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.

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.

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.

 

Self-driving vans deliver Walmart groceries

Robovan delivers groceries for Walmart

Walmart will test a driverless van made by California firm Gatik to deliver groceries from an Arkansas distribution center to homes nearby in Bentonville. The test will include backup drivers who will sit behind the wheel to monitor the robovans. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Walmart, one of the largest retailers of grocery products, is racing to keep Amazon, the owner of Whole Foods and extensive drone development, from eating its lunch. Gatik estimates that driverless delivery vans could halve the cost of grocery deliveries — making the elimination of driver jobs far more appealing to consumers. 

Google Facebook ad duopoly shrinking

Last week’s earnings reports reveal that Snap, Amazon and Twitter’s ad revenues are up significantly, putting a dent in the 51% dominance of Google and Facebook. eMarketer sizes the global online ad market at $333 billion in 2019. Snap’s revenue was up 48% and Facebook’s 28%. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A decline in the duopoly of Google and Facebook comes at a convenient time for these providers, as Big Tech is under review by Congress for limiting competition. This data will not help Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for breaking up tech giants, though we see that one of the companies taking share from the duopoly is Amazon, perhaps supporting the calls for limiting Amazon’s rapid dominance of many markets.

All three 2020 iPhones to feature 5G

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is reportedly the most accurate Apple watcher, says all three new iPhone models to be released in 2020 will support the new wireless network standard called 5G. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: To repeat a common saying, the pace of technological change will never be slower than it is today. 5G provides data speeds up to 20 times faster than our current 4G networks, and will support far more devices with smaller antennas, using less power. 5G is a big deal because it will enable exponential growth in both number of devices and amount of data than can be downloaded or uploaded on a carrier’s network. If you live in or around a city, you will be awash in connected devices (see connected diaper). If you live in rural areas, well, you will still struggle with basic high speed Internet.  

SpaceX Starship Mars explorer takes a spin  

Musk’s SpaceX continues to aggressively develop and test space craft. Last Thursday the company’s Starship tested maneuverability by taking off and moving laterally about 60 feet, then landing. Musk claims that this is the craft that will go to Mars. Despite multiple fires and mishaps, Musk has sold a trip around the moon to a Japanese billionaire. Wired

dis-rup-shun: For Musk watchers, a pattern to the billionaire’s operational culture proves that risk is not limited by inactivity. With both car company Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, Musk learns by trying and is not afraid of regular failures. In the business of transporting humans, however, this experimentation is high risk, and a balance between safety regulations (consider the 737 Max) and pressing for innovation is required.

Ex-CIA agent bashes Facebook

A look inside Facebook

Former CIA employee Yael Eisenstat spent 6 months as an employee of Facebook, and doesn’t have much good to say. On the business model of ad engagement, Eisenstat says, “Their tools are doing what they can to keep us engaged, which is taking us down more and more extreme rabbit holes, which is polarizing us more and more…” On the corporate culture, “Every single solution we were trying to come up with was (a) the bare minimum for the company to be able to check that box.” On Facebook’s role of providing relevant information, “but there’s a complete asymmetry of power, because they actually have so much information on you that at this point they can even predict your behavior.” Wired

dis-rup-shun: Facebook is everyone’s favorite tech company to bash, but the vitriol may be based on people’s increasing consciousness that they are being acted on by these companies. While advertisers are pumping more into social media platforms, consumers are feeling more manipulated, meaning that a more fulfilling substitute could quickly disrupt the platform.

Controversial facial recognition technology deployed by City of Boise

Boise City Hall is spending $52,000 on facial recognition cameras and software to alert security of the presence of banned individuals. Currently no one is banned from the City Hall, but lawmakers believe they will be better prepared. A number of cities have banned the use of facial recognition technologies. AvantGuard Monitoring

dis-rup-shun: This technology is in its early stages, with noted problems including inaccuracy, especially among black females. Nonetheless, the price of doing nothing is rising, as public shootings have become an almost weekly affair. Expect all levels of government to invest in security technologies, even those that are less proven.

A look at CNBC’s Disruptor 50 companies

This list of CNBC’s most influential disruptive tech companies offer some diversity to the stereotypical tech startup. First, seven of the fifty have female CEOs, and the majority are based outside of California. At the top of the list is Indigo Ag, a company focused on the social mission of changing the food industry. Technologies most prominent on the list are machine learning (36 companies), AI (29) and cloud computing (14), with drone delivery critical to one. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The speed of technology offers hope for companies that seek to disrupt the status quo, a status that is increasingly owned and secured by GAAFA. The now common startup exit strategy, given Big Tech’s impenetrable fortress, is to demonstrate to Big Tech that a new company is cheaper to acquire than copy. If the Justice Department ups the pressure on the big boys, the pace of acquisition may slow, lest they appear to be reducing competition by aggregation of the innovators.

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.

Big Tech stares down Congress


Congress summons Big Tech for a big chat

Top executives from Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Google were on the Hill this week, arguing that they are not monopolies and are not using customer data for competitive advantage. Data is used, said Amazon’s Sutton, to better serve customers, when asked if the company launches its own products based on what’s selling. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Everyone except for small business was a winner this week as congress persons posed as tough on tech, tech executives sounded smarter than legislators by delivering punchy but circuitous answers, and lobbyists validated their billings by offering evidence that tech is increasingly under fire by legislators. Legislators have to find the balance between an increasingly less-competitive landscape and nationalistic interests in defending against global competition, mainly from China, for next generation technology dominance.

Netflix faces first significant subscriber loss 

In Q2, Netflix faced loss of 130,000 U.S. subscribers and added only 2.7 million global subs instead of the predicted 5 million. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Why is the unstoppable streaming service slowing down? A number of reasons, and they aren’t new competition, as Disney, Apple and AT&T’s ‘Netflix killer’ streaming services are not yet open. The reasons include saturation — with nearly 60% of U.S. households already subscribers, those that aren’t, don’t want to spend the money or don’t watch TV. Existing competition is increasing its original content, making some other services more desirable than Netflix (since House of Cards is finished), and rising inflation has been slowly taking a bite out of U.S. consumers’ disposable incomes. Netflix may be an indicator of a slowing economy.

AT&T and Microsoft form $2 billion alliance for cloud and 5G

AT&T announced that it will move much of its business computing needs to Microsoft’s public cloud, Azure. In addition, it’s 268,000 employee workforce will use Microsoft  365 applications for its computing needs. The $2 billion deal does not include AT&T outsourcing its network infrastructure, like cellular communications networks. The companies are also cooperating on development of 5G tools. Reuters

dis-rup-shun: This deal looks like a huge win for Microsoft and likely a cost-savings move for AT&T which continues to seek efficiencies as it prepares to engage in a long battle for streaming content viewership following integration of Time Warner. Microsoft Azure is cleaning up cloud services accounts from many companies that consider Amazon a competitor on various fronts including retailers (Walmart) and shippers (FedEx). Microsoft also secured additional defense against Google apps by ensuring that AT&T continues to use Microsoft’s office tools.

Maps with images only moments old

Online maps such as Google Street View feature photos of locations that are often months if not years old. Nexar’s Live Map application uses dash cam and smartphone images to refresh map images constantly, showing viewers a wreck moments after it happened. The company has been quick to address privacy concerns by stating that pictures of people, addresses and licenses are anonymized and blurred. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Privacy is a big concern when a) everyone’s every move is captured on a dash or doorbell camera, and b) companies collect and store those images and promise to self-police breaches in privacy. This puts companies in a position of high liability as they are liable to shareholders to monetize data they collect, and liable to society to not use that data in a way that would compromise privacy. Big profits come to those that expose secrets.

Is an uptick in PC sales an economic indicator?

PC sales are up, maybe

PC sales have been slowing as users rely on smartphones and tablets, but both IDC and Gartner analysts report an increase in PCs. IDC reports an increase of 4.7% and Gartner 1.5%. The firms have very different definitions of what is a PC. IDC counts Chromebooks but not Microsoft Surface Tablets. Gartner does not count Chromebooks, but does count Surface products. ArsTechnica

dis-rup-shun: Microsoft Surface has single-handedly brought a fringe of users who were Mac users but not in love with the MacOS back into the Windows fold. Surface is cool enough that a user can walk into a conference room in Silicon Valley and not receive the usual taunts from the Mac glitterati. Surface devices, except for the Go units, have keyboards and Chromebooks, which don’t run Microsoft software, have keyboards and are hinged. That said, PC growth is fueled by classroom success of Chromebooks and by the excellent design of Surface.

HeroLabs helps fight homeowners biggest enemy: water damage

HeroLabs, a UK startup, is developing Sonic – a water leak detector that attaches to pipes inside the house (underneath the kitchen sink) and “listens” for water movements throughout the home to identify leaks. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: As leaks are the biggest cause of insurance claims, cost effective, easy-to-install leak detection systems are theoretically more likely to gain a discount from insurance providers than a home security system. Even more, leak detectors that are connected to the cloud could be monitored by insurance providers, as those providers are the ones responsible for paying claims when water damage occurs. Expect property and casualty providers to be big players in smart home technologies.

Facebook attempts to explain Libra to Congress

The Libra Association has been summoned to Congress to explain the currency. The sophisticated crypto currency will be based in Switzerland and will conform to international monetary rules and will not compete or interfere with governments’ fiscal policies, the pre-released testimony states. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Congress has a tough challenge in that it must understand the impact, risks, and benefits of Libra or rely on consultants that do in order to properly respond, regulate, limit or prohibit the new venture. Like the rise of Uber, Libra will move far more quickly than legislators and will continue to redefine the rules of the monetary system. World governments need to rapidly understand from what dangers it must protect its own monetary systems.

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?

The streaming wars are over (already)

Streaming wars already over, says Diller

The big studios, AT&T’s Warner, Disney and NBCUniversal are launching Netflix-killer streaming services in the next few months. Netflix enjoys an advantage of 150 million subscribers and 22 years. The upstarts are trying to bring down the streaming giant by pulling their content, programs such as the Office and the Disney catalog, from Netflix. Media magnate Barry Diller says there is no way to catch Netflix.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Diller is a smart man, but if Netflix cannot keep producing original content hits and if the studios get on a hot streak of new content, which can be monetized by both streaming subscriptions and network TV (which Netflix cannot access), Netflix could lose its luster. In the Internet economy, the speed of change is faster than most expect, and Netflix has yet to make a profit, claiming that its deficit spending on original content will eventually pay off. It now has big competitors with multiple revenue sources and is locked into a spending battle with media conglomerates.

Why billionaires are launching rockets as fast as possible

Richard Branson’s Virgin Orbit is yet another billionaire’s rocket launch company, using a 747 to ferry rockets into high altitudes. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Branson joins Bezos, Musk, (late) Paul Allen in the battle for space travel. While certainly egos are involved, access to the stars is similar to building the ports for the first steamships to ply oceans and rivers. Two behemoth markets for space craft are telecommunications and defense. Companies that can secure spots in space for communications satellites can cost effectively provide broadband to any corner of the Earth without stringing wires. Companies that can launch defense equipment will have some large paying customers in world governments. Space entrepreneurship puts the U.S. in the lead over China and Russia as those nations’ space deployments are mostly government programs.

Mashup: YouTube on Amazon and Prime Video on Google Chrome

Further blurring the lines between all sources of TV, both streaming and broadcast, Google and Amazon have buried the hatchet and will make their TV sources available on one-another’s hardware platforms. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Another data point confirming that new TV services will soon look like old TV services, one will soon be able to access most streaming services from a single provider as various services essentially become channels within an uber provider, such as AT&T or Comcast or Apple or Amazon. These super-streaming providers will also offer access to cable and broadcast channels and watching TV will be simpler again, and will become more expensive as a few storefronts consolidate the goods.

Europe sends a $350M warning to Facebook, Google and big tech

Europe took the lead on data privacy in 2018 with the implementation of privacy standards known as GDPR. The EU just fined British Airways $230 million and Marriott $123 million for fumbling the security of customer records. Facebook and Google are under investigation by the EU now. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: The EU is showing that, as designed, the government has the teeth to make big corporations respect the laws in place to protect citizens. Hey U.S. Congress, are you watching?