el producto #97 👉 a weekly round-up of Tech and Product goodness

Google Maps business messaging, Netflix mobile-only plan, Uber & Lyft rewards, Music streaming in China, Echo tops Q3 smart speaker sales, Lime cars & more

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

🎰 The week in figures

$50B - Volkswagen plans to spend developing electric cars, autonomous driving tech, and mobility services by 2023; the company expects mass production will facilitate EVs in the same price range as its current diesel.

$30.8B - worth of goods sold by Alibaba in 24h during Singles Day; up from $25.3B last year. In comparison, competitor JD.com offered Singles Day 10-day sales and sold $23B between Nov 1 through Nov 11.

$8B - amount for which SAP (112B market cap) acquires survey company Qualtrics; the deal comes as Qualtrics was preparing to go public; it will continue to operate as a standalone brand.

1.5B fake accounts removed by Facebook in the past 6 months, up from 1.3B in the preceding 6 months; the company caught 99.6% of the accounts before users reported them; fake accounts represented 3–4%percent of monthly active users in Q2 and Q3.

$1.07B loss reported by Uber in Q3, down 27% YoY, when the company posted its greatest publicly disclosed quarterly loss; adjusted EBITDA loss was $592M, compared to $1.02B a year earlier; Uber is now valued at $76B.

+$1B raised by Facebook users for nonprofits and personal causes via the site’s Fundraisers and Donate Buttons; Facebook and PayPal will match donations for US-based nonprofits, up to $7M, on Giving Tuesday (Nov 27).

19.7M smart speaker sold globally in Q3; up 137% YoY; Amazon shipped 6.3M Echo units, retaking the top position from Google, which delivered 5.9M Home devices; Amazon represented 31.9% market share; Google 29.8%.

78 - number of markets in which Spotify operates after launching in 13 markets across North Africa and the Middle East; includes UAE, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, and Tunisia; offers locally curated playlists.

15% - drop of Bitcoin value, to ~$5.5k, its lowest value in more than a year; the entire crypto market lost $20B in value within 24 hours; Ether and Litecoin, also dropped more than 10%.


📰 What’s going on

Google Maps adds business messaging features to its iOS and Android apps; lets users contact local SMEs to ask questions, place orders, and more.

Google launches Squoosh, an open source web app for compressing and resizing images; lets users compare compressed and original images; supports multiple formats including OptiPNG and WebP.

Google files patent for eye-tracking camera system designed to read facial expressions; the algorithm-based system would scan and translate users’ expressions in real-time, offering applications for social VR.

Netflix begins testing a mobile-only option in Malaysia; at ~$4 per month it’s roughly half as much as the Basic package; Netflix says it’s running similar trials in a number of countries but did not disclose specifics.

Instagram announces updates to its shopping features; business accounts with shoppable posts will show a Shop button; they will also be able to add shoppable tags to videos (already available for photos); regular users will see a Shopping section within Archive where they can look at previously saved shopping posts.

Facebook launches education portal Learn with Facebook; initially features 13 career development modules; topics include social media marketing, interview skills, and resume writing; the company also expanded existing features Mentorships and Jobs.

Facebook’s Messenger is testing a new feature called Watch Videos Together, according to some text in the app’s code base; indicates a notification for users in a chat group that a co-viewing session is beginning; gives everyone in the group the ability to control the video and to see who else is watching.

Facebook begins rolling out an unsend feature for Messenger on iOS and Android; known as Remove, users have 10 minutes to delete a sent message; recipients will see an indicator saying a message was removed; Remove will initially be available in Poland, Bolivia, Colombia and Lithuania.

Microsoft acquires bot development firm XOXCO; the company offers Howdy.ai, a Slack bot for scheduling meetings.

Microsoft re-releases the October 2018 Update for Windows 10, after initially pulling it from servers due to bugs; users reported missing files following the update in October.

Uber launches Rewards program in nine US cities; riders earn points exchangeable for ride discounts, upgrades, and flexible cancellations; Uber also plans similar programs for scooters and bikes. Lyft announced a similar program to launch in December.

Uber Eats has quadrupled its business in the Asia-Pacific region over the last 6 months; India is “growing exponentially” and is among the company’s top 5 markets; Uber Eats operates across 40 countries with Asia-Pacific representing its fastest-growing region.

Apple adds more powerful graphics options for the top-tier 15-inch MacBook Pro; the Pro Vega 16 is an additional $250, and the Pro Vega 20 is an extra $350; each features 4GB RAM.

Apple updates Final Cut Pro X with third-party app integration via workflow extensions; free apps Frame.io, Shutterstock, and CatDV take advantage of the feature with playback sync, or the ability to drag media between libraries.

Amazon announces Wake-On-LAN Controller, enabling Alexa to power on devices sharing the same local network; e.g. users can say: “Alexa, turn on the TV”; does not require updates to relevant Alexa skills; VIZIO, LG, and Hisense TVs already support the feature, which will go live within the next months.

Jeff Bezos tells Amazon staff he anticipates the company will fail someday, noting most large firms don’t last hundreds of years; the comments came in response to a question about what Amazon had learned about the bankruptcy of Sears; Bezos says it’s the company’s responsibility to ensure it delays failure for as long as possible by focusing on customers.

Jack Dorsey says Twitter is considering the best way to add an edit function for tweets; Dorsey suggests any such feature would focus on fixing typos and URLs; Dorsey notes allowing unlimited editing could lead to users altering the intent of earlier tweets.

Airbnb to announce it generated substantially more than $1B in revenue in a record third quarter; a source indicates the company is on track for profitability for the second year running (EBITDA); CEO Brian Chesky previously said the company would be ready to go public by mid-2019.

Lime debuts car rental program in Seattle; 50 LimePods (2018 Fiat 500s) available at launch and accessible from within the Lime app; Lime plans to expand the fleet at the end of the month; the process of finding, unlocking, and paying for cars is consistent with the bike and scooter experience.

BlaBlaCar to acquire Ouibus(formerly iDBUS), the bus division of French railway company SNCF; BlaBlaCar will now operate bus services in addition to long-distance carpooling.

China-based music streaming service NetEase Cloud Music (NCM) raises $600M from Baidu, General Atlantic, and others; NCM claims 600M users; raised more than $700M to date.

Scientists develop quantum accelerometer to provide navigation assistance without GPS; the tech, demonstrated by a team from Imperial College London and M Squared, can calculate positions without receiving external signals.

50 countries including sign an international agreement on cybersecurity principles as part of the Paris Peace Forum; other signatories include various trade groups and NGOs; the pact aims to promote human rights online, prevent the theft of IP, and more; the US, UK, Russia, and China did not sign the agreement.


📚 Stuff to think about

A look at China’s massive music streaming industry and how it differs from Spotify. Tencent Music has trounced the competition through diversified revenue streams: selling songs, subscriptions, virtual gifts and other memberships. They innovated their business model, and it’s now the only music streaming service in the world known to turn a profit.

Retailers are Upping Their Content Game. Content can be a means of creating a long term relationship (building an engaged community) with customers. Many retailers are investing significant resources in producing materials that look exactly like what their customers are reading, watching and experiencing.

How would you feel if you could no longer use the product? This is how Superhuman built an engine to find Product/Market Fit.

Product Conferences 2019. A non-exhaustive list of worldwide conferences, by Teresa Torres.

UX from hell. A collection of volume controls to successfully make anyone’s life miserable.


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