TIME China

Why This Chinese Startup Just Bought a Company Americans Love to Ridicule

Segway Ninebot China Copycat
Frederic J. Brown—AFP/Getty Images A woman commutes on a Segway electric, self-balancing scooter in Beijing, China, on June 9, 2009.

Ninebot's acquisition of Segway is signaling the end of "copycat China"

Two companies have sealed a deal that’s raising eyebrows: Segway, the struggling American maker of disgraced self-balancing scooters, has been bought by Ninebot, the Chinese rival that Segway recently accused of copying its signature two-wheelers.

Ninebot announced the curious acquisition for an undisclosed sum on Wednesday, which followed a combined $80 million investment from mega-rich Chinese smartphone company Xiaomi, investment firm Sequoia Capital and other backers. The two electric scooter makers will still operate as separate brands with their own products, but will unite under a “strategic alliance” to develop smarter, greener short-distance transportation vehicles.

The deal comes as a bit of a surprise given the companies’ history. Just seven months ago, Segway filed a trade complaint accusing Ninebot and other Chinese companies of violating its patents. Their products indeed resemble one another, but Ninebot has insisted it “independently owns its intellectual property.”

By itself, Segway is an interesting choice for an acquisition. The New Hampshire-based company’s self-proclaimed “future of transportation” didn’t quite catch on in America, perhaps aside from sometimes being the ride of choice among mall cops. (TIME once named Segway one of the 50 Worst Inventions.) Faced with limited success, Segway ended up being sold off twice to investors, once in 2009 and then again in 2013. The first, British investor Jimi Heselden, died in an ironic, tragic Segway crash in 2010, and the second, Summit Strategic Investments, intended to “refocus” Segway over several years, but that project was never completed.

Still, the Ninebot-Segway deal makes a lot of sense as it relates to China. Ninebot and its backers want to put an end to not only the copyright feud with Segway, but also to a larger, nationwide controversy that Segway called China’s “widespread pattern of infringement”—or what’s also been labeled “copycat China.”

“Today it’s not just copycat China,” Sequoia Capital partner Neil Shen said during Ninebot’s announcement in Beijing. “China will expand, through its own innovations and through acquisitions.”

Though the copycat reputation has long been a source of amusement, profit and convenience for China and its Western observers (the raging counterfeit markets, the full-scale copies of European cities, the fake Western hotels shamelessly named “Haiyatt”), the emphasis on imitation over innovation has contributed to a slow-down in China’s economic growth, according to China Market Research Group. China’s annual GDP growth rate continued to be sluggish at 7.7% in 2013, one of the lowest figures the country has seen in the past 20 years, according to the World Bank:

Some have attributed China’s lack of innovation to how private businesses proliferated only after being granted permission to operate during China’s economic reform in the 1980s. Others have dug deeper to argue the culture has historically prioritized hard knowledge at the expense of fostering creativity.

The Ninebot acquisition appears to be an active step towards unwinding China’s copycat problem by promoting innovation. After all, Ninebot’s most recognizable backer, Xiaomi, appears to be financing the journey. Xiaomi is an innovation king in its own right, having found massive success by filling a void in the market: high-quality, low-end smartphones. It’s also branched out into air purifiers and power strips, both of which are smartly angled towards the nation’s pollution problem.

But will Ninebot and Segway find a niche in China? It’s possible. And perhaps they already have. Chinese cops can sometimes be seen riding Segways and other electric scooters, and consumers there appear to have taken to the vehicles more than Americans have. In fact, former high-ranking leader Bo Xilai reportedly gifted his son a Segway, and tourists can often be seen renting Segways to zoom around cities from one destination to the next.

The Ninebot acquisition has the potential to give the vehicles an innovation jolt to boost affordability, smart technology and functionality, as the greater Chinese economy attempts similarly to ramp up businesses’ creativity. With Ninebot and Segway working together, perhaps the electric scooter can finally find a substantial customer base—even if it’ll never become cool.

Read next: This Could Be the Apple’s Secret Apple Watch Strategy

TIME Aviation

These Tiny Seats Could Mean Air Travel Is About to Get Much Worse

Airlines are shrinking seat widths to squeeze in more passengers

The controversial Knee Defender blocks a passenger in front of you from reclining, but what do you do when your shoulders are getting squeezed on an airplane?

That’s the big question as airplane manufacturers continue to shrink seats to let airlines stuff more passengers into economy sections. The latest maker to apply this cost-cutting measure is Airbus, which unveiled a new 11 seat-per-row reconfiguration for its A380 superjumbo jet this week in Hamburg, Germany.

The Airbus A380 currently seats 10 passengers per row in economy (3-4-3), but the new configuration bumps the middle section up by one (3-5-3):

The double-decker’s new seats, which will arrive in 2017, are technically still the same width as before — 18 in. (46 cm.) — thanks to Airbus freeing up space by slightly modifying the seats’ layout, Quartz reports. But there’s no doubt the seats will look and feel a bit tighter, if only because the plane’s capacity will be raised to 544, up from 525. Even if you have relatively narrow shoulders — the average human shoulder width is about 16 in. (41 cm.) — you can’t always count on your neighbors to be similarly sized.

Here’s what you might be feeling aboard your next flight with the A380’s main users, Emirates, Singapore Airlines, Lufthansa and Qantas:

Read more: This Airline Just Made Your Butt Happy

The tight A380 seats are part of an industry trend that’s crept into long-haul planes from short-haul planes, where passengers tend to be more willing to endure a few hours of discomfort to save money. Other long-haul jets to shrink seats include the Boeing 777 — commonly flown by United and American Airlines — whose new models are being shipped with 17 in. seat widths.

Read next: 3 Reasons You Should Be Planning a Trip to Europe Right Now

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Crime

Chicago Mayor Endorses Reparations for Police Torture Victims

The city has already paid out $100 million in settlements in lawsuits related to the infamous police commander

Chicago will pay $5.5 million in reparations to victims who claimed they were tortured decades ago under a former police commander, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Tuesday.

The measure, which also includes education benefits, job placement and counseling, is expected to be introduced on Wednesday, the Chicago Tribune reports. The city has already paid out $100 million in settlements in lawsuits related to the infamous police commander, Jon Burge, and some of his detectives, whom attorneys accused of torturing and wrongfully imprisoning up to 120 people between 1971 and 1991. Victims who already received reparations above $100,000 aren’t eligible.

Burge, who was fired in 1993, was said to have targeted mostly black suspects, forcing them to confess using electric shocks and mock executions. He was later convicted of lying about police torture in court and sentenced to more than four years in prison, before being released late last year.

Read more at Chicago Tribune

TIME Family

America’s First All-Girl Quintuplets Born in Texas Hospital

Courtesy of Adam Busby

All five are healthy and require only "modest" breathing support

America is welcoming its first known set of all-girl quintuplets.

The quints—Olivia, Ava, Hazel, Parker and Riley—were delivered via C-section last week at the Woman’s Hospital of Texas, the hospital’s CEO announced in a statement Tuesday. The girls, who Dr. Jayne Finkowski-Rivera, a medical director who assisted during their delivery, said are receiving “only modest support of their breathing,” are the world’s first set of all-female quints since 1969, the hospital said.

The parents, Danielle and Adam Busby, have been documenting the experience on their blog, where they’ve posted photos and videos over the last several months. The quintuplets—and their big sister, Blayke—were born by intrauterine insemination (IUI) pregnancies, Danielle Busby wrote online.

The National Center for Health Statistics’ latest data indicate that quintuplets are extremely rare, with 66 reported sets of five or more babies in 2013.

TIME Companies

See Which Cities Might Get Faster, Cheaper Internet Soon

Google's high-speed Internet is causing other ISPs to offer faster, cheaper service

Time Warner Cable customers in Charlotte, N.C., are getting an unexpected boost in Internet speeds this summer, the Internet Service Provider announced last week.

At first, TWC’s move looks like an unprompted upgrade. But a closer inspection reveals it’s likely a response to competition from Google, which confirmed earlier this year its ultra-fast Google Fiber Internet service is coming to Charlotte in the near future.

Google Fiber has already hit three U.S. cities (Kansas City, Mo.; Provo, Utah; Austin, Texas) and is scheduled to launch in a handful more, sending existing ISPs scrambling to match Google’s high-speed offerings and affordable prices. In early April, Comcast Atlanta unveiled plans for fiber Internet service reportedly twice as fast as Google’s after the search giant announced its plans to enter to the Georgia capital. Months before, AT&T slashed its existing fiber package prices to match Google Fiber’s prices in Kansas City, Mo., where Google Fiber first launched in 2012.

All this newfound competition in high-speed broadband is surely appreciated by Internet customers, who often aren’t very happy with their ISPs. Above, have a look at where Google Fiber is headed next — and whether you might be getting some faster, cheaper Internet just because Google is coming to town.

TIME golf

See Where Masters Champion Jordan Spieth Fits Into Golf History

The average age of Masters winners is a steady 32

21-year-old Jordan Spieth drove himself into golf history Sunday, winning the Masters with a final score of 18 under par. Spieth tied Tiger Woods for the best tournament total and became the second 21-year-old to win the event, following Woods’ 1997 performance.

Spieth’s stellar performance at such a young age raises the question of whether golfers are tending toward the younger side. According to the Golf Channel, the answer is no: The median and mean age of major champions has remained stable for decades at 32 years of age. Spieth’s win doesn’t change that magic number, but it does fall nicely into a trend of Masters winners’ ages rising and falling, as shown in the chart above.

Some observers attribute the periodic trends to repeat-champions in different generations in golf history. Jack Nicklaus, for example, has the most Masters victories, with five between 1963 and 1975 — and a sixth in 1986. Four-time champions include Arnold Palmer (1958, 1960, 1962, 1964) and Tiger Woods (1997, 2001, 2002, 2005).

Though age might not be changing among Masters winners, the champions do seem to be getting better. Masters winners’ final scores have trended upwards since the first tournaments in the 1930s, with over half of the 10-under-par totals being scored by champions in the last 20 years:


TIME movies

These Charts Show How Furious 7’s Second Weekend Is as Impressive as Its First

It smashed more box office records

Furious 7 stayed parked in the box office’s top spot for the second weekend in a row, adding $60.6 million in U.S. theaters for a total of $252.2 million.

The film is one of only a dozen to score more than $60 million in its domestic box office sales in the second weekend, according to Box Office Mojo. See how it stacks up against other films that smashed the box office in their second weekend:

It’s no surprise that Furious 7 is the Fast & Furious film that scored the franchise’s biggest second weekend at the box office after its debut weekend smashed several records. But Furious 7’s second weekend is also notable for how it managed to drop by only 59%—a testament to how its ahead-of-summer release has kept it away from heavyweights like Avengers: Age of Ultron, which hits theaters on May 1.

Last, Furious 7 is on track to be Universal Pictures’ biggest hit ever, with Furious 7 being the studio’s biggest opening and second weekend. Many attribute the success to Universal’s diverse casting and filming locations, which is linked to a strong North American turn-out among many minority groups. See how Furious 7‘s second weekend stacks up against other Universal films:

As for the rest of the box office, Variety reports, Home came in second place with $19 million, Get Hard took in $8.6 million and Cinderella nabbed $7.2 million.

Read next: This Is the Real Reason Furious 7 Is a Box Office Smash

TIME Crime

Critics Urge Prosecution of Second Officer in South Carolina Police Shooting

The actions of a black officer who responded to the shooting are being scrutinized

Outrage over the deadly police shooting in South Carolina earlier this month, in which a white officer shot and killed an unarmed black man as he ran away, has prompted new calls for a second officer—who is black and who arrived to the scene shortly after the shooting—to be prosecuted.

A video of the April 4 shooting and immediate aftermath that was filmed by a bystander shows North Charleston officer Clarence Habersham requesting a medical kit and inspecting the wounds of Walter Scott, 50, as he lay on the ground after being shot multiple times by officer Michael Slager, who is white. Slager is charged with murder; Habersham did not fire any bullets.

After the incident, the New York Times reports, Habersham filed a brief report that stated he “attempted to render aid to the victim by applying pressure to the gunshot wounds” and helped to carry out emergency response efforts by giving others directions to the location of the shooting.

Critics claim that Habersham did not include certain information in his report, specifically about Slager. The footage appears to show Slager, after shooting Scott, going back to retrieve an object from the ground that is suspected to be a Taser and then tossing it next to Scott’s body.

On Friday, the National Bar Association issued a statement that accused Habersham of “an attempted cover up” in the Scott case. The legal group is seeking Habersham’s arrest and indictment, claiming the officer “made false statements” to several North Charleston officers and “deliberately left facts out of his report.”

“In his report, Officer Habersham does not describe Officer Slager’s actions, but said that he gave aid to Mr. Scott and tried to give directions to the scene,” the group said. “However, there is no evidence on the video that show Officer Habersham, or anyone else, administered CPR to Mr. Scott.”

And on Sunday, one day after Scott was buried, the Rev. Al Sharpton spoke about Habersham to the Times. “Given what I’ve seen, he certainly should be held accountable,” he said. “What charge, I don’t know. But certainly he should not walk away without facing some accountability in the criminal justice system.”


Read next: In the Line of Fire

TIME Television

Watch SNL Parody Hillary Clinton’s 2016 Announcement

"The Clintons are back!"

Saturday Night Live had a little fun with Hillary Clinton on the eve of her expected announcement of a White House bid.

Cast member Kate McKinnon played the former Secretary of State during the cold open, in which Hillary attempts to film her announcement on her phone. When one of the attempts doesn’t turn out well, her advisor suggests that she delete the clip. “I know a thing or two about that, right?” Clinton says, referring to the recent controversy surrounding her emails.

Taraji P. Henson, a first-time host, delivered the opening monologue about how she “made it” backed by a gospel choir. “I could have been an extra on The Lion King,” the actress jokes. The Empire star also impersonated rapper Nicki Minaj in a parody trailer for Home 2, a sequel to DreamWorks Animations’ Home, whose star-studded cast included Jim Parsons and Rihanna.

Read next: 5 Other Women Who Ran for President

TIME movies

Amy Schumer on Hosting the MTV Movie Awards: ‘People Are Going to Be Mad’

Comedian Amy Schumer.
Charles Sykes—AP Comedian Amy Schumer.

Still, the Comedy Central star drew some boundaries for her jokes

Comedian Amy Schumer won’t necessarily have her audience’s feelings in mind when she hosts the MTV Movie Awards on Sunday evening.

The Inside Amy Schumer star told reporters in Los Angeles last week that she admires previous hosts Jon Stewart, Seth MacFarlane and Ricky Gervais, who were accused of offensive hosting gigs in recent years, The Hollywood Reporter reports.

“I always think hosts do a good job, honestly. And then I’ll hear, ‘People are pissed,'” Schumer said. “I know people are going to be mad, they’re going to be mad, and that’s fine.”

Still, the Comedy Central star—who was the first MTV Movie Awards host to announce the gig herself—drew some boundaries for her set, saying that it wouldn’t be roast-style and that “there won’t be any jokes about any recent deaths or people changing their gender.” But, she added, expect her to “go after” Kevin Hart “pretty hard.”

The MTV Movie Awards will air on Sunday at 8 p.m. E.T. from the Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles.

Read next: Amy Schumer: Class Clown of 2015


Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com