el producto #84 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Alexa-Cortana integration, Uber Q2 results, Duolingo’s success, Expected new iPhones, Instagram accounts hacked, Why western firms fail in China & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$16B, amount for which Walmart has acquired Flipkart; Flipkart’s current management team will continue to run the business, while Walmart will add its own members to the company’s board of directors; the e-commerce acquisition, the largest in the world, is also Walmart’s biggest deal to date.

~355M people will use Chinese food delivery services in 2018, and Ele.me aims to achieve a 60–70% market share by 2020. Alibaba-owned food delivery service Ele.me partners with Chinese bike-sharing company Hellobike to expand its customer base; the collaboration, tested in 5 cities in August, is expected to roll out across China in September.

185M monthly active users reported by Spotify; the company is experimenting with unlimited ad skipping through its new Active Media feature; testing the feature in Australia, hoping to improve its streaming intelligence by giving listeners control over the ads they hear; the company last reported about $158M in ad revenue.

1% — Uber estimation on longhauling cases in US rides; longhauling is the practice of ride-hailing drivers taking longer routes to increase fares; Uber and Lyft usually cover increased fares.


📰 What’s going on

Google updates Google Voice for iOS; features redesigned layout and new colour scheme; G Suite users can also take advantage of advanced do-not-disturb features that tie into Contacts and Calendar.

Facebook signed another big sports deal. Beating out Sony, it secured the rights to stream matches of La Liga, to viewers in India, Pakistan, and other South Asian nations.

Hundreds of Instagram users say their accounts have been hacked and that they’ve had difficulty regaining access; users say account names are being changed, as are linked email addresses; it’s unclear who’s behind the attacks, but many of the replacement email addresses are hosted by Russian service Mail.ru; Instagram says it’s investigating the hacking claims; the company advises the use of a strong account password and two-factor authentication.

Apple removes FaceTime group chats from the latest iOS 12 beta; reasons unknown, but Apple says it will ship later this fall; the feature promises to let up to 32 users chat on a single video call.

OLED versions of 2018 iPhone will add support for Apple Pencil, according to TrendForce; the company also predicts the two OLED models will come in 3 storage sizes — 64GB, 256GB, and 512GB; the LCD variant will be available with 64GB or 256GB; Apple is expected to announce the devices next month.

A number of Google apps for iOS and Android collect location data even if users have turned off location tracking; Google Maps gathers location data when opening the app, and Android weather updates know approximately where users are.

Amazon may launch an insurance comparison website in the UK; the company is talking with a number of European insurers, though it’s unclear what types of coverage the service would focus on.

Amazon and Microsoft roll out a public preview of Alexa-Cortana integration; lets users access Alexa on Windows 10 PCs, and Cortana via Alexa devices; features are currently limited and the service is available to US customers only.

Twitter Lite rolls out to 21 additional countries, including Argentina, Belarus, and Ghana; first launched last year, the lightweight app is built to load faster on 2G and 3G networks; Twitter Lite is now available in +45 markets.

Ticketmaster shuts down its UK-based ticket reseller websites Get Me In and Seatwave; follows action by the Competition and Markets Authority which told the sites to remove hidden charges and to offer better customer support; Ticketmaster says it plans to launch a fan-to-fan site that lets users purchase tickets at cover price or less.

China drives global smart speaker market growth in Q2 2018; the country contributed 52% of the worldwide market’s 187% growth rate; Alibaba and Xiaomi, which make up 90% of China’s smart speaker market, shipped 5M devices; the 2 companies currently rank 3rd and 4th globally behind Google and Amazon.

Y Combinator announces plans for a startup program in China; YC China will operate as a standalone division, with hopes to launch its first program next summer.

Uber reports Q2 revenue of $2.7B, up 51% YoY; $404M EBITDA losses, up 32% from Q1; $12B gross bookings, up 41% YoY. UberEats represents more than 10% of gross bookings. Self-driving division has been losing between $125M and $200M each quarter for the last 18 months, equal to 15–30% of quarterly losses.

Didi-owned Xiaoju Automobile Solutions acquires car aftercare firm Hiservice; terms undisclosed; the China-based firm provides an online booking service for vehicle maintenance and repairs.

Lime brings hundreds of electric scooters to Madrid; the California-based bicycle and scooter-sharing service now operates in 6 European cities, as well as communities across the US.

DeepMind partners with London’s Moorfields Eye Hospital and University College London to develop an AI-powered test to identify more than 50 eye diseases; the system analyzes complex optical coherence tomography scans for signs of illness; results are then sorted into order of urgency, allowing medical practitioners to react accordingly; researchers say the system is showing a 94% accuracy.

Surgeons at a UK children’s hospital will make use of Microsoft HoloLens and Surface Hub during surgeries; personnel at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool will share data and images on Surface Hub displays; surgeons will make use of HoloLens for heart surgeries and other complex procedures.

Dubai-based ride-hailing firm Careem is set to begin testing a bus-booking service in Egypt; the service will go live in at least 4 cities starting next month.

Elon Musk writes a blog post providing more details on his proposal to take Tesla private; Musk says he announced the plan publicly so that stakeholders of all sizes could be informed; Musk says he had a meeting with the Saudi sovereign fund on July 31, and that he felt assured of its backing, hence he stated “funding secured”. Some Tesla board members have urged Elon Musk to stop tweeting about his proposal to take the company private


📚 Stuff to think about

How Duolingo became the #1 education App. Duolingo’s strategy is to relentlessly improve its product design to incite the right user behavior based on data.

Importance = business impact * uncertainty. What does the word important really mean? It will ultimately define how your team spends their days.

Comparative research done right. Christina Wodtke shares Lean UX’s model “The Molecule” (looking at People, Problem, Solution), and a step-by-step approach to research competition.

Why western digital firms have failed in China? HBR brings us a digest of an academic paper on this topic. Next to the frequently shared (nearly abused) arguments of “censorship” and “cultural difference”, there are some overarching reasons:

  1. lack of strategic determination and patience seems to be the overarching reason. It can be broken down into:
  • lack of a deep (enough) understanding of the Chinese market
  • poor management of relations with Chinese regulators and the government
  • ill-fated attempts to impose global business models unsuited to the Chinese market
  • failure to cope with the extremely fierce competition in China
  • failure to manage relations effectively with local business partners
  • imposing technological platforms developed for the U.S. market on China
  • overly centralized organizational structure’s leading to slow decision making

2) Inability to acclimate to local business environment

  • failure to cope with a very large number of local competitors
  • failure to cope with extremely aggressive and determined local competitors
  • underestimating the major differences between digital business and other industries
  • failure to develop and communicate business strategies effectively
  • ineffective innovation strategies
  • failure to fully embed operations in China

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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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