Silenced by ‘free speech’

There’s a fundamental incongruency between being inflexibly pro ‘free speech’ and operating a global social network for civil public discussion. Twitter is struggling with it. Facebook is struggling with it, too. And it can’t be solved by a little more transparency or by hoping average citizens will do the right thing.

The principle of free speech on which the United States was founded was not conceived with our modern interconnectedness in mind, nor has it scaled to adapt to it. The idea was that anyone could say what they believed, and not be imprisoned for it. Not that everyone anywhere had to listen to it.

Shout in the streets, speak from a soapbox, ramble on the radio or trumpet on the television. Those who disagree with you or that you condemn still have the right to walk away or change the channel. But on today’s social networks, the harassers and trolls and extremists can come to you.

Permitting abuse under the guise of “free speech” actually dismantles free speech by allowing perpetrators to bully victims into silence until they retreat. From these apps. From their causes. From their beliefs.

Civil free speech is sacrificed in exchange for hatred, degradation and threats. Who can respectfully speak up for their convictions if they’re immediately shouted down? Women and people of color have been attacked this way for years and have been demanding change for years. It’s time for white men, who largely control these services and the traditional media, to stand by them as allies and actually take action. As a white male reporter, I’ve failed to do enough to force this issue.

The rules must change. The enforcement must become stricter and more consistent. But the operators of these new communication utilities must also uphold the spirit of free speech rather than the letter. That will require challenging, messy, expensive and inefficient solutions. In other words, human solutions.

Blanket fixes from blunt algorithms will not suffice. Empathy must go into creating new rules, reviewing reports and appeals, and building tools that extend our understanding of humanity rather than replace it.

Civility is a tightrope between chaos and censorship.

Sterility is not the solution. There are as many totalitarian dystopias as anarchic ones. Leaders of these social networks are right to be cautious about overstepping the bounds of safety into censorship. Twitter and Facebook should not become the truth police or the thought police.

But the current balance tips over toward chaos, a landscape ruled by strongmen and angry mobs. Instead of explicit top-down censorship we have implicit peer-to-peer censorship. Neither are truly free speech.

Practically, Twitter needs to change how replies work, as they are the primary vector of abuse. Abusers can @ reply you and show up in your notifications, even if you don’t follow them. If you block or mute them, they can create a new throwaway account and continue the abuse. If you block all notifications from people you don’t follow, you sever your connection to considerate discussion with strangers or potential friends — what was supposed to be a core value-add of these services.

A powerful way to prevent this @ reply abuse would be to prevent accounts that aren’t completely registered with a valid phone number, haven’t demonstrated enough rule-abiding behavior or have been reported for policy violations from having their replies appear in recipients’ notifications.

This would at least make it harder for harassers to continue their abuse, and to create new throwaway accounts that circumvent previous blocks and bans in order to spread hatred.

Facebook’s content moderation training manual explains that “white men” are protected from hate speech, but not “black children.” Image via ProPublica

Facebook needs to reassess its hate speech rules that allow some blatantly derogatory content to persist while censoring activists. According to Facebook’s content moderator training documents, “white men” are shielded from abusive statements because both words are “protected categories” of people, while “black children” aren’t, because age isn’t protected and invalidates protection of race. Seventy civil and racial justice groups have petitioned Facebook for change. Meanwhile, trolls have previously mass-reported profiles and Pages of activists in order to have them suspended.

Facebook’s color-blind and tone-deaf approach to content moderation must be overhauled to adopt an intersectional model shaped by more context of who is often victimized. Enforcement decisions need to be bubbled up to humans if automated systems can’t reliably identify what’s right.

Abuse on these platforms has run rampant for half a decade. Promises to crack down on it have been issued for almost as long. This week Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey again vowed to step up enforcement.

But social networks can’t hide harassment under the “free speech” label any longer. At a time when levelheaded discourse is more critical than ever to ensure healthy democracy, aggression can’t be allowed to trump integrity.

And social networks can’t go soft on harassment for fear of losing users. Short-term inflammatory engagement must not be prioritized over long-term inclusivity of all voices willing to participate in a civil online community. Only then will silence imposed through hostility be lifted.

Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Study: Retailers Slowly Embracing In-Store Tech Tools

Most retailers don’t have the in-store technology to view customer information across various touchpoints, suggests a new study from Kibo, “Technologies That Are Changing How We Think of Brick and Mortar.”

Fifty-eight percent of retailers who participated in the study, released last Thursday, acknowledged they did not have that capability.

The study was based on questions posed to 115 retail executives during an on-site benchmarking session at the Future Stores 2017 conference.

Based on its findings, it appears that a majority of businesses currently are unable to automate shoppers’ information on mobile devices or kiosks while they are present in their stores.

“In order to provide a seamless omnichannel experience to consumers, retailers must have a complete picture of all consumer activities, regardless of buying channel,” said Kibo CMO Tushar Patel.

“Nothing is more frustrating to a consumer than a retailer who has blind spots [about] their activity,” he told the E-Commerce Times.

Coming Around

Many retailers have been using a wide range of technologies to capture more personalized data from their customers, according to the report.

Eighty-two percent of participants said they used mobile devices and tablets, 76 percent used kiosks, 41 percent used mobile point-of-sale devices, 26 percent used Bluetooth low-energy beacon technologies, and 19 percent used near-field communication.

However, 64 percent of retailers felt they were only somewhat effective at capturing in-store data on customer preferences.

Only 42 percent of retailers said they had the in-store technologies to view customer data across a variety of touchpoints.

Personalization Plans

Another key in-store technology retailers have been adopting is personalization.

Fifty-two percent of participating retailers planned to invest in personalization technologies within the next 12 months or already had begun to implement the strategy.

However, 22 percent of retailers said they had not begun to personalize and were not sure if they had the capacity to do so.

Fulfillment Choices

Offering more ways to get products into customers’ hands has proved daunting for many smaller retailers.

Major retailers including Walmart, CVS, Sears and Target offer ship from store and in-store pickup of online orders — and some have done so for years.

However, more than 40 percent of retailers who participated in the Kibo study said their technologies wouldn’t support those services, or that they were not ready to implement them.

Retail Pressure

With the exception of Amazon and Walmart, many retail stocks recently have been under severe pressure, noted Cindy Zhou, principal analyst at Constellation Research, after the SPDR S&P Retail ETF fell to its worst week since last December.

Thirty-seven percent of retailers who responded to a poll she conducted during Microsoft’s Modern Customer event indicated their biggest challenge was delivering a consistent digital-to-physical multichannel experience to customers.

“Customers are using their multitude of mobile devices to research and shop for products — reading reviews, asking their friends on social — before making a decision,” Zhou told the E-Commerce Times. “

The mobile shopping experience is critical, she said, but few retailers have been able to deliver a mobile app that makes it easy for customers to see availability, shop and check out items with ease.

One major retailer that has undertaken a digital transformation project, Zhou said, is a company that has a retail brick-and-mortar presence, an e-commerce website and a catalog division — but each is part of a separate system, and they can’t communicate with each other.

Personalizing in-store technology to see customer data is not as easy as one might think, observed Nikki Baird, managing partner at RSR Research.

“Yes there are definitely gaps in terms of needing mobile devices,” she told the E-Commerce Times, but at the same time there are a lot of concerns about giving frontline employees access to personalized customer data.

David Jones is a freelance writer based in Essex County, New Jersey. He has written for Reuters, Bloomberg, Crain’s New York Business and The New York Times.

MIT’s The Engine wants to fuel bold tech ideas in Boston

Boston and its surrounding universities are jam-packed with big ideas, but the problem is that many of them never get out of the lab. MIT president Rafael Reif recognized this and decided the city needed an engine to push those ideas and The Engine — part venture capital firm, part business incubator — was born.

When smart people are working on hard problems inside a lab, they have access to all of the resources of the university including all that expensive lab equipment and faculty brain power. Once they leave academia, it can be hard to get access to either one, especially when the equipment alone could cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more).

The other issue is the problem every smart person with a good idea and no business experience faces. How do you translate that idea into a repeatable business that solves a real-world problem? “While these people tend to be incredibly smart and experts in their field, they [often] don’t know how to run a company. They need support and mentorship and they need access to industry partners to prototype their ideas,” Fran Barros, design director at The Engine told me in a recent meeting in their Cambridge headquarters.

The Engine was launched with a $200 million fund in September to help solve this challenge.

They are looking for big, bold ideas in science and engineering that have the potential to benefit society in some way, and that might have trouble getting off the ground otherwise. “We have a mission for impact in the world, not just cool technology, but something that addresses a societal need and has great impact and the drive to be a big ambitious company,” Ally Yost, an associate at The Engine explained.

Like any VC out there, the company is trying to find a promising team with a crazy good idea. Among the areas they are exploring include advanced manufacturing, robotics, space, energy, life sciences and biotech. And they especially like to see multi-disciplinary ideas that move across these broader categories.

The Engine is looking for startups based in Boston or who are willing to relocate. The company itself offers a startup space with equipment for those who need it. Then there is the matter of being in Boston, which as Barros points out, is a city full of experts that can act as an external network for the company’s startups to fill in knowledge gaps.

Among the ideas in the first batch is C2Sense, a company that has developed a digital sense of smell of sorts that could help food companies detect gasses that signal when their food is going to spoil before it happens, and Analytical Space, a company run by two former White House employees involved in space research, who want to develop a more efficient way to move lots of data being collected by satellites to storage on earth, a problem that is hard to solve right now.

The Engine has a broad vision for the company as a concept. The first batch consists of seven companies, but they expect to fund between 50 and 60 before they are said and done with this round of funding. Eventually, they hope to spawn Engines in other cities throughout the world and spread the concept.

Google Photos gets more pet-friendly

If you’re a pet owner who uses Google Photos, you’ve probably typed in “dog” or “cat” before in order to surface photos of your furry pal – like anytime someone asks you about your pet, for example, which clearly means they would like to see a picture of Mr. Fluffypants. Today, Google is introducing an easier way to aggregate your pet photos in its Photos app – by allowing you to group all your pet’s photos in one place, right beside the people Google Photos organized using facial recognition.

This is an improvement over typing in “dog,” or another generalized term, because the app will now only group together photos of an individual pet together, instead of returning all photos you’ve captured with a “dog” in them.

And like the face grouping feature, you can label the pet by name to more easily pull up their photos in the app, or create albums, movies or photo books using their pictures.

In addition, Google Photos lets you type in an animal’s breed to search for photos of pets, and it lets you search for photos using the dog and cat emojis. The company also earlier this year introduced a feature that would create a mini-movie starring your pet, but you can opt to make one yourself by manually selecting photos then choosing from a half-dozen tracks to accompany the movie, says Google.

Helping people with their pet photos (and those of kids, we should note) is a big selling point for photo-taking apps and other photography accessories. For instance, Google’s new camera called Clips has been specially designed to automate the process of taking the best photos of children and pets by capturing “motion photos” without sound, then using on-board machine learning algorithms to figure out which are the best images.

Google says the new pet-friendly features in Google Photos will roll out today to most countries worldwide.

Featured Image: benjgibbs/Flickr UNDER A CC BY 2.0 LICENSE

Google adds some basic antivirus features to Chrome for Windows

Antivirus software is always a cat and mouse game, but Google is trying to make things a little easier for users by adding some antivirus features to Chrome for Windows.

The biggest addition is a new option to detect if settings like the default search engine have been hijacked by a rogue extension, and automatically offer to set things back to normal.

Additionally, the built-in Chrome Cleanup tool has been redesigned. The revamped tool is now simpler to use: it automatically removes harmful software with the press of a button, and is more powerful, thanks to a partnership with IT security firm ESET. Google is quick to note that Chrome Cleanup isn’t a catch-all antivirus solution, though; it will only remove extensions that violate Google’s Unwanted Software Policy, so you’ll still want to make sure that you’ve got some sort of regular antivirus software set.

Hopefully the new changes will mean that Google Chrome users on Windows will be able to enjoy a little more peace of mind going forward. Or at the very least, cut down on frantic tech support calls from less tech-savvy family members and friends wondering why Google search isn’t working anymore.

Hide your kids, hide your Wi-Fi! Vulnerability found in WPA2 encryption

Why it matters to you

All devices with Wi-Fi capability are potentially exposed to hackers.

Hackers can access all modern Wi-Fi networks through a crack in the wireless security protocol WPA2, according to new research published on Monday from the University of Leuven (KU Leuven) in Belgium.

The Wi-Fi hack — aptly named KRACK (Key Reinstallation AttaCK) — means the vast majority of devices and wireless internet traffic are potentially susceptible to malicious attacks and eavesdropping. If your device supports Wi-Fi, it is probably affected, warns Mathy Vanhoef, the KU Leuven security expert who discovered the weakness.

“Attackers can use this novel attack technique to read information that was previously assumed to be safely encrypted,” Vanhoef wrote in his report. “This can be abused to steal sensitive information such as credit card numbers, passwords, chat messages, emails, photos, and so on. In general, any data or information that the victim transmits can be decrypted. Additionally, depending on the device being used and the network setup, it is also possible to decrypt data sent towards the victim (e.g. the content of a website).”

No, Mom, this isn’t the end of the internet. But it does mean we’ll need to update our devices as soon as possible.

Many websites today run an additional level of security beyond WPA2 (note the padlock next to our URL in the address bar above) so personal info passed through these sites is private. Websites without that padlock should be seen as open to the public until KRACK is patched.

There’s also a level of physical security in that a would-be hacker has to be within proximity of the network. We’re not all suddenly exposed to the everyone internet.

According to the report, KRACK affects Android, Linux, Apple, Windows, OpenBSD, MediaTek, Linksys, and other operating systems. Some have released patches to address the vulnerability.

Recognizing how widespread the vulnerability was, Vanhoef and his team informed the United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team (CERT) who notified all susceptible vendors on August 28, 2017.

“We’re aware of the issue, and we will be patching any affected devices in the coming weeks,” Google told The Guardian.

“We have released a security update to address this issue. Customers who apply the update, or have automatic updates enabled, will be protected,” Microsoft said.

Security standards have been hacked in the past but this time there’s no new, more secure, and widespread standard to fall back on. So don’t freak out, but be cautious — check for padlocks in your browser’s address bar, update your devices ASAP, and, for god’s sake, use a VPN.

The HOLD 10 Index is a passively managed fund of the top 10 cryptocurrencies

This year the market capitalization of all cryptocurrencies has grown from about $13 billion to well over $150 billion, fueled by infusions of capital from all different types of investors. But regardless of this extreme growth, it’s still very complicated for most people to invest in cryptocurrency. So one startup is launching a private index fund designed to let you passively hold a stake in the 10 largest cryptocurrencies, weighted by market cap.

Called the HOLD 10 Index, the fund is designed to passively hold the top 10 cryptocurrencies by market cap (including a 5 year inflation schedule). The funds are 100% cold storage secured except for when the portfolio is rebalanced once a month to account for fluctuations in pricing among the basket of assets.

Right now the assets included are: BTC, ETH, XRP, BCH, LTC, DASH, NEO, ZEC, XMR (Monero) and ETC.

You can read a bit more about inclusion criteria here, but there are a few more requirements besides being in the top 10 – these include things like free-floating price, trade volume requirements and being traded on sufficient exchanges. This additional requirements exclude currencies like NEM, which doesn’t meet a 30% of supply traded per month for the last 3 months requirement that the index has.

While investors have to be U.S-based and accredited since it’s a private vehicle and not an ETF, the minimum is only $10,000 – which as you can see below is much less than any current alternatives.

HOLD 10 Index vs Bitcoin over the last year

Founded by Hunter Horsley and Hong Kim, the startup behind the index is called Bitwise Investments – and eventually wants to become something like the Vanguard of cryptocurrency. For this first index fund there’s no performance fee and only a 2-3% annual management fee, which for most investors will be well worth it considering the alternatives. Naval Ravikant of AngelList and Elad Gil are both investors in the new company.

Speaking of which, to understand the benefit that this fund could provide investors, it’s important to understand the current methods available to investors wanting to put their money into cryptocurrency.

First, they could do it the old fashion way and purchase cryptocurrency on exchanges and then hold the private keys. This is pretty technically complicated for an average investor, and while you have 100% control of your funds it means you now have the extra burden of keeping safe (but still remembering) your private keys, as well as knowing how to send and receive funds when you want to rebalance or cash out.

Next, they could use a service like Coinbase or Gemini to purchase cryptocurrency and hold them online. These sites do typically hold your funds in “cold storage” to reduce the risk that they will be stolen, but at the end of the day there’s still always a risk of something happening to your money when you’re not in total control. That being said, it’s still relatively safe and a lot easier than managing your own private keys. One big downside though – you’re going to be limited to only investing in the two or three largest crypocurrencies, since these big exchanges and wallets only support bitcoin, ethereum and sometimes litecoin.

Your last real option is to let a private cryptocurrency hedge fund (of which there is no shortage) handle the entire process for you – but these often have very high investment minimums (in the millions) and very high fees. So this option is off the table for average investors.

There’s no doubt that a decade from now investors will have endless options to easily and safely invest in cryptocurrency and crypto assets. But as you can see above, that isn’t the case just yet – which is why this new fund is so interesting.

Could HP and Dell Get Together Again?

Technology companies tend to have very fickle relationships. For instance, Microsoft helped launch Apple, worked to kill the company, provided money to save it, and then got its butt kicked by it.

Dell first partnered with EMC, then competed with it, then bought it (the CEOs remained friends throughout).

Dell and HP have had a rather interesting relationship as well. Dell used to resell HP printers, but after HP bought Compaq, the firms went to war. However, with HP now split from HPE, growth now lies in very different areas. There is a potential synergy between Dell and HP, which makes me wonder how long it will take both to realize that they might once again make interesting partners.

I’ll argue that point and then close with my product of the week: a fascinating Sonos offering that bridges whole home audio with Amazon Echo.

Dell Technology’s Strategic Future

I attended a Dell analyst event last week that highlighted the company’s fascinating play to own the future of digital convergence. Every technology expert I follow has concluded that in the future, technology in business — and I mean by 2030, so near term — will rely on highly connected, automated, intelligent systems. They will handle everything from employee provisioning on the fly to running the manufacturing floor, to managing healthcare, to — well, you name the vertical.

By 2030, we’ll be up to our armpits in connected AI-driven automated systems that make decisions automatically about most everything we touch and do, including driving our cars for us.

Dell’s impressive strategy is to pull all the elements of Dell Technologies together with a ton of partners like Intel and Microsoft to make this happen. If it is successful, it will rise to be a power that could exceed Google and Amazon combined, and come far closer to the power that IBM had when mainframes were the only computer system at scale.

This in potentially in line with Microsoft’s effort to own the Internet following Bill Gates’ tidal wave memo. Microsoft went from a vendor of Windows and Office to the most powerful — and scary — company in tech for a while, and pretty much rolled over every competitor it then had.

This is the potential of the Dell strategy, and it likely would be unachievable if Dell weren’t run by its founder Michael Dell; hadn’t merged with EMC, giving it massive scale; hadn’t gone private, allowing it to take the related risk; or didn’t have what arguably is the strongest Internet of Things team on the planet.

This strategy largely would depend on robots, however, which Dell doesn’t make and has no plan to make.

HP’s Strategic Future

I also spoke to HP’s executive staff last week, and their company’s future is equally interesting, even though it is massively different. HP’s future is tied to 3D printing, which is poised to turn its massive print unit from what was viewed as a liability into a massive asset.

This is not printing on paper, but HP is the only firm in its class creating and shipping 3D printers. The greenfield opportunity for industrial 3D printers is both massive and underrepresented by vendors in HP’s class.

HP shortly will offer not only monochrome plastic, but also full color — and it is moving into metals. The goal is to put these printers on manufacturing floors and use them for just-in-time parts. However, it is likely that every home and every business eventually will have 3D printers, and the opportunity could, due to supplies, exceed that of smartphones.

Firms with lines that deploy 3D printers will be more agile, more flexible, and far more able both to customize products being manufactured and shift between product types. If HP continues to execute, it could own much of the future for manufacturing — both commercially and in the home.

However, 3D printers — particularly when deployed in a manufacturing line — are robots. In effect, HP is creating robots that make things, including parts for themselves. These robots are gaining capabilities. In addition to the recent announcements of full color in plastics, and the use of metals, there’s an expectation that blended materials are coming.

Once it starts building one type of robot, building more types increasingly will look interesting to the firm.

Blending the Companies

So, Dell’s strategic future is to blend things like robots into centralized, integrated solutions that automatically are managed by next-generation AI controllers, using a blend of deep learning, machine learning and inference. However, it won’t be making robots, which currently aren’t being made by a vendor of enterprise class.

HP is on a path to build ever-more-capable 3D printers, which basically are complex robots that eventually will need to be integrated into the solutions that Dell Technologies is creating. Once HP starts down the path of building robots, it undoubtedly will move to adjacent robotic opportunities, and they are enterprise class.

Both companies still make PCs and workstations — an area where they will continue to compete — but both companies also partner with Microsoft, which makes one of the fastest-growing lines of PCs in the market, the Surface offerings.

So, both companies successfully have created strategic partnerships with firms that also were competitors. Put differently, while PCs once were very important to both firms, that importance has dropped for both, and their greatest growth opportunities now lie in areas where there is synergy between them — not conflict.

Wrapping Up: Strange Bedfellows

A huge gap in Dell’s strategy is its lack of desire to build what likely will be the most prevalent end components of its strategy in manufacturing: robots. A huge gap in HP’s strategy is its lack of sufficient breadth to build comprehensive AI-driven connected solution critical to achieving its broad goal of placing 3D printers into manufacturing lines.

To get where Dell is, HP would have to recreate the firm that existed before it was spun out of HPE, which seems very unlikely. To fill the robot gap, Dell would have to create a robotics division nearly from scratch. While less difficult, that still would create a huge distraction and push out final solutions for manufacturing, which then would be gated by the robotics building activity.

Oh, and both Dion, HP’s current CEO, and Michael Dell are very well regarded and liked by many in the rank and file of both firms, unlike prior HP executives.

The only question in my mind is how long it will take either of these men to realize they would benefit from the partnership, and then to pick up the phone and make it happen. We’ll see…

Rob Enderle's Product of the Week

If you wanted to distribute high-quality sound through your home easily and cheaply, there really was only one solution: Sonos. I moved to this platform years ago, but I’ve been using my Amazon Echo products more, of late, even though the quality of the sound is distinctly inferior.

Still, I’m choosing them because voice control is considerably easier to use than an app on your phone or PC, particularly if you are cooking, working on a project, or just reading with music in the background.

Well Sonos stepped up and partnered with Amazon and created the new Sonos One with Amazon Alexa.

Sonos One With Amazon Alexa

Sonos One
With Amazon Alexa

Priced at US$199, or just above Amazon’s own product, this offering has better sound. Because it integrates with other Sonos products, you easily can move the music you listen to around the house, with full Alexa voice control.

I should point out that this relationship apparently went both ways, because you now can create groups of Echo products and use what was a unique feature in Sonos, party mode, to synchronize the sound all over your house, providing an experience identical to a far more expensive custom wired-in speaker system.

Still, stereo is far harder to do with Echo products, and for integrating things like TV sound and surround sound, Sonos is the only good solution at the moment. Echo products just don’t have that capability yet.

With all the new home assistant products from Amazon, Apple, Google, and Microsoft coming to market, my new favorite is the Sonos One with Alexa, and that’s why it is my product of the week. (Now if I could just get the company to build an outdoor speaker with Alexa.)

Rob Enderle has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2003. His areas of interest include AI, autonomous driving, drones, personal technology, emerging technology, regulation, litigation, M&E, and technology in politics. He has undergrad degrees in merchandising and manpower management, and an MBA in human resources, marketing and computer science. He is also a certified management accountant. Enderle currently is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. He formerly served as a senior research fellow at Giga Information Group and Forrester. Email Rob.

Grow your loved one’s remains into a tree

Put your Bios Urn in a Bios Incube to grow your loved one’s remains into a tree… all by itself. There is a built-in watering system and a sensor that does all the work for you. Plus, the urn’s material is 100 percent biodegradable. Bios Incube starts at $450.

Apple has finally shipped the first batch of iPhone X devices from China, says report

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The first batch of iPhone X handsets have finally made their way through the manufacturing process and been shipped from a Foxconn factory in China, according to Chinese publication Xinhuanet

This inaugural shipment brings Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone X smartphone one step closer to  reaching consumers after many reported delays.

But take this news with a huge grain of salt. The Taiwanese report was picked up by Digitimes, which has a spotty track record when it comes to accurately reporting supply chain rumors (it was also later grabbed by 9to5Mac). The publication says that the first shipment of iPhone X devices left Foxconn’s facilities in Zhengzhou and Shanghai on Monday. The phones were reportedly sent to the Netherlands and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

This first wave of iPhone Xs will do little to quell the massive demand for the new phone, however. There were be only an estimated 46,500 devices produced between the two Chinese facilities, while there are expected to be upwards of 50 million preorders once the period kicks off on Oct. 27. 

Foxconn has reportedly been able to ratchet up its manufacturing output to about 400,000 units per week, but at that rate, Apple still won’t be able to meet the massive demand for the iPhone X. 

Ming-Chi Kuo, a reputable analyst, believes that Apple will only be able to ship 30 to 35 million iPhone Xs by the end of the year. That could mean that even customers with preorders will wind up waiting for their new phones until at least 2018.

Production issues have clouded the iPhone X’s launch even before the device was officially unveiled in September. Apple reportedly struggled to implement some of the new tech included in the handset, most notably new 3D face-scanner, and other supply chain constraints potentially kept manufacturing from starting until this month.  

The new report of the first iPhone X shipments hasn’t been confirmed by Apple, though, so there is a chance that the company and its partners will be able produce more of the phones to come closer to meeting demand. Either way, the iPhone X is all but guaranteed to be a big hit from the moment it’s available on Nov. 3 — the only real question is how long it’ll take you to get your hands on one. 2b4a 69e3%2fthumb%2f00001