Console wars nearing last battle

End of console wars: XBox says real competition is Google and Amazon

Arch console rivals Sony and Microsoft will both release next gen consoles for the holiday season, but Microsoft says this is the beginning of a divergence from the console business as it was, as Google, with its Stadia games service, and Amazon, with no game service yet, are the real competitors. Yahoo!

dis-rup-shun: It is fascinating to watch the tectonic plates of tech shift before our eyes and here is a movement. Microsoft, Google and Amazon have something that Sony does not — big, hungry and high profit cloud services. Big clouds, fueled by 5G networks, make for great gaming experiences across any device platform. Will Sony be successful playing the role of old school console maker, or does it have a trick up its sleeve? Apple has launched its Arcade game service and is targeting the casual gamers — a market that is not core to Xbox or Playstation. Keep your old console to show your grandchildren what gaming looked like in the dark ages of the early 21st century.

Smart nuts and bolts — IOT in construction 

Hilti Corporation, a construction parts company based in Lichtenstein, is producing a family of heavy construction nuts and bolts that include a code on each part. The part is scanned with a smartphone running the Hilti app, and data regarding where and when it was installed is recorded and tracked. Dallas Innovates

dis-rup-shun: The productivity gains by both having additional information about every part in a project, as well as the time savings and error reduction from eliminating manual recording and tracking make connected construction safer, faster and less tolerant of errors. Expect to see an increasing number of parts — not just high value parts — coded and easily scanned so that the cloud knows where they are and when they were installed.

Chinese phone makers unite to rival Google Play Store

Google’s Play Store is estimated to have earned Google $8.8 million last year. As the Play Store is banned in China, Chinese phone users have to go to multiple app stores to purchase the apps they want, making it difficult for app developers to create critical mass. Chinese phone makers have united to form a coalition called the Global Developer Service Alliance, enabling developers to upload new apps to multiple app stores at once, replacing the need for the Play Store. Countries expected to participate include China, India, Indonesia, Russia, and Malaysia. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Trade wars and sanctions are painful, but as “they” say, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. The Chinese tech vendors are finding ways to work around political boundaries and gaining market share while reducing buyer friction. Huawei, cut off from Android services by Google, has begun development of its own phone OS, called Harmony OS. Expect to see other Chinese manufacturers offering Harmony OS phones if Huawei opens up licensing, working around Google in some of the world’s largest markets.

All Google phones will block robocalls

According to the YouMail robocall index, 4.7 billion robocalls were made in the U.S. in January alone. That equates to 1,800 per second and 14.4 calls to each person. All Google Pixel phones will now have the ability to run its Call Screen feature which blocks (some) robocalls. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Despite legislation blocking robocalls, they are a thing of our future. Expect to see phones compete and differentiate on their ability to effectively block calls and intelligently determine when the call is legit. This feature may become as important to smartphone buyers as a snazzy camera as smartphones are quickly becoming our primary business, as well as personal, communications device.

Wi-Fi 6: what is it and why do you care?

What is Wi-Fi 6?

Later this year, routers, PCs and smartphones will support Wi-Fi 6. Wi-Fi 6 is also know as 802.11ax, but the wise people at the Wi-Fi Alliance have decided to take on consumer friendly naming, so future versions will be incremental numbers. This version is better in several ways: it is up to four times faster, it can serve many more devices simultaneously, and it can connect to devices as far away as a football field. Wired

dis-rup-shun: This Wi-Fi upgrade is coming at an important time. We are all extremely dependent on Wi-Fi and are daily reminded of its failures. Wi-Fi is simultaneously loved and hated. Supporting more devices more reliably is critical to keeping consumers generally happy with technology. With 5G coming this year, all the buzz will be about the newer, faster cellular standard and Wi-Fi will be seen as yesterday’s technology. The Wi-Fi Alliance was wise to keep the standard on the front page.

Apple caves to demands for third party repairs

After announcing new iPhone battery lock software which precluded third parties from replacing batteries, Apple has changed its tact and initiated a program to certify third parties to perform repairs. This is in response to backlash over its restrictive policy. CNBC 

dis-rup-shun: Apple has been seeking to differentiate itself from other Big Tech companies by doing good. It has taken the high road on data privacy in order to distance itself from Google and Facebook. Its policy of discouraging third party repairs was bad for small businesses and bad for consumers, and was an “evil empire” move. Kudos to Apple for changing its stance.

Google moves Pixel phone production from China to Vietnam

Google is equipping a former Nokia factory in Vietnam to be a smartphone factory, as production costs, and, of course, tariffs can be avoided by relocating out of China. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: If the trade war endures beyond another year, we can expect it to reshape some Asian economies that will be beneficiaries of production moves. This evolution will strengthen a number of economies that will be even more attractive global trading partners, will force Chinese factories to be more competitive, and will increase the political stability of the region.

Best Buy online sales up 17%

Best Buy’s Q2 results are mixed, but online sales increased 17% over last quarter. Same store sales were up 1.6%. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Despite the domination by Amazon of online sales, both Best Buy and Target have posted online sales growth. Why are these brands succeeding online? In the case of Target, the company is blending online and in-store experiences. Best Buy may be benefiting from consumers’ increasing confidence and convenience of online shopping. The Amazon Effect, a term generally describing the destruction of brick and mortar retailing, may also be the cause of an increase in online shopping across brands.