Wiser! #17: Apple has built a formidable lead in Wearables...in plain sight! Plus CBDCs, Musk in trouble again and TikTok goes into Radio.
Wiser! Newsletter 4th June 2021: CBDCs and the EU and US plans for digital currencies, Musk in trouble (again), TikTokRadio, and blind robots
Hand gestures that control your Watch
You may have missed this one…most people did!
Released as a series of new features designed for people with mobility, vision, hearing, and cognitive disabilities, this new tech showcases Apple's continued push into the wearables space.
Called AssistiveTouch, the technology allows all users to control their Apple Watch without having to touch the screen.
Instead, you pinch and clench your hand or roll your wrist to activate apps and control your Apple Watch.
You may recall that I’ve covered this tech before in Wiser! But not with Apple. Most notably Facebook is working on technology that can also use hand and finger movements to control future gadgets.
But Apple appears to be ahead of the game, and expects 2021 revenues from wearables in the order of $31 billion! That means selling 100m+ wearables units, including the Watch, AirPods, and Beats headphones.
Apple’s AssistiveTouch is just the latest example of how Apple’s lead in wearables should not be underestimated.
Is this deja vue…all over again?
Remember in 2007, when Steve Jobs introduced the iPhone to the world, he said “it was probably 5 years ahead of any other mobile phone”.
And he was probably right back then.
Now, according to analyst Neil Cybart, “Apple are probably 10 years ahead of the market” when it comes to wearables.
According to Cybart, there are 5 reasons for Apple building such a strong wearables business:
- Apple saw the opportunity early and are one of the first in this space,
- Other companies bet on voice, and are now in catch up,
- Their people-centric design expertise and knowing how to make devices “appealing”,
- Apple’s supply chain advantage left little room for price competition for entry-level devices,
- Apple applied lessons learned from mobile device user experience to push wearables forward.
Watch this space…
Crypto Corner - The digital Euro is on its way
Earlier this week, the European Central Bank issued a report that warns against failing to issue a Central Bank Digital Currency or CBDC.
The central bank claims that the absence of a digital euro could weaken the euro. It could even cause the EU to lose control of its monetary policy.
The EU report came days after a similar warning from the U.S. Federal Reserve about the US dollar. The issue for the Fed is far greater because around 80% of global trade is made in US dollars.
China is already ahead of both the EU (the largest economy in the world) and the US (the largest currency in the world) when it comes to CBDCs. The digital yuan was launched last year and is being trialed across large parts of the population.
There are many lessons to be learned from watching what happens in China.
Two of the biggest, IMHO, are;
- Financial inclusion. With a digital currency, you don’t need a bank account to pay someone or be paid, with a mobile phone. China is ahead of its international commitments to lift the poorest in its nation out of poverty.
- International trade. China has built a network of trading systems, many using blockchain technology, that will make international trade with China easier and cheaper. They have removed many of the barriers, known as friction, to trade. The digital currency opens up even more options to use the digital yuan instead of the US dollar as the preferred currency of choice for international trade.
Threat from BigTech
Both of these central bank reports also highlight the threat from private digital currencies issued by “foreign tech giants”. They didn’t name names, but almost certainly meant Facebook’s Diem project.
The ECB report said that “individuals and merchants alike would be vulnerable to a small number of dominant providers with strong market power.”
This was a clear reference to the perceived threat of a BigTech digital currency.
Which would look something like this.
Imagine if Facebook had a digital currency (called the Diem) and you held your Diems in a Facebook wallet on your phone or computer. Just think of them as tokens, like casino chips, which you have bought or been given.
Now, imagine being able to send Diems instantly over WhatsApp to someone in your contacts list, even if they live in another part of the world (without having to exchange the money into £s to €s or $s).
And imagine that the cost of sending the Diems to them is zero (or near zero).
And it’s instant.
Now imagine that there are shops on Instagram that accept Diems as payment.
And you buy stuff with your Diems straight out of your wallet. And then the Instagram merchants spend Diems to buy the things that they make and sell.
Now you have a whole ecosystem of trade enabled by Facebook’s digital money.
This is what the central banks are worried about. Because in this scenario, the Facebook Diem works in its own world, with no accountability or control by the central bank.
And without that control, how would the Government collect taxes or set interest rates?
Ed Note: technically a CBDC is not the same as a cryptocurrency because it is a digital version of real money, underwritten by the central bank that issued it. Whereas Facebook’s Diem would be a form of cryptocurrency known as a stablecoin. This is where the cryptocurrency is “pegged” to the US dollar on a 1:1 basis.
Feeding the Hamster
You see this Newsletter once a fortnight. But behind the scenes, the hamster wheel never stops turning.
To keep the hamster feed on pizza and caffeine (& show your support for the work we do)…follow the link to BuyMeACoffee.com…and keep that hamster fed.
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TikTok moves into Radio
TikTok has announced an exclusive partnership with Pandora and SiriusXM to create ‘TikTok Radio’.
The digital radio station will launch this summer with trending sounds through the SiriusXM app and a series of playlists hosted by TikTok creators.
TikTok is hoping to turn Creators into Curators. A curated TikTok radio feed is the perfect example of using existing content to find favor with new audiences – especially Gen Z consumers, who potentially have never tuned into the radio before.
By working directly with services like Pandora and SiriusXM, TikTok is further cementing its influence and exploitation of music and culture to the young demographic that use TikTok.
With the move to the 3-minute video clip (currently limited to 60 seconds), and the introduction of direct advertising onto the platform, TikTok sees the future of music, culture, and ad revenues as inextricably linked. Source: Publish Press
Snippets of Insight and Information
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Musk gets his wrist slapped (again)
Tesla boss Elon Musk has again been slapped down by the SEC, the regulator that overseas US stock markets. On May 1st last year, Musk tweeted that Tesla’s stock price was “too high,” prompting a more than $13 billion decline in the company’s market value. This violated a prior agreement Musk had made to have all his tweets pre-vetted by a lawyer. Unless Musk curbs his ways, this isn’t going to end well for him! Source: CNBC
‘Blind’ Robot Learns to Climb Stairs Independently
Researchers at Oregon State University have developed navigation technology for Robots that doesn’t rely on vision systems and sensors. They trained Cassie, a “blind” bipedal robot made by Agility Robotics, to walk across unfamiliar terrain, climb over curbs and logs, and complete in trials both ascending and descending stairs.
The research is important because it opens up the potential for “blind locomotion”, where robots will operate in darkness, fog, or other low-visibility scenarios. Source: Thomas Insights
Volkswagen to convert a Greek island to 100% Electric Vehicles
Greece will set up a renewable-energy infrastructure on the island of Astypalea, including solar panels and batteries. The entire island will convert every car to electric models from Volkswagen AG. Source: Bloomberg
GPS Trackers for dogs and cats
Austrian startup, Tractive, run the largest cat and dog tracking network in the world. Using GPS trackers, they track your pets in 175 countries around the world. Source: EU Startups
Amazon’s Sidewalk shares Internet connections with the neighbours
If you have an Amazon Echo or Ring and live in the USA, then from next week, Amazon will share a piece of your Internet network with neighbours. It’s not too dissimilar to Apple’s FindMy app, however, the Amazon Sidewalk feature has been criticised because it is an Opt-Out service.
And because Amazon don’t have Apple’s track record when it comes to protecting privacy. Source: Gizmodo
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Thanks for reading, till next time, Rick