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Tesla slices prices on Models S and X as its stock plunges




Tesla has sliced the price of its two most expensive models after several Wall Street analysts questioned the demand for its cars. The company on Monday cut $3,000 from the price of the Model S sedan and $2,000 from the Model X SUV.

The Model S now starts at $71,250 while the X starts at $71,950. The prices don’t include federal and state tax credits for electric-vehicle purchases.

Tesla wouldn’t say if slowing sales influenced its decision, but it said it periodically adjusts prices and available options, according to the Associated Press. Tesla said the decreases offset price increases from a month ago when it offered longer battery range and added a new drive system and suspension.

The moves come as Tesla’s stock is under pressure, at times dropping below $200 per share this week. Several analysts have questioned whether the company can sell enough cars to cover its expenses without dipping into its shrinking cash reserves.

Shares traded Tuesday afternoon at $205.62, up slightly from Monday’s closing price. They are down more than 38 percent so far this year, cutting the company’s market value more than $20 billion to $36.5 billion. On Monday the shares hit their lowest point since late 2016.

Tesla said in a statement that the reductions are about 2% to 3% on the prices of the S and X. The company last week raised the price of its top-selling Model 3 by $400, pushing the base price to $35,400. “By any reasonable standard, these small changes are not newsworthy,” the company said in a statement.

Wedbush analyst Daniel Ives wrote on Monday that he was concerned about Tesla’s growth prospects and the demand for the Model 3 during the coming quarters. He called Tesla a “code red” situation. “We have continued concerns around Tesla’s ability to balance this ‘perfect storm’ of softer demand and profitability concerns, which will weigh on shares until Musk & Co. prove otherwise in terms of delivering solid results over the coming quarters,” Ives wrote, referring to CEO Elon Musk.

After two profitable quarters, Tesla said last month it lost $702 million in the first quarter of 2019, one of its worst performances in two years. Sales tumbled 31% in the period. Musk predicted another loss in the second quarter but said Tesla would be profitable again by the third quarter.

The carmaker recently closed a $2.7 billion funding round, giving it enough cash to survive another 10 months, Reuters reported. Musk now is on a cost-cutting mission, with plans to review “literally every payment that leaves our bank account,” according to Reuters.

In January, the automaker cut its prices by $2,000 per vehicle, acknowledging that the pending expiration of a $7,500 federal tax credit for its electric cars will hurt sales. The credit is gradually being phased out for Tesla by the end of the year.


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Amazon set to disrupt the Google/Facebook duopoly amidst soaring digital ad revenues





Global digital advertising spend is anticipated to reach US$520 billion by 2023 accompanied by a disruption of Google and Facebook’s duopoly spearheaded by Amazon’s rising digital ad revenues.

That figure – rising from US$294 billion in 2019 – and prediction comes from a new analytical study by Juniper Research titled “Future Digital Advertising: Artificial Intelligence & Advertising Fraud 2019-2023”. Its research forecasts average annual growth of 15% on digital ad spend over the next 5 years, driven by the use of AI-based programmatic advertising to deliver highly targeted ads. For the purposes of the study, digital advertising includes online, mobile browsing, in-app, SMS, DOOH (Digital-Out-of-Home) and OTT (Over-the-Top) TV services.

The report finds that US eCommerce giant Amazon’s emerging digital advertising business – driven by its unparalleled consumer retail data – will lead the company to capture 8% of global digital ad spend by 2023.

The report anticipates that Amazon’s advertising revenues will reach US$40 billion by 2023, a growth of 470% from its advertising revenues in 2018. While Google’s advertising revenues will exceed US$230 billion by 2023.

However, it forecasts that Google’s global market share of digital advertising spend will fall 1% over the next 4 years due to the growth of competing platforms, including Amazon and Baidu. Amazon is expected to leverage its retail data and heavy investment in machine learning to offer efficient targeting via its advertising platforms and attract users from both Google and Facebook.

“Giving algorithms access to the vast amounts of data generated by advertising traffic, including purchasing habits, user buckets and geographical location, is critical to enabling advertisers to secure a return on their ad spend,” said the study’s author, Sam Barker.

The report predicts that advertising platforms will focus on increasing access to contextual advertising traffic data to maximise the efficiency of machine learning for targeting abilities. As a result of these efforts, 75% of global online and mobile ads are forecast to be delivered via AI-based programmatic advertising by 2023.


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Apple announces its 2019 Design Award winners




apple 2019 design awards

Apple doled out its 2019 Design Awards at its Worldwide Developer Conference this afternoon, highlighting a range of apps that work as beautifully as they look, the company said. This year, half the award winners were mobile games, which may speak to where much design innovation is today taking place. Other creativity focused and health care apps filled out the rest of the winners’ list.

To take home a prize, the apps’ had to excel across three areas: visual design, technology, and innovation. Specifically, Apple looks for apps that take full advantage of its latest devices and technologies.

The award winners don’t just get to take home a (newly redesigned) trophy. They also get an envious Apple prize pack that includes a 512GB iPhone 10S, AirPods, a 512GB 12.9 inch iPad Pro, Apple Pencil 2, a 64GB Apple TV 4K, an Apple Watch Series 4, a top of the line MacBook Pro, and a fully loaded iMac Pro. The apps will also be featured in the iOS App Store, gaining them more exposure.

The winning apps this year included:

Ordia: a one-finger action game where you play as a new life form taking its first leaps into a strange and hazardous world. Apple said this game offered a great balance between difficulty and satisfaction. It also focused on accessibility features, with a colorblind mode, for example. The game, from Loju LTD, was developed for two years and launched only a month ago, catching Apple’s eye.

Flow by Moleskin: Creative app for sketching, writing and drawing, Flow, was chosen for its attention to detail and overall design. It also showcased Apple technologies like Apple Pencil, gestures, iOS drawing APIs, and Metal.

The Gardens Between: A a single-player adventure-puzzle game about time, memory and friendship from The Voxel Agents won for its cinematic moments and immersive experience. Apple also really liked its gameplay mechanic which lets you stop time, which allows you to play without feeling rushed.
Asphalt 9 Legends: Gameloft’s latest iteration on the car racing game features cars from Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini, and W Motors. What makes it worthy of the award are its incredible effects and graphics, as well as its custom engine and Metal 2 integration.

Pixelmator Photo: This photo editing app specifically won for its iPad version, which makes photo editing easy for everyone. But what Apple really liked was its use of Metal, CoreML and how it leveraged machine learning technologies to suggest changes to photos.

ELOH: Another game winner, this one described as a “chilled out puzzler.” The game helps you relax and decompress, said Apple, but its key component is its sound effects soundtrack, which complements its beautiful graphics and the animations. There are no time constraints on this one, so you can relax and enjoy playing.

Butterfly IQ – Ultrasound: This app was a standout from the group for focusing on a real healthcare need, not gaming or the creative arts. The app connects with a separate device to give mobile ultrasounds. The app won based largely on that innovation alone. As Apple noted, the idea with this app is that you can move ultrasound to a microchip and move the computer to an iOS device, instead of the big, expensive machines required today.

Thumper: Pocket Edition: This winning music rhythm game was unique and did a great job introducing new game mechanics involving swipes and taps. But it also has a psychedelic soundtrack to complement the action that sounds great when played loud.

Homecourt: The Basketball App: This basketball training app uses a proprietary mobile AI technology to track, record, and provide deep analysis of all your shots and workouts using your iPhone’s camera.


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Apple gives Maps a major rebuild, includes Street View-like 3D imagery




apple maps

Apple has spent years trying to live down the fiasco of swapping out Google for its own, underdeveloped version of Maps, and today at its WWDC event it unveiled a sizeable rebuild in iOS13 that will give it a big leap in dynamic rendering and interactivity, which could indeed bring a new wave of users back into the fold.

The updates are being rolled out across the US by the end of this year, Apple’s SVP of software engineering Craig Federighi said, with more countries getting added next year.

Federighi said that the team has covered some 4 million miles in the process of gathering more data for Maps — “Our team continues its obsession,” is how he put it — underscoring how mapping is a major priority for the company, not least because it is a cornerstone of getting Apple more users in connected vehicles by way of Car Play.

To be fair, Apple has a long road ahead of it: Google Maps, combined with Google-owned Waze, essentially dominate the market for mapping apps today, and that’s not just because Android is a more ubiquitous operating system.

Meg Frost, the director of product design, then came on to the stage for a demo. She noted that the new Maps app will feature a more detailed rendering of roads that will also include more data about public spaces such as beaches and parks, as well as buildings, handy when you are trying to find a specific address that isn’t immediately visible when you are on the move or in an unfamiliar place.

She also noted that users will now be able to mark and easily skip to favorite locations by way of a short tap. Favorites, in turn, can now be organised into handy collections to make it easier to call up a specific subject-based list rather than scroll through a larger list (for example, kids’ activities, or favorite restaurants, or houses of people you know, or places in a specific neighborhood). Collections can also be used when you are planning a trip somewhere to pin all the places that you will want to visit.

The rendering in the new Maps app is particularly nice looking, a little like Google’s Street View on steroids. When you spot something that catches your eye, you can zoom in on it with a set of binoculars, which lets you then look around the space more deeply in a three-dimensional experience. This seems to also extend into interior spaces, although I couldn’t quite tell from Frost’s demo. (It would make sense, considering that Apple has also been doing a lot of work on acquiring and building interior mapping IP.)
The binocular effect is notable for another reason: it’s also a sign of how Apple is using and envisioning use of Apple maps: it’s not just a practical tool that a person would use in real time when travelling from going from A to B. It becomes its own discovery platform.

Apple has yet to make any big moves into VR and AR, although it’s certainly been dabbling in it, but you can see how all of this could eventually become very useful to a company that has in recent times made a big shift into content and media that are used (and purchased!) for its hardware. Maps will likely be developing to fit with that vision (no pun intended) as well.

The Maps reveal also is important for one other aspect: the company has been going big on the privacy angle, not least because others have not. “Privacy is a fundamental human right,” Federighi said when he took over the presentation again, “and we engineer [it] into everything we do.” That, he said, extends to location and how you are tracked. The idea and implication here is that while Apple is aiming to provide an informative and entertaining maps experience, it’s doing so just for you — not to make you into one more of its data points. Hopefully, that commitment will not becoming a moving target itself.


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