el producto #112 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Facebook video advertising, Apple sleep monitoring, Foldable phones, Uber-> Careem adquisition talks, Alexa accelerator, Outcome-oriented roadmaps,…
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$3B - valuation of China-based Horizon Robotics after raising $600M Series B; the company develops chips for use in neural networks.
$1.7B - Volkswagen plans to invest to establish an autonomous driving joint venture with Ford; Ford’s Argo subsidiary will serve as the foundation for the 50–50 venture.
$800k / hour - amount that Vivendi, Sony, and Warner make from music streaming services; the three saw ~$7B from streaming services last year, more than half of their total music revenue; labels keep as much as 80% of per-play payouts.
$35k - Tesla launches the base version of the Model 3, starting at $35k; promises 220-mile range; Tesla also announced it’s shifting all sales online
~$1.70 - Spotify launches in India; Premium costs ~$1.70 per month (compares with $10 in the US); also offering ad-supported Free tier.
39% - US ride-hailing market claimed by Lyft on it’s IPO prospectus, up 17% over 2016; saw a net loss of $911M on $2.2B revenue in 2018; revenue was up 100% YoY; saw $8.1B in bookings, up 76% YoY.
📰 What’s going on
Twitter is testing a hide tweet option; the feature appears among tweet share options and is seemingly intended for hiding specific replies; users can still opt to view hidden tweets.
Facebook announces video advertising service Showcase; lets marketers run video ads against particular types of content, such as sports, food, or news; companies can also choose to sponsor specific shows.
Google announces Google Assistant for Android Messages; Assistant suggests searches based on conversations; the initial chat monitoring happens on the users’ device only, but searches are sent to the web if a user taps on the Assistant suggestion.
Google Assistant expands support for multi-language speakers; users can switch between several languages; Assistant is also adding support for voice typing on feature phone platform KaiOS; additionally, numerous OEMs are including dedicated Assistant hardware buttons with new Android devices; includes smartphones from LG, Nokia, and Xiaomi.
Google Home devices are set to add support for Apple Music; Apple Music shows as an option for connected music services within the Google Home app.
Apple is testing a sleep monitoring feature for Apple Watch; if successful, the company plans to launch sleep tracking next year; Apple may increase battery capacity and/or introduce a low-power mode to allow for overnight use.
Amazon discontinues its hardware Dash buttons; priced at $5 each, the buttons let users order brand items such as detergent and trash bags with a single press; Amazon will continue to support existing buttons.
Amazon launches Amazon Day, enabling Prime members to select a day of the week for delivery; the company consolidates orders into fewer boxes for delivery on the same day; the user selects the Amazon Day option at checkout to include an order in the scheduled delivery; Amazon noted a significant reduction in the use of packing materials.
Amazon plans to launch a new grocery store chain separate from Whole Foods; Los Angeles to open first; two more locations to open in 2020; sources say Amazon is in talks for stores in Chicago, DC, Seattle.
Amazon announces the 3rd annual Alexa Accelerator, in partnership with Techstars; the 13-week program will provide up to 10 startups with Amazon and Techstars mentorship; targets teams developing voice-focused developer tools, software and services, and devices with Alexa built in..
Facebook plans a cryptocurrency for WhatsApp users; the company reportedly has spoken with exchanges about selling the currency, which would facilitate user-to-user payments; Telegram, Signal, Line, and others reportedly have similar plans.
Huawei unveils foldable 5G Mate X smartphone; the device features the company’s Kirin 980 processor, and a wraparound OLED display that can be folded out to form an 8-inch tablet. TCL and Oppo also announced foldable prototype devices.
Microsoft unveils HoloLens 2 “mixed reality” headset; the company is working with partners including Airbus, Honeywell, Pearson, and Saab on launch software for the device; the controller-free headset is set to be available later this year for $3.5k.
Microsoft and VMWare are partnering on data management software; the companies are developing tools to let customers move data between private VMWare-powered data centers and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
Microsoft releases Azure Kinect Developer Kit; the intelligent edge device facilitates computer vision and speech solutions; features a 1-megapixel depth sensor, a 12-megapixel high-depth camera, and a spatial 7-microphone array.
Uber in advanced talks to acquire Dubai-based ride-share company Careem; the cash-and-share deal reportedly values Careem at ~$3B; Careem claims 1M-plus drivers and serves more than 100 cities in the Middle East.
Uber-owned Jump is beginning to score more electric bicycle riders than Uber’s own ridesharing cars; a recent breakdown of Uber riders in Sacramento was 53% for Uber’s Jump Bikes and 47% for Uber’s car service.
Uber and Lyft will let some drivers participate in their IPOs; both firms plan to award their longest-serving drivers with cash or stock awards before they go public; Lyft will reward drivers who’ve completed at least 10k rides with $1k cash or stock equivalent; drivers with 20k completed trips will be offered $20k; Uber is still working out the details of its plan.
India-based ride-hailing firm Ola spins out its EV division, raises $56.4M; Ola Electric is running a number of schemes to test EVs and charging stations and plans to have 1M EVs on India’s roads by 2022.
Citymapper launches a contactless travel pass for use on London’s public transit network; Citymapper Pass costs £31 (~$41) per week, which compares with £35 (~$47) for Transport for London’s weekly travel card (Citymapper Pass customers must purchase in four-week blocks).
Medium says paywalled content will be freely available to readers coming from Twitter; Medium CEO Ev Williams says paid views will be continue to be counted separately.
Nubia announces Nubia Alpha, a smartwatch with some smartphone functionality; features a 4-inch flexible display and a 5MP camera; runs Snapdragon Wear 2100 with 1GB and 8GB storage; launches in April for ~$500.
Snap CEO Evan Spiegel says the company will launch a redesigned Snapchat app for Android by the end of the year.
Scooter-sharing firm Lime issues an advisory notice acknowledging a software bug has led to instances of excessive braking; the company says it’s issued an update to address the problem, but notes riders should test brakes before they begin their rides; follows reports of injuries.
Y Combinator says startups will no longer have to apply to join its Startup School program; the 10-week program offers online classes, with founders submitting company status reports, and more; follows an error last year where YC inadvertently accepted 15k firms, only to then honor the offers.
Spectre Camera (iOS) lets users shoot long exposure images; captures light trails and uses AI to remove people and other moving objects; Spectre can also capture Live Photos.
📚 Something to think about
The journey of a Message. Texting is one of the quickest ways to get in touch with someone, but one message’s path from sender to recipient is surprisingly complex.
Do you have an outcome-oriented roadmap, or a list of features? Roadmaps are not release plans. They do not define deliverables by iteration, but rather outline why we intend to deliver. This article includes 6 tests to assess the quality of outcome-oriented roadmaps.
Technical debt, who is responsible? Stefan Wolpers looks at ways to sustainably handle technical debt — a grey area in the Scrum Guide as he points out.