business Review that he was surprised Google didn't buy CloudEndure.
"Although CloudEndure had relationships with all three of the major hyperscale, public cloud providers, it seemed that it’s most strategic was with GCP. GCP's cloud migration service is powered by CloudEndure," Groucutt told CBR.
And Google's own documentation backs this up. In one of Google's best practices guide for helping companies move their apps and data into Google's cloud, there's a large section that discusses using CloudEndure.
So AWS snatched CloudEndure away from Google. However, a Google spokesperson points out that in May, 2018, Google acquired a cloud migration company for itself, Velostrata, and that Google Cloud now offers its own migration service, free to use for those putting data into Google Cloud, and it is currently available.
CloudEndure has been on Amazon's radar for at least two years, too. Back in February, 2017, CloudEndure was one of the companies that presented at AWS internal Sales Kick-off event that took place in Las Vegas. At that event, the company shares goals and strategy with salespeople and key partners for the coming year.
In the formal announcement of the acquisition on Thursday, CloudEndure didn't say much. It most specifically did not promise that it would continue to help companies migrate their stuff into Google's cloud — or Microsoft's for that matter. It simply said that the acquisition "expands our ability to deliver innovative and flexible migration, backup, and disaster recovery solutions."
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 10:11 AM PST
It’s no secret there’s bad blood between Snapchat and Facebook-owned Instagram.
Snap insiders and fans — including Miranda Kerr, the Australian supermodel and entrepreneur who is married to Snap CEO Evan Spiegel — have repeatedly blasted Facebook and Instagram for copying Snapchat, especially its stories format.
But beyond the copying complaints, which Instagram has not denied, there’s another form of criticism that has recently bubbled up: the contention that Instagram is bad for you, while Snapchat is not.
Spiegel expressed this view on stage at The New York Times’ DealBook conference in early November: “What people are experiencing on Instagram is, they don’t feel good about themselves. It feels terrible, they have to compete for popularity.”
The basic theory is easy to understand: Instagram has “likes” and public follower counts, whereas Snapchat does not, and if people are competing for likes on Instagram, they will end up feeling “terrible.”
But the problem with that easy narrative is the evidence doesn’t back it up.
After speaking with a professor in the field, consulting the current academic research, running a custom consumer survey, and corresponding with a Snap representative, I was still left without a single data set supporting Spiegel's claim that Instagram was "terrible" and Snapchat was not.
The consensus picture that emerged was that, in many circumstances, both Snapchat and Instagram had a positive emotional influence on their users, with Snapchat having a slight edge.
But Spiegel’s attack on Instagram’s emotional impact is hyperbolic and unsupported.
Even research commissioned by Snap itself, published on Tuesday, found that 8 of the 9 “top attribute index scores” for how users felt when using Instagram were positive. Users of both Snapchat and Instagram felt “playful,” “attractive,” “creative,” “adventurous,” and “flirtatious” when they were using the apps. Instagram's top attribute was "inspired" and the lone mark against it was that users felt “self-conscious.”
Snapchat got a perfect 9 out of 9 positive attributes (no surprise there), while Twitter and Facebook’s attributes skewed negative.
Here is the full chart from Snapchat and Murphy Research:
Yes, Snapchat seems to beat Instagram in this study. But if even research being paid for by your competitor — a competitor who is trashing you in the press — gives you 89% positive attributes, that’s pretty good.
And it’s not the only evidence to suggest that Spiegel is wrong in his assessment of Snapchat and Instagram’s emotional effects.
How does using Snapchat or Instagram impact you emotionally?
When I heard Spiegel’s quote about Instagram in November, I thought it would be worthwhile to try and answer a simple question: How did Snapchat and Instagram affect users emotionally?
To get a feel for this, I asked on-demand insights company AlphaHQ to run a survey on Instagram and Snapchat users. The question AlphaHQ asked was this: “Compared to how you typically feel before opening the app, how does using [Snapchat, Instagram] generally impact you emotionally?”
Here’s a summary of the findings:
Instagram (453 user responses)
Snapchat (581 user responses)
Snapchat comes out ahead, but there is nothing to suggest Instagram makes its users feel “terrible” — or somehow much, much worse than Snapchat.
But this wasn’t an academic study and I took the results as a gut check rather than a definitive answer.
'We can't really make any claims about Instagram versus Snapchat'
I approached Snap and asked both for its take on the AlphaHQ findings and for any research that backed up Spiegel’s statements.
Snap and Spiegel declined to give a formal statement or interview.
But the company pointed me to two academic studies, one from the University of Michigan published in 2016 by Information, Communication, & Society (titled “Sharing the small moments: ephemeral social interaction on Snapchat”); and another from the University of Minnesota published in 2017 (titled “Share First, Save Later: Performance of Self through Snapchat Stories”).
The Michigan study dealt directly with the issue of Snapchat and mood, and included some references to Instagram. In general, Snapchat came out on top relative to other communication technologies with respect to its impact on a user's mood.
“Our quantitative data demonstrated that Snapchat interactions were perceived as more enjoyable – and associated with more positive mood – than other communication technologies (i.e., calling, texting, emailing, Facebook),” the researchers wrote.
But in looking at the data, the difference between Instagram and Snapchat's impact on mood didn’t appear statistically significant. I spoke to the lead author on the study, Joseph Bayer, now an assistant professor at The Ohio State University, to confirm that.
“We can't really make any claims about Instagram versus Snapchat,” Bayer said. He added that he wasn’t aware of any academic studies that showed Instagram having an overall negative emotional effect on users.
The second study Snap pointed me to, from Minnesota, characterized Snapchat as a “low-risk” way of sharing, but didn’t compare the app with Instagram.
The Minnesota study also contained a section that undercut one of Spiegel’s central premises: that Snapchat is set up so users won’t care about popularity.
The study found that Snapchat users “still cared about the way their content was received by the audience.” One of the primary ways the participants assessed the worth of their Snapchat content was by seeing who looked at each post — “and this was information they actively sought out.” The study participants also used a “diverse set of strategies for deciding whether [Snapchat] content was successful enough to warrant saving.”
In the absence of “likes,” Snapchat users created their own methods for seeing how popular or successful a piece of content was.
Passively looking at strangers probably makes you sad
But surely there had been some studies that contended Instagram, or social media in general, was bad for you, I thought.
I went back to Snap, but the company did not send me any more studies on the record.
When I asked Bayer, he said there was one study in particular that was frequently cited as a nuanced look at Facebook and its negative emotional effect in some circumstances.
That study, published in 2015 by the Journal of Experimental Psychology, found that “passive” but not “active” Facebook usage “specifically undermines affective well-being and does so by enhancing envy.” So if you are passively scrolling through your Facebook feed, it can make you jealous of others.
But the researchers also wrote that they “did not observe any relationship between active Facebook usage and well-being in the current studies.” (The study did not look at Instagram or Snapchat.)
There have been similarly nuanced findings on how Instagram influences “well-being.”
In a study published in 2015 by Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, researchers concluded that “Instagram use has negative associations with well-being for those who follow many strangers, but positive associations with well-being for those who follow few strangers.” (The study did not look at Snapchat.)
Taken together, these two studies suggest that it’s not merely which social-media platform you use that determines the emotional effect it has on you, but also how you use it.
Instagram Stories now has twice as many daily users as Snapchat
This insight could help explain why Instagram copying Snapchat’s stories feature is such a threat to Snap.
Since Instagram introduced the feature in the summer of 2016, it has become stunningly popular. In June, Instagram Stories hit 400 million active users, over twice Snapchat’s daily active user base.
Snapchat’s rise has often been attributed to its “ephemeral” nature, which encourages users to document the silly or mundane aspects of their lives. Maybe one secret of the popularity of “ephemerality” was that it encouraged users to be more active on the platform, and communicate with their actual friends — both of which the academic research suggests are positive for well-being when applied to social networks generally.
Now that Instagram has bottled some of that secret sauce with its stories feature, it presents a threat to Snapchat. Instagram gives you two options: lasting and ephemeral. You can be “active” either way. No wonder that has helped the platform sustain its massive growth.
'They have to compete for popularity'
In that context, it’s easy to understand why Spiegel wants to criticize Instagram in another way: by characterizing its usage as a relentless pursuit of popularity. (“It feels terrible, they have to compete for popularity.”)
Spiegel outlined the general theory when talking about the differences between Snapchat and Facebook in June at the Code Conference:
"I think fundamentally it’s important to understand that Snapchat is not just a bunch of features. It really has an underlying philosophy that runs directly counter to traditional social media. I think that’s why traditional social media feels threatened. Because, fundamentally, if people realize that competing with their friends for 'Likes' and attention is kind of unpleasant and really not that great."
But it’s not that simple.
The 2015 study that looked at Instagram and “well-being” found that “contrary to the hypotheses, more frequent Instagram use was not associated with social comparison.” Is Instagram really a popularity contest, then?
And as the 2017 Minnesota study found, without a “like” button, Snapchat users have found other ways of judging the performance of their content.
So maybe it’s not competing with your friends for popularity on social media that makes you sad, but rather passively following celebrities and envying their lives. And guess what, you can passively follow celebrities on Snapchat, too.
It depends on which questions you ask
It’s worth noting that not all researchers have come away with a rosy view of social media, and I did find one survey that presented an alarming picture of the situation.
A study from the UK published in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health looked at the effect of social-media apps on health and well-being, as defined by 14 survey questions. In sum, the RSPH found that only YouTube had a net positive effect, with Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram having a negative effect.
Instagram was the worst, but Snapchat was the second worst, which meant the RSPH study wasn’t particularly useful in settling the Instagram versus Snapchat debate.
In reading study after study, it became clear that there were no simple answers to how social media affects humans emotionally, especially as new platforms continue to emerge.
The emotional effect of Facebook seems to be fleeting
But whatever the emotional effect — positive or negative — that these platforms have, it could also be fleeting.
Bayer pointed me to a study that he and his colleagues published in 2017 in New Media & Society (titled “Facebook in context(s): Measuring emotional responses across time and space”).
The researchers found that users generally had positive emotional experiences up to 10 minutes after active posting on Facebook. But that positive effect dissipated when subjects were tested 30 minutes after posting, and “Facebook activities predicted no changes in aggregate mood over 2 weeks.”
The short-lived nature of Facebook’s emotional impact, which could perhaps be true of other platforms as well, complicates the matter even further.
Calling Instagram 'terrible' isn't going to help Snapchat
The bottom line is that assessing the emotional impact of social-media platforms on their users is complicated and must take into account things like "active" versus "passive" usage, and timeframe.
But one thing I can say for certain from my research is that only an extreme cherry-picking of data could lead to the conclusion that Instagram is “terrible” while Snapchat is a benevolent tool for creativity and self-expression.
It's understandable to lash out at a competitor that is brazenly copying your innovations. But painting Instagram as a terrible experience for users isn't going to do much for Snap’s stock price if the users actually come away from Instagram feeling "inspired."
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 10:10 AM PST
This is a preview of a research report from Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about Business Insider Intelligence, click here.
The voice app ecosystem is booming. In the US, the number of Alexa skills alone surpassed 25,000 in January 2018, up from just 7,000 the previous January, in categories ranging from music streaming services, to games, to connected home tools.
As voice platforms continue to gain footing in homes via smart speakers — connected devices powered primarily by artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled voice assistants — the opportunity for voice apps is becoming more profound. However, as observed with the rise of mobile apps in the late 2000s, any new digital ecosystem will face significant growing pains, and voice apps are no exception. Thanks to the visual-free format of voice apps, discoverability, monetization, and retention are proving particularly problematic in this nascent space. This is creating a problem in the voice assistant market that could hinder greater uptake if not addressed.
In this report, Business Insider Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, explores the two major viable voice app stores. It identifies the three big issues voice apps are facing — discoverability, monetization, and retention — and presents possible short-term solutions ahead of industry-wide fixes.
Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:
In full, the report:
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 10:09 AM PST
Cabbies said Kakao T Carpool, which would be a ride-sharing app similar to Uber, would undercut their standard of living. Top Korean tech firm Kakao already operates a ride-hailing app called Kakao Taxi, which allows users to connect to yellow cabs. Ride-sharing apps have been outlawed in Asia's fourth-largest economy since 2015.
"My entire family is scraping a living on my tiny income," a protesting driver, Lee Nam-soo, 67, told Reuters on December 20. Lee earns 80,000 won ($70) to 90,000 ($80) won a day. "There's no way I can survive if Kakao operates."
The protests have become deadly. On Thursday, a cab caught fire while parked in Central Seoul. The 64-year-old taxi driver in the car, only identified by his last name Lim, later died in the hospital, Yonhap News reported.
Police suspect that he set the car on fire in protest of the ride-sharing service, according to Yonhap. Officials from a taxi union said Lim left a four-page suicide note to his family that detailed the economic stress of being a taxi driver.
Lim is the second taxi driver to die by suspected self-immolation. Last month, a 57-year-old driver reportedly died by setting himself on fire in protest of the ride-sharing app. Protesting cab drivers have tied a black ribbon to their cars and are wearing black headbands to commemorate their colleague's death.
In response to these protests, Kakao T Carpool has not yet launched. The company did not immediately return Business Insider's request for comment.
"We will have continued consultations with the industry, parliament and the government," Kakao said on Thursday, Reuters reported.
Ride-sharing apps are banned in South Korea. Instead of Uber, most folks in the country use Kakao Taxi, which connects users to yellow cabs via app. Kakao also owns other popular apps and websites in the country, like Daum Search, messaging service KakaoTalk, and Daum Cafe, a Reddit-like forum.
South Korea has an extensive history of protest culture. Protests in the late 20th century throughout South Korea helped transform the country from a military dictatorship to a democracy.
And in 2016-7, protesters took to downtown Seoul every weekend for nearly six months to encourage the impeachment of former President Park Geun-hye, who was sentenced to prison in 2018 on abuse-of-power charges. These marches were peaceful — even children participated.
Suicides in protesting sometimes also appear, when protesters have attempted to underscore their outrage on topics like American military presence in Korea and labor rights. In 2015, an 80-year-old South Korean man set himself on fire outside the Japanese Embassy in Seoul to protest the Japanese government's response to soldiers' use of Korean women as sex slaves in the 1930s and 40s. He survived.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 10:00 AM PST
Facebook's brutal 2018 was accompanied by a wave of executive departures.
As the Silicon Valley tech giant grappled with the Cambridge Analytica scandal and its role spreading hate speech that fueled genocide in Myanmar, several longtime senior leaders at the company headed for the exit.
Instagram cofounders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, vice president of partnerships Dan Rose, WhatsApp cofounder Jan Koum, and policy and communications boss Elliot Schrage are just some of the execs that have announced their departures over the last year.
As the new year kicks off, Facebook's turbulence shows no signs of abating, so Business Insider asked current and former employees a question: Who might be next to go?
Flight risk is an important issue at tech companies like Facebook whose fortunes can hinge on the talent of product visionaries and engineers, and the degree to which Facebook can retain its top talent will influence its ability to navigate its current crisis.
To be clear, this is informed speculation and guesswork: The sources we surveyed don't have inside knowledge of any confirmed but unannounced coming departures. But with Facebook under pressure to get its house in order, and with some executives no doubt scanning the horizon for less turbulent jobs, the names listed provide a guide to some of the company's leaders who insiders are watching attentively.
After being provided with the list of names, Facebook spokesperson Anthony Harrison provided the following statement: "This story is based on complete speculation. None of the people you mentioned to us are planning to leave Facebook."
Justin Osofsky, vice president of global operations, program management, and integrations.
Justin Osofsky, Facebook's vice president of global operations, was singled out most by the sources we spoke to.
He has been at Facebook for more than a decade and is a key lieutenant of Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, who has come under scrutiny in recent months.
His operational role places him at the center of many woes and could potentially make him a scapegoat. "[He's] a really strong leader, but as far as places to shift blame, I think he would be next in line," one source said.
Osofsky's activities made headlines in December 2018 when the British Parliament released a cache of internal Facebook emails and documents it had seized. The leaked correspondence laid bare the company leadership's cutthroat attitudes towards competition and growth — and some of Osofsky's emails were included.
Joel Kaplan, vice president of global public policy.
Apart from CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Sandberg, few Facebook execs attracted more ire in 2018 than Joel Kaplan, the company's vice president of global public policy.
Kaplan was spotted seated behind Brett Kavanaugh during the judge's acrimonious Supreme Court confirmation hearings, and when it emerged that he was there in support of Kavanaugh, a close friend, many Facebook employees exploded in outrage.
The 49-year-old previously served as a staffer in the George W. Bush White House, making him a rare conservative at the famously liberal company. Civil-rights groups have consistently called for his firing, citing his role in a smear campaign against Facebook critics.
A current employee suggested he could be next to go, citing his unpopularity with some at the company.
Dan Levy, vice president of small business.
Dan Levy, Facebook's vice president of small business, is an attractive target for potential recruiters.
"In terms of the best people at Facebook that's still there, you can't ignore Dan Levy, who is the one person that's responsible for Facebook's growth in the past three years," one source said.
Levy has been at Facebook since December 2008, working as a director on payments, risk, and finance before taking on the small-business role in July 2012.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 10:00 AM PST
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Mechanical keyboards have seen a surge in popularity in recent years. What used to be a niche market has grown into a vast one, as people realize that typing away on a mushy membrane keyboard, frankly, kind of sucks.
Whether you're a gamer, writer, or otherwise use a computer for any reasonable amount of time, a mechanical keyboard can help make typing more pleasant, and in most cases, more stylish.
Coming from a niche, DIY-focused market, though, a good mechanical keyboard can be difficult to find. As a mech connoisseur myself, I've tested some of the premiere options to find the best mechanical keyboard that your money can buy. In the case where I haven't had hands-on time, I relied on expert and buyer reviews on the internet instead.
Unfortunately, it's not as cut and dry as slapping a couple of mechanical switches on a frame and calling it a day. As a high-end product, mechanical keyboards usually come with features specific to a use case.
The Corsair K95, for example, can add a lot of flair to your setup with per-key RGB lighting, while the Kinesis Freestyle Edge is focused more on productivity with an ergonomic layout and rebindable keys. Read on to see which mechanical keyboard is best for your needs.
Here are the best mechanical keyboards you can buy:
Read on in the slides below to check out our top picks.
The best mechanical keyboard overall
Why you'll love it: The Corsair K70 Mk.2 combines the best features of all other mechanical keyboards with a clean aesthetic, rigid build, and supreme typing experience.
I’m typing this guide on a Corsair K70 right now, which is a pretty big testament, considering I slam hundreds of thousands of keystrokes into my keyboard every week. While I’ve shifted to other keyboards in the past, either for aesthetic or technical purposes, I’ve never been able to find a suitable replacement for my K70.
Upon first glance, the main draw of the keyboard is its impressive per-key RGB lighting, which can be configured and synced through Corsair’s excellent iCue software. While the novelty of making your keyboard look like "The Matrix" is definitely real, the style of this keyboard takes a backseat to the features it offers.
The typing experience is excellent. Corsair only uses genuine Cherry MX switches, which can last for up to 50 million keystrokes, per switch. The K70 MK.2 is offered with Brown, Blue, Red, Silent, and Speed switches, too, so you can tailor the the typing experience to your liking.
Switches are housed on an aircraft-grade anodized aluminum frame, which can handle just about any beating you can throw at it. I’ve tossed my K70 in a backpack on multiple occasions, even going as far as to let TSA handle it — yikes. Outside of a bit of dust, the frame looks the same as when I first took it out of the packaging.
The typing experience and build are the same as the original K70, but the Mk.2 has some features that set it apart. In addition to a slightly redesigned wrist rest and logo, the Mk.2 comes with USB passthrough on the back of the keyboard and 8MB of built-in profile storage that can be tied to macros within the iCue software.
Other notable features include dedicated media controls, a volume wheel, 100% anti-ghosting with full-key rollover, and a dedicated Windows lock key. Despite the gamer-centric marketing, the K70 Mk.2 is one of the most diverse and feature-rich mechanical keyboards on the market.
Pros: Cherry MX switches, rigid body, per-key RGB lighting
Cons: The cable is braided and non-detachable
The best mechanical keyboard for Mac
Why you'll love it: Clean, simple, and beautiful, the Massdrop CTRL is the perfect mechanical keyboard for Apple fans.
The Massdrop CTRL is seemingly built with Apple users in mind — a quick look at the product page will verify that. While the Magic Keyboard maintains the purely Apple approach to your desktop setup, the laptop-like typing experience leaves a lot to be desired.
There aren't many keyboards that seem at home with a Mac, and that makes the CTRL fairly unique in the mechanical keyboard market.
Massdrop uses a solid aluminum frame and tenkeyless design — no number pad. The included keycap set is black and gray, which is perfect for a Mac setup, and the only connections on the keyboard are the dual USB-C ones on the back. Massdrop includes a USB-C cable, too, that's, thankfully, detachable.
Like the K70, the CTRL has per-key RGB lighting, but shies away from a gamer aesthetic. There's an RGB strip running around the body for accent lighting with a built-in diffuser for even light pour. The switch lighting, as well as macros, can be configured online using Massdrop's Keyboard Configurator thanks to the QMK firmware the keyboard ships with.
The typing experience is really left to what switches you choose to use with it. The CTRL can ship with Halo True, Halo Clear, Kaihua Box White, or Kaihua Speed Silver switches. You can also set the keyboard to ship without key switches or keycaps, which will knock $50 off your order.
And that's what makes the CTRL special. Unlike the Apple ecosystem the CTRL is marketed at, you can fully customize this keyboard. It has a custom PCB that allows you to hotswap switches. There's no need to solder anything on the keyboard. Simply pull the switch using the included tool and drop in the ones you want.
Pros: Beautiful design, hot-swappable switches, dual USB-C connections
Cons: No number pad
The best mechanical keyboard for gaming
Why you'll love it: The Corsair K95 Mk.2 fully embraces the gamer look that the K70 establishes, while building on the functionality of its cheaper sibling.
The Corsair K95 Mk.2 is mostly the same keyboard as the K70, with the addition of six dedicated macro keys on the left side. While you could program the switches for faster productivity, the macros have a natural home in games. Whether it's to quickly open chat or access the different features of an MMO (massively multiplayer online game), the K95 gives you full control over the game you're playing.
While the K95 is nearly identical to the K70, it isn't the best all-around option. The K70 comes in a variety of switch types, which makes it an attractive option for typists and gamers alike. The K95, on the other hand, only comes in two flavors: Cherry MX Speeds or Cherry MX Browns. Furthermore, you can only get Browns on the black-bodied version of the K95, the gunmetal version only offering Speed switches. Confusing.
Grumbling aside, that's only an issue for non-gamers. Cherry MX Speeds are a great option for gamers, offering the linear feel of Cherry MX Reds with a shortened stem, which effectively makes them "faster."
The K95 also comes with a multi-zone RGB LED strip on the back with a built-diffuser, which is a feature the K70 doesn't share. This strip, along with the per-key backlighting, can be configured in iCue and synced with other Corsair products.
As a flagship product, the K95 is pretty narrow in its scope. However, if you fit within the parameters it sets, it's the best option around. From the impressive lighting stunts you can perform with the per-key backlighting to the solid build and gaming experience, the K95 should be your first choice for gaming.
Pros: Dedicated macro keys, accent lighting strip, Cherry MX Speed switches
Cons: The size isn't ideal
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 09:39 AM PST
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos could find himself dropping a few spots on the list of the world's richest people soon.
And his soon-to-be ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos might rocket up the list.
Jeff Bezos sits atop the list of the world's richest people with a fortune of $137 billion. If MacKenzie Bezos acquires exactly half of that in a divorce settlement, a possible outcome, considering Washington's divorce laws and their reported lack of a prenuptial agreement, that would leave both people with $68.5 billion each.
In that scenario, Jeff Bezos would fall to the No. 4 spot on the list of the world's richest people, according to Bloomberg's real-time billionaire index. MacKenzie Bezos, who is currently unranked, would join him there.
A net worth of $68.5 billion would land the Bezoses just ahead of Amancio Ortega, a Spanish fashion retailer with a net worth of $62.2 billion, and one spot below France's Bernard Arnault, also a fashion retailer, whose net worth is $72.2 billion.
Bill Gates would regain his title as the world's richest person, a distinction he held for more than two decades, from the 1990s until Jeff Bezos overtook him last year. Gates' fortune is estimated at $93 billion.
Second on the list would be investor Warren Buffett, who has a fortune of $80.8 billion.
Meanwhile, a 50-50 payout for MacKenzie Bezos would easily make her the richest woman in the world, surpassing the $45.7 billion net worth of L'Oreal heiress Francoise Bettencourt Meyers, who ranks 11th on the overall list.
Forbes releases its annual list of billionaires every March. Should her divorce be finalized by then, MacKenzie Bezos could make her debut on the list.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 09:36 AM PST
This year's International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) featured many robots that were better suited for brief demonstrations than for regular use by the average person.
Two of the most practical robots came in the form of luggage made by the startups ForwardX and Rover Speed. Each uses cameras (and in Rover Speed's case, radar) which can recognize and follow their owners.
Rover Speed's product, also called Rover Speed, can follow its owners from behind for up to 12 miles and adjust its speed based on how fast its owner is walking. (It has a top speed of 4.5 mph.) It can dodge obstacles and, if it falls more than 6.5 feet behind its owner, the Rover Speed will send a notification to its owner through a mobile app. The Rover Speed can also serve as a charging port for up to eight phones.
ForwardX's Ovis is similar to the Rover Speed, but instead of following directly behind its owner, it follows from the side. The Ovis can also avoid obstacles and will alert its owner via a wristband if they're more than 6.5 feet apart. (You can also purchase a feature that allows you to track its location via GPS.) The Ovis has a range of a little over 12 miles, a maximum speed of 6.2 mph, and a USB charging port.
Both the Rover Speed and Ovis can be pulled manually, and each has a battery that can be removed at airport security.
Posted: 10 Jan 2019 09:36 AM PST
Netflix's new interactive "Black Mirror" movie, "Bandersnatch," allows viewers to make choices throughout the story, and has at least five possible endings. Some fans don't like that, and "Black Mirror" creator Charlie Brooker has harsh words for them.
In an interview with Huffington Post published on Thursday, Brooker told fans to "f--- off" if they don't like making decisions during "Bandersnatch."
"It’s been interesting that you get different reactions from different people, partly based on what they’re expecting, or what they want," Brooker said. "So some people go, ‘oh, I’m sh-- at this’, and you sort of go, ‘no no, it’s alright, we’ve built in that you’re going to fail.'"
He added: "We’re trying to make you fail a couple of times so that you have to go around and do things again, and that’s sort of baked into the story. There’s also some people that are like ‘I don’t wanna make decisions’, ‘I don’t want to do any of it’... well f--- off, then. Do something else!"
Brooker also briefly waded into the debate on whether "Bandersnatch" is a game or not, and addressed those who think it's "too simple" for a game.
"Well this isn’t on a gaming platform, it’s on Netflix," he said. "I’m well aware of what a computer game is, thanks."
"Bandersnatch" was released on Netflix last month, and features over a trillion different permutations. It stars Fionn Whitehead as a programmer in 1984 tasked with designing an interactive video game based on a novel called "Bandersnatch." He starts to question reality throughout the process.
"Bandersnatch" has a 73% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes and a 63% audience score, well below previous "Black Mirror" seasons.
Season five of "Black Mirror" was delayed because "Bandersnatch" took so long to make, producer Annabel Jones told The Hollywood Reporter. But season five is still coming in 2019, a Netflix representative confirmed to Business Insider.
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