Chromebook Sales Explode, Facebook Keeps Trump Ban; Facebook Blocks Signal Ads Exposing Facebook’s Targeting; Peloton Problems Increase-Data Leak

Chromebook sales grew a stunning 275% in the first quarter of the year! Geekwire.com reports that Amazon tablet shipments grew by almost 200%! The record Chromebook sales were spread over HP, Lenovo, Acer, Samsung, and Dell. HP scooped up 36.4% of Chromebook sales, with the education market accounting for the majority of Chromebook shipments. 

The Facebook Oversight Board released the promised decision about Donald Trump’s ban from the platform today. According to arstechnica.com, they have recommended to Facebook that the ban stay in place. The Board did say that Facebook should review the ban again within the next 6 months. In the meantime, Trump has launched a blog (no comments) and is posting things that his followers can re-post on Facebook and Twitter. He still claims he will launch his own social media platform in the future.

It’s no secret that Facebook has highly targeted ads…we’ve all noticed it. You look at something somewhere online, and presto! Facebook or Instagram serves up an ad to you about the fool item. Engadget.com says Signal has raised Facebook’s ire by running ads of their own on Instagram which exposes the intimate categories that facebook uses to classify users and serve up such micro-targeted ads. An example: “You got this ad because you’re a certified public accountant in an open relationship. This ad used your location to see you’re in South Atlanta. You’re into natural skin care and you’ve supported Cardi B since day one.” Facebook temporarily shut down Signal’s ad account…allegedly to an unrelated payments issue…but called the ads a ‘stunt.’ Facebook is also battling Apple, which in the latest version of iOS, forces iPhone app makers to explicitly ask users for permission to collect their data to use in ads. 

Under pressure, Peloton has recalled the treadmills that caused the death of a child and injuries to others. Now, TechCrunch.com reports that the company has another PR problem. Apparently, their ‘leaky’ API lets anyone grab a rider’s private data! The data leak works EVEN if your profile is set to private and friends list is set to zero. Many well-heeled and/or famous people ride their bikes, right up to President Biden (who’s is off line by Secret Service decree.) A researcher-Jan Masters, a security researcher at Pen Test Partners- told Peloton about the issue in January, and gave them 90 days to fix it…but they didn’t, so he has outed the problem. 


Seattle Airport Tests Virtual Security Screening Line; Twitter Expands Spaces; Disney Shows ‘Real’ Lightsaber; UAW Wants EV Subsidies Exclusive to US Made Cars

Seattle’s airport is testing out something that will be cheered by travelers…allowing travelers to wait in virtual lines for security screening. According to geekwire.com, with SEA Spot Saver, users can reserve a spot in advance and will be notified when to proceed to a TSA checkpoint. They are also road testing electric screens at kiosks that will detect fingers hovering over the virtual buttons, and you won’t have to press the screen. The tech is being used on check-in kiosks available to various airline passengers, including jetBlue, Spirit Airlines, Korean Air, Volaris, Air Canada and Frontier. Let’s hope this all pans out and spreads soon to all airports!

Twitter has expanded Spaces to anyone with 600 or more followers. Techcrunch.com reports that the feature will be available on both iOS and Android. along with it will come features like Ticketed Spaces, scheduling features, reminders, support for co-hosting, accessibility improvements, and more. The Spaces feature will be denoted by a purple bubble around someone’s profile picture in the Home timeline. A limited group of users will be getting access to Ticketed Spaces in the coming months. Twitter says it will take a small cut, but that the ‘majority’ of revenue will go to the creators themselves. 

After a brief glimpse for shareholders in April, Disney has revealed a first peek at their ‘real’ retractable lightsaber. Theverge.com says it indeed looks very cool. This one doesn’t have a goofy, lit up plastic blade you have to attach. You hear the sound effect and the bad appears to extend from the hilt, like in the films…with appropriate crackling sounds and whirrs when you move it. The new saber is expected to be out in time for the Galactic star cruiser hotel experience when that launches in 2022. As with all things Disney, just cry a little and hand over your credit card. The present lightsabers you build are $200, so you can count on this rascal being even more pricey. 

The United Autoworkers are pressing the Biden administration to apply electric vehicle subsidies only to cars built in the US. According to cnet.com, the union’s vice president Terry Dittes said in a statement. “US taxpayer money should never subsidize products assembled in Mexico or any other country.” President Biden’s proposed infrastructure plan calls for $100 billion in direct point-of-sale rebates for EV buyers, which would reduce the cost of the car while signing paperwork at the dealer, as opposed to a subsidy to the manufacturers. The previous plan, reintroduced in the Green Act in Congress, allows a $7000 tax credit to anyone who buys an EV. 


Verizon Sells Yahoo, AOL, Etc.; Apple 8” Folder iPhone in 2023; iPhone Blood Sugar & Pressure Monitoring; Neuralink President Leaves

Verizon is spinning off its media assets including Yahoo and the various AOL sites…Huff Post, TechCrunch, & Engadget…to Apollo Global Management for $5 billion. According to techcrunch.com (one of the aforementioned properties being spun off), Verizon will keep 10% of the company. When the deal closes, it will be branded just as Yahoo. Verizon originally paid a combined $9 billion for the properties when they bought AOL in 2015 and Yahoo in 2017. That sounds like quite a hit…but the media companies…particularly Yahoo Sports, have thrown off good income. The media division generated $1.9 billion in sales in just the first 3 months of 2021, a 10% gain over 2020. 

A little more info on Apple’s rumored folding phone. Ming-Chi Kuo had aid the gadget would have a screen of 7.5 to 8 inches. Now, he says you can plan on an 8 inch (unfolded) screen. It will be OLED, and will be out in 2023. 9to5mac.com says that, although others have already plowed the folding phone ground to mixed results, Apple’s robust cross-product ecosystem should make the handset a hit. He predicts they will sell between 15-20 million of them. 

Another Apple update involves what we reported a couple weeks ago regarding Cupertino looking at making an Apple Watch that will check blood sugar without skin pricks. Some sleuthing by both The Telegraph and Forbes indicates that UK health tech Rockley Photonics has had Apple as their biggest customer for the past two years. Rockley is not only working on blood sugar monitoring sensors, but also blood pressure and blood alcohol level monitoring. It’s unlikely we will see all three by September, but it’s quite possible at least one will make it into the next Watch.

Max Hodak said in a Tweet over the weekend that he’s out as prudent of Neuralink, the company he co-founded with Elon Musk. Theverge.com reports that he didn’t say if he quit or not, but said “I learned a ton there and remain a huge cheerleader for the company! Onward to new things.” The firm was working on brain-machine interfaces. Lately, some scientific and medical communities have criticized the company and expressed skepticism regarding its claims. MIT Technology Review called the company “neuroscience theater,” and said “most of the company’s medical claims remain highly speculative.”