How Often You Should Post on Social Media, According to 10 Studies

When it comes to determining the optimal frequency for posting on social media, even the industry giants can’t seem to be able to come to a consensus. One publication or study will tell you to post three times per day and the next will tell you 20. Lucky for everyone though, data doesn’t lie, and CoSchedule (a social media pre-scheduling tool) crunched the numbers from 10 data-driven studies to put an end to the debate once and for all.

According to the company’s research, here’s how often you should be publishing on each of the major social media platforms on a daily basis:

  • Facebook: 1 post per day
  • Twitter: 15 Tweets per day
  • Pinterest: 11 Pins per day
  • LinkedIn: 1 post per day
  • Instagram: 1-2 posts per day

Notice something about these numbers? They’re pretty darn high. The cold hard truth about social media marketing is it’s going to take a great deal of leg work to build up an actively engaged audience and become a thought leader in your niche. 

That being said, no need to get overwhelmed just yet. There are ways to unpack this information and apply it without losing your mind. Here’s where to start.

1. Hone in on email marketing and a couple of social media platforms.

Unlike social media platforms that come and go year after year, email addresses are relatively unchanging. By zeroing in on one or two social media channels along with email marketing, not only will you save yourself from the headaches of posting a thousand times per day, you’ll also set yourself up for future success by investing in a medium unlikely to change any time soon.

Additionally, many entrepreneurs out there may not have the financial resources to allocate to a team or agency that posts on all major social media channels every single day. Handling one or two social media platforms is a reasonable request that won’t take too much time away from running your actual business.

2. Quality over everything.

Simply “going through the motions” on social media won’t necessarily lead to results, so thinking of social media as a checklist is a dangerous mindset to have. Quality, in-depth content beats mediocre, high-volume content any day of the week.

However, people often misinterpret this advice as an excuse to put off creating social media content in the first place. You still have to put in the work and use the recommendations above as your guide, but if you know for a fact you’ll only be able to publish three high-quality Tweets per day, it’s better to do that than posting 15 lackluster, spammy Tweets.

3. Use a pre-scheduling tool.

There are a number of apps out there that allow you to pre-schedule all your social media content from one dashboard: Hootsuite, Buffer, MeetEdgar, Agorapulse, CoSchedule and more. Choose one, block out a chunk of time on Sundays or in the evenings to create your content, and let the tool take care of the rest. This way, you’ll only have to worry about responding to comments.

4. Repurpose, repurpose, repurpose.

Developing a sound, efficient repurposing strategy is absolutely crucial to social media success. For starters, I recommend reading a piece I wrote covering Chalene Johnson’s repurposing strategy, where her team creates hundreds of social posts from a single Facebook Live video.

Begin by determining what your core piece of content will be (a YouTube video, a Medium post, etc.), then get creative on ways to make content for each of the social channels you’re active on. For example, if you wrote a Medium post, create dozens of Tweets with quotes from your post that drive traffic to your original article. Then, create infographics on Pinterest using Canva covering the content of your blog post, word art quotes on Instagram and more.

From developing a solid strategy to content planning to crafting high quality content, social media marketing is already tough enough, so don’t let posting frequency add to that list. Use this data as a blueprint to take your social media presence to the next level. Best of luck.

​Red Hat changes its open-source licensing rules

Video: Open source: Companies skipping security update face big risk

From outside programming circles, software licensing may not seem important. In open-source, though, licensing is all important.

So, when leading Linux company Red Hat announces that — from here on out — all new Red Hat-initiated open-source projects that use the GNU General Public License(GPLv2) or GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL)v2.1 licenses will be expected to supplement the license with GPL version 3 (GPLv3)‘s cure commitment language, it’s a big deal.

Read also: How Red Hat’s strategy helps CIOs take baby steps to the cloud (TechRepublic)

Both older open-source licenses are widely used. When the GPLv3 was released, it came with an express termination approach that offered developers the chance to cure license compliance errors. This termination policy in GPLv3 provided a way for companies to repair licensing errors and mistakes. This approach allows license compliance enforcement that is consistent with community norms.

Other companies — CA Technologies, Cisco, HPE, Microsoft, SAP, and SUSE — have taken similar GPL positions.

This doesn’t apply, of course, to Linux itself. Linus Torvalds has made it abundantly clear that Linux has been, will now, and always shall be under the GPLv2.

So, what does all this mean? The kernel developers came up with the easiest explanation:

  • If you cease all violation of this License, then your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated (a) provisionally, unless and until the copyright holder explicitly and finally terminates your license, and (b) permanently, if the copyright holder fails to notify you of the violation by some reasonable means prior to 60 days after the cessation.
  • Moreover, your license from a particular copyright holder is reinstated permanently if the copyright holder notifies you of the violation by some reasonable means, this is the first time you have received notice of violation of this License (for any work) from that copyright holder; and you cure the violation prior to 30 days after your receipt of the notice.

The purpose? The top Linux developers explained, “Our intent in providing these assurances is to encourage more use of the software. We want companies and individuals to use, modify and distribute this software. We want to work with users in an open and transparent way to eliminate any uncertainty about our expectations regarding compliance or enforcement that might limit adoption of our software. We view legal action as a last resort, to be initiated only when other community efforts have failed to resolve the problem.”

In its new position statement, Red Hat explained that the GPLv2 and LGPL, as written, has led to the belief that automatic license termination and copyright infringement claims can result from a single act of inadvertent non-compliance. Indeed, some people believe a singly copyright violation could lead to a lawsuit even if the copyright holders haven’t bothered to tell the alleged violators of what was going down before seeking legal recourse.

Within Red Hat’s non-commercial software family, the WildFly, GlusterFS and Pulp projects have added the language. These provide core components of Red Hat’s JBoss Middleware, Red Hat Gluster Storage, and Red Hat Satellite products. Other Red Hat-based projects considering this license protection include Anaconda, Red Hat’s operating system installation program; Candlepin; the Cockpit server manager; and Koji, the RPM package builder.

Why is Red Hat bothering with this when it’s already incorporated the cure commitment language with Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL)? Red Hat’s senior commercial counsel, Richard Fontana, explained:

“License selection is a form of legal decision making, but for as long as I’ve been at Red Hat, engineers have been given significant discretion to choose licenses for the projects they maintain, within certain boundaries (for example, expectations to pick from a small set of widely-used, de facto standard licenses). This reflects not only our corporate traditions of developer empowerment, but also our view that engineers typically have the greatest competence to determine the appropriate license strategy for growing user and contributor communities around their projects.”

Both historically and today, many Red Hat engineers choose GPLv2 or LGPLv2.1 for their projects. Over time, these often incorporate contributions from copyright holders other than Red Hat.

Therefore, said Fontana, “We are extending the GPLv3 termination policy to users of our GPLv2/LGPLv2.1 code because we consider it the right thing to do. The cure permissions offer additional comfort that users of our code have reasonable assurances of quiet use of that code, even if there is a temporary license noncompliance by a third party redistributing our code, due to misunderstanding or otherwise. … We hope that others will also join in this endeavor to reassure the open source community that good faith efforts to fix noncompliance will be embraced.”

Read also: From Linux to cloud, why Red Hat matters for every enterprise

He makes an excellent point. If your company or group is creating open-source software under a license without copyright cure commitment language, you’d be wise to consider adopting one. It will go a long way to reassuring any potential legally concerned partners and customers that they won’t have any worries about contributing to or using your software.

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Amazfit Bip Smartwatch Review: Taking The Casio Approach to Beating The Apple Watch

I received the Amazfit Bip smartwatch to review at the start of March. On opening the retail packing, i charged the wearable up. Near the end of the April I gave it a second full charge. Last week the lightweight peripheral picked up its third charge, and is currently on 81 percent charge as I write this review.

If you are looking for one of the key selling points, then having a battery life measured in weeks has to be first on your list, unlike the hungry Apple Watch and Wear OS (nee Android Wear) smartwatches, Even the 5 day battery life of the Pebble family still left a little tickle in my brain of ‘where/when is the next charging point’. The Bip is one of the first smartwatches where I can effectively forget about charging. It’s there, it works, end of discussion.

The second key selling point is price. Launched in the US at $99, the Amazfit Bip has had a number of offers and voucher deals, so it’s possible to pick it up with a bit of hunting as low as $69,

Ewan Spence

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch (Ewan Spence)

Of course there are compromises to get to that price. How these will impact on your experience comes down to what you want from your smartwatch. If you are looking for a huge amount of information, wrist-based applications, and the ability to control multiple areas of the paired smartphone, then the Bip is not for you. That means that one of the features that I have enjoyed in other smartwatches – controlling the music player on the smartphone in my pocket – isn’t part of the built-in software.

This year I’ve had to rely on certain functions of the smartphone toolbox more than others. The need for leisure activities (such as media control) have lessened, while monitoring my sleep, exercise levels, and tracking other movement-based activities has increased. The Bip fits in wonderfully with my new requirements; it doesn’t have to be charged up every night (so sleep ca be tracked), I don’t have to consciously take it on or off so it’s always there for exercise, and the regular alarms to take my medication are always at my wrist.

The Bip comes with three main sensors – the obvious motion sensor to track step counts and movement during exercise; a heart rate sensor; and a GPS to track your location through the day (or switched on for an exercise session) if you wish. Of course measuring full body activities from a wrist can never be completely accurate, there will be some extrapolation involved – especially in terms of step counting. My view is not to trust the number as gospel, but to trust the trend that I can see developing over time.

I have a similar thinking regarding the heart rate monitor. When i head into the gym I’m going to tighten the strap around my wrist for a more accurate reading, but in everyday use I open the wrist strap out a notch. It’s still firmly in place but the heart rate can be a little more variable. I like that you can keep track of your heart rate through the day – I’ve almost set up a confidence ‘’record every thirty minutes’ but of course when you start an exercise session (something that needs done manually) that sample rate increases.

Again it’s all about compromise. If you want a perfect instrument you are going to pay a lot more – and for those looking for an accurate fitness tracker there are more precise (and more expensive) options. For those like me who need tracking but with a little bit more margin for error, then I’m happy with that compromise.

Ewan Spence

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch (Ewan Spence)

The same can be said of the Amazfit Bip itself. The screen is color and always on,runs at 176×176 pixels, and is a 1.28 inch LCD display. The backlight stays off almost all of the time, but can be set to switch on if you raise the watch. Neither does the touchscreen stay active – in general you need to tap the crown button to activate the backlight on the screen and to have the Bip look for touch input. That touch input is more about swipes left and right, using the crown as a back button, and the occasional (Yes/Cancel) dialog popping up. Again a higher resolution screen or always on user interface has been put aside to focus on battery endurance.

And once you realise that your watch needs a tap before you can use the extra features, it’s something that becomes habit. Thanks to the reflective LCD screen, even without the backlight coming on you can make out the time in anything except the darkest of conditions.

I also appreciate that the watch works with standard 20mm straps, and the spring-loaded bar connectors seen across the industry. Although I’ve no issues with the enclosed silicone strap, the ability to switch it out for an alternative is welcome.

Ewan Spence

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch (Ewan Spence)

Let’s be honest here, if you’re going to try to use the Amazfit Bip with an iOS device you are going to have a poor experience. You can record your activity and have it uploaded to your iPhone or iPad, but so much of the app ecosystem is locked down by Apple by design that the whole package is very awkward.

This is much improved when you look at the Bip with an Android device. The companion app is Xiaomi’s MiFit – which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Amazfit is a subsidiary of Xiaomi. The UI will be familiar to those who have worked with Xiaomi’s MIUI variant of Android. That means a large colourful key graphic at the top of the screen, and boxed out numbers in the bottom half. It takes a bit of getting used to, but once you get the principle of how the UI layout works, it’s surprisingly efficient – but there’s no concession to Apple’s iOS UI or Google’s Material Design.

Your data also syncs to the cloud through an Xiaomi account, so it’s easy enough to move between two Amazfit devices, or two smartphones, or even move over from Android to iOS and back again. It also syncs data to Google Fit and Apple Health, so if you want to test the watch and not carry two trackers, you’ll not lose any tracking data.

Ewan Spence

Amazfit Bip Smartwatch (Ewan Spence)

One thing I appreciate is the granular control you have over every aspect. The time between recording your heart rate is one example. Another is the ability to switch on or off any smartphone application’s ability to send a notification to your watch. You can strip back the constant low of alerts to just those vital to you. Of course there’s no interaction with the notifications as you have with Wear OS or WatchOS, but that once more reflects the philosophy of the Bip – it is there to record information and to let you know when something is happening on your phone… and that’s it.

This is a subordinate companion to your smartphone. That clearly defined approach makes for a product that knows exactly what it wants to deliver, and it delivers everything it promises. Can it rival the more expensive smartwatches on the market? That depends what you are looking for. Personally the Amazfit is very close to my ‘ideal smartwatch deliverables’ that it has won me over, but your decision will be different.

What I can say is that the Amazfit delivers what it promises – and is clear about what it does not deliver. If you need a long-lived smartwatch, with solid tracking, and simple notifications from your smartphone, I’d definitely recommend you have the Bip on your shortlist.

Let’s put it another way. There are fashionable smartwatches, there are stylish smartwatches, there are sportscar-esque smartwatches. The Amazfit Bip is the indestructible Casio F-91W of smartwatches.

Disclaimer: Huami provided an Amazfit Bip for review purposes

China's Huawei goes on offensive as exclusion from Australia 5G deal looms

SYDNEY (Reuters) – Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL] has gone on the offensive against Australian claims it poses a security risk, issuing an open letter to the government saying that view was “ill-informed.”

The Huawei logo is seen during the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, February 26, 2018. REUTERS/Yves Herman

There has been much speculation about Huawei in recent weeks as Australia prepares to announce a tender for its massive 5G mobile telecommunications rollout, with local media reporting the country’s spy agencies have advised against including the company.

Australia, like the United States, worries Huawei is de facto controlled by China, raising fears that sensitive infrastructure will fall into the hands of Beijing.

“Recent public commentary around China has referenced Huawei and its role in Australia and prompted some observations around security concerns,” Huawei’s chairman and two board directors wrote in a letter to government that the company released to the media on Monday. “Many of these comments are ill-informed and not based on facts.”

The public letter from Huawei executives, which was accompanied by a fact sheet, comes as Australia’s relationship with top trading partner China faces a testing two weeks. Canberra is preparing to pass laws designed to limit Beijing’s influence in domestic affairs amid pressure on some of its fastest growing exports, a stance that has led to deteriorating relations between the two countries.

Huawei has repeatedly denied the allegations of Beijing control, and in the letter, dated Friday, again insisted it is an independent company.

“In each of the 170 countries where we operate, we abide by the national laws and guidelines,” Chairman John Lord and board directors John Brumby and Lance Hockridge wrote in the letter. “To do otherwise would end our business overnight.”

The executives noted the company’s 5G investments in Britain, Canada and New Zealand where it said the respective governments had taken up its offer to evaluate the company’s technology to make sure it abided by cybersecurity protocols.

They said the company has offered to build an evaluation and testing center as part of its Australia 5G proposal “to ensure independent verification of our equipment right here in Australia.”

Huawei was banned in 2012 from supplying Australia’s massive National Broadband Network, and in May, Australia committed millions of dollars to ensure Huawei did not build an internet cable between Australia and the Solomon Islands.

Australia has not publicly explained its objection, but a source familiar with the Solomon Islands deal said Canberra was concerned that China could jeopardize its national security by having access to Australian telecommunications infrastructure.

Reporting By Jane Wardell; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

Where The Highest Paying IT Jobs Are In 2018

, Opinions expressed by Forbes Contributors are their own.
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These and many other fascinating findings are from the 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report. You can download the report here (PDF, 54 pp., opt-in). Global Knowledge has been providing this report for 11 years, and it’s turned into an invaluable resource for helping everyone from recent college graduates to experienced IT professionals in defining their career roadmap. Global Knowledge was founded in 1995 and trains on average more than 300,000 professionals in more than 100 countries every year.  Global Knowledge increased the scope of the study to include Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA), Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. 16,200 respondents worldwide completed the survey. Please see pages 52, 53 and 54 for more specifics on the methodology.

Key takeaways from the 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report include the following:

  • IT decision makers in the U.S. are the highest paid globally, averaging a $107,193 salary this year. Canadian IT leaders earn on average $78,788, 26% less than their U.S. counterparts. IT leaders in Latin America on average are the lowest paid, earning $37,974 on average. IT Staff in the U.S. is the highest paid globally as well, earning $77,873. The following graphic compares IT Leader, IT Staff, and total salaries by geographic region.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

  • Regional variations in the cost of living explain the wide variation in salary levels globally, as a comparison of 13 regional IT decision-maker salaries indicates. With the average salary for an IT decision-maker in North America being $107,193 versus $15,203 in East Africa, cost of living, pre-existing infrastructure, and proximity to high growth markets all influence average salary levels by region. The study found that Oceania has the highest average salary for IT staff at $86,689 globally and attributes this to the region being a large outsourcing hub. The study defines Oceania as including Australia, New Zealand, and the Pacific Islands. The region has the highest combined average IT salary at $92,016, 8% higher than the North American average of $85,310.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

  • The quickest way for U.S.-based IT professionals to gain a double-digit raise between 13% to 19% is to seek out a new employer. The study found that this career strategy works equally well for lateral career moves. The average IT professional in the Silicon Valley stays in a job 24 to 26 months, and at leading cloud-based enterprise software companies, the average tenure drops to 19 months. IT professionals who realize they are the CEOs of their careers and are opportunistic in seeking higher salaries and more senior positions is the new normal. Taking a CEO mindset to managing their careers, the best and highest earning IT professionals are continually increasing their value through certification and training, preparing for the next level in their professional growth. 40% of respondents received a raise for job performance. Taking on additional responsibilities in their existing companies gains on average 11% salary increases, providing the pay increase is negotiated and agreed on as part of the new role. It’s remarkable that 54% of IT decision-makers aren’t approving spending on training according to the study. Of the many IT professionals I know, a company’s commitment and investment in training and education are one of the factors they evaluate job offers on. Investing in certification and education pays dividends far into the future and is a major factor driving retention of valuable IT professionals. The graphic below shows an analysis of who received a raise and how much in 2017.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

  • Security expertise is the most valuable IT skill today, paying an average global salary of $81,564. Security expertise is in high demand with 38% of IT decision makers globally say that finding qualified security talent is the most difficult position they are recruiting for today. The average salary for security experts is $34,571 in Latin America, soaring to $100,650 in North America. The average global salary for IT professionals with cloud expertise is $74,064, with the North America average salary being the highest for the region at $110,265. The following table provides insights into how salaries vary by the 11 functional IT areas and four geographic regions of the study.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

  • Amazon Web Services (AWS) certifications are the highest paying in North America, earning an average salary of $113,261. Average global salaries are highest for certifications in the areas of business architecture (e.g., TOGAF), paying $87,863 on average globally. The world’s most lucrative certifications include the following: Governance (e.g., CGEIT, COBIT) paying $84,420; Amazon Web Services (AWS) paying $84,108; Knowledge Management (e.g., KCSP, KCSF) paying $82,823; and Security and Privacy (e.g., CISA, CEH, CISSP, CIPM) paying $82,652 on average globally.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

  • IT professionals who are in revenue-generating roles with system integrators and Value-Added Resellers (VARs) have the highest average salary globally of $88,004. In North America, average salaries soar to $114,828 those working in system integrator and VAR businesses. Those IT professionals in the aerospace & defense (A&D) industry are averaging an annual salary of $86,646. A&D is the best-paying industry in both EMEA and Asia-Pacific as the table below shows. IT professionals in insurance, real estate, and the legal industry earn slightly less, averaging an annual salary of $84,108 globally. In the pharmaceutical, medical, and biotech industries, IT professionals are earning a global average salary of $80,566.

Source: 2018 Global Knowledge IT Skills and Salary Report

Louis Columbus is an enterprise software strategist with expertise in analytics, cloud computing, CPQ, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), e-commerce and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP).

How To Transform Marketing Into A Revenue-Generating Accountability Function

Progress

Melissa Puls, former CMO Progress

“It’s a wonderful time to be a CMO in the B2B world,” suggested Margaret Molloy, in a recent Forbes article. The role is rapidly changing and those marketers who can lead the change are poised to have significant impact. Prior to joining Optanix as CMO, Melissa Puls, as CMO of Progress, helped generate more than 75,000 new qualified leads, resulting in $35M incremental pipeline creation and $17M new revenue for the company. I was fascinated by the degree of specificity with which she could articulate her department’s top- and bottom-line impact. Below is an excerpt from the interview with Puls regarding how she transformed marketing at Progress to create a more accountable function.

Kimberly Whitler: The leads / revenue increases you helped generate at Progress are impressive. Can you elaborate on what you did, how you measured the impact, and the results you’ve achieved?

Melissa Puls: Essentially, I changed the systems and processes by which we marketed. I worked with key peers (e.g., Sales, GMs, etc.) to create a whole new process to drive accountability by function and individual. To do this, we had to put a more rigorous process in place. I’ll explain how the process works now. The very first thing that we do as a team is to break down the firm-level objectives to assign quotas by function. This is then broken down and assigned to individuals within functions. We sync these quotas up to specific sales objectives by product line and project. The objective is to align the sales objectives with marketing and to ensure that we are working together to achieve company goals.

As an example, for one new product introduction, marketing had 100% of the lead/conversion goal and had a specific revenue target to hit. On another product, the focus was on relationship development so the sales team had more responsibility for generating the revenue. We essentially work together to figure out how to disaggregate the macro financial goals into specific deliverables by function, individual, and product. Once this is done, we then assign based on these goals. For example, let’s assume that a marketer has a business development target and that they have to deliver $30M of new bookings. We then determine the budget that is required to generate the leads, nurture, and convert into the revenue target.

Once we identified exactly who and which function will generate specific sales and what the budgets are, we then create “waterfalls” (i.e., specific targets for generating website traffic and then converting into marketing leads and then converting through engagement process and then scoring leads to determine the level of qualification and then converting through to trial). At this point, the salesperson will look at the marketing qualified leads and will they have a certain amount of time to convert to sales qualified lead and they are working to close the lead. We have service level agreements (SLAs) that have been developed with the sales reps; these agreements detail how quickly sales will respond to the leads sent. This creates standards against which we “toss the baton” from marketing to sales to ensure that there aren’t any drops in the handoff.

Then, every week, marketing meets with sales, the Chief Revenue Officer, the GMs, and the Chief of Demand Generation to through all of the performance metrics we defined. We go through each stage of the conversion process and waterfall to identify opportunities for improvement. Every percent you can improve your conversion throughout the waterfall drops directly to revenue generation.

Whitler: What are the key attributes of the transformation?

Puls:

1. Standardized the system: Before this, we had a number of different systems that different people used. The key to working together was to ensure that we all worked off of the same core systems. So we converted to one system for marketing automation (Eloqua), one for sales force management (salesforce.com), one dashboard system (Tableau), and then we implemented the best-in-class benchmarking (waterfall) that SiriusDecisions created.

2. Aligned the organization: We centralized the demand center and responsibility for performance in one marketing team (before it had been distributed to more). We focused on implementing best practices within demand gen based on prior research and white papers. This created a unification that had been missing..

3. We incorporated our own content management system. We have a product that enables real-time content management through an app-like product on a remote computer or even phone. This enabled us to become more agile, more responsive, and more efficient

4. Identify goals by person/function: Allocated responsible to not only the functional level but to individual level and ensured clear, single-point accountability.

5. Create a regular process for meeting, reviewing, adapting, and reporting.

6. Align the budget to the target to the individual/function.

Whitler: What advice would you give to B2B Marketers who are trying to drive lead gen that connects to measureable business results?

Puls:

1. Don’t be afraid to take on a quota. I’m talking about impact to revenue. You have to have a specific target and know how your function will contribute to the firm’s financial performance.

2. Put a target out there so that you can measure your team against it.

3. What is really is challenging is to convert the macro goal into individual level measures. This takes discussion and deliberation. It’s not critical that you get the target perfect in the beginning. There has to be room to miss the target and to adjust the system and learn. Over time, however, the team should get better at setting targets and hitting them.

4. Remember, although marketing may hit its target, there is no celebration until all of the units are hitting their targets. It’s a partnership. If we hit our target but pass the baton and the next group is struggling, we have to ask what we can do differently to help them achieve their targets. business results to drive success. It works best when all functions hit their goals.

Join the Discussion: @KimWhitler

Trump sets tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods; Beijing strikes back

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said he was pushing ahead with hefty tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports on Friday, and the smoldering trade war between the world’s two largest economies showed signs of igniting as Beijing immediately vowed to respond in kind.

Trump laid out a list of more than 800 strategically important imports from China that would be subject to a 25 percent tariff starting on July 6, including cars, the latest hardline stance on trade by a U.S. president who has already been wrangling with allies.

China’s Commerce Ministry said it would respond with tariffs “of the same scale and strength” and that any previous trade deals with Trump were “invalid.” The official Xinhua news agency said China would impose 25 percent tariffs on 659 U.S. products, ranging from soybeans and autos to seafood.

China’s retaliation list was increased more than six-fold from a version released in April, but the value was kept at $50 billion, as some high-value items such as commercial aircraft were deleted.

Shares of Boeing Co (BA.N), the single largest U.S. exporter to China, closed down 1.3 percent after paring earlier losses. Caterpillar Inc (CAT.N), another big exporter to China, ended 2 percent lower.

Trump said in a statement that the United States would pursue additional tariffs if China retaliates.

Washington and Beijing appeared increasingly headed toward open trade conflict after several rounds of negotiations failed to resolve U.S. complaints over Chinese industrial policies, lack of market access in China and a $375 billion U.S. trade deficit.

“These tariffs are essential to preventing further unfair transfers of American technology and intellectual property to China, which will protect American jobs,” Trump said.

Analysts, however, did not expect the U.S. tariffs to inflict a major wound to China’s economy and said the trade dispute likely would continue to fester.

TVS SPARED, CHIPS ADDED

U.S. Customs and Border Protection will begin collecting tariffs on 818 product categories valued at $34 billion on July 6, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.

The list was slimmed down from a version unveiled in April, dropping Chinese flat-panel television sets, medical breathing devices and oxygen generators and air conditioning parts.

The tariffs will still target autos, including those imported by General Motors Co (GM.N) and Volvo, owned by China’s Geely Automobile Holdings (0175.HK), and electric cars.

And USTR added tariffs on another 284 product lines, valued at $16 billion, targeting semiconductors, a broad range of electronics and plastics that it said benefited from China’s industrial subsidy programs, including the “Made in China 2025” plan, aimed at making China more competitive in key technologies such as robotics and semiconductors.

Tariffs on these products will go into effect after a public comment period. A senior Trump administration official told reporters that companies will be able to apply for exclusions for Chinese imports they cannot source elsewhere.

Most semiconductor devices imported from China use chips produced in the United States, with low-level assembly and testing work done in China, prompting the Semiconductor Industry Association to call the new tariff list “counterproductive.”

While many business groups and lawmakers urged the two governments to negotiate instead, there was little sign talks would resume soon.

Trump’s tariffs did gain some support from an unlikely source, U.S. Senate Democratic leader Charles Schumer, who called them “right on target.”

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“China is our real trade enemy, and their theft of intellectual property and their refusal to let our companies compete fairly threatens millions of future American jobs,” Schumer said in a statement.

The USTR official said the tariffs were aimed at changing China’s behavior on its technology transfer policies and massive subsidies to develop high-tech industries. The United States now dominates those industries, but Chinese government support could make it difficult for U.S. companies to compete.

Washington has completed a second list of possible tariffs on another $100 billion in Chinese goods, in the expectation that China will respond to the initial U.S. tariff list in kind, sources told Reuters.

U.S. soybean futures plunged 1.5 percent to a one-year low on concerns that an escalating trade fight with China will threaten shipments to the biggest buyer of the oilseed, traders said.

Beijing and Washington had held three rounds of high-level talks since early May but failed to reach a compromise. Trump was unmoved by a Chinese offer to buy an additional $70 billion worth of U.S. farm and energy products and other goods, according to people familiar with the matter.

Analysts at Capital Economics said the impact of the tariffs on China’s economy would be small. Even if the U.S. duties reach the full $150 billion, they estimated it would shave well under a half-percentage point off China’s annual growth rate, which could be offset by fiscal and monetary policy actions.

“Neither side will be brought to its knees – which is one reason to think the trade dispute could drag on,” Capital Economics said. “For China’s part, its leaders will be determined not to be seen to back down to foreign pressure.”

Although shares of some tariff-sensitive companies fell on Wall Street, the stock market overall fell only modestly.

“With the announcement of the tariffs, there’s a real risk that we can see a continued increased escalation,” said Robin Anderson, senior economist at Principal Global Investors in Des Moines, Iowa. But he said that underlying strong economic fundamentals in the United States would dampen the market impact.

Trump has also triggered a trade fight with Canada, Mexico and the European Union over steel and aluminum and has threatened to impose duties on European cars.

While China in recent months made incremental market-opening reforms in industries that critics in the foreign business community say were already planned, it has not been inclined to yield on its core industrial policies.

(GRAPHIC – Tit-for-tar tariffs interactive: tmsnrt.rs/2GXE9qr)

Reporting by David Lawder in Washington and Ben Blachard in Beijing; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in Beijing; Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Leslie Adler

No One Is Buying Netflix

Netflix (NFLX) has become the King of Content, and that is in great demand right now. A federal judge has just approved the merger of AT&T (T) and Time Warner (TWX) without any requirements that they shed significant assets. There is still a possibility the Justice Department could appeal the ruling and actually get a reversal of the judge’s decision. But the odds are that in the next few days AT&T and Time Warner will be one company and others will look to copycat.

The problem Netflix has is that its valuation is so high compared to similar companies that the few companies large enough to acquire Netflix would have to do so in a highly dilutive transaction. That is simply not going to happen. Netflix has a market-cap of $158 billion. But in 2017 the company had revenues of only $11.7 billion, which means it is trading at a very high 13.5 times trailing revenue. For comparison’s sake consider The Walt Disney Company (DIS) with a market-cap of $155 billion. Disney had $54.9 billion in revenue in 2017, and it is trading for only 2.8 times trailing revenue.

The incredible premium carried by the shares of Netflix are best understood by looking at its income statement and subscriber growth rate. First we will look at the income statement:

Netflix earned a $1.25 in 2017 per diluted share. With a closing price per share of $364, Netflix is trading at a whopping 291 times trailing earnings. Again, compare that to Disney which is trading at 14 times trailing earnings. A big question is, does Netflix have the growth rate to justify such a lofty premium? Here is a look at its subscriber growth numbers:

Netflix is growing. It increased its number of global streaming memberships from 93.8 million in 2016 to 117.6 million in 2017. Any large company would be very pleased with a 25% growth rate, but that doesn’t justify a company’s trading at 13.5 times trailing revenue and 291 times trailing earnings per share.

It is clear that based on the metrics, there is no doubt no one will be placing a hostile bid to acquire Netflix. However, Netflix is in a great position to be an acquirer of assets. Almost anything it buys will be highly accretive to shareholder revenues and earnings. For example, one of the companies the market is speculating may be acquired is CBS Corporation (CBS). CBS would give Netflix additional content and an alternative distribution system for the excellent original content Netflix is creating.

CBS has a $20 billion market-cap and is trading at 1.5 times trailing revenue. The company is also trading at 17 times trailing earnings. Obviously, an acquisition of a company like CBS would be highly accretive for Netflix. Additionally, there could be real synergies between Netflix and CBS.

There are other companies Netflix could consider making a bid for that would also offer real synergies. The risk in making an acquisition is that Netflix would be changing its narrative, which may cause investors to reconsider its lofty premium. It may also be hard to integrate the culture of the acquired company into the culture of Netflix. However, Netflix has a real opportunity right now to strike while the iron is hot. In the long run Netflix shareholders should be better off if Netflix makes an aggressive move now rather than sitting back and playing the rapidly changing environment cautiously.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Apple: Biggest Launch Cycle Ever?

Congratulations are in order for technology giant Apple (AAPL), which earlier this month was finally able to end its WWDC losing streak. Even though shares underperformed US markets in general, they finished higher during the conference really for the first time this century (when excluding pre-split week). Even with shares entering this time near all-time highs, investors apparently liked what they saw from the company. Now we get to see how much Apple puts on its plate for the rest of 2018.

I won’t go through all of the stuff released at WWDC, as you can get quite an extensive overview right here. I believe that walkie-talkie will be a big hit for the Apple Watch, improvement in ARKit is nice for the future, and FaceTime group chat will likely be nice for business. It’s also nice to see a major performance improvement for iOS 12, with apps, the camera, and keyboard opening much faster for older devices.

WWDC unveils the software packages that will power the next generation of Apple devices, many of which we’ll see later this year. At this moment, the iPhone is the biggest driver of revenues, so let’s focus on it first. There continue to be questions about whether the company will launch a new version of the SE, for those looking for a smaller screen and/or lower price point. With those who bought the SE when it first came out likely able to upgrade now after 2-year contracts have matured, it would be nice to see a new SE.

However, the biggest part of the iPhone lineup will be its larger screen devices, some of which could be previewed in the graphic below. Most expectations call for two OLED devices to be launched this year along with one LCD phone. I just hope Apple doesn’t get too crazy with its pricing, after getting a huge boost to ASPs last year. Delivering solid upgrades in the range of Apple’s current price points would likely lead to increased unit sales, especially if the iPhone 6 crowd finally decides to upgrade in a big way.

(Source: MacRumors 2018 iPhone roundup)

If we look at some of the rumors out there, perhaps the one I am most intrigued by is a cheaper version of the MacBook Air. Apple is expected to launch new Macs this year, but usually its PC line is quite expensive. Should the company move down ladder, perhaps as low as a $799 entry price, it could really drive demand and send Mac sales to a new level. While it is possible we could see a launch aimed at the holiday season, a product release in July/August aimed at back to school would likely be a major hit. So far through the first half of the fiscal year, Mac unit sales are down 4% according to page 23 of the most recent 10-Q filing, the worst performance of Apple’s three main product lines. Hitting a lower price point would be a shot across the bows of Microsoft (MSFT) and Google (GOOG) (GOOGL), which have beaten Apple in the education space quite often in recent years.

Just like the iPhone SE, Apple also needs to decide what to do with the low end of its tablet lineup. The iPad mini hasn’t been updated in nearly three years, so it is either time for a new version or for it to be discontinued. If Apple could deliver iPad Pro performance at the iPad mini price point, it would be a major hit. Perhaps that will be part of the move this year, as Apple is expected to launch new iPad Pro models, like the one potentially pictured below, that feature FaceID. Apple launched iPad Pro models in June 2017, but we haven’t gotten new versions this June, so I’m guessing a fall launch could be in store.

(Source: MacRumors iPad Pro 2018 roundup)

Just launching new products in the three main lines for Apple would likely be enough to satisfy most consumers, but we could see even more than that this year. There are expectations out there for a new version of the Watch with a much larger screen, helping to combat Fitbit’s (FIT) smartwatch ambitions and the expected launch of Google’s rumored Pixel Watch. I’m curious to see if we’ll see a new version of Apple’s extremely popular AirPods, perhaps one that will feature a case compatible with the AirPower charging mat coming to market at some point. Improved battery life in the Watch and AirPods could take sales to the next level, beyond the major successes that they already are.

It will definitely be interesting to see the timing of all these potential launches, especially for those like me that are closely watching Apple’s financials. Last year’s staggered iPhone launch pushed revenues out of the September period a bit, but there are some believing this year’s iPhone lineup will be released all at once. That could push billions in sales forward a bit, which might potentially lead to a quarterly decline in the December quarter from last year’s record period. Still, Apple will likely deliver tremendous revenues and profits, with earnings per share rising strongly thanks to the US tax cuts and the massive buyback program.

In the end, 2018 could turn out to be the biggest product launch cycle in Apple period. Beyond the likely annual upgrades of certain iPhone, Mac, and iPad lines, we could finally see the company launch new versions of its smaller screen devices that are quite dated. Hopefully, Apple will deliver its usually great price products at reasonable price points, as moving down the price ladder in certain areas can massively increase demand. With revenues and earnings per share heading to new all-time highs, Apple shares are just a stone’s throw away from having a trillion dollar market cap.

Disclosure: I/we have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: Investors are always reminded that before making any investment, you should do your own proper due diligence on any name directly or indirectly mentioned in this article. Investors should also consider seeking advice from a broker or financial adviser before making any investment decisions. Any material in this article should be considered general information, and not relied on as a formal investment recommendation.

U.S. Senate, White House gear up for battle over China's ZTE

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Legislation to block the Trump administration’s agreement with China’s ZTE Corp allowing it to resume business with American suppliers could be delayed, or even killed, by procedural rules in the U.S. Congress, lawmakers and aides said on Wednesday.

A woman stands outside a building of ZTE Beijing research and development center in Beijing, China June 13, 2018. REUTERS/Jason Lee

The U.S. Senate is due to vote as soon as this week on the legislation as part of the National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA, a defense policy bill Congress passes every year. The White House strongly opposes the measure.

If it passes, before the defense bill becomes law, a joint committee of the House of Representatives and Senate must negotiate a final version of the bill. The ZTE provision could be stripped out during those negotiations. The House version does not include the ZTE measure.

Mac Thornberry, the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said he would oppose including anything in the NDAA not germane to the Defense Department if it threatened to delay the swift package of the $716 billion bill, which governs everything from military pay raises to aircraft and ship purchases, military aid and other national security policies.

He said that process could be completed by the end of July.

The House NDAA already includes a provision barring U.S. government agencies from using “risky” technology from ZTE or Huawei Technologies [HWT.UL], describing the companies as “linked to the Chinese Communist Party’s intelligence apparatus.”

The measure could also be held up if President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans, who control Congress, rule that it does not belong in legislation setting policy for the Pentagon.

Should it become law, the measure would restore penalties on ZTE for violating export controls and bar U.S. government agencies from purchasing or leasing equipment or services from the Chinese company.

The United States government banned the company earlier this year, but the Trump administration reached an agreement to lift the ban, while it is negotiating broader trade agreements with China and looking to Beijing for support during negotiations to halt North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Chinese President Xi Jinping requested the change.

In a settlement with the U.S. Commerce Department, the company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions, including putting $400 million in escrow in a U.S.-approved bank.

The White House pushed back against the legislation, defending the agreement as “part of an historic enforcement action” giving the U.S. government some leverage over ZTE’s activity without “undue harm” to U.S. suppliers and workers.

White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the administration will work with Congress to ensure that the final version of the NDAA “respects the separation of powers.”

The ZTE measure’s main sponsors, Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen and Republican Senator Tom Cotton, both said they believed it had enough support from Republicans and Democrats to pass the Senate despite White House opposition.

“We can’t let them off the hook with a slap on the wrist, because if we do that it will … send the wrong messages to countries around the world,” Van Hollen said in a Senate speech.

Cotton said he and Van Hollen would keep working in the common months to ensure the ZTE measure stays in the defense bill.

ZTE shares plunged in Hong Kong and Shenzhen markets on Wednesday in its first day of trading after an almost two-month halt. Investors wiped about $3 billion off its market value, or about 40 percent, in initial trading.

Reporting by Patricia Zengerle, additional reporting by Jeff Mason; editing by Damon Darlin and Tom Brown

Biggest Surprises (and Missed Opportunities) of the E3 Press Conferences

It’s Tuesday, which means the E3 show floor is now open. It also means we’re finally at the end of a four-day slog of press conferences from some of the gaming world’s largest publishers. While Activision Blizzard still doesn’t do its own pre-E3 event, just about everyone else does, which means these 96 hours have been a deluge of announcements and reveals that we did our best to get our arms around. We didn’t even cover them all: the Square Enix press conference was basically devoid of new information, and the PC Gaming Show, while compelling, was mostly a long list of indie game announcements—some of which we’ll be getting to later this week.

So, for now, here’s everything you need to know about every press conference you need to know about. Get through this, and you’ll be ready for all the other E3 news that starts….well, now.

Electronic Arts

E3 kicked things off on Saturday (yes, Saturday) with a quiet, largely uneventful press conference from Electronic Arts, broadcasted from their annual EA Play event at the Hollywood Palladium. The presser opened with Battlefield V, set during World War II, which will have heavily destructible environments and a Battle Royale Mode a la Fortnite. Respawn Entertainment gave up some details about their in-progress Star Wars game—more on that shortly—and a bit of an update on the ongoing service for Star Wars: Battlefront II.

In new games, EA revealed Unravel 2, a follow-up to its game about a precocious, cuddly little yarn man (this time, he has a friend!) and Sea of Solitude, a compellingly brooding small game introduced by a compellingly earnest German developer. The publisher also took the wraps announced a mobile Command & Conquer game and gave a lengthy demo of Anthem, BioWare’s upcoming shared-world mech game that seems to be aiming to be a Destiny killer. Even better, Anthem now has a date: February, 22, 2019. (Also FIFA was there, because FIFA is always there.)

Biggest Surprise: We got a name for Respawn’s new Star Wars game: Jedi: Fallen Order. Respawn has made great first-person shooters with the Titanfall series, so it’ll be interesting to see what they can do with the Star Wars license.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Jedi: Fallen Order was announced sans logo or even concept trailer, which felt like a letdown. It’s hard to get excited about a name, even when it’s a good name.

Microsoft

Microsoft’s last couple of Xbox press conferences haven’t exactly succeeded at articulating the future of the Xbox—even if that future is unexpectedly bright. This year, then, was a pleasant surprise: Microsoft brought a lot of material, and a lot of surprises.

First, the publisher has quietly been getting very acquisition-happy, and is hoping to bolster its first-party games with a slew of studios that they now own. These include Ninja Theory, who made last year’s Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, Undead Labs (State of Decay), Playground Games (Forza Horizon), and Compulsion Games (We Happy Few). It’s hard to say whether or not acquisitions like this are good for studios; creators get a payday, but history is riddled with instances of big publishers buying small studios and slowly running them into the ground. Time will tell whether or not this is good for gaming, but it’s certainly a good move for Microsoft.

Then, there were games. A lot of games. There’s Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, a game about ninjas from the developers of Dark Souls, coming in 2019. Forza Horizon 4, a new installment that takes the racing franchise to Britain. The Division 2, which brings the shared world shooter to Washington, DC. Devil May Cry 5, with the franchise’s original creator back at the helm. Dying Light 2, a sequel to my favorite zombie parkour game. Gears of War 5, a Gears of War tactics game, and a Gears of War themed, uh, Funko Pop game. And Halo: Infinite, a new installment in the Halo franchise that we know just about nothing about. Also, fans got a new trailer for Kingdom Hearts 3, which is officially coming out January 25, 2019.

Biggest Surprise: Halo: Infinite could be a big deal, as could the expanded effort into Microsoft Game Pass, a subscription service that gives subscribers the Netflix-like ability to download and play a swath of the Xbox library for a flat monthly fee. But after Microsoft made so much noise about the PC at last year’s press conference, this year’s relative silence spoke volumes.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Offering just about no details on a new Halo title made the announcement fall pretty flat.

Bethesda

The Bethesda E3 Showcase was huge this year. We got a closer look at Rage 2, a massive open-world shooter co-developed by id Software and Avalanche Studios, complete (?) with an on-stage appearance by Andrew WK. A short trailer played for Doom Eternal a sequel to the excellent Doom 2016 reboot; just like the old-school Doom 2, Eternal is apparently set on Earth. QuakeCon in August should provide many more details in that realm.

There will also be a new Wolfenstein game next year, set in an alternate-universe 1980s and starring the twin daughters of Nazi-murder-machine BJ Blaskowicz. And then there’s the big stuff: a lengthy look at Fallout 76, an impressive-looking, fully online, open-world Fallout game coming November 14; Elder Scrolls Blades, a mobile phone game that strives to be a fully featured, complete Elder Scrolls experience; and two projects much farther out on the development pipeline, sci-fi title Starfield and Elder Scrolls VI. Both are unlikely to show up on the current generation of consoles.

Biggest Surprise: Any glimpse at Elder Scrolls VI is a bit of a surprise, actually. As was the jokey-but-maybe-real Announcement of Skyrim: Very Special Edition for the Alexa.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Andrew WK, whose presence seemed to confuse and even tranquilize the crowd. (To be fair, this is mostly a missed opportunity for Andrew WK.)

Ubisoft

Ubisoft’s presser opted for meatiness, giving fans a long look at Beyond Good and Evil 2, which looks to be a huge earthy space opera, though detail are scarce about gameplay or release. As Microsoft also revealed, The Division 2 will be set in Washington, DC, and will feature raids and free DLC as it tries its hardest to become the Tom Clancy-verse Destiny-killer it aspires to be.

New properties showed up as well. There was a lot of Skull & Bones, a gritty pirate adventure in a shared online world, and Starlink: Battle for Atlas, a sci-fi toys-to-life game (think Skylanders) bringing its dogfight-heavy combat to the Nintendo Switch—and featuring Fox from Star Fox. Finally, there was a big look at Assassin’s Creed Odyssey, which takes place in Ancient Greece and lets the player choose between two characters. Also, you can talk to Socrates, so … there’s that. Odyssey comes out October 5.

Biggest Surprise: Unlike the past couple of years, Aisha Tyler didn’t host. Aisha! Where’d you go? (Probably one of your gazillion jobs.)

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Despite teasing it with recent DLC for Ghost Recon: Wildlands, Ubisoft did not announce a new entry in the Splinter Cell stealth game franchise. Color me disappointed.

Sony

Sony’s Monday-night press conference this year was a bit odd. It started in a small “church” set, which ended up being a recreation of a location from The Last of Us, Part II, which was also the first game shown of the night. The showcase focused on lengthy demos for a handful of major Sony titles: The Last of Us; Ghost of Tsushima, a samurai game developed by Sucker Punch, which looks like a Kurosawa fan’s dream game; Death Stranding, Hideo Kojima’s surrealist eco-pocalypse starring mo-capped digital versions of Norman Reedus and Mads Mikkelsen along with what was, frankly, a weird number of babies; and Insomniac Games’ Spider-Man, which is looking like quite a romp.

Between each of these big showcases, we got canned commentary along with other announcements: A Resident Evil 2 full HD remake, coming next January 22; va sequel to the samurai Souls-like Nioh 2 developed by Team Ninja; and Control, a fascinating-looking game from Remedy Entertainment (Alan Wake) about the director of a supernatural agency. There was also another Kingdom Hearts 3 trailer, showcasing a Pirates of the Carribean world, which brought the week’s KH3 trailer total to three (so far).

Biggest Surprise: The footage of The Last of Us, Part II, along with being just as dizzyingly hyperviolent as its predecessor, featured what might be the first and only lesbian kiss ever featured on an E3 stage. The presentation of queerness in a game by a company like Sony isn’t without reproach by any means, but that’s honestly still pretty cool.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Fair warning: I’m not going to stop hollering about Bloodborne 2 until they release Bloodborne 2.

Nintendo

Nintendo’s press conference somehow felt both huge and underwhelming. First, we got some new announcements, in the form of Daemon x Machina, a neat-looking mech action game, coming in 2019; some DLC for Xenoblade Chronicles 2; a new snazzy-looking Fire Emblem; and Super Mario Party, which will include the novel feature of linking together two Switch consoles to make one big board-game simulation. Next: that game you like is coming back in style! Yes, it was the Nintendo Switch port montage, featuring a ton of games, like Dragon Ball FighterZ, Hollow Knight, Wasteland 2, and the JRPG classic The World Ends With You (which we’d heard about but was still nice to see).

The rest of the show was devoted to one title, and one title only: Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, which arrives for the Nintendo Switch December 7. They ran down the characters (all of them, from every Smash Bros game ever, are here), and went over a long list of very detailed changes that are sure to delight hardcore fans but might have been a bit dull to everyone else. And that was, uh, it.

Biggest Surprise: Ridley, the giant dragon alien baddie from Metroid, is coming to Smash Bros, which seems like a logistical nightmare for the developers.

Biggest Missed Opportunity: Nintendo completely failed to mention Metroid Prime 4, which the company had announced last year, or their online service, which is supposedly still slated for this fall and yet is still a huge unknown.


More Great WIRED Stories

Deliveroo steps up Just Eat battle, letting restaurants use own riders

LONDON (Reuters) – Deliveroo will allow restaurants to use their own riders for orders placed through its takeaway food app, in a move which will boost the number of available outlets by 50 percent as it intensifies a battle with rival Just Eat.

FILE PHOTO: Deliveroo food delivery bags are seen in Nice, France, June 5, 2018. REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

All orders currently placed on the platform in Britain are delivered by one of the firm’s 15,000 riders, well-known for their distinctive black and teal jackets and delivery boxes emblazoned with its kangaroo logo.

Just Eat, however, works with restaurants which mainly supply their own drivers in Britain, and in limited cases uses third-party couriers.

Deliveroo hopes the change, which is called Marketplace+ and comes into effect in July, will boost the number of available restaurants from 10,000 to 15,000 by the end of the year with thousands more riders likely to be taken on.

Restaurants will be able to accept orders and assign them to either their own drivers or those on Deliveroo’s platform.

“Traditionally we’ve been unable to work with those restaurants … because they already have their own delivery fleet and so they thought ‘well we don’t really need Deliveroo,’” co-founder and Chief Executive Will Shu told reporters.

“We’re changing the game. We’re enabling these restaurants to tap into our delivery fleet,” he added.

Just Eat said in March it would spend an extra 50 million pounds ($67 million) this year to battle competition from rivals such as Uber Eats and Deliveroo, in a fiercely competitive market which has burgeoned in recent years.

Since making its first delivery in London in 2013, Deliveroo has expanded into 11 other countries with new markets due soon, prompting questions about whether the firm will pursue an initial public offering (IPO) as it continues to grow.

“An IPO – I’m not saying it’s off the cards,” said Shu. “It’s definitely something that we’ll consider but just not now. We’re not in any rush, we’re heads-down on trying to really grow this business,” he said.

Editing by Stephen Addison

Ubisoft E3 2018 Live-Blog: All The Announcements In One Place

Credit: Ubisoft

I’m live-blogging Ubisoft’s E3 press conference. Join me.

Okay, the Ubisoft E3 Press Conference has begun. I’m a little late to the party due to some technical difficulties on my end, so we’ll just jump right in.

Here’s the livestream if you want to watch it live. Refresh the page for updates as we go.

Update:

The show is over now. You can read through the below timeline to see what was shown off during the conference. I’ll be updating this post with some images and trailers and will have some more individual posts about the various games shown off published soon. Cheers!

1:05 PM: A big panda and a bunch of band members just danced to show off Just Dance 2019. Quite the production. Ubisoft is starting things off with a bang.

1:08 PM: This looks like Beyond Good & Evil 2. More cinematic stuff, but very very cool looking.

1:10 PM: Yep, Beyond Good & Evil 2. Still one of the coolest looking upcoming games but I have that nagging “too good to be true” feeling.

1:12 PM: Sorry, I spaced out while listening to them talk about the game. I just want to see gameplay. Now we’re learning about the Space Monkey program which sounds like a user-generator content program.

1:14 PM: Joseph Gordon Levitt is on stage now talking about the Space Monkey program and how you can be a part of contributing your talent to the game. He’s involved with the project through HitRecord.org and he’s…surprisingly natural on stage at a video game presser. Usually these celebrities are a disaster.

1:16 PM: Rainbow Six: Siege has 35 million players (not concurrently, but that’s still a hefty number of gamers playing a very hardcore tactical game.)

1:18 PM: They’re talking about the competitive events upcoming for Rainbow Six: Siege now so I’m once again just glazing over. Sorry folks, I’m just not an eSports guy.

1:24 PM: Oh sorry, the eSports stuff is done and there’s a guy in a really loud outfit talking about Trials Rising, which looks like a cool new Trials game. I like dirt bikes.

1:25 PM: You can sign up for a closed beta at www.trialsgame.com. The game comes out February 2019, and it’s also coming to the Nintendo Switch. Good.

Here’s the Trials trailer:

1:28 PM: Okay, we’re going to see some Division 2 now. Hopefully Ubisoft doesn’t pull a Bungie with this one.

1:33 PM: The setting for the game is Washington, D.C. which is…kind of disappointing honestly.

1:35 PM: Crowd goes wild…Raids are coming to The Division 2. That’s good for real end-game content.

1:36 PM: Ubisoft has a three-episode plan of post-release content in year one of The Division 2. Sounds like they’re really thinking this through. Maybe they learned something.

1:39 PM: Some Mario Rabbids stuff now. We’re getting a glimpse of the new Donkey Kong DLC. This is actually a musical segment so if you can’t watch the music live, just try to picture it in your head.

1:42 PM: They’re showing off footage from the Donkey Kong adventure. A seagull is flying around some of the levels and oh…the Rabbid Kong just smashed the poor thing. By the way, Mario Rabbids is an excellent turn-based tactical game. I love it. You should go play it. It’s so great and the Donkey Kong content looks fantastic.

1:44 PM: This must be Skull & Bones. A very nice pirate cinematic is playing.

1:46 PM: So, will there be an actual story in this game? With characters and such? Or is this all just window-dressing for the naval combat stuff that we’ve previously seen (and which I played at last year’s E3.)

1:47 PM: The guy talking about Skull & Bones just dropped an F-bomb and some guys cheered. Now we know this presser is super edgy and mature.

1:48 PM: Okay, so Skull & Bones is a shared-world pirate game where every player encounter matters. Sounding a lot like a less cartoony Sea of Thieves. Though less reliant on multiple players sailing a single ship. Looks like each player has their own ship instead, which will definitely be easier for solo players.

1:55 PM: After watching a few minutes of Skull & Bones which looks…decent, I guess, now Elijah Wood is on stage talking about Transference. SO MANY CELEBRITIES UBISOFT.

1:58 PM: I’m not sure how to describe Trasnference. It looks trippy. I’ll post a trailer later.

2:00 PM: So they just showed Starlink which looks kind of like No Man’s Sky meets Star Fox. Cool!

2:01 PM: Seriously, for a second I thought this was a totally revamped No Man’s Sky. Now, watching it more they even have the sound effects from Star Fox. Wait…Star Fox is in the game. Which means this is coming to the Nintendo Switch.

2:03 PM: Yves Guillemot is on stage now. They’re talking about having Star Fox in Starlink. High fives are being given to Nintendo. I’ll say this, Starlink looks way better than the last Star Fox game. Oh, and now Shigeru Miyamoto is charming us all with his adorable smile.

2:04 PM: Guillemot just gave Miyamoto a model of the Starlink ship.

2:05 PM: Starlink launches on October 16th on PC, PS4, Xbox One and with Star Fox on Nintendo Switch.

2:06 PM: It occurs to me that Starlink kind of looks like No Man’s Sky with actual content. Like combat and story. Okay, now the For Honor guys are on stage.

2:07 PM: The PC Starter Edition of For Honor will be free going forward.

2:09 PM: They’re showing off new For Honor content. “Marching Fire’ DLC looks like it’s adding Chinese characters.

2:12 PM: Castle Siege is coming to For Honor. A new mode along with the new Chinese faction. A pretty hefty amount of new content. I suppose I need to give this game a spin again now that’s dedicated servers and has a year or more of TLC under its belt. Honestly, it just didn’t do it for me at launch.

2:14 PM: Showing off The Crew 2 which you can pre-download now for the upcoming open beta. Looks like we have cars, boats and planes this time around.

2:16 PM: Okay, now they’re showing off a game set in ancient Greece. What could it be???

2:18 PM: The first Assassin’s Creed Odyssey trailer looks great. Looks a lot like Origins, which we already knew. But I’m still stoked for this setting.

2:21 PM: You can play as a male or female protagonist.

2:22 PM: Ubisoft has apparently completely changed how they tell stories in this franchise now. There are now dialogue options with different conversational results. They’re using Socrates as an example. Which, yeah, that’s a good choice.

2:23 PM: So Socrates dates this right in the Pelopponesian War as speculated. They’re showing off actual gameplay now.

2:24 PM: The game looks gorgeous. Even prettier than Origins. The setting, understandably, looks very similar. Just more Greek and less Egyptian, though the two locations have a lot of shared history.

2:30 PM: Okay for some reason my last couple of updates didn’t go through. This is a long gameplay trailer that you’ll just want to watch later. Combat looks very similar to Origins, but there’s some large scale combat that’s new. And it looks like magic will definitely be a part of the game in some form, so Ubisoft is really running with that. It looks good. I’m excited.

2:31 PM: Ok good, that last one went through. Weird. Anyways, the show is wrapping up. 1.5 hours is a long presser, so I’m glad they’re not dragging it out any longer. This was a pretty decent presser, with lots of gameplay footage and cool trailers. Some cheesy bits but nothing too terrible. Nothing EA Play terrible!

I’ll have more in-depth looks at some of these games in the near future. I need to take a closer look at all these trailers and footage and will put together some more comprehensive posts. Lots of cool stuff coming up from Ubisoft.

Thanks for reading along!

The post-show is now on and they’re showing off The Division 2 demo that is playable on the E3 show floor this week.

U.S. publishes details of ZTE settlement, ban not yet lifted

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – ZTE Corp’s (000063.SZ) settlement with the U.S. Commerce Department that would allow China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker to resume business with U.S. suppliers was made public on Monday, days after the company agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, overhaul its leadership and meet other conditions.

FILE PHOTO: A ZTE smart phone is pictured in this illustration taken April 17, 2018. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/Illustration/File Photo

But the ban on buying U.S. parts, imposed by the department in April, will not be lifted until the company pays the fine and places $400 million more in escrow in a U.S.-approved bank, the agency said.

ZTE, whose survival has been threatened by the ban, secured the lifeline settlement from the Trump administration last Thursday.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said on Sunday that President Donald Trump agreed to lift the ban as a personal favor to the president of China.

ZTE must replace the boards of directors of two corporate entities within 30 days, according to a 21-page order signed June 8 and published on Monday on the Commerce Department website along with the settlement agreement.

All members of ZTE’s leadership at or above the senior vice president level also must be terminated, along with any executive or officer tied to the wrongdoing.

ZTE pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to evade U.S. embargoes by selling U.S. equipment to Iran. The ban was imposed after the company lied about disciplining some executives responsible for the violations. ZTE then ceased major operations.

On June 1, Reuters exclusively reported on the monetary penalty and other terms demanded to reverse the ban. Reuters on Tuesday revealed that ZTE had signed a preliminary agreement with the Commerce Department. [L2N1T2280]

Under the settlement, ZTE will pay a total civil penalty of $1.7 billion, including $361 million already paid as part of a March 2017 agreement, the $1 billion fine and the $400 million that will go in escrow.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Sandra Maler and Richard Chang

Elon Musk Says Tesla Self-Driving Features Will Start Arriving in August

Tesla CEO Elon Musk disclosed on Twitter Sunday that the company plans to roll out its “Version 9” software in August of this year, and that the update will “begin to enable full self-driving features.”

The phrasing here is key. Musk is not promising that Teslas will become fully autonomous in August, only that there will be activation of a subset of features that will eventually add up to full autonomy. And while cars produced since October of 2016 have all the hardware Tesla says is necessary for self-driving, enabling that hardware requires paying a total of $8,000 in optional fees for many Tesla vehicles.

It’s too early to say what those specific features might be, but the announcement comes as a bit of a surprise, given the dinged reputation of Tesla’s self-driving tech at the moment. Despite its name, Tesla’s existing Autopilot technology is not true self-driving capability, but a set of advanced safety features that have also helped Tesla gather data for training its self-driving software. Autopilot has been involved in a handful of wrecks lately, including at least two in which preliminary reports suggest Autopilot itself may have been at fault.

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Media coverage of the most recent crash triggered a weekslong Twitter crusade against the press by Musk, who argued that coverage of Autopilot-linked wrecks ignored the larger fact that such features were already safer than unassisted driving. The negative coverage of Autopilot, combined with ongoing challenges with Model 3 production, battered Tesla’s stock, though it has recovered some losses this month.

Setting a firm date for the start of the self-driving rollout suggests Musk remains very confident in his tech—but his careful phrasing in the offhand tweet leaves a huge escape clause. Individual self-driving “features” may amount to little more than further enhancements of Autopilot. There’s still no clear deadline for when a Tesla will be able to fulfill the company’s promise that the cars will take trips “with no action required by the person in the driver’s seat.”

And continuing a piecemeal, step-by-step transition towards full autonomy, while a good way to build on steady progress, could actually increase Tesla’s crash-related headline risk. That’s because, according to many experts, autonomous features are riskiest when human drivers have to maintain attention even while they don’t have full control—that is, with mid-capability systems. Several Tesla crashes have, according to both the company and government investigators, been caused by drivers placing too much faith in Autopilot, taking their hands off the steering wheel and their eyes off the road. Continually touting further self-driving ‘features’, without actually activating full autonomy—even while reducing the intensity of Autopilot attention reminders—might be inviting more of the same.