How a soccer-mad Californian kicked off today’s megarich global sports machine

How a soccer-mad Californian kicked off today’s megarich global sports machine

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Tranmere Rovers v Forest Green - Sky Bet League Two Play-off Semi Final: First Leg

Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Among the super-rich, a high-profile sports team is a must-have accessory. Lucrative English soccer clubs are a prime target for Russian oligarchs, Qatari princes and American entertainment empires. But when the first foreign owner to ever buy an English team arrived 35 years ago, he brought more than his wallet. He brought his boots.

Today, 15 of the 20 clubs in the English Premier League, which kicked off a new season August, are the property of megarich backers from the US, Asia and the Middle East. Legendary clubs like Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United, family-owned for generations, are now just another asset in portfolios of NFL, NBA and even <a website franchises.

This international spending spree started when Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich bought Chelsea FC in 2003, but the largely forgotten first step toward today’s globalized era occurred way back in 1984. Football clubs were traditionally owned by local businessmen until California lawyer Bruce Osterman bought Tranmere Rovers, a proud but impoverished team in the unemployment-lashed north of England. 

“The game as a whole was at its nadir,” remembers Mark Palios, who played for Tranmere in those dark days of the 1980s. “Gates were low, there was hooliganism, there was a complete lack of investment. It was a sick industry.”

What followed is more than a quirky footnote in sporting history — it’s a story of conflict between passion and business that any fan of any team in any country will recognize. Palios played an unexpected secret role in the ensuing drama — only to face a horribly familiar crisis threatening the club three decades later.

Boreham Wood v Tranmere Rovers - Vanarama National League Play Off FinalBoreham Wood v Tranmere Rovers - Vanarama National League Play Off Final

Mark Palios played for Tranmere in the 1970s and 1980s, taking an unexpected role in the drama behind the scenes — before returning to the club 30 years later.

Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images

We all live in a deadly submarine

Former Tranmere player Ken Bracewell was coaching a professional team in San Francisco in the early 1980s when he was approached by attorney and keen amateur goalkeeper Bruce Osterman. The glamour had faded from The National American Soccer League’s heyday, and to Bracewell’s surprise, Osterman wanted more than a chat about soccer teams — he wanted to buy one.

“I was young and it seemed like a good idea,” Osterman, now 77, says in his unhurried California drawl over the phone from his home near San Francisco. “I had some extra money as I’d done well in my law practice,” he remembers, “and Tranmere was in real trouble so it was a number to purchase the team that I could afford.”


Tranmere chairman Bruce Osterman filmed at Prenton Park for a TV documentary.

Northern Echoes

Tranmere’s stadium Prenton Park is only a short ferry ride from footballing titans Liverpool and Everton, but in 1984 it might as well have been on a different planet. Clinging to professional status at the wrong end of the English leagues, with no money and plummeting attendances, Tranmere had special permission to hold matches on Friday evenings instead of Saturday afternoons so locals wouldn’t disappear to watch the team’s more glamorous neighbors.

“Tranmere will never compete with Liverpool and Everton,” one of the club’s managers later said. “They’re big liners like the Queen Mary, but I see Tranmere as a deadly submarine.”

In 1984 Tranmere was about to emulate a submarine in the worst possible way: by going under.

Osterman took advantage of the strife and a disastrously weak pound to buy the club, แทงบอล installing Ken Bracewell in charge. “I relied on Kenny for the day-to-day things,” Osterman recalls, “because frankly what the hell did I know?”

Liverpool Echo StaffLiverpool Echo Staff

Bruce Osterman (crouching third from left, wearing glasses), lines up with a team of sports journalists playing a friendly at Prenton Park in August 1986. Eagle-eyed fans might recognise the chap on the far left: popular TV and radio pundit Ray Stubbs, who previously worked at Tranmere.

Mirrorpix/Getty Images

Today’s game is full of players, managers and owners from other countries. In the 1980s it was more insular, as English clubs were banned from European competition throughout the second half of the 1980s, foreign players like Tottenham’s Argentine duo Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa were still a novelty, and there wouldn’t be a foreign manager until Dr Jozef Venglos left Czechoslovakia for Aston Villa in 1990.

Bruce Osterman showed up at Tranmere for a few weeks a few times a year. There was occasionally a language barrier with the distinctive Merseyside accent. “I used to go to sportsman’s dinners for people who had shares in the club, and I was usually the brunt of the after-dinner comedian,” Osterman remembers. “I know he was speaking English but I couldn’t understand a word!” Osterman’s family came too, although his wife found herself excluded from men-only areas such as the boardroom and team coach. “She tolerated my doing this, but it wasn’t a pleasant time for her,” Osterman admits.

Journalists were delighted by the sight of the bespectacled 43-year-old chairman diving around in the training field mud, while players mischievously blasted balls at him. This was all highly unusual, but still — Tranmere were saved.

To be Frank

In the days before television revenue, a lesser club’s main income was ticket sales. Larger-than-life characters attracted paying fans through the turnstiles, so Osterman appointed Frank Worthington as the team’s player-manager.

Soccer - Home International Championship - Scotland v England - Hampden ParkSoccer - Home International Championship - Scotland v England - Hampden Park

Larger-than-life character Frank Worthington playing for England.

Peter Robinson/EMPICS

Worthington had two decades of experience on the field, but he’d never managed a team. The mulleted Elvis fan was certainly an entertainer, แทงบอล a prodigious goalscorer and even more prodigious playboy. His autobiography, suggestively titled “One Hump Or Two,” lists more nightclubs than football clubs. Worthington jokes that when he took charge at Tranmere the players thought they’d be in trouble if they got home before 2 a.m.

The dashing player-manager bagged three goals in a 6-2 victory his first time in front of the Prenton Park faithful, and he ended up scoring 20 that season. He also made shrewd use of Osterman’s limited budget — one of Worthington’s acquisitions, Ian Muir, remains the club’s all-time top goalscorer. But defence was poor and Tranmere couldn’t afford new blood.

“We didn’t have the players or the money,” Osterman admits. “I had no idea of the difficulty of handling a team even in the fourth division.”

One player understood the economics of Osterman’s situation more than most. Tenacious midfielder Mark Palios was a local lad in his second stint at Tranmere when Osterman arrived. And unlike most footballers, who typically spend their time between matches wasting money, Palios worked a unique parallel career managing money as an accountant.

Soccer - Football League Cup - Third Round - Arsenal v Tranmere RoversSoccer - Football League Cup - Third Round - Arsenal v Tranmere Rovers

Mark Palios playing for Tranmere the night they beat Arsenal in 1973.

PA Images Archive

One of Tranmere’s directors walked into Palios’ office looking for advice on pushing Osterman out. The surprised player found himself offering advice on the club’s financial future mere hours before pulling on the shirt and running onto the Prenton Park pitch.

Tranmere’s cash flow crisis came to a head when the well-intentioned but overstretched Osterman tried to sell Prenton Park to make way for a supermarket. Fans, directors and local authorities turned against him.

The American dream had soured.

History repeating

Thirty years later, in 2015, history repeated for Tranmere Rovers — and for Mark Palios. The club was again in dire straits on and off the field. And just like in the 1980s, a new owner stepped in. But this time, it was Palios buying the club.

After combining his playing days with a successful accounting career, Palios had been CEO of the Football Association. A specialist in turning around failing businesses, he and his wife Nicola now tackled Tranmere’s turmoil.

Palios began a three-step process he’d applied to many dying companies: Find cash for breathing space. Use that breathing space to fix the business. And แทงบอล finally, bring in new investment.

Most important, the club had to break the cycle of lurching from savior to savior. Palios compares football clubs to gamblers gifted more chips who continue betting on the same old numbers. To really fix the ailing business, Mark and Nicola had to make new bets.

Tranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Play-off - Final - Wembley StadiumTranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Play-off - Final - Wembley Stadium

Tranmere chairman Mark Palios and vice chair Nicola Palios took charge in 2014.

Adam Davy/PA Images

Osterman out

Back in 1985, Palios quit Tranmere and distanced himself from the boardroom shenanigans to avoid a conflict of interest. Ultimately the directors exploited new insolvency legislation to get rid of Osterman, แทงบอล Bracewell and Worthington, earning Tranmere another dubious distinction as the first football club to go into administration under the new laws.

In 1987, a new buyer offered less than Osterman paid for the club. Luckily for the American, a strengthened pound took the sting out of the loss.

A new owner and manager took over, but Tranmere’s troubles weren’t over. They had to beat Exeter City on the last day of the season or be disastrously dumped out of the professional league.

Kick-off was delayed as 7,000 fans crammed into one of Prenton Park’s signature Friday night matches on May 8, 1987. Mark Palios was there, although in another bizarre twist he could have been on the field — for either side. Exeter previously tried to sign him, while injury-plagued Tranmere desperately searched for Palios to ask about rejoining for the crucial match. “We didn’t have mobile phones in those days,” Palios jokes. “[Tranmere] should have asked the administrators — they knew where I was…”

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As the sky darkened above the floodlights neither side could break the deadlock — until six minutes from time, when Ian Muir’s pinpoint cross was headed home by defender Gary Williams. At the final whistle, the delirious crowd poured onto the pitch

After this fairytale escape, new manager John King — another former Tranmere player, who coined the “deadly submarine” nickname — kicked off a resurgence in the 1990s. The team went to multiple finals at Wembley, rising through the divisions and almost surfacing alongside Liverpool and Everton in the Premier League.

Soccer - Leyland Daf Cup Final - Wembley - Tranmere Rovers v Bristol RoversSoccer - Leyland Daf Cup Final - Wembley - Tranmere Rovers v Bristol Rovers

Ian Muir (right), signed by Frank Worthington and still Tranmere’s top scorer, celebrates the first of Tranmere’s many trips to the hallowed Wembley Stadium in the 1990s.

Neal Simpson/EMPICS

Bouncing back

Sadly the golden era didn’t last, and in 2015 a run-down Tranmere sank out of the professional league entirely. Under different leadership that could have destroyed the club, but Mark and Nicola Palios had a plan to stay afloat. They developed new revenue streams which didn’t rely on a benefactor’s deep pockets, earned money from the stadium not just on matchdays, and built on the club’s standing in the community with training schemes for vulnerable youth. “The business model I’ve tried to produce is football-agnostic,” Palios explains. “So if I go, the business stays.”

The club is into phase three of the Palios plan: tempting investors. Palios contemplates leveraging the local area’s rich footballing heritage for projects such as a hotel, and perhaps even a plan that backfired for Osterman: leaving Prenton Park. Palios has his eye on building a new stadium at the £4.5 billion Wirral Waters dockland regeneration scheme, one of the largest development projects in Europe.

Tranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Play-off FinalTranmere Rovers v Newport County - Sky Bet League Two Play-off Final

Tranmere returned to Wembley in 2017, 2018 and again in 2019, when Connor Jennings scored another last-gasp goal to secure Tranmere a second successive promotion.

Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Getty Images

Palios notes these long-term plans are “embryonic” and depend on factors like promotion to higher leagues, millions added to the bottom line, and major investors.

“It’s a way off,” Palios says of his potential vision for the future, “but if somebody comes in with serious money, you have to have a business plan. And the one thing I won’t do is limit ambition.”

To bring things full circle in terms of foreign backers, the Palios’ have shared photos of themselves courting international investment since this interview. This time Tranmere’s seeking funding from soccer-mad Indonesian businessman Simon Nainggolan, also known as Simon N.

The chaos at Bury and Bolton Wanderers shows how precarious the football business remains, despite TV money and global investment. At Tranmere, smart commercial decisions and dedicated supporters kept the club alive. To fans’ delight, under manager Micky Mellon — yet another former player — the team won promotion in 2018 and again in 2019. Despite losing some key names over the summer, Tranmere kick off the new season in League One, English football’s third tier.

Devoted Tranmere Rovers fans celebrate.

Steven Paston/EMPICS

Bruce Osterman still practices law, although he stopped playing soccer at 60. “If I had to do it all again I would,” he says of his experience with Tranmere. “No foreigner had ever done this before, and I met a lot of great people. It was an adventure for me.”

For today’s US-based investment consortiums, owning a sports team is all about profit. For Bruce Osterman, it was an adventure.

For Mark Palios, sport offers a unique combination of both business and passion. When fans tell him they’re proud of the club, he says, “that’s the reward.”

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Originally published Aug. 2. 

Updated Aug. 9 to note possible Indonesian investment.

<div class="comment-container" data-component="sharebar" data-sharebar-options='"title":"How a soccer-mad Californian kicked off today\u0027s megarich global sports machine","description":"Every sports team in the world has faced a conflict between passion and business as fans and club owners do battle. For one club, that battle has come full

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25 technologies that have changed the world

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This story is part of CNET at 25, celebrating a quarter century of industry tech and our role in telling you its story.


Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007, calling it a “revolutionary and magical product that is literally five years ahead of any other mobile phone,”

Photo courtesy of Apple

If 1995 seems a long time ago, that’s because it was. The DVD player was the hot new entertainment device, mobile phones were bulky and did little besides place calls, and accessing the internet was a novel (and slow) experience confined to desktop computers. It also was the year CNET began publishing news and reviews.

Technology has changed immensely in the 25 years since then. One could argue that it’s continued to improve our lives, keeping us more connected to information, entertainment and each other. You also could argue just the opposite, but either way, there are a few gadgets and technologies that have changed our lives and the world forever. Here are 25 influential advancements from the past quarter century.

Apple iPhone

Though it wasn’t the first smartphone, Apple really got the ball rolling with the introduction of the iPhone in 2007. Social media, messaging and the mobile internet wouldn’t be nearly as powerful or universal if they hadn’t been freed from the shackles of the desktop computer and optimized for the iPhone and its dozens of competitors.

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Armed with powerful features and able to run thousands of apps, they squeezed more functionality into one device than we’d ever seen before. The mobile revolution also brought the death of point-and-shoot cameras, dashboard GPS units, camcorders, PDAs and MP3 players. Now we use smartphones to shop, as a flashlight and sometimes even to call people. It’s tech’s version of the Swiss Army knife.

Now, 13 years after the iPhone’s introduction, more than 3.5 billion people around the world use a smartphone, nearly half the Earth’s population. You may even be using one to read this article.


Wi-Fi has become essential to our personal and professional lives.



The smartphone and the internet we use today wouldn’t have been possible without wireless communication technologies such as Wi-Fi. In 1995 if you wanted to “surf” the internet at home, you had to chain yourself to a network cable like it was an extension cord. In 1997, Wi-Fi was invented and released for consumer use. With a router and a dongle for our laptop, we could unplug from the network cable and roam the house or office and remain online.

Over the years, Wi-Fi’s gotten progressively faster and found its way into computers, mobile devices and even cars. Wi-Fi is so essential to our personal and professional lives today that it’s almost unheard of to be in a home or public place that doesn’t have it.

Internet of things illustrationInternet of things illustration

The internet of things allows consumer devices to connect and share information without human interaction.

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Internet of things

Brett Pearce/CNET

Wi-Fi hasn’t just allowed us to check email or escape boredom at the in-laws, it also made possible a ton of consumer devices that connect and share information without human interaction, creating a system called the internet of things. The term was coined in 1999, but the idea didn’t start to take off with consumers until the past decade.

Today, there are tens of billions of internet-connected devices around the globe that allow us to perform smart home tasks such as turning on our lights, checking who’s at our front door and getting an alert when we’re out of milk. It also has industrial applications, such as in health care and management of municipal services.

Spending on internet of things technology is expected to hit $248 billion this year, more than twice the amount spent three years ago. In five years, the market is expected to top $1.5 trillion.

Sonos OneSonos One

Voice assistants tell you the weather forecast, play music and help water your lawn.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Voice assistants

For many consumers, the heart of the smart home is a voice assistant such as Amazon’s, Google’s and Apple’s. In addition to being a prerequisite for controlling devices in your home, their connected speakers will tell you the weather, read you the news and play music from various streaming services, among thousands of other “skills.”

There were more than 3.25 billion voice assistant devices in use around the world in 2019, and that number is expected to more than double to 8 billion by 2023. But they also present a privacy headache, since the devices are essentially internet-connected microphones that transmit your conversations to servers at Amazon, Google or Apple. All three companies have admitted to from the voice assistants in an effort to improve their software’s accuracy.


Bluetooth has allowed us to hold telephone conversations while keeping both hands on the wheel.



Another wireless communication technology that has proven indispensable is Bluetooth, a radio link that connects devices over short distances. Introduced to consumers in 1999, Bluetooth was built for connecting a mobile phone to a hands-free headset, allowing you to carry on conversations while keeping your hands available for other uses, such as driving a car.

Bluetooth has since expanded to link devices like earbuds, earphones, portable wireless speakers and hearing aids to audio sources like phones, PCs, stereo receivers and even cars. Fitness trackers use Bluetooth to stream data to mobile phones, and PCs can connect wirelessly to keyboards and mice.

Between 2012 and 2018, the number of Bluetooth-enabled devices in the world nearly tripped to 10 billion. Today, Bluetooth is being employed in the smart home for uses such as unlocking door locks and beaming audio to lightbulbs with built-in speakers.


VPN helps employees work remotely and helps individuals avoid censorship.

Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images


The virtual private network, essentially an encrypted tunnel for transferring data on the internet, has proven invaluable for both businesses and individuals. Developed in 1996, the technology initially was used almost exclusively by businesses so their remote employees could securely access the company’s intranet .

VPN use has grown in popularity since then, with about a quarter of internet users using a VPN in 2018. Today, other popular uses for VPNs include hiding online activity, bypassing internet censorship in countries without a free internet and avoiding geography-based restrictions on streaming services.


Bitcoin incorporates technology, currency, math, economics and social dynamics.

Dan Kitwood/Getty Images


Bitcoin is the digital cryptocurrency that racked up headlines with its meteoric rise in value a few years back and then its equally breathtaking decline, and it’s another technology made popular by anonymity. It cracked the $1,000 threshold for the first time on Jan. 1, 2017, in December of that year and then during the first part of 2018.

The decentralized currency incorporates technology, currency, math, economics and social dynamics. And it’s anonymous; instead of using names, tax IDs or แทงบอล Social Security numbers, แทงบอล bitcoin connects buyers and sellers through encryption keys.

Computers running special software — the “miners” — inscribe transactions in a vast digital ledger. These blocks are known, collectively, as the “blockchain.” But the computational process of mining for bitcoins can be arduous, with thousands of miners competing simultaneously.


Blockchains work as a secure digital ledger.



Perhaps bigger than bitcoin is blockchain, the encryption technology behind the cryptocurrency. Because blockchains work as a secure digital ledger, a bumper crop of startups hope to bring it to voting, lotteries, ID cards and identity verification, graphics rendering, welfare payments, job hunting and insurance payments.

It’s potentially a very big deal. Analyst firm Gartner estimates that blockchain will provide $176 billion in value to businesses by 2025 and a whopping $3.1 trillion by 2030.

MP3 playerMP3 player

MP3 technology made music more portable



Entertainment has become a whole lot more portable in the past quarter century, in large part due to the introduction of the MP3 and MP4 compression technologies. Research into high-quality, low-bit-rate coding began in the 1970s. The idea was to compress audio into a digital file with little or no loss of audio quality. The MP3 standard that we know today emerged in the mid-’90s, but the first mobile MP3 player wasn’t available to consumers until 1998, when South Korea’s Saehan released MPMan, a flash-based player that could hold about 12 songs.

The format’s popularity took off in 1999, when 19-year-old student Shawn Fanning created the software behind the pioneering file-sharing service Napster, allowing users to swap MP3 files with each other across the internet for free. That activity famously cut into the profits of the recording industry and artists, which filed lawsuits that eventually toppled Napster, but the format helped give rise to the market for streaming music services like Spotify, Apple Music and many others.


Facial recognition helps us unlock devices but also track individuals.

James Martin/CNET

Facial recognition

is a blossoming field of technology that’s playing an ever-growing role in our lives. It’s a form of biometric authentication that uses the features of your face to verify your identity.

The tech helps us unlock devices and sort photos in digital albums, but surveillance and marketing may end up being its prime uses. Cameras linked to facial recognition databases containing millions of mugshots and driver’s license photos are used to identify suspected criminals. They also could be used to recognize your face and make personalized shopping recommendations as you enter a store.

Both activities raise .

Even so, the market isn’t showing any signs of stalling. In the US alone, the facial recognition industry is expected to grow from $3.2 billion in 2019 to $7 billion by 2024.


On the internet, artificial intelligence  is used for everything from speech recognition to spam filtering.


Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence – simulating human intelligence in machines – used to be confined to science fiction. But in recent decades, it’s broken into the real world, becoming one of the most important technologies of our time. In addition to being the brains behind facial recognition, AI is in transportation, retail and health care (, for example). On the internet, it’s used for everything from speech recognition to spam filtering. Warner Bros. even plans to use AI to analyze its potential movies and choose which ones to put into development.

But there’s also fear that a dystopian future is looming with the creation of , including  drones, missile defense systems and sentry robots. Industry leaders have called for regulation of the technology to prevent the potential harm from tools like deepfakes, which are video forgeries that make people seem to say or do things they didn’t.


Drones have been used to shoot movie sequences, deliver packages and spray pesticides over crops to protect farms.



Drones have really taken off in recent years. What started out as a hobbyist gadget has transformed industries, with the unmanned aircraft shooting movie sequences, delivering packages to hard-to-reach places, surveying construction sites and spraying pesticide over crops to protect farms.

Drones now range from . On the US-Mexico border, Customs and Border Protection uses $16 million military-style Predator drones that can fly as high as nine miles, equipped with radar strong enough to detect footprints in the sand.

In the not-too-distant future, drones are expected to crowd the skies, acting as personal air taxis and performing lifesaving duties such as delivering medicine, helping with search and rescue, and fighting fires.


DNA testing has been helpful in identifying previously unknown relatives as well as criminal suspects.

Sven Hoppe/picture alliance via Getty Images

DNA testing kits

With a simple swab of your cheek or a sample of your saliva, DNA testing kits have helped deepen our understanding of ancestry, introduced us to living relatives around the world, determined paternity and shed light on a predisposition to specific health issues and diseases. 

Over the past few years, the kits have become quite affordable and popular. Law enforcement agencies in particular have grown fond of the kits. Using a technique called genetic genealogy, they’ve cracked dozens of murder, rape and assault cases, some from decades ago.

Then investigators use traditional genealogical research to identify possible suspects, who are then tested for a DNA match to the crime scene. But the practice relies on investigators having access to a large cache of DNA profiles, and it stirs worries.

IBM Q quantum computer close-upIBM Q quantum computer close-up

Quantum computing is making dramatic leaps in computing power each year.

Stephen Shankland/CNET

Quantum computing

Companies and countries are research and development. They’re betting it will pay off by opening up new abilities in chemistry, shipping, materials design, finance, artificial intelligence and more.

The technology is beginning to show some of the promise researchers have hyped for decades. Last year, a Google-designed completed a task in 200 seconds that, by Google’s estimate, would take 10,000 years on the world’s fastest supercomputer.


Social media apps jockey for your attention.

Chesnot/Getty Images

Social networking

The online world was a very different place two decades ago. Social networkers of a certain age may remember Friendster, the site that launched in 2002 and allowed people to fill out an online profile and connect with people they knew in real life. But two years later, Mark Zuckerberg changed everything when he launched a for college students called Facebook. It opened to the general public in 2006 and quickly left Friendster and MySpace far behind.

Today Facebook helps people connect and stay connected, but its real business is advertising. Last year, it brought in $32 billion in ad revenue. It also helped pave the way for other social networks that help people chat, share photos and find jobs, among other activities. It now has 2.37 billion users – nearly a third of the world’s population.


A 3D printer in action.

Sarah Tew/CNET

3D printing

3D printing —  the process of synthesizing a three-dimensional object — is one of those technologies that edges ever closer to mainstream use every year. We’ve seen the concept play out on TV and in movies for years, and now with home 3D printers it’s finally growing beyond a hobby for a small enthusiast audience.

got an early foothold as a way to design prototypes of just about anything. The technology allows manufacturers to build plastic components that are lighter than metal alternatives and with unusual shapes that can’t be made by conventional injection molding methods.

The devices are used to create materials inside and Adidas running shoes, and Porsche plans to roll out a new program that will allow customers to have their cars’ seats partially 3D-printed.

Some call 3D printing the fourth industrial revolution. Spending in the field is growing at about 13% annually among large US companies, consulting firm Deloitte estimates, and will likely reach $2 billion in 2020.


Video streaming services are quickly replacing cable and satellite subscriptions for many consumers.

David Katzmaier/CNET

Video streaming

Twenty-five years ago, a new media storage format was taking the entertainment world by storm. DVDs had superior picture and sound quality to the VHS tape, and they took up less room on your shelves. Movie rental stores abandoned VHS for DVDs, and online rental services like Netflix popped up, offering the convenience of mailing rented discs directly to you.

Then Netflix introduced its streaming service, allowing people to watch movies and TV shows across the internet. Consumers fell in love with the convenience of on-demand programming and began the phenomenon of “cutting the cord.” As more streaming services like Amazon Prime Video, Hulu and YouTube emerged, consumers started canceling cable and satellite subscriptions and rental services such as Blockbuster went belly up.

By next year, more than one-fifth of US households are expected to have cut the cord on cable and satellite services, according to eMarketer.


Streaming represents 85% of all music consumption in the US.

James Martin/CNET

Music streaming

Streaming now represents 85% of all music consumption in the US, a 7.6% increase over 2018, according to BuzzAngle Music. In 2019, on-demand audio stream consumption hit a record 705 billion streams, a 32% increase over the previous year.

In 2019, total music industry revenues rose 13% to $11.1 billion, with streaming accounting for nearly 80% of that total, according to the RIAA. But at the same time, album sales fell 23% in 2019 and song sales dropped 26%. And that’s after declines of 18.2% and 28.8%, respectively, the previous year.


There are millions of apps on the market, helping perform almost any task you can imagine

James Martin/CNET


Mobile apps have changed the way we consume media and communicate, from news and streaming services to texting and social media apps. They have also changed the way we go about living our daily lives, helping us find on-demand rides, short- and long-term rentals, and have food delivered to our door, just to name a few of the countless benefits.

There are more than 2 million apps in the Apple App Store, generating about $50 billion in revenue.


An Uber self-driving Ford Fusion.

Screenshot via Gordon Gottsegen/CNET

Autonomous vehicles

The promise of autonomous vehicles has been touted for more than a decade: Without human drivers, proponents say, cars will be safer and more comfortable, especially on long trips. Technology companies have been working on making them a reality for a long time. The driverless vehicle fleet from

Fully self-driving cars may not arrive in dealerships for another decade, but we’re already benefiting from the technology being developed for autonomous vehicles, including adaptive cruise control, automatic forward-collision braking, automatic parking, autopilot and lane-keep assist.

RFID helps many car woners unlock and start their cars without using a key.

CNET Networks


Retailers fell in love with radio frequency identification tracking some 20 years ago, touting the little chips as a convenient way to control inventory and reduce theft, without people having to make contact with the tagged item. Today, they have a variety of applications, including tracking cars, computer equipment and books. They’re implanted into animals to help identify the owners of lost pets, farmers use them to monitor crops and livestock, and they help food companies track the source of packaged goods.

Thanks to growing demand, especially in the medical and health care industries, where the tracking technology is used to monitor patients and label medications, spending in the RFID tag industry is projected to hit $17 billion, more than twice the $8.2 billion spent in 2018.


Virtual reality isn’t just about gaming.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Virtual reality

Companies large and small have begun using virtual reality, which transports users to a computer-generated world. Once confined to the realm of science-fiction movies like Walt Disney’s Tron, virtual reality has grown into a real-world industry worth an estimated $18 billion.

While the video game industry was expected to get an economic boost from virtual reality, the broader tech industry sees other applications for the nascent technology, including education, health care, architecture and entertainment.

preschool via videoconferencepreschool via videoconference

A boy in the San Francisco Bay Area meets up with his preschool classmates and teachers with the Zoom videoconferencing app.

Stephen Shankland/CNET


As the coronavirus pandemic has changed the world we live in, forcing us to avoid contact with others and shelter in place, videoconferencing has exploded in popularity. A few months ago, this technology wouldn’t have made our list, but now it’s proving indispensable. Video telephony has been around in some form since the 1970s, but it wasn’t until the web debuted that the technology took off.

Along with webcams, free internet services such as Skype and iChat popularized the tech in the 2000s, taking videoconferencing to all corners of the internet. The corporate world embraced the tool as a way to cut down on employee travel for meetings and as a marketing tool.

As companies and schools implemented policies on , video chatting and conferencing apps grew in popularity as a way to get work done and communicate with friends and family, especially among people who had never used the tech before.


E-cigarettes were pitched as a healthier alternative to cigarettes, but they have provoked new health concerns.



Battery-operated e-cigarettes hit the US market about a decade ago, touted as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes. However, they didn’t really gain traction until 2015, when Juul Labs debuted its discreet and quickly became the industry leader.

In 2019, an increasing number of people who vape were winding up in hospital with symptoms that include coughing, shortness of breath and other — and at least 54 people have died.

Juul is accused in a lawsuit of illegally targeting young people online in sued on similar grounds in other courts. San Francisco banned the sale of e-cigarettes in June.


Ransomware attacks cost more than $7 billion each year.

Rob Engelaar/AFP via Getty Images


The first ransomware attack can be traced to the late 1980s, but the malware has grown in prominence as one of the greatest cybersecurity threats since 2005. Ransomware until a ransom, usually in bitcoin or another cryptocurrency, is paid. Hackers often threaten to erase data. It spreads like other malware does, through email attachments or unsecured links.

Ransomware attacks skyrocketed in 2019, hitting nearly 1,000 government agencies, educational establishments and health care providers in the US, at an estimated cost of $7.5 billion.

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Around one in six children steal money from their parents to pay for video game loot boxes – in-game ‘treasure chests’ that award players random virtual prizes

Around one in six children steal money from their parents to pay for video game loot boxes – in-game ‘treasure chests’ that award players random virtual prizes. 

In a survey of British teen and young adult gamers, Gambling Health Alliance (GHA) found 15 per cent had taken money from parents without permission to buy loot boxes. 

Overall, one in ten – 11 per cent – had used their parents’ credit or แทงบอล debit cards to fund their loot box purchases, while 9 per cent had borrowed money they couldn’t repay for the addictive in-game feature.

Three young gamers’ loot box buying habits resulted in their families having to re-mortgage their homes to cover the costs, แทงบอล according to the study. 

GHA is currently putting pressure on the UK government to class loot boxes in video games as a form of gambling.

Experts argue that 'loot boxes' in video games are a form of gambling. One psychologist has said that the boxes, which regularly appear in games for children and can be bought with real money, are 'literally slot machines'. Pictured is a loot box in the popular shooter Overwatch

Experts argue that 'loot boxes' in video games are a form of gambling. One psychologist has said that the boxes, which regularly appear in games for children and can be bought with real money, are 'literally slot machines'. Pictured is a loot box in the popular shooter Overwatch

Experts argue that ‘loot boxes’ in video games are a form of gambling.

One psychologist has said that the boxes, แทงบอล which regularly appear in games for children and can be bought with real money, are ‘literally slot machines’. Pictured is a loot box in the popular shooter Overwatch

<div class="art-ins mol-factbox floatRHS sciencetech" data-version="2" id="mol-050483d0-4534-11eb-b77a-31003c211cb3" website in six children steal money to pay for video game loot boxes

Badminton-Russia's Khakimov banned for five years over betting,…

Dec 23 (Reuters) – Russian doubles badminton player Nikita Khakimov has received a five-year ban after being found guilty of offenses relating to “betting, wagering and irregular match results,” the Badminton World Federation (BWF) said on Wednesday.

The BWF opened an investigation against Khakimov after obtaining a statement from a whistleblower, who claimed the shuttler had approached him to manipulate match results at the European Teams Championships held in Feb.


An independent panel found Khakimov to be in breach of BWF’s integrity regulations, แทงบอล including approaching a player and แทงบอล offering money to manipulate a match, betting on badminton games and “deliberately destroying evidence of a corruption offense to conceal from the BWF.”

Khakimov, 32, was part of the Russian men’s team that won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Team Championships.

The panel has decided to not impose a fine on Khakimov, แทงบอล saying the length of the suspension would effectively end his playing career.

“As badminton was his only purported source of income, the suspension would deprive him of the possibility to earn money from his chosen profession,” the panel added.

(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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