How China can bruise Apple and slow the global economy

If China retaliates for Huawei’s banishment

Wired offers some damaging scenarios for Apple if Chinese leaders decide to pay back damage to state influenced telecom maker, Huawei. China could offer some severe blows to the world’s largest company that derives 19% of its revenues in China by:

  • Interfering with Apple’s supply chain and manufacturing that take place in Shenzen
  • Placing limits on Apple’s retail stores or on its online app store
  • Requiring certain Chinese manufactured components to be included in iPhones
  • Fueling a nationalist campaign against buying Apple

dis-rup-shun: Apple moved much of its production to China’s Foxconn several years ago, and the company should hope that Chinese authorities are still appreciative of the action. Apple’s performance is undoubtedly a lever of global economic health that, if pulled by China, will certainly contribute to economic turbulence in the year ahead.

Google, Amazon and now Facebook want you to use their home portal

This week Amazon released a new version of its home portal, Echo Show 5. Also this week, Facebook released software to make it easier to send content from a smartphone to the Facebook Portal device, and to place video calls to the device. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun:  Facebook Portal is a quality hardware device if you like using Facebook messenger for calls, and like a large photo viewing screen. Will smartphone apps increase demand for the in-home device? This product is expensive and appeals to a niche market – the Facebook Messenger junkie. Without the home automation device support offered by Amazon Echo, and without the integration with the Google search engine that Google Home offers, the Portal remains a specialized device taking up valuable counter space. And, by the way, Amazon and Google are selling their devices at a loss, seeking to be the razor that will sell their growing portfolio of services (blades). Facebook will have to add functionality to Portal and sell at a deep loss to succeed with devices. This device just doesn’t make a lot of sense.

iRobot knows how tall is your grass 

iRobot, the $1 billion maker of Roomba vacuums and Braava robotic mops is now offering a robotic lawn mower, the Terra, which, unlike prior products that navigate with cameras, uses beacons buried in your yard to guide the device.  ZDNet

dis-rup-shun:  iRobot is launching robotics 2.0, devices that reuse both data as well as code bases to know more about your home. After cleaning your floors, iRobot’s devices have mapped your home using cameras and now have the intelligence to clean up a bathroom or work in specific areas, as well as pass that information on to other devices such as the robotic mop. The map of your home is stored in Amazon’s cloud and will someday be shared with other authorized devices with a need to know.

Finally, a really smart (and beautiful) universal remote control

A new universal remove from Sevenhugs is separate remote for every device. Based on beacons placed discretely in your primary viewing room, the Sevenhugs remote knows which device you are pointing to and “changes” its layout to take on the attributes of each individual device. Sevenhugs

dis-rup-shun: Though the year is 2019, universal and smart remotes are still often very difficult to set up and frequently inconsistent in their operation, not to mention that some important control functions get lost or omitted from some universal devices. The elegant design and small size makes this remote one that will not have to be hidden away before parties. Its blank touchscreen changes according to the device it is pointed to. Now that’s smart.

Google is following you, everywhere

How to control Google’s tracking of your every action

As we all know, or suspected, Google follows what apps we use, what we do on those apps, what devices we use, what we purchase and where we go (or where our phones go). Wired provides simple instructions to limit or disable those functions without pulling the plug on your online life.

dis-rup-shun:  Information is power and consumers are loading Google, Facebook, Amazon, and to a lesser degree, Apple, with more power every day. Whose job is it to inform customers of the choices they are making everytime they install an app or visit a site? Perhaps the Bureau of Consumer Protection, a department within Federal Trade Commission, should take the lead in both informing consumers of their rights as well as requiring a common data sharing dashboard that must be used by all application providers. 

Walmart hires Google/Amazon Chief Digital Officer

Suresh Kumar, formerly of Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon, will be Walmart’s new CTO and Chief Development Officer, reporting to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Walmart, the company that used to be the most feared for controlling the way products are purchased, is now only in the top 5 of most feared, with Amazon clearly in first place. Walmart needs to continue to increase its online sales presence, and has a great deal of ground to gain in services, where Amazon is growing daily.

Is AI really going to wipe out vast numbers of jobs?

The Brookings Institute provides a detailed study of the impact of artificial intelligence on the workforce. Key points:

    • Automation substitutes for labor
    • Machines substitute for tasks, not jobs
    • Automation complements labor
    • Automation can increase demand, creating jobs
    • Capital and labor augmentation spurs innovation
    • Tech possibility is not the same as tech reality

dis-rup-shun: So, will AI displace vast numbers of jobs? The answer is that it will displace many jobs, particularly the simpler, task oriented jobs like delivering food or answering simple support phone calls. Past productivity revolutions have increased demand for knowledge workers and AI will do the same, putting greater pressure on the knowledge divide between those educated and those not.

Internet success, divorce and $18 billion of goodwill

MacKenzie Bezos will give away over $18 billion to charity. Ex-wife of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, Blue Origin and owner of Washington Post, has committed to joining the Bill Gates and Warren Buffett Giving Pledge. The Giving Pledge was initiated in 2010 and calls mega millionaires and billionaires to give at least half of their estates to charity. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While Jeff has not (yet?) taken the pledge, he has commended his ex-wife on her decision. The Gates foundation is making measurable progress at eliminating diseases in a number of third world and economically disadvantaged countries. Leveraging significant talent and capital for the good of humanity will hopefully become a trend among tech entrepreneurs that will influence the greater business and celebrity community to build weath with a cause.

A new Intel chip means thinner, faster computers with longer battery life

Intel has finally released a new generation of X86 semiconductors that were announced several years ago.  Ice Lake, code name for Intel’s 10th generation PC processor, provides faster computing in a smaller form factor, consuming less power. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: We are now experiencing the end of Moore’s Law, that for many years promised a doubling of transistors at half the cost every two years. This means major refreshments of PC computing technology will be fewer and farther between, but for now we can expect another round of even thinner, faster and more battery efficient laptops. This should help the global economies as demand for new products helps shake off the effects of trade wars.

Music streaming has changed the makeup of songs

Streaming music delivery, having essentially obsoleted physical delivery, has changed the structure of songs, making them shorter and quicker to get to the melody. Payment to artists for streaming music occurs if the listener sticks with the song for 30 seconds or more, and filling a listener’s time with more songs is more profitable. This has led to shorter songs with shorter intros. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Technology, including streaming delivery and AI that analyzes audience preferences to determine what movies, TV shows and songs are most popular, will continue to erode diversity and make commercial entertainment content more homogeneous. This homogeneity, however, will increase demand for alternative or indy content and streaming services that deliver it.

Next smart home products: smart air purifiers for good health

Those with allergies, or who live in polluted areas, understand the importance of eliminating particles from air. A Wi-Fi connected smart air purifier from Blueair includes an app to help one see the levels of particulates, or pollution, occurring when one opens a window, changes bed sheets, or after a cleansing rain shower. Managing indoor air quality starts with measuring it, and the Blueair app provides a visualization of the degree of impurities in the air and the device’s effectiveness in cleaning it. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Following smart thermostats and smart lighting, smart air management is a highly desired benefit of smart homes, according to surveys conducted for major HVAC manufacturers. Avoiding air-borne illness is a high priority, and with 80% of Americans and 55% of rest of world living in cities that are often polluted, these gadgets will be increasingly important and cost justified.

 

 

 

Stargazing permanently impacted by new space objects

Shocking photography of satellite launch

An amateur astronomer captured a photo of the launch of 60 StarLink satellites — the first of 12,000 to be launched in coming years. TheVerge  Astonomers around the world, however, have expressed shock at the realization that each satellite’s solar panel will reflect light back to Earth and be very visible at dawn and dusk — forever chaning views of the night sky. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Imagine the shock of early farmers and urban dwellers when the first interstate billboards, replete with bright lighting, were erected in their views. Today’s stargazers are the ones shocked, as Elon Musk’s band of low orbit satellites, orbiting Earth to provide a new source of broadband services, will forever change views of outer space. Never fear, the new broadband service will make it easier to surf pictures of uncluttered outer space — the way things looked before space objects changed the view.

Withings smart watch is everything Apple’s is not, and more

Withings, maker of connected health and fitness gear, has released a smart watch that is by bar the most stylish design for lovers of classic watches. The device features fitness and workout monitors, sleep analysis, a vibrating alarm, battery life of 25 days and is water resistant up to 50 meters and okay for showers. Inverse

dis-rup-shun: At a price of $199, Withings enables lovers of fashion watches to enjoy the benefits of a connected device, and with long battery life, the ease of use beats Apple iWatch 4’s expected 18 hours.

Tesla Model 3 is best seller in Norway

Tesla’s allocation of Model 3s arrived in the country in February and quickly put a dent in sales of other luxury models, incluing Mercedes Benz. Norwegians have a high interest in electric vehicles. CleanTechnica

dis-rup-shun: Depite Tesla’s bumpy year, with continuous delays in Model 3 production, softening U.S. orders, and stories of cultural disharmony, the company’s product is still favored by buyers of electric vehicles. For generally affluent and eco-conscious cultures such as Norway, the company’s market leadership will spur accelerated EV development by more established competitors such as Daimler, Toyota, and Volvo.

Alexa intercom feature now on all devices

Alexa’s ability to serve as an intercom between only its flagship devices (Echo, Dot, Show, Spot) has now been expanded to every Alexa-enabled device. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: As many different types of devices, including light fixtures, wall switches, door bells, thermostats and Bluetooth speakers now include Alexa, every home has many intercom possibilities. For busy families with young children or homes with seniors, the application for voice to voice, in-home communications adds a new layer of benefits to smart speakers and further advances Amazon’s lead over Google in this category.

You generate 1.7MB of data every second

Each person, by 2020, will create 1.7MB per data per second

Given that each person’s location is constantly tracked by their smartphone, simply standing still creates data. Driving, however, generates an enormous amount of data that can be mined not only by car makers, but by many parties who can benefit from our patterns, our routes, our entertainment choices and our shopping habits. The auto makers are in an ideal position to benefit from data management, but will likely lose this advantage to FAANG tech giants. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Technology companies, especially Google, Facebook, Amazon, Uber and Lyft, understand that the car is an extension of the mobile phone — simply a service platform that offers not only driving services, but entertainment and communications as-a-service. The automakers will struggle to abandon the legacy model of “selling” 1.97 shiny new autos to each new house for an average ownership period of 6 years, and will find their core business eroded by tech giants and their subsidiaries.

Google providing on call and in-home support team

Google wants to be your device provider and has a team on standby to prove it. If you need consultation on what, where or how to install a home product, a Google support person is on the ready on the phone, or ready to come to your home. Android Police

dis-rup-shun: The good people at Google are playing catch up to Amazon, who not only has the best selling in-home smart speakers and doorbell cameras (Ring), but has had in home support and sales staff, Amazon Home Services, since 2015. Free home service consulting offerings are not profitable, and therefore the people already coming to your homes — the home electronics dealers and installers — are reticent to get into this business while retailers struggle to sell many smart home products that require a lot of explanation and often, installation. In home consultants are filling a gap that will eventually be closed when products are simpler, easier to install, and more familiar to consumers.

Watch a robot pull a plane

The Italian made HyQReal robot is capable of pulling very heavy loads horizontally at low speeds. It is impressive. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: If robots will replace jobs performed by humans, then people who pull heavy loads at low speeds should be worried. That would be operators of tractors, bulldozers, forklifts and heavy equipment. But since autonomous trucks and cars are coming, then we should place all drivers on the endangered species watch list.

Facebook continues to clean-up its act

In the first quarter of this year, Facebook reports that it eliminated 4 million examples of hate speech from its site. The company has formed a group of moderators to scrub the population of posts for those items it defines as unsavory. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: When a company has more customers and more revenues than many countries on the planet, it has to emulate successful countries and implement its own police force to keep the population in compliance with the nation’s rules. Since politicians have begun to invoke antitrust laws and suggest that the Facebook nation has become too large and must be broken up, expect Facebook’s self-governance to grow quickly and publicly.

Hitting China where it hurts

Chip designer ARM ceases work with Huawei

ARM is the UK based company that licenses the semiconductor design spec used by most smartphone chip makers. Although the company is not based in the U.S., it has stated that many of the design elements in its specification originated in the U.S., therefore it can not lawfully license its design to Huawei. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: This second blow to China’s equivalent of Microsoft or Apple, coming on the heals of Google announcing that it will not license Android to Huawei, essentially finishes off the smartphone division of Huawei. If China chooses to get even, first it bans its contract manufacturers from building certain products designed in the U.S., then prohibits the sale of certain components to U.S. companies and poof, there goes the majority of non-South Korean (Samsung) smart phone business. That would be ugly.

Cannondale Treadwell smart bicycle

Cannondale’s new exercise bike, designed not for racers but for ordinary people who like tracking their fitness, features a sensor on the front wheel which tracks speed, distance and location. The data is uploaded to a special smartphone app, and there is a mount for the smartphone — turning the smartphone into a cycle computer. Wired

dis-rup-shun: There is one piece of this product that seems to be missing, or at least has not been described — it is the bike’s role in an online community. Either by posting (bragging) personal fitness progress to one’s social media accounts, or by being a part of a Peloton-like competition of peers, the bike needs to create an alternate reality to create a viral following. Measuring personal progress for one’s own satisfaction only works for a small audience — and that audience will want a racing bike.

Amazon spends $1.2 billion last quarter on new acquisitions

The company’s growing profits are leading to an increase in investments in emerging companies. Several Amazon investments are in the autonomous auto industry, including car companies Rivian and Aurora. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Bezos, through aerospace company, Blue Origin, is conquering space. Amazon is aggressively investing in the autonomous and auto industries and his ambitions are far greater than delivering packages. The company, no doubt, seeks to disrupt Uber and Lyft, as well as city busses, Ford, Chevy and Toyota. The company will continue to boldly charge in every direction, experiment and unafraid of failures.

You may not really own that connected device you paid a lot of money to buy

Connected devices withhold rights of ownership

More of the products we purchase are connected to a cloud service which dictates how the products are used. John Deere tractors, with connected sensor networks, locked farmers out of the software and systems and required farmers to transport their tractors to company owned repair centers if they broke down. Apple throttled speeds of iPhones with older batteries, causing an outrage. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The purchase of connected products is imitating purchasing of software licenses which give purchasers the right to use software that remains the property of its publisher. Purchasing, in the sense of a total transfer of ownership, is an old paradigm. Paying for perpetual use of a manufacturer’s device is the new model, and one in which part of the user’s payment comes in the form of giving personal usage data to the manufacturer.

Comcast developing health device

Comcast is reportedly developing an in home device that will monitor movements of seniors — detecting anomolies from normal patterns including frequent trips to the bathroom, staying in bed past normal hours, and even sudden pauses in motion possibly caused by a fall. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Using inexpensive motion sensors to build a database of a person’s patterns, and looking for deviations from those patterns to alert caregivers, is an example of machine learning working to make lives better. People Power Company, a smart home company implementing machine learning, is developing this technology in cooperation with University of California Berkeley, funded by a grant from the National Institutes for Health. This technology, when delivered by smart home competitors, will displace the $2 billion personal alert (PERS) business, by providing highly accurate alerts without requiring a senior to wear a pendant.

Ear infection? There’s an app for that

University of Washington researchers have developed a smartphone app that bounces sound waves into the eardrum and determines, with 85% accuracy, if the ear has fluid behind the eardrum — an indicator of infection. Digital Trends

dis-rup-shun: Diagnostics coming from smartphones, smart watches, and other devices will allow consumers to understand their health profiles to a high degree of accuracy and obtain care more efficiently (for both care provider and consumer), or avoid unneccesary trips to a clinician.

The best Fitbit wearable alternatives

For those seeking a health tracker device less expensive than Fitbit, here is Digital Trends’ list:

  1. Garmin Vivofit 3 — $58
  2. Toobur Fitness Tracker — $22
  3. Amazfit Bip — $80
  4. Omron Alvita Ultimate — $25
  5. Withings Activite Pop — $89
  6. Wesoo K1 fitness tracke — $18
  7. Amazfit Equator — $53
  8. Wahoo Tickr — $50
  9. Scosche Rhythm+ — $80
  10. Garmin Vivoactive HR — $100

dis-rup-shun: A combination watch and health tracker is far more beneficial and far more expensive. However, for those seeking a dedicated fitness tracker and who don’t mind a lower performing or harder-to-use smartphone app, some inexpensive alternatives will do the trick.

Will the iPhone faithful bear the brunt of trade wars?

How new tariffs will increase the cost of your next iPhone

Last week’s new tariff on Chinese goods levies a 25% fee on electronics (and about all other) products from China. While your iPhone is designed in Cupertino, it is assembled in China and subject to the new tariff. Outcomes for device makers such as Apple, assuming no settlement is reached in the near term, include passing on the fees to consumers, estimated to be a 14% increase, reducing profitability by subsidizing the tariff, moving their manufacturing to Vietnam, India or even the U.S. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Given the recent decrease in growth rates of smartphone sales, it is unlikely Apple will pass costs on to consumers, especially since its primary smartphone competitor, Samsung, makes phones in South Korea and is not subject to new tariffs. The tariffs are, however, a reminder of the need for multiple sources in multiple locations.

The future of work is less about structure and more about values

At Atlassian’s Future of IT conference, 13 takeways on the future of work elaborate on three themes: 1. technology has made traditional structures such as titles, locations, academic majors, and organizational teams mostly irrelevant to outcomes, 2. the value of a company is the quality of its talent base, 3. lifestyle balance and purpose, more than income, make a company healthy and happy. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Video conferencing tools have made location nearly irrelevant for knowledge industries. Collaboration tools, including email, eliminated the boundaries of a traditional 8 to 5 workday nearly two decades ago, forcing workers to determine how much of their personal lives they are willing to give to the corporation. For this reason, purpose and the pursuit of well-being for stakeholders have become critical management mandates for a sustainable corporation, including increasing shareholder returns.

Samsung S11 Galaxy expected to be a design game changer

Early glimpses of the upcoming Samsung S11 smartphone indicate that the device will not only provide a groundbreaking 64 megapixel camera, but will be a design masterpiece. T3

dis-rup-shun: Camera innovation is the theme of the current smartphone battles, with the devices providing stunningly beautiful photos. With the pace of new smartphone features slowing and prices remaining high, shifts in market share will be very difficult to win. Samsung’s smartphones are improving more quickly than iPhones, slowly chipping away at Apple’s share, but the Apple faithful will continue to consider the Android experience too large a step from the comfortable iOS interface.

 

Xbox and Playstation play together

Xbox and Playstation teaming up

Sony’s and Microsoft’s gaming console divisions have formed an alliance to stream gaming content from the cloud. The alliance will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud services to provide a better gaming experience to users of Xbox and Playstation. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Google has announced its Stadia gaming steaming platform and has the incumbents looking for ways to blunt the new offering. By making certain that the Xbox and Playstation experiences are as good as it gets, the players hope not be displaced by Google. Google, however, has a reputation for providing great experiences at great prices, mostly free. Another example of how competition benefits the consumer, as the gaming experiences, offerings and prices of all providers will be getting better immediately.

Amazon Alexa Guard turns Echo into a security device

Amazon has activated the Alexa Guard service, which listens for sounds of breaking glass, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors. If detected, Alexa sends an alert to the account holder’s smartphone to tell them of the potential emergency. These features join Alexa’s capabilities of controlling lights and alarm systems. CEPro

dis-rup-shun: Alexa is on its way to running every system in the home and car. Now we know Alexa is not only listening for her name, but is also listening for certain alerts. This could be a path to Alexa offering many home management services, like telling owners that their AC compressor is more noisy than usual and is likely to fail, or that the refrigerator is working harder than normal and a repair person is on their way.

Google terminating Huawei’s Android License

Gizmodo reports that Google is pulling Android from Huawei, making it impossible for the phone maker to continue offering a feature rich smartphone. This move follows Trump’s executive order that banned U.S. companies from buying telecom equipment from companies that pose a threat to the U.S.

dis-rup-shun: This move will hobble Huawei’s race to catch Samsung and LG in the smartphone department and will lead to retribution from China. Expect China to ban sales of something important to U.S. manufacturing, but not labor.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise announces purchase of Cray Computers

HPE announced they will acquire Cray supercomputers for $1.3 billion. HPE wants to develop a high-performance computing as a service platform for specialized needs when large volumes of data must be analyzed in the era of AI and machine learning.  ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: This acquisition is an attempt for HP to find some differentiation for its cloud service offerings, given that the lucrative cloud business is hot and Microsoft is offering some features to make its cloud more attractive than Amazon. It seems that HP has a real knack for purchasing companies that have already peaked. Apollo Computer, Compaq, Palm, Snapfish, EDS, are a few companies whose growth was already slowing when HP absorbed them.

Facial recognition technology could send you to jail

How facial recognition could send you to the big house

Police in New York City have experimented with facial recognition technology and used pictures of famous people, who crime suspects allegedly resemble, to search a database of faces. One suspect was said to resemble Woody Harrelson, so police scan a photo of the actor to try to find their man. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: If you have a face that resembles the profile of criminals, gang members and parking meter violators, you may find yourself popular among local law enforcement. Technology is brilliant until it isn’t and this is a reminder of the importance of government and regulations. By its nature, government regulations will always trail emerging technologies, and many will get caught in the gap.  For aspiring attorneys, the field of digital privacy is a growth industry.

Flying jet taxis are targeted for mass markets, not just the affluent

Munich based Ilium is developing a rechargeable flying taxi that seats 5 and can be hailed through an app. The prototyple, unveiled this week, is the precursor to the service which plans to be commercially available in major cities by 2025. CNN

dis-rup-shun: Before you snicker at the thought of a flying taxi, be aware that Ilium’s competitors are Uber (in a partnership with NASA), Boeing and Rolls Royce. Ilium’s backers include a founder of Skype and giant Chinese tech leader, Tencent. Like the current space race competitors, these companies are serious.

On the bleeding edge with the first real 5G network for real people

CNet‘s Jessica Dolcourt is on the front lines, testing Verizon’s just operational 5G network with Samsung’s just released 5G compatible Galaxy S10. Verizon has debuted its 5G network in Chicago and it has quite a few rough edges to smooth, but real 5G is on the way.

dis-rup-shun: Jessica says it well: “5G data speeds represent a profound shift for the industry, promising exponentially faster download speeds on your phone, which can make AR and new camera features come to life. The ultrafast data transfer also paves the way for next-generation capabilities including remote surgery, connected security cameras and cars and buses that talk to each other on the road to reduce accidents and help keep lanes clear. Carriers that can build out the most robust networks first believe they’ll have an advantage over rivals for signing on new subscribers.

Too good to be made up: Nest and Google

As the market continues to question what the elimination of the “Works with Nest” program means, we learn owners of Nest products need to convert their Nest accounts to Google accounts. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun:  Let’s just leave the commentary to qwedswa, author of a comment on the article:

‘I said to my wife, since we’ve already got Alexa recording everything we say, we might as well upgrade our completely horrible “smart” thermostats to the Nest ones, because our electric company is giving discounts. At least Google won’t be recording everything we say as well as Amazon.

The very next day after they are installed: Google acquires Nest!

I think Alexa told on me.’