Amazon goes after wellness tracking

Amazon Halo is a different twist on wellness

Amazon’s Halo smartphone application, fitness band and service is a late and different entry into personal fitness tracking. Some differences from Fitbit and Apple include: a fitness band with no screen that instead transmits data to the smartphone app; a focus on body fat content over weight; a microphone on the band that listens to your voice tone and determines when you are under stress; a body composition base line analysis derived from a selfie of your unclothed body. CNET

dis-rup-shun: Amazon’s approach is creative, and wants to leverage several key trends: voice technology (in which Amazon excels), it is a service more than a gadget, starting at $65 per month for six months, then $3.99; it offers a device that is in a category all by itself (screen-less fitness band). Amazon has a history of breaking the mold, and has been highly successful with its Kindle service and with Alexa, but colossally failed with the Fire Phone. Dave Limp, Amazon’s head of devices, is not afraid to take some big risks, and Halo appears to be the latest biggie.

Walmart teams with Microsoft to acquire TikTok

The TikTok problem — how to comply with Trump’s executive order to stop doing business with the social media platform if it is owned by a Chinese parent company — takes another twist as Walmart teams with Microsoft to acquire the company. Oracle entered discussions two weeks ago. TikTok’s interim CEO says there are synergies with Walmart. Analysts expect a deal to be worth $20 to $30 billion. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: On the surface, synergies with Walmart are hard to envision. On the other hand, Walmart is striving to catch up with Amazon in online presence, and the sheer number of subscribers on TikTok make it a strong advertising platform that could be transitioned to an ecommerce site with some clever and, at first, subtle connections to online shopping.

Xiaomi’s under display camera to ship next year

Who is Xiaomi and what is an under display camera? Xiaomi, for those have not been reading the news, is a Chinese tech giant. Some might call them the Samsung of China. Xiaomi has been gobbling up smartphone market share in China and India, keeping Samsung and Apple nervous about the two largest smartphone markets. An under display camera is a front-facing camera (selfie) lens that is not visible as it lies under the display screen and “looks” through the display screen from the opposite direction so that having a front facing camera does not disrupt the screen layout. The iPhone 11 has a notch in the top of the screen that houses the selfie camera. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: Why does it matter? With global smartphone penetration approaching 50% of people (Statista), finding ways to differentiate smartphones on features other than price has proven extremely difficult. Cameras have recently been the epicenter of new innovation, and Xiaomi is seeking to be the first with a new innovation that makes for more screen real estate. Xiaomi has not been an innovation leader, but instead, a fast follower. Bragging rights for an industry leading innovation could go to the company.

Apple app store flexes its muscles against Facebook app

In the spotlight of Apple’s widely publicized battle with Epic Games, the company has been called out for banning a Facebook app which stated (before Facebook removed it) that “Apple takes 30% of this purchase.” Apple has been very clear that discussions of its business model are not allowed within apps, so the fact that Facebook briefly released the now removed message has observers wondering if Facebook is attempting to call attention to the current Epic battle. TheVerge

dis-rup-shun: While not the scale of a Boston Tea Party or an Arab Spring, it seems that app creators are hoping to create a groundswell of support to pressure Apple into new pricing policies. The business decision of risking revenue to make a point is a big one, and it seems that Facebook accomplished its goals (visibility) without risking business, whereas Epic has decided it can afford the losses of revenue resulting from its app’s removal from the app store.