Microsoft beefs up games properties

Microsoft purchases Fallout, Elder Scrolls and Doom for $7.5 billion

In its largest games software acquisition to date, Microsoft will purchase video games publisher ZeniMax for $7.5 billion. Microsoft will control popular games Fallout, The Elder Scrolls and Doom, as it continues to beef up offerings in its XBox offerings, both cloud-based XBox Games Pass as well as a new, two-level Xbox console offering. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Video gaming is at a critical juncture, with enthusiasm high for the next generation of PlayStations and XBoxes, and with a number of larger players, including Microsoft and Apple, seeking to win over new and existing game players across all device platforms with cloud-based gaming services. Once a consumer commits to a cloud-based service, they are highly likely to purchase consoles, computers, peripherals, and other add-ons from within that service network, and Apple is fishing in Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo’s pond, with Amazon circling. As Apple reminded us all in its announcements last week, the services bundle is king.

AT&T Communications Exec says 5G iPhone may not be a big hit

In a move not likely to boost his longevity with AT&T, Communications CEO Jeff McElfresh stated that October’s release of the 5G capable iPhone may not be the massive event that people expect. He went on to say that given the current uncertainty in the economy, people may be slow to embrace 5G, a technology that ultimately may serve corporations more than consumers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Jeff, have you met Lily, the nice lady on the AT&T commercial who has been dropping blue balloons onto a giant 5G sign and telling us that 5G is a huge deal? Of course uneasy financial times and lack of understanding about 5G could hinder adoption, but your partner is Apple and when Apple says it is a big deal, it will be. If your bosses at AT&T don’t reassign you to the mail room, the ghost of Steve Jobs will be visiting.

Micro weddings use Instagram for community

The Pandemic has all but killed the wedding business. A number of entrepreneurial wedding planners, however, have reimagined the wedding as a 12 to 20 person event at an upscale, exclusive venue that is primed for photography, and broadcasting via Instagram. The Reimagined Wedding is a business that books small events in an luxurious setting in Ojai, California, where stunning scenes of a small number of people can be photographed in order to be shared with large numbers via Instagram. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: There are a number of reasons why the micro wedding may be around longer than COVID-19. Focusing on the social network as audience is much less expensive, yet tends to respond with accolades and affirmation, giving the newly weds a sense of community, a chance to impress, and savings accounts intact. Expect the online broadcasts of major cultural rituals such as weddings, funerals, graduations, church services, bar mitzvahs and the like to be equally important to the production.

Smart bike helmet

The Lumox Matrix smart bike helmet features rear facing LED lighting which can be controlled through an app, a handlebar-mounted remote or via a button the strap. The LED lighting acts as a turn signal, but can also display patterns selected and programmed by the wearer. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Safety may be difficult to sell at $295, but for anyone who has had a close call on their bike, this device could well be a bargain. Expect app-controlled lighting to be integrated with electric-assisted bikes and new technology makes biking more fun, safer and more theft-proof. COVID-19 has led a to a run on bicycles, with most shops out of stock as stay-at-homers have flocked to family rides and outdoor exercise. Mark the bicycle industry as one of many unwitting winners of the global pandemic.

 

TikTok is positioned for long term success in the U.S.

ByteDance may be the winner in TikTok resolution

President Trump, over the weekend, gave his blessing to an arrangement in which Oracle will become TikTok’s cloud partner and owner of 12.5% of its shares, while Walmart will own 7.5% and parent ByteDance will own the remaining 80% while the social media platform will continue to operate with no disruption.  The arrangement includes TikTok contributing large sums to a national education fund, hefty tax payments as a U.S. company, and plans for an IPO in coming months. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While ByteDance was strong-armed into this arrangement, it looks like they have now have some very solid partners, especially as Walmart found its way back into the deal after the Microsoft/Walmart alliance to acquire TikTok fell apart. The Chinese parent company now has deeper ties with U.S. investors and impressive partners. How will Walmart leverage its new investment? Will TikTok become a major advertising platform for the retailer, or will Walmart simply enjoy the returns from its major investment in social media?

iCloud is the star of the Apple One bundle

According to CNET, the most significant component of last week’s announced Apple One bundle is iCloud storage. The bundle options include Apple Music, Apple TV Plus, Apple Arcade, Apple Fitness and various amounts of iCloud storage. Despite storage being far less featured than other services, it is an increasing essentially part of people’s online lives, as the size of data files, particularly photos and videos, increases with higher resolution.

dis-rup-shun: Storage as an essential utility is becoming the cloud-based safe deposit for our lives, and Big Tech companies are battling to be the storage utility of choice, hoping this choice will bind us to a vendor for life. But Google continues to disrupt Apple, Microsoft and others by offering much easier and free apps that, at a minimum, result in consumers using multiple services and keeping Google as a part of their personal cloud mix.

What’s new about the new Apple smartwatch

Apple continues to gain more publicity surrounding its watch. So what’s new about its WatchOS7, the newest software for the device? Here is the list: native sleep tracking that does not require use of a separate sleep app; workout app recognizes more movements such as dancing; cyclists get better route planning and guidance; improved Activity App; 20-second count down for hand washing; volume monitoring to let you know when sounds are too loud or too long; wellness metric to monitor mobility and cardiovascular health; more watch face options; car key fob functionality enhancements for those that own BMWs. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s domination of the smartwatch market has been fast, but Android solutions will catch up quickly. The smartwatch, however, is quickly moving from a luxury item for gadget lovers to a more essentially device to facilitate daily routines. When your doctor requests data from your smartwatch as part of your annual checkup, and when you stop carrying car keys as your smartwatch opens your home, office and starts your cars, then will we still call these devices watches?

Alipay is global leader in mobile payments

More than 711 million Chinese have made Alipay, a digital payment app, part of their daily lives. The app, developed by Ant Group, enables people to order and pay from restaurant menus, hail taxis, and pay bills. The app collects so much data from consumers, and offers such competition to state-owned banks, that Chinese government intervention is inevitable. Meanwhile, the company is headed toward perhaps the largest IPO of 2020. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Many parts of the world, and Asia in particular, are well ahead of North Americans with regard to adopting mobile payments. In the U.S., banks have begun to enter into partnerships with Apple and Google to enable the Big Tech firms to offer financial transactions and to delay total disruption of their industry. The complete restructuring of the banking industry due to Big Tech, however, is inevitable, as the Big Tech firms with transaction data have far more information and personal data from consumers to enable them to have very accurate pictures of credit worthiness. Stay tuned for a massive transformation of banking in the next five to seven years.

Apple looking more like Amazon

Is Apple striving to look more like Amazon?

Apple, the most valuable tech company in the world, held its quarterly announcement event on Tuesday. As has been well covered, the announcements included a new line of Apple watches, new generation of software for iPhone and iPad, new iPad lines, a fitness subscription service, and the Apple One bundle which includes Apple Music, Apple TV+, Apple Arcade, iCloud storage, Apple News+, and Apple Fitness+. Absent from the announcements were the next iPhone and HomePod. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Remember when Apple announcement events were all about shiny objects? Apple now wants to be your trusted music, news and fitness provider — asking even more of its loyal followers. The shiny objects that Apple is the best in the world at building, are now becoming merely the remote controls to access the content at the center of people’s lives, like Kindles and FireTVs. The recent announcements also seem to indicate that Apple doesn’t want Disney to get too fond of using the “+” sign, as Apple has emulated the extremely successfully Disney+ streaming service and borrowed the naming format for its premium tier TV, news and fitness offerings.

Not too happy with Apple: Spotify

Spotify, not in the Apple fan club, used Tuesday’s announcements of the Apple One bundle to repeat its call to governments around the world to recognize Apple as hindering competition. Spotify, like games publisher Epic, is not happy about giving Apple a cut of purchases made through the Apple App Store. 9to5Mac

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft got its hands slapped after attorneys general from multiple states claimed in 1998 that its bundling practices hindered competition. Netscape Navigator was the defacto standard browser before Microsoft bundled Explorer, and Novell Netware was the standard network software provider before Windows magically connected computers. Spotify is the defacto standard music service in most parts of the world, but it sees a light at the end of the tunnel and it looks like an apple.

Justice Department warns that video games are new hacking target

The Justice Dept issued a warning that the billion-dollar plus video games business is the next target for sophisticated hackers, citing that free-to-play games such as Fortnite brought in revenues of $2.4 billion from in-game purchases in 2018, making popular games a rich target. The Justice Department attributes much of the game-focused hacking activity on a group called Apt 41. CNET

dis-rup-shun: For those trying to find a career path, cyber security and data privacy should provide you with a secure vocation for the rest of your days.

Amazon enters battery recycling business

Amazon is investing in an electric car battery recycling business, called Redwood Materials. The company was founded by a former Tesla executive who helped design the Lithium Ion batteries used in Tesla’s cars. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Forward thinking and environmentally responsible, Amazon is putting its cash and muscle behind a noble cause and an attractive revenue opportunity that won’t fully come to fruition for another five to ten years.

 

Microsoft puts data center on the ocean floor

Microsoft’s cloud goes under the sea

Microsoft has successfully concluded one stage of an experiment to locate data centers on the ocean floor. Its shipping container sized data center was submerged off of the coast of Scotland’s Orkney Islands, where cool waters and 100% renewable energy from the islands resulted in servers that ran eight-times more reliably than land-based servers. The success of Project Natick will lead to larger submerged data centers that can be located closer to customer locations, rather than in a few large land-based data centers. TechCrunch.

dis-rup-shun: Moving data centers closer to customers and reducing power requirements thanks to cool temperatures under water is an opportunity to make “the cloud” more sustainable. But what objections will be raised by environmentalists who may think that disturbing marine topography is not worth the value of reducing carbon emissions? The concept has great promise, but may not win the favor of all.

YouTube’s TikTok killer debuts

YouTube Shorts will debut first in India, where the nation has cracked down on China-based technologies for similar security concerns as drove the Trump Executive Orders. The service will allow users to make 15 second video clips set to music. Along with Instagram Reels, the service seeks to take advantage of transitional times to dethrone TikTok. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: With Oracle the apparent winner of TikTok, disruption to the service will likely be minimal, making the plans of its challengers more difficult. With YouTube the beloved and highly popular video delivery platform of choice for millions, it has the opportunity to win over those who may subscribe to the security fear mongering.

Singapore Airlines plans trips to nowhere

Hundreds of planes are grounded and thousands of seats go unsold as the pandemic watch continues. Singapore Airlines and Japan’s ANA, among others, are offering, or planning to offer flights to nowhere – sightseeing flights that fly low over scenery and unique locations. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Re-purposing of assets in the time of COVID-19 continues to occur as creative business people seek ways to survive. Rideshare drivers are becoming package deliverers, restaurants are serving family meals, complete with alcoholic beverages, from tables set up in parking lots. Bus lines are pushing special event charters, and airlines may have found a way to amuse home-bound citizens who want to see the world.

Amazon hiring another 100,000 workers

Amazon’s revenues for the quarter ending in July were up 40%. The company is struggling to keep up with the increases in demand, and will hire an additional 100K workers in various cities in the U.S. and Canada. Workers will be in fulfillment centers, sorting centers, delivery centers, among other places. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: The re-structuring of the economy continues, and even if our society returns, in part, to its old ways of shopping after the pandemic subsides, Amazon will continue to play a larger role in the lives of people who have found that staying and working at home are simply more convenient than running around to shop. Expect Amazon to continue to grow post-pandemic, albeit at a slower rate.

Big Acquisitions: Tracfone, TikTok, Arm all to be absorbed

Verizon to acquire Tracfone Wireless

Tracfone Wireless is the biggest wireless carrier that no one has ever heard of. The company, based outside of Miami, is a subsidiary of American Movil, Mexico’s largest telecom company. Tracfone has nearly 21 million subscribers and 90,000 retail locations and seven brands, including Walmart Family Mobile, Straight Talk, Simple Mobile, Total Wireless, Telcel America. Like most MVNOs, Tracfone resells network traffic on the big three carriers, and 13 million of Tracfone’s subscribers are already running on Verizon’s network (62%). The transaction will be for $7 billion in cash and stock. CNET

dis-rup-shun:  Why would Verizon spend $7 billion to acquire subscribers that already run on its network? Three reasons, at least: 1. Tracfone has 8 million subscribers that are not running on Verizon’s network. If the carrier can convert some or all of these to its network, it has an instant boost in subs; 2. By cutting out the middleman, Verizon’s net profit per subscriber just increased on 13 million customers; 3. By acquiring seven brands and 90,000 retail locations, Verizon’s sales channels and marketing strategy just exploded.

Oracle the apparent winner of TikTok

After a Trump Executive Order requiring the sale or closure of TikTok, Oracle has reportedly beat interested acquirers Microsoft/Walmart and will be making a major investment in the ByteDance subsidiary. CNBC

dis-rup-shun:  The marriage of Oracle and TikTok seems even more awkward than TikTok and Microsoft/Walmart. Oracle is not a consumer facing business and this is a bold departure for the enterprise database master. Perhaps the new Oracle wants to be a mainstream cloud provider and is seeking multiple “front end” software brands to boost its growing cloud infrastructure business in an attempt to close the very wide gap between it and Amazon Web Services.

Nvidia to acquire Arm Holdings

Nvidia is a company that made its mark by being a supplier to high-end video graphics — riding the video game boom of the late 90s that continues today. In years since, Nvidia has become an import supplier of chips that power in-dash automotive entertainment and navigation systems, and for self-driving cars. Arm is the entity that holds the license to the chip architecture used in essentially all mobile phones. Arm is currently owned by SoftBank, a company that has lost a mountain of cash on its investments in WeWork and Uber. The offers is for $40 billion. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This is a big move for Nvidia, which will now collect royalty payments from giants Qualcomm and Apple who use Arm technology in their own chip sets. Does this signal that Nvidia wants to also be a top provider of Arm processors to the mobile phone industry, or simply a strategic financial play? Probably some of both.

Aston Martin offers race simulator

Want to have the most exotic video racing simulator in your game room? Aston Martin and Curv facing simulators have introduced a carbon fiber cockpit with a large, curved monitor and Formula One simulation software. The rig runs $74,000 and only 150 will be built, so hurry. CNET

dis-rup-shun: If you were thinking about getting into Formula One racing, a $74,000 simulator is an inexpensive way to get your feet wet and find out if it is really what you want to invest a few million into.

Foldable Computer Options Improve

Microsoft Surface Duo has promise but rough edges

The Surface Duo provides two screens in a very portable format — enabling tow apps to be open side by side, or a large split screen for a single app. Some complaints about the new form factor include no wireless charging (no big deal) and some software bugs (annoying). For $1,399, however, one would expect only the best. The device is especially good for people who are married to Office software, and in a pinch, the clam shell design can emulate a laptop with an onscreen keyboard. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Being a pioneer is tough, and Microsoft, after failing several times in the mobile space, is making another attempt. The company has a reputation for taking other products and making them better, and in this case, they are taking Android and putting it in a new, maybe better, package. Microsoft, with its current CEO Nadella, is on a winning streak, and hopefully this new product will lead to more mobile innovation.

Peloton sales surge 172%

In the fiscal quarter just ended, Peloton’s sales surged as the company struggled to keep up with demand for bikes and treadmills. In addition to fitness equipment, the company’s sales of apparel have boomed while most clothing sales have lagged during the pandemic. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: National fitness clubs are quickly moving to offer online classes, as the future of the gym is questionable, especially as companies offer the work from home option. Working out is much easier when no commute is involved (to the gym or to work). Peloton’s energizing content (instructors and workout options to meet any tastes/preferences) is leading to high loyalty and with the recently announced lower-priced equipment, Peloton is mopping up on people’s fitness budgets, to the detriment of fitness clubs.

Galaxy Z Fold smartphone for $2000

Samsung’s first foldable phone last year was a flop, with problems with the screen and hinge. Samsung’s latest Z Fold offering is much improved, but pricey. This device has three screens, if you count the inside screen as two (two halves), one outside to use like a smartphone, and the large inner screens to use more like a tablet.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It will be a long time before folding computers are mainstream, but if wealthy buyers purchase enough of the new novelty devices, the technology and design will improve and become a viable option at price points that fit the mass market. When we return to air travel, these devices may become staples for the coach class road warrior.

 

Electric vehicles continue their march toward mainstream

Uber pledges to go all electric

Uber, like rival Lyft, has pledged to operate only electric vehicles by 2030. While an admirable pledge, the problem lies in the fact that Uber is fighting states to convince them to rule that their contractors, and those peoples’ cars, are not Uber employees or property. For the company to deliver on their pledge, they will have to hire owners of electric cars. Currently less than 3% of cars sold are electric. Wired

dis-rup-shun: While the automotive world will change drastically in 10 years, will a substantial enough number of drivers own electric cars in a decade, to enable Uber to operate only EVs? Perhaps the rideshare companies are planning a change of strategy in which they will own their fleets and use contract drivers — but this will change the economics of the gig economy industry, making the companies more like, well taxi or bus charter companies.

GM invests in electric truck maker Nikola

GM has developed an innovative battery for electric vehicles. It will have the opportunity to use that technology in electric pickup trucks made by Phoenix-based Nikola, and will also make a fuel cell system. GM announced an 11% ownership stake in Nikola, a sign that GM is moving aggressively to transform its business, making EVs the heart of its future. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Despite yesterday’s dip in Tesla’s share price, Wall Street has been extremely tough on traditional automakers, valuing them increasing like dinosaurs in waiting. GM is running quickly to avoid the endangered species label and to be perceived as an automaker with a future.

A dress that changes shape based on your mood

Fashiontech — the practice of incorporating technology into fashipn may be an acquired taste. Dutch designer Anouk Wipprecht‘s 3D printed fashion dress, called the Pangolin dress, incorporates 1,204 tiny electroencephalography sensors that one wears over the brain, like a hairnet, to sense brand waves. The dress lights up, changes color and moves based on brain activity — reflecting calm and peacefulness or agitation. CNET

dis-rup-shun: It would, at times, be helpful to understand someone else’s mood before engaging in discussions or negotiations. We have all known people whose body language is a good indicator and warning system for their dispositions. Fashiontech could make this much easier on one’s community, or be far too revealing. Don’t expect to see this dress in boutiques in the near future.

Geofence warrants use your smartphone as evidence

What’s a geofence warrant? It is a new legal vehicle being employed by law enforcement. First, after police identify a time and location of a crime, they issue a warrant for location data from a tech company such as Google. Detectives then take anonymous data from the tech company and try to match it to a person. This practice has grown 1500 percent, according to Google, but recently two judges have denied warrants, citing them as clear violations of privacy rights. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The increasing battle between technology and privacy rights is getting more interesting and complex. While using personal data in investigations seems to be a clear violation of privacy, was the same said when DNA evidence first became a part of criminal investigations?

 

Microsoft XBox Series S is the mini-console

XBox Series S — a miniature game console

The console wars are as interesting as ever, with cloud gaming subscriptions changing the landscape. Enter Microsoft with a miniature XBox. the Xbox Series S sells for $299 and is four times more powerful than the Xbox OneX, its predecessor. Perhaps most interesting is that Microsoft will be pushing both the Series S and its new larger console, the XBox Series X on a monthly plan, combined with its gaming content subscription. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: XBox versus Playstation is a religious discussion, much like IOS versus Android. But Microsoft has made an important chess move here, going after a semi-core gamer. The target market is someone who likely doesn’t own a current, up-to-date computer, but does own an iPad and smart phone and enjoys using them for gaming. Upgrading the experience without a large cash outlay, by adding a few dollars to the monthly gaming subscriptions, flies under the budget radar. Who would have thought that there was room for a semi-core gamer’s console in an increasingly crowded array of devices between mega-gaming desk-side PCs on one end, and smartphone on the other? We will know, post holiday season, if Microsoft nailed it or shot an air ball.

iPhone 12 could be the 5G spark

In case you haven’t turned on your television, you may not have realized that 5G is now here. Commercials for AT&T and Verizon’s 5G networks have likely not turned your heads, as no one has yet found the killer app. Apple is expected to introduce or announce the iPhone 12 in coming weeks, and it is expected to support 5G. The question is, will Apple also roll out an app that exercises 5G sufficiently that we all need it and quickly upgrade? Apple’s marketing magic is expected to make us all sit up and pay attention to the new 10x faster network. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Even during the pandemic, people get out of the house — either to work remotely or to visit family. The need for a super reliable and adequately fast roaming hot-spot for your PC or tablet is certainly a killer app, and one worth upgrading for — if not immediately, but as soon as your wireless carrier offers it. What if we discover that 5G provides us with better internet connectivity at home than our patchy home broadband provider? Will our 5G phones become the go-to connection for the rest of the household and even for Netflix viewing? At that point, 5G fixed mobile will make the landscape even more interesting.

China lands first reusable spacecraft

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has been getting all the attention as it successfully ferried two astronauts to the International Space Station and back this year in its partnership with NASA. China launched and landed a Long March-2F rocket from its Jiuquan launch center in Inner Mongolia over the weekend, reminding the world not to count China out of the new reusable rocket race. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Conquering the new west, as the space frontier seems from an American point of view, is a race to establish dominance, or at least keep a seat at the table, as first to get there divide up the spoils. And what are the spoils? At a minimum, the possibilities are control of global communications networks, and, of course surveillance. Add defense or offensive military capabilities – god forbid, and more commercial applications such as mining new minerals and resources on other planets, revolutionizing the travel industry, and, of course, colonization of new outposts.

Rising resentment toward parent employees at tech firms

Tech message boards are stating that employees with children at home may not be as effective as others. A survey by Care.com revealed that 45% of workers with children at home believe their career advancement has suffered due to juggling work and family at home. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The coronavirus is undoubtedly re-shaping our culture. Builders are now offering homes with two separate offices, and people are flocking to vacation homes and rentals to change their scenery. Will the pandemic lead to a structural change in the workforce, nudging our culture back to a time when one parent remained at home to raise the family? Will families reset financial expectations to live on a single income — perhaps cutting back on cars

 

Apple’s cloud to run on wind power

Apple data center powered by wind

Apple is following through on its commitments to move to sustainable energy, investing in the world’s largest onshore wind turbines in Denmark. The turbines will power its data center in Viborg, Denmark which houses the App Store, Apple Music, iMessage and Siri. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While Big Tech companies are being battered for anti-competitive practices, leading the world in sustainable data centers should shore up some consumer sentiment. As Apple moves ever more aggressively into service businesses, data centers will be as important as assembly factories in terms of fair wages, practices and responsible resource use.

Ford bundles pay-per-mile insurance

Ford has partnered with insurance company Metromile, a company that sells auto insurance “by the mile.” The odometers of the connected Fords immediately communicate to Metromile how many miles have been driven and when, resulting in consumers insuring their cars based on usage, not based on time of ownership. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Connected cars can tell the cloud how many miles they have been driven. Gone are the days of insurance actuaries having to calculate premiums based on averages when exact data is available. Insurance-as-a-service is a game changer that will lead many other fixed-rate services to become usage based (remember when phones were based on usage?). What’s next? Major appliances, including washer and dryers and HVAC units being charged on actual cycles, rather than on ownership?

Peloton adds to product line with an Apple-like strategy

How do you follow a strong IPO, blockbuster demand and a loyal subscriber base? Give them more! Peloton, replete with workout content to a loyal subscriber base is pulling an Apple and enhancing the product line, giving its community more entry points to its content. The company is reportedly offering a lower-end treadmill ($3000), a step down from its $4,295 offering, and a premium bike, bike +, with plans to lower to price of its current bicycle mainstay. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Like Apple, the company has a very loyal base and a growing library of content. By opening the platform to a more price conscious consumer while giving the premium buyer some upgrade choices, Peloton is set to extend its lead in the increasingly competitive connected fitness market.

Evoca offers a fourth way to get HD TV 

Options for HD TV signals include antennas, cable, streaming and now Evoca. Evoca, based in Boise, offers Next Gen TV, complete with 4K, HDR and higher frame rates over the air. Think of it as cable TV broadcast to the home not over wires, but wirelessly. For those with questionable internet connections, this is sort of like cutting the cord yet you receive a decoder set top box. CNET

dis-rup-shun: New TV keeps looking like old TV, just using better technologies. The host of new options should keep competitors from jacking up prices too high and getting too fat and happy, like pay TV providers of yesterday. Providers, however, continue to get squeezed by rising prices of content, especially by the ever hungrier sports leagues (NFL, NBA, MLB, NHL, NCAA). To feed these fat cats, TV services with live sports will never be much less than they are today.

Supermarket of the future doesn’t have a front door

Amazon opens online only supermarket

Amazon’s new Whole Foods Market in Brooklyn is open, but not to customers. The facility is laid out like a grocery store, but is open only to Amazon employees who are fulfilling online orders for nearby Brooklyn residents. Fueled by the Covid-19 pandemic, online grocery ordering is surging. Engadget

dis-rup-shun: The supermarket of the future may not be open to the public. Perhaps this is the solution to food deserts, where operating grocery stores in blighted areas is not economical. Perhaps low income households can subscribe to grocery services, and are provided a 4G wireless ordering tablet. While this service wouldn’t provide Whole Foods with the margins they seek, perhaps tax abatements will provide incentives to operate in trouble spots.

Alexa for Residential puts Echo in apartments

Alexa for Residential is Amazon’s push to fill apartment units with Echo devices that will remain in place even as residents come and go. The devices will help lease the units by answering questions to prospective renters, then can be connected to personal accounts including Amazon and Spotify, and when people move in, and can be disconnected when people move out. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Amazon is moving quickly to ensure that its smart speaker technology becomes the standard for smart homes across the land. If smart speakers become a standard in most all new buildings, then the foundation is laid for smart locks, smart lighting, security cameras and the like, and Amazon will be the rental smart home kingpin. Now about privacy — while Amazon insists that landlords will not be eavesdropping, convincing residents of the same may be a challenge.

Ready for color changing light bulbs?

Philips Hue brought the novelty of controlling the color and brightness of home lighting to an app about half a dozen years ago. The product was a hit and arguably a game changer. But with requirements for a separate hub, and a price point far above just a bulb, the product was not mainstream. Now Philips offers Wiz connected LED lighting for about $13 per bulb, controllable through an app and mostly compatible with all three voice platforms. CNET

dis-rup-shun: There will be a time when you will tell young people that back in the day, light bulbs came only in a whitish hue and that using different colors for scenarios, certain rooms, or times of day simply was not an option. Archaic, yes. The challenge now, for lighting companies, will be educating consumers on the benefits of using different colors around the home. Why do we need anything besides bright and dim?

Google to build mixed-use town in Silicon Valley

Does Google know something that the rest of us don’t? Just as companies appear poised to implement indefinite work from home policies, the tech giant is building a town in Silicon Valley. The Mountain View development will transform open land into a mixed use development, including retail, offices, 1,850 apartment units, 20% of which will be dedicated to low-cost housing. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Good for Google — following through on its promise to help with the housing shortage caused by the Silicon Valley tech boom even when it appears that remote workers may ease the crunch in the Bay Area. Will the forty acre development be akin to the Japanese factory towns housing workers for Fujitsu, Toshiba and other companies, and will the community offer living only for Google employees? Density with quality will be a welcome change to the density that describes today’s sprawling Silicon Valley.