Ascape Audio and the economics of making headphones in America

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Ascape Audio's home page proudly proclaims "Designed in Detroit," but at this point it's not helping business. "It hasn't made any goddamn impact," marketing director Dean Clancy said. "I want to put that in as many places as possible, because regar…
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First Look: Mobile Marketing Association Reveals the Shortlists for the Global and North America SMARTIES Business Impact Index

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As mobile becomes “central to building business growth for brands,” per the Mobile Marketing Association, the MMA has revealed the first-ever shortlists of the MMA SMARTIES Business Impact Index for both Global and North America markets.

The Business Impact Index is the world’s only ranking of the marketing industry’s top agencies, marketers, brands and technology providers delivering the highest level of business impact through mobile-first campaigns.

“As demands placed on brands are higher than ever, it is critical that marketers and their agencies understand the true impact campaigns have against marketing objectives, both on an individual basis as well as their cumulative efforts,” says Sheryl Daija, Chief Strategy Officer, MMA. “The SMARTIES Business Impact Index forces focus on what ultimately matters, overall business growth. With this expansion to the SMARTIES program, which already identifies and recognizes the most innovative mobile campaigns, the Index now benchmarks what success looks like and the SMARTIES Case Study Hub gives our membership the most comprehensive body of leading work that inspires, guides and informs future advances in mobile marketing.”

The methodology for the MMA SMARTIES Business Impact Index was developed in close collaboration with WARC, the global authority on advertising and media effectiveness. The rankings leverage the finalist and winner data from the previous year’s (in this case 2017) SMARTIES Awards programs across the globe using a proprietary methodology to determine the business impact, assigning points to campaigns and the organizations.

“We were happy to partner with the MMA and lend our expertise to produce a benchmark and guidance to the industry for what matters in the emerging mobile marketing space,” says David Tiltman, Head of Content at WARC. “The MMA SMARTIES Business Impact Index will show what work is making the most impact, which agencies are leading the pack and driving change, and what success in mobile looks like.”

The 2018 SMARTIES Awards is now open to accept entries. For more information or to submit work for consideration, visit http://www.mmaglobal.com/smarties2018.

The post First Look: Mobile Marketing Association Reveals the Shortlists for the Global and North America SMARTIES Business Impact Index appeared first on Mobile Marketing Watch.


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Tim Cook Hits Back at Critics over Apple Jobs in America

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Apple chief executive Tim Cook has hit back at critics who claim that the company is abandoning American workers in favor of foreign manufacturing operations. In an interview with Recode’s Kara Swisher and MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Wednesday, Cook explained that the tech giant is constantly ploughing money into the American economy. He suggested that […]
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‘Far Cry 5’ review: Destruction and doomsday in America

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By Daniel Howley The Far Cry series is known for dropping players into huge, open-world settings and letting them sew chaos and destruction as they take on each title's menacing villain. But those settings and enemies have always been based in large…
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iPhone is made in America, Tim Cook insists

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It clearly makes Tim Cook angry that people think the iPhone is made in China. “It’s not true that iPhone isn’t built in the United States,” Apple’s CEO said today. The design work definitely happens in the United States. However, Cook points out that Apple suppliers produce many components in this country as well. Apple’s […]

(via Cult of Mac – Tech and culture through an Apple lens)

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Dragon Quest XI is finally coming to North America in September

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The long wait for Dragon Quest XI is almost over: today, Square Enix announced that the role-playing game will be available in North America and Europe on September 4th. The game originally debuted in Japan last July, but previously, the developer had been quiet on a Western release.

Unfortunately, not all versions of Dragon Quest XI will be launching outside of Japan. The September 4th release date is for the PS4 and Steam versions, while Square Enix tells IGN that the Nintendo Switch version of the game won’t be available this year, but instead will launch “much later.” The 3DS version of DQXI, meanwhile, isn’t being localized at all.

In addition to the new language options, Square Enix says that the Western version of DQXI will also…

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Uber’s retreat from Southeast Asia makes India, the Middle East and Latin America the next battlegrounds

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Uber is whittling down the international markets it operates in so it can focus on core regions it feels like it can win.

Uber’s path to global dominance was once perceived to be a certainty as it rapidly expanded into new cities around the world, placing special importance on major markets like China, India and Southeast Asia.

Uber’s mission was to bring reliable transportation for everyone, to everywhere. But after it sold its businesses in Russia, China and Southeast Asia to local competitors, “everywhere” has shrunk to the U.S., Europe, parts of Latin America, India and the Middle East.

The international selloffs told us two key things: Subsidies — bonus payments to drivers to retain and attract more vehicles — cut into its business, making it too expensive to compete against its homegrown competitors in China and Russia. Second, the strategies that helped the company maintain its dominance on its home turf would not always work against well-funded players in foreign markets.

Uber’s latest retreat, selling its Southeast Asia business to Grab, was a stark example of this same phenomenon.

In the wake of Didi’s acquisition of UberChina, local regional players like Grab thought Uber’s withdrawal from China would create more competition as it would free Uber up to invest more in their region.

“With the deal in China, we expect Uber to turn more attention and divert resources to our region,” Grab CEO Anthony Tan wrote in an email to employees in the wake of the merger.

But recent comments from Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi indicated the company’s $ 700 million investment in Southeast Asia since it launched five years ago was not panning out in the way Uber hoped it would.

“The economics of that market are not what we want them to be,” Khosrowshahi said at the New York Times Dealbook conference. “I think it’s over-capitalized at this point. We’re going in, and we’re leaning forward. But I’m not optimistic that market is going to be profitable any time soon.”

In addition to capital, Grab has long touted its hyperlocal advantage over Uber. Even in the face of growing concern that Uber would double down on its efforts in the region, Tan continued to believe that advantage would be what helped the company become the dominate player.

“But we have seen that when the local champion stays true to their beliefs and strengths, they can prevail,” Tan wrote in his email to employees after Uber exited China.

While the Grab deal was in part an admission that the company couldn’t compete with its homegrown rival, it was also a sort of call to arms in markets like India, Latin America and the Middle East.

So what does Uber have to do?

Each region requires a different strategy. Through its three international exits, the company has learned it’s not enough to throw cash at a market and hope that the strategy that helped it grow in the U.S. will work elsewhere. The primary thing Uber has to do is to become more attuned to the local nuances of the market.

India

In the case of India, Uber’s chief competitor is Ola, which saw Uber’s exit from China as a reassuring sign, a source close to the company told Recode at the time. Given the similarities in the complexities of the Chinese and Indian markets, Uber’s loss in China, the source said, meant Uber would have an equally difficult time gaining traction in India.

Indeed, India is a vast market that accounts for 10 percent of Uber’s trips with 10 million rides a week, so ceding ground there will be undoubtedly damaging to the company.

“India is a key component of our growth plan,” Khosrowshahi told the Economic Times during a recent trip to India. “If you look at the market, it’s one of our healthiest markets in terms of growth rates.”

But the ride-hail company has a tough battle ahead as it fights it out with a competitor that is in more than 100 cities, has its own digital wallet called OlaMoney and offers unique services like Prime Play — a service that comes with an in-car entertainment platform for longer trips.

During a recent trip to India, Khosrowshahi admitted that the company needs to better serve the local needs of its consumers and drivers.

“As a global company, we’re constantly building out systems and technologies that are global in nature, but in a country like India we have to be able to be relevant locally as well,” Khosrowshahi said during a recent trip there.

The company recently matched Ola’s own motorcycle-hailing and auto-rickshaw-hailing products. This, however, will be the second time Uber is attempting to launch an auto-rickshaw service after shuttering a similar pilot in 2015 — so doing it right is no small feat.

Uber has to also contend with a decreasing albeit still relatively high proportion of India’s consumers who haven’t adopted credit cards or don’t have bank accounts, making it more difficult to tap into digital services like ride-hail. To solve that issue, Ola built out a payments platform that can be refilled with cash. Grab has done the same.

The company is also still facing backlash from some drivers complaining of low fares. Uber embarked on a campaign to win back its drivers in the U.S., and the expectation is it will do the same for its international markets.

Latin America

In Latin America, the company has seen incredible success as the region quickly became its fastest growing. But Didi’s recent entrance into the market through an acquisition of Brazilian player 99 and its early recruitment efforts in Mexico gives reason for concern for Uber.

Uber is also still navigating regulatory hurdles in Brazil, the world’s fifth-largest market by population that only recently came out of its longest-ever recession. That means the market is still incredibly price sensitive. Parts of Latin America, like in India, also still rely heavily on cash payments.

So Uber has to focus on launching cost-effective services that still provide a level of convenience for consumers and is profitable for Uber.

Middle East

Didi is also an investor in Careem, Uber’s main rival in the Middle East and Pakistan. The startup was founded in 2013, but it has attracted more than $ 550 million in funding from players like Rakuten, Daimler and Coatue Management. Here, too, Uber has to navigate both cultural and economic realities that are often vastly different from that of the U.S.

Recently, for example, Saudi Arabia introduced value-added tax, which forced Uber to raise its prices.

Like in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the company’s strategy in the Middle East and North Africa has to be further customized around the local nuances of each country within the region. In other words, what works in Saudi Arabia may not work in Egypt.

Didi’s investments in regions around the world present a definite challenge to Uber. Ironically, with the Grab deal, Uber’s international strategy appears to look more like Didi’s as the company becomes pickier about which markets to enter.

That doesn’t mean the company isn’t open to making deals in those regions going forward. But, Uber is confident those deals will lean more in the company’s favor and doesn’t expect to pull its operations out of anymore major markets, according to sources familiar with the company’s thinking.

The company only attained a minority stake in the resulting merged entities that came out of its deals with Didi, Grab and Yandex. Uber doesn’t expect that to happen in the event that it strikes some form of an acquisition deal in places like India and the Middle East.

Ola and Uber also share an investor in SoftBank — a connection that may be a boon to any future deals in the way it was for Grab.

SoftBank, which recently acquired a 15 percent stake of Uber, publicly encouraged the company to focus on its core markets such as the U.S. and Europe. The firm holds a board seat in both companies, allowing merger talks between Grab and Uber to begin soon after SoftBank closed its funding deal with Uber.

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Bank of America Analyst Says Apple Plans to Launch Foldable iPhone in 2020

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Apple plans to launch a foldable iPhone two years from now, according to Wamsi Mohan, an analyst at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

A fan-made foldable iPhone concept

Mohan shared his prediction in a research note obtained by CNBC after spending a week in Asia meeting with companies in Apple’s supply chain. He expects the foldable iPhone will launch in 2020 and said it could potentially “double up as a tablet,” suggesting the device could expand to have an iPad-like form factor.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard this rumor. Back in December 2016, a Korean report said LG Display was developing and mass-producing foldable displays for smartphones. And, as of October 2017, it appears that LG Display has reached an agreement to supply Apple with its foldable displays for future iPhones.

LG has shown off various futuristic-looking curved and foldable display prototypes over the past three years, including one with a book-like design and another that can be rolled up like a newspaper. Both designs take advantage of the flexible property of OLED displays, compared to rigid LCD screens.

For that reason, the iPhone X is a good start on the path towards a foldable iPhone, should one ever materialize.

While not visible, the iPhone X actually has a flexible OLED display that curves behind itself on the inside of the device. The curved portion houses the display controller chip, and this clever engineering feat allows the iPhone X to have a slimmer bottom bezel, which is normally where the chip is located.

iPhone X’s flexible OLED display

A foldable iPhone would require further innovation. If the device can be rolled up like a newspaper, then components like the logic board and battery would need to be flexible enough to bend rather than buckle. But if it only folds in half, then components could still be rigid and connected with flex cables.

Apple applied for a foldable display patent last year and is likely researching ways to create a foldable iPhone, but that doesn’t guarantee we’ll ever see a consumer-facing product. 2020 might be an overly ambitious timeframe, too, but technology can change a lot in two years, so we’ll have to wait and see.

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OnePlus 5T won’t be officially available in North America any more

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OnePlus has confirmed that the OnePlus 5T is permanently out of stock in North America. This means those in the US or Canada who were planning to purchase the flagship officially from the company are now out of luck. The device was launched back in November last year, meaning it was only available in the region for four months. According to the Chinese company, the situation has arisen due to stronger-than-expected demand for the handset. The only option for North American OnePlus fans at the moment is to wait for the next flagship from the company, which should arrive sometime in…

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OnePlus 5T stock for North America has run dry, no more planned

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OnePlus’ 5T has been in and out of stock at the company’s website for the last couple weeks, and it turns out that’s not a fluke. Engadget has confirmed that the company has run out of all its North American stock in just four months. If you didn’t manage to grab one new from the OnePlus store, 3rd party resellers and used phones are now your only option. 

The 5T has had a wild ride.

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OnePlus 5T stock for North America has run dry, no more planned was written by the awesome team at Android Police.

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