el producto #153 👉 Creating product teams, The WeChat model, Alexa+podcasts, Lyft car rental, Twitter GIF creator & more
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$28B: Tencent is in talks to invest $2B in China-based short-video app Kuaishou; if the deal goes through, the platform will be valued at $28B, up from $18B in 2018; Kuaishou is considered a rival to TikTok; it reportedly has 195M DAUs, and 410M MAUs.
$4B: Germany-based food delivery firm Delivery Hero acquires an 87% stake in South Korean counterpart Woowa Brothers for $4B cash and stock; the remaining 13% will be held by Woowa execs; as part of the deal, Delivery Hero and Woowa plan to establish a joint-venture in Singapore.
1M: Samsung says it has sold 1M Galaxy Fold devices; Samsung president Young Sohn revealed the figure at TechCrunch Disrupt in Berlin; the $2k foldable smartphone went on sale in September.
800k: YouTube has surpassed 800k premium subscribers in India since launching paid services there in March; YouTube’s growth in India reportedly outpaces that of music service competitors Spotify, Gaana, and JioSaavn.
98%: Google claims Maps now features 10M miles of Street View, and that Google Earth features 36M square miles of satellite imagery covering 98 percent of the populated parts of the world.
35%: iPhone shipments in China dropped more than 35% YoY in November; shipments for the September-November period fell 7.4% from a year before.
35%: Apple shipped an estimated 29.5M wearables (Apple Watch and AirPods) during Q3; Apple has 35% of the market, followed by Xiaomi with 14.6% ; Samsung was third with 9.8% ; Apple shipped approximately 10M wearables during the same quarter in 2018.
📰 What’s going on
Apple has acquired UK-based image tech firm Spectral Edge; terms unknown; Spectral Edge has developed machine learning tools to improve the quality of smartphone photos.
Apple rolls out iOS 13.3 with support for USB-C, NFC, and Lightning physical security keys (FIDO2); the change opens functionality for all apps and sites; the update also includes bug fixes and minor feature enhancements.
Alexa devices now feature Apple Podcasts and Spotify podcasts; the user can set the default podcast app within the Alexa app’s settings.
Google updates Maps for iOS with Incognito Mode; previously launched for Android; the feature prevents Maps from saving search and navigation histories to Google accounts; also disables personalization features, such as recommended restaurants.
Google launches interpreter mode for iOS and Android, bringing real-time language translation to Assistant; previously available for smart displays and speakers, supporting 29 languages; the mobile version supports 44 languages; the user can trigger the feature by voice using key phrases such as “Hey Google, be my translator”.
Google launches Chrome v79 with security improvements, including built-in Password Checkup, automatic blacklisting of malicious sites via the Safe Browsing API, Predictive Phishing protection, more.
Google reveals new Android TV developer device; a previously leaked roadmap indicated the company planned to launch a new Android TV device with smart home features next year; also plans Stadia integration; Google also rolled out Android 10 to Android TV devices on Tuesday.
Google says it will change mobile search results for news; users will see a carousel of relevant stories at the top of results; Google says it will also include content from more outlets; the company notes it’s using new tech to better understand the elements of a news story, and how certain other reports might provide further context.
Google rolls out Verified SMS for Android Messages in nine countries; when a verified business communicates with a customer, the SMS thread features a shield/checkmark icon, the business name above the texting number, and the business’ logo; a new Messages spam protection system enables users to flag content as spam and block offending numbers.
Google showcases a new ARCore feature that allows AR objects to be partially obscured by real world items; known as Depth API, it promises to better understand the distance between physical entities.
Twitter introduces a feature to let iOS users share Live Photos as GIFs; from the iOS app users can select the Live Photo they want to post, and then select the GIF upload option.
Waymo acquires UK-based autonomous driving firm Latent Logic; terms undisclosed; Latent Logic provides software that simulates human behavior; the tools can help self-driving systems better anticipate potential hazards.
The We Company closes restaurant co-working unit Spacious, which it acquired in August; 50 jobs have also been cut as part of the shutdown. WeWork is looking to get out of leases on as many as 100 buildings around the world.
Microsoft announces its next games console, previously referred to as Project Scarlett, will be known as Xbox Series X; specs undisclosed but it promises four times the processing capability of Xbox One X; features an elongated design that allows it to be used in a vertical or horizontal position; Microsoft has also showcased a new Xbox Wireless Controller which features a new share button; the console and the controller are set to launch around next year’s holiday season.
Microsoft to shut down to-do app Wunderlist on May 6; Microsoft gained the app through the acquisition of 6Wunderkinder in 2015 and has since integrated its features into the To-Do feature for Office 365.
Netflix is testing 3-, 6-, and 12-month subscriptions at discounted rates in India; the savings range from 20-50%; follows Netflix CEO Reed Hastings’ announcement that the company had committed significant funding to producing original content for the Indian market through 2020.
TikTok-owner ByteDance is testing a music streaming app in India and Indonesia; known as Resso, the service launched late last month on iOS and Android; features on-screen lyrics, GIF creation tools, and more.
TikTok plans to introduce a shoppable ads feature; the company has signed deals with Walmart, Nike, and others, and plans to have ads link directly to products; users spend an average of 250-300 seconds per session.
Lyft launches car rental service in Los Angeles and San Francisco; accessible via the main Lyft app, the service features one sedan model and one SUV model per market; prices start as low as $35 per day.
Audi begins testing a ride-sharing service in Southern Germany; known as BITS, the offering makes use of EVs and standard gasoline vehicles.
Jack Dorsey announces that Twitter is funding a team called bluesky to develop an open and decentralized standard for social media; Dorsey noted that the value of social media is shifting to recommendation, and that recommendation algorithms should focus on healthy conversation; he noted that blockchain provides the fundamentals for hosting, governance, and monetization.
China orders all government offices to remove computer products made by foreign companies within three years; the Financial Times estimates the move will see 20M to 30M items replaced.
👩🏾💻 Good reads
Why feature discoverability is vital for adoption. The impact of feature discovery should not be understated. This article presents some useful techniques and popular cases.
Balancing quantitative metrics and qualitative research, with Intuit’s Chief Product and Design Officer Diego Rodriguez.
The Fail Canvas and Customer Fail Proposition. A twist on the classic tools aimed to help businesses to be exhaustive in analyzing what can go wrong.
The WeChat model and how tech trends are reversing East to West.
Tim Cook says Apple’s greatest contribution to humankind will be in health care, noting the significance of ECG capabilities in the Apple Watch.
Stratechery analyzes the differences between aggregators and platforms within the context of antitrust concerns; argues platforms are powerful economic engines that fuel innovation but they have great potential for abuse due to the dependence of third parties; Thompson says aggregators pose less of threat in terms of internal policies, but should see increased scrutiny for acquisitions.
The Verge lists the 100 most important gadgets of the past decade, noting it was the era in which tools for creating and consuming content became omnipresent; the list covers hype-inducing AR products like Magic Leap and Google Glass, odd trends like the selfie stick, and expensive hardware hits (Peloton Bike) and misses (Juicero Press).