Biggest tech events of a year unlike any other

Biggest tech stories of a year we will always remember

It has been a year for the history books. With nearly 2 million killed by the coronavirus, unprecedented racial strife, record wildfires, hurricanes, one of the most unusual presidential elections and even record stock market levels attained, the world is a very different as the year ends. CNET has admirably captured the top 20 tech stories of the year. Here are a few of the most interesting:

Apple broke from Intel and began shipping products with its own M1 processor. This shift gives Apple far more room to differentiate its products from the rest of the pack and may lead to levels of innovation we never expected from Apple.

Tesla becomes most valuable car company, at least for a while, as the popularity of electric vehicles has soared and are now considered by most to be the standard for the future. Despite many bumps in the road, Tesla has soared and has been rewarded for being a pioneer in an industry that is not new, but had not seen, until Tesla, widespread success.

Space gets busy as SpaceX sent astronauts to the International Space Station, launched more constellation satellites, and won a large federal contract to provide rural broadband. Meanwhile China sent a craft to the moon, and NASA launched a robot to Mars.

The pandemic alienated those not online. The digital divide has left 18 million Americans without adequate broadband, meaning 5% of the population could not participate in online shopping, entertainment, community and remote work during the lockdown.

The pandemic was jet fuel for Amazon, which hired 375,000 employees and posted a third quarter profit of $6.3 billion as people flocked to Amazon and other online shopping sites for essentials, including entertainment.

Video gaming surged as those stuck at home played more games, ordered new games, and lined up to purchase new consoles, including the new Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5 — meanwhile the Nintendo Switch was difficult to find in stores.

Technology fueled the Black Lives Matter movement as smartphones quickly spread video of the killing of George Floyd and subsequent protests across the world, raising the issues to the height of public conscious.

Quibi came and went. The mobile only premium video service was a big risk and failed big, taking $1.75 billion in investment capital with it. Some blame the pandemic for preventing viral growth of the service, but the pandemic also fueled consumption of other online content.

Streaming video was fueled by the pandemic, as people stayed at home and consumed more content, further boosting Netflix, Disney Plus, Peacock, and HBO Max — which abandoned an industry norm of reserving new releases for movie theaters only.

Zoom becomes a new standard for work and community. Weekend use of Zoom increased by 2,000% as people continued to use Zoom for social gatherings, not just connecting to customers and co-workers. Zoom’s security problems led the company to make a number of changes to its platform throughout the year.

Scientists developed a vaccine in record time, developing what is called a messenger molecule, which tricks the body into creating antibodies. The fast development of the vaccine will likely change forever the way drugs are created, tested and approved.

dis-rup-shun: Many people have agreed that the year 2020 has accelerated the development and adoption of emerging technologies by ten years. While that may be an exaggeration, it is certain that business communications and, subsequently, travel, are forever changed. Entertainment and gaming, telehealth, have been accelerated by many years. Use of offices, home offices and second homes is likely forever changed, as is shopping. Hopefully families and friendships have been strengthened by the pandemic and the good fortune enjoyed by tech firms can help lift those who have been forever damaged by the events of 2020. Happy New Year.

Zoom will host record Christmas gatherings

Merry Zoom Christmas

Zoom is preparing for what could well be the biggest day of the year, so far, for the service that has been one of the bright points of the global pandemic. The Zoom boom is particularly pronounced for Londoners and 18 million Brits southeast of London who were put on high alert, following a new strain of Coronavirus impacting that region and calling for the cancellation of Christmas gatherings even among small groups. Zoom may well be the most used “utility,” ahead of voice conversations on phones, and entertainment streamed across screens. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Zoom continues to do an excellent job or keeping families, teams, clients and managers connected. It is possible that video conferencing has kept may relationships more connected than they would have without a pandemic, as many relationships which consisted of emails and one or two face to face meetings have now been replaced by weekly or bi-monthly virtual face to face meetings. The future will likely look a lot like 2020, but hopefully not out of fear of infection.

Beware of fake shipping notices

Scammers and hackers are phishing this season, using fake shipping notices that appear to be from Amazon, UPS or FedEx. When some of these messages are clicked on, malware can infect a system and give access to hackers who, in some cases, have used ransomware to extort or “brick” people’s personal devices. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The use of cloud-based services is so easy, one should get in the habit of saving anything valuable to a cloud service. Many are free, and many cost less than $100 per year — a good value in today’s dangerous computing environment.

The outlook for TVs at Virtual CES 2021

The world’s largest electronics event, CES, will be online this year. As usual, TVs are a focal point of the event. CNET does not anticipate 2021 TV sales to be as strong as 2020 sales, but those were in part fueled by a global pandemic. To expect in 2021: TVs are getting even larger. Sales of sets that are 70 inches or bigger were up 82%. OLED continues to be a popular technology for best in class devices, and this year Vizio joined Sony and LG in offering OLED. 8K will continue to be discussed, but sales of 8K resolution sets will likely remain very low.

dis-rup-shun: CES is always the focal point of amazing consumer technology innovation and wonderment, with countless news stories broadcast from the show floor. This year will likely be no different, except for the fact that there is no show floor. Will CES of the future become an online channel for news releases and product tours? COVID-19 has the potential of transforming CES from an event to a media channel or portal, through which most brands will introduce products in expectation of wide press coverage around the globe. This transformation may also mean that CES moves from an early January event, to a 52 week-a-year event.

More about alleged Russian hack of federal systems

More information has been revealed about the massive hack that occurred in past weeks that has given back door access to users of a network management application from a company called SolarWinds. The breach has potentially given unauthorized access to the networks of the US Department of Energy and the Commerce Department. In addition to Microsoft, about 24 companies are believed to have used the infected version of the SolarWinds software. CNET

dis-rup-shun: What are the implications of attacks such as this? We know this will be far from the last, and that cyber warfare is real and ongoing. Some key learnings include the fact that everyone must, in fact, keep updating passwords and using different passwords, despite the difficulties of doing so. It means that companies and governments are wise to maintain redundant networks with different vendors. It means that IT managers of most all organizations should assume that their organizations will be attacked, if they not already been, and that an economic hotspot that is getting hotter is online security. Data and network security tools and companies are likely great long term investments.

Hack of federal systems is “grave”

Hack of Federal systems considered “grave”

The U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has stated that the extensive hack of U.S. federal government agencies is sophisticated, complex and poses a grave risk to the U.S. federal government. It seems that the sophisticated attack, attributed to Russia, started about the time of COVID-19s arrival in the U.S. The vulnerabilities appear to be tied to IT supplier SolarWinds, whose cloud software updates included an unknown back door planted by hackers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It seems that 2020 was, in fact, worse than you thought. While the U.S. was focused on COVID-19, stimulus legislation and a hotly contested presidential election, Russian (alleged) hackers were having a field day with Uncle Sam’s computer networks. Is it time to unplug the federal governments computers — all of them — and perform a fresh reboot under the fresh watch of the smartest cybersecurity kids in the country? Are federal governments better of decentralizing their data infrastructures to make it harder to topple, or single, central databases that are guarded better than any networks in the world?

Privacy feud pits Apple vs. Facebook

Apple is seeking changes in the privacy policy of apps running on iOS (any mobile Apple device). The policy, called  App Tracking Transparency, enables consumers to learn of what apps are tracking info about them and to opt in or out. Facebook, a company whose advertising intelligence relies on tracking app activity and collecting data, is not happy, as a mass movement by consumers to “opt out” will reduce the effectiveness of Facebook’s data harvesting technology. Facebook’s claim is that Apple’s move will hurt small businesses and is taking out advertisements in The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and the Washington Post to say so. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Pop quiz: which company do you trust more with your personal data? Rank in order of most trusted between Facebook, Apple and Google. It is likely that you answered most trusted: Apple, and it is likely that it is tough to decide who is third between Google and Facebook. What is certain, though, is that Facebook continues to build a reputation of the bad boys in the privacy debate, and Apple will certainly win the PR battle in this feud.

Airlines have kept afloat, in part, by converting to all cargo

Passenger air travel has been down, thanks to COVID-19, by 71% to 96%. The industry has been decimated moreso than restaurants or retail. Airlines are still in business thanks to a large bailout by the government(s) and, to some extent, their ability to pivot to cargo carriers. United led the charge to begin flying all cargo flights, trading weight in the upper (passenger) deck for more weight in the cargo hold. United has now flown over 8,000 cargo only flights.   Wired

dis-rup-shun: Resilience and reinvention are the keys to survival, and the airlines are clinging to cargo shipping to buy more time. Shipping COVID-19 vaccinations around the globe in temperature controlled containers will guarantee some short term, high-value cargo for carriers, but rebound of significant passenger levels is not expected until 2023. Innovation and reinvention will have to continue for two more years, and let’s see how else airlines can re-purpose their crafts for the long haul.

Who won the smart home in 2020?

CNET writers debate which Big Tech powerhouse won the smart home in 2020. Their discussion is actually limited to smart speaker and voice assistants, a key, but not complete, part of the smart home. The best smart speaker recognition goes to Amazon. The best voice assistant recognition is a tie between Amazon and Google and the best data privacy recognition goes to Apple.

dis-rup-shun: The biggest disappointment of 2020 is the fact that Apple has not thrown its weight around with regards to smart speakers and smart home. The Home Pod mini is nice, but more expensive than its competitors that offer far more home control capabilities. If any player can upset the race that Amazon is winning, it is Apple, but Apple is not focused here. Perhaps 2021 will see a bigger home automation play by Apple, but likely not.

Walmart expands driverless delivery to Louisiana

Walmart driverless trucks pass first test

Since last summer, Walmart has been shipping goods a 2-mile distance between stores in its hometown of Benton, Arkansas. The pilot vehicles have completed a total of 70,000 miles. The driverless program will now be expanded to Louisiana. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The retail giant, once the innovator in consumer sales, has fallen behind giants Amazon and Google and has some catching up to do. Beating some of its rivals in driverless delivery will not only provide a cost advantage in some scenarios, but give it some innovation chops needed, as Amazon has beat Walmart to cashier-less store innovations, streaming video dominance, Prime membership, and of course, in number of online shoppers.

UK proposes content rules for social media

The UK government has proposed regulations that will fine Facebook, Instagram,TikTok, Twitter and other social media giants for allowing access to harmful content. The proposal calls for a very significant fine for those social media companies that allow harmful or toxic content. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This move is aggressive, but definitive.  The EU legislators are drawing the line — determining that social media is not a free speech platform, but must only exist as a platform for civil discourse. The challenge, of course, is deciding who gets to draw the line through content that may be “in the gray” and in enforcing standards. How do you define toxic? Okay, how do you define probably toxic? How do you police the millions of sites and posts of dozens of social media platforms? This is an opportunity for AI to be pressed into service. Don’t expect this legislation to pass without some significant compromises.

Spotify amps up podcasting arms race with Prince Harry and Meghan

Spotify adds to its significant podcast lineup that already includes Kim Kardashian West, Joe Rogan, President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama. Prince harry and Meghan will be joining the streaming audio provider, following a similar contract signed with Netflix for documentaries. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The power couple clearly have good business counsel, as they are combining Meghan’s showbiz chops with one of the most popular and private institutions – the Royal family. The combination is nearly guaranteed success. And Spotify is in an arms race with audio content competitors, including Apple, to redefine the entertainment landscape. What was, a few years ago, a scrappy Swedish streaming music service is now a major entertainment provider going head to head with some of the world’s largest media companies. Strong vision and execution have made Spotify a great story to watch.

Amazon Echo devices now provide live translation

Amazon has announced that Echo devices are now capable of translating a conversation between two people in different languages. This follows Google’s similar service, Google Translate, that has been available for the past year and offered across multiple devices, including Google’s smart speaker, Google Nest Home. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The ability to easily translate across languages could mean that Amazon’s and Google’s technology could find themselves in the heart of commercial transactions — helping make a transnational sale, or negotiate a contract. It is certain that the tech giants want to move their technologies more deeply into not only the home, but into the enterprise, and being the chief translator across the globe will likely given them a strong position in many global operations.

Google Home makes scheduling events a breeze

Google Home makes scheduling home events easier

New updates to Google Home enable you to set commands for the future — up to seven days. Some applications might include turning lights on at 6 am, or turning on holiday lights at 5 pm. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Home automation for the mass market is now Google and Amazon’s turf to lose. These companies have, moreso than any other, placed the smart home hub into the homes of nearly 30% of the U.S. population, according to Interpret. Three variables will enable these companies to slowly own a larger part of the connected home: keep integrating third party products; keep device prices low; make connecting devices mind-numbingly easy. Apple, with HomePod is not playing this game, and therefore, will not be a major player in smart home, but Google and Amazon already are.

And if you liked the story above, here are the best, inexpensive smart plugs

Want to have Google start the coffee maker at 6 am? Plug it into these very inexpensive and (getting smaller) smart plugs and you have instant smart home. TP-Link’s Kasa, Wyze and Wemo make small smart plugs, all of which communicate with Alexa or Google Home and range from $15 to $50. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Smart speaker and smart plugs are a game changer for holidays. If you have lights on your house or a Christmas tree, then there is no more plugging and unplugging, and no more struggling to program complex outdoor timer mechanisms, whose instructions are hopelessly tiny or lost after the first season of use. Using a smartphone app or voice to control holiday decorations is reason in itself to automate.

What is open banking and how is it changing consumer finance?

Open banking is the concept of big banks with lots of customers sharing data about your accounts with other vendors that you desire to connect to your bank account. The movement enables new fintech companies with interesting savings or payment capabilities to use financial data housed by your bank. The U.S. startup Plaid, that Visa seeks to acquire is an example. Swedish fintech Tink has received 85 million euros to reach a valuation of 680 million euros. The company is backed by PayPal. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Open banking will make for a far more interesting life for consumers. We will be able to open an app, release our credit score, and instantly receive offers for loans with various terms — much like choosing a credit card. Transferring accounts from multiple sources will be a breeze. Scamming will also likely increase — a price we are all paying for online convenience.

Apple AirPods Max for $549

Apple has gone toe to toe with Sony and Bose with high end over the ear headphones, leveraging the popularity of AirPods’ brand. The headphones are driven by Apple’s own H1 chipset and feature adaptive noise cancellation features. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: What do you do if you have started making your own silicon (processors) and the economics of silicon manufacturing bring profits only after higher volumes are reached? If you are Apple, you make more products in order to have more internal customers for your semiconductor fabrications. Expect Apple to ramp up the number of products, and numbers of variations of products in those lines, to keep the company and profits growing.

Starlink wins contract to beam broadband to rural America

SpaceX’s Starlink wins $885M rural broadband FCC contract

Musk’s ventures are riding high. For the first time in history, two SpaceX rockets are docked to the International Space Station and the company’s Starlink satellite chain has its first win from the FCC. The contract is part of a $9.2 billion government initiative to provide rural citizens with access to broadband. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: A few months ago, rumors had it that Starlink had been shunned by the FCC, but it is no surprise that Musk’s company has found its way into this contract. Serving rural homes, those that have been left behind the online revolution, is a perfect application for Starlink, as orbiting infrastructure can eventually, with enough subscribers, be less costly than pulling copper through sparsely populated areas.

Uber jettisons its autonomous vehicle division

Uber is selling its Advanced Technologies Group, the team that is developing autonomous driving technologies, to Aurora Innovation, a competitor, for $4 billion. The move signals Uber’s focus on approaching profitability by trimming ventures not likely to be profitable in the near term. COVID-19 has placed unexpected financial strain on a company that, like Google, seemed willing to make investments on many emerging technologies. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The safety concerns of autonomous vehicles make development of the technology a political hot potato, despite the fact that self-driving cars may already be safer than nearly a third of human drivers. The pandemic is causing Uber to focus on profitability — a reality that will benefit the public as the service has become an essential utility that our society would be hard pressed to do without.

Apple’s Fitness+ to debut next week

Apple is joining the home fitness revolution by providing online exercise classes starting on December 14th. The service, which synchs classes with Apple devices that have video screens, is available for $9.99 per month. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Apple is following blockbuster Covid-19 winners Peloton, Mirror and Tempo, and, like its competitors, is building its program around a device. In the case of Peloton, the core device is a bike, for Mirror, an Internet connected mirror, for Apple, its service is tightly integrated with the Apple Watch. Apple’s iTunes was the teacher that taught product makers that content sells the device, and the company continues to add increasing value to most all of its hardware (HomePod seems to be the exception) through content and accessories.

Even Musk is moving to Texas

Musk confirmed on Tuesday that he has, in fact, moved to the Lone Star state where the Boring Company and Space X have facilities. Musk has, of late, been clashing with regulators in California, adding to the allure of Texas. Earlier this year Musk announced that the Tesla Cybertruck manufacturing plant would be located near Austin’s airport. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Silicon Valley is loaded with engineering, marketing and venture capital talent, but it seems that the brain drain is gaining momentum and for those of us that live in Texas, it seems that the majority of Californians who are bailing out have Texas in their sights.

 

Amazon borrows a slice of your home network

Amazon Sidewalk: you are the network

If you haven’t already heard, Amazon is turning your home into a public utility. New Ring doorbells and cameras, and new Echos are broadcasting a tiny sliver of your home’s bandwidth to the neighborhood, using low power Bluetooth radio technology. If your neighbor’s dog is wearing a tile based tracker (that uses Bluetooth technology) and runs through your yard, then your home network is helping your name track and locate the dog. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Sidewalk is an interesting concept, similar to one that Comcast tried a few years ago. It raises a number of questions, such as: during high bandwidth times of day, are my home network devices not giving me their all because they are reserving some bandwidth for the neighbors?; or is the Sidewalk network really open to any compatible devices, or is Amazon creating an environment optimized for Amazon products?; and finally, how do I feel about turning my home into a public utility, and will cars be stopping in front of my house when passengers want to momentarily surf the web? More to follow…

Upgraded SpaceX Dragon resupplies the International Space Station

On Sunday, a new and improved version of the SpaceX Dragon, (Dragon II) reusable space craft left Earth with supplies for the ISS. The new version of the craft is able to carry 50% more cargo into space. This is the 21st launch of a SpaceX craft on duty for NASA. CNET

dis-rup-shun: SpaceX is proving to be a good partner to NASA — linking Musk’s out-of-this-world ambitions with renewed national focus on controlling the “bandwidth” of lower orbit, access to the Moon, and potentially be the first to arrive on Mars. While the U.S. government’s conservative NASA and Musk seem like strange bedfellows, the partnership is looking good. Expect some ambitious accomplishments from this partnership.

Apple reportedly preparing newer, faster silicon

Apple, as stated, began transitioning some of its lower end personal computing line from Intel chips to its own M1 family of processors earlier this year. Now the company is said to be producing faster chips that are likely to displace Intel’s place in Apple’s higher end devices. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: What we do know about producing microchips is that it is an extremely expensive undertaking, requiring armies of gifted engineers coupled with equally gifted fabricators in bunny suits. The question is, once Apple creates adequate silicon to power its own line of products, does it also become a microprocessor company, competing with Intel, Qualcomm, NVidia and others? Does the company begin to power other vendors’ devices with Apple chips, or is that like licensing the unique Apple software experience to competitors? If one studies the stumbles of the world’s greatest companies, they usually occur after large and great companies get so big and diverse that they lose their core advantages (as perhaps Intel has now). At what point does vertical integration become a threat to the magic that makes Apple special?

How to regulate Big Tech: follow the European Union

U.S. legislators have spent two years pondering the regulation of Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook and others. The European Union, on the other hand, is acting swiftly and succinctly, pledging to have guidelines for regulation announced this week. Regulator Margrethe Vestager states that as long as Big Tech firms list their own sites at the top of so-called open shopping sites, they are not competing fairly. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Self-prefacing is a practice that has helped build Google, Apple and Amazon into the giants they are. Amazon Basics, the generic equivalent to whatever you are shopping for, pops up as you begin to place your online order, reminding you that you have an often less expensive alternative. This practice has out Walmarted even Walmart, a company struggling to catch up online with a company that offers everyday low prices without leaving the comfort of your desk.

 

COVID and Warner smack down movie theaters

COVID victim: theatrical window for movie theaters

Warner Media just dealt a blow to the struggling movie theater industry, but allowing HBO Max to debut new blockbuster titles on the same day as they appear in movie theaters. The “theatrical window” is the time that new releases are only available in movie theaters. Warner and HBO have closed that window, or shattered it with an announcement that HBO Max will show new titles on the same day they debut in theaters, for no extra charge. CNET

dis-rup-shun: This kick of a man down is not a surprise, as content producers have been whittling away the theatrical window for the past several years, but this bold move means that other movie producers will likely follow. The move makes recovery that much more difficult for movie theaters that will be hard pressed to lure nervous patrons back, especially when the same content is showing on the couch with free snacks.

Esports team Fnatic hires doctors to test digital athletes

Some professional digital athletes earn over $1 million playing video games for audiences. These competitors practice and play over 10 to 12 hours daily, causing health problems. Now that esports are being sponsored by big brands, being in top shape is crucial, and British team Fnatic has hired doctors to research the impact of sleep and stress on game performance. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Just like professional golf, video game competition is an example of a fun thing that can become damaging when you take it too far. Esports is growing and so is the money behind it. Expect esports athletes to continue to refine their training and become nearly as popular of pro athletes.

Now you can text Alexa from your phone

Amazon is testing a new Alexa feature, enabling an Alexa app user to text questions or commands to Alexa from the screen. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This feature may be useful in the future, when Alexa is a lot smarter, but for now, Alexa is not as smart as Google. If you wish to get answers to questions, the G has far better answers. But perhaps if you don’t want to wake someone, or you are in a meeting, and you want to ask Alexa to do something for you, this is useful. The greatest potential may be to control the home when you are away. For example, if the doorbell at home rings while you are in a meeting at the office (if you return), you could ask Alexa to tell the delivery man to leave the package next to the garage. But there are a lot of things that need to improve for even that small transaction to be a reality. Let’s wait and see how it will evolve.

Global sand shortage will impact technology pricing

Did you know that there is a shortage of sand? Years of construction and the building booms that consume massive amounts of concrete have depleted many reserves. Desert sand is not useful, as the grains are too well worn and smooth. Glass, like semiconductors, refined from silica, require a steady supply of the natural resource. As the growing global population requires more buildings, more glass, and more technology products, the material will become more scarce, influencing pricing. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The pandemic has caused an uptick in purchases of technology products, as well as a surge in building, as people upgrade their homes and move to outskirts, preparing for decades of “work from anywhere.” Just ask any real estate professional in a resort area, and he or she will report a banner year in 2020. Recycling, smaller buildings, and substitute products are all important trends to watch in the coming decade. Now the expression “go pound sand” may have new meaning as entrepreneurs seek new sources of the material.

For $20 everyone can have a smartwatch

Wyze $20 smartwatch — no more excuses

Wyze, the company that continues to pump out well designed and amazingly affordable smart home products, including cameras, thermostats and smart locks, has done it again. This offering, a $20 smartwatch with nine days of battery life, is compatible with Apple Health and Google Fit. The device also includes heart monitoring and sleep tracking features. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: If you have resisted the allure, so far, of an Apple Watch, just not certain if it will be all that exciting, then your excuses have been eliminated. For $20 you can determine if a smartwatch is interesting to you and you can control your Wyze smart home products, like thermostats and cameras, from your wrist. Then you can decide if Apple’s value adds are worth the upgrade. Happy holidays.

HP Enterprise joins Silicon Valley exodus

HPE, the non-consumer spin-off of the company formerly known as Hewlett Packard, announced that it is moving its headquarters from San Jose to Houston. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: You have to admit, the first reaction is that the company should move into the Compaq campus in north Houston — a sprawling office complex that has not been the same since HP swallowed Compaq in a bold move that resulted in both companies becoming laggards of the commodity PC business and Carly Fiorina losing the CEO job. That merger was a bust, and to see HPE go back to Houston makes it seem like life is moving in circles. Hey California, are you pleased that giant tech companies are packing up and moving to Houston, Austin and Dallas in droves? Aren’t tech companies the cleanest businesses and solid tax bases? Should you do something to keep companies in your beautiful but pricey state?

Salesforce needs some Slack

Salesforce has stated its intention to acquire Slack, the group messaging platform that now lives in the shadow of Microsoft Teams, for $27.7 billion. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Slack, founded by a founder of Flickr, has moved from an edgy tool for start-ups to an enterprise grade groupware app, especially important during the pandemic. Despite its success, Microsoft Teams — included in with the cost of the Office Suite — along with similar offerings from Facebook and others, offers a serious threat to Slack’s growth. Slack, however, benefits from a loyal following and from some awkward features in Teams. Salesforce, having risen to a cloud software giant, is anxious to spur growth by adding features — at the peril of becoming so large and complex that small businesses will choose more nimble applications. Salesforce is a godsend for Slack as the competition is getting fierce for the groupware company.

AWS Panorama turns IP cameras into computer vision

Amazon Web Services, ever seeking to add value to the cloud, has announced a product called Panorama which makes any IP camera really smart. Panorama enables the video feed from a standard IP camera to become an intelligent device — recognizing problems with machines, with products on an assembly line, or perhaps spotting workplace safety issues. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: If this really works, it has endless applications. Taking the discussion back to consumer IoT, imagine what a Ring (owned by Amazon) doorbell could do if it was smart enough to tell you who was at the door, or why a strange car parked on the street is a concern, or that front hedge was looking quite dry.

Europeans to clean up space garbage

Europeans send giant claw to clean outer space

It is estimated that over 3,000 dead satellites are orbiting Earth along with 900,000 pieces of space debris. The European Space Agency is building a large claw that will be sent to space to reach out and extract space junk. The device will launch in 2025 and will be for hire — being commissioned by those that need to clear a path in space. CNET

dis-rup-shun: All of these space junk items are potentially deadly to useful satellites and space craft, meaning that avoiding the debris or cleaning it up is critical to the burgeoning space travel industry. Good for the Europeans for again taking the lead on an important technology priority!

Amazon Eero a good fix for crummy Wi-Fi

As the world is acutely aware of the quality of home Wi-Fi, as it is the lifeline to entertainment, communications, school and work, we find that we are often paying for speeds that we rarely receive. Amazon’s Eero Pro 6 mesh router system is an expensive ($599) but likely quick fix to Wi-Fi pains. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Many households have been the sheltering place for previously launched family members, having returned for home cooking and rent-free living — hopefully with remote jobs intact. These squatters tend to complain profusely when Wi-Fi access is less than stellar and a mesh router may be worth it to quell the insults.

Good things to know if you are thinking about a new TV

For those considering a new TV for the holiday season, and not sure what to consider when faced with a myriad of options and price points, CNBC’s TV buying cheat sheet is very useful. First, decide if you are looking for a solid upgrade to a new TV, or one that will be state of the art at least for a few years. OLED vs. LCD, UHD vs. 4K and Roku vs. Samsung are a few decisions to consider first.

dis-rup-shun: The advantage and disadvantage of great new TV features is that whatever you buy, it will be obsolete in three to six years, depending on how much leading edge technology you wish to reach for. A tougher decision is if you should buy a TV that has Roku or FireTV software already built-in or not. In four years, the TV experience will likely be very different, so buying a good but less expensive TV that you can upgrade in four years is a good plan.