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Human rights groups say Mexico not investigating spyware claims
MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A group of human and digital rights activists said on Tuesday that the Mexican government had failed to properly investigate allegations their smartphones were infected with spying software. They have asked for an independent investigation.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 21 Feb 2018 | 12:12 am

Venezuela says launch of 'petro' cryptocurrency raised $735 million
CARACAS (Reuters) - President Nicolas Maduro said Tuesday that Venezuela had received $735 million in the first day of a pre-sale of the country's “petro” cryptocurrency, aimed at pulling the country out of an economic tailspin.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 21 Feb 2018 | 12:05 am

Bahrain's sovereign fund in talks to invest in SoftBank's Vision Fund: CEO
MANAMA (Reuters) - Bahrain's sovereign wealth fund Mumtalakat is in early talks to invest in Softbank Group's private equity fund that aims to target the technology sector, its chief executive said.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 11:59 pm

Zero yen: Japanese cryptocurrency exchange briefly trips up trade
TOKYO (Reuters) - A Japanese cryptocurrency exchange undergoing checks by regulators has said a system failure let investors briefly trade a digital currency for zero yen, highlighting security concerns about such assets after last month's cyber heist at Coincheck Inc.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 11:53 pm

South Korea regulator flags better deal for cryptocurrency industry
SEOUL (Reuters) - A better deal for South Korea's cryptocurrency industry might be in the offing as the market regulator changes tack from its tough stance on the virtual coin trade, promising instead to help promote blockchain technology.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 11:13 pm

South Australia's GigCity plan is not what it seems
Labor's high-speed broadband proposal is no NBN. Retail service providers will still have to handle the difficult, expensive bit.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 10:22 pm

Computer shops embrace lucrative business: outfitting cryptocurrency miners
HONG KONG/SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Some of the biggest electronics bazaars in Asia are being flooded with customers looking for the latest piece of technology: cryptocurrency mining rigs.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 10:16 pm

Artificial intelligence poses risks of misuse by hackers, researchers say
FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Rapid advances in artificial intelligence are raising risks that malicious users will soon exploit the technology to mount automated hacking attacks, cause driverless car crashes or turn commercial drones into targeted weapons, a new report warns.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 10:10 pm

Google updates Pay app for Android, promises feature on all Google products
Google has begun swapping out Google Wallet and Android Pay with Google Pay.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 9:52 pm

FCC reversal of net neutrality rules expected to be published Thursday: sources
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Federal Communications Commission is expected to publish on Thursday its December order overturning the landmark Obama-era net neutrality rules, two sources briefed on the matter said Tuesday.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 9:45 pm

Department of Industry bins virtual assistant at pilot stage
​After building a business case and working alongside the ATO to develop the platform, the department decided not to go live with its virtual assistant pilot.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 8:41 pm

NetComm Wireless posts record revenue and earnings for first half
Company revenue for the first half of 2018 fiscal year was up by 89 percent, while EBITDA has increased thirteen-fold.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 8:25 pm

MPs investigate impact of social media and screens on youth
MPs launch an inquiry into the impact of social media and screen-use on young people's health.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 8:18 pm

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Visual effects revealed
The visual effects team behind the film has been nominated for an Oscar.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 7:23 pm

Young Brits 'lack cyber-security awareness'
A survey found over half of 18-25 year olds were using the same password for lots of online services.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 7:20 pm

AI ripe for exploitation, experts warn
AI could be used by rogue states, criminals and terrorists for malicious purposes in the near future.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 7:19 pm

FaceTime chat 'saves woman's life'
Woman notices her sister is suffering from a stroke while they spoke on a FaceTime call.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 7:18 pm

Commonwealth Bank customers get access to Samsung Pay
​Adding Samsung Pay, the bank now boasts Android Pay and payments via Garmin smartwatches, but there's still no sign of Apple Pay.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 7:00 pm

Spark NZ to launch IoT network next month
Spark NZ will be launching its low-power IoT network in mid March, along with a new digital media platform in April.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 6:57 pm

Head in three clouds: ANAO finds ATO contracts missing service commitments
After eight reports into the outages experienced by the ATO over the past 18 months, ANAO has delivered the findings of its investigation, recommending the taxation office to reassess its service commitments with three cloud vendors.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 5:42 pm

AT&T launches expanded IoT professional services
The carrier also said it began first phase testing at its edge computing zone in Palo Alto, Calif.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 4:33 pm

Common shortcodes gain traction, as texting best engages customers
Millennials are embracing SMS texting to buy products, making it the go-to channel to engage with brands.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 4:15 pm

Qualcomm deals blow to Broadcom's bid with sweetened NXP deal
(Reuters) - U.S. semiconductor company Qualcomm Inc on Tuesday unveiled a sweetened $44 billion agreement to acquire NXP Semiconductors NV , its most defiant move in its defense against a hostile $121 billion bid from Broadcom Ltd .

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 4:13 pm

Bitcoin nearly doubles in value from year's low hit in early February
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Bitcoin hit a three-week high on Tuesday and has surged nearly 100 percent from its lowest level this year, as its recovery continued after South Korea's financial regulator eased its stance on cryptocurrencies, weeks after it considered shutting down digital currency exchanges.

Source: Reuters: Technology News | 20 Feb 2018 | 3:38 pm

Nokia launches smart city platform, services, IoT management tools
At Mobile World Congress, Nokia will highlight its efforts to better target smart cities and enable various services.

Source: Latest articles for ZDNet | 20 Feb 2018 | 2:14 pm

Venezuela launches oil cryptocurrency
The "Petro" is intended to help country's crumbling economy evade tough US sanctions.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 1:41 pm

The 5 Best Podcast Apps for Android and iPhone

From true crime murder mysteries like S-Town to shows that provide smart commentary on culture, technology, and business like Still Processing, there’s reason to believe we’re in the golden age of podcasts.

But without podcast apps to organize your podcasts and easily discover new favorites, digging into the best podcasts can quickly become overwhelming.

Here’s a list of some of the best podcast apps you can get for Android and iOS.


Phone: Getty Images

Price: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Stitcher Radio’s clean and intuitive interface makes it one of the best podcast apps to use whether you’re looking for something new or just want to keep track of your favorite shows.

The main feed, which Stitcher calls the front page, offers up a stream of episodes from podcasts it thinks you’ll enjoy based on the topics you’ve chosen when creating your account. You can also browse through individual topics to find new podcasts, build a playlist of your favorite shows, and connect with other friends that use Stitcher to see what they’re listening to.

The app’s home screen is flexible too, offering the option to either set the front page, your favorites playlist, or saved episodes as the default page upon opening the app. The basic version of Stitcher is free, while the $4.99-per-month premium version includes ad-free listening, access to bonus episodes of certain shows, and original exclusive shows.

Spreaker Podcast Radio

Phone: Getty Images

Price: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Podcast fans who prefer to sample several shows at once rather than diving deeply into one series at a time may want to check out Spreaker. The app includes channels that curate a stream of episodes from different podcasts all centered around a specific theme, like comedy, U.S. news, financial news, and technology, among other topics.

As is the case with similar podcast apps, you can also explore different podcasts based on categories and topics. But Spreaker sorts shows into ultra-specific, Netflix-style categories, like Man Cave, Podcasts for Entrepreneurs, and Scary Storie, in addition to more common subjects like Education, Fitness, Technology, and Popular Shows, making it one of the best podcasts apps around.


Phone: Getty Images

Price: Free
Platform: iOS

Overcast stands out for its sleek and minimalist design, which can feel refreshing compared to the sometimes cluttered interfaces found in many podcast apps. The first thing you see when opening the app is a list of the podcasts you currently follow. Tapping the plus icon in the upper right corner allows you to browse for new podcasts based on categories and topics such as comedy, technology, business, arts, news and politics, and most recommended.

There isn’t much else to Overcast, which is exactly why we think it’s one of the best podcast apps. But don’t let the app’s basic design fool you: There are several features here that other podcast apps lack, such as a Voice Boost for ensuring that speech volume is consistent and 3D Touch support for viewing episode details without being redirected to a new page. You can also choose to pay $9.99 per year for the premium ad-free version of Overcast.


Phone: Getty Images

Price: Free
Platform: iOS and Android

Podbean feels more an app store than it does a media player. With recommendations, top episodes, featured shows, and plenty of other categories prominently featured on the home screen, it’s clear that Podbean is focusing on putting curation front and center. Otherwise, Podbean has all of the basic features and playback controls to make it one of the best podcast apps, including options that let you adjust how many seconds to skip ahead when fast-forwarding and a setting for automatically downloading new episodes of podcasts you follow.

Pocket Casts

Phone: Getty Images

Price: $3.99
Platform: iOS and Android

Pocket Casts is another user-friendly podcast app that makes it easy to find new podcasts based on shows that are popular and trending. Since the Discover page displays categories in a list format rather than as a carousel with thumbnail images, the app feels a bit neater than some alternatives. Pocket Casts’ main menu also has a section that houses all of your in-progress episodes in one place, and offers options to create new filters for sorting your podcasts based on a variety of factors, such as whether or not the episode has been downloaded, when the episode was released, and whether or not the episode is a video or audio show.

Source: Tech – TIME | 20 Feb 2018 | 1:04 pm

'Upskirting' should be criminal offence, campaigners say
Campaigners say a law change in England and Wales would make it easier for police to take action.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 11:40 am

Russian bots debate US gun control laws
Russian bots are believed to have taken part in debate about gun control following Florida shootings.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 10:36 am

Hangzhou and the Alibaba effect
The emergence of a tech behemoth transforms its hometown.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 8:55 am

Replika app provides chats with dead friend
An entrepreneur makes an app that lets her have conversations with a virtual version of a deceased friend.

Source: BBC News - Technology | 20 Feb 2018 | 8:53 am

Google Killed its Popular ‘View Image’ Feature, and the Internet Isn’t Having It

People online are upset over a new decision from Google that makes it a little harder to download photos.

The search giant removed its popular “view image” feature Thursday as a part of a legal settlement. The feature previously allowed users to download and save photos without having to navigate through to the pictures’ web pages.

The “view image” option has long frustrated photographers and publishers who say their work is stolen when people download photos through Google’s search engine. The change comes as part of a settlement with Getty Images that aims to improve attribution for their contributors, Google said. The search engine also removed its “search by image” button, but users can still reverse image search by dragging images to the Google search bar.

But killing off the “view image” feature hasn’t sat well with web users, who have since been raising their concerns online.

The frustrating part “view image” going away for some users was that the feature was a tool that many people used in their work.

And sure enough, some users have begun suggesting alternatives that keep “view image” alive, sort of.

But knowing that Google has a history of abandoning beloved features, others have simply resigned themselves to brace for the search engine’s next big change.

Source: Tech – TIME | 16 Feb 2018 | 7:07 pm

Apple Employees Keep Smacking Into Their New Headquarters’ Glass Walls

The centerpiece of Apple Inc.’s new headquarters is a massive, ring-shaped office overflowing with panes of glass, a testament to the company’s famed design-obsessed aesthetic.

There’s been one hiccup since it opened last year: Apple employees keep smacking into the glass.

Surrounding the Cupertino, California-based building are 45-foot tall curved panels of safety glass. Inside are work spaces, dubbed “pods,” also made with a lot of glass. Apple staff are often glued to the iPhones they helped popularize. That’s resulted in repeated cases of distracted employees walking into the panes, according to people familiar with the incidents.

Some staff started to stick Post-It notes on the glass doors to mark their presence. However, the notes were removed because they detracted from the building’s design, the people said. They asked not to be identified discussing anything related to Apple. Another person familiar with the situation said there are other markings to identify the glass.

Apple’s latest campus has been lauded as an architectural marvel. The building, crafted by famed architect Norman Foster, immortalized a vision that Apple co-founder Steve Jobs had years earlier. In 2011, Jobs reportedly described the building “a little like a spaceship landed.” Jobs has been credited for coming up with the glass pods, designed to mix solo office areas with more social spaces.

The building is designed to house some 13,000 employees. Wired magazine, first to pay a visit at its opening last year, described the structure as a “statement of openness, of free movement,” in contrast to Apple’s typically insular culture. “While it is a technical marvel to make glass at this scale, that’s not the achievement,” Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, told the magazine in May. “The achievement is to make a building where so many people can connect and collaborate and walk and talk.”

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment. It’s not clear how many incidents there have been. A Silicon Valley-based spokeswoman for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration referred questions about Apple’s workplace safety record to the government agency’s website. A search on the site based on Apple’s name in California found no reports of injuries at the company’s new campus.

It’s not the first time Apple’s penchant for glass in buildings has caused problems. In late 2011, 83-year-old Evelyn Paswall walked into the glass wall of an Apple store, breaking her nose. She sued the company, arguing it should have posted a warning on the glass. The suit was settled without any cost to Apple, according to a legal filing in early 2013.

Source: Tech – TIME | 16 Feb 2018 | 10:16 am

How 3 Digital Activists Remember John Perry Barlow

Birgitta Jónsdóttir

Code is poetry, and poetry is code. No one knew that better than John Perry Barlow. He was a poet first, writing lyrics for the Grateful Dead, and I think it was because he was a creative person, and was applying creative thinking within the technological world, that he managed to be so ahead of the curve in the way he saw things. He understood that our digital shadow would have consequences in the offline world and that human-rights issues were related to the cyber world. I first met him in 2012 at his home in San Francisco, when we were working on a documentary, but he’d already had a huge impact on the way I saw the Internet. His “A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace” was very influential for me as a young web developer in the ’90s; he helped many people put into words what they were feeling.

In real life, he was like a person on fire all the time. He had been sick when I met him, but you couldn’t tell. He was just full of ideas. The fascinating thing about him was that he could appeal to so many aspects of humanity—he was first known for writing, and he was involved in rock ‘n’ roll and politics, too. A jack of many, many trades. That’s why he had so many friends. He was a formidable force, and I feel a sense of urgency to carry on his work and try to honor his legacy. In a sense, it feels like he’s still out there. He is part of the marrow of the Internet.

Jónsdóttir is a poetician and member of the Pirate Party in the Icelandic parliament, and is chairman for the International Modern Media Institute (IMMI).

Cindy Cohn

It is no exaggeration to say that John Perry Barlow’s vision, optimism and powerful writing played a key role in setting the tone for the Internet. In the late 1980s many in government and corporations saw the emerging network as a mere toy or hobby. John Perry, in contrast, saw it as offering something potentially transcendent. He saw that the technology could create a kind of connection that humans had been craving, where physical distance and even physical bodies no longer mattered. He said we were building a “collective organism of the mind,” where regardless of economic status, social standing or race, speakers can express their ideas, listeners are free to hear or ignore them, and anyone who wants to know something can learn it.

John Perry understood full well that this might not come to pass, and that the technology that could liberate humanity was also the one that could most effectively enslave it. His goal both in his own writings and in co-founding the Electronic Frontier Foundation was to ensure that a humane, loving, supportive connected Internet could get a running start. Looking ahead, we have much to do to bring Barlow’s vision into reality.

Cohn is Executive Director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which Barlow helped found.

A portion of this article appears in the Feb. 26, 2018, issue of TIME

Source: Tech – TIME | 15 Feb 2018 | 2:59 pm

Apple’s New $349 HomePod Speaker Is Ruining Some Customers’ Wooden Tables

While Apple Inc.’s new HomePod speaker won praise for its audio quality, some users reported the device discolors wood surfaces.

Customers posted photos online of wood furniture showing a pale ring from the HomePod’s silicone base. Websites Pocket-Lint and Wirecutter reported the issue earlier. A similar test by Bloomberg News didn’t leave rings. Other surfaces like glass aren’t affected.

Apple didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on Wednesday. The company told Wirecutter that “the marks can improve over several days after the speaker is removed from the wood surface.” If they remain, Apple suggested customers “try cleaning the surface with the manufacturer’s suggested oiling method,” Wirecutter reported.

Source: Tech – TIME | 14 Feb 2018 | 1:54 pm

These People Have the Hottest Job in America. Here’s What They Say It’s Really Like

Software developers got a hearty slap on the back at the beginning of the year when US News & World Report named the tech role the “best job” of 2018.

Not that they needed the ego boost. Last year, PayScale and CNNMoney put software developers at the top of their own “best jobs in America” list. LinkedIn’s “skills companies need most in 2018” is stuffed with tools that any budding developer would salivate over, and the job site’s recent spread on the “most popular entry-level jobs” gave software engineers, an in-demand role that crosses into the software development world, the number one spot.

In the battle for workplace bragging rights, 2018 is clearly the Year of the Software Developer.

Quick question: What’s a software developer?

“It’s really just an amazing opportunity to build something,” says Pooja Gada, 30, the tech lead at Los Altos, Calif.-based hospital operations platform Qventus. “You turn ideas into something you can practice and play around with.”

Developers (sometimes called “programmers” or “coders”) are behind all the applications that make our digitized world run. They create the mobile apps we interact with everyday: “front-end developers” make the buttons on our screens, “back-end developers” sort through the data we punch into them, and “full-stack developers” do both. They’re responsible for the interactivity of every “smart” device from Amazon Alexa to those crazy internet refrigerators that keep stock of ingredients, create shopping lists, and feed you news. Developers help companies across industries bring their sales, shipping, and inventory solutions into the 21st century. And they do a million other things too.

It’s an increasingly popular and important role in the tech space, and will likely continue to be for years to come. In 2016, the Bureau of Labor Statistics projected employment for the role would grow 24% by 2026 — which is exceptionally fast, even compared to other burgeoning tech careers. The pay doesn’t hurt either: The average developer makes more than $100,000, according to BLS data.

Tech giants like Google and Facebook have a near-endless demand for developer talent. But these days, so does everyone else. A quick look at online job postings shows that, as of this writing, American Express, The National Football League, Sony, Etsy, Columbia University, Macy’s, Boeing, Quest Diagnostics, Weather Underground, FedEx, and The New Yorker were all hiring developers.

It’s a malleable occupation. Jobs are concentrated in tech hubs like Silicon Valley and Seattle, but employers are often willing to let developers work remotely from pretty much anywhere. There’s no set career path, either. Some people climb the company ladder to senior developer, software architect, and maybe even chief technology officer, eventually. (Gada, for one, worked as an engineer for Oracle before joining Qventus as the company’s first tech hire, where she was promoted to engineering lead after three years). Some just get really, really good at their craft and specialize in one particular skill (like front-end) or “language” and just do that indefinitely. Some launch their own startups, or join the ranks of friend’s company.

Budding developers are drawn to this kind of freedom.

“It gives you lot of opportunity about what you do, and how and where you do it,” Gada says.

Brandy Morgan, a 28-year old developer, works for her husband’s software startup out of their Winter Park, Florida home.

Her space is quite different from the Red Bull-littered office of pop culture coder cliche.

“I’ve got windows,” she says. “And I’m pretty sugar conscious.”

But her hours are just as grueling.

Morgan says she starts her day between 5 and 5:30 am, with the help of three shots of espresso, and hunkers down under a row of whiteboards filled with to-do lists. Aside from the occasional gym, meal and Keurig break, she works for the better part of 12 hours, powering down shortly before midnight.

If you want to be a developer, Morgan says, you have to be flexible. You need thick skin, too — clients come to you with a lot of demands and few compliments.

You also need to be an obsessive learner. Most developers get a bachelor’s degree in a computer science field, learning the basics of programming while devoting their free time to testing it out. Developers usually start with one programming language (i.e. Javascript, SQL, Python) and pick up others as they advance.

“Technology is changing all the time,” Morgan says. “Languages change all the time. Job postings change all the time. You’re going to be a forever student if you’re a programmer.”

In recent years, as the demand for tech jobs has soared, alternative training has sprouted up alongside it. “Boot camps,” which boil years-long programming courses down to a few months, or even weeks, of schooling, now number close to 100, according to boot-camp database Course Report.

These programs often advertise their courses as an add-on to a college education, rather than a replacement; mastering this field isn’t easy, even in a traditionally-paced classroom. Still, the mere existence of an entire ancillary industry devoted to training developers is a testament to their influence on the job market.

“People in our society tend to look at a Bachelor’s as an entry point to almost any profession,” says Jeff Weber, executive director for Robert Half Technology, which helps companies recruit for tech roles. “Demand might change that.”

Still, for all the talk of booming growth and burgeoning opportunity, the lack of female representation is one hard-to-gloss-over area the tech world has yet to “disrupt.” In 2017, more than 80% of U.S. developers were male, according to the Census Bureau, and that ratio hasn’t really changed since the agency started tracking it in 2011. The gender breakdown for computer programmers paints an even graver picture: In 1995, 30% of programmers were female. In the years since, that number has slid to 21%.

Morgan knows the stats. Her industry’s “boys club” reputation is one of the reasons she’s more comfortable working from home, she says.

“The best part about coding is that it’s pretty black and white. It works or it doesn’t,” she says. “They can’t argue with the work you do.”

Source: Tech – TIME | 13 Feb 2018 | 2:00 pm

Closed Doors Are No Match for Boston Dynamics’ Latest Robotic Dog

Robotics firm Boston Dynamics is showing off its latest creation: A robotic dog that can open doors.

In a video posted by Boston Dynamics, the company’s SpotMini robot is seen struggling to get past a locked door — until another SpotMini shows up with a special arm that opens the door. The second robot then holds the door open for its robotic buddy. It isn’t clear if the robots are acting autonomously or if someone’s controlling their movements behind the scenes.

Boston Dynamics’ videos never fail to impress — or to terrify, depending on your views of robotics and artificial intelligence. The company’s creations may have been the inspiration behind a recent episode of the dystopian sci-fi series Black Mirror in which robotic dogs set out to kill all living things. But robots like the kind Boston Dynamics makes can have real-world benefits, like the ability to find people stranded in the rubble after an earthquake.

Japanese conglomerate SoftBank purchased Boston Dynamics from Google parent company Alphabet in 2017 for an undisclosed sum.

Source: Tech – TIME | 13 Feb 2018 | 10:12 am

Amazon Might Be Getting Into the Delivery Business

Amazon has already shown that it can rattle the retail, grocery and health insurance industries, and now it is doing the same in the delivery business.

The online retailer is reportedly planning a new service to pick up packages from businesses and deliver them to consumers.

The service, called “Shipping With Amazon,” is expected to start in Los Angeles in the coming weeks and roll out more broadly as soon as this year, according to The Wall Street Journal , which cited anonymous sources.

Amazon, which has been edging into the delivery business for some time, would not confirm the report — but didn’t deny it either.

“We’re always innovating and experimenting on behalf of customers and the businesses that sell and grow on Amazon to create faster lower-cost delivery choices,” said Amazon spokeswoman Kristen Kish.

Shares of delivery giants UPS and FedEx slipped Friday, but so did Amazon’s stock as analysts expressed caution about the difficulty of building a competitive delivery network.

Amazon’s interest in the delivery business has been percolating ever since many Amazon packages were delivered late around Christmas in 2013. Amazon has helped fuel the boom in online shopping, but all those millions of packages are straining the networks of UPS and FedEx. Amazon also uses the U.S. Postal Service and smaller delivery companies.

UPS had a rocky holiday season late last year, as it underestimated the crush of online shopping during so-called cyber week right after Thanksgiving. The Atlanta-based company plans to spend a chunk of its tax-cut savings to improve its network.

Meanwhile, Amazon has leased 40 airplanes, begun arranging ocean freight shipments from China to the U.S., and built up a corps of delivery drivers.

Executives at UPS and FedEx have downplayed the Amazon threat before, saying that it would take a massive investment over a long time to build an air and ground network to rival theirs.

There is little doubt, however, that Seattle-based Amazon has the means to build a bigger network. It had $178 billion in sales and $3 billion in profit last year and is sitting on more than $20 billion in cash.

An Amazon entry would “send shivers down the spines of the traditional delivery companies,” said Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail.

Saunders said the delivery companies are likely to lose business from Amazon — slowly at first, then more quickly as Amazon builds out its own operation. And if Amazon starts delivering to businesses, it may undercut the incumbents on rates, he said.

Analysts estimate that UPS gets up to 6 percent of revenue from Amazon deliveries compared to about 3 percent for FedEx. Several took a wait-and-see approach to the Amazon threat.

Deutsche Bank analysts wrote that “one pilot program, in one city, is being extrapolated as a clear and present risk to a global network” that delivers 33 million packages a day, more than 20 times Amazon’s estimated delivery volume. They were “highly skeptical” of much risk to UPS and FedEx.

Citi analyst Christian Weatherbee said Amazon hasn’t yet committed significant assets to a new delivery program.

“We don’t want to present the case that Amazon will never, or could never, compete directly with FedEx, UPS” and the post office, Weatherbee said, but there is no indication that the company has bought enough trucks and hired enough drivers to take on UPS and FedEx, which would be a “difficult task,” he said.

Amazon is likely to remain a major customer for UPS and FedEx for quite some time, complicating their relationship.

UBS Securities analyst Thomas Wadewitz said as “frenemy” Amazon expands on their turf, it could make sense for UPS and FedEx to significantly raise prices with Amazon, although there is no evidence to show they’ll do that.

Others think Amazon may be trying to talk down delivery rates and get better service. Stifel analyst David Ross said Amazon will grow its logistics business but won’t be able — and may not even want — to handle all of its own deliveries.

FedEx spokesman Patrick Fitzgerald said the Journal headline showed a “lack of basic understanding of the full scale of the global transportation industry.”

UPS spokesman Steve Gaut said in statement that the company “continues to support Amazon and many other customers,” and doesn’t comment about their business strategies or decisions on how they use UPS services. UPS declined to make an executive available for an interview.

Amazon’s muscle and influence beyond retailing have been very evident lately.

When Amazon, Warren Buffett and the CEO of JPMorgan Chase announced two weeks ago that they were forming a company to tackle employer health care costs, it triggered a sell-off in the shares of established health insurers.

This week Amazon launched two-hour grocery delivery for Prime members from Whole Foods, which it bought last summer for nearly $14 billion.

Amazon shares fell $10.90 to close at $1,339.60; United Parcel Service Inc. dropped $2.89, or 2.6 percent, to $106.39; and FedEx Corp. fell $3.95, or 1.7 percent, to $235.32.

Source: Tech – TIME | 10 Feb 2018 | 4:12 pm

Uber Is Paying About $245 Million to Settle a Major Lawsuit With Google

(SAN FRANCISCO) — Uber is settling a lawsuit filed by Google’s autonomous car unit alleging that the ride-hailing service ripped off self-driving car technology.

Both sides in the case issued statements confirming the settlement Friday morning in the midst of a federal court trial in the case.

Google’s Waymo unit says Uber agreed to take steps to make sure Waymo technology isn’t used in Uber’s autonomous vehicles. Waymo says Uber also agreed to pay about $245 million.

Uber’s CEO says in a printed statement that the company doesn’t believe trade secrets made their way from Waymo to Uber. He also says Uber is taking steps to make sure its self-driving vehicle research represents only Uber’s work.

Source: Tech – TIME | 9 Feb 2018 | 11:45 am

‘Shark Tank’ Investor Robert Herjavec Has a Bold Prediction for the Future of Cryptocurrency

Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies have had a rough start to 2018—but they’re not disappearing anytime soon, says Shark Tank investor and cybersecurity expert Robert Herjavec.

“To me, it’s the wave of the future,” he told MONEY recently. “Fast forward 25 years from now, there will be some form of a cryptocurrency that we will pay for electronically, and the concept of cash will go away one day.”

Herjavec credits blockchain technology—the driving force behind cryptocurrency—as a game-changer that will revolutionize the way businesses verify transactions. (Simply put, blockchain uses multiple servers to verify a transaction, making it much more secure than transactions using just one server — which is commonplace today.)

“It’s going to have massive benefits for humanity, in all kinds of transactions,” he says, “including cybersecurity.”

The price of cryptocurrency has been on a rollercoaster ride over the last year, in particular the last several months. Some have continued to warn against investing in it, including economists and big-time billionaires like Warren Buffett. Others, like Herjavec’s Shark Tank rival Mark Cuban, think it could be worth buying—if you proceed with caution.

Herjavec is worth a reported $200 million and made his fortune in the last 20 years with his cybersecurity company, The Herjavec Group. But he himself isn’t jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon just yet. For one, he worries that cryptocurrency is too much of a Wild West right now.

“There’s no base for it,” he says. “When I buy a house and it’s overpriced, I can live in it. There’s some fundamental value. The challenge with cryptocurrency is, it could go to zero. There’s no one exchange that is making them. Exchanges that sell them now can be hacked. We recently saw the largest breach ever — $500 million in 24 hours. If you had bought that exchange, it’s not that you’ve gone down 20% or 40%, you’ve actually gone to zero.”

The other reason he personally isn’t sold on cryptocurrency? It’s a moral issue.

“Cryptocurrency is the choice of funding and transactions for hackers,” he says. “And since we’re the good guys, I can’t get behind [that]. If there was no cryptocurrency, much of the large hacks that we’re seeing today wouldn’t exist.”

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