Maybe the Internet Isn’t Tearing Us Apart After All

 

VIKINGMAIDEN88 IS TWENTY-SIX years old. She enjoys reading history and writing poetry. Her signature quote is from Shakespeare. I gleaned all this from her profile and posts on Stormfront.org, America’s most popular online hate site. I also learned that Vikingmaiden88 has enjoyed the content on the site of the newspaper I work for, the New York Times. She wrote an enthusiastic post about a particular Times feature. I recently analyzed tens of thousands of such Stormfront profiles, in which registered members can enter their location, birth date, interests, and other information.

Stormfront was founded in 1995 by Don Black, a former Ku Klux Klan leader. Its most popular “social groups” are “Union of National Socialists” and “Fans and Supporters of Adolf Hitler.” Over the past year, according to Quantcast, roughly 200,000 to 400,000 Americans visited the site every month. A recent Southern Poverty Law Center report linked nearly one hundred murders in the past five years to registered Stormfront members.

Stormfront members are not whom I would have guessed. They tend to be young, at least according to self-reported birth dates. The most common age at which people join the site is nineteen. And four times more nineteen-year-olds sign up than forty-year-olds. Internet and social network users lean young, but not nearly that young. Profiles do not have a field for gender. But I looked at all the posts and complete profiles of a random sample of American users, and it turns out that you can work out the gender of most of the membership: I estimate that about 30 percent of Stormfront members are female. The states with the most members per capita are Montana, Alaska, and Idaho. These states tend to be overwhelmingly white. Does this mean that growing up with little diversity fosters hate?

ICAI 68th foundation day: CA syllabus to be revised after 13 years

 

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) will complete 68 years as on July 1, 2017 and has planned to introduce “major revisions” to the CA syllabus to fit into the global business competitive scenario. This is the first revision of the syllabus in 13 years.

“The revised course intends to promote innovation and bring about out-of-the-box thinking in the curriculum and education system of chartered accountancy course,” said ICAI President Nilesh Shivji Vikamsey adding that the paper will now be for 400 marks with half the marks allotted to subjective and objective questions respectively. Read | ICAI to revise syllabus for Chartered Accountancy at all levels, click hereicai, ca syllabus, ca syllabus change, ca syllabus revision, ca, icai syllabus revision, ca 2017 exam, ca exam, education news, indian express, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

The revised syllabus will be launched on Saturday, July 1, by Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the ICAI foundation day function. The course will also include new subjects at the foundation and intermediate levels and students appearing for final exams will be allowed to choose electives.

“A student can choose from one out of six papers to specialise in,” said Vikamsey, explaning that seven papers onut of eight will be fixed subjects while one subject will include options.

 

Vinyl Records Are Popular Again, So Sony Wants Back In After 30 Years

 

The next major profit driver in the music industry may have nothing to do with streaming, connectivity or the cloud.

Last week, one of the biggest names in the music business, Sony Corp (ADR) SNE 0.67%, announced it will once again be producing vinyl records for the first time in 28 years.

It’s easy to read headlines about a retro push like vinyl records and write it off as a promotion or one-time event to appeal to an older generation of nostalgic music lovers. However, the vinyl record movement appears to be something much larger.

Billion-Dollar Industry

“People think millennials just stream and are just digital, but actually I think we are going to see increasingly over this coming year that young people still want something tangible and real and that’s where vinyl is taking on the role that the CD used to have,” says Vanessa Higgins, CEO of Regen Street and Gold Bar Records.Vinyl Records Are Popular Again, So Sony Wants Back In After 30 Years

Consulting firm Deloitte estimates that vinyl record and accessory sales will be a $1 billion industry in 2017 and that 20 million people will buy at least one vinyl record this year. In fact, in Japan, demand for vinyl records is too strong for vinyl record producer Toyokasei to keep up.

Last year, global vinyl sales surged 53 percent to their highest level in 25 years. A 500 percent rise in streaming music revenue since 2013 has cannibalized many other forms of revenue in the ever-changing music industry. CD sales were down another 10 percent in 2016. The chart below shows how music consumption has shifted from vinyl records to cassette tapes to CDs to digital downloads and now to streaming.

Related Link: Bob Seger Finally Joined The Streaming World: Here Are 8 Music Icons Still Holding Out

But even though vinyl production is making a comeback, vinyl records still account for just about 6 percent of total album sales. According to Jordan Passman, CEO of SCORE A SCORE, the uptick in the popularity of vinyl records has been fueled directly by the rise in streaming services like Pandora Media Inc P 1.5%, Spotify and Apple Inc. AAPL 1.02%’s Apple Music.

“As streaming continues to grow (and change), there will always be a market for the powerful emotional impact of something tangible, especially with a nostalgic tie,” Passman wrote earlier this year.

Good Rockin’ Tonight

In a much more general sense, the role vinyl records play in the future of the increasingly digital music industry could speak volumes about the degree to which the human race is satisfied with an intangible, virtual world. For technology companies working on virtual reality or other services intended to replace real-life experiences with digital ones, the vinyl record phenomenon could be a wake-up call that it may be more difficult than it seems to replicate the innate appeal of hands-on, real-world products and interactions.

 

At the open: TSX slips; BlackBerry surges after arbitration win

 

Canada’s main stock index opened slightly lower on Wednesday, while BlackBerry Ltd shares received a sharp boost after an arbitration panel ruled that chipmaker Qualcomm Inc must refund it $814.9-million in royalty payments.

The Toronto Stock Exchange’s S&P/TSX composite index was down 27.92 points, or 0.18 percent, at 15,69919 shortly after the open, as its heavyweight financial, energy and materials sectors all lost ground.

Blackberry shares were up 16.85 per cent to $12 in early trading.

The Canadian dollar strengthened on Wednesday to a nine-day high against its U.S. counterpart ahead of a Bank of Canada interest rate decision, supported by higher prices of oil, one of the country’s major exports.

 The Bank of Canada is widely expected to hold rates at 0.50 per cent when it releases its interest rate decision and Monetary Policy Report at 10 a.m. ET.

The strength of recent domestic data has pointed to a pickup in Canada’s economy. But the central bank has been skeptical about the sustainability of the improvement and has worried about “significant uncertainties” that weigh on the outlook.

“We expect that concern about possible protectionist trade measures from the U.S. will continue to be highlighted as a key near-term risk to growth,” said RBC Capital Markets in a research note this morning.

The Canadian dollar was trading at $1.3314 to the greenback, or 75.11 U.S. cents, stronger than Tuesday’s close of $1.3332, or 75.01 U.S. cents.

The currency’s weakest level of the session was $1.3339, while it touched its strongest since April 3 at $1.3307.

U.S. stocks opened slightly lower on Wednesday amid lingering fears of geopolitical risks and as investors prepared for the first rush of corporate earnings on Thursday.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average was down 20.84 points, or 0.1 per cent, at 20,630.46, the S&P 500 was down 2.93 points, or 0.12 per cent, at 2,350.85 and the Nasdaq composite was down 2.88 points, or 0.05 per cent, at 5,863.89.

The United States launched missiles at a Syrian airfield last week to retaliate a deadly chemical attack on civilians. The strikes pushed President Donald Trump, who came to power in January calling for warmer ties with Syria’s ally Russia, and his administration into confrontation with Moscow.TMX Group Inc. signage is seen at the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) in this file photo. (Pawel Dwulit/Bloomberg)

Meanwhile, Chinese President Xi Jinping called on the U.S. for a peaceful resolution with North Korea, which has warned it would launch a nuclear attack if provoked by the United States, as a U.S. Navy strike group headed toward the western Pacific.

Investors are closely watching the quarterly earnings to support lofty valuations on Wall Street following a rally fueled by bets on Trump’s pro-growth agenda. The big banks unofficially kick-off the season on Thursday, with results due from JPMorgan , Citigroup and Wells Fargo.

“It would be very important what they (banks) offer as forecast because stock prices imply better times ahead and investors are looking for assurances and positive forecasts to be issued,” said Rick Meckler, president of LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.

Gold prices were flat but remained close to the highest level hit in November. The dollar index was also little changed, while oil prices edged up slightly.

Comments from Dallas Federal Reserve Bank President Robert Kaplan will be parsed for clues on interest rate hikes and the Fed’s plans to trim its balance sheet. Kaplan is expected to speak at 10:00 a.m. ET.

Brent oil extended gains into an eighth straight session on Wednesday, having recovered nearly all last month’s losses, after Saudi Arabia was said to be pushing its fellow OPEC members and some rivals to prolong supply cuts beyond June.

Brent crude futures were up 23 cents at $56.46 a barrel, having touched a one-month high of $56.65 earlier. If the day’s gains hold, it will be the longest winning streak for Brent since February 2012.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were up 18 cents at $53.58 a barrel, on track for a seventh straight session of gains.

OPEC countries cut oil output in March by more than they pledged, according to figures the group published in a monthly report on Wednesday, as it sticks to an effort to clear a supply glut that has weighed on prices.

Saudi Arabia, de-facto leader of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has told other producers that it wants to extend the coordinated production cut beyond the first half of the year, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Given yesterday’s developments in the oil market it is rather surprising to have seen limited price gains across the board,” PVM Oil Associates analyst Tamas Varga said.

“Maybe the weekly EIA data … made buyers cautious,” Varga said. “Or maybe the sluggish stock market performance put a lid on yesterday’s price strength but we should not be surprised to see the oil market make amends today.”

OPEC and other producers, including Russia, have pledged to cut output by around 1.8 million barrels per day (bpd) during the first half of 2017 to rein in oversupply.

Fearing a loss of market share, Saudi Arabia is shielding its most important customers in Asia from the cuts, continuing to supply them with all contractual volumes.

In the United States, production and inventories are surging.

The government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Tuesday U.S. 2018 crude output <C-OUT-T-EIA> would rise to 9.9 million bpd, from 9.22 million bpd this year.

With demand expected to rise by 340,000 bpd in 2018, that would leave increasing amounts of U.S. oil for export or storage.

U.S. crude inventories hit a record 535.5 million barrels this month.

Official U.S. production and inventory data will be published later on Wednesday by the EIA.

Apple, Nokia explore deeper partnership after ending patent dispute

Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores. (Source: File)

Apple has settled a patent dispute with Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia and agreed to buy more of its network products and services, sending Nokia shares up 7 percent. The deal means Nokia will get bigger royalties from Apple for using its mobile phone patents, helping offset the impact of waning demand for its mobile network hardware.

Such legal battles are common in the industry but can drag on for years and analysts had not been expecting such a quick resolution to the dispute that started in December.

Under the deal announced in a joint statement from the companies on Tuesday, Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores and look at further collaboration in health.

Digital health is one of the areas Nokia is targeting as it tries to develop new businesses to offset the industry-wide slump in demand for network equipment. Last year, Nokia bought France’s Withings S.A., a small firm with products such as activity trackers and baby monitors built on digital platforms.

“There could emerge big future value from this as Apple could become an important distribution channel,” said Handelsbanken analyst Daniel Djurberg, who has an “accumulate” recommendation for Nokia shares. “I have not given any value so far for Nokia’s digital health business, but might apply an option value to it.”

Industrial DealImage result for Nokia will also supply network infrastructure products to Apple, and Apple will resume sales of Nokia’s digital health products in retail and online stores. (Source: File)

Nokia Chief Executive Rajeev Suri told the company’s annual general meeting later on Tuesday that the deal would help expand network sales beyond telecom operators to global internet and technology giants. “(The deal) involves a business collaboration … in particular in areas of IP and optical equipment, which is quite key to webscale players when they build their data centres,” he said. “It’s a good deal, a multi-year licensing deal, and I love it that it has an industrial deal and aspect to it.”

Under the patent licence agreement, Nokia will receive a “significant” upfront cash payment and additional revenues from Apple starting from the current quarter. The companies did not give further details but analysts said the revenue was likely to be far higher than a previous deal.

Inge Heydorn, fund manager at Sentat Asset Management, said it was a smart move to collaborate on digital health products. “It’s interesting for Nokia in a five- to 10-year perspective since I think it will be hard to be profitable within mobile infrastructure,” said Heydorn, whose firm does not hold any shares in Nokia. Nokia shares, which fell in December when the patent dispute was announced, jumped to their highest since February 2016 and were up 6.7 percent at 5.89 euros by 1509 GMT.

A previous patent licence contract between the companies expired last year, and both sides took legal action in December. Apple complained of being overcharged and Nokia responded by accusing Apple of violating technology patents.

In the absence of a new deal, Nokia cut its annual run-rate forecast in December for patent and brand licensing sales to 800 million euros ($900 million) from 950 million euros previously. In its latest quarterly report released in April, Nokia stopped giving an annual run-rate forecast altogether.

“(The agreement) moves our relationship with Apple from being adversaries in court to business partners,” Nokia’s Chief Legal Officer Maria Varsellona said in a statement.

Quick Resolution

Analysts were surprised by the relatively quick resolution of the dispute between Apple and Nokia. “Nokia told analysts in April don’t calculate on any licence revenue from Apple, not even in 2018, so this is a positive surprise. It will also limit Nokia’s legal expenses,” said Djurberg who said he would probably raise his Nokia estimates.

“For Nokia, it’s good news they got this out of the way, but we still have to wait for details about the financial impact,” said OP Equities analyst Hannu Rauhala. “The previous annual rate was 150 million euros, so I assume this to be more, around 500 million euros.” Rauhala said Apple might have been willing to settle with Nokia as the U.S. company’s patent battle with chipmaker Qualcomm Inc has escalated.

Patent royalties represent only a sliver of Nokia’s overall revenue, more than 90 percent of which comes from telecoms network equipment. But licensing payments are highly profitable and the network business is suffering an industry-wide slump. Nokia’s patents cover technology that reduces the need for hardware components in a phone, conserves battery life, increases radio reception, helps in recovering lost phones and enables voice recognition, among other features.

Once the world’s dominant cellphone maker, Nokia sold its handset business to Microsoft in 2014 to focus on its network business and large portfolio of mobile device patents. Nokia’s total sales in 2016 were about 24 billion euros.

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Mobile app performance remains a problem a decade after iPhone launch

 

On the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone launch, app performance problems remain a major challenge, preventing many from realising their full potential, according to new research.

As consumers have come to rely heavily on apps for everything from shopping and banking, to dating and exercising, a burgeoning app economy has emerged; forecast to be worth $100bn by 2020. As app developers have worked to tap into this huge market, the number of apps available in the Apple App Store has skyrocketed by 2,750% – rising from just 800 in July 2008 to 2.2 million by January 2017. Apple netted a cool $29bn in revenue from the store last year, up $9bn from the previous year.

However:

  • Gartner estimates that by 2019, 20% of brands will abandon their mobile apps, due to levels of adoption, customer engagement and return on investment being significantly less than expectations.
  • Dynatrace research shows that 47% of consumers expect mobile apps to load in less than three seconds and 75% will abandon it and go elsewhere if the app is slow, buggy or prone to crashes.
  • Furthermore, the Dynatrace research found that nearly a third (32%) of consumers will not use a mobile app again if it fails to work the first time.
  • 50% of Millennials will voice their bad experiences on social media and app store reviews
  • Blancco’s latest State of Mobile Device Performance and Health Report found that crashing apps were the most frequent performance issue impacting on iOS devices, found to be accountable for 32% of all problems.

Dave Anderson, digital performance expert, Dynatrace, comments, “It’s almost inconceivable that mobile apps still crash and falter at the rate they do. Consumers are spoiled for choice with so many apps to choose from, so they won’t hang around for poor performance. They’ll abandon it and find something better – even if it’s a free application. That puts a lot of pressure on developers to ensure their app works all the time, whilst satisfying the demand for it to be constantly updated with awesome new features.

“It’s really hard to achieve that kind of stability whilst innovating fast; especially when you consider that digital natives like Amazon have set the bar incredibly high, releasing software updates every 11 seconds. These rapid release cycles make it very tough to fix bugs, optimise the app and make sure security is good, but developers don’t have a choice if they’re to compete against today’s consumer expectations and the benchmarks in performance set by the leaders – like Apple, Uber, Amazon. It’s therefore crucial to consistently test and monitor how any changes made to an app will impact its performance, so developers can see problems clearly, and instantly identify the root cause in the event they do arise.”

“However, that task is becoming far more challenging, as the digital ecosystem becomes ever more complex. New device types are emerging on an almost weekly basis, and the IT stack that underpins mobile apps is evolving constantly – and extremely complicated now. Added to that, performance problems could relate to anything from the app itself to a particular device type, network carrier or operating system. As such, the old, manual ways of monitoring apps aren’t suitable for today’s app economy. Businesses need to turn to the powerful analytical capabilities of Artificial Intelligence to make sense of performance data and uncover the root cause of any problems before users feel the pain and start to abandon their apps.”