APPLE MUSIC ON AMAZON ECHO AS APPLE BRANCHES OUT

IN NEWS THAT might help you make some sense of your fragmented, frustrating device setup, Amazon announced today that its Echo devices will support Apple Music starting December 17. It’s a small breakthrough in the streaming wars, one that should help bring some sense to your streaming strategy. And you’ve got Apple’s increasing need to branch out beyond hardware to thank.

When the Apple Music Alexa skill goes into effect next month, all you’ll need to do to tap into Beats 1 is enable it and link your account. The simplicity of switching it on belies the tangled threads that will have gotten it there in the first place. Amazon and Apple, after all, historically aren’t exactly best buds.

But circumstances have led both companies to a point where they actually have to consider what’s best for their customers. In this case, that means making one of the most popular music platforms in the US available on the most popular voice-activated speaker.

“They’ve had an on-again, off-again tussle over things like whether Kindle readers can read Kindle books on the iPad, and then years later it was whether you could buy Apple TV devices on Amazon,” says James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research. “But that freeze between the two companies has been thawing a bit.”

You’ve seen signs of that détente already. Amazon’s Prime Video app finally arrived on Apple TV a year ago, after a long holdout. And just a few weeks ago, the companies came to an agreement to put the latest Apple products on Amazon’s digital shelves. Putting Apple Music on Echo, though, may be the biggest breakthrough yet, especially for consumers.

“If you have a customer who has your device, they also need to access your services wherever they happen to be.”

JAMES MCQUIVEY, FORRESTER RESEARCH

While Apple sells a connected speaker of its own, the HomePod is expensive and relatively limited. Meanwhile, Echo devices have steadily taken over the world, with Amazon selling a reported 50 million Alexa-powered speakers as of this summer. Apple Music, meanwhile, has at least 50 million subscribers. Anyone who lives inside the intersection of that Venn diagram has been needlessly hamstrung by the two not playing nice. Sure, they could get Apple Music to play by connecting their iPhone to their Echo by Bluetooth, but that negates the whole purpose of owning a speaker you can shout at.

What Amazon gains is fairly straightforward. It may have the smart assistant lead, but the Google Home family of devices poses some serious competition. If it wants Alexa to truly succeed as a platform, it needs to serve everybody.

“Music is one of the most popular features on Alexa” wrote Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices, in a blog post announcing the news. “We are committed to offering great music providers to our customers, and since launching the Music Skill API to developers just last month, we’ve expanded the music selection on Alexa to include even more top-tier services.”

If anything, the addition of Apple Music just builds on Amazon’s existing inclusiveness. “When they first announced that they were going to put Spotify in the Echo platform, a lot of people raised an eyebrow. But that’s been consistently Amazon’s approach: serve the customer first and worry about the potential conflict later,” McQuivey says.

Apple, then, presents the more interesting side of the equation. No company has valued walled gardens more, or benefited more from them. But over the past two years, two trends have stood out in Cupertino: iPhone unit sales have flattened a bit, and revenue from services like Apple Music has steadily increased. While the sales numbers are still nowhere near those of the iPhone, Apple’s Services segment reliably brings in more money than iPads or Macs, and it continues to grow steadily. But it can’t maintain that trajectory on its own.

“The more Apple wants to get into services, or the more that they believe that their services business should grow, the more they’re going to have to embrace other platforms,” says Ben Bajarin, principal analyst at Creative Strategies. “If you’re a consumer and you’re spending money on a subscription, you expect to get that in more than just one place.”

All of which becomes increasingly important given Apple’s broader streaming ambitions; it plans to launch a suite of original video content sometime next year.

There’s recent precedent here. Apple had already made Apple Music available in the Google Play Store for Android devices. But there’s maybe an even more apt example to point to that goes back years: iTunes. Apple’s desktop music player launched as an Apple exclusive in 2001. But the company quickly realized that alienating hundreds of millions of PC owners also held the iPod back. In 2003, it launched iTunes for Windows.

“In that world, the service helped you sell devices. Now Apple has shifted. They understand that the services are just as important in their customer relationship as the devices,” says McQuivey. “If you have a customer who has your device, they also need to access your services wherever they happen to be.”

Which doesn’t mean that it’s everywhere. You still can’t access Apple Music on Google Home devices, for instance. And going the other direction, a limited Spotify app only just launched this month for the Apple Watch. Frustrations still abound for anyone who dares rely on more than one tech company at a time.

But if voice assistants really are the platforms of the future, at least they seem not to be repeating the mistakes of the past. They’re a little more open, in ways that make your life a little bit easier. And for now, at least, it makes as much sense for the companies pulling the strings as it does for you.

Reference

Apple Music On Amazon Echo

WHO Reports 30 per cent Measles Cases In 2017

Measles cases spiked 30 percent in 2017, due entirely to poor vaccination rates, the World Health Organization reported Thursday.

More than 6.7 million people, mostly young children, caught measles in 2017, the WHO reported. And 110,000 died from the virus.

That’s way down from the half a million deaths in 2000, but the progress the world made toward eliminating measles through vaccines is being quickly reversed, the WHO said. It’s in part due to economic chaos in countries such as Venezuela or conflict and unrest in countries including Pakistan and Nigeria. But in other countries, such as Italy, anti-vaccine sentiment means more kids are going unvaccinated.

“The resurgence of measles is of serious concern, with extended outbreaks occurring across regions, and particularly in countries that had achieved, or were close to achieving measles elimination,” said Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, deputy director general for programs at WHO. “Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease.”

Vaccines have prevented 21 million deaths from measles since 2000, WHO said. But global vaccination rates for measles are just 85 percent on average. Only 67 percent of the world population has received the second needed dose of MMR. To stop transmission of the highly contagious virus, 95 percent of a population needs to be vaccinated, WHO said.

Measles is just the first wave of disease that shows up when kids are not vaccinated, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a pediatrician and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at the Baylor College of Medicine.

“I call measles a great biomarker of vaccine coverage because it is one of the most highly contagious viruses that we know about,” Hotez told NBC News.

“If a single person gets measles, 12 to 18 other people get it, typically babies too young to be vaccinated,” Hotez said.

“The first pop-up disease you see is measles because it is so contagious. Measles is the harbinger of things to come.”

WHO is already seeing high rates of measles infections in 2018. In August, WHO reported 41,000 measles cases in Europe alone, making this year the worst year in a decade for measles in Europe.

“The increase in measles cases is deeply concerning, but not surprising,” said Dr. Seth Berkley, CEO of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. “Complacency about the disease and the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, a collapsing health system in Venezuela and pockets of fragility and low immunization coverage in Africa are combining to bring about a global resurgence of measles after years of progress,” Berkley said in a statement.

“Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems. Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another.”

Babies should get a measles, mumps and rubella vaccine as a routine immunization, but the WHO estimated that 21 million infants did not get their shots in 2017. Nigeria, India, Pakistan, Indonesia and Ethiopia had the most unimmunized infants.

Measles can cause a range of symptoms, including fever and a characteristic rash. It can also lead to pneumonia and encephalitis, which can kill. Children who survive severe bouts of measles can become blind or partly paralyzed.

In the U.S., the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports 220 cases of measles so far, making 2018 one of the worst years in a decade. “A total of 15 outbreaks (defined as three or more linked cases) have been reported so far in 2018,” the CDC said.

Travelers often bring measles back with them, and in certain spots around the country, low vaccination rates make for good tinder for the virus to take hold and spread.

“This is a self-inflicted wound,” said Hotez, who has written a book about the anti-vaccine movement entitled “Vaccines Did Not Cause Rachel’s Autism.”

“I have been trying to make the point now that the anti-vaccine movement is starting to inflict real public health damage. It’s taken a few years,” Hotez added.

“This should be a wake-up call that the anti-vaccine movement is not a fringe movement. It is a well-organized public health destruction machine.”

In the most comprehensive estimate of measles trends that covers the last 17 years of data, health groups said today that illness reports surged in 2017, reflecting severe and long outbreaks in many countries, along with gaps in vaccine coverage.

Outbreaks touched all regions of the world, and researchers estimated that measles caused about 110,000 deaths in 2017.

In the United States this year, Kansas City, Mo., reported two measles clusters, and parts of New Jersey and New York are currently experiencing measles outbreaks linked to people infected during overseas travel.

Researchers from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) published their findings today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report and the WHO Weekly Epidemiological Record.

In a statement today, Soumya Swaminathan, MBBS, MD, deputy director-general for programs at the WHO said measles resurgence is concerning, especially in countries that had achieved or were close to achieving measles elimination.

“Without urgent efforts to increase vaccination coverage and identify populations with unacceptable levels of under-, or unimmunized children, we risk losing decades of progress in protecting children and communities against this devastating, but entirely preventable disease,” she said.

Vaccines saved an estimated 21 million

Using updated modeling data, the group estimates that since 2000, measles immunization has saved more than 21 million lives. However, since 2016, illness reports have increased by more than 30%.

Regions that experienced the greatest spikes in 2017 include the Americas, the Eastern Mediterranean region, and Europe. The only WHO region in which measles cases dropped was the Western Pacific.

As of July, measles has become endemic again in Venezuela, sparking imported cases and outbreaks in bordering countries. The report also says measles resurgence in Europe has probably reestablished endemic transmission in some of the region’s countries.

“These outbreaks highlight the fragility of gains made toward global and regional measles elimination goals,” the group wrote.

According to the report, global coverage for the first of two measles doses has stalled at 85%, which the authors say is far short of the 95% level needed to prevent outbreaks. Second-dose coverage is much lower at 67%.

Complacency, vaccine misinformation fuel increase

Seth Berkley, MD, chief executive officer of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, said in the WHO statement that the increase is deeply concerning but not surprising. He said complacency, the spread of falsehoods about the vaccine in Europe, Venezuela’s collapsing health system, and pockets of fragility and low vaccine coverage in Africa have combined to trigger a global resurgence after years of progress.

“Existing strategies need to change: more effort needs to go into increasing routine immunization coverage and strengthening health systems. Otherwise we will continue chasing one outbreak after another,” he said.

In their report, the authors call for investments in immunization systems combined with efforts to strengthen routine immunization, especially targeting the poorest, most marginalized communities, including those struggling with conflict and displacement.

They also said actions to bring down measles levels need to address misinformation and hesitancy about vaccines.

Reference

WHO Reports 30 per cent Measles Cases In 2017

Measles spike triggered by vaccination gaps

Global Lawn Sprinkler Market Economy

Lawn sprinkler market continues to witness promising growth, with more consumers focusing on sustainability, seeking their landscaping to potentially conserve water. Several residential consumers are inclining toward use of water barrels in their lawn sprinkler systems, thereby aiding growth of the Lawn Sprinkler Market. Proliferation of IoT has further brought advancements to lawn sprinkler systems, aiding homeowners in remotely controlling and monitoring their lawn sprinkler, which in turn is underpinning expansion of the lawn sprinkler market. Next-generation lawn sprinkler developments are focused more toward sustainability, and use of eco-friendly materials.

EPA’s concern of water wastage owing to overwatering when used for lawns have led lawn sprinkler manufacturers to step up efforts in development and marketing their water-efficient lawn sprinkler variants. The trend toward underground irrigation in lawn and garden sector has significantly undergird growth of the lawn sprinkler market. Concerns regarding overwatering or use of sprinkler even during rains are being offset by new lawn sprinkler introductions that feature integrated smart technologies for enabling users to control lawn sprinkler remotely. Utilization of real-time plant and local weather data from sensors to adjust and improve lawn sprinkler schedules automatically, tailored to specific requirements, will continue to impact future growth of the lawn sprinkler market.

A lawn sprinkler is a device with perforated holes used to water lawns in a well-defined pattern. Lawn sprinklers are also used to control airborne dust and as well as temperature. They vary in shape, size and complexity. The lawn sprinkler market is highly fragmented with various global and regional players ruling the market. The entry barrier to the lawn sprinkler market is also very low. The lawn care market is lucrative and hence, various small players around the world are entering and competing in the market. Even though the lawn sprinkler market is at the verge of maturity, innovations and developments have been seen in the recent years.

More than 350 golf courses are in the planning stage and more than 203 golf courses are under construction worldwide. Consequently, the increasing number of golf courses worldwide has accelerated the demand for lawn sprinklers. The Green Roof Concept, primarily followed in the United States and Germany, includes covering of rooftops with vegetation that assists in reducing the wastage of water as well as facilitates air purity. With the growing inclination towards using green roofs, the demand for sprinklers is expected to increase in direct proportion, consequently aiding the growth of the global market. With every product tending towards “Smart Technologies”, sprinklers are also following the trend. Lawn sprinklers can now be operated with the help of mobile applications. Lawn sprinklers are also equipped with sensors and use the weather forecast to water the lawn accordingly. The average size of a newly built house in the U.S. covers about 50% more area as compared to a house built in the 1970’s. The increasing house size in the U.S. is compensated by the reduction of lawn size, which may hamper the growth of lawn sprinklers in the region. Expansion of the artificial turf market, which does not require much water, may decimate the adoption of lawn sprinklers in the coming years.

The lawn sprinkler market can be categorized on the basis of product type, mechanism type, application type and material type. By product type, the market can be further classified into stationary sprinklers, oscillating sprinklers, rotary sprinkler travelling sprinklers, impact sprinklers and in ground sprinkling systems. Rotary sprinklers are mostly preferred in this segment. On the basis of the mechanism, the lawn sprinklers market can be classified into manual and automatic. Manual lawn sprinklers account for a greater market share as compared to automatic lawn sprinklers; however, automatic lawn sprinklers are expected to register a higher growth rate over the forecasted period.

On the basis of the application, the lawn sprinkler market can be categorized into residential lawn sprinklers, commercial lawn sprinklers and other purpose lawn sprinklers. Commercial lawn sprinklers hold the highest market share in this segment. Nevertheless, other purpose lawn sprinklers are likely to grow at a much higher rate than residential lawn sprinklers. On the basis of material type, the lawn sprinkler market can be classified into metal sprinklers, plastic sprinklers and hybrid sprinklers. Plastic sprinklers have gained high popularity, due to the ease of manufacturing and low manufacturing cost.

According to NASA, the estimated area of lawns is about 63,000 sq miles, which is about the size of Texas. Lawns are seen as an indicator of socio-economic character in America and thus, to maintain lawns, the use of lawn sprinklers is expected to grow in the near future. In terms of regional demand, North America leads the sales charts for lawn sprinklers, owing to the high coverage of lawns. In terms of total demand, North America is expected to be followed by APEJ and Europe.

The global lawn sprinkle market is fragmented and mainly ruled by regional players. Some of the leading manufacturers in the lawn sprinkler market include Orbit Irrigation Products, Inc., The Toro Company, Hunter industries, Rain Bird Corporation, K-Rain, Gilmour, Fort Worth Lawn Sprinkler Company and various other regional players.

The key to success in the lawn sprinkler market is through mergers and acquisitions of small players with big lawn sprinkler manufacturers to sustain in the highly competitive market. For example, Hunter, a big lawn sprinkler manufacturer, acquired Florida-based Senninger Irrigation, Fiskars Corp acquired Gilmour and Nelson to strengthen and diversify its lawn sprinkler product portfolio, Toro acquired Regnerbau Calw GmbH, a manufacturer of professional irrigation equipment such as lawn sprinklers. With depleting water resources, manufacturers are now focusing on smart lawn sprinklers in order to save time, money as well as natural resources.

Lawn Sprinkler Models are diverse and vary for different lawn parameters. The article Best Popup and Portable  Lawn Sprinklers provides you a detailed analysis thereby enabling a customer for making easy choice.

Water restrictions in Waikato Due To Summer

The first day of summer in the Waikato will bring water restrictions.

Hamilton, Te Awamutu, Pirongia and Waikato district will move to Water Alert Level 1 on Saturday December 1.

Water Alert Level 1 means using a sprinkler between 6am to 8am and 6pm to 8pm or hand-held hosing at any time.

Hamilton City Council’s City Waters Manager Maire Porter said over the past month the city had seen a significant increase in water demand.

“Despite the recent rain, historical trends indicate that with improving weather, water use will continue to increase throughout December.”

Waikato District Council Waters Manager Karl Pavlovich says warmer weather always leads to an increase in water consumption.

“Everyone has been doing well so far and as we move towards summer Level 1 is a reminder to keep on top of our water usage.

It has generally been a damp year so far, but the community can play their part by using water wisely ahead of what could be a long, dry summer.

“There are lots of ways to conserve water, taking shorter showers, watering the garden by hand, or washing your car on a piece of lawn which needs watering can save hundreds of litres a day,” says Mr Pavlovich.

Waipa District Council Water Services Manager Tony Hale said demand has “crept up” during November across the district, but low-levels in the stream that supplies Te Awamutu and Pirongia means water conservation measures are necessary in the towns.

“Te Awamutu and Pirongia’s water comes from the Mangauika Stream. In the summer months, the stream struggles to keep up with demand. Despite rainfall in town in the past week, we haven’t seen enough rain near the stream’s catchment and it’s already looking low for this time of year.”

“While the rest of the Waipā district are not on water alerts yet, we’re in for a long, hot summer and we all need to consider how much water we are using.”

How the alerts work: 

Water Alert Level 1
Use sprinkler systems between 6 – 8am and 6 – 8pm.
Hand-held hosing can be used anytime.

Water Alert Level 2
Use sprinkler systems on alternate days between
6 – 8am and 6 – 8pm.
Hand-held hosing can be used anytime.

Water Alert Level 3
No use of sprinklers.
Hand-held hosing only.

Water Alert Level 4
No use of outside water systems.

Reference

Global Lawn Sprinklers Economy Market Analysis

Water Restrictions in Waikato