The rapidly changing experience once called TV

Roku and Amazon Fire TV are getting to know you 

Researchers at Princeton and University of Chicago analyzed the frequency and methods of Roku and Amazon Fire TV tracking data about user preferences. They found that 89 percent of Fire TV channels and 69 percent of Roku channels include trackers that collect viewing habits, device IDs, Wi-Fi network names and network IDs. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Viewing advertising to “pay” for “free” content is nothing new. Providing detailed information about viewing preferences customizes what we watch, which makes watching ads more relevant and, theoretically, more bearable. So what’s the objection to data collection? It is the lack of trust consumers have about what will happen to their data and how identifiable is their network. Developing universal standards for what data is collected and how it is safeguarded is a big task — likely too big for the fractured U.S. Federal government, though Europe’s GDPR standard is a good start.

Facebook wants to be a part of your TV

Facebook’s Portal TV is a clip on camera that attaches to your TV and enables you to converse with other Portal TV owners, as well as watch Facebook videos together. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Portal TV is an evolution of Facebook’s line of video chatting portal products, and a way for the company to move social networks to a bigger screen. Portal TV may be a pathway for Facebook to play a larger role as communications backbone, but a number of companies have tried and failed to make the TV a video conferencing device. Two barriers to that evolution will be lack of a keyboard, though smart phones could cast their keyboard to the TV, and lack of privacy, as the TV transforms social networking chat to a semi-public event.

AT&T considers sale of DirecTV

AT&T reported that it would not be influenced by its new 1% shareholder, activist investor Elliot Fund, that is demanding divestiture of some of its lines of business. At the same time, the company is rumored to be contemplating a spin off of DirecTV. That line of business lost 778,000 subscribers last quarter. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: AT&T is stretched quite thin in the TV department, with DirecTV subscriber defections increasing, and fierce competition in the streaming business with new entrants each week. AT&T’s streaming TV service will compete with Netflix, Hulu, Apple, Disney, Vevo, HBO, Amazon Prime, Peacock (NBCU), CBS and others — meaning profits are far off for AT&T’s streaming video business.

Google WiFi 2 is Google Home + router

Google is expected to release, in October, the WiFi 2 which does what Amazon Echo does not, combine a smart speaker with a mesh Wi-Fi router. It is assumed that the device will support the faster, higher coverage Wi-Fi 6 protocol. The device will be branded a Nest device.

The first-gen Google Wifi.

Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Google has found a niche that Amazon has not already taken in the combination device. Housing a mesh Wi-Fi broadcaster in the middle of your home where you will locate a speaker makes good sense, as it will improve coverage in your home in a form factor that is aesthetically acceptable, unlike most Wi-Fi hubs and repeaters. Expect to see more appliances also be Wi-Fi repeaters/hubs, as Wi-Fi is expected to cover every inch of home, garage and yard.

Apple strengthens suppliers and fortifies the tech economy

Apple uses its weight to benefit partners

Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund has invested another $250 million in glass maker corning, the primary supplier of glass for iPhones, iPads and watches. The program saw investments of $60 billion in 9,000 American suppliers in 2018, representing 450,000 jobs. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: If you weren’t an Apple fan before, maybe this will convince you. Using its massive cash reserves to strengthen the overall health of its partners is a admirable use of Apple’s strength, and another reason why it is important for the company to continue being a vital, growing tech powerhouse.

More Google Nest woes

CNET bashes Google’s changes of the Works with Nest program and the device connection experience altogether in this scathing criticism of the “improvements” Google has made to Nest products.

dis-rup-shun: The irony of Google’s moves is that Nest, when introduced, was finally the win the complicated and disjointed smart home industry needed. The Nest thermostat was great looking, worked well, and installation was beautifully designed. It was the poster product for the future of smart home — reliable, attractive and cool. Google has transformed a hero product line into one plagued by incompatibilities — spawning user frustration and, inevitably, anger. Perhaps the bigger irony of this unfortunate turn of events is that Google’s device woes are the result of its response to threats from an online bookseller turned smart home master. Amazon’s Echo has not only become the focal point of the smart home, but the company has purchased many strong product companies, such as Ring, and implemented smooth integrations between the product families.

The curious future of the compact camera

Sony’s RX100 VII compact camera sports the photo quality of a large DSLR camera, but is the size of a smartphone. It offers zoom lens range of up to 200mm, fast exposure, and a 1” image sensor — far more than you will find in any smartphone. The price is $1,200. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The camera business is rough, and Sony’s high end compact is a bold, high cost move into a market that barely exists. Consumers who want a professional-grade camera that will fit in their pocket, yet doesn’t also have to make phone calls or send text messages are rare. Sony, the Apple of the 1980’s, continues to try to thrive on the edges of the mass market that was its bread and butter.

Facebook finding AR glasses more difficult than social media

Facebook, for several years now, has been building augmented reality glasses that enable one to see text messages, speak commands and get directions and additional information without the use of smartphone. Facebook has turned to Luxottica, the parent of Ray-Bans and Oakleys for assitance. The Orion glasses may be available by 2023 to 2025. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: One will be hard pressed to find an example of a smart glasses “hit,” despite a half dozen or so serious attempts. Smart glasses have some obvious applications, like helping with driving, battlefield maneuvers, bar tending (all those recipes) and manufacturing, but consumers have yet to be convinced. Maybe a company like Luxottica that understands fashion can score a hit, but Facebook has enough problems with social media security and protection of personal information to be dabbling in the hardware business. Not every company can be an almost-anything company like Amazon.

ATMs of the future recognize your face

ATMs in Japan use facial recognition, QR codes and AI

NEC’s new line of ATMs are more secure and efficient, in terms of power consumption, self-diagnostics, and currency requirements. The devices authenticate users with facial recognition, then send a QR code to the customer’s smart phone that serves as the key to the transaction. AI tracks the patterns of customers and anticipates currency requirements, while better managing the power requirements of the cash dispensers. Enterprise IOT Insights

dis-rup-shun: Efficiencies will be another benefit of machine learning in everyday devices — anticipating needed maintenance and supplies (like cash). The idea of sending users a unique token for each transaction — in this case a QR code — increases security, making it tough to rob someone’s account without both their face and their smartphone (and fingerprint). Expect to see these technologies in global ATMs in the 2021 and 2022 time frames.

Verizon will bring 5G Home Internet to U.S. cities

Verizon announced that wherever it offers mobile 5G (for your smartphone and your car), it will offer 5G home Internet (replacing your home router). Initially priced at $70 per month, the service will provide really fast service for not much more than people are paying now. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Today, your Internet provider has to drop a line to your home and install a router. Despite the rapid pace of technical innovation, you don’t get an updated router unless you complain, or until you have had it for five or six years. With 5G Internet, your provider just ships a modem to your home and you plug it in, and you have Internet speeds only offered by a few wired modems today. It costs the provider less to provision, and gives you the latest technology. While not likely to be available in rural areas, 5G will make access points in cities super fast, and competition from AT&T and T-Mobile/Sprint will keep prices down. Cable modem-based services from vendors like Comcast will reportedly brand Verizon’s service as their 5G option.

Spain, SEAT and Telefonica leverage drones, 5G for safety

Spanish government agencies, along with car maker SEAT and Telefonica, have proposed and are testing a system to alert drivers of dangers on the road. Using a drone to spot road hazards and 5G to link cars to the cloud, drivers will be informed of hazards before they reach them. Enterprise IOT Insights

dis-rup-shun: The applications for 5G are almost unlimited, and connecting cars will be a major driver for 5G. For safety applications such as this, the question is who will pay for them? As the feature will initially be available only to owners of cars made by SEAT (a subsidiary of Volkswagen), it is unlikely that Spain’s government will cover the cost, and phone company Telefonica will not. At some point, auto customers will be accustomed to paying a monthly connection fee for cars, and perhaps this is best rolled into the cost of the new car so customers will not object to one more monthly fee.

Apple’s low price iPhone 11 selling well in China

Despite the recent struggles between China and the U.S., China’s initial orders for the low cost iPhone 11 are strong. Apple’s shipments to China dropped 14% in Q2 of this year, so Apple needs a win with the new generation of iPhones. Of all pre-orders through a Chinese Apple reseller, 60% were for the lower priced model. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Smartphone sales are a global economic indicator, and Apple’s sales have sputtered in 2019. Given that the flagship models are priced at more than $1000, the handset refresh cycle has slowed. Apple has wisely decided not to cede the mid-market to competitors and is fighting for relevance in this larger market. It is important to see the world’s leading consumer tech company keep sales strong.

Walmart consumer-izing health care

Walmart moving quickly to consumer-ize health care

Walmart is in the process of opening walk-in clinics in many of its stores in major cities. Along with clinics in big box locations, the company has launched a website called Walmarthealth.com. On the website, the company publishes the prices for certain types of visits, enabling consumers to book an appointment and understand what they will pay.  Managed Healthcare Executive

dis-rup-shun: Walmart’s move will have several significant impacts on the care industry. First, it will demystify care pricing. The price one pays remains largely shrouded in mystery today. Eliminating surprises will make Walmart clinics far more favorable than the doctor’s office, and the fact that you can buy medications and the week’s groceries in one trip is even better. Secondly, it will cause the majority of walk-in clinics, and eventually doctors’ offices, to offer online appointment setting and menu-like pricing. Thirdly, in blurring the lines between physician offices and supermarkets, more general practitioners will move their practices to the big box stores and clinics, as they must compete with convenience.

Freight hauling may be the future of Uber

Uber, the company that will likely not be profitable for years to come, may have found the right industry to which it may apply its technology. The trucking industry, a $796 billion industry, provides far more volume than the $36 billion ride sharing industry. By using Uber’s app to contract directly with shippers, truckers can eliminate the commission paid to freight brokers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Uber needs a do-over, as the company that invented app-based ride sharing has pushed prices so low, and paid so much to expand globally, that it is not likely to find a profit in its current model. By focusing on the trucking industry, the company can adopt the existing profitable pricing structure, can scale far larger than in the ride sharing business, and can potentially find ways to profit. Making markets more efficient is good for everyone, unless you are freight broker.

Despite Uber and Lyft, 2019 tech IPOs beat the S&P

Uber and Lyft made news by being the largest losers, in pure dollars, of any public offering. Thanks to blockbuster performance from Beyond Meat, Zoom, CrowdStrike and several other winners, the tech offerings, in a theoretical new offering fund, beat the S&P 500. The IPO fund would have gained 67% compared to the S&P at 20%.

CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A stock investor today has half as many choices than 20 years ago, as private capital has soaked up many investments. Pent up demand for new offerings provides a strong market for new companies. The market has rightly recognized high quality offerings such as Slack and Zoom, and punished low performers such as Uber and Lyft. Beyond Meat’s insane 524% gain defies reason, but provides lottery-like results that keeps people interested in public markets.

Chinese firms corner lithium battery recycling market

69% of all available stock for recycled lithium ion batteries are held in China by firms collecting and recycling battery components. Greentech Media

dis-rup-shun: As Chinese mega-recycling firms amass large stores of materials required for batteries, such as cobalt, they may influence world prices. As the demand for lithium ion batteries increases with more consumer electronics and electric vehicles, recycling firms will bid up the prices for used gear, making it more attractive to properly dispose of old cameras and phones.

Spotify enforcement spoiling family sharing

Spotify enforcers are out to limit family plans to single household

Spotify appears ready to enforce its family plan agreement terms requiring that all family plan users reside in the same household. The company is asking users to confirm their addresses. Apparently the company plans to increase its revenues from its existing customer base by eliminating sharing across households. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: If the Spotify police are successful at extracting more revenue from existing customers, Netflix, Amazon and streaming services could follow, but for the fact that we are in the early days of a years-long streaming video service subscriber war. Less successful streaming music services such as Amazon Music can leverage Spotify’s policy to entice youth and college students with no income to try alternative services with various new benefits and cast Spotify as the stuffy service for parents and older people. Be careful, Spotify, consumer sentiment can change in a heartbeat.

Alexa turns to humans to get smarter

Amazon will turn to humans to give them the opportunity to answer questions that Alexa cannot. Using a wiki-like crowd sourcing model, people will receive points for answering questions which will then be audited by algorithms and some human fact checkers for authenticity and accuracy.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Amazon’s Alexa technology enjoys nearly double the market share of Google’s, according to Canalys. If you have used Alexa, you know that despite an amazing number of skills and integrations with other devices, Alexa frequently does not have the answer to even basic questions. Google Assistant, on the other hand, has Google’s search engine and almost always has answers. If only Alexa would use Google to search for answers. Amazon would be well-served to outsource Alexa’s search functions to a third party such as Bing that may be perceived as less of a competitor, then perhaps regulators would perceive Big Tech to be encouraging competition.

Is Nintendo Switch a serious fitness contender?

Nintendo’s RingFit game for Switch comes with an exercise ring and a leg strap. To win the game, the player must perform a series of fitness challenges to defeat enemies and slay an evil body building dragon. The game debuts October 18th. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: On the heels of Peloton and the rise of connected fitness machines, Nintendo provides the un-machine for connected fitness. For a fraction of the cost of connected bikes and treadmills, game lovers can immerse themselves in fantasy and get fit. If Nintendo can support this fitness game with diet plans, workout clothes, online communities, and even healthy snacks, it can build yet another Pokemon Go-like franchise around the title and contribute to the health and well-being of its customers.

Amazon’s hardware event follows Apple’s

Amazon continues to grow its arsenal of devices, building a larger product line on top of Alexa. And just like Apple, the company has its big reveal party of new products in September. Expected this year are more Alexa powered devices, including a wall clock. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: In a few short years, Amazon’s Alexa business has become an important engine of the company, beating even mighty Apple to the dominant position of voice standard in the home. Understanding the business model of Alexa is more difficult. Consumers are not purchasing products via voice, and search via Alexa is a poor experience. The business of data mining — knowing what songs people like, how often they are home, and what recipes they are preparing — is of incalculable value to Amazon. As Amazon competes for advertising and shopping revenues, Alexa provides a constant stream of consumer information from thousands of devices that are “listening.”

Automated pill dispensing and the future of remote care

Pria pill dispenser and communications station from Black & Decker

The familiar trusted household appliance brand has launched Pria, a tabletop medication manager and communications station that is part Echo Show, and part automated pill dispenser. Loaded with daily medications in a cartridge, the device reminds people that it is time to take a medication, and communicates with care givers through apps — notifying others if grandmother has not checked in, has not taken medicines, or has indicated that she does not feel well. Okpria.com

dis-rup-shun: Leveraging technology to increase care is a giant business that has really not yet begun. The economic pressures to provide more care for less, especially remotely, are enormous. Even CMS, the body governing medicare reimbursements, is warming up to paying for remote care. Connected health is a technology market opportunity that is, well, “huge.”

France says no way to Facebook’s Libra currency

Facebook continues to face opposition in Europe, with France taking the lead at pushing back on U.S. Big Tech. Facebook’s Libra private currency, an association of many companies,  plans to be based in Switzerland. France’s finance minister, with the support of the president of the European Central Bank, said Libra will not be developed on European soil. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Libra is ambitious, and the implications of an alternative currency supported by giants such as Facebook, Pay Pal, Visa and Mastercard is intimidating to central banks of any country, especially while those countries are simultaneously struggling to find the right level of regulation for Big Tech. Expect Big Tech to be locked, continuously, into complicated political wrangling with world government regulators from here on.

iPhone 11 camera features are giant leap, says analyst

This week’s Apple product announcement had no surprises, and most have lamented the lack of earth shaking news. Analyst Shelly Palmer broke from the pack by stating that Apple’s computational imaging — using software to coordinate images taken simultaneously through different lenses — will forever change journalism. iPhone 11’s lenses can record both audience and performer at the same time, and enable users to edit multiple images at once, turning amateurs into multi-channel video editors.

dis-rup-shun: The still image photography from the Samsung Galaxy S10 is shockingly great. With innovation by Apple and Samsung in smartphone cameras outpacing that of Canon and Nikon, we can expect more professionals to use smart phones for their trade and the prosumer category will continue to crowd out the professional photography segment. Camera lens improvements will be only incremental, so big innovation in photography will be from controlling multiple lenses with software. It is a tough time to be in the digital SLR camera business. Canon’s profits were down 64% last quarter.

Shelf scanning robots help brick and mortar retailers close data gap

Online retailers enjoy instantaneous data on when and how people shop. Brick and mortar retailers have to follow customers or record movements in stores to gain granular shopping behavior data. New robots that roam aisles, or drones that fly about shelves and use machine vision and RF scanning can close the gap and provide data that store clerks cannot. Bossanova, a maker of stock scanning robots has raised $100 million. Simbe Robotics has raised $26 million.

dis-rup-shun: Robots roaming the aisles in supermarkets, particularly during rush hour, will be annoying. Maybe the robots will also give free samples to increase their popularity among shoppers. The reward to consumers, however, will be to less frequently find an item out of stock, or to have similar items grouped together, once retailers get deeper insight on shopping patterns, resulting in higher revenue per cart or higher revenue per shopping minute. ZDNet

McDonald’s use of AI could save $18 billion

McDonald’s invests in AI for voice recognition

The fast food company announced its acquisition of Apprente, a company specializing in voice recognition for fast food ordering. The terms were not disclosed, but the acquisition follows McDonald’s purchase of Dynamic Yield, a big data analytics company it acquired for $300 million.

dis-rup-shun: Quick math says that elimination of 1 to 3 hourly employees and a reduction in human “translation” errors that seem to occur when we say our orders to McDonald’s cashiers could save $50 to $75 per hour, times 18 hours times 365 days is $492 thousand per store per year. With 37,855 worldwide restaurants… the potential value of this technology is about $18.6 billion per year. Seems like a good investment.

Apple’s announcements

Yesterday’s Apple announcement went as expected and can be summarized as follows:

  • iPhones: 2 new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are over $1000 and have enhanced cameras and displays. The iPhone 11 is a less expensive ($699) offering.
  • Apple TV Plus, the streaming service, is $2 less per month than Disney + and is included for free for a year when you purchase an Apple device.
  • iPads — bigger screen, and better processor.
  • Apple Watch Series 5 has some fancier bezels and always on display.

The Verge

dis-rup-shun:  Is that it? This seems like the most un-amazing Apple new product release ever. The camera features on the 11 Pro are remarkable, and the days of ever wanting a separate digital camera are all but dead, but the lack of a really exciting new product, or really unique features, is concerning. It is time for Apple to think different.

Apple TV Plus undercuts Disney+ which undercut Netflix

Apple today announced that its streaming video service, Apple TV Plus, will be priced at $4.99 per month, $2 less then Disney + at $6.99. Disney + combines three networks at HD, which provides far more than Netflix at $12.99 per month.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun:  It will be a rough fall season for AT&T. Not only did the company pay $85 billion for Time Warner to launch, among other things, a video streaming service to compete with Netflix and Disney, it is now under pressure by activist investor Elliot Fund, that believes the company grossly overpaid for Time Warner. It is also not a good time to be Netflix, a company that said profits will be deferred while it invests in original content. This was before Disney and now Apple declared a video streaming price war. Expect investors to be wary of Netflix as it is the only big streamer with only one line of business.

Vehicle brands less important in Cars-as-a-Service economy

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty tells CNBC that the riding experience, rather than the car brand, is most important to consumers in the world of autonomous cars and ride sharing.

dis-rup-shun:  As the transportation experience moves from one of ownership to one of services, and consumers’ investments in the experience shift from significant to minor, it stands to reason that auto brand will take a back seat to other service attributes such as locating the car, setting the preferences, providing the appropriate class of service for the occasion and enabling in-car communications. Expect BMW’s future tag line, “The Ultimate Riding Experience.”

Government versus Big Tech escalates

New page in government versus Big Tech : State AGs

Attorneys General from 48 states are collaborating in an effort to investigate Google to determine if the company is unfairly dominating the search market. Eight states plus D.C. are pursuing a similar investigation of Facebook. The collective action is separate, and in addition to investigations underway by the FTC and DOJ. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The line to extract a fine from Big Tech is getting long, and tech firms will definitely have to make some concessions and pay some large fees. Market domination is the dream of most every boardroom, but governments have succeeded at keeping the playing field at least open to innovators, who continue to refresh our economies. The pace of innovation among Big Tech ensures that new offerings will continue to find new profits, making up for any concessions won by state and Federal legislators.

How to plan a city with autonomous vehicles

The National Association of City Planning Officials is struggling to determine how to invest in the city of the future. Should parking lots and roadways be reduced to account for lower car ownership, shared rides, scooters and self-driving cars that will rarely park, or is the arrival of autonomous vehicles over-hyped? The association is recommending a network of variable pay per use roadways, based on time of day, as has been implemented in downtown London. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The aggressive pursuit of delivery drones by Amazon and others suggests crowded sidewalks or “drone allies” and the success of scooters and bikes calls for a permanent accommodation to make everyone safer. The auto industry fully expects continuing large shifts in transportation and ownership habits and cities should too. Developing pedestrian zones where use of autos requires an additional fee are highly feasible, given electronic, map-based payment and toll systems. Expect city centers to become far more user friendly and pleasant as they move to encourage ride sharing and less parking.

Really smart video camera keeps your data at home

ShimShine, a smart home camera startup in Shenzhen, China has raised $8 million in funding to build cameras with more intelligence built in the camera, relying less on the cloud and more on the device itself. The benefits include faster processing and less personal data being transferred across public networks. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Two trends occurring in the smart home space are to make devices far more intelligent so that your habits and preferences are already known by your smart home. Thus, your home acts without your having to manage it, unlocking doors and changing lighting and temperature when you normally come home. One way to do this, the second trend, is to pack more intelligence into the device itself, relying less on the cloud to perform the magic. This second trend, however, will be challenged by faster, less expensive cloud services and 5G networks that make wireless data transmission lightning fast. The resulting combination is a future in which devices themselves will be packed with intelligence and will be connected to very fast wireless networks, meaning the home will have an enormous amount of compute power, capable of accurate facial recognition, video analytics and high level security. Smart home compute capacity will exceed the power of home applications for several years to come.

Time again for a Nokia flip phone? 

Nokia is staging an interesting comeback, offering a flip phone that, like its predecessor, connects a caller when opened and hangs up by closing. The top part of the clam shell features a screen where popular apps are displayed. The phone goes on sale in Europe later this month at a price of $98.

CNBC: Nokia 2720 Flip 190903

CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The new price points for mainstream iPhones and Samsung Galaxies are impacting sales by stretching the time people keep their phones, and by creating strong demand for mid-priced and low-priced phones. While Apple is releasing a lower priced iPhone, the gap for $100 to $600 phones is wider than ever, with a number of Chinese smartphone makers ready to fill it. Novel offerings from Nokia that include some nostalgia will be popular among the crowd that is more excited about saving than about showing off. Expect to see many new mid to low priced phones that have interesting personalities.

Android wins GM’s dashboards

Google’s Android is chosen for future GM dashboards

Google won an important battle to control in-car infotainment systems, when GM decided that Android will power its models starting in 2022. Android in car will mean seamless access to Google Maps and Google Assistant, beating Amazon’s Echo Auto out of that spot. GM will continue to offer Apple Car Play in models, accommodating both iOS and Android users behind the wheel. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Combining auto-makers’ in-car systems with smartphone interfaces makes for an awkward match up, especially if you frequently rent cars and try to learn every brand’s unique approach to important navigation, communications and music controls. Leveraging the ever improving smartphone interface is the preferred path, and making the car an extension of the smartphone (which needs to disappear while we drive) is the best, and safest, consumer experience. Expect the role of mobile operating systems to expand deeper into home controls, including music players, TVs, and kitchen appliances.

Must haves: a phone charger built into your walls

Debuting at the CEDIA Expo event is 4AMPS 4A-WCC2 charger with integrated cord . This is a DIY faceplate that anyone who has the courage to remove an electrical outlet face plate can slide into the exposed socket to retro-fit an existing socket. The result is an in-wall socket with added 3 foot retractable charging cord for charging both an Apple device (Lightning connector) and USB-C. The product sells for $35. CEPro

dis-rup-shun: Admit it — you have hid your charging cord from your roommates, your kids or your spouse, as it seems someone in the house always seems to be missing theirs and borrows yours. A built-in retractable cord that disappears when not in use is genius, and placed in a few strategic locations will improve the lives of more than a few people. Expect this kind of offering to be standard in homes and high-end hotels, alike.

Groupon’s offers on medical treatments a shock to doctors

ArsTechnica reports that doctors are aghast to learn that patients are using Groupon specials to shop for medical treatments such as mammograms, eye care and dental work.

dis-rup-shun: Memo to doctors: your services are becoming another consumer service that will be discounted, promoted and hawked, like carpet cleaning and brake inspections. The Internet has been slow to disrupt healthcare and bring the same conveniences and transparency that it has for travel, for book buying, and for restaurant reservations. But the open market, courtesy of the Internet and fueled by partnerships with consumer companies like CVS and Aetna and the entry of Amazon, has arrived. This will be great for consumers and insurers, but disruptive to doctors whose incomes will now be set by the market, not by the AMA.

Is $170M penalty a slap on Google’s wrist or historical?

Google agreed to pay fine of $170M to the FTC and the State of New York for violating COPPA rules designed to protect the identity of children. Google was targeting specific ads to children under 13, in violation of COPPA. The fine is the largest ever for violation of the privacy act, but has been criticized as “paltry” in relation to Google’s $137 billion in 2018 revenues. The company did agree, however, to use Artificial Intelligence to identify and protect children’s content going forward. CNN

dis-rup-shun: This penalty and controversy sounds very similar to Facebook’s $5 billion penalty in July for revealing personal information – also decried as being too lenient on a multi-billion dollar company. Here are the currents swirling around regulation of Big Tech firms: 1) Many government and business leaders are claiming that Big Tech is too powerful and anti-competitive and that their astronomical lobbying expenditures are buying leniency from the Feds. A series of investigations into Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple are queued up for the remainder of this year, and the recent settlements set the tone for size of the penalties.  2) Apple has initiated a “good guy” campaign, building privacy protection features into its products at the public relations expense of Facebook and Google – increasing pressure on the industry to raise the privacy bar. 3) Google researchers have discovered a “zero day” hack of thousands of iPhones, creating a public relations embarrassment for the good guys at Apple. 4) Penalties levied against Facebook and Google are small relative to revenues, but some of the largest of their kind, leading one to believe that the Feds are firing a warning shot to test the pain points of both Big Tech and the public. Expect to see a series of relatively low penalties levied against Facebook, Google, Amazon, Apple and others in the next half dozen months.

Cheaper iPhone coming

Future iPhone is smaller, cheaper

Apple is rumored to be prepping an updated version of its iPhone SE, to be smaller (4.7 inch) and cheaper. The company will use many of its newest components in the smaller phone, giving users the latest hardware at lower prices. Business Insider

dis-rup-shun: Apple is smart to not cede the lower end of the smartphone market to upstarts such as Xiaomi, Huawei, and Samsung. As mass markets demand less expensive handsets, and large manufacturers oblige, Apple could lose the platform that runs its new services, including a credit card, streaming video, music and news. Apple sees the hardware writing on the wall — hardware inevitably becomes a commodity while services generate profits — and will not be left behind.

AT&T streaming service confuses even AT&T

AT&T, preparing to do battle with Netflix and Disney+, is creating confusion with its naming schemes. The service formerly known as DirecTV Now will now be called AT&T TV Now. The new service, called AT&T TV, essentially mimics cable, with a two year contract and escalating prices. Both are, oddly, offered through a common AT&T app. AT&T product managers have become confused and used the wrong name in advertisements. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: As discussed previously, a streaming TV bloodbath is on the horizon and Disney is in a strong position to lead with aggressive pricing and a rich catalog of original content, including sports from ESPN. Amazon and Netflix are strong incumbents, but since Amazon Prime video is a fringe benefit of Prime shopping and shipping, competition won’t impact Prime Video. AT&T is not doing itself any favors with its confusing marketing. 800 pound gorillas often trip on their own feet, and AT&T may be suffering from too many product managers.

Tesla killer — the Porsche Taycan Turbo is coming

Porsche has raised the bar in electric performance cars, with its Taycan Turbo and Taycan Turbo S sports sedans that can accelerate from 0 to 60 in less then 3 seconds. The cars will sell for $153,510 and $187,610, respectively. Both feature a 93 kilowatt battery, compared to 60 to 73 kilowatts in Tesla models. Business Insider

dis-rup-shun: What we first learned from Tesla is that the electric cars were instant hits because they were novel and luxurious. Luxury buyers traded their Jaguars and Land Rovers to be the first in their cities with Teslas. Now that the novelty of Tesla is long gone, Porsche stands to redefine the high end auto market as high performance, eco-conscious. Expect a sharp rise over the next five years in the percentage of luxury cars that are electric.

Vivint and Control4 integrate

Control4 has long been a leader in affordable but sophisticated home automation, and has been the go-to system for those unwilling to pay for Crestron or AMX. Vivint has long been a technology leader in mass market home security systems. The two have launched an integration partnership whereby Control4 can control Vivint security systems, and Vivint sensors can provide data to initiate events in the Control4 system. CEPro

dis-rup-shun: It is good to see vendors get along and complement one another. It is good for the industry, and good for consumers. This cooperation underscores the rising demand for home automation for mass markets. Consumers want more than simple home security features, and a truly smart home will take any large number of actions based upon its interpretation of input collected from any sensor throughout the home, including changing temperature, lighting, or sending specific alerts.