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IBM’s Ginni Rometty says automobile brands are becoming less important

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Automakers’ brands will take a backseat to new driving “experiences” as autonomous vehicles and car sharing become more popular, according to the chief executive officer of IBM.

In an interview with CNBC’s Karen Tso at the Frankfurt Motor Show Wednesday, Ginni Rometty said consumers are increasingly prioritizing digital experiences, for example the ability to connect a car to other smart devices, in their vehicles.

“The issue is that the experience is going to be more important than perhaps the car itself or just a brand and what it says,” Rometty said. “Your brand is defined by the experience.”

Rometty pointed to a new IBM survey which found 48% of consumers say vehicle brand won’t matter to them amid the rise of autonomous cars and ride-sharing platforms over the next decade. The survey also found that among 1,500 automotive executives, only 18% are operating on a “digital data platform today.”

Auto companies are making big investments in new technologies like autonomous and electric vehicles. BMW CFO Nicolas Peter told CNBC Monday these investments are creating an “add-on cost” that is challenging the broader automobile industry.

“This is now a world where you’ve got to be able to pull the innovation from anywhere and then make it look very seamless to whoever the person driving the car is,” she said.

As a data analytics and cloud provider, IBM has a big stake in the so-called digital transformation. IBM’s shares are up roughly 28% year-to-date.

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Reuters Science News Summary

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Following is a summary of current science news briefs.

Alien enthusiasts descend on Nevada desert near secretive U.S. base

Scores of UFO enthusiasts converged on rural Nevada on Thursday for a pilgrimage of sorts to the U.S. installation known as Area 51, long rumored to house government secrets about alien life, as law enforcement officials beefed up security around the military base. Visitors descended early in the day on the tiny desert town of Rachel, a short distance from the military site, in response to a recent, viral social-media invitation to “storm” Area 51 on Friday, raising concerns by local authorities of unruly crowds overwhelming the community.

Bird numbers plunge in U.S. and Canada with people to blame

From grasslands to seashores to forests and backyards, birds are disappearing at an alarming rate in the United States and Canada, with a 29% population drop since 1970 and a net loss of about 2.9 billion birds, scientists said on Thursday. People are to blame, the researchers said, citing factors including widespread habitat loss and degradation, broad use of agricultural chemicals that eradicate insects vital to the diet of many birds, and even outdoor hunting by pet cats.

Arctic expedition to investigate ‘epicentre of climate change’

Scientists from 19 countries are preparing to embark on a year-long expedition to the Arctic, the longest project of its kind, to better understand global climate change. The icebreaker Polarstern is preparing to set sail from Tromsoe in northern Norway, allowing hundreds of rotating researchers to spend the next year close to the north pole.

Scientists reconstruct skeleton of elusive, pre-historic human

Researchers in Israel say they have reconstructed the skeleton of a pre-historic human from a long-extinct and elusive species using DNA found in the pinky bone of a 13-year-old girl who died 70,000 years ago. Little is known about the Denisovans, who were ancient relatives of the more familiar Neanderthals and our own species. Their existence was only recently discovered and has fascinated scientists worldwide.



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Why you don’t need a 5G phone just yet

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In this Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, photo, visitors tour an exhibitor booth with a 5G on display at the Smart China Expo in southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality.
Image Credit: AP

No 5G iPhone? No problem. You probably don’t want one anyway.

For most people, it’s smart to stick with a smartphone that isn’t compatible with speedier 5G wireless networks, which are just starting to roll out. That’s the case even if you think you’ll be hanging on to your next phone for a few years.

Not only are the first-generation 5G phones expensive, their antennas and modems typically work only with particular 5G networks owned by specific mobile carriers. That could limit your options if you’re trying to get the faster speeds while roaming overseas or on a rival company’s network – or if you decide to switch providers later.

Experts say second-generation phones in the coming year will address those and other shortcomings. The research firm IDC, calling 2019 “an introductory year at best,” expects 5G phones to make up 9% of worldwide shipments next year and 28% in 2023.

The target market

Samsung, Motorola, LG and OnePlus already make 5G phones that use Google’s Android system. Huawei announced one Thursday, though it’s missing popular Google apps because of a U.S. ban on tech exports to the Chinese company.

Although 5G phones are a niche product, IHS Markit said phone makers haven’t been able to keep up with surprisingly strong demand, especially in South Korea.

Samsung said it has sold 2 million 5G phones worldwide since April and expects to double that by the end of the year. Motorola said it has seen “tremendous engagement and excitement” from customers.

But Motorola said such first-generation products primarily suit early adopters who need to be first on the block.

New iPhones out Friday won’t support 5G. Apple typically waits for technology to mature before adopting it.

The price of 5G

The speedy wireless technology can add a few hundred dollars to phone price tags. For instance, Samsung’s standard Galaxy S10 phone costs $900″ the 5G model costs $1,300, though Samsung said it also showcases the company’s best features, including a larger screen and a better camera. For Motorola, 5G comes as a $350 option for the existing Moto Z series phones.

“This territory is reserved for the leading-edge type of consumer, those willing to sacrifice a bit more money up front to be first,” said Wayne Lam, an analyst at IHS Markit. “Longer term is where the smart money is.”

The price gap is expected to narrow and eventually disappear as 5G becomes a standard feature, Geoff Blaber of CCS Insight said.

Network limitations

Even as phone companies make big claims about revolutionary new applications, 5G coverage is limited to certain neighborhoods in a handful of cities. While 5G phones can still connect over existing 4G LTE networks, “are you willing to spend extra for something you might not see consistently until 2021?” IHS Markit analyst Josh Builta asks.

5G is actually a set of wireless technologies using different parts of the airwaves. Each wireless carrier emphasizes a different flavor of 5G, and each one is selling 5G phones designed specifically for its network.

Wireless networks have a history of Balkanization, although it tends to sort itself out. Verizon and Sprint have been using a wireless technology called CDMA, while AT&T and T-Mobile use an incompatible version called GSM. Early on, phone makers produced separate CDMA and GSM models. But as technology advanced, they were able to pack all the necessary antennas and components into universal phones.

Similar all-in-one 5G phones should be fairly common by next year, experts say.

In fact, T-Mobile CEO John Legere suggested the company is holding back on 5G network expansions until compatible phones come out later this year. T-Mobile’s current 5G phones only work with parts of its planned 5G network. Sprint, which T-Mobile is in the process of acquiring, said first-generation phones are intended to show off 5G benefits to those who live or spend a lot of time in the company’s nine 5G markets.

Verizon didn’t return messages. AT&T isn’t offering 5G to consumers yet, although it has rebranded some existing 4G service as “5G E.”

To wait or not to wait

If you can squeeze another year or two out of your current phone, there will be plenty of 5G phones to choose from – including iPhones – by the time you’re ready to upgrade.

But it’s OK to buy a new, pre-5G phone now if you can’t wait. You can always trade that in for a 5G model later. Even if you stick with 4G, experts say you’ll still see speed bump there as phone companies install new equipment.

And IDC is expecting deals on 4G phones to clear shelves for upcoming 5G models.



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Science special | Heraldrepublican | kpcnews.com

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Ryan Park Elementary School fifth-graders Jaspin Brown, Clara Shamp and Cami Lanman get a hands-on lesson with the Newton Cars Lab, brought to the school Wednesday by Science Central of Fort Wayne. “They reviewed what they have learned this school year about forces, mass and Newton’s three laws of motion,” said teacher Michele Davis. Each group ran two trials each of the “car” with three different masses on board. They measured the distance the car traveled, recorded their data and averaged the distances. Each of the three Ryan Park fifth-grade classes spent 30 minutes in the Learning Lab with the Science Central representatives. The program was fully funded by the Steuben County Community Foundation through a grant.



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