SCOTT GALLOWAY on the biggest thing in tech in 2017: Amazon could eliminate the existence of brands with voice technology

Scott Galloway is a marketing professor at the NYU Stern School of Business and the founder of business intelligence firm L2.

Galloway appears on this week’s episode of The Bottom Line with Henry Blodget and explains how Amazon could eliminate the existence of brands with voice technology. The following is a transcript of the video:

So I think the biggest thing in technology in 2017 is voice. I think Amazon has effectively conspired with voice and technology and half a billion consumers to kill brands.

When you go into a store, you see the packaging, you see the endcaps, you might see pricing go up and down. All of these things that big brands ranging from Unilever and Procter & Gamble to Kraft and Heinz have spent billions of dollars and generations building.

When you begin ordering groceries and things and CPG products via voice on Alexa, all of those things go away. And if you look at search terms on Google and voice commands on Amazon’s Alexa, the percentage of time that brand prefixes are used in a request is declining. So effectively, I think Amazon has declared war — with the backing of 500 million consumers and a lot of cheap capital — on brands. And we will, using our algorithm, find you as good a product for a lesser price. Amazon will figure out in a nanosecond the best deal and most likely trade you into the highest-margin product for them which will be Amazon toothpaste.

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‘The Fate of the Furious’ runs over everyone to win the box office for a 2nd-straight weekend

dom letty fate of furious

Though there was a diverse selection of new releases out this weekend ranging from a clever shootout movie starring Brie Larson (“Free Fire”), a film featuring Katherine Heigl playing a crazed ex-wife (“Unforgettable”), and a Disney documentary featuring adorable pandas (“Born in China”), none of them were a match for “The Fate of the Furious.”

Universal’s eighth installment in the “Fast and the Furious” franchise followed-up its record-breaking opening weekend with an estimated $38.7 million in its second weekend, according to Variety.

Though a 61% dip in business domestically compared to its first weekend, it was still enough to be number one at the box office.

The movie now has a domestic total of $163.6 million.

What’s even more impressive is what the movie is doing overseas. Having earned over $900 million globally, “Fate of the Furious” is doing monster business in China — earning close to $400 million in that country alone.

Expect the movie to top the box office again next weekend before Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” hits theaters May 5 (and could possibly break all the records “Fate of the Furious” just set).

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Why you need to be watching ‘Feud: Bette and Joan’

feud susan sarandon jessica lange fx

“Feud: Bette and Joan” is the first installment of Ryan Murphy’s new anthology series, in the vein of “American Horror Story” and “American Crime Story.” Each season of “Feud” will follow a famous feud throughout history.

This first season, now airing on FX, tells the true story of Bette Davis and Joan Crawford, competitive Hollywood stars who were in the 1962 movie “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?” together, even though they hated each other. 

“Feud: Bette and Joan” is the perfect outlet for Jessica Lange, Susan Sarandon, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Kathy Bates, and other older actors to prove they have a lot of talent and don’t need to be under 30 to take on juicy leading roles. Move over, Jennifer Lawrence! Actors who are actually the age of the people they’re playing are getting the roles they deserve. 

It’s the perfect weekend to binge-watch the season, since the eighth and final episode of “Feud: Bette and Joan” airs this Sunday on FX. 

Season two of the anthology series will focus on Prince Charles and Princess Diana. There’s still no word on whether season three will follow the “feud” between Matt Damon and Jimmy Kimmel, but you heard that idea here first. 

Here’s why you should watch “Feud: Bette and Joan”:

It’s based on the real-life feud between two of old Hollywood’s stars, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

Bette Davis won two Oscars, for “Dangerous” (1935) and “Jezebel” (1938). In 1963, she was nominated (instead of costar Joan Crawford) for her role in “What Ever Happened to Baby Jane?”

Joan Crawford won an Oscar in 1946 for her role in “Mildred Pierce.”

It’s a little Hollywood history lesson.

In its early days, Hollywood operated on the studio system. This meant that studios hired actors on contracts. So actresses like Joan Crawford and Bette Davis would sign a six-picture deal with a studio before knowing what those six movies were, or how long it would take to film six pictures.

When actors and actresses began saying no to projects, lawsuits started up. Davis was one of the actors who said no to projects she didn’t believe in, and this upset studio execs. Studio contracts were also very strict, and often affected the social and personal lives of actors. 


The show totally calls out the men of Hollywood who manipulated these women into hating each other.

Studio execs, like Stanley Tucci’s character Jack Warner, were the true masterminds behind the feud between Crawford and Davis. They created rumors and gossip, and used these women’s vulnerabilities to sell tickets. 

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The new ‘Silicon Valley’ season exposes a common dilemma in the tech industry

silicon valley season four hbo

The new season of “Silicon Valley” examines a common issue in the tech industry known as pivoting.

Pivoting is the decision companies make when they realize what’s appealing to customers and what isn’t, then decide to focus their efforts on what’s working. In many cases, they find that the product or service that’s clicking with consumers isn’t what their companies were originally founded on.

That’s where fans will find Pied Piper on the fourth season of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” premiering on Sunday at 10 p.m.

“A lot of companies are started with one thing in mind and then they turn into something else,” “Silicon Valley” executive producer Clay Tarver recently told Business Insider.

Tarver referred to Instagram’s origin as a sort of Foursquare knockoff called Burbn and Yelp’s turn away from its original incarnation as a business referral site and into a review site when it noticed that its users were writing unsolicited business reviews instead of answering referral requests.

On “Silicon Valley,” the pivot into video messaging puts Pied Piper founder Richard (Thomas Middleditch) at a crossroads. Does he accept that his data-compression algorithm is a failure and go along with the video-messaging app, or remain focused on his original vision?

“Everyone who starts a company and founds something like Pied Piper, I think they reach a moment where they’re questioning,’Is this it? Is this really what I want to do?’ It’s like with any of our dreams,” Tarver said. “In season three, Richard went and finally got to do what he wanted to do, but no one really liked it. It was too complicated for them, and too advanced. It was too good. And it was heartbreaking for him, but we felt that was a really interesting dilemma for him to face.”

On season four, the act of pivoting and Richard’s decision about what to pursue become central.

“For Richard, this amazing algorithm that he has, we view it as, almost like his soul,” Tarver said. “So can he have success without selling his soul? Or selling it short?”

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14 ways HBO’s ‘Silicon Valley’ nailed the real tech industry

Silicon Valley HBO

HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” which returns to the air tonight, is hilarious, but it’s also committed to authenticity — even if it means things get weird sometimes.

To get there, showrunner Mike Judge and his crew employ consultants and even a few real-life startups — in addition to reading tech news from sites, including Business Insider — just to make sure things can be as real as possible.

That means going beyond a few nerdy in-jokes and reflecting the real culture of the actual Silicon Valley, capital of the tech world.

Here’s how “Silicon Valley” gets the little things right so it can make some big jokes:

The thing with HBO’s “Silicon Valley” is that it’s packed to the brim with little, authentic details that make it sometimes feel almost too real. People in San Francisco and the real Silicon Valley often joke that it feels more like a drama than a comedy.

Right off the bat, “Silicon Valley” nailed the look and feel of the massive campuses of tech titans like Google — the fictional Hooli has a very Google-y aesthetic.

That’s down to Hooli’s ridiculous kitchens, which mirror those of Silicon Valley’s most perk-happy companies …

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Here’s how the headphones that come with Samsung’s Galaxy S8 compare to Apple’s EarPods

BI Reviews Galaxy S8 Headphones 4x3

Let’s be clear here: Don’t buy a smartphone because of the headphones in its box. Buy a smartphone because it’s fast, or because it takes great photos, or because you think it looks cool.

Unless it comes with a pair that’s truly spectacular, you should judge your phone on its merits as a phone.

With that said, one of the many things Samsung has touted about its new Galaxy S8 phones is the pair of earbuds that come packaged along with them. The company says they’re a $99 value on their own, and that their sound has been tuned by AKG, an audio-focused subsidiary that Samsung acquired as part of its big Harman deal last year.

All of which is to say that Samsung thinks the Galaxy S8’s earbuds are a cut above the cheapo pairs that are often are saddled with other smartphones.

After two weeks of testing, I can say Samsung isn’t wrong: The AKG-branded earbuds are sharper sounding and more competently put together than most freebie extras. They run circles around Apple’s EarPods, by far the most ubiquitous of all bundled earbuds, in the sound department, meaning Samsung can flaunt at least one victory in its self-professed “dream to overcome” the iPhone maker.

galaxy s8 headphonesCompared to the EarPods, the sound of the Galaxy S8’s earbuds is much more balanced. That’s not a particularly high bar to clear: The iPhone’s pair has long emphasized the bass and low-end above all else, oftentimes to the point where it overwhelms the rest of a track. The Galaxy S8’s earbuds are far tidier — they focus mainly on the mids, with a bit of a boost to the upper bass, but they don’t go out of their way to make sure you hear one frequency no matter what.

With a hip-hop track like Jay-Z and Kanye West’s “No Church in the Wild,” for instance, the EarPods’ bass has more oomph, but it’s blobby, and it helps make the rest of the instrumentation feel muddied together. The Galaxy S8’s earbuds still get you a fair amount of low-end thump, but it’s more restrained, and the vocals come off as crisper and better-defined.

They also bring much more clarity. The EarPods’ big shortcoming is how much they “veil” the highs and mids, making it sound like a fog has been cast over much of any given song. On a rocker like Phoenix’s “1901,” just about everything but the bass drum sounds duller and boomier than it does with the Galaxy S8’s earbuds. When the chorus hits, there’s an alright sense of energy, but it’s harder to pick out and separate the various pieces of the instrumentation. The Galaxy S8’s earbuds do better to catch everything being thrown at it.

galaxy s8 headphonesAll that said, beating out the EarPods isn’t the grandest accomplishment. The Galaxy S8’s earbuds are impressive for a freebie pair, but they aren’t “premium,” as Samsung has said. Though they deserve praise for rarely sounding harsh and not going nuts with the bass, they don’t provide the sort of liveliness and sparkle that the best earbuds in the $99 range do.

On a metal thrasher like Baroness’ “The Sweetest Curse,” the vocals, guitar leads, and snare drums all feel like they live on the same level, and the transitions from verse to chorus don’t really bloom the way they should. Something like the 1More Triple Driver — which sounds like it could cost $200 — gives a better sense of dynamics. Samsung’s earbuds also can’t dig as far into the lower-bass and, especially, the highs, which keeps most songs from feeling as detailed as they do with the 1More. There’s less depth.

The physical design of the Galaxy S8’s earbuds, what with its rubber and plastic eartips, doesn’t exactly scream “premium” either. (The 1More is made of a nicer metal, to continue that comparison.) It’s not the clearest at taking calls, either.

galaxy s8 headphonesStill, it’s not bad: The fabric cable is nice; there’s a nifty three-button remote (though you can’t adjust volume on iOS); and you get three different-sized eartips in the box. The whole thing is light and comfortable enough — as always, your mileage may vary — and, best of all, it fits nice and snug in the ear. The earbuds can’t block out everything, but they let in and leak out less noise than the “unsealed” design of the EarPods.


If Samsung ever makes the Galaxy S8’s earbuds available as a standalone purchase, I’d pass. They’re totally inoffensive, but the 1More is superior in every way, and something like Xiaomi’s Mi In-Ear Headphones Pro HD provides similar quality for half the price.

Viewed in the context of other pack-in headphones, though, Samsung has done well. Though it isn’t the first phone maker to pay attention to audio, it’s still giving millions of soon-to-be Galaxy S8 buyers a perfectly competent pair of beater earbuds. If you’re coming from an older iPhone or Galaxy device, enjoy the upgrade. Here’s hoping this trend continues.

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The smartphone is eventually going to die — this is Mark Zuckerberg’s crazy vision for what comes next (FB)

At this week’s Facebook F8 conference in San Jose, Mark Zuckerberg doubled down on his crazy ambitious 10-year plan for the company, first revealed in April 2016.

Here’s the current version of that roadmap, revealed by Zuckerberg this week: 

mark zuckerberg facebook 10 year plan f8 2017Basically, Zuckerberg’s uses this roadmap to demonstrate Facebook’s three-stage game plan in action: First, you take the time to develop a neat cutting-edge technology. Then you build a product based on it. Then you turn it into an ecosystem where developers and outside companies can use that technology to build their own businesses.

When Zuckerberg first announced this plan last year, it was big on vision, but short on specifics.

On Facebook’s planet of 2026, the entire world has internet access — with many people likely getting it through, Facebook’s connectivity arm. Zuckerberg reiterated this week that the company is working on smart glasses that look like your normal everyday Warby Parkers. And underpinning all of this, Facebook is promising artificial intelligence good enough that we can talk to computers as easily as chatting with humans.

A world without screens

For science-fiction lovers, the world Facebook is starting to build is very cool and insanely ambitious. Instead of smartphones, tablets, TVs, or anything else with a screen, all our computing is projected straight into our eyes as we type with our brains.

A mixed-reality world is exciting for society and for Facebook shareholders. But it also opens the door to some crazy future scenarios, where Facebook, or some other tech company, intermediates everything you see, hear, and, maybe even, think. And as we ponder the implications of that kind of future, consider how fast we’ve already progressed on Zuckerberg’s timeline.

facebook mark zuckerberg smart glasses

We’re now one year closer to Facebook’s vision for 2026. And things are slowly, but surely, starting to come together, as the social network’s plans for virtual and augmented reality, universal internet connectivity, and artificial intelligence start to slowly move from fantasy into reality.

In fact, Michael Abrash, the chief scientist of Facebook-owned Oculus Research, said this week that we could be just 5 years away from a point where augmented reality glasses become good enough to go mainstream. And Facebook is now developing technology that lets you “type” with your brain, meaning you’d type, point, and click by literally thinking at your smart glasses. Facebook is giving us a glimpse of this with the Camera Effects platform, making your phone into an AR device.

Fries with that?

The potential here is tremendous. Remember that Facebook’s mission is all about sharing, and this kind of virtual, ubiquitous “teleportation” and interaction is an immensely powerful means to that end.

This week, Oculus unveiled “Facebook Spaces,” a “social VR” app that lets denizens of virtual reality hang out with each other, even if some people are in the real world and some people have a headset strapped on. It’s slightly creepy, but it’s a sign of the way that Facebook sees you and your friends spending time together in the future. Facebook Spaces

And if you’re wearing those glasses, there’s no guarantee that the person who’s taking your McDonald’s order is a human, after all. Imagine a virtual avatar sitting at the cash register, projected straight into your eyeballs, and taking your order. With Facebook announcing its plans to revamp its Messenger platform with AI features that also make it more business-friendly, the virtual fast-food cashier is not such a far-fetched scenario.

Sure, Facebook Messenger chatbots have struggled to gain widespread acceptance since they were introduced a year ago. But as demonstrated with Microsoft’s Xiaoice and even the Tay disaster, we’re inching towards more human-like systems that you can just talk to. And if Facebook’s crazy plan to let you “hear” with your skin plays out, they can talk to you while you’re wearing those glasses. And again, you’ll be able to reply with just a thought.

Regina Dugan F8

If we’re all living in this kind of semi-virtual world, it makes Facebook key to every interaction, and crucially, every financial transaction we conduct in that sphere. It could make the company a lot of money, certainly.

So yes, while it’s still at least a decade off, this is all happening, little bit by little bit. But with Facebook facing fresh questions every day for its role in our personal lives and our political elections, it’s also important to remember that much of this gives the social network — as well as companies like Apple, Google, and Microsoft which all pursuing the same ends — unprecedented control over our conceptions of reality. It’s time to ask these questions now, and not later.

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The ‘Avatar’ sequels finally have release dates


The INSIDER Summary:

  • After being delayed four times, the “Avatar” movie sequels finally have release dates.
  • Director James Cameron and Fox announced the news on the “Avatar” Facebook page.
  • “Avatar 2” will be released on December 18, 2020; “Avatar 3” on December 17, 2021; “Avatar 4” on December 20, 2024; and “Avatar 5” on December 19, 2025.

The “Avatar” sequels have already been delayed four times

Now, the movies have finally been given release dates, Variety reports — though you’ll have to wait until 2020 to see the first one.

Director James Cameron and 20th Century Fox announced the big news on the official “Avatar” Facebook page on the morning of April 22, to coincide with Earth Day.

“Great to be working with the best team in the business! Avatar takes flight as we begin concurrent production on four sequels,” the caption on Facebook reads. “The journey continues December 18, 2020, December 17, 2021, December 20, 2024 and December 19, 2025!”

The second “Avatar” movie was originally expected to be ready by 2018, but now fans will have to wait over three years to see it — and eight years for the final sequel to be released.

Here are the release dates in full for movie fans’ calendars:

  • “Avatar 2” — December 18, 2020;
  • “Avatar 3” — December 17, 2021;
  • “Avatar 4” — December 20, 2024;
  • “Avatar 5” — December 19, 2025.

And here’s the full announcement on Facebook:

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NOW WATCH: These are the most expensive movies ever made


The salaries of your favorite TV and movie characters are not what you expect

Liz lemon

Not even James Bond is living as large as you think.

The online marketplace for businesses Bizdaq researched the average salaries for the jobs of various TV, film, and other fictional characters.

Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) from “The Devil Wears Prada,” tops the list with a salary of $2 million. Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) from “30 Rock,” takes a close second. As the head writer for a TV show on NBC, her estimated salary is $1.1 million. 

While James Bond’s $101,093 seems hefty to the average person, it’s actually not a lot considering how often he risks his life for the job — unfortunately MI6 is no NBC. He makes slightly more than Sheldon Cooper from “The Big Bang Theory,” and slightly less than Ross Geller from “Friends.”

For the salaries of your favorite characters like Don Draper, Walter White, Ellen Ripley, and Indiana Jones, check out the graphic below:

01 wages02 wages03 wages04 wages05 wages06 wages07 wages08 wages09 wages10 wages11 wages12 wages13 wages14 wages15 wages16 wages17 wages18 wages

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Tesla fans are about to get what they really want from the company (TSLA)

Tesla Roadster Drive 2016

Tesla is poised to have a very big 2017.

Apart from the carmaker’s surging $50-billion market capitalization, which on the back of a $300-plus-share price has vaulted the company’s valuation above Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford, Tesla aims to launch its mass-market Model 3 in the next few months.

The automaker is also bringing its Gigafactory online in Nevada, preparing for the launch of its solar-roof product, and expanding its Tesla energy business. 

All eyes will be on the Model 3, which is slated to be priced at $35,000 before incentives and come with a range of at least 215 miles on a single charge. But Tesla will also introduce an electric, possibly self-driving semi truck in September. CEO Elon Musk says a pickup will follow in 18-24 months.

That’s a lot, but for true Tesla lovers, the really exciting news is that Tesla will most likely commit to a new Roadster — a convertible sports car that will take the automaker back to its roots. It sexy, thrilling, go-fast-with-all-electric-style roots.

I’ve always been an unabashed fan of the Roadster. I’ve driven all of Tesla’s vehicles, but the Roadster is the one that really grabs me: it did the first time around and again just over a year ago when we got reacquainted

Awkward love

My Roadster love is awkward of course because the car wasn’t a proper Tesla, unlike the clean-sheet designs of the Model S sedan and the Model X SUV. The Roadster was built from vehicle “sleds” created by England’s Lotus, which were then finished by Tesla in California and outfitted with Tesla’s electric battery packs and drivetrains. 

That said, the Lotus chassis combined with Tesla’s tech was a juicy combination. The Roadster Sport, the final version of the vehicle that was produced before Lotus stopped supplying platforms and Tesla shifted to focusing on the Model S, was blisteringly fast (0-60 mph in 2.7 seconds) and a kick to drive. It lacked much in the way of in-vehicle tech, the steering was precise but heavy, there was barely room for two people and a tote bag, and the ride was pretty stiff. But sweet lord was it ever fun!

“Speed” and “Tesla” have always been two great tastes that go great together. It was with the fast Roadster that Tesla effectively rebranded the whole idea of the electric-car-as-glorified-golf-cart — and wound velocity in the company’s DNA. Ever since the Roadster, Tesla’s have been fast. The P100D Model S is, by 0-60 mph time (2.3 seconds), the fastest production vehicle in the world. And it has four doors and two trunks.

Tesla D Speed

The Model X is also quick, but it’s an SUV. And frankly, there are plenty of us still out here who want our fast cars to be fast sports cars that look like sports cars.

That’s why the time has more than come for the new Roadster — or whatever Tesla wants to call it, as long as it has two doors and seating for only a pair of people. A sports car isn’t supposed to be practical. That’s the entire point.

Not what Silicon Valley wants

I will admit that a super sexy Tesla sports car isn’t exactly what Silicon Valley is calling for right now. Between Google’s self-driving podmobiles, whatever Apple might be up to, and Uber’s autonomous taxi fleet, the action now appears to be with incredibly boring platforms that are more about riding than driving. 

Tesla is also getting a little too psyched about semi-trucks and pickups. These are cool vehicles, but they aren’t Ferraris or Lamborghinis. It bears pointing out that Musk was once the owner of a McLaren F1  hypercar, so we have a sense of where his heart might be when it comes to cars. I sort of wonder if he’s ever even driven a truck.

Not that a Tesla supercar would edge out the pickups. Tesla will probably produce something on the order of 100,000 vehicles in 2017 and maybe twice that in 2018 (although Musk is pushing for 500,000). There’s probably a market for a few thousand sports cars with the Tesla badge. Satisfying anyone who wants one wouldn’t be a mighty lift. Just think of the bumper stickers on the Model X’s: “My other, sexier car is a Tesla, too.”

Make it wild

Ferrari 488GTB 40

The great thing about Tesla is that its vision of a fossil-fuel-free transportation future has never been so virtuous that it excludes the breathtaking experience of zipping into a corner at high speed and coming out just as fast. Musk always knew this, but in recent years, as the Roadster has receded into fond memory, it’s been less of a Tesla priority. That takes nothing away from Ludicrous Mode performance in Tesla’s current cars. But as I’ve noted, Ludicrous gets old fast in a family sedan.

I’d personally like to see Tesla do something wild with a new sports car. Something flamboyant and supercar-ish. Spoilers and needless hood scoops and air dams and such. Make a fast car that really looks fast. Make it a tad tasteless. Make it something that would look defiant when parked next to a Ferrari or a Lambo.

But even if that doesn’t happen, I welcome whatever does. As will the many, many Tesla fans who’ve been waiting for a new Roadster.  

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