The Nintendo Switch is having an incredible run so far, and the future looks even brighter

Nintendo’s latest video game console is off to a killer start.

Nintendo Switch

The Nintendo Switch is still hard to find, and it’s regularly beating the competition in sales. Its main launch game, “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” is heralded as one of the best games ever made. And Nintendo has a huge new Mario game, “Super Mario Odyssey,” launching in less than a week.

Between this year’s Switch games and 2018’s lineup, it looks as if Nintendo is finally delivering on its long-held promise to release a steady cadence of games from its biggest franchises. Heck, Nintendo is even making a full-on new “Pokémon” game for the Switch. That’s a first for “Pokémon,” a series forever tied to Nintendo’s handheld consoles.

Pokemon red blue

But the year isn’t done yet! We’ve put together a comprehensive list of what’s still planned for 2017 and what to expect for 2018 — follow that below:

2017: Nintendo released a sequel to “Splatoon,” a Pokémon spin-off, and a new series for Mario.

Considering that the console only launched in March, the Switch already has a mess of fantastic games. Nintendo started with the showstopper in “The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” which launched alongside the Switch in March. 

“Zelda” was quickly followed by an updated re-release of “Mario Kart 8” — arguably the best “Mario Kart” game ever made — and an entirely new Nintendo-made entry in “Arms.” “Minecraft” launched soon after, and Nintendo even allowed the Switch version of “Minecraft” to play nice with the Xbox One, PC, mobile, and VR versions of the game. If you’re playing the game on one of those platforms, you’re also playing with people on the Switch!

“Splatoon 2” is a sequel to the delightful shooter that debuted on Nintendo’s failed Wii U console. It launched on July 21, and it’s excellent.

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Following the launch of “Splatoon 2” this summer, a spin-off of the Pokémon series arrived on Switch in September: “Pokken Tournament DX.” It’s a 3D fighting game featuring — what else? — Pokémon, and it’s a rerelease of a game previously available on the Wii U. Think of it as a precursor to next year’s “core” Pokémon game on the Switch.

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Apple will have only 3 million iPhone X units when it launches — good luck finding one (AAPL)

iphone x

  • Apple will only be able to ship between 2-3 million iPhone X units at launch, says KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
  • If true, this means there will not be many iPhone X units in any individual market because it is launching in 56 countries.
  • For Apple fans, this means that it’s going to be especially difficult to get one on the first few days it’s available.
  • For investors, this means that some sales that would typically fall in the December quarter may spill into 2018 because of the lack of supply. 

Apple’s iPhone X will be in short supply when it launches in November, with only 2-3 million units shipping before launch, the KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo wrote in a research note on Thursday. 

The iPhone X, the most advanced and expensive iPhone at $999, goes up for preorder on October 27 and hits stores on November 3 in 56 countries.

The last time Apple announced preorder numbers for its most advanced phone, in 2014, it said it saw 4 million preorders in the first 24 hours — so the iPhone X is going to be very hard to find at launch.

But Kuo, who is tapped into Apple’s Asian supply chain, says the worst production issues will be over soon. Still, KGI Securities cut its forecast for fourth quarter shipments even further, to 25-30 million units, down from 30-35 million units. 

Kuo’s note, seen by Business Insider, also goes into some detail about what’s causing the delays. He attributes it mainly to a shortage of three different components with the production of certain circuit boards being the biggest hurdle. 

Kuo believes one supplier of the iPhone X antenna circuit board, Murata, hasn’t been able to make the part to Apple’s specification, and has been replaced by a second supplier, Taiwan’s Career Tech. 

Kuo also points to a wide-angle camera module that also is seeing a supply shortage.

Finally, the note touches on the True Depth camera issue that had been previously reported by The Wall Street Journal. “We believe the previous design issues of the dot projector sometimes being unable to recognize human faces has been resolved after active alignments or environmental tests were addressed,” Kuo wrote. 

Catching up 

Tim Cook and Jony Ive with iPhone XFor Apple fans who want the iPhone X as soon as it comes out, this is not good news — you’re either going to need to get lucky at pre-order time or line up at a retail store to secure an iPhone X first day. 

But for investors, this may simply push the “super cycle” boom of iPhone sales one quarter later. 

For example, Canada’s largest wireless carrier said that it didn’t know how much iPhone X inventory it would have at launch.

“The question will be is how much of the iPhone X activity happens in Q4 versus Q1 of next year, and we will kind of be prepared for either overall,” he continued.

Kuo believes shipments of iPhone X could show 50% quarter-over-quarter growth in the first quarter of 2018. 

Brian White, an analyst at Drexel Hamilton, remains bullish, saying this week to “buy into the iPhone 8 gloom and doom ahead of the iPhone X.”

“This morning, Apple’s stock is weak on the back of media reports around order cuts for the iPhone 8/8 Plus,” he wrote in a note distributed to clients. “We would be aggressive buyers of the stock with the iPhone X cycle kicking off next Friday with pre-orders.”

Kuo agrees, and says that “any share corrections on revised-down [fourth-quarter] results should be regarded as a good entry point,” especially for Apple’s suppliers including Hon Hai, TSMC, Largan, Win Semi, XinTec, Tong Hsing Electronic, Lumentum, IQU, Viavi, LG Innotek, AMS, STMicroelectronics and Himax. 

Apple reports quarterly earnings on November 2, so perhaps it will give some insight into iPhone X pre-order volume and supply then. 

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Arnold Schwarzenegger blames Bill Clinton for one of his biggest box office bombs

Last Action Hero 3 Columbia Pictures

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1993 movie “Last Action Hero” was a major disappointment at the box office.
  • The movie had negative press and horrible test scores.
  • But Schwarzenegger believes the election of Bill Clinton that same year also led to the movie’s demise.


It was 1993 when Arnold Schwarzenegger came out with one of his most unique tough guy movies, “Last Action Hero.”

A mix of action and comedy that follows a boy with a magic ticket, who suddenly is transported through the big screen and into the latest movie of his favorite actor, Jack Slater (Arnold Schwarzenegger), it’s filled with huge fight scenes, gun fights, explosions, and fun jabs at Schwarzenegger and the action movie genre.

But nobody went to see the movie.

With a 37% Rotten Tomatoes rating and a $137 million worldwide gross (which doesn’t even crack the top ten for that year), the movie was considered a colossal disappointment.

However, looking back on it now, Schwarzenegger believes there were a lot of forces against him around the time the movie came out.

“Don’t forget that the year that movie came out it was the year to beat on Arnold,” Schwarzenegger told Business Insider

Before the movie opened the Hollywood trades had constant coverage of its shaky production, which finished just months before it opened in theaters, along with reports on the movie getting negative test scores.

Bill ClintonBut Schwarzenegger feels even the newly-elected president, Bill Clinton, had something to do with the movie’s poor performance.

“It was one of those things where President Clinton was elected and the press somehow made the whole thing kind of political where they thought, ‘Okay, the ‘80s action guys are gone here’s a perfect example,’ and they wrote this narrative before anyone saw the movie,” Schwarzenegger said, while promoting his new movie “Killing Gunther” (currently available on streaming and in theaters Friday).

Schwarzenegger, who is a Republican and former governor of California, felt that the combination of bad press surrounding the movie and the entrance of a Democrat into the White House led to a situation where he couldn’t win.

“The action hero era is over, Bill Clinton is in, the highbrow movies are the ‘in’ thing now, I couldn’t recuperate,” he said.

He did though — a year later. Teaming with his “Terminator” movies director James Cameron, they made the spy action movie “True Lies,” which earned over $378 million worldwide and was the third-highest-grossing domestic release of the year.

And as the years have passed, “Last Action Hero” has been rediscovered by new audiences.

“I think more people would have seen it if the press treated it differently, but now the good thing is that with streaming people can go and watch it,” Schwarzenegger said.

You can rent “Last Action Hero” for $4 on iTunes now! 

Watch the trailer below:

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Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o says she was also a victim of Harvey Weinstein’s ‘rampant predatory behavior’

Lupita Nyong'o actress June 2017 Getty

  • Actress Lupita Nyong’o published an op-ed in the New York Times alleging two encounters of harassing behavior with Harvey Weinstein.
  • She alleges that he tried to give her a massage after convincing her to come to his private room and to remove his pants.
  • Then Nyong’o describes a second dinner meeting during which Weinstein allegedly told her to come to his private room, implying that it would help her career.
  • Nyong’o is one of nearly 40 women who have come forward with similar allegations.
  • “Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing,” she wrote.


Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o has come forward with allegations of harassment against Harvey Weinstein.

In a New York Times op-ed titled “Speaking Out About Harvey Weinstein,” Nyong’o details two meetings that involved both alleged harassment and an implication that entering a sexual relationship with Weinstein would advance her career.

The first meeting described by Nyong’o involves Weinstein insisting she order a vodka and diet soda at lunch, despite her request for juice. 

Harvey had invited Nyong’o to his home for a screening of a movie. Here’s her account of what happened after the movie had started:

“I settled in for the film, but about 15 minutes in, Harvey came for me, saying he wanted to show me something. I protested that I wanted to finish the film first, but he insisted I go with him, laying down the law as though I too was one of his children. I did not want another back-and-forth in front of his kids, so I complied and left the room with him. I explained that I really wanted to see the film. He said we’d go back shortly.

Harvey led me into a bedroom — his bedroom — and announced that he wanted to give me a massage. I thought he was joking at first. He was not. For the first time since I met him, I felt unsafe. I panicked a little and thought quickly to offer to give him one instead: It would allow me to be in control physically, to know exactly where his hands were at all times.”

Harvey Weinstein

Nyong’o, who was then still attending Yale School for Drama, also said Weinstein had been telling her she would be a good fit for an HBO show he produced, despite the show no longer being on air (which she says she did not know at the time).

The second encounter Nyong’o describes is of a private dinner. She had seen Weinstein for interim meetings or events which had gone by without incident.

He was definitely a bully, but he could be really charming, which was disarming and confusing,” Nygon’o writes. “I left feeling that perhaps he had learned my boundaries and was going to respect them.”

Nyong’o says this is why she accepted a dinner invitation a couple months later. When she arrived, she was surprised to find only his assistant waiting. Nyong’o had expected others to be present. This fits with a pattern of other reports from women who say Weinstein would use his assistants to give the impression of a professional atmosphere, but the assistants would leave shortly after the meeting began. Nyong’o’s says this was also the case for her.

Here’s her full account of the dinner:

“Harvey arrived and the assistant immediately disappeared. We ordered drinks and starters. Again he was offended by my nonalcoholic beverage choice but he didn’t fight me on it as hard. Before the starters arrived, he announced: ‘Let’s cut to the chase. I have a private room upstairs where we can have the rest of our meal.’

I was stunned. I told him I preferred to eat in the restaurant. He told me not to be so naïve. If I wanted to be an actress, then I had to be willing to do this sort of thing. He said he had dated Famous Actress X and Y and look where that had gotten them.

I was silent for a while before I mustered up the courage to politely decline his offer.

‘You have no idea what you are passing up,’ he said.

‘With all due respect, I would not be able to sleep at night if I did what you are asking, so I must pass,’ I replied.”

lupita nyong'o

Nyong’o is one of more than nearly three dozen women — most of whom are actresses who worked with Weinstein or were called to meetings with him— who have alleged that Weinstein harassed, groped, or assaulted them.

Many of the reports follow the pattern displayed in Nyong’o’s account as well: Weinstein met the women at an event or through networking, and then scheduled a meeting with them at a hotel. Once in his room, Weinstein allegedly would make inappropriate requests of them or assault them.

You can read the reports from other women here.

As for why Nyong’o didn’t speak up sooner, she explains what other actresses like Evan Rachel Wood have expressed: Talking about abuse and naming alleged harassers can lead to more suffering and re-traumatizing for victims. 

“Though we may have endured powerlessness at the hands of Harvey Weinstein, by speaking up, speaking out and speaking together, we regain that power. And we hopefully ensure that this kind of rampant predatory behavior as an accepted feature of our industry dies here and now.

Now that we are speaking, let us never shut up about this kind of thing. I speak up to make certain that this is not the kind of misconduct that deserves a second chance. I speak up to contribute to the end of the conspiracy of silence.”

Read Lupita Nyong’o’s full New York Times op-ed here.

If you are a victim of sexual assault, you can visit RAINN or call its hotline at 1-800-656-4673 to receive confidential support from a trained staff member.

SEE ALSO: These are all the women who say they were sexually assaulted or intimidated by Harvey Weinstein

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TRANSPORTATION AND LOGISTICS BRIEFING: Lyft raises $1 billion, led by Alphabet — IDG Capital and Foxconn to invest in auto startups — FAA opening up airspace for commercial drones

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LYFT GAINS $1 BILLION IN NEW FUNDING LED BY ALPHABET: US ride-hailing startup Lyft announced that it has closed a new $1 billion funding round led by CapitalAG, Alphabet’s growth investment fund. The new round valued Lyft at $11 billion, up from its previous valuation of $7.5 billion in March of this year.

The new funding signals Alphabet and Lyft are deepening their partnership as Alphabet’s relationship with Uber sours. Lyft partnered earlier this year with Waymo, Alphabet’s self-driving car spinoff, to collaborate on technology development and tests for autonomous vehicles. As part of the new investment round, CapitalAG partner David Lawee will join Lyft’s board. Alphabet’s other investment arm, Google Ventures, has invested more than $300 million in Uber, making it Google Ventures’ biggest investment ever. However, the Alphabet and Uber are now engaged in a contentious legal battle over alleged theft of documents related to Alphabet’s self-driving technology, which is set to go to trial in December. A deep relationship the Waymo-Alphabet family is extremely beneficial for Lyft, as Waymo’s self-driving technology, which the company has been testing since 2009, is among the most advanced in the world. It could help Lyft incorporate autonomous vehicles into its ride-hailing service before Uber does, thus realizing the huge cost advantages of driverless vehicles.

Lyft will be able to use the funding to continue its rapid growth in the US and to expand internationally. Lyft is now available to 95% of consumers in the US. The company also booked more total rides in the first half of this year than in all of last year, and grew its gross bookings by 25% sequentially in Q2, compared to Uber’s 17% growth in the quarter. Meanwhile, media outlets reported earlier this year that Lyft could enter Canada by the end of this year, and is already contemplating other international markets as well, including the UK and Australia. This would allow Lyft to put pressure on Uber in multiple markets while the bigger ride-hailing firm fights through an array of legal challenges and fills out a number of empty executive positions.

uber lyft rides updated logo

FOXCONN, IDG TO RAISE $1.5 BILLION FOR AUTO STARTUP FUND: Foxconn and Beijing-based private equity firm IDG Capital are looking to raise $1.5 billion for an investment fund for automotive startups in China, Japan, and the US, according to Bloomberg. This could include companies working in connected car, self-driving, ride-hailing, and electric vehicle (EV) spaces. Under the proposed plan, both companies would invest 10% of the $1.5 billion, and would raise the rest from the governments and financial institutions as well as other investors. 

Foxconn hopes moving further into the automotive space will help supplement its core electronics manufacturing business. The company, which assembles Apple’s iPhone, recently started moving into the automotive world — earlier this year it participated in a Series F funding round for electric carmaker Future Mobility.

China in particular could provide a massive opportunity for companies developing new car technologies.

  • The country is already the world’s largest automotive market, according to McKinsey estimates. In fact, 40% more vehicles were sold in China than in all of Europe last year.
  • Changes in government policies will create a larger opportunity for electric and autonomous vehicles. The country’s government recently began working on a timeframe for banning gas and diesel cars from its roads, which could happen as soon as 2020. That will drastically expand the market for EVs, and could also expand the market for self-driving cars since their technologies work better with electric motors than with gas engines.

But the companies aren’t alone in eyeing the global automotive startup space. Chinese search giant Baidu consolidated its self-driving investments into a similar fund earlier this year to help accelerate the development of its Apollo open self-driving platform. Meanwhile, Softbank’s Vision Fund has invested in several auto startups, and is on the verge of a major investment in Uber, while Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing poured several millions into European ride-hailing firm Taxify. These investments have helped global venture funding for automotive startups working on connected, autonomous, and cybersecurity technologies climb to $2.8 billion in aggregate since 2012, according to CB Insights. That amount is dwarfed by the $30.4 billion that venture capital firms have invested in global ride-hailing startups over the same period. 

FAA OPENING UP COMMERCIAL DRONE USE CASES: Several updates this week indicate that the FAA is moving forward with easing restrictions on businesses looking to use drones for commercial purposes.

  • Within the next few days, the FAA is expected to announce a series of tests involving several programs designed to link federal, state, and local regulations. The goal is to reduce FAA authority to commercial drones flying at altitudes between 200-400 feet, with state and local government responsible for lower altitude flights. Right now, the FAA has oversight responsibilities for all commercial drone flights in the US. However, many states, counties, and localities have developed their own drone regulations as well. The tests aim to clarify this regulatory patchwork by drawing distinct areas of jurisdiction for different levels of government in order to simplify compliance for businesses launching drones. 
  • The FAA also awarded Verizon-owned enterprise drone software company Skyward approval to give commercial drones instant access to controlled airspace. The approval means that companies using Skyward’s drone management platform can get instant authorization to fly drones near airports in Cincinnati, Reno, San Jose, and Lincoln, Nebraska. That authorization will be enabled by the FAA’s Low Altitude Authorization and Notification Capability (LAANC) software service. The service, which cuts the time it takes to gain approval for temporary commercial drone flights in restricted airspace from months down to minutes, is currently being tested by the FAA with a number of drone software vendors, including Skyward. It will be expanded to a nationwide test in early 2018.
  • Finally, the FAA also granted CNN the first ever waiver to fly drones over public crowds, allowing the news organization to collect aerial footage over public events. CNN said that it took two years of research together with drone manufacturer Vantage Robotics to gain the necessary FAA approval and pilot certifications.

Companies looking to use drones are likely encouraged by these announcements, which show the FAA is committed to making progress on commercial drone regulations. The US has trailed behind other major markets like the EU and China in opening up airspace for commercial drones. Recent news reports have suggested that law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, have hamstrung efforts to expand commercial drone approvals by the FAA over safety concerns. This has led to speculation that the FAA may delay the new set of commercial drones regulations it is scheduled to issue next year. Drone operators can take this week’s news as a clear signal that the FAA is trying to make progress on this front by making it easier to operate in previously restricted airspace and streamlining compliance procedures.

In other news…

  • Mitsubishi will invest $5 billion over the next three years on research and development and to revamp its factories around the world, according to The Wall Street Journal. The money will be used to explore new vehicles, including a potential lineup of electric vehicles. The company hopes this effort, which was made possible by an investment from Nissan last fall, will help it overcome a tattered image and financial losses in the wake of a scandal where it was found to have falsified fuel economy data about its vehicles.
  • Nissan announced that its 2018 Rogue crossover models will come with an option to add a semi-autonomous feature, known as ProPilot Assist, according to Engadget. The feature will cost about $11,000 extra, and allows drivers to take their hands off the wheel during single-lane highway driving. ProPilot Assist keeps the vehicle in-lane, adapts to the speed of traffic, and alerts drivers when other vehicles are in its blind spots. The vehicle is one of a handful of semi-autonomous cars currently on the market, including some Audi, Cadillac, and BMW sedans, and all of Tesla’s electric cars.

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People are asking questions about GM’s self-driving strategy — but the carmaker is sticking to its plan (GM)

Lyft founders Logan green gm president daniel ammann John Zimmer

  • Morgan Stanley thinks the GM-Lyft relationship has “changed significantly.”
  • GM hasn’t indicated the relationship has changed in any way.
  • Partnerships in ride-hailing, ride-sharing, and self-driving have taken on a Wild West quality.

See if you can keep this straight: General Motors is an investor in Uber’s ride-share rival Lyft. It has been reported that GM’s self-driving car division — Cruise — is talking to Uber about doing some kind of deal. Meanwhile, Lyft just revealed a new $1-billion investment from Google parent Alphabet – which could suggest that Lyft will use Alphabet’s self-driving technology for its future fleet of driver-less cars, instead of GMs.

Oh, and — by the way — Lyft has a deal with Ford too  (and so does Uber). 

Autonomous driving has clearly become the Wild West in Silicon Valley, with plenty of gunslingers pairing up and pursuing opportunities (and lawsuits).

Right now, though, people are focusing on the state of GM’s relationship with Lyft in the wake of a story in The Information suggesting that it’s not so hot (hence the shift toward Uber). Here’s Morgan Stanley’s Adam Jonas in a note published after that report:

GM’s relationship with Lyft has changed significantly – as has Lyft’s own strategy around autonomous. It seems GM and Lyft … may be outgrowing their partnership in ride sharing, fleet management and self-driving technologies. At the time GM first invested in Lyft, we were not aware of any significant efforts by Lyft in the autonomous arena. Last month, many were surprised when Lyft also teamed up with Ford.

Jonas’ conclusion is that this is actually a good thing for GM, obviously because Uber is much bigger than Lyft, and because Lyft is getting too free-form with its own self-driving objectives.

Detroit doesn’t like free-form; Motown prefers the slow-and-steady. After GM bought Cruise Automation in 2016 (after announcing the Lyft investment), CEO Mary Barra started talking about how the carmaker’s strategy was to roll out self-driving vehicles via a ride-sharing framework in an urban environment.

That’s going to start happening over the next year, as Cruise continues to test its tech in the Bay Area, Phoenix, Detroit, and New York City.

In that sense, it doesn’t entirely matter whether Lyft sees the lion’s share of GM’s driverless action. Uber could be a customer, too, as could GM’s own Maven ride-sharing division. 

GM management has offered exactly zero indications that its investment in Lyft has reached a strategic impasse — an outcome that would be strange for sure, given that the partnership isn’t even two years old. 

And GM has a good reason for that: autonomous cars are already a bit of a freak-out for the public, and while startups might love the chaos, GM wants to reassure future customers, investors, and government regulators that because it’s been around for over 100 years and has built millions of vehicles, it actually know what it’s doing.

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This Microsoft-powered $200 speaker is great for Spotify and Skype — but you’re probably better off with Amazon or Google (MSFT, GOOG, GOOGL)

harman karman invoke

  • The Harman Kardon Invoke is a $199 smart speaker powered by the Microsoft Cortana voice assistant. It brings Microsoft into contention with the Amazon Echo and Google Home.
  • The Invoke hardware is great — the speaker is loud and clear, making it great for music. It comes with built-in support for Skype calls (even to telephones) and Spotify. 
  • Cortana is smart and useful, and integrates with Microsoft apps and calendars.
  • However, compared with Amazon Alexa or Google Assistant, Invoke doesn’t integrate with as many smart home appliances, outside apps, or streaming TV devices, making it difficult to recommend.  

We live in an age of miracles — it’s so commonplace now to use your voice to get information out of a computer, it’s almost boring. And yet, not all tech miracles are created equal.

Take, for example, the Harman Kardon Invoke, a new $200 smart speaker powered by the Microsoft Cortana smart assistant. While Microsoft didn’t build the Invoke itself, it’s still the tech titan’s first shot at the leading Amazon Echo and Google Home product lines.

Previously, Cortana was primarily only available on Windows 10 PCs, reaching over 140 million monthly active users. Now, with the Invoke, Cortana is going after the rest of your home, too.

The Invoke has a lot going for it: The sound quality is amazing, which is no surprise, given that Harman Kardon makes some of the best speakers in the world. And Microsoft’s Cortana doesn’t get nearly enough credit for its intelligence: It’s often smarter than Apple’s Siri or Amazon Alexa, and integrates with Office apps, too. 

And yet, if you’re looking to buy a smart speaker, I would generally guide you away from the Invoke, and toward one from Amazon or Google. Here’s why.  

The good

I can’t say enough nice things about the Invoke’s hardware.

The external design is a matter of taste — at first I was sour on the Invoke’s casing, because I thought it looked like a prop from the next “Alien” movie. Now, after a few days with the Invoke, I kinda like it, for the same reason. 

The inarguable part is that the Invoke sounds amazing. Even to my untrained ears, the Invoke sounds way better than any similarly-priced Google Home or the first generation of Amazon’s Echo speakers. And it’s loud, too: Even at 50% volume, it was way too much for my reasonably-sized kitchen, and I had to turn it down to around 30%. 

And Harman Kardon and Microsoft have leaned into this audio quality. The two headlining features of the Invoke are its integrations with music streaming service Spotify and support for making calls with Skype. 

harman invoke microsoft windows cortana

Both services work great, in my own tests, and benefit greatly from the Invoke’s quality audio hardware. As a nice bonus, the Invoke can make free unlimited phone calls to landline and cellular phone numbers, by way of Skype. The Invoke also supports Bluetooth, to pair up with your phone or other music players, if you want that.

Otherwise, Cortana can do much the same stuff as Amazon’s Alexa and its ilk. You can set alarms and timers, check the weather, and control your smart home gear. Another nice perk: If you set a reminder or a to-do item on your Invoke, Cortana will also remind you on your Windows 10 PC  and/or Cortana phone app, or vice versa. 

And Cortana is surprisingly smart. Microsoft Bing gets a bad rap, but it’s really not as far from Google as everybody makes it out to be. Using Bing, Cortana is able to answer questions both practical (“How long do I boil a sausage?”) and esoteric (It nailed “What day was the Battle of Hogwarts,” though it mispronounced it as “Hogwatts for some reason).

harman kardon invoke microsoft

Cortana also connects with Microsoft Outlook and LinkedIn — coming down the line is a Cortana feature that will use LinkedIn to give you a quick profile of everybody you’re supposed to meet in your next appointment. That said, the Invoke won’t currently hook up with Google’s Gmail and Google Calendar, which is a personal bummer, though a Microsoft spokesperson confirms that support is coming down the pipeline.

In other words, there’s a lot to like. But…

The big ‘but’

No voice assistant is an island. So much of what makes these things useful is their integrations with other products and services. It’s in this department that Cortana is sorely lacking, and brings the whole Invoke package down with it.

Here’s a big example. If you get an Amazon Echo, of any variety, you can use it to command an Amazon Fire TV. The Google Assistant, which powers the Google Home, can control Google Chromecasts or any Chromecast-powered TV. Cortana can’t control a Microsoft Xbox One or any other TV-connected gadget, at least not yet.

When it comes to smart-home appliances, Cortana supports a few popular ones, including smart bulbs from Philips Hue and Insteon. But Amazon, Google, and even Apple support a much broader swath of smart home manufacturers, at least for now. 

microsoft harman kardon invoke

Another thing, too, is that you can use an Echo to shop on Amazon, and a Google Home to shop at Walmart, Target, and other stores. Cortana offers none of that, either.  And if you make a shopping list, your only options to retrieve it are from Cortana on another device, or Microsoft’s doomed Wunderlist, with no other options to export.

Bafflingly, certain “skills,” or apps, that work with Cortana on a PC won’t work on the Invoke. Existing skills for calling an Uber or posting to Twitter, among others, have to be done from Windows (thought you can check the latest tweets from high-profile people like Donald Trump). Plus, Cortana doesn’t support playing the same audio from multiple devices, which is a bummer if you want to rig your house with Invokes.

So to make a long story short, the Harman Kardan Invoke is a great device, with great sound, and a lot of smarts — but with serious limitations, compared to the competition. Unless you just want to listen to Spotify and chat with Skype, and little else, I’d advise looking at a $99 Amazon Echo or $129 Google Home.

Besides, pretty soon, you’ll be able to access Cortana from any Alexa device, and vice versa. From that standpoint, it might be worth investing in an Alexa device now, so you can take advantage of Cortana’s particular strengths later.


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3 women have accused Robert Scoble of sexual and verbal harassment

Robert Scoble

  • Robert Scoble is a well-known US tech figure who blogs about technology and is a regular feature at conferences
  • Three women in tech, including a former colleague at Rackspace, have come forward to accuse Scoble of inappropriate behaviour and harassment between 2009 and 2014
  • One said he “grabbed [her] butt” at an event, while his former colleague said she left Rackspace as a result

Three women have accused high-profile tech evangelist and writer Robert Scoble of sexual and verbal harassment.

Michelle Greer, Scoble’s former colleague at Rackspace; journalist Quinn Norton; and ProDay founder Sarah Kunst all said Scoble acted inappropriately with them, mostly around 2009 and 2010 onwards. We first saw Greer’s comments via BuzzFeed, while Norton and Kunst wrote about their experiences on Medium and Twitter.

Robert Scoble is well-known in certain tech circles. He rose to prominence as a “technical evangelist” at Microsoft, where he kept a regular blog about the company, winning readers with uncensored and often harsh opinions about the company. He took up a similar role at Rackspace in 2009 to build out a content network for the web hosting firm, called Building43. Most recently, he became entrepreneur-in-residence at UploadVR, which was sued by an employee for sexual harassment claims.

Norton kicked off the claims against Scoble in a Medium post published on Thursday. She accused Scoble first of groping and kissing a woman too drunk to consent and, later, of “grabbing my butt” and groping her breast. The alleged incidents took place in “the early 2010s” at Foo Camp, an annual hacker conference run by O’Reilly Media.

Founder Tim O’Reilly said the company banned Scoble from future events but admitted it “could have done more.”

Responding to Norton’s post, ProDay founder Kunst said she had been “verbally harassed” by Scoble and his wife in 2014 at Dent, an annual conference in Idaho. She criticised Dent for continuing to invite Scoble, even after she’d warned the organisers of his alleged behaviour. Dent said it took all allegations seriously, but did not comment further.

You can read her tweets here:


Greer, speaking to BuzzFeed, said Scoble had touched her inappropriately while she worked on the Building43 project with him at Rackspace. She said her team had gone out for drinks and Scoble, in front of his manager and other colleagues, touched her leg.

“I remember seeing him with two drinks in his hand,” she said. “My boss sat next to me, and Scoble sits across from me and starts touching my leg.”

Greer escaped to her room and was eventually let go by Rackspace after her performance was affected by the incident.

Rackspace did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Scoble has been vocal about women in tech, and the trauma of abuse.

In November 2014, Scoble talked about his own abuse at the hands of a family friend, noting that the friend had himself been abused as a child.

In April this year, he complained about sexual harassment of women in social VR, saying the industry needed to fix the problem.

Scoble tweet

Scoble has acknowledged, but not addressed the allegations.

He stated on his Facebook page he would post a video announcement early on Friday morning but, in a message to Business Insider, said he had postponed the video in order to discuss the allegations with his wife, Maryam Scoble.

The allegations follow a stream of reports of sexual harassment in tech. Amazon Studios head Roy Price was suspended last week after allegations of harassment.

If you have experienced harassment issues in tech or venture capital, please get in touch at

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We went to the Queen’s McDonald’s — and it’s one of the poshest we’ve ever seen


  • We went to the Queen’s very own McDonald’s and it’s one of the poshest we’ve seen.
  • Her Majesty travelled up with us on the train and joined us for a very English breakfast.
  • Customers were blissfully ignorant that they were scoffing Big Macs on the Queen’s land.

As Britain’s head of state, Queen Elizabeth II owns a lot of land. Her £13 billion ($17 billion) property empire includes iconic race courses, grand hotels, historic castles, and even an offshore energy portfolio.

She also happens to own a franchise of McDonald’s in Oxfordshire. Well, sort of. The McDonald’s at the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park sits on land that forms part of the Crown Estate.

It’s not the first time the fast food giant has been on the Queen’s turf. She used to own a branch on the Bath Road Retail Park in Slough before selling the land last year for £177 million. But the Banbury branch, which opened in 2015, is definitely hers.

Naturally, Business Insider went to investigate…

We made the 80-mile journey out of London to take Her Majesty for breakfast. What we found was a McDonald’s fit for a Queen, stuffed full of the fanciest mod-cons the chain has to offer.

First, we caught a train from Marylebone station to Banbury in Oxfordshire. In total, the journey took two hours via two trains, two tubes, and a bus.


Her Majesty came for the ride. Sadly, we couldn’t stretch to first class, but she perked up once we reached our destination.


Inside, it immediately felt different to most McDonald’s. There were leather sofas and booth-like seats, laminate floors, and white Eames chairs. Beats benches and swivel stools.

Queen Mcdonalds

Customers are greeted by digital menu boards, while free Samsung tablets sit on some tables. So even the Queen can send a tweet or two.

inside 2

If Samsung’s not your thing, there’s free WiFi and air charging ports.


There was also table service. So once you’ve picked and paid for your food you can just chill out and soak up the ambience.

To mark the occasion, we decided to order a royally British breakfast consisting of a bacon butty, hash brown, and cup of tea…


…all eaten under Her Majesty’s watchful eye, of course.


The manager and franchise owner declined to comment, but were aware that the branch is part of the Crown Estate. We also spoke to customers, who were blissfully ignorant that they were scoffing Big Macs on the Queen’s land.

So now the secret’s out, next time you’re in Banbury McDonald’s remember to raise a glass and toast the Queen.


queen mcdonaldsQueen

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10 things in tech you need to know today (GOOG, AAPL, FB, TWTR)

Masayoshi Son SoftBank

Good morning! Here’s the technology news you need to know this Friday.

1. Lyft raised $1 billion (£761 million) in a funding round led by CapitalG, the investment arm of Alphabet, Google’s parent company. Google is also an early investor in Uber. Google Ventures poured $258 million (£196 million) into Uber back in 2013.

2. The most important new Apple Watch feature has been shut down in China. There is no carrier currently offering service for the Apple Watch Series 3 with LTE in China.

3. SoftBank plans to invest roughly $880 billion (£670 billion) in tech through its already-massive Vision Fund. “Vision Funds 2, 3 and 4 will be established every two to three years,” according to CEO Masayoshi Son.

4. Two local residents are planning to appeal the decision to allow Apple to build a data centre in Ireland. Their case is due back before Justice McDermott on October 25.

5. Facebook’s top lawyer will testify before Congress on Russia-linked ads. CEO Mark Zuckerberg and COO Sheryl Sandberg will not publicly testify.

6. Apple stock slipped after reports of iPhone 8 production cuts. Apple has cut production orders linked to the iPhone 8 by more than 50% for the rest of the year.

7. Twitter admitted it hasn’t kept its promises to make the site safer and published deadlines for new rules. “Far too often in the past we’ve said we’d do better and promised transparency but have fallen short in our efforts,” the company said.

8. Security flaws in children’s smartwatches mean hackers can use them to spy on children’s locations. At least one retailer has since pulled some of the devices off its shelves.

9. Nintendo added a bunch of crucial features to the Switch. It added game video recording and save transfers, amongst other features.

10. Google Play will now let you try select Android apps before installing them. The feature was first mentioned back in May 2016.

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