Amazon in the fitness device business

Amazon planning fitness earbuds

Amazon’s hardware roadmap will include earbuds powered by Alexa that track motion, running distance, and calories burned. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Amazon is continuing to head the direction of device powerhouse, extending Alexa to ever more products, and creating possibly a new category of device (fitness earbuds) to capitalize on the hot connected wellness market. Reasons for investing heavily in the generally not profitable device business likely include the fact that, as Apple has taught, devices are platforms for online services. A monthly fitness coaching subscription, possibly free to Amazon Prime members, could be in the works. Furthermore, creating an armada of Alexa-powered products could lead Amazon’s Echo family to become the defacto home hub for all things connected, from music players to microwaves, to light switches, driving commerce for grocery delivery, utilities, and music and TV services through an Alexa-powered home transaction hub. So far consumers have not used Echo as a purchasing platform, but that could change.

Streaming Wars: Netflix’s stock tanks

Netflix’s stock price has dropped, giving up all gains from 2019 and sending it negative for the year. The combination of a drop in subscribers, new competition from Apple, Disney, AT&T, CBS, and others at aggressive price points (several below Netflix), and the loss of the blockbuster series The Office, have painted a challenging picture of the company’s future. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It is amazing to watch how fast a pioneer company that invents new categories, like Netscape, Uber, Blockbuster, Sony and now Netflix, can find itself fighting to keep its place in the race it started. As mentioned before, Netflix, though a beloved brand, is different from its new competitors in that it does not have other revenue streams to help subsidize losses of its subscribers. Differentiation is now all about original content, and if Netflix is tempted to lower its monthly pricing, it will have to cut back its original content budget, blunting its competitive edge.

Microsoft quickly capitalizes on retail’s revolt against Amazon Web Services

Microsoft has released retail friendly tools, Dynamics 365, making it simple for online retailers to build product pages that can get ratings and comments from customers. The tools are tightly integrated with other Office tools. As many retailers have moved their cloud business to Microsoft Azure in order not to further enrich their rival, Amazon, Microsoft is moving quickly to provide advantages to retailers. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft continues to effectively re-tool its business, both enhancing its core assets (Windows + Office 365) and developing superior products in the cloud race. The company has acted swiftly to capitalize on big retailers’ anti-Amazon movement. Expect the company to continue to find ways to differentiate its cloud services, and to apply similar specialties to other target industries.

Facebook invests in neural monitoring company

Facebook has paid an estimated range between $500 million and $1 billion for neural armband monitoring maker CTRL Labs. The acquisition follows Facebook’s prior investments in methods to control devices with brain waves — eliminating dependence of keyboards, mice and smart speakers. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun:  How does this investment fit into Facebook’s distinctive competencies of social networks? Is this about being able to update one’s status without typing, or is Facebook trying to leapfrog Amazon by building portal devices for video communications and neural controllers since Amazon owns voice control? It is likely a power play to establish the company as a pioneer of a future, undefined product category rather than execution of a defined strategy, but definitely a bold and ambitious (and expensive) initiative.

Google Nest called IoT liar

Bald faced IoT liar: more ire at Google Nest

“But that Google can suddenly decide to sunset a cloud API that hundreds of IoT devices have been talking to for less than five years is a bit disturbing. It means that the idea of mixing and matching products for home automation — the very premise of what IoT and the smart home was supposed to be — is a farce. It is a bald-faced lie, and Google’s pants are on fire…I’m not expecting Amazon to throw all their customers under the bus like Google just did.” Rants ZDNet’s Jason Perlow.

dis-rup-shun: Jason puts it well. The smart home industry has declared, for over 15 years now, that the key to successful mass adoption of smart home technologies is to adhere to at least a few standards since a single vendor smart home is just not going to happen. Google took its eye off the ball while Amazon ran away with the smart speaker market, and now the company is using Nest’s past successes to try to force consumers the way of Google Nest Assistant and the result is… Amazon wins. Google has lost the trust of its consumers and that will hobble its smart home efforts for the foreseeable future.

Asus provides a 14 day smart watch

Asus has released a new smart watch, complete with ECG and PPG sensors (two alternative methods of measuring heart rate). The VivoWatch SP beats its rivals in endurance, but does so with lower display resolution. For those seeking a health tracker that is water resistant, is serious about measuring heart rates, and can function between charges longer than any of its rivals, it is one to consider. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: As the wearables market gets more mature, users have to determine what features are most important. For a watch that does everything, Apple again leads. For a device that is optimized for heart health, or running, or swimming, specialty devices exist for each. How do you compete with Apple in an emerging category? Develop a specialist product and not a do-everything product.

Acer Thronos is a $14,000 gaming chair

The Thronos is Acer’s second gaming chair. This steel cage surrounding a chair supports 3 monitors, a gaming PC, cup holder and includes a massage function. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: E-sports are taking gaming to new levels, and Acer has recognized that there is a population segment that takes gaming as seriously as the golfer who spends thousands on custom clubs, the avid outdoors man with collector guns, and the musician that collects rare guitars.

Light 2 is the un-smartphone smartphone

The $350 Light Phone 2 is a smartphone designed to be unattached to mobile apps. The device can surf the Internet, can place phone calls, but is designed to not run apps — giving users only the most basic connections. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: There are people who want to be attached to the Internet and cellular networks, but want to be mostly anonymous and unattached to apps, mostly social networks. While this niche market may seem too small to address, think about health food stores thirty years ago, or yoga forty years ago. Segments of the population have always longed for simplicity and an absence of commercialism, and now they have a phone.

The mobile revolution has ended

The skinny on iPhone 11

Rumors are piling up and it appears that all four new iPhone 11 models will be released on September 10th. The iPhone 11’s will feature three cameras on the back, including one wide-angle lens, and one on the front that is capable of slow motion. The phones feature Apple’s A13 processor and will again have touch ID. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: As if Moore’s law has come to an end, innovation in smartphones is now painfully minor. Apple has not been as creative as Samsung when it offered capability to charge others’ devices, but, like Samsung, is making its largest strides in better camera technology. Sadly, the mobile technology revolution has ended, with only incremental feature improvements and processor improvements. What will be the next technology to truly alter our society and culture?

Google smart speakers fall to third place worldwide

A report by Canalys confirms that Amazon’s Alexa devices are well ahead of the pack, shipping 6.6 million units last quarter, with 50% being outside the U.S. China’s Baidu has taken second place, slightly ahead of Google, but focused mostly on the China market. Its annual growth rate of 3700% was the result of deep discounting, while Google’s -19.8% growth is attributed to the company’s questionable efforts to revamp its partner program.

table ifnal final

dis-rup-shun: 26 million units shipped in one quarter, meaning a year’s worth of sales will be over 100 million, and the number of households in the U.S. alone is 130 million. In a few year’s time, nearly half of the world’s broadband households will have a smart speaker meaning that the same number of homes potentially have a smart home hub, capable of controlling lights, temperature, entertainment devices and appliances.

Quick facts about smartphone batteries

Wired offers the keys to smartphone battery longevity. 1. Top off the charge every day instead of letting the battery go to zero power. 2. Avoid exposing your phone to extreme temperatures. 3. Use a corded battery charger that applies a slow, steady charge, rather than rapid wireless chargers. 4. If you aren’t going to use your phone for a while, leave it partially charged – not full. 5. Keep your smartphone software up to date, as each new version has better battery management features. 6. Make adjustments to your apps, such as brightness, to use less power.

dis-rup-shun: As people hold on to smartphones longer, battery health is even more important to device longevity. Apple is now making it difficult for non-Apple authorized service centers to replace batteries, as a software lock is shipped on new iPhones, and once you take your older phone to the Apple store, chances are good that you won’t resist the urge to upgrade the device, rather than keeping it for the extra year.

Disney declares streaming war on Netflix

Disney’s new streaming service, Disney+, offers more features for less money than Netflix. Priced at $6.99 per month, the service provides HD and a rich library of content, compared to Netflix’ $8.99 without HD. Disney’s broader bundle adds ESPN+ and (ad supported) Hulu to the mix for the same price as Netflix’ HD bundle, $12.99. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The TV landscape is a bloodbath. AT&T’s TV services lost over 2 million subscribers in the past year. The giant realignment of networks, carriers and studios, including AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner, is notice that traditional TV providers will not cede the markets to upstarts Amazon Prime and Netflix, but will hemorrhage money to maintain market share. Netflix, spending mightily to create new content, does not have the distribution channels of Disney and therefore will not earn as much on original content as established studios. Expect Netflix to be acquired by one of the establish entertainment networks within three years.

Apple teaches Facebook a privacy lesson

Apple iOS 13 big on privacy

iOS 13, to be released in September, changes the way voice calls over the Internet work. iOS 13 will not allow these apps, such as Whatsapp and Facebook to connect calls if they are not open and actively in use. This move is designed to enable users to know when an app is running, and therefore tracking their location and sites visited — as opposed to apps constantly collecting information in the background. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: Applause to Apple for taking a stand for consumer privacy. While this move will not change the fact that consumers give away a tremendous amount of data everyday by choice, it does draw a line for a new industry standard on when apps can “spy” on their users. Apple’s move will not be easy for Facebook, as apps must be rewritten, and let’s hope other phone makers such as Samsung and Google follow Apple’s lead. 

Samsung’s smart speaker MIA after one year

Samsung’s answer to Amazon Echo, Google Home and Apple HomePod, the Samsung Galaxy Home, is a year (and counting) late to market. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Questions: Why does a company that is a proven innovator struggle to develop a product long released by its chief competitors? What slice of the consumer electronics market is left after Amazon and Google, a distant second, have flooded the market with voice compatible devices? Answers: Samsung, being late to the market, must be trying to do something truly unique that others aren’t, and hence the delay. If not, then the product will not get much traction outside of being built in to Samsung devices, as Amazon has already won voice control for toasters, microwaves, light switches, etc. Of course, Amazon’s arch rivals, like Walmart, may be anxious to promote Galaxy Home at the expense of Amazon’s devices.

Trump bars companies from working with Huawei (again)

The ban, beginning August 13th, targets Hauwei, ZTE, Hytera, and Hikvision, all Chinese companies with potential, according to the White House, of spying. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Months ago, the President prohibited companies from working with Huawei, then granted many exceptions, then backed off on the campaign against the company. Now, with an escalating trade war, focus again is on locking Chinese tech firms out of U.S. markets. It looks like its time to take Chinese trade off the table for several years. Many industries were hoping to resume business as usual after a few months of posturing, but now it the business plan needs to be revised to remove Chinese customers from the mix.

Apple locking batteries, making replacement more difficult

Apple’s latest models come with a software lock — one that cannot be reset by unauthorized Apple repair shops who replace the battery. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Given that smartphones are now about $1000, and given that we are likely to keep them longer, we are more likely to replace the battery to get one more year of use. To have to now go to an Apple store to do so is inconvenient, and a real disservice to small businesses who are conveniently located on every street corner to fix cracked screens and replace batteries. Apple isn’t making any new friends with this move.

Textbook racket smashed by Internet

Internet crushes textbook racket — schools next

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

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

5G deployment has real estate implications

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

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

Good news for Fitbit fans

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

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

Cashless retail meets opposition

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

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

 

 

Can Walmart.com catch Amazon.com?

Walmart’s attempts at e-commerce are struggling

Walmart’s e-commerce unit is reportedly losing $1 billion this year.  The company invested $3.3 billion in Jet.com and has been struggling to keep up with Amazon.com. Reports state that while the company is investing in young lifestyle brands, others believe that deep online discounting is the better strategy. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Given Amazon’s scale, Walmart must keep the long game in mind and be prepared to lose several billion more to catch up. While Walmart debates discount versus brand building strategy, Amazon is doubling down on warehouses, trucks, planes, drones, vendor networks, and machine learning algorithms. Amazon has built enormous scale not only in inventory, but in logistics, requiring an ever increasing investment to catch. Will Walmart shareholders and management decide that the cost of the race is too high a price to pay?

Facebook will pay a fine of $5 billion

After 87 million users’ personal information was improperly shared with political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica prior to the last Presidential election, the Federal Trade Commission has levied a fine of $5 billion, representing one month of revenue. Critics of the deal that does not penalize CEO Zuckerberg call it a slap on the wrist, and shares of the company were up almost 2% after announcement of the penalty.  ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: The FTC’s action will stand in contrast with the European Commission which is currently investigating several large corporations for similar mis-handling of consumer data. It is expected that the EU will provide proportionally much harsher penalties for similar failures and may be a much stronger driver for implementation of higher standards and better enforcement.

Amazon music growing faster than Apple and Spotify

Amazon’s service reported 70% growth in the past year.  Amazon reports 32 million subscribers to Apple’s 60 million and Spotify’s 100 million. Despite the strong growth, the other services have a strong lead. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: Given that there are 126 million households in the U.S. and 221 in the European Union, combined, the services are reaching nearly 58% of households in both continents, suggesting that additional subscriber acquisition will be increasingly difficult and expensive. Amazon Prime members get a the basic music service, Prime Music for no additional charge, but may find that the limited catalog is a gateway to the Amazon Music Unlimited service which is available to Prime members at a negligible $2 premium.

Petcube incorporates Alexa into pet amusement device

Petcube’s Bite2 and Play 2 are smart devices that remotely dispense treats and provide a moving laser pointer, respectively. New versions of the devices now include Alexa voice capabilities. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The Internet of Pet care has arrived, and now one can command their Petcube to command their dog or cat to perform tricks or sit for a treat. Amazon’s saturation of the smart speaker space in ever more types of devices is solidifying it as the industry standard for voice control. Why would a manufacturer choose anything but Amazon as its voice interface?

Buffett offers success traits

Buffett offers keys to business success

Speaking to a class of MBAs, Buffett advised the group that high IQs will not differentiate business leaders. Instead, he listed traits required to succeed:

  • Fulfill your promises
  • Be honest
  • Be trustworthy
  • Give credit where credit is due
  • Be mindful and emotionally intuitive
  • Manifest humility
  • Be willing to admit you’re wrong
  • Offer help when it’s needed
  • Treat others with respect
  • Be charitable
  • Be patient

CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While high IQs without integrity may lead to problems later in the journey, there is no quantitative score card available to rank workers on Buffett’s list of integrity traits. So for the foreseeable future, organizations will continue to use IQ as a unit of measure for recruiting and hope that their members possess, or will develop, Buffett’s leadership traits.

India going to the moon

India delayed, on Sunday, the launch of its lunar lander and rover project, called Chandrayaan-2 due to technical problems. The mission includes a lunar lander and rover that will explore the Moon’s south pole. Space.com

dis-rup-shun: Lunar landings are so 1960s — why bother? The moon is a convenient platform for a country to showcase its space travel capabilities. To be not only a global, but universal super power, a country now has to have a formidable space program, not so much to colonize the moon, but to operate a fleet of orbiting satellites that will provide future broadband and 5G services, as well as play important military roles including spying, weapons hosting, and communications. India will be the fourth country to land on the Moon (USA, China, Russia have landed, Israel missed).

Employee leaked recordings of Google Voice conversations

Google revealed that employees listen to conversations from Google Assistant that are not related to the watch phrase, “Okay Google,” or “Hey Google.” All of the smart speaker vendors have disclosed that real people listen to samplings of customer recordings to improve quality of speech recognition. ArsTecnica

dis-rup-shun: Listening to conversations for the purposes of development of the technology is not the big deal. The big deal is that 15% of the conversations listened to were not in response to the watch phrase, and therefore should not have been recorded. The fact that the recordings were leaked to a company in Europe, where the European Union is currently enforcing its new data privacy safeguarding law, GDPR, means that Google will certainly face additional investigations from the EU. The article provides instructions for settings that turn off voice recordings and delete conversation history.

Amazon building Sonos-killer 

Amazon continues to expand its line of Echo products. Bloomberg reports that the company will introduce a high fidelity version of the player that will seek to deliver a music experience akin to Sonos or Apple’s HomePod. eMarketer reports that the Echo family owns 63% of this year’s smart speaker market. Bloomberg

dis-rup-shun: Amazon will continue to flood the market with many shapes, sizes and variants of Echo devices as it seeks to establish critical mass as the voice control standard for all types of appliances, cars, players and even light switches. The smart speaker makers are buying market share, selling devices below cost, as sales of the devices are, more importantly, sales of a voice control network standard. The Network Effect states that the value of a network standard such as Echo increases with the number of nodes, making competition nearly impossible once one company grabs a high share of market. Building a high fidelity version of Echo puts Amazon in competition with Echo licensing customer Sonos, but alienation of a customer is a small price to pay when Amazon’s game is massive scale.

The gadgets that most changed our lives this decade

The devices that most altered our lifestyle in the 2010s

While the decade is not quite over, ZDNet provides a round up of consumer technologies that had the biggest impact on our lives. 

2010: Apple iPad. Other tablets existed but failed until Apple provide an easy to use interface and many, many available apps.

2011: Chromebook. The browser only computer-like device was a big hit for the educational sector.

2012 Raspberry Pi. This $25 development computer was the basic building block for people to invent connected devices.

2013: Playstation 4 and XBOX One. These consoles are responsible for an entire refresh of game console libraries.

2014: Satya Nadella and Windows 10. Nadella took over a flagging Microsoft from Steve Ballmer and put it back on track.

2015: Amazon Echo and Alexa. Amazon has made Alexa the defacto voice interface for the home and soon, car.

2016: Pokemon Go. This game taught the world what augmented reality is and how it works.

2017: Nintendo Switch. Nintendo showed that it could regain its former stature with a portable game console.

2018: Apple Watch Series 4. This watch includes EKG readings and fall detection.

2019: To be named.

dis-rup-shun: PCs were widely available in the 1980s. The Internet was mainstream after 1995. Smartphones became mainstream after 2007. Uber changed transportation starting in 2009. The pace of technology innovation is increasing each year, making the release cycle between game changers shorter and shorter. In five years we will be talking about how drones changed the delivery business starting in 2020.

Tablets get a new lease on life as second screens

Apple has released an application called Sidecar which turns an iPad into a second monitor for a Mac. Just put the iPad into a stand and the device is a slave to the computer. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: A brilliant move by Apple and a real advantage over PCs. PCs will be quick to emulate this functionality, and maybe even Apple will enable this functionality for PCs in order to sell more iPads, but iPads were falling out of favor to slim laptops and large smartphones. This will keep people buying iPads.

Apple’s serious production woes

Apple contracted with Samsung to build a massive OLED (higher quality display technology) manufacturing plant to handle higher volumes of iPhones. Problem is, iPhone sales are way down, meaning the plant is running at less than 50% of capacity. To address this shortfall and liability to Samsung, Apple has cancelled its 5.8 inch iPhone model and will be adding OLED screens to a larger number of its products (that weren’t originally intended to get the better screens). That means better iPhones are coming in 2020, providing less incentive to upgrade in 2019. Forbes

dis-rup-shun: The economic impact of slowing iPhone sales will hit Apple hard. Its other popular products don’t have nearly the volume of iPhones. A slowing Apple will have a significant impact on a global economy that is appearing fragile. Bumpy road ahead.

Practicing app hygiene makes life simpler

Clean up your phone

The average person launches 9 apps per day and uses 30 over the course of one month. Smartphones, however, typically have several pages of apps, well over one hundred in many cases. The problem with the old, unused apps is that they are not updated, and become security risks, memory hogs, and location trackers. Popular Science

dis-rup-shun: People purchased high tech tools to manage their lives. Now quality of life, like protecting privacy and un-complicating interactions with devices, requires management of devices. What technology will help us manage the devices that help us manage our lives?

 

HVAC dealer as smart home channel

Philadelphia’s Joseph Giannone Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning is selling smart home features as a way to increase peace of mind during summer vacation. Focusing on energy savings, leak detection, HVAC performance and lighting as security makes a trip to the beach that much more worry free. Yahoo

dis-rup-shun: Much of the industry is focused on the shootout between Google Nest, Amazon Ring and Alexa, and low-end security provider SimpliSafe. HVAC dealers and installers, however, provide a trusted source for information as well as a reliable installation authority. Brand will be less important when recommended by HVAC dealers, as their level of authority, in most cases, will matter more to homeowners than asking friends or family which technology is best. 

Uber and Lyft are unsustainable

Shelly Palmer explains that Uber and Lyft have no differentiation, and therefore cannot attain enough pricing advantage over one another to sustain profits. Autonomous vehicles, however, built by big car companies, will win as their ability to make and deploy products directly to consumers who will “buy” the cars one mile at a time will be more profitable. Uber and Lyft, the argument goes, cannot purchase cars outright and rent them as efficiently as automakers. 

dis-rup-shun: For the same reasons automakers purchased car rental companies — creating large buying groups that cut out the middle man (the dealer) — makers of autonomous vehicles operated by the manufacturer will enjoy a higher margin and a pricing advantage in a cutthroat market.

Bezos explains how to succeed in business

Bezos offers the key to business success

Bezos, at Amazon’s re:MARS conference on AI, while wearing a questionable shirt and sportcoat combination for the world’s wealthiest man, offered business leaders advice for success: 1. Focus on a customer need that will not change, such as customers wanting products delivered faster at lower prices; 2. Focus on something for which you are passionate, as without passion, you will get outworked, and 3. Do something risky because if it is not risky, someone is already doing it. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Bezos’ advice appears elementary, until we consider the very things that the company is transforming: shopping, the grocery business, travel (Blue Origin), package delivery (drones), TV watching, controlling home systems (Alexa), and many other industries. Bezos is saying go where the money is and transform the delivery of fundamental needs. Unfortunately for other entrepreneurs, Amazon has already disrupted, or started to, for most industries.

 

Space X shows how a trip from NYC to Shanghai in 39 minutes

In a concept video, Space X shows how passengers will board a high speed ferry which will deliver them to a floating launchpad, where they will board a rocket that hurls them into orbit and makes a gentle touchdown on another floating platform, from which they will be ferried to downtown Shanghai. YouTube

dis-rup-shun: The concept shows why the Space X test landings on floating platforms are critical to the plan. Using a floating platform for travel introduces more opportunities for nature’s interference. Calling home to inform your loved ones that you missed your rocket due to rough seas will be a big disappointment for all. 

 

All three smart speakers to get smarter this year

The race to dominate home voice control through smart speakers means a constant stream of new features. Alexa will allow a user to complete multiple tasks with one request to Alexa. Google’s voice assistant is getting more friendly in that you can now ask it to go back when reading instructions, or simply to “stop” without using the watch word. Siri is now able to distinguish different voices in one room, a skill already possessed by Alexa and Google Assistant, and in the home space, Apple is a distant third. CNet

dis-rup-shun: While smart speakers are great to use and making interaction with home systems much more natural, the new capabilities mean that the tech companies will be listening and recording your conversations longer, so that they will have more context to carry out commands. Those that are worried about being listened to will not be in favor of these new enhancements, but those that are willing to pay for some convenience with some privacy see it as a good deal.

 

FexEx appears to be aligning with Walmart: ends Amazon Express deliveries

FedEx announced that it will not renew its Amazon Express services, using the capacity to assist other e-commerce companies. Meanwhile FedEx is increasing the number of kiosks inside of Walmart stores. New York Times

dis-rup-shun: The online power players are jockeying for position. Walmart is working overtime to catch up with Amazon’s dominance, and FedEx is threatened by Amazon’s growing fleet of trucks and planes. FedEx is likely terminating a low profit contract with Amazon and seeking higher profit per delivery with other customers, and siding with Walmart as both companies seek defense from Amazon’s tight grip on online selling.