2018 IPOs, Huawei growth (and troubles), Google’s e-money license, App stores spending, Alexa orders growth, Samsung’s experimental projects & little more.

Welcome to the last el producto of the year. Due to the quietness of markets and industry over the holiday season, this time it’s a brief one. Have a great beginning of 2019!

$109B - Huawei’s expected revenue for 2018, up 21% YoY; the company has signed 26 5G contracts around the globe, making it the world’s largest provider. UK raised concerns about telcos using Huawei equipment for the country’s 5G networks, and US is planning new legislation that would ban US communications firms from using tech made by Huawei and ZTE. And yet…

200M - smartphones shipped by Huawei in 2018; compares with 153M for 2017; it shipped 3M in 2010; Huawei is the world’s second-largest phone vendor, overtaking Apple; Samsung is first.

$76B - worldwide consumer spending in both Apple’s App store and Google Play during 2018. Apple’s US App Store saw 164 publishers earn their first $1M in net revenue in 2018; up from 143 in 2017; Google Play saw 88 in 2018, up from 71 in 2017.

14 - Tech IPOs that each raised more than $1B; compares to 5 in 2017; that doesn’t include Spotify — whose direct listing didn’t raise any new capital — or other high profile offerings like Dropbox, which came in under the threshold. Only 3 of the 14 are trading above their IPO price (the overall market makes it hard to read too much into that at the moment). Apple is down 12% on the year and the Nasdaq is down 9.6%. Some big IPOs expected in 2019 include Airbnb, Uber, Pinterest, Slack and Lyft.

Google Payment obtains e-money license in Lithuania; the license allows the company to provide fintech services throughout the EU; EU customers can now use the platform to store card information and make purchases online, via apps, or in a store.

Google introduces USBGuard, a new Chrome OS security feature blocking USB port access when a device’s screen is locked.

Amazon saw three times as many product orders via Alexa over this holiday season compared to last year’s; marketplace sellers sold more than half of all items ordered during the holidays; the company set a new record for products sold during the season; in the US alone, Amazon shipped 1B items for free to Prime members in all of 2018.

Samsung reveals aiMo, an experimental phone case that mimics human ears; in conjunction with AI-powered software, the case enables the capture of more realistic and spatially rich sound; Samsung is specifically targeting the creation of ASMR audio and video. Samsung’s C-Lab announced seven other projects, including a virtual ads service, a video shooting and editing product, an AI-powered hearing assistant, and an AI-powered news timeline app.

Instagram inadvertently rolls out horizontally-scrolling feed to a large group of users; the company previously tested the change in the Explore section; Instagram Head Adam Mosseri said the change was meant to be a small test; Facebook indicated a bug caused the broad rollout.

Remove.bg is a simple online tool that removes the background of any photo in 5 seconds. Works with uploads or urls.

Snapchat launches lenses designed for dogs; lets users overlay an array of AR graphics when they point their camera at a dog.

Grab increases its Series H fundraising target from $3B to $5B; the round opened in July this year and has so far raised ~$2.9B from Toyota, Booking Holdings, and others.

China-based bike-sharing firm Hellobike raises an undisclosed amount led by Primavera Capital and Ant Financial; local media puts the figure at ~$580M; Hellobike claims to have 200M users across 300 cities.

RIP: 15 tech companies and products that bit the dust in 2018. Seems that Google decided to clean up the house in 2018.

The world is not so bad, after all. To end up the year with a bit of a good feeling, Quartz presented 15 charts showing positive change in multiple fields, from environment to equality. Despite the progress, most of the graphs should make us reflect on how much there’s still to do.

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Full-time learner, product stuff, “triathlete” & global traveller. Creating cool products @ Revolut, formerly @ Booking.com and @ Just Eat.