Pirate Studios of Bristol raises $20m for ‘self-service’ recording, live stream and sharing music

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thu, 15 Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

Bristol-based startup creating 24-hour production studios, where artists can record, live stream and share their music, has raised $20m (£15m), benefitting from growing demand among musicians for more control of their content.

Pirate Studios has raised the cash from venture capital firm Talis Capital, taking its total valuation to around $46m.

It has previously received backing from Eric Archambeau, an investor in Spotify, as well as partners at Hong Kong-based fund Gaw Capital.

The company operates the studios in a similar way to how The Gym Group runs its gyms, providing those using its sites with codes they can then use to unlock and access the studios.

Since it was founded in 2015, Pirate has grown to around 350 studios across the UK, Germany and the US. It had initially only offered recording studios, but now also has facilities for DJs and producers, and those using the sites can automatically record their content and live-stream it to social media platforms.

“We wanted to create studios that were more affordable, so we did this by opening up our sites for a 24-hour booking period per day,” said David Borrie, co-founder and CEO of Pirate Studios.

“And what most people don’t see is that we’re half construction company, half music studio company, so all our designs are effectively flat pack which we can build very quickly and, because we’re in industrial buildings, our rates can be cheaper.”

The latest fundraise comes amid growing interest in the music production space, with companies such as Spotify launching artist development programmes and allowing artists to upload their own music to the platform. Apple Music, meanwhile, in October took on staff from smaller business Asaii, which uses algorithms to predict which artists will be popular.

Spotify and Apple Music have been battling for market share in music streaming space, although Spotify, which launched first, is still thought to be well ahead. In May, Apple’s subscription service had 50 million active users, while Spotify has around 87 million paying subscribers and 110 million unpaid users.

“Interestingly the Spotifys and the Apple Musics are doing a great job in pushing bands and artists to record their content and either they pay to record their own content or they have a label paying for them,” Mr Borrie said.

“But we’re really more at the grass roots, so we’re looking at the artists who are trying to make it. They are just starting their journey or trying to push on to that next level, where they can then go up, record or start producing material which can go on to the likes of Spotify or Apple.”

“As to whether Spotify or Apple would ever be interested in having their own studios, from our perspective we want to make it so that we’re not pushing artists down one particular channel. We want to give artists as much choice as possible and by entertaining discussions with any particular provider in terms of how their music is distributed it would be pigeonholing ourselves,” he said.

“I guess maybe at some point these companies might want to look at stuff that's more in the grass-routes area, but we're very happy with the support we give those artists at the moment and we'll try to continue that choice and freedom.”

By Hannah Boland

 

Apple market valuation loses $50bn as iPhone sales fall

(qlmbusinessnews.com via cityam.com – – Tue, 13th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Apple's shares fell five percent tonight after a major supplier cut its financial outlook, leading to fears demand for the iPhone has plateaued.

The fall slashed $50bn (£38.9bn) from Apple’s market valuation with shares falling $20.30 to $194.17.

The losses mean Apple’s market capitalisation has fallen $190bn since October, more than the entire market value of US bluechips such as McDonalds, Walt Disney and Oracle.

Lumentum Holdings, a supplier of 3D sensors used in the iPhone’s facial recognition technology, cut its financial guidance for the second quarter today, citing a fall in orders from an unnamed major customer.

Chief executive Alan Lowe said: “We recently received a request from one of our largest industrial and consumer customers for laser diodes for 3D sensing to materially reduce shipments to them during our fiscal second quarter for previously placed orders that were originally scheduled for delivery during the quarter.”

Separately, Japan Display, which supplies iPhone liquid crystal display screens, also cut its full-year guidance today, blaming volatile demand from customers. Apple warned earlier this month that its Christmas sales would miss market expectations, blaming the fall on weakness in emerging markets and foreign exchange costs.

Elazar Capital analyst Chaim Siegel said: “Many suppliers have lowered numbers because of their unnamed ‘largest customer,’ which is Apple. Apple got cautious in their guidance and it’s hitting their suppliers.”

JP Morgan analysts cut their target price for Apple by $4 to $270, citing poor orders for the new iPhone XR.

Apple’s fall led a larger retreat across US equities tonight with the S&P 500 closing down two per cent at 2,726.22 and the tech-heavy Nasdaq dropping three per cent to 210.05.

Fellow tech giants Facebook and Google parent Alphabet also fell 2.3 per cent and 2.5 per cent respectively.

By  James Booth

 

Uk retailers shut 2,700 shops in the last six months in toughest trading climate in five years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 9th Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

About 14 shops are closing every day as UK High Streets face their toughest trading climate in five years, a report has found.

A net 1,123 stores disappeared from Britain's top 500 high streets in the first six months of the year, according to the accountancy firm PwC.

It said fashion and electrical stores had suffered most as customers did more shopping online.

Restaurants and pubs also floundered as fewer people go out to eat or drink.

London was the worst-hit region, PwC said, while Wales had the lowest number of closures.

“Looking ahead, the turmoil facing the sector is unlikely to abate,” said Lisa Hooker, consumer markets leader at PwC.

“Store closures in the second half of the year due to administrations and company voluntary arrangements [a form of insolvency] already announced will further intensify the situation.”

According to PwC, 2,692 shops shut across the UK in the first half of 2018, while only 1,569 new stores opened. The data looks at retail chains with more than five outlets.

Which sectors were hit hardest?
Electrical goods stores were among the biggest casualties, largely due to the collapse of Maplin in February that resulted in 50 stores being closed.

Italian restaurants also struggled, as Jamie's Italian and Prezzo both shut stores after striking rescue deals with their creditors, while Strada also made closures.

PwC said there was net decline of 104 fashion shops and 99 pubs as openings failed to replace closures “at a fast enough rate”.

There were some bright spots, however, with supermarkets, booksellers, ice cream parlours and coffee shops all seeing slim net gains in their store counts.

Which regions suffered most?
According to PwC, Greater London had the largest number of store closures of any UK region, with a fall of 716, while only 448 were opened.

None of the UK regions analysed by PwC recorded a net gain in store count in the first six months of the year.

Newcastle fared worst in the North East, with a net decline of 17 stores, while Nottingham fell by 35.

Other cities that suffered included Leeds, which opened nine stores but closed 35, and Reading where there were 39 closures and only 18 openings.

What's causing the problem?
Retailers are facing a perfect storm of pressures as consumers rein in their spending and do more of their shopping online.

As a result, many retailers have found themselves struggling to pay their rents and other overheads, such as a rising minimum wage and business rates.

In last month's Budget, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised to spend £900m on reducing the business rates bill of 500,000 small retailers by a third.

He also promised a new tax for online firms that employ fewer staff and pay far lower business rates.

However, the British Retail Consortium said the chancellor was “tinkering around the edges” and called for “wholesale reform” of the business rates system.

Jake Berry, the minister responsible for High Streets, said the government was determined to make them thrive.

“We have created a £675m fund to help high streets adapt, slashed business rates … and are creating a task force guided by Sir John Timpson, one of the UK's most experienced retailers, to ensure that High Streets are adapting for rapid change and are fit for the future,” he said.

By Daniel Thomas & Daniele Palumbo

 

 

Disney reveals name of planned television streaming service to take on Netflix

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 9th Nov, 2018) London, Uk – –

Walt Disney has revealed that its planned television streaming service is going to be called Disney+ and confirmed that it would be showing television shows spun off from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Speaking on an earnings call chief executive Bob Iger said that a TV series about the Marvel character Loki is in development for the service, featuring the actor Tom Hiddleston.

There will also be TV shows based on the Star Wars franchise and other Disney movies including Monsters Inc and High School Musical.

The planned family oriented streaming service is going to be a direct competitor to the streaming superpower Netflix, which said last month that it had 135m subscribers paying monthly fees.

Beginning in 2019, all of Disney's movies will be removed from Netflix as the two companies prepare to compete for subscribers.

To help it bulk up its web-based programming ahead of the looming faceoff Disney is buying 21st Century Fox’s entertainment assets in a $71.3bn deal.

The acquisition, which include Marvel’s X-Men and Avengers franchises, was approved by European Union authorities earlier this month.

Ahead of the earnings call, Disney reported a record annual profit of $12.6bn.

Fourth quarter earnings beat analyst estimates, with the studio-entertainment division and theme park unit driving profit growth.

Films including “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and “Incredibles 2” helped to more than double movie earnings during the quarter.

The California-based company’s theme parks and resorts benefited from a busy summer season and saw profit rise by 11pc.

Disney said its ESPN cable network continued to shed subscribers as viewing moved to digital platforms.

To counter that ongoing shift, Disney this year released a streaming service called ESPN+ with live college sports, documentaries and other programming that does not run on television.

By Wil Crisp

 

 

Tesla to pay millions in compensation to car owners over delayed Autopilot features

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 6th Nov 2018) London, Uk – –

Tesla has agreed to pay out millions in compensation to car owners over delays to its Autopilot feature.

The electric car company settled for $5.4m (£4.2m) with customers who complained that they had paid $5,000 for the Enhanced Autopilot technology but had been forced to wait months longer than promised.

Customers will receive between $25 and $280, depending on when they bought their car.

The extra features in Enhanced Autopilot included automatic lane changing, parking and assisted steering software.

Tesla announced the new feature in October 2016 and said it would be launched in December that year, but some customers still did not have it by September 2017.

The company has become notorious for failing to meet optimistic deadlines for new features and products.

The Autopilot system itself has also attracted controversy, with lead plaintiff Dean Sheikh complaining in the original lawsuit that once installed, it was “unpredictable” and unsafe.

Drivers who take their hands off the wheel when Autopilot is enabled are prompted to put them back on with visual and audible warnings, but there have been fatal accidents where drivers have appeared to ignore these.

In March a driver in California died after his Tesla slammed into a concrete barrier while Autopilot was enabled, the second fatal crash in the US which involved the system.

Research suggests that semi-autonomous cars can pose risks to drivers who put too much faith in the technology.

A study published earlier this week by Australian company Seeing Machines found that drivers using Autopilot in a Tesla Model S had slower reaction times than if they were fully in control of the car.

By Olivia Rudgard

 

 

Apple’s trillion-dollar status value lost on disappointing sales figures

Apple lost its status as the world’s only trillion-dollar public company on Thursday night as shares slumped following disappointing results.

The iPhone maker said that it would no longer reveal how many iPhones, iPads and Macs it sells each quarter, claiming the figure was no longer relevant to investors.

The announcement, combined with an underwhelming forecast for the crucial Christmas quarter, sent shares falling by more than 7pc in after-hours trading, knocking over $70bn (£54bn) off its value. If maintained, the drop means Apple’s value will fall below the trillion-dollar mark for the first time since it reached the milestone in August.

The news adds to a malaise that has hit technology shares in recent weeks. Amazon’s value surpassed a trillion dollars just weeks after Apple but has also fallen below the mark, while shares in other Silicon Valley giants have fallen.

Apple’s fall came despite it posting record profits and sales after it convinced consumers to buy more-expensive versions of the iPhone in the three months to the end of September.

But it said it expected revenue of between $89bn and $93bn in the final three months of 2018, traditionally the company’s most profitable selling season. Wall Street had priced in revenues of $93bn, with the most bullish saying the company could hit close to $100bn of sales.

In the three months to the end of September, it sold 46.9m iPhones, flat on the same period last year and below what analysts had expected. However, a huge increase in the price of each phone meant that iPhone revenues increased by 29pc. On average, consumers now pay $793 for each iPhone, up from $618 a year ago.

Apple has successfully pushed its users into paying more for newer versions of its iPhone by adding new features and bigger screen sizes, even as sales growth has stalled.

Revenues in the quarter increased by 20pc to $62.9bn, while profits were up 32pc to $14.1bn. Tim Cook, Apple's chief executive, said sales had been disappointing in some emerging markets such as India, Turkey and Brazil.

Apple sold fewer Mac computers and iPads than a year ago, but said revenues from its software division had increased by 17pc. This week, the company unveiled new iPad and MacBook computers, in an attempt to arrest declining sales of both.

Apple said it would continue to say how much revenue it makes from each of its product lines, which it claimed was a more relevant figure than unit sales. The company has reported how many of its major products it sells for over 20 years, well before the iPhone or even the iPod were invented.

By James Titcomb

 

Tech giants Google and Facebook hit with digital services tax worth up to £400m per year

Source: pixabay

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Tue, 30th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Online tech giants including Google and Facebook are to be hit with a digital services tax worth up to £400m per year, as Chancellor Philip Hammond used the Budget to take the lead in a global push to tax Silicon Valley while limiting the pain felt on Britain's struggling high streets.

But the proposal for what he termed a “narrowly targeted” tax, to be paid only by large companies that are profitable and generate over £500m a year in global revenues, was sharply criticised by some as potentially damaging for the UK's technology industry at a sensitive time as negotiations continue over Brexit.

Some warned that the move, first reported earlier this month by the Sunday Telegraph, could damage the UK's reputation as a stable place to invest.

Russ Shaw, founder of Tech London Advocates, said a unilateral UK tax was the “wrong approach”. He said: “Digital tax is a universal problem, and must be taken on in that manner. Any other approach makes Britain economically vulnerable”.

Meanwhile, writing on Twitter, Peter Kyle MP pointed out that Sainsbury alone pays £580m in business rates. He branded the proposed tax, geared to level the playing field with the high street, as “pathetically tokenistic”.

But Chancellor Philip Hammond said the tax, which is expected to affect about 30 companies, was all about “fairness”.

He said: “It's clearly not sustainable, or fair, that digital platform businesses can generate substantial value in the UK without paying tax here in respect of that business.”

He said the tax would be aimed at UK-generated revenues of specific digital platform business models “designed to ensure it is the established tech giants rather than the technology startups which shoulder the burden”.

The announcement confirmed that the levy would not be an online-sales tax on goods ordered over the internet as “such a tax would fall on consumers of those goods – and that is not our intention”. It instead focuses largely on advertising revenues.

According to a consultation document released after Mr Hammond appeared in the House of Commons, the 2pc tax will be applied to the revenues a social media platform generates from revenue targeting adverts at UK users, the revenues a marketplace generates from facilitating a transition between UK users and the revenues a search engine generates from displaying advertising.

It will be rolled out in April 2020, although Mr Hammond said the UK would continue to work with international bodies, the OECD and G20, to attempt to strike an international deal on how to tax tech companies and would not go ahead with its own tax if such an agreement could be reached.

“I’m already looking forward to my call from the former leader of the Liberal Democrats,” joked Mr Hammond in reference to former deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, who is to join Facebook as its new global affairs and communications chief. Facebook is expected to be among the hardest hit by the planned tax.

The announcement came despite lobbying efforts by companies including Facebook to stave off such measures, amid mounting criticism over the amount of tax tech giants are paying in the UK compared to the profit they are generating in the region.

eMarketer estimates that Facebook generated nearly £2.3bn in digital advertising revenue for 2017, and Google £4.7bn, but the two paid just £15.7m and £50m in UK tax respectively.

If the Treasury is to take £400m every year from the tax, Deloitte's Zubin Patel said it would need to apply “more widely than just the biggest and most famous companies”.

Another tech industry source said the latest measures were a “bit half hearted” and “not the bold decisive moves” which had been expected.

The enormous complexity of crafting an effective tax was also becoming clear.

Based on the Government's estimates, the maximum Google or Facebook would likely pay under the new tax would be £200m, and the amount is expected to be much less, with the OBR suggesting just £30m could be raised from each of the companies. The OBR admitted that its estimates were “subject to high uncertainty due to the data, modelling and behavioural complexities involved”.

The OBR suggested the £400m could be widely optimistic as well, suggesting that the government could lose around 30pc of that revenue by 2024 due to companies redistributing their revenue.

The announcement was met with a mixed response on Monday, as some hailed the move as a key to ensuring the giants pay their fair share, while others warned it would damage the tech sector in the long run.

TechUK chief executive Julian David said the approach risked “undermining the UK’s reputation as the best place to start a tech business or to invest at a time when the UK needed to enhance its attracrtiveness.

However, Adam Rose, a partner at Mischon de Reya, said the tax was “possibly the first step towards bringing the UK's tax system for technology dominated services into the modern era”.

Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat leader, added that the tax could help level the playing field, saying “tech giants have got away without paying their fair share for too long”.

By Hannah Boland and Matthew Field

 

 

Snapchat loses 2 million more users as it struggles to match aggressive competition from rivals

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Fri, 26th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Snapchat has shed five million users over the last six months as it battles aggressive competition from Facebook and Instagram.

The photo-sharing app suffered its second successive decline in popularity, falling from 188 million in the three months ending in June to 186 million by the end of September, according to its latest earnings report on Thursday night.

That was on top of a previous drop from 191 million earlier this year, following an unpopular redesign which Snap's own chief executive, Evan Spiegel, called “rushed” and “frustrating”.

But other figures showed mild improvement, with revenue 5-7pc higher than analysts had expected at $298 million (£232 million), and losses reduced by around 30 per cent.

Shares in Snap Inc briefly spiked 9 per cent in after hours trading, before dropping to below Wednesday's closing price of $6.60.

“We are focusing our time and resources to expand our community, increase engagement, and improve monetisation,” Mr Spiegel told investors. “We have a significant opportunity to grow and broaden our global community over the long term.”

Snap has struggled to become profitable since going public in March 2017, regularly missing revenue estimates and losing or replacing many senior members of staff.

Mr Spiegel pitched Snapchat, where photos and videos disappear after 24 hours, as an “escape from social media… without the pressure of likes, comments and permanence”, drawing an implicit contrast with rivals such as Facebook and Twitter.

But his app has been rapidly eclipsed by copycat offerings from Facebook itself, such as Facebook Stories, which claimed 300 million daily users in September, and Instagram Stories, which hit 400 million in June.

In a conference call with analysts, Mr Spiegel said he planned to restore Snapchat's user growth by targeting over-34-year-olds, who rarely use it at present, and people in the developing world, where most populations are younger on average than in the West.

He cited a forthcoming redesign of Snapchat's app for Android, which is the dominant smartphone operating system in most developing countries, and an effort to reduce its use of mobile data, which is far more expensive in developing countries relative to income.

Snap is at a disadvantage in many poorer markets because Facebook partners with local mobile phone companies to offer free data for its own apps.

Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group, said Snap's performance had been “consistent with our prior expectations” and that he believed it would maintain enough users to sustain a “niche” position in the advertising market.

Snap's shares have dropped by over 60 per cent since its IPO, but Mr Spiegel is insulated from shareholder anger by an unusual stock structure which gives him and his co-founder Robert Murphy 96 per cent of the voting rights.

Its most recent annual shareholder meeting consisted of an online conference call with associate general counsel Atul Porwal, which lasted 2 minutes and 46 seconds.

By Laurence Dodds

 

Google dismiss dozens of employees over sexual harassment

(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Fri, 26 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Google has sacked 48 people including 13 senior managers over sexual harassment claims since 2016.

In a letter to employees, chief executive Sundar Pichai said the tech giant was taking a “hard line” on inappropriate conduct.

The letter was in response to a New York Times report that Android creator Andy Rubin received a $90m exit package despite facing misconduct allegations.

A spokesman for Mr Rubin denied the allegations, the newspaper said.

Sam Singer said Mr Rubin decided to leave Google in 2014 to launch a venture capital firm and technology incubator called Playground.

He was given what the paper described as a “hero's farewell” when he departed.

Mr Pichai's letter said the New York Times story was “difficult to read” and that Google was “dead serious” about providing a “safe and inclusive workplace”.

“We want to assure you that we review every single complaint about sexual harassment or inappropriate conduct, we investigate and we take action,” he continued.

None of the employees dismissed in the past two years had received an exit package, Mr Pichai added.

According to the New York Times report, two unnamed Google executives said then-chief executive Larry Page asked Mr Rubin to resign after the company confirmed a complaint by a female employee about a sexual encounter in a hotel room in 2013.

A Google investigation found the woman's complaint to be credible, the paper reported, but the company has not confirmed this.

Mr Rubin has said he did not engage in misconduct and left Google of his own accord.

The claims will add to the growing chorus denouncing sexist culture in male-dominated Silicon Valley.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst at Creative Strategies in San Francisco, tweeted: “In a normal world this would mean Rubin is done, but tech has not just been forgiving, some tech sees little wrong with this.

“I'd like to think Google will clean up its act if anything to avoid having a retention problem with their female employees.”

Shares in Alphabet, which owns Google, fell more than 3% in New York after it reported revenues of $33.7bn (£26.3bn) for the three months to September – slightly less than analysts had expected.

However, net profit soared $2.5bn to $9.2bn – far higher than expected.

 

 

Addison Lee aims for self-driving cars in London within three years

(qlmbusinessnews.com via theguardian.com – – Mon, 22 Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Tech pioneer Oxbotica to start mapping public roads as it calls deal with hire firm ‘huge leap’

Self-driving car services could be on the streets of London within three years under a partnership between the private hire firm Addison Lee and the British driverless car pioneers Oxbotica.

The companies have signed a deal to develop and deploy autonomous vehicles in the city by 2021.

Oxbotica will start mapping more than 250,000 miles of public roads in and around London from next month, using its technology to create a comprehensive map of every traffic feature.

While the link-up could eventually allow Addison Lee’s fleet of black Mercedes and Prius cabs to be driven autonomously, the 5,000 drivers in London will remain employed, the firm says. However, it could also offer a cheaper, autonomous ride-sharing version of its hire service. The first stage is likely to be in corporate shuttles, around airports or campuses.

Despite the ambitious time frame, London looks set to be at least a year behind other global cities. Tokyo launched an experimental driverless taxi in August, with a view to having a full service in place in time for the 2020 Olympics.

Toyota, meanwhile, is investing $500m (£388m) to develop an autonomous fleet for Uber, although Uber’s programme was set back when one of its self-driving cars was involved in a fatal collision with a pedestrian in the US in March.

Andy Boland, chief executive of Addison Lee, said that although technology could make an autonomous version of their current service feasible in London, “our 5,000 drivers in the UK are going to carry on doing what they are doing. For the foreseeable future I would draw that distinction between premium services, and technology opening those other sorts of services at a relevant price point.”

However, he said a driverless vehicle should eventually prove cheaper to run for the firm: “There are cost savings in the medium term, from maximising asset utilisation.”

The traditional London taxi and private hire trade has been disrupted by Uber offering lower fares, but industry observers have questioned whether Uber could continue to keep prices down in the long term by continuing to use drivers.

Boland said that while plenty of tech firms had eyed the market in a sector that could be worth £28bn a year by 2035, practically implementing autonomous or car-sharing services would still require the kind of fleet, maintenance and customer base his firm already had.

Graeme Smith, chief executive of Oxbotica, said: “This represents a huge leap towards bringing autonomous vehicles into mainstream use on the streets of London, and eventually in cities across the United Kingdom and beyond.”

New York is the next city it will target.

Transport for London said it was committed to engaging with firms using autonomous vehicle technology at the earliest opportunity. Michael Hurwitz, director of transport innovation, said it had the potential to change travel significantly: “All cities across the UK, including London, need to understand the opportunities, risks and challenges they face when considering how transport will operate in the future.”

Addison Lee and Oxbotica were part of the consortium carrying out government-funded studies in Greenwich, south-east London, to investigate whether the public transport network could be complemented with people ride-sharing in driverless pods.

Gwyn Topham Transport correspondent

 

 

Danielle Ishak : The woman making robot companions for seniors

 

Bloomberg

For decades, we've dreamed of robots that can be our companions. Now, Danielle Ishak is trying to build one. Named ElliQ, this robot is aimed at the elderly who live alone, and it's in the homes of about a dozen beta testers in the Bay Area. Ishak's task is to study these seniors' interactions with ElliQ to make sure the robot is something they actually want

 

 

UK start-up Bombay Sour to launch new video streaming platform

British entertainment start-up Bombay Sour will launch a new video streaming platform this week on which subscribers will be able to buy shares in upcoming content.

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Mon, 15th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

The platform, which Bombay Sour describes as “crowdfunded Netflix”, uses blockchain technology to allow subscribers to take a stake in pilot content before it breaks onto TV, film or streaming services.

Since being founded in May, Bombay Sour already has a slate of more than 200 TV pilots and short films from directors including Eric Kissack, who directed The Dictator and  Phil Sheerin, who won Best UK Short at the Raindance Film Festival in 2015. The company said it would be ramping up production operations through to the end of the year.

At the MIPCOM trade show in Cannes this week, Bombay Sour will also reveal it is bolstering its management team, adding Simon Egan, the producer of The King's Speech, and the co-founder of Jukin Media, Josh Entman, to its advisory board.

The launch of Bombay Sour's service, which will focus on mobile viewing and be called Zest, comes as more consumers shift away from traditional TV and watch content online instead.

Just under a third of people in the UK said they had used Netflix in the last month, and a recent survey revealed that, among 12 to 15-year-olds in Britain, Netflix was better known than BBC One.

With growing viewer numbers, streaming services, which also include Amazon Prime Video and Now TV, have been allocating increasing amounts of cash to original content in recent years.

Netflix is planning to spend between $7bn and $8bn on content next year while analysts estimate Amazon's budget for Prime Video is around $4.5bn and new entrant Apple's is thought to be around $1bn.

However, Bombay Sour's founder and chief executive Piotr Kocel said his company believes that premium entertainment has “a decentralized future where content is democratically co-created with audiences and value is fairly distributed through private smart contracts”.

 

 

Dubai’s Truly Remarkable Sustainable City Housing Development

 

An amazing day at the Sustainable City, a housing development in Dubai with 3,500 people already living there and it's still not quite finished.This truly is a remarkable achievement, a stark lesson to building contractors the world over. It's not more expensive to build and it's hugely cheaper and more efficient to live in.

 

 

Nokia charts a new course with fibre-optic connectivity and routers

(qlmbusinessnews.com via telegraph.co.uk – – Thur, 11th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

At first glance, you’d think Risto Siilasmaa was an excitable man. “I thought I’d just grab a quick cappuccino. I didn’t realise they’d do this,” the Nokia chairman enthuses, signalling to his coffee where an image of a horse has been created out of the foam.

Yet, excitable is the last word you’d use to describe Risto when he launches into a brief summary of Nokia’s 150-year history, his voice calm and measured as he thinks carefully before speaking.

Risto took the reins of Nokia as chairman in 2012, when the firm was still reeling from the launch of Apple’s iPhone in 2007. Up until that point, Nokia had held 40pc of the global handset market, had achieved a market capitalisation of more than $290bn (£220bn) and accounted for around 4pc of Finland’s GDP.

However, Apple’s bet on smartphones sent shockwaves through the market. It caused Nokia’s share of the global handset market to plunge to 3pc over the next six years and, eventually, led to the sale of its mobile business to Microsoft in late 2013. Nokia's demise was spectacular and sudden.

“We were for a brief period of time a company basically without a business,” Risto explains. “We had to decide what our business should be, and we chose to be a major player in digital communications infrastructure for both tele-operators as well as enterprises.

“There were lots of heroic deeds done by many people, and obviously it was a very emotional journey because Nokia has a special place in Finland and also worldwide. Many people think of Nokia very warmly as they started their journey in the mobile world with a Nokia handset, so we felt we needed to make sure that Nokia continued.”

The company’s transformation under Risto has been significant. Since selling its mobile phone business, Nokia is now a smaller beast, with a market capitalisation of around $29bn. But, even at that size, it is one of the largest telecoms equipment companies in the world, propelled by its €16bn (£14bn) takeover of French rival Alcatel Lucent in 2016 which saw it enter into the domain of fibre-optic connectivity and routers.

Nokia has been seen as the dominant player in the West in this space for years, gaining a reputation for being better managed than its Baltic rival Ericsson. But with a new chief executive installed at the helm of Ericsson last year, its standing as the European market leader has been thrown into doubt.

“Two years ago if you asked people like me Ericsson versus Nokia, I would have said Ericsson is a dog of a company,” Liberum’s Janardan Menon says. “I would have said they were bloated and didn’t know how to do anything, and that Nokia was a lean mean fighting machine, but the last few quarters have proved that that is not correct.”

In the three months to the end of June, Nokia posted a 42pc fall in operating profit, missing market expectations, in a set of results made even more disappointing by the fact they came just one week after Ericsson announced it had swung to profit in the same period.

To add insult to injury, recent months have seen Nokia lose a number of high-profile contracts, including with Deutsche Telecom in Germany and with Vodafone in the UK.

However, Risto is confident that by spending more on research and development, Nokia can bat off competition and expand its business, especially as the 5G roll-out takes hold.

“We need to be successful in the business we are in and 5G is a major investment cycle,” he says.

“It is now starting and it will last many years, and keep growing on an annual basis for many years. It starts low and then it keeps on climbing up, so we have our hands full of work at the moment.”

In 2017, Nokia did spend more than Ericsson on R&D – around $5.2bn compared to the Swedish company’s $4.5bn.

However, even if both start ramping up spending dramatically, their budgets will still likely pale in comparison to those of Chinese companies. Earlier this year Huawei pledged to spend between $10bn and $20bn annually on R&D, and around 45pc of its employees are engaged in R&D-related activities.

Huawei is now one of the world’s biggest R&D spenders, alongside Amazon and Apple, and has won major contracts in Germany, Canada and the UK.

Given the vast resources of Huawei in the industry, it is fair to assume that Nokia and Ericsson are more than a little relieved that the US has essentially banned Huawei from doing business in the country amid concerns over security.

Recent reports which allege China planted microchips in equipment destined for the US to hack their systems are likely to add fuel to the fire, causing more regulatory barriers to be introduced against Chinese vendors.

Risto admits that, when it comes to reports such as these, Nokia benefits from the fact it is European.

“It is something all companies have to be aware of and prepare for, but we, being a Finnish company, feel we’re outside of all those ambitions of needing access to other people’s information. Our advantage is that we come from a country that is outside that activity.”

But even if this gives Nokia an edge over Chinese companies, this does not put it in the clear.

Ericsson also has this same advantage, and Liberum’s Menon says Nokia really has to “either bring what they have up to a much higher level of performance, or do something else to make their business more exciting”.

To be fair, there have been tentative steps by Nokia to enter into new markets in the past. It bought health tech business Withings two years ago and also previously owned HERE, a digital mapping business.

However, it sold HERE to German carmakers Audi, BMW and Daimler in 2015, and gave up on the health tech company after two years, selling it back to its founders at a substantial loss, and leading to some criticism that Nokia chokes whenever it has to make big moves.

In fact, the timing of the deal to sell Withings has caused some to question whether Nokia really knows the value of some of its businesses, coming just months before Apple unveiled its latest iteration of the Apple Watch which focuses exactly on health monitoring.

“It’s a good thing to experiment and try out new things,” Risto counters. “If you never try new things, you never have to withdraw, and then you can say that you never withdraw, but we would rather try out things in multiple domains. If we don’t feel that they are for us, then we’d rather pull the trigger quickly than let things drag for many years.”

And Nokia is always on the lookout for new opportunities, keeping tabs on companies across different spaces which are working on novel technology.

“It’s one reason we have our venture capital arm, so we can first invest in companies, and then partner with those companies if they do something that may be useful for us. Then we can decide to buy some of them, if they develop into something that is truly important and attractive.

“We have a list of 1,200 companies that we are tracking for intelligence purposes because we can’t do everything internally. Nobody can predict which companies will come up the winning solution so you have to hedge your bets.

“It might be that we pick the wrong horse,” he says, pointing again to his now-empty cup. “Nokia is over 150 years old and we have been in many many industries. We have been really big in many of them and then we have pivoted after 30 years in a single business towards something else and again become quite successful in that. Yes, in some of them we never really became successful, but then we changed course, and I’m sure we will pivot again one day.”

By Hannah Boland

 

Google Pixel smartphone third edition debut with 10 events across the world

 


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(qlmbusinessnews.com via uk.reuters.com — Tue, 9 Oct, 2018) London, UK —

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Alphabet Inc’s Google will unveil the third edition of its Pixel smartphone at 10 media events across the world on Tuesday, a hint that it is prepared to expand geographic distribution of a device it hopes someday is as popular as Apple Inc’s iPhone.

Google’s free Android software operates most of the world’s smartphones. But the company three years ago branched into hardware to have products where, like Apple, it could have full control of the performance of its applications and the revenue they generate.

Though Google has succeeded in selling lower-priced devices such as smart speakers and home routers, the phones have been a tougher sell.

Google shipped 2.53 million Pixel 2 and 2 XL devices through the nine months ended June 30, garnering less than 1 percent of the global market for smartphones, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

The first Pixel devices reached 2.4 million shipments in the nine months ended June 30, 2017, the firm said.

Limited adoption has reflected Google’s hesitancy to go as wide and big in distributing and marketing the Pixel as Apple, which launched its last two iPhone line-ups in about 50 countries.

Going from a small experiment to a polished product backed by large sales, support and technical teams has been part of Google’s challenge.

Last year’s Pixel 2 arrived with bugs that prompted user complaints about unwanted noises during calls, a crashing camera app and an unexpected screen tint.

Google initially sold the Pixel 2 and its larger-sibling, Pixel 2 XL, in six countries, including the United States, Australia, Germany and India, after an unveiling in San Francisco.

This year, Google is hosting events for the Pixel 3 in cities such as New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Singapore, spokesman Kay Oberbeck said.

Google Assistant, the signature virtual helper feature on the Pixel that was available in six languages a year ago, now supports 16.

Privacy and security features also could be top talking points about the Pixel 3 as Google and other big U.S. tech companies try to bounce back from recent data breach scandals.

A U.S. regulatory filing points to Google’s matching on Tuesday rivals Amazon.com Inc and Facebook Inc with a smart speaker that has a display to show visual responses to voice commands.

Amazon shipped 21.5 million smart speakers, including those with displays, in the year ended June 30, compared with 18.3 million for Google, according to research firm Canalys.

Reporting by Paresh Dave

 

Facebook’s paid UK tax bill of £15.7m

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(qlmbusinessnews.com via bbc.co.uk – – Mon, 8th Oct 2018) London, Uk – –

Facebook paid £15.7m in tax in the UK last year, which is triple the amount it paid in the previous year.

In 2016, Facebook's tax bill rose to £5.1m, following a major overhaul of the social media firm's tax structure.

However, the company's profits only climbed by £4m year-on-year from £58.4m to £62.7m in 2017.

The company's UK office provides marketing services and sales and engineering support to the company.

Facebook's revenue rose by a third year-on-year to £1.2bn in 2017, because of increased revenues from inter-company and advertising reseller services in 2017.

In 2017, Facebook gave out 1.48 million restricted ordinary shares (RSU) to employees, a move that reduces its tax liability.

This is one million fewer shares than it gave out in 2016.

The publication of Facebook's 2017 tax accounts follows extensive criticism from policymakers and the media over the last 12 months of how much tax tech giants typically pay in Europe.

Large technology companies have been condemned for moving sales through other countries and paying modest amounts of tax in the UK.

Last week, Chancellor Philip Hammond raised the prospect of introducing a new tax to address this concern.

Meanwhile, online payments firm PayPal has announced that its UK subsidiary has agreed to pay an extra £3.1m in tax following a review by HMRC.

Expansion plans
The social networking giant said that it intended to expand its UK operations further in the future.

In July, it signed a new facility lease in the UK.

In 2017, Facebook employed 330 more people than the previous year – a 34% increase in headcount.