Tech Narratives was a subscription website, which offered expert commentary on the day's top tech news from Jan Dawson, along with various other features, for $10/month. As of Monday October 16, 2017, it will no longer be updated. An archive of past content will remain available for the time being. I've written more about this change in the post immediately below, and also here.
Fitbit Reports Worst Revenue in Nearly 3 Years, Second Straight Quarter of Heavy Losses (May 3, 2017)
Snapchat Claims Unique Audiences Despite Facebook Growth (May 3, 2017)
Snapchat claims that it is still able to reach unique audiences despite Facebook’s rapid growth. That’s quite a claim since Facebook’s monthly active users now equate to two thirds of the entire US population and it reaches 52% of the US population daily. But app analytics firm App Annie has some numbers which suggest that Snapchat’s audience does include a chunk of users who aren’t active on Facebook or Instagram the same day. So Snapchat’s argument is really one about reaching a narrow base of users that can’t be reached another way, which is really an argument for Snapchat as a complementary ad platform rather than a core platform, given that the reach of both Facebook and Google is far wider. Snapchat’s reach at the end of last year was about one third of Facebook’s in the US, and far lower than that in most markets around the world, so it remains very much a niche play despite its success in a demographic that matters to advertisers.
Mark Zuckerberg today announced that Facebook will be hiring 3,000 additional people (on top of the 4,500 it already has in this area) to work on reviewing content, in light of several recent horrific events that have taken place or been promoted on its live video platform. There have been calls for Facebook to shut down or severely limit its live video capability because of the murders and suicides which have been broadcast or bragged about on the platform, but that’s always felt a little overly heavy-handed to me. This approach is much more in line with what I’ve proposed, which is that Facebook needs better reporting tools and a more rapid response to those reports. Later today we’ll get an update on total employee numbers, but as of the end of 2016 Facebook had 17,000, meaning that its 4,500-strong existing team was already a quarter of total employees. Even if Facebook’s total headcount grows on the past trend line, 7,5000 employees in this area would make up around a third of its employees, which is remarkable. As Facebook dives deeper into hosting its own content, it’s having to spend inordinate amounts of money and employee time policing that content, something I suspect it didn’t fully anticipate when it embarked on this strategy a few years ago.
HBO Will Pull Shows from Amazon Prime After Next Year (May 3, 2017)
Ecobee Launches Thermostat with Alexa (May 3, 2017)
YouTube and Netflix Dominate Teens’ Video Viewing (May 2, 2017)
Apple’s results for calendar Q1 (its fiscal Q2) were out today, and they largely continued the trends from the December quarter. Revenue growth continued and actually accelerated despite the lack of the extra week which made last quarter’s numbers slightly harder to parse, but the connection between iPhone growth and revenue growth was broken as iPhone shipments dipped slightly (though a change in inventory patterns from last year eliminates some of the dip). Notably, Tim Cook said Apple is starting to see a pause in iPhone buying ahead of a big anticipated upgrade this Fall, which is bad news in the short term but potentially feeds the super-cycle narrative that’s become so popular lately if Apple is able to deliver. Other things worth noting: continued rapid iPad declines, though entirely in the Mini size (revenues from the rest of the lineup grew); strong Apple Watch sales, up nearly double year on year (likely around 3.2-3.5m), with total wearables (Watch, AirPods, and Beats sales) likely around $6 billion for the last four quarters combined. Services continues to be the strongest growth driver by far, up 18% for the second straight quarter driven by 40% App Store growth and likely strong Apple Music revenue growth too. Overall, this is a solid quarter for Apple, with nothing out of the ordinary or too unexpected – all the existing trends are ticking over nicely, with the iPhone roughly flat (up slightly on revenue, down slightly on shipments), and some of the growth drivers delivering well, while the iPad and China continue to be a drag. Next quarter’s guidance is going to be fascinating because it will have to address the issue of what new devices will launch, when, and at what prices without explicitly mentioning any of that!
via Apple (as usual, I live tweeted earnings with tons of charts which you can see in this thread, and I’ll have my earnings deck on Apple up for Jackdaw Research Quarterly Decks Service subscribers in the next little while)
I commented on a piece a little while ago about how Chase had a member of staff manually go through the sites where its ads were appearing and pare that number back in order to ensure that its ads were appearing on high quality sites against reputable content. That effort paid off for Chase, which saw essentially the same end results from its advertising on 5,000 as it had on 400,000, but it’s a heck of a lot of work to go through. So a service that offers to help brands work through similar decisions without having to do all the work is bound to be appealing, and that’s what News Corp is offering through its Storyful product. News Corp itself isn’t a major destination for online advertising, but the Murdoch empire in total certainly is, thanks to 21st Century Fox and its significant TV ad revenue (21CF alone had around 75% as much ad revenue in 2016 as Facebook did in the US). But this Storyful product is an expansion of News Corp’s ad offerings into a new area which isn’t directly tied to its online ad platform (or those of 21CF). So although the article sets this up as part of a broader war between Murdoch and Google, this is pretty peripheral stuff. But it’s clearly aimed at taking advantage of some of Google’s recent troubles in this area.