SpaceX global internet service ready for beta

SpaceX prices Starlink satellite Internet beta at $99 per month

SpaceX, the company that has been pumping hundreds of satellites into low orbit for the past year, is now ready to do business. The company is offering a beta version of its satellite internet service for a $499 kit fee and $99 per month. Speed expectations are low at first, says the company. The service will provide possibly intermittent speeds of 50 to 150 Mbps during its first months as it builds up infrastructure. While this service may be lacking in speed and economy, it may be the best available in many parts of the world. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: SpaceX’s promise is to provide internet access across the globe — enabling a truly global service and one that connects very remote places to the world wide web. With the diaspora of urban workers heading to the hills in the time of COVID-19, connecting urban outposts to the rest of the world is critical, and certainly worth a premium. The philanthropic possibilities of the StarLink service are also exciting — connecting people who had neither the funds nor the infrastructure to the rest of the web can transform economically depressed communities.

T-Mobile pushes into the streaming video business

T-Mobile, always the uncarrier, has been offering its subscribers a companion streaming video (TV replacement business) for as low at $10. Now the carrier is opening up the service to non-subscribers, who can add premium channels to TVision for $40 and up per month. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Thanks to T-Mobile for keeping the playing field competitive and differentiated. Now that Sprint is part of T-Mobile, the company that people liked to ignore is putting a dent in the establishment. And think of a wireless carrier also being your TV provider? That sounds like a company called AT&T, but priced at half of what you used to pay for your TV + wireless bundle.

The demise of cable TV inevitable

Leaders of traditional cable operators are preparing for the nuclear winter that awaits further defection by cord cutters. Cable operators are expected to lose another 25 million households over the next 5 years, calling into question the sustainability of the infrastructure, including financial (debt) structure supporting the industry. Shifting assets to streaming services will have to happen quickly and is already reshuffling the leaders of the pay TV industry, with companies such as Netflix, Apple and Disney joining the incumbents as the power brokers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Outgoing and departed cable execs, including AT&T’s Randall Stephenson, placed huge bets on keeping enough subscribers onboard to keep the ship afloat, but the the pay TV tide is turning more quickly than some expected, and there is question if revenues from streaming subscriptions will be sufficient to fund the over the top services. Leadership in the streaming industry requires premium content, and producing premium content, either in the form of great shows or live sports is extremely expensive and may require subsidies from other business units, as Disney, AT&T, CBS Viacom and some have, but Netflix does not. In a tough spot, potentially, are owners of sports franchises who will find it increasingly difficult to get enormous TV contracts that they and their players have become so accustomed.

Nest discontinues DIY home security system

Nest has confirmed the discontinuation of its Nest Secure DIY home security system in a box. The kit, released in 2017, sold most recently for $399. The decision to shut down the product comes a few months after Google invested $450 million in professional security leader ADT. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: The discontinuation of Nest Secure is a surprise, and yet no surprise at all. It is a surprise, because it appears that smart device makers like Amazon, it’s Ring division, and Google’s Nest are marching from making popular and well-priced devices, to making well-priced integrated systems consisting of more and more components. It is a surprise in that Google has a vast war chest, and, having made a large investment in ADT, seems to be in position to play the long game in smart home. It is not a surprise in that Google’s hardware strategy is continuously perplexing — seemingly designed by players of musical chairs who don’t stick to a plan for more than a few months. And not a surprise in that buyers of smart home products don’t appear to be buyers of integrated security systems. Security systems buyers appear to be different animals, and where the two meet is still hard to discern. One thing for certain: someone at SimpliSafe has cracked a bottle of champagne on the Nest news.

 

Facebook amps up the cloud gaming race

Facebook launches cloud games but not on IOS

Facebook is joining Google, Microsoft and others with a cloud gaming offering. Facebook’s offering, however, does not require controllers and does not offer a console-like experience. The offering will likely increase the appeal of gaming within Facebook, but is not supported on IOS, given Apple’s app policies. The feud between Facebook and Apple originated with Tim Cook’s remarks about Facebook’s privacy policies, and continues as Facebook joins the growing parties of companies objecting to Apple’s control of commerce via the App Store. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Companies are jumping on the anti-trust bandwagon, trying to seize an opportunity to crack Apple and Google’s hold on all things app. The situation, however, is more interesting when Facebook, one of Congress’ targets for reform, is adding fuel to the fire. Will Apple escalate issues by furthering its criticism of Facebook’s security policies, and will the feud accelerate legislative actions? The infighting among BigTech companies will hasten needed legislative actions. Meanwhile, every tech giant will soon have its cloud gaming offering, making it difficult for customers, regardless of their price/performance preferences, to resist playing games at some point in their week.

London Tube deploys UV technology to clean surfaces

London’s Transit for London authorities have outfitted multiple locations with UV-light based cleaning devices that sanitize handrails on escalators. The authority states that trials of the technology show that it reduces germs on handrails by 50%. UV light is projected on handrails at one point in their circular rotation, keeping them constantly treated.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Public spaces will never be the same after COVID-19, and London is taking action to make spaces safer — not just from COVID-19 — but from germs carried and transmitted through touch.

Tips for a telemedicine future

Telemedicine is likely a part of your future. While most people will continue in-person doctor visits, these visits will likely be augmented by telemedicine appointments. Telemedicine provides an opportunity for patients to centralize their care information in one place, as providing a list of medications, contacts and health history will increasingly be the responsibility of the patient, not the doctor. This information will enable different care professionals and specialists, to be included in a remote care model. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Telemedicine will enable participation by multiple specialists, in many parts of the world, to be involved in the care process, and moving from a model in which a primary physician is the central point of one’s health care journey to one in which the patient is his or her own advocate will not happen for some. But for the masses who will be challenged with ever rising prices for shrinking coverage, movement to more cost effective care models will likely involve shopping for telemedicine suppliers and presenting one’s own case to chosen providers.

Bissell SpinWave is a robotic mop and vacuum

The evolution of robot vacuums continues, and Bissell’s $250 SpinWave combines mopping capabilities with vacuuming. The device looks much like a Roomba but includes two spinning cloth mops and a water tank in the unit. CNET

dis-rup-shun: For the price, these devices are helpful with regular maintenance, but technology has a way to go before replacing elbow grease. Expect robotic home cleaners to be a household mainstay in five years, but until then, they are nice-to-have additions to heavy duty vacuum cleaners, mops and brooms.

Quibi: a spectacular failure

Quibi is one of the more spectacular tech flops of the decade

Quibi will be shutting down before end of year, terminating its contracts with a long list of movie stars, athletes and celebrities who were featured in the mobile only short form videos. Quibi was original and bold. In a time when lives were far more mobile, would people become so fascinated with premium content that this fad would have been a hit? Former Disney CEO and Quibi leader, Katzenberg, along with Meg Whitman of eBay fame, have issued an apology for blowing $1.75 billion in a little over a year, and will go on to other creative projects. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Perhaps Katzenberg and Whitman saw themselves as the next Steve Jobs, creating something radically different and of high quality, that people would love. Speaking of Jobs, if Apple acquired Quibi and branded it Apple iPhone TV, or something similar, initially giving a few hours of content to every Apple device owner, then migrating them to paid plans, the service would likely be a smash hit. Consumers, however, are not in the mood for another monthly charge that only lives on a mobile device, especially when spending most all of their time at home.

The surge of electric pickup trucks

Overnight, the world is faced with a number of electric pickup truck choices, even though the pickup truck audience has not been asking for one. GM’s electric Hummer, an electric F-150, Tesla’s Cybertruck, join startups Rivian, Bollinger and Lordstown on the truck scene. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Pickups and SUVs are the growth engines of the auto market, and the vehicles that are sold at higher margins. Electric pickups, however, come at higher prices, in some cases, prices over $100K. So the automakers are counting on tapping a luxury truck buyer, not the average pool man. Time will tell if the market will bear a glut of expensive, luxury electric trucks, but GM and Tesla are betting yes.

Large percentage of Apple’s service revenues paid by Google

Google is paying rent to Apple. The search company pays Apple to be the default search engine of the Safari browser, resulting in revenues attributed to Apple Services in the amount of $8 to $12 billion per year, or 17% to 26% of Apple’s services revenues last year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The number of Safari users who would likely select Google to be the default browser would likely be near the same figure even if the search engine was not associated with Safari. The red flag, however, is that Apple has touted the early success of its services business, implying that people were lining up in droves to pay a monthly fee for games, music, news or other content. It turns out that a quarter of that success is attributable to Google’s rent payment.

Smart vents may fix your HVAC woes

Getting the right amount of air conditioned air to the right room at the right time is a challenge in many homes, and a problem that vexes many homeowners. One application of smart home technology that addresses this problem, well, smartly, is the smart vent. Smart vents open and close based on sensor readings in each room indicating temperature imbalances, and determining which rooms are occupied. Flair’s smart vents draw power from two small C cell batteries and can be connected to popular smart thermostats to “just work.” TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Smart vents should be a standard issue in any home and certainly will be in the future. Using sensor technology to measure and adjust in the background not only is a simple application of technology, it is more efficient and far simpler than climbing into attics to attempt to adjust ducts to change air flow.

 

And you thought you didn’t want a Hummer

The Hummer you thought you’d never want

Hummer is back, and it is electric, and you will want it. The new version features a removable roof and crawl mode for tough terrain. The 300 mile range and 1000 horsepower engine, along with the convertible features make this pickup truck highly desirable to spend time in the great outdoors and be good for the environment at the same time.  CNET

dis-rup-shun: Car companies are trying an interesting strategy to remain relevant in the next decade, and that strategy is to create premium electric vehicles with fat margins and lots of buzz.  The Chevy Volt got a lot of attention, but you don’t see many on the road. A head turner like Cadillac’s new LYRIC EV SUV, or the new Hummer EV, or electric Ford F-150 will get people talking about the new future of the car industry.

Snap’s strong quarter signals comeback for brand advertising

Advertising has suffered during the pandemic, causing a slowdown in the service economy. Snap, parent of Snapchat, posted a strong quarter and year over year revenue growth of 52%, signaling a return of advertising by large brands. The strong results buoyed the stock price of other social media giants. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While the economy must weather the uncertainty caused by a peculiar election as well as the third surge in coronavirus cases, the rise in all things digital remains a driver of economic growth. Our lives have moved online and outdoors, and companies catering to both of those experiences are showing strong growth and keeping many people actively employed.

Verizon beats estimates

Speaking of all things digital being on the upswing, Verizon added more subscribers of Internet services and wireless phone accounts than expected. The company added 283,000 postpaid phone subscribers in Q3, beating an estimate of 268,000. While the company’s revenues are down, its prospects are up. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: As mentioned above, if a company is in the business of enabling our digital lifestyles, they are in a good place. As the COVID-induced diaspora of city people to the country continues, people need to pick up hot spots or install faster internet service at their beach or mountain houses.

Apple’s MagSafe charger is teenage awkward

Apple’s new wireless charging technology, MagSafe, includes aligning a charging disk to the back of the phone via a built in magnet. Of course, if you are using an older phone that does not have a built in magnet, aligning the surfaces is a little tricky. And Apple does not include the AC electrical outlet plug (brick) in new models, but requires users to acquire one that conforms to the newer USB-C interface. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Only Apple can get away with forcing people to adopt new standards without giving them the tools to do so. We are in the awkward adolescent/teenage years of growing into the next phase of connecting and charging devices, and for the next two to three years, there will be countless request from friends and loved ones who ask “do you have this kind of adapter or charger…?” Once we get out of the house, we will have the opportunity to build community through accessory sharing.

Artificial intelligence begins to write emails and memos

AI apps compose emails and text copy

GPT-3 is an artificial intelligence text generation technology that learns the context of communications. By offering two or three word commands, a user can employ GPT-3 to write a thoughtful, relevant email message, ad copy, or memo. Compose.ai and Snazzy.ai are two examples of applications capable of generating relevant and detailed text. Wired

dis-rup-shun: AI authoring apps may be the first real example of machine learning that makes writing skills nearly unnecessary. If machines, not people, determine writing styles, then variations in styles will quickly diminish and certain books will need to be labeled as “handcrafted” or developed by human intelligence in order to distinguished language artists from computer programs. The art of writing will be seldom practiced in business and technical communication.

Gates on breaking up Big Tech

Bill Gates has been through anti-trust hearings, when Microsoft was fined millions in the 1990s. Gates has stated that the congressional investigation of Facebook, Apple, Amazon and Google should regulate each company individually, as they each serve different markets with unique challenges. For social media, the issues to scrutinized include “advertising to children, wiretapping, bullying and the dissemination of false information.” For ecommerce, the issues are sharing customer purchase history and shipping address across multiple websites. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Each Big Tech company has unique competitive advantages, but the most complex company to scrutinize is Amazon, as the company is in many different businesses and is able to leverage advantages of, say, Prime Video to gain more information about the preference of online shoppers. Unraveling the highly vertically integrated business of Amazon, by itself, is a huge task, and then there are problem children such as Facebook. The congressional committee on competition will have its hands full, potentially, for several years.

Google Maps updates Busyness feature

In response to the pandemic, Google has added and updated a maps feature called Busyness, that tells you how busy a store, restaurant, park, or other public place is before you go. For those striving to avoid a crowd or beat the rush, this could be a game changer. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Great features like this come to you courtesy of, well, you. Your personal information about where you are (with your phone) at all times provides the input to this, and other great utilities. In the debate over the creepy-ness of Big Tech constantly collecting personal data, we have to remember that great and useful features like this are a reward from allowing the tracking of personal data.

China may block Nvidia acquisition of ARM

Nvidia, a U.S. chip company that is thriving in the world of increased gaming and Internet of Things devices, as well as connected cars, plans to acquire chip design licensing company, ARM, a U.K. based company. The Chinese State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) has the ability, just like the EU or DOJ, to block the transaction based on the grounds of limiting competition. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While both companies state confidence that the deal will occur, Chinese regulators, having been tormented by the Trump administration over security concerns regarding Huawei and, most recently, TikTok and WeeChat, have to be ready for a fight. Expect SAMR to put a big battle to block this acquisition.

 

Will iPhone 12 spur a supercycle?

Will the new iPhones spur a ‘supercycle?’

In 2014, Apple’s release of the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus spurred a massive upgrade cycle and $61 billion in revenues to Apple and their accessory partners. That was the peak of iPhone revenues. Some claim, however, that because 30% of iPhone users have a phone three or more years old, and now that 5G is supported, many will rush to upgrade. Other remind that we are in a pandemic-induced recession and that 5G is not yet important to users. Regardless, Apple’s business is more diversified than ever and its stock price continues to climb. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s marketing sophistication continues. It now offers more models to fit the tastes and price tolerances of a larger audience, with more shiny colors, and has, like women’s fashion, made an old look (angular corners) new again. Curved edge iPhones will now signal to your friends and peer group that you are out of step and certainly don’t possess the transformative speeds of 5G technology. Meanwhile, Apple, with sleight of hand, has raised the price of the base phone by $100 by introducing a lower end model priced like last year’s base model. Will anyone notice?

Finally, a HomePod Mini

Apple has missed several release cycles in the increasingly crowded smart speaker evolution. It’s expensive HomePod, a $299 competitor to Echo Studio and Google Home Max, was released two and a half years ago and, according to Interpret’s research, appealed mostly to high income families who are Apple loyalist. Yesterday, the long awaited HomePod mini, listing for $99, joined the fray, enabling a more cost-conscious customer to combine interest in a smart speaker or pretty good music player, with admiration for Apple products. 9to5Mac

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s answer to the Amazon Echo Dot is attractive, yet what does it do for us that its competition does not? Other than being powered by Siri, which some may prefer to Alexa or Google Assistant, the device has good sound for a small speaker and attractive cloth housing. For a company that usually offers something more, Apple continues to be a follower in the smart home department — lacking that really compelling experience, or really rich service offering, that has become a part of its fabric.

When PopSockets get in the way

PopSockets, that rubber handle that sticks to the back of your phone to enhance your grip on your $1000 mobile computer, is in the way of Apple’s new MagSafe technology. MagSafe is the technology that enables you to place your iPhone on a charging surface, rather than plugging it into a charger. PopSockets fans will find that they need to remove their beloved accessory to properly charge their iPhone on MagSafe surfaces — an inconvenient truth for a company that has thrived on the back of phones since 2012 and has earned former Colorado college professor, David Barnett and his philanthropies, millions of dollars. PopSockets is said to be designing a new device which can be easily removed for charging, but meanwhile Apple itself is reportedly getting into the stick-on accessories business and that could be a problem for PopSocket. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Making your fortune at the feet of a giant is great, until that giant steps on you. Just ask some of the erstwhile entrepreneurs at Netscape, AOL, CaseLogic, Intercom, and many others — companies who have lived in a niche, until that niche gets big enough to be incorporated into the core product line.

Blue Origin breaks record for reusing rocket

The space billionaires are playing for keeps — keeping their rockets running, that is. Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin just completed its seventh landing of a rocket returning from outer space. The New Shepard space craft touched down in the West Texas desert on Tuesday, beating the record of Musk’s SpaceX by one. The space billionaires have proven that the future of space travel, like airplanes, includes landing the craft intact. Another new feature of the space race is great, crystal clear video coverage of the launches and recoveries. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Today’s space race is an example of how competition in a nearly open playing field accelerates innovation. Relying only on government-backed space initiatives would result in glacial developments, spurred only by the fear of falling behind other superpower, especially as politicians are increasingly distracted by reelection campaigns and the global pandemic. Regardless of how the Department of Justice regulates Big Tech in upcoming months (or years), Bezos and Musk already have their places in history as true innovators that reshaped global commerce.

AI-coached virtual sales calls more effective?

Chorus AI technology improves Zoom pitches

The traveling salesforce is locked down and doing their best schmoozes via Zoom. But now, Chorus, an AI-driven software platform is able to analyze the Zoom conversation and inform salespeople when they are talking too much, or not addressing customers’ primary objections. This virtual coach can keep salespeople within the guardrails of corporate best practices, and keep those best practices fresh on individuals’ minds. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The idea of a receiving in-meeting tips from an AI-based application has the potential for making virtual sales meetings more productive than in-person meetings. Do you trust an algorithm to tell you when your salesforce is “talking right” over sending them on the road (post-COVID-19) to host power lunches, tickets to games, and happy hours? Most people don’t argue that face to face meetings are invaluable, unless, of course, your team does a better job virtually with the help of a coach.

Tomorrow is iPhone 12 day – what to expect

Apple’s unveilings of the next iPhone are always events that lead to great speculation about how many faithful and how fast, will upgrade to the latest model. The rumor mill, provided by CNET, offers a number of features expected in tomorrow’s release. These include sizes — moving from the three (regular, large and extra large – Pro Max) in the iPhone 11 to four with the 12, which adds a mini (5.4 inch). Enhanced camera features have become a staple of new phone releases, and it is suspected that the iPhone 12 will enable portrait mode in videos. This model will support 5G cellular connections — a feature Apple chose to skip on model 11, which was likely smart timing on their part. And, drumroll, it is rumored that the base price for the 12 will be $649, less than the base price for the 11.

dis-rup-shun: The feature race between Samsung and Apple continues to be in lock step, with each smartphone leader taking a slight advantage with some features that are inevitably offered by the competitor shortly thereafter. In terms of horsepower and cool features, the Android vs. Apple discussion is the phone battle continues to be a commentary on simply on personal preference. Like the upcoming U.S. Presidential race, most people have long ago decided which tribe they prefer and swaying them to a new platform is extraordinarily difficult. These announcement events are really about keeping the core buyer intact and enticing them to upgrade.

Video gaming revenue in China from smaller towns

China is the largest video game market in the world, and 70% of video game revenue is coming from Tier 3 – 5 cities where, according to Niko Partners, 76% of gamers live. Niko Partners believe that better mobile infrastructure, cheaper smartphones, and less entertainment options make gaming a core activity in smaller cities. They note that “smaller cities” often have populations of over one million, meaning that a successful entertainment offering cannot ignore the interests of Tier 3 – 5 cities, in a market of nearly 1.4 billion people. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: CNBC says that Netflix does not view other streaming services in China as its competition, rather it views video games as the threat. Given that smaller cities in China are more likely mobile Internet users than home broadband, the path to higher monetization of services is mobile and therefore, more personal.

China hands out $1.5M to test digital currency

China is leading world banks in experimenting with digital currency. China’s central bank just awarded $1.5M in digital renminbi to 50,000 people in a lottery. Over 3,000 merchants in Shenzhen are setup to accept the currency which is not a crypto currency, and can be accepted by a number of digital wallets. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: China is acting quickly to prevent the rise of efforts such as Facebook and friends’ Libra digital cryptocurrency, which was thwarted by central banks around the world. Moving to digital currency will solve many problems for central banks, and likely create more complex ones as digital security is a moving target. What digital currency will likely do, however, is enable the central bank to see exactly where and how much money people are spending — another loss of privacy and potential loss of control of funds in “emergency situations.”

 

 

Amazing but true quotes from Big Tech

Juiciest quotes from Antitrust Report

The U.S. House of Reps investigation of Big Tech continues to be one of the most fascinating subjects in our time — with truckloads of data suggesting that the world’s largest tech companies were using their success and intelligence to, well, grow. Wired tracks fourteen of the juiciest quotes coming from Facebook, Apple, Google and Amazon.

dis-rup-shun: What business person says, “I want to build a really successful business, but not too successful, as I want to make sure I have a lot of really good competitors who make it impossible to grow past a certain level, and then I will tell my shareholders and employees that this is as good as it gets — look elsewhere if you want more?” It is hard to blame these “kids in candy store” tech execs who invented new markets and forgot that success at the cost of restricting competition is against the law. But they are about to get a lesson in line-drawing and when to know when to turn down the “total world domination” knob.

IBM gets focus

IBM, long the most recognized brand for computing for those that were adults before Apple was a rock star company, has gained new focus. The company announced this week that it is splitting into two companies: the IBM brand will stay with the company focusing on hybrid cloud solutions (high margin business) and Newco will focus on IT infrastructure solutions consulting — the crowded space of bidding on design and management of corporate IT departments and projects. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: IBM has been one of the most mis-understood brands for decades. Once known for mainframe computers, then made famous for launching the business PC, the company does little of the former and none of the latter. The company has spent the last two decades diminishing in influence over corporate computing and struggling to be known for its crown jewel, the “Watson” branding of cloud computing. IBM has a new CEO, Arvind Krishna, who is cleaning up the shop and focusing on growth segments. Just like at Google and Microsoft, fresh blood and fresh thinking is already doing wonders for IBM’s outlook.

Samsung has blow out quarter

Samsung’s quarter ended in September saw a smashing 58% increase over the prior year — about $10.6 billion. The company has benefited from an uptick in demand of consumer products (thanks COVID), a stocking up on memory chips given sanctions against Huawei (thanks Trump) and an uptick of display orders in preparation for the release of the next, and 5G compatible, iPhone (thanks Apple). CNBC

dis-rup-shun: For all the talk of the global economy being in shambles, there are many white-hot bright spots that are keeping the engines of commerce humming, enabling people around the world to shop online, pay their mortgages, and keep credit cards warm. Unfortunately for those locked out of online economies, the percentage of people living in extreme poverty has risen to the highest levels in decades. The digital divide is not a growing local, but rather a global crisis.

Wyze removes price barrier from smart home

Wyze is the smart home technology company, that for the last several years, has been selling competitively featured smart camera for a fraction of competitors. The company is now offering a $30 doorbell camera and a $50 thermostat to join its $20 smart camera and $8 connected lightbulb. CNET

dis-rup-shun: For every promising new market, there is a spoiler who offers a good enough product at a price point  which is “off the price curve” and Wyze is that spoiler for the smart home. What could possibly be their strategy? Perhaps they are trying to be the unicorn of the device world, rapidly capturing as many users as possible in order to make a big, fat exit to a Google or Amazon. Whatever the plan, they are removing cost as a barrier to participation in the smart home market — providing useful products for less than the cost of a meal for two. Let’s see if they can throttle the adoption curve.

 

Congress has spoken: Big Tech is anti-competitive

Tuesday is the start of the biggest legislative overhaul of the century

For nearly a year, congressional investigations into anti-competitive practices of Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon have been ongoing. Findings were released Tuesday,  delayed over late breaking information from a whistleblower with new information about the Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. The new information, reportedly, offers a smoking gun regarding Facebook’s agenda to thwart competition by purchasing Instagram for $1 billion. Republican Representative Ken Buck calls the proceedings one of the most bi-partisan efforts in recent history. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Congress spent over a year building its case. Now the real work — to reshape old legislation formed to protect consumers and small businesses against the monopoly power of the railroads and mega banks, or to create new legislation which focuses on protection of consumers’ personal data — must begin. This will require intellect, innovation and thousands of hours and millions of taxpayer dollars sparring with Big Tech’s legal armies in order to erect new guardrails that keep the economic engines humming without treading on personal privacy or small business opportunity. Now that Pandora’s box has been opened, it will take the full cooperation of both parties to enact effective legislation.

TikTok is now the number two teen app

TikTok has surpassed Instagram as the second most favored app for teenagers, trailing only Snapchat. According to a Piper Sandler report, 34% of teens favored Snapchat, 29% favored TikTok and 25% favored Instagram. Usage, on the other hand, still places Instagram in first place (84%), Snapchat in second (80%), and TikTok in third (69%).

dis-rup-shun: TikTok’s brush with the Trump Executive Orders nearly impacted a very large segment of the teen population, and handed to Oracle an extremely valuable social media asset. The quick adoption of TikTok also reminds Facebook, king of social media, how quickly it can be deposed by an upstart service.

Super Nintendo World opening soon

Lifelong fans of Mario and Luigi can soon immerse themselves in Super Nintendo World theme park at Universal Studios in Osaka, next year. The park will include a Super Mario Kart ride, and Power Up bands that one wears throughout the park makes the visit a game in itself. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Super Nintendo World is evidence that companies are investing in a post-COVID normalcy, and fully expect travel and personal experiences to return to almost normal, with people spending their savings on in-person experiences with large crowds of like-minded people. Over a twenty-plus year time horizon, perhaps another six months of uncertainty and delayed openings will not impact the business plan of a venture such as Super Nintendo World.

Slack adding cross organizational capabilities

Slack, the intra-company direct messaging collaboration platform will soon enable communications between organizations. Users will be able to share a personal ID that anyone can connect to — regardless of organization. This capability will enable Slack users to receive messages from any of their contacts at any company.  The Verge

dis-rup-shun: This development confirms that change is not always progress. There are currently no rules in communications. When you think your work environment borders on meltdown on occasions, with emails, phone calls, text messages, LinkedIn messages, in-Zoom chats, Slack and Teams messages coming at you at all times, many times from the same people using multiple tools at the same time, enter cross-organizational features from Slack. Not only will this feature result in a higher volume of Slack interruptions, but will inevitably lead to the scenario, so frequently seen in iMessages, that we accidentally respond to the wrong conversation with the correct, and often embarrassing, message. While Slack is in a run for its life as it competes head to head with Microsoft’s FREE Teams, with memories of monopoly road kills including Netscape Navigator and Novell Netware, this “value add” may tilt the scale for some users who simply have to unplug something if they hope to finish a task in a ten hour workday.

 

Twitch is the playground for future military brass

US military increases recruiting activities on Twitch

The new military requires a new type of recruit, and he or she is likely lurking on Twitch — Amazon’s Internet channel for video game streamers. Twitch hosts 3.9 million monthly unique streamers — people who wish to play and watch other people play video games live. These game enthusiasts display many of the skill sets needed by the armed services to operate today’s and tomorrow’s weaponry, intelligence and tactical command operations. While the armed services have not been well received so far by this audience, the Pentagon has stated that it will continue to invest more in recruiting from this population. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Cyber warfare and cyber weaponry, along with unmanned drones and craft, are the future of geopolitical power struggles and tomorrow’s military requires a change in mix of personnel. Less needed are the brawny jar heads whose physical strength and courage are in another world, while increasingly important are brainy nerds who would not have considered themselves warriors in the past. Until the armed services learn the culture of core gamers, their recruiting tactics will remain awkward, but expect recruiting to become more effective once the recruiters better understand the recruits.

Apple Watch SE — Apple applies iPhone lessons to watch

Apple’s new Apple Watch SE follows the script from iPhone SE — take components from previous generations, add new software with a few key features disabled, and sell for less. The Apple Watch SE at $279 to $304 lives in the space between between the current Series 6 and the older Series 3. It is a reincarnation of Series 4, enabling the owner to run the latest OS and most of the current features, without the always-on face and ECG features while saving $120 or more. The body materials and types are limited, as are the colors. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Apple’s leadership, not only in technology, but in marketing, continue to develop. Apple fairly quickly applied learnings over product pricing to the Apple Watch lineup, relying on colors and accessories to drive excitement among a more price sensitive shopper — unlocking a new demographic that it was potentially missing with its flagship lines. As Apple’s future is more about services than devices, it benefits by making its services, such as Apple Fitness, more accessible to more people through more devices. Expect to see more SE variations in other products, including computers, streaming TV devices, and even AirPods.

Nest Audio is newest in Google’s lineup of smart speakers

A refresh to Google Home had been expected for some time. The new Google Nest Audio is the latest flagship in the smart speaker lineup, with this colored-cloth device shaped like a large chiclet, and designed to look less like a tech gadget and more like a home decor accessory. The slow transition to Nest branding continues, but unlike better-known thermostats and smoke detectors from Nest, this device uses a separate app – a fact running counter to the assumption that Google is seeking to create one interface for all its devices. The Nest Audio sells for $100 and features bigger, better speaker components and a faster quad-core processor — enabling more on-device computing and improved security. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Google’s hardware strategy continues to be disjointed, with Nest being one brand, while Pixel and FireTV are other brands within the brand. While the Nest Audio appears to be a welcomed update to Google’s smart speaker base product, it is difficult to see how this product is the next step in a clear strategy. Amazon, on the other hand, clearly plans for Echo and Alexa to be an interface to most any home appliance, from microwave to TV, but for Google, it seems that this device is mostly a reaction to a fast changing smart speaker market that expects better sound and better looks.

Portable Bluetooth Projector from Anker

Anker, a company that sells some impressive devices through mass merchant retailers has added a portable projector to its lineup for $550. The device offers a small, easily portable, battery-powered projector/speaker combo device that may be perfect for back yard TV watching — requiring about 9 feet to project a 100 inch picture. With the built in speaker and on board Wi-Fi, the system can stream content from one of your favorite accounts without involving your PC or smartphone in the mix. CNET

dis-rup-shun: New technologies continue to give us new, never before considered product categories. While many are turning to Samsung’s outdoor optimized smart TVs to permanently affix on the back patio or poolside, Anker provides a device that can bring the indoors out in a mobile kind of way. As the pandemic continues to keep people mostly tethered to the home and back yard, investments in home entertainment continue to rise, and who doesn’t need to take TV, movies and YouTube clips to the back patio?