Thursday, July 20, 2017

AI could double Singapore growth rate by 2035; Tight budgets trigger lipstick sales; Netflix subscribers cross 100m

1 AI could double Singapore growth rate by 2035 (Straits Times) Artificial intelligence (AI) could nearly double Singapore's annual economic growth rates by 2035, according to research by global professional services firm Accenture.

The research also found that Singapore is at the forefront to integrate innovation and technologies into the wider economy, ahead of the largest economies in the world such as the US, Germany, UK and Japan.

Accenture Research, in collaboration with Frontier Economics, modelled the impact of AI in 33 economies that together generate more than 80 per cent of the world's economic output. The research compared the size of each country's economy in 2035 in a baseline scenario, which shows expected economic growth under current assumptions, and an AI scenario which shows expected growth once the impact of AI has been absorbed into the economy.

AI was found to yield the largest uplift in economic growth for Singapore, potentially increasing its annual growth rate from 3.2 per cent to 5.4 per cent by 2035, translating to an additional $$215 billion in gross value added (GVA). This is ahead of other large economies such as the US, with AI potentially adding $$8.3 trillion in GVA by 2035, increasing its annual growth rate from 2.6 per cent to 4.6 per cent by 2035.

The potential to significantly boost the productivity of labour will be driven by innovative AI technologies that enable people to make more efficient use of their time and do what humans do best - create, imagine and innovate new things, said the report. With the adoption of AI, Singapore would only require 13 years for its economy to double in size, while without AI, it will take the country 22 years, it said.

2 Tight budget triggers lipstick sales (Sarah Butler in The Guardian) With disposable income under pressure, shoppers are holding off on buying big ticket household items like sofas, beds and washing machines. But tough times also encourage shoppers to treat themselves, and history has shown that sales of cheap thrills – from lipstick to takeaway coffee, expensive perfume, skin cream and sparkling wine – can do well in a downturn.

“The backdrop is very uncertain and it was made worse by the tragic events that happened across British cities over the last few months,” said Paula Nickolds, managing director of the John Lewis department stores chain, referring to the terror attacks in London and Manchester.

She said John Lewis’s middle England customers were now feeling “uncertain and worried about what the circumstances will mean for their future financial prosperity” and so are beginning to change their shopping behaviour.

Nickolds said trading in “spontaneous” categories, was holding up robustly. Beauty product sales are up more than 7% on last year and womenswear is up 4.4%. Sales of lipstick rose 31% in the three months to the end of June against the same period last year with Instagram-friendly brightly coloured summer lip shades especially highly sought after.

The link between make-up and economic times is an old one. When an executive at Est̩e Lauder noted that sales of expensive lipsticks soared in the wake of the 9/11 terror attacks, he dubbed it the Lipstick Index Рan alternative economic indicator that sees make-up sales rise in a downturn. In the four years from 1929 to 1933, industrial production in the US halved, but sales of cosmetics rose.

3 Netflix subscribers cross 100m (BBC) Netflix shares surged after the video streaming firm said it had about 104 million subscribers. The US company said the better-than-expected number was a sign that investment in new shows and movies was paying off.

Netflix has produced shows such as 13 Reasons Why, about teen suicide, political drama House of Cards and The Crown. Boss Reed Hastings said it was "the rewards of doing great content". The firm said it added about 5.2 million members during the quarter, mostly from overseas. International members now account for about half of its subscriber total.

Netflix has cultivated those audiences with movies such as Okja, a film made by one of South Korea's top directors about a young girl's quest to recover a giant companion from a multi-national corporation. The growth helped Netflix to report a 32% rise in second quarter revenues to $2.8bn, and it expects revenues to reach nearly $3bn in the third quarter.

Profits for the three months to June were $65.6m, up about 60% compared with the same period last year. Creating new content was critical to competing against other online rivals such as Amazon and YouTube, as well as broadcast television networks, Netflix said.

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