Zillow cites reshuffling of real estate

Zillow CEO cites the beginning of real estate reshuffling

In an earnings call, Zillow CEO Rich Barton stated that the uncertainty of the duration of the pandemic, combined with indefinite work from home policies by many companies, has initiated a reshuffling of real estate. Major trends include expanding room to work at home with additional privacy, valuing outdoor spaces including yards and courtyards, and fleeing large, expensive cities. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Research by Interpret shows a significant uptick in purchases of TVs and digital entertainment devices during COVID-19. Understandably, people are investing more in their home lives and making repairs and improvements. Barton believes that these trends will last beyond the next few months, signaling a significant shift in living trends. Life in large cities has been arguably more pleasant, with roads less crowded, air less polluted, and fewer people in public places. The question is, ten years from now, will we see 2020 as the year that city planning and home plans changed, as people spent more time in home offices, kitchens, walking in the neighborhood and enjoying their patios and yards?

Packaging as a service

The pandemic has caused online shopping to surge, straining logistics providers and significantly increasing the amount of packaging waste. Enter LivingPackets and The Box, a container intended to be reused hundreds of times, and packed with intelligence that notifies the shipper and receiver of its whereabouts, its contents, and if it has been opened or tampered with. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Smart packaging already makes sense for high value contents, and a number of companies have created packaging with inexpensive sensors. Cheap sensors in a box can be tossed, assisting with security but not with reuse. LivingPackets will have to convince shippers that the costs of maintaining The Box are less than the costs of disposable packaging plus loss claims. For high volume customers who can return the boxes easily when the next shipment arrives, it may make sense.

Interview with Bill Gates: this will be over in 2021

Bill Gates, in a lengthy interview with Wired, expresses optimism that COVID-19 disruption, for rich nations, will be over by the end of 2021. For poorer nations, it will take another year, and it will take several years to recover from the economic damage done by the pandemic. Gates states that the innovation of drug companies will shorten what otherwise would be a five year run before the global population builds natural immunity.

dis-rup-shun: Gates’ ability to cut through the media noise to deliver straight facts is a breath of fresh air, and knowing that Gates has invested essentially all of his wealth, time and talent into making the world a healthier place is inspiring. May his friends Mr. Bezos, Zuckerberg and Musk follow in his footsteps as they become the elder statesmen of tech.

Streaming wars hit tipping point in Q2

The streaming video providers all had a blockbuster second quarter. The pandemic has buoyed old and new services alike, and the question is what is the long term outlook for consumers and how many services will the average household keep after the shelter in place timeframe? Disney + service is several years ahead of growth projections. Netflix subscriptions surged by 10 million new additions. ViacomCBS’ new ad-supported, free to consumers service sold ample advertisements, and NBCUniversal’s new Peacock service signed up 10 million new subs. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Speaking of reshuffling, the pandemic has resulted in consumers taking more action on adjusting their TV spending to provide what they want and when. The big question is how will the return of live sports impact the time and money spent on streaming services, as the hours of viewing time freed up by the absence of live sports has driven, to a large extent, the pursuit of original content.

Teledoc becomes first health tech giant

First true health tech giant is born

Teledoc, one of the largest remote care companies is acquiring diabetes management giant, Livongo, for $18.5 billion. The combined company is expected to reach $1.3 billion in revenues this year as remote care is surging. Livongo relies heavily on coaches and a line of glucose monitors to help employers help their employees manage diabetes. Teledoc’s 70 million customer reach expands Livongo’s care potential. Stat

dis-rup-shun: The remote care model, in place for half a dozen years or more, is surging as a result of the pandemic. Remote care is a big win for consumers, as convenience is a bonus, and a win for doctors, who are able to see more patients via telehealth. Employers are winners in that the cost of care and ability to access the right care quickly helps keep people on the job.

Disney Plus exceeds expectations and takes second place

Disney executives forecasted that the new streaming service would reach 60 million to 90 million subscribers by 2024. On Tuesday, the company announced that it had reached 60 million subscribers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The Mouse continues to surprise, as a dip in theme park attendance seems to be offset by a smash new streaming video service that is doing what no one expected — gaining on Netflix as a strong second place provider. Disney executives earned their stars by launching special features such as Star Wars’ Mandalorian and then the broadcast of Hamilton. Expect another surprise soon that will entice even more people to sign up for the service.

Cadillac unveils Lyric: the future of driving

Watch out Elan, Cadillac is about to leapfrog electric cars with its 300 mile range Lyric SUV. This is the future of cars and the future of GM, a company that is pulling ahead of Ford and Chrysler’s EV development. The Lyric styling is very impressive as is its environmentally responsible, fast-charging battery system, its 33 inch curved display screen, and Super Cruise self-driving mode. CNET

dis-rup-shun: While price was not revealed, this is the EV to have. Early photos of this sophisticated SUV will engage a new audience that wasn’t excited about Cadillac and will be a strong competitor to those considering a Tesla.

Uber beats expectations on bad quarter

Uber’s Q2 revenue declined 28% but beat analyst expectations. The ride sharing business was off by 73% over last year, but the food delivery business was up 113%. Food delivery has moved from luxury to necessity, and the company beat analyst expectations as a result. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The pandemic may be exactly what Uber needed to reshape its business, reduce costs, and find the profit in the drivers for hire business. In another diversification move, the company purchased a European taxi software company. Expect Uber to be a much more efficient company post-pandemic.

Black Girls Code to train a million girls

Black Girls Code

One national study determined that black females comprise only 3.1% of computing jobs in 2019. Kimberly Bryant formed the organization Black Girls Code to teach 1 million girls to code by 2040. The organization was founded in 2011. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Among the many great promises that Bryant’s organization provides, one is to fix the problem of facial recognition. The potentially highly useful technology has been scuttled by major tech companies due to the inherent racial bias determined to be a part of the technology. In short, a technology developed by mostly white programmers has been tested by mostly white testers, resulting in code that works mostly well on white populations, but not well with other races.

Examining evidence against Big Tech

CNBC does a great deal of digging through the more than one million documents collected by the House Judiciary Subcommittee on antitrust. The excerpts provide direct evidence of BigTech execs making defensive and offensive moves to thwart smaller competitors, such as Diapers.com, WeChat and Yelp, to name a few.

dis-rup-shun: Despite the revealing documents, drawing the line between operating a competitive business and using unfair advantage may, in some cases be difficult. Amazon looks more guilty than Facebook. And Google looks more guilty than Apple. Nonetheless, it is clear that these giants need a big babysitter to remind them of the rules of commerce and when they are stepping over the lines.

EU puts Google’s acquisition of Fitbit on hold

In other antitrust news, the EU commission on competition is investigating the proposed $2.1 billion merger of Fitbit with Google, expressing concerns of data privacy. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The EU has long been very aggressive in protecting the data privacy of its citizens, having created the GDPR standards for data privacy over a year ago. Google will likely make some assurances on how and where Fitbit user data is stored, and will likely satisfy the EU commission and move forward with the merger, and continuing its efforts to catch up with the Apple Watch, which is dominating the wearables market.

Sorting out the home security confusion

Our friends at CNET have done a nice job of explaining the growing confusion that is home security. There are DIY systems that are self-monitored, those that include pro-monitoring and there are professionally installed pro-monitored systems, and drawing the line between the categories is more difficult. In a pair of reviews, the CNET team lists the best DIY systems as SimpliSafe, Abode, Nest Secure, Ring Alarm. Other mentions include Honeywell Smart Home Security System, Scout Alarm and ADT/SmarThings Starter Kit. The editors also list the best pro-installed systems, and Comcast Xfinity wins that race.

dis-rup-shun: I will be discussing the differences in home security and smart home buyer segments in a presentation next week to the Security Industry Associations webinar. Anyone is welcome to attend if they register here.

 

Tablet sales surge in pandemic

Q2 tablet sales up to 26%

According to Canalsys, sales of tablets rose 26% in Q2. The iPad was the biggest winner, shipping 14 million units, but others including Samsung, Amazon, Lenovo and Huawei benefited as well. CNET

dis-rup-shun: In uncertain times, when working and schooling from home are critical for survival, yet the paycheck is uncertain, the tablet provides a cost-effective substitute to computers, TVs and game consoles. The pandemic is just the accelerent required by many industries to have a record quarter, just as many are barely surviving.

Microsoft’s xCloud game service is $15 per month

Microsoft seeks to become the Netflix of games with its xCloud service at $15 per month, or free to those that already subscribe to the company’s Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. The new service expands game play to Android mobile devices and will eventually be available on Windows PCs. The service provides unlimited access to over 100 games including “Destiny 2,” “Gears of War 5,” “Grounded” and “Halo 5. To accompany the service a number of third parties have built mobile game controller cradles that convert mobile phones to handheld gaming devices with easily accessible sticks and buttons. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Cloud gaming services will seek to appeal to a larger gamer population — one that is less likely to spend the money on Xbox consoles or games. In the “as a service” economy, consumers are accustomed and seemingly willing to make long term, small payments for unlimited services as shown by the success of video streaming and music streaming, not to mention monthly shaving or clothing subscription services.

Google’s augmented reality brings insects and animals into your home

Google is quietly building a case for AR, a technology that holds much promise but few applications. Using Google’s AR technology on Android devices, one can add many dozens of insects, felines, and exotics in 3D to their home and to photos — spicing up selfies and family portraits. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: AR will find a place in our everyday lives, likely in maps and navigation, and then for shopping for products. For now, however, creating lifelike 3D creatures in our photos is a good demonstration of the technology in an educational and entertainment setting. With people spending so much quality time with themselves, why not enjoy the animal kingdom and increase your appreciation for nature?

Google’s Pixel 4A top of class

For an Android phone that rivals $1000 plus phones, this model has a number of industry leading features at a price of $349. The product has a leading camera, a sharp OLED screen, a headphone jack, and a very slim case. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Differentiating a $1000 phone over rivals at half he price or less will become more and more difficult for Samsung and Apple. Apple has the advantage of an ecosystem of popular products and apps, that, for the Apple faithful, simply can’t be substituted for Android products. For the rest of the pack, it is a race to the bottom as big players such as Google drop prices to gain market share. The smartphone business is looking a lot like he PC business of a decade ago.

TikTok survives the weekend as Microsoft chats with White House

TikTok survives the weekend — fate still uncertain

TikTok, owned by Chinese company ByteDance, has been declared, by President Trump, banned from operating in the U.S. Watchers expected the service to be shut down over the weekend, but news of acquisition by Microsoft were confirmed on Sunday. Microsoft hopes to conclude a deal by September 15th. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft has, with the exception of its Xbox division, been focusing on corporate and cloud-based computing. The company shut down its Mixer video game streaming service in June, encouraging users to shift to Facebook. Acquisition of TikTok would be Microsoft squarely in the social network business, in competition with Facebook. The move will be good for Facebook in the midst of anti-trust proceedings by Congress, as it will provide the company with an acceptable competitor that does not play in this space, possibly lessening pressure on Facebook. If Microsoft pays a market fee to ByteDance, then everyone may be a winner, with ByteDance’s investors making a large return, TikTok users continuing to enjoy the service, Microsoft gaining a lucrative business unit, and POTUS ensuring that exploitation of U.S. user data occurs only on U.S. soil.

Google buys stake in home security leader, ADT

ADT is the largest provider of professionally monitored home security services in the U.S. Google, with its Nest brand of smart thermostats, cameras and smart speakers/displays has been selling into homes mostly through retail and HVAC channels. Google’s investment of $450 million for 6.6% of ADT portends of Google products being sold through ADT’s team of salespeople and installers across the U.S. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This move by Google could be the end of speculation regarding BigTech’s role in professionally installed security. For several years, the industry has been wondering when and how the giants will engage the pro-installed segment. With this partnership, Google can move directly into the professional channel, securing a share of the devices installed in each new home or small business served by the nation’s largest sales and installation team. The Google Nest Home Hub line could eventually serve as an alternative to the ADT “panel” — the heart and brain of a home security system. These components are currently supplied by Resideo (hardware) and Alarm.com (software). With its investment, Google will begin to enjoy a small share of the millions in recurring monthly revenues generated by ADT and can begin to edge out Amazon’s Alexa voice technology which is baked into ADT’s Command system. Declaring that Google will use the home security system to take over the entire home ecosystem and disrupt the current pro-install channel is premature, as there are many hurdles to doing so. What cannot be underestimated, however, is the ability to leverage Google’s advances in AI and cloud technology to offer a home automation and security system that is much smarter than anything in the field, including facial recognition, false alarm detection, smartphone integration, and “community monitoring.” The parties that will sleep less, as a result of this partnership, are Alarm.com and Resideo.

Bob and Doug splash down

The SpaceX and NASA team launch and recovery of astronauts to the International Space Station concluded on Sunday with a perfect landing. After 63 days in space, the two “Space Dads,” as they have become known, landed off the coast of Pensacola to a waiting gallery of private fishing and pleasure boats. The intact Dragon capsule was loaded onto a recovery ship where the space travelers were removed and whisked to the Pensacola Naval Air Station via helicopter.  New York Times

dis-rup-shun: The flawless mission is an unmistakable and significant victory for many parties. First, for NASA and the U.S. Government, as it successfully selected, regulated and orchestrated a private third party in one of the largest private/public missions ever, demonstrating that the agency can work with a flashy and bold company such as SpaceX in a restrained, disciplined and safe manner. Secondly, this is, of course, a triumph for Elon Musk and his SpaceX team, as they have demonstrated their ability to send humans to space and return them very safely. Musk’s bold claims of frequent commercial flights to space and Mars landings seem much closer now. Finally, the mission was a great victory for technology. The Dragon craft, like a Tesla, is highly automated with elegant glowing touch screens that seem to suggest that the astronauts are simply there to watch the automation from a gaming chair. The fact that the mission performed flawlessly and to precise timings and landing points is confirmation that today’s technology, while not perfect, is astonishingly accurate.

 

Big Tech versus US Congress

USA vs Big Tech

The day on The Hill occurred on Wednesday, and legislators, as expected, held no punches while interviewing the CEOs of Big Tech — Google’s Pichai, Facebook’s Zuckerberg, Amazon’s Bezos and Apple’s Cook. A few key moments included: “Our founders would not bow before a king, nor should we bow before the emperors of an online economy,” stated David Cicilline, chairman of the subcommittee. Rare bipartisanship was in the house as Jim Sensenbrenner, R, Illinois, made it clear that company size and success are not the concern, but blocking competition is. The congresspeople have done their homework and it appears clear that some action will be taken, but not for many months.   CNET

dis-rup-shun: The congresspeople sound focused, measured and determined, not something that can be said, of late. It appears that mounds of anti-competitive evidence have been collected and the action of the committee going forward will not be about if Big Tech is anti-competitive, but what to do about it. The congress must find a balance between the pressure for the USA to lead in the race with China on 5G and AI, keep the job creation engines cranking, and restrict these same companies from anti-competitive practices. Finding that balance will be a challenge and will take some bright minds.

Perseverance Mars rover launched on Thursday morning

One of NASA’s most ambitious projects launched for Mars in the early hours of Thursday — putting the rover on the surface of Mars this coming February to explore a crater that once held water — 3.5 billion years ago. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The craft, with its self-driving rover and helicopter will explore like no other explorer before, drilling into the service of the planet in search of subterranean water molecules. If water is identified, what will the next move be?

Best smart home products: Google and Amazon removed

CNET constantly provides “best of” lists. It’s latest Best of Smart Home products list removes products directly branded by the two giants, and excludes companies owned or funded by Google and Amazon. The remaining top players are:

Best smart speaker… Apple HomePod

Best smart display … Apple iPad

Best mesh WiFi system… Netgear Orbi

Best smart plug … TP-Link Kasa Smart

Best smart light bulbs … Wyze bulb

Best smart thermostat … Honeywell T9

Best home security camera … Arlo Pro3

Best home security system … Simplisafe

Best video doorbell … Arlo video doorbell

Best smart lock … August Smart Lock Pro

dis-rup-shun: These companies provide solid products that work with the Amazon and Google products not listed. Given the antitrust winds blowing in Washington, it is unlikely that these companies listed will be acquired by the two giants, perhaps helping them shape their courses to live in a market being expanded rapidly by the giants.

Ready for your smartphone to help brush your teeth?

Wired reviews the OralB iO Series 8 connected toothbrush. Aside from being expensive ($250), the device does not always accurately reflect what parts of your mouth have been thoroughly brushed. But for someone who is plagued with problems, having a visual guide via a smartphone app may be worth the investment.

dis-rup-shun: The market is full of newly launched connected appliances that fail to fully reach the potential of connectivity, or have failed to offer any real benefits of connectivity. It may be a while before tooth brushing apps reach a mass market, but the benefits are not hard to imagine especially when costs are inline with everyday products.

Alexagate jams Alexa’s microphones

Alexagate device jams Echo’s microphones

For a mere $99, one can purchase an add-on device designed to sit atop one’s Amazon Echo in order to render the microphones ineffective by bombarding them with sound waves. To stop the blocking, one simply needs to clap (remind you of something else?) and then speak the watch word “Alexa…” TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The mere existence of this device raises some curious questions. Do owners of Amazon Echos not believe that the on-board mute button works? Do owners of Echos really fear that their privacy is being invaded? If yes to the above, do these owners get sufficient benefit from these devices that they don’t just turn them off to relieve their privacy concerns? As more and more devices come with voice control built-in, the question becomes more relevant: is the convenience greater than the perceived risk? Apparently the 30% of households that own one or more of these devices answered yes.

CES goes online

The Consumer Technology Association announced what we have all been expecting, CES 2021 must not be a live event, but a virtual gathering. Las Vegas will miss out on the 171,000 tech tourists that descend upon the city each year from around the globe. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This is the right move — anything less would have put CTA in a bad light and would have led to many disappointed (and possibly infected) exhibitors. The blow to Las Vegas, the travel industry at large, and exhibit companies, still reeling from the cancellations of last spring, cannot be overstated. The economic superpower that is CES will be but a shadow of its normal self when presented online. Like many things impacted by Covid-19, CES is one that may have needed a reset. The event has become so enormous that it is difficult to manage from a visitor’s perspective. Perhaps the post-Covid-19 event will be more user friendly.

Apple vs. Google and the world in mobile app philosophy

It is important to understand the architectural tension between Apple and Google at this point in the evolution of mobile technology. Put simply, Apple wants to drive all users through its App Store, where it can not only maintain quality of experience, but control all app-based commerce. Google and a large number of large companies including Uber and Microsoft, are proponents of Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) — apps that are in large part powered by the web, but continue to function even if not connected. PWAs drive commerce to the web, Apple apps keep commerce in the app store. CNET

dis-rup-shun: This mobile app philosophical difference is yet another example of closed versus open approaches, and Apple is one of the few companies that has thrived, over a long period of time, within a closed architecture. Android is the dominant global operating system because it enlisted the help of the non-IOS world and created strength in numbers. Just like mobile operating systems, one mobile app architecture will not win, but the ways of building and doing business on the two platforms will grow increasingly different.

Perseverance rover set to explore Mars in 2021

The Perseverance rover is NASA’s new self-driving Mars car, that includes its own helicopter, 24-camera array, and water well drilling apparatus. The device has unprecedented intelligence, battery power, and on-board capabilities, including instruments that will attempt to find oxygen in the Martian atmosphere. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Given the increased attention on the new space race, with countries and companies competing to get back to the Moon and to Mars, NASA has really upped its game and packed this mission with significant scientific capabilities. This mission will aggressively check Mars for water and for atmosphere — clearly seeking to discern how challenging it will be to, one day soon, colonize the planet.

 

Google extends work at home for one year

Google delays office reopening until July 2021

The Mountain View company announced that the work from home option, for employees who are not required in the office, will remain available for another 12 months. The move is attributed to the uncertainty of schools reopening for the Fall 2020 to Spring 2021 school year. CNET

dis-rup-shun:  Google is confirming that which was expected — uncertainty over the Covid-19 pandemic will last well into 2021. The move will likely be followed by many companies, and will further the diaspora of urban workers to mountain, beach and lake houses, keeping restaurants, transit systems and shopping malls mostly empty for the coming year.

Atlas of Surveillance shows where surveillance is occurring

Between Ring doorbell cameras, license plate readers, traffic cameras and individual building security cameras, a fabric of surveillance points cover urban areas.  The mapping project is a collaboration between  the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the University of Nevada, Reno, Reynolds School of Journalism. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Just like in the action series 24, it appears that cameras are almost everywhere in urban areas, but unlike 24, accessing all the feeds quickly and easily is a bureaucratic impossibility. Perhaps the constitutional separation of states and Federal governments and their agencies will keep this an impossibility, or perhaps Google will do it first! 

Chernobyl fungus could prolong space visits

The sun’s harmful radiation is filtered by Earth’s atmosphere, minimizing damage to humans. In space, however, without the filtration of the atmosphere, humans receive 20 times the radiation as on Earth, making outer space uninhabitable, long-term, for humans. A fungus that is thriving on the radioactive Chernobyl site has been sent to the International Space Station for observation and results show that it may become an important companion to space explorations, as the bacteria consumes harmful radiation and converts it to energy — enabling fast growth of the organism. CNET

dis-rup-shun:  Further wonders of science — a “clean up” fungus is available to do what mankind has not figured out how to — clean up harmful radiation. Just when you thought Earth could never undo the damage inflicted by man, we see an auto-correction mechanism. Does such an organism exist for the damages caused by global warming?

Apple begins manufacturing iPhone 11 in India

Apple holds 1% of the share of the Indian smartphone market, but it is a dominant player in that country’s luxury phone market. After striving to find a contract manufacturer in India, its partner Foxconn has started building iPhones in Chennai. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun:  The move enables Apple to reduce its reliance on China-based factories while increasing its presence in the world’s second largest smartphone market, from which it could launch a lower end iPhone built especially to take advantage of the enormous market.

Alexa is now asking you the questions

Alexa is now asking questions to consumers

Hunches are the Amazon name for machine learning triggers that anticipate, most frequently correctly, what you want Alexa to do. Alexa may ask you, upon hearing you walk into the kitchen, if you want to turn on the coffee maker, as you do daily. Alexa usage has quadrupled over the past two years, and the devices are getting better and better at understanding our patterns and habits. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Creepy or cool? On the one hand, one must remember that Alexa’s “mind” is only a series of algorithms that become more accurate the more data they have to factor into their calculations. On the other hand, if a third-party has the ability to analyze this data for unauthorized or un-known purposes, conflict is coming. What is a fact, is that voice has already become an important part of our interaction with machines and will likely be used to start the car engine or select the floor for the elevator to stop. Touchless controls will be more important to a pandemic-aware society, and those that resist will find it increasingly difficult to function in many settings.

Big Tech goes to Washington

Big Tech companies have been summoned to testify before Congress on Monday and discuss anti-competitive practices. Wired’s scathing account of how competition is dead, and has been for a couple of decades among the tech giants, spares Apple from bad boy status. Amazon has altered commerce, Google has created a curated Internet, and Facebook has fueled extremism in America, according to Wired.

dis-rup-shun: If competition is good for both business and consumers, and if the U.S. and Western nations are experiencing unprecedented income inequalities, then it will important to see if the visit with Congress next week leads to any real action by regulators, or more “window dressing.”

Intel announces chip delay 

Intel’s stock price was hammered in the markets yesterday after the company announced an expected six month delay on its next generation product – 7 nanometer processors. The delay will cause Intel’s largest PC customers, including Dell and HP, to delay new product offerings. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Will Intel’s dominance over intelligent devices ever return? Not likely, as the chip making business, as the delay announcement reminds us, is a very difficult and precise business. Intel owned personal computing, but recently lost Apple, as the company has moved to making its own semiconductors. Intel mostly missed the mobile market, and the Internet of Things business consists of hundreds of device types, so being really good at more than a few will be exceedingly difficult. Note that Intel’s execs were not invited to the antitrust conversation in Washington this Monday, as the chip company is no longer a candidate for limiting competition.

Microsoft shows off Halo Infinite

Microsoft’s Xbox Series X preview session live streamed yesterday, teasing the public with views of new games. Front and center was Halo’s new release, Halo Infinite, which boasts bolder and bigger graphics at 10x the frame rates of prior versions. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The Halo franchise has been the biggest driver for Xbox, and Microsoft is counting on the sequel reviving the core market’s appetites for another helping to the tune of  probably close to $400 or more for the Series X console, plus the game. Our society has greatly changed in the last few years, and have the tastes of core gamers changed as well, such that they are less interested in Halo and other first-person shooters? Microsoft conducts a great deal of research, and has apparently concluded that the core buyer is still a shooter.

Cybertruck plant lands in Austin

Austin scores $1.1 billion Tesla plant

The much hyped Tesla Cybertruck will be built, only appropriately, in Texas. Tesla confirmed that Austin will be the location of the $1.1 billion factory, nestled along the Colorado River between downtown Austin and Austin’s Bergstrom airport. The factory is expected to employ 5000 people on 2,100 acres, with an average starting wage of $35,000, including benefits. Austin American Statesman

dis-rup-shun: Austin has long been a winner of innovative projects, continuing to host significant outposts for tech companies including Apple, Google, Dell’s headquarters and IBM — the company that arguably started tech in Austin. Other than several semiconductor fabs, Austin is not a manufacturing center, so the Tesla plant diversifies the type of tech in the Lone Star capital, and will also serve as a strong market for the new electric pickup truck.

Xbox debut event starts now

Microsoft will follow Sony’s big online event that occurred last month with a big reveal today at 9 am PT. The event will offer a sneak peak at new games to be offered on the Xbox Series X, in hopes that Playstation’s slick reveal won’t sway any of the console faithful to the dark side. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Now, more than ever, Sony and Microsoft have to make the console experience really special as cloud gaming services enable the convenience of all-you-can-eat plans, as well as cross-platform gaming. “Premium experience” is the driver for console gamers and both of these platforms look like they will deliver.

Facebook enables Zoom-like features

Facebook has announced a feature for its Messenger Rooms app that enables users to stream video calls to up to 50 people. The move is to counter the ability of paid Zoom users to livestream to Twitch, YouTube and Facebook.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The race to own the video conference is becoming fierce, and the big winner is the corporation and organization, as conducting virtual business could not be much easier. The big losers, of course, may be real estate owners, airlines and hotels, as virtual meetings seem to work really well.

Slack sues Microsoft for bundling Teams

Slack has filed suit against Microsoft for its virtual work app, Teams, which is bundled as a part of the Office suite (no additional cost). Slack’s complaint is not about the similarities of the product (there aren’t many), but about Microsoft’s practice of bundling the app with its Office suite, just as it did years ago with Internet Explorer — the move that buried Netscape’s Navigator (and Netscape– RIP). Onmsft.com

dis-rup-shun: A virtual workplace app such as Teams should be a part of every suite of products, and we can expect Google to add something to their office suite at some point. Perhaps Slack should be selling to Google right about now.