ESA tests its giant Mars mission parachute

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The European Space Agency has put one of ExoMars' landing parachutes to the test for the first time. And while it was deployed from a helicopter merely less than a mile above the ground, its successful descent is a major milestone for the mission. Th…
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SpaceX rocket carved giant hole in the ionosphere

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Rockets can leave a mark on the atmosphere well after they've left, and SpaceX may have learned that first-hand. Researchers have determined that a Falcon 9 launch in August 2017 (the Formosat-5 mission above) not only created circular shockwaves, b…
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Giant scissors are your controller in this quirky first-person action game

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

There's this small world inside GDC 2018 called Alt.Ctrl.GDC, where you'll find a booth full of quirky games that incorporate physical objects into their story. With Scissors the that than (the latter part pronounced "da da dan," according to its Jap…
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Ubisoft fights off takeover by entertainment giant Vivendi

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Ubisoft is finally free of Vivendi. The entertainment titan behind the Universal Music Group and Dailymotion kept buying more and more Ubisoft shares since 2015 to the point that it became the video game publisher's largest stakeholder. While Vivendi…
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No one can agree if the iPhone X is a giant flop or a record-breaker

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iPhone X Sales

The iPhone X production cuts for the March quarter have been “worse than usual,” but Apple’s going to have a huge iPhone year ahead?

These two things can’t both be true at the same time, but depending what you’re reading this morning, that’s what you’re going to find out about iPhone X sales and forecasts for the immediate future

Yes, these are all reports from different analysts, so let’s start with the worst.

Seen by Business Insider, Longbow Research’s latest report paints a dire picture for Apple’s current state of iPhone affairs.

According to analysts Shawn Harrison and Gausia Chowdhury, iPhone X sales have not been that great during Christmas, and improvements aren’t expected for the first half of the year.

“The iPhone X didn’t sell well during the holiday season,” a supply chain source told Longbow. “We didn’t get as many 1Q orders as previously anticipated.”

“The cut for 1Q is worse than usual and worse than what has happened in prior years,” a person said. “The March quarter has been low and we’re expecting flat production year over year,” a different source added.

Even the ASP — or average selling price — of the iPhone is going to drop, as a result. “”The ASPs [average selling prices] were high during 4Q because of the X, but ASPs will decrease during the March quarter, since the share of the X has gone down.”

Analysts at Nomura, meanwhile, seem to corroborate this take iPhone X production for the first quarter. Nomura lowered iPhone X sales to between 8 million and 12 million, down from the previous 13 million estimate. “Many component suppliers for iPhone X have seen very low shipments since Feb, which could cause very low utilisation rate and poor mix for 1H18F,” analyst Anne Lee told customers in a research note.

The price is apparently to blame. “One factor that is likely suppressing the smartphone market is price,” Nomura analyst Jeffrey Kvaal said. “We see several indications the market elasticity is falling. Obviously, Apple’s iPhone ASPs have climbed from $ 645 in FY16; we model $ 742 in FY18. We do not believe it is coincidence that the highest end of the product portfolio, the X, is the model that is flagging.”

This brings us to Digitimes’ overly enthusiastic iPhone prediction, which says that Apple is getting ready to order 250-270 million smartphone panels for 2018. That’s crazy because it exceeds Apple’s best years by tens of millions of units — that’s assuming Apple would sell 270 million iPhones this year. Apple’s record is at 231 million iPhones (2015), but Apple only sold 216 million units last year.

Digitimes says Apple would buy 110-130 million OLED panels, including 70-80 million 5.9-inch units and 40-50 million 6.5-inch units. It’ll also purchase 6.1-million LTPS panels for a third iPhone to be released this fall, as well as 60-70 million panels for all the LCD iPhones it currently stocks, including the the iPhone 8, 7, SE, and older models.

Apple – BGR

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Everyone wants to build a giant consumer subscription business. Spotify already has one.

71 million subscribers is a big deal, and it gives CEO Daniel Ek lots of options.

It is easy to be skeptical about Spotify’s about-to-be-public business, which it thinks is worth north of $ 20 billion. So let’s do that quickly.

Spotify:

  • Loses a lot of money.
  • Has always lost a lot of money.
  • Is a digital music business, and those businesses don’t make money.

And here’s the quick version of Spotify’s upside, expressed by people in and around the company for years:

  • We’re losing money because we’re growing. But if we wanted to stop growing we’d make money. No problem.
  • Maybe we can sell stuff beyond expensive, low-margin music. That’s why we’ve flirted with video (at one point, according to people familiar with the company, Spotify considered launching its own version of a Hulu-like internet TV service; instead it settled for a much less ambitious offering of short clips, which didn’t go anywhere), and we’re playing around with podcasts. That’s why our CEO wrote that “music has just been the beginning,” in his IPO vision statement.

So there’s both sides.

And here’s the reason I am most bullish about the business Spotify has built and is building:

  • 71 million paid subscribers.

Those subscribers pay Spotify a bunch of money. But that’s not the most important thing about them. It’s that Spotify has a direct billing relationship with most of them.

And in 2018, running your own, large direct-to-consumer subscription business — which works on any platform or device, even those that aren’t psyched about it being there —looks like a very attractive, valuable thing.

Think Netflix. Think Amazon Prime. Think whatever service Apple keeps hinting it wants to build, one day.

You can also think of Disney, and its desire to build a giant direct-to-consumer business of its own, which is prompting a big business pivot, as well as a $ 52 billion deal to (maybe) buy most of Fox. Or think of everyone else in the media business, who are trying to figure out how they can quickly launch subscription businesses themselves.

So once you’ve built a direct-to-consumer business with 71 million subscribers, what do you do next?

I’m not sure, but there are lots of intriguing options, none of which are mutually exclusive: You can keep adding subs, which Spotify certainly intends to do. You can raise prices, though it doesn’t seem likely to do that soon, as it looks like it has been discounting to boost its growth. You can sell other services you create yourself, if you want take the risk of moving way beyond your comfort zone. And you can rent out your billing platform to other, complimentary services, as Amazon has been doing successfully to subscription video services like Showtime.

You’re smart, so you can think of more possibilities. And if I’m thinking about betting on Spotify, the more of those you can think of, the more interested I’m going to get.

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Spotify’s public filing reveals key stats about the streaming giant

Spotify quietly signaled its intention to become a publicly traded company in December of last year, even though several lawsuits over licensing were looming. Now the streaming service has filed for a direct listing on the New York Stock Exchange, an…
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Comcast looks to expand content lineup with $30.9B bid for European broadcasting giant Sky

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As Apple pushes forward with its plans to produce video content in-house, Comcast’s attempt to purchase Sky could strengthen its capacity to provide a rival streaming service.
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The case for eating California’s giant invasive rodents

<em>A nutria in a frozen river in Slovenia tries to look inedible, only somewhat succeeds. </em>Two-foot-long rodents called nutria, which can grow as large as 20 pounds, are the latest threat to California’s wetlands. But here’s the good news: they apparently taste great in jambalaya. So naturally, I wanted to try some California-grown rodent for myself.

These raccoon-sized rodents from South America have invaded every continent except Antarctica, and have set up camp in at least 18 US states. Now, they’ve set their beady sights on California. Over the past year, more than 24 nutria have been spotted in California’s wetlands for the first time since they were eradicated in the 1970s, according to The Sacramento Bee. Some were pregnant females, and others were just babies — a clear sign that they’re multiplying.

That’s worrying,…

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