Smartphone Shipments Down Most Ever; Google Inches Closer to It’s ‘Find My’ System; Twitch May Let Viewers Snooze Some Ads; Tesla Beats Wall St Revenue Estimates

Smartphone shipments were substantially down in the holiday quarter just past. They were off 18.3%, and 11.3% less for the year 2022. According to idc.com, the holiday dip is the largest-ever decline in a single quarter. 2022 ended the year with shipments of 1.21 billion smartphones, the least since 2013. The research firm says the downturn was ‘due to significantly dampened consumer demand, inflation, and economic uncertainties.’ Even Apple, which up to now had been virtually immune to downturns, was off…but that was due to the lockdowns in China which limited the number of handsets they could have built for sale. IDC says vendors are being cautious this year, and you may see more generous trade-in offers and promotions, as phone vendors look to get sales back up…especially of the higher end models.

Google is rolling out a ‘store recent location’ toggle for Find My Device. It will be stored in an encrypted manner. Androidpolice.com reports that you can also use the feature to prevent Google from storing your phone’s last known location. The Find My Device feature, similar to what Apple and Samsung have, should be widely available later this year. The Find My will also be able to locate additional devices like ear buds even when they are not connected to your phone. Right now, they have to be connected in the present version. With the vast number of Android phones around the world, the Find My net should make it much easier to locate a lost or stolen phone running the Google software. 

Twitch viewers have long complained that they may be watching a creator and be at a key moment, and wham! An ad rolls, ruining the continuity while they sit through 3 minutes of ads. Now, bgr.com says Twitch is looking at rectifying the situation. Right now there is a pre-roll of 3 minutes of ads, then more later…again maybe right at an important point. Twitch is working on a tool for creators so they can ’snooze’ ads until you are past a climactic moment. Another tool will let creators snooze the pre-roll ads so long as they run the 3 minutes of ads sometime during the hour. Finally, they plan to launch Twitch Turbo later this year, which will let you enjoy an ad-free viewing experience…at a price, of course!

Tesla ‘beat the Street, edging by Wall Street revenue estimates for 4th quarter of 2022. Techcrunch.com reports that the EV maker ended up with $24.3 billion in revenue, which was a 37% increase from the same quarter of 2021, and a 13% uptick from the previous quarter. The company warned that profit margins will likely be down in 2023 as the company has cut prices on a number of models. Tesla says they are prioritizing more affordability. The stock went up after the announcement, then dipped, and is up today to 156. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 

Advertisement

DOJ Sues Google Over Ad Biz; Acura Says EV Sales Going All Web; Microsoft Cloud Bucks Up, Windows Biz Down; Tesla Announces $3.6 Billion EV Semi Plant in Nevada

In a move expected by many, the US Department of Justice has filed a suit against Google aimed at breaking up the company’s advertising business. The government accuses Google of illegally monopolizing the digital advertising market. “Google’s anticompetitive behavior has raised barriers to entry to artificially high levels, forced key competitors to abandon the market for ad tech tools, dissuaded potential competitors from joining the market, and left Google’s few remaining competitors marginalized and unfairly disadvantaged.” Google is estimated to control up to 26.5% of the digital ads market. Google responded by accusing the government of trying to ‘pick winners and losers in the highly competitive advertising technology sector.’ This will be a court battle royal.

Honda has announced a restructuring of its business as it aims for 100% EV sales by the year 2040. Theverge.com reports that as a step in that direction, Honda will sell all its Acura branded EVs exclusively online. That will start with the new ZDX SUV, due out next year. Except for Tesla, which never has had a dealer network, the car business has been slow to move to online sales. As Honda’s senior VP in the US has noted, “Whether that process starts in your living room, and then continues at the dealership, or starts at the dealership where somebody wants to touch and feel a car on the showroom floor, you will still have to input that information.” Many car makers are letting people start the process and order cars online, but then the dealer delivers and follows up with the customers. Honda says it will release 30 hybrid battery-electric fuel-cell vehicles by 2030.

Microsoft’s revenue was up 2% to $52.7 billion in their 2nd fiscal quarter, just missing Wall Street expectations. Cloud revenue was up 22%, but Windows business took a dive by 27%. Geekwire.com says Microsoft blamed that drop on the continued weakness in the PC market. Gaming revenue was also off 12%. It is worth noting that in many mature businesses, they would be happy with a 2% uptick in a quarter. It may be that the tech sector and investors will need to readjust their expectations as tech matures and joins the real world when it comes to revenue and profits. 

Tesla says they will be expanding their battery plant in Northern Nevada, and that they are building a factory for their electric semi-trucks. Electrek.co says the company is pouring $3.6 billion into the building project. It wasn’t clear from the announcement that these will be new plants or an expansion of the existing Gigafactory.  That factory is only 60% complete, going by the renders Tesla had of the plant originally. the present plant is L-shaped, and it looks from new renders like Tesla will just ‘fill in the L’ to make one huge, rectangular plant. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


New Details on Apple’s Mixed Reality Headset; Facebook Adds Features to End-to-End Encryption; Amazon Launches Rx Pass for Prime Members; Twitter Getting More Pricy Ad-Free Twitter Blue

More details have leaked out about Apple’s Mixed Reality headset. Macrumors.com reports that the headset will have an iOS like interface, and will feature advanced hand tracking. Also…it will function as a second display for a mac. The interface will look almost identical to the one on your iPhone and iPad. You will be able to rearrange the home screen with app icons, and customize widgets to your taste. Wearers should be able to control the headset by looking at an on-screen item to select it, then use gestures to activate the app. There will not be physical controllers. Most leaks point towards the device being dubbed Reality Pro, and it will be able to switch from augmented reality to virtual reality…AND you can dial between those functions with a crown on the side like the Apple Watch has. It will be tethered to a battery pack the size of 2 iPhone Pro Maxes strapped together that will run the headset for a couple hours. Apple is reported to be working on VR content with media partners like Disney and Dolby, and will be updating Apple TV Plus to work with the headset. The price of the unit, expected to bow this year, is still expected to be about $3,000. 

Facebook Messenger has had an end-to-end encryption option for some time now, but when it’s turned on, the chats are very generic. That is now changing. According to mashable.com, now you will be able to use chat themes, custom chat emojis and reactions, group profile photos, link previews, and active status. Also, android bubbles will now show up when you get a new message in and end-to-end encrypted chat. You will still have to select end-to-end encryption…it isn’t the default. Facebook claims it is still expanding testing of that, and that end-to-end-encryption will ultimately become the default. 

Amazon continues to expand in the drug business, a couple years after launching Amazon Pharmacy. Now, techcrunch.com says the online giant has unveiled RxPass, a $5 per month add-on for all-you-need generic drugs. The plan covers some 80 conditions. The drugs are some for treating many common conditions like high blood pressure and depression. According to Dr. Vin Gupta, the chief medical officer for Amazon Pharmacy, more than 150 million people in the US already take one of more of the medications that RxPass offered. The plan is for Prime members, and interestingly is NOT open to people on government medical plans like Medicare or Medicaid. That’s because Amazon Pharmacy is a provider for those, than therefore can’t offer direct. Amazon notes that it’s not insurance…you just pay $5 a month for whatever supply is prescribed for you for each drug. 

Twitter will be getting a higher-priced tier for Twitter Blue…one that Elon Musk says will be ad-free. Bgr.com reports that so far, no details are out on how MUCH more or when it will be launched. Musk said that ads on Twitter are ‘too frequent’ and ‘too big.’ It seems that there has been a flood of repeat ads…probably since losing almost half the advertisers, Twitter has been bonus-ing remaining sponsors with free ads to keep them on board. The more expensive, ad-free Twitter Blue level wouldn’t have worked before Musk blocked third party clients like Twitterific and Tweetbot that stripped out ads. This new tier is probably the only reason those clients were cut off from the platform’s API. It’s a good guess that the new tier will be several dollars more than the $8 a month for the present Twitter Blue

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Apple Slow Growth Avoids Big Layoffs; Google Freaking Over ChatGPT; GM Eyes Compact EV Pickup; Zero Emission Vehicle Sales-Way Up in CA

While other tech firms went on a virtual hiring spree between 2019 and 2022, Apple was a bit more cautious…and that seems to be helping them to avoid the large layoffs a lot of tech firms are going through now. According to cnbc.com, Apple only grew by 20%…while Amazon grew 100%, Alphabet was up 57% in staffing, and Microsoft expanded by 53%. Now, Spotify joins the layoff march, but the cuts there are more modest…about 600 people are getting the chop. The good news for all? According to a study by Zip Recruiter, nearly 80% of laid-off tech workers land new jobs within 90 days of starting their job search! 

Some info of late seems to indicate that OpenAI’s chatbot ChatGPT is being hyped like crazy…and isn’t the threat it has been made out to be. That said, Google is freaking out about it. Theverge.com reports that Google now has plans to “demonstrate a version of its search engine with chatbot features this year” and unveil more than 20 projects powered by artificial intelligence. Before ChatGPT started grabbing headlines, Google had feared they might be moving too fast into AI, but that has all changed. The company apparently has been nervous enough (if a company can be nervous…but hey, corporations are people, too according to Senator Mitt Romney) to consult with founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin. The pair are still controlling shareholders of Google parent Alphabet. The founders have been out of day to day operations since 2019, but did meet with CEO Sundar Pichai.

Pickup trucks are a major part of the US vehicle market, along with SUVs. With Ford selling more EV pickups than expected, and GM working on a Silverado EV, now the General is eyeing a compact pickup. Electrek.co says a smaller pickup from GM would be priced under $30,000…like the hot-selling Chevy Bolt EV. $30 grand is really a sweet spot in new vehicle sales, so this would be a big move. According to a new report from Automotive News, which saw GM’s small electric pickup at its EV design studio in Warren, Michigan, the truck is “futuristic and sporty” looking. 

Speaking of EVs and other low or no emission vehicles, new data for 2022 shows that electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell vehicles accounted for 18.8% of all new car sales in California this past year! The data is from the state CEC, the energy commission. The total number sold was 345,818. About 2/3 of those vehicles were made by Tesla. This is really driving…pun intended…the US push to zero emission vehicles. 40% of zero emission vehicle sales in the US were sold in California. California, and the US for that matter, have a long ways to go, however. In Norway, EVs made up 65% of new cars sales in 2021, and a whopping 79.3% in 2022!

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Samsung Won’t Raise Galaxy Prices; Boeing to Demo Fuel-Efficient Plane; Amazon Drops Smile Charity Program; RSV Vax 84% Effective-Older Adults

There is now a constant drip of stories in the run up to Samsung’s release of its latest Galaxy S23 phones the 1st of February. Earlier leaks had the phones going up in price by $100 or more. Now, according to 9to5google.com, spec sheets leaked from carrier Verizon indicate that the pricing will hold the line. The base S23 will start at $799.99. The S23 Plus will run $999.99, and the S23 Ultra will set you back $1199.99…all the same price points as the present S22 models. Don’t you love after all this time that consumer electronics…as well as used cars, say ‘$99.99,’ and still think they are fooling us into that being such a bargain compared to just saying $100 bucks?

Boeing has scored a $425 million dollar contract from NASA to demonstrate a super fuel-efficient airplane. Geekwire.com reports that in the next 7 years, they will develop and flight test the new craft, which features ultra thin, braced wings. Boeing believes the design can save up to 30% of fuel presently used, and is a step towards the aviation industry’s goal of net zero carbon emissions by 2050. The weight of batteries going into electric vehicles makes them impractical at this point for aircraft, so super fuel efficiency is a way to cut emissions produced by planes. Another is the use of hydrogen for fuel, but there is still something of a stigma tied to that since the explosion of the Hindenburg Zeppelin back in the World War 2 era. 

Amazon is killing off their Smile charity donation program, effective the 20th of next month. I am really bummed by this. I was enrolled in it and it was an easy way to support the California Historical Radio Society for me. Techcrunch.com says Amazon has already notified the employees involved that they are getting the chop. It’s a tiny number of people compared to the 18,000 they already announced as getting axed, but doubly sad to see the donation program halted. Amazon will just be keeping that .5 of a percent they had been donating…which came from our money anyway. Since 2013, the online giant had donated some $400 million through Amazon Smile. 

Ok, so this is really more science and medicine than tech, but mRNA is medical tech, so there’s that. Moderna has found that their RSV…respiratory sin-SHISH-uhl virus…to be 84% effective at preventing disease in older adults. The company will try to get regulatory approval for the vaccine in the first half of this year. The virus is especially lethal for young children and elderly adults. The mRNA breakthrough vaccine is great since medical researchers have been trying to come up with a vaccine for RSV since the 1960’s. Moderna ran their trial for the shot on 37,000 adults 60 or older in 22 countries, so it is a good, large trial. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Microsoft Laying off 10,000; Samsung Teases Galaxy S23; Apple-Cheaper Version of Mixed Reality Headset; Discord Gets Gas

Microsoft has announced that they are laying off 10,000 employees now through March 31st. They are saying it’s due to slower revenue growth. CNBC.com reports that the company is also taking a $1.2 billion charge in the fiscal second quarter. We’ve seen cuts already at Alphabet, Amazon, and Salesforce in recent weeks. Employees in the U.S. who are eligible for benefits will receive severance that’s above the market and six months of health care and stock vesting, along with 60 days’ notice before their work ends. 

With the Samsung Galaxy S23 line reveal at Galaxy Unpacked coming up in a couple weeks, Samsung has teased the latest phones in a blog post from TM Roh, president of the Mobile eXperience Business at Samsung. According to 9to5google.com, Roh said  “the upcoming Galaxy is all about camera, performance, and sustainability.” Samsung has prepared “durable devices engineered to last longer” that also receive years of updates, built with sustainable materials. As for the camera, leaks have shown that the Galaxy S23 Ultra should bring a whopping 200MP main camera sensor, solidifying the device’s “Ultra” name. Roh also mentioned what Ultra can do in even more device categories…which seems to mean we could see a Samsung Galaxy Book Ultra. 

As reported here and many other places, Apple is rolling full speed ahead on their mixed reality headset, which is widely expected to bow this year and be a wallet-crushing $3000 or thereabouts. Now, macrumors.com says Cupertino is working on a more affordable version as well. That one is expected to be more in the range of the top line, loaded up iPhone…which would put it at about $1500…the same price as Meta’s headset. The less pricy Apple one would use more affordable components, but have the same general functionality as the more deluxe one. For one, it would run iPhone type chips, rather than the Mac level chips in the high priced unit. Originally planned for release in 2024, a year after the high line headset, it looks now like the less expensive one will be out in 2025. 

Messaging platform Discord (if you haven’t heard of it, ask your kids or grandkids) has acquired Gas, a popular app for teens. TechCrunch.com reports that Gas users sign up with their school, add friends, and answer polls about their classmates. The questions in the polls are intense to post users’ confidence, rather than damage it. Gas has picked up 7.4 million installs and nearly $7 million in consumer spending since launch…which was just in the summer of 2022. For now, it will operate as a freestanding app, but you can expect for Gas features to be integrated into Discord moving ahead.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.


Apple-New M2 MacBook Pros; Google Working on AirTag Clones; Pixel Fold on Horizon; Mill’s Recycling Food Waste Bin

After delaying the release last Fall, Apple has rolled out new MacBook Pros with M2 Pro and M2 Max chips. Macrumors.com reports that the upgraded Pros also can be loaded up with up to 96 gigs of RAM, they support 8K HDMI monitors, and sport Wi-Fi 6E. The new chips are supposed to make the latest MacBook Pros up to 20% faster than the M1 chipped laptops. The storage remains the same…you can configure them with up to an 8 terabyte SSD drive. They can be ordered today in both the 14 and 16 inch sizes, and start at $1999 for the 14 incher, and $2499 for the 16 inch model. 

Google is apparently jumping into the tracker business, working on its own version of Apple’s Air Tags. The project is code named, Grogu, after the baby Yoda character in the Mandalorian series on Disney Plus! According to Androidpolice.com, Google would use their installed base to help with locating devices like Apple does. They will be joining not only Apple but Tile…the original, and Samsung with trackers to keep track of your stuff. No word on whether they are building in safety measures to cut down on stalking as Apple has had to do. 

A Pixel Fold may be in the works. 9t05google.com says a YouTuber has obtained what appears to be a case model of a Google Pixel Fold, which is claimed to be ‘dimensionally accurate’ to the actual phone Google has in the works. The screen is wider than Samsung’s folding units, but it has a bit thicker bezels inside. It appears that a cam will be mounted in a bezel, instead of under the screen. The hinge folds neatly…no gap between the two screens when it’s closed, so it will have a ‘water drop’ hinge like Oppo has and Samsung is putting into the Fold 5. No info has leaked as to when the Google folder might be released.  

Co-founder of Nest and former Apple engineer Matt Rogers has brought Mill Industries out of stealth today. They offer a $33 per month service in the US that includes rental of a digitally connected waste bin and free shipping of the dried waste to a plant that turns it into feed. Geekwire.com notes that the gadget can turn food scraps into dried, odorless grounds over night. Rogers points out that about 30% of food that’s grown gets tossed and food rotting in landfills releases methane gas that is bad for the atmosphere. What with the egg shortage right now and bird flu that has cut chicken population, you can be turning your food scraps into…chicken feed.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.


Galaxy Z Fold 5 Getting New Hinge; Tweetbot Mostly Working Now; YouTube Looking to Modify Profanity Rules After Uproar; Wyoming Looks at Banning New EVs

Samsung will show the latest Galaxy S23 phones the first of February, but in August they usually release the new folding phones. According to 9to5google.com, the Galaxy Z Fold 5 is going to get a ‘droplet’ style hinge. This should lessen the crease in the display at the fold. Motorola and Oppo already use the ‘water drop’ hinge design, which allows foldable phones’ displays to flex slightly in the hinge space a bit. You lose a little radius, but also get less crease. Samsung is calling their version a ‘dumbbell’ hinge, but it is basically the same as the droplet. A drawback to the droplet besides reduced radius has been less water resistance, but Samsung has reportedly figured out a way to retain water resistance…even with the droplet hinge. The much less prominent crease in the screen may attract more buyers to the Z Fold 5, despite pricing that causes droplets to run out of your eyes!

Last week, Twitter locked users of major 3rd party clients out of the platform. Theverge.com reports that the client apps and users were not notified, nor was any reason given. Tweetbot, Twitterific, and the Android version of Fenix were all affected. Some internal communication at Twitter indicated that the lockout was intentional. There still isn’t any response as to why, but at this time Tweetbot is mostly back up and running. 

YouTube rolled out a new policy back in November concerning profanity…the aim was to make certain content more advertiser friendly. After a huge pushback, primarily from the gaming community, where some creators saw some of their old videos demonized, YouTube is taking a second look. Techcrunch.com says it’s unclear what the platform will do at this point, but that they are listing to creators’ concerns. YouTube didn’t hit any videos with ‘hell’ or ‘damn’ in them, but did penalize for the f-word, the s-word, and the like. It’s notable that if the swearing isn’t in the title, thumbnail, or the 1st 8 seconds of video, the video is still legible for revenue. One popular creator said YouTube whacked his Best of 2020 video. YouTube already has creators indicate if videos are for kids or not before you upload them, so they can’t really claim to be protecting younger viewers…but hey, have to keep those advertisers happy. Stay tuned, we’ll let you know what the final result is. 

In what seems like a stunt…but it’s a state legislature, there is a proposed resolution in Wyoming to ban the sales of new electric vehicles here by 2035! This is in response to California and New York phasing out gas vehicles by 2035. Engadget.com reports that a group of lawmakers in Wyoming say Wyoming’s “proud and valued” oil and gas industry has created “countless” jobs and contributed revenue to the state’s coffers. They add that a lack of charging infrastructure within Wyoming would make the widespread use of EVs “impracticable” and that the state would need to build “massive amounts of new power generation” to “sustain the misadventure of electric vehicles.” It should be noted…and the legislators there know this…that Wyoming’s Carbon Country is home to one of the largest wind farms in the US. Go figure.

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Apple Reverses-Working on Touchscreen Macs; Microsoft Adds Unlimited Vacation Perk; Tesla Now Top US Luxury Car Brand; Finland Ups Wind Power by 75%

After refusing to do so for years, Apple is apparently working on touchscreens for Macs. More than a dozen years ago, Steve Jobs famously said that “touch surfaces don’t want to be vertical” due to arm fatigue associated with holding up a finger to the screen. Now, Macrumors.com reports that the company has changed course, and may be bringing touchscreens to Macs…including MacBook Pros. A MacBook Pro with an OLED screen could be the first of the touchscreen models starting in 2025. The laptop would still retain its traditional design, including a keyboard and trackpad. Considering how many times I have switched from my iPad…which has a third party keyboard, to using my MacBook Pro and tried to touch the screen to do something, I think this might be a pretty great move. 

Microsoft joins the elite group of tech companies that offer unlimited vacation time to employees. According to bgr.com, the new deal goes into effect on January 16th. Note that the policy doesn’t cover all employees…only salaried workers in the US. Unlimited vacation plans are already enjoyed by Salesforce, LinkedIn, Oracle, and Netflix. Microsoft is not cutting other benefits, either. The number of corporate holidays, leaves of absence, sick time, and the like stay the same. 

Tesla has already had cars that topped categories in US car sales, but has now hit a really big milestone. The EV maker is now the top luxury car brand in the US, eclipsing BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Lexus, Audi, and Cadillac. Electrek.co says it’s the first time in 25 years that the top luxury brand in the US has actually been an American car maker. It wasn’t close, either. Tesla outsold #2 BMW by over 100,000 vehicles. 

Finland ratcheted up their wind power capacity by 75% in 2022! Thenextweb.com reports that wind is now taking care of 14.1% of the country’s electrical needs, up from 9.3% in 2021. At the rate the country is adding wind generators, the Finns expect to be using wind power to cover 28% of the country’s electricity consumption by 2025! 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now. 


Twitter Timeline Change; Samsung Reserve Promotion; Next Surface Duo-Real Folding Screen; Amazon’s “Hey Disney”

Elon Musk has been pressing for even easier access to Twitter’s algorithmic timeline. Now, he’s done it. Previously, you had to click the little sparkle at the top of the app to pick chronological or the algorithmic timeline. TechCrunch.com reports that you will now see ‘For You’ and ‘Following’ at the top of the feed. You can swipe between them to change the timeline. Twitter tried this jamming the algorithm down peoples’ throats before, and there was a huge uproar. I have this already on the app, and had it briefly on the web version of Twitter, but the latter has switched back to the little sparkle at the top this morning. If you want the latest and not what Musk wants to show you, select ‘For You.’

Samsung has unveiled a promotion ahead of their Unpacked event. Between now and February 1st, you can go to Samsung’s website or use the Shop Samsung app and register your interest in a new Galaxy smartphone a Galaxy Book, or both…and get up to $100 in Samsung credit. According to zdnet.com, if you reserve something, you can apply $50 towards one device or $100 towards two devices. You will have to give up your name and email…phone number is optional. No purchase is necessary after the registration, either. The catch? the credits only apply to existing products, and won’t be good for the new Galaxy S23 phones. There’s always a catch, right?

Microsoft has killed the planned Surface Duo 3, and instead is forging ahead on a true foldable. Theverge.com says that Redmond had originally nixed a folder, wanting to have tow glass screens with a 360 degree hinge. The plan now is for a truly foldable Surface Duo with a 180 degree hinge like most other folders on the market. The down side? Virtually no chance of the device making it to market this year, as had been the plan for the Surface Duo 3. There are reports, though, that Microsoft may roll out a different Android phone this year, with the folder possibly bowing in 2024. 

Amazon announced at CES that Disney’s first home voice assistant, Hey Disney, will be coming to Echo devices through the Alexa Skills Store, OR as part of an Amazon Kids+  subscription. Mashable.com reports that you won’t be able to choose the Disney character that answers…they are preprogrammed with various replies depending on what you ask. Over 20 Disney characters are in the mix, from the Genie of Aladdin fame to Olaf from Frozen, and even Mater from Cars. Of course, some of the best loved old school characters are involved…set a 30 second timer and you get Donald Duck. Here’s the Disney Magic (read magic at getting into your wallet): the voice assistant works with Disney’s MagicBand Plus! The bands have been basically useless outside the parks up to now. 

I’m Clark Reid, and you’re ‘Technified’ for now.