More Manufacturers Turn to Robotic Arms

Labor shortages. Intense global competition. Fast-changing market demands.  Small and midsized manufacturers face a slew of challenges.

“There’s increasing pressure from all sides,” says Stuart Shepherd, regional director of sales in the Americas for Universal Robots, a leading seller of small robotic arms. Continue reading “More Manufacturers Turn to Robotic Arms”

Washington Mulls Reining in Big Tech on Privacy

If you’re worried about your privacy online, you aren’t alone. Uncle Sam is cracking down on companies for violating consumers’ privacy and looking to impose more regulation.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission ordered Facebook to provide more transparency for how it uses people’s data. The FTC also fined Facebook $5 billion for being deceptive about how it handled users’ data. Continue reading “Washington Mulls Reining in Big Tech on Privacy”

Cutting-Edge Uses of Drones are Coming On Fast

Drone companies, large and small, are racing to find as many viable drone applications as possible to go along with today’s popular uses, such as aerial mapping in the agriculture sector. There are close to 400,000 commercial drones registered with the Federal Aviation Administration, and many more are poised to take off in coming years.

Though there is still plenty of red tape to be cut, the feds are helping push the industry forward. The White House has expressed strong support for industry innovation in the hopes of drones being used in the delivery of medicine, emergency management and much more. This May, the Department of Transportation selected 10 state, local and tribal governments to participate in a pilot program aimed at collecting drone data on flying at night, flying over people, delivering packages and other promising areas. Continue reading “Cutting-Edge Uses of Drones are Coming On Fast”

China’s High-Tech Ambitions Take On 5G

Rising tensions between the U.S. and China extend far beyond trade. A battle over high-tech markets is ramping up as China seeks to lead the world in 5G, the latest version of cellular technology.

China’s 5G strategy increasingly worries U.S. officials, who see Chinese telecom gear as a national security threat that could allow Beijing to spy on communications or help developing nations censor parts of the web, as China does. There’s growing fear that China’s leading companies are poised to out-compete and out-innovate U.S. tech giants. That has riled U.S. lawmakers, who point to years of stolen intellectual property by China and unfair conditions imposed on U.S. firms doing business in the country. Continue reading “China’s High-Tech Ambitions Take On 5G”

Big Tech Won’t Be Broken Up, but Big Changes Are Coming

Calls are growing louder to split apart Facebook, Alphabet, Amazon and other tech giants. A group of activists and scholars seek to use decades-old antitrust reasoning to regulate or break up today’s largest tech companies. “It’s definitely a new and much greater drumbeat today than it has been,” says Charlotte Slaiman, competition policy counsel at Public Knowledge, a public interest nonprofit based in Washington, D.C.

The rising movement, known as hipster antitrust, “attacks ‘bigness’ per se, says Joe Kennedy, senior fellow at the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Kennedy points out in a report that a policy shift in that direction could produce more uncertainty, slow innovation and even reduce economic growth. That threat, however unlikely, strikes fear into some of the country’s biggest companies. Continue reading “Big Tech Won’t Be Broken Up, but Big Changes Are Coming”

Fight Back Against Time-Wasting Robocalls

The scourge of unwanted and often illegal robocalls isn’t going away anytime soon. In fact, in the near term, it might even grow worse. Billions of robocalls are made each month, including fraudsters trying to steal your identity or raid your bank account by impersonating IRS or Social Security officials.

Some relief is on the horizon, though. Federal regulators and industry are beefing up efforts to penalize bad actors and roll out new preventative technologies. Software that blocks unwanted calls or better identifies who’s calling is improving quickly. And businesses are trying new text-based messaging services to reach customers who ignore voice calls. Continue reading “Fight Back Against Time-Wasting Robocalls”

Who Comes Out on Top in the Streaming Video Wars?

The streaming video wars are heating up. Tens of billions of dollars are being spent on online video content. Companies are battling for the same customers. Technology is rapidly changing. Who wins and who loses from this new tumult in the media industry?

The biggest splash in a long time will be the launch of Disney’s much-anticipated streaming service, leveraging its deep well of films and television shows while spending billions of dollars on new programming, marketing and technology. The move, set to happen this year, marks a new era for the company as it takes a step away from its traditional movie and television business. Continue reading “Who Comes Out on Top in the Streaming Video Wars?”

How Apple is Gearing Up for A New Era in the Smartphone Market

Have you been hanging onto your smartphone for longer than two years? You’re not alone. More and more folks are holding off on upgrades as new models come with eye-popping price tags and old models last longer. By traditional industry metrics, a phone three to four years old is downright ancient. And if the phone in your pocket is from 2014, you’re giving smart phone executives serious heartburn.

With the market saturated, folks upgrading less frequently, and sales declining in all-important China, vendors can’t count on strong sales growth in coming years. Long after the U.S. and other developed markets had seen sales plateau, China was still going strong with its rising middle class scooping up phones at a rapid clip. Now growth in China has dried up. Quarterly sales in the country have been declining for more than a year. Continue reading “How Apple is Gearing Up for A New Era in the Smartphone Market”

Breakthrough Cellular Upgrade Sets Up Wireless Sector for Rapid Growth

Every December The Kiplinger Letter publishes a Year-End special issue that dives deeply into one topic, ranging from demographic changes to robotic advancements. Last month, we focused on which segments of the economy will do well over the next five years.

For Alerts subscribers, we wanted to share some of that analysis. Below is an overview of 5G’s rise through 2023.

This year marks the start of commercial 5G, the next global standard of cellular communications after 4G. Hype around 5G is already intense. But make no mistake: 5G technology is a real breakthrough.

Over the next five years, the wireless upgrade will add tens of billions of dollars to the economy and create hundreds of thousands of jobs. 5G promises speeds 10 to 100 times faster than today’s networks, the capacity to connect 100 billion things to the internet and far less lag time for applications that require near-instant communications. Continue reading “Breakthrough Cellular Upgrade Sets Up Wireless Sector for Rapid Growth”