Consumers love Microsoft, Amazon distrust Facebook, Twitter

Verge consumer survey shows what tech companies are loved and disdained

The Verge completed a follow up survey to its 2016 survey on public perceptions of tech firms. Facebook lacked trust in 2016 and has fallen precipitously, while Amazon, adored in 2016, remains a public favorite. Microsoft is the must trusted tech company (75% trust it), followed by Amazon (73% trust it).

  • 56 percent said the government should break up tech companies if they control too much of the economy
  • 72 percent said that Facebook has too much power
  • 51 percent said Google and YouTube should be split into separate companies

dis-rup-shun: What is surprising about the survey is that Apple is in the bottom half of companies discussed. Has Apple’s premium product positioning and pricing made it an elitist brand that does not appeal to the masses as do Google, Netflix, and Amazon? Perhaps Apple has become the Nordstrom’s in a Target world, where technology is now a lifestyle necessity of all but the most impoverished, and highly accessible brands are seen as providing great utility to society. Facebook, however, remains a powerful but disliked brand — a precarious position for long-term success.

Walmart readies answer to Amazon Prime

Walmart will soon launch Walmart + which is a fee-based loyalty program aimed to combat Amazon Prime. Amazon now controls 40% of online retail, controls 5%. Walmart is exploring perks for which it has a unique advantage, such as 1,600 grocery stores in the U.S. that could provide free delivery. Aside from free grocery delivery, the retail giant may be hard pressed to find other advantages its chain can offer over Amazon. Vox

dis-rup-shun: Amazon has changed the rules of shopping, with Sunday deliveries so successful that FedEx trucks are rolling down neighborhood streets on Sunday. To beat Amazon at its game, Walmart must not only offer equivalent one to two-day delivery, but must provide a product that so delights customers, as Amazon Prime Video does, that consumers will, as with Amazon, feel as if they are receiving something for free. Grocery delivery is great, but more of a necessity than a pleasure. Free ice cream delivery, or make it dessert delivery, could be a game changer.

AT&T TV: meet the new face of cable TV

AT&T has exactly eight video service offerings, and the newest is simply AT&T TV. The new service looks like a skinny cable bundle (just the major channels), is delivered over the Internet, and costs only $50 per month. The catch, however, is that a two year contract is required, and year 2 costs $93 per month before a plethora of add-ons. CNET

dis-rup-shun: The masses are cutting the cord and there are many, many streaming TV package alternatives. Hulu and YouTube TV are the early leaders with bundles that look like cable, but cost a lot less, and provide whole-home (multiple device) solutions. AT&T TV is a clever offering, in that it will appeal to those that believe they should join the cord cutting revolution, yet just aren’t sure if non-traditional providers will give them what they want. Enter AT&T with a promise to deliver the new TV dream while also providing a familiar pricing package full of expensive add-ons and increasing prices over a contract period. Once again, the company will churn the same user base that it recently churned from U-Verse to DirecTV.

Another one (SpaceX rocket) bites the dust

Elon Musk’s SpaceX lost another Starship that apparently buckled under pressure as nitrogen filled its tanks. This follows a series of failures of different types and parts of rockets as the company remains hellbent on getting reusable space travel ready for prime time ahead of competitors. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Every rocket failure can be seen as a setback, but should be seen as great progress towards achieving safety in space. Every failure, let’s hope, is one less that will occur with precious cargo such as humans, aboard. The stakes for winning space are very high and commercial space travel is one area of technology that American entrepreneurs are leading the globe.

Shipping wars: Amazon relents

Amazon lifts the ban on FedEx

During the peak of the holiday season, Amazon prohibited its sellers to fulfill orders using FedEx Ground delivery services. That ban was just lifted, with Amazon saying FedEx’s delivery performance was back into acceptable parameters. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The shot has been fired cross the bow of FedEx, and giant competitor/customer Amazon has demonstrated how it can influence the balance of power in the shipping universe. Will this return to friendliness help Amazon avoid regulatory fire as Congress takes on Big Tech, and did the temporary ban shift enough capital to help Amazon put tens of thousands more light blue Sprinter vans on the road, funding new capacity? Whatever the answer, FedEx will be wise to plan for the next market movement by Amazon which could possibly result in a price war for ground deliveries — a move that would delight all except for the shippers themselves.

Tech investments in Europe surging

2019 was a good year for German and British tech firms as they received 44% more investment capital than in the prior year, whereas VC investment in China and the U.S. declined, 65% and 20%, respectively. Strong fintech and AI offerings in the EU, along with the U.S. – China trade war, are the reasons cited for the big swing in investments. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Capital, like water, follows its most efficient path, and the U.S. venture community is stymied both by cloudy trade relations and the desire to be more efficient by doing bigger deals. VCs have become increasingly corporate, following fewer, larger deals and, consequently, cutting off the circulation of smaller, more nimble new offerings. Perhaps a stabilization of trade conflicts in 2020 will cause the pendulum to swing back towards China and the U.S.

SpaceX satellite constellation continues to concern

SpaceX, Elon Musk’s space travel and development company, is in the midst of launching 42,000 satellites to orbit the earth and deliver communications and internet services to all corners of the planet. So far, the company has launched 180 satellites that are interrupting astronomers’ work and filling the low orbit paths with many more devices than space planners are accustomed. The space community continues to raise concerns about tracking crowded paths around the earth and avoiding collisions, while astronomers state that stargazing is forever damaged. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Does the right to fill space with crafts really go to the first one that gets there, or is there an FAA for outer space? What if SpaceX was a China or Russia-based company? Space politics are about to be red hot, if not the subject of some armed conflicts as space pioneers lay claim to the final frontier without asking for permission or cooperation with others. Expect space conflict to be a big part of the next presidential election after the current one.

3D glasses cure lazy eye

Technology for health and wellness is exciting, and NovaSight has developed a solution for lazy eye, or amblyopia, that requires children to watch an hour or more of TV each day wearing stereoscopic glasses. The glasses make one eye work harder to bring images into focus, thereby “catching up” without the traditional use of an eye patch. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: 3D stereo glasses were a market failure when it came to persuading the general public to enjoy wearing them to watch 3D content. Re-purposed, the technology offers a painless treatment for amblyopia that saves children time and embarrassment.

Holiday Amusement: Some predictions

Many thanks and Happy New Year

As the year draws to a close, it marks nine months of providing you with some daily thoughts on dis-rup-shun.  I have encountered a number of readers over the holidays that have offered their support, endorsement and general satisfaction with this contribution to your inbox, so onward we go. If you have specific suggestions on how this newsletter could be more helpful to you (longer, shorter, more focused, etc.), please share.

A few predictions from off the cuff, after perusing the top daily news sources for the past nine months:

  • Big Tech will face some friction from Congress, the FTC, and states’ attorneys general, but these efforts will do little to check the power and growth of these economic engines. The lack of regulation will result more from the lack of focus of legislators, rather than defensive postures of Big Tech.
  • Amazon understands how to penetrate new markets and new industries. Facebook and Google are not as adept at winning in non-core businesses. Microsoft has a laser focus on closing the cloud computing gap behind AWS, and will make significant progress. Expect Amazon to continue to amaze and frighten, while Facebook and Google will continue to disappoint.
  • Apple will have another strong year, fueled by sales of gadgets such as AirPods, watches and a less expensive iPhone. The company’s services businesses, with the exception of its very successful credit card launch, will struggle to gain significant share, including its Arcade gaming, and Apple TV Plus, as differentiation in services will be more difficult for Apple. The company will continue to slowly move into the uncharted waters of personal health, working more closely with medical experts to find new health applications for its powerful wearable platform, Apple Watch.
  •  Smart home and home automation products will continue to improve in functionality and value, with deeper cooperation between vendors who are attempting to advance in the wake of Alexa and Google Home market penetration. These home ecosystems will grow, providing many more options for home control, however this disjointed approach will not suffice for high-end homes that want an end-to-end system, or those that want a rock solid, monitored home security system. Cool new smart home products and machine learning will continue to transform integrated systems, as systems providers such as ADT, Vivint and seek to keep their systems up to par with the latest hot products.
  • Autonomous machines will continue to pop up, with airplanes, helicopters, delivery carts, and cars that drive themselves being tested in many applications. Until a great deal of test data is released by trusted authorities, consumers will continue to be wary. Autonomous car vendors will need to educate the public that although their cars are not perfect and have killed, they are already safer than 50% of human drivers on the road today — a tough assignment for the marketing agency.
  • Trade wars will be resolved by mid-year, with the Trump administration claiming some wins, and with China’s tech industry and especially Huawei strengthened by adversity. The resolution of the trade wars will spur the economy to an exceptionally strong second half, and will further delay or dispel talks of global recession.

I wish you constructive disruption in this coming year. Whether it’s your job, your business, your personal life, or all of the above, be ready for disruption. As my Peloton instructor says, “Learn to be comfortable with discomfort.” Happy New Year.

You are tracked

A glimpse into location tracking

A rather disturbing article from the New York Times, using info leaked by an anonymous employee of a data tracking firm (yes, there are firms that specialize in this), reveals that every move by people with smartphones is data made available to tracking firms. Every stop in the liquor store, the green cross, the gas station, church or cabaret is tracked. See some stunning graphical maps of people’s movements online in the article.

dis-rup-shun: It’s the season to be reminded that you are loved, but in this case, you are tracked — every move and every stop. For most people, why worry? For those people with secrets… be worried. For those people running for public office… you’re screwed. Is this reversible without tossing your smartphone in the nearest dumpster? What’s done is done, but data privacy and data security and a dashboard for consumers to turn off or on preferences is critical and should be an FCC mandate. As long as we are enjoying maps, Yelp, weather and just about every other great location -based app, we are being tracked. This is a situation that will not be ignored much longer as some high profile people will soon be embarrassed by some place they visited and regret.

Don’t (FedEx) poke the beast (Amazon)

FedEx stated that its bumpy last quarter is partially attributable to Amazon’s delivery services, but that its new seven day a week delivery services will help it outpace Amazon in 2021. Earlier, FedEx denied that Amazon would have a material impact on its business. Now the company is calling Amazon a competitor with impact. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: I recall Blockbuster’s CEO Antioco saying Netflix was not a material threat, and Blackberry dismissed the iPhone as not a business phone. The shipping wars have started in earnest, and FedEx’s addition of a seventh work day is one of the biggest changes in FedEx’s business in many years. The consumer and small business may benefit from lower prices, if pricing becomes a part of the war. Right now consumers are enjoying the benefits of Sunday deliveries. How does the U.S. Post Office fare in all of this?

A bold look at life in 2030

CNET has been reviewing the decade now ending in a series of looks over the shoulder. In a look at what life may look like in 2030, here are some headlines:

  • Flying and self driving cars will be available — the technologies exist today, but testing and legislation stand in the way. Will these obstacles and business models be smoothed out in 10 years?
  • Always connected means that we are always seeing or hearing more than meets the eye and ear — augmented reality contact lenses, glasses, and speakers, always connected to the cloud, will be feeding us contextual information about what we are doing.
  • Life in the cloud — all of our writings, texts, listening and watching to online conversations, and web searching, to name a few connected things, will live indefinitely in the cloud. We may die, but everything we did will not.
  • Genetic engineering will modify our species — DNA and gene editing, already in experimentation mode, will be performed when deemed ethical (by whom?).

dis-rup-shun: All of these concepts are well underway today, and looking at the amazing technological, business and cultural transformations that have occurred in the past decade, these visions are reasonable. Venture money is already chasing these opportunities. Now education, training and legislation needs to follow, and follow fast.

Chrome checks password security

Chrome adding password checkup

Google is adding its password checkup feature to Chrome 79. The feature will scan a registered user’s password credentials to compare them to a database of compromised credentials, notifying the user if their user name and password has been stolen. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Password management continues to be an unwieldy problem that, surprisingly, has not been effectively solved. Storing passwords in a browser is convenient, until one’s browser access is compromised. Retinal scans and finger print readers, though not completely safe, will prove a convenient way to begin  elimination of passwords and their cumbersome rules. Until a better system is developed, make sure to turn on two factor authentication (receiving a code via text message) for important accounts.

Amazon will be one of most important companies in 2020s

Amazon has risen to the nation’s second largest employer in only 25 years. The key to its success, according to CNBC, is its unwavering dedication to giving customers what they want. Putting customer satisfaction first has prevented the company from pursuing a number of distractions, and has built an online store that captures 4% of all U.S. retail sales. Another key factor for success has been its willingness to experiment, and to learn from failures, like the Fire Phone, which was a market flop, but led to development of the highly successful Echo and Alexa technology. The company’s massive scale will lead to increased criticism in the next decade, as competitive practices crush smaller companies and as environmental concerns pressure Amazon’s carbon footprint. 

dis-rup-shun: Amazon, like Facebook, has become a company that people like to hate even while regularly using its services. Expanding its products, services and influence over the next decade must be accompanied by social and community action — helping to support the communities it is reshaping as e-commerce squeezes bricks and mortar. Tim Cook has been quick to position Apple as the responsible company, putting customer privacy first. This action is now pressuring the rest of Big Tech to take a stand, and Amazon will need to become a responsible giant to continue its breakneck  growth.

Google interpreter available on mobile

Google’s interpreter app is now available on mobile devices (iOs and Android), supporting translation to and from 44 languages. The app is activated by saying “Hey Google, be my Spanish translator” and enables speech to text, translation, and other language text to speech. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: With 5G coming to many cities in the coming year, using this on-line, mobile translator will be more reliable with faster response time. Better connectivity will enable instantaneous speech translation, enabling long, continuous dialog to be easily translated — more like the United Nations or other multi-language conventions in which a translator is speaking almost in parallel with the original speaker.  

Meet the new boss, a robot

Scaled Robotics has developed a small, mobile robotics device whose specialty is to quickly inspect construction sites. The device’s LIDAR sensor system is able to take accurate videos of construction progress, or lack thereof, compare it to CAD drawings, and quickly determine progress made, alerting workers and management of items assembled out of spec. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Is a roving robotic supervisor a friend or foe? The ability of a device to find small flaws in construction will increase quality and reduce costs by finding problems early. Specialists and supervisors could, in theory, manage more projects given that they have a robotic assistant that can scout a job and focus human specialists on exceptions. Expect robotic inspectors to become standard for large and complex construction projects.

Amazon employee clinic may be care model of the future

Virtual care clinics and how Amazon may change corporate benefits

Amazon has launched an internal virtual care clinic for its own Seattle based employees. The clinic offers a virtual doctor visit through an app or web portal. The employee can visit the virtual clinic anytime of day or night and consult with a doctor, nurse, physician’s assistant or practitioner. The result of the visit can be a diagnosis, a prescription for medicine, or an in-home visit by a nurse for a follow-up. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: This care model, or something very similar, will become the standard first for corporations that are self-insured, then for the general public. Think of this as an Uber-like care model, where the appropriate clinician is matched to the appropriate need, without regard for location. Doctors will be involved in few of the visits, and will not have to maintain and schedule offices with waiting rooms and high overhead. Nurses will see patients if a face to face is required. The company’s own pharmacy network can emphasize the use of generics and control drug pricing. The faster our society can embrace this or a similar model, the faster costs can be controlled without compromising care quality.

Peloton IPO — a bumpy start

“I feel like we’re six or seven different companies in one,” said CEO John Foley. The stock closed 11% off of its opening price of $27 per share. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: While the company is a unique combination of devices, original content, media and health club, Wall Street likes to put companies in boxes, and investors aren’t sure which is the right box for Peloton. What is clear is that the company has a successful subscription model, amazingly low attrition, and a cult-like following. The question Foley must answer is can the company return a profit before a better Peloton comes along and unseats this pioneer. Expect to see waves of connected fitness products flood the market, but be surprised if others do as good a job of content creation as Peloton has.

Ring-ification of urban living

Wired discusses the new reality of doorbell cameras being frequently installed in neighborhoods and, facing outward, recording the public as it goes by. Ring has aggressively built relationships with local police departments, furnishing crime scene videos in exchange for endorsement. Questions arise, however, of who owns the content of me walking past my neighbor’s house. Is it mine, or is it my neighbors’, or is this a matter requiring new legislation?

dis-rup-shun: The inevitability of inexpensive Internet connected cameras is a loss of privacy. However, in public spaces, I should expect my behavior to be public and subject to both local laws and society’s mores, whatever those may be. Expect to see some interesting legal defenses that seek to disregard evidence recorded by an unrelated third party’s (neighbor’s) camera. The number of crimes and un-resolved crimes, however, will undoubtedly decrease as our cultures understand that someone is nearly always watching.

Apple should buy Sonos says TechCrunch

TechCrunch’s Darrell Etherington says the time is right for Apple to purchase Sonos given Apple’s lack of significant smart speaker progress and Amazon’s debut of the Echo Studio, the high fidelity Alexa device. He points out the alignments between the companies: premium pricing, excellent design, strong support of Apple standards such as AirPlay, and robust support of streaming services.

dis-rup-shun: The Sonos experience has always been great — maybe even better than the Apple experience. Such an acquisition could make sense except that Apple would likely disable Alexa support on Sonos devices in favor of Siri only. Perhaps we don’t have favorites of voice assistants for device control as long as they generally work and connect to multiple home devices, but Siri’s third-party device support is lacking. If Apple were to buy Sonos, it would nice to see support for Siri, Alexa or Google Assistant — not likely.

Amazon expands device offerings

Amazon turns up the heat on Google and Apple with a wide array of new devices.

Amazon’s hardware unveiling took place yesterday in Seattle. Here is what they released:

Echo Buds — Earbuds with Bose noise suppression, powered by Alexa.

Echo Frames — $180 eyeglass frames with microphone built in, enabling you to issue voice commands without touching your phone.

Echo Loop — a ring (for your finger) with a microphone and haptic feedback. Again, you can speak to Alexa on your hand without having to touch your phone.

Echo Speaker — a revamp of the former Echo, with a better speaker components and, consequently, sound quality.

Echo Studio — an Echo that is packed with a high quality woofer, tweeter and midrange speakers, designed for 3D sound for those that want good sound in a compact form factor.

Echo Show 8 — an 8 inch diagonal screen Echo Show for those that agree that bigger is better.

Echo Dot Clock — a Dot with a digital clock on one side.

Echo Glow — a globe-like lamp that changes colors and dims or brightens based on alarms.

New Eero — this is the Wi-Fi range extender/mesh network that is a nice way of covering your house with Wi-Fi, if you don’t mind several devices sitting out on tabletops, or tucked into cabinets.

Two new Ring cameras — a stick up version that can run on battery, solar or outlet power, and a plain indoor camera powered by outlet power.

Sidewalk — a new protocol at 900 Mhz (free spectrum) that has better range than Bluetooth.

Alexa Enhancements — some improvements include multi-lingual modes, emotion detection, privacy enhancements, and more Alexa hunches — applications that anticipate what you will be doing around the house based on history, and when you are likely to run out of supplies. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Clearly some of these interesting new product categories, particularly the Echo Loop and Echo Frames, are not likely to be the next must have holiday items, but the innovation is impressive. How to crack the code of Amazon’s strategy? It is clear that the company believes that it can be a very formidable hardware maker, and, unlike Apple, which expects perfection with every product, is willing to launch a few albatrosses. Perhaps the most interesting release is not hardware, but the “Hunches” applications which use machine learning to understand your household sufficiently to set the right temperature, lighting, and music and tell you when you are nearly out of toilet paper. If a device maker has not already offered Alexa support, they better hurry before their product is not compatible with an Alexa-powered home. If a company has already provided support for Alexa, there is no peace of mind, as Amazon could well reinvent that product category and make the partner’s product obsolete.

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.

Drones offshore veterinarians and cattle ranchers

The economics of drones for cattle ranchers

The market value of the average cow raised in the U.S. is about $550. 2.5 million cows die each year due to illness or predators. That’s $1.375 billion in losses. A grant from the USDA is funding research conducted at the University of Kentucky to use drones to monitor the health and movement of individual cows and herds every day, affording ranchers a daily visual inspection of herd health. CNET

dis-rup-shun: As society becomes aware of the dangers of feed lot grown beef, lowering the cost of free range cattle is vital for good health at lower costs. Expect drone technology to transform the veterinary industry — enabling veterinarians in distant places like India to be tracking the health of cows in Kansas or Kentucky. It’s a way to offshore ranching without importing beef from other nations.

BBC launching its own version of Alexa

The BBC has been experimenting with its own digital voice assistant technology, and has chosen the wake word “Beeb” to activate the assistant.  The BBC says that developing its own technology will enable it to implement customer experiences in its own way. BBC News

dis-rup-shun: This surprise move raises a number of questions. Does the BBC have the horsepower to develop a highly functioning digital voice assistant that is sufficient to delight customers, or will it fall short of expectations derived from Alexa and Google Assistant? Why wouldn’t the BBC build a library of skills to use on the top three assistants, that combined have over 50% share of the market? Expect the BBC to transition to Alexa or Google Assistant if this experiment continues.

Smart locks are a star of the smart home

One of the best use cases for smart home technology is smart locks. CNET ranks the August Smart Lock Pro + Connect Bundle at the top. With its Wi-Fi module, it can be accessed remotely and is compatible with voice assistants. Others at the top of the list are Yale Assure deadbolt, and Schlage Encode. CNET

dis-rup-shun: If you are old enough to remember cars without power locks, you will recall how this luxury option became a standard for all cars. Similarly, few new homes will be built, starting in 2021, without smart locks. Builders are finding that buyers value smart home technology, and with the AirBnB movement, they are essential. The incumbents in the lock business have been careful to not get displaced by upstarts such as August, that was purchased by industry giant Assa Abloy.

Amazon selling home Wi-Fi security

Amazon purchased mesh Wi-Fi router company Eero earlier this year. In a move for premium revenues, the company is now offering an add-on subscription at $2.99 per month to provide amenities such as home VPN, data encryption, parental controls and phishing warnings. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The holy grail of any device business is to sell monthly subscriptions along with the device. This lesson was taught well with iPods and iTunes. The commodity home networking business, however, will not allow Amazon to change the rules. Expect leading equipment makers such as Netgear, Linksys, Arris, and others to match the offering without additional fees in an effort to differentiate the commodity products. Service providers, in addition, have always used security features in an attempt to differentiate commodity home broadband offerings. Kudos to Amazon for raising the bar on home network security as these offerings become standard.

Target shows Amazon it’s not afraid

Target has figured out omni-channel retailing

Target’s earnings numbers, released this week, exceeded forecasts and reflected same store sales growth of 3.4%. Target has perfected omni-channel retailing, which combines online shopping with in-store pickup or same day delivery through its Shipt offering. Yahoo! Finance

dis-rup-shun: Competition makes companies better, and Target refuses to be crushed by Amazon. Target has determined how to offer both the convenience of in-store shopping and meet the demands of those who want products the same day without entering the store. Expect to see other retail outlets emulate omni-channel retailing — hybrid brick and mortar and online model, and expect Amazon to more aggressively experiment with physical stores.

Bose returns to the leading edge

Bose released a surprise, the Portable Home Speaker, that is both a Bluetooth portable, as well as a Wi-Fi multi-room speaker with voice support from Google Assistant, Amazon’s Alexa, AirPlay 2, and Spotify Connect. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Bose, the coveted speaker brand of the 80s and 90s, let Sonos create and dominate the market for Wi-Fi music as it focused on the highly competitive Bluetooth speaker market. Over the past two decades, two segments of digital music grew in parallel: the Sonos-centered middle market whole-home replacement market, using Wi-Fi to stream music throughout the house, and the low-end portable Bluetooth music player. Bose and Sonos are bridging these segments with products that can both stream via Bluetooth at the lake, as well as be members of the whole-house Wi-Fi music system back at home.

Huawei fires an AI salvo

Huawei, despite its ban by the Trump Administration, has released its NVidia killer AI chip set, called Ascend 910. The chip is designed for AI data centers that require fast processing of large amounts of data to quickly establish data profiles. The chip set will compete head on with Qualcomm, Intel and NVidia, among others. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Earlier this week Cerebras unveiled its giant, AI-optimized processor, signaling a new segment for silicon manufacturers who will serve cloud data centers, autonomous vehicles, drones and robots. Expect a host of similar offerings from Intel, NVidia and Qualcomm as they pursue this specialized category of microprocessors.

Google Photos enables text search in pictures

A new feature in Google Lens, part of the Google Photos app, enables one to search through pictures for text strings, then copy and paste the text using optical character recognition (OCR) technology. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: A number of expense tracking apps have long supported photos of receipts to input data, but this process relied in part on people to assist with character recognition. Greater ability to convert photos to text means students can snap pics of the whiteboard rather than write notes, product managers can circulate sensitive data from photos of competitors’ conference notes, and people can archive their photos by date, based on images of newspapers, magazines or other dated documents that may appear in the photo. Expect select word processing applications to offer a photo-to-text conversion feature.