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NY Gov. Cuomo Deems Losing 2nd Amazon HQ ‘Greatest Tragedy’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says Amazon’s backing out of a deal to put one of its second headquarters in New York City is the “greatest tragedy” he has seen since he’s been in government.

Cuomo said Friday on public radio station WAMC that losing the Amazon deal makes him sick to his stomach. Cuomo’s public comments were his first on the topic since his office issued a statement February 14, the day the Seattle-based internet retailer announced it was backing out of an agreement to redevelop a site in Queens.

Cuomo again blamed fellow Democrats who control the state Senate. They include Sen. Michael Gianaris, who represents the Long Island City neighborhood where Amazon wanted to base 25,000 jobs.

Emails requesting comment were sent to the offices of Gianaris and the Senate majority.

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Trump, Chinese Vice Premier to Talk Trade at White House

U.S. President Donald Trump will meet with China’s vice premier at the White House Friday as part of an ongoing effort to defuse the trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.

Representatives from both countries have engaged in talks in Washington this week under a cloud of uncertainty created by Trump’s threat to more than double tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods on March 1.

Trump will meet with Vice Premier Liu He, China’s top trade negotiator. Chinese President Xi Jinping has designated Liu as a “special envoy,” granting him the authority to negotiate directly with the U.S.

The U.S. is calling on China to make structural changes on key issues such as stopping the theft of American technology and reining in improper subsidies and other advantages provided to state-owned companies.

The Reuters news agency reported that negotiators from both sides were trying to finalize details of six broad agreements covering the most difficult issues, including those involving technology theft and corporate subsidies.

Additional tariffs Trump has threatened to impose could take effect if a trade deal is not reached before the beginning of March. Trump has signaled, however, he could extend the deadline, saying March 1 is not a “magical date.”

The two countries imposed more than $360 billion in tariffs in two-way trade last year, after Trump triggered the trade dispute over complaints of unfair trade practices. The tariffs have weighed heavily on both countries’ manufacturing sectors and raised concern they could exacerbate the global economic slowdown.

Charles Boustany of the U.S.-based National Bureau of Asian Research co-authored a newly-released report that includes recommendations of how to manage the trade impasse.

“We don’t believe the [Trump] administration has set the stage properly to get China to change,” Boustany told VOA. “It’s truly a test if China will change with these broad structural issues. So, we don’t think the deal they come up with is truly enforceable at this stage.”

Boustany said the U.S. must solicit the help of allies to build more pressure on China, adding maintaining U.S. efforts will not “be enough unilaterally.”

Reuters also reported the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the nation’s largest business lobbying group, urged negotiators Friday to reach an agreement as soon as possible, although it expects talks to continue past the March 1 deadline.

“To us, the date is not magical. What’s important is to get a comprehensible sustainable agreement,” chamber executive Myron Brilliant said on a conference call with reporters.

Brilliant said the trade dispute between the two superpowers has increased business costs, which will continue to mount as long as tariffs are in effect.

VOA’s Mandarin Service contributed to this report.

 

 

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Kraft Heinz Announces $15.4 Billion Write-Down

Analysts say a $15.4 billion write-down for food giant Kraft Heinz reflects changing consumer taste for fresh food products over processed ones.

The company said Thursday the decrease in value of some of its major brands resulted in a net loss of $12.6 billion.

Kraft Heinz also announced Thursday the Securities and Exchange Commission had subpoenaed it late last year because of its procurement procedures.

At the end of the business day Thursday, the company saw its stock drop about 20 percent.

“We expect to take a step backwards in 2019,” Chief Financial Officer David Knopf said in a post earnings conference call. He promised “consistent profit growth” for 2020.

Kraft Heinz is the home of such iconic brands as Velveeta Cheese, Heinz ketchup brands, Oscar Mayer hotdogs and Cheez Whiz.

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LA Showcases Quake Alert System

California is earthquake country, and residents of Los Angeles can now get some critical warning, when conditions are right, after a quake has started and seismic waves are heading their way.

The system, called ShakeAlertLA, is the first of its kind in the United States.

Earthquake alert systems like this save lives, said Jeff Gorell, deputy Los Angeles mayor for public safety, as he demonstrated the application on his smartphone. 

“When an earthquake starts, the first waves that go out are called P-waves,” he said. They serve as a warning and “are not the damaging, destructive waves” that will follow. 

The alert system, which relies on data from seismic sensors throughout the region, could offer up to 90 seconds of warning for quakes of magnitude 5 or larger.

Even a few seconds can make a difference, said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, as he rolled out the ShakeAlertLA smartphone app in January. Alerts let people know to drop, cover and hold on, as they are instructed to do in earthquakes.

Mexico City system

An alert system is in place in Mexico City that let residents brace for a mild shaker in early February after an earthquake struck Chiapas to the south. The quake was barely felt in the capital, but residents were ready.

The system doesn’t always help, however, and it did not with the magnitude 7.1 earthquake on Sept. 19, 2017, that killed hundreds in and around the Mexican capital. The quake’s epicenter was too close to offer warning.

Distance to epicenter crucial

Alert systems work when there’s enough distance between the earthquake’s epicenter and a center of population, said Thomas Heaton, professor of engineering seismology at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

“So, if you can recognize that an earthquake has started … you can give some area that’s about to be shaken strongly a heads up that says, ‘There’s an ongoing earthquake, and oh, by the way, it’s headed in your direction.’”

California is riddled with geological fault lines that periodically rupture. The largest, the San Andreas Fault, can give rise to massive temblors, including the San Francisco quake in 1906, which may have killed 3,000, according to later estimates.

A section of the same fault shifted in 1989, causing a magnitude 6.9 earthquake that killed more than 60 in Oakland and nearby communities. Smaller fault lines can also cause large temblors, including a previously unknown fault beneath the Northridge section of Los Angeles, where a magnitude 6.7 quake killed more than 60 people in 1994.

The ShakeAlertLA app offers users critical information after a temblor has started, said Deputy Mayor Gorell, “just enough so that they can digest it and then react to it, without overwhelming them with information or frightening them,” he said.

Advanced alert systems are also in place in Japan, and while the systems have limitations, authorities there say they have saved lives.

Los Angeles officials say preparing for earthquakes requires work on many fronts, including encouraging residents to prepare disaster plans and stock emergency supplies.

Preparations also require upgrades to old buildings. Los Angeles now has nearly 13,000 so-called soft-story buildings, with wide windows or doors on lower floors that need bracing. These buildings are vulnerable to damage or collapse if struck by seismic waves of a certain type or intensity.

Nearly 1,700 buildings have been upgraded to modern earthquake standards, and another 3,500 have been issued permits for retrofitting. It’s a race against time, officials say, because massive shakers rock the region periodically. The last big quake in Southern California, in 1857, reached magnitude 7.9, and could have killed thousands in a modern city.

The alert app can help, said Heaton, who noted that when the ground “starts to shake, you have no idea whether it’s going to get bigger, or whether it will stay small. Usually it stays small,” he said, “but you don’t know.”

Heaton said the system will give you an indication of what to expect, and also let emergency workers know where to send help after a quake has struck.

ShakeAlert is being rolled out in phases in the U.S. West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington, which are all vulnerable to earthquakes.

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Analysts: Insurance Can’t Offset Risks of Climate Change

From homeowners facing higher flood insurance premiums to investors putting money into coal-fired power plants, financial risks related to climate change are growing, analysts say. 

But working out how a switch to lower-carbon train travel could affect an airline or what an insurance firm should do to weather more flood claims is neither clear nor simple, they say. 

Help may be at hand, however, from guides published Friday to assess financial risks from the physical threats of climate change, as well as the risks and opportunities of a global transition away from fossil fuels. 

“What is the exposure financial institutions have to natural catastrophes? I don’t think that question traditionally has been asked,” said Greg Lowe, global head of resilience and sustainability for Aon, a London-based insurance and risk firm. 

Traditional ideas may fall short

For disasters, “there’s always been an assumption we have insurance for that,” said Lowe, whose firm contributed to the reports by ClimateWise, an initiative of the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership that aims to better disclose and respond to climate-related insurance risks. 

With those risks growing — particularly as heat-trapping emissions continue to rise — traditional methods of dealing with them may not be enough as the world tracks toward 2 degrees Celsius or more of global warming, the twin reports warn. 

“If indeed people think we’re headed on that path [past 2 C], it’s going to be a hugely difficult task for the financial system to manage,” Lowe predicted. 

Over the next 30 years, the risks from heat waves, storm surges and floods will increase substantially because of warming already underway, the physical threats report noted. 

In Britain, that could lead to higher flood insurance premiums and people more often made homeless by floods, as well as greater investment by cities and towns in flood defenses. 

That homeowners understand changing flood risks and will respond adequately to them “is probably a generous assumption,” Lowe said. 

But even for those who do grasp the shift, simply boosting insurance coverage is unlikely to be an answer, he said. 

“I don’t think buying more insurance is a politically or financially sustainable thing to do,” he said. “Even with insurance, this is still a tremendous hardship on people if they are out of their homes.” 

Who foots the bill?

Rather, there should be honest discussions about who foots the bill for the growing risk and damage, he said. 

“Someone is going to pay for this. How that gets distributed through the financial system is the question,” he added. 

The new reports aim to demonstrate that it is possible to start taking a more precise look at the risks and their financial impacts, and to give experts tools to do that, said Bronwyn Claire, senior program manager for ClimateWise. 

For instance, they could explore how changes in transport demand between trains and planes, or a carbon tax that is influencing fuel prices, might affect an airport in Germany. 

The guides could also help investors spot opportunities, she added. 

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Nike Stumbles into Social Media Storm After Basketball Star’s Shoe Splits

A Nike Inc sneaker worn by a college basketball superstar split in half less than a minute into a highly anticipated game between Duke University and North Carolina, prompting an outcry on social media as the company sought to figure out what caused the problem.

Zion Williamson, a 6-foot-7-inch freshman forward for the Duke Blue Devils who is anticipated to be the top 2019 NBA Draft pick, suffered a mild sprain to his right knee because of the incident Wednesday night, according to his coach Mike Krzyzewski.

The official Duke Basketball Twitter handle (@DukeMBB) tweeted Thursday evening that Zion was “progressing as expected, and his status is day-to-day.”

A closeup video replay showed Williamson slipping and crumpling to the ground, clutching his knee in pain. His left shoe is seen split in half, with part of the sole ripped off the base of the sneaker.

Williamson did not return to play in the match-up, which ended with No. 1-ranked Duke losing 72-88 to the No. 8-ranked Tar Heels team.

Reaction from Nike

“We are obviously concerned and want to wish Zion a speedy recovery,” Nike said in a statement. “The quality and performance of our products are of utmost importance. While this is an isolated occurrence, we are working to identify the issue.”

Shares of the sportswear maker closed down 1 percent Thursday, a day after the incident, wiping off some $1.46 billion from Nike’s market capitalization since Wednesday’s close.

Oppenheimer analyst Brian Nagel said in a note that he was optimistic “any lasting damage to the company and its shares will prove minimal.”

Williamson was wearing the Nike PG 2.5 basketball shoe when he was injured, Nike confirmed to Reuters in an email. The line of sneakers, launched in summer of 2018, sells for $95-$105 on Nike’s website.

The shoe received mixed reviews and a rating of 4 out of 5 stars on Nike.com as of Thursday.

Nike is Duke’s exclusive supplier of uniforms, shoes and apparel under a 12-year contract that was extended in 2015 and has had an exclusive deal with the private university since 1992, ESPN reported.

Nike’s latest quarterly results showed signs of a rebound as it speeds up new product launches and expands partnerships with online retailers. The Beaverton, Oregon-based company has forecast sales growth for 2019 approaching low double-digits.

Williamson, who averaged 21.6 points a game, has been tipped as the “next Lebron James” and is expected to be selected first in the NBA Draft this June.

Krzyzewski said it was unclear how long Williamson would be out because of the injury.

Reaction from celebrities

Former President Barack Obama, director Spike Lee and star NFL running back Todd Gurley attended Wednesday’s game at Cameron Indoor Stadium, the home court of the Blue Devils.

A video from the match posted on Twitter showed Obama sitting courtside, expressing shock and mouthing the words, “his shoe broke!”

The incident lit up social media, with celebrities and some of basketball’s biggest stars expressing shock and dismay.

“Hope young fella is ok!” tweeted LeBron James (@KingJames) on Wednesday. “Literally blew thru his,” he added, using a shoe emoji.

“Again let’s remember all the money that went into this game…. and these players get none of it,” Donovan Mitchell (@spidadmitchell), a former first-round NBA draft pick and current guard for the Utah Jazz, tweeted Wednesday. “And now Zion gets hurt… something has to change.”

Nike’s social media sentiment dropped following the malfunction, according to social media analytics firm Zoomph. With 1.6 billion impressions and a reach of 170 million users, people were twice as likely to express negative sentiment about the athletic apparel maker, Zoomph data showed.

This is not the first time Nike has faced controversy over the craftsmanship of its sportswear. In 2017, the company faced a backlash when several NBA jerseys worn by basketball stars, including James, ripped apart.

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Signs Point to China, US Deal to Avert Further Tariff Hike

As China and the United States resume high-level talks in Washington Thursday, there are signs that the two may be closing in on a deal.

Reuters news agency is reporting that top trade officials from both sides are trying to hammer out the details of six broad agreements aimed at resolving the most difficult issues from forced technology transfers, to state subsidies and cyber theft.

Earlier this week, President Donald Trump said there is no “magical date” for reaching a trade deal, a comment some felt suggests that the March 1 deadline, which could trigger a steep hike in tariffs from both countries, could be postponed if progress is being made.

Meanwhile, a senior Communist party adviser, speaking at a forum organized by the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post, predicted Washington and Beijing would reach a trade deal in early March . He also said that Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Chinese tech giant Huawei, is likely to be released by April or May.

Speaking on the sidelines of a conference hosted by the newspaper, Xie Maosong, an adjunct professor at the Central Party School, said he was confident that is what would happen because of what he called the countermeasures China had taken.

Those “countermeasures” include Bejing’s detention and charging of two Canadian citizens — Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor — for endangering state security.

Meng is currently on bail in Canada awaiting possible extradition to the United States.

According to a Reuters report on Thursday, U.S. and Chinese negotiators are working on six broader agreements as well as a 10-item list of shorter-term measures.

Analysts tell VOA, that while it appears a more comprehensive deal is coming together, the details of any agreement will be key in determining whether it is a success or just an opportunity to kick long-standing issues down the road.

Christopher Balding, an economist and associate professor at Fulbright University Vietnam, said deals like the one China and the United States are working on take time.

There will be a lot of paperwork and time spent making sure individual agreements for industries are worked out, he said.

“The other issue that is going to be the real hang up, and this is going to be the real hang up for Beijing, is that there is some type of verification mechanism,” Balding said. “It’s not just the agreement, but what comes after the agreement.”

William Choong, a senior fellow with the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Singapore, said while they are two entirely different issues, the way President Trump is handling China is similar to how he is working with North Korea.

Choong said much like the meeting between Kim Jong Un and Trump in Singapore led to a North Korea deal 1.0, next week we’re going to get a 2.0 deal with North Korea in Vietnam.

The trade deal that is coming up is similar, he said.

“It will not be the all and end all. We are going to see more iterations along the road,” Choong said. “Whatever agreement they settle on, that the Americans and Chinese agree on, will be enough to let go of some of the steam, some of the pressure that has built up.”

That will give Trump a chance to kick the March 1 deadline further down the road, he added.

Chinese state media reports on Thursday were upbeat about the meetings.

An editorial in the China Daily, entitled “Decisive Talks Must be Forward Thinking,” said, “both sides should cherish the narrowing of their differences that has been achieved, as it has involved more than just picking off low-hanging fruit.”

Calling President Trump’s suggestion that the deadline could be delayed a “conciliatory signal,” the paper also added that it would be “naïve to think that such a Gordian knot of differing goals and ambitions will be simple to unravel, especially as the discussions are now about the most divisive and touch-a-nerve issues.”

It also said Washington needs to be realistic about what China can and cannot do. What that actually entails will only be clearer when the complete agreement is released.

“China more than anything wants this to go away because it is hindering a lot of their confidence building measures and investment decisions, that’s what they are really hoping to get out of it [a deal],” Balding said.

Choong agrees, noting that what Beijing wants is to get Trump off its back. But, he added, how China could change course enough on issues such as forced technology transfers is unclear.

“I do not know how the Chinese are going to put something that is significant enough in the agreement to actually placate the Americans,” Choong said. The Chinese, he said, are looking for a way to play Trump, much like North Korea has done.

“If Trump gets enough on paper that looks satisfactory, he can go away to the Twitter-verse and say look I’ve got this big deal with the Chinese.”

 

 

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Male, Female or X? Air Passengers to Get More Gender Options From Airlines

British Airways and Air New Zealand have joined a wave of major U.S. airlines planning to introduce extra gender options for LGBT+ passengers who don’t identify as either male or female.

LGBT+ groups have welcomed the change, saying it would smooth the way for many trans, intersex and non-binary passengers — or those who simply don’t look typically male or female — who have long faced discrimination when flying.

“It’s a big move”, Julia Ehrt, of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“Persons presenting as gender non-conforming or trans persons who might not have been able to change their name or gender markers in passports regularly have serious challenges in traveling.

“That can range from being challenged about your gender marker or first name upon check-in or at security, through to outright denial of being able to board a plane.”

Global aviation body the International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently released new guidance for airlines who want to offer non-binary gender options for passengers.

Typical examples of non-binary markers could include a X or ‘undisclosed’ instead of male or female, and the gender-neutral title Mx instead of Mr or Mrs.

Several major U.S. airlines including United, American Airlines and Delta have confirmed they are preparing to bring in more gender options in the wake of the new guidelines.

Now British Airways and Air New Zealand say they are planning to follow suit.

“We know how important it is for all of our customers to feel comfortable and welcome no matter how they self-identify,” a spokesman for British Airways said on Wednesday.

“We are working to change our booking platform to reflect this.”

Air New Zealand said it was “exploring how we can introduce non-binary gender options across our various digital environments.”

The Lufthansa Group, which owns Lufthansa, SWISS and Austrian Airlines, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation it was “taking the implementation of additional gender options into consideration.”

Up to 1.7 percent of people are intersex  meaning they are born with sex characteristics that are neither definitively male or female – according to the United Nations.

In addition, studies suggest that a growing number of people identify as trans or non-binary.

More than 10 percent of U.S. adults identify as LGBT+, rising to 20 percent among younger millennial, found a 2016 study by LGBT+ group GLAAD which argued that youth increasingly reject binary identities such as male or female.

Experts said airlines would be looking to adapt to changing demographics and social norms.

“The world itself is evolving… it’s in airlines’ interests to show they are friendly to all types of people,” said British aviation expert John Strickland.

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Reuters Data Show Google’s New Cloud Boss Has Big Task to Catch Rivals

Google has a new cloud computing boss and big ambitions to someday produce more revenue from that business than from advertising. Now comes the hard part: winning over big-spending customers.

Alphabet Inc’s cloud computing division remains a distant third behind Amazon.com Inc and Microsoft Corp in terms of global revenue, according to analysts’ estimates. A few major companies manage their data on Google’s servers. But Google has nowhere near the vast customer base of Amazon, according to a new Reuters analysis of company regulatory filings.

Businesses generally are not required to disclose their cloud vendors. Reuters found 311 out of about 5,000 worldwide that did so in 2018. While not comprehensive, the data provide a window into Google’s challenge.

Thirty five of those companies named Google as a cloud provider. The largest by market capitalization were oil major Total SA and bank HSBC Holdings Plc.

Amazon Web Services led with 227 clients, including travel company Expedia Group Inc and industrials giant Siemens AG. Microsoft’s Azure cloud had 69 firms, among them weapons maker Axon Enterprise Inc and business data firm Dun & Bradstreet Co. Thirty four of the companies cited multiple clouds.

The previously untracked data show the work ahead for Thomas Kurian, who is weeks on the job as chief executive of Google Cloud. Kurian has vowed to double down where Google has seen promising results. Specifically, he plans to target governments and top companies in retail, manufacturing, healthcare, media and finance.

“A lot of our focus as we go forward is making sure that our sales organization has the background and the ability to sell to large, more traditional companies,” Kurian said at a Goldman Sachs investor conference last week. “There’s enormous appetite in those companies to consider Google.”

Google declined to comment or make Kurian available for an interview.

People familiar with his plans said he is looking to reshape his division’s culture. A key part is developing or acquiring easy-to-use, industry-specific corporate applications, an area that Amazon and Microsoft do not dominate.

“It’s about the on-ramp onto their cloud,” said Daniel Ives, a New York-based financial analyst following the cloud industry for Wedbush Securities. “The main way to get that is through applications.”

A 22-year veteran of Oracle Corp, Kurian gave the database company fresh life as the product leader behind its move to selling cloud services. His hire is already making potential customers reconsider Google, said Ray Wang, founder of Constellation Research, a Monta Vista, Calif.-based firm that helps businesses negotiate cloud deals.

“They’ve worked with him,” Wang said. “There’s a trust factor that wasn’t there before.”

Kurian also must reassure some investors bewildered by Google’s cloud ambitions: Diversifying revenue beyond advertising is a plus, but it is not coming cheap.

Google, Microsoft and Amazon combined spent nearly $53 billion on capital expenses last year, driven by data center projects to house their clouds.

With gross margins of 20 percent or less, selling cloud storage or tools for which customers need specialized staff is less lucrative for a small vendor, industry experts said. But margins on the type of software Kurian likely wants to offer can top even the 60 percent of Google’s ad business.

“The next wave of growth is going to have to come from the heavy hitting applications,” said Kerry Liu, chief executive at Rubikloud, which helps retailers with cloud projects.

‘Geeky, Techy platform’

Google got serious about the cloud around 2016, five years after Amazon Web Services had become a multibillion-dollar behemoth. But Google’s reputation for limited customer support has attracted mostly newer businesses or those with significant tech know-how.

Mike Fisher, Etsy Inc’s chief technology officer, said Google’s superior AI tools helped win over the New York-based crafts marketplace. Fisher expects data-crunching algorithms to account for 25 percent of its server use this year, up from 10 percent last year.

“We’ve been more pleasantly surprised than we thought,” Fisher said of the cloud’s benefits.

Advertising software company OpenX recently agreed to spend at least $110 million on Google Cloud over five years. The Pasadena, Calif. firm bet its clients would benefit from transacting on the same infrastructure as Google’s ads system. “It’s a bit more of a geeky, techy platform, but we’re that kind of company,” said Chief Technology Officer Paul Ryan.

Kurian’s plan

To attract more traditional corporate clients, Google Cloud will need to do some handholding, executives at its partners and rivals said.

Kurian is well-suited to the role. Two of his former colleagues said his follow-up and candid disclosures about product limitations helped seal deals at Oracle. An early riser, Kurian impressed staff with his meticulous preparation for morning meetings as well as his recall of the tiniest details of clients’ systems from years before.

Kurian also managed billions of dollars in acquisitions at Oracle, including the purchases of software firms BEA Systems and Taleo.

Applications could come through similar deals and internally: Google is testing product recommendation software for shopping apps, a person familiar with the project said, to add to its small set of specialized tools.

Kurian told the investor conference that “you will see us continue to expand our footprint there.”

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Samsung’s Folding Phone Aims to Rejuvenate Smartphone Market

Ten years after launching its Galaxy line of smartphones, Samsung Electronics unveiled a new form of the ubiquitous device — a phone that seamlessly turns into a tablet — to create some new excitement in the sluggish global smartphone market.

At an event in San Francisco on Wednesday, Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Fold, its long-awaited foldable smartphone. Only FlexPai, by Royale, a U.S.-based Chinese company, has anything like it on the market, but the FlexPai has garnered mixed reviews.

Samsung ignored the FlexPai’s existence and unveiled the Galaxy Fold as if it were the first of its kind.

“The size of our screens is still fundamentally limited by the size of our devices until now,” said Justin Denison, Samsung senior vice president of product marketing. “With the Galaxy Fold, we are creating a new dimension for your phone and your life. We are giving you a device that doesn’t just define category, it defies category.”

 

WATCH: Samsung Rolls Out New Smartphones

Three apps at once for multitasking

When closed, the Galaxy Fold is a smartphone. When opened, the Fold turns into an expansive tablet.

The device is for the impatient multitaskers because users can run three apps at the same time and continuously use the apps while moving from phone to tablet.

The Galaxy Fold is slated to go on sale in late April. It will cost nearly $2,000. That price tag caused sticker shock at the event, eliciting gasps and some grumbling among the audience.

But it appears the Galaxy Fold is in keeping with Samsung’s aim to generate buzz for the smartphone market, while also aiming for the market’s high end, where Apple and its iPhone dominate.

Slumping smartphone sales

The challenge smartphone makers have faced in recent years is that consumers hold on to the devices for longer and longer, seeing few reasons to upgrade.

The leader in worldwide smartphone sales, the South Korean electronics firm is hoping to give consumers a few reasons to trade in their older ones, and generate buzz about what smartphones can be in the future.

Samsung’s new line of Galaxy smartphone, the S10, comes in three models, S10e, S10 and the S10+. The S10 models have bigger screens, more battery life and more cameras packed in each device than earlier Galaxy lines.

​Ultrasound fingerprint scanner

The S10 has the world’s first “ultrasonic fingerprint scanner,” which uses sound waves that bounce from a user’s fingertip to unlock a device. It’s unclear if the fingerprint scanner will work through screen savers. And the S10 can act as a charger for other devices such as watches.

The S10 line, with a price starting at $749, will start shipping March 8.

Samsung executives say that with the firm’s foldable phone and new S10 line, it is ushering in the mobile era for the next decade.

“For those who say everything possible has already been done,” said DJ Koh, president and CEO of Samsung’s IT and mobile communications division. “I say open your mind and get ready for the dawn of a new mobile era.”

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