Newley

Audio of the day

There is something oddly calming — despite the underlying menace — of this Death Star ambient audio, which lasts for no less than 12 hours:

This is the classic Death Star sound from Star Wars for 12 hours. Perfect for imagining that you are a Jedi working towards justice in deep space. Also great for meditating, relaxing, sleeping, or drowning out other annoying sounds.

Oh, and YouTube user crysknife007 has more where that came from. Check out the “Extended Star Wars Sounds” playlist.

Samsung’s Plan to Hook Consumers in Southeast Asia

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Can free Frappuccinos, deals on hotel rooms, and apps offering localized content keep users hooked on Samsung’s smartphones as the company loses market share here in Southeast Asia?

The South Korean electronics giant is betting that the answer is yes.

That’s the focus of a story I wrote that ran on the front page of the WSJ Asia and in the U.S. paper yesterday.

You can find it online here.

In addition, embedded above and online here is a WSJ Live video in which I talk a bit more about the issue.

And here’s a separate post on our Digits blog about some companies that are gaining ground at Samsung’s expense: local smartphone makers little known outside the region, like Advan Digital, Smartfren, Ninetology and Cherry Mobile.

Joel Mokyr on Tech, Innovation and Economic Growth

Joel Mokyr, a Northwestern University economist and author, in a WSJ op-ed:

There is nothing like a recession to throw economists into a despondent mood. Much as happened in the late 1930s—when there was a fear of so-called secular stagnation, or the absence of growth due to a dearth of investment opportunities—many of my colleagues these days seem to believe that “sad days are here again.” The economic growth experienced through much of the 20th century, they tell us, was fleeting. Our children will be no richer than we are. The entry of millions of married women into the workforce and the huge increase in college graduates that drove post-1945 growth were one-off boons. Slow growth is here to stay.

What is wrong with this story? The one-word answer is “technology.” The responsibility of economic historians is to remind the world what things were like before 1800. Growth was imperceptibly slow, and the vast bulk of the population was so poor that a harvest failure would kill millions. Almost half the babies born died before reaching age 5, and those who made it to adulthood were often stunted, ill and illiterate.

What changed this world was technological progress. Starting in the late 18th century, innovations and advances in what was then called “the useful arts” began improving life, first in Britain, then in the rest of Europe, and then in much of the rest of the world.

Two Outstanding MH17 Features

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I’m back in Singapore after helping with our Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 coverage from Kuala Lumpur.

Here are two especially great features, produced by my WSJ colleagues, that I wanted to point out:

First, there’s this moving story from Sunday about parents — whose only child was aboard Flight 17 — visiting the crash site in Ukraine:

Angela Rudhart-Dyczynski slipped off her shoes, covered her feet in white socks and crunched through a field tinged with the sick-sweet smell of death to reach a wing of downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17.

She and her husband arrived Saturday from Australia after an exhausting three-day journey that left her feet too swollen for shoes. They braved this war zone in search of a lost passenger: Fatima, their only child.

“We’re standing here at the wing in the field,” Jerzy Dyczynski, a cardiologist, said into his phone, as the wind blew. “This is where we thought she was sitting. We’re trying to picture her.”

Among the locusts and wildflowers, images of their daughter, a 25-year-old aerospace engineering graduate student at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands who had been on her way home for a visit, overwhelmed them.

They knew where they were, but they still couldn’t believe it. “We’re lost,” Mr. Dyczynski said.

Second, don’t miss this interactive feature with a map showing how, exactly, the plane came apart and where its wreckage was strewn over Ukraine.

Above is a screen shot; click through for more.

Kevin Kelly: Now is a Great Time to be an Internet Entrepreneur

Kevin Kelly, in a post at Medium:

…In terms of the internet, nothing has happened yet. The internet is still at the beginning of its beginning. If we could climb into a time machine and journey 30 years into the future, and from that vantage look back to today, we’d realize that most of the greatest products running the lives of citizens in 2044 were not invented until after 2014. People in the future will look at their holodecks, and wearable virtual reality contact lenses, and downloadable avatars, and AI interfaces, and say, oh, you didn’t really have the internet (or whatever they’ll call it) back then.

My Q&A with Twitter’s VP of Emerging Markets, Shailesh Rao

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It’s online here and in the print edition of today’s Wall Street Journal Asia.

It begins:

Shailesh Rao has one of the most important jobs at Twitter Inc.: overseeing the company’s revenue in emerging markets.

Eight months after the messaging service’s initial public offering, the San Francisco-based company is betting that populous countries in Latin America, Asia and elsewhere can help it stem slowing user growth in the U.S. and boost sales.

Twitter’s revenue, most of which comes from advertising, more than doubled in the first quarter to $250.5 million. But the company, which was founded in 2006, has yet to make a profit. Some 78% of Twitter’s more than 255 million users are located outside the U.S., but the company derives just 28% of its revenue internationally.

Mr. Rao is trying to change that. The 42-year-old joined Twitter in 2012 after seven years at Internet search giant Google Inc., where he ran the company’s Asia display advertising business.

In an interview at Twitter’s offices in Singapore, Mr. Rao, who was born in Toronto and grew up in Pittsburgh, discussed the company’s goals for growth, how double-majoring in history and economics helps him on the job, and why yoga makes him a better manager.

Me on WSJ Live Talking about Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

Online here and embedded above is a video segment I did with my WSJ colleague Ramy Inocencio earlier today.

I’m here in Kuala Lumpur helping with our coverage of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, which crashed Thursday in the east Ukraine region of Donetsk — just a few months after Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 went missing.

For updates, keep an eye on our home page, our streaming updates page, and follow me on Twitter.

Stay tuned.

A Warning for Southeast Asia’s Brick-and-Mortar Retailers

I wrote a recent WSJ Digits story about how e-commerce in Southeast Asia is set to boom, according to a UBS report:

Message for Southeast Asia’s brick-and-mortar retailers: E-commerce companies could soon be eating your lunch.

That’s according to a recent study by UBS , which showed the region’s consumers are already flocking to e-commerce sites at the expense of traditional retailers’ platforms.

Internet penetration in the populous region is higher than many assume, and will soon skyrocket thanks to the increasing use of low-cost smartphones and the availability of mobile Web connections, according UBS’s head of research and strategy in Thailand, Raymond Maguire, who authored the report.