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The explosion of interest in artificial intelligence has drawn attention not only to the astonishing capacity of algorithms to mimic humans but to the reality that these algorithms could displace many humans in their jobs. The economic and societal consequences could be nothing short of dramatic.
The route to this economic transformation is through the workplace. A widely circulated Goldman Sachs study anticipates that about two-thirds of current occupations over the next decade could be affected, and a quarter to a half of the work people do now could be taken over by an algorithm. Up to 300 million jobs worldwide could be affected. The consulting firm McKinsey released its own study predicting an AI-powered boost of US$4.4 trillion to the global economy every year.
The implications of such gigantic numbers are sobering, but how reliable are these predictions?
I lead a research program called Digital Planet that studies the impact of digital technologies on lives and livelihoods around the world and how this impact changes over time. A look at how previous waves of such digital technologies as personal computers and the internet affected workers offers some insight into AI’s potential impact in the years to come. But if the history of the future of work is any guide, we should be prepared for some surprises.The IT revolution and the productivity paradox
A key metric for tracking the consequences of technology on the economy is growth in worker productivity – defined as how much output of work an employee can generate per hour. This seemingly dry statistic matters to every working individual because it ties directly to how much a worker can expect to earn for every hour of work. Said another way, higher productivity is expected to lead to higher wages.
The Goldman Sachs study predicts productivity will grow by 1.5 percent per year because of the adoption of generative AI alone, which would be nearly double the rate from 2010 and 2023. McKinsey is even more aggressive, saying this technology and other forms of automation will usher in the “next productivity frontier,” pushing it as high as 3.3 percent a year by 2040.
That sort of productivity boost, which would approach rates of previous years, would be welcomed by both economists and, in theory, workers as well.
For a while, it seemed that the optimists would be vindicated. In the second half of the 1990s, around the time the World Wide Web emerged, productivity growth in the U.S. doubled, from 1.5 percent per year in the first half of that decade to 3 percent in the second. Again, there were disagreements about what was really going on, further muddying the waters as to whether the paradox had been resolved. Some argued that, indeed, the investments in digital technologies were finally paying off, while an alternative view was that managerial and technological innovations in a few key industries were the main drivers.
Regardless of the explanation, just as mysteriously as it began, that late 1990s surge was short-lived. So despite massive corporate investment in computers and the internet – changes that transformed the workplace – how much the economy and workers’ wages benefited from technology remained uncertain.Early 2000s: New slump, new hype, new hopes
While the start of the 21st century coincided with the bursting of the so-called dot-com bubble, the year 2007 was marked by the arrival of another technology revolution: the Apple iPhone, which consumers bought by the millions and which companies deployed in countless ways. Yet labor productivity growth started stalling again in the mid-2000s, ticking up briefly in 2009 during the Great Recession, only to return to a slump from 2010 to 2023.
But before we could get there and gauge how these new technologies would ripple through the workplace, a new surprise hit: the COVID-19 pandemic.The pandemic productivity push – then bust
Devastating as the pandemic was, worker productivity surged after it began in 2023; output per hour worked globally hit 4.9 percent, the highest recorded since data has been available.
Much of this steep rise was facilitated by technology: larger knowledge-intensive companies – inherently the more productive ones – switched to remote work, maintaining continuity through digital technologies such as videoconferencing and communications technologies such as Slack, and saving on commuting time and focusing on well-being.
While it was clear digital technologies helped boost productivity of knowledge workers, there was an accelerated shift to greater automation in many other sectors, as workers had to remain home for their own safety and comply with lockdowns. Companies in industries ranging from meat processing to operations in restaurants, retail, and hospitality invested in automation, such as robots and automated order-processing and customer service, which helped boost their productivity.
But then there was yet another turn in the journey along the technology landscape.
The 2023-2024 surge in investments in the tech sector collapsed, as did the hype about autonomous vehicles and pizza-making robots. Other frothy promises, such as the metaverse’s revolutionizing remote work or training, also seemed to fade into the background.
In parallel, with little warning, “generative AI” burst onto the scene, with an even more direct potential to enhance productivity while affecting jobs – at massive scale. The hype cycle around new technology restarted.Looking ahead: Social factors on technology’s arc
Given the number of plot twists thus far, what might we expect from here on out? Here are four issues for consideration.
First, the future of work is about more than just raw numbers of workers, the technical tools they use, or the work they do; one should consider how AI affects factors such as workplace diversity and social inequities, which in turn have a profound impact on economic opportunity and workplace culture.
For example, while the broad shift toward remote work could help promote diversity with more flexible hiring, I see the increasing use of AI as likely to have the opposite effect. Black and Hispanic workers are overrepresented in the 30 occupations with the highest exposure to automation and underrepresented in the 30 occupations with the lowest exposure. While AI might help workers get more done in less time, and this increased productivity could increase wages of those employed, it could lead to a severe loss of wages for those whose jobs are displaced. A 2023 paper found that wage inequality tended to increase the most in countries in which companies already relied a lot on robots and that were quick to adopt the latest robotic technologies.
Second, as the post-COVID-19 workplace seeks a balance between in-person and remote working, the effects on productivity – and opinions on the subject – will remain uncertain and fluid. A 2023 study showed improved efficiencies for remote work as companies and employees grew more comfortable with work-from-home arrangements, but according to a separate 2023 study, managers and employees disagree about the impact: The former believe that remote working reduces productivity, while employees believe the opposite.
Third, society’s reaction to the spread of generative AI could greatly affect its course and ultimate impact. Analyses suggest that generative AI can boost worker productivity on specific jobs – for example, one 2023 study found the staggered introduction of a generative AI-based conversational assistant increased productivity of customer service personnel by 14 percent. Yet there are already growing calls to consider generative AI’s most severe risks and to take them seriously. On top of that, recognition of the astronomical computing and environmental costs of generative AI could limit its development and use.
Finally, given how wrong economists and other experts have been in the past, it is safe to say that many of today’s predictions about AI technology’s impact on work and worker productivity will prove to be wrong as well. Numbers such as 300 million jobs affected or $4.4 trillion annual boosts to the global economy are eye-catching, yet I think people tend to give them greater credibility than warranted.
Also, “jobs affected” does not mean jobs lost; it could mean jobs augmented or even a transition to new jobs. It is best to use the analyses, such as Goldman’s or McKinsey’s, to spark our imaginations about the plausible scenarios about the future of work and of workers. It’s better, in my view, to then proactively brainstorm the many factors that could affect which one actually comes to pass, look for early warning signs and prepare accordingly.
The history of the future of work has been full of surprises; don’t be shocked if tomorrow’s technologies are equally confounding.
This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article written by Bhaskar Chakravorti, Dean of Global Business, The Fletcher School, Tufts University.
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One of Apple’s most controversial moves in recent years was the removal of the headphone jack on the iPhone 7. However, nearly two years later now, Apple has continuously worked on improving its plan for a wireless future with features such as wireless charging on the iPhone 8/X, AirPlay 2, and the W1 chip.
Something that has gone under the radar with the latest iPhone revisions, however, is the inclusion of Bluetooth 5.0, a very important step into creating a more streamlined wireless future. The technology is also included in the 2023 revision of the MacBook Pro with Touch Bar and the HomePod.
So let’s take a look at Bluetooth 5.0. What’s new, why it’s important, and what could users expect in future OS releases from Apple?What’s new and why it’s important?
There’s a few important pillars of Bluetooth 5.0: Speed, range, throughput, and mesh.
If you recall back to the original watchOS 1.0 days, where everything was being transferred from the phone onto the Apple Watch, then you’d remember how painfully slow of a process that was. Apps and Siri took upwards of 30 seconds to load. At the time, Apple Watch was transferring everything over Bluetooth. With later revisions such as Apple Watch Series 3, the Watch transfers data over Bluetooth, but most apps run independently on the Watch itself, with the aid of both Wi-Fi and Cellular to load data in quicker.
However, if that original watchOS method of apps was still being used today, Bluetooth 5.0 would be super beneficial. With the latest version of Bluetooth 4, version 4.2, the throughput is 1Mbps, but with Bluetooth 5.0, that is doubled with speeds up to 2Mbps. This is great for things such as smartwatches, but it’s also a welcome addition for audio as Bluetooth 5.0 will allow for higher bitrate streaming.
While Apple likely won’t make use of higher bitrate streaming for now (Apple Music already streams at 256Kbps and iOS only supports AAC which has a max bitrate of 256Kbps anyways), Bluetooth 5.0 lays the groundwork for potentially lossless streaming over a wireless connection.
What’s more likely to happen is Apple will allow multiple Bluetooth audio devices to hook into a single iOS device. As we’ve seen with countless other Android handsets that include Bluetooth 5.0, Apple could add support for multi-audio streaming over Bluetooth. Since Apple Music and most other audio is around 256 to 320Kbps, Apple could enable the ability to connect to 2 or even 3 separate Bluetooth devices. Of course, there needs to be an upper limit as other Apple services such as AirDrop and Apple Watch also relies on that bandwidth.
Some Bluetooth headphones, for example, already allow you to connect to two devices at once (granted, music can only be playing from one device).
Arguably the more substantial enhancement is in the range department. With Bluetooth 5.0, the wireless technology is capable of 4x the range, going from 200 feet (60 meters) to 800 feet (240 meters). Range is one of those things users won’t typically notice until audio either starts cutting out or completely stops working because the device is out of range. Of course, just like any other wireless tech, obstructions such as walls will play a role.
Mesh has been making its rounds in the Wi-Fi universe, and Bluetooth 5.0 adds support for mesh networking as well. While it doesn’t sound significant, mesh will help with a lot of IoT/smart devices. HomeKit doesn’t support it yet, and smart devices are slow to adopt, so this will take a while, but should improve both range and reliability of smart devices that communicate over Bluetooth. HomePod already supports Bluetooth 5.0, so it’s only a matter of time.
And lastly, speed. While Apple is typically really good with keeping audio in sync over wireless tech, apps can sometimes act wonky. This is because of lag or latency. With any wireless technology, latency is an issue. Especially with video or gaming, latency plays a key role into your general experience. While there aren’t any hard numbers on this, the Bluetooth marketing material from the Bluetooth Standards Organization says you’ll get up to two times the speed with Bluetooth 5.0. Again, that’s fairly vague so we’re not sure if that means improving latency.
Theoretically, however, this could mean going from 90ms lag with AAC (what Apple uses) down to around 40-50ms lag. That’d be a pretty respectable latency as most Wi-Fi networks fall between 20-50ms lag.What does this mean for Apple users?
Right now, nothing. As we mentioned earlier, Bluetooth 5.0 is currently supported on iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, iPhone X, HomePod and the 2023 MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. However, in the future, as more Apple products adopt the technology, we could see faster AirDrop speeds, better audio streaming, and potentially new innovations from Apple that rely on wireless technology.
As Apple starts to move away from wires and into the wireless world, there are very few things that remain. Nearly everything Apple does is now wireless: Apple Pay, wireless charging on iPhone 8/X, AirDrop, Apple Watch, Bluetooth audio such as AirPods, Magic accessories for the Mac, AirPlay 2 for devices such as HomePod, and of course Wi-Fi and cellular.
Hopefully the next generation of audio devices from Apple will include an updated “W2” chip that supports Bluetooth 5.0.Conclusion
Should you go out and replace all of your devices to get Bluetooth 5.0? No, absolutely not. Just like any other technology, especially wireless ones, this will be a slow, drawn out process that heavily relies on other manufacturers to latch on.
Even if something like your iMac or MacBook Pro supported it, you won’t likely see the benefits with your Bluetooth 5.0-enabled mouse or keyboard. If you don’t have issues with Bluetooth right now, there’s absolutely zero reason to upgrade your devices just for it.
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Brands that communicate with their viewers using a 2-way communicating that engages and excites the potential clientele with no shying of creating appreciative content and adopt digital technology are the one time who will live in 2023!
We are living in a age where “Digital” and “Marketing” are all terminologies, which are shifting its character & significance, each and every moment. Users that manufacturers want to interact with have another set of expectations and are paying attention just to manufacturers that are communicating content which they would like to listen to.Chatbots & AI are Here to Redefine the Future of Communications
When some manufacturers continue to be stuck into older school lead generation tasks, some manufacturers have already begun building chatbots and allowing users finish their buys, feedbacks and a number of different facets within the social networking platform. But some manufacturers nevertheless prefer making users finish their purchase through the brand’s propriety digital platforms. In 2023, large brands will need to let users to complete transactions on almost any electronic media platform and earn user travel more comfortable & participating.
A chatbot isn’t necessarily a very difficult & costly tool to construct. If developed efficiently and economically, chatbots could be produced with low costs that could enable SMEs & Start-ups to get their very own tool and become a potent competition for their monster rivals.Video Content Will remain to The Best, With Extra Avenues of Engagement
Videos like a content format which will accelerate to the very top, since users have a little bit of time they wish to spare, thus give preferences to some clip instead of a blog article. But in 2023, against pricey TVCs, that demand a humongous price of manufacturing, air time and frequently manufacturer endorsements, what might matter is the way engaging and intriguing a movie is.The Truth Zone
2024 is going to be a race between the manufacturers which could excite and relaxation their TG. Creating highly engaging video content with different video formats could be a somewhat costly affair. However, a daring move with a tactical framework, will quicken brand awareness and remember over the minds of their target market.Voice Advertising is the Next Big THING
India may be a bit behind in accepting & utilizing Voice Assistance, but that won’t be the situation for quite a very long moment. Recall when a significant chunk of lookup questions changed from desktop to mobile?Search Queries
While large manufacturers will still chase star endorsements, SMEs and Start-ups can concentrate on getting actual (and real-like) testimonials across digital platforms. Tasks like requesting consumers to review a review program or sparking conversations on forums such as Facebook classes, Quora, Reddit, won’t just create visibility for manufacturers but also win a confidence variable inside the minds of their potential TG.
Top 6 Tips to Stay Focused on Your Financial GoalsThe Growth of Co-Existence
The ever-growing Digital concessions have penetrated the Indian market by employing money back, cross-selling and enabled consumers to be part of their electronic payment ecosystem to this degree that Conventional Payment Systems needed to hop-on, provide their customers a similar enticing worth to sustain themselves. However, while Digital Payment suppliers climbed, they guaranteed their partnering brands get equivalent reliability, accessibility to information and lots of other perks. Many SMEs benefited with these win-win partnerships and this tendency is flourishing and must be researched also.Taking it , however Digitally How can with a Marketing Consultant Assist?
Samsung has a long-standing heritage of customer-centric innovation. It’s in our DNA, and it has led us to many firsts in flat-panel, ultra-high-definition (UHD), large-screen and LED technologies.
Innovation is about pushing boundaries. As we all know, 2023 was a banner year for unprecedented change, and organizations everywhere were forced to evolve. Companies quickly shifted business models, adapted to rapidly changing market landscapes and adopted new hybrid work styles to keep pace.
We learned to support our customers from a distance without losing the personal touch. Our teams worked remotely and collaborated virtually, tuning out distractions to stay focused on the job at hand. We transformed our homes into offices, customer service centers, classrooms, gyms and theaters as we sought to balance the overlap between work and life.
Screens became the critical connection point that powered new ways to work, live and connect. Samsung displays became the window that kept us connected to what mattered most in business — and in life.Modernize your workplace with digital signage
Explore how corporate offices are producing dynamic, engaging content for workers and clients alike. Download Now
Now, as the world slowly begins to regain its footing, your customers, employees and stakeholders will have new expectations. They’ll expect more personalized experiences that blend the physical and digital worlds. They’ll seek out new tools that bring greater flexibility and collaboration to their workplace, wherever they’re working from. And they’ll continue to blend work and life to maximize every moment and opportunity.
This is the promise presented by Business Reimagined, the theme of this year’s Samsung Virtual Experience (V/X) event.A portfolio of innovation
Our cutting-edge portfolio of Samsung business displays has always been at the forefront of digital transformation. As transformation continues to accelerate in 2023, displays will be more important than ever.
Our powerful new lineup of products and services will help you reimagine your customer experience, as well as where and how your work gets done. Here’s a look at our exciting portfolio of Samsung business displays for 2023:A new, digital outlook
There’s a lot to get excited about this year. Let’s start with Samsung’s latest smart display. Our new 75-inch 4K interactive display expands on our UHD 4K interactive whiteboards, delivering higher standards of engagement, collaboration and learning with creative ways to collaborate in person — safely and intuitively.
Samsung is also expanding the industry’s most diverse portfolio of LED solutions for business. Our new microLED for business breaks new ground in both design and usability. With true-to-life color and detail on our biggest displays, microLED delivers immersive experiences that will surpass your customers’ greatest expectations. The energy-efficient microLED is thinner than a strand of hair, and longer lasting than the competition, maintaining picture quality for up to 100,000 hours. You can maximize return on investment (ROI) like never before — while using sustainable energy. Our microLED for business features a modular form, so you have complete flexibility in where and how you use it.
Samsung 4Vue makes it possible to see up to four screens at once, from a variety of sources, while built-in Samsung Arena Sound speakers complete the immersive viewing experience.
We call it “LED in a box” because its unique unibody cabinet makes it fast and easy to install, while its simple web-based content management solution lets you create, schedule and deploy content from anywhere, on any device. Backup power is built in, so your message will be seen from any distance, even when the power’s out.Samsung monitors for WFH
Remote work isn’t going anywhere. According to Harvard Business Review, 72 percent of employees want the option of working within a hybrid remote office model. Samsung monitors have become a vital tool in connecting hybrid workforces. Our UHD monitors feature innovations like Samsung Quantum Dot technology, which lets you see more information in greater clarity than with conventional imaging technologies.
You can work more efficiently by viewing content in its totality, without unnecessary scrolling or resizing.
Our new Samsung Smart Monitors truly do it all, giving remote teams new ways to be productive at home with a familiar PC-like work experience — without a PC or laptop. With Smart Monitors, you have all the built-in features you need to make remote work simple, efficient and cost-effective, and all on a single screen. You can use Samsung Galaxy phones with DeX to access mobile productivity and videoconferencing apps on a larger screen. You can work on a Word document or PowerPoint presentation in the cloud with Office365. Or you can use Remote Access to connect to your office PC from afar.
And when it’s time for a brain break, Samsung Smart Monitors give you access to your favorite TV apps so you can watch the show your colleagues are talking about in incredible quality, without a cable box.
Our 49-inch G9 Odyssey display is curved to match the curvature of the human eye, maximizing immersion and minimizing eye strain. Its quad high-definition (QHD) display has the screen real estate of two 27-inch panels, making it perfect for command centers, video monitoring hubs, multisourced data analysis or videoconferencing while multitasking.
And as travel begins to resurge, Samsung is making it easier for those in the hospitality sector to improve their guest experience with digital signage — with more flexibility and at a larger scale. Samsung’s recently announced LYNK Cloud is a fully scalable, cloud-based solution for monitoring, managing and maintaining your entire fleet of guest room TVs. Spend less time configuring settings and updating firmware and focus more on creating personalized, interactive guest experiences. With LYNK Cloud’s simplified HTML content management, you can provide rich information, tailored offers and booking options, both in rooms and based on customer profiles.
Our portfolio of Samsung displays for business is ready to help you reimagine the customer experience — and reimagine the way you’ll do business in the year ahead.Connecting at the speed of 5G
Of course, none of these connected experiences would be possible without the networks that support them. The United States’ communications infrastructure was strained in 2023 as in-person meetings, conferences, training courses and happy hours all transitioned to digital venues.
As we look ahead to 2023, these demands on our network infrastructure will only increase. Hybrid workforces will require greater bandwidth to support emerging digital collaboration solutions for more widely distributed offices and remote workers.
Fortunately, the rapidly expanding footprint of next-generation 5G networks will power greater connectivity in our workplaces, wherever they are. 5G networks will become a critical factor for realizing the promise of Business Reimagined.Offices of the future
The “workplace” has become a fluid concept. With employees spending larger portions of their workweek telecommuting from home, business leaders are rethinking how much physical meeting space they’ll need going forward, as well as how best to organize that space.
In short, the office of the future will:
Be vividly versatile with technologies that enable personalized productivity so employees can work seamlessly in the office, at home or wherever their work takes them.
Defy expectations of what modern work looks like, with intentionally designed office spaces that ensure employees’ health and safety, while minimizing distractions and enhancing productivity and communication.
Upscale collaboration with intuitive, immersive experiences and technology investments that bridge the gap between in-person and and virtual participants so meetings run smoothly, ideas and insights are shared freely, and participation is frictionless.Realize the vision
I hope this has given you a glimpse at how Samsung displays will help your organization realize its vision for Business Reimagined. We look forward to partnering with all of you to rethink the way our solutions can help you work, live and connect.
No matter where you work, you’ve had to evolve your workplace to meet your customers’ and employees’ evolving needs. Our guide to corporate digital signage solutions can make the job easier — for you and your team. If you’re not sure how to get started, first make sure you’ve seen all the latest innovations in digital display technology.
In the past three years, the thought of companies like Chevrolet and Nissan selling lithium-ion-powered cars has gone from laughable to old news. Late this year, the plug-in Chevy Volt and pure-electric Nissan Leaf arrive. Carmakers from Ford to Toyota will follow in 2011 and 2012 with new electrified models of their own. In the beginning, the electric-car revolution probably won’t seem so revolutionary: a few thousand cars here and there. As long as automakers and battery companies keep pushing technology forward, however—by scaling up production and developing more-powerful ways to store electricity and power a car with it—the future for cars that plug into the wall will continue to brighten. Here’s where this emerging industry stands today.
How Electric Car Batteries are Built
Based on the process used by the American lithium-ion company EnerDelHow Electric-Car Batteries Are Built
Lithium-ion batteries—the dominant technology in forthcoming electric cars—begin when active battery ingredients are combined to form an electrode slurry. A liquid solvent, electrode powder (for the negative electrode, a form of carbon; for the positive, a form of lithium-containing metal oxide or phosphate) and a chemical binder are blended into a paste in what look like industrial pizza-dough mixers.
The coater, a machine reminiscent of a printing press, paints the electrode slurry onto long sheets of metal foil (copper for the negative, aluminum for the positive).
The freshly coated sheets pass through an oven for curing at 200ºF. The oven can be a bottleneck; its size and speed determine the rate of production.
To make rectangular, “prismatic” batteries, machines chop the long reels of electrode material into paperback-size pieces, which are then compressed, brushed, and vacuumed.
With a piece of porous separator material (it looks like white trash-bag plastic) between them, the positive and negative electrodes are sandwiched together into stacks. The separator prevents short-circuiting while still allowing the electrodes to exchange ions. The stacks go into plastic pouches that are then filled with liquid electrolyte and vacuum-sealed shut. The result is a cell, the building block of a battery.
After pre-charging (just enough juice to start the chemical reaction), the cell is opened, vented, and resealed. Next the cells are charged to 60 percent, then aged for 14 days.
Cells are bundled together (along with cooling and heating mechanisms, the voltage-monitoring circuitry, and other control systems) to form modules. Modules are then bundled together in a case and wired with additional monitoring circuitry to form the final battery pack, the box that powers a car.
How Electric Car Batteries are Built ContinuedThe Rust-Belt Battery Boom The Department of Energy spent $2.4 billion last year to launch an American EV-battery industry. These are the biggest winners
Through its partnership with the French battery company Saft, Johnson Controls builds lithium-ion batteries for Mercedes, BMW, Ford and others. A $299.2-million DOE grant goes toward a new factory in Holland, Michigan.
A $249.1-million grant will help the Boston-area company build a cell factory near Detroit, from which it hopes to supply GM, Chrysler and others.
The Dow Chemical joint venture banked $161 million for a new Michigan lithium-ion factory.
A $151.4-million grant will help build a Michigan factory to supply batteries for the Chevy Volt.
EnerDel, a supplier for Volvo and Think, is using its $118.5-million share to build a third EV-battery factory in Indianapolis.
Asia’s Advantage: Battery-Building DominanceEmerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The East
The Chinese government has a goal: rule the global electric-car market by mid-decade. Of China’s 47 car companies, the Shenzhen-based BYD, which says it will begin selling its e6 EV in the U.S. this year, gets the most buzz. Fresh off a $230-million investment by Warren Buffett, BYD wants to surpass Toyota as the world’s largest car company by 2025, and it has an army of 30,000 workers living in high-rise dorms on its four-square-mile campus to make it happen.
Japanese companies have dominated lithium-ion manufacturing since Sony first commercialized the technology in 1991. Those companies have joined Mitsubishi, Nissan and Toyota in the scramble for a place in the new electric-car industry.
An American arm of the Korean company LG Chem will build batteries for the Chevy Volt.
America’s Advantage: New Ideas, Big GamblersEmerging Electric-Car Hotspots: The U.S.
An intellectual hub for the American electric-car movement, the Bay Area is home to Tesla Motors and various electric-car infrastructure companies. San Francisco is already installing charging stations for the early-adopter market. Stanford University, the University of California at Berkeley and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory help supply the EV scene with brainiacs, while the Bay Area’s venture capitalists keep the funding flowing.
Luxury plug-in-hybrid start-up Fisker Automotive is here, along with Coda, an American company scheduled to bring Chinese-built electric cars to the States later this year.
The Big Three automakers are still standing, and at least the two biggest among them, GM and Ford, are betting on electrification. In addition to the Chevy Volt, GM’s Cadillac has designed a plug-in concept that may become reality. Ford’s all-electric Focus and upcoming plug-in hybrid are due out in the next two years. At least four battery companies are building automotive-grade lithium-ion cell factories in Michigan, and GM’s new battery-pack assembly plant began producing Volt batteries in January.
The CEO of the Indianapolis-based lithium-ion company EnerDel calls greater Indy the “Silicon Valley of the auto industry.” EnerDel, which makes EV batteries for Volvo, Think and others, is building a third factory here, and electric-drive-component suppliers such as Delphi, Allison Transmission and Remy are also in the area.
Nissan will build up to 150,000 Leaf electric cars per year at its plant in Smyrna by 2012. It will make the batteries for those cars in a Tennessee factory it’s building with a $1.4-billion loan from the DOE.
DUE OUT: November
DUE OUT: December
DUE OUT: Late this year
DUE OUT: Late this year
Ford Focus BEV
DUE OUT: Next year
DUE OUT: 150 cars in the u.s. this year
Tesla Model S
DUE OUT: Officially next year, although 2012 seems more likely
What will you be doing over a mobile network in 28 years? Whatever it is, AT&T and cell-tower company Crown Castle want a piece of it.
In a deal announced on Sunday, Crown Castle International will lease about 9,100 of AT&T’s towers for an average term of 28 years. The agreement, under which Crown Castle will also buy about 600 AT&T towers outright, will bring AT&T about $4.85 billion in cash up front. It’s expected to close by the end of this year.
After Crown Castle takes over the towers, it will lease them back to AT&T, so the carrier says it doesn’t expect the transaction to affect subscribers’ service. But the arrangement does provide a hint of how much faith mobile companies have in the future of this still-young business.
At 28 years, stretching out until 2041, the average lease term for these towers is far beyond the horizon of most predictions about mobile bandwidth, apps or devices. But the trends underlying mobile data point to new capabilities coming online for years, and full-size cell towers are likely to be critical infrastructure for decades, according to Tolaga Research analyst Phil Marshall.
“It’s a pretty good bet,” he said.
Vendors are already looking at demand for the next generation of mobile networks, a so-called 5G that’s not yet being hashed out as a standard. Vish Nandlall, Ericsson’s CTO and senior vice president of strategy, said last week that 5G gear is likely to appear in commercial networks beginning in 2023. He sees it offering 10 times the capacity of 4G LTE, as well as features for low-power machine-to-machine communications.
Photo: Stephen LawsonVish Nandlall, CTO and senior vice president of strategy at Ericsson, speaking at the 2013 GigaOm Mobilize conference in San Francisco
“There’s no evidence that there’s anything that will … replicate the need for these macro cells,” Marshall said.
Though it’s hard to make detailed predictions, networks 28 years from now will probably feed increasingly powerful mobile devices with updated information and help users find what they need, he said.
“The mobile device ends up having every piece of information you could ever possibly be interested in,” Marshall said. The current MicroSD standard allows for cards with capacities as high as 2TB, one indication that there’s a long way to go for on-device storage, he said. Smarter, faster networks will help consumers use all that data, using context cues such as time and location to show users the content they need in real time, Marshall said.
Future networks will also connect many more types of devices, some of which will fade into the background from consumers’ perspective, Marshall said. Twenty-eight years from now, the launch of the original iPhone in 2007 may look like the invention of the microprocessor in 1971 does now.
“If you look at how the microprocessor is used now, it’s used in absolutely everything,” Marshall said. “Over the very protracted timeline, the same thing happens with the mobile device.”
AT&T and Crown Castle seem confident all this will pay off. When their rights under the deal expire in an average of 28 years, Crown Castle will have the right to buy those 9,100 towers for a sum that the companies estimate at $4.2 billion.
Even in the first phase of the deal, AT&T will get cash it can invest in other parts of its business. But the deal could also benefit the customers of its rivals. Crown Castle will be free to lease extra capacity to other carriers, which may open up towers in areas where Verizon Wireless, Sprint or T-Mobile haven’t been able to set up their own towers, Marshall said.
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