Smart Speakers are the next big thing in the tech market (and Amazon Echo led the way)

Amazon Echo

When I was a teenager I and a couple of friends remained very impressed by an anime called Serial Experimental Lain, released for the first time on July 1998. At that time Internet was just about to boom, and technologies were still primitive if compared to today standards, yet that Japanese series was so ahead of its time that predicted many things about how we users interact with computers. In the anime, characters uses their phones like we do with our smartphones, an moreover they talk with their pc using vocal assistants.

20 years ago that sounded all too futuristic, but now vocal assistants and artificial intelligence are a reality which is evolving each passing years. Microsoft’s Cortana and Apple’s Siri, released for their respective OS in 2014 and 2012, missed the opportunity to left their mark in this new market. Apple can be considered a first mover in the vocal assistant market, however Siri’s users engagement is in free fall, while Cortana, even though its functionalities are well appreciated, is pointless on a pc.

THE RISE OF SMART SPEAKERS (AND AMAZON ECHO)

While vocal assistants have proven to not satisfying the users appetite on regular devices – such as pc, tablet and smartphone -, Smart Speakers are now leading a sector which analysts think will keep growing at fast pace in the next years. Jupiter Research, in a study released in November 2017, has found that Smart Speakers will be installed in over 70 million US households by 2022 and the total installed devices will rise over 175 million. Those are interesting numbers for a market that had been almost unknown prior to 2015 and it has now stolen the show from smartphones (at least in the US).

Apple and Microsoft struggled to come up with a killer innovation, while Smart Speakers silently became the next big thing in the tech market, which is now led by Amazon with its Amazon Echo. Released in 2014, Amazon Echo became a silent hit and has open up the way to a lucrative business: the home.

YOU CAN BUY  ON AMAZON THE Echo (2nd Generation) – Charcoal Fabric OR THE Echo Dot (2nd Generation) – Black.  

Amazon realized that the best way to introduce vocal assistants is right in the living room, where the user can sit on its sofa comfortably speaking with the AI (in this case Amazon Alexa) and, probably in the near future, interacting with all other connected devices.

Amazon detains nearly 65% of Smart Speaker’s market and the only competitor who seems able to keep up with the market leader is Google with its Google Home, which has almost 30% of market share and it’s growing steadily against its rival.

Smart Speakers market
An infographic shows how Smart Speaker’s market is divided among companies, along with other interesting details (updated to December 2017). Credit: Raconteur

The infographic above made by Racounter shows clearly how Smart Speaker’s market share is divided among the competitors, as well other interesting stats, like in which rooms the Smart Speakers are usually located. Google Home, even though it was launched one year later than Echo (in US), is catching up to its rival very fast, while Apple and Microsoft seem to be arrived late to the party.

Microsoft has teamed up with Harman Kardon, a Samsung subsidiary, to make a Smart Speaker based Microsoft’s Cortana, but the device failed to impress the customers. Apple launched the HomePod speaker in February in US at $349 and in UK at £319, which is quite an high price if we think that Echo cheaper version is available for just £49.99/$49.99 and Siri still struggles to understand people. The HomePod may have better sound capabilities compared to Echo and Google Home but when it comes to voice assistance It’s not controversial to say that Siri is worse than Alexa, Cortana and Google Assistant.

The battle of voice assistants has just begun and the market is expected to grow at fast pace, but it would probably be just a battle between Google and Amazon, like it was with Samsung and Apple in the smartphone market.  The home business however opens up the way to all sorts of smart gadgets and intelligent household appliances that will interact with our faithful virtual assistants and here there is certainly a lot of room for many other manufactures.

Bitcoin is testing a critical support: buy opportunity or the collapse will continue?

Bitcoin broke a critical support, and it continues to fall down. Credit: tradingview/TBGlobalist

UPDATE 06/02/2018: Bitcoin breakdown in the morning  through the up-trend line, but afterwards prices are staring to rebound as the cryptocurrency hit a low at $5900, nearby the first important support we drawn on the daily chart.

ORIGINAL STORY

People who invested in Bitcoin in December are probably living one of their worst nightmare. In 2017 Bitcoin, along with other cryptocurrencies, had an impressive rally that has been matched only by few stocks. With a return over 1000 percent on one year basis, the crypto market reached its euphoria phase in the last quarter of 2017, when Bitcoin quickly rose from $3500 to $20000 in only 3 months. 

At that time was nearly impossible to predict Bitcoin’s peak or direction, with analysts and brokers often divided between pessimists – with many alarming that Bitcoin is a bubble – and optimists – some of them said Bitcoin could reach $100.000. Many financial experts started to mark Bitcoin as a bubble in early 2017, when the most famous cryptocurrency was just about to broke $1000 psychological resistance.

Those pessimists have continued to alarm the crypto market during the whole 2017, helping to fuel a crying wolf situation, in which people ignored any kind of warning, even when prices were about to reach the all time peak. We at The Business Globalist released a technical analysis on early January, in which we pointed out that a big upper shadow on December’s candle was a clear sign the bullish was exhausted, and we experienced the rage of Bitcoin supporters.

And while many people are now experiencing with their own money that nothing goes up forever in the financial market, included cryptocurrencies, many are now trying to understand if the market will fall deeper or if it’s now a good buy opportunity. We’ll give some indications based on a technically analysis.

BITCOIN IS TESTING A KEY SUPPORT: REBOUND OR BREAKDOWN? 

If we take a look at the weekly chart above, we can see Bitcoin is testing the long-term up-trend line. This is a critical level, and if prices will breakdown this support then we will see the cryptocurrency drop more in the next days, towards the next two supports: the first at $5500 and the second at $3500.

The long-term up-trend line’s test could be a good opportunity to enter in the market in a long-term prospective, as long as we adjust the stop loss below this important support (if Bitcoin rebound the gain could be significant, otherwise if it drops we will not lose too much).

A possible rebound on Bitcoin is drawn on the daily chart. Credit: tradingview/TBGlobalist

In case of rebound prices will came back in the area $10000-$11000, before going to test the lower trend-line drawn from all time high peak. In this scenario we expect Bitcoin to move sideways, as buyers and sellers will continue to fight each other in that area, until the market will give a new direction.

We remind to our readers that Bitcoin, as well as any other altcoins, is a risky investment and is very volatile, and moreover is in the middle of a huge correction, which maybe is not over yet. Trade with extreme caution.

Apple stock could bleed for the entire 2018: 3 possible scenarios for the long term

Apple Inc. ($AAPL) is the most valuable publicly-traded company of all time, with a market value that reached over $900 billion in November 2017. The tech giant funded in 1976 by Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak and Ronald Wayne, could become the first company to be worth $1 trillion, however many analysts are skeptical on the long term.

Uncertainty has arisen on Monday, as Apple announced a deeper than expected cut to the production line of iPhone X, due to a weak demand for the new smartphone: the production will be slashed by 50 percent, down to 20 million from an initial estimated of 40 million units. At the same time, with a forecasting net income of at least $19bn, Apple is set to break its own record for profitability, mostly due to good sales during the Christmas period.

You can order your Apple iPhone X, Fully Unlocked 5.8″, 64 GB – Silver on Amazon

The Christmas sales may look exceptional, but the under performing iPhone X may indicate, after more than 10 years of success, a slowdown in the impressive iPhone cycle. The debate over the iPhone X is open, and some point out that is not the first time for Apple products to under perform in this period of the year. In December 2017 emerged reports indicating that iPhone 7 sales were selling “more sluggishly than expected”, and in January 2016 Apple announced a 30 percent production cut for its iPhone 6 and iPhone 6s.

The importance of the iPhone for Apple

Apple is sitting on a big mountain of cash, as the company is dominating the smartphone market – at least in high-end segment – from over 10 years, after a recovery driven by a series of innovating products squirm out of Steve Jobs’ great mind. The liquidity of the company is huge enough to face any kind of crisis, as long as the company is able to detect and correct its own mistakes.

By the other hand, while Apple’s liquidity is without doubt impressive, it is good to remind that over 50 percent of Apple’s revenues are made by the iPhone line alone. In a worst case scenario, where iPhone is wiped out by the next mobile revolution, Apple would lose more then half of its current value. This is not so unlikely to happen, as Apple seems to have lost its innovative power since Steve Jobs passed away, and it is now relying on iPhone’s incremental innovation to fill its treasure trove. The mobile market in the long term is almost unpredictable, and one single disruptive innovation could became a serious treat even to a tech giant like Apple, especially when the company is confused on how turn its money into killer applications.

Apple stock ($APPL): 3 possible scenarios for the long term

Apple stock’s monthly chart tells a lot about the company and its price history. First of all, despite all concerns caused by the production cut, we have to point out that the decline of the stock is not so alarming, as it doesn’t affect the bullish trend: prices are still above the uptrend line we have drawn from 2008 low.

Apple stock on the monthly chart, updated to 31/01/2018. Credit: TBGlobalist/XTB

Another interesting thing we can notice on monthly chart are the two peaks we had since the beginning of the rally: one in 2012 and the second in 2015. These two peaks identify two respective waves, as prices consolidate after touching an ATH. The next movement and the recent sales may suggest a new consolidation phase, which could lead prices back to the 2015 high, at $134, or lower till the bullish trend-line (yellow line).

Afterwards, we can anticipate 3 possible scenarios suggested by the pattern analysis.

In the first case, which is also the most optimistic, we have an immediate rebound after the consolidation period, with the stock that will breakup the previous ATH.

In the other cases we can forecast the formation of a Head and Shoulders pattern, one with a breakout of the neckline and another where prices rebound, marking the beginning of a new bullish trend.

A possible head and shoulders on the Apple’s monthly chart. Credit: TBGlobalist/XTB

In this latter case, once prices will hit the yellow line, or the second horizontal blue line (near $100), the stock will resume its long up-trend. This scenario is also quite positive, however since we analyzing a monthly chart we need to consider that the up-trend will not be recovered until late 2019 or 2020.  Investors looking to long-term opportunities can buy the stock once prices hit the yellow line for the first time, putting a stop-loss below the second horizontal blue line and a target prices to $165, a second to $200 and third to $220.

A breakout of an Head and Shoulders neckline on Apple’s monthly chart. Credit: TBGlobalist/XTB

In the worst case scenario we have a Head and Shoulders formation, followed by the breakout of the neckline, which may match with the yellow line or lower with the second horizontal blue line. The breakout will mark the end of the bullish trend and the beginning of a new bearish course, which will have the first target-price at $80 and the second at $50.

Our analysis, although it is designed for the long-term, can give us some indication about short and mid terms. In the next days we should have an indication whether or not we are in front of a new peak, and if this will be the case it could mean just one thing: Apple stock will bleed for the entire 2018. 

Nintendo stock is booming after Labo announcement: prices may overtake ATH in 2018

In 2015 Nintendo was on the brink of collapse, as the Wii U failed to replicate the great success of its predecessor (Wii), and with about 11 million units sold world wide in its entire lifespan Wii U is officially the worst selling home console of Nintendo. The value of the company declined fast, and from 2007 peak Nintendo’s stock (OTCMKTS: NTDOY) lost in 6 years over 80 percent of value, with the investors losing faith in the company competitiveness.

What Nintendo did back then was a true masterpiece that should be mentioned in any management book. Nintendo in 2015 quickly rebuilt a new strategy to bring itself back into profitability, without sacrificing the pillars that distinguish the company of Kyoto from other competitors: quality, innovation and creativity. On March 2015 Nintendo announced a partnership with DeNa to jointly develop titles for the mobile sector, and on April 2016 announced NX, the new console that will later be known as Nintendo Switch.

The skepticism around the company vanished when the Switch was unveiled to the public in October 2016, convincing the critics, the analysts and the players around the world. The 2017 has been a fantastic year for Nintendo, with the Switch becoming the fastest selling console in North America of all times.

Nintendo stock weekly chart updated to 19 January 2018. Credit: Technician/TBGlobalist

Skies are now crystal blue over Kyoto, and Nintendo’s stock rebounded from 2015 low and prices soared over 300 percent in two years, while the company’s market capitalization overtaked Sony on June 2017. The stock uptrend, moreover, may continue in the next months and in following years, as Nintendo keeps delighting the public with new killer applications.

Nintendo Labo will help the stock to sustain the uptrend in 2018

On Wednesday 17 January, during Nintendo direct 2018, the Japanese company announced Labo, a new line of interactive toys represented by 25 sheets of cardboard that players can turn into playable objects. The concept of Labo looks brilliant and in the video game industry is a very rare thing, which shows the hidden capabilities of Nintendo Switch. Labo is a tangible proof that in 2017 Nintendo was not just sitting and basking in the great success of Switch, but the company was also preparing to maintain its momentum for 2018.

Pre-order your Nintendo LABO – Variety Kit

Pre-order your Nintendo LABO – Robot Kit

Nintendo’s stock soared by 4 percent for two consecutive days, as investors think the gadget will help to boost the Switch’s sales for 2018.

The technical analysis confirms the good moment for the stock and now there are few obstacles for the prices to reach the 2007 peak.

Nintendo daily chart
Nintendo daily chart updated to 19 January 2018. Credit:Technician/TBGlobalist

The breakaway gap opened in 2016 is a strong upside sign, and usually this always marks the start of a new trend, which for now has been confirmed by the events, as the stock recently close a pullback on 2008 low. Nintendo Labo announcement helped the stock to breakup the 2017 high, and now prices are free to reach the target at $60, with few obstacles separating the stock for its ATH.

At the moment, given the great success of Switch phenomena, we don’t see anything that should prevent Nintendo’s sales to perform well in 2018 and increase the company’s revenues for the fiscal year. The stock uptrend will continue in 2018 and is highly possible that the prices will reach and overtake the all time high during the course of the year. 

 

 

 

Bitcoin: complete technical analysis for short and medium term

Bitcoin

Bitcoin surged over 1000% in 2017, along with many cryptocurrencies that had a four digit performance, even through many analysts and investors defined the market as a bubble ready to burst any time. Over the course of 2017 alone we had dozens of those warnings: Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan Chase, said “Bitcoin is a fraud and is in a valuation bubble that will burst”; Jeremy Grantham, an investor who predicted last two big market crash, said “Bitcoin is a bubble that may crash soon”; the economist Jim Rickards warned Bitcoin “It’s on its way to zero – somewhere between zero and $200”; the billionaire Mark Cuban said in a tweetstorm “I think it’s in a bubble. I just don’t know when or how much it corrects. When everyone is bragging about how easy they are making $=bubble”.

Many people have given their opinions on Bitcoin, as the cryptocurrency market attracted the attention of institutional investors and governments, and we can also find many opposite declarations, some of which claimed “Bitcoin is essentially ‘digital gold’ for millennials, and the cryptocurrency could easily achieve the $100,000 range”.

Bitcoin’s prices are driven by many factors, whose government regulation is one of the most important, and while it’s nearly impossible to predict if and when any important government will regulate Bitcoin, recent consolidation gives us some indication on what to expect in the short and medium term.  

Bitcoin: important indications from the technical analysis

On Bitcoin’s monthly chart we can see a long upper shadow on December candle, when Bitcoin hit an all time high at $20.000 and soon afterwards prices moved down quickly. The long upper shadow tell us the uptrend was exhausted, and now bulls and bears are fighting to determine a fair value, while this pattern is often followed by an opposite trend or consolidation.  

Bitcoin
Bitcoin’s daily chart shows a sideways movement.

As we can see on the daily chart, Bitcoin’s prices are now moving sideways, for the first time in 12 months, in the channel 20.000-12.500. The breakdown of the support at 12.500 will push prices to test the 10.000 level, which should act as a psychological support, but in case of breakdown prices could drop quickly towards 5.000. 

We expect Bitcoin to move sideways in those first months of 2018, while the strong uptrend shouldn’t be resumed anytime soon.

Many structural reforms are increasing economic inequality

Inequality

Generally there is a high consensus that structural reforms boost growth and, after the economic crisis that hit many advanced economies, many governments have been implementing these reforms to accelerate the growth.

In Europe the need for structural reforms is particularly stressed by Germany, which reminds often they are necessary to achieve a strong Europe. European creditors imposed a reform agenda to all peripheral countries – Greece,Italy, Portugal and Spain – and the respect of the terms are mandatory to extend bailouts by the European Union and European Central Bank (ECB), and most of all to avoid higher yields, which equates to higher borrowing costs for the country in crisis.

The correlation between structural reforms and GDP growth is well documented, however few analyzed the effects on wealth distribution. A recent paper published by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) shows evidence of a growth-equity tradeoff for some important reforms. The authors (Jonathan D. Ostry, Andrew Berg, and Siddharth Kothari) collected data across countries to find a relation among growth, inequality, and reforms, using panel regressions and an event-study approach.

IMF’s researchers assembled a comprehensive dataset of reform indices, including financial and real reforms, updating a dataset made by Ostry in 2009, while for inequality they used data from the Standardized World Income Inequality Database developed by Solt.

They find the the growth-equity tradeoffs varies across reforms and the effects are not homogeneous across the countries, however in most cases the structural reforms increase the inequality.

Financial reforms and capital account liberalization lead to both growth and inequality increase, but the effects on inequality are greater. In particular, the growth benefit from liberalizing capital account restrictions seems to very limited, but there is a clear increase in inequality.

Network reforms don’t increase growth and in countries with a high level of corruption they lead extractive monopolies. In general, the effects of network reforms are negative for wealth distribution and they increase inequality.

Institutional reforms, aimed at strengthening the impartiality of and
adherence to the legal system, don’t have any tradeoff effects and they are good for both growth and distribution.

The overall result of the paper is in favour of structural reforms, as the net value of their implementation is positive, but the results need to be interpreted with caution. The authors stressed that “specific reform packages, in order to gain support and deliver enduring broad-based benefits, need to be designed with distributional consequences in mind”. The paper wants to serve as a warning for the policy makers to design the reforms with distributional effects in mind, especially in those countries where inequality is already high.

EUR/USD is testing a critical resistance: inverse head and shoulders on daily chart

The Euro-Dollar pair (EUR/USD) is testing a critical level, as prices have being rejected by a resistance placed at 1,2085. This resistance is also the neckline of an Inverse head and shoulders, that we’ve drawn on the daily chart above. The chart pattern usually suggests a breakup followed by an uptrend continuation, however the breakup may be preceded by a pullback on November high, around 1,197.

The breakup would launch the EUR/USD pair toward 1,22 and then 1,25. The Euro is strengthening against the US dollar (and sterling) since Trump election (and Brexit forum), when the single currency was around 1,040 and some investors speculated on EUR/USD parity. A strong euro may create a dilemma for the European Central Bank, which is expect to wind down the quantitative easing programme this year if the euro zone continues to grow strongly.

Investors will focus their attention on next Italian general election, which will be held on 4 March. Italians will go to the polls to vote the next Prime Minister, and the result may introduce new uncertainty in Europe.

 

 

Iran protests: corruption and economic issues are devouring the country

The wave of protests in Iran began on December 28, during a demonstration in Mashhad, Iran’s second-largest city, against the President Hassan Rouhani. The protests quickly escalated across the country in all major cities, including Tehran, Kermanshah, Isfahan, Hamedan, Rasht, Qom, Sari, with Iranian people calling for the religious establishment to step down. In Mashhad people called for the “death of the dictator” (Ali Khamenei), which is a serious matter for an Islamic country where the supreme leader holds complete authority.

People have taken to the streets for six consecutive days and Iranian security forces struggle to contain the largest protest since 2009 presidential election, when Iranians protested against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s reelection. The death toll have risen to 21 people nationwide on Tuesday, as reported  by state television, while clashes with police have intensified. All major news are being reported by state-controlled media and is difficult to confirm those reports independently.

On Saturday the government temporarily blocked many social networks, including Telegram and Instagram, which had been used by people to organize some of the anti-government protests. In the same day President Hassan Rouhan said “Iranians had the right to criticize but must not cause unrest”.

Why Iranians are protesting

The main factors fuelling the protests seem to be economic. Unemployment in Iran is at 12.4% and many university graduates struggle to find a job, while those who find one get paid sporadically. Poverty has increased since 2014 due to a decline social assistance in real terms, and between 44.5 percent and 55 percent of Iran’s urban population is living below the poverty line, showed the report “Measurement and Economic Analysis of Urban Poverty”.

Furthermore, inflation keeps rising and in November rose on 9.6 percent year-on-year, recording the highest inflation rate since July 2017, while most citizens must take on several jobs in order to survive.

Iran is the second largest economy of MENA region after Saudi Arabia, and in 2016 the Iranian economy bounced back at an estimated 6.4 percent, benefiting from the removal of oil sanctions and a recovery in exports. However, most people are not benefiting from the sanctions removal as the government is implementing a series of structural reforms to fight its debt problems.

Rouhani’s opponents often accused his administration of having ignored the poorest, and during the election campaign they promised to create millions of jobs and triple monthly cash payments to low-income families.

The corruption is killing the country

In Iran there’s a powerful system of political patronage and nepotism that pervades all sectors – including the judicial system, the police, the public sectors – and is killing the country. Rich people are often spared prosecution or fare well in trials, while public funds often find their way into few individual’s hands.

In the last six years there were four major financial corruption cases for approximately $17 billion: the 2011 Iranian embezzlement scandal; the Babak Zanjani case; the National Copper Company case.

 

Attacks and violence on the rise: 2017 is a brutal year for many children

Syrian children

Around 27 million of children in war zones have been forced out of school. UNICEF released an alarming report which shows a surge of attacks and violence against children in war zones in 2017, while all the groups in conflicts ignored  international laws designed to protect the most vulnerable.

“Children are being targeted and exposed to attacks and brutal violence in their homes, schools and playgrounds,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Director of Emergency Programmes. “As these attacks continue year after year, we cannot become numb. Such brutality cannot be the new normal.”

Children have been abused by extremist groups in every possible way, including abduction, enslavement, child marriages, raping. Furthermore, the children are being used as weapons of war on the battlefields, often as human shields or suicide bombers.

Those children are located in major conflicts in Africa and Middle East, and often in these countries is difficult to access to food or other basic needs, and many child are suffering malnutrition.

In 2016 the United Nations documented assaults on hundred of schools and universities, which are being used as barracks, centers of interrogation, weapons depots by troops in conflict countries. In 2015 a document known as Safe Schools Declaration, developed with the help of foreign ministries, defence and education officials and the International Committee of the Red Cross, was presented in an international conference in Oslo with the objective to help victims of those attacks. Many countries signed the document, although important  U.N. Security Council’s members as USA, China, UK and Russia refused to cooperate.

In early December, the ACAPS released a report containing alarming prediction for many humanitarian crisis going on, and “violence and insecurity are likely to deteriorate in Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, Ethiopia, Mali, Somalia and Syria next year“.

In Yemen, where there’s a devastating civil war on since 2015, the United Nations recorder over 13.000 casualties, with 1.300 children among the dead. In a recent report, Save the Children “highlights how the targeting of medical facilities and personnel in 2015 and 2016 has had devastating impacts on children’s health”. The country is experiencing the worst cholera outbreak of modern history, with a million cases expected by the end of 2017 and at least 600,000 children likely to be affected.