Google Home Outships Amazon Echo; Apple-VW Self-Driving Pact; Uber Self-Driving Leaves Arizona; Silicon Valley Longs to Tax Big Tech Like Seattle

In a first, Google Home has shipped more smart speakers than Amazon…3.2 million vs 2.5 million first quarter of this year. According to, it may be due to retailers prioritizing Google over Amazon because they see Amazon as more of a direct competitor. Alibaba had the third biggest shipping smart speaker, with Xiaomi 4th. Apple’s HomePod was lumped in with the 17% ‘other’ smart speakers.

After lots of back and forth with Mercedes and BMW the last several years that never made it to a deal, Apple has cut a deal with Volkswagen. reports that Apple will be buying VW vans and converting them to employee shuttles to run between San Francisco Bay Area campuses and buildings. The vans will be fitted with Apple’s self-driving tech. Word is, no deal ever came through with BMW and Mercedes, because Apple insisted on partner companies handing over control of data and design…which no car maker was willing to do.

Uber has canned its self-driving program in Arizona, and along with it, 300 employees. says this comes 2 months after a self-driving Uber Volvo (with safety driver behind the wheel) hit and killed a woman in Tempe. The governor had already suspended their ability to test the autonomous cars there. Uber says it will regroup and double check its safety procedures and be back testing somewhere soon.

Since Seattle has dropped an annual head tax on big tech companies, a number of Silicon Valley cities are angling to do the same. reports that Seattle intends to use the revenue to help with homeless problems and relieve housing shortages caused by the influx of higher paid tech workers. San Francisco, Mountain View, Cupertino, and East Palo Alto are all looking at similar taxes on large local employers (which are virtually all tech companies) to offset growing inequality and overcrowding. The Bay Area cities have learned from Seattle’s battle with Amazon, and instead of shooting for $500 per head, are looking to extract more like $250-$300 per employee.


Amazon Future Supermarket-Lots of Robots; Google Maps Gets Makeover; Tech Companies Joined in Opposing Immigration Ban

As we’ve reported before, Amazon is testing their Amazon Go stores for fresh food sales, but the future could bring radically different supermarkets. reports that their future stores could be staffed with just 3-10 humans on the ground floor with over 4000 items people ‘like to touch,’ and no cashiers, no registers or lines. The app on smartphones would detect what was picked from the shelves and bill the customers. Upstairs, a fleet of robots would find and pack other items selected by customers. Amazon has denied that it is working on such a supermarket, but already does use 45,000 robots in 20 fulfillment centers.

Google Maps for Android has been refreshed, with traffic, transit, and places now living in a bottom bar. says it is a cleaner interface, and that a quick swipe of the bar will bring up more details. Public transit includes travel time and nearby stations, and will even recommend what train or bus to take, based on your work address. It’s rolling out now over Google Play for Android users. No word on when the revised app will be showing up on Apple’s iOS.

In an almost unheard of show of solidarity, Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, and Twitter were part of 97 tech companies that joined in filing an amicus brief at the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals opposing the Trump executive order on immigration. According to, the companies will probably do so again when the Administration continues the appeal to the Supreme Court.