Alexa as medication minder

Alexa helps track medication schedules and reorders

Amazon announced that it has entered into a partnership with pharmacy chain Giant Eagle, serving Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, West Virginia and Indiana. With the pill minding skill, one can set up their prescriptions with Giant Eagle, order refills through Alexa, and request that Alexa remind them when its time to take a pill. A PIN code secures the privacy of the reminders and helps Alexa keep its HIPAA certification. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Alexa is crossing over from the interesting and cool category to lifestyle manager. Alexa has yet to become a popular shopping device, but reminders of when to take meds and when to order refills may be that important niche application that makes Alexa a commerce engine. Layering telemedicine apps on top of medication reminders, and encouraging people to purchase Amazon Echo Shows for video health exams could make the device a critical addition to households. For people with chronic diseases, or young children or seniors, having a health portal device with proven telemedicine and medication reminder functionality will be an easy purchase decision.

Doorbell cam-phobia increases

Facebook links to a website built by a group called Fight for the Future that criticized the use of doorbell cameras, specifically Ring, was blocked by Facebook. The group is concerned that Amazon’s Ring doorbell, and its tight relationship with many local police departments across the land, is a threat to “privacy, civil liberties, and security.” Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: The triple threat of technology, tech giants such as Amazon and Google who “know all,” and local police have a growing number of people fearful of a police state in which everyone is being watched, recorded, and tracked. Last week’s Iranian government block of the Internet to punish its citizenry for protests over fuel prices, and years of accounts of spying by the U.S.S.R on its own people combined with a constant serving of movies and TV about governments using technology for bad, keep many people wary. Those concerned with data privacy have become a sufficient market segment that tech players such as Apple, and now Sonos, are making data privacy a key part of their market strategy. Expect data privacy to join climate change and gender equality in shaping the marketing messages of many product and service companies.

Los Angeles traffic going electric

The Zero Emissions 2028 Roadmap calls for a 25% reduction in greenhouse gases by the 2028 Olympics. This lofty goal calls for 30% of passenger cars and 80% of new cars sold to be electric. The city will ramp up its placement of public chargers. The city has requested help from electric car makers Nissan, Tesla, BMW, Audi, and makers of electric-buses, Proterra and BYD. One of the city’s initiatives is to move more people out of single person cars and into clean mass transit vehicles. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Car makers in general, but especially those without an electric vehicle in their line ups, continue to bear the brunt of a new generation of everything-as-a-service urban dwellers. Millennials, coupled with environmentally aware baby boomers, make the outlook for the auto industry unclear. Expect efficient living trends – especially regarding fuel, water, real estate, and natural resources, to be guiding new technology products and services. As a matter of fact, if your new tech concept doesn’t align with more efficient living trends, your market potential is very limited.

And the #1 rated Thanksgiving TV show is …

Wired offers us a menu of the top 20 Thanksgiving episodes from popular (and some less so) shows of the past couple of decades. The authors tip their hats to the often dysfunctional and frequently awkward combinations of people that the tradition unites. It’s a holiday for streaming video, and the top 5 of the top 20 are…

5. Friends—“The One With All the Thanksgivings”—Season 5: Episode 8 (Netflix)

4. The West Wing—“Shibboleth” — Season 2: Episode 8 (Netflix)

3. Cheers—“Thanksgiving Orphans”—Season 5: Episode 9 (Prime, Hulu, Netlfix)

2. Master of None—“Thanksgiving”—Season 2: Episode 8 (Netflix)

1. WKRP in Cincinnati—“Turkeys Away”—Season 1: Episode 7 (Available on Amazon Prime)

Uber under fire in London

London may ban Uber in 21 days

The Transport for London agency regulating city transit has determined that Uber drivers are violating a number of important regulations, including using someone else’s photos on their profiles, and banned drivers are opening new accounts under different names to continue driving. Uber’s SEC filings reveal that 24% of revenues come from five large metros, including London — meaning a loss of London equates to somewhere in the neighborhood of 5% of total revenues. Wired

dis-rup-shun: While regulation of transportation has always been highly political, the role of government, and purpose of regulations, is to protect the citizenry. In the Gig Economy, the regulatory roles of government are as important as ever, as ordinary citizens are turning themselves into professional drivers, hoteliers, and temporary workers with little to no certifications, training and minimal background checking. Does that not suggest the opportunity to create an app based service to train, certify and background check on-demand employees?

Spot dog robot being tested by law enforcement

Boston Dynamics’ spot robot has appeared in many videos, showing off its ability to pull heavy loads, dance, and climb stairs. The Massachusetts State Police are reviewing how such a device can be used in law enforcement. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The use of robots in law enforcement is not new, and has diffused fatal situations. One of particular note was cessation of the mass shooter in Dallas, Texas. The increasing flexibility and strength of robots, combined with ever improving Wi-Fi cameras, makes deploying robots in place of humans a reliable strategy. Expect to see law enforcement a target market for robotics, although this market will grow quietly, as the target customer does not wish for the public to understand the tools it has at its disposal.

Space pallet concept enables shipping gear to Moon

NASA has developed a concept vehicle that is essentially a platform for heavy cargo that can be released in space from a heavy rocket before positioning itself for a gentle landing and unloading. The space pallet, once safely in place, would then shut down permanently. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The Moon landing program of today is using technology that seems light years ahead of the pocket-calculator power of the Apollo crafts. New challenges, however, include navigating through increasing numbers of satellites and space debris. Marrying today’s technology with environmental consciousness will likely lead to programs to clean up man made space debris, as SpaceX’s first 120 of 42,000 Starlink satellites are already annoying astronomers.

Give the gift of Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi routers and repeaters are not a very glamorous holiday gift, but a number of new technologies, including mesh network-creating routers and Wi-Fi 6 (the next version of Wi-Fi) routers are now on the market in attractive and reasonable products. Some interesting offers for massive Wi-Fi capacity include TP-Link’s Archer AX6000 and Amplifi’s Alien. For creating a mesh network to cover all of your home, try Nest Wifi, Netgear Orbi AC1200, Linksys’ Velop Tri-Band AC2200, and Razer Sila for gamers.

dis-rup-shun: Common consumer devices don’t yet support version 6 of Wi-Fi, but we can expect to see some products in 2020. Wi-Fi 6 and/or mesh networks will greatly enhance the home computing experience, as these technologies should end dead spots in large homes, and should help make Wi-Fi doorbells, that are often a long way from the home router or on the other side of metal lath, function as advertised. Between these technologies, and the arrival of 5G, connectivity woes should soon be over.

Sonos exceeds $1 billion in sales

Sonos cracks $1 billion

Sonos, the original Wi-Fi music player maker, announced 2019 results of revenues over $1.2 billion. The product is now in over 9 million households and the company’s collaboration with Ikea to build combo lamp/speakers and bookshelf speakers was a huge hit, resulting in 30,000 units sold on day one. CEPro

dis-rup-shun:  I recall seeing a prototype of the first Sonos version. It was cool, but like so many other new concepts, it was uncertain if the market would understand its benefits and generate mass appeal. What the company proved is that a really simple setup and user interface was the difference maker. In the 1990s, people were anxious to extend the convenience of digital music beyond the iPod without dongles, converters and 3.5mm connectors. This little startup became the top home music system, roles which giant Sony and mighty Bose once enjoyed. Sonos has, since 2002, maintained superior design standards, aesthetics, sound quality and user interface. Sonos and Apple are in a design class by themselves, and Sonos is further evidence that superior design, even more than great technology, leads to superior market performance.

Amazon sues Department of Defense 

Amazon followed through with its threats to file suit on the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI contract — a project to upgrade military IT infrastructure and house military data on an external cloud. Microsoft was awarded the contract and AWS, believing it was the front-runner on the contract, has stated that the decision was influenced by President Trump and his feud with Amazon’s Jeff Bezos over unfriendly presidential coverage by Bezos owned Washington Post.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The results of this suit may set a precedent for losers of large contracts, as deals this big that involve years of proposals and positioning cost a fortune for those firms competing. The DOD has often awarded giant contracts to multiple bidders as if to make it worth their while and to maintain competition throughout the life of the contract. If AWS wins this action, the government procurement process will undoubtedly be amended to make it more difficult for politics to influence the outcomes.

No breakage in Tesla Cybertruck follow-up video

Musk released, via Twitter, a video of the steel ball not smashing the bullet proof windows of the Cybertruck which were smashed not once, but twice during the big reveal. Commentary of the follow-up video on Jalopnik notes that the truck’s door was ajar, absorbing some of the energy of the steel ball.

dis-rup-shun: The great reveal of the Cybertruck seems to be the most talked about event at weekend dinner parties, tailgates and cocktail functions. If you don’t know about the smashed windows spectacle, you have not seen or heard any news since Thursday. In retrospect, this announcement has created more buzz since Apple’s Think Different Superbowl Commercial, and, love him or hate him, Musk continues to be one of the highest profile business people in the world.

Cloud energy efficiency is goal of latest semiconductor start up

Nuvia is a new semiconductor company whose founders are expert at developing chips that are energy efficient — having come from Apple where they developed chips designed for battery powered, mobile devices. Nuvia will take power efficiency technology and apply it to data center semiconductors, potentially saving large amounts of energy in electricity hungry data centers. Techspot

dis-rup-shun: As attested by this weekend’s Harvard Yale football game turned climate change protest, energy efficiency is becoming a political football. Count on BigTech to use energy efficiency as differentiator of cloud services, and certainly energy efficiency is important to operating expenses. Nuvia is in a good position to benefit as cloud services are growing quickly (12% CAGR, according to Gartner).

Smart displays: fad or fixture?

Smart displays — know what’s best for your space

As the holiday buying begins, a smart display is a great way to add Internet features such as maps, email, music and recipes to the right spaces. Wired’s review of smart displays shows the best choices for the appropriate application.

dis-rup-shun: This holiday season will be a good indicator of the longevity of this device category. Do consumers already have enough screens, or is there room for more? Being the best for a particular buyer has always been a smart competitive strategy, and JBL is the best for music lovers, whereas the Lenovo Smart Display seems optimized for Google recipes. The Lenovo Smart Clock is designed, well, to be a bedside clock with a USB charging port. Specialization equals differentiation in a crowded and yet unproven category.

Tesla Cybertruck makes a bumpy debut

Elon Musk debuted the electric Cybertruck pickup. The vehicle’s design reminds one of the stealth bomber. Its aluminum alloy body is bulletproof, withstanding a pounding with a sledge hammer on stage. Its bulletproof glass, however, did shatter when smashed with a steel ball, but the ball did not penetrate the glass. Production is said to begin in late 2021. CNN Business

dis-rup-shun: Ford and GM have announced electric pickups, but one can expect them to look nothing like the Tesla stealth-like design. Musk’s success with Tesla has not been simply that the company created an attractive electric car, but from the company’s ability to create a conversation piece — something unique and beautiful that people want. The Cybertruck’s unique look and bullet proof promise will ensure that it, also, appeals to a premium buyer and becomes a object of desire when released.

Expand your (virtual) art collection

Netgear’s Meural provides an attractive and interesting way to add art — both your own photos and digital creations, as well as a collection from the greatest masters of the world, through a subscription service — to your walls. The framed display, priced from $400 to $600, is updated via Wi-Fi and can be controlled with a smartphone app as well as through gestures. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: While it may happens slowly, art will be increasingly displayed digitally, especially in smaller homes. Art-as-a-service (AaaS) will become a convenient and economical way to enjoy variety.

A winner in U.S. – China trade war: European entrepreneurs

An unexpected beneficiary of the trade war has been European startups seeking venture capital. Capital investments in European tech firms has surged upwards due to the perception that they are safer bets, plus a strong track record of successful growth and exits by European tech. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The trade war, like a hurricane, is redirecting rivers and changing landscapes. More money flowing into European tech will spur creativity and increase the rate of spin-offs, likely having a long-term effect on the continent and keeping an increased focus on the geography long after the trade wars end.

Wellness for home integrator business

Wellness is the next opportunity for home integrators

Custom home integrators are, generally speaking, service providers who offer a number of services including home theater installation, home security system installation, and often a number of other services. CEPro, in a free whitepaper, makes a case for adding wellness services to the integrator’s lines of business, including specifically, circadian lighting, indoor air purification, and water purification.

dis-rup-shun: One of the challenges faced by smart home companies is finding the right channel. Retail is okay for hot products but not for systems requiring some level of customization. Integrators that offer home security and home theater systems and installation have been lamenting the rising popularity of DIY products as limits to their future growth. CEPro has, for some years now, showcased for integrators the growing revenue possibilities available by offering smart products in growth areas. This whitepaper also offers specific examples of integrators who have succeeded with these new lines of business.

Smart bike provides security, navigation and control

Angell’s smart bicycle, designed in France, is electric, providing optional power assistance. What’s more, the bike can be located through an app in case it is lost or stolen, and it helps navigate by offering directions on its integrated handlebar display, complete with haptic feedback when you approach your next turn, and, of course, it can display your speed and distance. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: This bike is built for those geographies in which many commuters use bikes daily, but these features will soon be standard in most city touring bikes. Finding a lost bike, as well as integrated screens and navigation are basic functions in today’s connected world and can be considered the “power windows” of bicycles — that is, basic accessories that you will soon expect on most all bikes.

Facebook launches new safety tools for advertisers

Facebook is offering new ways for advertisers to control where their ads appear. These tools enable advertisers to block their ads from appearing on certain sites or types of sites. These changes are results of larger calls on Facebook to monitor the authenticity of the content and ads it displays, aftermaths of the 2016 presidential election. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Both advertisers and consumers should have a dashboard to easily enable control of where content — paid advertisement content, or personal data is displayed and stored. A universal dashboard — separate for consumers and advertisers, would address rising concerns of privacy. Such a sweeping measure would require substantial regulation even more stringent than Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), but would help contain rising suspicion of data and content usage.

Iranians without Internet for four day and counting

After protests over fuel prices in Iran turned violent, president Rouhani has pulled the plug on the Internet. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: How can a modern economy possibly function without the Internet? Street markets, food stores, many services and government entities could continue to function, but online commerce, directory services, ride sharing services, music and video services, and organizations that use the Internet to publish schedules and sell tickets, among many others, are shut down. If the Iranian president thinks people were upset about fuel prices, just wait until they react over loss of the Internet.

Dash is back for small business

Amazon Dash Pad automates small business supplies

Amazon’s Dash Button for consumers, the small hardware device that reorders products automatically, was discontinued. The technology has been resurrected in the form of a Dash Smart Shelf — a small Wi-Fi connected platform which is setup to either reorder the designated supplies resting on top of the shelf, or to simply notify someone that it is time to reorder. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: This is an elegantly simply application of the Internet of Things with a simple business model that provides businesses with convenience while providing Amazon with a competitive advantage, using established, proven technologies. It is hard to imagine that this concept will not succeed, unless a growing bias against the power of Amazon becomes a barrier to adoption. The IoT industry needs more simple, clear applications such as this to prove the benefits of connecting everything.

HoloLens technology being used in surgery

Microsoft’s HoloLens augmented reality technology — currently deployed as a headset, is being used in sinus surgery at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. The technology provides guide-lines to help guide surgeons as they navigate through a patient’s sinuses. MediView, one company implementing the technology is using it at the Cleveland Clinic, leading the way for broader adoption among doctors. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Remember when you had to back a car up by wrenching your neck to look over your shoulder and look out of the rear window? Archaic. Soon, surgeons will be laughing about the old days when they operated without multiple virtual views and guidelines of patient’s bodies. The safety, quality and time improvements are exciting, and the more these advantages can be quantified, the quicker large institutions will fund and adopt emerging technologies.

Sonos offers non-connected voice control

Sonos has acquired a voice control technology firm called Snips. The acquisition will enable one to control a Sonos speaker via voice without connecting to a cloud and without the voice command going  to the cloud and back to execute commands. Sonos appears to be responding to customer who are unwilling to have a BigTech voice service constantly listening to conversations. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The fact that Sonos has invested in Snips makes an interesting statement about smart speaker technology. The statement is that a significant share of the tech and digital music-loving population will not buy a smart speaker that connects to Amazon, Google or Apple’s cloud services — which must listen for trigger words to function. Rather than accept the fact that a share of the population will not purchase a cloud connected smart speaker, Sonos has invested in technology to address this population. Marketers take note — a very sophisticated technology product company has determined that privacy concerns are a significant barrier to adoption, worthy of a $37 million investment.

A single sensor for smart applications

Smart buildings and smart homes now have to manage a plethora of devices to inform users. Oval is a startup which has developed a five-in-one sensor that senses movement, light, temperature, humidity and water. The $50 sensor, $150 hub and app make implementing simple home or building automation really easy. Oval

dis-rup-shun: Simplicity in smart applications for consumers cannot be over emphasized, and despite the success of hot products like Ring, Nest, Echo and Google Home, smart products are not yet simple enough. Oval is a step closer to the “open the package and it just works” requirement. The industry needs to take note and continue to drive both complexity and prices down.

Backyard grills pursue subscription model

What does a backyard grill have in common with an iPod?

Weber’s SmokeFire incorporates two innovations, neither of them original, but both defining the future of the outdoor grilling industry. The new model incorporates a Wi-Fi app to not only monitor temperatures, but to access an inventory of recipes and provide guidance throughout the process. In addition, the grill leader is adopting a wood pellet convention, made popular by competitor Traegar. CNet

dis-rup-shun: The marketing team at Weber has been paying close attention to the tech world and has effectively differentiated a no-tech product, taking the Apple iPod/iTunes model to heart. The new grill takes a “systems” approach, incorporating ever changing content (recipes and how-to instructions) and proprietary wood pellets to turn the grilling business model into a razor and blades, or iPod and iTunes model, turning grill buyers into “subscribers” who come back regularly for pellets and recipes.

Spotify shares down on Amazon Music expansion

Amazon announced that its free, ad-supported music service would be available on iOS, Android and FireTV devices. Previously the service was available only on Amazon Echo. Spotify share were down nearly 5% after the news. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Apple started the mad rush to expand services with its announcements of several new services and service bundles earlier in the year. Other companies, including Google and Amazon have followed rapidly with the knowledge that consumers, in most cases, will not pay for multiple services beyond streaming video. There is only so much room on a credit card for subscription services. Cable and Telco providers taught, some time ago, that bundling services is an effective way to differentiate and both Apple and Amazon are in the unique position of being able to bundle both devices and services in creative ways. 

Google Stadia provides a unique gaming experience

Google’s Stadia service enables people to play games on any connected device — moving the experience to wherever the player is. The company has developed an ecosystem of controllers that enable fans to get as serious as they wish about Stadia and different types of pay models provide something for everyone. Shooter games, however, are not well suited for a clloud architecture, and may hobble adoption. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Game players are like any population — they can be segmented in a variety of ways. It is unlikely that Google will successfully batch the majority of gamers onto a single platform, even with many variants of that platform. The question, then, is can Google capture the widest part of the bell curve of game players with Stadia, and will the variants of Stadia help capture the generalist game player market, or confuse and frustrate the target market. As Google is prone to change directions quickly, fans may be reluctant to invest heavily into an offering which seems to be doing so much for so many segments.

More private space companies land on NASA’s partner list

NASA has added SpaceX, BlueOrigin, and Sierra Nevada to its growing list of contractors vying to carry cargo, and eventually humans back to the Moon by 2024. These companies join nine other NASA approved vendors, who will compete for various slices of the Moon mission pie. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Envision an environment in which multiple carriers are competing for Moon tasks, just are airlines compete today for certain routes with different planes, seeking to find the optimal mix of capacity, load factor and profitability. This aggressive competition should result in the U.S. most quickly returning to the Moon, but it is important to remember that most of the private contractors are multi-national companies and will, eventually, be eager to serve customers in many countries, leveling the field. NASA is wise to engage multiple parties and gain the speed, financial and hopefully, safety benefits of competition.


Decade’s biggest tech blunders

Biggest tech missteps of the decade

CNET has been chronicling the past decade in tech, one in which revenues from Amazon, Google and Facebook have exploded to join Microsoft and Apple as tech giants. Some highlights of the series include:

  • Microsoft Kin (2010) — this Blackberry-like phone device was innovative, but data plans were pricey. It’s shelf life was two months.
  • Qwikster by Netflix (2011) — Netflix, in one announcement, increased its subscription fee by 50% and spun the DVD by mail business into a new entity called Qwikster. Both moves were reversed within weeks after scathing consumer and industry outrage.
  • Palm fizzles (2011) — after developing and selling the most loved PDAs in the industry, including the Palm Pilot, Handspring Visor, and Palm Treo smartphone, the company developed operating system WebOS to better compete with iOS and Android. Instead of becoming the third major mobile platform, the company lost consumer support and was purchased, in 2019, by HP for $1.2 billion. HP’s Mark Hurd, the architect for HP/Palm’s mobile strategy, was dismissed by the board in 2010, ending any hopes of a Palm resurrection.

dis-rup-shun: It seems the many lessons to be learned from failures, big and small, are quickly forgotten, or at least many of CNET’s featured blunders have faded from memory but a common thread is “fail fast, recover fast.” At the speed of technology, missteps must be followed immediately with a correction or an alternative, as long, plodding attempts to gain acceptance of spurned ideas appears to be fatal.

Top trends for installing dealer channel in 2020

CEPro has released its predictions of the top trends impacting home systems integrators (or installing dealers) for the coming year. They are:

  • Biophilia — or bringing nature in. This impacts technology in the form of lighting that emulates circadian cycles, as well as sensors to track indoor air quality.
  • Landscape Lighting — home integrators will be making landscape lighting a part of smart home systems, with automated scheduling, energy savings and security elements.
  • 8K Video Resolution — if you purchase a TV in 2020, then you will consider an investment in 8K resolution.
  • 5G Network Adoption — 2020 will see deployment of 5G and the sunset of 3G, which will be a big event for the alarm industry.
  • Smart Water Management — water is now a precious resource, and managing its use, as well as detecting leaks, is a new job for smart technologies.

dis-rup-shun: Great opportunities abound in controlling some simple things. Indoor air quality has been rising in importance to consumers over the past hand full of years as people are far more aware of what they are taking in, and HVAC vendors stand to add millions in revenues if they can capitalize on this trend. Water management is another important job for smart technologies, as many cities are increasingly regulating the use of water, especially outside on the front yard. Companies such as Rachio, RainMachine and Orbit as well as leak detectors such as LeakSmart and Roost will find increasing demand, especially in new construction.

TechHive’s list of best leak detectors for smart homes

Amazon putting Alexa into every corner of your life

There’s an Echo for everything, and now Echo Flex is available as a plug-in module to go into small spaces such as bathrooms, pantries, workrooms, or wherever there is no room for wires. The small device sells for $25 and plugs directly into an outlet as to take up no counter space and features a tiny speaker, plus add-on modules for a night light, a motion sensor, and future devices. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It has been speculated that Amazon’s primary interest in making Alexa a part of every part of your life is to make it easy for you to shop on with your voice. Research shows, however, that shopping is not one of the primary use cases for Alexa. Amazon, nevertheless, is working hard to make Alexa the primary human to machine interface, especially in places where keyboards are not ideal, such as in your car. The question then is how will Amazon monetize Alexa beyond shopping? One answer is in making the growing Amazon family of devices, and the services that run on top of them, more valuable as the ecosystem grows. Replacing the three remote controls on the coffee table with voice commands can make life much simpler. Amazon could easily create tighter integrations between Alexa and Amazon Prime Video, for example, causing its own streaming video service to be preferable to others. It is possible that Amazon has not had time to perfect its grander strategy as it is in a race to put Alexa in every place possible, and will figure out many ways to monetize its dominance later.

Careem helps Uber approach profitability

Uber’s ride has been bumpy ever since its losing IPO. The company has been making some strides to put it on a projection to profitability. Uber’s acquisition of ride sharing company Careem has given it access to over 33 million riders in the Middle East and North Africa, high growth areas that will be instrumental in helping the company earn a profit by its target year of 2021. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Uber paid $3.1 billion for Careem’s 33 million riders, or roughly $94 per rider. The company continues to make investments not only in its core business, but in future gambles such as autonomous cars, helicopter ride sharing and a hourly worker brokerage service called Uber Works. Whether Uber’s value will ultimately be derived from being a large scale service company or from its transaction delivery platform is yet to be seen, as profitability is at least a few years away.

Sneakers that play music

Surround sound sneakers

Start up DropLabs has developed the EP01 sneakers that feature a power supply, a transducer (for vibrations) and Bluetooth connectivity. The shoes enable the wearer to experience the full musical effect, mimicking the vibrations in the floor during a live performance. The company’s CEO reports that brain functions are enhanced when an experience is received with four or more senses, making these shoes an important accessory for serious gamers and eSports competitors. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Sensurround was the product of speaker maker Cerwin-Vega and was added to theaters to support the release of 1974 movie Earthquake, along with a few other movies in subsequent years. The rise of the sale of subwoofers in theaters (home and big screen) is attributed to a trend started by Sensurround. Will DropLab’s vibrating sneakers also start a trend? The appeal for gamers is clear, and perhaps this technology would be very helpful to the hearing impaired. A larger market might be those people who silence their phones, and don’t wear a smart watch, but want to be notified of incoming messages through their feet.

Google enters the banking arena

Not to be outdone by Apple’s credit card, Google, in partnership with Citibank and Stanford Federal Credit Union, will be offering a checking account. The accounts will be tied to Google Pay, but will also be held by one of the banks to maintain insurance through FDIC or NCUA. A company spokesman stated that Google did not intend to sell personal data from this banking venture. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: All the Big Tech players are or soon will be bucking to enter consumer finance. In the U.S., banks and credit unions are highly regulated at the federal and state levels, so to offer banking services, Big Tech must partner with a bank and essentially be a sales agent for a bank. This could be a really attractive partnership for a bank, especially in light of increased regulation potentially being placed on Big Tech — meaning that banking laws will not soon be amended to enable more control by tech companies. The lesser-seen mad dash will be banks who do not yet have a Big Tech partner and who could be left with no giant digital distribution partner.

Will new Razr foldable put Motorola back on the map?

Motorola is resurrecting the Razr flip phone, but this time it is a smart phone with a foldable screen. At $1500 and on sale in December, it’s a great holiday gift for the high end phone buyer and those that want to be the first with a foldable phone. Technical specs include two cameras (16 MP main, 5 MP selfie), water-resistant outside coating, a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor, Pie version of Android, 6GB of RAM, 128GB of storage, and 2510mAh battery. Mobile World Live

dis-rup-shun: This looks like the beginning of a new again form factor for smartphones. People like the large screen size of today’s smartphone models, but would really like one that folds up to more easily fit in pockets, purses and bags, plus foldables protect their own screens when closed, and the Razr can be used while closed when connected to Bluetooth accessories. Expect to see emulators of the Razr while prices for foldable screens plummet over the next two years, but these emulators will be Chinese versions that will make it hard for Motorola to stay in the game for the long haul.

Connected car cloud leaders are Amazon, Microsoft and Harman

The connected car cloud is the platform that does and will connect in-car technologies, including engine diagnostics, navigation, communication and entertainment, among other things. It is the place where new software updates for dozens of car systems can be updated. The market leaders, according to a new report, are, not surprisingly, Amazon, Microsoft, Harman (holding 70% of the market). The list of top 11 players includes Airbiquity, AWS, Continental, Ericsson, Google, Here, Harman, IBM, Microsoft, Mojio, and WirelessCar. ABI Research

dis-rup-shun: Just as other intelligent devices, the profits for the automotive industry may soon be the software — but this time the software is in the cloud, and the auto makers don’t own the cloud. Harman is the only player in the list that has long been a well-recognized name in the automotive business, as the brand purchased most of the car entertainment systems that were familiar a decade ago or more. Samsung acquired Harman in 2016, and is up against some big players in the car cloud business, but should have an edge in relationships with car manufacturers. Let’s see how long Harman can use insider relationships to maintain a competitive edge over the other 10 top players.

Best Buy folds branded smart home line

Best Buy pulls the plug on its own smart home

Best Buy’s house brand, Insignia, announced on its website, that the company has discontinued its Insignia Connect products, which consist of smart plugs, IP camera, light switch and a refrigerator/freezer. Except for the IP camera, the other devices will continue to work, but will not connect to an app. The article does not suggest that Best Buy will discontinue selling the plethora of smart home products from other manufacturers that now make up a large part of its shelf space. Wired

dis-rup-shun: What’s the problem with smart home products? The industry analysts continue to forecast strong growth (IDC – 23.5%, Forrester – 26.2%, Security Sales & Integration – 31%, McKinsey – 31%), yet Best Buy joins Lowe’s as two big retailers who have pulled the plug on their own branded systems. Best Buy, by the way, is the same company that paid $800 million to acquire another form of smart home products — Great Call, makers of devices to connect seniors to family, friends and care givers. One of the clearer answers to the smart home riddle is that consumers buy solutions to problems, and home automation is not a mass market problem. Home security, remote monitoring and safety of seniors, and utilities needing to save energy are large scale problems that smart home products and systems solve. A number of companies, including, have forged relationships with new home builders such as Toll Brothers who have found that home automation increases home value and who will lead a gradual transformation to making automation a new home standard. Much of the success of smart home is the result of single products such as door bell cameras, smart speakers, and smart thermostats, that are both cool and helpful in solving point solutions. These hot products, however, are DIY install products. When people want a whole home system integrating multiple devices, they are more inclined to call a home systems integrator than to put a system together themselves, as big retailers have discovered.

Facebook creates Venmo-like payment system

In an effort to link Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and WhatsApp, the company will equip all of those applications with a common pay system. This pay method is separate from Calibra, which is part of the doomed Libra cryptocurrency consortium. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Facebook serves a majority of social media users, so it makes sense that a common pay platform will be convenient, but what about the Facebook trust factor? As reported Monday, Facebook’s tarnished image is hurting its success in new product areas. If the Facebook brand has some rot, isn’t tying the company’s brands together a bad move?

Tesla will open fourth Gigafactory in Berlin

Musk stated that he intends to sell more Teslas in Europe, and appears to be following through with his intentions. The factory will be located near Berlin’s new airport, and will be in addition to factories in Reno, Buffalo and Shanghai. While sales of Teslas were down in the U.S. for Q3, sales in Europe have been trending upward for the last three quarters. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Musk is out to change the world, and despite some bumps in the road, he is well on the way to making Tesla a global brand. With manufacturing in three continents with high interest in electric vehicles, the company will continue to disrupt traditional automakers and, very likely, will be acquired by another global brand, as developing new car models, especially with a completely different engine, is a huge undertaking for traditional players. Many existing car companies already have electric cars at the dealer or in the pipeline. Perhaps a Tesla company buyer will come from another industry. Virgin Auto or Amazon Auto, anyone?

Disney + Streaming Service is live and ready for your credit card

Disney’s new streaming service is up and running, and has the advantage of content from the Mouse House, from Pixar, National Geographic, Fox, Marvel and Star Wars. Not only does the company have a content advantage over new and incumbent streamers, it also has a technology advantage, having purchased BAMTech in 2017 — an expert in streaming content infrastructure and encryption. Wired

dis-rup-shun: As stated many times on this site, Netflix has a serious battle on its hands as its future relies on the difficult task of creating a long string of big hits. Disney + must also keep the hits coming, but it has the advantage of leveraging many beloved franchises for an infinite number of sequels and prequels. Netflix is a beloved brand which will likely not be displaced, but subscriber growth will likely be more difficult and the costs of operations, thanks to expensive original content, will continue to rise.