el producto #79 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

China internet report, Alibaba+Marriott facial recognition check-ins, New Apple products, Product metrics & goals, Uber+Lime partnership & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

225M smart speakers will be in use globally by the end of 2020; compares with 50M at the end of 2017; Amazon and Google are expected to each have 34% market share by 2022; Apple set to have 10%; US currently accounts for 73% of the market, while China constitutes 3%.

500k vehicles a year. Tesla plans to build a plant in Shanghai capable of producing 500k vehicles a year; the facility will be established within the next 10 years, and will be wholly owned and operated by Tesla.

56% of firms that launch an ICO are no longer active 120 days after their token sale ends; a study by Boston College looked at the Twitter accounts of 2.4k projects and surmised a lack of tweets showed an inactive company.

50% of US households will have access Postmates deliveries; plans to expand to 100 more US cities, offering deliveries to additional 50M people.

45% YoY growth of on-demand audio during H1 2018 in US, with more than 268B streams; on-demand video streaming volume was up 35% YoY.


📰 What’s going on

Alibaba partners with Marriott to test facial recognition tools for automated guest check-ins; the system scans a user’s face and cross-references it with their picture ID; , room keys dispense when an identity is confirmed; 2 hotels in China will begin using the tech this month.

Apple updates high-end MacBook Pros with Touch Bars; 13-inch model now comes with quad-core i5 or i7 chips and offers speeds of up to 4.5GHz with Turbo Boost; available with up to 2TB storage; 15-inch model available with 6-core Intel Core i7 or Core i9 processors and speeds of 4.8GHz with Turbo Boost; offers up to 4TB storage; both sizes feature True Tone displays and third-generation butterfly keyboards. Apple plans updates for most of its hardware this fall; includes mass-produced AirPower units, Watch with a larger display, iPad Pro with FaceID and no home button, chip upgrades for Macs, an improved Mac Mini, and upgraded iPhones.

Apple establishes the Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning team led by John Giannandrea, who joined the company in April after serving as SVP of Engineering at Google; new team will combine Core ML and Siri teams.

YouTube launches a tool that automatically scans uploads to determine if it is a copy or near copy of another video on the platform; when the feature detects a duplicate it notifies the original uploader, who can choose to do nothing, to contact the person who stole the video, or to request removal.

Google rolls out YouTube Incognito mode for Android; disables recording of search and viewing history; when active, personalized sections of the app, including Subscriptions and Inbox, are unavailable.

Google updates its Pay app with p2p payments; a Pay user can pay a restaurant bill and request friends pay their parts; new Passes tab enables users to save concert tickets, boarding passes, gift cards, etc.

Google X’s drone delivery, Project Wing, and internet-beaming balloon, Project Loon, are now independent businesses in Alphabet’s “Other Bets” category.

Twitter says many users will see a drop in their follower numbers as it begins to strip out suspicious accounts; the move targets locked accounts, users that show a sudden change in behavior and don’t respond to validation requests; Twitter estimates average users will lose 4 followers or less, while more popular accounts will see a more significant decline; the company notes the changes will not affect it’s MAU or DAU numbers.

WhatsApp begins labelling forwarded messages; the company encourages users to consider what they’re passing along before they press send.

Facebook Watch will begin rolling out new shows from partners such as CNN, Fox News, and Bloomberg on July 16; Facebook is funding the original programming, which will appear in a dedicated news section; expects to have 20 news partners by the end of the summer.

Microsoft launches a free version of its Slack competitor, Teams; serves up to 300 heads per workplace; provides unlimited chat and search, audio and video calling, team file storage, more; now available in 40 languages.

Microsoft launches the Whiteboard app in general availability; the Windows 10 app provides a collaborative canvas that supports images, drawing, erasing, sticky notes, etc; works with touch, styli, and keyboards; Microsoft plans iOS app and web client.

Snapchat plans a Visual Search feature that can display results at Amazon, according to code in the Android app; indicates users will be able to scan barcodes and objects, and to identify songs.

Grab announces GrabPlatform, an API service that lets third-parties integrate with its app; Indonesia-based HappyFresh is one of the first partners, allowing users to order groceries for delivery via the Grab app; Grab has also added an explore feed, showing nearby restaurants and stores.

Uber and Lime announce strategic partnership; Uber will promote and rent out Lime’s electric scooters via the Uber app; the scooters will bear Uber’s logo.

Toyota launches the Hui car rental service in Hawaii (iOS and Android apps); more than 25 stations and 70 cars in Honolulu; users reserve a vehicle via app, which also functions as a digital key.

Daimler and automotive supplier Bosch announce plans to test a self-driving ride-share service in the San Francisco Bay Area starting in the second half of next year; will offer free rides in Mercedes-Benz vehicles fitted with a customized version of NVIDIA’s Drive Pegasus tech


📚 Stuff to think about

China Internet Report 2018. Abacus, 500 Startups, and the South China Morning Post present an extensive report on China’s Internet landscape and trends. Few highlights:

  • 3x smartphone users and 11x mobile payment users than in the U.S
  • 61 unicorns based in Beijing, accounting for $300B valuation
  • Chinese ecommerce, media and education companies have adopted a Social+ model, where their business is anchored by a social pillar that drives user engagement and growth

Understanding the complete value equation. How the seamless integration of online, offline, logistics and data, across the entire value chain, will define next-generation commerce, Kantar Media.

Defining product success metrics and goals. Squoia capital shares advice on choosing the right metric, and setting goals to guide execution against strategy and roadmap. Key takeaways:

  • Single, actionable, and top-line metric encapsulating the vision for your product. Easy to measure and connected to business drivers.
  • Goals can be set by breaking down business aspirations into smaller chunks. Should define the success of product. For older products, bottom-up forecasting can help connecting goal to top-line metric. Newer products should use a top-down approach that assesses performance relative to external benchmarks.
  • Goals should be measurable, time-bound and staggered across time frames. To stretch the team, define 50–50 goal as well as 80–20 goals. Goals should be sufficiently high-level and avoid the “how.”

Should executives be more like Venture Capitalists? David J Bland argues that many companies fail at innovation by opening the money tap too soon, not being patient, and micromanaging from early stages.

20 essays on marketplace startups. Andrew Chen has put together a list of marketplace essential readings focusing on 3 areas: product strategy, current trends, and getting the flywheel turning.

The App Store turns 10, and Apple has prepared a report going through the history of what quickly became the core of its iOS platform.


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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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