Tag Archives: technology

Uber is reaching an inflection point (and may be reaching a crisis point)

Why? According to Bloomberg:

After touting profitability in the U.S. early this year, the ride-hailing company is said to post second-quarter losses exceeding $100 million.

A main source of the losses: subsidizing Uber drivers. As Christopher Mims commented on Twitter, “So Uber is a giant machine for transferring wealth from venture capitalists to underemployed Americans”. This is both clever and something that can’t go on indefinitely. It makes clearer to me now why Uber is keen to make self driving cars work. Sure, Uber could charge more for cabs or pay cab drivers less, but in either case, they risk losing market share.

The losses this quarter certainly are an inflection point. It remains to be see if it is a crisis point. That will depend on how the VCs see this loss. I believe they will have patience and they haven’t reached a crisis point yet. Uber should hope that their investors have the same patience that Amazon’s investors have.

For the rest of the story, see: Uber Loses at Least $1.2 Billion in First Half of 2016 – Bloomberg (Image above via the Bloomberg article)

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Anil Dash says: ‘There is no “technology industry”’. In reality….

There is a technology industry. Specifically, there is an information technology industry. There are lots of companies, big and small, whose sole aim is providing information technology products and services. Take a look at this list: they are some of the largest companies in the world whose purpose is I.T. They don’t focus on food, or entertainment, or logistics, or advertising: they focus on information technology.

The point he seems to be raising in his piece: There is no “technology industry” — Humane Tech — Medium is that there are companies leveraging I.T. that are considered tech companies, but aren’t. That’s a valid point. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a technology industry. Should we treat these companies differently that I.T. companies? Possibly. Companies like Theranos, for example, partially ran into trouble because they were treated the way a I.T. startup should be treated, when in my opinion they should have been treated more like a pharmaceutical or medical equipment company is treated. It’s important to look at what the companies do and not just how they model their business.

Towards the end of the piece, he says, “All it takes is a little discipline in how we communicate”. I agree.

This article about body cameras is asking the wrong questions, which is not surprising, since everyone is.

This article,  Will Body Cameras Work? – The Atlantic, is asking the wrong questions. The wrong questions are occurring because the initial answer to the question of “how do we deal with bad policing?” was often, “body cameras”. The better question to repeatedly ask: “how can we make police more accountable?” because if “body cameras” is the first answer to that question, the next question should be concerning the information captured by those body camera. How are police accountable for that? Which should then lead to another question: how are police accountable for information they capture generally? Because with new technology, police will soon be able to capture alot more information about you than just images. It will soon be possible for police to look at you or your vehicle and have that information feed back to centralized computer systems, essentially collecting information about you without you even knowing it. How will police be accountable for that?

Police accountability will come, likely through the courts. In the meantime, we will likely struggle with the fallout of police forces capturing more information.

Why do Apple’s Macbook chargers cost so much?

Simple: they are a complex piece of technology. The photo above shows a Macbook charger from Apple on the left: the charger on the right is from another company. You can clearly see that the one from Apple has a lot more technology packed in there. And for good reasons. To understand what those reasons are, see this piece:  Macbook charger teardown: The surprising complexity inside Apple’s power adapter. It was surprisingly interesting, from an engineering and design perspective.

Thanks to Tom Plaskon for sharing this on Twitter!

Newt Gingrich reviews the Apple Watch and it’s worthwhile

Mashable seems to have taken Newt on staff to do tech reviews and here he is the first piece of his I’ve come across: Newt Gingrich reviews the Apple Watch.

I was surprised, but I found his review well suited for non-technical people who are wondering if such and such technology is worth it for them.  If you fall into that category, you should get some benefit out of what he writes.

Personal drones are getting smaller and cheaper. What that leads to.

As you can see, this new drone (Micro Drone 3.0: Flight in the Palm of Your Hand,  Indiegogo) is really small. Also relatively cheap. Like other IT, I expect personal drones will only get smaller and cheaper. The only limit will likely be how big they have to be in order not to get blown away.

I have heard people come up with innovative ways of using personal drones. For example, some home inspectors are using them to check out hard to reach parts of people’s house in order to see if they are in good shape or not. That’s great.

But there are going to be lots of other ways that people use them which may not be so desirable. The most obvious one is invading people’s privacy. It is one thing to inspect a house when no one is in it: it’s another to do so when someone lives there. Instead of prank phone calls, we’ll have prank drone visits.

How people protect their rights in such cases will be difficult. Drones will raise a number of legal questions. For example, what is your recourse if someone has a drone follow you around? Or if someone has a drone hovering in a public place outside your home? Can you fly a drone above an outdoor concert so you can record it? Can you attack drones that fly into your personal airspace? Will there be security drones that keep other drones off people’s property? If you post a video of a drone visit to a property on YouTube and someone uses that video to help them rob that property, are you an accomplice?

There has been some good work on drones being done by government agencies like Transport Canada, but I think the technology is going to challenge governments and courts to keep up. Expect to see more and more debate on drones in the coming months and years.

As far as this particular drone, Mashable has more on it here.