Apple strengthens suppliers and fortifies the tech economy

Apple uses its weight to benefit partners

Apple’s Advanced Manufacturing Fund has invested another $250 million in glass maker corning, the primary supplier of glass for iPhones, iPads and watches. The program saw investments of $60 billion in 9,000 American suppliers in 2018, representing 450,000 jobs. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: If you weren’t an Apple fan before, maybe this will convince you. Using its massive cash reserves to strengthen the overall health of its partners is a admirable use of Apple’s strength, and another reason why it is important for the company to continue being a vital, growing tech powerhouse.

More Google Nest woes

CNET bashes Google’s changes of the Works with Nest program and the device connection experience altogether in this scathing criticism of the “improvements” Google has made to Nest products.

dis-rup-shun: The irony of Google’s moves is that Nest, when introduced, was finally the win the complicated and disjointed smart home industry needed. The Nest thermostat was great looking, worked well, and installation was beautifully designed. It was the poster product for the future of smart home — reliable, attractive and cool. Google has transformed a hero product line into one plagued by incompatibilities — spawning user frustration and, inevitably, anger. Perhaps the bigger irony of this unfortunate turn of events is that Google’s device woes are the result of its response to threats from an online bookseller turned smart home master. Amazon’s Echo has not only become the focal point of the smart home, but the company has purchased many strong product companies, such as Ring, and implemented smooth integrations between the product families.

The curious future of the compact camera

Sony’s RX100 VII compact camera sports the photo quality of a large DSLR camera, but is the size of a smartphone. It offers zoom lens range of up to 200mm, fast exposure, and a 1” image sensor — far more than you will find in any smartphone. The price is $1,200. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The camera business is rough, and Sony’s high end compact is a bold, high cost move into a market that barely exists. Consumers who want a professional-grade camera that will fit in their pocket, yet doesn’t also have to make phone calls or send text messages are rare. Sony, the Apple of the 1980’s, continues to try to thrive on the edges of the mass market that was its bread and butter.

Facebook finding AR glasses more difficult than social media

Facebook, for several years now, has been building augmented reality glasses that enable one to see text messages, speak commands and get directions and additional information without the use of smartphone. Facebook has turned to Luxottica, the parent of Ray-Bans and Oakleys for assitance. The Orion glasses may be available by 2023 to 2025. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: One will be hard pressed to find an example of a smart glasses “hit,” despite a half dozen or so serious attempts. Smart glasses have some obvious applications, like helping with driving, battlefield maneuvers, bar tending (all those recipes) and manufacturing, but consumers have yet to be convinced. Maybe a company like Luxottica that understands fashion can score a hit, but Facebook has enough problems with social media security and protection of personal information to be dabbling in the hardware business. Not every company can be an almost-anything company like Amazon.

McDonald’s use of AI could save $18 billion

McDonald’s invests in AI for voice recognition

The fast food company announced its acquisition of Apprente, a company specializing in voice recognition for fast food ordering. The terms were not disclosed, but the acquisition follows McDonald’s purchase of Dynamic Yield, a big data analytics company it acquired for $300 million.

dis-rup-shun: Quick math says that elimination of 1 to 3 hourly employees and a reduction in human “translation” errors that seem to occur when we say our orders to McDonald’s cashiers could save $50 to $75 per hour, times 18 hours times 365 days is $492 thousand per store per year. With 37,855 worldwide restaurants… the potential value of this technology is about $18.6 billion per year. Seems like a good investment.

Apple’s announcements

Yesterday’s Apple announcement went as expected and can be summarized as follows:

  • iPhones: 2 new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are over $1000 and have enhanced cameras and displays. The iPhone 11 is a less expensive ($699) offering.
  • Apple TV Plus, the streaming service, is $2 less per month than Disney + and is included for free for a year when you purchase an Apple device.
  • iPads — bigger screen, and better processor.
  • Apple Watch Series 5 has some fancier bezels and always on display.

The Verge

dis-rup-shun:  Is that it? This seems like the most un-amazing Apple new product release ever. The camera features on the 11 Pro are remarkable, and the days of ever wanting a separate digital camera are all but dead, but the lack of a really exciting new product, or really unique features, is concerning. It is time for Apple to think different.

Apple TV Plus undercuts Disney+ which undercut Netflix

Apple today announced that its streaming video service, Apple TV Plus, will be priced at $4.99 per month, $2 less then Disney + at $6.99. Disney + combines three networks at HD, which provides far more than Netflix at $12.99 per month.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun:  It will be a rough fall season for AT&T. Not only did the company pay $85 billion for Time Warner to launch, among other things, a video streaming service to compete with Netflix and Disney, it is now under pressure by activist investor Elliot Fund, that believes the company grossly overpaid for Time Warner. It is also not a good time to be Netflix, a company that said profits will be deferred while it invests in original content. This was before Disney and now Apple declared a video streaming price war. Expect investors to be wary of Netflix as it is the only big streamer with only one line of business.

Vehicle brands less important in Cars-as-a-Service economy

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty tells CNBC that the riding experience, rather than the car brand, is most important to consumers in the world of autonomous cars and ride sharing.

dis-rup-shun:  As the transportation experience moves from one of ownership to one of services, and consumers’ investments in the experience shift from significant to minor, it stands to reason that auto brand will take a back seat to other service attributes such as locating the car, setting the preferences, providing the appropriate class of service for the occasion and enabling in-car communications. Expect BMW’s future tag line, “The Ultimate Riding Experience.”

Wi-Fi 6: what is it and why do you care?

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Later this year, routers, PCs and smartphones will support Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 is also know as 802.11ax, but the wise people at the Wi-Fi Alliance have decided to take on consumer friendly naming, so future versions will be incremental numbers. This version is better in several ways: it is up to four times faster, it can serve many more devices simultaneously, and it can connect to devices as far away as a football field. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This Wi-Fi upgrade is coming at an important time. We are all extremely dependent on Wi-Fi and are daily reminded of its failures. Wi-Fi is simultaneously loved and hated. Supporting more devices more reliably is critical to keeping consumers generally happy with technology. With 5G coming this year, all the buzz will be about the newer, faster cellular standard and Wi-Fi will be seen as yesterday’s technology. The Wi-Fi Alliance was wise to keep the standard on the front page.

Apple caves to demands for third party repairs

After announcing new iPhone battery lock software which precluded third parties from replacing batteries, Apple has changed its tact and initiated a program to certify third parties to perform repairs. This is in response to backlash over its restrictive policy. CNBC 

dis-rup-shun: Apple has been seeking to differentiate itself from other Big Tech companies by doing good. It has taken the high road on data privacy in order to distance itself from Google and Facebook. Its policy of discouraging third party repairs was bad for small businesses and bad for consumers, and was an “evil empire” move. Kudos to Apple for changing its stance.

Google moves Pixel phone production from China to Vietnam

Google is equipping a former Nokia factory in Vietnam to be a smartphone factory, as production costs, and, of course, tariffs can be avoided by relocating out of China. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: If the trade war endures beyond another year, we can expect it to reshape some Asian economies that will be beneficiaries of production moves. This evolution will strengthen a number of economies that will be even more attractive global trading partners, will force Chinese factories to be more competitive, and will increase the political stability of the region.

Best Buy online sales up 17%

Best Buy’s Q2 results are mixed, but online sales increased 17% over last quarter. Same store sales were up 1.6%. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Despite the domination by Amazon of online sales, both Best Buy and Target have posted online sales growth. Why are these brands succeeding online? In the case of Target, the company is blending online and in-store experiences. Best Buy may be benefiting from consumers’ increasing confidence and convenience of online shopping. The Amazon Effect, a term generally describing the destruction of brick and mortar retailing, may also be the cause of an increase in online shopping across brands.

Is Uber’s future a history lesson?

Uber implements hiring freeze

Uber, having gone public in May, has enough cash, $13.7 billion, to continue losing money for two years. The company has never been profitable and has warned that it may never be. The company recently trimmed one third of its marketing staff and has announced a hiring freeze for technical employees. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Can a company that never earns a profit be a success? Uber has successfully changed the world of transportation, has successfully raised $8.1 billion in its public offering, rewarding its investors, and has experimented with new business concepts such as food delivery, helicopter taxis, scooter sharing and is betting on driverless cars. Like a hurricane, the company is a destructive force that reshapes the landscape forever, but may be a passing phenomena whose future is relegated to history lessons. Now the race is on to see if management can generate a profit, lest the company be only a grand experiment.

Roku a rising star in the turbulent streaming video market

Netflix is now facing a number of well-funded competitors in Disney, Comcast, Apple and AT&T who are competing for a slice of the household streaming subscription budget. Roku, a company aggregating access to many streaming and related video services, earns a fee from initial purchases as well as a small revenue share from services it offers to the 36% of connected homes that it serves. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If streaming services such as Netflix are analogous to TV networks in the old TV world, only without advertising revenues, then Roku is analogous to cable TV, only without subscription fees. That is, the networks have to pay a carriage fee to Roku to gain access to connected homes. Unlike the streamers, Roku is not locked into a difficult battle to create unique (and costly) original content.

Smaller cities fighting against brain drain

Small towns are fighting the brain drain of tech jobs to large cities. Despite the conveniences and efficiencies of remote work afforded by the Internet, wage disparities between jobs in large cities and small has increased, leading states such as Vermont to devise a number of incentives, including relocation allowances and co-working office space, to attract workers to smaller towns. Wired

dis-rup-shun: In a decade of flat wages and growing inflation, the attraction of better salaries continues despite a shortage of housing, difficult commutes, and higher crime rates. Companies catering to urban conglomeration, such as WeWork, are enjoying high valuations, but expect the pendulum to swing away from denser living as Generation Z, larger than Millenials or Baby Boomers, reaches a tipping point of high living costs.

5G hype alert: no 5G in iPhone 11

5G, the next generation of wireless technology, will be a game changer for the Internet of Things movement. But the game won’t be changing for at least a year. Apple has announced that 5G, unlike Samsung, will not be a feature of its next generation of phones, as 5G networks simply aren’t ready. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: In a time when people hold on to expensive smartphones for three or more years, the decision not to support 5G gets more interesting. Perhaps Apple is counting on the widespread deployment of 5G networks, expected in 12 to 18 months, to create high demand for the model after next, and spur sluggish sales, as chances of Android models with 5G winning iPhone owners are small.

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.

Connected products detect dementia

Apple and Eli Lilly partner to detect dementia

In a study involving 82 people in a control group and 31 people with some form of cognitive decline, Apple and Eli Lilly collected data from usage of an Apple watch, iPhones and Beddit bed sensors. The study collected usage data on both groups, to characterize differences in usage of those with dementia. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: With 6 million people living with dementia in the U.S., and rapid increases in the incidences of Alzheimer’s, technology is much needed to help us understand and act on cognitive decline. The key to using technology to predict disease is mountains of data, and the barrier to mountains of data is HIPPA (privacy) compliance. Tech companies and health companies should, with full disclose and consent from consumers, collect as much anonymous data as possible using connected devices in order to get ahead of massive stress on the care systems resulting from the graying of Western Europe, North America and Asia.

Google’s Live View Augmented Reality guides you as you walk

Now rolling out to Google Maps applications on both Android and iOS, Live View augmented reality simulates the view you see as you face a direction, and overlays arrows and street names. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: How many times have you ascended from a subway stop and not known which direction to walk? Google is fixing that. Expect to see many people staring at their phones as they stand on street corners, and expect to see many more “location aware” advertisements to take you to coffee shops, restaurants and shops right around you, wherever you are.

Sony’s version of AirPods include noise cancellation

It has become commonplace to see people everywhere wearing Apple AirPods. Sony’s answer includes noise cancellation, meaning that for travelers or those who study in a public place, they are ideal. Sony’s WF-1000xm3 headphones are more expensive at $230 (AirPods are $159) and the carrying case is bulkier. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Sony, in the 70’s through the 90’s was ‘the Apple’ — the cool tech company that made the best gear. The company, since then, has struggled to find its niche but creating premium earphones is a good place to focus. For anyone who travels, noise cancellation is critical and ear buds take up a lot less space in a carry on that over the ear phones. But please, Sony, take a marketing cue from gadget leaders Samsung and Apple and give your products a name that people can weave into conversation. “Hey man, where’d you get those cool WF-1000xm3’s?”

Samsung has the hottest new smartphone

The Samsung Galaxy Note10 debuted in Brooklyn on Wednesday. Here’s the quick summary:

  • No headphone jack
  • Enhanced stylus
  • Gesture control without touching the screen
  • Multiple color choices
  • Larger screen due to very thin bezel (frame)
  • Four camera lenses and ability to zoom audio to get focused sounds on videos
  • AR Doodle feature to add creativity to photos
  • 3D scanning of objects — capturing depth in addition to length and width
  • Quick charge battery and power sharing
  • Support for 5G networks

dis-rup-shun: Samsung maintains its lead on bells and whistles — staying a step ahead of the iPhone, but given that Android vs. iOS has long been a religious discussion, few iPhone users will be swayed by Samsung’s features. Kudos to Samsung for working hard to keep smartphones from becoming commodities — little discernible differentiation between brands — but that is getting tougher to do, especially given that new top of the line smartphones are similarly priced around $1000.

Apple and tariffs on China: how to respond

Apple’s dilemma: to eat or pass on tariffs

Apple’s stock took a 5% hit on Monday as the U.S. trade war with China experienced its most damaging day to world markets. Apple faces a choice: absorb higher manufacturing costs from goods impacted by a 10% tariff, or pass on higher costs to consumers. Wedbush analyst Mike Ives says eating the tariff will reduce the company’s profits by 4%. On the other hand, Apple can pass increased costs to consumers, increasing prices of already pricey phones amidst a slowing smartphone market. Ives believes this choice will reduce stock price by $25 to $30 per share. On Monday, investors devalued the stock without waiting to see what course management will take. Fortune

dis-rup-shun: Apple is swiftly moving production from Chinese plants to locations in India, Vietnam and the U.S. In addition, the company is increasing its emphasis on services: streaming music and cloud, which will, over the next few years, make the company less vulnerable to supply chain fluctuations. As Apple is seen as a star of the American tech economy, the company can expect consumers in Asia to stop buying its products, but we can assume that investors have already priced that shift into the stock price.

Facebook placing its name on Whatsapp and Instagram

Two properties that Facebook purchased in the last half dozen years were maintained as separate brands. In a reversal this year, Zuckerberg has not only replaced the founders with Facebook execs, but has decided to brand the Facebook alternatives with the parent’s name. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Zuckerberg must like press, as he will keep getting it if he continues to do dumb things. Facebook, for the past three years could win the prize of the most tarnished megabrand, as one misstep after another has brought the ire of users and regulators alike. Now the Justice Department is examining Facebook for being anti-competitive, so Zuckerberg decides to flaunt domination of social media properties — huh? Does the boss think that this branding move will improve the perception of Facebook, or is he oblivious to the fact that he will now dent the clean reputations of Whatsapp and Instagram?

Apple credit card available today

Apple’s reinvention of the credit card, a titanium numberless card that is a physical reminder of the card app on your iPhone is released to a limited audience today. The card, backed by Goldman Sachs, can be applied for easily in the wallet app and pays 1% cash back on transactions, and doubles to 2% when you use the iPhone rather than card, for transactions. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Why would you need a credit card from Apple? If you have never used Apple pay from your iPhone, you are missing real convenience. Because you likely already have your phone in your hand, by placing it on a scanner, you save a few digs, opens, searches, swipes and replacements. But even better, the iPhone app immediately confirms the transaction on your screen, and provides a history later when you wonder how much you did pay for that item. Apple is out to replace your wallet with your iPhone, and this is a nice step. The Apple card, with no account numbers printed on it, is certainly more secure and the fact that one doesn’t need a physical card makes going for a run or a quick errand that much simpler.

Electric cars gain another foothold

The number of electric cars available on used car markets has grown to almost 4% of all cars offered — signaling that EVs are becoming sufficiently commonplace and available for lower price points in pre-owned outlets. Saving the environment is important to many, but not as important as saving money. Affordable and used EVs enable both. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Pre-2000 attempts to make hybrid vehicles mainstream were quashed by falling oil prices, but this time around, it appears that EVs are gaining critical mass, or at least past the point of no return. EVs, with near zero maintenance costs and shorter ranges align well with a consumers that are very comfortable with ride sharing apps, life-as-a-service business models (low home ownership) where ownership of assets is less important, and more environmentally conscious. All companies selling expensive assets must consider the content-to-rent attitudes of young consumers.

 

Machine Learning capable of chronic disease prevention

AI used to prevent kidney failure

Alphabet’s AI division, Deep Mind, worked with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to develop an algorithm that accurately predicts kidney injury up to two days before it occurs. Kidney injury is an often fatal condition frequently occurring among hospital patients and difficult to detect until its onset. The algorithm is effective at identifying patients who are highly likely to have kidney damage in time to effectively treat them. Financial Times

dis-rup-shun: This exciting use of machine learning, improperly termed AI, relies on vast amounts of hundreds of patients’ records to ‘feed’ the algorithm. This same analysis is promising in detecting many other diseases such as breast cancer, heart disease and others, and will eventually become the primary form of diagnosis, relying primarily on data and secondarily on trained medical professionals. This transformation of the medical industry and relief from a shortage of medical professionals, however, will be stunted by the problem of patient privacy. In order to build effective data sets that are the foundation of detection algorithms, tens of thousands of patient records must be de-personalized for protection of privacy — a thorny issue that HIPPA is designed to prevent.

Consumers tire of expensive phones — leading to softer tech economy 

Consumers were raised on carrier subsidized handsets — meaning a new phone required only a few hundred dollars out of pocket. Given that the latest smartphones from Apple and Samsung cost around $1000 and are no longer carrier subsidized, sales are slowing. Apple’s sales are down 15% and Samsung 11%, according to a number of sources. Consumers are increasingly embracing less expensive phones made by Chinese companies Xiomi, Huawei, Oppo and Vivo. Huawei, despite sanctions from the U.S. government, has achieved a worldwide market share of 15%, a sliver behind Apple’s 16%. ExtremeTech

dis-rup-shun: We have seen cellphone incumbents Nokia, Motorola and Blackberry rise and fall in stunningly swift succession. Surely Apple and Samsung won’t miss the call to offer more variety of price points and let upstart “value players” quickly grab market share, followed by growing consumer approval of the new brands. In the cutthroat electronics business, fast is often not fast enough, and smartphones are a very large driver of the tech economy and associated stock prices.

The confusing world of streaming music players 

Selecting the right streaming music speakers for the right setting is increasingly difficult with many new form factors and options. Wired profiles the major options from Sonos, with prices from $50 to $1100.

dis-rup-shun: As a teenager, the holy grail of music enjoyment was owning a giant receiver (what’s that?) and speakers that were at least waist high. Today, the majority of music fans don’t understand file compression and the loss of high fidelity that came with digital music, and very few understand the best architecture for a whole home audio system. Wired or wireless? Digital to analog or all digital? Sonos is the new Bose, and all but very discriminating aficionados will be content with a digital streaming music player.

How Bezos will spend his $1.8 billion paycheck

Bezos cashes a check for $1.8 billion

Bezos sold Amazon stock worth $1.8 billion over the past few days. The value matches the value gained in last fall’s run up of stock value. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: How do you spend $1.8 billion? Turns out Jeff is likely moving his money to his space exploration company, Blue Origin, which just won a long term contract with NASA. The rocket business, undoubtedly, consumes a lot of cash, and Bezos has enough to build a footbridge to Mars. Ex-wife MacKenzie Bezos has pledged most of her $36.6 billion divorce settlement to charity, content to live off of whatever is left after “most.”

What to think of AT&T DirecTV now

AT&T is changing the name of its brand streaming service (Netflix killer?) called DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now. AT&T’s journey into the streaming world has been bumpy, as the service experienced multiple network outages, and has lost 500,000 subscribers in the past year. Combine that with total subscriber losses across all TV properties, and the losses total 2.5 million subscribers. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: If streaming services are the future, what’s up with AT&T’s tinkering?

Here are a few answers:

  1. AT&T is not stupid. In fact, they earned $19 billion in profit last year and have maintained leading market share in multiple communications/entertainment industries.
  2. AT&T knew that cord cutting (dropping pay TV packages) was a growing trend, yet they invested in Time Warner and their Now streaming service.
  3. The power of the bundle is not to be discounted. AT&T is in a unique position to offer customers Internet, wireless, and entertainment services.
  4. As entertainment shifts to streaming services, market share will be gained by those services with differentiated content. That’s why the company purchased Time Warner — to make the content.

The company is positioned for a long, expensive battle with Netflix, Amazon, Disney and others to restructure entertainment services. AT&T will come out a winner at the end of the slog, but it will be three to five years of building on shifting sands and heavy subscriber movement.

The next wave of Intel chips coming for Christmas

Intel is, after much delay, releasing its generation 10, 10 nanometer chip family in time for holiday 2019 purchases. What does that do for you? The processors bring to computing much higher battery life (9 hours), better graphics processing, optimization for AI, faster Wi-Fi (version 6), and support for more really fast ports (Thunderbolt). Wired

dis-rup-shun: Intel is increasingly challenged by competition, including Qualcomm, Apple, Samsung, and many others, who are gobbling up share of non-PC computing devices. It is rumored that Apple will move away from Intel CPUs sometime next year for Mac computers. Expect Intel to be increasingly on the hot seat as it is not changing as fast as the world of computing.

Walmart discovers $10 billion app

Walmart misstep turns to $10 billion gain

Walmart, in an acquisition questioned by many, acquired, for $17 billion, an Indian e-tailing company, Flipkart. Last year’s acquisition was seen as a misstep given vast cultural differences between the companies and Walmart’s distance behind Amazon in e-commerce. Recently, however, Walmart discovered that the acquisition’s subsidiary, payment app PhonePe, has experienced 77% growth in the past year. The payments company is riding atop of rapid growth of Indian consumer use of payment apps. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Walmart needs a little luck as it struggles to catch Amazon in the online retailing race, but finding it has control of one of the fastest growing payment apps in India could open new lines of business for the company that has mostly struggled to gain traction outside of North America. As mobile payment apps quickly become preferred forms of commerce outside of the U.S., Walmart can build on its strong position in India.

Attorney General Barr decides to take on Big Tech

After a number of controversial testimonies, the U.S. Attorney General has decided to investigate if Big Tech has become anti-competitive. Stock prices of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple fell 1% in extended trading. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If the determination of anti-competitive is having a “dominant market position,” then Google search dominance will be a problem, as will Facebook’s dominance in social networking with not only its Flagship, but its owned subsidiaries of Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon’s domination of ecommerce will be hard to dispute.

Honeywell T9 smart thermostat full on features, light on design

Resideo’s newest smart thermostat, branded Honeywell T9, has remote sensors that go beyond Nest and Ecobee by measuring both temperature, presence and humidity. Despite the strong feature set, the device lacks the sleek industrial design of leading competitors. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Despite Honeywell being the best recognized brand in residential HVAC controls, it has struggled to grasp the importance of cutting edge design and to shake off its industrial heritage. As the smart home struggles to move from Early Adopter to Early Majority, engaging the young professional, tech savvy buyer who considers aesthetics as important as features, is critical and appears even more important than brand recognition.

Electric Ford F-150 pulls a train

Ford sold 1.1 million F-150 pickup trucks last year. The company released a video showing a prototype electric F-150 pulling a train load of F-150s (42 trucks). Ford believes that consumers perceive EVs to have less power, hence the towing demonstration. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Global share of electric vehicles of all vehicles was up 54% in 2017, and is expected by Statista to make up 14% of all U.S. vehicles sold by 2025. Government policies, providing incentives for electric car buyers, has been critical to sales growth. Now car makers are offering some exciting electric options. Expect ride sharing apps to offer an electric vehicle option, as soon as there are enough on the road to enter the ride share pool.