TIME Google

Google Is Making an Apple Watch Killer With This Swiss Luxury Watchmaker

Google Tag Heuer
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images A Tag Heuer logo sits on the face of a Carrera wristwatch, produced by Tag Heuer, a watchmaking unit of LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton SA, as it sits on display at the company's boothduring the Baselworld luxury watch and jewelry fair in Basel, Switzerland, on Thursday, March 27, 2014.

TAG Heuer's upcoming device will compete with the high-end Apple Watch Edition

Luxury Swiss watchmaker TAG Heuer is working on a new smartwatch with help from Google and Intel, the companies announced Thursday. While it’s unclear what any resulting device will look like, the companies said it would be packed with Intel hardware and run Google’s Android Wear wearable operating system software.

“Swiss watchmaking and Silicon Valley is a marriage of technological innovation with watchmaking credibility,” said Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of TAG Heuer parent company Hublot, in a statement. “Our collaboration provides a rich host of synergies, forming a win-win partnership, and the potential for our three companies is enormous.”

The move is clearly a response from both companies to the Apple Watch, which goes on sale April 24. While the entry-level Apple Watch starts at $349, the higher-end gold models begin at $10,000 and will compete with luxury offerings from the likes of TAG, Rolex and more.

Google can provide TAG Heuer with expertise in smartwatch software it’s gained through developing Android Wear. TAG Heuer can in turn give Google’s brand more credibility in the luxury watch space, helping it better compete with Apple in that arena. Most Android Wear devices fall in the $200-$500 range, prices classifying them more as consumer electronics rather than luxury goods.

The Google-TAG Heuer news comes after co-inventor of the famous Swiss watch brand Swatch said he expects the higher-end Apple Watch to be a major threat to Swiss luxury watchmakers.

The introduction of the Apple Watch could cause the global smartwatch market to balloon from 4.6 million units sold last year to upwards of 28 million this year, per Bloomberg.

Read next: Tim Cook: The Apple Watch Is the First Smartwatch ‘That Matters’

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TIME

Proof That Millennials Finally Are Becoming Self-Sufficient

money-calendar
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They're finally feeding themselves, at least

Today’s young adults have gotten a reputation — some say unfairly — as Peter Pan types, clinging to adolescence and letting their helicopter parents do everything for them. Now, research says that millennials are definitely making headway countering that perception — at least in the kitchen.

Younger diners, along with their penchant for customization and preference for fresh foods, contributed to the growth of what the industry calls “fast casual” — Panera Bread, Chipotle Mexican Grill and the like. Even convenience stores and drug stores have been trying to get in on the popularity of “grab and go” prepared food. There are signs now, though, that young adults are drifting away from the drive-thru and picking up spatulas in front of their stoves.

Market researchers at The NPD Group say that millennials are cooking and eating more at home, and they’ve got the numbers to back it up. Older millennials, those between 25 and 34 years old, have made, on average, 50 fewer restaurant visits per person over the past several years. Over the past year alone, their use of the drive-thru dropped 6% and eat-in restaurant visits fell 1%. Younger millennials, those under the age of 25, still like ordering out, but they’re more likely to eat it at home. This age bracket led a slight gain in takeout orders last year, while their drive-thru and sit-down visits also fell.

Young adults are starting to see cooking as economic necessity, especially as they reach the age when they’re starting families. NPD finds that young millennials spend an average of $1,240 a year at restaurants, down $146 from 2007. The drop for older millennials, even though they presumably have more disposable income, is even steeper, down $213 per person to an average of $1,369 a year.

Instead, they’re investing in new gadgets and gizmos like panini presses and rice cookers. Another NPD report says shoppers under 35 accounted for roughly a quarter of all the money Americans spent on small kitchen appliances last year, up five percentage points from only a year ago. “Their fundamental need for the essentials is what is moving the needle in many home-related categories,” executive director and home industry analyst Debra Mednick says in a statement.

But it’s not just about the money. Millennial consumers are famously self-aware — you might even say finicky — about what they put in their bodies. Market research firm Mintel finds that almost 60% of millennials under the age of 25 are skeptical about foods that make health-related claims like “GMO-free.” Cooking at home gives them more control over what they eat. “It’s healthier and tastes better than what they can get away from home. Plus, it saves them money,” says NPD restaurant industry analyst Bonnie Riggs.

“Another important factor for older millennials with kids under age 13 is that they are thinking of their families’ wants and needs,” Riggs adds. Dinner is back to being family time — plus, to a generation that grew up with Chopped and Iron Chef, food is also entertainment. NPD finds that about half of millennials say they enjoy cooking, and a slew of new ingredient-delivery services like Blue Apron and Plated bring home cooking, well, back home.

“I think in the now culture we have created, services like these that make it easier to eat and cook with ease will see an increase in popularity,” Morgan Oliveira, spokeswoman for food technology company Hampton Creek, tells Fast Company.

TIME robotics

Meet Sawyer, a New Robot That Wants to Revolutionize Manufacturing

It can do far more delicate tasks than most factory robots

There’s a new robot in town.

Meet Sawyer, a new robot unveiled Thursday by Rethink Robotics, a Boston-based robotics company aiming to make factories more efficient, safer and more productive.

Weighing in at 41.9 lbs and standing 3.3 feet tall, the one-armed Sawyer is smaller and more flexible than Rethink’s only other robot, the double-armed Baxter, which debuted in 2012. While Baxter has helped companies do heavy duty work like loading boxes, Sawyer was created to automate more detailed, smaller tasks, like testing circuit boards and machine tending — jobs that have traditionally proven too intricate for industrial robots.

“[Baxter] gave us a tremendous base of companies that were thinking like us. We have a vision, idea and experience, but we don’t necessarily have all the answers,'” Rethink CMO Jim Lawton says of Sawyer’s development, which began in late 2013. “It’s like taking one step across the river. You can’t get there in one step, so you need to build commercially viable products as stepping stones. Eventually, you get to the other side of the river.”

Rethink’s customers have already used both robots — though Sawyer only in field tests — to perform low-level factory jobs, positions that are often menial, dangerous or undesirable. The machines are also relatively cheap: Sawyer will start at $29,000 when it’s introduced more widely this fall, while Baxter starts at $25,000; similar robots can cost several times more. The robots’ signature touch is digital “faces” that double as easy-to-use interfaces, allowing companies to get Sawyer and Baxter up-and-running within hours or days.

Together, Sawyer and Baxter are just two of the many robots fueling fears automation and other technologies are taking humans’ jobs. Rethink is used to the criticism: factory labor has long been a politically charged topic, and the seven-year-old startup has often been in the spotlight thanks to its big-name investors like Bezos Expeditions and Charles River Ventures. Rethink’s most recent funding round in January raised $26.6 million. That’s considered a significant investment in the robotics industry, which is expected to grow 12% globally every year, according to the International Federation of Robotics.

Still, Rethink Robotics argues that its robots will only supplement their human counterparts, not outmode them. “Companies who are buying robots are filling in the tasks they can’t get people to stay and do,” says co-founder Rodney Brooks. “They’re using the people they have more positively by using their intelligence.”

Global manufacturing company Jabil, which uses thousands of robots including Sawyer and Baxter, agrees that robots will support instead of replace manufacturing workers. After all, the manufacturing field is in global decline as emerging and advanced economies shift toward high-skill jobs, according to a McKinsey Global Institute report. In the U.S., for example, the share of jobs in manufacturing fell from 25% in 1950 to about 9% in 2013.

“The trend that’s across the entire manufacturing continuum is a demographic shift that’s making it more and more difficult to attract the kind of low-cost labor that we’ve been able to do in the past, and to keep wages at the levels they’re at,” says John Dulchinos, VP of global automation at Jabil. “Robots by themselves aren’t the answer, but robots are a piece of the equation.”

TIME technology

Angry Birds Maker Rovio Sees Profits Fall 73% in 2014

"Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.
Romeo Gacad—AFP/Getty Images "Angry Birds" merchandise displayed in Jakarta, Indonesia in 2012.

The maker of the game is hoping that the upcoming Angry Birds film will help bolster a plunge in revenue.

The maker of the Angry Birds franchise said Thursday that profits were down last year as new games overtook its mainstay in popularity.

Finnish developer Rovio said its 2014 revenue dropped to 158.3 million euros ($169 million) from 173.5 million euros a year earlier and profits fell 73% to 10 million euros, the Wall Street Journal reports. Merchandise sales plummeted to 41.4 million euros from 73.1 million euros.

Angry Birds, launched in 2009 at the price of $0.99, has been surpassed in popularity by free-to-download alternatives. King Digital Entertainment, the maker of Candy Crush Saga, pulled in $2.26 billion last year.

In an effort the help rejuvenate the company, Rovio is releasing an animated film, Angry Birds, in May 2016. The 3D film is being developed by Sony Pictures Imageworks, and will star Jason Sudeikis, Danny McBride, Bill Hader, Maya Rudolph and Peter Dinklage.

[Wall Street Journal]

TIME Retail

Target Will Pay $10 Million to Settle Data Breach Lawsuit

Individual victims will be paid up to $10,000 in damages

Target Corp has agreed to pay $10 million in a proposed settlement of a class-action lawsuit related to a huge 2013 data breach that consumers say compromised their personal financial information, court documents show.

Under the proposal, which requires federal court approval, Target will deposit the settlement amount into an interest bearing escrow account, to pay individual victims up to $10,000 in damages.

The claims will be submitted and processed primarily online through a dedicated website, according to the court documents.

The proposal also requires Target to adopt and implement data security measures such as appointing a chief information security officer and maintaining a written information security program.

 

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME

Who Let the Bears Out?

The end of easy money means a market correction of significant proportions

New skyscrapers tend to correlate with market peaks. Construction of the Empire State and Chrysler buildings marked a top in equities back in the 1920s, just as the completion of the World Trade Center pegged the top in the 1970s, as behavioral economist Peter Atwater recently pointed out to me. So will the current proliferation of luxury skyscrapers correspond to the end of a multiyear bull market in the U.S.? Quite possibly, yes. In the short run, that could complicate the lives of average investors, but at root it really shows how scrambled the world of international finance has become.

Savvy investors everywhere have been chattering for some time about the arrival of a new bear market. Recently, those worries have reached a fever pitch. It’s not the nosebleed buildings that have them spooked but the machinations of the world’s central bankers. Since the financial crisis of 2008, the trillions of dollars they’ve poured into markets in an attempt to buoy the global economy have basically dictated the direction of stocks–up.

No single actor has done more to bolster markets than the U.S.’s Federal Reserve bank. But in October, the Fed ended its $4.5 trillion bond-buying program, and a strengthening U.S. economy means it is mulling an interest-rate hike, probably by September. Higher rates will mean lower stock prices. In Europe, where the European Central Bank just began a similar bond-buying program, the opposite is true: stocks are going up.

What’s amazing is that the real economy in the U.S. is getting stronger (recent payroll numbers were the best since 2006), even as the European economy is plunging into another episode of the telenovela that is its debt crisis. It’s a bizarro world that makes sense only if you try to understand how central banks work. Central bankers pump money into the market when they perceive their home economies as being weak. They pull back when they sense a sustainable recovery is in hand. The end result is a complete divergence between the real economy and the markets.

This problem has been brewing for decades, as loose monetary policy has become the fallback position for governments that don’t want to do the hard work of training a 21st century workforce, paying for new infrastructure or coming up with smarter, less consumption-based means of growth.

Certainly this was the case post-2008, and the results have been mixed. Many will rightly argue that quantitative easing in the U.S. helped the rich more than the poor, since they hold the majority of stocks. But particularly in the early days, it also greased the wheels of a weak recovery that has benefited everyone, even if unequally. It certainly kept unemployment lower than it would have otherwise been. In lieu of more political action to address the root causes of slower growth, central bankers felt they had no choice but to keep the money spigots on. Fed Chair Janet Yellen, a Keynesian, told me as much when she took up her position last year.

For politicians, it’s always easier to let the central bankers of the world keep the sugar high of easy money going rather than tell this or that vested interest group that things are going to be tough for a while. But what happens when the sugar is metabolized? A market correction, no doubt. The only question is how long and how deep.

The ramifications aren’t likely to be pretty. The Bank for International Settlements, a bank for central banks, based in Switzerland, has warned that the coming Fed pullback in the U.S. could have “significant” consequences. “The disconnect today between the markets and the real economy has never been bigger,” explains Mohamed El-Erian, chief economic adviser at Allianz and chairman of President Obama’s Global Development Council, who is working on a book about how central bankers have distorted the market in pursuit of better economic outcomes. “It scares me to think what happens if we reach the end of this policy road and the economic results are disappointing,” he adds. That leaves average consumers with few good options aside from buying and holding an index fund.

Already we’re seeing more market volatility this year than we saw all of last year, as investors begin to jitter. The U.S. markets may not be the prettiest house on the ugly block that is the global economy anymore. Now that European markets have been sprinkled with central-bank fairy dust, look for money to rush there, despite slower real economic growth. Investors aren’t outright panicking–yet. From the world’s penthouses, it can be hard to see what’s happening on the ground.

TIME Tech

Facebook Sued for Sex Discrimination, Harassment

A former employee of Facebook filed a lawsuit this week accusing the company of gender and racial discrimination as well as sexual harassment. What’s more, the woman is represented by lawyers who are also involved in another sexism case that is currently the talk of Silicon Valley.

Chia Hong, the former Facebook employee who sued the social networking giant Monday, claims she suffered three years of harassment during stints as a program manager and technology partner. She alleges that she was wrongfully terminated in October 2013 after she complained about being harassed and discriminated against by her boss, Anil Wilson, and by dozens of other colleagues, based on her gender, race and Taiwanese nationality.

Facebook has denied Hong’s allegations.

“We work extremely hard on issues related to diversity, gender and equality, and we believe we’ve made progress,” a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. “In this case we have substantive disagreements on the facts, and we believe the record shows the employee was treated fairly.”

Hong is represented by the San Francisco-based employment law firm Lawless & Lawless, which is also part of the legal team currently representing former venture capitalist Ellen Pao in her high-profile gender discrimination lawsuit against blue clip Silicon Valley investment firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Pao, who currently serves as interim CEO of Reddit, sued Kleiner Perkins in 2012 in a $16 million lawsuit in which she accuses the firm of gender discrimination for passing her over for promotions frequently during her time working at the firm.

The trial for Pao’s case started last month and has generated its fair share of national news coverage as the lawsuit plays into longstanding criticisms of Silicon Valley’s gender gap and the perception of the tech industry as a male-dominated environment.

Meanwhile, Hong’s lawsuit isn’t Facebook’s only current legal issue. Last week, a federal judge allowed a nationwide class-action lawsuit against the company to move forward. That suit involves the claims of plaintiffs, estimated to number in the hundreds of thousands, who are seeking refunds from Facebook for money their children spent on the website without parental permission.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Companies

Target Will Raise Minimum Wage to $9 Per Hour

Shopper Laura Steele leaves a Target store in Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, January 15, 2015. Target announced that they will be ceasing operations in Canada affecting about 18,000 jobs. (Photo by Kevin Van Paassen Bloomberg)
Getty Images Shopper Laura Steele leaves a Target store in Toronto, Ontario, Thursday, January 15, 2015.

The second largest retailer in the U.S. is following Walmart's lead

Target, the second-largest retailer in the U.S., will lift its minimum wage to $9 an hour in April.

The move comes just one month after Wal-Mart said it would raise its starting wage to $9 per hour this spring and $10 next year, giving around 500,000 workers a raise.

Though Target said it would not comment on employee wages, Dow Jones reported and Reuters confirmed the bump Wednesday.

The move will be cheered by labor groups who have been pushing the company to offer higher pay. Women’s advocacy group UltraViolet recently ran a web campaign that pointed potential customers towards competitors. One banner ad read, “Did you know there’s a Walmart near you that pays higher minimum wage than Target?”

Federal minimum wage has been $7.25 per hour since 2009. Democrats have proposed raising it to $10.10, but many Republicans believe it would be detrimental to businesses.

[Reuters]

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