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Matt Haldane
Works at Global Sources
Attends Tsinghua University
Lives in Beijing, China
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Matt Haldane

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Drones helping robotics industry fly higher
The robotics industry is expected to grow 38 percent in the next three years while the civilian drone market alone will grow 25 percent by 2023.

A new report from NH Investment & Securities looks at the robotics industry and determines intelligence is coming to industrial robots as shipments continue to grow through 2018. The report draws partly from data provided by the International Federation of Robotics, which expects the robotics industry to increase to $25.6 billion by 2018 from $18.5 billion this year. The CAGR of the industry is seen to rise from 10.4 percent to 11.8 percent. NH projects a 15.3 percent year-over-year increase in shipments of industrial robots to 260,000 units. It did not provide an estimate for service robots, but it expects sales to increase and average sales price to decline from the current $46,400 per unit.
The robotics industry is expected to grow 38 percent in the next three years while the civilian drone market alone will grow 25 percent by 2023.
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As a Google Music user, I do not think it is complicated at all. I've been using streaming services since I signed up for Rhapsody nearly 10 years ago. It was the first subscription I got after I graduated boot camp. I've been streaming music for about as long as I've had a cell phone.

I've tried many different streaming services over the last decade. Since signing up for Google Music following its launch, I've mostly stuck with it because it's conveniently integrated with Android's main music app, it already had most of my music library uploaded and knew my tastes, and I got a recurring $2 discount that I still have. When it started, I will admit it wasn't the most user friendly. I thought it shared a similar problem with Spotify, which is that it wasn't easy to just start a well-curated radio station. Starting a radio station based on a particular song or artist didn't always get the best results, but I knew this would improve in time. Instead, I started relying heavily on the "I'm feeling lucky" button, which actually does a pretty great job at playing music I like. However, I wasn't always in the mood for what it would select.

With Google Music and Spotify, it's also not possible to browse their entire catalogue by genre and subgenre, as it is/was with Rhapsody. I know most people don't have a use for such a feature, and it actually complicates things, but I used it quite a bit. I used it to discover bands like Kings of Convenience and Snow Patrol. Now I really do have to rely on radio stations, making them more important. In some ways this is a better way of finding music I like.

Google now accels at radio thanks to its Songza purchase. Google Music recently integrated Songza's browsing options into its user interface, allowing people to browse radio stations by activity and mood. I was using Songza before Google bought it, as well, because it's such a great service. Having it integrated into Google Music definitely increases the service's value and simplifies it a great deal. I don't know how Google Music is more complicated than Pandora unless a user wants it to be. It's is now very simple to go into Google Music and select a station you want to listen to, just as you can do with Pandora. The music will also likely be better than what you get on Pandora, which is one reason I stopped using Pandora completely (I mostly switched to Songza when I first started using it).

So I'm really not sure what Lauren Goode is going on about here. Maybe she just needed to file a story. I can't speak to the quality or complexity of Apple Music, since I haven't been able to use it, but early reviews are pretty positive about Beats 1 radio. Admittedly, I do not think the Apple Music UI looks very friendly, but Goode doesn't do a good job explaining why she finds these services complicated.
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Report: millions of Uber's China rides are faked
A Tencent Tech report suggest that fake rides on Uber are being bought and sold on a grand scale in China.
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Matt Haldane

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Does anyone know if there is a way to view photo spheres in the new Google Photos or are we just stuck with the static image? This seems like a big oversight. 
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Thanks for the feedback. The old Google+ Photos is what I needed. I couldn't figure out how to get there. When I click Photos in the Google+ sidebar, it now takes me to the new Google Photos page. This would be fine and preferable if not for the Photo Sphere thing. 
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Wondering about +Eli Fennell's thoughts. He's the most optimistic person I know about Google's future (not that I think Google is in decline), but Scott Galloway makes some compelling points. Facebook is now tracking more individual users online, it's connected to 200 million more people globally, it does better on mobile and is making very smart acquisitions, and Google+ interaction has declined 97 percent. 

One quote from this that stuck out to me was this: "Rich people are the most boring people in the world. They smell, look, and feel alike. They all fly British Airways... and party in St. Barts. The middle class is much more different. Luxury brands are able to go global faster because rich people aspire to the same things."

This actually makes me think Google's "Be together, not the same" ad campaign for Android is kind of brilliant. Android might never be considered a luxury (no, I don't count Vertu because Vertu is ridiculous), but Google just needs most of the world on its OS. That clearly has value even if it doesn't put Google on track to a $1 trillion valuation.
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red = blocked

yellow = inconclusive
green = no censorship

#China
Every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of 18 international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. Here are the results.
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Well played, HTC.
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I wonder if the People's Daily will reveal what the going rate is for millions of fake followers on social media these days.
 
Who are the 5.5 Million Facebook Fans of Chinese State Newspaper People´s Daily? - Global Voices

“People's Daily has the second largest number of Facebook likes among global media outlets,” boasted Lu Xinning, the deputy editor-in-chief of Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece People's Daily, during the recent China-Russia Media Forum.

Though Facebook, along with a number of popular social media platforms including Twitter, YouTube and Flickr, is blocked in China, the newspaper currently has 5.5 million likes on Facebook, a few million behind The New York Times but more than the Washington Post by 2.2 million.
Communist party mouthpiece People's Daily has millions of likes on Facebook, a social media platform that is blocked in China. Chinese netizens are wondering who those fans are.
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Uber’s China Problem: Prices are rising as quality is declining

When I started using Uber in Beijing at the beginning of the year, it was cheap, easy and much more convenient than trying to catch one of the city’s mercurial cab drivers who decides he doesn’t want to go where you want to go. Recently, Uber’s prices have been falling, but some of their other policies, like introducing surge pricing in Beijing, appear to have brought more Uber drivers on the road. In most circumstances, this would be considered a good thing, but in China, Uber drivers appear to have brought the bad habits of the country’s taxi drivers with them.

After booking an Uber, it’s customary for the driver to call and figure out where you are and where you want to go. Increasingly, Uber drivers are telling people they are not headed in the direction the customer wants to go or make up excuses. I recently tried to get an Uber from Tsinghua Unversity’s campus to Sanlitun Village on the other side of town. The driver said the roads were blocked, which wasn’t true, and that he could just drop me off at the subway in Xizhimen, which is only three subway stops from campus. It was obvious the real issue was that the driver simply didn’t want to go to Sanlitun.

Uber drivers have also apparently been involved in trying to fraud the company by creating multiple accounts or getting friends to book rides with them so they can meet the necessary quotas for a monthly bonus. An Uber representative said such drivers make up a “tiny fraction” of all its drivers in the country, which I’m sure is true. But in just six months, the experience of using Uber has become increasingly frustrating in Beijing. I have recommended it to friends, hyping how great the service is compared to taxis here, only to have them get turned down by multiple drivers.

To be fair, most of my experiences with Uber have been good ones, with problems only becoming apparent to me this month. Also, service could vary city to city. At the end of May, I had another great, seamless experience with Uber in Shanghai. Still, Uber is growing fast in China and this might be resulting in some growing pains.

Uber’s rapid rise in China is, of course, intentional. The company has been spending a lot of money here and has even been “paying its drivers more than the fares they collect.” As Uber grows, so do local conflicts. The company’s offices have been raided in Guangzhou and Chongqing. Weeks after the raid in Guangzhou, the city announced its own ride-hailing service, Ruyue, that will use the city’s taxi services. Didi Kuaidi, the country’s largest ride-hailing service after a merger of two similar companies, works similarly. The company recently announced a carpooling service and rides from “high-end taxis.”

Increasing competition from “illegal taxi” services like Didi Kuaidi and Uber has contributed to tension among cab drivers and protests have broken out in some cities. After a violent confrontation between drivers and authorities in Hangzhou, Uber issued a warning to its own drivers to avoid such confrontations or risk being fired.

In addition to all these problems, I’m not certain surge pricing is a good strategy in Beijing. Taxis are not actually that expensive. During normal hours, the “People’s Uber” can be cheaper than a taxi. However, I recently went to call an Uber and found that demand pushed prices up 3.4 times the normal rate. It was going to cost me more than 100 RMB to get home, but I wound up taking a taxi for less than 50. Surge pricing makes sense when it is very difficult to get a cab, but that is not actually a common situation in Beijing. If you’re willing to spend five to 10 minutes trying to hail a cab, most of the time you’ll be able to get one.

Many new problems are clearly emerging for Uber in China. I don’t know what this means for the company, although it has shown itself to be pretty resilient. The company has been a magnet for controversy almost since its inception. I do believe, though, that Uber will need a stronger hand in how its drivers operate in China to ensure quality. If it simply operates like other taxi services and prices are no better than the illegal “black taxis” that are already on the road, the incentive to use the service disappears. And as Uber’s intense spending already indicates, China can be a tough market to crack. 

The story with hyperlinks is published here: http://matthaldane.com/post/121584783262/ubers-china-problem-prices-are-rising-as-quality
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When I took econometrics with Kerry Smith at +Arizona State University, someone asked why we were using Stata instead of the open source R language for statistical modeling. Smith said Stata consistently provided better results and attributed this to the company having a financial interest in doing so. In my experience, it is consistently true that for-profit organizations provide the best user experiences. Even in this article, +Dan Gillmor gives examples of things that he requires Microsoft or Google software to accomplish.

I do appreciate the desire for privacy and open source, community-backed projects. However, I find the idea of trying to eliminate other companies' products from my life to be drastic, unnecessary, and often a headache I needn't endure. I like Ubuntu, but I also like working in Windows, OS X, Android and Chrome OS (I am a regular user of CyanogenMod, but not out of concern for my privacy, which it likely couldn't protect that much given all the services I use), all of which I use regularly, unlike Linux.

The real reason we are unlikely to see a day in which people's lives are mostly driven by open source, non-profit projects is that the Microsofts, Googles, and Apples of the world will often be putting out better products. That doesn't mean there isn't much to love about the alternatives. It's always nice to have choice and if you need absolute privacy, you know where to turn. It just means that those with the biggest incentive to create the products people want to use are most likely to do the best job.
 
I seem to have stuck a chord with my piece 10 days ago on weaning myself off Microsoft, Apple, Google et al. It's nearing 200,000 views. In case you missed it:
I’m done sending my money and data to corporations I don’t trust
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Education
  • Tsinghua University
    Global Business Journalism, 2013 - present
  • Arizona State University
    Journalism, Economics, 2010 - 2012
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Gender
Male
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Bragging rights
SERE School
Work
Occupation
Journalist
Employment
  • Global Sources
    Content Officer, 2015 - present
    Cover industry trends in the electronics industry from Shenzhen, China.
  • Thomson-Reuters Corporation
    Companies, commodities and energy intern, 2013 - 2013
  • Phoenix Business Journal
    ACBJ Scholarship Intern, 2012 - 2012
  • Arizona Republic
    Breaking News Intern, 2011 - 2011
  • U.S. Navy
    Information Systems Technician Petty Officer Second Class, 2005 - 2009
  • Global Sources
    Intern, 2014 - 2014
    Covered new products and trends in the Mobile Electronics industry, helping create content for a new vertical platform and magazine dedicated to the topic.
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Currently
Beijing, China
Previously
Phoenix, Arizona - Boston, Massachusetts - Chinhae, South Korea - Misawa, Japan