Apple is rumoured to be swapping aluminum for stainless steel in the iPhone 8 (AAPL)

Tim Cook

Apple will use stainless steel instead of aluminum for the so-called iPhone 8’s metal frame, according to the latest rumour out of the company’s East Asia supply chain reported by DigiTimes. (We first spotted it over on Apple Insider)

It would be the first time Apple has used stainless steel since the iPhone 4s, Apple Insider says, and the switch adds credibility to predictions that the iPhone 8 will feature a glass-sandwich design (glass at the front and back of the phone).

DigiTimes hasn’t always been correct when it comes to reporting on Apple’s future iPhone plans, but KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that stainless steel will be used for high-end models back in September, according to MacRumors.

Kuo said: “As stainless steel has a better look than aluminum and costs more, we expect only high-end new iPhone models to come with a stainless steel frame next year.”

The latest rumour from DigiTimes, which cites Taiwanese sources, stems from reports that Apple has changed its supplier, placing orders for stainless steel iPhone casings with manufacturing partner Jabil, instead of its usual supplier Foxconn.

But this contradicts a report from MacRumors, which said Kuo believes that “Foxconn will be the sole supplier of high-end iPhone models next year as the exclusive manufacturer of the new stainless steel frame.”

Last month, leaked manufacturing documents appeared to confirm a list of rumours about features of the next iPhone (which could be named the iPhone 8 or the iPhone 10), and revealed that the Cupertino company is has codenamed it “Ferrari” internally.

iPhone 8 Ferrari

The rumours claim that Ferrari will feature an “AMOLED” panel — a new kind of OLED (organic light-emitting diode display) screen already used by Samsung — which would allow the phone to have a borderless, all-display front surface. And that the OLED screen would be mounted on plastic, suggesting that it might be curved.

Other rumoured features the documents mention include an “invisible” home button and wireless charging.

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Rocket Fuel's CEO talks about the company's future as it lays off 11% of staff (FUEL)

Randy wootton

Ad tech company Rocket Fuel is laying off 11% of its headcount — 93 members of staff — as it looks to save $20 million in operating expenses, AdExchanger first reported.

The firm last made layoffs in April 2015, when it shed 11% of its workforce in a move designed to reduce costs by $30 million.

Rocket Fuel said in a press release the latest staff reduction is the result of a reorganization designed to shift it away from being an ad network toward becoming a “leading SaaS [software as a service]-based platform solutions company.”

Business Insider spoke to Rocket Fuel CEO Randy Wootton ahead of the layoffs announcement in a wide-ranging interview earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

After a disappointing Q3 in which revenue missed guidance, Wootton described Rocket Fuel’s course towards becoming “free cashflow positive.”

Wootton also discussed his predictions for the wider ad tech market in 2017, his thoughts on The Trade Desk’s IPO in 2016, and whether he thinks there will be another ad tech IPO this year (Spoiler: Yes, but probably not a pureplay ad tech company by the traditional definitions.)

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Lara O’Reilly: Talk me through Q4, if you can. I know you obviously haven’t reported yet but you gave some indication in the last earnings call that it was going to be flat compared to the previous quarter. Is it still looking that way?

Randy Wootton: Yeah I think to frame with Q4, is what we have been talking about all year.

I started less than two years ago, as the CRO in March 2015, and I took over as CEO in November. When I took over, the thing that got really clear was that the first thing we needed to solve was we needed to be free cashflow positive. We made a commitment at the beginning of the year to be free cashflow positive. Our Q4 guidance reiterated that. We expect to be free cashflow positive for Q4 and we expect to be free cashflow positive for the full year.

I think one of the trends, and you’ve written about it a bit, is there is going to be an ad tech armageddon — a shake out between those who make it and those who don’t, and the big difference is profitability.

One of the things I’ve told my team and the people we work with is our ability to demonstrate to the market that we can be marching toward profitability, which is an indicator we will be one of the ones standing.

In Q2 I realized, with the help of lots of people, we have have two businesses: a media service business and a platform solutions business. They are valued very differently in the marketplace and right now.

The platform business grew 140% in Q3, I expect continued growth going forward. It’s driven by a few things: one is changing our relationship going forward with holding companies.

Rocket Fuel 1.0 was perceived as perhaps a bit adversarial to agencies. I think me coming on board, hiring someone like [chief revenue officer] Rick Song, an agency veteran, [and] Dave Gosen [formerly at Nielsen and Microsoft] has allowed us to have a different conversation with agencies. We did turn the tide in terms of losing year-over-year growth with holding companies: we are now up in North America year-over-year marginally, and we expect that to continue.

O’Reilly: Are you moving away from the classic ad tech revenue model of having a take rate on media spend and moving more towards a SaaS (software as a service) model? Is that ultimately the way you want to go?

Wootton: We want to be a software company. We have technology and services, but our primary revenue stream will be the tech platform. Then you have an ecosystem.

For example, we weren’t working with systems integrators [like Accenture and PwC] when we showed up. Now we have relationships with some of the top systems integrators.

For us it’s about how you use the insights from AI that an Accenture, or a PwC, or Deloitte can use in their practices.

Similarly, [in] what I call an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) strategy, we are working with Salesforce, and other ones as well — the Adobes and the IBMs  — to say: How can AI help you? The OEM and the systems integrator strategy is a classic software play.

In that context, we will still offer services, but it follows more in the model of professional services: implementation, adoption, execution, support, and training.

The I/O [insertion order] business is one where it is the lion’s share of revenue represented in Q3 — about 81% of total revenue and will continue to be as such — but the thing we find that’s interesting is when you do a deal with a holding company, you get access to both sources of revenue. You get the trading company dollars and then, by having a media services team, you’re a partner, and operating agencies will spend on the I/O. So I don’t see that going away totally because they need a different capacity and capabilities. So it’s about offering the balance. 

O’Reilly: Ad fraud hit the headlines last month, when a security firm uncovered a Methbot ad fraud scam, apparently costing advertisers millions of dollars a day. Were you affected?

Wootton: We sampled 450 million impressions, 650 came from those IPs [that were affected by the Methbot scam, according to security firm White Ops]. That’s like 0.00016%. It was less than a dollar. That was because of the exchange partners we have in place, then our own fraud detection.

Of the 200 billion impressions we look at a day, 40% we say are invalid traffic — fraud, non-human etcetera. The number of bids we have seen has grown exponentially. When I started, it was 120 billion, now it’s 200 billion a day.

I really like White Ops and Michael Tiffany [its CEO]. [The Methbot announcement] was brilliant from them and they did it at just the right point, before Christmas, got it out there and it was like: Oh my god the Russians are coming! But everyone I have spoken to [has said it didn’t affect them].

We are a member of TAG (The Trustworthy Accountability Group), a combination of comScore, the 4A’s, the IAB, and the ANA saying these are the standards to prevent fraud. It’s not just White Ops. We’ve been certified, comScore has been certified, there are a couple of us who have that seal.

The question going round is: Did WhiteOps do a good service, or disservice? Did it lead to more fear and uncertainty in the marketplace? But for me, when I’m arguing around being more transparent, I think it has actually led to a very interesting conversation. It’s always good to tell a story about black ops — the bad guys — but I think there’s a counter-story around the good guys. Those who have been certified came out without it being an issue, so there must be a whole bunch of people out there that aren’t certified that got destroyed.

What this points to is that we are not collectively doing a good enough job of lobbying [in] a coordinated effort. We are all in our own world, saying our solution is better, but I’m not going to compete on that. That’s not going to be why someone chooses me. We should just have a basic level of standard certification. I think the IAB tries to do that but we need a stronger collective industry engagement and common voice to help make it clear because there’s so much noise and the bad news always wins.

O’Reilly: I want to talk about shareholder value. It appears that there are a lot of shareholders that are not very happy with $FUEL, not just the way in which the share price has dropped but also the way in which the former executive team made their money and left, and also the recent share sale, potentially diluting their stock. What do you say to shareholders to convince them of the company’s value?

Wootton: We had an at-the=market-offering where we said we would take up to $50 million and in Q3 we announced less than $2 million was actually sold.

We are in the middle of a transformation. The world changed from valuing companies’ top-line revenue growth, to profitability

When I came on board, the thing I was very clear on was cash. I’ve been on boards, I’ve been at startups, and it’s all about cash, and conserving cash, and being free cashflow positive. We took out a significant amount of cost. In Q3 our operating expenditure was $56 million, last year at this time it was $64.7 million.

We made an announcement — our lease for our headquarters was $7 million — we cancelled that.

Our biggest challenge when we were a startup was capacity: People, facilities, and infrastructure. And we just over-billed. So I’ve been getting our costs under control.

What I will talk about is not just a return to revenue growth, but profitable growth, sustainable and predictable growth.

Another thing that we get banged up on is we didn’t meet guidance since we went with our secondary [offering] in 2014. Since I’ve been on board, we have met guidance. In Q3 we were a little out on net revenue, about $1 million off, but in general it’s a lot tighter than it’s ever been.

What I say to shareholders is that there’s value here if you believe in the macro trends that all media is going digital, all digital media will be addressable, and all addressable media can be bought automatically. That means you need to have AI. And you’re seeing the proof points with Salesforce and Einstein, IBM and Watson, with real AI use cases. AI is not scary any more.

Salesforce EinsteinLook at Einstein, it’s like a cartoon character. Those guys are brilliant. We came out with AI and people thought we were The Terminator, and that our AI would put people out of jobs.

O’Reilly: What is your AI? A lot of ad tech companies say they have an artificial intelligence facet to their business. What is yours? How do you describe it?

Wootton: AI is a subset of machine learning, the ability of a machine to learn and intuit what needs to happen.

The joke about ad tech is: There’s very little tech in ad tech. But we put $270 million into tech, that’s 6,000 servers, 72,000 CPUs …

O’Reilly: How does that compare to your competitors?

Wootton: That’s a question you’d have to ask them. You find a lot use AWS (Amazon Web Services) and do sampling.

So the other thing you need to look at is the big data infrastructure. It’s our ability to process 200 billion bid transactions, see all of that, and process what we call “moment scoring” — scoring each moment for specific advertisers based on what’s the value. It’s basically a market where we are able to say for this moment, right now, how much are you willing to pay for Randy on his phone in the Aria hotel versus Randy sitting on the couch watching the Oakland Raiders with his kids?

That ability to discern that for American Express versus San Pellegrino, that’s where the value comes from.

We process 75 petabytes of data, so we have an immense number of profiles. Our cross-device technology is the best out there, according to Nielsen. We work with probabilistic and deterministic data to create those graphs.

For us the question around tech, it gets confusing because everyone throws the same acronyms out. It’s very hard. 

O’Reilly: Depending on what figures you look at, Google and Facebook appear to be sucking all the growth out of the online advertising market. Is that true?

You can’t refute how much money they are making. One thing to think about is that a lot of what we spend is on Google and Facebook, so part of the revenue is coming through our model and we’re more effective at using their inventory in some cases than they are.

O’Reilly: Rocket Fuel is an official Facebook marketing partner, is that correct?

Wootton: That was something new. We were struggling with Facebook but now we are one of their marketing partners.

When I talk to marketers and agencies, they don’t want a duopoly. They are looking for a third-party independent. But they need a third-party independent that has enough scale to make it a viable alternative.

The other part is that I think there will be a continued proliferation of websites and mobile phone experiences which are beyond Google or Facebook. I don’t just use my mobile phone for Facebook. Do I check in once a day? Probably. But I do a lot more.

programmatic tvFor me really, I’m now looking at the future of TV. All media is going digital. All digital will be sold programmatically. We announced our programmatic TV solution last year and it’s really interesting to see the type of marketers who are coming into this space, the type of technology. There’s a whole host of embedded players.

How close are we to realizing this dream? Everyone talks about programmatic TV and addressable TV, but the money doesn’t seem to be following.

Wootton: Yes, it’s more progra-manual, with a lot of people doing manual buying. But we are actually buying on the impression.

For big marketers it falls in the category of experimental media, the 10-15% [of spend], doing something because it’s sexy. But there are marketers who have never bought TV and [programmatic TV is] efficient.

It’s coming. Is it five years is it 10 years? Probably more five than 10.

I think you’re seeing the OTTs [over-the-top services] putting immense pressure on the current cable companies and also the telco companies coming in.

O’Reilly: Is TV perhaps where the duopoly gets toppled because Facebook and Google don’t play in that space?

Wootton: I think so. It’s why as a company we are moving into brand [advertising] aggressively. It’s why we are staying smart with the agencies, because 65% of all media dollars go through agencies, and brand dollars in particular. With TV, we are trying to figure out how to do it in a very coordinated way. It’s one of the major bets for us as a company.

O’Reilly: What’s going to happen with the ad tech market in 2017?

lumascapeWootton: I think there’s a real opportunity for investors to look again at this landscape. I think a lot of them were burned in round one.

But if you look at Salesforce buying Krux, Adobe buying TubeMogul, there are some bets being made by the marketing platforms.

The interesting thing to think about is that all those companies right now, where the magic happens is in what you do with the data. It’s making decisions about the data. For that — apart from one that has bought a DSP — you need partnerships.

O’Reilly: What’s stopping a Salesforce or an IBM or an Adobe simply buying the full stack of ad tech companies? What puts them off?

Wootton: What I have heard from some analysts is that they are loathe [to buy media activation companies] because of the working capital risk to buy media and what that means. 

O’Reilly: This year was about recalibrating the business and making sure you’re cashflow positive and cutting out unnecessary costs. I’m guessing that’s still work in progress. What’s next for Rocket Fuel?

Wootton: Return to growth, primarily in the platform business. In Q3 it was 140% year-over-year growth, representing 19% of the total business. That’s the growth because a year ago that was 8% of our business.

The other area we’re excited about is international. In Q3, we explained we had a little bit of a hiccup, Brexit and all of that played out, as well as the currency exchange.

International was 17% of our total revenue in Q3 2016, it was 16% last year, so it was up year-over-year but it wasn’t growing as fast as I would have hoped.

The other area of growth in 2017 is that we have to get is brand dollars. We have to show we have a viable brand solution.

We announced our IAS (Integral Ad Science) pre-bid video first to market in Q3, and we have some exciting things unfolding in Q4 that will be drivers.

The other piece clearly is the holding company stabilization in North America, which is where we saw the decrease primarily over the last year or year and a half.

O’Reilly: The ANA report [on media transparency] had some repercussions on the way in which marketers view media buying in North America and it’s led to audits and agency changes. What effect has had it on your business?

Wootton: I think it is more directly impacting agencies and what they are sharing with their clients.

When we do a platform deal with an agency we say: ‘Here’s the tier-based pricing.’ It’s their choice whether the relationship with their marketers is one where they show that to their clients.

We still are negotiating platform deals based on volume, the classic software deal: if you commit to more you’ll get a lower price. There’s a competitive price in the marketplace around that, which any marketer could get to if they were using a consultant.

Not every marketer gets the same price. You have to have the volume. If you’re working with the world’s biggest brands you get a bigger deal than if you’re a [mid-sized brand]. I think marketers all get that.

With regards to what we are required to provide in terms of transparency, that hasn’t changed at all.

The nice thing about software is you can take it for a spin. We set up pink slips, like racing, and we can win more often than not. That’s where you can charge more for premium of the AI and tech.

I do think there is a conversation to be had, which is why we are not working with all holding companies. We are not an inventory supply where inventory is free and infinite. We are a technology vendor. If you don’t want to invest in our technology, we can’t support you. And I’ve walked away from some deals where I’ve said: ‘I can’t be profitable’. So that orientation in 2017 is that we will be profitable with every customer.

O’Reilly: What do you think The Trade Desk’s IPO did for the market?

the trade deskWootton: I thought it was great. What they got right, as they said in their S-1, they learned from the past mistakes [of the market]. They were profitable and they had a clear go-to-market in that they only worked with agencies. I think it gave resurgence to the space.

I think there were three of them: The Trade Desk IPO, Krux [being bought be Salesforce], and [Adobe acquiring] TubeMogul, all happening within a couple of months, where everyone went ‘Woah, what just happened?’ The Trade Desk is also brilliant naming: The Trade Desk!

What I would say though is I would encourage you to go and look at the technology. What they did really well is that they have a good UI [user experience] and I think that’s something where many tech companies need to learn that lesson, especially in a world where consumers are employees and you are used to good interfaces. They want good interfaces and if the interface isn’t clean, you have no market share.

Silicon Valley suffers again and again and again [from this]. If we think we are smarter by not doing [design] iterations based on feedback, we are going to build something nobody will want. We’re finding that with our brand solution. We have been built for direct response and our big challenge has been thinking about brand marketers: how do we build for GRPs [gross rating points]? We may discount it and say it’s goofy but you have to bridge from what they know to where you want to go and I think people really underestimate that.

O’Reilly: If you look back on the big ad tech stories of 2016, I think header bidding and ad fraud would feature up there. What are going to be the big stories of 2017?

How Header Bidding Works

Wootton: Header bidding is super interesting. We saw the real benefit to that as being more access and visibly to inventory. The challenge is biding against yourself and that whole dynamic, although that will impact SSPs [supply-side platforms] much harder than us. I think access to inventory, getting visibility, getting first look, and being able to bid on it will be a major trend. It will also help offset some of Criteo’s power and Amazon.

I do think fraud and invalid traffic is going to coalesce more. I hope that Methbot thing will be the match that lights the fire to get us all on board with driving that more aggressively. The transparency theme will continue along those different vectors of: what is the model doing for you, where is the audience, what’s happening with the placement, who is the audience, where are you seeing them — and companies being able to inform that will do well.

And the final thing is price transparency. I think it’s a multi-variable transparency story, around trust.

We think that we are starting to see AI as a service: meaning we are connecting AIs to AIs. I think large brands that have a lot of data are going to start to connect where that data sits, because it’s often very siloed, and they’re going to use some AI and data scientists to help figure out how to use it and then they are going to integrate with APIs and other AI sources.

One point, if you fast-forward 10 years, we as individuals will have our own AI, our little buyer AI. And brands will have their AIs. And we will have this dark world of AIs interacting with each other continuously. They will just be common place: buyer agents and seller agents.

O’Reilly: Do you think there will be many ad tech IPOs next year?

Wootton: Yes. I think if you shifted ad tech’s definition around mobile ad tech I think that’s where there are probably more interesting IPOs that will be possible.

I think ad tech is being reinvented. There was a very interesting article about the VC money drying up in ad tech.

We think there are not going to be standalone DMPs [data management platforms] any more. They have been bought. DSPs, if all you are is just a dumb pipe, you’re going to be commoditized. AI, predictive marketing, is the new space. There will be IPOs in the AI space applied to marketing. That’s where the innovation is happening.

O’Reilly: Will there be more public companies taken private, as with TubeMogul and Adobe?

Wootton: As a public company CEO you have a responsibility to maximize shareholder value. Every public company CEO is looking at what the options are and there will be some that look at their specific dynamics and say it’s better to take a strategic [buyout].

I think there is a place for a third-party independent player in this space. I don’t think there’s 50 of them. There will be some weedling down, some go will go private, some will be bought by a strategic, and some will make a run for it.

SEE ALSO: The 17 biggest ad tech exits of 2016

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A former deputy governor of the Bank of England is on course to become the BBC's new chairman

Sir David Clementi

LONDON — Sir David Clementi, the former deputy governor of the Bank of England, looks set to become the BBC’s new chairman — a post he played a major role in creating.

ITV News’ political editor Robert Peston reported on Monday that Clementi is culture secretary Karen Bradley’s preferred candidate. This was supported by The Guardian and others on Tuesday.

Bradley has recommended the former Virgin Money and Prudential chair to Prime Minister Theresa May, who is expected to rubber stamp his appointment this week. It will ultimately be waived through by the Queen, although this step is simply a formality.

A Department for Culture Media & Sport (DCMS) spokesman said he would not comment on the “speculation.”

ITV’s Peston said Clementi’s appointment could prove “controversial” because he was a key architect in creating the BBC chairman role. Clementi led a review of the BBC’s governance structure last year, at the end of which he recommended abolishing the broadcaster’s governing body, the BBC Trust, and replacing it with a unitary board.

If appointed, Clementi will chair this unitary board, earning £100,000 a year and effectively replacing BBC Trust chairman Rona Fairhead. Fairhead was expected to fill the newly created chairman vacancy, but is stepping aside after an intervention from Prime Minister May. The changes are set to take place in April, at which point Ofcom will also become the BBC’s external regulator.

The Guardian said Clementi was on a DCMS shortlist that also included John Makinson, the chairman of book publisher Penguin Random House, and Civil Aviation Authority chair Dame Deirdre Hutton. Guardian media business correspondent Mark Sweney added that Clementi could be grilled by the cross-party Culture Media and Sport Committee as early as next Tuesday.

Chairing the BBC will be a very high-profile post that will involve safeguarding the interests of licence fee payers, who fund the corporation to the tune of £3.7 billion. Director general Tony Hall will report into the new chair.

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Privacy legislation reintroduced for mail older than 180 days

A bill has been reintroduced in the U.S. House of Representatives that would require that law enforcement agencies get a warrant before they poke around users’ emails and other communications in the cloud that are older than 180 days.

The Email Privacy Act, reintroduced on Monday, aims to fix a loophole in the Electronic Communications Privacy Act that allows the government to search without warrant email and other electronic communications older than 180 days, stored on servers of third-party service providers such as Google and Yahoo.

“Thanks to the wording in a more than 30-year-old law, the papers in your desk are better protected than the emails in your inbox,” digital rights organization, Electronic Frontier Foundation said in a blog post Monday.

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Yahoo will become Altaba, lose Mayer after Verizon buyout

Yahoo intends to change its name to Altaba once the sale of its internet portal to Verizon is completed. CEO Marissa Mayer and co-founder David Filo also will leave the company then, Yahoo said in a regulatory filing on Monday.

The changes are part of a $4.8 billion dollar deal signed in July 2016 to sell to Verizon.

Once that deal is complete, Yahoo will become an investment company and the board will be reduced from 11 to five people. Altaba’s main holdings will be stakes in Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and major Japanese Internet portal Yahoo Japan.

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Microsoft is retiring the Blue Screen of Death for some users

Windows 10 beta testers who are used to the warm, familiar glow of Microsoft’s Blue Screen of Death will start learning it’s not easy being green.

Microsoft is tweaking its venerable error message that lets people know that something went wrong, and their computers need to be restarted. While everyday consumers will still see the same old BSOD that we love to hate, people who are using beta builds released as part of the Windows 10 Insider Program will now see a Green Screen of Death.

The change is designed to help distinguish between crashes in the generally available branch of Windows 10 and the beta branch. Microsoft lets people know that they use Insider builds at their own risk, and the betas can contain bugs that crash programs or entire devices.

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In an unusual move for a US tech company, Snapchat is making the UK its international headquarters

evan spiegel

Snap, the parent company of Snapchat, has chosen to base its international headquarters in the UK, The Financial Times first reported on Tuesday.

The move is unusual for a US-based tech firm. Companies including Facebook, Uber, and Google have chosen other European countries including Ireland and the Netherlands as their international bases, to take advantage of lower corporation tax rates.

Snap confirmed it will not be routing sales made in the UK through other European countries for tax reasons. Sales in countries where Snap does not have a local office or salesforce will also be booked in the UK.

Claire Valoti, general manager of Snap Group Limited in the UK, said in a statement: “We believe in the UK creative industries. The UK is where our advertising clients are, where more than 10 million daily Snapchatters are, and where we’ve already begun to hire talent.”

Snap first opened its UK office in 2015 and it now has 75 staff, many of which have been hired from rival tech firms. Valoti was hired from Facebook at the end of 2015 and other recent hires include Ricky Leatham from Amazon, who leads the UK engineering team and Andy Pang, who joined from Instagram to lead its measurement division in the region.

Snap Group Limited currently resides in a three-floor office in Soho, London, but the company says it is set to open an additional site nearby.

Snap confidentially filed paperwork with the Securities and Exchange Commission last year to go public in 2017. The company is seeking a valuation of between $20 billion and $25 billion, a source familiar with the matter told Business Insider in November.

SEE ALSO: Snapchat is making a big push on measurement in Europe

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There will be 24 billion IoT devices installed on Earth by 2020

Internet of Everything Slide Deck

By 2020, more than 24 billion internet-connected devices will be installed globally — that’s more than 4 devices for every human on earth.

The Internet of Things first came to us on PCs. Then it moved to smartphones, tablets, smartwatches, and TVs.

But now it’s coming to all of our everyday devices that fall under the IoT umbrella.

This IoT revolution has the potential to change our homes, transportation, work, even our cities. But how will we arrive in this new era?

BI Intelligence, Business Insider’s premium research service, has developed a slide deck analyzing the growth of internet-connected devices — particularly the Internet of Things (IoT).

Today, it can be yours for free. As an added bonus, you will gain immediate access to the team’s exclusive FREE newsletter, BI Intelligence Daily.

To get your copy of this slide deck, simply click here.

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Eric Schmidt and other tech execs want government protection from China, and it sounds a bit like Trump

Donald Trump tech Silicon Valley

Donald Trump and the tech industry may have more in common than they realized.

Although the President Elect was famously unpopular in Silicon Valley during the campaign, a new proposal from a group of high-profile tech leaders doesn’t sound so different from some of Trump’s protectionist trade rhetoric. 

Pointing a finger at China and its threat to the US semiconductor industry, a new report by tech executives calls for the federal government to clamp down on cross-border acquisitions by Chinese companies, protect US intellectual property and “fast track” new chip manufacturing facilities by cutting red tape like aspects of the Federal Clean Air Act.

The report was published by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, a group that includes Alphabet’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt among others. 

According to the report, US chip makers face major challenges from China, in large part due to Chinese industrial policies that work in favor of the countries own semiconductor companies. The report calls for stronger government support to protect US companies’ leadership position.

Reshaping the market

“Now a concerted push by China to reshape the market in its favor, using industrial policies backed by over one hundred billion dollars in government-directed funds, threatens the competitiveness of U.S. industry and the national and global benefits it brings,” the report writes.

“We strongly recommend a coordinated Federal effort to influence and respond to Chinese industrial policy, strengthen the U.S. business environment for semiconductor investment, and lead partnerships with industry and academia to advance the boundaries of semiconductor innovation.”

The report, addressed to President Obama but likely to influence Trump’s future policies, gives the following three recommendations:

  1. “Push back against innovation-inhibiting Chinese industrial policy”: It calls for better transparency around China’s tech policies, and stronger measures that protect US national security (i.e. opposing Chinese M&A if it undermines defense-critical US companies), while working closely with allies.

  2. “Improve the business environment for U.S.-based semiconductor producers”: Invest in growing talent, both home and from abroad (one area in which the group seems to diverge from Trump’s call for tighter immigration controls), while increasing R&D spending in pre-competitive markets. It also calls for tax reform that makes it easy for asset-heavy companies, like chip makers, to do business in the US. 

  3. “Help catalyze transformative semiconductor innovation over the next decade”: Help the industry work together on “moonshot” projects. “Government should loosely coordinate industry, government, and academic efforts around solving these moonshots, with an aim to drive innovation with broader payoffs,” it writes.

The group that helped create the report includes former Intel CEO Paul Otellini, Qualcomm Executive Chairman Paul Jacobs and former Microsoft Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie.

Morgan Stanley wrote in a note on Monday that the recommendations in the report could make it difficult for Chinese companies to buy foreign chip-related firms, and bring more scrutiny to US firms making deals in China. But it also noted that the recommendations would have long-term benefits across a broad set of industries in the US.

“This would ultimately protect US companies market share even if China takes market share in low and mid end products (and pressures margins there) but also accelerate the digitalization of the economy, fueling more productivity growth and GDP growth for companies outside of semis and tech that actually rely a lot on the semiconductor industry without actually knowing it,” Morgan Stanley’s note said.

SEE ALSO: Amazon’s rumored bid for American Apparel could solve its Trump problem in one master stroke

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These are the 7 smartest countries in the world when it comes to science

With so many jobs shifting into technology, an education in the fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) is more important than ever. In October 2015, The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) released its latest Science, Technology and Industry Scoreboard report, which ranked the top countries in the world when it comes to a STEM education.

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