el producto #87 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Instagram’s shopping app, Uber’s safety checks, Smartwatch sales, Didi losses, Tesla disruption, Relaxing constraints, Chrome redesign & more.

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

🎰 The week in figures

$1T; Amazon briefly passes $1T market value; it’s the second company to do so since Apple ($1.07T market cap) reached the milestone on Aug 2; Amazon’s stock price has doubled in the last 15 months; the company’s cloud business represented 55% of operating income and 20% of total revenue in the second quarter. Amazon’s market value was down to $952.1B at the closing of financial markets on Friday.

$1B; cost of Facebook’s upcoming data center in Singapore, it’s first in Asia; expected to be operational within four years; Facebook currently has at least 6 data centers in the US, one in Ireland, one in Sweden, and another in Denmark that’s currently being built.

$590M lost by ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing in the first six months of 2018; losses are due to subsidies for drivers and passengers; Didi reportedly lost between $300M and $400M in 2017.

4.7M watches sold by Apple last quarter, representing 17% of the global market; Xiaomi came in second with 500k units; the final three of the top five, Fitbit, Huawei, and Garmin, trailed far behind.

34%; global drop in VR headsets sales YoY on Q2; previous growth was driven by initial hype and smartphone-based viewers; 20% of headsets shipped in Q2 were commercial sales, up from 14% a year earlier.


📰 What’s going on

Instagram is developing a dedicated app for shopping; the app will enable users to browse product collections from followed sellers, and to purchase directly from within the app; the company began testing photo-based shopping two years ago and is currently testing a shopping feature in stories.

Google launches a redesigned Chrome browser for the app’s 10th anniversary; the omnibox (address bar) now displays results for simple information searches (weather, sports scores, etc); new password manager automatically suggests and stores complex passwords, making them available across devices; features rounded tabs, other visual updates; update coming to PC, Mac, iOS, and Android.

Google says it’s considering changing how URLs displayed in Chrome; the firm says URLs are hard to show on mobile devices, and it’s not always clear what info a user may need to pay attention to; Google’s director of engineering Parisa Tabriz says discussions are ongoing but due to the legacy nature of URLs that any changes are likely to be controversial.

Google launches Dataset Search, enabling data scientists and journalists to locate relevant information from multiple sources; Google also revealed guidelines for dataset providers to make their data readable to the Google Scholar-like search scheme.

Google’s Launchpad Studio focuses on finance and blockchain startups for its second batch; last year, Launchpad selected companies addressing medical data; the accelerator, which helps companies to use AI and machine learning, plans to target a new vertical with each batch.

Uber announces Ride Check, a new safety feature for riders; if a journey stops suddenly or for an extended period, Uber will contact the customer and ask them if there are any problems; passengers can confirm everything is fine, report a crash, or call emergency services; rolling out in the coming weeks.

Uber launches a taxi-hailing app in Nagoya, Japan; unlike its regular app, riders will only be able to request professional drivers; Uber is partnering with Fuji Taxi Group which has operated in the region for more than 60 years.

Estonia-based ride-hailing firm Taxify introduces a scooter-sharing service in Paris; known as Bolt, rides cost €0.15 per minute, with riders paying a minimum of €1 per journey; Taxify plans to expand the service to other markets in Europe and Australia.

Microsoft announces Skype updates; the company will remove Skype Highlights and reconfigure the navigation bar, focusing on messaging, voice, and video calls; the changes are part of Skype 8.29.

Baidu launches AI model training platform; the tool, called EZDL, is currently in beta; it allows users with no coding experience to build, design, and deploy their own AI models.

Samsung announces the Bixby SDK and API, which will enable third-party developers to build apps based on the digital assistant, and apps that integrate with Bixby; both launch in November; Samsung announced the Bixby-powered Galaxy Home smart speaker last month.

Samsung says it will showcase a foldable smartphone this year; Samsung mobile head DJ Koh says the device could be announced at the company’s annual developer conference in November; Koh suggests the smartphone will support most functions while folded, but may need to be unfolded for browsing.

Netflix party: a Chrome extension that allows users to watch Netflix remotely with friends, synchronizing video playback; features group chat.


📚 Stuff to think about

The imperative practice of relaxing constraints. According to Howard Morgan, the ability to relax constraints is what differentiates good founders from great founders. He divides those constraints into: Technical, Cost, Knowledge and Time.

If you can’t think out of the box, make the box bigger. Start by relaxing constraints.

Andrew Chen at a16z podcast (including transcript). Andrew touches on network effects, LTV/CAC, offline acquisition, power user curves, and more.

Google’s 20th anniversary. On 4-Sep Google turned 20. Fortune looks at the milestones achieved along the way.

Silicon Valley’s narrowing influence. The Economist analyses the trends and dynamics that are making Silicon Valley a lesser relevant hub in tech. High prices and bigger companies poaching talent are driving startups elsewhere.

Tesla, software and disruption. Ben Evans looks at the factors that make Tesla disruptive: batteries, software, experience and autonomy.

Uber’s bundles. Stratchery dives into how Uber wants to dominate transport by bundling services. A successful example: UberEats.


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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.