Their de facto takeover of CES is reflective of the explosive growth and intensifying competition that has besieged the voice assistant industry over the past few years. To understand this trend, and its trajectory, we examine another breakout technology whose ascent contains stark parallels: mobile.
Although digital technology has become a ubiquitous presence in society — with the Internet, artificial intelligence (AI), data, and machine learning now underlying how we watch TV, eat, exercise, and more importantly how we floss, brush our hair, and toast bagels — measuring its precise impact on the economy is difficult. However, in spite of this, every year dozens of national agencies and research institutes attempt to capture this metric. Why? Because although quantifying the impact of digital technology on the economy may be challenging, it’s a critical data point, known to have a significant impact on everything from GDP to employment to labor productivity.
Unlike estimating the impact of sectors dominated by physical goods, such as the agriculture, food, or automobile industries, the digital sector is harder to quantify because a large portion of it is not physical. It is also frequently an input providing efficiencies for other sectors, and many digital products are free to the user.
But there’s no question that digital technology is critical to economic activity; one estimate reports that the “Internet sector” was responsible for approximately $966.2 billion, or 6% of real GDP, in 2014 alone. As such, these estimates can inform investments, government policies, and regulations. And, what’s more, understanding digital technology’s current impact on the economy may help predict (and therefore prepare for) its future impact.
Consequently, what has resulted is a multitude of institutions and agencies attempting to quantify the economic impact of digital technology, using a multitude of methods to do so.
By Rachael Stelly & Isabelle Styslinger
As DisCo has repeatedly emphasized [ 1, 2, 3, 4 ], modern trade agreements must recognize the growth of Internet-enabled commerce and its integration in the global economy. Last week the Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce released a study on the value of Digital Trade in North America, highlighting just what is at stake in the renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) as we head into the next round.
This is the third post in a series on occupational and business licensing.
When a group of monks in Louisiana tried to sell their own, finely-crafted pine caskets, they were met with an unexpected message. No, not from God, but from the state of Louisiana telling them to cease-and-desist all casket selling or face “thousands of dollars in fines and possible criminal prosecution.”
Why? Because the monks failed to adhere to Louisiana’s licensing requirements passed in the name of quality control.
As we discussed last week, some licensing laws have been imposed in order to uphold certain public morals — such as protecting consumers from the hazards of drinking, for example. But licenses have also been established in an attempt to ensure the quality of a product so as not to bring harm to consumers. This justification not only underlies the casket market, but also the automobile industry as well as a current dispute over a new orthodontic innovation.
This is the second post in a series on occupational and business licensing.
It’s official, New Yorkers: you are finally free to dance in any bar or restaurant. And, if you’re asking yourself, “wasn’t I already able to do that?” the answer is… not really.
As discussed in our first post, although in recent years it has not been as strictly enforced, the Cabaret Law made it illegal for patrons to dance in bars and restaurants in New York that do not have a “Cabaret License.” (Yes, it was basically the regulatory manifestation of the movie Footloose.)
However, last week New York’s City Council finally repealed the law, ruling it “outdated and unresponsive” to licensing demand — noting that only “100 of the city’s 25,000 eating and drinking establishments currently have a cabaret license” and rejecting opponents’ claims that the law played a crucial role ensuring patrons’ safety.
This is the first post in a series on occupational and business licensing.
Passed in 1926 during the Prohibition, opponents of the Cabaret Law hailed it as antiquated and unnecessary, and disadvantageous to unlicensed businesses — of which there are many. On the other hand, supporters cited safety and noise concerns.
While opponents of the law were ultimately successful — the Council voted 41 to 1 to repeal the law, which now goes to Mayor Bill de Blasio who is supportive of the repeal — this fight over an outdated law is a useful prism through which to view general business regulation.
After all, similar regulations, and corresponding debates about their effectiveness, remain prevalent across many other industries (though they likely lack the wonderful signage of the Cabaret Law).
Liquor, automobiles, caskets, taxis, and orthodontics are but a few of the industries similarly restricted by occupational or business licensing laws.
Dockless bikes are being hailed as the next big ride sharing trend.
Already popular in many Asian cities, stationless bike sharing is trying to expand into U.S. and European cities. However, the same companies that saw meteoric popularity in China are encountering pushback from the public, regulators, and incumbents in new markets. This may stall plans for expansion or, at least, prompt companies to adapt their strategies.
In anticipation of the Mobile World Congress Americas (MWC), earlier this month market researcher App Annie released a report examining the current and future opportunities afforded by the mobile app economy.
Its conclusion: the $6.3 trillion dollar industry is poised to expand even more as time and advertising dollars spent on mobile apps increases.
When two tech execs announced Internet-connected vending machines last week, they met a social media furor that uncannily echoed the past.The startup, named “Bodega,” drew news headlines and a viral hashtag when a business magazine highlighted their plan to “make bodegas and mom-and-pop corner stores obsolete” through the installation of unmanned vending machines.
Bodega argues its innovation will supplement corner stores, not replace them, but many remain unconvinced. However, traditional vending machines initially evoked similar concerns in the 20th century but have come to be regarded as a complement to corner stores. A similar path forward may be possible for Bodega.
At a conference last week J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. chief executive, Jamie Dimon, slammed Bitcoin, after which the cryptocurrency’s prices plunged. Dimon referred to Bitcoin as “a fraud” and asserted it was “worse than tulip bulbs” — basically the worst currency insult you can levy.
Some speculate Dimon’s skepticism is rooted in fear of cryptocurrencies’ potential to disrupt the financial industry, which has attracted harsh criticism for its conduct leading up to the financial crisis.
While Dimon, and others like him, continue to denounce cryptocurrencies, at the same time, J.P. Morgan and other critics are investing in Bitcoin’s underlying technology — blockchain — in an attempt to keep pace with cryptocurrencies’ capabilities.