Google Home Hub, 8 new Alexa devices, Apple’s new OS, Uber plans to buy Deliveroo, Meituan IPO, Lyft growth, Quasi-experimentation at Netflix & more.
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto!
🎰 The week in figures
~$55B: Meituan Dianping valuation after its IPO at Hong Kong Stock Exchange. 5% up (priced its shares at ~$8.80, closed at ~$9.30).
$2B (at least) Indonesia-based Go-Jek is raising for overseas expansion; the funding is expected to close in the coming weeks; the company most recently raised $1.5B on a $5B post-money valuation; JD.com and Tencent are participating in the round.
1B rides, Lyft surpasses the milestone 6 years after launch; roughly the same amount of time it took Uber; Unlike Uber, Lyft only operates in the US and Canada; Uber hit 2B rides 6 months after the 1B milestone and went from 2B to 5B in less than a year; App Annie data indicates that over the past year, Lyft has held 40% of the market compared to Uber’s 60%.
2.3M Google Home Mini units sold during Q2; Amazon Echo Dot followed with 2.2M; Google and Amazon represented 50% of the 11.7M units sold globally in the quarter (Echo represented 12% of the market).
3k cashier-free Amazon Go stores that the company is considering to open up by 2021. This week Amazon opened a Go store in Chicago; represents its first outside of Seattle; the company plans to open soon a store in San Francisco, with reports of one set for New York City.
75% of music industry revenue in US comes from streaming; includes paid subscriptions to streaming services like Spotify, as well as radio and video platforms; the category has generated $3.4B in 2018.
6 new private companies reached ‘unicorn’ status ($1B+ valuation)this week. Among them are food delivery platform Postmates and open software development platform GitLab.
📰 What’s going on
Google is rolling out Chrome OS v69 with Material Theme, Nite Light (tint changes to reduce eye strain), and the Linux for Chromebooks beta, which allows command-line installation of Linux apps and packages; Linux support enables developers to build and test Android apps.
Google integrates Sound Search into Now Playing; the music identification tool can now recognize tens of millions of songs; it relies on unique audio fingerprints assigned using convolutional neural networks.
Google teases a mint colored Pixel 3; a landing page features the outline of a device and three colorways — white, black, and white-mint; Google is expected to announce Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL on Oct 9.
Images of purported Google Home Hub leak; the device reportedly features a 7-inch display and will show weather, travel times, photos, and more; set to cost $150; Google is expected to announce new devices on Oct 9.
Google Maps for iOS adds CarPlay support; offers an in-car navigation alternative to Apple Maps; features turn-by-turn directions, in-app voice search, etc.
Google announces Work Insights for G Suite customers; the dashboard tool (currently in beta) lets G Suite admins see how people in their organization use Google apps such as Docs, Sheets, and Slides; also shows data on team collaborations and Hangouts Meet activity.
Amazon is testing a product recommendation feature called Scout; currently focused on furniture and shoes; the user selects a category to browse and gives a thumbs up or thumbs down for any product image in a list; as the user ranks, the list updates with new images, getting closer to the user’s taste.
Amazon to launch 8 new Alexa devices by year’s end; the line-up includes a microwave, an amplifier, a receiver, a subwoofer, a smart plug, and a device for vehicles. The Echo Sub subwoofer pairs with other Echos for improved audio range and can complete a 2.1 sound system. Echo Input, a $35 device that connects via line or Bluetooth to a standard speaker to give it Alexa functionality; partners including Bose will bundle the device with their speakers. The $50 Echo Auto, a device that links with a user’s vehicle stereo or infotainment system via Bluetooth or 3.5mm audio jack; also pairs with mobile devices to send music, navigation, and more to the vehicle’s speakers; supports location-based reminders, smart home commands, etc.
Amazon launches Alexa Presentation Language (APL): a design language for building voice skills and apps with multimedia features; initially supports text, graphics, and slideshows; will support video soon; APL is designed to work with Amazon’s coming Alexa Smart Screen and TV Device SDK
Amazon launches the Alexa Gadgets Toolkit, enabling new features for third-party devices that connect to Echo products via Bluetooth; devices enabled by the toolkit can respond to an Alexa Wake word, and to Alexa Timers and Alarms; can also integrate with Alexa’s Speech
Amazon launches Storefronts, a portal showcasing smaller merchants; includes video introductions for some SMEs, curated collections, and more; Storefronts currently covers 20k US-based businesses.
Amazon launches in Turkey offering products across 15 categories; Amazon says it will expand its range and delivery options in the coming months.
Apple releases iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12; iOS 12 adds Siri Shortcuts, improved AR support and integration, Screen Time, more; watchOS 5 adds Walkie-Talkie mode and tracking for additional activities; tvOS adds Dolby Atmos sound, an updated Apple TV app, more.
Apple updates Apple Music for Android, adding support for Android Auto; the Android app now supports searching by song lyrics and features the new artist view that launched on iOS last month.
Facebook begins testing its dating service in Colombia; Facebook Dating is accessed via the company’s main mobile app; users see matches and any mutual connections; also uses Groups and Events data to find matches; users are encouraged to meet in public.
Instagram rolls out Shopping features, including a personalized shopping channel in Explore, Shopping tags for Stories (now available to all users), and the ability for merchants to add Shopping Stickers to Stories (Stickers link to product pages).
Uber in talks to acquire Deliveroo; the size of the deal is unknown, but Deliveroo was last valued at more than $2B.
Uber tests traffic estimate tool; the tech is now available to drivers, riders with Android apps, and some riders with iOS apps; it delivers congestion indicators based on historic trip data and real-time traffic information.
Uber in talks to acquire Dubai-based ride-hailing company Careem; Careem’s management is reportedly working to convince shareholders of the benefits of the sale, which could value Careem at $2B to $2.5B.
Lyft launches Nearby Transit feature in Santa Monica; displays schedules and other public transit information within the Lyft app; data provided by Trafi.
Twitter prioritizes live broadcasts; users will now see livestreams by accounts they follow appear at the top of their timelines; the platform recently added support for live audio-only broadcasts.
Twitter working on a feature to let users easily switch between a timeline showing tweets they may have missed and just the latest tweets; comes as the company updates its “Show the best Tweets first” setting, allowing users to set their feed to reverse chronological order.
Shopify update adds support for iOS 12’s AR Quick Look; enables merchants to upload 3D models of products, and potential buyers to view those products in their homes and other environments; users can walk around virtual products to see them from different angles, zoom in, etc.
FitBit announces Care, providing 1–1 health coaching and health insights; the coaches can address weight loss, smoking, diabetes, etc; new Fitbit Plus app integrates data from third-party devices; intended to drive the company’s push into enterprise and healthcare markets.
The Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance (RNMA) partner with Google to integrate Android Auto across its vehicle infotainment systems; will give drivers access to Google Maps, Assistant, and more without having to pair to an Android smartphone; RNMA collectively sold 10.6M vehicles last year. TomTom shares drop more than 25% following the deal.
Audi is set to add Alexa to the infotainment systems of select vehicles from next year; the voice assistant will be available in cars sold in North America and Europe, including its new E-Tron electric SUV; drivers will be able to use Alexa for playing music, finding points of interest, etc.
Sony announces $100 PlayStation Classic; based on the original PlayStation, the mini-console comes with 20 pre-installed games including “Final Fantasy VII,” “Tekken 3,” and “Ridge Racer Type 4”; includes 2 controllers; available Dec 3.
Singapore launches SGQR, a universal QR code system for merchants who accept digital payments; lets business owners display one QR code which then links to various e-payment services such as GrabPay, Dash, and Nets; Singapore’s national bank is also making its interbank transfer service Fast available to non-banks such as Singtel and Grab.
Researchers from Nvidia, the Mayo Clinic, and the MGH and BWH Center for Clinical Data Science develop AI system capable of producing synthetic scans of cancerous brain tumors; the images can be used to train neural networks; the technology was created using Facebook’s PyTorch deep learning framework and two publicly available datasets.
SpaceX says Japanese entrepreneur Yusaku Maezawa will be the first private customer aboard its BFR rocket for a journey around the Moon; planned for 2023, Maezawa says he hopes to take as many as eight artists with him as part of a project referred to as #dearMoon.
📚 Stuff to think about
Quasi-experimentation at Netflix. The guys at Netflix explain their approach to experimentation in cases when they can’t guarantee randomization, or when there’s interference from other campaigns (online or offline) that could bias the results of a ‘classic’ A/B experiment.
Airbnb for work: more than business travel. The company is trying to appeal businesses by looking at opportunities in areas like team outings or employee relocations.
Reinforcement: the hidden key to building iconic tech companies. NFX.com explains how after product-market-fit and rapid growth, defensibility is a key success factor in any winning tech company; presenting the cases of Amazon, Facebook and Uber.
What if Steve Jobs hadn’t dreamt up the iPhone? Strategyzer has broken down Apple’s revenue by products since 2004.