Apple and tariffs on China: how to respond

Apple’s dilemma: to eat or pass on tariffs

Apple’s stock took a 5% hit on Monday as the U.S. trade war with China experienced its most damaging day to world markets. Apple faces a choice: absorb higher manufacturing costs from goods impacted by a 10% tariff, or pass on higher costs to consumers. Wedbush analyst Mike Ives says eating the tariff will reduce the company’s profits by 4%. On the other hand, Apple can pass increased costs to consumers, increasing prices of already pricey phones amidst a slowing smartphone market. Ives believes this choice will reduce stock price by $25 to $30 per share. On Monday, investors devalued the stock without waiting to see what course management will take. Fortune

dis-rup-shun: Apple is swiftly moving production from Chinese plants to locations in India, Vietnam and the U.S. In addition, the company is increasing its emphasis on services: streaming music and cloud, which will, over the next few years, make the company less vulnerable to supply chain fluctuations. As Apple is seen as a star of the American tech economy, the company can expect consumers in Asia to stop buying its products, but we can assume that investors have already priced that shift into the stock price.

Facebook placing its name on Whatsapp and Instagram

Two properties that Facebook purchased in the last half dozen years were maintained as separate brands. In a reversal this year, Zuckerberg has not only replaced the founders with Facebook execs, but has decided to brand the Facebook alternatives with the parent’s name. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Zuckerberg must like press, as he will keep getting it if he continues to do dumb things. Facebook, for the past three years could win the prize of the most tarnished megabrand, as one misstep after another has brought the ire of users and regulators alike. Now the Justice Department is examining Facebook for being anti-competitive, so Zuckerberg decides to flaunt domination of social media properties — huh? Does the boss think that this branding move will improve the perception of Facebook, or is he oblivious to the fact that he will now dent the clean reputations of Whatsapp and Instagram?

Apple credit card available today

Apple’s reinvention of the credit card, a titanium numberless card that is a physical reminder of the card app on your iPhone is released to a limited audience today. The card, backed by Goldman Sachs, can be applied for easily in the wallet app and pays 1% cash back on transactions, and doubles to 2% when you use the iPhone rather than card, for transactions. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Why would you need a credit card from Apple? If you have never used Apple pay from your iPhone, you are missing real convenience. Because you likely already have your phone in your hand, by placing it on a scanner, you save a few digs, opens, searches, swipes and replacements. But even better, the iPhone app immediately confirms the transaction on your screen, and provides a history later when you wonder how much you did pay for that item. Apple is out to replace your wallet with your iPhone, and this is a nice step. The Apple card, with no account numbers printed on it, is certainly more secure and the fact that one doesn’t need a physical card makes going for a run or a quick errand that much simpler.

Electric cars gain another foothold

The number of electric cars available on used car markets has grown to almost 4% of all cars offered — signaling that EVs are becoming sufficiently commonplace and available for lower price points in pre-owned outlets. Saving the environment is important to many, but not as important as saving money. Affordable and used EVs enable both. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Pre-2000 attempts to make hybrid vehicles mainstream were quashed by falling oil prices, but this time around, it appears that EVs are gaining critical mass, or at least past the point of no return. EVs, with near zero maintenance costs and shorter ranges align well with a consumers that are very comfortable with ride sharing apps, life-as-a-service business models (low home ownership) where ownership of assets is less important, and more environmentally conscious. All companies selling expensive assets must consider the content-to-rent attitudes of young consumers.


Textbook racket smashed by Internet

Internet crushes textbook racket — schools next

The textbook industry has long been controlled by giants such as McGraw Hill and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt who have charged outrageous prices and have practiced planned obsolescence (version revisions). A host of digital-first alternatives, including Pearson, are busting the traditional practices by offering digital editions, open-source textbooks (think Wikipedia) and subscription models (think Netflix). Research shows, however, that learning is less efficient with digital versus printed textbooks. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Another example of how the Internet resolves inefficient markets and creates competition where it is stifled. This shift will include new ways to deliver and complete homework and new teaching styles required to address the reduced effectiveness of digital versus tactile learning. Schools must adjust delivery and test styles before more efficient, online-only institutions figure out how to create new methods to deliver better performing (test-taking) students and disrupt colleges and universities altogether.

5G deployment has real estate implications

The CEO of American Tower, a REIT that owns and leases locations for cell tower operators, reports that 5G requires towers to be closer together, potentially increasing real estate demand. He reported that cellular data growth on 4G is 30% per year, supporting evidence that the market for cellular data services remains strong. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The merger of T-Mobile and Sprint promises significant investment in 5G. The fact that it will take nearly a decade to complete a national build-out of 5G facilities (when do we expect 6G?) offers a strong economic growth engine for telecommunications suppliers and carriers, and tower companies as well. A host of smart stock investments surround 5G deployment.

Good news for Fitbit fans

Fitbit is releasing a new device, the Versa, that looks and acts more like an Apple watch, but without the apps and without the price tag. What’s more, the device supports Alexa, besting the problematic Siri. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: The Apple watch is an amazing device, but many are content with specialty devices that are simple and inexpensive. Golf watches, running watches and fitness trackers can be had for quite a bit less than Apple’s or Samsung’s top of the line wearables. Having premium products and value products are typical of any category, and market share in both should increase — but pity those brands that try to play in the middle and aren’t cheap enough or aren’t good enough to compete at either end of the spectrum.

Cashless retail meets opposition

Cashless methods for purchases bring many conveniences, including no change, less fraud and theft, and high average transactions. A number of companies, including Amazon, have built prototype cashless stores (Amazon Go). About 25% of the U.S. population, however, is without banking services, or “underbanked,” excluding them from cashless outlets. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Technology, for all its many benefits, continues to add to the digital divide, leaving many further behind. Online banking can close the gap, providing a more secure place to hold money for those who live in unsafe places, or who may not have permanent addresses. Access to those resources, however, requires an expensive smartphone with a monthly fee. There is a significant opportunity to provide online banking services to those with poor credit and low savings, but it will require easy and secure access methods through basic touch tone phones and shared public computers.



Machine Learning capable of chronic disease prevention

AI used to prevent kidney failure

Alphabet’s AI division, Deep Mind, worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to develop an algorithm that accurately predicts kidney injury up to two days before it occurs. Kidney injury is an often fatal condition frequently occurring among hospital patients and difficult to detect until its onset. The algorithm is effective at identifying patients who are highly likely to have kidney damage in time to effectively treat them. Financial Times

dis-rup-shun: This exciting use of machine learning, improperly termed AI, relies on vast amounts of hundreds of patients’ records to ‘feed’ the algorithm. This same analysis is promising in detecting many other diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and others, and will eventually become the primary form of diagnosis, relying primarily on data and secondarily on trained medical professionals. This transformation of the medical industry and relief from a shortage of medical professionals, however, will be stunted by the problem of patient privacy. In order to build effective data sets that are the foundation of detection algorithms, tens of thousands of patient records must be de-personalized for protection of privacy — a thorny issue that HIPPA is designed to prevent.

Consumers tire of expensive phones — leading to softer tech economy 

Consumers were raised on carrier subsidized handsets — meaning a new phone required only a few hundred dollars out of pocket. Given that the latest smartphones from Apple and Samsung cost around $1000 and are no longer carrier subsidized, sales are slowing. Apple’s sales are down 15% and Samsung 11%, according to a number of sources. Consumers are increasingly embracing less expensive phones made by Chinese companies Xiomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. Huawei, despite sanctions from the U.S. government, has achieved a worldwide market share of 15%, a sliver behind Apple’s 16%. ExtremeTech

dis-rup-shun: We have seen cellphone incumbents Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry rise and fall in stunningly swift succession. Surely Apple and Samsung won’t miss the call to offer more variety of price points and let upstart “value players” quickly grab market share, followed by growing consumer approval of the new brands. In the cutthroat electronics business, fast is often not fast enough, and smartphones are a very large driver of the tech economy and associated stock prices.

The confusing world of streaming music players 

Selecting the right streaming music speakers for the right setting is increasingly difficult with many new form factors and options. Wired profiles the major options from Sonos, with prices from $50 to $1100.

dis-rup-shun: As a teenager, the holy grail of music enjoyment was owning a giant receiver (what’s that?) and speakers that were at least waist high. Today, the majority of music fans don’t understand file compression and the loss of high fidelity that came with digital music, and very few understand the best architecture for a whole home audio system. Wired or wireless? Digital to analog or all digital? Sonos is the new Bose, and all but very discriminating aficionados will be content with a digital streaming music player.

How Bezos will spend his $1.8 billion paycheck

Bezos cashes a check for $1.8 billion

Bezos sold Amazon stock worth $1.8 billion over the past few days. The value matches the value gained in last fall’s run up of stock value. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: How do you spend $1.8 billion? Turns out Jeff is likely moving his money to his space exploration company, Blue Origin, which just won a long term contract with NASA. The rocket business, undoubtedly, consumes a lot of cash, and Bezos has enough to build a footbridge to Mars. Ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos has pledged most of her $36.6 billion divorce settlement to charity, content to live off of whatever is left after “most.”

What to think of AT&T DirecTV now

AT&T is changing the name of its brand streaming service (Netflix killer?) called DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now. AT&T’s journey into the streaming world has been bumpy, as the service experienced multiple network outages, and has lost 500,000 subscribers in the past year. Combine that with total subscriber losses across all TV properties, and the losses total 2.5 million subscribers. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: If streaming services are the future, what’s up with AT&T’s tinkering?

Here are a few answers:

  1. AT&T is not stupid. In fact, they earned $19 billion in profit last year and have maintained leading market share in multiple communications/entertainment industries.
  2. AT&T knew that cord cutting (dropping pay TV packages) was a growing trend, yet they invested in Time Warner and their Now streaming service.
  3. The power of the bundle is not to be discounted. AT&T is in a unique position to offer customers Internet, wireless, and entertainment services.
  4. As entertainment shifts to streaming services, market share will be gained by those services with differentiated content. That’s why the company purchased Time Warner — to make the content.

The company is positioned for a long, expensive battle with Netflix, Amazon, Disney and others to restructure entertainment services. AT&T will come out a winner at the end of the slog, but it will be three to five years of building on shifting sands and heavy subscriber movement.

The next wave of Intel chips coming for Christmas

Intel is, after much delay, releasing its generation 10, 10 nanometer chip family in time for holiday 2019 purchases. What does that do for you? The processors bring to computing much higher battery life (9 hours), better graphics processing, optimization for AI, faster Wi-Fi (version 6), and support for more really fast ports (Thunderbolt). Wired

dis-rup-shun: Intel is increasingly challenged by competition, including Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and many others, who are gobbling up share of non-PC computing devices. It is rumored that Apple will move away from Intel CPUs sometime next year for Mac computers. Expect Intel to be increasingly on the hot seat as it is not changing as fast as the world of computing.

Drug deals and sex acts

Drug deals, sex acts and doctor conversations

What do they have in common? They were all caught by Siri after mistakenly hearing a wake up (and record) command on an iPhone, Apple computer or Apple HomePod. Some 1% of recordings are listened to by humans in order to judge how well the technology understands and follows commands. ZDNet

dis-rup-shunConsumer research indicates 48% of speaker owners are concerned with privacy, yet the product category has been a smash hit. For many, the assumption is that nothing particularly salacious is going on in the home so there is not much to worry about. Despite the large percentage of concerned owners, the product’s convenience and ‘cool factor’ must be outweighing concerns, as the category is found in 21% of households, a 36% increase, according to Mobile Marketer.

NASA contracts with 13 space companies for Moon and Mars shots

13 companies, including Blue Origin (Bezos) and SpaceX (Musk) have inked deals with NASA to help the agency reach for the moon and planets over coming years. The companies, including Lockheed Martin, will contribute skills such as precise landings and vehicle re-use. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The future of the NASA program will be a showcase of the free market system, with many aggressive entrepreneurs having to cooperate with competitors and work within a regulation-heavy government program. The collaboration will bring more discipline to the space companies, and will provide NASA with technologies that would take the agency decades to create on its own.

Google may teach us a new set of gestures

Google’s Pixel line of smartphones is now enabling gestures like pinching and swiping in the air, a few inches above the phone screen, to manipulate on screen images. Wired

dis-rup-shun: By now most of us have seen or heard of infants toddling up to a TV screen and trying to pinch or swipe the screen to change it. Fifteen years ago, such behavior would have been insanity, but today, such gestures are as commonly understood as waving goodbye or beckoning someone with hand motions. Apple, via the iPhone, created a new gesture library and now Google may change it, by enabling gesture control without touching the screen. This has many advantages, including cleaner, more sanitary surfaces, and perhaps more immediate success and less screen tapping.

How the Internet has forever changed the sleep industry

Casper started shipping foam mattresses direct to consumers in a box and disrupted the retail supply chain. Within the first month, the company had over $1 million in sales. Many companies followed. Now the industry is being disrupted by gadgets — top mattresses today must be laden with sensors to detect snoring, tossing and turning and heart rates. No evidence exists that smart bedding delivers any improvements in sleep, but the mattress playing field is now raised by smart technology.

dis-rup-shun: The sleep industry is a case study on the speed of tech disruption, first by online sales, then by making mattresses smart even though the technology has yet to improve sleep — reminders that sales channels even for specialty products (food, mattresses, furniture) is ripe for disruption overnight. This industry also displays that “smart” is as powerful a differentiating word as is “natural,” “low-fat,” and “recyclable.”

T-Mobile Sprint merger: do you approve?

Sprint T-Mobile merger: good or bad?

T-Mobile has been cleared by the Justice Department to acquire Sprint. This is the third attempt by the carriers to combine forces. 13 states are suing, claiming the deal will reduce competition and increase prices. The carriers have promised to freeze prices for three years and will give away some of their services and spectrum to Dish Networks, already an owner of significant spectrum, so that it may launch a fourth wireless network service, thereby not reducing the number of competitors. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The best argument for approving the deal is that three big carriers will continue to be ‘cutthroat competitive’ to win market share. AT&T and Verizon are not likely to be less aggressive in the market given the merger, but will be more aggressive, given that the new T-Mobile will be a third giant. T-Mobile with Sprint will be financially stronger to accelerate the race to deliver 5G networks and Dish will be the weak ‘also ran’ that must introduce creative plans for niche customers but even so will likely not be profitable. Given that the merger will not reduce market competitiveness and will accelerate 5G, the DOJ made the right decision.

Capital One data breach exposes 140,000 SSNs

A data breach and subsequent posting of SSNs and Capital One bank account numbers was announced. One perpetrator, 33 year old Paige Thompson, was arrested and charged in Seattle. The breach will cost Capital One between $100 million and $150 million.

dis-rup-shun: Seems that Seattle is increasingly the epicenter of tech innovation, good and bad. It turns out that Thompson briefly worked for Amazon. This breach is another reminder that higher standards are required for storing personal information. Encryption and its keys must be stronger such that access to personal data must be limited to only a handful of traceable employees at even large corporations.

Banned Huawei reports 23% increase

The Chinese tech giant that has been banned by the U.S. and many Western partners, experienced strong growth, mostly by selling more smartphones in China. The gains come at the expense of Xiaomi, Oppo, Vivo, and Apple. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: What doesn’t kill us makes us stronger, Huawei may be saying. On the other hand, Huawei’s challenge — selling 5G infrastructure gear across the planet, remains a challenge with increased sanctions. The power of the consumer — the power to make or break companies such as Apple and Motorola and Nokia (remember when the Razr and Nokia candy bar phones were “it”) — has floated Huawei. Could it be Chinese nationalism causing consumers to favor Huawei smartphones, or are they just that good?

Internet crosses oceans through 380 underwater cables

Today, Internet communications from continent to continent rely on not just a few submerged cables, but 380 which are owned and operated by telcos as well as by Google, Microsoft, Huawei and others. While cables are frequently disrupted by ship anchors, fishermen and seismic activity, the ability to re-route traffic means most outages are not noticed. CNN

dis-rup-shun: The space race, often covered by, seeks to provide a more economical means of covering the globe with network services through satellites in constant orbit, rather than vulnerable undersea fiber. Companies that control the physical Internet infrastructure are guaranteed a financial advantage for essentially now until the end of civilization.

Self-driving vans deliver Walmart groceries

Robovan delivers groceries for Walmart

Walmart will test a driverless van made by California firm Gatik to deliver groceries from an Arkansas distribution center to homes nearby in Bentonville. The test will include backup drivers who will sit behind the wheel to monitor the robovans. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Walmart, one of the largest retailers of grocery products, is racing to keep Amazon, the owner of Whole Foods and extensive drone development, from eating its lunch. Gatik estimates that driverless delivery vans could halve the cost of grocery deliveries — making the elimination of driver jobs far more appealing to consumers. 

Google Facebook ad duopoly shrinking

Last week’s earnings reports reveal that Snap, Amazon and Twitter’s ad revenues are up significantly, putting a dent in the 51% dominance of Google and Facebook. eMarketer sizes the global online ad market at $333 billion in 2019. Snap’s revenue was up 48% and Facebook’s 28%. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A decline in the duopoly of Google and Facebook comes at a convenient time for these providers, as Big Tech is under review by Congress for limiting competition. This data will not help Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for breaking up tech giants, though we see that one of the companies taking share from the duopoly is Amazon, perhaps supporting the calls for limiting Amazon’s rapid dominance of many markets.

All three 2020 iPhones to feature 5G

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is reportedly the most accurate Apple watcher, says all three new iPhone models to be released in 2020 will support the new wireless network standard called 5G. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: To repeat a common saying, the pace of technological change will never be slower than it is today. 5G provides data speeds up to 20 times faster than our current 4G networks, and will support far more devices with smaller antennas, using less power. 5G is a big deal because it will enable exponential growth in both number of devices and amount of data than can be downloaded or uploaded on a carrier’s network. If you live in or around a city, you will be awash in connected devices (see connected diaper). If you live in rural areas, well, you will still struggle with basic high speed Internet.  

SpaceX Starship Mars explorer takes a spin  

Musk’s SpaceX continues to aggressively develop and test space craft. Last Thursday the company’s Starship tested maneuverability by taking off and moving laterally about 60 feet, then landing. Musk claims that this is the craft that will go to Mars. Despite multiple fires and mishaps, Musk has sold a trip around the moon to a Japanese billionaire. Wired

dis-rup-shun: For Musk watchers, a pattern to the billionaire’s operational culture proves that risk is not limited by inactivity. With both car company Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, Musk learns by trying and is not afraid of regular failures. In the business of transporting humans, however, this experimentation is high risk, and a balance between safety regulations (consider the 737 Max) and pressing for innovation is required.

Would you buy a $2000 phone?

Samsung Fold is back 

After a false launch and reboot, Samsung’s almost $2000 foldable phone, the Fold, will be available for purchase in September. The first near launch revealed some problems with the screen, which was easily damaged. The initial flaws are reportedly fixed. CNET

dis-rup-shun: With sales of smartphones slowing, and Apple’s revenues in trouble, one must ask, how many people will buy a $2000 smartphone? First, we need to look at this as a new computing form factor. It is less of a phone and more of a pocket tablet — a tablet sized screen that can easily be carried in a pocket. Who will buy it? People with a lot of money that want to be the first with a hot new device — we will call them the Tesla crowd. Secondly, it may have some training and sales applications. People whose job is to quickly access people who are not likely to sit down and show them something are good candidates — people who need to show a quick video or drill down on price lists or instructions. Mobile gamers will love the device, but at $2000, it is the price of a game console, so again, that is the Tesla crowd.

Digital hotel keys are a win win

The percentage of hotels now offering a Bluetooth-powered virtual key has risen to 17%. The virtual key improves customer experience, saves money and enhances customer engagement: guests don’t spend time with the front desk clerk, plastic keys are not required, and guests must access the hotel’s loyalty app for room access. New York Times

dis-rup-shun: As we know, the Internet of Things is all about data, and now hotels have detailed data about who, when and how often guests are going and coming to their rooms. Expect the hotel lobby, without the need for a registration desk, to begin to look more like a living room, with fewer clerks who are not front and center, and who may perform multiple tasks such as concierge. 

Ransomware leads to State of Emergency in Louisiana

Governor Edwards has responded to ransomware that has shut down the IT infrastructure of three Louisiana school districts by declaring a state of emergency, enabling the schools to get help from the Louisiana National Guard, Louisiana State Police, the Office of Technology Services, the Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness among other agencies. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Ransomware is a very expensive problem. The state of Louisiana will probably spend more by deploying its emergency and enforcement agencies than the hackers are asking in ransom, but maybe the officials can thwart the criminals. The question, however, is how do individuals and small businesses protect themselves from these threats, which could bankrupt many. Malware insurance may be a new must have for consumers and businesses alike.

Sonos and Ikea release their speaker products

Homes are getting smaller. The National Association of Builders reports that average new home sizes have shrunk for the past three years. Ikea and Sonos have just released two interesting products for compact living: one that is a speaker/lamp combo ($179), with the lamp base being a Sonos speaker. The other product is a slim bookcase speaker ($99). The Symfonisk line will be shipping in early August. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Combination furniture/appliance products have been around for decades. Everyone remembers the wooden console TV. It is nice to see technology improve the quality of appliances and the efficiency, as they get smaller, cheaper and better and Sonos products have generally provided stellar experiences.

Ex-CIA agent bashes Facebook

A look inside Facebook

Former CIA employee Yael Eisenstat spent 6 months as an employee of Facebook, and doesn’t have much good to say. On the business model of ad engagement, Eisenstat says, “Their tools are doing what they can to keep us engaged, which is taking us down more and more extreme rabbit holes, which is polarizing us more and more…” On the corporate culture, “Every single solution we were trying to come up with was (a) the bare minimum for the company to be able to check that box.” On Facebook’s role of providing relevant information, “but there’s a complete asymmetry of power, because they actually have so much information on you that at this point they can even predict your behavior.” Wired

dis-rup-shun: Facebook is everyone’s favorite tech company to bash, but the vitriol may be based on people’s increasing consciousness that they are being acted on by these companies. While advertisers are pumping more into social media platforms, consumers are feeling more manipulated, meaning that a more fulfilling substitute could quickly disrupt the platform.

Controversial facial recognition technology deployed by City of Boise

Boise City Hall is spending $52,000 on facial recognition cameras and software to alert security of the presence of banned individuals. Currently no one is banned from the City Hall, but lawmakers believe they will be better prepared. A number of cities have banned the use of facial recognition technologies. AvantGuard Monitoring

dis-rup-shun: This technology is in its early stages, with noted problems including inaccuracy, especially among black females. Nonetheless, the price of doing nothing is rising, as public shootings have become an almost weekly affair. Expect all levels of government to invest in security technologies, even those that are less proven.

A look at CNBC’s Disruptor 50 companies

This list of CNBC’s most influential disruptive tech companies offer some diversity to the stereotypical tech startup. First, seven of the fifty have female CEOs, and the majority are based outside of California. At the top of the list is Indigo Ag, a company focused on the social mission of changing the food industry. Technologies most prominent on the list are machine learning (36 companies), AI (29) and cloud computing (14), with drone delivery critical to one. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The speed of technology offers hope for companies that seek to disrupt the status quo, a status that is increasingly owned and secured by GAAFA. The now common startup exit strategy, given Big Tech’s impenetrable fortress, is to demonstrate to Big Tech that a new company is cheaper to acquire than copy. If the Justice Department ups the pressure on the big boys, the pace of acquisition may slow, lest they appear to be reducing competition by aggregation of the innovators.

Walmart discovers $10 billion app

Walmart misstep turns to $10 billion gain

Walmart, in an acquisition questioned by many, acquired, for $17 billion, an Indian e-tailing company, Flipkart. Last year’s acquisition was seen as a misstep given vast cultural differences between the companies and Walmart’s distance behind Amazon in e-commerce. Recently, however, Walmart discovered that the acquisition’s subsidiary, payment app PhonePe, has experienced 77% growth in the past year. The payments company is riding atop of rapid growth of Indian consumer use of payment apps. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Walmart needs a little luck as it struggles to catch Amazon in the online retailing race, but finding it has control of one of the fastest growing payment apps in India could open new lines of business for the company that has mostly struggled to gain traction outside of North America. As mobile payment apps quickly become preferred forms of commerce outside of the U.S., Walmart can build on its strong position in India.

Attorney General Barr decides to take on Big Tech

After a number of controversial testimonies, the U.S. Attorney General has decided to investigate if Big Tech has become anti-competitive. Stock prices of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple fell 1% in extended trading. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If the determination of anti-competitive is having a “dominant market position,” then Google search dominance will be a problem, as will Facebook’s dominance in social networking with not only its Flagship, but its owned subsidiaries of Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon’s domination of ecommerce will be hard to dispute.

Honeywell T9 smart thermostat full on features, light on design

Resideo’s newest smart thermostat, branded Honeywell T9, has remote sensors that go beyond Nest and Ecobee by measuring both temperature, presence and humidity. Despite the strong feature set, the device lacks the sleek industrial design of leading competitors. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Despite Honeywell being the best recognized brand in residential HVAC controls, it has struggled to grasp the importance of cutting edge design and to shake off its industrial heritage. As the smart home struggles to move from Early Adopter to Early Majority, engaging the young professional, tech savvy buyer who considers aesthetics as important as features, is critical and appears even more important than brand recognition.

Electric Ford F-150 pulls a train

Ford sold 1.1 million F-150 pickup trucks last year. The company released a video showing a prototype electric F-150 pulling a train load of F-150s (42 trucks). Ford believes that consumers perceive EVs to have less power, hence the towing demonstration. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Global share of electric vehicles of all vehicles was up 54% in 2017, and is expected by Statista to make up 14% of all U.S. vehicles sold by 2025. Government policies, providing incentives for electric car buyers, has been critical to sales growth. Now car makers are offering some exciting electric options. Expect ride sharing apps to offer an electric vehicle option, as soon as there are enough on the road to enter the ride share pool.