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Business Insider
  • Hillary Clinton's ties to Silicon Valley could be problematic

    Hillary Clinton

    The wealth of Hollywood has historically been a magnet for Democratic politicians, and it remains so; Hillary Clinton spent two days draining the pocketbooks of Justin Timberlake and other luminaries this week. 

    But the past two Democratic presidential nominees also made hay further north in California, targeting the tech sector.

    Barack Obama has dined in the homes of so many so many Silicon Valley luminaries, from Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer (then at Google) to 23andMe founder Anne Wojcicki to venture capitalists John Doerr and Steve Westly and more, that you could run an “Obama Ate Here” tour through San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. 

    This week, Clinton followed suit with a dinner fundraiser at the home of Steve Jobs’ widow Laurene, thrown by Apple CEO Tim Cook.

    And the Clinton campaign’s list of “Hillblazers,” those who have contributed or raised over $100,000 to her election fund, includes CEOs and top current and former executives at Facebook, Salesforce, Google, Zynga, SAP, SolarCity, Bebo and LinkedIn, along with several venture capitalists. 

    These are not individuals Clinton took meetings with out of courtesy, but big donors and bundlers trying to put her in the Oval Office.

    When they are as concentrated in one industry as they are, we can be reasonably concerned that the industry will carry undue influence. And while Clinton often gets criticized for her ties to Wall Street, I think the coziness with Silicon Valley ought to be a much bigger priority. 

    That’s not just because of the avalanche of money coming from the tech sector, almost entirely in Clinton’s direction rather than toward her opponent, Donald Trump. (Among Apple employees, the money spread is $156,000 for Clinton, $665 for Trump). It’s reflected in policy, as a troubling Politico story details. 

    Tim Cook

    Clinton lined up over 100 industry advisors to help design a tech and telecommunications policy “that echoes many of Silicon Valley’s top priorities.” This collaboration between government and business at the highest echelons, precisely what has so many Americans angered by corporate-written trade deals like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, is nothing new; Obama’s administration is fully tied up with Google, for example.

    And some of the policy ideas, like ending the predominance of “patent trolls” that use the legal system to make money off other’s inventions, are first-rate. But others are clearly meant to benefit Silicon Valley at the expense of the nation. 

    For example, there’s the section on “setting rules of the road to promote innovation.” This prioritizes reducing regulatory barriers, whatever they may be, to bringing new products to market. To the extent this tears down incumbency protection and opens markets, that’s a good thing; to the extent it simply transfers old incumbent power to new incumbents who will throw up the drawbridge once they acquire power, it’s very dangerous. 

    Then there’s the fact that local regulations often are in place for a good reason. Allowing Airbnb to violate laws against effectively running hotels without paying the transient occupancy tax does no city any good.

    Allowing Uber and Lyft to acquire a monopoly in not just taxicabs but public provision of transit services only courts disaster once prices rise and costs shift to the individual or municipality. The libertarian streak of the tech sector is replicated in Clinton’s “disruptive economy working group,” coming up with policies benefiting companies like Uber that are battling local regulators. 

    Even policies like the Obama administration’s order ending the cable industry’s monopoly on set-top boxes, noble as it looks at first glance, creates a clear winner in Google.

    Clinton may sound welcoming in preserving high-skill immigration through the H1-B visa program, but that’s almost entirely a priority of Silicon Valley. And an agenda to crack down on banks through competition may bear fruit; the financial technology (or fintech) companies circling the sector certainly hope so. 

    The root of this tech policy advisory team is to carry out that now-mocked slogan of making the world a better place. As spokesman Tyrone Gayle told Politico, Clinton “will reach out to the tech community to partner with them, and bring the best of their ideas to Washington to help develop public policy that will lead to broad-based growth, reduce social and economic inequality, and secure American leadership on the global stage.” 

    Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton speaks at a rally at Truckee Meadows Community College in Reno, Nevada, August 25, 2016. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein/File Photo

    The problem is that Clinton cannot just be a partner with an entire business sector. As head of the executive branch she also directs their regulators. She must protect consumers and small businesses and the broadly diverse economy. When you treat private enterprise like a working partner, and begin to rely on it, trouble can ensue. Almost imperceptibly, governments can get lenient on their partners when they engage in questionable practices. 

    Those practices already exist. In becoming the most important media outlet in America, Facebook has decimated the open Internet and returned it almost to AOL-era walled garden status, something that stunts innovation all by itself, along with narrowing the range of media that gets read and shared. Platform monopolies like Amazon and Google similarly crush competition, bias their own products and push out entrepreneurship. The entire sector colluded to drive down the wages of its employees. 

    Clinton and her husband gave a lot of speeches to Wall Street banks, but she also spoke to eBay and Salesforce and Cisco and assorted tech companies. The difference between the ties to Wall Street and the ties to Silicon Valley is that there are existing champions inside the party favoring crackdowns on Wall Street. If Clinton decided to dole out favors to financial institutions, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders and the majority of the party they represent would be on high alert. No such champion exists today for making sure the tech sector doesn’t similarly become too big to fail. 

    The technology industry is now stocked with dozens of former Obama officials, and we can expect similar closeness in a Clinton administration. Will anyone question the propriety of such practices? Are too many people looking to New York when their eyes should be trained on Palo Alto?

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • Google Cloud shut down this guy's business — but now he's a fan for life (GOOG)

    DocGraph Fred Trotter

    On Monday, Fred Trotter, CEO of a healthcare startup called DocGraph, came into work only to discover that his cloud computing provider, Google, had effectively shut down his company, sending him and his team into a panic.

    DocGraph, through its sister company, CareSet, sells Medicare data and analysis to help improve patient care and track the effectiveness of drugs. It not only stores its data with Google, but also relies on Google's machine learning service, Tensorflow, to help it with the analysis.

    Which meant that when Google shut off access to his whole project, not just a single problematic service, he couldn't simply move his app to another cloud and start serving his customers again.

    But by Friday, Trotter was so impressed with Google and how the cloud team ultimately and finally handled the situation that he's sticking with them, he told Business Insider.

    What went wrong

     

    On Thursday, August 18, Google sent Trotter's company a warning notice in which it had said his Google cloud project appeared to be implicated in some sort of hacking attack (Google said it appeared to be involved in "intrusion attempts against a third-party,"). Google was giving the company three days to knock it off.

    The folks at DocGraph were flummoxed by the warning in three ways.

    1. Google used its own internal identification number. It was an ID Trotter and team had never heard of. "It took us a considerable amount of time to figure out what they were talking about when they said “625834285688”. We probably lost a day trying to figure out what that meant," Trotter wrote.

    2. All of this was automated. Google said that to fix the problem, the company would need to "request an appeal" by clicking a button on the customer service page. But there was no such button. They sent in a customer service ticket but there was no way for DocGraph to talk to someone live about it.

    3. Google didn't just shut down the server that was implicated in the problems. It suspended the entire account, locking DocGraph out of all their servers, their data, all services.

    Last Monday, Trotter discovered Google had suspended his company's account, which not only took his company's main service offline, but also prevented his team from accessing his company's data stored on Google's cloud.

    Frustrated, Trotter wrote up the whole thing on a blog post and started tweeting about it. 

    "This is a pretty substantial problem, since we had committed to leveraging the Google Cloud at DocGraph. We presumed that Google Cloud was as mature and battle tested as other carrier grade cloud providers like Microsoft, Rackspace, and Amazon. But it has just been made painfully clear to us that Google Cloud is not mature at all," he wrote in a blog post.

    Google was listening ... on Twitter

    Google then shocked him again, in a good way. Within four hours of tweeting, someone from Google had contacted him and had restored access to his project.

    Trotter says that, it turns out, he and his team bear some responsibility. They had inadvertently set up a server wrong, exposing a hole, and a hacker was using his company's to conduct a "denial of service attack," which is when hackers overload another website or online service with so much traffic, it shuts down.

    In other words, Google wasn't behaving totally irrationally.

    Werner Vogels"Since then, Google has been doing an extensive post-mortem on the problems and is instituting multiple fixes. In summary, we did totally get stuck in a crack in their automated service model, but once we were actually coordinating with their support team, Google has performed marvelously," Trotter told us.

    Multiple sources have told Business Insider that Google hasn't yet really won the trust of many companies as the go-to cloud services. It has a reputation for being immature. 

    In fact, Amazon's cloud CTO Werner Vogels has been known to throw veiled barbs at Google, telling us earlier this year that "other cloud providers in the market, there's quite a few of them still sort of in the phase where AWS was five, six years ago — in 2010."

    And later, after the insane success of Pokemon Go experienced widespread outages (Pokemon Go is said to use Google's cloud), Vogels sub-tweeted "Dear cool folks at @NianticLabs please let us know if there is anything we can do to help! (I wanted that drowzee)."

    DocGraph's story appears to bear witness to Google's growing pains.

    But Trotter says that it also shows just how serious they are about getting this right.

    "I do think this is evidence that they are learning the cloud game, they have a lot to learn. But I also think the incident is evidence that they are learning at a furious rate. If they do half of what they told us they would be changing in response to the incident, it means their pace of change, and their willingness to provide solid service, is pretty unmatched," he tells us. 

    He adds, "All of this is to say, they stumbled, we stumbled, but I am very pleased with the service overall and will likely remain a customer for a long time. I would much rather have a big problem and see it fixed, then have lots of small problems and never see resolutions."

    A lesson learned

    On the other hand, he's learned a lesson, too: it's best not to trust one cloud company.  He's turning to Amazon to provide backup storage for his company's data, using a service called "Amazon Glacier."

    google cloud napkin"While [Google's ] Tensorflow and [Google's storage service] Nearline make Google clearly the winning cloud service for our company, we cannot tolerate the risk of another 'world ending' cloud event," he tells us.

    "That means that we will also be using Amazon Glacier to offset the risks of something like this happening again. While I like what Google offers, there is no excuse for taking the risk of being completely locked out by any single cloud vendor. We will not put ourselves in that position again," he says.

    A Google spokesperson confirms that if Google uncovers any potential abuse situations, it warns the customer, gives them three days to fix it, and will shut down the project if they don't.

    However the company also acknowledged that Trotter's experience uncovered some problems with its automated system and its working to fix it, telling us:

    "While Fred's experience with our appeal process was uncommon, we want to make sure this situation doesn't happen again in the future. We're evaluating how we can make changes to our appeal process and overall customer support, regardless of the support package."

    The spokesperson adds that, once warned, Google works with customers to help them track down the problem and that Google also sells a variety of customer support packages.

    SEE ALSO: The 18 best cloud computing startups to work for, according to employees

    SEE ALSO: Amazon claims another victim as Rackspace finally goes private in a $4.3 billion deal

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • What it's really like to work at Google, the best company to work for in the US

    google campus girls talking

    With well-publicized employee perks and great pay, it's easy see why Google consistently rates as not only the best tech company to work for, but the best company to work for overall in the US. 

    Employees rate the company a 4.4 out of 5 stars on Glassdoor, CEO Sundar Pichai is the highest rated CEO on the site, and the company has added 9,000 new jobs in the last year. 

    But what's it really like to work there? 

    We read through Glassdoor reviews to find out some of employees' favorite things about being a Googler.

    Jillian D'Onfro contributed to an earlier version of this report.

    SEE ALSO: 21 photos of the most impressive free food at Google

    Google treats its employees to parties and outings like ski trips to Vermont and picnics during the summer.

    One current Google employee writes: "Aaaaaamazing holiday parties (at Waldorf Astoria, NY Public Library, MoMA, etc.); overnight ski trips to Vermont; overnight nature trips to the Poconos in the summer; summer picnics at Chelsea piers; and on and on and on. I don't see this going away unless the company starts hurting financially."



    Top executives like Alphabet CEO Larry Page and President Sergey Brin frequently hold forums on Fridays called TGIF, where employees can ask questions about the company.

    "It's truly fair game to ask anything, no matter how controversial, and frequently the executives will be responsive," writes one current employee



    Employees have access to gyms, volleyball courts, a bowling alley, and an outdoor sports park at Google's Mountain View campus.

    Wellness is a priority at Google, so employees are encouraged to use the company's facilities to exercise, employees say.



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider
  • The Pokémon Go peak is over, but the game is still on top

    The "Pokémon Go" craze may have peaked, but the mobile game is still ridiculously popular.

    Popular enough that there are still regular reports of hundreds of people stampeding in search of a Snorlax. Someone was killed just last week in Japan by a driver who admitted to playing "Pokémon Go" while driving.

    pokemon go snorlax taiwan taipei

    Popular enough that it's still the biggest moneymaker in mobile gaming right now. It's the number one grossing game on Google Play, as well as the iTunes App Store (according to App Annie).

    The recent reports of its imminent decline miss several key points, says Niko Partners analyst Daniel Ahmad. 

    "Pokémon Go" exploded in popularity, and rapidly launched in many countries. It's the fastest downloaded anything on both iPhone and Android. That puts the game into a rare category of mega-hit. Simply put: the kind of user numbers that "Pokémon Go" initially enjoyed are unsustainable. Remember when it had more users than Twitter? That was never going to last.

    The tapering off of those record-setting, astronomic numbers is entirely expected. Ahmad described the effect as, "what one would expect when looking at [daily active user] numbers, that the number will decrease over time and begin to level out at a much lower number."

    Indeed, that's exactly what the data shows:

    Pokemon Go

    If anything, the strangest part of this chart is the front — where the game goes from unknown to 50 million users in one month. "The game achieved record revenue figures in its first month, higher than that of 'Clash Royale' (the previous record holder)," says Ahmad. "Pokémon Go" is the fastest game to hit 50 million installs on the Google Play store (by a huge margin), and already has more than 100 million installs through Google Play." 

    Something particularly interesting that this chart demonstrates is how many people are still playing "Pokémon Go." If I'm being honest, I'm not one of those folks — I opened it this morning for the first time in several weeks, and only because I was writing about the game. And I'm less likely these days to see a gaggle of people hanging around the front of my local park battling for control of the Gym.

    pokemon go

    But as of August 18, over 40 million people are still actively playing "Pokémon Go," according to SurveyMonkey Intelligence. Another estimate, published by Bloomberg, puts the game at over 30 million users — "a number most mobile games will never reach," Ahmad pointed out. 

    "Most mobile games will be lucky to retain 50% of their users after the first month. A game that is able to retain 50% of its users after one month is a game that is doing considerably better than the average game, and one that shows it’s doing well," he added. 

    Point being: The decline in "Pokémon Go" users is normal, not indicative of a fad. If anything, the huge number of users one month in shows that the game has staying power.

    Pokemon GO Justin Bieber

    As Ahmad put it: "Some have noted that the decline in [users] shows the game is a fad, but it doesn’t show that at all. Instead the decline is normal, and the decline is not as sharp as the average mobile game would be after one month."

    That's before launching in China, the largest mobile games market in the world, or South Korea (the fourth largest). The phenomenon may be over, but "Pokémon Go" continues to dominate as reigning king of the charts on both iPhone and Android.

    SEE ALSO: 'Pokémon Go' still isn't available in the biggest mobile game market in the world — here's why

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020

    SDC Installed Base

    Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Companies like Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla have already released, or are soon to release, self-driving features that give the car some ability to drive itself.

    Tech companies are also trying to pioneer the self-driving car. Recently, Google announced that it would be testing its prototype of a driverless car on roads this summer in California. 

    In an in-depth report from BI Intelligence, we analyze the self-driving car market by analyzing the current state of the self-driving car and provide an in-depth analysis for how we see the self-driving car progressing over the next five years. Our in-depth analysis describes the economic impact that self-driving cars can have and look at the current barriers preventing the self-driving car from coming to market. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Self-driving cars are not some futuristic auto technology; in fact there are already cars with self-driving features on the road.  We define the self-driving car as any car with features that allow it to accelerate, brake, and steer a car's course with limited or no driver interaction.
    • We divide the self-driving car into two different types: semi-autonomous and fully autonomous. A fully autonomous vehicle can drive from point A to point B and encounter the entire range of on-road scenarios without needing any interaction from the driver. These will debut  in 2019.
    • By the end of the forecast period, we expect there will be nearly 10 million cars with one of our defined self-driving car features. 
    • Fully autonomous cars are further divided into user-operated and driverless vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance questions, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while driverless cars will remain a long ways off.
    • The biggest benefits of self-driving cars are that they will help to make roads safer and people's lives easier. In the UK, KPMG estimates that self-driving cars will lead to 2,500 fewer deaths between 2014 and 2030.
    • But the barriers to self-driving cars remain significant. Costs need to come down and regulations need to be clarified around certain self-driving car features before the vehicles fully take off among mainstream consumers. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains our definition of a self-driving car and breaks down the self-driving car into five levels of possible capabilities
    • Sizes the current and expected self-driving car market, including shipment forecasts and expected installed base
    • Analyzes how both car and tech companies are approaching the self-driving car
    • Determines the benefits of the self-driving car
    • Assesses the costs and regulations preventing the self-driving car from coming to market

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

    Join the conversation about this story »

  • 21 photos of the most impressive free food at Google

    GoogleFood

    For Google's 57,100 employees, free food is just one more perk of working at the tech giant.

    But for the rest of us, the food is beyond our wildest lunchtime dreams. Banana cheesecake, lobster for lunch, poké bowls, food from one of Google's on-campus food trucks — the list goes on and on. 

    Back in 2008, when Google was at just 19,000 employees, the company was serving 40,000 meals each day, the kitchen was staffed with 675 workers, and Google was spending $80 million every year on food costs. Eight years later, Google's food team staffs more than 185 cafes globally and serves over 108,000 meals each day, with about 30 cafes at the Mountain View Googleplex headquarters alone.

    And it all looks delicious.

    We combed through Instagram for some of the most impressive Google food out there. From London to L.A., Googlers sure are eating well. 

    SEE ALSO: Google's latest free lunch option is a fleet of 20 fancy food trucks — and the food looks incredible

    Googlers in London can make their own breakfast bowls. This UK-based employee made one with quinoa, oats, almond milk, fresh fruit, coconut blossom nectar, and chocolate.

    Instagram Embed:
    http://instagram.com/p/BJM2MqkhhNh/embed/
    Width: 658px

     



    Here's a vegan take on a poké bowl made with beets and seaweed at Google New York.

    Instagram Embed:
    http://instagram.com/p/BJHLTQqj2Jm/embed/
    Width: 658px

     



    A pastry chef in San Francisco made Ben & Jerry's Phish Food-inspired cupcakes for Google employees: Chocolate cupcakes, marshmallow filling, and salted caramel buttercream frosting topped with a gummy bear, caramel corn, and chocolate sprinkles.

    Instagram Embed:
    http://instagram.com/p/BEbsCBvlAVZ/embed/
    Width: 658px

     



    See the rest of the story at Business Insider
  • 10 million self-driving cars will be on the road by 2020

    SDC Installed Base

    Self-driving cars are no longer a futuristic idea. Companies like Mercedes, BMW, and Tesla have already released, or are soon to release, self-driving features that give the car some ability to drive itself.

    Tech companies are also trying to pioneer the self-driving car. Recently, Google announced that it would be testing its prototype of a driverless car on roads this summer in California. 

    In an in-depth report from BI Intelligence, we analyze the self-driving car market by analyzing the current state of the self-driving car and provide an in-depth analysis for how we see the self-driving car progressing over the next five years. Our in-depth analysis describes the economic impact that self-driving cars can have and look at the current barriers preventing the self-driving car from coming to market. 

    Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

    • Self-driving cars are not some futuristic auto technology; in fact there are already cars with self-driving features on the road.  We define the self-driving car as any car with features that allow it to accelerate, brake, and steer a car's course with limited or no driver interaction.
    • We divide the self-driving car into two different types: semi-autonomous and fully autonomous. A fully autonomous vehicle can drive from point A to point B and encounter the entire range of on-road scenarios without needing any interaction from the driver. These will debut  in 2019.
    • By the end of the forecast period, we expect there will be nearly 10 million cars with one of our defined self-driving car features. 
    • Fully autonomous cars are further divided into user-operated and driverless vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance questions, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while driverless cars will remain a long ways off.
    • The biggest benefits of self-driving cars are that they will help to make roads safer and people's lives easier. In the UK, KPMG estimates that self-driving cars will lead to 2,500 fewer deaths between 2014 and 2030.
    • But the barriers to self-driving cars remain significant. Costs need to come down and regulations need to be clarified around certain self-driving car features before the vehicles fully take off among mainstream consumers. 

    In full, the report:

    • Explains our definition of a self-driving car and breaks down the self-driving car into five levels of possible capabilities
    • Sizes the current and expected self-driving car market, including shipment forecasts and expected installed base
    • Analyzes how both car and tech companies are approaching the self-driving car
    • Determines the benefits of the self-driving car
    • Assesses the costs and regulations preventing the self-driving car from coming to market

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally. >> Learn More Now
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. >> Purchase & Download Now

    Join the conversation about this story »

  • Europe is planning to force search engines to pay news sites to use their content

    eric schmidt google alphabet eyes glasses

    Europe plans to give media companies the power to demand payment from search engines like Google when snippets of their content are republished.

    The European Commission is is working on a significant overhaul of copyright law that aims to help level the playing field between news outlets and tech giants like Google and Facebook, The Financial Times reported.

    But the move threatens to further heighten tensions between the European authorities and Silicon Valley companies, which are locked in disputes on the continent over everything from tax to competition law.

    "If the investments and contribution of publishers increase the value of publications but are not compensated by sufficient revenues, the sustainability of publishing industries in the EU may be at stake with the risk of further negative consequences on media pluralism, democratic debate and quality of information," the draft proposals say.

    The move could see media companies begin to charge Google for showing snippets of their articles in its Google News feature, a powerful source of traffic for the companies. But it's unclear what Google's response would be: In Spain, after a similar measure was introduced, it removed the feature in the country — sparking a drop in traffic of up to 14% for some publications.

    Google declined to comment.

    Under the new proposals, news sites would not have to charge for use of their content if they didn't want to. And they already have the power to opt out of being added to search engines, by adding a simple "robot.txt" file to their sites.

    Many media organisations are struggling financially in the switch to digital and online-only formats, and are trapped in a strange love-hate relationship with the likes of Facebook and Google: They are reliant on these big tech portals for most of their traffic (and Google's DoubleClick ad platform is used by the majority of publishers so they can generate ad revenue on their websites), but at the same time, are directly competing with them for advertising spend.

    One new report estimated that Facebook, Twitter, and other online platforms will cost UK newspapers £500 million by 2026.

    The relationship between the European Union and American tech companies is increasingly strained. Apple might soon be hit with a $19 billion tax bill by Europe — news that the Obama administration has reacted furiously to, warning on repercussions if it goes ahead.

    Here's the full draft proposal:

    Join the conversation about this story »

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  • The US smart home market has been struggling — here's how and why the market will take off

    Smart Home Adoption Curve

    The US smart home market has yet to take off. Quirky's recent announcement that it was filing chapter 11 bankruptcy — and selling off its smart home business, Wink — highlights this well.

    At its current state, we believe the smart home market is stuck in the 'chasm' of the technology adoption curve, in which it is struggling to surpass the early-adopter phase and move to the mass-market phase of adoption.

    There are many barriers preventing mass-market smart home adoption: high device prices, limited consumer demand and long device replacement cycles. However, the largest barrier is the technological fragmentation of the smart home ecosystem, in which consumers need multiple networking devices, apps and more to build and run their smart home.

    In a new report from BI Intelligence, we analyze current US consumer demand for the smart home and barriers to widespread adoption. We also analyze and determine areas of growth, and ways to overcome barriers.

    Here are some key takeaways from the report: 

    • Smart home devices are becoming more prevalent throughout the US. We define a smart home device as any stand-alone object found in the home that is connected to the internet, can be either monitored or controlled from a remote location, and has a noncomputing primary function. Multiple smart home devices within a single home form the basis of a smart home ecosystem.
    • Currently, the US smart home market as a whole is in the "chasm" of the tech adoption curve. The chasm is the crucial stage between the early-adopter phase and the mass-market phase, in which manufacturers need to prove a need for their devices.
    • High prices, coupled with limited consumer demand and long device replacement cycles, are three of the four top barriers preventing the smart home market from moving from the early-adopter stage to the mass-market stage. For example, mass-market consumers will likely wait until their device is broken to replace it. Then they will compare a nonconnected and connected product to see if the benefits make up for the price differential.
    • The largest barrier is technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems and making it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices. Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. 
    • "Closed ecosystems" are the short-term solution to technological fragmentation. Closed ecosystems are composed of devices that are compatible with each other and which can be controlled through a single point. 

    In full, the report:

    • Analyzes the demand of US consumers, based off of survey results
    • Forecasts out smart home device growth until 2020
    • Determines the current leaders in the market
    • Explains how the connected home ecosystem works
    • Examines how Apple and Google will play a major role in the development of the smart home
    • Some of the companies mentioned in this report include Apple, Google, Nest, August, ADT, Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner Cable, Lowe's, and Honeywell.

    Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:

    1. Subscribe to an All-Access pass to BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report and over 100 other expertly researched reports. As an added bonus, you'll also gain access to all future reports and daily newsletters to ensure you stay ahead of the curve and benefit personally and professionally.» Learn More Now
    2. Purchase & download the full report from our research store. » Purchase & Download Now

    Join the conversation about this story »

  • 'Pokémon Go' still isn't available in the biggest mobile game market in the world — here's why

    "Pokémon Go" is the most popular mobile game in the world. China is the largest mobile gaming market, and the most populous country on Earth.

    Bizarrely, the most popular mobile game in the world isn't available in China. Huh?

    pokemon go

    The game also isn't available in South Korea, the fourth largest market in the world for mobile gaming. So, what gives?

    Surprisingly, it's because of Google and the way that "Pokémon Go" is so tightly integrated with Google's services. First and foremost, you login to "Pokémon Go" using Google:

    Pokemon GO Login

    But even if you circumvent that with a Pokémon Trainer Club login, the game itself relies on Google Maps data to power the game's maps. But Google Services doesn't operate in China. As of November 2012, China officially blocks all Google Services. This is the so-called "Great Firewall" of China: a means of censoring the internet deployed by the Chinese government. 

    In this case, the Great Firewall is keeping out Pikachu — and keeping the game's creator, Niantic Labs, from earning millions in the largest gaming market in the world.

    "'Pokémon Go' relies on Google Services for the game to run correctly," Daniel Ahmad, a Chinese games industry analyst with Niko Partners, told Business Insider in an email exchange. "The game itself uses Google Maps as the game world and all the various Pokéstops/Gyms are stored in Google servers."

    Pokemon Go

    In short: Since "Pokémon Go" is an online-only game, and one that's dependent on Google Services functioning to do literally anything, it isn't heading to China anytime soon.

    Chinese gamers aren't ignorant of the game's existence, of course. 

    An online survey conducted by Niko Partners, an analytics firm that specializes in the Chinese gaming market, found that people were taking to dubious workarounds for getting "Pokémon Go" working in China. Here's what the survey found (emphasis ours):

    "Within two days of the global launch of the iOS version we surveyed consumers to see whether they know the game 'Pokémon Go.' This was a self-selecting survey, meaning we did not have any screening criteria for participants. If they wanted to answer, they could answer.

    Within a couple of days we had 350 respondents. Of those, more than 60% said they know of the game. In addition, 48% said they have tried to play the official game via convoluted efforts. Only 11% of the 350 said they were able to play, and 37% said they were not able to despite their efforts."

    The "convoluted efforts" noted here primarily consist of using a service called a "VPN" ("virtual private network") that acts as a virtual mask, hiding the true location of your device.

    You log in to it, and then you log into the internet through it, thus subverting any gates you'd normally encounter on your local internet connection. People use services like this to, say, watch Netflix in a country where it isn't offered. But a VPN can also be used to play online games. Alas, even with a VPN, there are other issues that Chinese gamers will face — with no Google Maps data available for parts of China, it's possible that no PokéStops or Gyms will be anywhere nearby.

    pokemon-go-sokcho-south-koreaSouth Korea faces a similar issue with "Pokémon Go," albeit for different reasons.

    Google and the South Korean government are in a protracted battle over access to the country's map data. The South Korean government cites security reasons, specifically regarding North Korea, for not granting access. Google calls it preferential treatment for the South Korean mapping companies that lead the market there.

    As the the Wall Street Journal  explains, "Google’s domestic Korean rivals, Naver and Kakao Corp., only use government-supplied maps that already have had sensitive installations blurred or camouflaged. Google representatives contend that the national-security laws in South Korea unfairly benefit local competitors in the country of about 50 million people. The government maintains that national security is the laws’ sole purpose."

    In the case of South Korea, the fourth largest gaming market in the world (by revenue according to Newzoo), Niantic could create a workaround: use another mapping service. Partnering with Naver or Kakao could solve the issue, though it may also require a tremendous amount of work.

    Regardless, with evidence of the "Pokémon Go" phenomenon wearing off, Niantic (and its investors at Google, Nintendo, and The Pokémon Company) assuredly want to push into two of the world's four biggest game markets. Now, the only question is how.

    SEE ALSO: "Pokémon Go" has a new way to block cheaters

    Join the conversation about this story »

    NOW WATCH: This new update in 'Pokémon GO' will change how you play the game

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