One of Snapchat’s most popular features is its private chat platform, which is coincidentally the sole feature that Instagram has struggled to copy. Instagram, however, has started to roll out new capabilities to its Direct platform that it hopes will give it an advantage over Snapchat…
How do smaller wireless carriers compete and win against the powerhouses of the industry like AT&T Mobility, Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and Sprint. Smaller competitors like US Cellular, Xfinity Mobile, C Spire Wireless and many others face the same challenges, plus one more. Not only must they compete in a rapidly changing industry against the big four, but they are smaller and must also offer the user a compelling reason to choose them.
The CCA is the association that tries to help them do just that. At this year’s annual convention in Las Vegas at the end of March, the Mobile Carriers Show is getting ready to help the small and mid-size wireless marketplace. That means networks, carriers, MVNO, handset makers, apps and more. Many of the same players are at this smaller carrier show that are at the larger shows like CTIA and Mobile World Congress.
CEO Patrick Spence explains Sonos’ answer to Apple, Amazon and Google on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask.
Over the past 16 years, the wireless speaker company Sonos has had to contend with a parade of naysayers who thought competitors would knock it out.
“There were a lot of people, back when we started, saying, ‘There’s no way you could ever compete with Bose and Sony,’ the heavyweights of audio at the time,” Sonos CEO Patrick Spence said on the latest episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask. “And here we are. I was joking with the team, the reward for having disrupted the space over the last decade is to get to compete with Apple and Google and Amazon.”
Indeed: Amazon made a splash in 2015 with the Amazon Echo line of speakers, which let users talk to its virtual assistant, Alexa; Google responded with the Google Home product line, which talks to Google Assistant; and next week, Apple is scheduled to release its own smart speaker, HomePod, which works with Siri.
But Spence doesn’t worry that Sonos’ customers are going to jump ship. One of the company’s strongest advantages, he said, is that its newer hardware — such as the voice-enabled Sonos One — can work with multiple virtual assistants, the same way all Sonos speakers can access multiple competing music services.
“This is a difference versus the mobile space, where it’s a very personal device, you’re going to use one set of services that matter to you,” Spence said. “We know, in the home, there’s multiple music services used. My spouse uses a different one than I do, my children use a different one. With voice services, I see it developing very similarly.”
On the new podcast, Spence said none of the voice services Sonos has approached — “we’ve been talking to everybody,” he said coyly when asked for specifics — has demanded exclusivity. That means that people who have already bought the Sonos One, which currently only supports Alexa, won’t be locked in if they want to use Google Assistant when that comes to the platform later this year.
“I believe it’s one of the reasons we’ve had good partnerships with streaming services — and remember, on the streaming services side, that includes Apple, Google, Amazon [and] Spotify — is because we’re very transparent about that,” Spence said. “I went to all of them and said, ‘This is what we plan to do: We plan to do it just like we’ve done music services. We’re going to have multiple voice services because we believe that’s the right thing for the customer.’”
Have questions about Sonos and other smart speakers that we didn’t get to in this episode? Tweet them to @Recode with the hashtag #TooEmbarrassed, or email them to TooEmbarrassed@recode.net.
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A Bigger Fleet
Apple is ramping up its work on self-driving cars. The Silicon Valley tech company has reportedly increased its autonomous fleet of test vehicles to 27.
According to Bloomberg Apple has registered another 24 Lexus RX450h SUVs. This increases their test driving fleet nearly ten-fold; the company obtained a permit for three autonomous cars from the California Department of Motor Vehicles in April 2017.
Tech Crunch notes the Lexus SUVs are popular among companies interested in self-driving vehicles. The SUVs are easily retrofitted with additional sensors that work seamlessly with those already installed.
Apple’s initial permit prompted speculation that the company would be designing their own autonomous car under the name “Project Titan.” While the company’s recent direction hasn’t eliminated that possibility, it’s clear that Apple is more focused on self-driving software than designing actual vehicles.
“We are very focused on autonomous systems,” Apple CEO Tim Cook said to investors in August 2017. “We do have a large project going, and are making a big investment in this. From our point of view, autonomy is sort of the mother of all AI projects.”
Apple has a lot of work to do if it wants to compete with other companies in the self-driving car industry. Tesla already sells vehicles with semi autonomous systems, while automakers like General Motors are already giving rides in their self-driving cars.
Meanwhile, Google and Waymo are testing their autonomous Chrysler Pacifica Minivan in San Francisco, and have plans to launch their own ride-hailing service. It won’t be the only autonomous taxi service around, however, as Uber will be joining the race for driverless cabs in 2019. Even a few Lyft-branded vehicles were making the rounds around CES 2018.
That said, it’s not as if Apple hasn’t been testing vehicles. The company’s autonomous Lexus SUVs were spotted on the road last year. But a larger Apple fleet will likely lead to more public sightings.
When Apple is finally ready to unveil their self-driving technology to the public, it’s likely to incorporate other Apple products, especially Siri, into the design. After all, nothing says self-driving cars like an AI assistant that speaks to the driver and passengers.
The post In a Bid to Compete, Apple Grows Fleet of Self-Driving Cars appeared first on Futurism.
Years after being found guilty in a high-profile e-book price-fixing case, Apple appears to be ready to make a renewed push into the digital book market. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that Apple is working on a redesigned iBooks app for iPhone and iPad, and has hired away an Amazon executive to lend a hand.
Expected to launch before the end of the year, the refreshed app will reportedly “include a simpler interface that better highlights books currently being read” in addition to “a redesigned digital book store that looks more like the new App Store launched last year.” Sources say that the app has a new “Reading Now” section and its own dedicated app for audiobooks. These improvements will be key if Apple wants to dethrone the Kindle app.
Many times, we just have to wait and see when it comes to reports like these from anonymous sources, but Apple actually might have spoiled the surprise itself on Wednesday. With the release of the iOS 11.3 developer beta, Apple changed the name of the app from “iBooks” to “Books.” This trend of eliminating the “i” branding began years ago, but has picked up steam in recent years with the Apple Watch, Apple Music and other products and services.
Apple was well on its way to becoming an e-book powerhouse in the early part of the decade before the guilty verdict came down, eventually resulting in a $ 450 million fine in 2016. As of February 2017, Amazon had claimed over 83% of the e-book market, while Apple’s share had fallen from 11% to 9% from 2015 to 2017.
Apple moved its attention on the services side to Apple Music, iTunes and the App Store, but the company will need to expand its reach if it plans to generate $ 50 billion in revenue by 2021, as Tim Cook says it will. Rebounding in the digital book market will be vital, which is why the company hired Audible senior VP Kashif Zafar in December. Zafar brings with him a great deal of experience in the industry that may help Apple get a jump start.