el producto #131 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Spotify Lite, Youtube’s Learning playlists, Cons of human-centered design, Bird’s losses and expansion, Microsoft Teams’ growth, Google’s local social network, …
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$34B - IBM closes $34B Red Hat acquisition after securing approval from the European Commission late last month; it’s IBM’s most significant buy to date and one of the largest US tech deals ever; the companies announced the deal in October at a price of $190 per share; Red Hat will become a unit within IBM’s hybrid cloud division.
$3–4B - WeWork seeks to raise in debt financing prior to IPO.
~$2.2B - Customer and employee experience management platform Medallia sets IPO price range at $16-$18 per share; the top of the range would value the company at ~$2.2B and raise $240M — $268M.
$700M - Amazon says it will spend to retrain ~100k US workers by 2025; the initiative will let staff sign up to train for developer roles, technical positions, and more; Amazon says tech is changing how people work and that it wants to respond to new demands.
$100M - Bird lost almost $100M in Q1; revenue for the quarter dropped to $15M, and the company presently has ~$100M cash on hand; Bird is now looking to raise $200M to $300M by the end of summer. Bird also announced plans to open a new HQ in Paris, and intends to hire 1k staff by mid-2021.
13M - Microsoft says its Teams chat product has 13M DAUs, which compares with the 10M Slack reported in January; Microsoft also notes Teams is used by 91 of the Fortune 100 companies.
~1.3k - Android apps collecting user data identified by International Computer Science Institute researchers, including location information, from consumers who declined the apps’ permission requests.
70% - Amazon’s Music streaming service is growing faster than Spotify, Apple Music, and YouTube Music; Music Unlimited has grown its user numbers by ~70% over the past year; Spotify is growing at a rate of 25% a year.
📰 What’s going on
Spotify launches Spotify Lite, a lightweight Android app that uses ~0.5MB data per song by default; users can adjust settings to stream higher quality audio; the app itself is less than 10MB in size; available in 36 countries including Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and Egypt.
YouTube announces Learning Playlists, educational landing pages that will show a set of videos sorted by subject rather than algorithms; videos organized by level of complexity and will feature chapters and more; YouTube will initially work with trusted partners such as TED-Ed and Khan Academy.
YouTube introduces new monetization features for creators; those working with merchandise firms such as Crowdmade, Rooster Teeth, and others will be able to embed a product box below their videos, allowing viewers to browse their products.
Google acquires cloud storage company Elastifile; terms undisclosed; Elastifile recently launched a Google Cloud-optimized version of its File Service; also supports AWS and Azure; the team will join Google Cloud.
Google is testing a hyperlocal social network called Shoelace; the app enables users to connect around shared interests, discover local events, more; currently limited to New York City.
Facebook plans to acquire a games studio and has signed exclusive deals for Oculus titles; the firm has agreements for VR versions of “Assassin’s Creed” and “Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell”; additionally, sales of Oculus headsets have reportedly outpaced the company’s initial internal forecasts.
Facebook establishes a new LLC called NPE Team; the New Product Experimentation group will create community-building apps; will focus on agility, allowing rapid changes and shutdowns when necessary; will offer free and premium apps, ranging from games to business titles; the first app will launch in coming weeks.
Instagram is using AI to prevent abusive comments. Rather than rely solely on its algorithms to censor offensive material, it will draw on users’ self-censorship as well. As a comment is posting, if the platform’s AI model flags it as harmful, the poster will see a pop-up asking, “Are you sure you want to post this?” In early tests, Instagram found the feature encouraged many people to rescind their comments.
Apple is developing an iPhone with an in-display fingerprint scanner, according to a Credit Suisse analyst note; it also predicts by 2021, three iPhones will use fingerprint logins over Touch ID.
Apple suspends its Walkie Talkie feature for Apple Watch due to a flaw that could allow a third-party to listen in on conversations without consent.
Apple is testing biometric sign-ins for iCloud on the web; users running beta versions of macOS Catalina, iOS 13, or iPadOS can navigate to beta.icloud.comand sign in to their Apple accounts using Touch ID or Face ID for authentication.
Apple adds a True Tone display to the MacBook Air and cuts the starting price to $1.1k ($1k for students); entry-level 13-inch Macbook Pro ($1.3k) now comes with 8th-gen quad-core processors, Touch Bar, Touch ID, and True Tone display; the company is also offering Beats Studio 3 Wireless headphones with qualifying Mac or MacBook purchases.
Amazon adds Chromecast support for Prime Video, and YouTube is available on Fire TV again; Prime Video will work with Android TV devices.
Dropbox launches a beta service that lets users send files as big as 100GB; currently available to select users; the full version will let Basic users send files up to 100MB, Plus users up to 2GB, and Professionals up to 100GB.
Form announces the Form Swim Googles, a $200 AR headset that displays split times, stroke rate and count, calories burned, more; launching Aug 7.
Didi Chuxing launches a debit card service in Brazil and Mexico; the company is partnering with local financial firms to offer drivers a card that lets them use their Didi earnings to pay for goods and withdraw cash; Didi exec Zheng Bu says the large volume of under-banked individuals in both markets was a key factor in launching the service.
Baidu partners with China-based carmaker Geely and Japan’s Toyota to develop smart vehicle tech; Baidu will work with Geely on intelligent connectivity and mobility tech, while Toyota will integrate Apollo Minibus (Baidu’s autonomous bus software) with its in-development e-Palette system.
US companies will be able to apply for a license to trade with Huawei, says Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross; permits will only be issued if the working relationship is not deemed a threat to national security.
Huawei may launch its Hongmeng OS alongside the Mate 30 later this year; the firm is inviting testers to tryout the software; the company is expected to launch Hongmeng in October or November.
Nintendo announces $200 Switch Lite, a handheld-only version of the Switch; features a 5.5-inch screen (the original has a 6.2-inch display) and non-removable Joy-Con controls; Switch Lite does not have a TV connection.
Amazon partners with the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) to offer basic medical advice for common maladies via Alexa; the service will let users ask for information on dealing with ailments such as migraines and flu.
UX as the driver for better team alignment and customer outcomes. Great interview with UXDX conference co-founder Rory Madden, highlighting the importance of cross-functional teams and deep customer focus.
Internet users are wising up to persuasive “nudge” techniques. A recent research examining reactions of 2102 British adults to a range of behavioral interventions evaluated some of marketers’ most commonly used tactics.
Ethical product: is human-centered design harmful? In this article, Jussi Pasanen explains why human-centered design is extremely biased and ultimately “centered on some”. Complement this read with Yolanda Martin’s (Farfetch) talk at EDS 2019: “Why User Centred Design is going to get us killed”.
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