Last year, we published an exclusive report revealing that Tesla was working on a new car insurance program, which it started offering to its customers in Australia and Hong Kong. Tesla executives have since been talking about working more closely with insurance companies as self-driving technology improves.
Now we learn that Tesla is preparing to launch the same program in North America.
It’s called InsureMyTesla and it features custom insurance plans for the automaker’s electric vehicles underwritten by insurers partnering with Tesla.
In Hong Kong, Tesla is partnering with AXA General Insurance and in Australia, the automaker released its new plan with QBE Insurance.
Now Electrek has learned from sources that Tesla partnered with Liberty Mutual Insurance Company and Aviva to offer the service in the US and Canada respectively. They are getting ready to launch the programs and start marketing them to customers.
The idea of getting customers to subscribe rather than purchase products outright has been an appealing one for companies in many markets. From the provider’s perspective, creating a recurring revenue stream is good for business and helps to add some predictability for planning purposes. For certain businesses such as software, recurring subscription revenue can be hugely important to help fund ongoing development and product improvement.
For automakers that have endured some spectacular market cycles over the years, the prospect of stable monthly revenue is particularly enticing. As automobiles become more software-defined, the prospect of continuous recalls to update bugs and security vulnerabilities is something of a nightmare scenario if automakers can’t charge customers for those fixes.
Only a few weeks after unveiling their first prototype electric truck, Cummins, better known for their diesel engines, announced that they acquired the battery pack/electric drivetrain manufacturer Brammo to strengthen their electrification effort.
Brammo has been building electric drivetrains and battery packs for years, but it was better known for its performance electric motorcycle, the Brammo Empulse R, until it sold its motorcycle business to Polaris which incorporated it into its Victory Motorcycles brand.
With advances in technology and growing consumer acceptance, the automobile industry’s electric-powered future is in sight. But what are the business implications for manufacturers as the world flips the switch from combustion to battery?
Spurred in part by existing and proposed emissions legislation that could sharply increase the cost of manufacturing internal combustion engines, as many as one billion battery electric vehicles (BEVs) could be on the road throughout the world by 2050. Under that scenario, by mid-century BEVs would comprise as much as 90% of all vehicle sales.
According to a new Morgan Stanley report, the effects of this shift will be dramatic for automakers but they will be far from the only industry disrupted, with opportunities and challenges throughout the automotive supply chain. How this transition plays out will have significant impact on component suppliers, semiconductor manufacturers, commodities, chemical producers and players in capital goods.
Volvo will use its new Polestar brand to take on Tesla’s Model 3 with a long-range electric car offered under a subscription service in 2019.
The Swedish carmaker has spun out Polestar into a separate electrified marque to focus on high performance cars and drive the group into fully electric vehicles.
On Tuesday the company announced plans for the first three vehicles under the name, and details of a new all-inclusive pay-monthly service that it believes reduces the “hassle” of car ownership.
“We’re entering an era in which data can be used to solve all sorts of the most pressing problems, but only if there’s trust in how that data has been handled,” Ms Rometty told me in a phone interview last week. “We see ourselves as stewards of clients’ data. And we don’t need to be regulated to do the right thing. We’ve been doing the right thing for a hundred years.”
The comment was a clear swipe at Google and Facebook, both of which have been fined by national privacy watchdogs for their data collection methods, as well as a reference to new UK and EU regulations, such as the General Data Protection Regulation, that will make it tougher for companies to process, sell, or allow third-party access to personal data without consumers’ explicit consent. But it was also a new kind of marketing pitch: in a world in which most economic value is going to intellectual property, we are not only going to protect that value, we are going to offer a greater share of profits from it to clients.
How would this work in practice? IBM, which serves mainly other businesses and governments, is now pitching the fact that they won’t keep any proprietary data in their servers for more than a specified contract period, and that the informational wealth garnered from using artificial intelligence to analyse that data would be owned by the clients themselves. For example, if a national health service gave IBM health records, the company could not then monetise information about the fact that certain populations in certain parts of the country have higher than average cancer rates.
In contrast, Uber Technologies Inc. was built on competitor obsession. The startup created tools to scrape data from other ride-hailing companies; Uber employees went slogging to recruit away drivers; when Uber weighed which laws to bypass, it looked to which ones competitors were breaking. Travis Kalanick, Uber’s former chief executive officer, has exhibited deep paranoia—even his closest advisers have acknowledged as much privately. This is a man who is said to have believed that Uber’s India competitor, Ola, might have framed an Uber driver for rape, a crime for which the driver was convicted.
Kalanick admired Jeff Bezos and even crafted a list of corporate culture values for Uber in the model of Amazon.com Inc. But Kalanick had a slightly different order of priorities. He put “champion’s mindset” higher on the list than “obsession with the customer.”
Judging from General Motors Co.’s test cars and Elon Musk’s predictions, the world is headed toward a future that’s both driverless and all-electric. In reality, autonomy and battery power could end up being at odds.
That’s because self-driving technology is a huge power drain. Some of today’s prototypes for fully autonomous systems consume two to four kilowatts of electricity — the equivalent of having 50 to 100 laptops continuously running in the trunk, according to BorgWarner Inc. The supplier of vehicle propulsion systems expects the first autonomous cars — likely robotaxis that are constantly on the road — will be too energy-hungry to run on battery power alone.
Electric vehicles no longer seem like a futuristic fever dream, but they remain a rarity on most American city streets, accounting for less than 1 percent of the nation’s auto sales, according to the automotive website Edmunds.com.
Yet, when future auto historians look back, they may pinpoint 2017 as the year electric vehicles went from a promising progressive fad to an industry-wide inevitability.
Related: [Death of gas and diesel begins as GM announces plans for ‘all-electric future’]
The tipping point, experts say, follows three developments, each rippling outward with economic and cultural consequences.
Shortly after taking over Uber Technologies Inc. in September, Dara Khosrowshahi told employees to brace for a painful six months. U.S. officials are looking into possible bribes, illicit software, questionable pricing schemes and theft of a competitor’s intellectual property. The very attributes that, for years, set the company on a rocket-ship trajectory—a tendency to ignore rules, to compete with a mix of ferocity and paranoia—have unleashed forces that are now dragging Uber back to down to earth.
Uber faces at least five criminal probes from the Justice Department—two more than previously reported. Bloomberg has learned that authorities are asking questions about whether Uber violated price-transparency laws, and officials are separately looking into the company’s role in the alleged theft of schematics and other documents outlining Alphabet Inc.’s autonomous-driving technology. Uber is also defending itself against dozens of civil suits, including one brought by Alphabet that’s scheduled to go to trial in December.
eff Baxter’s sunflower-yellow Kenworth truck shines as bright and almost as big as the sun. Four men clean the glistening cab in the hangar-like truck wash at Iowa 80, the world’s largest truck stop.
Baxter has made a pitstop at Iowa 80 before picking up a 116ft-long wind turbine blade that he’s driving down to Texas, 900 miles away.
Baxter, 48, is one of the 1.8 million Americans, mainly men, who drive heavy trucks for a living, the single most common job in many US states. Driving is one of the biggest occupations in the world. Another 1.7 million people drive taxis, buses and delivery vehicles in the US alone. But for how long? Having “disrupted” industries including manufacturing, music, journalism and retail, Silicon Valley has its eyes on trucking.
Google, Uber, Tesla and the major truck manufacturers are looking to a future in which people like Baxter will be replaced – or at the very least downgraded to co-pilots – by automated vehicles that will save billions but will cost millions of jobs. It will be one of the biggest changes to the jobs market since the invention of the automated loom – challenging the livelihoods of millions across the world.
The first subscription tier starts at $2,000 a month and allows users to summon a 718 Boxster, Cayman S, Macan S or Cayenne on demand. For $3,000 a month, drivers get access to 22 different Porsche models. Registration, insurance and maintenance costs are covered, though subscribers still have to pick up the tab for fuel. They can swap for as many different models as desired during the month.
Porsche is looking for a way to reach younger consumers whose shopping and transportation habits have been shaped by Silicon Valley giants like Uber Technologies Inc. and Airbnb Inc. It’s following in the footsteps of General Motors Co.’s Cadillac, which launched its Book subscription service in January, and Care by Volvo, which combines lease, insurance and maintenance into one monthly payment.
General Motors announced on Monday that it had acquired Strobe Inc., a small California startup that has been developing a sub-$100 solid-state lidar for self-driving cars.
The terms of the deal were not announced but, given that Strobe was seeking only US $15 million in a funding round as recently as May, it is unlikely to be anywhere near the reported $680 million Uber paid for some of Waymo’s lidar team as part of its ill-fated Otto purchase.
Strobe looks to be a much better deal all around. The 12-person company is only three years old, and uses innovative frequency-modulated lidar technology first invented by its founder, Lute Maleki, at his previous firm called OEwaves.
Ford CEO Jim Hackett mentioned the automaker’s investment in Autonomic during a presentation to investors last week. The 15-month-old company is developing “an open platform for transportation” on which Ford plans to build new in-vehicle and mobility-related services with a variety of partners, Hackett said.
If Ford elects to build its own ride-hailing or fleet management businesses, the Autonomic software platform could enable digital payment processing and customer identification, as well as directing the flow of data between the vehicle and the customer, according to a source familiar with the automaker’s plans.
Using the Autonomic software platform as a base, along with data from the vehicles, Ford and its partners then could build and charge consumers for products and services, said Marcy Klevorn, Ford president of mobility.
Klevorn cited FordPass as an earlier example of a software platform that has enabled Ford to provide digital services to subscribers, from parking to payments.
CEO Elon Musk has said Tesla faces six months of “production hell” as it ramps up production of its much-awaited Model 3, but the devil may have arrived early.
Musk introduced the Model 3 on July 28 amid much hoopla at its Fremont, CA, assembly operations. Dressed casually and smiling broadly, Musk unveiled 30 Model 3s and said production would begin in August with 100 cars rolling off the line, rising to 1,500 in September and steeply upward to 20,000 in December.
But Sears faced another existential crisis in the 1970s and 1980s, and that time, it failed to adjust. The decline of manufacturing (and manufacturing jobs) hit both its most devoted consumers and the value of its real estate near steel towns. The blue-collar families Sears counted on to buy “utilitarian Sears pants and dresses … were a fading force in the marketplace,” Raff and Temin write. What’s more, other stores had chased Sears into America’s middle-class suburbs—sometimes, they even snuggled up to Sears locations in the same strip malls—erasing the company’s geographical edge.
This second existential crisis called for a second strategy shift. But, lacking the vision of General Wood, Sears’s leadership made several grave errors that doomed the company.
First, Sears determined that it didn’t need to do anything to change its business. It simply needed more businesses. After all, its leaders must have thought, if a company that started selling only watches could get into car parts, and a hardware company could get into insurance, why couldn’t a watch-and-cars-and-hardware-and-insurance company get into, well, anything? Since it was the 1980s, anything, in this calculation, meant “financial services.” As the company’s head of strategy said in 1980, “There is no reason why someone shouldn’t go into a Sears store and buy a shirt and coat, and then maybe some stock.”
Eager to become America’s largest brokerage, and perhaps even America’s largest community bank, Sears bought the real-estate company Coldwell Banker and the brokerage firm Dean Witter. It was a weird marriage. As the financial companies thrived nationally, their Sears locations suffered from the start. Buying car parts and then insuring them against future damage makes sense. But buying a four-speed washer-dryer and then celebrating with an in-store purchase of some junk bonds? No, that did not make sense.
But the problem with the Coldwell Banker and Dean Winter acquisitions wasn’t that they flopped. It was that their off-site locations didn’t flop—instead, their moderate success disguised the deterioration of Sears’s core business at a time when several competitors were starting to gain footholds in the market.
Many decades after Sears had left Montgomery Ward, its old competitor, in the rural dust, another retailer was budding in small-town America. Its name was Walmart. Located on cheaper rural land than Sears, often paying cheap wages, and selling cheaper goods for cheaper prices, Walmart’s innovation seemed to be, well, a talent for cheapness. But its secret weapon was information technology. Walmart managed its supply chain with extraordinary precision. Its distribution centers were ingeniously located in central locations to optimize for efficient delivery to its stores.
Here are two facts that defy logic: By the end of the year, electric-car maker Tesla Inc. will have burned through more than $10 billion without ever having made 10 cents. Yet companies around the world are lining up to compete with it.
Almost 50 new pure electric-car models will come to market globally between now and 2022, including vehicles from Daimler AG and Volkswagen AG. General Motors Co. raised the stakes Monday by pledging to sell 20 all-electric vehicles by 2023, including launching two new EVs in the next 18 months. Even British inventor James Dyson is getting into the game, announcing last week that he’s investing two billion pounds ($2.7 billion) to develop an electric car and the batteries to power it.
The reasons for chasing Tesla are part city hall, part show business. Regulators in Beijing have laid out a plan to mandate electric vehicle production in China, while California requires carmakers to build more EVs or be forced to buy credits from rivals. At the same time, Tesla Chief Executive Elon Musk and his sleek cars have captured the imagination of Americans to the point where consumers and investors are throwing money at his Silicon Valley company.
The warning of his boss was as clear as it was painful: “In the coming six months, we will go through the production hollows,” said Tesla CEO Elon Musk at the end of July. Mus handed over just the first 30 copies of his new model3 model car, with which the Californian car manufacturer wants to conquer the mass market.
Autoproduktionsprofi Peter Hochholdinger, the Tesla middle of 2016 from Audi , Musks’ clairvoyant clause might have remained in the memory. In spite of all the preparations, in spite of the decades of experience of Hochholdinger in large-scale production, Tesla had to publish troubling figures recently: just 260 copies of Tesla’s Model 3 were delivered in the third quarter – not even 4 cars per workday. If you want to roll up the world market like Musk, there should be a few more cars on the road. 1500 it should actually be according to Tesla announcements.
PSA Group officially returned to the U.S. late Tuesday at an event here, but it is not coming back as a traditional automaker.
The French vehicle manufacturer launched its mobility services platform, Free2Move. The app connects car-sharing, ride-hailing, bike-sharing, public transit and other transportation services, allowing customers to plan short and medium-distance trips from one app.
The automaker, which makes Peugeots and Citroens, announced in April that former TrueCar and Nissan exec Larry Dominique would lead the company’s re-entry into the North American market.
“I’m confident Free2Move will play a significant role in the way we all consume transportation in North America,” Dominique said. “The brand has already proven itself around the world as an equal to Peugeot, Citroen and Vauxhall.”
The first question concerns barriers to entry. Small publishers, lacking the marketing and data analytics resources of bigger ones, have been at a disadvantage in building paid businesses. That is one reason why so many have instead stuck with ad-funded news.
If Google or others provide technology and data analysis fairly cheaply, they will level the playing field. It will become easier for an array of niche publishers to find their markets amid the clutter. So far, there have been few subscription entrants similar to The Information, a technology news publisher founded by a former Wall Street Journal reporter. This may change.
Breitfeld sees the German carmakers’ answer to the expected surge in electric car demand – putting an electric motor in a conventional car – as a mistake. He believes it leaves the industry vulnerable to a ‘Nokia moment’: when a new player uses a transformational design to seize control of an established market, as Apple’s (AAPL.O) iPhone stole a march on Finnish mobile phone giant Nokia a decade ago.
“Tesla was pathbreaking with its electric car, and that’s what everybody is seeking to develop now. The next step is the connected car, which gives consumers a completely new digital experience. That’s equivalent to a step from the Nokia to a smartphone,” Breitfeld said.
Breitfeld is so convinced of this that he left his job at BMW in 2015, where he was part of a small team working on clean sheet electric cars – a project that caught the attention of Apple.
BMW and Apple explored a partnership on cars in 2014, but ultimately went their separate ways.
Since then German carmakers have worked hard to marginalise the influence consumer electronics and technology companies could have over their vehicles, jointly buying digital mapping firm HERE as a way to reduce the industry’s dependence on maps provided by Apple and Google (GOOGL.O).
Breitfeld says this defensive approach means carmakers are failing to take advantage of consumer electronics innovations.
By contrast, Byton vehicles are designed to take advantage of the “passenger economy”: watching movies, chatting with friends or surfing the Internet while in your car.
“Apple created a platform and profits from every transaction made with their objects. We will offer content for our consumers,” Breitfeld said of his strategy to make money from selling movies and other entertainment or services.
“For this you need a completely different architecture and computing power,” Breitfeld said.
Carsten Breitfeld links.
Transport for London (TfL) plans to make £322m by collecting Tube users’ location data and potentially selling it to third parties, Sky News can reveal.
At the end of 2016, TfL ran a pilot which tracked the Wi-Fi signals from 5.6 million phones as people moved around the London Underground, even if they weren’t connected to a Wi-Fi network.
TfL publicly stated that the purpose of the scheme was to use the aggregated, anonymised data “to better understand how people navigate the London Underground network, allowing TfL to improve the experience for customers”.
It is now in consultation about tracking passengers on a permanent basis. The only way to opt out of the scheme would be to turn your Wi-Fi or phone off.
Wi-Fi tracking is used around the UK, especially on high streets and shopping centres, to track customers as they move around a store, for example.
In the wake of the Google Spain (2014) and debate on the “right to be forgotten”, now included in the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), it has become widely recognised that data protection law within the EU/EEA grants individuals a qualified right to have personal data relating to them deindexed from search engines. At the same time, however, this outcome has at times been conceptualised as a uniquely EU/EEA phenomena, perhaps even resulting from one idiosyncratic CJEU judgment. This paper questions such a conceptualisation. Through an analysis of five major extra-EU/EEA international data protection instruments, it argues that most of these could on a reasonable interpretation be read as supporting a Google Spain-like result. Further, and in light of the serious threats faced by individuals as a result of the public processing of data relating to them, it argues that the time is ripe for a broader process of international discussion and consensus-building on the “right to be forgotten”. Such an exercise should not be limited to generalised search engines (which undoubtedly raise some uniquely challenging interpretative conundrums within data protection), but should also encompass other actors including social networking sites, video-sharing platforms and rating websites.
The online economy — from search to email to social media — is built in large part on the fact that consumers are willing to give away their data in exchange for products that are free and easy to use. The assumption behind this trade-off is that without giving up all that data, those products either couldn’t be so good or would have to come at a cost.
But a new working paper, released this week by Lesley Chiou of Occidental College and Catherine Tucker of MIT, suggests that the trade-off may not always be necessary. By studying the effects of privacy regulations in the EU, they attempted to measure whether the anonymization and de-identification of search data hurts the quality of search results.
Oddly, the email was sent by a company that TfL have taken no direct action against, and referred to an app that TfL have made no effort (and have no power) to ban.
When two become one
If that last statement sounds confusing, then this is understandable. It is because the consumer experience that is “Uber” is not actually the same as the companies that deliver it.
And “companies” is, ultimately, correct. Although most users of the system don’t realise it, over the course of requesting, completing and paying for their journey an Uber user in London actually interacts with two different companies – one Dutch, one British.
The first of those companies is Uber BV (UBV). Based in the Netherlands, this company is responsible for the actual Uber app. When a user wants to be picked up and picks a driver, they are interacting with UBV. It is UBV that request that driver be dispatched to the user’s location. It is also UBV who then collect any payment required.
At no point, however, does the user actually get into a car owned, managed or operated by UBV. That duty falls to the second, UK-based company – Uber London Ltd. (ULL). It is ULL who are responsible for all Uber vehicles – and their drivers – in London. Like Addison Lee or any of the other thousands of smaller operators that can be found on high streets throughout the capital, ULL are a minicab firm. They just happen to be one that no passenger has ever called directly – they respond exclusively to requests from UBV.
This setup may seem unwieldy, but it is deliberate. In part, it is what has allowed Uber to blur the boundary between being a ‘pre-booked’ service and ‘plying-for-hire’ (a difference we explored when we last looked at the London taxi trade back in 2015). It is also this setup that also allows Uber to pay what their critics say is less than their ‘fair share’ of tax – Uber pays no VAT and, last year, only paid £411,000 in Corporation Tax.
The average Londoner can be forgiven for not knowing all of the above (commentators in the media, less so). In the context of the journey, it is the experience that matters, not the technology or corporate structure that delivers it. In the context of understanding the current licensing situation, however, knowing the difference between the companies that make up that that Uber experience is important. Because without that, it is very easy for both Uber’s supporters and opponents to misunderstand what this dispute is actually about.
Around the world, the average price of electric vehicles (EVs) rose in 2016, but that’s not necessarily cause for alarm according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). When the agency divided the list price of EVs with their range, it found a downward trend in how much bang an EV buyer is getting for their buck.
The average price of EVs sold around the world was at its lowest in 2012, according to data from the annually compiled World Energy Investment 2017 report. In the following five years, that number has been growing steadily—a trend you’d expect to worry advocates who think electrifying a significant part of the auto industry is one of the most important ways to make a dent in CO2 emissions. While higher prices reflect “faster growth in more expensive models,” they don’t “take account of increases in driving range through battery improvements,” the IEA wrote.
Dividing the list price of EVs on the market by their maximum stated driving range shows a different story. In 2012, EVs cost on average $400 per kilometer of range, whereas in 2016 that number was closer to $250 per kilometer of range. If EVs are getting more expensive, they’re also becoming more functional. “For now, reductions in battery costs are translating into longer ranges rather than lower vehicle prices,” the EIA wrote. “The average price per kilometer of driving range declined by six percent in 2016.”
A new report from TransitCenter, a foundation that says it “works to improve urban mobility,” calculates that the parking benefit is worth up to $1,000 a year for commuters who are in high tax brackets and work in big cities. Collectively, it calculates, the break costs $7.3 billion a year in lost tax revenue.
True, there’s also a tax benefit for mass-transit commuters that costs the government about $1.3 billion a year. TransitCenter says that while it’s good as far as it goes, “it is overshadowed by the parking tax benefit’s much larger adverse impact.”
If you work in a place where there’s lots of free parking in lots or on the street you don’t benefit from the tax break. That’s because in such places the employee parking lot isn’t an economically valuable fringe benefit; you could have parked for free even if it didn’t exist. The break is only valuable for people who work in crowded areas. So two-thirds of American workers are in effect transferring money to the other one-third.
The suburbanization of America marches on. That movement includes millennials, who, as it turns out, are not a monolithic generation of suburb-hating city dwellers.
Most of that generation represents a powerful global trend. They may like the city, but they love the suburbs even more.
They are continuing to migrate to suburbs. According to the latest Census Bureau statistics, 25- to 29-year-olds are about a quarter more likely to move from the city to the suburbs as vice versa; older millennials are more than twice as likely.
Their future — and that of the planet — lies on the urban peripheries. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma made clear that, especially in suburbs, the United States desperately needs better drainage systems to handle the enormous amounts of rainfall expected from climate change.
They also made clear that new, sustainable suburbs can offer an advantage by expanding landscapes that can absorb water.
Housing affordability is a major driver of the appeal of suburbia, which has historically been, and still is, more affordable, especially for first-time home buyers.
Yet millennial suburbanites want a new kind of landscape. They want breathing room but disdain the energy wastefulness, visual monotony and social conformity of postwar manufactured neighborhoods. If new suburbs can hit the sweet spot that accommodates the priorities of that generation, millennial habitats will redefine everyday life for all suburbanites, which is 70 percent of Americans.
How can technology, revolutionary design and planning transform suburban living?
A sweeping investigation by the city of Portland, Oregon, found that Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] used a software tool to intentionally evade 16 government officials whose job it was to regulate the ride-services company, city officials said on Thursday.
When Uber began operating in Portland in December 2014, it did not have any permits, so it used a software tool it had created called Greyball to block regulators from booking rides. Uber stopped using the software after it received approval to operate its service in Portland in April 2015.
The city imposed no fines or other penalties but transportation officials have recommended that the city ramp up enforcement efforts.
“We have ensured that no attempts to evade regulators or deny service to riders” will be allowed in the future, Portland City Commissioner Dan Saltzman said in a statement.
Portland launched its investigation after the New York Times reported in March that Uber used Greyball to evade government officials in areas where its service had not yet been approved, such as Portland, Boston, Paris and Las Vegas, and in countries such as Australia, China, Italy and South Korea.
To grasp the magnitude of the problem facing electric vehicles, we should consider what it would take to power a world full of them. Let’s start with your local corner store fueling station.
The gas station that you visit routinely has underground fuel tanks with enormous gasoline fuel capacity, typically 10,000 to 20,000 gallons. This equates to an electrical energy capacity of 500 megawatt-hours. By comparison, Tesla’s Mira Loma 80 megawatt-hour battery energy station in California, the largest such installation in the United States, sits on 1.5 acres. To match the energy storage capacity of gasoline fueling stations with batteries would require a 10-acre battery farm. In other words, gasoline allows us to put a lot of energy in a small space.
The hope for electric vehicles is that we don’t have to store all the electricity at your local fueling station. We can simply pull the required power from the grid. But can we? Yes and no.
The biggest advertising organizations say Apple will “sabotage” the current economic model of the internet with plans to integrate cookie-blocking technology into the new version of Safari.
Six trade groups—the Interactive Advertising Bureau, American Advertising Federation, the Association of National Advertisers, the 4A’s and two others—say they’re “deeply concerned” with Apple’s plans to release a version of the internet browser that overrides and replaces user cookie preferences with a set of Apple-controlled standards. The feature, which is called “Intelligent Tracking Prevention,” limits how advertisers and websites can track users across the internet by putting in place a 24-hour limit on ad retargeting.
In an open letter expected to be published this afternoon, the groups describe the new standards as “opaque and arbitrary,” warning that the changes could affect the “infrastructure of the modern internet,” which largely relies on consistent standards across websites. The groups say the feature also hurts user experience by making advertising more “generic and less timely and useful.”
“Apple’s unilateral and heavy-handed approach is bad for consumer choice and bad for the ad-supported online content and services consumers love,” according to a copy of the letter obtained by Adweek this morning. “Blocking cookies in this manner will drive a wedge between brands and their customers, and it will make advertising more generic and less timely and useful. Put simply, machine-driven cookie choices do not represent user choice; they represent browser-manufacturer choice.”
Simpson’s group has long criticized the country’s biggest tech companies, saying they abuse consumers on everything from privacy to pricing. But across Washington, liberals and conservatives are beginning to find common ground in the view that the industry’s power over American life has grown too vast and unchecked — and the new dynamic is upending traditional ideological alignments.
Tech’s new critics include Fox News host Tucker Carlson, who has begun sounding the alarm that Google has grown into “the most powerful company in the history of the world.”
Carlson recently aired an interview with Matt Stoller, a member of an antitrust team that lost its jobs at the left-leaning think tank New America after praising a $2.7 billion fine that the European Commission levied against Google this summer for stifling competition. The New York Times reported that Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, a New America funder, had complained about the statement posted by Stoller’s team — a turn of events that Carlson described as a sign of Google’s “terrifying” power.
Stoller, a former aide to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), later praised Carlson as “one of the few on TV willing to talk about it.”
The Eager and Willing – 22% of U.S. adults
At one end of the information-engagement spectrum is a group we call the Eager and Willing. Compared with all the other groups on this spectrum, they exhibit the highest levels of interest in news and trust in key information sources, as well as strong interest in learning when it comes to their own digital skills and literacy. They are not necessarily confident of their digital abilities, but they are anxious to learn. One striking thing about this group is its demographic profile: More than half the members of this group are minorities: 31% are Hispanic; 21% are black and 38% are white, while the remainder are in other racial and ethnic groups.
The Confident – 16% of adults
Alongside the Eager and Willing are the Confident, who are made up of the one-in-six Americans and combine a strong interest in information, high levels of trust in information sources, and self-assurance that they can navigate the information landscape on their own. Few feel they need to update their digital skills and they are very self-reliant as they handle information flows. This group is disproportionately white, quite well educated and fairly comfortable economically. And one-third of the Confident (31%) are between the ages of 18 and 29, the highest share in this age range of any group.
The Cautious and Curious – 13% of adults
Representing 34.5% of all brick and mortar food transactions we analyzed, Costco is the most popular physical grocery chain. Kroger (20%), Whole Foods (16%), Trader Joe’s (13.7%), and Safeway (13.1%) all have relatively similar shares, and Publix (not pictured) represented less than 0.1%. (Note: We should qualify that the brick and mortar stores here reflect the geographic locations of our loan applicants).
In each of the other spaces, one company seems to commandeer the vast majority of sales.
With grocery delivery, Instacart (53.9%) is heads and shoulders above the competition (Amazon Fresh, at 7.8%, is still far behind, but sure to grow in the coming years); restaurant delivery is dominated by the Grubhub/Seamless powerhouse; and Blue Apron has a stronghold on the meal kit space, with 77.2% of all purchases.
Lastly, we looked at how men and women shop. According to this analysis, men go to brick-and-mortar grocery stores marginally more often than women and women use delivery and meal kit services more than men, The data underscores other reports showing that increasingly grocery stores are appealing to male shoppers.
Nationally, there is a wide range in the accessibility of home ownership. It’s a seemingly-simple mix of a local population’s income and the price of homes there. But there are loads of factors contributing to each of those variables. So places with lots of employment opportunity will naturally attract lots of employees. But where to fit them? Conversely, areas without booming economic growth may have residents with lower incomes but the homes are also commensurately affordable (and then some). I found myself in the exceptionally limited scenario of being among the working class in an elite playground.
The first consumer credit bureaus appeared in the 1870s and quickly amassed huge archives of deeply personal information. Today, the three leading credit bureaus are among the most powerful institutions in modern life—yet we know almost nothing about them. Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are multi-billion-dollar corporations that track our movements, spending behavior, and financial status. This data is used to predict our riskiness as borrowers and to judge our trustworthiness and value in a broad array of contexts, from insurance and marketing to employment and housing.
In Creditworthy, the first comprehensive history of this crucial American institution, Josh Lauer explores the evolution of credit reporting from its nineteenth-century origins to the rise of the modern consumer data industry. By revealing the sophistication of early credit reporting networks, Creditworthy highlights the leading role that commercial surveillance has played—ahead of state surveillance systems—in monitoring the economic lives of Americans. Lauer charts how credit reporting grew from an industry that relied on personal knowledge of consumers to one that employs sophisticated algorithms to determine a person’s trustworthiness. Ultimately, Lauer argues that by converting individual reputations into brief written reports—and, later, credit ratings and credit scores—credit bureaus did something more profound: they invented the modern concept of financial identity. Creditworthy reminds us that creditworthiness is never just about economic “facts.” It is fundamentally concerned with—and determines—our social standing as an honest, reliable, profit-generating person.
Federal law-enforcement authorities in New York are investigating whether Uber Technologies Inc. used software to interfere illegally with its competitors, according to people familiar with the investigation, adding to legal pressures facing the embattled ride-hailing company and its new chief executive.
The investigation, led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s New York office and the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, is focused on a defunct Uber program, known internally as “Hell,” that could track drivers working for rival service Lyft Inc., the people said.
“We are cooperating with the SDNY investigation,” said an Uber spokesman, referring to New York’s Southern District. He declined to offer additional details.
Uber has never publicly discussed the details of the program.
People say they want to protect their personal information, but new research shows privacy tends to take a backseat to convenience and can easily get tossed out the window for a reward as simple as free pizza.
The study — co-authored by Susan Athey, a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research — provides real-life evidence of a digital privacy paradox: a disconnect between stated privacy preferences and actual privacy choices. And it serves policymakers with some food for thought about how to regulate data sharing without creating more hassles for consumers.
“Generally, people don’t seem to be willing to take expensive actions or even very small actions to preserve their privacy,” Athey says. “Even though, if you ask them, they express frustration, unhappiness, or dislike of losing their privacy, they tend not to make choices that correspond to those preferences.”
A few months ago, we noticed a notable trend in our web-traffic data: stories with a political aspect were extremely popular with readers. Perhaps this isn’t surprising; today’s news cycle - from the chaos of Brexit to the shambles in the White House, the tragedy of Grenfell to an iceberg twice the size of Luxembourg breaking away from the Antarctic ice shelf – is relentlessly political and possesses an existential urgency.
At one point, it seemed that liberal democracy was cruising towards comfortable middle age. The world order had been established and we were edging in the direction of greater freedoms and equality, some of it driven by increased access to technology. Sometimes progress was dramatic but, more often, it was simply the direction of travel, pulled inexorably in one direction by the tide of history.
Today, whether we are addressing issues of security or the environment, employment law or corporate takeovers of global organisations with vast amounts of data, the WIRED perspective of the world – one that is centred on how technology and science are shaping every aspect of society – is the norm, not an outlier.
As driverless cars prepare to enter the roadway, regulators are closely considering the implications of how software is programmed. When faced with an imminent risk of collision or injury, how will the software decide which course of action to take? How will the software weigh the impact on different people, animals, and property? Dashboard Insights has been raising these questions since 2014, and now, the parameters are beginning to take shape in other countries.
In June, the ethics commission of the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure released guidelines (German language guidelines) for self-driving vehicles (English language summary). At the time, German Federal Minister Dobrint touted the “pioneering” work as the “first guidelines in the world for automated driving” addressing these ethical issues.
This report, the third in the Technology at Work series, focuses on the automation driven by e-Commerce for physical goods. We look at the technology needed to automate order fulfillment, inventory management, and delivery when consumers shop online and examine the implications in a wide range of areas for industry, retailers, supply chains, real-estate, and transportation, looking too at the impact on labor and employment.
Growth in e-Commerce is the main driver of warehouse automation, a driver which itself will increase with broadband and mobile device penetration. In Japan, 32% of all goods bought on the Internet were bought on smartphones in 2016, up from 27% a year earlier. Millennials, those most likely to shop online, will soon enter their peak spending years. Global e-Commerce sales have grown at a compound annual growth rate of 20% over the last decade, and online retail sales have gone from ~2% of total to ~8%%.
While technology is not yet either capable or cost effective in all cases, this is likely to change. Our estimates show that that 80% of jobs in transportation, warehousing, and logistics are susceptible to automation as a consequence of the trends we observe in technology. Retail is one industry in which employment is likely to vanish, but unlike manufacturing jobs which are highly concentrated, the downfall of retail employment will affect every city and region. U.S. companies employ 2 million people just to do stock and order fulfillment work and over 90% of warehouse picking is currently done by hand. Migrating to automated picking gives productivity gains of 2x–3x that as compared to pick-to-conveyor operations and 5x–6x as compared to manual pick-to-pallet fulfillment centers.
One morning in Westport, Conn., in the summer of 1920, about three months after her marriage to F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald became slightly cranky over breakfast. She said that she hated Yankee bacon and eggs. Alabama-born and -raised, she craved Southern biscuits, “and I wish I could have some peaches anyhow.”
This made Scott smile. Jumpy, not to say reckless and self-destructive, he shared with Zelda that most familiar of…
Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz talks with EconTalk host Russ Roberts about two important trends for the future of personal travel–the increasing number of electric cars and a world of autonomous vehicles. Evans talks about how these two trends are likely to continue and the implications for the economy, urban design, and how we live.
An unintended effect of Google’s heavy-handed attempt to silence Barry Lynn and his Open Markets program at New America has been to shine a really bright light both on Google’s monopoly power and the unrestrained and unlovely ways they use it. Happily, Lynn’s group has landed on its feet, seemingly with plenty of new funding or maybe even more than it had. I got a press release from them this evening. This seems to be their new site. I’ve already seen other stories of Google bullying come out of the woodwork. Here’s one.
I think it’s great that all this stuff is coming out. But what is more interesting to me than the instances of bullying are the more workaday and seemingly benign mechanisms of Google’s power. If you have extreme power, when things get dicey, you will tend to abuse that power. It’s not surprising. It’s human nature. What’s interesting and important is the nature of the power itself and what undergirds it. Don’t get me wrong. The abuses are very important. But extreme concentrations of power will almost always be abused. The temptations are too great. But what is the nature of the power itself?
Many people who know more than I do can describe different aspects of this story. But how Google affects and dominates the publishing industry is something I know very, very well because I’ve lived with it for more than a decade. To say I’ve “lived with it” makes it sound like a chronic disease or some huge burden. That would be a very incomplete, misleading picture. Google has directly or indirectly driven millions of dollars of revenue to TPM over more than a decade. Not only that, it’s provided services that are core parts of how we run TPM. So Google isn’t some kind of thralldom we’ve lived under. It’s ubiquitous. In many ways, it makes what we do possible.
What I’ve known for some time – but which became even more clear to me in my talk with Barry Lynn on Monday – is that few publishers really want to talk about the depths or mechanics of Google’s role in news publishing. Some of this is secrecy about proprietary information; most of it is that Google could destroy or profoundly damage most publications if it wanted to. So why rock the boat?
I’m not worried about that for a few reasons: 1: We’ve refocused TPM toward much greater reliance on subscriptions. So we’re less vulnerable. 2: Most people who know these mechanics don’t write. I do. 3: We’re small and I don’t think Google cares enough to do anything to TPM. (If your subscription to Prime suddenly doubles in cost, you’ll know I was wrong about this.) What I hope I can capture is that Google is in many ways a great thing for publishers. At least it’s not a purely negative picture. If you’re a Star Trek fan you’ll understand the analogy. It’s a bit like being assimilated by the Borg. You get cool new powers. But having been assimilated, if your implants were ever removed, you’d certainly die. That basically captures our relationship to Google.
It all starts with “DFP”, a flavor of Doubleclick called DoubleClick for Publishers (DFP), one of the early “ad-serving companies” that Google purchased years ago. DFP actually started as GAM – Google Ad Manager. We were chosen to be one of the beta-users. This was I think back in 2006 or 2007. What’s DFP? DFP is the application (or software, or system – you could define it in different ways) that serves ads on TPM. I don’t know the exact market penetration. But it’s the hugely dominant player in ad serving across the web. So on TPM, Google software manages the serving of ads. Our ads all drive on Google’s roads.
Then there’s AdExchange. That’s the part of Google that buys ad inventory. A huge amount of our ads come through ad networks. AdExchange is far and away the largest of those for us – often accounting for around 15% of total revenues every month – sometimes higher. So our largest single source of ad revenue is usually Google. To be clear that’s not Google advertising itself but advertisers purchasing our ad space through Google. But every other ad we ever run runs over Google’s ad serving system too. So Google software/service (DFP) runs the ad ecosystem on TPM. And the main buyer within that ecosystem is another Google service (Adexchange).
Then there’s Google Analytics. That’s the benchmark audience and traffic data service. How many unique visitors do we have? How many page views do we serve each month? What’s the geographical distribution of our audience? That is all collected through Google Analytics. Now, that’s not our only source of audience data. We have several services we use for that in addition to our own internal systems. But we do use it for the big aggregate numbers and longterm record keeping. In many ways it’s the canonical data people on the outside look at to see how big our audience is. Do we have to share that data? No. Unless we want potential advertisers to see we have an audience.
Next there’s search. Heard of that? There’s general search and then there’s Google News, a separate bucket of search. Search tends not to be that important for us in part because we’ve never prioritized it and in part because as a site focused on iterative news coverage what we produce tends to be highly ephemeral – at least in search terms. We don’t publish a lot of evergreen stories. Still, search is important. For other publishers it’s the whole game.
One additional Google implant is Gmail, which we use to provision our corporate email. The backbone of the @talkingpointsmemo.com email addresses is gmail. Lots of companies now do this.
So let’s go down the list: 1) The system for running ads, 2) the top purchaser of ads, 3) the most pervasive audience data service, 4) all search, 5) our email.
But wait, there’s more! Google also owns Chrome, the most used browser for visiting TPM. Chrome is responsible for 41% of our page views. Safari comes in second at 36%. But the Safari number is heavily driven by people using iOS devices. On desktop Chrome is overwhelmingly dominant.
Google and Facebook will be unable to use the personal data they hold for advertising purposes without user permission. This is an acute challenge because, contrary to what some commentators have assumed, they cannot use a “service-wide” opt-in for everything. Nor can they deny access to their services to users who refuse to opt-in to tracking. Some parts of their businesses are likely to be disrupted more than others.
The GDPR Scale
When one uses Google or Facebook.com one willingly discloses personal data. These businesses have the right to process these data to provide their services when one asks them to. However, the application of the GDPR will prevent them from using these personal data for any further purpose unless the user permits. The GDPR applies the principle of “purpose limitation”, under which personal data must only be “collected for specified, explicit and legitimate purposes and not further processed in a manner that is incompatible with those purposes”.
Google and Facebook cannot confront their users with broad, non-specific, consent requests that cover the entire breadth of their activities. Data protection regulators across the EU have made clear what they expect:
But the most disturbing part of the experience was what came next: Somehow, very quickly, search results stopped showing the original story at all. As I recall it—and although it has been six years, this episode was seared into my memory—a cached version remained shortly after the post was unpublished, but it was soon scrubbed from Google search results. That was unusual; websites captured by Google’s crawler did not tend to vanish that quickly. And unpublished stories still tend to show up in search results as a headline. Scraped versions could still be found, but the traces of my original story vanished. It’s possible that Forbes, and not Google, was responsible for scrubbing the cache, but I frankly doubt that anyone at Forbes had the technical know-how to do it, as other articles deleted from the site tend to remain available through Google.
Deliberately manipulating search results to eliminate references to a story that Google doesn’t like would be an extraordinary, almost dystopian abuse of the company’s power over information on the internet. I don’t have any hard evidence to prove that that’s what Google did in this instance, but it’s part of why this episode has haunted me for years: The story Google didn’t want people to read swiftly became impossible to find through Google.
Google wouldn’t address whether it deliberately deep-sixed search results related to the story. Asked to comment, a Google spokesperson sent a statement saying that Forbes removed the story because it was “not reported responsibly,” an apparent reference to the claim that the meeting was covered by a non-disclosure agreement. Again, I identified myself as a journalist and signed no such agreement before attending.
Rebecca Porter and I were strangers, as far as I knew. Facebook, however, thought we might be connected. Her name popped up this summer on my list of “People You May Know,” the social network’s roster of potential new online friends for me.
The People You May Know feature is notorious for its uncanny ability to recognize who you associate with in real life. It has mystified and disconcerted Facebook users by showing them an old boss, a one-night-stand, or someone they just ran into on the street.
To understand how humble, cheap inventions have shaped today’s world, picture a Bible — specifically, a Gutenberg Bible from the 1450s. The dense black Latin script, packed into twin blocks, makes every page a thing of beauty to rival the calligraphy of the monks. Except, of course, these pages were printed using the revolutionary movable type printing press. Gutenberg developed durable metal type that could be fixed firmly to print hundreds of copies of a page, then reused to print something entirely different. The Gutenberg press is almost universally considered to be one of humanity’s defining inventions. It gave us the Reformation, the spread of science, and mass culture from the novel to the newspaper. But it would have been a Rachael — an isolated technological miracle, admirable for its ingenuity but leaving barely a ripple on the wider world — had it not been for a cheap and humble invention that is far more easily and often overlooked: paper.
The printing press didn’t require paper for technical reasons, but for economic ones. Gutenberg also printed a few copies of his Bible on parchment, the animal-skin product that had long served the needs of European scribes. But parchment was expensive — 250 sheep were required for a single book. When hardly anyone could read or write, that had not much mattered. Paper had been invented 1,500 years earlier in China and long used in the Arabic world, where literacy was common. Yet it had taken centuries to spread to Christian Europe, because illiterate Europe no more needed a cheap writing surface than it needed a cheap metal to make crowns and sceptres.
Toyota Tsusho Corp., the automaker’s trading arm, will invest an undisclosed amount in Grab, Southeast Asia’s leading ride-hailing operator. Toyota Motor said it will work with Grab to provide services in the region, a year after the carmaker bought a small stake in Uber Technologies Inc. as it explores new revenue models.
“Through this collaboration with Grab, we would like to explore new ways of delivering secure, convenient and attractive mobility services to our fleet customers in Southeast Asia,” Shigeki Tomoyama, a senior managing officer at Toyota, said in a statement Wednesday.
A car dealership in Sherbrooke, Que., may have broken the law when it used a GPS device to disable the car of a client who was refusing to pay an extra $200 fee, say consumer advocates consulted by CBC News.
Bury, Que., resident Daniel Lallier signed a four-year lease for a Kia Forte LX back in May from Kia Sherbrooke. Two months later, the 20-year-old’s grandmother offered to buy the car outright when he lost his job and couldn’t make his weekly payments.
After settling the balance and paying a $300 penalty, Lallier said, the dealership told him he would have to pay an additional $200 to remove a GPS tracker that had been installed on the car.
The device allows dealers to remotely immobilize a car in case lease payments are in arrears.