Ready to cut the cord?

Step by step guide to cord cutting

The art of cutting your traditional pay TV service and replacing it with an Internet TV service has become cocktail conversation. Even luddites are doing it. This step by step guide takes you through the process, which involves some new investments: you must have fast, hearty internet service, and you much either replace old TVs with internet ready TVs (smart TVs) or purchase external connections such as Roku or FireTV for those old TVs. When you are ready to end your pay TV relationship, you can return any devices that you are renting (in perpetuity). Between ending rental fees and government mystery fees, you could save anywhere between $50 to $150, not counting your investment in new stuff. Shelly Palmer

dis-rup-shun: There has been an ongoing debate as to whether or not final TV expenses are lower for cord cutters, given all of the great streaming services and add-ons. The bottom line is that traditional pay TV subscribers have been buying most of the goodies, such as Prime and Netflix, and tacking on premium charges anyway, so lowering the base pay for TV services is a big win, especially given that for now, these services are not opposed to account sharing by your kids at college. 5G will upset the internet subscription pay model, in that super fast 5G connections that can power your entire home’s internet needs will challenge your traditional internet service (and may be the same provider), making what we call ‘faster then required’ much cheaper in a year. It’s a moving target, but you have to jump in some time.

The murky future for Sonos

Sonos has announced a trade-in program for some of its first devices, while also announcing that it will no longer support products dating back to 2006 and 2007. The pioneer in streaming music is directing its efforts on supporting the latest technology, all the while suing partner Google for patent infringement. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Sonos makes some of the greatest products in the connected home realm, with a very simple user interface. Sonos is to whole home audio what iPods were to boom boxes, and Sonos became what Bose was to the prior generation — the mark of really cool home music systems. Amazon and Google, with some help from Apple, JBL and others, are displacing Sonos. Research indicates that the most frequent use case for smart speakers such as Google Nest Home and Amazon Echo is to play music. The biggest complaint, of course, being that sound quality is lacking. The smart speaker makers and the Bluetooth speaker makers are upping their sound quality, while adding support for smart assistants, meaning that Sonos’ advantages as a high fidelity provider of streaming music are all but gone. What’s worse, of course, is that Amazon and Google are happy to sell products below cost as they race to be the provider of shopping services, information services, and a hub for smart home products. If you manage Sonos, how do you compete with that?

Proving space travel is safe

On Sunday, SpaceX, in a final safety test for NASA, demonstrated its human recovery module in the event of a rocket explosion. The recovery module is, essentially, a lifeboat that will bring astronauts back to an ocean landing should there be an in-flight catastrophe. The exercise is in preparation for SpaceX’s upcoming transporting of astronauts to the international space station, not yet scheduled but expected in the coming year or so. Spectacular footage of the flawless launch, explosion, Dragon separation, and splashdown can be viewed on Wired.

dis-rup-shun: The exercise will pave the way for the return of U.S. based rockets ferrying astronauts to space — something that has not occurred since the last shuttle mission in 2011. Boeing, the beleaguered maker of the 737 Max, is competing with SpaceX to be the first to return a U.S. based astronaut in space, but at present the aircraft company has a lot on its corporate plate, giving Musk a chance to steal the spotlight. Of course Musk, with his soaring Tesla auto company, highly criticized solar company, and ambitious boring (tunneling) company, among other endeavors, seems to thrive with a lot on his plate. A private citizen eager to purchase a ticket on a commercial space ride has an interesting choice to make: ride on the craft made by the occasionally fiery Tesla father, or ride with the largest maker of commercial aircraft and semi-complete software. I will wait.

Microsoft pushing hard into remote worker software

If you haven’t been working from a remote site, you may not be aware of Slack, a web-based group working software application that makes it easy for remote or headquarters workers to instant message, call, and file share, all from a pop-up app always running on their PC or mobile device. Slack brought in over $175 million in revenue last year, a growth rate of 42% according to Yahoo! Finance. Microsoft has come after Slack with its Teams application, which it built on top of the awkward Skype VOIP application. Microsoft has gone prime time, highlighting on weekend commercials how the application is transforming the way people work. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Teams and Slack are, in fact, changing the way people work — making it increasingly awkward to use the telephone, tethered or smart, to call a co-worker, when, with a click of a button, one can loop co-workers into a screen session and share a desktop. Document collaboration, while not something that happens in an office, is becoming a common result of frequent use of workflow software. Microsoft, having been blindsided by the commercial acceptance of Google Docs, is not about to give up more of its share of office productivity to San Francisco based Slack, but has declared a full battle to claim the new category, and is bundling Teams with Office 365. Bundling, however, does not ensure success, as Google Chrome has long bested Microsoft’s Internet Explorer and now Edge browsers, despite those being pre-loaded onto Windows computers.

Porch pirates beware

Porch pirate retribution bomb 

A former NASA engineer and YouTube personality, Mark Rober, has developed a new and improved porch bomb to serve justice to porch package thieves. The brown paper parcel, when opened, creates an explosion of bio-degradable glitter, fart scent, and is recorded and automatically uploaded to the web. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: With the proliferation of doorbell cameras combined with the popularity of social networks, it stands to reason that public shaming will eventually reduce doorstep theft. Rober’s device reminds us that packages of even moderate value will soon include tracking devices, and perhaps biometric locks that beam the opener’s fingerprints to the shipper for verification or, perhaps, investigation. 

The decade for wearables

According to research firm Canalys, wearables reached 45.5 million units shipped, growing 65% since Q3 of 2018. Fitbit, an early player, has been pushed down by the success of Apple and Chinese competitor, Xiaomi. Google purchased FitBit for $2.1 billion last month in a bid to keep up with this hot new product category before Apple and Xiaomi run away with it.

wearable-bands.png

ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: The market for wearables was nascent before Apple brought its weight to the party and made smart watches main stream. The question, then, is if Apple will do the same for smart glasses. We know that the company has been working on smart glasses, but are they ready for the mass market, maybe late in 2020, or is this a 2021 product? Probably Apple alone can make smart glasses widely appealing to consumers, and drafting in the wake of Apple will increase the business of those players currently working on glasses — so Apple’s move would lift all boats.

The most popular games of the decade

SlotsTemple, a tracker of gambling, has summed up the decade’s most popular video games, based on user feedback. The best selling title of the decade? Grand Theft Auto V. The most popular genres are action (36%), RPG (23%), Platform & Adventure (18%). The best selling console was the PS4, having sold 102.8 million units. 

dis-rup-shun: The question at the close of the decade will be, can Apple and Google generate significant revenues from casual gamers, or by converting everyday people into casual gamers with smartphone all-you-can-game plans, and cross-platform technologies? While the companies strive to grow the casual gaming pie, my bet is that their success will come at the expense of existing casual games channels rather than by converting the un-gamed.

 

 

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.

Drug deals and sex acts

Drug deals, sex acts and doctor conversations

What do they have in common? They were all caught by Siri after mistakenly hearing a wake up (and record) command on an iPhone, Apple computer or Apple HomePod. Some 1% of recordings are listened to by humans in order to judge how well the technology understands and follows commands. ZDNet

dis-rup-shunConsumer research indicates 48% of speaker owners are concerned with privacy, yet the product category has been a smash hit. For many, the assumption is that nothing particularly salacious is going on in the home so there is not much to worry about. Despite the large percentage of concerned owners, the product’s convenience and ‘cool factor’ must be outweighing concerns, as the category is found in 21% of households, a 36% increase, according to Mobile Marketer.

NASA contracts with 13 space companies for Moon and Mars shots

13 companies, including Blue Origin (Bezos) and SpaceX (Musk) have inked deals with NASA to help the agency reach for the moon and planets over coming years. The companies, including Lockheed Martin, will contribute skills such as precise landings and vehicle re-use. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: The future of the NASA program will be a showcase of the free market system, with many aggressive entrepreneurs having to cooperate with competitors and work within a regulation-heavy government program. The collaboration will bring more discipline to the space companies, and will provide NASA with technologies that would take the agency decades to create on its own.

Google may teach us a new set of gestures

Google’s Pixel line of smartphones is now enabling gestures like pinching and swiping in the air, a few inches above the phone screen, to manipulate on screen images. Wired

dis-rup-shun: By now most of us have seen or heard of infants toddling up to a TV screen and trying to pinch or swipe the screen to change it. Fifteen years ago, such behavior would have been insanity, but today, such gestures are as commonly understood as waving goodbye or beckoning someone with hand motions. Apple, via the iPhone, created a new gesture library and now Google may change it, by enabling gesture control without touching the screen. This has many advantages, including cleaner, more sanitary surfaces, and perhaps more immediate success and less screen tapping.

How the Internet has forever changed the sleep industry

Casper started shipping foam mattresses direct to consumers in a box and disrupted the retail supply chain. Within the first month, the company had over $1 million in sales. Many companies followed. Now the industry is being disrupted by gadgets — top mattresses today must be laden with sensors to detect snoring, tossing and turning and heart rates. No evidence exists that smart bedding delivers any improvements in sleep, but the mattress playing field is now raised by smart technology.

dis-rup-shun: The sleep industry is a case study on the speed of tech disruption, first by online sales, then by making mattresses smart even though the technology has yet to improve sleep — reminders that sales channels even for specialty products (food, mattresses, furniture) is ripe for disruption overnight. This industry also displays that “smart” is as powerful a differentiating word as is “natural,” “low-fat,” and “recyclable.”