Honda unveiled its new 2018 Accord sedan in here Friday, perfectly timed to challenge the new 2018 Toyota Camry for supremacy in midsize sedan sales.
If that excites you about as much as a pair of 1970s arena-rock bands announcing their eighth farewell tour, congratulations: You’re not a baby boomer.
For a generation, this would have been a battle of Titans: America’s two favorite family vehicles facing off with sales leadership, bragging rights and boatloads of cash at stake. But instead, In mid-2017, it begins to feel like a curiosity, a “Jurassic Park” matchup of dinosaurs fighting to stave off extinction.
Midsize sedans’ share of the total U.S. car market has tanked from 16.6% in 2009 to just 12% in 2016 and a paltry 10.7% so far this year, according to Kelley Blue Book. Once a cash cow that generated healthy profits and filled massive assembly plants, the segment shows no sign of recovering from the tailspin.
That’s a big deal for every mainstream automaker, but a huge challenge for Toyota and Honda, whose biggest plants make midsize sedans. The Georgetown, Ky., plant that builds Camrys for America is the largest Toyota plant in the world. Honda’s sprawling complex west of Columbus, Ohio was the automaker’s first U.S. assembly plant. Honda has sold more than 13 million Accords since the car debuted in 1976.
Not even the most optimistic executive believes the new cars will maintain sales, much less recover to their historical levels. Victory for the Accord and Camry consists of managing the decline, surviving as other competitors drop out. Last man standing wins.
Honda foresaw trouble for sedans years ago. It responded by beefing up its truck lineup, adding the subcompact HR-V SUV and a new version of its Ridgeline pickup to catch the rising tide.
The 2018 Accord’s eye-catching new shape is another aspect of Honda’s strategy to deal with cratering car sales.
“We wanted to elevate it beyond affordable midsize sedans,” American Honda car boss Jeff Conrad said. “We still believe in sedans. We believe we can bring style and performance to sedans” in the same way the original 1976 Accord convinced a generation of Americans to try a smaller, lighter, more-efficient family sedan. It established Honda as a go-to brand for a generation.
The Honda Civic exemplifies the modest aspirations that pass for success among sedans in 2017. Its sales are down, but its key competitors are down more. It’s the healthiest patient in intensive care, but it will survive. That’s more than some can say.
“It’s supporting the segment,” Conrad said. “We believe the Accord can do the same thing.”
Honda believes — or hopes — the market shift from cars to SUVs will plateau soon.
“The market has changed, but there are still a significant number of buyers who want a sedan,” IHS Markit senior analyst Stephanie Brinley said. “Honda and Toyota will be challenged, but the smaller players are more at risk.”
That’s why Chrysler abandoned the midsize car market earlier this year. No other automaker has dropped out yet, but you can bet finance departments around the world are taking a hard look at the future of cars like the Kia Optima and Cadenza, Chevrolet Impala, Ford Taurus, Hyundai Sonata, Nissan Maxima, Toyota Avalon and VW Passat.
As the herd thins, the Accord and Camry will fight to pick up the pieces. Their goal: Maintain or even increase their share of midsize sales while the segment shrinks.
Honda and Toyota need the new models to succeed to keep massive assembly plants humming and to encourage buyers who abandon their sedans to stay within the brand when they buy an SUV or truck.
Midsize sedans may not rule the road any more, but the Accord and Camry still matter. But don’t ask me to bet that will still be true five years from now.
2019 Google Play Award winners highlight top Android apps and games
Google on the eve of I/O 2019 announced the Play Award winners to celebrate the top Android apps and games. The nominees in nine categories were unveiled late last month, with the ceremony this evening in Mountain View, California.
There are nine categories with criteria factoring overall quality, strong design, technical performance, and innovation. The nominees were first selected by various teams across Google. Winners during the May 6th event also received a silver Play trophy, and are featured on the Play Store.
We’re sharing the winners that rose to the top for providing the best experiences for fans, making an impact on their communities and raising the bar for quality content on Google Play.
Standout Well-Being App
Apps empowering people to live the best version of their lives, while demonstrating responsible design and engagement strategies.
- Woebot by Woebot Labs
Best Accessibility Experience
Apps and games enabling device interaction in an innovative way that serve people with disabilities or special needs.
- Envision AI by Envision Technologies BV
Best Social Impact
Apps and games that create a positive impact in communities around the world (focusing on health, education, crisis response, refugees, and literacy).
- Wisdo by Wisdo LTD.
Most Beautiful Game
Games that exemplify artistry or unique visual effects either through creative imagery, and/or utilizing advanced graphics API features.
- Shadowgun Legends by MADFINGER Games
Best Living Room Experience
Apps that create, enhance, or enable a great living room experience that brings people together.
- Neverthink by Neverthink
Apps and games that display a groundbreaking new use case, like utilize new technologies, cater to a unique audience, or demonstrate an innovative application of mobile technology for users.
- Tick Tock by Other Tales Interactive
Standout Build for Billions Experience
Apps and games with optimized performance, localization and culturalization for emerging markets.
- Canva by Canva
Best Breakthrough App
New apps with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.
- Slowly by Slowly Communications Ltd.
Best Breakthrough Game
New games with excellent overall design, user experience, engagement and retention, and strong growth.
- MARVEL Strike Force by FoxNext Games
My Samsung Galaxy Fold screen broke after just a day
Look closely at the picture above, and you can see a small bulge right on the crease of my Galaxy Fold review unit. It’s just enough to slightly distort the screen, and I can feel it under my finger. There’s something pressing up against the screen at the hinge, right there in the crease. My best guess is that it’s a piece of debris, something harder than lint for sure. It’s possible that it’s something else, though, like the hinge itself on a defective unit pressing up on the screen.
It’s a distressing thing to discover just two days after receiving my review unit. More distressing is that the bulge eventually pressed sharply enough into the screen to break it. You can see the telltale lines of a broken OLED converging on the spot where the bulge is.
Whatever happened, it certainly wasn’t because I have treated this phone badly. I’ve done normal phone stuff, like opening and closing the hinge and putting it in my pocket. We did stick a tiny piece of molding clay on the back of the phone yesterday to prop it up for a video shoot, which is something we do in every phone video shoot. So perhaps a tiny piece of that snuck into a gap on the back of the hinge and then around or through its cogs until it lodged in between the screen and the hinge. It’d be sort of like Charlie Chaplin getting caught in the gears in Modern Times.
Or maybe something got in another one of the little gaps somewhere else. Or maybe it was pieces from the hinge itself breaking loose and working their way up into the screen. I don’t know. I just know that the screen is broken, and there was no obvious proximate cause for the bulge that broke it. I certainly haven’t used it on a beach or shook it in a bag of chips or anything wild. Just normal use.I DON’T KNOW WHAT HAPPENED; I JUST KNOW THE SCREEN IS BROKEN
We’ve seen worries about scratches on expensive phones and debris breaking the keyboard on expensive MacBooks, but a piece of debris distorting the screen on a $1,980 phone after one day of use feels like it’s on an entirely different level.
I reached out to Samsung right away to get a statement, but it took about 24 hours for the company to put one together. Here it is, and the gist is that Samsung is looking into our unit and also warning users not to try to peel off the protective layer on the top of the screen.
Also, I have, however, received a replacement review unit from Samsung. I think the first one is on a jet to South Korea for Samsung’s engineers to take apart and diagnose.
By the way, it appears I’m not the only reviewing the phone who has had a problem with the screen. Here’s Steve Kovach:
Mark Gurman of Bloomberg also broke his, but that’s perhaps because he removed a protective layer that looks like a screen protector, but definitely isn’t meant to be removed.
And here’s Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee confirming he, too, had to get a replacement unit after peeling off the outer layer (which, again, wasn’t our issue):
It looks like retail units of the Galaxy Fold will include a warning about not removing the protective layer, but review units don’t seem to have included this one:
Like everybody else, I said in my original hands-on with the Galaxy Fold that I absolutely am able to see the crease between the two sides of the screen. But when I’m using the phone, I don’t actually notice it much. It’s easy to talk about it as a small first-generation compromise you have to make for what is otherwise a wonder of engineering: a tablet that folds in half.
I took a photo in my hotel room when the bulge first appeared. The next morning, that same bulge finally broke the screen.
Another thing people are worried about is the plastic screen scratching or picking up nicks easily. There are already a couple of minor dings on my unit, but they’re minor enough that I didn’t see them until our photographer zoomed way in to show them to me. If you look closely at the edges of the screen, there’s a sort of built-in screen protector on the front of the device. Samsung calls it a “polymer layer.” It is not designed to be removed. (Please don’t try it if you get your hands on a Fold.)
But while the crease and the nicks feel like compromises you could live with, a mysterious bulge that breaks the screen is something else entirely — especially one that appears just a day after pretty normal use. It’s a problem that is unacceptable on a phone that costs this much.
Every phone with movable parts is going to have more points of failure than a fully sealed, static phone. So it’s natural to say that you need to treat it with more care than usual. Before I saw this bulge, my impression was that this phone was much more durable than I expected. The hinge always felt solid and well-built. That impression of (relative) durability is obviously as broken as the flexing screen now.
If I’m right and it’s debris, it means that not only do you need to treat your phone with care, but you also have to worry about stuff getting in underneath the screen. If I’m wrong and it’s some kind of defect in the hardware, well… then we’re in entirely different territory. Either way: yikes.
Hopefully Samsung lets us know the results after it takes my original review unit apart to see what happened.
This is the best time to purchase an iPhone XR in India
Apple is discounting the iPhone XR by a massive 22% from Friday.
Apple is kicking off a massive discount on the iPhone XR in India that will bring the device down to just ₹59,900 ($870). That’s a staggering ₹17,000 ($250) discount from the phone’s retail price of ₹76,900 ($1,120). What makes this particular deal even better is that HDFC is getting in on the action, offering an additional 10% cashback on top of the discounted price.
That effectively brings the price of the 64GB iPhone XR down to just ₹53,900 ($780), which is a fabulous deal. The promotional price extends to all three variants of the iPhone XR, and you’ll similarly be able to avail the HDFC cashback on all three models. The deal will go live from Friday, April 5, and will be valid until stocks last.
Here’s the breakdown of the new pricing:
|Category||MRP||New price||For HDFC customers|
|iPhone XR (64GB)||₹76,900||₹59,900||₹53,900|
|iPhone XR (128GB)||₹81,900||₹64,900||₹58,400|
|iPhone XR (256GB)||₹91,900||₹74,900||₹67,400|
The HDFC cashback is valid for both debit and credit card holders, and if you don’t have an eligible card yet, you can pick one up to avail the discount on the iPhone XR. I’m partial to the Regalia for the airline benefits and low markup on international spends.
This is Apple’s most aggressive move yet in the Indian market, and it’s clear that the company is positioning the iPhone XR against Samsung’s Galaxy S10e, which retails for ₹55,900 ($810). The discount will be a huge driver for iPhone XR sales in the country, and should give Apple some much-needed momentum in the premium segment.
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