Tech & Telecom news — Sep 14, 2017

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Connectivity

AT&T starting the war of iPhone promos, after Apple’s event on Tuesday, a not-unexpected end to the “promised truce” among US carriers. Starting this Friday, AT&T will offer two iPhone 8 devices at the price of one to customers subscribing to DirecTV. Extension of this to the iPhone X is yet unclear (but very possible) (Story)

Video

Verizon is working on a new (one more!) online streaming TV service, to be launched in 6 months. They’re looking at content deals, after building the platform to distribute and monetise video (through AOL/Yahoo ad capabilities), and they could offer it as a full standalone service, or just as a platform for content partners (Story)

Meanwhile, Facebook continues work in its own video offer, and is now trying to “clean” its brand from the “ad adjacency” issues that have affected rival YouTube, as advertisers saw their own brands linked to inappropriate content. Facebook is introducing new “monetization eligibility standards” to address this (Story)

A new report by eMarketer claims that cord cutting is accelerating in the US, just as Comcast announced increased competition (e.g. from streaming) as a factor leading to expected PayTV customer losses in 3Q17. The report expects 22.2m cord cutters this year (+33.2% yoy), after updating a previous forecast of 15.4m (Story)

Devices

An original look at Tuesday’s iPhone event concludes that it confirmed Apple’s strategy to combine differential innovation through their own processors (involving a large and very expensive R&D effort) with increasingly advanced software that interacts with them, a dynamics that “forces” customers to upgrade the phones (Story)

Ben Thompson (Stratechery blog) also remarks this hardware + software integration as a key element implicit in Apple’s announcements, and he also points out an enormously loyal customer base (expected to buy a very expensive, different iPhone) as a second one, and an increasing iPhone lineup segmentation as the third (Story)

Regulation

The efforts in Europe to make tech giants like Facebook and Google pay taxes in European countries, even if they don’t declare any profits in them, seem to be on track, with 3 countries joining France to build a proposal that would apply a tax rate based on the revenues in each country, by estimating the implicit profit (Story)

HARDWARE ENABLERS

Network

New LTE-enabled Apple Watch will be offered just by a very selective group of Western Europe incumbents (Orange France, DT Germany, BT UK), as others have not yet accepted Apple’s request for network upgrades (apparently to LTE-M), a requirement for the watch to work. But no exclusivity clauses are involved (Story)

SOFTWARE ENABLERS

Artificial Intelligence

Agriculture seems to be a field where innovation through AI could have an earlier, deeper impact, with several companies, including Monsanto and chemical conglomerate Basf, using image recognition technology to identify / anticipate potential crop diseases, or to predict harvest time more accurately (Story)

Privacy

The new FaceID capability in the iPhone X is claimed to raise lots of security questions, as similar systems (based on 2D face recognition) by Samsung have been vulnerable to hacking with just a photo, or as there could be risks that the phone could be unlocked by passing the phone over a sleeping (or a dead) person’s face (Story)

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