Discover more from FWIW by David Tvrdon
😐 Amazon might be finally correct
...when it comes to hardware and taking a page out of Apple's playbook.
👋 Welcome to FWIW by David Tvrdon, your weekly tech, media & audio digest.
ℹ️ I’m back! Sorry for the monthlong radio silence, I was on paternity leave and after that found out I needed to adjust my schedule a little bit more than I was expecting. That resulted in this hiatus. I wanted to include also older relevant news, but all seemed out of date.
In this edition
Amazon’s hardware ambitions are playing catch-up
Elon Musk revealed a robot, the court revealed how he operates (not great)
I wonder what happened to Anchor’s Ads international rollout, promised a year ago
Amazon’s most interesting new product is a copy of a growing niche category
A year ago, tech websites were full of news of Astro, Amazon’s new pet robot designed to be cute and helpful, following you around the house and basically being an Alexa on wheels with a monitor attached.
This year, Amazon also unveiled new products and many updates to its existing ones. I think we can agree on Kindle Scribe capturing the biggest interest. The new e-ink tablet with a pencil is different from many of Amazon’s previous products.
Scribe is actually what would Apple do if it ran Amazon’s hardware division. Someone looked at the current state of e-ink tablets and of course, the biggest use case is e-books and reading.
But in the past few years, a new market for an e-ink tablet with limited features done well emerged capturing millions of customers. One of the most popular devices in this category has been the Norwegian startup reMarkable. But there are others as well - Kobo and Boox.
This move is exactly what Apple would have done. Look at the market, identify what is growing nicely and “we can do it better”. Well, e-ink tablets are, and Amazon is already one of the biggest and best manufacturers of e-ink readers, so why not use the expertise and most of all the manufacturing resources and enter a new niche?
That’s all you need to know about Kindle Scribe.
Amazon also introduced a bedside light to track your sleep and wake you up. It has no cameras or microphones but can sense your breathing. Again, sleep tracking is a growing market which people are very interested in. And so far no one really cracked it. I don’t think Halo Rise will, but it’s non-invasive and doubles as a clock and light.
And finally, a year later, Amazon understood its Astro robot will not be welcomed in many households, so they changed the messaging. Astro is now a guard and will safeguard your house, store or storage.
Again, something Apple would do and give a device a new purpose just by telling another story and practically changing nothing.
Must say, I’m a bit relieved Amazon’s products are beginning to sound normal.
🤖 Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed a prototype of a humanoid "Optimus" robot that shares some AI software and sensors with its cars' Autopilot driver assistance features. The robot walked around gingerly onstage and is supposedly targeting a price of less than $20,000. [The Verge]
😳 The court released hundreds of text messages and emails sent to and Elon Musk as part of the discovery process in the Twitter laswuit. The public gained a rare glimpse into the world of the richest people on the planet and so called geniuses from Silicon Valley. And you know what? They have no clue just like the rest of us. This was very eye-opening. [The Atlantic]
🦾 Meta showed off its Make-A-Video tool that generates high-quality videos from text promopts. [Meta AI]
🎨 DALL-E became open to the public. Anyone who signs up for access to DALL-E will get 50 credits free and then 15 more free credits every month after that. Additional credits can be bought in blocks of 115 for $15. [The Verge]
🤨 Google cancelled the next version of its Pixelbook laptop slated for 2023 and dissolved the team building it, as part of recent cost-cutting measures. [The Verge]
😯 Google announced a bunch of news regarding Search and its future. More visual information is coming, better surfacing of relevant discussions and forums and Google will be launching early next year a way to find translated news coverage for both local and international news stories. [SEJ + SEJ]
🤷♂️ Apple AirPods Pro 2 reviews came out and it’s been a while since I’ve heard reviewers disagree this much. Here are two examples.
🤦♂️ Even Twitter is becoming TikTok. The company’s adding a scrolling feed of videos and a video section to the Explore tab. [The Verge]
ALSO: Substack continues to build out its version of Google Reader. Substack’s Reader launched for the web with search, keyboard shortcuts, dark mode, recommendations, and an “Add RSS feed” feature for non-Substack publications.
👀 Apparently, BeReal is a big thing as it got its own sketch on the latest SNL.
💸 YouTube unveiled how creators are going to be making money on Shorts, its TikTok clone. Starting in early 2023, Shorts-focused creators can apply to YouTube Partner Program by meeting a threshold of 1,000 subscribers and 10M Shorts views over 90 days. In Shorts, ads run between videos in the Shorts Feed. So, every month, revenue from these ads will be added together and used to reward Shorts creators and help cover costs of music licensing. From the overall amount allocated to creators, they will keep 45% of the revenue, distributed based on their share of total Shorts views. The revenue share remains the same, no matter if they use music or not. [YouTube]
👋 Trevor Noah, host of Comedy Central’s late-night political satire program “The Daily Show,” said he is planning to step down after seven years in the role. [WSJ]
🥸 Meta uncovered Russia’s “largest and most complex” disinfo campaign with Russian agents impersonating websites like The Guardian or Der Spiegel to smear Ukraine. The sites, which primarily targeted users in Germany, France, Italy, Ukraine, and the U.K., were meticulous imitations of the real thing, borrowing not just the format and design of the actual news sites, but in some cases also the photos and bylines of real reporters. In addition to the Russian network, Meta also detected a Chinese influence operation targeting the U.S. and Czechia. [Protocol]
😎 A while back Canva introduced many new tools from docs, whiteboards to websites you can have on your own domain. Here is a good rundown. [Wonder Tools]
FROM THE FIX
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😶 It’s been a year Anchor… In October 2021, the podcast host introduced Ads by Anchor its monetization tools. Of course, it only launched in the U.S. and the company said they'll have more to share regarding options for international creators next year. Well, that next year is about to end. #JustSaying
🤯 Podcasters are buying millions of listeners through mobile-game ads where players in mobile games trigger downloads of shows by listening for just a few seconds. Honestly, it’s been a while since a podcasting story sparked this much outrage. The practice allows networks to amass downloads quickly by tapping into a wellspring of hyperactive video-game users. But it also calls into question who a legitimate podcast listener is and what length of time should be required to count as a download. [Bloomberg]
Google is shutting down its cloud-based videogame service Stadia, introduced in 2019 as an alternative to consoles like the PlayStation or the Xbox. Google will be also refunding customers who invested in hardware. [The Verge]
Netflix will open a new studio in Helsinki, the company’s second in Finland, with Zynga vice president and general manager Marko Lastikka is set to head up operations as studio director. [NME]
❓ Poll: What did you think of Elon Musk’s texts and emails?