Apple Music on Echo, WhatsApp Cryptocurrency , Google Assistant-Samsung TV integration, Measuring Network Effects, Building virality, Pinterest’s IPO & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
$23.5B - amount raised by SoftBank’s cellular division upon IPO, but shares drop 15%on the first day of trading; unit CEO Ken Miyauchi says the fall is due to poor market conditions.
$12B - Potential market value of Pinterest after IPO. The company is preparing to go public as soon as April.
$1.8B - Apple’s revenue in India this fiscal year, less than half the amount it had hoped for; iPhones now account for roughly 1% of the country’s smartphone market; just 24% of the population owns a smartphone.
$1B - amount raised by India-based food delivery firm Swiggy; led by Naspers with participation from Tencent, represents the largest investment in a food company outside of China; Swiggy has raised $1.3B to date.
100% - Google Assistant tops Loup Ventures annual smart speaker test; Assistant understood 100% of questions, answering 87.9% of them correctly; Siri placed second with an understanding rate of 99.6% , answering 74.6% correctly; third was Alexa with an understanding rate of 99% and an answer rate of 72.5% ; Cortana was last understanding 99.4%, answering 63.4%.
📰 What’s going on
Google launches a beta feature to let G Suite users invite non-Google collaborators to shared Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides; non-Google users verify their access with a pin code; they can then comment, edit, and make suggestions as normal; users can apply to join the beta.
Google launches Chrome Canvas, a progressive web app that lets users create and download doodles; works with any browser that supports WebAssembly including Firefox, desktop Chrome, and Chrome for Android; offers a variety of adjustable brushes and colors; users can download their creations in PNG format.
Samsung is set to add Google Assistant support to its 2019 TV lineup; the firm currently offers Bixby only; Samsung is also looking to add audio tuning features that would map a room and optimize its sound for the environment.
Amazon is rolling out support for Apple Music on Echo speakers; once a user’s Music account is linked via the Alexa app, Echo supports voice control and playback; Music can serve as the Echo’s default library and station source.
Amazon launches the $30 Alexa-powered Wall Clock; syncs with an Echo and does not function as a standalone product; the face features 60 LEDs that indicate multiple timers and alarms.
Amazon enables Security Panel Controller framework for Alexa-powered devices; users can now control their home security systems via Echo speakers or similar tech.
Facebook discloses a Photo API bug affecting third-party apps that use Facebook Login; potentially gave developers access to photos that users had uploaded but not published on Facebook; the company estimates 6.8M users and 1.5k apps were affected between Sept 13 and Sept 25.
Facebook announces open-source release of NLP modeling framework PyText; the tech, which powers Portal smart display voice commands and an intelligent assistant, currently generates more than 1B daily predictions for Facebook app users.
Facebook is developing a cryptocurrency for use on WhatsApp; the digital token will be tied to the US dollar and used for remittances; WhatsApp will launch the crypto asset first in India.
Facebook confirms it gave four companies full access to users messages; Spotify, Netflix, Dropbox, and Royal Bank of Canada had the ability to read, write, and delete users’ messages; Facebook says users first had to give the firms permission for such access and notes it shut down the APIs almost three years ago. Netflix says it never requested permission to access users’ Facebook messages; the company notes it launched a feature in 2014 to let users recommend content to their friends via Messenger and its own platform; Netflix says it didn’t gain traction and so was shut down in 2015.
Twitter launches the sparkle button on iOS; enable users to toggle the feed view between reverse chronological order and algorithmically arranged Top Tweets; will likely roll out to Android and desktop in January.
Uber announces upgrades for its JUMP electric bikes, including swappable batteries, phone mounts, and unlock via QR code rather than PIN; the dashboard, used to unlock the bike, will move from the back to the front.
Uber’s driverless car program resumes testing in Pittsburgh, PA; cars will be restricted to 25 mph and follow a one mile loop.
Delivery Hero (DH) sells its German operations to rival food delivery firm Takeaway.com for €930M; the deal also covers DH subsidiaries Pizza.de, Lieferheld, and Foodora; DH says the move will allow it to better focus on growth markets.
JD.com has launched a fleet of package delivery robots in China; each robot is roughly the size of a small golf cart and has 22 compartments; the robots feature an array of sensors for object avoidance and can roam up to 5Km from their base location; customers can retrieve their packages using a password or facial recognition tech.
Coinbase adds PayPal integration, allowing US customers to convert cryptocurrencies to cash via withdrawals into PayPal accounts; the transactions are free of charge and immediate.
Blockchain and AI-based positions lead LinkedIn’s list of fastest-growing jobs; blockchain developer positions have increased x33 since 2014; postings for machine learning engineers, the second fastest growing job, have increased x12.
Israel faces a shortage of tech workers, with more than 15k open positions; the sector makes up almost half of the country’s exports; it’s drawn more than $6B in VC funding in 2018, up $1B from last year; now Israeli companies are opening development centers in Ukraine, the US, Rusia, and India to find workers.
London’s Metropolitan Police is testing facial recognition tech; the Met ran a trial in Soho, Piccadilly Circus, and Leicester Square on Dec 17-18.
📚 Stuff to think about
The founder’s guide to Discipline: Lessons from Front’s Mathilde Collin. When it comes to getting a startup off the ground, time is the most precious resource and momentum is the objective. That’s why a founder’s discipline and willingness to dig in can be more determinative than the ability to project a sweeping vision for the company. Key takeaways:
- Reach goals by communicating more consistently.
- Manage your time to find focus.
- Fundraise faster.
- Build better teams.
9 ways to build virality into your products. Gabor Cselle, Partner at Google’s Area 120, shares some common techniques and examples to help making consumer products viral.
Digital growth depends more on business models than technology. HBR walk us through the 4 elements that, beyond technology, create and deliver value to both companies and its customers: Value-Proposition, Profit formula, Key resources, Key processes.
We’re no longer in the smartphone plateau. We’re in the smartphone decline. With smartphone commoditization and product innovation slowing down, the winners will be the companies with strong business model innovation to survive the decline.
16 Ways to measure Network Effects, by a16z.
📻 Something to listen to
Product Hunt talks to the co-founder of Initialized HQ, a multi-stage fund that has investments in Coinbase, Instacart, Algolia, GOAT, Opendoor, Product Hunt and others.