Delivery robots complete 100,000 deliveries

Starship Technologies makes six wheeled robotic delivery vehicles that travel at 4 mph across college campuses to deliver mostly groceries. The company has completed 100,000 deliveries and plans to roll out the vehicles to over 100 college campuses over the next few years as IOT and AI meet varsity life. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Dominos Pizza needs to act swiftly before being completely displaced by Starship robots that will start whizzing late night munchies across campuses. For those tracking jobs eliminated by AI, pizza delivery person may be at the top of the list.

Walmart sues Tesla for fiery solar panels

Tesla’s solar division, built on its acquisition of SolarCity for $2.6 billion in 2016, was poised to make solar common place on rooftops across America. The company is now installing one tenth of the solar capacity of the acquired company. Tesla has enjoyed a strong relationship with Walmart, having installed solar on 240 stores. The panels have caught fire in 7 locations, and Walmart is suing for removal of all panels, and for damages. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Tesla’s culture across autos, solar and rockets continues to be fiery, with cars, rockets and solar panels catching fire, and employees being fired for complaining about the above. Musk is a change agent and may be able to continue to push through obstacles to change auto and space travel and construction and energy. If Musk is another Steve Jobs and thinks different in order to change the world, then keep pushing, Elon.

Apple health team faces a fork in the road

Key people in Apple’s health team have recently departed, allegedly over indecision in the direction of Apple’s health initiatives. Tim Cook has pledged that Apple will play a major role in health, but has not defined what that means.  CNBC

dis-rup-shun: Connected health comprises a number of segments: consumer or clinical, wellness or disease management. Version 4 of the Apple watch moves beyond wellness device by also being a diagnostic tool — measuring EKG, but remains a consumer product. Those hoping the company will play a role in clinical care are expecting Apple to go outside of its sweet spot of consumer technology — a mistake the company will not make as it chooses its AI and IOT strategy. 

Everything’s bigger in Texas, including ransomware attacks

A rash of ransomware attacks were waged against 23 Texas government entities on August 16 — all from a single source. Ransomware attacks on businesses and governments are up 365%, costing millions in ransom payments and lost productivity. In Texas, at least 7 agencies are working together to get the state entities back online. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Texas school children may be hoping for a cyber crime day since they don’t get to enjoy many snow days, but ransomware attacks are quickly becoming one of the largest and most expensive types of terrorism faced by private and public institutions. Expect consulting companies to develop SWAT teams to fortify institutions and win big prevention contracts. Expect passwords to become far more complex.

Self-driving vans deliver Walmart groceries

Robovan delivers groceries for Walmart

Walmart will test a driverless van made by California firm Gatik to deliver groceries from an Arkansas distribution center to homes nearby in Bentonville. The test will include backup drivers who will sit behind the wheel to monitor the robovans. Wired

dis-rup-shun: Walmart, one of the largest retailers of grocery products, is racing to keep Amazon, the owner of Whole Foods and extensive drone development, from eating its lunch. Gatik estimates that driverless delivery vans could halve the cost of grocery deliveries — making the elimination of driver jobs far more appealing to consumers. 

Google Facebook ad duopoly shrinking

Last week’s earnings reports reveal that Snap, Amazon and Twitter’s ad revenues are up significantly, putting a dent in the 51% dominance of Google and Facebook. eMarketer sizes the global online ad market at $333 billion in 2019. Snap’s revenue was up 48% and Facebook’s 28%. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: A decline in the duopoly of Google and Facebook comes at a convenient time for these providers, as Big Tech is under review by Congress for limiting competition. This data will not help Senator Elizabeth Warren’s call for breaking up tech giants, though we see that one of the companies taking share from the duopoly is Amazon, perhaps supporting the calls for limiting Amazon’s rapid dominance of many markets.

All three 2020 iPhones to feature 5G

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who is reportedly the most accurate Apple watcher, says all three new iPhone models to be released in 2020 will support the new wireless network standard called 5G. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: To repeat a common saying, the pace of technological change will never be slower than it is today. 5G provides data speeds up to 20 times faster than our current 4G networks, and will support far more devices with smaller antennas, using less power. 5G is a big deal because it will enable exponential growth in both number of devices and amount of data than can be downloaded or uploaded on a carrier’s network. If you live in or around a city, you will be awash in connected devices (see connected diaper). If you live in rural areas, well, you will still struggle with basic high speed Internet.  

SpaceX Starship Mars explorer takes a spin  

Musk’s SpaceX continues to aggressively develop and test space craft. Last Thursday the company’s Starship tested maneuverability by taking off and moving laterally about 60 feet, then landing. Musk claims that this is the craft that will go to Mars. Despite multiple fires and mishaps, Musk has sold a trip around the moon to a Japanese billionaire. Wired

dis-rup-shun: For Musk watchers, a pattern to the billionaire’s operational culture proves that risk is not limited by inactivity. With both car company Tesla and rocket company SpaceX, Musk learns by trying and is not afraid of regular failures. In the business of transporting humans, however, this experimentation is high risk, and a balance between safety regulations (consider the 737 Max) and pressing for innovation is required.

Walmart discovers $10 billion app

Walmart misstep turns to $10 billion gain

Walmart, in an acquisition questioned by many, acquired, for $17 billion, an Indian e-tailing company, Flipkart. Last year’s acquisition was seen as a misstep given vast cultural differences between the companies and Walmart’s distance behind Amazon in e-commerce. Recently, however, Walmart discovered that the acquisition’s subsidiary, payment app PhonePe, has experienced 77% growth in the past year. The payments company is riding atop of rapid growth of Indian consumer use of payment apps. ZDNet

dis-rup-shun: Walmart needs a little luck as it struggles to catch Amazon in the online retailing race, but finding it has control of one of the fastest growing payment apps in India could open new lines of business for the company that has mostly struggled to gain traction outside of North America. As mobile payment apps quickly become preferred forms of commerce outside of the U.S., Walmart can build on its strong position in India.

Attorney General Barr decides to take on Big Tech

After a number of controversial testimonies, the U.S. Attorney General has decided to investigate if Big Tech has become anti-competitive. Stock prices of Amazon, Alphabet, Facebook and Apple fell 1% in extended trading. CNBC

dis-rup-shun: If the determination of anti-competitive is having a “dominant market position,” then Google search dominance will be a problem, as will Facebook’s dominance in social networking with not only its Flagship, but its owned subsidiaries of Instagram and WhatsApp. Amazon’s domination of ecommerce will be hard to dispute.

Honeywell T9 smart thermostat full on features, light on design

Resideo’s newest smart thermostat, branded Honeywell T9, has remote sensors that go beyond Nest and Ecobee by measuring both temperature, presence and humidity. Despite the strong feature set, the device lacks the sleek industrial design of leading competitors. The Verge

dis-rup-shun: Despite Honeywell being the best recognized brand in residential HVAC controls, it has struggled to grasp the importance of cutting edge design and to shake off its industrial heritage. As the smart home struggles to move from Early Adopter to Early Majority, engaging the young professional, tech savvy buyer who considers aesthetics as important as features, is critical and appears even more important than brand recognition.

Electric Ford F-150 pulls a train

Ford sold 1.1 million F-150 pickup trucks last year. The company released a video showing a prototype electric F-150 pulling a train load of F-150s (42 trucks). Ford believes that consumers perceive EVs to have less power, hence the towing demonstration. Ars Technica

dis-rup-shun: Global share of electric vehicles of all vehicles was up 54% in 2017, and is expected by Statista to make up 14% of all U.S. vehicles sold by 2025. Government policies, providing incentives for electric car buyers, has been critical to sales growth. Now car makers are offering some exciting electric options. Expect ride sharing apps to offer an electric vehicle option, as soon as there are enough on the road to enter the ride share pool.

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.

Google is following you, everywhere

How to control Google’s tracking of your every action

As we all know, or suspected, Google follows what apps we use, what we do on those apps, what devices we use, what we purchase and where we go (or where our phones go). Wired provides simple instructions to limit or disable those functions without pulling the plug on your online life.

dis-rup-shun:  Information is power and consumers are loading Google, Facebook, Amazon, and to a lesser degree, Apple, with more power every day. Whose job is it to inform customers of the choices they are making everytime they install an app or visit a site? Perhaps the Bureau of Consumer Protection, a department within Federal Trade Commission, should take the lead in both informing consumers of their rights as well as requiring a common data sharing dashboard that must be used by all application providers. 

Walmart hires Google/Amazon Chief Digital Officer

Suresh Kumar, formerly of Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon, will be Walmart’s new CTO and Chief Development Officer, reporting to Walmart CEO Doug McMillon. TechCrunch

dis-rup-shun: Walmart, the company that used to be the most feared for controlling the way products are purchased, is now only in the top 5 of most feared, with Amazon clearly in first place. Walmart needs to continue to increase its online sales presence, and has a great deal of ground to gain in services, where Amazon is growing daily.

Is AI really going to wipe out vast numbers of jobs?

The Brookings Institute provides a detailed study of the impact of artificial intelligence on the workforce. Key points:

    • Automation substitutes for labor
    • Machines substitute for tasks, not jobs
    • Automation complements labor
    • Automation can increase demand, creating jobs
    • Capital and labor augmentation spurs innovation
    • Tech possibility is not the same as tech reality

dis-rup-shun: So, will AI displace vast numbers of jobs? The answer is that it will displace many jobs, particularly the simpler, task oriented jobs like delivering food or answering simple support phone calls. Past productivity revolutions have increased demand for knowledge workers and AI will do the same, putting greater pressure on the knowledge divide between those educated and those not.