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Hey, there! Bill Gates regrets that he didn't beat Android in mobile, we give our mixed verdict on the new Harry Potter mobile game and review Apple's new iPad OS. The founder of Microsoft recently admitted in an interview at venture-capital firm Village Global that his biggest mistake was not making what Android came to be.
Shares of Spotify recovered on Monday, ending the day in the green, after a bearish call from Evercore. In a note to investors, analyst Kevin Rippey wrote the firm "do[es] not see a path by which SPOT can generate the level of gross profit demanded by Street estimates over the medium-term." The Final Round panel reacts.
In developer lingo, quality-of-life updates are all about refining things that already work. Thanks to these incremental improvements, it should make the end-user experience much more enjoyable. And with iOS 13, it feels like Apple’s main focus is on this concept.
When I reviewed the iPad Pro last year, I was torn. With iPadOS, Apple is striking a better balance between those two priorities. After using a beta build for a few days, I'm already impressed with the changes Apple has made.
One reason why investors may be going gaga over the recent mini-flurry of IPOs (Uber, Beyond Meat, Slack, etc) is the simple fact there are so few of them.
Today's major tech stories include public beta releases of iOS 13, iPadOS and Mac OS Catalina, a brand new Raspberry Pi and the growing feud between Apple and Spotify over payments and fees.
(Bloomberg) -- Gone are the days of air mattresses on the floor. Airbnb Inc. is now catering to the mega-wealthy with a new tier of luxury rentals.Airbnb Luxe went live Tuesday morning after long being teased, with 2,000 new listings on Airbnb’s website offering guests the chance to stay in some of the world’s most extravagant homes. Everything from entire islands to medieval castles and mansions decked out with water slides, dinosaur skulls, and archery ranges are up for rent.The average luxury listing has an asking price of $14,000 a week—but can go as high as $1 million a week for a private atoll near Tahiti that comprises 21 bungalows and a staff of 50.Luxury travelers have been eyeing high-quality home-rentals for a while, says Nick Guezen, Airbnb’s global director of portfolio strategy. But the market hasn’t offered enough security to high-profile and mega-rich clients who seek privacy, he says. “I think that's something that was missing—the idea of ‘I want to travel to a luxury home, but I’m not sure where to find it or who to trust’.”Which is not entirely the case, considering Accor SA-owned Onefinestay, the second-home rental platform ThirdHome, and apartment-rental company Paris Perfect are all established competitors in the space. And Airbnb Luxe itself is essentially a re-branding of Luxury Retreats, a Canadian company that specializes in high-quality listings and was acquired by Airbnb in 2017 for around $300 million. None of the listings on Luxe are new to market, they just now sit under the Airbnb umbrella.The company is betting on the strength of its brand to give it the competitive edge. “People are growing up with Airbnb,” said Eshan Ponnadurai, global marketing director of luxury for Airbnb. “Someone that started in their early 20s renting a room at $100 a night and is now growing in affluence may want a room at $1,000 a night.”Because Airbnb has become part of the cultural dialogue, renting out your home to a stranger has become legitimized in a sociological sense as well—even to the super-rich, says New York University Professor Arun Sundararajan, an expert on the sharing economy. In the past, those who own multi-million dollar properties might have been reticent to share them with strangers, but today most people know someone who has stayed in an Aribnb, he says. “It feels like a more normal activity and that lowers the barriers to rent out a more expensive home.”In 2017, only 36 percent of affluent travelers (those with an income over $100,000) who were surveyed by Skift Research reported to staying in alternative accommodation or home rentals. This year, that number has mushroomed to 59 percent. Luxury LegitimacySince its founding in 2008, Airbnb has upended the travel industry, challenging the big hotel chains and travel sites like Booking Holdings Inc. while also attracting the ire of cities around the world that are seeking to crack down on illegal listings and grappling with rising rents. Conquering the luxury rental market will allow Airbnb to sell itself as a company that can not only comply with official rules, but also cater to the world’s richest—and most demanding— travelers. “This is a way for a luxury traveler to book a home without any worries or hassle,” Guezen says. “We can give them something that is vetted and can be trusted.”In April, it took over 10 floors of New York’s Rockefeller Plaza with plans to convert them into 200 overnight apartment-style suites. In May, Airbnb added high-profile luxury retail executive Angela Ahrendts to its board of directors. Ahrendts, 58, spent five years overhauling Apple Inc.’s retail operations and, prior to that, transformed Burberry into a global luxury brand. This new luxury tier represents a lucrative revenue source as well, even if Luxe’s 2,000 listings pale proportion-wise to the more than 6 million listings available on the general site. The company takes a percentage of the cost of each booking it arranges, so more-expensive inventory generate higher margins and help justify the privately held company’s $31 billion valuation. Under Airbnb Luxe, the entire fee is coming from the host and the percentage depends on the market and the type of partnership arranged with homeowners, Guezen says, but declines to give any specifics as the fees vary too much between properties. The global luxury travel market is worth more than $200 billion and analysts expect it to continue growing in coming years.Trip DesignersThe biggest difference booking under Luxe than Airbnb’s regular or higher-tier Plus listings is free access to a trip designer, who will be responsible for arranging check-in logistics, local bespoke experiences and services from childcare to private chefs or in-house massage therapists. (While novel for Airbnb, this sort of high-touch service is standard in super-high-end home rental space, not unlike the dedicated concierges Onefinestay employs.)Airbnb’s 20 trip designers will be available to guests around-the-clock for VIP support. Some have already handled bizarre requests during Luxe’s pilot phase, such as building a temporary basketball court in Los Cabos, Mexico, for an NBA player or cordoning off a section of a jungle in Tulum for a high-profile family to cave dive in private. Homeowners or their representatives must apply to be part of Luxe. Each property is reviewed by an internal team, who run through a 300-point check list scrutinizing everything from the home’s design qualities and architecture to the quality of its linen and the water pressure in its showers. Listings include the Fleming Villa in Jamaica where Ian Fleming penned his James Bond novels and a medieval castle in the Tuscan countryside with nearly 100 acres of land for hiking and harvesting local produce. Many of the homes are owned by mega wealthy families, including billionaires and celebrities, Guezen says. Some own multiple properties around the world and rent up to half a dozen through the site, he says. In order to protect the host’s privacy, guests are never told who owns the property and each home is stripped of anything that could personally identify them, like a bedside photograph or snail mail. Staff are advised not to disclose the identity of hosts or guests and each property is insured by Airbnb’s standard $1 million guarantee to cover any damages. Guezen says these super-rich hosts are incentivized to rent out their vacation retreats to not only monetize on their assets, but to ensure the property is well-oiled for their own stay. Luxury rentals is the next step in Airbnb’s plan to diversify its business ahead of an initial public offering likely next year. Airbnb has been working toward becoming an end-to-end travel platform that can one day help travelers book flights through the site. Earlier this month, it expanded its Experiences platform into adventure tourism, offering travelers the chance to search for UFOs in Arizona or to track lions on foot with Samburu guides in Kenya.The launch of Airbnb Luxe helps meet increasing demand for luxury properties, the company said. In 2018, the number of Airbnb bookings for listings worth at least $1,000 a night increased by more than 60 percent, according to the company. “Today’s luxury traveler is craving more than just high-end accommodations,” Airbnb’s CEO Brian Chesky said in a statement. “They seek transformation and experiences that leave them feeling more connected to each other and to their destination.” Example Luxe ListingsCaribbean Literary HavenYou can book a stay at the Fleming Villa in Orcabessa, Jamaica where Ian Fleming drew inspiration for his James Bond novels. In addition to five bedrooms, there’s a private swimming pool and access to the Caribbean Sea, along with access to the amenities at nearby GoldenEye Resort like tennis, yoga and a spa. The open-plan bungalow layout features bamboo furnishings, high ceilings, and large windows. $4,455 per night; three-night minimumCote d’Azur VillaThis nine-bedroom, 18-bathroom property gives you access to the city, ocean, and mountains in Cannes, France. There’s a wine cellar, library, infinity pool with pool bar, and terrace lounging area. The interiors have a serene tone with neutral colors and white sofas, and an included private chef and housekeepers can ensure you don’t have to lift a finger while on vacation. $13,265 per night; 30-night minimumMexican Beach EscapeA hacienda-style villa in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico contains six bedrooms and 8.5 baths for up to 15 guests. It has a waterslide descending into a curving infinity pool as well as an ocean-view terrace and and on-call, in-house masseuse. $3,200 per night; four-night minimum Entire Island ResortNukutepipi, a private island in French Polynesia, features multiple houses and bungalows surrounded by palm forests and white-sand beaches. The staff includes a chef, captain, doctor, massage therapist, and activity coordinators. There’s a master villa and fifteen guest houses for 21 bedroom suites in total, making it perfect for weddings or group retreats. $146,183 per night; seven-night minimumTo contact the authors of this story: Olivia Carville in New York at email@example.comClaire Ballentine in New York at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: Justin Ocean at email@example.comFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Which big tech stocks are looking good in 2019 as they approach new highs, and which ones look like they may be falling behind?
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- It was dubbed “Project After”: A secret emergency plan for the U.K.’s Conservative government to pull all of the economic levers at its disposal if Britain crashed out of the European Union without a deal. The ingredients included slashing taxes to woo multinationals, cutting trade tariffs, and boosting investment. The FT’s report of its existence in February didn’t come as a huge shock, given the U.K.’s public ambition to have the lowest business tax rate in the G20. But it was a sign of what Europe would have to contend with in the worst-case scenario: A race to the bottom on corporate tax with its neighbor.It now looks like the Tories’ Brexit Doomsday plan is becoming the official policy of the two contenders to replace Theresa May as prime minister. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt both dangled tax cuts at the weekend as they prepared the country for life after the EU, whether through a negotiated withdrawal or a no-deal Brexit. Hunt called for a reduction in British corporation tax to “Irish levels” (12.5% currently) to land an “economic jumbo jet on Europe’s doorstep.” Johnson, deflecting questions about his turbulent private life, said he would “turbocharge” the economy with cuts to business and income taxes.This may of course just be cheap talk on the campaign trail. Tax cuts would be financially and politically difficult. The Resolution Foundation’s Torsten Bell estimates Hunt’s plan would cost the exchequer in the region of 13 billion pounds ($16.6 billion), while Johnson’s would cost about 10 billion pounds. The idea that the shortfall would be more than made up by companies and wealthy investors flocking to the U.K., especially in a no-deal scenario where the trading relationship with the EU is unresolved, looks very confident indeed. That longed-for jumbo jet might end up looking more like a single-propeller Cessna.Still, the increasingly reckless political climate in Britain means Europe will be paying careful attention. Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party is open to closer ties with the Conservatives to ensure a no-deal Brexit, an eventuality that is winning increasing support from Brits. The “Singapore-on-Thames” low-tax, low-regulation model still seems to be very much on the table: Even Britain’s Financial Conduct Authority is hinting at deregulation.The problem for the EU isn’t so much the overall corporate tax rate itself, but what else might accompany any cut. What if the U.K. engages in the kind of individual sweetheart deals that the EU doesn’t usually allow? Brussels has already accused Britain of offering some multinationals an “unjustified exemption” from anti-tax avoidance rules. Imagine a supercharged version of this, like the effective tax rate of 0.005% enjoyed by Apple Inc. in Ireland in 2014 (slapped down as illegal by the EU).A buccaneering Britain would certainly create new tensions within the EU about how best to respond. A 2018 Ifo Institute working paper, modeling the effects of a country moving from harmonized taxes to competing with its neighbors, predicted that the pressure wouldn’t be felt equally. Low-tax jurisdictions would suffer more than high-tax jurisdictions from tax competition. It’s easy to see how Ireland’s economy, where foreign-owned companies pay more than three-quarters of total corporation tax, would be vulnerable to a Britain trying to grab some of those corporate headquarters.Whether it’s Johnson or Hunt who becomes prime minister and launches the inevitable whistle-stop tour of Europe’s capitals to push for fresh Brexit concessions, the U.K.’s commitment to fair taxation and fighting fraud should be part of the negotiations. Britain’s foot-dragging on transparency at its Crown Dependencies is one reason to be worried. Trust will be a big part of any future trade relationship, and Brussels should insist that the “jumbo jet” stays in the hangar.To contact the author of this story: Lionel Laurent at firstname.lastname@example.orgTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Boxell at email@example.comThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Lionel Laurent is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering Brussels. He previously worked at Reuters and Forbes.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- K-pop sensation BTS has racked up a string of firsts over an astonishing six-year run. Now the seven-member group star in their very own smartphone game, marrying two of South Korea’s hottest exports.Netmarble Corp., the country’s biggest mobile-app publisher, has unveiled a game featuring global K-Pop phenom BTS, the latest attempt to wed the country’s tech and entertainment industries to drive economic growth.“BTS World” contains previously undisclosed videos and photos of the boy band. The game takes players to their pre-debut days to recruit and train the singers. Users can pay to quicken the process of guiding the seven young men to stardom. Created by local developer Takeone Company Corp. and published by Netmarble, the game also features video and text chats with BTS members based on pre-written scripts.It’s the first major mobile title to focus exclusively on a K-Pop group, a testament to the rapidly growing clout of two of Korea’s most promising exports -- games and K-Pop -- as Hyundai cars struggle to regain momentum and Samsung semiconductors undergo an industry downturn.BTS or Bangtan Sonyeondan, which translates as Bulletproof Boy Scouts, has amassed millions of fans around the world thanks in large part to social media. The band’s Love Yourself campaign, which calls on people to take better care of themselves and encourages them to speak out on social issues, has resonated in particular with young fans.“Managing BTS myself would make me feel closer to the members,” said Paik Ji-min, a 29-year-old South Korean fan who flew to London to attend a BTS concert and said she would be willing to spend about 50,000 won (around $43) playing the game. “Just the thought of it makes me smile ear to ear.”Netmarble already plans a sequel to BTS World, seeking to maximize profit from what has arguably become the biggest K-Pop success after singer Psy. BTS has 20 million followers on Twitter and has made television appearances on Saturday Night Live and Ellen DeGeneres’s talk show. This year, the band sold out London’s 90,000-seat Wembley Stadium in just 90 minutes.The company’s founder, Bang Jun-hyuk, teamed up with relative Bang Si-hyuk of Big Hit Entertainment, the agency behind BTS, to develop the game. The entrepreneur is betting the recipe will re-energize growth at Netmarble, which trades about 20% lower than when it listed in 2017.“Even though it’s based on story-telling, as you progress you can discover a lot of missions and gaming elements,” Seungwon Lee, Netmarble’s chief global officer, told Bloomberg Television. “It’s sufficient incentive to keep motivating users to play.”BTS creator Bang Si-hyuk, who is also known as Hitman, told Bloomberg in 2017 that the company was diversifying into intellectual property-protected content that could possibly multiply its revenue. Big Hit is now worth an estimated $2 billion, according to the Hyundai Research Institute. The company is drawing on the popularity of the band to collaborate with Line Corp. for character merchandise and Mattel Inc. for dolls. The K-pop industry is worth about $5 billion, according to the government-affiliated Korea Creative Content Agency.Read More: High School Dropout Turns Billionaire on Games Firm IPONetmarble, whose titles include Lineage 2 Revolution and Marvel Future Fight, ranked 5th among publishers of Google Play and Apple iOS apps last year in terms of revenue, according to analytics firm App Annie. Founded in 2000, the Seoul-based company has drawn backing from Chinese giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. and South Korean conglomerate CJ Group.Vey-Sern Ling, a Bloomberg Intelligence analyst, said it may be relatively easy to generate money from players because they’re already fans who display a strong willingness to pay for BTS content. But the lifespan of the game could be limited. “Once the content is consumed there should be very little reason to play on, just like how you wouldn’t watch the same movie multiple times,” Ling said.Read More: ‘Hitman’ Worth $770 Million With K-Pop Craze Rocking the PlanetTo contact the reporters on this story: Sohee Kim in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org;Sam Kim in Seoul at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Edwin Chan at firstname.lastname@example.org, Colum MurphyFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
(Bloomberg) -- Apple Inc. is significantly increasing its footprint in Seattle as its expands on a previously announced plan to boost hiring, bringing an additional 2,000 jobs to the area in the next five years.The iPhone maker signed a lease for office space at 333 Dexter, a 660,000-square-foot (61,300-square-meter) development in the South Lake Union neighborhood being built by Kilroy Realty Corp., according to the office of Mayor Jenny Durkan.“These new jobs confirm what we already knew: We have the best talent and city anywhere,” Durkan said in an emailed statement. “Apple’s expanded footprint in Seattle is another example of the growing opportunity that exists for residents of Seattle and the economic powerhouse our city has become.”For years, cranes have dotted the Seattle skyline as builders rushed to accommodate a swelling population and rapidly growing tech firms, led by Amazon.com Inc. That company now employs more than 45,000 at its headquarters in town and occupies about a fifth of the city’s prime office real estate. Other firms have been muscling in to recruit from Seattle’s deep well of engineers. Both Google and Facebook Inc. are leasing offices near 333 Dexter.Apple has a relatively modest presence in the city of about 500 employees. In December, the company said that it planned to add 1,000 jobs in the area over three years as part of a national expansion that also includes spending $1 billion on a new campus in Austin, Texas.To contact the reporter on this story: Noah Buhayar in Seattle at email@example.comTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Rob Urban at firstname.lastname@example.org, Dan Reichl, David ScheerFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
Apple just released the first public beta of iPadOS, its new operating system for the iPad, which anyone can download and test out before a wider release this fall. If you’ve taken the plunge and installed the new software on your compatible iPad, you’ll be greeted with a whole host of new features to play with. One new feature that’s hidden away within a series of menus is perhaps the most surprising of all: the iPad now supports a mouse.