TIME twitter

The 1 Most Interesting Thing We Just Learned About Twitter

<> on November 7, 2013 in London, England.
Bethany Clarke—2013 Getty Images Twitter's app on November 7, 2013 in London, England.

Twitter must look abroad for ever-important user growth

Twitter on Tuesday posted second quarter earnings of $0.07 per share, beating expectations of $0.04 per share. That good news sent Twitter’s stock up over 4% in after-hours trading early Tuesday afternoon.

But Twitter’s full earnings presentation reveals something else interesting about the service: Americans have pretty much stopped signing up for it.

The number of new American Monthly Active Twitter Users has been gradually getting smaller for a while now, even flatlining once before at the end of last year. Now that’s happened for a second time, with no new U.S. user growth from Q1 2015 to Q2 2015:

 Monthly Active Users
TwitterTwitter Monthly Active Users

That lack of American growth doesn’t mean Twitter isn’t making any money from the U.S. — domestic revenue hit $321 million this quarter, up 53% year-over-year. But it’s a sign that Twitter must increasingly look to foreign shores for more user growth, a metric closely watched by Twitter investors.

Twitter’s international growth figures are a little healthier on the surface, with the company adding 8 million international monthly active users in Q2 from the previous quarter. But Twitter says the lion’s share of that increase came from users who only engage with the service over SMS text messages, not the full mobile app. Those users, who mostly reside in less-developed countries that lack advanced wireless broadband infrastructure, will likely be more difficult for Twitter to effectively monetize.

TIME Microsoft

Everything to Know About Microsoft’s New Windows 10

It's out July 29

Windows 10, Microsoft’s new operating system, launches July 29. The biggest difference between it and older versions of Windows? It’s a totally free upgrade — provided you have Windows already installed on your computer.

That’s a big change for Microsoft, which could traditionally count on big sales of its latest operating systems. It’s also a shift that’s emblematic of larger changes at the company under CEO Satya Nadella, who’s moving many of Microsoft’s software products to subscription-based sales models.

For more about Microsoft’s Windows 10, watch the Tech Time video above.

Read next: Microsoft Is Using Cute Babies to Sell Windows 10

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TIME Retail

Hug a Diet Coke Drinker, Because They’re Going Extinct

Diet Coke drinking is down 7%

Diet Coke drinkers are going the way of the dinosaur and BlackBerry users, according to Coca-Cola’s earnings report out Wednesday.

The Atlanta, Georgia-based company said the Diet Coke brand declined 7% over the last three months. That continues a trend of negative Diet Coke growth the company’s been seeing for a decade, TIME reported in February:

But soda drinkers aren’t giving up on the sweet stuff entirely. Coke’s low-calorie Coca-Cola Zero brand is up 6%, almost entirely making up for Diet Coke’s plunge.

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s driving the Diet Coke to Coke Zero shift. Some diet sodas have suffered from speculation over the health consequences of artificial sweeteners like aspartame, causing PepsiCo to remove that ingredient from Diet Pepsi. But aspartame is found in Coke Zero as well as Diet Coke. It could be simply a matter of taste: While Diet Coke has a distinguishable flavor, Coke Zero is intended to taste exactly like regular Coke.

TIME Apple

Here’s How Much Apple Made From the Apple Watch

It's about $1 billion

Apple posted its third quarter earnings on Tuesday, and, as expected, it didn’t give any precise numbers regarding Apple Watch sales so far. It did, however, give us enough data to make a viable back-of-the-envelope guess.

In its latest earnings reports, Apple has broken out the Units Sold and Revenue Made for several different product categories: iPhone, iPad, Mac, “Services” (iTunes, AppleCare, Apple Pay, etc.) and “Other” (formerly Apple TV, iPod, etc). This time around — Apple’s first earnings report in a post-Watch world — Apple included the Apple Watch in “Other.” That hides the Apple Watch’s performance to some degree — but only a little.

Apple’s “Other” category has been mostly flat lately, so it’s a safe bet that any spike there is attributable to the Apple Watch. And a spike there was. Revenue in Apple’s “Other” category is up by roughly $1 billion. Unless Apple is suddenly selling way more Apple TVs and Beats headphones, that means Apple made about $1 billion in revenue from Apple Watch sales this quarter. And falling iPod sales means the Apple Watch may have done even better revenue numbers.

Now, it would certainly be nice to use that figure as a starting point to guess the number of Apple Watches sold so far. But that isn’t really possible. Because the Apple Watch’s price differentials are so huge — $349 to start, $18,000 at the high end — it’s hard to estimate any average price point (any significant number of sales at the $10,000 and up range would dramatically skew estimates). So we’ll have to wait until Apple is ready to tell us exactly how many Apple Watches it’s selling to get that information.

Read next: Apple’s Hiring More Car Industry Experts For a Secret Project

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TIME Virtual Reality

Here’s Why Valve’s Virtual Reality Controllers Are So Vital

HTC Vive
HTC HTC Vive

Everything gets infinitely more immersive

As of last week, I’ve finally tried all three major, high-end virtual reality headsets: Oculus VR’s Rift, Sony’s Morpheus and HTC/Valve’s Vive. From a new user’s perspective, all three experiences felt mostly similar. I’m convinced that when these headsets start hitting the market next year, a winner will be crowned based on available content, not differences in underlying technology.

But the Vive demo had something I hadn’t experienced yet, and it made the virtual reality experience much more immersive: VR-tuned controllers.

Before I tried the Vive, my experiences in virtual reality were mostly hands-free. I could look around various digital domains, but actually interacting with the ersatz world around me was largely either impossible or meant using the same kind of controllers designed for traditional video games (or, worse, a keyboard and mouse). The Vive demo, however, featured new controllers that look a bit like a sword hilt, designed specifically to let users manipulate objects and other elements in virtual reality.

What VR controllers actually let you do depends on the simulation you’ve got loaded up. In the demo I tried at a downtown New York City hotel on July 16, that meant a combination of clearing tiny fish out of the way of my scuba mask to get a better look at a humpback whale, grabbing the right ingredients out of a fridge and placing them in a pot to make soup, and failing miserably at rebuilding a broken robot. And all of these things felt incredibly natural and intuitive after just a minute or two.

HTC’s Vive won’t have a monopoly on virtual reality controllers; the Facebook-owned Oculus has announced a pair of its own, too. That these companies realize the importance of actual interaction in virtual reality is great news for fans of the medium. While modern VR totally blew me away the first time I used it, I was getting a little bored by the concept come time to put the Vive on. But the controllers added an entirely new element that’s got me thinking about much more complex possibilities in the virtual space, like adventure games (virtual reality Myst, anyone?), puzzlers (VR Monument Valley, yes please) and action titles (VR Star Wars: Lightsaber Battle, shut up and take my money).

Now, more than ever, I can’t wait to see the inevitably crazy ideas actual VR content creators cook up.

TIME Apple

Apple’s New iPod Touch Is Basically a Diet iPhone

iPod Touch
Apple iPod Touch

Apple introduced a revamped iPod Touch lineup on Wednesday, the product’s first major overhaul since 2012. The new features — a faster processor, a better camera and new fitness tracking capabilities — restore the iPod Touch’s place in Apple’s lineup as an iPhone minus the phone element.

The new iPod Touch, available Wednesday starting at $199, packs the same A8 processor found in the iPhone 6, as well as an eight megapixel rear camera and improved front-facing camera. While the iPod Touch lacks the ability to connect to a cell phone carrier’s wireless network, it does have Wi-Fi, so users can access features like Apple’s new Apple Music streaming service when connected to a local network or hotspot.

The new iPod Touch comes in 16GB, 32GB, 64GB and 128GB varieties for $199, $249, $299 and $399 respectively. Apple has also added five new colors to the entire iPod lineup.

In many ways, Apple has the iPod to thank for setting it on a path to become the world’s most valuable company. While the iPod received mixed and often cold reviews initially, it soon became synonymous with “.mp3 player,” helped along by the iTunes Music Store’s large selection and ease of use.

But the iPod has long since been eclipsed by the iPhone, which today provides the bulk of Apple’s revenue. Apple no longer identifies the iPod individually in its earnings reports; it’s lumped into an “Other Products” category that’s typically responsible for the smallest chunk of the company’s bottom line. For that reason, it’s always a little surprising when Apple decides to do much of anything with the iPod: It could easily let the product wither away and die, and suffer essentially zero ill consequences for doing so.

Read next: Samsung Just Announced its Thinnest Phone Ever

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TIME Amazon

Everything to Know About Amazon’s Prime Day

Amazon is celebrating its 20th birthday with a massive sale

Amazon is celebrating its 20th birthday Wednesday with Prime Day, 24 hours of big discounts on items like televisions, tablets, household goods and more. But why the sudden Cyber Monday in July? Watch TIME Deputy Tech Editor Alex Fitzpatrick explain why the online shopping giant decided to drop prices for a huge one day sale.

Read next: This Week’s Best Deals: Big Sales from Amazon, Walmart, Target, Levi’s

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TIME movies

How the New Batman v Superman Trailer Totally Changed My Mind

This might actually be good!

Up until this weekend, I would’ve felt comfortable betting money that Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice probably wasn’t going to be very good.

Director Zack Snyder’s first go at the Man of Steel, titled, well, Man of Steel, was okay, even enjoyable at times. But the hero-packed sequel has long felt bound to become an ill-fated attempt on DC’s part to ape the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s massive success. Steel was a franchise reboot after the complete failure that was Superman Returns, the worst entertainment experience involving Kal-El since Superman 64. Steel also kicked off DC’s own shared universe — for the next few years, you can expect more DC one-off movies than you can shake a Power Ring at, all leading up to Justice League, essentially DC’s answer to Marvel’s The Avengers.

The first trailer for Batman v Superman left more questions than answers. Okay, some people are skeptical of Superman’s strength. That makes sense, and feels very Watchmen, widely regarded as one of the best graphic novels ever written. But why are Batman and Superman fighting anyway? Is it even possible to write Superman, an alien powered by Earth’s yellow sun who’s largely indestructible save a nasty allergy to glowing green rocks, in a compelling way? And Ben Affleck as the Caped Crusader? The whole thing felt like a scheme to get two of the most well-known superheroes on the same screen to sell movie tickets and merchandise — a perfect recipe for Batman v Superman: Yawn of Justice. I was ready for the worst.

But then this new trailer that dropped at Comic-Con over the weekend. Ho boy.

There’s a lot happening here, but here’s my best guess at the main plot: Superman’s fight with General Zod and crew in Man of Steel wrecked Metropolis, and Bruce Wayne was there for the whole thing — his own building was wrecked in the carnage. He came away from that experience deeply skeptical of Superman’s seemingly God-like powers, and becomes The Batman to rid the world of Superman’s threat. Why Superman bothers fighting Batman instead of giving up on Earth and finding a new planet to call home remains to be seen. Oh, and Wonder Woman is here too for reasons unclear.

All that has echoes of what’s perhaps the greatest storyline in mainstream DC history: Frank Miller’s 1986 The Dark Knight Returns, in which Superman goes to Gotham to fight Batman at the behest of the U.S. government (it’s complicated). Miller did what’s unquestionably the best work ever done with Batman, tapping into and elevating the deeply dark elements of the Caped Crusader’s lore — in this book, Joker kills himself to try and frame Batman for the murder. It’s twisted, adult-oriented stuff that laid the groundwork for 2008’s The Dark Knight, arguably the finest superhero film ever made.

We know from interviews that Dawn of Justice isn’t a film adaptation of The Dark Knight Returns. But after seeing this new trailer, it’s safe to say it’s being influenced by it. And that alone has moved me from “deeply pessimistic” all the way up to “cautiously optimistic.” DC, however, will have to hope Marvel hasn’t already sucked the superhero well dry — by the time Batman v Superman hits, movie-goers will have gotten a dozen films in Marvel’s own shared universe. How long can the superhero craze last?

TIME Social Media

Read Outgoing Reddit CEO Ellen Pao’s Resignation Letter

Ellen Pao
Michael Short Ellen Pao, former junior partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, exits state court in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, March 27, 2015

"I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human"

Interim Reddit CEO Ellen Pao is stepping down, the company announced Friday. Reddit co-founder Steve Huffman will be the site’s new chief executive, while Pao will remain on as an advisor to the board through the end of this year.

Pao, who recently lost a high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against top Silicon Valley venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, is leaving her post after being harshly criticized — and occasionally attacked — by some Reddit users who blamed her for what they viewed as poor management decisions.

The situation came to a head late last week when widely beloved Reddit staffer Victoria Taylor was unexpectedly dismissed, to the consternation of many of the site’s volunteer moderators. Some of those moderators engaged in open revolt by effectively shutting off their groups to the public, while a recent online petition to dismiss Pao gained about 200,000 signatures.

Here’s Pao’s resignation letter, posted on Reddit, in full:

After more than two years at reddit, I have resigned today. My first day was April 1, 2013 (go orangered[1] !), and every day since has been an adventure.

In my eight months as reddit’s CEO, I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly on reddit. The good has been off-the-wall inspiring, and the ugly made me doubt humanity.

I just want to remind everyone that I am just another human; I have a family, and I have feelings. Everyone attacked on reddit is just another person like you and me. When people make something up to attack me or someone else, it spreads, and we eventually will see it. And we will feel bad, not just about what was said. Also because it undercuts the authenticity of reddit and shakes our faith in humanity.

What has far outshone the hate has been the positive on reddit. Thank you, kind strangers, for expressing your support. You gilded me 100 times. (For those of you who apologized for generating a wave of accusations that I gilded myself, please don’t feel bad. You did a good thing.) And thank you for sending cute animal pics and encouraging me to “Stay safe!” when the site overheated with expressions of hate in various forms. There were some days when your PMs inspired me more than you can imagine.

Most touching were the stories from regular users. Some told of people they knew who had committed suicide for being transgender or exposed in revenge porn. Others shared their experiences of being harassed and expressed empathy and gratitude. More recently, several users apologized for trolling me and for not giving me the benefit of the doubt when the troll hivemind moved against me. Initially users said they were afraid to post supportive messages openly; recently they started fighting back against the trolls publicly on reddit with support, corrections and positive messages.

So why am I leaving? Ultimately, the board asked me to demonstrate higher user growth in the next six months than I believe I can deliver while maintaining reddit’s core principles.

You will be in good hands — our strong leadership team will now be led by u/spez [2] , one of reddit’s original co-founders. Like u/kn0thing [3] , he’s lived and breathed reddit since its inception and will work passionately to ensure reddit’s success.

Thank you to all the users who shared your excitement about reddit and what we’ve done and for encouraging everyone to remember the human. And thank you for making my time here at reddit an amazing learning experience.

 

TIME IBM

Here’s Why IBM’s New Computer Chip Matters

It's a major breakthrough in computer technology

IBM announced Thursday that it, along with a group of partners, has made a working version of a computer chip roughly four times more powerful than today’s top-of-the-line hardware. Here’s what that means in plain English.

What makes IBM’s new chip special?

The new chips are among the first to be made with 7 nanometer transistors, an advancement made possible by using a silicon-germanium mixture instead of 100% silicon. The benefit here? As transistors get smaller, you can pack more of them onto a single chip, greatly improving chips’ performance. Today’s best chips have 14 nanometer transistors, while the next generation is expected to whittle that size down to 10nm.

Basically, smaller transistors = faster chips, and that’s a good thing.

OK, so when will this new chip make my computer faster?

We’re still a long way from putting 7nm chips in our everyday computers—we don’t even have the 10nm variety yet. IBM’s new chips were made specifically to prove the jump to 7nm is possible, using a complex manufacturing process that won’t be easy to scale up. But by establishing that 7nm is doable, it clears a mental roadblock to getting commercial-grade chips to that point. Now it’s up to chip manufactures like Intel to figure out if it’s possible to make 7nm chips in a commercially viable manner.

IBM ResearchIBM 7nm Chip

Do we actually need faster computers?

Yes, definitely! Computer chips have for decades been governed by something called Moore’s Law. Moore’s Law states the number of transistors per square inch on an integrated circuit should double every two years, but it basically means “stuff gets faster.” Because the boost in chip performance has been fairly predictable, computer manufacturers and other innovators are able to plan in advance for the arrival of faster and more efficient machines.

In a broader sense, faster computers have enabled breakthroughs unthinkable to previous generations—mapping the human genome, for example.

However, some observers are beginning to doubt Moore’s Law as we know it can continue to hold true much longer—processor design is starting to bump up against some pretty firm rules of atomic physics. What IBM’s new chip proves is that Moore’s Law should hold true for at least a little while longer, adding a little more certainly to computing’s future.

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