el producto #82 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Google’s plans for China, Apple & Tesla Q2 results, Slack vs productivity, Didi buys Ofo, Amazon’s new smartphone, WhatsApp group video calls & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$1T Apple’s market cap passes $1T with a new all-time high share price of $208.38; Apple is the first public American company to reach the milestone; prices surged following the company’s earnings report on Tuesday; the stock is up more than 20% this year.

$2.3B amount in cash and stock for which Cisco has acquired cybersecurity firm Duo Security.

$25M raised by RideOS, a fleet management platform for autonomous vehicles; the company’s cloud-based service uses mapping, traffic, and other data to inform self-driving cars about the safest and most efficient routes; has partnered with Ford Motor subsidiary Autonomic; raised $34M to date.


📰 What’s going on

Google plans to launch a search engine in China; Baidu is the country’s largest search platform with more than 68%of the market.

Google is developing a news aggregation service for China; the AI-powered service will comply with the country’s strict censorship laws; part of Dragonfly, an effort to also create censored search products.

YouTube updates its web player to accommodate vertical video; the company made similar updates to its mobile platforms last year; the latest update also applies to square and 16:9 videos; vertical videos, supported by apps like Instagram and Snapchat, have seen steady popularity.

YouTube plans new original programming for international markets; the move targets markets with strong subscriber growth potential, including France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, and India; to include documentaries, talk shows, reality shows, and scripted series produced in local languages.

An icon within iOS 12 developer beta 5 suggests Apple will launch an iPad with thinner bezels and no physical home button; the code also suggests Face ID is coming to upcoming iPad Pro models.

Amazon Studios’ Jen Salke says Amazon is developing a new smartphone and UI; the device is in the prototype stage; in its latest earnings report, the company hinted at a new mobile phone, saying its customers should be able to use Alexa wherever they are.

Amazon applies for a patent on a real-time accent translation system; would simplify conversations between users with strong accents; the tech would either repeat a phrase without accent or match the accent of the listener.

WhatsApp rolls out group voice and video calling for up to 4 participants; available to all iOS and Android users; calls are end-to-end encrypted.

WhatsApp announces 3 new tools for businesses; click-to-chat button enables customers to contact a business from a website; WhatsApp now features a tool for real-time support; a user can also supply a phone number via site, store, etc, and a company can send a boarding pass and other information.

Facebook introduces playable ads; lets users sample games before installing them; the interactive ads have been in testing for more than a year with developers such as Rovio and Bagelcode; Facebook is also introducing value optimization — tools that let games firms identify and reward their most valuable users.

Snapchat launches speech-responsive Lenses; recognizes English words including “Hi,” “Love,” and “Wow” and triggers relevant animations.

Square launches the Reader SDK, enabling developers to build apps that integrate with Square’s hardware and services; early partners include taxi metering system ezMetr and burger restaurant Shake Shack.

JBL opens pre-orders for Link View, a Google Assistant-powered smart display; the device features an 8-inch screen and a 5MP camera for video calls; costs $250, set to ship Sept 3.

Singapore-based startup Scootbee aims to produce the world’s first on-demand, self-driving scooter; the technology is currently undergoing beta testing; a user can summon a scooter with an app, ride to a destination, then leave the scooter to park itself.

Didi Chuxing to acquire bike-sharing startup Ofo; the pair reportedly haven’t agreed on a price; Didi integrated Ofo booking into its app earlier this year and announced plans to launch a bike-share service.

Lyft research will offer 100 Chicago residents $550 in credit for Lyft and other mobility services; participating riders must agree not to use their personal vehicles for 30 days; the company will provide $300 for carpool rides, $45 for one month of Divvy bike-share credit, $100 in Zipcar credit, and $105 for the L train and bus services; Lyft will conduct pre- and post-trial interviews.

Uber shuts down its self-driving trucks program; going forward, the Uber Advanced Technologies Group will focus on developing autonomous passenger vehicles; Uber’s truck initiative was born out of the company’s acquisition of Otto; Uber Freight, which connects drivers with shipping companies, remains operational.

Self-driving company Drive.ai begins testing a ride-hailing service in Frisco, TX; the vehicles feature four LED screens around the front to let pedestrians and other road users know what the car is doing; safety drivers will be behind the wheel at first, but Drive.ai hopes by the end of 2018 they will no longer be needed.

Spanish taxi drivers reach a settlement with the government to end a six-day protest over ride-hailing services; lawmakers have agreed to institute new rules to let cities set permit limits for companies such as Uber and Cabify.


💸 Financial results Q2

Apple ($956B market cap) Q2 beats: $53.3B revenue ($52.34B expected); sold 41.3M iPhones at an average price of $724; sold 11.55M iPads and 3.7M Macs; generated $9.6B revenue via services, up 31% YoY.

Tesla ($50B market cap) Q2 mixed: $4B revenue, up from $2.79B a year earlier ($3.92B expected); $717.5M net loss; $2.2B cash on hand at the end of the quarter; expects reserves to grow in H2; produced more than 53k vehicles in Q2.

Q2 earnings calls calendar:

  • Tencent — August 15
  • Alibaba — August 16

📚 Stuff to think about

China is ready for the future, even if the future hasn’t quite arrived. China has embraced technology full tilt, no matter how questionable. Robots wait on restaurant diners. Artificial intelligence marks up schoolwork. Facial recognition technology helps dole out everything from Kentucky Fried Chicken orders to toilet paper.

The biggest obstacles to innovation in large companies. Unsurprisingly, politics / misalignment are cited by more than 55% of surveyed companies.

Slack vs. Productivity: Here’s what happened when everyone’s favourite communication tool went down.

Don’t try to make every possible customer happy. Who to listen and why is way more important than trying to take everyone’s requests into account.

How Bird plans to spread its electric scooters all over the world. The company hits Paris streets this week, and is planning Tel Aviv launch.

AI is getting emotional. HBR looks at some early applications of emotions on AI; from adaptive responses to analysis and learning.


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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.