Amazon pharmacy revving up

Amazon files pharmacy trademarks

Amazon has filed a series of pharmacy related trademarks both in the U.S. and in several countries, in a move believed to be signaling the company’s expansion of its PillPack pharmacy acquisition in both the U.S. and overseas markets. Amazon has registered the name “Amazon Pharmacy,” a different brand from PillPack. The Seattle company has encountered serious resistance from the established players after its previous expansion efforts. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Is Amazon’s push into pharmaceuticals a net positive? Chances are, Amazon will make receiving prescriptions far easier, providing fast, free delivery, and making it easy to purchase related supplies (bandages, thermometers, vitamin supplements) and its vertical integration suggests that it could help address the skyrocketing costs of drugs and cut much fat out of the established pharmaceutical pipeline. Perhaps an Amazon Prime “Pharmacy” membership would provide low drug prices, plus streaming TV and next day delivery of stuff. How would state attorney generals and our federal government deal with a giant that appears to be restricting online competition, aggressively using consumer data, rocking the logistics establishment, and rocking the pharma industry, among many other things?

How to hold on to a 500 million unit market

Samsung, the former king of smartphones in India, the world’s second largest smartphone market, has lost its lead to Chinese Xiaomi. The company now plans to open a $500 million display plant outside of New Delhi. The plant will enable Samsung to take advantage of tax credits in the 500 million unit market. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Samsung has been unseated by a large Chinese handset maker, and is being threatened by another, called Realme. The Chinese companies have demonstrated that they can produce a device liked by millions for lower costs, and this will be a test of Samsung’s ability to compete at the low to middle end of the smartphone market. Apple continues to demonstrate that the handset is a platform for a host of services, starting with apps and including music, news, video, advertisements and games. Losing this position in a nascent market such as India will be a game changer that could clip Samsung’s growth for a decade or more. Watch the company fight viciously to regain and hold its lead against an onslaught of inexpensive Chinese phones.

An answer to the problem of IOT security

IOT devices are growing in number as we embrace connected living. Data security standards, however, are severely lacking, making smart home and IOT products particularly vulnerable (recall the annual baby monitoring hacking gate?). Swiss cryptography firm Teserakt is proposing an open source, end to end encryption standard to secure any and all participating IOT devices, and, being open source, means that the standard can be pounded on, improved and modified by the public, providing person-years of updates and innovation. Wired

dis-rup-shun: An open source encryption standard would raise the bar for all IOT players, and would, hopefully, become a required minimum feature for any connected device, making the world a better place, and avoiding the sensationalism associated with the annual hacking, on national news, of a nanny cam. The connected home industry is caught between developing some truly innovative and useful products, and being rejected for lack of security by the same people who post their vacation photos on Facebook, indirectly advertising the vacancy of their homes.

Netflix’s competition and stock price rise

Netflix reported numbers that confirm that rising competition is slowing subscriber growth in North America. The company, however, knew that was coming and has been working hard to expand in other regions. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: How fast can Netflix run across the globe to convert other markets to be cord cutters? The problem with other markets is that after the big economies are converted, the disposable income available for Netflix subscriptions gets small. Economies such as India offer enormous scale to help offset the lower subscription fees, but can Netflix corral enough unique local content to beat the regional incumbents, who should have taken a lesson from the U.S. market and already have plans to launch their own streaming service? Watch Netflix get purchased by a large media company that is behind in the market — in the next three years.

Nexflix is decade’s best stock

Netflix top stock of the decade

Looking back on the decade, Netflix has won the prize of best performing stock, increasing 4,000%. Subscriber growth went from 12 million who were receiving CDs in the mail, to 158 million subscribers to streaming services. The company divides the world into four regions. After North America, the biggest region is Europe/Middle East/Africa with 47.4 million subscribers, then Latin America with 29.4 million. AsiaPac follows at 14.5 million. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Do you continue to back the stock of a company with razor thin margins that doesn’t consistently make a profit, is being chased by Disney, AT&T and many other companies with deep pockets? The company’s growth is in international markets where competition is far less, but winning this game requires massive spending. This disruptor has been highly valued for completely changing the video market, but, like another game changer called Uber, will the demand for profits sink its high price? 

China helps finance Tesla

Chinese investors have agreed to back Tesla’s Shanghai-based manufacturing plant with a $1.4 billion loan that will, in part, roll over a prior, smaller loan. Tesla broke ground on the plant in January of this year and expects to produce 1000 model S cars per week by end of this year. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: It seems that Musk did not get the trade war memo, and, like Apple, is leading the charge for continued strong trade relations with China. Such big deals will likely keep the trade war political and prevent walls from being built between the economies. Tesla has what China wants — innovative, stylish cars that don’t pollute. Perhaps Musk can lead the way to increasing the number of global ventures that China will back.

Music embraces big data

As we know, the music industry is on a rebound from decimation by digital download. Gone are the talent scouts and record label promoters, replaced by data analysts who study trends on streaming music sites such as Spotify. By analyzing what’s hot, music producers can predict which artists will sell. Artists, by analyzing data, are able to determine where and with what they will become popular. The likely result is more homogeneity in music, making it tougher for off beat artists to be discovered. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This brings up the discussion, made popular a decade ago by Chris Anderson’s book, The Long Tail, of the value of non-popular content. Digital access makes it very inexpensive to find and enjoy the unusual, less popular books, movies and music. Yet, in the digital age, data analytics helps big business spend its resources finding or making the 20% of content that earns 80% of the revenues. This suggests a streaming service dedicated to the fringe artists, where lots of good stuff is less commercialized, would be interesting to those of us who like fringe stuff.

In-home manicure machine

Coral is a company founded by a former Dolby executive who has received $4.3 million to create an in home manicure machine. Put your finger in a hole in the machine, and out comes a completed, painted nail. Tech Crunch

dis-rup-shun: The salon experience seems, from an observer’s perspective, to be part ritual — going somewhere and spending a few minutes being pampered. While many people don’t have the time to go to a salon but want nails to look nice, this may be a better solution than DIY manicures. Peloton has brought the community workout experience home, and massive multi-player games gives one a sense of community experience at home. Coral likely needs to make its machine deliver more of an experience — perhaps by playing soothing music or brewing tea while it gives its auto-manicure.

 

The Media Decade

The decade of new media

Ten years ago, Netflix was shipping DVDs, DirecTV was the largest pay TV provider, AT&T was making more from land lines than wireless, and Yahoo! was a $24 billion king of Internet. The decade marks the end of content only companies, as most content creators were swallowed by distributors, as evidenced in the recent merger of CBS and Viacom. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Few industries that have been completely rewired by the Internet are as visible as media companies. We have to also thank the proliferation of Internet attached devices with screens, including smartphones, tablets and smart TVs. Without these connected devices the media distributors could have maintained control of the majority of content. The advent of 5G will accelerate the transition to streaming content services, as accessing anything anywhere at anytime will be even easier than today.

Where will 5G first appear?

The TV commercials have started… 5G networks are here (T-Mobile). But 5G networks are expensive to build and growth will be uneven. The industries that are most anxious to deploy, and therefore invest, in 5G are autonomous cars — providing rapidly updated maps and traffic data in real time, telemedicine — enabling specialists to perform procedures on remote patients, and in manufacturing facilities — 5G will connect assembly robots so that they can be constantly monitored for breakdowns or errors.  Wired

dis-rup-shun: The path to monetization of new networks is clearer in industries that can lower production costs or increase speeds with greater connectivity. Giving consumers faster Internet on smartphones and computers is great, but how much and how quickly will people upgrade to enjoy the pleasures of more speed? We are about to learn.

Amazon bans sellers from FedEx

Amazon told all sellers (58% of all Amazon.com merchandise is from third parties) to cease using FedEx Ground as the carrier’s ability to deliver on time is of concern. This is the latest in a series of jabs between the companies, following a decision in August by FedEx to end express delivery for Amazon. Meanwhile Amazon is building a $1.5 billion air hub in Kentucky,  where 50 planes will be based. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Is Amazon a bookseller, an online department store, an electronic storefront for hire, or a logistics company? The answer, of course, is all of the above and the bigger question is can Amazon continue to compete with its own customers? Can FedEx and UPS develop loyalty programs to keep their own customers from defecting to Amazon shipping when the Seattle giant begins to offer shipping to companies that are not Amazon merchants? Expect to see either FedEx or UPS develop some aggressive loyalty programs for existing customers in anticipation of the Amazon Effect on shipping.

Cloudy future for IPOs

Direct listings vs. IPOs gain traction

Using a direct listing to take a company public is a technique gaining momentum for companies that are less concerned about becoming public than raising additional money. Spotify and Slack employed the technique in 2019, and five or more companies are considering direct listings in 2020, including GitLab, AirBnB and DoorDash. The method is leading Wall Street banks to become far more flexible with traditional IPOs. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Companies in general, and tech companies specifically, are savvy about communicating and reaching potential markets with current digital marketing tools. For companies flush with venture investments, Wall Street’s rigid rules for holding periods and over-sized fees are simply not needed and are being bypassed. Seeing the damage inflicted on the retail brokerage industry by Internet stock trading platforms, Wall Street will work fervently to not lose one of its biggest paydays — the IPO. The disruption has already begun, however, and the IPO fee structure will never be what it was.

The Irishman helps Netflix gain cred

Netflix is counting on giant blockbusters such as The Irishman, viewed by 26 million households in its first week, to attract the top film producers to make great movies and series. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Netflix was amazing until others, namely Amazon, offered more new release content, albeit for an up-charge. Then there was everyone else — including Warner and Disney that control vast catalogs and have studios where the best of the industry are created. Differentiation is no longer about convenience or price, but about offering “must watch” content. Whatever streaming service is not required for participation in the all important water cooler conversation will be purged from the overtaxed credit card account. Netflix has declared that its production budget will secure its place in the must watch category.

What are smart glasses 2.0?

North brought its lighter, more-stylish Focals line of smart glasses to market in 2019. It is now turning its sights to Focals 2.0 — thinner, more powerful with better display. The second generation of smart glasses will likely remain priced at around $600, and will continue to be the leader in alternative ways to view smartphone generated images. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: It is rough be on the bleeding edge of a new product category and smart glasses seem to be a bit like the slow adoption of wearables — some good offerings but consumers took a few years to be convinced they needed the product. Apple is said to be working on AR glasses and, as soon as the company enters the market, North can expect to be acquired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, or some other large brand that wants to enjoy the benefits of Apple creating a new category while having to compete. North will have to continue to survive by serving early adopters until a big brand can generate viral demand for the category. Perhaps Warby Parker is that brand.

Rating cloud services on environmental responsibility

Cloud computing is the future of computing and is the economic engine fueling massive growth by Amazon, Microsoft, Google and others. These services consume massive amounts of computing power, and electricity. Wired has evaluated the practices of the biggest three cloud providers and rates them. Google received an overall score of B+, Microsoft a B, and Amazon Web Services was scored C+. Factors considered include use of renewable energy, use of efficiency algorithms to maximize cycles per watt, and creative ways to reduce emissions, such as Microsoft’s location of data centers on the ocean floor.

dis-rup-shun: Amazon, the largest cloud provider by far, appears to have grown so quickly that it has struggled to keep apace with zero carbon pledges made by its competition. The socially conscious tech giants, however, will drive creation of renewable energy production at large scale, helping to make energy storage more viable. Expect companies to make purchase decisions of cloud providers with environmental responsibility an important priority, behind price.

Netflix ups the content war chest

Netflix raises $2 billion for content development

In the latest move in the streaming wars, Netflix has placed a debt offering to develop more original content. This follows an April offering for the same amount. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Faced with intense competition, Netflix is showing what it’s made of — doubling down for the long haul, intent to win with better content. The question is, can Netflix be a better studio than the studios and drive more viewers to its monthly service than its competitors who have such assets as live sports (ESPN), blockbuster syndicated series such as Friends (AT&T), and a catalog of treasured content (Disney)? Hats off to the scrappy streamer that, when faced with intense competition, is ready to fight. What is certain is that the big winner in the streaming wars will be the consumer who will enjoy boatloads of original content from competing streaming networks, commercial free, for a low monthly fee.

A look back at 10 years of smartphones

CNET surveys technologies of the last decade, including a look at how smartphones have transformed our lives. Recalling earliest Android devices and apps which included fart and virtual lighter apps that made thousands of dollars of revenue every day, the article lists the industries that have been essentially destroyed by smartphones. Those include MP3 players, point and shoot cameras, voice recorders, GPS devices, and almost, except for Apple’s actions, the wristwatch. Hot companies such as Nokia,  Blackberry, HTC and Motorola were not successful making smartphones that people wanted, and are paying dearly today. Chinese smartphone makers are quickly developing lower cost and high functionality devices that will challenge Apple and Samsung’s dominance.

dis-rup-shun: As in every technology hardware introduction (mainframe, mini-computer, PC, modem, game device, etc.), the category transforms consumer habits, sells millions of units, changes the way people work and live, becomes mature, and reaches commodity status. Can Apple and Samsung continue to innovate at a fast enough pace to stay ahead of Huawai, Xiaomi and Oppo? Expect Apple and Samsung to aggressively lead critical innovations such as heart and health tracking, and to greatly improve their smart home offerings as value adds. Whatever the leaders do, the Chinese players will be very close behind.

Shine brings the smart toilet to U.S. bathrooms

Smart toilets, like those in Japan, are able to clean a person, clean itself, heat the seat, measure heart rates, and play music. Despite their popularity in Japan, they have never caught on in North American homes. The Shine Bathroom Assistant seeks to ease the U.S. market into smart toilets through its $99 Echo looking device that sits next to or on the toilet and cleans the bowl after every flush. It also detects water leaks that are common in toilets. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Transitioning our homes to regularly feature smart appliances and devices will sometimes be painful, asking us to put connected devices all around our homes, running power cords across counter tops, floors and tables. A smart toilet like those in Japan that has everything built in sounds quite nice, but an external gadget that further clutters the bathroom does not. After all, cleaning the toilet is one of the easier home chores. Perhaps Shine can increase our interest in a fully integrated smart toilet, but it won’t be at the top of many people’s holiday shopping list.

Hackers find a way to spoil smart speakers

Malicious third parties have developed a number of skills for Alexa and Google Home that eavesdrop or phish for passwords. The skills, disguised as providers of horoscopes or random numbers, keep listening long after they have gone silent, or provide an error message that requests a password. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Simply put, with each new technology innovation will come abuse and bad intentions. The data security and malware fighting industry has a bright future, and will be an excellent vocation for the brightest of technical minds.

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.

McDonald’s use of AI could save $18 billion

McDonald’s invests in AI for voice recognition

The fast food company announced its acquisition of Apprente, a company specializing in voice recognition for fast food ordering. The terms were not disclosed, but the acquisition follows McDonald’s purchase of Dynamic Yield, a big data analytics company it acquired for $300 million.

dis-rup-shun: Quick math says that elimination of 1 to 3 hourly employees and a reduction in human “translation” errors that seem to occur when we say our orders to McDonald’s cashiers could save $50 to $75 per hour, times 18 hours times 365 days is $492 thousand per store per year. With 37,855 worldwide restaurants… the potential value of this technology is about $18.6 billion per year. Seems like a good investment.

Apple’s announcements

Yesterday’s Apple announcement went as expected and can be summarized as follows:

  • iPhones: 2 new iPhone 11 Pro and Pro Max are over $1000 and have enhanced cameras and displays. The iPhone 11 is a less expensive ($699) offering.
  • Apple TV Plus, the streaming service, is $2 less per month than Disney + and is included for free for a year when you purchase an Apple device.
  • iPads — bigger screen, and better processor.
  • Apple Watch Series 5 has some fancier bezels and always on display.

The Verge

dis-rup-shun:  Is that it? This seems like the most un-amazing Apple new product release ever. The camera features on the 11 Pro are remarkable, and the days of ever wanting a separate digital camera are all but dead, but the lack of a really exciting new product, or really unique features, is concerning. It is time for Apple to think different.

Apple TV Plus undercuts Disney+ which undercut Netflix

Apple today announced that its streaming video service, Apple TV Plus, will be priced at $4.99 per month, $2 less then Disney + at $6.99. Disney + combines three networks at HD, which provides far more than Netflix at $12.99 per month.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun:  It will be a rough fall season for AT&T. Not only did the company pay $85 billion for Time Warner to launch, among other things, a video streaming service to compete with Netflix and Disney, it is now under pressure by activist investor Elliot Fund, that believes the company grossly overpaid for Time Warner. It is also not a good time to be Netflix, a company that said profits will be deferred while it invests in original content. This was before Disney and now Apple declared a video streaming price war. Expect investors to be wary of Netflix as it is the only big streamer with only one line of business.

Vehicle brands less important in Cars-as-a-Service economy

IBM CEO Ginni Rometty tells CNBC that the riding experience, rather than the car brand, is most important to consumers in the world of autonomous cars and ride sharing.

dis-rup-shun:  As the transportation experience moves from one of ownership to one of services, and consumers’ investments in the experience shift from significant to minor, it stands to reason that auto brand will take a back seat to other service attributes such as locating the car, setting the preferences, providing the appropriate class of service for the occasion and enabling in-car communications. Expect BMW’s future tag line, “The Ultimate Riding Experience.”

Smart shoes have arrived

Nike shoes can be laced by Siri

Nike’s Adapt Huaraches, to be released in September, are expected to sell for over $350. The smart shoes include motors controlled by Siri to loosen or tighten laces upon commands via an iPhone or Apple Watch. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A smart running shoe is a precursor to a connected running shoe. While the convenience of adjustment by voice may be cool, the value (to Nike) is the data collected by your shoe. Nike, Apple and their partners know exactly where you are, what direction you are going, how fast, what your footfall and walking patterns are and can use this data to sell products, segment your lifestyle and buying habits, provide you with directions, and tell you when your shoes will wear out.

Disney’s Netflix killer appears to exceed expectations

According to the UBS Evidence Lab, 43% of respondents expect to subscribe to the Disney+ streaming service after its November debut. Importantly, 57% of these respondents expect to cancel one other service to accommodate Disney+ in their budget. Disney’s content library will include Star Wars, Marvel, The Simpsons and the traditional Disney fare. ComicBook Movies

dis-rup-shunDisney will fight and likely win the streaming wars on two fronts: deeper content and lower price. It’s rivals, Netflix, Hulu, AT&T’s (with Warner) TV Now, do not have the depth of content that Disney has amassed, and will bleed cash in a race to develop unique content. Despite Netflix’s large numbers of subscribers, profitability is years away.

Mass iPhone hacking discovered after two years

In a chilling discovery, researchers at Google discovered a host of websites that, when visited by iPhone users, load malware into phones. This malware is capable of taking passwords, contacts, and tracking locations, and has infected thousands of users per week without their knowledge. Careful examination of the code indicates that an unsophisticated team purchased much of the code from experienced hackers, suggesting it is a state sponsored project. Apple claims to have patched the vulnerabilities last February, closing the doors used by hackers. Wired

dis-rup-shun: The notion that most of our online activities are safe are daily being dispelled. Whether through use of Alexa, Siri, Google, online banking, credit cards, or even our smart phones, our personal data is being compromised. Unplugging is not a viable option at this point in our society, so how do we prepare? Data insurance, reimbursing us from cyber theft, will become a standard product offering. Applications designed to maintain our anonymity as we use mapping tools and shop online will become popular offerings.

Mobile payments slow to be adopted in U.S.

In China, 80% of consumers used mobile payments last year. In the U.S., less than 10%. Despite offerings from Samsung and Apple, Americans are slow to embrace mobile payments. Reasons include the widespread use of loyalty-based credit cards, which haven’t been prevalent in many countries. Also, the large number of payment methods in the U.S. require merchants to manage multiple accounts and expensive POS hardware. 

CNBC

dis-rup-shun: New payment methods such as Apple and Goldman Sachs’ new credit card is a physical card tied to the iPhone app. This hybrid approach is an evolutionary move that offers the convenience of mobile payments but within a context that consumers are accustomed. Expect to see more alliances between large loyalty card providers and Google and Samsung, as a host of competitors seek to emulate Apple’s hybrid model.

Streaming game of thrones: Viacom and CBS form latest alliance

Viacom and CBS align for battle in the streaming wars

Viacom and CBS announced their merger, providing a combined network with a vast content library, similar to NBC’s merger with Universal in 2004 and acquisition by Comcast in 2011. This will strengthen CBS’ streaming service, as the combined company owns 140,000 TV episodes, 36,000 films and 750 series. ViacomCBS is now in a better position to challenge Disney, Netflix, AT&T and Comcast in the streaming wars. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A bit like GOT itself, the seven kingdoms are aligning to have a seat at the throne of your smart TV. A streaming service, be it from a cable network (Comcast), an over the top service (Netflix) or from a studio (Hulu) is mere commodity without unique content. To compete, you must purchase or create a production studio and build a library of popular content. Netflix changed the world by offering a new format (anytime TV) at a new price point. Others followed but found it hard to differentiate. Content differentiates, and now when cord cutters drop their pay TV subscriptions with AT&T or Comcast, there is a good chance they will subscribe to a streaming service partially owned by AT&T, Comcast, CBS, Disney, etc. Realignment of subscribers beats total loss of subscribers any day.

Nest accounts become Google on August 31st

Customer backlash prevented Google from cancelling support for third party devices that controlled Nest devices (through Works with Nest programs). On August 31st, only security support for Nest accounts will be provided, meaning that Nest accounts will work, but won’t receive any feature enhancements. But if you control a Nest device, like a camera or thermostat from a 3rd party app, don’t migrate to a Google account, as you will lose the ability to control your Nest devices from apps provided by third parties. CNet

dis-rup-shun: Confused? Nest is increasing its control of data created through the use of its devices, and is providing incentives for its customers to control home devices through its Google Home smart speaker devices. It is doing so, in part, by discouraging use of third party devices. This is a risky strategy for a number of reasons: 1) the smart home is way too big and diverse for a single vendor to dominate, and if one were to dominate, it would likely be an Apple or Samsung, who provide many more devices than Google/Nest; 2) Nest thermostats and cameras are strong selling standalone products, but if they don’t work (well) with other devices and hubs, there are many good alternatives and this move will ultimately hurt sales of Google/Nest products.

A side by side look at home Internet and Wi-Fi services

The largest Wi-Fi providers, by market share, are  Comcast, Charter Spectrum, AT&T, Verizon and Cox Communications. When selecting a provider, be aware of hidden fees such as modem rental fees, data overage fees, installation fees, and early termination fees.

ISPS: 100 – 150MBPS PLANS COMPARED

Comcast Xfinity Charter Spectrum AT&T Fiber Verizon Fios Cox Communications
Max download speed 150Mbps 3 – 300Mbps (same price for all plans in this range) 100Mbps 100Mbps 150Mbps
Max upload speed 10Mbps 1 – 20Mbps (same price for all plans in this range) 100Mbps 100Mbps 10Mpbs
Data allowance 1TB, then $10 / 50GB Unlimited 1TB, then $10 / 50GB Unlimited 1TB, then $10 / 50GB
Installation costs Up to $60 Up to $140 Up to $99 Up to $99 Up to $75
Promotional price $50 / month $45 / month $50 / month $40 / month $60 / month
Promotional period 12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months 12 months
Price after promotion $80 / month $66 / month $60 / month $55 / month $88 / month
Modem/router fee $13 / month $5 / month $0 $12 / month $11 / month
Early termination fee Up to $120 None Up to $180 None Up to $120

CNET

dis-rup-shun: Differences between services are subtle, unless you live in a household that watches many movies everyday, are running a compute intensive home-based business, or unless you are an online game player and every Mbps counts. Bundles with other services, like pay TV (unless you have already cut the cord), or streaming subscriptions thrown in for free, may be the biggest difference makers in your choice for next generation broadband service at home.

Disney launches Netflix killer

Disney announces streaming bundle

Disney is ready to accelerate the undoing of the pay TV industry with its announced streaming bundle, offering ESPN, Disney and Hulu at the price of $12.99. That price is equivalent to Netflix and Amazon Prime. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: This changes the streaming game, and the pay TV game altogether. Why? First of all, getting these packages at this price means that Disney is selling at a loss and plans to play the long game. That’s bad news for Netflix, a company that doesn’t plan to make a profit for a long time, and has stated that it will eventually reach profitability through original programming. It will take a great deal of original programming to come close to original content of non-stop sports, Disney’s catalog, and the less interesting Hulu catalog. Given a choice, why take Netflix at all? Because of a few interesting shows. Secondly, AT&T, now entering the streaming game with its Time Warner acquisition, is clearly playing the long game with its own studio. It is also in the streaming business to recapture the cord cutters that are leaving DirecTV for bundles such as Disney’s.

Amazon price pressure — anti-competitive?

Amazon is under investigation by the FTC. What’s of interest to the Feds is Amazon’s practice of telling its third party sellers who offer the same products on other marketplaces for a lower price that they may lose some Amazon perks, like listings at the top of a page, or Prime shipping. This causes the sellers to raise prices on marketplaces such as eBay or Walmart.com. Amazon’s costs for listing and advertising, however, are the highest online. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: When you control the largest online marketplace (by far) and you charge your customers fees for placing products in that market, and you penalize customers for setting their own prices, you just may have more influence than “the free market.” Consumers might benefit from knowing that they don’t have to shop because all marketplaces offer the same goods at the same price, but not as much as they benefit from finding better deals and deciding if they are willing to trade a discount for non-Prime shipping. Expect Amazon to have to make some concessions to the Feds.

Man crosses English Channel on hover board

After failing a month ago by wiping out in the sea, inventor Franky Zapata successfully crossed the English Channel this weekend on a hover board, traveling from France to England in 20 minutes. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: As vehicle ownership decreases, giving way to transportation-as-a-service models, and as drone use increases, super fast travel such as hover boards may be an option for commuters.

Amazon delivery robots working sidewalks in Irvine

Amazon is now testing delivery via robotic carts to neighborhoods in Irvine, California. The Scout devices are autonomous, but are accompanied by a person who is there to make sure everything goes as planned and to test sentiment for the devices. One problem to be resolved is sharing sidewalks with pedestrians and Scouts. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Will people prefer delivery trucks running through the neighborhood, or robots buzzing along the sidewalk? In densely populated areas, robotic carts from multiple vendors dodging pedestrians won’t be tolerated, but reducing truck traffic on the streets will be favored. A drone lane between the sidewalk and the street could be easily painted, and supported by appropriate fees from Amazon, FedEx and UPS, cities may enjoy a new source of revenue.