How Future US Plans to Bounce Back

first_imgFOLIO:: What was the takeaway from the first half performance?Marcom: The big challenge for the first half was that games advertising was really weak in the September to December period compared to the year before. The second half will be strengthened, thanks to the E3 games expo and a lot of new activity following that for the rest of this year into the next fiscal year.The combination of the severe recession and the relentless digital advance has clearly left the industry reeling. But these factors are forcing healthy change—the historic over-reliance on ad revenues to offset low consumer pricing for instance, has been shown to be barely sustainable during this recession. FOLIO:: Where do you expect to see growth coming from? Where do the print titles fit in?Marcom: As the dust settles from the combined impact of recession and the disruption to the newsstand last year, it looks like the real consumer appetite for our magazines is still as healthy as ever. We are spending a lot of time this year thinking about the fundamentals—improving our retail management, driving up pricing, improving our cover designs, working hard on ad sales staff development and relations with our core customers. Online, it’s all about building better user experiences to increase engagement at our core vertical sites. We are particularly excited about the growth of a couple of new products. Guitar Aficionado, a luxury lifestyle title launched last year by our music group, is building readership fast and opening doors to advertisers such as Ralph Lauren and Porsche who never knew Future before. Our quarterly World of Warcraft: Official Magazine, published in partnership with Blizzard Entertainment, is leveraging decades of experience in games—we are marketing subscriptions exclusively online to World of Warcraft players, and shipping tens of thousands of fans around the world a lavishly illustrated magazine every quarter. The economics are very sweet. World of Warcraft: the Official Magazine is not a newsstand product, it’s a premium priced subscription product. The basic rate for four copies per year in the U.S. is $39.95. It’s marketed almost exclusively online through World of Warcraft’s own channels. That means the conventional economics—direct marketing, newsstand distribution—all fall away so you just have a very clean equation and you can put the investment against quality editorial. Our customer publishing segment is up 24 percent in revenue in the first half of 2010 and that’s another $500,000 of revenue. It’s a model we talk about when approaching other partners. For that to work, you need some kind of massive audience passion around a particular brand or game. The model of sharing risk upfront with our marketing partner and sharing rewards down the road is one we continue to have conversations about. We just announced a partnership with Best Buy for @Gamer. There is a lot of science about how we’re targeting prospects. Best Buy has a large database of customers and we’ll know how to target the magazine and tailor the product as it gets larger.And we are kicking around at least three or four new brand ideas—all of which, as it happens, seem likely to have a printed product as their foundation.FOLIO:: With the wholesaler collapse, 2009 was a rough year on the newsstand for much of the consumer category, including Future US. How have you responded? Howare newsstand sales trending in 2010?Marcom: The collapse was painful, but we’ve come out of it with a much surer grip on how we run the business. We have adjusted draws and distribution footprints, and expect to see both good gains in efficiency this year and also volume recovery across our core titles. Beyond that, I think the newsstand settled down to a much more predictable pace. We’ve done a lot of work to make draws more efficient and we’ve looked closely at the distribution of print, fine-tuned and restocked outlets that disappeared during the disruption last year and had another look at where we place copies. It’s a lot of basic hard work looking at where we’re putting the inventory. The shutdown of Anderson News in February 2009 plunged the newsstand efforts of many consumer publishers into chaos, but few were as affected as Future US. In 2008, Future US was among the top 20 newsstand publishers based on retail sales, according to a report by FOLIO: sister magazine Audience Development. However, in 2009, the combination of newsstand disruption and the drop in advertising around video games (games account for half of Future US’s total revenue) forced the company from profitability.In the first half of fiscal 2010 (ended March 31), revenue fell 10 percent to $33.5 million, due in part to a 6 percent planned reduction in the number of published products and a 23 percent drop in advertising revenue. But the company is looking to bounce back, putting a new contract in place with Time Warner Retail and improving to a 2 percent circulation loss in the first half of fiscal 2010, compared to an 18 percent drop in circulation in the first half of fiscal 2009, despite 50 percent fewer specials. FOLIO: speaks with president John Marcom [pictured above] about the plan to return Future US to profitability. last_img read more

Key by Amazon brings incar package delivery to Ford Lincoln vehicles

first_img Review • Lincoln Amazon Prime Amazon Ford More about 2019 Ford Edge SE FWD Auto Tech Car Culture 2019 Ford Edge takes few risks Preview • Having a package delivered can be an exercise in unnecessary stress if nobody’s home. Key by Amazon lets couriers drop packages inside cars or houses, and now, it’s expanding to a very popular automaker.Ford Motor Company announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with Amazon to bring Key’s benefits to eligible Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Amazon Prime’s delivery service will be granted one-time access to a vehicle, allowing them to drop a package in the trunk and lock everything back up, giving that parcel a safe place to hang out during the workday.Not every vehicle is eligible for this service, though. First, there’s the matter of the car. Ford vehicles need to be from the 2017 model year or later, and it must be equipped with FordPass Connect, the automaker’s connected-car service. Lincoln vehicles are limited to the 2018 model year or later, and they need to be signed up for Lincoln Connect. Second, there’s the matter of location. Key by Amazon In-Car is only available in certain US cities, and folks can find out if they’re in the right location on Amazon’s website.Enlarge ImageJust make sure you leave enough space in the car for the package to be delivered. Couriers shouldn’t have to wade through stinky soccer equipment and Sun Chip crumbs to find a spot for the item. Ford Once all that’s squared away, the owner needs to download their connected-car app, whether it’s FordPass or Lincoln Way. From there, the app will need to be linked to the owner’s Amazon Prime account, which will enable the in-car delivery service. Owners receive notifications before and after delivery, as well as confirmation that the car is locked. Access can be blocked at any time, and packages can be rescheduled for drop-off on a different day, need be.Prior to Ford’s announcement, Key In-Car deliveries were limited to Buick, Cadillac, GMC and Volvo vehicles, but it’s constantly expanding its service area. Of course, if people don’t want to grant access to their vehicles, Key’s delivery service can also drop packages inside a person’s home or garage, although not everyone will be on board with the idea of letting a stranger into an unattended home.This is just the beginning for Ford’s connected-car offerings. Both Ford and Lincoln are also working to bring mobile car wash services to owners. It’s working with Spiffy, Rub A Dub and Sparkl to offer on-the-spot car washes wherever the services are available. This, too, can grant one-time access to the vehicle so that the detailers can work their magic inside and out. 2016 Ford Explorer review: Go road-tripping in Ford’s updated, EcoBoost-powered SUV Share your voice null 2019 Ford F-150 review: Popular pickup keeps on truckin’ Ford Lincoln 0 Tags 47 Photos More From Roadshow 2020 BMW M340i review: A dash of M makes everything betterlast_img read more

Mahindra Verito Vibe Set to Debut in India Today

first_imgIndia’s largest utility vehicle manufacturer, Mahindra and Mahindra (M&M) is all set to launch its much anticipated Verito Vibe in India on Wednesday (5 June).The vehicle is powered by 1.5 litre Renault K9K diesel engine which would deliver 65 PS and a mileage of 21 kilometres per liter. The sub-4 metre version of M&M’s existing Verito sedan was said to be hatchback model. However, there are also reports saying that the model is going to be a compact salon. The vehcile is expected to fall in the price bracket of ₹5 lakh and is likely to come in three variants like its Verito sedan – D2, D4 and D6.M&M which is gearing to enter to a new segment with the launch of Verito Vibe hopes to regain its sales in the domestic auto market. The decline of car sales in India has also affected M&M. The company, which is heavily dependent on diesel vehicles, reported 1.2 percent decrease in its total sales at 43,460 units in May 2013. The domestic sales of the company was up by 5.4 percent, clocking at 42,104 units against 39,938 units in the same month last year. On the downside, exports declined by 67 percent at 1,356 units.”We have achieved an overall growth of 5 per cent in our domestic volumes during May 2013 for our automotive sector, in spite of a challenging environment. The growth in capital investment and private spending have also slowed down which is a cause for concern,” said M&M Chief Executive (Automotive Division) Pravin Shah .last_img read more

BIG UPDATE Another injury scare to India in World Cup Update on

first_imgHe may be criticised for lack of intent, he may hog headlines over his impending retirement, but there is little doubt MS Dhoni is important to this Indian team, especially at this crucial juncture in the tournament. The seasoned campaigner was hit on his thumb in the match against England and he was even seen spitting blood in the game. There are now concerns over his availability for the match against Sri Lanka.However, the team management has allayed all such fears as they believe the wicket-keeper batsman is fit to take part in the game against Sri Lanka. Although India have made it to the semi-finals, they still would want to beat Sri Lanka in this game and then hope South Africa down Australia, so that they go to the number 1 spot on the points table. As such, they will then face New Zealand in the semi-finals as opposed to England, if things stand the way they are currently.’Amazing capacity to ignore pain’ MS DhoniSurjeet Yadav/IANSA source from the team management has cleared all doubts over Dhoni’s availability for the match. Speaking to the news agency IANS, he said the stumper is fit and available to take on Sri Lanka. “Hai toh pahadi, woh yodha hai (he hails from the mountains and is a warrior). After more than 300 ODIs, do you think these little things even bother him? He has an amazing capacity to ignore pain. But more importantly, his finger is fine and there is nothing to worry about,” the source said.Earlier this week, a PTI report had said that India’s last match at the World Cup could well turn out to be MS Dhoni’s swan song in India colours. MS DhoniTwitter”You never know with MS Dhoni. But it is unlikely that he will continue to play for India after this World Cup. But since his decisions to quit captaincy from the three formats have been taken so suddenly, it is very difficult to predict at the moment,” a senior BCCI official told PTI.However, there have been no such statements made from the Indian management and as of now, these are considered to be mere speculations. The wicket-keeper batsman enjoys the support of Ravi Shastri and Virat Kohli as well as a number of players in the Indian camp.last_img read more

Emerging Ethical Concerns In the Age of Artificial Intelligence

first_img Attend this free webinar and learn how you can maximize efficiency while getting the most critical things done right. 6 min read Free Webinar | Sept 5: Tips and Tools for Making Progress Toward Important Goals Register Now » Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own. April 18, 2017 My husband and I have a running joke where we have our Amazon Echo “compete” with our iPhones to see who does a better (i.e., more human-like) job of interacting with us. While there’s no clear winner, Siri seems to have the edge for casual conversation, but Alexa can sing.I’ve noticed something else, too. We don’t usually thank Siri or Alexa the way we would a clerk at a supermarket or an employee at an information kiosk, even though they’re providing us with identical services. And why would we? Siri and Alexa aren’t people; they’re anthropomorphized computer programs. They don’t care if we thank them, because they don’t have feelings.At least, we’re pretty sure they don’t.Related: Good, Bad & Ugly! Artificial Intelligence for Humans is All of This & More.Science fiction novels have long delighted readers by grappling with futuristic challenges like the possibility of artificial intelligence so difficult to distinguish from human beings that people naturally ask, “should these sophisticated computer programs be considered human? Should ‘they’ be granted human rights?” These are interesting philosophical questions, to be sure, but equally important, and more immediately pressing, is the question of what human-like artificial intelligence means for the rights of those whose humanity is not a philosophical question.If artificial intelligence affects the way we do business, the way we obtain information, and even the way we converse and think about the world, then do we need to evaluate our existing definition(s) of human rights as well?What are “human rights”?Of course, what constitutes a human right is far from universally agreed. It goes without saying that not all countries guarantee the same rights to their citizens and nationals. Likewise, political support for the existing scope of rights within each country waxes and wanes, both directly and inversely, with those countries’ respective economic fortunes and shifting cultural mores.Historically, technological improvements and economic prosperity — as measured by per capita GDP — have tended to lead to an expanded view of basic human rights. The notion of universal health care as a basic right, for instance, is a relatively modern affectation. It did not exist — and could not have existed — without a robust administrative infrastructure and tax base to support it, and without sufficiently advanced medical technology to assure the population of its effectiveness.Work to live? Live to work?Technological advancement has always, understandably, been met with skepticism, particularly from those whose livelihoods are most likely to be affected by a technological shift. Technology that enhances productivity makes the humans using it more productive, but this is a double-edged sword, as it likewise increases the productivity expectations, and reduces the number of humans required for any given level of productive output. Theoretically, this need does not necessarily lead to job loss, as long as the demand for productive output continues to outpace the technologically abetted output itself.Related: 5 Major Artificial Intelligence Hurdles We’re on Track to Overcome By 2020Do human beings have a right to earn a livelihood? And, if they do, how far does that right extend? How much discomfort is acceptable before the effort required to find gainful employment moves from reasonable to potentially rights-infringing? If technology renders human labor largely obsolete, do humans have a right to a livelihood even if they cannot earn it?Tech industry luminaries such as Tesla CEO Elon Musk have recently endorsed concepts like guaranteed minimum income or universal basic income. A handful of experiments with this concept have been undertaken, announced or proposed in Canada, the Netherlands and elsewhere. Bill Gates recently made headlines with a proposal to impose a “robot tax” — essentially, a tax on automated solutions to account for the social costs of job displacement. While people may differ on the effectiveness or necessity of these and other proposals, it’s clear that discussion on these points will be a part of the broader AI conversation in the years to come.Whose datum is it, anyway?Technology challenges our conception of human rights in other ways, as well. Some of the most fascinating applications of improved artificial intelligence relate to the ability to quickly and efficiently analyze large quantities of data, finding and testing correlations and connections and translating them into usable information. “Big data” has dominated industry headlines in recent years, including speculation that a data analytics solution may have played a role in the 2016 US presidential election.Typically, concerns around access to and use of personal data have centered on personal privacy concerns. Many countries have enacted strict laws prohibiting the collection and sharing of personal data without first providing specific, detailed information about the planned use of such information and obtaining consent. Businesses safeguard their confidential information through an assortment of contractual arrangements and trade secret protection laws.Less legal attention has been paid, however, to the anonymized use of personal or proprietary data — that is, data that has been stripped of identifying information and aggregated alongside other data. This is partly because the question itself is inchoate: who, if anyone, has a right to impose use limitations on aggregated datasets? And on what basis might such limitations be imposed? Some data is relatively easy to obtain, and has traditionally been part of either a formal public record or, at a minimum, thought to be fair game to anyone obtaining them lawfully. This approach essentially mirrors the privacy-rights approach, in that it focuses on data at the point of collection, rather than at the point of use. And yet it is clear that independent ethical concerns do arise from the use, standing alone, of such data.For example, consider the case of an international beauty competition that was “judged” by an AI algorithm. The algorithm was given criteria thought to be unbiased and objective, and yet the selection of winners revealed an unexpected characteristic lurking in the algorithm’s operation — racial bias. As we increasingly rely on data aggregation software not only to provide us with organized information, but to influence or direct actions, we may increasingly find ourselves asking the question — should we have the right to ensure data is used fairly?Related: Artificial Intelligence: A Friend or Foe for Humans?Where do we go from here?Of course, technological innovation likely cannot be halted, and our ability to meaningfully hinder it is questionabl, even leaving aside the matter of whether it is desirable to attempt to do so. Industry groups have already formed to consider the ethical ramifications of increasingly sophisticated artificial intelligence. And while clear answers are unlikely to emerge any time soon, it will be equally important to ensure that we, collectively as a society, are asking the right questions to ensure that technological innovation equates to genuine progress.last_img read more

Life on exoplanets may give off a fluorescent glow

first_img Powered by Scientists at Cornell University say that life-bearing exoplanets may be detectable by their soft glow. Based on laboratory studies, the team led by Jack O’Malley-James at Cornell’s Carl Sagan Institute believes that a mechanism that protects organisms from hard ultraviolet radiation could make worlds beyond the solar system radiate a soft, detectable light.Anyone who has watched fireflies flitting about in the night sky is familiar with the idea of organisms producing light. Not only can some insects light up, but so can fish, squid, bacteria and many others, for a variety reasons that include attracting mates, camouflage, decoying prey, and marking territory. But there is another type of luminescence called “photoprotective biofluorescence,” which is a protective mechanism found in some species of undersea corals that live at a shallow enough depth for ultraviolet radiation from the Sun to penetrate. Normally, such radiation would be absorbed by the tissues, resulting in a nasty and possibly fatal case of marine sunburn, but these polyps have a trick up their non-existent sleeves.What happens is that biofluorescent proteins in the coral’s tissues absorb the UV radiation, exciting an electron and raising it to an unstable energy state. As the electron returns to its stable state it re-emits radiation in the visible band of the light spectrum. The result is that the UV is rendered harmless and the animal fluoresces. What occurred to the Cornell teams was that this mechanism could be handy to any extraterrestrial life that happened to evolve in a particularly nasty environment, such as in the habitable zone of M-type stars, where a large number of exoplanets have been found. M-type stars tend to emit ultraviolet flares, which is bad news for any organisms on planets orbiting them, but if they used biofluorescence to protect themselves, not only would this give them a fighting chance, it would also produce a biosignature that could be detected by telescopes when the flare hits the planet, causing it to temporarily fluoresce.To test this hypothesis, the team studied the spectral emissions of common fluorescent corals and used this to produce model spectra and colors that could be found on exoplanets orbiting M-type stars. They concluded that the strength of this glow could be enough to be detected by telescopes currently under development. “These biotic kinds of exoplanets are very good targets in our search for exoplanets, and these luminescent wonders are among our best bets for finding life on exoplanets,” says O’Malley-James.The research was published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.Source: Cornell University We recommend Google Analytics settings Privacy policy I consent to the use of Google Analytics and related cookies across the TrendMD network (widget, website, blog). Learn more Yes Nolast_img read more