Moto RAZR is back and beautiful

Moto RAZR is back, and looking sharp

The RAZR put Motorola on the top of the cell phone market, and provided some really strong years for the company. The new RAZR smartphone has a foldable screen, and looks really great, but is reportedly under-powered and overpriced at $1,500. It appears that the device is designed for early adopters who want to show off, but perhaps, if it succeeds in the market, Motorola will drop the price and go head to head with other Androids. Initially the RAZR is only available with Verizon. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: A couple of big questions are raised by the RAZR.  First, will foldable-screen based phones hold up to the wear and tear that users put them through? This is the first generation, so time will tell (soon). Secondly, are users ready to go back to the Motorola brand, a brand that was iconic a decade ago, but not a player in the most recent decade? If the RAZR flies, then expect Apple to add some folding devices to its mix next year.

Blood oxygen monitoring comes to Fitbit

If you own a Fitbit Charge 3, Ionic, Versa, Versa Lite, or Versa 2, then its time to update the software and see the new blood oxygen graph, and track your numbers throughout the day. Why should you care? Blood oxygen content helps identify sleep apnea, and if your levels are changing, there is a good chance that you are not sleeping well. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Fitbit is now a Google company, and we can presume will be in the race for the long haul. How can Fitbit differentiate from the very successful Apple Watch? Both companies appear to be pursuing health and wellness monitoring as important selling factors, and both are following a similar design path. If Fitbit works to be the athlete’s preferred device, doubling down on training and performance measurement apps, it could hold on to a niche it has enjoyed since its inception, allowing Apple to be the general purpose, do-all device, but no doubt Apple will be quick to match Fitbit’s differentiating features.

The best Alexa-capable speakers

The smart speaker landscape is changing fast, and with this week’s announcement by Sonos that older gear will no longer be supported, it is time to consider an upgrade. Wired profiles the landscape and suggests the best solution for different applications. For those wanting to extend the life of their hi-fi or whole-home system purchased many years ago, the $35 Amazon Echo Input is a dirt cheap way to add both Alexa as well as streaming capabilities to your favored music system.

dis-rup-shun: Research continues to reveal that people are buying Alexa-enabled systems primarily to listen to music. Amazon has had moderate success in the streaming music business, and little success making Alexa a shopping interface. Perhaps being the new music system is a Trojan Horse tactic, and once people enjoy music mostly from an Alexa-enabled device, Amazon will find new ways to monetize the device and the services its supports. The company is already on a path to become the new home intercom system, and can easily become the replacement for the land line telephone system.

What to make of the Bezos phone hack?

If you missed it, Bezos’ phone was hacked in 2018 and the hackers revealed some nude photos of Bezos that he sent to his mistress. Bezos hired some investigators to determine how the phone was hacked, and the report implicated Saudi Crown Prince bin Salman. After the alleged hack, bin Salman’s regime murdered Washington Post (owned by Bezos) reporter, Khashoggi, who was critical of the prince. Wired

dis-rup-shun: There are more questions than answers here, and more issues that are not about technology than are. About technology, expect that any device that is connected to a network can and will be hacked. Time to get rid of any pictures that you don’t consider public. One reason that your smartphone wants you to update it frequently is that those updates fix security risks — so update all your devices regularly. And don’t hang out with the Crown Prince or the richest man in the world, as you could get caught in the crossfire.

California data privacy law enacted

California data privacy law started yesterday

California has now enacted the California Consumer Privacy Act, a law requiring any major company operating in the state to allow consumers to opt out of having data sold to third parties. While enforcement is difficult, the fines for violators are very large — $2,500 per user per data item. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This law is the first of its kind in the U.S. and is long overdue. Other states will likely follow suit, adding pressure on the U.S. Federal Government to pass a similar, and possibly more comprehensive law, making it easier for businesses to comply. The law is similar to Europe’s GDPR, but falls short of the ideal model in which a common data dashboard can be accessed to enable consumers to specific what, when and how data can be used. Expect strong evolution and development of nationwide data privacy laws in 2020, thanks to California’s leadership.

Virtual fitting rooms coming to retail

Former Walmart CEO Bill Simon predicts that retailers will lean heavily on technology to further differentiate brick and mortar stores — seeking to maintain an edge on online retailers. One such technology will be the ability to scan any item into a smartphone and virtually try it on. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Competition makes things better, and we are already seeing the brick and mortar retailers that survived fallout from the Amazon Effect make shopping better with offers such as same day curb-side pickup (Target), and more knowledgeable sales clerks (Best Buy). Better in-store experiences, including great displays, elegant and inviting spaces and cleaner, better lit interiors are benefits. By using better technologies, including holograms, digital signage, Bluetooth beacons, apps and augmented reality, retailers will make certain that the shopping experience is a remarkable experience, and no less convenient than online stores.

Will authentication apps become common in 2020?

Authenticator apps are third party apps that provide a second method, in addition to your password, to secure your applications. Because text messages occur outside of the tightly secured infrastructure of your network providers, third-party authenticators are more secure. A number of leading providers are Google, Microsoft, Authy, LastPass, and DuoMobile, and there is a good chance you will be using one by the end of the year. Gizmodo

dis-rup-shun: Authenticators are important and a welcome addition, but still a bit clunky to use, and they don’t fix the problem of having to remember dozens of passwords for different accounts. The problem of authentication, however, is being addressed rapidly, and access programs will continue to improve. Bad actors, of course, will move just as quickly as tech innovators and will find ways to break new authentication tools — a reality of the digital age — and assurance that the data security and authentication industries are solid growth industries.

What to expect in smartphones in 2020

Phones will continue to get more expensive, according to CNET as faster charging, better CPUs, higher resolution cameras, and foldable screens find their way into new devices. The question is if foldables will catch on, or be a passing fad.

dis-rup-shun: What we do know is that 5G networks have not been ready for prime time, but that will change by year end and blazing speeds should be perceivable to people who live in major metropolitan areas. This will be a reason to upgrade, and will lead to strong new phone sales in H2 of this year. With higher resolution cameras and blazing fast 5G, expect everyone to be a photo journalist, sharing even more photos and especially more videos, as the hybrid still/video snapshot becomes even more like a video.