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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi offers internet service to developing countries

Facebook has launched a new service called Wi-Fi Express which aims to provide affordable internet access to those living in developing countries.

The post Facebook’s Express Wi-Fi offers internet service to developing countries appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

Facebook, Cambridge Analytica and Trump: What you need to know – CNET

The world’s largest social network is at the center of an international scandal around voter data, the 2016 US presidential election, and Brexit.
Source: CNET

YouTube is reportedly introducing your kids to conspiracy theories, too

In a recent appearance by YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki at the South by Southwest Festival, she suggested that YouTube is countering the conspiracy-related videos that have been spreading like wildfire on the platform — including videos telling viewers that high school senior and Parkland, Fl. survivor David Hogg is an actor.

Specifically, Wojcicki outlined YouTube’s plans to add “information cues,” including links to Wikipedia pages that debunk garbage content for viewers if they choose to learn more. (Somewhat strangely, no one had told Wikipedia about this plan.)

Either way, the platform is going to have do much better than that, suggests a new Business Insider report that says YouTube Kids has a huge problem with conspiracy videos, too. To wit, the three-year-old, ostensibly kid-friendly version of YouTube is showing its young viewers videos that preach the nonsensical, including “that the world is flat, that the moon landing was faked, and that the planet is ruled by reptile-human hybrids,” according to BI’s own first-hand findings.

In fact, when BI searched for “UFO” on YouTube Kids, one of the top videos to appear was a nearly five-hour-long lecture by professional conspiracy theorist David Icke, who covers everything in the clip from “reptile human bloodlines,” to the Freemasons, who he credits with building the Statue of Liberty, Las Vegas, Christianity, and Islam, among other things. (The Freemasons also killed President John Kennedy, he tells viewers.).

Business Insider says YouTube removed the videos from YouTube Kids after its editorial team contacted the company. YouTube also issued the following statement: “The YouTube Kids app is home to a wide variety of content that includes enriching and entertaining videos for families. This content is screened using human trained systems. That being said, no system is perfect and sometimes we miss the mark. When we do, we take immediate action to block the videos or, as necessary, channels from appearing in the app. We will continue to work to improve the YouTube Kids app experience.”

That’s not going to be good enough for parents who are paying attention. Hunter Walk, a venture capitalist who previously led product at YouTube and has a young daughter, may have summed it up best in a tweet that he published earlier this afternoon, writing that “when you create and market an app to kids, the level of care and custodial responsibility you need to take is 100x usual. Clean it up or shut it down pls.”

YouTube has been reluctant to tinker with is recommendation algorithm because its “main objective is to keep you consuming YouTube videos for as long as possible” Wired noted this past week. (Crazy theories are apparently quite sticky). Wired also reported that despite a recent uproar about all the conspiracy theory content, YouTube still doesn’t have clear rules around when whether these videos violate its community guidelines, which cover bullying, hate speech, graphic violence, and sexually explicit content.

Wojcicki said during her festival appearance that “People can still watch the videos, but then they have access to additional information.”

Hopefully, YouTube will come up with a more sophisticated solution to the spread of misinformation, especially when it comes to its younger viewers. We don’t yet know the scale of this particular issue (we’ve reached out to YouTube to see if the company is able and willing to discuss it in further detail). But as it is, this editor doesn’t allow her kids to watch YouTube Kids without strict supervision for fear of what they might see. At this point, we’d be surprised if parents at YouTube did otherwise.

Source: TechCrunch

A typo in ‘Civilization VI’ game code can ‘yeild’ some strange A.I. behavior

A misspelling buried in the programming for Civilization VI may be why your A.I. opponents are emphasizing faith rather than gold or production. An intrepid modder discovered the error. and Firaxis has responded.

The post A typo in ‘Civilization VI’ game code can ‘yeild’ some strange A.I. behavior appeared first on Digital Trends.

Source: Digital trends

The Cambridge Analytica Debacle is not a Facebook “Data Breach.” Maybe It Should Be.

On March 16, we learned that Facebook will be suspending Strategic Communications Laboratories (SCL) and its offshoot Cambridge Analytica. According to Facebook, a University of Cambridge professor Aleksandr Kogan was using Facebook Login in his “research app,” collecting data about its users, and passing it on to Cambridge Analytica, a third party. Cambridge Analytica, in turn, obtained personal information belonging to as many as 50 million Facebook users, through Kogan’s app, and without any express authorization from Facebook. This personal information was subsequently used to target voters and sway public opinion, in ways that benefited the then presidential candidate Trump.

In response to accusations that this constituted a data breach, Paul Grewal, Deputy General Counsel for Facebook claimed that –

“The claim that this is a data breach is completely false. Aleksandr Kogan requested and gained access to information from users who chose to sign up to his app, and everyone involved gave their consent. People knowingly provided their information, no systems were infiltrated, and no passwords or sensitive pieces of information were stolen or hacked.”

Technically speaking, this assessment is probably correct. There was no unauthorized external hacking involved, meaning that Facebook databases were not breached by an outside malicious actor. At the same time, this approach misses the point entirely in terms of user privacy and security. It should not matter for a company like Facebook whether their users’ personal information was forcefully obtained through brute-force, or whether Facebook’s personnel were manipulated to hand in that information to malicious and untrustworthy party.

Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

The cliché goes that humans are the weakest link in cybersecurity, and potentially even the leading cause for the majority of cybersecurity incidents in recent years. This debacle demonstrates that cliché to its full extent. But there is a deeper question here – why are our current data breach notification laws creating this dichotomy between active breaches, where hackers penetrate a database and obtain valuable data, and passive breaches, where humans are being tricked into passing that data into unauthorized hands? After all, the result is the same – users’ private data is compromised.

Other than empowering State Attorney Generals to investigate and pursue legal action against violating companies, the primary purpose of data breach notification laws is to ensure that if personal information belonging to platform users and service consumers is compromised, then the target of the breach is under obligation to duly notify any person whose data has been leaked. But our current data breach notification system is broken. A good analogy is to say that tn the case of Facebook, these laws only take into account the cybersecurity “walls” surrounding Facebook’s databases, because they only recognize the security perimeter above the surface. What these laws fail to understand, is that there are tunnels underneath the surface accessing Facebook’s databases, where personal information is being extracted from almost unrestrictedly. If our current laws are unable to characterize similar incidents as data breaches, then they are missing their purpose.

There should be no material difference if the personal information was obtained through a breach or through manipulating and exploiting Facebook’s data ecosystem. The result is the same – user personal information in unauthorized hands. The users should have the right to know, and potentially pursue legal action against Facebook and other involved parties. The distinction currently drawn by data breach notification laws between active and passive breaches should be abandoned, because it provides an incentive for malicious actors to obtain personal data through social engineering, rather than through hacking.

Just as we expect from companies to invest in cybersecurity to prevent future breaches, we should also expect that they ensure that personal information is shared with thoroughly vetted and trusted parties. The best way to achieve this goal is through direct regulation – amending any data breach related laws to accommodate that. Unfortunately, the tech industry has long resisted such regulation, and created the appearance that its own self-regulation would solve the problem. This has not been effective, since tech companies do not have the incentive to follow their own regulations, and these self-regulations only come after a crises of the Cambridge Analytica sort have already occurred. This creates a reality where users’ data is vulnerable, and companies do not seem to take any preventative measures in response.

This is a call to amend our current data breach notification laws to encompass personal data obtained through social engineering as a recognized form of data breach. That would not necessarily mean that companies would be under obligation report every personal data leak, but that they will have to employ measures to prevent manipulation techniques from gaining access to personal information, and if such techniques are occasionally successful, that they notify users and consumers in due course, and that appropriate legal action is authorized to ensure compliance. It is up to states to make this happen, because the boilerplate corporate “we care about your privacy” announcements are not working.

Source: TechCrunch

Data of 50M Facebook users obtained by Trump-linked firm – CNET

Voter profiling firm Cambridge Analytica got hold of the data without the consent of Facebook’s users, say reports by The New York Times and the UK’s Observer and Guardian papers.
Source: CNET

US Navy launches submarine maneuvered by Xbox controller – CNET

Commentary: The USS Colorado has a new way of operating its photonics masts, and it’s something younger sailors are already familiar with.
Source: CNET

Qualcomm’s war may be over, but the casualties are just starting to be calculated

The epic battle between Qualcomm and Broadcom seems to have reached its armistice, with President Trump using the power of CFIUS to block the transaction this past week, ending what would have been the largest tech M&A transaction of all time.

It may be all quiet on the semiconductor front, but Qualcomm and Broadcom will now need to find a path forward to win the peace and secure access to the coming 5G wireless market. Qualcomm faces a daunting number of challenges, including a potential takeover battle waged by the spurned son of its founder. Broadcom will have to find a new path to use acquisitions to continue its growth.

As with any war though, the damage from this conflict isn’t exclusive to the two enemy combatants. The future of corporate governance and shareholder autonomy is now being reevaluated in light of the actions used by Qualcomm in its defense against Broadcom’s hostile takeover. In addition, America’s openness to foreign investment is increasingly under scrutiny.

Qualcomm picks up the pieces

Hostile takeovers are always going to be damaging affairs, no matter the outcome. The most important mandate for any board of directors — and particularly for the boards of technology companies — is to identify long-term threats and opportunities facing a company, and guide the executive team toward the best possible outcome for shareholders. Hostile takeovers are firefighting affairs — the discussions of the board are jolted from roadmaps, strategy, and vision to the minute-by-minute tactics of defending the company from marauding invaders.

Qualcomm should be directing its attention to strategy, but it faces additional wars on nearly every front. It’s fighting shareholders for its future, fighting Apple and Huawei over its revenues, fighting China over its acquisition of NXP, and now potentially fighting its founder’s son from a private takeover attempt.

Many of Qualcomm’s shareholders see the company’s performance as disappointing. While its stock has fluctuated over the past six years, today’s share price is essentially flat from where it stood in January of 2012. Compare that to Broadcom, which in the same timeframe has seen an increase of about 740%, and the PHLX Semiconductor Sector index, a basket index of the industry, which has seen its value increase by about 280%.

Unsurprisingly, shareholders were enticed by the opportunity to suddenly realize a 35% premium on their shares with Broadcom’s $82-a-share offer. Unlike Qualcomm’s board, shareholders were very interested in accepting Broadcom’s offer. In fact, we now know that Qualcomm’s board knew that it has lost the battle against Broadcom with its own shareholders during the acquisition process. As Bloomberg reported this week:

The votes started to come in on Friday, March 2. By Sunday it was clear that Qualcomm’s defense had failed.

Four of the six directors Broadcom had nominated were polling so far ahead of their Qualcomm peers that the race was effectively over, according to data viewed by Bloomberg. The remaining two were winning by less substantial margins. Making it worse, Mollenkopf and Jacobs, the architects of Qualcomm’s standalone plan, had received some of the fewest votes.

Inside the Qualcomm camp, the mood was bleak; assuming the trend continued, the board would lose control of the company at the shareholder meeting.

Broadcom’s message was one of quiet confidence. The company knew it had won, one person close to the discussions said. At that point, the person said, it was just a question of by how many votes, and who was going to leave the board.

Broadcom was winning the battle with shareholders, so Qualcomm’s board shifted to a terrain far more favorable to it: Washington bureaucrats. From the same Bloomberg report, “Federal lobbying disclosures for 2017 showing that Qualcomm spent $8.3 million, or roughly 100 times the $85,000 Broadcom spent…” These weren’t regulators; these were friends.

In late January, Qualcomm’s board submitted a preliminary, voluntary, and confidential notice to CFIUS asking for a review of Broadcom’s potential board coup. When Broadcom attempted to redomicile to the United States to avoid CFIUS purview (as it would no longer be a foreign company but a domestic one after it redomiciled), the government’s anger was palpable and sealed the company’s fate. The board’s original outreach to CFIUS precipitated the sequence of events that led to Trump’s block this past week.

Qualcomm’s board won the war, but it is still facing a rebellion from its own bosses. The board will be up for election unopposed this week at the company’s delayed shareholders meeting. Perhaps taking a page from tomorrow’s Russian presidential election, some shareholders are withholding their votes from the board slate to show their displeasure with the entire saga. From the Wall Street journal, “Institutional Shareholder Services Inc., an influential proxy-advisory firm, … in a note to investors late Wednesday, stood by its original recommendation that shareholders vote for four Broadcom nominees for Qualcomm’s 11-person board, even though the votes won’t count.”

That shareholder meeting will no doubt be eventful. While the board and the company’s execs will argue that they have a strategy moving forward, they confront two other ongoing firefighting challenges and one new one that could be another round of bruising internecine warfare.

Qualcomm is still in the midst of its $44 billion NXP acquisition, which continues to wait on Chinese regulatory approval. The timeline for that approval is still unclear, but even when Qualcomm does receive it, the company will still have to close the deal and actually implement the transaction. That will take significant time and energy.

Even more complicated is the continuing fight with Apple and Huawei over Qualcomm’s IP licensing revenue. Licensing revenue is crucial for Qualcomm, and the litigation around the fight will force the board to continue monitoring the day-to-day legal tactics of the company rather than focus on a longer-term vision of how to work with the largest smartphone producer in the world to generate profits.

On top of those two challenges, another takeover attempt could potentially exhaust the board further. Yesterday, Qualcomm’s board voted to remove board member Paul Jacobs, who is the son of Qualcomm’s founder and the company’s former chief executive from 2005 to 2014. He had been demoted from executive chairman to director just last week. As the New York Times noted, “The split, which means no member of the Jacobs family will be involved at the top echelons of Qualcomm for the first time in 33 years, was not friendly.”

According to reports, Jacobs is attempting to raise more than $100 billion to buy the company, potentially leveraging SoftBank’s Vision Fund in the process. SoftBank, of course, is a Japanese company, and the Vision Fund has significant capital from foreign countries including Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Even more ironically, Qualcomm is an investor in the Vision Fund.

Jacobs is following in the footsteps of Michael Dell who bought the eponymous tech company back in 2013 in a take-private transaction worth $24 billion. Can Jacobs even raise the required amount of capital, four times more than Dell? Will Qualcomm be forced to run back to the Trump administration in order to avoid a “foreign” takeover of the firm yet again, this time by the son of the company’s founder?

My guess — fairly weakly held — is that the answers are yes and no. Jacobs will find the money, and the board won’t fight a distinguished former executive — even if Jacobs was running seriously behind in shareholder approval in the Broadcom fight. We will learn more in the coming weeks, but expect more strategic actions here (maybe from Intel) as well.

Broadcom regroups

Despite its very public failure, Broadcom is in a much stronger position coming out of this battle. It beat analyst estimates this week for its Q1 earnings, and has seen impressive growth in its wireless communications segment, which were up 88% year-over-year. It also managed to lower expenses, which helped drive an increase in gross margin to 64.8% (aren’t fabless and patents awesome?)

Broadcom continues to deliver strong results, but the big question post-Qualcomm is really what’s next? Qualcomm was the single most important chip company that might have been available for purchase (Intel is out of Broadcom’s league). While it plans to continue to redomicile to the U.S., which should allow it to get back into the acquisition game in America, Broadcom may struggle in the coming years to find the kinds of accretive acquisitions that can keep its growth on the trajectory it has been on over the past few years.

Shareholder power wanes?

The biggest questions coming out of the Qualcomm / Broadcom spat is not related to the companies themselves, but the entire intellectual edifice of shareholder rights and the framework used by American companies to conduct corporate governance.

Qualcomm’s board of directors took extraordinary steps to block the Broadcom acquisition. They unilaterally went to Washington to get an injunction not on a deal — which had never been consummated between the two companies — but to block Broadcom from replacing its board of directors in a standard shareholder vote. This is a very important distinction: Qualcomm’s board saw the direction shareholders wanted to go, and essentially decided to just ignore the election process entirely.

From Dealpolitik columnist Ronald Barusch:

This change threatens over three decades of a carefully balanced governance system. Since the Delaware Supreme Court approved the use of the poison-pill takeover defense in 1985, the courts have basically blessed the following tradeoff: On the one hand, corporate directors can fight tooth and nail to stop a deal and the courts will give only limited scrutiny to defensive tactics.

However, the board is strictly limited in any moves to interfere with shareholders’ ability to replace directors and force a company to change course that way. In the vernacular of a leading Delaware case, a “just say no” defense doesn’t mean “just say never.” A bidder with enough patience who can convince a target’s shareholders to change directors has a path at least toward cooperation on resolving regulatory impediments to a deal.

This is a unique case as Barusch notes, but at what point can boards use every method at their disposal to prevent their own shareholders — the people they have a fiduciary duty to represent — from taking charge of the company? This past week presents one of the most complex examples to date, and it wouldn’t surprise me if a shareholder decides to attempt a legal attack on Qualcomm.

The other side of the potential waning of power for shareholders is CFIUS itself. The Trump administration ended a potential deal for a company that shareholders were widely in favor of. Where do the rights of shareholders to realize a return on their equity end and the right of America as a nation to control national security technology start?

We are on new terrain, and there are no clear answers here. In many ways, it depends on what happens over the next few years of the Trump administration. If there are more blocks like what we saw this week, we could see a radical change in the corporate calculus that would have a long-term negative effect on the value of some American companies.

Hostile takeovers may be incredible drama for writers like yours truly, but they have enormous consequences for companies and the employees who work at them. Qualcomm is going to have to shore up its support with a whole host of stakeholders in the coming months (while dealing with a potential take-private fight), while Broadcom needs to find its next strategy for further growth. All of us are going to have to deal with new uncertainty around the power of shareholders to shape the destiny of their companies. The war is over, but the aftermath and its consequences have just begun.

Source: TechCrunch

Shure's $3,000 KSE1500 headphones make for an ear-opening experience – CNET

For well-heeled audiophiles seeking the outer limits of transparency, the Shure KSE1500 electrostatic in-ear headphone is the one to get.
Source: CNET

The rise of experiential commerce

“$43 million and the only thing you can buy in it is a coffee.”

So said Samsung’s Senior Director of Store Development Michael Koch about the company’s flagship Manhattan “popup”—Samsung 837—though “popup” is an understated description for a 56,000 square-foot cavern with interactive art, virtual reality, lounge areas, a recording studio, and a three-story 96-screen display wall. The most shocking thing about it isn’t what’s there, but what Koch, who led the project, says about the place:

“I don’t want you to buy anything in it.”

This may seem antithetical to the purpose of a “store,” but it captures a critical understanding – experience is the core to the future of commerce.

Experiences Everywhere

So what is experiential commerce, and what does it look like?

Red Bull really did give this guy wings.

The takeover of experiential commerce is a figure with a thousand faces. It’s in the long-run transformation of stores into showrooms. It’s in Airbnb CEO Brian Chesky’s ambitions that the company’s Experiences platform will stand alongside home rentals as a core part of the business. It’s in Red Bull spending $65 million to drop an Austrian daredevil out of a space balloon and livestream it to millions of viewers on YouTube. It’s in American summer vacation spending rising by $10 billion, or 12.5%, in 2017.

You have to buy tickets to San Francisco’s Color Factory – which markets itself as 12,000 square feet of “color experiences” – months ahead of time, and escape rooms have swept the nation.

This must be the submarine that Ringo was talking about.

Explaining Experiential Commerce’s Rise

It wasn’t always like this. The status quo historically focused on functionality. Marketing and brand-building stressed a product’s uses—this brand works well to clean your clothes or iron out wrinkles, or this cream will reduce age lines if you wear it daily.

A brick-and-mortar store was product testing, warehousing, and distribution rolled into one. You walk into a Payless to try the shoes on; the customer service associate strolls into the back to get that sneaker in your size; you pay for it at the counter and walk out with it. Above all, however, the store was the place you went to buy the thing. You’re meant to go inside and walk out with something or the store and its salesfolk have not done their job properly. Analysts would judge success on metrics such as ‘sales per square foot’ in each store.


Hell hath no fury like a hand wrinkled before its time.

Now Payless is bankrupt, and Allbirds is doubling revenue to $100 million in 2018. The status quo is done. Why? Because technological and logistical advances made it possible for it to change and consumer preferences made it desirable for it to change.

The growth of e-commerce infrastructure (Stripe, AWS, Shopify, etc) and fulfilment networks has lessened the need for distribution and warehousing to take place in a store. E-commerce’s share of industrial real estate increased from 5% to 20% between 2013 and 2017; warehouse space is growing at double the rate of office space. Amazon fulfilled 2 billion orders on behalf of marketplace sellers in 2016. With delivery by drones and other autonomous vehicles still to hit the mainstream, innovation on distribution is hardly finished.

Online reviewing and free shipping/returns has lessened the need for product testing in a store—you know that the sneakers are good sneakers because 238 people reviewed them for an average rating of 4.7/5 stars; even if they turn out to be awful, you know you can send them back with zero cost and minimal inconvenience.

Consumer preferences have changed for a number of reasons. In large part this shift is a generational one, which means, yes, we have to talk about millennials (I’m an ancient borderline millennial at 33).

Millennials aren’t as materialistic as previous generations: an Eventbrite study conducted by Harris Poll in 2014 found that 78% of them would prefer to spend money on a desirable experience or event over a desirable object. Since self-report is an iffy foundation to rest that argument on—I regularly report preferring to spend money on gym visits to lavish desserts—the really eye-catching finding was that U.S. consumer expenditure on live events doubled between 1990 and 2010, when the first millennials turned 30.

It undoubtedly has something to do with social media, which has upended the conspicuous element of consumption. Why spend heaps of money on an expensive watch when you can spend that same heap on multiple photogenic meals and yoga classes that will do more for your Instagram follower and likes count? As my friend Deborah Weinswig puts it, “wellness is the new luxury.” You can only snap an item once, but a worthy lifestyle encapsulates hundreds of shareable moments.

Finally, the arrival of the sharing economy mean people who know how to navigate that space—read tech-savvy youth—don’t actually have to own as many things. When you can outsource your car with Uber and your closet with Rent the Runway, it’s possible to use more stuff while owning less stuff. These forces have combined to result in the experiential commerce boom we see today.

What Experiential Commerce Means for Business

Companies that will thrive in this environment understand that the appeal of a product or a brick-and-mortar spot has to go beyond functionality. The store has to be a place where consumers want to spend time, not just transact. This is not a new insight—Starbucks has spent years successfully charging customers 15-20x what they spend on a homemade coffee on the back of this idea. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz once said that he wanted to make Starbucks the “third place” in people’s lives, after work and home. Hence the comfy chairs, free Wi-Fi, and effortful decor. Starbucks’ customers are fully aware of that price differential but continue to welcome this extortion because they like spending time there. And did I mention free Wi-Fi? Blue Bottle was also paying attention—add better coffee, subtract free Wi-Fi; and you have a 40-shop company Nestle is willing pay $500 million for.

The lesson is also seeping into the minds of companies that sell physical goods. Apple, which transformed retail with the Apple Store 17 years ago, now wants its locations to be more than just a place to interact with and purchase its products. At its most recent iPhone event, Apple SVP (and retail design demigod) Angela Ahrendts revealed a new retail concept called “Town Squares” that positions Apple locations as gathering places for local communities to attend concerts, workshops and more.

It’s not just giants like Samsung and Apple embracing experiences, however. Casper asks its potential customers to come take a nap in its showroom. Harry’s has set up a barbershop in Soho. b8ta functions as a gallery of tech gadgets that leans into letting you actually try them first. Glossier wants you to stroll by and check out their showroom, which an architectural correspondent described droolingly as “like something of a hybrid of a modern boudoir and a high-fashion funhouse.” One particularly quirky experience requires the customer to push a red button, upon which a gloved hand emerges through a hole and sprays Glossier You perfume on their wrist.

All Casper employees fill their bedroom walls with whimsical hand-drawn cartoons.

Unlike Starbucks, however, the goal is less direct than persuading someone to pay $5 for a cup of coffee. That’s a transaction, after all, which takes place in the same venue that the consumer spends time in. Instead, these new consumer brands want to use great brick-and-mortar experiences to court the consumer—come take a nap in my showroom, and when you need a new mattress two months down the line, you’ll choose Casper over Tuft & Needle. You probably won’t order in store, but you’ll go home and order it online…and that’s precisely the idea.

In such instances, brick and mortar becomes a kind of marketing or brand-building effort more than anything else. One way to think about it is as a very well-thought-out, multidimensional billboard.

Why Experiential Commerce Is Important

This consumer trend has consequences that go beyond Times Square and your mattress choices. Experiential commerce is speeding the decline of retail jobs and malls. It’s not hard for an optimist to find upside in less mall space in the U.S.—the country has 10x as much mall coverage per capita as Germany, and many would be happy to see that gap close if it meant more affordable housing or green space. On the other hand, while New Yorkers get to revel in Samsung 837’s digital opulence, would the company do something similar for Cleveland? If M&Ms can reach a million social-media citizens with a single smart Times Square billboard stunt, there’s no need to replicate it in Minneapolis.

If brands see brick and mortar as marketing expenses that drive affinity through foot traffic and exposure through social media, it might not make sense to set up shops in any but the most dense metropolises. That dynamic risks further driving economic vibrancy to the American coasts and urban centers.

Generally, though, experiential commerce’s moment is good news for the consumer. It has crossed over into goods commerce and imbued it with a services mentality, eliminating the pushy salesperson trying to get their commission. That change in attitude will lead to higher standards for CPG companies and more meaningful consumer-product interactions.

Given analysts’ fascination with the “retail apocalypse,” you’d think the capitalism doomsday clock had been set a few minutes from midnight. While it’s true that many retailers are dying at an accelerating rate, this trend doesn’t mark the end of retail so much as an inflection point in its nature. For retailers and brands that have spent decades perfecting the traditional brick-and-mortar experience, this shift isn’t welcomed with open arms. But embracing experiences is a surefire way to stay relevant—and in business—in today’s competitive retail environment.

Source: TechCrunch