el producto #67 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Netflix’s Q1 earnings, Amazon’s annual shareholder letter, Alexa skill creator, Apple’s subscription news, Platform Design patterns, a16z on GDPR & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$1B: Netflix’s expected investment on original productions for European markets this year; represents a 100% increase over 2017 spending on European content; the company previously announced it would spend ~$8B on original and licensed programming globally in 2018.

100M: In his annual shareholder letter, Jeff Bezos disclosed — for the first time ever — that the company has exceeded 100 million Amazon Prime members globally. Amazon reached the milestone 13 years after the launch of the service. According to the letter, “Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide (in 2017), and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year.”

$58: US iPhone users spent on average on in-app purchases in 2017; up from $47 in 2016, a 23% increase; only accounts for subscriptions and sales via Apple’s in-app purchase mechanism — not payments to Uber, orders from Amazon, etc; games represented 62% of the spending.


📰 What’s going on

Amazon launches Alexa Blueprints, enabling consumers to create their own Alexa Skills without coding knowledge; a user chooses a template (20 are available) then customizes; the site also features existing user blueprints.

Amazon launches a lightweight mobile browser for Android users in emerging markets; currently limited to India, requires Android 5.0 or higher; promises not to collect user data or request extra permissions; less than 2MB.

Amazon adds international shopping features to its mobile apps; users can browse in five languages (Spanish, English, Simplified Chinese, Brazilian Portuguese, and German) and can view prices in 25 currencies; users can also filter products by shipping locations and view estimated import duties.

Apple is set to launch a subscription news service; the company plans to combine magazine app Texture (which it acquired last month) with Apple News; the new service is set to launch within the coming year, and publishers will receive a portion of monthly fees.

Apple open-sources the FoundationDB database architecture; available on GitHub; Apple acquired it in 2015; the NoSQL distributed datastore powers iCloud; Apple previously open-sourced its cryptographic libraries, benchmarking tools, and Swift.

Google’s Area 120 launches code learning app Grasshopper (iOS, Android); makes use of puzzles and games to teach users the basics of Javascript; Area 120 plans to add more languages over time.

Google researchers develop a deep-learning system that identifies and isolates individual voices in crowded, noisy environments; the audio-visual system enables the user to visually select a person in the clip and hear only that person’s voice.

Google updates Chrome browser with Oculus Rift support for web browsing and WebVR apps; limited to Windows 10 (WebVR apps don’t work on a Rift connected to a Mac).

Google rolls out Chrome 66 for desktop and mobile; desktop versions now mute autoplay content by default and add new developer tools; iOS build adds the ability to share saved passwords with other apps.

Google launches Talk to Books, a semantic search tool that pulls results from 100k books; lets users ask natural language questions, returning the relevant passages and links to books.

Facebook announces new privacy controls designed to bring it into compliance with Europe’s GDPR rules; users will be asked to consent to various ad targeting practices including the use of profile information and third-party data.

Facebook provides details about its tracking of users and non-users outside its platform; apps and websites that use services such as Facebook logins or Likes share visitor information regardless of whether they have a Facebook account; includes IP addresses, operating system, browser data, etc.

Facebook plans to develop its own semiconductors; the firm has posted a number of job listings and is seeking a manager to oversee the project; Facebook plans to build system-on-chip (SOC) and ASIC products.

Stripe launches Radar for Fraud Teams: a premium addition to the free Radar anti-fraud service, which runs alongside the company’s core payments API; the new enterprise service uses AI to identify and block fraudulent transactions; Stripe also plans a new dynamic authentication feature that will support 2FA, and eventually, biometric authentication.

LG announces its ThinQ line of home appliances now supports commands from both Amazon’s Alexa and Google Assistant; applications include adjusting the thermostat, making ice, turning off the oven, more.

Alibaba is developing driverless car tech; the company is working on Level 4 vehicles; Alibaba has conducted some road tests and is looking to hire an additional 50 autonomous driving experts.


🤑 Q1 earnings

Netflix ($133.6B market cap) Q1 beats: $3.7B revenue, up 42% YoY; added 7.4M customers globally, up 50% YoY (6.5M expected).

Next week’s earning calls:

  • Google: 23-April
  • Facebook: 25-April
  • Microsoft: 26-April
  • Amazon: 26-April

📚 Stuff to think about

12 patterns of Platform Design to kickstart innovation strategies. I’m becoming a frequent reader of Simone Cicero’s work. Insightful and actionable articles on platform design; here’s his latest (great) example.

Product to Platform, inside Amazon’s dominance. Each major Amazon division became a platform, and a multi-billion dollar business on on its own, by following the same strategy.

Museum of Websites. A curated version of The Internet Archive. Explore how the major internet companies have evolved.

Don’t measure everything. Faith-based and HIPPO-driven initiatives may be inevitable, but also often unmeasurable. Avinash Kaushik suggests to be critical when allocating resources to measure the unmeasurable. Perhaps, first of all, we should be critical when prioritizing and allocating resources to pursue an unmeasurable initiative?

a16z podcast on GDPR. The why, the what, the how and the who that are driving nuts thousands of companies around the world.

Facebook’s multiple network effects. And how they make it a truly resilient company.


🍄 #offproduct

China plans to launch a reusable space shuttle by 2030; state-backed China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp (CASIC) is developing a rocket that can takeoff and land in a horizontal position.

UK police say they managed to identify a drug dealer by analyzing partial fingerprints in a WhatsApp photo; the image showed drugs being held by an unnamed individual, with a part of the finger exposed; police were able to enhance the image and match it to previous records.


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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.

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