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Feb 26, 2022 11 min read

👩‍🔬 Newsletter #67: Facebook in the Metaverse | Spotify's CarThing | Apple's $1 Trillion Ambition

wiser newsletter rick huckstep insights and information from the tech economy
Photo by Steve Johnson / Unsplash
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Wiser! #67: It's been 6 months and cost $500 million, but The Zuck is determined to turn Facebook into Meta(verse). Meanwhile, Spotify released the Car Thing and different nations have different attitudes when it comes to crypto and Bitcoin.


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w/ Metaverse

Oculus Quest 2.
Photo by James Yarema / Unsplash

What's Meta/Facebook doing in the Metaverse?

Headlines:  This is what is covered in this week's Essay (available to all members on the free subscription plans.)

  • Zuckerberg wants to build a voice assistant that blows Alexa and Siri away
  • Meta is building an AI translater for every language
  • Meta filed a hologram patent for ‘3D conversations’
  • It's not all plain sailing in the Metaverse
  • Meta calls time on a new AR/VR operating system
  • Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has TikTok in its sights.

Read the full story here  ⬇️

What’s Meta/Facebook doing in the Metaverse?
Wiser! Essay: When Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook would refocus on the Metaverse, it created more questions than answers. So, 6 months on and half a trillion dollars worse off, what is The Zuck up to?


Spotify car thingy-ma-bob

Spotify's "Car Thing" is a time machine

BackStory:  Last year, Spotify ran a limited trial with a select group of invitees for their new hardware device. Called "Car Thing", the promise was for "a more seamless and personalized in-car listening experience, no matter the year or model of your vehicle".

This week, the audio listening device for cars went on sale to the general public for $89.99. The gizmo lets people play Spotify in cars via a device that fixes onto the dashboard. As Spotify says in a blog post, “Let your phone do phone stuff. Car Thing has one job and does it awesomely.

The problem with the marketing message is that the Car Thing won't work without being connected to your phone. And a power source taken directly from the car's redundant cigarette lighter or a USB charging point.

It's an odd notion that our phones are to be just used as phones again. Spotify’s new "Car Thing" device is like a time machine, taking us back to the days of listening to music on cassette tapes in your car!

TalkingPoint:  But there is a serious point to this. Spotify’s weakness is that it is in the hands of others when it comes to distribution. Spotify places a heavy reliance on Apple and Google.

Spotify said that Car Thing reflects its “ubiquity” strategy, which aims to make it as easy as possible for people to listen to its service. The same strategy is presumably why Spotify has reportedly considered selling smart speakers for the home. Spotify seems to want to give consumers more-direct access to its service.

Car Thing isn’t destined to be very successful. And at $90, it's an expensive remote control for the Spotify app!

I don't expect it to do any better than when Facebook arranged for HTC to sell a phone that put a package of Facebook software front and center, or when Amazon released its Fire phone, with features designed to help its retail business. Both were dismal failures. As will Car Thing (IMHO). Sources: InsideHook, Linkedin

w/Further Reading

Is Spotify a platform or a media company?
Wiser! #59 (Premium): Joe Rogan has kicked up a shitstorm for Spotify, which begs the question about responsibility for content moderation. Meanwhile, competition for attention from Apple Music and TikTok threatens Spotify’s market leadership.


Here is a snippet from this weeks' Wiser! Insights for Premium Members...

Apple: Services, Subscriptions and the Pursuit of $1 Trillion of Sales

BackStory:  Tim Cook’s mantra is to put Apple at “the intersection of hardware, software, and services.” He said it not once, but twice on the company’s last earnings call, a sure sign that it's a statement that means something. It's a unique glue that holds Apple and its customers together. There is nothing else like it.

But then again, Apple is unlike any other company in the tech economy. The first corporate to hit a $3 trillion market cap, and most likely to be the first corporation to book $1 trillion a year in annual sales.

wiser newsletter rick huckstep insights and information from the tech economy

At the heart of Apple's proposition is the iPhone, the most successful consumer product in history. It's a luxury item in the hands of over a billion people that signals status and wealth (think Ferrari) whilst repeatably sold on a global scale (think Toyota).

Apple shipped 236 million iPhones and 58 million iPads in 2021. If you piled all of these devices on top of each other, they would stand around 1,400 miles high, which is over 250 times the height of Mount Everest.

Not bad for a device that only just turned 15 a few weeks ago. When Steve Jobs first announced the iPhone in 2007, he called it "a touchscreen iPod, a phone and an internet communicator”. Now, iPhone is so much more, containing speakers and microphones, a barometer, an accelerometer, a proximity sensor, an ambient light sensor, a gyroscope, and four cameras.

Nowadays, it's a voice-activated, lifestyle command centre as well as being (still) a phone. The iPhone and its iOS operating system seamlessly connect a personal network of internet devices. From an Apple TV in the living room to HomePods in the kitchen. It'll tell you where you left your keys via AirTags, stream music to your ears via AirPods and can an ambulance if you fall over in the forest, via an Apple Watch. With more to come; augmented reality glasses, Apple Car and, next, a virtual reality headset.

No other tech company has anything like it...

☟ Click the bookmark below to continue reading this article about Apple's strategy and potential to be the first coproration to hit $1 trillion in annual sales. (This is exclusive content for Premium Members only.)
New Services, Subscriptions & Apple’s pursuit of $1 trillion
Wiser! #66 (Premium): What’s next for Apple? They were the first corporation in history to hit a $3 trillion market cap. Can they be the first to earn $1 trillion in sales? What’s coming next will define Tim Cook’s legacy. Find out more in this Wiser! Insights.
Interesting: Yesterday (Feb 24th) would have been Apple founder Steve Jobs' 67th birthday.


After watching my portfolio in usd drop by over 50% in one day I realized it wasn’t usd that is important, it is the btc ratio. You see, I’m holding all altcoins, which help me gain more bitcoin as they rise in price. End of the day, I believe Bitcoin is king. This photo represents Bitcoins ratio to altcoins (seen in the trading chart behind).
Photo by André François McKenzie / Unsplash

How Nations differ when it comes to regulating cryptocurrency and Bitcoin

China:  Fundraising with digital currencies has been illegal in China since 2017. Now, China’s Supreme Court has issued a ruling that specifies penalties for offenders who use cryptocurrency to raise funds. Penalties range up to 10 years in prison and fines of up to 500,000 yuan ($79,000).

EuropeanUnion:  Meanwhile, the EU is reportedly drafting regulations that could result in a ban on proof-of-work cryptocurrency mining across the union’s 27 member states. The proposal forms part of the EU’s upcoming Markets in Crypto Assets (MiCA) legislation that will govern the regulation of cryptocurrencies in the EU. Per CoinDesk, a draft MiCA package up for discussion includes a provision that would ban proof-of-work mining in the union.

Governor of the Bank of Spain Pablo Hernandez de Cos has called for more intense surveillance of the crypto industry.

Russia:  Russia's Finance Ministry has published draft cryptocurrency regulations that would allow Russians to invest in assets such as Bitcoin, but not buy anything with them.

This comes after Putin said that Russia had "certain competitive advantages" when it comes to mining cryptocurrency, specifically in a surplus of electricity and "well-trained personal".

USA:  US senators have introduced legislation requiring the State Department to write a report on El Salvador's Bitcoin Law and develop a plan to "mitigate potential risks to the U.S. financial system."

Last September, El Salvador introduced a Bitcoin Law that made the crypto legal tender in the poorest nation in Central America. The US senators believe that this "raises significant concerns" for the USA.

El Salvador:  However, whilst the biggest nations worry about crypto, President Nayib Bukele continues to promote the use of Bitcoin in El Salvador. Earlier this week he tweeted "Gold is now back to its 2011 all time high. #Bitcoin  is up 133,000% since its 2011 all time high."

And this...

For more on Cryptocurrency and the Crypto Economy, check out these 53 articles, essays and insights on Wiser!

Sources: CoinDesk, Decrypt (China), Decrypt (Russia), US Gov

w/From the Tech Economy

🗺 Conde Nast signs exclusive deal with TikTok

Conde Nast has signed a deal with TikTok that positions them squarely in the middle of the Social Commerce trend. The deal with TikTok will see publications Vogue and GQ producing exclusive content for the video platform. Source: Tubefilter

🕵️‍♀️ Facebook builds "shadow profiles" on users as it tracks them around the Internet

Facebook can track web behaviour outside of its own platform. The network of engagement buttons placed on third-party websites lets Facebook follow users as they browse the web. Tracking users outside its core platform enables Facebook to build shadow profiles. In 2018, in front of US Senate and EU parliament hearings, CEO Mark Zuckerberg denied knowing anything about shadow profiling.

The way it works is via the use of cookies. These allow Facebook to track users across all websites on which a Facebook “Like” or “Share” button appears, even if users never actively click on them. This feature allows Facebook to build shadow profiles regardless of whether an individual ever signed up for a Facebook account or not. Shadow profiles allow Facebook to connect individual browsing behaviour to existing and future Facebook accounts, feeding the advertising engine that feeds the Facebook machine.

The research team found that around half of the websites visited employ Facebook’s tracking technology. Facebook can track 55% of the websites visited by Facebook users, and 44% of non-Facebook users. Source: cesifo

🍏 Apple pays the Dutch antitrust fine week after week

Reuters reported this week that "the Dutch antitrust watchdog fined Apple €5 million on Monday, the 5th such penalty in successive weeks in a row over access to non-Apple payment methods for subscriptions to dating apps". The Dutch regulator has been levying fines of €5 million every week since Apple missed a January 15th deadline to make changes that the watchdog had mandated

However, the issue for Apple is if they ever decide to pay these fines, every other EU country would be able to go after them for exactly the same infringement. Source: MacRumors

📈 The Musk brothers probed for insider trading

The SEC is reportedly investigating whether Tesla stock sales by Elon Musk and his brother, Kimbal Musk, violate insider trading rules. Kimbal serves on Tesla’s board of directors and sold 88,500 shares one day before Elon tweeted a poll asking followers if he should sell 10% of his Tesla stock. Source: Morning Brew

🤖 Nobody is buying Astro, Amazon's home robot

Amazon’s Astro home robot remains elusive 6 months after it was announced. Bloomberg reported tracking down one buyer, who says the device is probably worth about half the retail price of $1,450. Source: Bloomberg, Wiser!

🚁 Black Hawk helicopter takes to the skies without a pilot

A United States Army Black Hawk helicopter has completed a 30-minute flight over Fort Campbell, Kentucky...with nobody on board. Using a system called ALIAS, the Black Hawk was turned into a completely automated aircraft. The AI took over key pre-flight procedures, including power, secondary control, wind checks, and elements of adaptive flying like take-off and landing. Had an emergency occurred, such as a loss of power, the system would have sought out an appropriate landing spot and touched down even if both engines had failed. Source: New Atlas

👩‍🎨 Some stats on the Great Resignation

  1. In April 2021, more than 4 million employees quit their jobs in the USA, another 4 million did the same in June.
  2. 56% of Gen Z workers said they were unhappy with the work-life balance at their job.
  3. More than 9 million open positions exist.
  4. 66% of Gen Z & 73% of millennials say they will switch jobs to get more control.
  5. More than 60% of both groups want to find new jobs for a chance to work remotely.
  6. Search for remote jobs is up 460%.

🤦‍♂️ Father brings down the Internet trying to stop his kids from going online

A father who wanted to limit his child’s screen time ended up accidentally taking down the internet for his entire town. The parent, who lives in the French town of Messanges, used a multi-frequency jammer to stop his children going online between midnight and 3am. It may sound like a hilarious faux pas, but the father now faces up to six months of jail time and a fine of $34,000 for the significant outage. Jamming telecom frequencies is illegal in France. Source: The Byte

🏝Tonga is back online after five weeks

Talking of going offline, the island nation in the southwestern Pacific Ocean lost connection with the internet after the gigantic volcanic eruption on January 15 damaged an undersea cable. It took a repair ship 10 days just to reach its waters, before getting to work fixing nearly 56 miles of fibre-optic cable. Tonga, like many island nations, is particularly vulnerable to outages because it only has one subsea cable providing the entire island with internet. Source: Morning Brew

w/Guides for the Creator Economy

Starting a Newsletter on the Ghost Publishing Platform
TechStack: Choosing the right tech platform when you are getting started with your newsletter is a daunting experience. There are so many options to chose from. When you ask an expert, the answer is usually, “it depends”. Not much help! In this article I’ll give you my 2-penneth of experience.
How to double your output with Quillbot’s AI writing tool
What if you could generate a single piece of content and reuse it across multiple platforms, saving you time while still giving value? The good news is that you can do it just like me. Using the AI-powered writing tool from Quillbot.

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