Samsung Unveils Note 9, Upgraded Watch and Home Speaker

(Bloomberg) — Samsung Electronics Co. unveiled the Galaxy Note 9 in New York, banking on the larger-screen device to rejuvenate sales of a struggling flagship line and fend off Apple Inc.’s upcoming iPhones over the holidays.

The 6.4-inch screen Note 9 will start at $999.99 and max out at $1,249.99 — becoming, at about $100 above the iPhone X’s upper limit, one of the world’s most expensive consumer phones. It looks similar to last year’s 6.1-inch Note 8 but sports a revamped Bluetooth stylus — a longtime selling point of the Note series — as well as an upgraded camera that takes sharper photos than the S9 released earlier this year, Samsung said Thursday.

Samsung’s latest device enters the ring at a time of slowing smartphone demand globally and a disappointing performance by its cousin, the Galaxy S9. That marquee gadget failed to capture consumers’ imagination or stop Huawei Technologies Co. and Xiaomi Corp. from grabbing market share at the Korean giant’s expense. It’ll also go up against the new iPhones, typically unveiled in September.

“The product was too similar to the S8. It wasn’t distinctive enough for consumers to justify the upgrade,” Bryan Ma, vice president of devices research at IDC, said. “My worry is that the Note 9 may meet the same fate.”

Samsung is counting on its latest device to lead the charge during the crucial holiday season and revitalize a mobile division where profits almost halved last quarter. After a robust decade of growth, demand is cooling as consumers wait longer to replace devices, even as cheaper Chinese brands flood the market and chip away at Samsung and Apple’s longstanding dominance.

Samsung blamed itself partly for the disappointing performance, saying on an earnings call that it’s played too safe with smartphones too long. Since the recall of the fire-prone Note 7 that cost the company billions of dollars, the company has intensified quality inspections, even if that meant withholding innovations from consumers.

That stance is easing with executives promising to introduce eye-opening features more aggressively. Faster 5G internet connectivity is one of the features Samsung is striving to bring to consumers, they said on an earnings conference call last month.

A new stylus called the S Pen is this year’s highlight upgrade. It will let users remotely control the Note 9’s camera and switch between slides in a presentation, the company said. It’ll also allow more accurate writing and drawing on …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Elon Musk is right. Tesla should be private.

“Am considering taking Tesla private at $420. Funding secured.”

Thus tweeted Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk on Tuesday, promptly sending the stock market, the internet, and business journalism into a collective tizzy. The markets even temporarily halted trading in Tesla stock until the initial dust settled.

Taking Tesla private is a pretty wild idea. Observers are still scratching their heads as to how exactly Musk could pull this off. No one has ever taken a public company private at this scale or under these circumstances before.

But taking Tesla private is probably the right move.

Public companies face profoundly different (and often worse) pressures than privately held companies do. With a public company, ownership stakes are constantly and speculatively traded on the public stock market. A big company usually has many, many investors — or big institutions representing many, many investors. The churn in ownership is tremendous, and the reason for buying or dumping a stock is often quite capricious. That creates enormous and often counterproductive volatility.

“As a public company, we are subject to wild swings in our stock price that can be a major distraction for everyone working at Tesla,” Musk wrote in a memo to Tesla employees. “Being public also subjects us to the quarterly earnings cycle that puts enormous pressure on Tesla to make decisions that may be right for a given quarter, but not necessarily right for the long-term.”

This situation is a particularly poor fit for a company like Tesla.

Whatever you may make of Musk, he clearly has a vision beyond simply making a quick buck. He wants to revolutionize our energy and transportation systems and make them renewable and carbon free, so they no longer threaten the climate or the planetary ecosystem. That’s a massive, transformative project — one that will demand big risks and investments that could only pay off a long way down the line.

The electric carmaker has been mired in a Herculean effort to begin mass manufacturing of the Model 3, Tesla’s offering for the middle-class market. The company is burning through mountains of cash, and its stock is laden by more and more predictions of doom.

Musk owns about 20 percent of Tesla. Insiders and individual investors own another 17 percent. The rest is owned by major investment institutions. In other words, most of Tesla’s owners likely don’t really care …read more

Source:: The Week – Tech


Facebook Apologizes For Adding Balloons and Confetti to Posts on the Deadly Indonesia Earthquake

Facebook apologized Wednesday after users posting about a deadly earthquake in Indonesia had their messages covered in balloons and confetti.

The powerful 6.9-magnitude earthquake that struck the island of Lombok has left more than 130 people dead and displaced thousands.

While exchanging messages on Facebook about the earthquake, many Indonesian speakers used the word “selamat,” which has several meanings including “safe,” “unhurt” or “congratulations” depending on the context. Facebook’s feature misinterpreted the comments and automatically sent out celebratory animations.

“Congrats” in Indonesian is “selamat”. Selamat also means “to survive.”

After the 6.9 magnitude earthquake in Lombok, Facebook users wrote “I hope people will survive”. Then Facebook highlighted the word “selamat” and throw some balloons and confetti.

— Herman Saksono (@hermansaksono) August 6, 2018

“We regret that it appeared in this unfortunate context and have since turned off the feature locally,” Facebook spokesperson Lisa Stratton said in a statement to news site Motherboard. “Our hearts go out to the people affected by the earthquake.”

According to authorities, more than 156,000 people have been displaced and tens of thousands of homes have been destroyed, BBC reports. The Indonesian Red Cross said Thursday that an estimated 20,000 people in remote areas of the island are still without aid.

The National Disaster Mitigation Agency said that at least 131 people were killed in Sunday’s earthquake, but other agencies say the death toll has risen to more than 300.

Off the coast of Lombok, some 5,000 foreign and Indonesian tourists have been evacuated from three outlying islands, AP reports.

…read more

Source:: Time – Technology