Zigbee Goes to Mars

Zigbee Smart Home technology goes to Mars

Zigbee, a long-time smart home standard, powering many smart home devices, is the communications standard enabling communications between Mars Rover Perseverance and its Ingenuity companion drone. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: If it’s good enough for NASA, it is good enough for my home. For many years, a silly debate existed in the smart technology space between standards bodies — each one professing why theirs should be the only. About five years ago, long after Wi-Fi became the de-facto standard for PC communications, the standards wars cooled down as proponents realized there is room for multiple protocols. Many smart home lighting and energy applications have been built on Zigbee’s standard, and the Alliance’s maturity and long presence in the market was certainly well-endorsed when NASA sent the standard to Mars.

Smart Home fitness company Tonal partners with Nordstrom

Tonal, a hot new at-home connected fitness device, like Peloton is hot and picking up popularity quickly. Tonal, unlike Peloton, is a wall-mounted monitor, camera, with variable tensioning cables. Owners can join classes from their homes, and can monitor their strength and conditioning progress. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: It used to be the tech needed retail and, for many years, struggled to find profitable outlets. Then BestBuy figured out the right balance, and the Apple Store defied the odds and made bricks and mortar locations red hot. With Amazon effect bleeding retail establishments, adding tech to the mix is breathing new life into retailers. Target has beefed-up its electronics with more Apple products, and now Nordstrom is getting a needed infusion by becoming the retail outlet for the hot home gym company, Tonal. Retailers are quick to jump on the one thing that Amazon cannot provide — hands on display of products.

Have you been invited to the Clubhouse?

The by-invitation only Internet chat experience, Clubhouse, is getting plenty of attention. Elon Musk’s recent appearance is still being discussed. Facebook, adept at copying competitors, is fast at work to create an alternative to Clubhouse. The trendy app is an online forum for by-invitation-only invitees to listen to, and converse with celebrities, big thinkers and innovators. New York Times

dis-rup-shun: Clubhouse has quickly defined a new online forum — a cross between a podcast, Messenger, talk radio and Zoom. Invitees come together at a designated time (unlike a podcast) and have the opportunity to just listen, or converse with a big thinker and a community of followers. It is unlikely a coincidence that the app has grown virally during a time when concerts, lectures and in-person classes are almost non-existent. The new media format will likely deal yet another cut to serial radio and TV programming, and will siphon a number of hours from podcasts, despite the strong growth of latter.

Apple to be a significant Mixed Reality player

Apple’s Tim Cook has indicated that virtual reality and its variants will be a big part of the company’s future products — from a VR helmet, to glasses, followed by contact lenses in 2030. Apple follower Ming Chi-Kuo expects a helmet to be released next year, with glasses following in 2025 — precursors to contact lenses. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Mixed reality versus virtual reality versus augmented reality — what’s the difference. Virtual reality is all about visiting a far-away land through the use of technology. Mixed reality blends virtual sounds, sights and feedback with reality — overlaying an actual location, person, or object that is near you with sounds and sights. One often cited application is being able to look up and down a street and have changing images of what is inside the buildings on the street — pictures of the sushi boat at a restaurant across the street. Apple’s aggressive push into services, such as Arcade and Apple +, lays the foundation onto which mixed reality experiences can be built.



Ring doorbells catching fire

Ring doorbells are (burning) hot

Ring has sold millions of doorbell and smart home cameras, enabling do-it-yourselfers to enjoy inexpensive substitutes to security systems. The company, however has recalled 350,000 units sold between June and October. If the doorbells are installed with the wrong type of screws, the battery can catch fire. So far nearly two dozen front door fires have been reported. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The DIY (do-it-yourself) smart home products market is hot, as people can quickly and inexpensively add useful technologies to their lives. The problem, of course, with letting people do things themselves, is that they are free to do things wrong which, in this case, leads to a fire and, consequently, very dissatisfied customers.

Chipotle opens online only restaurant

Imagine a restaurant that does not offer a serving line, tables or places to dine. The new online only Chipotle in Highland Falls, NY, does not accommodate walk-in business, but is made to serve online orders for pickup only. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The new world of digital living continues to rapidly adjust to the pandemic. Despite the possibilities that a vaccine will end the pandemic sometime in mid to late 2021, the online shopping economy that has thrived will continue to do so. Whole Foods has developed similar shopper-less grocery stores. Amazon Prime trucks are rolling through neighborhoods seven days a week. Expect to see an increased emphasis on online order fulfillment.

How Apple’s new chips can change the computing experience

Earlier this year, Apple starting shipping computers that are run not by Intel’s microprocessors, but by Apple’s own M1 chipset that it spent ten years developing. How will that change the computing experience? For Mac users, the computer is likely to become much more like an iPhone or iPad, likely driven by app icons, always including touchscreens, with longer batter life, higher performance and possibly lower prices. CNET

dis-rup-shun: What seems like a fairly insignificant change — using a different microprocessor in its computers — could lead to the greatest differences in computing in the Windows world and the Mac world. By really changing the interface of the computer, making it much more continuous across the Apple product line, Apple could lead many more people to leave the Windows world for Macintosh. The losers here, of course, are both Intel and Microsoft, and an additional winner could be Google as it benefits from chaos by pushing, even harder, Chromebooks during a time of transition.

Cord cutter’s guide to choosing the best service

If you haven’t yet cut the cord, you will want to make sure your new streaming service offers live local channel access as well as your favorite specialized channels, such as ESPNU, the Golf Channel, or National Geographic. CNET‘s guide to streaming services, complete with price comparisons, makes that easy.

dis-rup-shun: To get what you want, you will likely be paying at least $65 before adding Netflix, Disney + or other subscriptions, and rumor has it that when you go to quit your pay TV provider, they may come close to matching this price with a leaner bundle.  Then, of course, one has to factor in the set top box rental fees and the purchase of streaming media devices to add to existing TVs, before an apples to apples comparison is complete.

Google’s new, disparate collection of devices

Google’s curious collection of new devices

Google’s annual hardware event, on the heels of Amazon’s string of announcements, featured an updated Pixel phone that supports 5G, a new Nest smart speaker, and a new Chromecast with Google TV dongle with remote, that looks more like Roku or Amazon FireTV. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Google continues to provide compelling products that occupy a minor share of their respective markets. Apple’s strategy is clear: leverage uniquely well-designed products to support ecosystems of services that surround a consumer’s life. Amazon’s strategy is becoming clear: to be a dominant provider of products and services at all points of consumption, and to create new opportunities for consumption of products and services. Google’s strategy, other than being the preeminent provider of search services, is difficult to discern. How do these interesting devices advance Google’s strategy? Can having a minor share of mobile, smart home and streaming video help the company become more than a search giant, or are these mere placeholders to keep Google in other arenas while it determines its next big play?

YouTube TV’s battle with Fox Sports looks a lot like cable TV

Pay TV subscribers (that is most of us) have grown accustomed to the occasional disputes between our chosen carrier and a content provider and aggregator, and most of the time, the dispute is around professional sports carriage. YouTube TV is going through its own dispute with Fox regional sports networks, as Fox has pulled many regional networks from the YouTube TV’s line up. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: The movement en masse of subscribers away from pay TV services to over the top services, primarily to lower the monthly TV bill, is facing the same hurdles to cost savings as before. The astronomical prices charged by pro sports team owners have to be paid by someone, and that someone is now the streaming TV service subscriber. The costs of streaming services have progressively increased, with YouTube TV now costing $64.99 per month. As the “invisible hand” of the economy pushes traditional pay TV prices down, will the price advantages of streaming services essentially disappear — once again leveling the playing field?

This is not your father’s garage door opener

Just when you didn’t think you could get excited about garage doors, LiftMaster has combined the MyQ camera technology into its next generation garage door opener, alerting your smartphone when your garage door opens, and enabling you to have a two way conversation with those in your garage. The system also works with Amazon’s Key service, in which delivery people open your garage door to slip a package in, protecting you from porch pirates. CNET

dis-rup-shun: LiftMaster’s commercial, recreating a scene from Ferris Beuller’s Day Off, is definitely worth the 10 seconds required to watch — especially the final scene that features Ferris’ good friend Cameron Frye. The Secure View Garage Opener is the marriage of a Ring-like smart doorbell and a garage door controller. The camera, however, is not mounted on the door but rather on the ceiling-mounted controller, enabling a view of the car and those entering the garage. Expect this to be the new standard for garage doors in new homes and a few older homes, as having a connected camera dedicated to the garage is a no-brainer.

A scathing review of the FCC’s broadband report

Wired, never afraid of politics, offers a scathing evaluation of the U.S. FCC’s report on broadband, suggesting that the agency’s definition as well as counting of broadband access is deeply flawed. Wired suggests that, in order to show better results, the agency has lowered the bar on what defines broadband service. The discrepancy in number of people without coverage ranges from 18.3 million as stated by the FCC and 42.8 million, estimated by third parties.

dis-rup-shun: Broadband, especially in times of pandemic, is a lifeline to education, jobs, entertainment and (sometimes real) news. This, arguably more than phone service, is an essential service just below electricity and running water on the hierarchy of needs. If the U.S. has 331 million citizens, then somewhere around 10% to 12% are unserved, according to these estimates. While the number of unserved people is large, one has to imagine that a sizable share of the unserved choose to remain so. For the statisticians, the question is how many of those that want services can not access them, and what is the number of people who are vigilantly working to stay off of the grid?

Amazon puts your credit in the palm of your hand

Amazon to use your palm print as your credit card

Brilliant and scary, Amazon is implementing palm reader technology, Amazon One, which uses the individual and distinct signature of your palm, rather than facial or retinal recognition. The technology links your name, phone number and the credit card on file so that anyone who passes through their unattended convenience stores can charge products with only their hand. The company has side-stepped the controversies surrounding facial recognition by using the palm. The technology will be offered to other industries, including stadiums, airports and office buildings. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: It seems that this technology would end sales of alcohol and cigarettes to underaged persons as it is hard to use a fake palm, unless, of course, nefarious entrepreneurs create fake ID gloves — something that teens could slip onto their hands to emulate a fake person. The potential for easing access in concerts, stadiums and airports, not to mention speeding up trips to Target or the grocery store, is promising. The technology could be used to start your car, use your ATM card, and many other things. For those concerned about Amazon’s dominance of online markets, consider how this technology will put Amazon in the center of retail shopping and give them complete knowledge of each customers location and purchase history.

Microsoft outage cause undisclosed

Microsoft users (isn’t that everyone?) experienced an outage on Monday evening, impacting use of all cloud-based applications including Office 365, Teams and OneDrive. Little is know about the outage, which was resolved after about five hours, and credited to a “change” that was made. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: We have come to take the cloud for granted as being secure, reliable, and always on. It is hard to imagine that a lone developer at Microsoft could have implemented an update that brought the entire Microsoft world to its knees. On the other hand, if the good people in Redmond were hacked by nefarious forces, the fact that they restored the system in under five hours is an impressive piece of work. I still feel better about the brilliant minds in Redmond being responsible for protecting my data over leaving me to my own devices, hoping that Norton antivirus, or the security application du jour, is protecting my personal and business assets.

Yale’s smart delivery box is out to defeat porch pirates

Yale’s Smart Delivery Box is heavy duty plastic container with a smart lock that can be controlled via smartphone app to safely receive all but large packages from delivery services. The box has an impressive number of safety features and options that anticipate a host of scenarios. The problem, however, is that most delivery people don’t take the time to place items in the box. Educating delivery services, and perhaps incentivizing them to use the box, may the answer to address the rising leakage of products due to porch pirates. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: The number of claims for stolen packages will only rise as the online commerce trend continues upwards. Yale’s device makes great sense, as does Amazon Key, a service which allows homeowners to unlock their front door for an Amazon delivery. The first logistics company that offers secure delivery — using their own lock box or partners such as Yale, will have an advantage in most neighborhoods. Until that feature is seen as a competitive differentiator, delivery services will see lock boxes as seconds-wasting friction. Expect lockboxes to become an integrated part of the delivery service experience soon.

Google enforces 30% app store cut

Google is cleaving tightly to Apple before the storm of legal action initiated by Epic. Google has announced that it will enforce its policy of all in-app transactions paying the standard 30% to the app store — a stated policy that it has been lax in enforcing. Google appears to be closing ranks with Apple ahead of the storm initiated by Epic and a growing number of companies claiming that the app store policies are anti-competitive. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Why Google is drawing a harder line prior to legal action is hard to understand, unless the company believes its policies will be upheld in higher courts. The winds of change for Big Tech are starting to howl, as legislators continue to stack evidence of anti-competitive policies. Apple as of late has been using its “more private” message to differentiate from Google and curry favor with increasingly privacy-wary consumers, but this battle puts both giants in the same boat.


The Social Dilemma – A Worthwhile Wakeup Call

The Social Dilemma – a sobering documentary

There is a great deal of buzz around the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma which features a number of former Pinterest, Facebook and Google developers who are, for the most part, credited for making the social networks what they are today. Featured developers have left their employers due to fears that what they created is ruining our culture, society and democracy. The documentary is in the top 10 of most watched shows, and provides strong, if heavy handed insights into the profit motives and damaging potential of addiction to social media. CinemaBlend

dis-rup-shun: The documentary is effective at raising awareness and is certainly thought-provoking. It does not, however, acknowledge that the advertising industry, since its inception, is about manipulation and reality twisting. It also fails to remind viewers that social media, just like any other addictive habit or substance, may not be so harmful if kept in balance. It does, however, illustrate the damage of total immersion and the particularly harmful effects on impressionable teens. The show rightly mentions that social networks need regulation but does not tie back to the fact that advertising (print and TV) has long been restricted, particularly limiting advertisement of tobacco and alcohol. The documentary does a good job of elevating awareness that social networks need some strong regulation — something our Congress has been slowly and steadily, but not conclusively, addressing.

Tesla, EVs and range anxiety

Only 2% of autos sold in 2019 were electric, though the majority — over 80%, were Teslas. Last year, over 143 new EVs were offered. The biggest objection to EVs, however, are lack of range and availability of prevalent and fast chargers. Partnerships with EVgo and ChargePoint to rollout electric charging stations across the countries, that are fast and universal, will help lower the objections by getting more EV makers to work together to support standard chargers. Tesla’s proprietary charging format — requiring the company to build its own charging infrastructure, is unlikely to be emulated. Developing infrastructure for an entirely new mode of transportation will take time, and a great deal of capital. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The EV industry is in a critical place — most automakers have made significant sacrificial investments to become EV makers — convinced that a fossil fuel future is very limited. Convincing consumers that EVs are ready for prime time will take another five to ten years, and to do so, creating nationwide webs of charging stations is mandatory. In the meantime, consumers can take a transitional approach — using EVs for intra-city activities and having a fossil burner for road trips.

How epic is Epic’s battle with Apple?

Epic’s fight over Apple’s tight control of its own App Store (and Google for its store) is so much more than a fight over the percentage of the sale paid to the app store. The battle is really about anti-competitive practices and the applicability of anti trust laws to Big Tech. CNET

dis-rup-shun: This battle will likely be a watershed event of our generation, as Epic has become a catalyst in an overdue assessment of where to draw the line with Big Tech.  If Apple and Google win the skirmish, then the pressure on legislators to determine what defines anti-competitive practices will simply grow stronger, and the job of forming new legislation will only grow bigger. If Epic and the Coalition for App Fairness prevail, the future of the app business and the grip that Apple and Google have on their device ecosystems will be loosened. This event will also impact Amazon and their Kindle ecosystem, and may go as far as impacting Amazon’s increasing grip on the majority of online shopping with its Amazon Basics line. Regardless of the outcome, we can expect more experiences and marketplaces to return to native web apps — enabling mobile users to go to optimized websites, via the phone browser, for near app experiences that are not apps downloaded from app stores. While performance and ease of use will be less, consumers will quickly grow accustomed to native web applications that offer better prices, or easier access to the things they will not go without.

Alexa gets more conversational and asks you questions

One can say to Alexa, “Alexa, join our conversation,” and the device will then be “at liberty” to ask clarifying questions about what is your favorite temperature, what you mean by “play music” or the size of the pizza you ordered. These “learnings” will be account specific and as a result of users authorizing this level of involvement but can make the device more useful as it seeks to assist its owners. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Machine learning, or AI, as it is often called, can simply be described as the process of collecting more data to improve the outcomes or interpretation of a command. Computers are still not intelligent, but are able to more accurately calculate a positive result if they have more data to use to reduce the variability of factors in an algorithm. If you choose to assist your assistant, outcomes will be better and if you have already decided to open your home to a smart speaker, a smartphone, or most browsers, you have already entered into a relationship with advertisers which seems, for the most part, to offer you valued conveniences in exchange for personal information. (See first article).

Google says work from home flexibility is here to stay

Google developing hybrid work from office/home model

According to a recent company-wide survey, 62% of Google employees want to come back to the office, but not everyday. The company is developing policies to support a blended, or hybrid work from home and office model. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It seems that flexibility is the operative concept, and using flexibility as an employee benefit will be critical to attract and retain talent in the future. Zoom, Teams, Bluejeans, Skype, are all here to stay, and most workers seem to have convinced employers that performance is equal or higher from home, and many claim that their hours at work have increased as a result of not commuting.

Spotify founder pledges a billion Euros to moonshot startups

Daniel Ek, CEO and founder of the world’s most popular streaming music service, Spotify, has pledged one billion euros, about one third of his wealth, to funding European technology ventures. Ek hopes to promote and stabilize European tech companies and stop the trend of these companies being snapped up by U.S. based rivals, and for strong tech talent to be lured from European shores to Silicon Valley. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is a great world when billionaires like Bill and Melinda Gates, Mackenzie Bezos, Warren Buffet and Daniel Ek pledge billions towards making the world a better place. Hopefully these leaders will inspire both millionaires and billionaires alike to elevate economic opportunities, reduce poverty and disease, and clean up the environment.

The real security crisis — not China

Shelly Palmer’s essay on TikTok, WeChat and security concerns is well summarized and not political: the concern for data privacy and security is that Big Tech, regardless of country or cloud, is not regulated regarding what they can do with the data that they extract through their apps. Palmer states “TikTok and WeChat have no better opportunity to use data against a single American or America than Facebook or Google or China or Russia or Tom, Dick or Harry do. The “Chinese Data Boogiepeople” are not coming to get you via TikTok or WeChat. The data elite already manipulate your world in ways you do not understand and have zero control over.” Palmer calls for bipartisan legislation to regulate the use of data, and disclosure of that usage.

dis-rup-shun: Palmer states that there is no single documented case of Big Tech using the data it has collected on you and me in an abusive manner. The Russian election interference was not a case of Big Tech acting poorly, but rather a case of Facebook offering an open channel abused by bad actors. While the WeChat and TikTok cases will be a central focus of the upcoming election, what, unfortunately, is not being discussed is a uniform data privacy policy that will be used as a unit of measure for all companies from all countries collecting personal data.

Nest Audio Speaker leaked

From a Walmart source, it appears that Google will announce, by end of month, the Nest Audio Speaker, with, of course, Google Assistant built in. Speculation has pricing at $100. Engadget

dis-rup-shun: Looks like Amazon and Google, having packed voice assistant technology into darn near every product with an outlet, are going back to the basics and working on bringing high quality sound at low prices to the home. Will these products be on par with top quality connected speakers from the likes of Bose, Sonos and JBL? Watch for reviews to guide shoppers in the upcoming holiday season.


Microsoft beefs up games properties

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

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

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

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

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

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

Micro weddings use Instagram for community

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

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

Smart bike helmet

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

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


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

ByteDance may be the winner in TikTok resolution

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

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

iCloud is the star of the Apple One bundle

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

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

What’s new about the new Apple smartwatch

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

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

Alipay is global leader in mobile payments

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

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

Apple looking more like Amazon

Is Apple striving to look more like Amazon?

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

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

Not too happy with Apple: Spotify

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

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

Justice Department warns that video games are new hacking target

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

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

Amazon enters battery recycling business

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

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


Foldable Computer Options Improve

Microsoft Surface Duo has promise but rough edges

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

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

Peloton sales surge 172%

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

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

Galaxy Z Fold smartphone for $2000

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

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