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.

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.

Bezos explains how to succeed in business

Bezos offers the key to business success

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

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


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

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

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


All three smart speakers to get smarter this year

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

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


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

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

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