el producto #56 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Q4 tech results, Google Flights delay predicitons, Alexa SMS, Uber bike-sharing, Lyft looking at Europe, Netflix’s 2-stage experiment approach & more.

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

📰 What’s going on

The Google Store begins taking orders for its Google Clips product, a clip-on camera that uses ML to decide when to take photos and short video clips; soonest delivery dates for the $250 device are in early March.

Google introduces mute reminder ads from sites and services using its ad platform; users can individually block these ads for 90 days in “Ad Settings”.

Google Flights will use historical data to predict flight delays; it will only display notifications of estimated delay times when it’s 80% confident in its predictions; Google will also tell users what amenities are not included when searching for flights.

YouTube Go (Android), the company’s data-friendly app variant for emerging markets, expands to more than 130 countries; the mobile app supports offline viewing, sharing via Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, more; enables users to select lower quality streams when connectivity is intermittent or slow.

Amazon introduces an SMS feature for Alexa allowing users to send text messages via voice; users can select to send SMS by default, or choose texts as a fallback option if Alexa Calling isn’t available.

Airbnb announces that it will invest $5M to expand its Experiences feature from 50 US cities to 200; Experiences allows locals to host experiences and excursions for Airbnb guests; Airbnb collects 20% of the cost of the Experiences advertised on its site.

Uber announces a pilot bike-sharing service in partnership with Jump; launching in San Francisco next week, Uber Bike will let users rent Jump’s dockless bikes via the main Uber app.

Lyft opens an office in Munich, it’s first in Europe; will develop localization and geometric mapping tech for autonomous vehicles; the software layer will provide Lyft’s self-driving vehicles with information about their driving environment.

India-based ride-hailing firm Ola to launch in Australia; the company is recruiting drivers in Perth, Sydney, and Melbourne; represents Ola’s first overseas market.

A shared mobility pledge. Several ride-hiling firms (including Uber, Lyft and Didi) sign a pledge to improve the urban transportation options.

Twitter begins offering “premium publishers” the opportunity to purchase tweets to be included in “Sponsored Moments”; new type of ad allows advertisers to promote individual tweets in a collection of tweets centered around one specific event or theme.

Ebay signs a deal with Netherlands-based payments firm Adyen to gradually takeover processing duties from PayPal; Ebay expects Ayden will handle a majority of transactions by 2021, but says PayPal will continue to be supported until at least 2023. PayPal falled 12% in after-hours trading following the news.

GitLab acquires security startup Gemnasium; monitors open source software dependencies and notifies coders of any known vulnerabilities.

Samsung indicates it will release a mobile device with a foldable OLED display this year. Also plans to expand further into AI and smart devices.

Nintendo announces Switch online will launch in September at $4 per month, $8 for 3 months, or $20 per year; will give players the ability to play online (currently free) and will provide access to the Classic Game Selection. Also announced a Mario Kart version for smartphones in the coming months.


🎰 The week in figures

Apple ($861.3B market cap) FQ1 beats: $88.3B revenue ($87.28B expected); sold 77.3M iPhones, down 1% YoY; this was the first quarter to include iPhone X sales; expects $60B to $62B revenue for Q2.

Amazon ($670B market cap) Q4 beats: $60.5B revenue, up 38% YoY($59.83B expected); includes Whole Foods sales; $5.11B AWS revenue ($4.97B expected); Jeff Bezos said returns for the company’s Alexa investments exceeded expectations and Amazon plans to double down.

Alphabet ($816.7B market cap) Q4 mixed: $32.3B revenue ($31.87B expected), up from $26.1B in FQ4 2016; the company took a one-time charge to repatriate funds, losing $3B in net income.

Facebook ($543B market cap) Q4 beats; 12.9B revenue, up 47% YoY ($12.6B expected); $4.3B net profit, up 20% YoY; 2.1B MAUs, up 14% YoY; the company said algorithm changes mean users are collectively spending 50M less hours per day on the platform. Facebook’s DAU in the US and CA fell for the first time ever; the company reported 184M DAUs, down from 185M for Q3.

Microsoft ($733B market cap) Q4 beats: $28.9B revenue, up 12% YoY; $6.3B net loss due to a one-time $13.8B tax charge; $9B Productivity and business Processes revenue, up 25% YoY; $7.8B revenue for Intelligent Cloud division (which includes Azure), up 15% YoY.


📚 Stuff to think about

Driverless hotel rooms. In a world of driverless cars (getting there!), the space inside a vehicle can be completely reinvented and utilized in multiple ways. Imagine:

  • the driverless hotel room
  • the driverless gym
  • the driverless bathroom
  • the driverless cafe
  • the driverless cinema
  • the driverless shop

The two-stage experimentation approach on algorithms by Netflix. Introducing an initial prunning stage can increase the rate of learning.

Start together, finish together. John Cutler on the importance of embarking teams in missions and keeping them together trough the life-cycle of ‘problems’ (not solutions).


🚀 off-product

The influence economy. NYTimes on social media ‘follower’ bots and the huge marketplace behind them.

Strava gives away location of secret US army bases. Soldiers’ exercise routes show the location of such facilities in countries like Afghanistan.


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el producto is a curated selection of Tech&Product happenings within the last few days from a curious and frequently skeptical Product Owner’s perspective.