Delivery robots complete 100,000 deliveries

Starship Technologies makes six wheeled robotic delivery vehicles that travel at 4 mph across college campuses to deliver mostly groceries. The company has completed 100,000 deliveries and plans to roll out the vehicles to over 100 college campuses over the next few years as IOT and AI meet varsity life. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Dominos Pizza needs to act swiftly before being completely displaced by Starship robots that will start whizzing late night munchies across campuses. For those tracking jobs eliminated by AI, pizza delivery person may be at the top of the list.

Walmart sues Tesla for fiery solar panels

Tesla’s solar division, built on its acquisition of SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016, was poised to make solar common place on rooftops across America. The company is now installing one tenth of the solar capacity of the acquired company. Tesla has enjoyed a strong relationship with Walmart, having installed solar on 240 stores. The panels have caught fire in 7 locations, and Walmart is suing for removal of all panels, and for damages. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Tesla’s culture across autos, solar and rockets continues to be fiery, with cars, rockets and solar panels catching fire, and employees being fired for complaining about the above. Musk is a change agent and may be able to continue to push through obstacles to change auto and space travel and construction and energy. If Musk is another Steve Jobs and thinks different in order to change the world, then keep pushing, Elon.

Apple health team faces a fork in the road

Key people in Apple’s health team have recently departed, allegedly over indecision in the direction of Apple’s health initiatives. Tim Cook has pledged that Apple will play a major role in health, but has not defined what that means.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Connected health comprises a number of segments: consumer or clinical, wellness or disease management. Version 4 of the Apple watch moves beyond wellness device by also being a diagnostic tool — measuring EKG, but remains a consumer product. Those hoping the company will play a role in clinical care are expecting Apple to go outside of its sweet spot of consumer technology — a mistake the company will not make as it chooses its AI and IOT strategy. 

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including ransomware attacks

A rash of ransomware attacks were waged against 23 Texas government entities on August 16 — all from a single source. Ransomware attacks on businesses and governments are up 365%, costing millions in ransom payments and lost productivity. In Texas, at least 7 agencies are working together to get the state entities back online. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Texas school children may be hoping for a cyber crime day since they don’t get to enjoy many snow days, but ransomware attacks are quickly becoming one of the largest and most expensive types of terrorism faced by private and public institutions. Expect consulting companies to develop SWAT teams to fortify institutions and win big prevention contracts. Expect passwords to become far more complex.

Ikea doubles down on smart home

Ikea commits to become a force in smart home

Ikea revealed its smart home and IOT strategy by announcing a new smart home division that will aggressively ramp up its start in smart home products. Previously the company released a line of lamps with Sonos speakers, and a line of smart lighting before that. The company’s smart home division is an significant part of its future strategy. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Ikea’s announcement is another good sign for the smart home industry, as the consumer is being surrounded on all sides by all channels with IoT and smart home products. The smart home section in Best Buy has grown from a portion of an isle five years ago, to three isles in many stores. Smart home products are integrated into offerings from telcos, cablecos, security companies, energy providers, retailers, and now furniture makers. Ikea’s excellent design, value and user experience will further elevate the penetration of smart home technology into the mass market.

39% of execs believe China will lead AI

A survey of worldwide execs believe that China will overtake the U.S. as AI leader. 35% believe it unlikely. 50% of executives view machine learning and AI as the leading opportunity and cyber security risks are seen as the top operational challenge. Forbes

dis-rup-shun:  The sprint for world leadership in AI, and the neck and neck contest between the U.S. and China will make for blazing-fast acceleration of technology over the next decade, at least. The contest will create thousands of jobs as well as hopefully displacing fewer. Unfortunately, the contest will include development of increasingly powerful smart weaponry, and, sadly, more sophisticated hacking and cyber attacking technology.

AI changes the course of chip making

The race for AI includes implementing deep learning, or a process whereby AI processes are better with more data. Processing massive amounts of data to make quick and informed “decisions” requires math capable CPUs. For this reason, graphics processors (GPUs) from companies such as NVidia, have enjoyed significant demand for AI. New chip company Cerebras has announced a chip the size of an iPad itself, 56 times the size of NVidia’s most powerful GPU. With 1.2 trillion transistors, compared to NVidia’s 21.1 billion, Cerebras is a supercomputer on a chip. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Autonomous cars, planes and drones, for a few examples of IoT,  have to process thousands of data points and instantaneously adjust to changing external conditions. The compute power required to do so accurately is significant and, quite frankly, no one will trust these new vehicles until they are proven to respond flawlessly. Expect at least two Cerebra scale CPU’s — one primary and one redundant, in critical applications.

Microsoft hires former Siri chief

Bill Stasior, former head of Apple’s Siri products, was previously a senior executive at Amazon. Microsoft’s answer to Siri, called Cortana, was unbundled from Windows 10’s search box last year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft has a lot of catching up to do in the areas of voice, as Cortana is not found in many devices and without a force in the smartphone or smart speaker market, Microsoft has mostly missed the voice interface race. Microsoft’s smart home and IOT strategy includes a number of investments in AI and machine learning and has likely tapped Stasior to make voice a key part of future Windows versions, as well as some new products from Microsoft. Expect a new version of voice control to show up in Microsoft devices such as XBox, keyboards, mice, and, of course, Surface tablets and notebooks in about a year.

Helicopters catch rockets and return to Earth

Can Amazon’s Rekognition software read a poker face?

Amazon’s AI team claims to accurately detect fear through facial recognition. The Amazon technology, called Rekognition, can provide readings at the cost of $.001 per image. A study of 1000 images, however, suggest that facial expressions do not reliably provide insight to true emotions. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The survival of the human species relies, in part, on people being able to mask true emotions. Amazon’s software likely accurately detects the emotional message on a person’s face, but not their true state of mind. Some people are wracked with fear every day as they enter a school or office building (or return home), so fear detection may not be as valuable as Amazon hopes, but nonetheless, the technology has many possibilities.

Recovery: the key to the new rocket industry

Launch company Rocket Lab is developing a process for slowing down rocket engines after they fall back into the atmosphere, and grabbing them with a helicopter before they fall into the sea. This is one of many recovery solutions being developed by a host of companies including BlueOrigin (first to land a launcher), SpaceX (lands rockets on platforms in the ocean), United Launch Partners and the German space agency (using a helicopter). Wired

dis-rup-shun: Rocket launches are becoming almost a weekly occurrence, and the importance of space craft to defense, communications, science, politics, and eventually, passenger travel, is increasingly evident. Reusable rockets change the economics of space travel, enabling regular and routine launches. The space companies are on the cusp of making rocket reuse standard operating procedure and that will be the tipping point of this new industry.

Connected swim goggles

Form has released swim goggles that project statistics on the lens in real time, giving you timing on each of your laps and determining what stroke you are swimming. The unit can be synced with your smartphone to connect you to the community of swimmers comparing stats on personal performance. Wired

dis-rup-shun: With connected diapers and connected shorts available, swim goggles are a natural. Consider this device an extension of health and wellness wearables, and a niche extension of the quantified self market is created. According to Statista, 27 million people swim for exercise in the U.S. in 2017. 55.9 million run regularly, according to the same source. Logic says the total addressable market for smart swim trackers is about half or less than that of the running trackers. KBV Research estimates the growth rate (CAGR) for fitness trackers to be 18%, making it a decent niche product category.

Scoop raises $60 million for carpooling

Scoop is a carpool coordination app designed for employers to offer scheduled rides for employees. This round of funding, led by Activate Capital, takes the company’s funding to over $100 million.  TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: In a super tight job market, stacking on extra perks can give an employer a slight edge. Enabling employees to arrange a ride, potentially paid by the employer, is a nice extra, but will it hold up when today’s hot market slows down? Match.com should acquire Scoop so that employees can attempt to find a match while commuting.

Google Assistant: a new way to parent

Monitronics/Brinks Home Security reorganizes

Monitronics, going to market with the licensed Brinks brand for home security and home automation, filed for bankruptcy protection in May and will emerge in September after restructuring debt. SecuritySales & Integration

dis-rup-shun: The company, long a significant player in the monitoring business, has bought more time to establish an identity as a dealer-installer seller of home security with multiple system options — one is a Nest Secure based DIY option. Straddling the pro monitored market between dealer installed and DIY seems like a good strategy, but only if the company has a marketing war chest to fight an army called ADT on one side and a marketing machine called SimpliSafe on the other. 

Assignable reminders for Google Assistant: helpful or hurtful

Google has added a feature to Google Assistant called Assignable Reminders. One can now request the Assistant to remind someone in your Google family group (up to 6 people) to do something at a specific time. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This is a useful feature and one that could enhance parenting. Tired of your mom pestering you about feeding the dog? How do you feel about being pestered by Google? Removing personalities from daily reminders and messaging could improve productivity at home or office.

The case for electric vehicles

Choices for electric cars continue to increase. According to the EPA, the standard mileage range for EVs has risen from 84 to 107 miles. According to MY EV, 8 models can travel for more than 200 miles on a charge, and several Tesla models claim to be capable of up to 315 miles on a charge. The DOT states that Americans drive, on average, 40 miles per day. Federal tax credits range from $2,500 to $7,500 based on size of car and battery and will be phased out as adoption increases, and state credits are also available. Details on taxes can be found on energy.gov. Farmers.com

dis-rup-shun: With gas prices remaining mostly steady for the past decade, the excitement for EVs could have died down. Thanks to tax credits upheld by the Obama administration and not yet reversed by Trump, EVs have turned the corner — in large part because they were made trendy by Tesla, followed by Porsche, Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, VW and others, and in great abundance thanks to Toyota and Nissan. As ranges reach 400 miles, barriers to EV ownership will be few. 

Smart oven dilemma: allow preheating?

The June Oven is a high end kitchen appliance that contains a camera to identify its contents and can be controlled through an app. After three owners reported that the oven preheated in the night, June is considering limiting the ability to remotely turn on the oven without food being in it.  TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: The road to the smart home is bumpy, and smart devices that can be remotely controlled could be dangerous, even if the network connecting them is secure from hackers. Many people currently experience Siri and Alexa waking up with incorrect trigger words, and if these devices accidentally turn on ovens, or turn off refrigerators, damage will follow. Adding confirmation or double acceptance steps to apps will lessen user error, but using cameras and other sensors to warm people of malfunctions will be an important smart home attribute.

Streaming game of thrones: Viacom and CBS form latest alliance

Viacom and CBS align for battle in the streaming wars

Viacom and CBS announced their merger, providing a combined network with a vast content library, similar to NBC’s merger with Universal in 2004 and acquisition by Comcast in 2011. This will strengthen CBS’ streaming service, as the combined company owns 140,000 TV episodes, 36,000 films and 750 series. ViacomCBS is now in a better position to challenge Disney, Netflix, AT&T and Comcast in the streaming wars. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A bit like GOT itself, the seven kingdoms are aligning to have a seat at the throne of your smart TV. A streaming service, be it from a cable network (Comcast), an over the top service (Netflix) or from a studio (Hulu) is mere commodity without unique content. To compete, you must purchase or create a production studio and build a library of popular content. Netflix changed the world by offering a new format (anytime TV) at a new price point. Others followed but found it hard to differentiate. Content differentiates, and now when cord cutters drop their pay TV subscriptions with AT&T or Comcast, there is a good chance they will subscribe to a streaming service partially owned by AT&T, Comcast, CBS, Disney, etc. Realignment of subscribers beats total loss of subscribers any day.

Nest accounts become Google on August 31st

Customer backlash prevented Google from cancelling support for third party devices that controlled Nest devices (through Works with Nest programs). On August 31st, only security support for Nest accounts will be provided, meaning that Nest accounts will work, but won’t receive any feature enhancements. But if you control a Nest device, like a camera or thermostat from a 3rd party app, don’t migrate to a Google account, as you will lose the ability to control your Nest devices from apps provided by third parties. CNet

dis-rup-shun: Confused? Nest is increasing its control of data created through the use of its devices, and is providing incentives for its customers to control home devices through its Google Home smart speaker devices. It is doing so, in part, by discouraging use of third party devices. This is a risky strategy for a number of reasons: 1) the smart home is way too big and diverse for a single vendor to dominate, and if one were to dominate, it would likely be an Apple or Samsung, who provide many more devices than Google/Nest; 2) Nest thermostats and cameras are strong selling standalone products, but if they don’t work (well) with other devices and hubs, there are many good alternatives and this move will ultimately hurt sales of Google/Nest products.

A side by side look at home Internet and Wi-Fi services

The largest Wi-Fi providers, by market share, are  Comcast, Charter Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon and Cox Communications. When selecting a provider, be aware of hidden fees such as modem rental fees, data overage fees, installation fees, and early termination fees.

ISPS: 100 – 150MBPS PLANS COMPARED

Comcast Xfinity Charter Spectrum AT&T Fiber Verizon Fios Cox Communications
Max download speed 150Mbps 3 – 300Mbps (same price for all plans in this range) 100Mbps 100Mbps 150Mbps
Max upload speed 10Mbps 1 – 20Mbps (same price for all plans in this range) 100Mbps 100Mbps 10Mpbs
Data allowance 1TB, then $10 / 50GB Unlimited 1TB, then $10 / 50GB Unlimited 1TB, then $10 / 50GB
Installation costs Up to $60 Up to $140 Up to $99 Up to $99 Up to $75
Promotional price $50 / month $45 / month $50 / month $40 / month $60 / month
Promotional period 12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months
Price after promotion $80 / month $66 / month $60 / month $55 / month $88 / month
Modem/router fee $13 / month $5 / month $0 $12 / month $11 / month
Early termination fee Up to $120 None Up to $180 None Up to $120

CNET

dis-rup-shun: Differences between services are subtle, unless you live in a household that watches many movies everyday, are running a compute intensive home-based business, or unless you are an online game player and every Mbps counts. Bundles with other services, like pay TV (unless you have already cut the cord), or streaming subscriptions thrown in for free, may be the biggest difference makers in your choice for next generation broadband service at home.

Smart appliances make purchase decisions

Smart home as shopping platforms

A new report (for purchase) from Business Insider reports that people are using their smart speakers to perform research about products, but not to actually purchase products. The report predicts the smart refrigerator will be the food control center of the home — informing grocery shopping and food delivery. The report covers the strong alliance opportunities between smart appliance makers (that will order goods) and consumer products providers (that will supply the goods ordered by connected appliances).

dis-rup-shun: Dis-intermediation of traditional supply chains is coming. Washing machines and refrigerators sold through Amazon will be delivered with, guess what, automatic links to Amazon.com, pre-configured with your Amazon.com account, to order detergent, milk, eggs and soft drinks from Amazon.com. Who should worry? Appliances makers, grocery stores, and BestBuy.

Find my iPhone works for AirPods

If your AirPods are missing and still powered and still within range of your iPhone, you can use an app to find them. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The beauty of the connected economy is the ability to bail yourself out of dumb moves — many have found phones in backseats of moving Uber’s, golf courses, under the bed covers, and in the possession of thieves with a quick search from a friend’s device. AirPods, one of the most likely devices to be lost, can be found if they are in Bluetooth range, but unfortunately that is less than about 300 feet, so success may be limited.

Four rocket companies vying for critical Air Force contract

Submissions are due this week for bidders for 24 launches for Air Force surveillance rockets which will take place between 2022 and 2026. Two of four big bidders will win the contract in 60%/40% split. Bidders are United Launch Alliance (Boeing and Lockheed Martin), SpaceX (Elon Musk), Blue Origin (Jeff Bezos) and Northrop Grumman. The contest has very large implications about the future of the U.S. space program as well as the welfare of the competing companies. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: This contest pits traditional aerospace contractors with deep government ties with tech company startups. The traditional contractors have a great deal to lose, as they are not focused on the private space business and have few other customers besides the military establishment. The tech upstarts have focused on more economical rockets and lower cost crafts, giving them a potential advantage, and meaning that they will have great influence on the future of space — both government and private funded. Expect one incumbent and one startup to win the contract, providing both low-cost innovation and trusted providers on the job — likely United Launch Alliance and SpaceX.

The Four: The Hidden DNA of Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Google

Scott Galloway’s book on “the Four Horsemen” offers a candid look at the actions and power of the tech giants, not afraid of offering strong opinions, and praising the companies for their impressive accomplishments. The NYU Stern Marketing professor has long been a student of the companies. Huffpost

dis-rup-shun: To consider the unchecked power of the big four is sobering — why have these companies not been subject to more regulation? On the other hand, each of these companies has played an out sized role in making the fantastic tech-powered world we live in today. Where would we be without them. Expect a significant amount of restrictions and regulations to be placed on at least three of these companies, Facebook, Amazon and Google, over the next two years as their power has become too large to overlook.

 

 

Is Uber’s future a history lesson?

Uber implements hiring freeze

Uber, having gone public in May, has enough cash, $13.7 billion, to continue losing money for two years. The company has never been profitable and has warned that it may never be. The company recently trimmed one third of its marketing staff and has announced a hiring freeze for technical employees. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Can a company that never earns a profit be a success? Uber has successfully changed the world of transportation, has successfully raised $8.1 billion in its public offering, rewarding its investors, and has experimented with new business concepts such as food delivery, helicopter taxis, scooter sharing and is betting on driverless cars. Like a hurricane, the company is a destructive force that reshapes the landscape forever, but may be a passing phenomena whose future is relegated to history lessons. Now the race is on to see if management can generate a profit, lest the company be only a grand experiment.

Roku a rising star in the turbulent streaming video market

Netflix is now facing a number of well-funded competitors in Disney, Comcast, Apple and AT&T who are competing for a slice of the household streaming subscription budget. Roku, a company aggregating access to many streaming and related video services, earns a fee from initial purchases as well as a small revenue share from services it offers to the 36% of connected homes that it serves. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If streaming services such as Netflix are analogous to TV networks in the old TV world, only without advertising revenues, then Roku is analogous to cable TV, only without subscription fees. That is, the networks have to pay a carriage fee to Roku to gain access to connected homes. Unlike the streamers, Roku is not locked into a difficult battle to create unique (and costly) original content.

Smaller cities fighting against brain drain

Small towns are fighting the brain drain of tech jobs to large cities. Despite the conveniences and efficiencies of remote work afforded by the Internet, wage disparities between jobs in large cities and small has increased, leading states such as Vermont to devise a number of incentives, including relocation allowances and co-working office space, to attract workers to smaller towns. Wired

dis-rup-shun: In a decade of flat wages and growing inflation, the attraction of better salaries continues despite a shortage of housing, difficult commutes, and higher crime rates. Companies catering to urban conglomeration, such as WeWork, are enjoying high valuations, but expect the pendulum to swing away from denser living as Generation Z, larger than Millenials or Baby Boomers, reaches a tipping point of high living costs.

5G hype alert: no 5G in iPhone 11

5G, the next generation of wireless technology, will be a game changer for the Internet of Things movement. But the game won’t be changing for at least a year. Apple has announced that 5G, unlike Samsung, will not be a feature of its next generation of phones, as 5G networks simply aren’t ready. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: In a time when people hold on to expensive smartphones for three or more years, the decision not to support 5G gets more interesting. Perhaps Apple is counting on the widespread deployment of 5G networks, expected in 12 to 18 months, to create high demand for the model after next, and spur sluggish sales, as chances of Android models with 5G winning iPhone owners are small.

Apple teaches Facebook a privacy lesson

Apple iOS 13 big on privacy

iOS 13, to be released in September, changes the way voice calls over the Internet work. iOS 13 will not allow these apps, such as Whatsapp and Facebook to connect calls if they are not open and actively in use. This move is designed to enable users to know when an app is running, and therefore tracking their location and sites visited — as opposed to apps constantly collecting information in the background. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Applause to Apple for taking a stand for consumer privacy. While this move will not change the fact that consumers give away a tremendous amount of data everyday by choice, it does draw a line for a new industry standard on when apps can “spy” on their users. Apple’s move will not be easy for Facebook, as apps must be rewritten, and let’s hope other phone makers such as Samsung and Google follow Apple’s lead. 

Samsung’s smart speaker MIA after one year

Samsung’s answer to Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod, the Samsung Galaxy Home, is a year (and counting) late to market. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Questions: Why does a company that is a proven innovator struggle to develop a product long released by its chief competitors? What slice of the consumer electronics market is left after Amazon and Google, a distant second, have flooded the market with voice compatible devices? Answers: Samsung, being late to the market, must be trying to do something truly unique that others aren’t, and hence the delay. If not, then the product will not get much traction outside of being built in to Samsung devices, as Amazon has already won voice control for toasters, microwaves, light switches, etc. Of course, Amazon’s arch rivals, like Walmart, may be anxious to promote Galaxy Home at the expense of Amazon’s devices.

Trump bars companies from working with Huawei (again)

The ban, beginning August 13th, targets Hauwei, ZTE, Hytera, and Hikvision, all Chinese companies with potential, according to the White House, of spying. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Months ago, the President prohibited companies from working with Huawei, then granted many exceptions, then backed off on the campaign against the company. Now, with an escalating trade war, focus again is on locking Chinese tech firms out of U.S. markets. It looks like its time to take Chinese trade off the table for several years. Many industries were hoping to resume business as usual after a few months of posturing, but now it the business plan needs to be revised to remove Chinese customers from the mix.

Apple locking batteries, making replacement more difficult

Apple’s latest models come with a software lock — one that cannot be reset by unauthorized Apple repair shops who replace the battery. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Given that smartphones are now about $1000, and given that we are likely to keep them longer, we are more likely to replace the battery to get one more year of use. To have to now go to an Apple store to do so is inconvenient, and a real disservice to small businesses who are conveniently located on every street corner to fix cracked screens and replace batteries. Apple isn’t making any new friends with this move.

Connected products detect dementia

Apple and Eli Lilly partner to detect dementia

In a study involving 82 people in a control group and 31 people with some form of cognitive decline, Apple and Eli Lilly collected data from usage of an Apple watch, iPhones and Beddit bed sensors. The study collected usage data on both groups, to characterize differences in usage of those with dementia. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: With 6 million people living with dementia in the U.S., and rapid increases in the incidences of Alzheimer’s, technology is much needed to help us understand and act on cognitive decline. The key to using technology to predict disease is mountains of data, and the barrier to mountains of data is HIPPA (privacy) compliance. Tech companies and health companies should, with full disclose and consent from consumers, collect as much anonymous data as possible using connected devices in order to get ahead of massive stress on the care systems resulting from the graying of Western Europe, North America and Asia.

Google’s Live View Augmented Reality guides you as you walk

Now rolling out to Google Maps applications on both Android and iOS, Live View augmented reality simulates the view you see as you face a direction, and overlays arrows and street names. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: How many times have you ascended from a subway stop and not known which direction to walk? Google is fixing that. Expect to see many people staring at their phones as they stand on street corners, and expect to see many more “location aware” advertisements to take you to coffee shops, restaurants and shops right around you, wherever you are.

Sony’s version of AirPods include noise cancellation

It has become commonplace to see people everywhere wearing Apple AirPods. Sony’s answer includes noise cancellation, meaning that for travelers or those who study in a public place, they are ideal. Sony’s WF-1000xm3 headphones are more expensive at $230 (AirPods are $159) and the carrying case is bulkier. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Sony, in the 70’s through the 90’s was ‘the Apple’ — the cool tech company that made the best gear. The company, since then, has struggled to find its niche but creating premium earphones is a good place to focus. For anyone who travels, noise cancellation is critical and ear buds take up a lot less space in a carry on that over the ear phones. But please, Sony, take a marketing cue from gadget leaders Samsung and Apple and give your products a name that people can weave into conversation. “Hey man, where’d you get those cool WF-1000xm3’s?”

Samsung has the hottest new smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy Note10 debuted in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Here’s the quick summary:

  • No headphone jack
  • Enhanced stylus
  • Gesture control without touching the screen
  • Multiple color choices
  • Larger screen due to very thin bezel (frame)
  • Four camera lenses and ability to zoom audio to get focused sounds on videos
  • AR Doodle feature to add creativity to photos
  • 3D scanning of objects — capturing depth in addition to length and width
  • Quick charge battery and power sharing
  • Support for 5G networks

dis-rup-shun: Samsung maintains its lead on bells and whistles — staying a step ahead of the iPhone, but given that Android vs. iOS has long been a religious discussion, few iPhone users will be swayed by Samsung’s features. Kudos to Samsung for working hard to keep smartphones from becoming commodities — little discernible differentiation between brands — but that is getting tougher to do, especially given that new top of the line smartphones are similarly priced around $1000.

Disney launches Netflix killer

Disney announces streaming bundle

Disney is ready to accelerate the undoing of the pay TV industry with its announced streaming bundle, offering ESPN, Disney and Hulu at the price of $12.99. That price is equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: This changes the streaming game, and the pay TV game altogether. Why? First of all, getting these packages at this price means that Disney is selling at a loss and plans to play the long game. That’s bad news for Netflix, a company that doesn’t plan to make a profit for a long time, and has stated that it will eventually reach profitability through original programming. It will take a great deal of original programming to come close to original content of non-stop sports, Disney’s catalog, and the less interesting Hulu catalog. Given a choice, why take Netflix at all? Because of a few interesting shows. Secondly, AT&T, now entering the streaming game with its Time Warner acquisition, is clearly playing the long game with its own studio. It is also in the streaming business to recapture the cord cutters that are leaving DirecTV for bundles such as Disney’s.

Amazon price pressure — anti-competitive?

Amazon is under investigation by the FTC. What’s of interest to the Feds is Amazon’s practice of telling its third party sellers who offer the same products on other marketplaces for a lower price that they may lose some Amazon perks, like listings at the top of a page, or Prime shipping. This causes the sellers to raise prices on marketplaces such as eBay or Walmart.com. Amazon’s costs for listing and advertising, however, are the highest online. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: When you control the largest online marketplace (by far) and you charge your customers fees for placing products in that market, and you penalize customers for setting their own prices, you just may have more influence than “the free market.” Consumers might benefit from knowing that they don’t have to shop because all marketplaces offer the same goods at the same price, but not as much as they benefit from finding better deals and deciding if they are willing to trade a discount for non-Prime shipping. Expect Amazon to have to make some concessions to the Feds.

Man crosses English Channel on hover board

After failing a month ago by wiping out in the sea, inventor Franky Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel this weekend on a hover board, traveling from France to England in 20 minutes. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: As vehicle ownership decreases, giving way to transportation-as-a-service models, and as drone use increases, super fast travel such as hover boards may be an option for commuters.

Amazon delivery robots working sidewalks in Irvine

Amazon is now testing delivery via robotic carts to neighborhoods in Irvine, California. The Scout devices are autonomous, but are accompanied by a person who is there to make sure everything goes as planned and to test sentiment for the devices. One problem to be resolved is sharing sidewalks with pedestrians and Scouts. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Will people prefer delivery trucks running through the neighborhood, or robots buzzing along the sidewalk? In densely populated areas, robotic carts from multiple vendors dodging pedestrians won’t be tolerated, but reducing truck traffic on the streets will be favored. A drone lane between the sidewalk and the street could be easily painted, and supported by appropriate fees from Amazon, FedEx and UPS, cities may enjoy a new source of revenue.