Pricing in the smartphone wars has taken a sharp turn in recent years on the premium end of the spectrum. Ever since the arrival of the iPhone X, flagship devices have often arrived in excess of $1,000, as company push toward more premium components in order to remain competitive.
Likely surprising no one, most consumers aren’t spending that much on devices. According to numbers from NPD’s latest Mobile Phone Tracking study, however, the numbers are pretty stark. Less than 10% of U.S. consumers are spending that much on devices. That could foretell some bleak numbers for 5G sales, as early units routinely run around $1,200.
Not an encouraging sign as many manufacturers look toward 5G as the next major driver amid flagging global sales. One thing to consider here is that most phones are good at this point. Even mid-tier smartphones are pretty solid. While the devices have become a commodity, few if any users truly need to spend that much on a product. There’s a reason Samsung, Google and even Apple have been focused on lower cost alternatives of late.
There are, however, reasons for manufacturers to be hopeful. For one thing, the arrival of 5G is often cited as one of the primary sources of slowed sales. Many premium users are likely waiting for more network coverage and devices before purchasing their next phone. NPD says that nearly 3/4ths of consumers are at least aware that 5G is a thing.
Also notable is Qualcomm’s recent 765 announcement, which should help make 5G devices accessible for consumers are a lower price point in the coming year.
Machine learning is a complex process. You build a model, test it in laboratory conditions, then put it out in the world. After that, how do you monitor how well it’s tracking what you designed it do? Arthur wants to help, and today it emerged from stealth with a new platform to help you monitor machine learning models in production.
The company also announced it had closed a $3.3 million seed round, which closed in August.
Arthur CEO and co-founder Adam Wenchel says that Arthur is analogous to a performance monitoring platform like New Relic or DataDog, but instead of monitoring your systems, it’s tracking the performance of your machine learning models.
“We are an AI monitoring and explainability company, which means when you put your models in production, we let you monitor them to know that they’re not going off the rails, that you can explain what they’re doing, that they’re not performing badly and are not being totally biassed — all of the ways models can go wrong,” Wenchel explained.
Data scientists build machine learning models and test them in the lab, but as Wenchel says, when that model leaves the controlled environment of the lab, lots can go wrong, and it’s hard to keep track of that. “Models always perform well in the lab, but then you put them out in the real world and there is often a drop-off in performance — in fact, almost always. So being able to measure and monitor that is a capability people really need,” he said.
Interestingly enough, AWS announced a new model monitoring tool last week as part of SageMaker Studio. IBM also announced a similar tool for models built on the Watson platform earlier this year, but Wenchel says the involvement of the big guys could work to his company’s advantage since his product is platform-agnostic. “Having a neutral third party for your monitoring that works equally well across stacks is going to be pretty valuable,” he said.
As for the funding, it was co-led by Work-Bench and Index Ventures with participation from Hunter Walk at Homebrew, Jerry Yang at AME Ventures and others.
Jonathan Lehr, a general partner at Work-Bench sees a company with a lot of potential. “We regularly speak with ML executives from Fortune 1000 companies and one of their biggest concerns as they become more data-driven is model behavior in production. The Arthur platform is by far the best solution we’ve seen for AI monitoring and transparency…” he said.
The company, which is based in New York City, currently has 10 people. It launched 2018, and has been heads down working on the product since. Today, marks the release of the product publicly.
Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., addresses The Road to the Green New Deal Tour final event at Howard University in Washington, Monday, May 13, 2019. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Streiff wrote Sunday about how the media/Democrats tried to pin the “anti-Semitic” label on President Trump after video clips of a speech he gave Saturday to the Israeli American Council (IAC) summit were circulated on social media.
To recap: One clip in particular shared by Vox.com propagandist “journalist” Aaron Rupar showed Trump joking to the crowd about how the realtors in the audience were “not nice people” and were “brutal killers” who would vote for him anyway:
“A lot of you are in the real estate business because I know you very well. You’re brutal killers, not nice people at all. But you have to vote for me, you have no choice,” he said.
Trump argued the Israeli-American crowd would not be able to vote for Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Massachusetts Democrat running for president, because of her proposed wealth tax plan.
“You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax. …Yeah, let’s take 100% of your wealth away. No, no. Even if you don’t like me, some of you don’t. Some of you, I don’t like at all actually. And you’re going to be my biggest supporters because you’d be out of business in about 15 minutes if they get it,” Trump said.
Rupar’s clip below shows the audience laughing at Trump’s remarks, which were clearly in jest:
Trump, speaking to the Israeli American Council: “You’re not nice people at all, but you have to vote for me. You have no choice. You’re not going to vote for Pocahontas, I can tell you that. You’re not going to vote for the wealth tax!” pic.twitter.com/IXoaVUw6MU
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), who has never come across an cheap shot against Trump that she didn’t like, belatedly took to the Twitter machine two days later to accuse him of “atrocious anti-Semitism”:
This is outright and atrocious antisemitism coming from the President, and it is dangerous. https://t.co/E21xMrqSsP
Are you actually insane @AOC or just completely and deliberately hateful and misleading at every opportunity? He was talking about people in the real estate business in good humor. Stop LYING and being divisive!
He directed the comment to people in the Real estate business. The audience reaction was overwhelmingly positive with laughter and applause. His daughter is Jewish, he’s not antisemetic . If you’d like to hear what antisemitism sounds like talk to Ilhan Omar.
I’m not sure what’s worse: That AOC constantly makes lame and bogus excuses for her anti-Semitic Squad buddies Omar and Tlaib or that she often falsely accuses others of anti-Semitism (which makes it worse for people who do credibly accuse others of it).
—————– — Based in North Carolina, Sister Toldjah is a former liberal and a 16+ year veteran of blogging with an emphasis on media bias, social issues, and the culture wars. Read her Red State archives here. Connect with her on Twitter. –
Here is a chilling case of sanctuary chickens coming home to roost.
Upon being convicted of armed robbery, kidnapping, home invasion and the brutal murders of two doctors on Tuesday, African criminal Bampumim Teixeira taunted the Massachusetts prosecutor who won the case and vowed to rape his wife. “You better hope I don’t get out of jail,” Teixeira threatened as he was dragged away in handcuffs by a quartet of court security officers. The killer appeared to greatly enjoy the media spectacle while striking fear into the hearts of innocents. He will be sentenced on Friday.
I am outraged on behalf of the victims’ families and pray for the prosecutor’s loved ones. But let’s be clear: This homicidal beast is a beneficiary of liberal Bay State policies that coddle foreign evildoers and give them cover to wreak havoc in our homeland. The architects of open borders Boston have blood on their hands.
Teixeira was a repeat offender well-known to law enforcement and government officials before he snuck into the South Boston condo of Richard Field and Lina Bolano in 2017, bound and gagged them, slit their throats and stabbed them to death. A homeless vagrant from Guinea-Bissau in West Africa, Teixeira had been convicted of two bank robberies and was released from prison just weeks before the massacre at Field and Bolano’s condo. This thieving bum’s lawyer secured a deal with the Suffolk County district attorney’s office to sentence him to 364 days for the second heist and downgraded the second felony crime to larceny.
Why one day shy of a year? Why the reclassification of a felony to a misdemeanor?
The soft-on-alien-crime agreement allowed him to escape deportation, which any green card holder would normally face for committing crimes of moral turpitude or crimes that result in sentences of 365 days or more. Ultimately, he served only 9 months behind bars. This evilness is part of a nationwide move by far-left Democratic prosecutors, many subsidized and supported by open borders billionaire George Soros, to minimize “collateral immigration consequences of criminal convictions” and help immigrants evade “disproportionate collateral consequences, such as deportation. All in the name of “public safety” and celebrating diversity, of course.
For those outside of New England, let me tell you about the infamous public enemy, Suffolk County DA Rachael Rollins. In March, she ordered her employees to monitor and snitch on federal ICE officers hanging around any courthouse while trying to do their jobs. She is overseeing a radical “restorative justice” agenda to decrease arrests, detentions and prosecutions for both citizens and noncitizens. Our office, she announced, “will begin to factor into all charging and sentencing decisions the potential of immigration consequences.”
Let me translate that for you: If foreign adults commit crimes that would separate them from their families and lead to imprisonment and deportation, DA Rollins will drop charges or shorten sentences in the name of social justice — the law-abiding victims of these criminal immigrants be damned.
The anarchy-promoting DA grudgingly admitted to Boston talk show legend Howie Carr earlier this year that the Teixeira case was a “horrific situation.” She said she would have “no problem” deporting convicted criminal immigrants, but only after they “shoot or rape or kill somebody.” In other words: Always look the other way at immigration crimes until it’s too late to save the lives of innocent people sacrificed at the altar of open borders.
As the people of Boston face a crucial vote by their city council this week on whether to make their sanctuary policies even more radical and welcoming for the world’s homeless, jobless, drug dealers and gangbangers, I have questions:
Why shouldn’t foreign law-breakers face “immigration consequences” for every single civil and criminal law they violate?
Why are Soros-bots across the country elevating the rights of criminal immigrants above law-abiding citizens?
Why aren’t more Americans rising in revolt against open borders-sponsored politicians and prosecutors turning our neighborhoods into safe spaces for foreign outlaws?
Over the past three months, thousands have joined me at rallies to Stand with ICE and defend American First in so-called sanctuary cities from Boston to Aurora to Portland to Montgomery County, Maryland? What about the rest of you? What’s your excuse?
Michelle Malkin ‘s email address is MichelleMalkinInvestigates@protonmail.com
It looks like we have yet another showdown between the Trump administration and congressional Democrats over questions of border security. The Pentagon’s Inspector General announced this week that he is opening an investigation to determine whether or not the White House’s use of military troops on the southern border is legal. The move comes in response to a letter sent by a few dozen House members accusing the Trump administration of “misuse and politicization” of the troops in this fashion. (NY Post)
The Pentagon’s independent investigations office announced Tuesday that it will evaluate the legality of the Trump administration’s use of the military at the U.S. border with Mexico.
Glenn Fine, the acting inspector general (IG) of the Defense Department who had served as the Justice Department IG for 11 years, said his probe will assess several aspects of the military’s border mission, which some in Congress call a misuse of the military.
Under federal law, the military may not be used for domestic law enforcement purposes. The Trump administration’s view is that the troops are in a national security role at the southern border.
There’s clearly nothing wrong with conducting this sort of review, no matter whether it was an internal decision or one spurred by external requests. In fact, it would be criminally negligent of the Pentagon to not regularly review the mission of the troops to ensure that the law is being followed.
With that said, it really doesn’t appear that Trump has much to worry about. It’s been made clear from the beginning that the troops can’t be used for domestic law enforcement purposes, otherwise, the President would be heading for posse comitatus trouble. (Barring a declaration of martial law, anyway.) But that’s never been the declared mission of the troops currently working along the border anyway.
The only assignments we’ve heard about are strictly separate from law enforcement duties. The troops have been working on construction projects, which is allowed under federal law within 25 miles of the border. They have also been monitoring activity along the border, but only so they can inform CBP when they see suspicious activity. They’re not making arrests themselves.
Other troops have taken on administrative and maintenance tasks for the CBP, freeing up their agents to perform actual border security tasks. This sort of division of labor provides useful tasks for the soldiers to tackle while not crossing over the line into direct law enforcement activity. Assuming the IG doesn’t find anything else going on where they’ve been coloring outside the lines, the White House should pass this review without much trouble.
Assuming that’s the case, the onus should be placed back on the Democrats who complained about the troop deployments. What’s their real objective in issuing this complaint? Call me skeptical by nature, but I somehow doubt that they’re worried about the welfare and appropriate duties of our troops. More likely, they just don’t want anything happening to make life easier for CBP in their efforts to keep the border secure. And that’s one heck of a platform to run on next year, isn’t it?
An abundance of caution, or something more? The FBI continues to investigate the mass shooting by a Saudi pilot at the US naval base in Pensacola, but the Department of Defense now has to wonder about how well the rest of the trainees were vetted. For the moment, none of the Saudi pilots will have flight status, effectively grounding hundreds indefinitely — although classroom training will continue:
There are new developments surrounding last week’s deadly shooting at a Florida military base. The U.S. Navy has now suspended flight training for more than 300 Saudi Arabian students. pic.twitter.com/IpQDG0F27V
The Pentagon is suspending flight training and other operational exercises for Saudi military students studying in the United States while American officials investigate last week’s deadly shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola by a Saudi airman, defense officials said.
The move is part of a “safety stand-down” ordered by Deputy Secretary of Defense David L. Norquist under which the military will review how it screens foreign military students and grants them access to bases.
Flight training and the other exercises are being halted for the roughly 850 Saudi trainees in the United States pending the completion of the review, which could take a week or more, officials said. That means Saudi pilots, including several hundred studying at Naval Air Station Pensacola and other bases in the state, will be grounded for the time being.
Classroom training will continue after being suspended over the weekend.
The move impacts more than 300 Saudi nationals in the US. Defense Secretary Mark Esper later said that the DoD wants to bring its vetting of foreign nationals in this program into parity with the vetting they do for American recruits, which makes sense — and should raise questions about why it took so long to think of that.
Still, even this pause prompts a few other questions now. The reasons for barring unvetted or poorly vetted personnel from powerful fighters and bombers is very obvious, but why is classroom training continuing? Shouldn’t the entire program be suspended while the DoD re-vets the visiting students? After all, the Saudi officer didn’t need a plane to murder three people and wound eight others at the naval base where military policy forbids the armed services from being, well, armed.
Second, just how well can the DoD vet these students anyway? How does the DoD plan to suss out radical Islamists from the application process when one’s own family allegedly can’t do it? The New York Times talked with family and friends of the shooter, who claim they never saw any hint of radicalization or mental illness in him:
“He never had a secret. He was never hiding anything,” Saeed Abdullah Alshamrani, 55, the lieutenant’s father, said at the family’s home in eastern Saudi Arabia on Tuesday evening. “It’s such a mystery. Even we don’t know the truth.”
“Are you sure he’s dead?” his father asked during the interview, surrounded by several relatives, acquaintances and others whose relationship to the family was not clear. “We haven’t even been given any proof of whether he’s dead or alive.”
No motive for the shooting has been determined, although the F.B.I. is treating it as a presumed terrorist attack. The Pentagon announced on Tuesday that it was suspending operational training for all of the nearly 900 Saudi military students in the United States.
Among the few clues to emerge was a tweet from an account that may be connected to Lieutenant Alshamrani and that condemned United States foreign policy decisions in the Middle East, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, which monitors extremist activity online. There was also a complaint the lieutenant filed this year against one of his instructors for mocking his mustache in class.
Another hint came a few months ago, according to a source in the investigation:
A person familiar with the investigation in the United States has said that friends and classmates told investigators that Lieutenant Alshamrani seemed to have become more religious when he returned from his last visit home in February.
During that visit, relatives said, he took his mother to the holy city of Mecca to perform the umrah, a type of pilgrimage that many Muslims routinely undertake. In his relatives’ eyes, however, they said there was nothing to indicate his Islamic beliefs had changed or hardened. He did not seem different, they said, except that he had shaven his chin clean.
Clearly something was different. And whatever that something was, the DoD missed it, either at the beginning of his training or later on. The suspension of training for the rest of the Saudi students seems a prudent move, as does the heightening of vetting standards, even if a belated consideration. If we are to take the killer’s family and friends at their word, however, one has to wonder whether it’s worth continuing this program at all if it means never having any clue as to when a foreign exchange military student might take advantage of his position to commit mass murder … for any reason.
At the very least, the DoD should consider allowing their personnel the means to defend themselves in case it happens again in the future. We call them the armed services for a reason.
Liberals across the country were celebrating last month when Democrats scored the trifecta in Virginia, controlling both the Governor’s mansion and both chambers of the legislature. One of the key promises that Governor Raph Northam and the new legislative majority had run on was banning the ownership of “assault rifles” in the state. But after weeks of unrest and the formation of Second Amendment sanctuary counties, it seems that the pressure has gotten to them. The coming ban on scary looking rifles will now include a grandfather clause for those who already own them. (Free Beacon)
Virginia Democratic leaders abandoned their gun confiscation proposal Monday following a grassroots outpouring of opposition to gun control across the state.
Governor Ralph Northam (D.) and incoming Senate majority leader Dick Saslaw (D.) said they will no longer pursue their marquee plan to ban the possession of “assault weapons.” Instead, they will include a provision to allow Virginians to keep the firearms they already own. The reversal comes before the newly elected Democratic majority has even been sworn in, after a majority of the state’s counties declared themselves “Second Amendment sanctuaries.”
A spokesperson for the Governor said that owners of these types of firearms would have a grace period to register them with the state after the law goes into effect. Of course, this creates a de facto gun registry for those specific types of rifles, so we’re left to wonder whether or not that registry will be made public.
Northam and his allies probably saw all the potential trouble that was waiting in the wings for them if they had gone with a full ban and confiscation plan. Their first indication came when we learned that a majority of the counties in Virginia had either declared themselves Second Amendment sanctuaries or were preparing to do so. On top of that, Chesapeake, Virginia (population 225K) declared itself a “Second Amendment constitutional city” this week.
If they had moved forward with the full ban anyway, both the logistics and the political optics appeared daunting. If local law enforcement wasn’t going to go around collecting firearms they would have needed to dispatch the state police to do the job. And then there’s always the possibility that they might run into somebody holding to the “cold dead hands” philosophy. A dead firearms owner with no previous criminal record would make for a terrible headline for the Governor.
And is that really how the Democrats want to spend their first year in the majority? They’d wind up in a constant series of battles with county executives, sheriff’s departments and mayors. It would dominate the news and make the rest of their agenda harder to push through.
Still, it appears that Virginia remains on track to have a ban on new sales of so-called “assault rifles.” But with the grandfather clause in mind, gun shop owners should start placing their orders. There’s probably going to be one of the biggest runs of rifle sales in state history coming their way.
From a Southwest England farmer’s son comes a risk-management platform, Stable, a solution as simple as car insurance designed to protect farmers around the world from pricing volatility.
Using Stable, food buyers ranging from owners of a small smoothie shop to Coca-Cola employees can insure thousands of agricultural commodities, packaging and energy products. Led by founder and CEO Richard Counsell, London-based Stable has raised a $6 million seed round from Anthemis Group, agricultural company Sygenta and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board.
“I knew instinctively what a huge problem and how much damage volatile pricing does,” Counsell, who comes from a long line of farmers in Somerset, England, tells TechCrunch. “You could say it was in my blood. It’s not often you get the chance to bring two sides of your world together.”
After four years of research and development, Stable is launching on stage today at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin. For the former currency trader and farmer-turned-CEO, building the data-rich risk management platform was no easy task. To adequately protect farmers, Stable’s team of data scientists, analysts and developers collected 3,000 niche and un-traded indexes from 40 countries, allowing customers to match their risk to a local index.
“We make it simple and precise for businesses of every size and every sector to protect their business from volatile prices,” Counsell said. “Everything from fish to timber to food and then the packaging as well energy, whether that be fuel or electricity.”
Counsell said the business plans to set up shop in Chicago, the global epicenter for commodities risk management, and Sydney, a massive commodity producer, as soon as next year. For the foreseeable future, Stable will focus solely on the agri-food industry, worth more than $4 trillion, according to Stable’s statistics. Eventually, Counsell says Stable will expand to include other sectors like metals or construction.
“Almost every business on the planet is exposed to one commodity,” Counsell said, alluding to the company’s grand ambitions.
Clideo says it can help marketers reach consumers in a smarter way, by making videos shoppable via an “interactive overlay.”
CEO Michele Mazzaro (who previously worked as an executive at Ki Group and in mergers and acquisitions at KPMG Italy) said these videos are meant to address a larger issue: “Businesses are failing in communicating on digital media. I don’t remember the last time I clicked on a banner, pre-roll or mid-roll ad. I hate it as a consumer.”
To address this, Mazzaro and his co-founders Nitzan Mayer-Wolf and Andrea Iriondo have created what Mazzaro described as a way to “turn any video into a discovery experience.” They’re presenting the product today at Disrupt Berlin as part of our Startup Battlefield.
Mazzaro argued that these features give marketers crucial data about which audiences are engaging with which products.
“Stop throwing your video budgets into the garbage and undersatnad why your consumers are engaging with you,” he said.
Clideo videos require their own video player, so they can’t be played directly on YouTube or social media. However, Mazzaro noted that they can be promoted on Facebook, Twitter and elsewhere via links.
And despite this limitation, Madrid-based Clideo has already been tested by e-commerce websites, including Spain’s Modalia.com, with conversion rates as high as 33%.
Interactive and/or shoppable video isn’t a new idea, but Mazzaro said most existing solutions either come from creative agencies working with a limited number of luxury brands, or video marketing platforms that include very limited interactive capabilities.
Mazzaro contrasted this with Clideo, which he said is creating “the do-it-yourself solution without compromising creativity.” In fact, he said an interactive video can be created in as little as five minutes.
He also argued that Clideo is differentiated by its business model — where, in addition to a monthly subscription, customers pay an additional fee tied directly to Clideo’s results driving viewers to checkout pages.
“We’re the only ones to align our goals to our customers,” Mazzaro said.
Clideo has been bootstrapped thus far. Mazzaro said that the product is available globally, though early customers are likely to be based in Spain, Italy and Israel.
Nodle, which is competing in the TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin Startup Battlefield this week, is based on a simple premise: What if you could crowdsource the connectivity of smart sensors by offloading it to smartphones? For most sensors, built-in cell connectivity is simply not a realistic option, given how much power it would take. A few years of battery life is quite realistic for a sensor that uses Bluetooth Low Energy.
Overall, that’s a pretty straightforward idea, but the trick is to convince smartphone users to install Nodle’s app. To solve this, the company, which was co-founded by Micha Benoliel (CEO) and Garrett Kinsman, is looking to cryptocurrency. With Nodle Cash, users automatically earn currency whenever their phones transmit a package to the network. That connection, it’s worth noting, is always encrypted, using Nodle’s Rendevouz protocol.
The company has already raised $3.5 million in seed funding, mostly from investors in the blockchain space: Blockchange, Work Play Ventures (Marc Pincus), Blockchain Ventures (Blockchain.com), Olymp Capital, Bootstraplabs and Blockhead.
It’s worth noting that this isn’t Benoliel’s first rodeo in this space. He also co-founded the mesh networking startup Open Garden, which used a somewhat similar approach a few years ago to crowdsource connectivity (and which made a bit of a splash with its FireChat offline chat app back in 2014). Open Garden, too, competed in our Startup Battlefield in 2012 and won our award for most innovative startup. Benoliel left his CEO position there in early 2016, but Nodle definitely feels like an iteration on the original idea of Open Garden.
“We define the category as crowd connectivity,” Benoliel told me. “We leverage crowdsourced connectivity for connecting things to the internet. We believe there are a lot of benefits to doing that.” He argues that there are a number of innovations converging right now that will allow the company to succeed: Chipsets are getting smaller, and an increasing number of sensors now uses Bluetooth Low Energy, all while batteries are getting smaller and more efficient and blockchain technology is maturing.
Given the fact that these sensors depend on somebody with a phone coming by, this is obviously not a solution for companies that need to get real-time data. There’s simply no way for Nodle to guarantee that, after all. But the company argues it is a great solution for smart cities that want to get regular readouts of road usage or companies that want to do asset tracking.
“We do not address real-time connectivity, which is what you can do with more traditional solutions,” Benoliel said. “But we believe IoT is so broad and there is so much utility in being able to collect data from time to time, that with out solution, we can connect almost anything to the internet.”
While some users may want to simply install the Nodle Cash app to, well, make some Nodle cash, the team is also betting on working with app developers who may want to use the platform to make some extra money from their apps by adding it to the Nodle network. For users, that obviously means they’ll burn some extra data, so developers have to clearly state that they are opting their users into this service.
The team expects a normal user to see an extra 20 to 30 MB of traffic with Nodle installed, which isn’t really all that much (users of the standalone Nodle app also have the option to cache the data and postpone the transfer when they connect to Wi-Fi). Some app developers may use Nodle as an alternative to in-app payments, the team hopes.
The company is also already working with HTC and Cisco Meraki, and has a number of pilot projects in the works.