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10 things in tech you need to know, April 11 - Business Insider image

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Original author: James Cook
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BatsReuters/David W CernyA butterfly emerges from its cocoon during an exhibition of tropical butterflies at the botanical garden in Prague, Czech Republic, April 10, 2016.

Good morning! Here's what you need to know on Monday.

1. David Cameron published his tax records on Sunday in an attempt to draw a line under questions about his personal finances raised by the mention of his late father in the Panama Papers.

2. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk tendered his resignation in a televised broadcast. President Petro Poroshenko's faction (BPP) and Yatseniuk's People's Front party were expected to announce the formation of a new coalition next week.

3. Asian stocks got off to a tentative start on Monday as Japanese markets wobbled, while the dollar nursed losses after a week in which it slipped to fresh lows against its major counterparts.

4. The Daily Mail & General Trust PLC, the parent company of the The Daily Mail newspaper, is investigating a possible bid for Yahoo, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal. Yahoo has set a deadline of April 18 to place bids for its core business.

5. Barclays wants to encourage staff to be friends with each other in a bid to improve company culture, according to a report in The Sunday Times. Staff will be asked to name their best friend within the bank in an effort to encourage friendship.

6. Police on Monday detained five workers from a temple in southern India where an explosion during a fireworks display killed more than 100 people.

7. The IMF has defended negative interest rates set by central banks, while at the same time acknowledging potential for dangerous boom-and-bust cycles. Six central banks have taken the unprecedented measure of bringing in negative interest rates.

8. VW Chief Executive Matthias Mueller will push for a significant reduction in bonuses for the carmaker's management board on Monday, sources familiar with the matter told Reuters.

9. A Brussels-based terror cell intended to launch a fresh strike on France, but attacked the Belgian capital instead after being "surprised" by a quick-moving investigation, Belgian prosecutors said Sunday.

10. English golfer Danny Willett won the 80th Masters thanks to a bogey-free final round and an epic back-nine collapse by defending champion and strong favourite Jordan Spieth. Willett is only the second English golfer to win the Masters.

And finally ... Mark Zuckerberg has a 'yellow' version of Facebook on his phone with all kinds of special features.

Original author: Cyrus Engineer
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Welcome to The Fintech Briefing, a morning email providing the latest news, data, and insight into disruptive fintech in Europe and around the world, produced by BI Intelligence.

Want to receive The Fintech Briefing to your inbox? Enter your email in the box below.

REGULATION IS THE BIGGEST THREAT TO BANKS IN EUROPE: The Payments Services Directive 2 (PSD2) may be the biggest threat to European legacy banks, according to the BBC. More specifically, a particular article of the regulatory framework forces banks to give fintechs access to their systems in order to pull customer data and to initiate payments. PSD2 will come into force in January 2018 and applies to all countries in the EU.

Fintechs can provide a better user experience only if they have access to account data. The value of many fintechs is their customer-centric products. They've leveraged digital technology to create a better front-end user experience than their legacy competitors. At the same time, they still need legacy banks because most do not have a banking license and which prevents them from collecting meaningful customer data. Banks' ability to control who can access their data, how it's accessed, and how it is formatted provides significant leverage for determining what the relationship between fintechs and banks will look like. But PSD2 forces banks to provide access which is going to leave them scrambling to differentiate their products and services as fintechs become intermediaries.

What might save banks is time. Banks have two years before they'll be forced to open up access to their data. That means that they have time to imitate the products of fintechs or form partnerships on favorable terms. Many fintechs, for example, don't have access to two-years worth of funding and need to scale — something banks can help with given their relatively large customer portfolios. 

MARKETPLACE LENDERS FORM US TRADE ASSOCIATION: Funding Circle, Lending Club, and Prosper, three of the largest US marketplace lenders, announced the launch of a trade association called the Marketplace Lending Association (MLA) last week.It has already established a code of conduct for members which promotes transparency, responsible lending, governance and controls, and risk management. The MLA is open to other marketplaces provided they meet the membership criteria and agree to the code of conduct. 

The formation of the MLA is an attempt to get ahead of impending regulation, according to the Financial Times. In the UK, which had the largest P2P lending industry per capita as of 2014, alternative lenders have been regulated since 2014 — and now it looks like the US is headed the same way. Last month the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) issued a white paper related to responsible innovation in fintech, including alternative lending, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) set up a marketplace lending complaints service.

Preparation is key if the lenders want a well-regulated industry. Recent regulator interest in alternative lending is partly due to banks calling for increased scrutiny of the industry. The banks claim alt lending threatens wider financial stability. P2P lenders' biggest fear is that banks will be the ones who dictate what alternative lending regulation looks like. This is because the banks would likely make the regulation as restrictive as possible, in order to protect their own loans businesses. By forming a members association, the lenders can agree on key concerns and present a unified front. 

The UK Has A Larger P2P Lending MarketBI Intelligence

CITI EXPLORES VIRTUAL REALITY: The bank's traders have been using Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset as a virtual workstation. The Holographic Workstation was designed by virtual reality (VR) startup 8Ninths and lets users see data as 3D images. Traders then use hand and voice commands to interact with the data. The virtual workstation is not designed to replace the physical trading desk, but to complement it, making it quicker and easier for traders to access the data they need. VR is also being used in other areas of finance, including wealth management, where Fidelity Investments has been experimenting with turning stock portfolios into "virtual cities." It believes providing customers with a more intuitive way to view their portfolio will drive engagement and encourage more people to invest. Financial services firms are hoping that virtual and augmented reality can help with their problems across the board, from driving efficiency, to increasing customer loyalty and revenue. 

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Around the world...

BNP PARIBAS PARTNERS SILICON VALLEY ACCELERATOR: BNP Paribas has become a corporate partner of Plug and Play, a Silicon Valley based accelerator and investor, according to Finextra. Plug and Play runs 3-month fintech accelerator programs designed to encourage corporates to work with startups, and provides a co-working space that currently houses 400 startups. Corporate partners get to help select the startups for the programs. BNP Paribas hopes that the partnership will give it an edge over competitors when it comes to getting access to innovative startups. The bank's digital strategy is based on partnerships — what it calls an open innovation ecosystem. This involves partnering with a range of digital players including sector giants, fintech developers, and startups.  

LONDON FX STARTUP GOES LIVE IN SINGAPORE: R5 enables the buying and selling of emerging-market currencies and derivatives through its platform. This week it began trading in Singapore after receiving authorisation from the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), according to Finextra. Singapore is a major centre for FX trading, making it a strategically important location for R5. R5's expansion is also important to Singapore. Regulators in the country are working hard to encourage foreign fintech to come to the region.

BLOCKCHAIN TESTS COME TO WALL STREET: Blockchain startup Markit has been working with major banks, including Bank of America, Citigroup, Credit Suisse, and JPMorgan Chase, to test blockchain-based technology as a method of record-keeping for credit swap default trades, according to The Wall Street Journal. Testing was run in partnership with the Depository Trust & Clearing Corp. (DTCC), Wall Street’s central bookkeeper. Financial institutions are flocking to blockchain because it could streamline processes and cut operating costs. For this trade in particular, blockchain technology could cut trading settlement costs for banks by about a third, equivalent $16 billion a year, according to The Wall Street Journal. And this test puts the industry one step closer to actual blockchain implementation. DTCC is looking to see if other banks and regulators are interested in using blockchain technology for trading functions. The DTCC's oversight and involvement could be critical as the blockchain ecosystem matures.  

Original author: Sarah Kocianski and Jaime Toplin
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fidelity investments bankers suitsAP Images

Times are tough in the market for initial public offerings.

2016 has seen the fewest IPO deals, and lowest deal value, since the gloomy post-financial-crisis days of 2009.

There have been just nine IPOs this year in the US, raising a total of $1.2 billion, according to Dealogic. That's down from 33 deals worth $5.5 billion in the same period last year and 59 deals worth $10.1 billion in the same period in 2014.

Notably, none of this year's offerings have been in the tech space.

So what's going on?

Business Insider talked to a handful of bankers at some of the top-ranked houses for equity capital markets. They attributed the slowdown mainly to unusually volatile markets that started in late 2015, which have the typical IPO investors — hedge funds and mutual funds — spooked and unwilling to take a risk on an untested stock.

Companies might be able to pull off a sale right now, but only by offering the new shares at a steeper than usual discount to the new investors. So those that can afford to wait are choosing to do so until demand returns.

That said, most of the bankers we talked to expect activity, especially in the tech and consumer sectors, to pick up a bit in the spring — and even more into the second half of the year — as markets continue to stabilize.

Here's what they had to say:

Original author: Business Insider
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Marissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San Francisco, California November 3, 2015. REUTERS/Elijah NouvelageThomson ReutersMarissa Mayer, President and CEO of Yahoo, participates in a panel discussion at the 2015 Fortune Global Forum in San FranciscoThe Daily Mail & General Trust PLC, the parent company of the British tabloid The Daily Mail, is investigating a possible bid for Yahoo, according to a report by The Wall Street Journal.

The company is reportedly in talks with multiple private equity companies about possibly backing the bid.

Yahoo set the deadline to place bids for its core business on April 18, according to previous reports.

The Daily Mail's bid could take two different routes, according to the Journal:

In one scenario, a private-equity partner would aim to acquire the entirety of Yahoo’s core web business, with the Mail taking over the news and media properties.

...

In the other scenario, the private-equity firm would acquire Yahoo’s core web business and merge its media and news properties with the Mail’s online operations. The merged units would form a new company that would be run by the Mail and give a larger equity stake to the Mail’s parent company than under the first scenario.

The Daily Mail is far from the only company in the running.

Verizon is expected to place a bid for Yahoo this week, while Google is also considering making an offer, according to a report by Bloomberg. The Bloomberg report said that Verizon would be willing to make an offer for Yahoo's core internet business and its stake in Yahoo Japan. Verizon values Yahoo's core business at less than $8 billion, it said.

Aside from Google, magazine publisher Time and private-equity funds Bain and TPG remain interested in making a bid, according to the report.

The company is struggling after a three-year turnaround effort led by CEO Marissa Mayer failed to gain much traction. Recently, the company put its core internet business up for sale, following pressure from activist investors to make "significant changes" to the company. According to a Re/code report, Yahoo's telling potential buyers that it expects to see its revenue drop another 15% this year.

You can read the full report here >>

Original author: Harrison Jacobs
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Kevin Parry created a simple, yet maddening optical illusion: he made it look like he was playing catch with himself. He wouldn't reveal how he pulled this off, but he did say is that it required nothing more than an iPhone and a mirror.

Story by Ian Phillips and editing by Carl Mueller

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Original author: INSIDER
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Back in 2002, a company called MaxMind had an idea: Gather up as many unique computer or smartphone IP addresses as they can, match them to a map, and sell that data to advertisers.

The problem, as Fusion's Kashmir Hill reports, is that MaxMind's tech has made life miserable for a handful of homes across the US — especially one otherwise unnoteworthy northern Kansas farm. 

The farm's 82-year-old owner, Joyce Taylor, and her tenants have been subject to FBI visits, IRS collectors, ambulances, threats, and the release of private information online, she told Fusion.

They've found people rummaging in the farm's barn, according to Fusion, and one person even left a broken toilet for some reason. People would even post her details online and encourage others to get in on the harassment, she said. The local sheriff even had to put a sign on her driveway, telling trespassers to stay away and contact him first if there are any questions.

The full story is long, complicated and worthwhile, but here's the short version: 

Back in 2002, when it started in this business, Fusion reports, MaxMind made a decision. If its tech couldn't tell where, exactly, in the US, an IP address was located, it would instead return a default set of coordinates very near the geographic center of the country — coordinates that happen to coincide with Taylor's front yard.

MaxMind sells the data it gathers on where, geographically, any connected device is located based on its unique IP address. Advertisers and law enforcement alike use this data to target ads or track cybercriminals.

And even though MaxMind's data was never meant to locate individual homes, lots of people use it this way. Would-be internet vigilantes use MaxMind's data to identify alleged fraudsters, get petty vengeance for internet arguments, or call ambulances on people threatening suicide or violence on public forums. Even law enforcement has used this information to try to track fraudsters, against MaxMind's own warnings.

maxmind homepageMaxMindMaxMind's homepage, with its services for sale.

With over 600 million IP addresses that show up as belonging to this one address, Fusion reports, the odds that someone accidentally gets routed there is high. 

And starting in 2011, per that Fusion report, people have been calling and even showing up at Joyce Taylor's doorstep, convinced that she or her tenants are behind all kinds of no-good internet dealings.

Other homes, in Atlanta and Virginia, both have similar issues with being the regional default location for MaxMind's IP address mapping, Fusion reports.

“Until you reached out to us, we were unaware that there were issues with how we selected these lat/lons,” MaxMind cofounder Thomas Mather told Fusion. “We do take this issue seriously and are working to resolve it as quickly as possible.”

MaxMind did not immediately respond to a request for comment. You can read Fusion's full report, including lots more detail, here.

Original author: Matt Weinberger
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Hamad International Airport QatarHamad International AirportHamad International Airport.Consumer aviation website Skytrax has published its latest annual World Airport Awards and for the fourth consecutive year, Singapore's Changi International Airport took the crown as the world's best airport. It serves as one of Southeast Asia's largest transit hubs and is a major cog in the city-state's bustling economy.

"To be named the World's Best Airport by Skytrax for the fourth year running is a significant achievement for Changi Airport and a clear affirmation that we continue to hit the right notes in our pursuit of service excellence," Changi Airport Group CEO Lee Seow Hiang said in a statement.

The Skytrax annual rankings are based on the impressions of over 13 million flyers from 106 countries. More than 550 airports were included in the survey, which covers 39 service and performance parameters, including facility comfort, location of bathrooms, and the language skills of the airport staff.

Original author: Matthew DeBord
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ChaChaBenny Mazur/FlickrThe magic of ChaCha: Texting a question to get a text back with the information. In this case, rabbits are crepuscular.

Five years ago, I became an anonymous guru, answering the world's questions sent in via text.

My specialty was looking up Google Maps directions. Sitting in my pajamas with a laptop in my lap, I would quickly type in two locations and respond right away with a time estimate. In each message, I tacked on a friendly "ChaCha On!"

On the other end, an equally anonymous person with a cellphone would get my text message and know just how far away the movie theater was from their restaurant. (Hopefully they wouldn't immediately respond asking if there was a later showing of "Avatar.")

In 2016, this sounds absurd. Today, Google Now will have already told them they're running too late. Tomorrow, Facebook's M would have rebooked the tickets for a later showing. 

But in 2008, months after the iPhone launched, the easiest way to get information to your phone was to ask ChaCha. 

The world's information at your (texting) fingertips

ChaChaRjacklin1975/FlickrChaCha's early chat version before it jumped to mobile texting.When ChaCha first launched in 2006, it was a different way to search the internet. Instead of typing into Google, you could just have a normal chat conversation in a box that looked a lot like AIM.

The startup raised $10 million because it was "a game-changing disruptive equation, even in the context of giants like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft," its investor, Morton Meyerson, was quoted as saying. Investors like Jeff Bezos latched onto it, pouring more money into the Indiana-based company. 

By 2008, the service launched a mobile version, which is when it went viral with my friends. As a high-school student, I played around with it after school, trying to come up with the craziest questions I could ask. Unless you had a smartphone with a fast hook-up to Wikipedia and parents who didn't care about data, texting ChaCha was your info line and your entertainment.

However, ChaCha's popularity among teens, like I was, turned out to be a big problem for the site.

"The whole goal was to break the system. You have guides who come in and try to do foul play, and then you have users who come back in over and over again," said ChaCha CEO Scott A. Jones in an interview with Business Insider.

Half of the company was devoted to managing unruly guides — contractors like me who would answer questions — and the unruly users — teens like me who just wanted to ask it crazy questions to see if ChaCha could answer.

"It was only 1-2% of the users or the guides, but they could do damage quickly because they were intent on it. They would spend hours a day just pummeling the system or answering the system with bad answers," Jones said.

Using humans to fall back on

One way around the abuse is to rely only on algorithms and computers. 

ChaCha_Staff_Picture_ _October_2010Sara Camden/Wikimedia CommonsChaCha staff in October 2010. Not pictured: The thousands of guides performing the searches from home.When you search Google, there isn't a human behind it frantically searching.

When you ask Siri a question on your iPhone, she speaks back, but in a jilted computer voice. It's more amazing when she can find things for you, and less frustrating when she can't. She's clearly not human, after all.

Early on, ChaCha started cataloging questions and the answers written by guides. Nine months after launch, ChaCha added "Expediters" who could select an answer from the catalog to send in response. Basic questions like "How many planets are there?" or "Who is on the dime?" didn't require someone to search it every time.

As a user, I didn't notice whether it was a human or the AI answering me. Since the answers had been written by humans before, each one generally read like someone had personally written it out, down to the same "ChaCha Again!" or "ChaCha On!" sign-offs.

Jones estimates that about 70% of the questions were answered first by AI, another 20% had an answer selected by the database, and the remaining went to guides who would answer by hand.

"We were 10 million questions and answers," Jones said. "But it didn’t really matter because we had this army of guides and they could always answer a question that way."

Becoming a guide

By the time I was a college student with time and an internet connection to waste, I decided to try my hand at becoming a "guide" in December 2009. 

ChaChaBiz Carson/Business InsiderAt that point, the questions that ChaCha did toss to guides like me were either geographical or time-based. Answering "What was the score of the game last night?" required knowing the day and what the big game was. 

But about a month into my tenure as a guide, I received an email. My user rating was too low at 84%. ChaCha told me I should make sure I was still signing my messages with "ChaCha!" or my most-used "ChaCha on!" Otherwise it was a list of helpful hints and tips.

This is what it must feel like to be an Uber driver today, and maybe an M employee tomorrow. 

As a contractor, I don't remember the day I stopped. I think I just stopped logging in once school got back in swing, and my dead time evaporated with a new semester.

My month as a human Siri faded to the back of my mind (to this day, I don't think I ever earned the $100 minimum). ChaCha, too, began to fade just as quickly.

Lesson for Facebook: People are messier than computers

ChaChaBiz Carson/Business Insider

ChaCha now is more of a "low boil" than the roaring viral sensation it once was, Jones says.

The company was never able to monetize its service. The site followed the trends in mobile, moving away from costly texts to building out an app. The 12 employees who are still with ChaCha work remotely, while Jones has decamped to Hawaii, away from his Indiana headquarters. It makes its money as texting service for Veterans Affairs and licensing out its data.

But now Facebook is following in ChaCha's footsteps with its own hybrid human-computer assistant: Facebook M. 

M is supposed to be more transactional — it's more about helping somebody book restaurant reservations or buy flowers — but it's using a lot of the same tricks as ChaCha.

For instance, ChaCha gave guides a full chat history so they could see when a pronoun like "it" referred to a movie theater's location versus a movie itself. Many of the apps, like Siri, can't even follow a chain of conversation.

For Facebook's vision of M, humans monitor "every" communication from "start to finish" to help the computer. Hopefully, that will cut down on bad answers on behalf of the computers, but it could open it up to bad actors on behalf of the humans.

Facebook claims it has a few dozen employees now, but its chief Messenger boss envisions a network of "thousands" of M Trainers over time. Whether they will behave better (or perform at a better satisfaction than 84%) is hard to know. 

ChaCHaBiz Carson/Business Insider

But Jones cautioned that people react differently to computers and humans, as we've already seen in the early M reviews.

Those reviews tried to push the limits of what the "M" service was supposed to be able to. Computers normally can't hand-draw photos, so the little human puppeteer of M in the background peeked its head out to do it for you. With ChaCha, part of the magic was knowing that a human was on the other side, looking up things for you — or answering the most insane question you can think of.

Either idea starts to face problems once it reaches millions of users (or Facebook's billions). More humans trying to challenge the computer, more humans introducing error into the computer's work.

Given Jones' experience with the unruly guides, he's skeptical about the privacy, especially since a lot of what M is doing is facilitating transactions, like booking plane tickets or lowering a Comcast bill. It's an area he intentionally avoided.

"We didn’t do things like make a restaurant reservation on your behalf," Jones said.

Facebook may have the advantage of having linked accounts (and an extra decade of technological advancement), but ChaCha's troll trouble is a warning shot.

"I’ll be interested to see how they pull it off, because it’s rife with places where people’s privacy could become a risk," Jones said.

ChaCha on! 

Original author: Biz Carson
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Toyota i roadBenjamin Zhang/Business Insider

The future of mobility is an exciting frontier that everyone in the automotive world is trying to explore. As a result, companies have taken creative and odd approaches to meet the challenge. 

Recently, Toyota gave me the chance to test out their i-Road concept. The i-Road is one of Toyota proposed solutions to solving urban transportation.

To be honest, most of the prospective future mobility offerings I've seen thus far have either been impractical, boring to drive — or just flat out strange.

When it comes to cars, I'm a traditionalist. I love the visceral experience that a great drive can engender. The sound of the engine, the shifting of the gears, and the feedback from the steering. In the right car, it all comes together to create perfection. Although speed is often a fun aspect of a great car, it isn't entirely necessary — you can chase some thrills without eye-tearing 0-60 acceleration.

So it was with a bit of apprehension that I tried out Toyota's i-Road concept. 

In one of the large halls of New York's Javits Center, I got my first look at one of Toyota's "urban mobility solutions."

At first sight, the three-wheeled i-Road is anything but boring. It's not quite what I would call a "car," but it's so much more than an electric scooter with a canopy. What the design allowed Toyota to do was combine the small, nimble characteristics of a scooter with the wet-weather capabilities and driving stability of a small city car. 

After taking some photos of the car, I jumped in for test drive on the twisting indoor course Toyota set up.

Original author: Benjamin Zhang
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Apple WatchREUTERS/Danny Moloshok

Before the Apple Watch launched last April, Apple invited several app developers to a secretive facility in Sunnyvale, California, to get a sneak preview of the company's first smartwatch.

The mission: to make sure the WatchOS store was fully stocked with apps on day one. 

Apple succeeded, with over 3,500 apps available when the first watches started to arrive at people's doors.

Right from launch, Apple Watch boasted apps from major companies, such as ESPN, Uber, and Instagram, alongside apps from smaller, critically acclaimed developers, such as Dark Sky, a weather app.  

One year later, there are 17,398 Apple Watch apps available for download, according to statistics from App Annie, which tracks App Store downloads. That's 438% growth in the sheer number of Apple Watch apps.

But there is still lingering doubt over whether Apple's wearable can become the next big computing platform. 

Business Insider spoke to several prominent independent developers, most of whom were invited to Apple's pre-launch sessions, and have been featured by Apple in the App Store, about how they're approaching the device and what they're hoping to see from Apple Watch 2, expected later this year

The Apple Watch is not the iPhone

Apple Watch OS on IphoneYouTube/Lucas Menge

Apple does not report the number of watches it sells. Instead, company executives prefer to compare its sales to the original iPhone. 

For example, CFO Luca Maestri said that sales for Apple Watch in its first nine weeks exceeded those of the iPhone and iPad in their first nine weeks of availability. Market research firm IDC estimates that Apple sold 11.6 million watches in 2015.

That's a lot of smartwatches.

But unlike the gold rush that the iOS App Store sparked in 2008, developer reactions to the Apple Watch have been more muted. 

"I think you have a lot of people wanting to build something for the Apple Watch because it's this new platform and they want to get in on this new platform. But I think the Apple Watch is a niche product compared to, say, the iPhone," Adam Grossman, CEO of Dark Sky, tells Business Insider. 

"In the beginning, and possibly through the fall, everyone was looking at this as, if you have an app, you need a watch app. That's just wrong," said Will Price, CEO of Simple Control, an app for automating and controlling media centers and smart homes. "In actuality, there are very few apps that were made last year that really lasted in terms of being usable and desirable." 

One developer of a messaging app, who declined to be named so he could preserve his relationship with Apple, told me that that his company created a watch app simply because Apple invited it to preview the device in Sunnyvale. That watch app hasn't really been widely used. 

One issue that might be preventing smaller developers from embracing the Apple Watch is the significant extra development time required — unlike porting an iPhone app to the iPad, or an iOS app to Apple TV, the watch requires a new way of thinking about its interface.

"We've developed it as two different experiences, because you can't just shrink the same experience on the phone and expect it to work on the watch," said Julia Hu, CEO of Lark, a startup that makes a health-focused coaching app. 

While it's unclear whether having an Apple Watch app can boost downloads of the main iPhone app, one thing clearly does: getting featured by Apple on the front page of the App Store. Apple prefers to feature apps that support its latest devices, including the Apple Watch. 

"That's definitely moved the needle on our sales, just having that Apple Watch version. I think that's in large part to Apple giving us their PR love," Grossman said. 

Ross Rubin, senior director of market research at App Annie, said that there was a definitely an "Apple push" to feature apps with an Apple Watch component, more than a "consumer pull." 

Flying blind 

Be My Eyes blind appEmil Jupin & Thelle Kristensen

One recurring theme was that many of the analytics options available on the iPhone don't exist on the watch yet, so it's hard for developers to collect the kind of user data that can prove valuable when improving their apps.  

"We don't have any tools right now to collect session data from the Apple Watch," says Kriss Smolka, founder of Funn Media, creator of the water intake monitor Watch app Waterminder.

"The tools that we use don't provide that information yet. So we don't know how long the session is yet," Smolka said. 

The lack of data puts developers in a tough spot as the Watch platform has changed during the past year. When the watch launched, for example, Apple put a good deal of emphasis on the "glance" screen, which users access by swiping up. But then Apple opened up "complications," which put data on the watch face itself, prompting developers to change their emphasis.

"Once the complications appeared, users stopped using the glance," Smolka said. 

"It's tough because you don't really know what users are using, especially when you're first developing the app," Grossman said. "You don't know if somebody raises the watch up and looked at your complication. A lot of that data doesn't exist."

Exception to the rule

Jony IveGetty Images/Michael Kovac

Several developers said that while they believe the WatchOS interface is a good fit for their app, not every iPhone app should have a watch app. 

"People are seeing that some of these apps are not so popular on WatchOS and those apps are probably not going to continue on," Price said. "I think we're one of the exceptions, and there are many others, but there are a lot that aren't exceptions."

Apple provides guidelines that users shouldn't engage with the Apple Watch for more than 5 seconds, which means that many types of apps, like games, or apps that require reading, might not be a good fit for the watch. 

But apps that deliver small bits of information, like weather apps, can work well.

"To me the Apple Watch or any smart watch is the perfect platform for Dark Sky. A lot of times it takes more time to take a phone out of your pocket than it does to check the forecast," Grossman said.

Another type of app that has ended up being a good fit is apps that make use of watch sensors to monitor health and fitness. One example of this kind of app is Sleep++, which tracks users while they sleep.

David Smith, creator of Sleep++, who has shipped 11 different watch apps, wrote in February that sensor-based apps are one of the few kinds that make sense on the Apple Watch. 

"The heart rate and motion tracking systems of the Watch make for much more compelling data collection because your watch is on you for essentially all of your day," Smith wrote in an email to Business Insider. 

Hopes for Apple Watch 2

apple watchREUTERS/Toru Hanai Customer Tomoyoshi Fujimura sets up his Apple Watch, which is to be paired with his iPhone, after buying it at an electronics store in Tokyo April 24, 2015.

Every developer that Business Insider talked to thinks that the next version of the Apple Watch will improve some of their pain points. 

One recurring theme was that the Apple Watch simply needs to be faster. "If you try to launch an app from the homescreen on your watch it still takes too long even after the update to supporting native apps," Grossman said. "It still takes too long for what the watch should do."

"When you open the app now, there's a second delay, when it connects to the phone, and grabs fresh data, and does an animation. We got feedback from users, they don't want to waste time," Smolka said. 

A few developers were hopeful that the Apple Watch would continue to become more independent from the iPhone. Some speculated that Apple might add a cellular radio to the Apple Watch in the future, meaning it could connect to the internet on its own. 

"Once the watch apps are able to be run independent from the phone, then potentially it's its own app. But for now, the watch app is clearly a companion, because it literally cannot do anything without the phone," Price said.  

Other hopes for the second Apple Watch include better battery life, and a thinner profile. Other developers hoped that Apple might add additional sensors, such as a optical glucometer. Regardless, all expected big changes with the third version of the watch software, expected to be released this summer, and the second hardware version of the watch, expected this fall. 

"I think the Watch has a lot of possibility ahead of it around making it a more standalone, fully featured platform on its own. We saw a little bit of that in watchOS 2 last fall and I'd expect this fall to take that even further," Smith said. 

Original author: Kif Leswing
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Lyft Ride Car CustomerJustin Sullivan/Getty ImagesA Lyft customer.

Ride sharing is supposed to strike fear in heart of the auto industry.

Who needs to buy a car when you can have mobility on demand?

According to Deutsche Bank, startups such as Uber and Lyft may shake up business as usual, but the outcome won't be as dire as some pundits have predicted.

"The consensus view amongst investors is that a decline in the total population of vehicles will lead to a decline in annual vehicle sales," Deutsche Bank analysts wrote in a recent note. "We believe that this is wrong."

They continued: "Annual sales will likely increase and the Auto Industry may also become somewhat less cyclical."

Here's the gist of that argument: Ride sharing, as it grows, will increase physical demands on cars, leading to earlier retirement and replacement of these vehicles. A lot of trips taken by these cars will be passenger-less, as drivers get from a drop-off to the next pickup.

Deutsche Bank says the average NYC Taxi is unoccupied 51% of the time, and the typical UberX vehicle isn't far off that mark.

So the view here is that the professional drivers will be replacing cars far more often than the typical car buyer. And those replacements will take place regardless of what's going on in the broader economy. You can put off buying a new car for a few years if you're worried about your job, but you can't if the car is your job.

If that holds, it would solve a big problem for the auto industry.

Cyclicality is the curse of the auto industry. It is what it sounds like: The car business cycles through ups and downs. Sales rise and fall based on economic factors that are largely out of the automakers' control — employment, credit conditions, gas prices, and so on. Everyone in the business knows about the cycles; experienced managers have dealt with several.

On the one hand, this can lead to excellent strategic thinking. For example, when times are good, a smart-car maker amasses a cash war chest to ride out the downturn, invests more heavily in R&D, and may take on additional debt when the balance sheet is looking sporty.

But bad behavior can also creep in.

car dealership Justin Sullivan/GettyLet's sell it for less.

At the moment, with US auto sales at or near a record-high pace, incentive spending is also edging up, as carmakers attempt to avoid losing market share that will cost much more to win back when the downturn comes — and it always comes.

If you ask people in the industry, most would like to smooth out this cyclicality. Some carmakers would absolutely welcome it.

General Motors, for one, can now break even if annual sales in the US fall to 10 million to 11 million a year. A plunge on that order isn't in the cards — it took the financial crisis to bring sales down that far in 2009 — but GM would be quite happy if sales settled into a predictable 15 million to 16 million range.

GM illustrates a caveat to this, which is that the whole concept of ownership, and therefore sales, could be redefined. The automaker and Lyft are experimenting with a car-rental program for Lyft drivers — and if they drive enough, the rental is free.

But if ride sharing can "smooth" the sales cycles, then it would reduce the anxiety that keeps most auto executives awake at night. And it would be an unexpected, yet entirely welcome, benefit of the disruption that new technologies and new players are bringing to the 100-plus-year-old car business.

Original author: Matthew DeBord
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For the first time in history, a team of international scientists are drilling into the center of the underwater crater created by the asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs.

Produced by Jenner Deal. Original Reporting by Jessica Orwig.

Follow BI Video: On Twitter

Original author: Jenner Deal and Jessica Orwig
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MuseMuseI've written before about my struggles to get a good night's sleep. Like most people, I have times where I can't fall or stay asleep. 

I've tried lots of things: Giving up caffeine (that was hard!), giving up alcohol (even harder), and getting up at 5:30 a.m. to work out (brutally, insanely hard).

My latest trick has been easy, fun, and unbelievably effective: I've been using a brain-sensing device called Muse to meditate for 12 minutes a night right before I go to sleep.

Mediating is when you turn off your thoughts — stop worrying about the future or fretting about the past — and concentrate on the real world around you, such as how your breath feels as it enters and exits your body.

While there are lots of documented health benefits to reducing stress through meditation, Muse isn't making claims as insomnia-curing device. I started using it for this by accident. I tried it before bed one day, and was so relaxed that I fell right to sleep. For the past three weeks of using it, I've slept great.

Read on for how I made Muse work for me ...

Original author: Julie Bort
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BMW 507 RoadsterBMWA Bavarian beauty: the BMW 507.What can be said about BMW that hasn't been said before?

The German luxury carmaker, which celebrated its 100th birthday this year, has for its entire history released a seemingly never ending stream of breathtaking, record-setting, and smile-inducing machines that have consistently beguiled the automotively inclined.

The essence of BMW boils down to its uncanny ability to produce successful new ideas while remaining faithful to its storied heritage.

And that heritage, by the way, includes innumerable victories in motorsport — on two wheels or four.

Here is the story of 100 years of BMW: One of the best brands around.

Original author: William Fierman
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Atom Bank's Mark Mullen and Anthony Thomson.Atom BankAtom Bank's chairman Anthony Thomson and CEO Mark Mullen.Atom Bank, a new challenger bank that will only operate through an app on your smartphone and tablet, turned heads last year when it landed a huge £45 million ($68 million) investment from Spanish bank BBVA.

The 29.5% stake implies a valuation of £150 million ($226.6 million) for the bank, which has only just unveiled its app and has yet to fully launch to the public.

So why is it worth so much given it had zero customers at the time?

"What we saw in Atom is a credible team who had a lot of banking experience," BBVA CEO Carlos Torres Vila told Business Insider at the Money2020 Europe conference in Copenhagen earlier this week.

Atom's CEO Mark Mullen used to run HSBC's telephone banking business and Atom's chairman Anthony Thomson co-founded challenger bank Metro Bank. Other investors in Atom include star fund manager Neil Woodford and Jim O'Neill, the former Goldman Sachs economist famous for coining the term BRICs to refer to Brazil, Russia, India and China.

Torres Vila says: "They have the right ideas about how to do mobile only banking and at project level it was ready to launch very soon." Atom this week unveiled its app, which was built on gaming platform Unity and features a lot of video.

Atom Bank Home ScreenAtom BankA shot of Atom Bank's app home screen.Torres Vila says: "We had long held the ambition to enter the UK in a more traditional way. Over the years, we’ve looked at pretty much every piece that’s been on the market there. We always passed in the end for one reason or another. This was a different way [to get into the UK]."

BBVA's head of new digital business Teppo Paavola added: "Why UK? The UK is a digitally orientated society where the population picks up new things and gets excited about new things. The team knows banking and has been proven to be very entrepreneurial as well."

Durham-based Atom is one of several app-only challenger banks set to launch in the UK this year. Others include Mondo, Starling, and Tandem.

Torres Vila says: "Of course, it’s risky because it’s a startup bank and it’s not easy to start up a bank, but it has all the elements. It’s mobile only, the right team, and ready to go to market."

Paavola says that the British banking market is also big enough for several challengers. He says: "You can certainly build a sizable business with a fraction of the total number of people who switch each year. It's not like the whole market is going to change in three years and the big banks will be gone. That's not how it's going to go."

Read BI's full interview with BBVA CEO Carlos Torres Vila here.

Original author: Oscar Williams-Grut
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Slow growth leads premium smartphone vendors to cut costsSLOW GROWTH LEADS PREMIUM SMARTPHONE VENDORS TO CUT COSTS

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence Mobile Industry Insider subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Global smartphone shipment growth fell to single digits for the first time in 2016, as economic uncertainty in emerging markets stymied purchasing power. At the same time, mature markets are increasingly approaching saturation. In an attempt to get ahead of this deceleration, premium smartphone brands are selling their flagship devices at lower costs, hoping that this will incentivize users to buy the latest handset.

BlackBerry has dropped the price of Priv, its latest smartphone, from $699 to $649, CNet reports. The $50 price cut comes amid weak sales of the device. The Priv was the first BlackBerry-Android hybrid, which was released in an attempt to grow consumer interest by leveraging Android's massive app store. Samsung's decision to release its flagship Galaxy S7 smartphone earlier and at a less expensive price than its predecessor, the Galaxy S6 ($670 rather than $700), is being credited with higher than expected sales, Bloomberg notes. The device is estimated to reach 9 million units during the first three months on the market, three times more volume than the S6 during the same time period.  Apple launched its iPhone SE, a lower-priced 4-inch phone, on March 21. At $400 for the base model, the device is targeted at consumers in emerging markets, first-time buyers, and iPhone users on older models who may be less inclined to shell out $750 or more for the larger iPhone 6s and 6s Plus. Although made to look like older iPhone 5s/5c models, the SE houses the latest software and technology.    

But all is not lost. Smartphone shipments are expected to see some renewed interest over the next four years, according to CCS Insights. Smartphone shipments are expected to reach 2 billion units in 2020, up from 1.5 billion in 2016. This is due in part to China’s burgeoning middle class, which is expected to grow rapidly over the next few years. According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, the Chinese middle class will go from 50 million in 2010 to around 500 million by 2020.

Overall, the global smartphone market is expected to slow considerably over the next few years. Despite a record-setting holiday quarter, 2015 was likely the last year of double-digit growth for smartphone shipments.

Mature markets were at the heart of this year’s deceleration. Adoption has reached new highs in key markets in the United States, Europe, and China. The pool of first-time buyers in these countries is shrinking rapidly, and sales are now primarily coming from phone upgrades.

Meanwhile, emerging markets will continue to see robust shipment growth. India and Indonesia, in particular, will help fuel a large share of the shipments growth within the global smartphone market over the next few years.

Will McKitterick, senior research analyst at BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on smartphones by country that forecasts the market through 2021 to reflect slower, stabilizing growth in the long term.

Smartphone Market by Country Report CoverBI Intelligence

Here are some key points from the report:

The global smartphone market is still growing at a steady pace due to more widespread adoption in emerging markets. We estimate the global market will hit about 2.1 billion units shipped in 2021. Shipments growth over the past few years has been driven by the falling price of smartphones, which has made handsets more accessible in emerging markets. The average selling price of a smartphone in India nearly halved between 2010 and 2015. With relatively low smartphone penetration, we forecast Indian smartphone shipments to grow rapidly over the next five years. Nevertheless, India has a long way to go before it surpasses China as the world’s leading market for smart handsets. India is estimated to account for roughly 10% of the global smartphone market in 2016, considerably less than China’s 30% share. The global platform wars are over, even as smartphone adoption continues to rise across various markets worldwide. Android and iOS are estimated to account for 97.3% of global platform market share in 2015, compared to 96.3% last year. Apple closed the year with another strong quarter on the back of its iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus launches. Still, the vendor saw a slight decline in YoY growth of its share of the market in the face of stiff competition from Samsung and Chinese vendors such as Huawei.

In full, the report:

Forecasts global smartphone shipments through 2021. Explores why India is the next high-growth smartphone market. Breaks down the global smartphone platform wars. Discusses smartphone vendor performance market share.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the smartphone market.

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Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan attends the opening session of the World Climate Change Conference 2015 (COP21) at Le Bourget, near Paris, France, November 30, 2015. REUTERS/Christian HartmannReutersTurkish President Tayyip Erdogan.The entire Turkish citizenship database has allegedly been hacked and leaked online.

A website with purportedly leaked details of 49,611,709 Turkish citizens is online and allegedly gives the following details of each citizen — including the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan:

National Identifier (TC Kimlik No) First Name Last Name Mother's First Name Father's First Name Gender City of Birth Date of Birth ID Registration City and District Full Address

At the bottom of the page if gives people the option to download 6.6GB worth of uncompressed files. Business Insider did not download or verify the data linked to on the site. The Register also reported on the leak but it is unclear whether it downloaded the Bit Torrent file.

The apparent hack seems to be politically motivated. The website reads: "Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?"

The text on the site also includes a warning against US Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump:

turkeydatabase1Screengrab

The site also purports to publish the personal details of Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as a preview of the data.

Keen observers point out on Twitter that this could be one of the biggest data leaks of its kind in history — if it is true:

However, others claim the leak does have correct information — but is just a decrypted version of data that was leaked over a couple of months ago.

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Facebook messenger addresses business visibilityFacebook messenger addresses business visibility

This story was delivered to BI Intelligence Mobile Industry Insider subscribers. To learn more and subscribe, please click here.

Facebook has announced a number of new updates aimed at making it easier for its Messenger and main app users to find and contact businesses. These updates include a new suite of tools and more cosmetic layout changes — notably, Page usernames — as well as unique links and codes, and customizable greetings.

This update comes at a time of growing concerns from businesses that users won't be able to find them as other brands and companies join the app and it becomes more saturated. The announcement also comes less than a day after some of Messenger for iPhone users noticed a "suggested businesses" bar under the search function of the Messenger app, as reported by Business Insider

Here's a rundown of the new features:

Businesses with a Facebook Page will be able to set up and edit personalized Messenger Usernames. These usernames, which will appear directly below the company's name on its Facebook Page, will make it easier for users to search for, and connect with, businesses on both the Messenger app and main site. Messenger Links will give businesses a short link based on their Page usernames. That link will open directly in Messenger once it's clicked on.  Messenger Codes are unique codes for a business' Page, which function as QR codes, that businesses can place in ads and on their websites. Users can scan the code in Messenger with their smartphone camera, which will then open up a thread in Messenger. This has been an effective tool for rival chat app, Snapchat.  Businesses will be able to write a customizable greeting via Messenger Greetings that will appear automatically in a new message thread before the conversation starts. This will allow them to set the tone and impart information they deem important.

Facebook is using these updates to stay relevant and competitive in today's mobile messaging space. Chat apps, such as Kik, Messenger, and Viber offer businesses an ubiquitous platform to reach a vast number of customers, while keeping conversations personal. Facebook's Messenger is already a dominant contender in the B2C messaging space; Messengerrecently reported more than 900 million monthly active users, and over 1 billion messages are sent between people and businesses each month.

They also address businesses' concerns around discoverability on the Messenger platform. As more businesses flock to the platform — like US wireless carrier Sprint, that use Messenger to carry out most customer service queries, according to The Information — Facebook will continue to strive to make its platform as attractive to businesses as it can. But as more companies and brands turn to chat apps as a way to reach consumers, these apps could suffer from the same overcrowded issues that app developers suffer from in smartphone app stores.

The proposed “suggestions” bar is another viable solution to this issue. And it could also serve as another method of monetization for the app. Companies may be able to pay to appear higher up in the Suggested businesses tab in a similar way that brands do on Snapchat Discover section.

Messaging apps as a whole are evolving to become much more than just ways to communicate with friends and family. They are rapidly transforming into full ecosystems complete with marketplaces and more.

Will McKitterick, senior research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled a detailed report on messaging apps that takes a close look at the size of the messaging app market, how these apps are changing, and the types of opportunities for monetization that have emerged from the growing audience that uses messaging services daily.

Messaging App Report CoverBI Intelligence

Here are some of the key takeaways from the report:

Mobile messaging apps are massive. The largest services have hundreds of millions of monthly active users (MAU). Falling data prices, cheaper devices, and improved features are helping propel their growth. Messaging apps are about more than messaging. The first stage of the chat app revolution was focused on growth. In the next phase, companies will focus on building out services and monetizing chat apps’ massive user base. Popular Asian messaging apps like WeChat, KakaoTalk, and LINE have taken the lead in finding innovative ways to keep users engaged. They’ve also built successful strategies for monetizing their services. Media companies, and marketers are still investing more time and resources into social networks like Facebook and Twitter than they are into messaging services. That will change as messaging companies build out their services and provide more avenues for connecting brands, publishers, and advertisers with users.

In full, this report:

Gives a high-level overview of the messaging market in the US by comparing total monthly active users for the top chat apps. Examines the user behavior of chat app users, specifically what makes them so attractive to brands, publishers, and advertisers. Identifies what distinguishes chat apps in the West from their counterparts in the East. Discusses the potentially lucrative avenues companies are pursuing to monetize their services. Offers key insights and implications for marketers as they consider interacting with users through these new platforms.

To get your copy of this invaluable guide, choose one of these options:

Subscribe to an ALL-ACCESS Membership with BI Intelligence and gain immediate access to this report AND over 100 other expertly researched deep-dive reports, subscriptions to all of our daily newsletters, and much more. >> START A MEMBERSHIP Purchase the report and download it immediately from our research store. >> BUY THE REPORT

The choice is yours. But however you decide to acquire this report, you’ve given yourself a powerful advantage in your understanding of the future of messaging apps.

Original author: BI Intelligence
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shanghai auto showREUTERS/Carlos BarriaThe Chinese are expected to buy a lot of cars in the future.The two most important auto markets in the world are the US and China.

The US is the most competitive — if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere.

China is going to be the world's biggest market; already, it's surpassed the US, with more than 20 million in annual sales versus about 17 million in North America.

In the past, big car makers were betting on China as their key play for the future. Aggressively bullish projections for the scale of yearly auto sales in the Middle Kingdom were coming in at 40 million.

But in 2015, some concern set in, as China's runaway growth rates endured a pullback.

For several quarters, automakers like GM and Ford were routinely asked to address their China expectations and gauge whether they were anticipating too much.

Now the industry seems to think that China has stabilized and that solid growth for both mass-market and luxury sales will resume.

This couldn't be happening at a better time because the US market is finally beginning to show some signs of plateauing at a sales pace of 16-17 million new vehicles per year.

For example, after running at a 17.5-million pace for the first few months of 2016, matching last year's record, sales retreated by a notable 1 million units in March: the pace was 16.5 million, due largely to a pullback by GM on fleet sales, which could take nearly half a million in low-margin deliveries off the table by December.

The problem here us that when sales growth vanishes in the US, a downturn doesn't generally follow. Usually, the market flattens, and this means that the automakers selling cars and trucks here start to revert to bad habits. They raise incentives, cutting into their profits, and they compete against each other to maintain market share. This leads to a frittering away of margins and a lack of bold spending on future models.

car dealership Justin Sullivan/GettyUS auto sales may have peaked.

Basically, the industry pre-emptively hunkers down when times are good because no one wants to be caught off guard when the market slips from its plateau and really starts to decline.

Thus, the renewed China enthusiasm: If the US market weakens, China can make up for it and keep the industry on track for continued profitable quarters.

Naturally, the automakers wants to make as much money as possible in China, and that's where the luxury market comes in.

Bloomberg's Bruce Einhorn reported on the ambitions that both GM and Ford have for, respectively, their Cadillac and Lincoln brands:

Service—at-home test drives, live videoconferences with maintenance and repair staff—is a central piece of Ford’s plan to boost Lincoln sales in China. The brand entered the country in October 2014 with only three showrooms; by year end 2016, there will be 60.

Meanwhile, in January, General Motors opened a Cadillac factory in Shanghai, its first built solely to support the luxury brand in the country. The $1.2 billion plant has the capacity to produce as many as 160,000 Caddys a year....

Luxury brands generate higher profits than mass-market brands (often, the mass-market brands just break even on sales, but give automakers a chance to make money on leasing and loan financing). So it makes sense that GM and Ford would be aiming to grown these nameplates if strong growth resumes in China. But everyone else is thinking the same thing, and neither Cadillac nor Lincoln holds a major piece of the Chinese luxury market (yet).

The China play had better pan out because if the US slows, there isn't really anywhere else to look for growth. Europe is flat, Latin America is in recession, the Russian market is a catastrophe, and newer regions, such as African and the Middle East, are promising only modest short-term sales.

That's why all eyes will once again be on China in 2016.

Original author: Matthew DeBord
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