el producto #115 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness
Google gaming platform, Video streaming growth, WhatsApp’s image verification, Instagram’s shopping checkout, New Apple TV service, …
Welcome to another week full of fresh ideas and innovation at el producto.
🎰 The week in figures
$71B - Disney completes its $71B acquisition of 21st Century Fox properties; includes the Fox movie studio, its TV unit, and Fox’s 30% stake in Hulu; Disney now own 60% of the streaming service; Fox News and Fox sports brands remain independent.
$34B - Fidelity National Information Services to acquire London-based payments processor Worldpay for ~$34B in cash and stock; FIS will assume Worldpay’s debt, bringing the total deal value to ~$43B.
€1.5B - the EU fines Google for “abusive practices in online advertising”; EC commissioner Margrethe Vestager says the company imposed exclusive contracts on marketers over a 10-year period. Google says it will let European Android users choose their preferred browser and search app, and will show other price comparison sites alongside its Google Shopping results in the EU.
$1.25B - raised by internet satellite company OneWeb, led by SoftBank, Qualcomm, Grupo Salinas, and the Rwandan government; the company launched its first 6 micro-satellites last month; the funding will facilitate mass production and; raised $3.4B to date.
37% of all mobile internet traffic comes from Youtube; compares with Facebook at 8.4% and Snapchat at 8.3% ; Instagram accounts for 5.7%; web browsing is 4.6%
27% - worldwide video streaming subscriptions growth YoY; digital download video sales grew 34% YoY, and physical media sales fell 14%
30% - Tumblr’s traffic drop after it banned porn in December; it’s seen a decline in both overall traffic and unique visitors since then; global traffic decreased from 521M in December 2018 to 370M by February 2019.
📰 What’s going on
Facebook Messenger introduces threaded messages; lets uses respond to specific chats within a conversation; rolling out worldwide.
Facebook updates ad-targeting policy after settling housing discrimination suit; going forward, advertisers marketing employment, housing, or credit will not have the ability to target based on gender, age, or zip code; Facebook will not disclose users’ protected social classes.
WhatsApp tests new image verification feature; it would use Google’s reverse image search capabilities to determine if and where an image has previously appeared on the web; the feature could help combat misinformation on the widely-used messaging app.
Instagram introduces Checkout, merchant tools that let users purchase goods without leaving the app; retailers can include color options, sizes, and more; payment and shipping details are all handled through the app; launch partners include H&M, Michael Kors, and Uniqlo.
Oculus announces the $400 Rift S, launching this spring; features 5 cameras for inside-out tracking, near-ear speakers, and 1280 x 1440 resolution per eye; includes Oculus Touch controllers; built with Lenovo.
Google announces game-streaming service Stadia; promises support for any display and mid-game handoff between devices; integrated live-streaming; initially limited to Chrome for browser streaming, but the company plans to support other browsers; works with existing controllers and mouse/keyboard setups; Google is launching a dedicated controller with capture/share and Google Assistant buttons; runs on custom AMD GPUs in the cloud. Stadia will launch this year in the US, Canada, the UK, and most of Europe; Google will reveal launch titles and other details this summer.
Google’s mid-range smartphones will be known as Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL; 3a will have a 5.6-inch display, while 3a XL’s screen will be 6-inches; both Pixels will come with 64GB storage, and have Active Edge tech; available in white or black; launch details unknown.
Uber Freight announces European expansion; will initially launch the Netherlands within the next few weeks; enables carriers and independent drivers to claim loads; Freight launched in 2017 in TX and now serves the continental US.
Netflix is testing a mobile-only plan in India, charging $3.63 per month; the company is also experimenting with shorter subscription terms, and notes that the tests might not result in widespread rollouts; Netflix launched a budget mobile-only plan in Malaysia last summer
Apple’s new TV service, to be unveiled on Monday, is a storefront for other streaming services and Apple’s channel bundles; Apple will take a cut of third-party subscription revenue; will also preview what’s playing on various services and surface content for users. Netflix will not be part of the service.
Apple acquires Rome-based API integration company Stamplay for $5.7M; offers a low-code platform for process automation, integrating multiple cloud services, more.
Apple announces updated iPad Mini with Apple Pencil support; $400 device retains the same look at earlier models; runs A12 Bionic processor; the company is also launching a $500 10.5-inch iPad Air.
Apple announces new AirPods with “Hey Siri” support; $200 with wireless charging case, $160 without; launch date undisclosed.
Wikipedia, Twitch, and others temporarily suspend service in the EU as a protest against proposed copyright legislation; Reddit users are being shown a mock copyright notice, explaining that users might face such barriers if the rules pass; vote on the EU Copyright Directive is on March 27.
Twitter to audit all developers using APIs to make 100k or more calls per day; those using the data for B2B purposes will be required to sign a licensing agreement and pay custom fees; the company’s stated intent is to protect user privacy and safety, and to ensure a level commercial playing field.
Former Pinterest CTO and VP of Engineering Vanja Josifovski joins Airbnb as CTO of Airbnb Homes; he will oversee the unit’s engineering, AI, more; Airbnb hired Aristotle Balogh from Google in October; he will continue to serve as Airbnb’s overall CTO.
HP announces Reverb, a lightweight Windows Mixed Reality headset to launch in April; the $600 consumer version and the $650 enterprise-focused Pro model come with 2 Bluetooth motion controllers and support Steam VR.
IKEA Israel introduces 3D-printed furniture add-ons to enhance accessibility; the products, called ThisAbles, include handles, risers, and bumpers; the printable designs are available for free.
Microsoft will launch a disc-free XBox One on May 7; internal documents refer to the device as Xbox One S All-Digital; expected to include 1TB storage.
Walmart plans to launch a cloud-gaming service; Walmart is discussing its ambitions with game developers; the company previously looked at launching a Netflix-style video streaming service, but later canceled those plans.
Pinterest files for IPO, plans to list on the NYSE under symbol PINS; reports indicated the company initially planned to debut in June, and raise $1.5B at a $12B valuation; founded in 2009, raised $1.5B to date.
Xiaomi launches its mobile wallet service in India; Mi Pay lets users add pre-pay credit, pay bills, send money to others, and more; currently works with two banks.
The UK is testing its first full-size autonomous bus in Manchester; bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis and Fusion Processing provided the single-deck bus; transit operator Stagecoach is conducting the trial; testing is limited to parking, maneuvering through a bus wash, and other station-related tasks.
📚 Something to think about
The essential questions that have powered Julie Zhuo’s career (VP of Product Design at Facebook). Zhuo, who just released the book “The Making of a Manager: What to Do When Everyone Looks to You”, argues that “Questions are a manager’s best tool.”
Agile never was about meeting your Waterfall numbers faster. A reflection on the pitfalls of “scaling scrum” and “optimizing the value stream” without focusing enough on discovery.
Q&A with Andrew Chen. Chen hosted an AMA on Quora, touching topics such as: distribution channels for new consumer internet startup to consider in 2019, or meaningless and misleading growth metrics in consumer tech businesses.
Good vibes are contagious. A 2017 study out of Northwestern University found that sitting within 25 feet of a high performer at work improved an employee’s performance by 15% — but sitting within 25 feet of a low performer hurt their performance by 30%.