In October 2015, SolidEnergy demonstrated the first-ever working prototype of a rechargeable lithium metal smartphone battery with double energy density, which earned them more than $12 million from investors. At half the size of the lithium ion battery used in an iPhone 6, it offers 2.0 amp hours, compared with the lithium ion battery’s 1.8 amp hours.
SolidEnergy plans to bring the batteries to smartphones and wearables in early 2017, and to electric cars in 2018. But the first application will be drones, coming this November. “Several customers are using drones and balloons to provide free Internet to the developing world, and to survey for disaster relief,” Hu says. “It’s a very exciting and noble application.”
Putting these new batteries in electric vehicles as well could represent “a huge societal impact,” Hu says: “Industry standard is that electric vehicles need to go at least 200 miles on a single charge. We can make the battery half the size and half the weight, and it will travel the same distance, or we can make it the same size and same weight, and now it will go 400 miles on a single charge.”
Chinese consumer manufacturer Midea, after having spent over $4 billion to acquire 94% of German robot maker Kuka, is planning to spend an additional $1.5 billion to turn itself into China’s preeminent robot powerhouse. (…)
Midea expects to ramp up production at the new facility from an initial 7,000 robots annually to 17,000 or more within 10 years.
In July, NPR.org recorded nearly 33 million unique users, and 491,000 comments. But those comments came from just 19,400 commenters, Montgomery said. That’s 0.06 percent of users who are commenting, a number that has stayed steady through 2016.
When NPR analyzed the number of people who left at least one comment in both June and July, the numbers showed an even more interesting pattern: Just 4,300 users posted about 145 comments apiece, or 67 percent of all NPR.org comments for the two months. More than half of all comments in May, June and July combined came from a mere 2,600 users. The conclusion: NPR’s commenting system — which gets more expensive the more comments that are posted, and in some months has cost NPR twice what was budgeted — is serving a very, very small slice of its overall audience.
Not surprising at all. The 90–9–1 rule applies to on-site comments as well as any other system of participation.
Expecting that a percentage of your audience that comes even close to a majority would participate in your comments is absurd. Set your priorities appropriately.
The intense debate in journalism regarding how to build, maintain and moderate open comment sections is, in my eyes, most of the times just cargo-culting. As if keeping up an archaic system for interacting online will make your product and your organization to appear modern.
Comments -or, more generally, audience participation- can make sense, but only given the right information architecture, context and purpose (know what you want to achieve). But you need to think about it holistically.
This round of interviews is bearing out a relationship to technology that is decidedly settled. New platforms emerge, but this too is ordinary. A frequently changing technological landscape is expected and does not elicit panic. The older participants sometimes ask about “that Snapchat thing”, and a smattering of participants from varied age groups admit that they “don’t get” Twitter, but they also report that they don’t feel like they are missing out. The participants in this round of interviews engage with social media, but don’t feel compelled to engage on all social media, nor do they fear that the world is passing them by. Participants’ responses—both about themselves and about the place of new technologies in society—are tempered, nuanced, and quiet.
It’s not that worry pieces aren’t tapping into anything, it’s just that they are tapping into an affective sensibility that’s on its way out.
Ironically, the continued prevalence of the worry piece is most certainly a product of some of the very patterns that the articles worry over—a 24hour news cycle, a competitive attention economy, and the need to produce new content, regardless of whether an outlet and its writers have something meaningful to say.
‘Worry pieces’ dominate the public discourse on technology topics in Germany for more than ten years now. It’s rather depressing in its own right.
If you think that there has never been a better time to be alive — that humanity has never been safer, healthier, more prosperous or less unequal — then you’re in the minority. But that is what the evidence incontrovertibly shows. Poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, child labour and infant mortality are falling faster than at any other time in human history. The risk of being caught up in a war, subjected to a dictatorship or of dying in a natural disaster is smaller than ever. The golden age is now.
We’re hardwired not to believe this. We’ve evolved to be suspicious and fretful: fear and worry are tools for survival. The hunters and gatherers who survived sudden storms and predators were the ones who had a tendency to scan the horizon for new threats, rather than sit back and enjoy the view. They passed their stress genes on to us. That is why we find stories about things going wrong far more interesting than stories about things going right. It’s why bad news sells, and newspapers are full of it. Books that say the world is doomed sell rather well, too. I have just attempted the opposite. I’ve written a book called Progress, about humanity’s triumphs. It is written partly as a warning: when we don’t see the progress we have made, we begin to search for scapegoats for the problems that remain. (…)
The psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky have shown that people do not base their assumptions on how frequently something happens, but on how easy it is to recall examples. This ‘availability heuristic’ means that the more memorable an incident is, the more probable we think it is. And what is more memorable than horror? What do you remember best — your neighbour’s story about a decent restaurant which serves excellent lamb stew, or his warning about the place where he was poisoned and threw up all over his boss’s wife? (…)
Bad news now travels a lot faster. Just a few decades ago, you would read that an Asian city with 100,000 people was wiped out in a cyclone on a small notice on page 17. We would never have heard about Burmese serial killers. Now we live in an era with global media and iPhone cameras every-where. Since there is always a natural disaster or a serial murderer somewhere in the world, it will always top the news cycle — giving us the mistaken impression that it is more common than before. (…)
The cultural historian Arthur Freeman observed that ‘virtually every culture, past or present, has believed that men and women are not up to the standards of their parents and forebears’. Is it a coincidence that the western world is experiencing this great wave of pessimism at the moment that the baby-boom generation is retiring?
So to summarize:
- We’re hardwired to weight negative events higher than their frequency and impact objectively justify.
- News travels faster and further these days. (And, I may add, in conjunction with the previous point, social media shares act as an accelerator for spreading news about negative events.)
- Fucking baby-boomers, again.
Very good long read.
Other than the layoffs Dorsey instituted as almost his first act as CEO, there’s been no evidence of faster or more disciplined execution. In fact, it’s arguable that things have got worse, rather than better. Twitter’s headcount today is at 3,860, about the same as in early 2015, and about the same as Facebook when it had 800 million MAUs, versus Twitter’s 313 million, with a far more complex product. Twitter still feels bloated relative to other similar companies.
I am being interviewed by an MIT Sloan student about the challenges companies face trying to catch the next S curve. My answer is simple: They cannot stomach the J curve.
J-curves track the negative financial performance of companies as they launch themselves into the bottom half of an S curve. This performance gets a lot worse before it gets better. Venture capital understands this. It is designed to invest in J curves. Its limited partners have signed up to support the effort.
The 11 biggest pay-TV providers in the US, representing 95 percent of the market, lost 665,000 net video subscribers in Q2 2016, Leichtman Research Group reported today. This is more than double the losses of two years ago. Previously, the companies lost 545,000 subscribers in Q2 2015, 300,000 in Q2 2014, and 350,000 in Q2 2013.
This year’s Q2 net losses “surpass[ed] the previous quarterly low set in last year’s second quarter,” said the research group president, Bruce Leichtman. The group’s data goes back to 2001.
A significant shift in the U.S. TV industry will also change the TV industry in Europe.
(NBC and HBO sell licenses for their content internationally, Amazon and Netflix will stop doing that. (House of Cards was a temporary exception due to Netflix not having had set up shop everywhere.))
Revenues from streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music now account for 83% of the music sales the first half of 2016, compared with 80% of sales for the same period in 2015.
Physical sales continued to grow during the first half of 2016. So far this year, physical products account for sales worth 43 million NOK, compared to NOK 40 mill. NOK for the same period last year. Physical sales account for 13% of total sales – the same level as last year.
Fascinating that physical sales are growing. Souvenirs are hot.
Either way, compression nights are incredibly important to the hotel industry. UBS estimates that hotels make anywhere from 35% to 70% more revenue per available room (RevPAR) during sold-out nights because of the steep premiums they can charge. But in two of Airbnb’s biggest markets—New York and San Francisco—UBS says the number of compression nights declined in 2015, even as US hotel occupancy hit record highs. UBS analysts think that’s because travelers faced with exorbitant rates at hotels are just turning to Airbnb instead.