Roblox wants to go public on social media platform-like metrics and perhaps valuation📈, and Apple bought a lot for very little👏

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According to Substack, I’ve mentioned Roblox in 11 editions of this newsletter over the course of this year, starting with how SuperMario Maker 2 was not a threat to the company, continuing with their stellar performance over Q1, and everything in between. Well, I hope you’re ready for a groundbreaking #12 because last week they filed for an IPO

Despite both revenue and bookings growing significantly over the past two years for Roblox, they were unprofitable for every single of the last three years. The company lost $86M over the entire year of 2019 and $203M in the first nine months of 2020 as they increased expenses in an effort to strike the iron while it’s hot and push for growing their player base with everyone stuck at home right and over the incoming holidays. …


🍎Apple’s cautious announcements last week put the competition into high gear and ➰’the future of transportation’ is getting nowhere fast

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I wanna re-reiterate before I start sharing my thoughts on the latest Apple keynote last week with the fact that I am in no way an expert in microchip design and could not be further from it. Ok, let’s see what’s what…

So what was announced? A new MacBook Air, a new, cheaper MacBook Pro and a new Mac mini, all powered by Apple’s first computer-focused, ARM-based chip, the M1.

What was promised? 18 hours of video playback on battery power for the Air and 20 hours for the Pro — yep, that’s 6h more than on Intel-based Macs — and Intel software working with the same or better performance on the M1 devices through Rosetta 2. Apple are so confident in these statements that they went as far as pulling Intel-powered Airs and some Pros out of their offer despite Macs in general recording record sales last quarter. …


WHOOP challenges the giants and proposes a new angle for fitness tracking devices💉 while the giants just get bigger💰

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WHOOP-WHOOP

Most early adopters of the quantified self trend stop at buying smartwatch products that are commercially easily accessible and look kinda good. After that, the decision is simple: if you’re invested in Apple’s ecosystem you buy their Watch, otherwise, you go for either Samsung or one of the Chinese manufacturers, depending on how much you care about privacy.

WHOOP is a fitness technology company based in Boston that creates fitness trackers worn by many a pro athlete and they recently raised around $100M in Series E funding.

The company’s product and business model couldn’t be further from that of smartwatch manufacturers. The hardware in the band itself is not remarkable in any way — if iFixit ever decide to make a teardown of it I’m sure they’ll find components you can buy of the shelf in a market in Shenzhen — , instead it’s the software that makes the product worthy of consideration. Their focus on fitness means no multimedia or phone call functionality but, instead, you get a focus on health with sensors that help wearers optimize their eating habits, sleep, recovery and exercise strain. …


Google X is trying to feed an ever-growing world but all we care about are iPhones😀‍

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Google’s notorious Moonshot Factory teased us last year with a project in agriculture and now, ever since last week, it has an official name and mission. According to their website, Mineral is a computational agriculture project focused on sustainable food production and farming at large scales, with a focus on “developing and testing a range of software and hardware prototypes based on breakthroughs in artificial intelligence, simulation, sensors, robotics and more”.

The project is combining data gathered by a robot in the field with satellite images, weather data, soil information and applying machine learning to the multiple metrics in order to identify patterns and extract insight into how exactly the environment is influencing plants on a day-to-day basis. …


Google launched a lot of new home devices📻, services, and smartphones last week📱, thus their data trove is becoming larger and more diverse, but to what end?

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Google’s Launch Night In event last week was a breath of fresh air, not lastly because it was a 30-minute affair in a world where we’ve grown accustomed to keynotes going for more than two hours. But there were some interesting products showcased as well, here are the ones that stood out to me…

Google TV is definitely not a physical television product, but an aggregator for other services, in the same vein that YouTube TV was in the past. I said in the past that with the recent deluge of new subscription services launching over the past year, consumers getting back into pirated content would be a real possibility since those sources are good at gathering content from multiple places in one outlet. YouTube TV and now Google TV are Alphabet’s solutions to countering this trend before it even begins and a good one at that. …


Microsoft acquired some strong IP and set the record for an acquisition in gaming in the process💰, Amazon is going deep with Alexa-enabled everything 🌊

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Why Build When You Can Buy?

Last week Xbox announced it was willing to part with 7.5 billion of their dollars in order to acquire ZeniMax, the parent company of game development studios like Bethesda Softworks, Id Software and Arkane Games, to name a few. Now they’re addressing that gaping hole in their offering I mentioned again and again, the lack of BIG exclusive games; now we’re moving in the right direction.

But with their new strategy of hedging risk between hardware consoles and services and eventually game streaming, the new acquisition doesn’t mean the ZeniMax games will be exclusive to Xbox devices — like it would have been the case if Sony would have made said acquisition — , instead, they will likely span across every distribution channel is owned by Microsoft. That’s what I think Xbox bosses meant when they said the company would be ‘evaluating multiplatform releases on a case-by-case basis’: coming up with a strategy to spread the games created by these studios in the future across the various Microsoft outlets; an not that they’ll consider releasing said games for rival hardware. …


🎮Sony showed their console hand, 🍎Apple is all bundled up, 👓Facebook is detached from reality, and 🏰the TikTok saga ends with a missing princess

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Forty-Three Minutes

That’s how much time it took Sony to announce the pricing and availability during their showcase last week; the entire program lasted for forty-seven minutes.

The virtual show was leaned heavily on Sony’s advantage when it comes to attractive, exclusive first-party games that gamers can find here and nowhere else. …


Niantic is vying to become the IRL Innovative Online Industries👓, the TikTok saga continues with Walmart with the time running out and Nintendo is doing a lot😵!

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After announcing the Plante-Scale AR Platform last year, an environment that will allow everyone to develop large-scale AR experiences, Niantic, makers of Pokemon GO revealed the creation of an alliance with cellular carriers that will enable high-quality experiences on the 5G networks of the future. In this partnership, Niantic will be responsible for providing the AR experiences while carriers will build out the infrastructure needed for these products to reach consumers’ devices.

And boy, does 5G need a killer APP already. …


After Sony’s PlayStation5 conference last night, the announcement pattern between themselves and Microsoft continues. Both companies are playing to their strengths, Sony with its best-in-class exclusive titles while Xbox is pushing its raw computing power performance.

Playstation 5, controller, headset and hd camera
Playstation 5, controller, headset and hd camera
PlayStation5 Product Lineup

The Plastic

I don’t think I’m alone in saying that I’m glad those renders of the PS5 leaked a few months ago proved to be non-representative for look of the final product. So what exactly is the ‘PS5 Lineup’ announced last night? There’s a lot to unpack, so we better get started…

PS5 dualsense controller in white
PS5 dualsense controller in white
DualSense Controller

A lot has been written about Sony’s new DualSense controller, most of it speculation, and the rest of it marketing spin coming from the company itself. ‘Haptic feedback’, ‘adaptive triggers’, ‘motion sensors’, ‘3D audio’ are all things mentioned by one source or the other, the fact of the matter is that none of us really know what all of this translates to in real life until someone puts their hands on the thing. The names of the new technologies sound like better versions of current features found in the DualShock controller but we’ll have to wait and see if they add to the gaming experience and if developers will actually use all these things in their games. …


As we draw closer to the release of the next generations of video games consoles this holiday season and with relentless news of more companies developing their own game streaming services, we can’t help but contemplate the future of video games going forward.

A photo inside an arcade with over-saturated neon lights behind the machines
A photo inside an arcade with over-saturated neon lights behind the machines
Photo by Carl Raw

While in previous articles I focused more on the dynamic between console manufacturers, Game Streaming Service Providers — GSSPs for short — and the impact on existing business models, the actions of various parties over the past months allow us to see a more accurate view of some possible scenarios and how they might influence game creators, gamers and others if they come to fruition. …

About

Razvan Calin

I spent most of the past decade working in gaming, I usually write about Tech from a product perspective

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