What’s new in tech
Tesla launches car, shuts stores
Tesla is finally ready to sell its $35,000 sedan, said Neal Boudette in The New York Times. The firm started taking orders last week for a base Model 3 at that price—something CEO Elon Musk has been promising for years. Tesla reported profits last year as it ramped up its Model 3 production, but “sales appear to have softened” after a federal tax credit was reduced from $7,500 to just $3,750; that will fall further, to $1,875, later this year. The lowest-end model will not include Autopilot, Tesla’s driving assistance function, or a new, enhanced “self-driving” suite—though neither feature actually makes the car fully autonomous. Musk also announced last week that Tesla will close its showrooms and switch to taking orders online only. The move is expected to save the company cash it needs to pay its heavy corporate debt.
Google’s wireless plan
Google Fi was “the most transparent and straightforward cellphone plan I’ve ever used,” said David Pierce in The Wall Street Journal. Other wireless carriers should take note: Since Google has launched support for most phones, Fi has a lot going for it, starting with the price. Google buys its bandwidth from other carriers, and taps into public Wi-Fi spots, in an effort to give you “the best possible service.” I had service everywhere I expected, although not always at great speeds. The company’s long-term vision is to let users not worry about what network they’re using and just “grab a device, log in, and get online.” If it can make getting fast data as easy as logging into Gmail, “Fi could be a game changer.”
Dow Jones’ ‘high risk’ list
A security researcher found that Dow Jones left a publicly accessible entryway to the records of 2.4 million “high risk” individuals and businesses, said Zack Whittaker in TechCrunch.com. The media company’s database, known as Watchlist, includes “current and former politicians,” white-collar criminals, terrorists, and others of “special interest.” Government agencies and financial institutions use it to approve or deny financing, “or even in the shuttering of bank accounts.” The database was stored on an Amazon Web Services–hosted cloud. Dow Jones’ data is collected from public sources, but taken together it’s a powerful storehouse of information. It includes addresses and photographs of many of the world’s most secretive individuals—among them such figures as Badruddin Haqqani, a commander in an Afghan insurgent network linked to the Taliban.