Once upon a time, it made perfect sense to talk about “the high tech industry” in America — pioneering companies like Intel or Fairchild Semiconductor or IBM or Hewlett Packard made computer processors and related hardware, and most of the companies in Silicon Valley dealt with actual silicon from time to time. These companies offered competing products that shared a market, a set of customers, and sometimes even had employees in common when talent would move from one company to another.
But today, the major players in what’s called the “tech industry” are enormous conglomerates that regularly encompass everything from semiconductor factories to high-end retail stores to Hollywood-style production studios. The upstarts of the business can work on anything from cleaning your laundry to creating drones. There’s no way to put all these different kinds of products and services into any one coherent bucket now that they encompass the entire world of business.
Jan Dawson at Tech.pinions on Mac power users:
If we put these numbers together, we get a picture of 8–13 million users of Adobe’s creative products and another 13 million or so Apple developers. Of course, of those Adobe users, a good chunk will be using Windows versions rather than Mac versions. At the absolute outside, though, it gives, at most, around 25 million total users in the two buckets that have been most vocal about the MacBook Pro changes, out of a total base of around 90 million, or around 28%. Realistically, that number is probably quite a bit smaller, perhaps around 15–20% of the total. Of these, not all will share the concerns of those who have been so outspoken in the past week. To look at it another way, Apple sold 18.5 million Macs in the past year, which might end up being roughly the same as the combined number of creative professionals and developers in the base.
There’s no question both products are exciting in their own right; what makes them compelling, though, is not simply the technology demonstrated, but the fact both, unlike their forbearers, are clearly designed with the smartphone in mind. […]
What might be created if you start with the assumption that the smartphone exists? Perhaps you would make sunglasses with a camera, or a watch, or an activity tracker, or a drone. I noted in Snapchat Spectacles and the Future of Wearables that the establishment of the PC led to an explosion of dedicated devices like PDAs, digital cameras, GPS devices, and digital music players. Now that those have been subsumed into the smartphone there are new opportunities, and in a twist of fate it is smartphone also-rans like Microsoft and Nintendo — along with smartphone native companies like Snapchat — that have more freedom to experiment given they have nothing to protect.
Indeed. Think Echo, Apple TV, NAS etc.
I believe in my lifetime we will implement much of the science fiction narrative as it stands today. But I hope to live a long time, and from a business perspective I am worried that most of the big tech companies are way over their skis in the promises they are making of commercial realities versus inspirational demos, and eventually will pay the price for it.
We have just lived through an anomalous period of growth. Over-promises in the next few years could, if the market turns, do more damage than good.
History now shows that the table stakes for developing a competitive mobile OS are about a billion dollars. (You can extract those numbers from HP’s acquisition of webOS from Palm, from BlackBerry’s BB10 efforts, and probably somewhere in Microsoft’s accounts.) But that’s only the beginning; then you need handsets that will run it, and a broader strategy to build an ecosystem that will act as a virtuous circle. Get it wrong, and the writedowns are multiple billions. The downside is far greater than the initial cost (though the upside is, hey, an ecosystem).
Question now is which other platforms will demonstrate this. Wearables? IoT? AI assistants?
A game only for the biggest and boldest.
We are beginning to see the early stages of a new product era at Apple. New devices are being introduced that will ultimately be able to handle many of the tasks that we currently give iPhone. In 2015, Apple unveiled its first wearables platform with Apple Watch. Seventeen months later, Apple has sold 15 million Apple Watches. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its second wearables platform with AirPods. These devices are going to be positioned as monitoring devices that guide us through our daily schedule.
In this new Apple Experience era, the user determines the products that add the most value to their lives. For some people, wearables will play a crucial role. These users will assign products like Apple Watch and AirPods tasks that are currently given to iPhones, iPads, and Macs. In this example, while wearables gain value, it is not a given that the iPhone would lose value.
Instead of becoming something like an iPod, a product that will lose nearly all of its value over time due to other products handling the same roles, the iPhone will likely be able to retain its value because of the camera. The iPhone will be able to stand out among a world of wearables given its powerful cameras and ability to extract data from a scenario. Hundreds of millions of people will find a need for such a product, even if it isn’t the hub of their digital lives. By turning the iPhone into an augmented reality device, Apple will be positioning the iPhone as the most powerful piece of glass in our lives, and it all started with the iPhone 7.
Spectacles will naturally be compared to Google Glass, Alphabet’s mostly fruitless foray into wearable face-based computing. But because they are sunglasses, they will be less conspicuous than Google’s. They’re cheaper, too — not even one-tenth of the price as Glass, which debuted at $1,500. But just as Google did, Snap is marketing Spectacles with a high-fashion gloss. The product debuted in the glossy WSJ Magazine, and Spiegel was photographed wearing Spectacles by fashion icon Karl Lagerfeld.
Yes, every bozo will compare them. But besides a few superficial attributes those two products are not comparable at all.
(Especially those who thought that by now we all would be wearing Google Glass will have a hard time contextualizing this. Fun tech press times.)
(For what it’s worth, I was always convinced Google Glass was dead on arrival for several reasons. I don’t think that about Snap’s Spectacles. At all.)
The latest record is an incredibly low bid of 2.42 cents / kwh solar electricity in Abu Dhabi. That is an unsubsidized price.
Let me put that in perspective. The cost of electricity from a new natural gas powerplant in the US is now estimated at 5.6 cents / kwh. (pdf link) That is _with _historically low natural gas prices in the US, which are far lower than the price of natural gas in the rest of the world.
This new bid in Abu Dhabi is _less than half _the price of electricity from a new natural gas plant.
What’s more, it’s _less than the cost of the fuel _burned in a natural gas plant to make electricity – without even considering the cost of building the plant in the first place.
The solar bid in Abu Dhabi is not just the cheapest solar power contract ever signed – it’s the cheapest contract for electricity ever signed, anywhere on planet earth, using any technology.
Amazing. Puts especially an interesting context on electric cars.
To get a sense on the cost cutting, here is a good data point: Rocket Internet has lost 37% of its staff over the last months. Down from 1.496 to 937. (via, German)
A holding cutting down its own core organisation like that is as good a canary as any.
At the end of the day, Rocket Internet remains a holding building companies in difficult markets around the globe with no consumer facing scale effects of its own. It is becoming increasingly clear that this is not going to be a winning strategy.1
In fact, the main question investors should raise is wether Rocket Internet even has an overall long-term strategy.
The more compelling element of the system is the live view of the world. The lower two thirds of the screen depict the car’s surroundings as seen by the spinning LIDAR system on the roof. When pedestrians cross the street, you can see them. When the car’s following another vehicle, you see it.
It’s not necessary info, but it’s reassuring. You know the way you can watch a human driver and have a good idea of whether she sees that jaywalker up ahead? The screen lets you do the same thing, assuring you know the car is aware of the threat you’ve spotted.
Uber needs to think of the passenger in the back seat. Actually, eventually, every one going into autonomous cars will have to. Uber just is there first. (Not coincidentally.)