All posts on June, 2016


Audio/Video

Nothing Ghostly About Devialet’s Phantom Gold Sound

Devialet, the French company that has built a reputation in the audio market for high-end wireless speakers, on Tuesday announced its newest addition: the $3,000 Phantom Gold. The Phantom Gold looks something like a futuristic Faberge egg, and it’s priced like one, too. That said, it has some ear-pleasing and ear-splitting specs.
Devialet has given it a power boost to 4,500 watts.

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Government

Clinton Issues Clarion Call to Boost Tech in the US

Hillary Clinton, the Democratic Party’s presumptive presidential candidate, this week unveiled a technology and innovation agenda that calls for a broader commitment to improving computer science and STEM education, expansion of broadband Internet to the entire United States, and deployment of 5G wireless networks. Clinton’s plan calls for advancing high-tech training in American schools.

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ApprovedBusinessBusiness and finance

From noodles to poodles

Pots of money no more?

SOARING sales of instant noodles have for years been a reliable indicator of the insatiable appetites of China’s rising consumer class. China is the world’s biggest market for these flash-fried snacks infused with monosodium glutamate (MSG), a chemical that makes flavourless food more palatable. Locals slurp down over 40 billion packets each year. Now comes news of a nasty noodle meltdown. It is less a sign that China’s long consumer boom is waning than that Chinese tastes are changing.

The volume of instant noodles gobbled last year fell by 12.5%, according to a new report on China’s consumer market from Bain, a consultancy, and Kantar Worldpanel, a market-research firm. The consequences for firms such as Tingyi, whose Master Kong noodles are found everywhere from railway canteens to kitchen cupboards, have been severe. Profits for China’s biggest instant-noodle firm fell by 36% in 2015, to $256m, as hungry Chinese consumers turned their backs on its wares. Even more shocking, the volume of beer sold in China—the world’s biggest guzzler—fell by 3.6% last year, largely because of plunging…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

Grand dodgy

The tax-dodgers are being scrutinised too

JUNE 29th was judgment day in a case that has changed the face of corporate tax-planning. Antoine Deltour (pictured) and Raphaël Halet, two ex-employees of PwC, an accounting firm, and Edouard Perrin, a French journalist, had been tried in Luxembourg for their role in leaking documents that revealed sweetheart tax deals the Grand Duchy had offered to dozens of multinationals. The defendants denied the charges, which included theft of documents and violation of secrecy, arguing that their exposure of dodgy tax practices was in the public interest. Luxembourg insisted the deals were both legal and unremarkable.

The whistle-blowers faced up to ten years behind bars. However, the prosecutor—perhaps sensitive to the strong public and, in some places, political support for them abroad—called for suspended sentences of 18 months. In the end the judge handed Messrs Deltour and Halet suspended sentences of 12 months and nine months, respectively. But a conviction is a conviction; Transparency International, an anti-corruption group, called it “appalling”. Mr Perrin, who had published an…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

Faltering flagship

A soggy outlook in the shipyards

HOW best to prop up the companies that power South Korea’s export-driven economy as the rest of the world slows? The government’s previous answer, the so-called “one-shot” bill, aims to help the worst-affected industries to restructure by offering tax breaks for firms that sell subsidiaries and by reducing the red tape around mergers. Parliament approved it in February; it will come into effect in August. But Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s president, thinks more is needed. On June 28th she proposed a stimulus of 20 trillion won ($17 billion).

South Korea’s exports have fallen every month year-on-year since January 2015. In early June the central bank trimmed its benchmark interest rate by 0.25 percentage points, taking it to an all-time low of 1.25%. Nonetheless the government this week revised down its forecast of GDP growth this year from 3.1%, which it predicted in December, to 2.8%. Ms Park said that the economic situation inside and outside the country was “more serious than ever”.

Britain’s recent decision to leave the European Union, South Korea’s…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

Prophets and profiteers

FOUR out of five hedge-fund managers had expected Britain to vote to remain in the European Union, according to a poll by Preqin, a data firm. But a handful saw Brexit coming and invested accordingly. They made hundreds of millions by betting against assets that were likely to suffer from an Out vote. Crispin Odey’s London-based fund, which manages around $10 billion and has had a terrible year, jumped nearly 15% on the day after the vote. That was thanks to short positions on the shares of a number of British firms (including Aberdeen, an asset manager, and Berkeley Group, a builder) and a big investment in gold. Others, such as Atlantic Investment Management, prospered by betting against sterling, which fell this week to its lowest value against the dollar since 1985.

Another successful approach was to do what hedge funds were originally set up to do: hedge (not many do these days). “Did we see it coming? No,” admits Lukas Daalder of Robeco, a Dutch asset manager, who says he was able to limit damage by recognising the vote was too close to call. He tried to surprise-proof his portfolio by betting that sterling would fall against the dollar and by…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

Awaiting the data

SHOCK, followed by frantic recalculation. That was how astonished financial markets reacted to the British vote to leave the European Union.

The initial phase saw a worldwide sell-off in riskier assets, such as equities, and a flight to safe ones, prompting further declines in government-bond yields. After the sell-off, equities started to bounce again on June 28th, in part because central banks may respond with easier monetary policy (or, in the case of the Federal Reserve, slower tightening); in part because Brexit may not have much of an impact on, say, the Chinese economy.

The biggest casualty of the vote was sterling, which was edging towards $1.50 on Thursday but on June 27th briefly dropped below $1.32, a 31-year low. In trade-weighted terms, the pound has fallen by 11% this year (see chart). Britain has a large current-account deficit (7% of GDP in the fourth quarter of 2015), which needs financing. A big drop in the pound, to make British assets more appealing to foreign investors and imports less appealing to Britons, is a necessary adjustment.

Equities have not suffered as much. Many companies in London’s…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

From folly to fragmentation

THE bleeding stopped on the third day: sterling steadied and stockmarkets perked up on June 28th, after two sessions of carnage (see article). By then Britain’s vote on June 23rd to leave the European Union had taken a heavy toll (see chart). The shares of Lloyds and the Royal Bank of Scotland, Britain’s biggest domestically oriented banks, were down by around 30% and those of Barclays by slightly more. Continental institutions were clobbered too: BNP Paribas, Deutsche Bank and Santander all lost 20%-plus and Italy’s beleaguered UniCredit 30%-odd. American banks with big operations in London also suffered, though not as much. Nor was the damage confined to banks: American insurers copped double-digit losses and Invesco, a big asset manager, shed 22%. A merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Börse, its German rival, looks likely to collapse.

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ApprovedBusiness and financeFINANCEFinance and economics

The consensus crumbles

AFTER the second world war, the leaders of the Western world tried to build institutions to prevent the horrors of the preceding decades from recurring. They sought to foster both prosperity and interdependence, to “make war not only unthinkable but materially impossible”. Their work has borne fruit. There has been no armed conflict in western Europe since. Expanded global trade has raised incomes around the world. Yet, as the Brexit vote demonstrates, globalisation now seems to be receding. Most economists have been blindsided by the backlash. A few saw it coming. It is worth studying their reasoning, in order to work out whether a retrenchment is inevitable or might be avoided.

Even economists realise that free trade can be a hard sell politically. The political economy of trade is treacherous: its benefits, though substantial, are diffuse, but its costs are often concentrated, giving those affected a strong incentive to push for protectionism. Since 1776, when Adam Smith published “The Wealth of Nations”, those pressing for global openness have won more battles than they have lost. Yet opposition to globalisation seldom disappears, and often…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusinessBusiness and finance

In the rough

“Real is rare”, bidders were rarer

“I’VE seen grown men with tears in their eyes” in front of it, an auctioneer from Sotheby’s said as he opened bidding on June 29th on the 1,109-carat Lesedi La Rona, the biggest diamond to be discovered in over a century. Within minutes the tears were, if anything, of embarrassment. Bidding, which started at $50m, was desultory. A rough stone that Sotheby’s had put in the same league as the 3,107-carat Cullinan diamond, discovered in South Africa in 1905, failed to make its $70m reserve. “I’m a bit disappointed. There were no private buyers and the diamantaires stayed away,” said Lukas Lundin, chairman of Lucara Diamond, a Canadian firm that unearthed the stone in Botswana last year.

It was the latest disappointment to befall an industry that has had little to celebrate. Two days before, William Lamb, Lucara’s chief executive, said he believed the auction would symbolise the allure of diamonds and their promise for African development. He hoped to “dispel the rumour that all diamonds are bad”. That reek of notoriety has clung to the industry in recent years, especially…Continue reading

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ApprovedBusinessBusiness and finance

Window dressing

BROWSERS, pieces of internet software that people probably spend more time with than they do in bed, have long been boring affairs. Save for occasional innovations such as tabs, these programs have remained fundamentally the same since the release of Mosaic, the first mainstream browser, nearly a quarter of a century ago. Just four browsers account for nearly all users: Apple’s Safari, Google’s Chrome, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and Mozilla’s Firefox. It is difficult to tell them apart.

New, more interesting browsers have started cropping up. In August internet users will be able to download the first full version of Brave, the brainchild of a co-founder of Mozilla. Mozilla itself is working on a new type of browser which will give users suggestions on where to navigate next. Both are only the latest in a series of such efforts: last year Microsoft unveiled Edge, meant to replace Internet Explorer; March saw the release of Cliqz, a browser developed in Germany; a month later came Vivaldi.

If most browsers are boring and unwieldy, it is because they are expected to do more than ever before: not just surfing the web, but…Continue reading

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ActualidadEcommerce DayEventosInternacionalLATAMMarketing & SocialPerformance Marketing

Centrarse en el consumidor, aumentar la conversión y la recompra a través de su estrategia de email marketing

Hoy 30 de junio se realizará el eCommerce DAY Ecuador, donde se darán cita expertos Nacionales e Internacionales que compartirán con la audiencia las  últimas  tendencias  y casos  de éxito sobre el impacto de Internet en el Comercio Electrónico. Hernán Litvac, Co-Founder de ICOMMKT brindará una charla sobre la importancia de conocer en profundidad al […]

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ActualidaddecoraciónDestacadosEntrevistahogarRetailWestWing

“Lanzamos alrededor de 7.000 – 10.000 referencias únicas cada semana en España”

Hace algo más de 4 años que la alemana Westwing se lanzaba en España. El ecommerce de ventas flash para la categoría de ‘Home and Living’ cerró 2014 con una facturación de 17 MM€. Entrevistamos a Víctor García de Santiago, CEO y fundador de Westwing España para conocer la actualidad de la compañía. Ecommerce News […]

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ActualidadAtención al ClienteCasos PrácticosDestacadosFashionPisamonaszapatos

¿Cómo construir la mejor Atención al Cliente en Ecommerce?

Pisamonas es un ecommerce de calzado para niños que en poco tiempo se ha posicionado como referente donde acuden padres y madres cuando necesitan zapatos para sus hijos, gracias a un modelo innovador que reúne un producto de calidad, precios bajos, grandes facilidades de compra online incluyendo cambios/devoluciones gratuitos, y un servicio al cliente de […]

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ActualidadadigitalDestacadosEventosInnologisticLOGÍSTICARetail

El 92% de las empresas ve la logística como un factor de ventaja competitiva en el mercado

“El 92% de las empresas considera que la logística es un factor de ventaja competitiva”. Esta es una de las principales conclusiones del Informe sobre Logística para Comercio Electrónico en España presentado esta mañana en Innodelivery, un encuentro organizado por la Asociación Española de la Economía Digital (Adigital) sobre tendencias e innovación en materia de logística en ecommerce y que […]

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ActualidadComercio integradoDestacadosOpinionRetailZalando

Comercio Integrado: Desafíos detrás de la conexión online y offline

Zalando ha dado un paso más hacia un comercio integrado desarrollando una solución que conecta el mundo online con el offline. Christoph Lange, VP Brand Solutions de la compañía, ha remarcado que hoy en día es indispensable para los retailers estar presentes y visibles en plataformas como Zalando y que el nuevo plan desarrollado por […]

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ActualidadAmazon Dash ButtonDestacadosEEUUInternacionalRetail

Dash Button de Amazon se expande y suma 50 nuevas marcas

Amazon anunció ayer otra expansión de Dash Button, incluyendo 50 nuevas marcas al programa. En los últimos tres meses el uso de este servicio ha incrementado exponencialmente hasta llegar a los dos pedidos al minuto. Desde sus inicios, el número de pedidos ha crecido un 70% y, a día de hoy, más del 50% de […]

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Banco SantanderDestacadosMasterCardMétodos de PagoPagoServiciosWeareables

Santander y MasterCard lanzan una pulsera para pagos contactless

Banco Santander ha anunciado hoy el lanzamiento de una pulsera para pagos sin contacto de MasterCard que permite realizar compras acercándola a cualquier terminal de pago habilitado para transacciones sin contacto (contactless). La pulsera, que ya está disponible para los clientes de Banco Santander, permitirá pagar en la mayoría de los establecimientos de España, que […]

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AKAMAIServiciosSoftware

Las velocidades de conexión globales han aumentado, según Akamai

Akamai, el líder global en servicios de CDN (Red de Entrega de Contenidos), ha presentado su informe sobre el estado de Internet del primer trimestre de 2016. Basándose en la información recogida en la Plataforma Inteligente de Akamai, este informe analiza en profundidad varias estadísticas globales de Internet, como la velocidad de conexión, las métricas […]

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Hacking

Pichai Account Trespassers Claim Their Hacking Heart’s in the Right Place

Hackers late Sunday broke into CEO Sundar Pichai’s Quora account and through it accessed his Twitter followers, according to reports. The group taking credit for the breach, OurMine Security, previously hit other prominent high-tech figures, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Spotify CEO Daniel Elk, Amazon CTO Werner Vogels and former Twitter CEO Dick Costolo.

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