el producto #152 👉 New Facebook apps (travel, podcasts,…), Apple Pay Express, AWS quantum computing service, Google Photos’ chat & more

A weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness.

Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.

🎰 The week in figures

$9.2B: Cyber Monday generated $9.2B in US sales, up 16.9% on last year; $3B worth of purchases were placed via a smartphone; an estimated $72.1B was spent online in the month finishing Dec 1.

$3B: China-based short-video app Kuaishou raises $2B from Tencent and others; the money is part of a larger $3B pre-IPO round; Tencent is set to own ~20% of the company; Kuaishou is seen as a direct competitor to ByteDance’s Douyin (aka TikTok).

$1.5B: Language learning app Duolingo raises $30M Series F at a $1.5B valuation; the freemium app claims 30M active users and $100M in annual fees; raised $138M to date.

$1.4B: Dataiku, a data platform for AI-powered enterprise analytics, achieves $1.4B valuation with a secondary round; enables clients to use machine learning to analyze massive data sets for business insights; the company has raised $147M to date.

$450M: Food delivery firm DoorDash is set to lose $450M this year; the company anticipates revenues of $900M to $1B for 2019, more than twice the figure for 2018; compares with Uber Eats, which is forecast to lose ~$1.2B this year; DoorDash is thought to have between $500M and $1B cash-on-hand; it’s also expected to IPO in 2020.

430M: Reddit’s 2019 Year in Review report reveals 430M monthly active users (up 30% YoY), 199M posts, 1.7B comments, and 32B upvotes; the most upvoted post, the 1989 image of Tiananmen Square’s “Tank Man,” scored 228k; the most upvoted AMA was Bill Gates’ with 110k upvotes.

100M: Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says the company is aiming for 100M subscribers in India, which is almost 25 times its estimated current number; Hastings notes Netflix is spending ~$420M on local content over 2019/2020; the Indian streaming market is expected to be worth as much as $5B annually by 2023.

70%: YouTube says it has seen viewership of so-called borderline videos drop by 70% since making changes to its algorithms; the company defines such content as that which brushes up against its policies but does not violate them

📰 What’s going on

Facebook is developing new apps for podcasts, travel, and more; the company’s New Product Experimentation Team is also reportedly working on newsletter tools and workplace services; the group previously created matchmaking app Bump and social music app Aux.

Facebook begins publicly testing a tool that lets users migrate their images and videos to Google Photos; currently available in Ireland only, the feature will be introduced to more markets next year; Facebook says it will add support for more third-party photo services over time; represents Facebook’s first Data Transfer Project product.

Instagram will require new users to provide dates of birth going forward; the change will inform new safety features for younger users and enable the company to expand its ad-targeting for alcohol and other age-restricted products.

Apple to launch a port-free, completely wireless iPhone in the second half of 2021, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo; Kuo said the company would further distinguish its highest-end iPhones, and that the wireless version will be the top-of-the-line model; Kuo also expects an iPhone SE2 Plus with full-body display and Touch ID in the power button.

Apple expands support for Apple Pay Express Transit to London; lets users tap-to-pay for bus, tram, and train journeys without having to first authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID; also works with Apple Watch.

Apple confirms iOS uses Location Services, even when disabled by the user, to determine if a device is in an area where regulations require ultra wideband tech be disabled; the company plans an iOS toggle for disabling ultra wideband and the associated Location Services checks; ultra wideband facilitates AirDrop sharing, and some expect it will support Apple’s coming item-tracking service.

Amazon launches a battery-powered Echo device in India; known as Echo Input Portable Smart Speaker Edition, it represents Amazon’s first fully transportable Echo; promises up to 10 hours of continuous audio playback priced at ~$85, it’s unknown if or when it will roll out to other markets.

Amazon launches Braket, a quantum computing service for AWS, in preview; has partnered with D-Wave, IonQ, and Rigetti to make their quantum computers available via the cloud; provides a fully-managed and tool-equipped environment for developing and testing; also announced the AWS Center for Quantum Computing and AWS Quantum Solutions Lab.

Vice launches a profile series on Amazon’s Ring; the first installment details how the company, then convenience-oriented DoorBot, generated investor interest with an appearance on “Shark Tank”; also covers the company’s rebranding, marketing shift to home security, and sale to Amazon.

Microsoft updates its Office apps for mobile with Fluent Design, a set of principles intended to simplify and speed up app interactions; the company has created toolkits for third-party developers.

Microsoft plans to release a lower-cost, disc-free version of its next-generation Xbox; the new report confirms earlier rumors about the console, known as Project Scarlett: that the company would launch a high-performance model (Anaconda), and a budget model (Lockhart).

Google is rolling out Digital Wellbeing feature Focus mode to Android 9 and 10; users can select distracting apps within the Digital Wellbeing settings, and those items will be inaccessible and silenced when the device is in Focus mode; the user can enable Focus mode with a quick settings shortcut or in the Digital Wellbeing settings.

Google Photos adds a chat feature; lets users share photos with others without having to create a shared album; the recipient must have a Google account to view the images; rolling out now to iOS, Android, and the web.

Alphabet CEO Larry Page and President Sergey Brin step down; they will remain on the board; the Google co-founders said in an announcement that it was time to simplify management; Sundar Pichai, who joined Google in 2004 and took over as CEO in 2015, replaces Page as CEO of Alphabet.

Craigslist launches an official app for iOS; it became the 10th most-downloaded app in the Shopping category one day after launch; offers the same functionality as the website; an Android beta version is available here (Google sign-in required).

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Expedia CEO Mark Okerstrom and CFO Alan Pickerill step down due to strategy disagreements with the board; Chairman Barry Diller will manage daily operations while the board establishes a long-term plan.

Adobe acquires VR modeling and sculpting tool Oculus Medium from Facebook; terms undisclosed; Adobe plans to update the app with new features next year; it will remain free to Oculus VR users; Adobe said Medium would complement the company’s 3D texturing app Substance.

Samsung will introduce a 108MP camera and a 5x telephoto lens with the Galaxy S11; the device will also feature a time-of-flight sensor; Samsung is expected to launch the S11 in February.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signs a law banning smartphones, PCs, and smart TVs that do not contain Russia-made software; the new rules go into effect on July 1 2020; the government says it will produce a list of software that must be pre-installed on devices.

Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield claims Microsoft Teams has relatively weak user engagement; Butterfield made the comments during an earnings call where he suggested Microsoft is “force migrating” users over to teams from older software that has been shutdown.

Slack ($11.8B market cap) Q3 beats with $168.7M revenue ($156.1M expected), up 60% YoY; $89.2M net loss, compared to a $47.7M net less for the third quarter of 2018; operating costs rose 68% to $240.6M.

Salesforce ($137B market cap) generated a record $4.51B in revenue in Q3 but reported a $109M net loss; compares to a $105M net profit in the Q318; the company closed its $15.7B acquisition of analytics and data visualization company Tableau in August.

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

How executives can enable Product to have greater impact. InVision surveyed PMs and their leaders in order to identify what matter most in order to increase impact.

The state of UX in 2020. Fabricio Teixeira and Caio Braga, creators of UX Collective, have identified a few of the trends our industry has been writing, talking, and thinking about.

Tips for effective Product strategy reviews, by Roman Pichler.

What is a quantum computer? Experts’ descriptions in the length of a tweet.

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Written by

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

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