2020 Product Management trends, Uber bidding tests, Apple gym scheme pilot, Netflix Q4 results, Disney+ expansion, Google’s approach to growth & more.

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🎰 The week in figures

$100B: Tesla’s market cap passes $100B, making it the world’s second most valuable car company; the firm is now placed ahead of Volkswagen which has a market cap of ~$99.6B; Toyota has a valuation of $231.6B.

$350M: Uber sells its food delivery operation in India to local competitor Zomato; the all-stock deal gives Uber a ~10% stake in Zomato; as part of the agreement, Uber Eats will shutdown in the country and redirect all business to Zomato; the deal is worth ~$350M; Uber Eats staff are not moving over; Uber Eats ranked 3 in local market share behind Swiggy and Zomato.

$249M: Niantic says public events for its walking games, like Pokémon Go, drove $249M in tourism spending last year; the company hosted 77 live events in 32 countries in 2019, drawing ~2.7M players from 60 countries.

$126M: Europe’s regulators have imposed $126M in fines for GDPR violations; France’s $55M fine against Google is the largest so far; Britain, Germany, and the Netherlands have led in data-breach notifications.

55M: Amazon Music now claims 55M users globally, compared to Apple Music’s 60M (as of June); Amazon charges Prime members $10 per month for its Music Unlimited product; also offers an ad-supported tier since late 2019.

6M: Wikipedia now hosts more than 6M English-language articles; English is the platform’s most popular language followed by German (2.3M articles), and French (2.1M); English articles see an average of 255M daily visitors.

200: TripAdvisor is laying off ~200 staff; the firm had 3.8k employees at the end of last September; the report notes TripAdvisor is facing increased competition from Google.

66%: Amazon has padded its Prime Video library with amateur and questionable content to inflate the number of titles it offers, The Wall Street Journal reports; Amazon claims the largest selection of streaming content with ~65k titles; 66% of those titles are user uploads, which include instructional clips and conspiracy videos.

📰 What’s going on

Uber begins testing a bidding feature that lets drivers set their own fares; CA drivers who serve airports in Sacramento and Palm Springs will be able to bid for jobs, setting their rate at as much as x5 the fare Uber suggests; riders will then be matched with the driver offering the lowest rate; Uber says it will look at feedback before deciding whether to roll the scheme out wider.

Apple launches a gym partnership scheme; known as Apple Watch Connected, the program comprises exercise incentives, GymKit connectivity, and more; Apple is working with Orangetheory, Basecamp, YMCA, and Crunch Fitness at launch.

Apple to launch a 6.7-inch iPhone that’s 10 percent thinner than the iPhone 11 Pro Max, according to supply chain sources; the company plans a 5.4-inch model and two 6.1-inch devices; all 2020 models will feature OLED displays and Face ID; the largest will have a triple-lens rear camera.

Google launches three experimental Android apps targeting reduced phone usage; Activity Bubbles creates a dynamic wallpaper; every time the user unlocks the device, a new bubble appears in the background and grows according to usage time; Screen Stopwatch displays a cumulative timer for phone usage; Envelope asks the user to print out a sleeve that blocks most phone functions.

Google to adjust desktop Search redesign that made ads less distinguishable from content links; in response to user criticism, the company said the intent was to align the desktop look with mobile Search; Google plans to experiment with visual changes for desktop Search over the coming weeks.

Google’s Dataset Search exits beta; the tool allows the scientific community to search open datasets provided by universities, government agencies, and others; Dataset Search has added new features including more filtering options and support for mobile web.

Amazon researchers detail an AI-powered system for automated movie dubbing; the speech-to-speech pipeline aligns dubbed audio with the original, and can adjust word duration to better match actors’ mouths; also reproduces original emotion; the system automatically adds reverberation and background sounds.

Amazon is developing checkout terminals that let users authorize payments with a handprint; plans are at an early stage, but Amazon intends to offer the tech to brick-and-mortar retailers; the system will be powered by AWS; Amazon has previously filed a patent for palm-recognition tech.

Microsoft is rolling out SDKs and emulators for dual-screen apps; the company released the SDK for its Surface Duo Android phone in preview on Jan 22, and plans to release the preview SDK for Windows 10x dual-screen devices in coming weeks; plans to release the Hyper-V dual-screen emulator on Feb 11.

Instagram removes the button for its standalone video app IGTV from the Instagram home page; IGTV has garnered ~7M total downloads (1.1M in the US) since its June 2018 launch; compares to TikTok’s 1.15B global downloads and 80.5M US downloads during the same period.

Twitter begins rolling out emoji reactions within Direct Messages; similar to Apple’s iMessage, users can add select emojis to specific chats; available via desktop web and mobile.

Samsung plans to launch an AirDrop-like feature for Galaxy smartphones; known as Quick Share, it will let users send photos, videos, and other files to nearby compatible devices; unlike AirDrop, Quick Share passes files along via the cloud; expected to launch alongside Samsung Galaxy S20 on Feb 11.

Spotify is in early talks to acquire digital entertainment network The Ringer; the company represents 30 podcasts covering sports, tech, and pop culture; Spotify spent $400M last year acquiring podcast companies.

Disney announces its Disney+ streaming service will launch in Western Europe on March 24, a week earlier than originally planned; it will be available in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy; it will roll out to more European countries later this year; the service will cost £6/€7 per month, or £60/€70 per year.

UK-based Busuu acquires fellow language-learning firm Verbling; terms undisclosed; Verbling provides one-to-one video tutoring, offering lessons in more than 50 languages.

Tencent begins testing a media-sharing feed within its WeChat messaging app; currently available to select accounts, the feature lets users share photos and short videos with followers; WeChat previously rolled out a Snapchat-like feature in 2018, but it has not proven popular.

Netherlands-based TomTom announces deal enabling Huawei to use the former’s maps and related services in mobile apps; Huawei had to find alternatives to Google services after replacing Android with a custom OS due to the US blacklisting the Chinese company; TomTom sold its telematics business last year and is moving away from hardware to focus on maps.

💵 Q4 financials

Netflix ($148B market cap) Q4 beats: $5.47B revenue, up 31 %YoY; added 8.76M subscribers globally (net), surpassing internal forecasts and analyst expectations; +420k paid subscribers in the US, short of guidance for 600k.

👩🏾‍💻 Good reads

Google’s approach: how to grow to 100 million users. Product School talks about the three main stages of product: ideation, iteration, and growth.

The engineer’s guide to career growth, by ex-Facebook and ex-Stripe Raylene Yung.

Shifting platform and ecosystem dynamics. A thoughtful piece on how every business should envision and model various types of ecosystems, consider playing multiple roles, make governance and collaboration a priority and most importantly, rehearse multiple possible scenarios as ecosystems emerge.

6 Product Management trends in 2020, by Productboard:

  • PMs are now strategic leaders within an organization
  • The demand for senior-level PMs outpaces the demand for junior-level PMs
  • Organizations start to seek Chief Product Officers
  • Product-led growth and growth product managers are all the rage
  • Teams begin to understand the importance of transparency in product management
  • PMs are no longer left behind when it comes to tools and resources

How Airbnb drives users’ actions with their landing page design — a UX analysis.

The state of Mobile in 2020, by AppAnnie.

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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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