News that Caught My Eye: Week of Sept 28, 2018

Oculus Quest

This week at Oculus Connect 5, Oculus announced that in March 2019 they will ship the Oculus Quest. The standalone VR device will be the first wireless Oculus hardware to sport positional tracking, both for the headset itself and the dual hand controllers. The headset will ship with 50-plus games made specifically for the device at launch. The headset will retail for $399.

Via TechCrunch  

  • On paper, the Oculus Quest sounds like the headset that could finally get consumers excited about VR. It delivers six degrees of freedom, a performance that is a little bit better than the Oculus Go, touch controllers all at a pretty aggressive price point.
  • We have known about Santa Cruz for the past two years and it seems that to deliver it to consumers with 50 titles available from day one will still take some time. But one thing is certain: time is not an issue.
  • Consumers are yet to show their excitement for VR due to a combination of factors: high prices for a high-end experience, cumbersome setup, high cost, unclear value.
  • Oculus launched last year its Oculus Go, its first self-contained headset. At $200, many believed it would be the one to put some life into a market that as yet to deliver on the many early promises. Unfortunately, Oculus Go delivered a compromised experience for which $200 seemed more than most would be happy to pay.
  • While the Oculus Quest seems a little underpowered there are certainly fewer compromises this headset offers compared to Oculus Go or the Lenovo Mirage Solo.
  • I was surprised that Oculus decided not to redesign the controllers. I know they are the best in the market, but they still do not deliver a natural experience. Maybe Oculus is keeping the update to more glove-like controllers for the Rift.
  • Oculus might be running the risk to show its cards a little too early especially as far as price point. That said Oculus has created a strong brand in VR and with the possibility of new headsets hitting the market in time for the holidays sharing specs and price for Oculus Quest might encourage some potential buyers to wait.

Instagram’s Co-Founders Leave Firm

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, the co-founders of the photo-sharing app Instagram, have resigned and plan to leave the company in the coming weeks, adding to the challenges facing Instagram’s parent company, Facebook.

Via The New York Times

  • Systrom and Krieger did not give a specific reason for leaving, but it seems to be a common belief that disagreement was growing between the two and Zuckerberg.
  • The item of contention was how Zuckerberg would like to monetize from Instagram compared to what the founders believed their creation should endure.
  • Interestingly, most of the “improvements” made to the service since the acquisition seemed more aimed at helping Facebook by bringing people back onto the platform rather than designed to grow stickiness to Instagram.
  • This is a very crucial time for both Facebook and Instagram. On the one hand, Facebook has been falling more and more under the government’s scrutiny and facing growing dissatisfaction among users. On the other hand, Instagram has been growing in users and engagement.
  • Even more important is the fact that many users, me included, have started using Instragram more and Facebook less. With many users having an account on both services, it is fairly easy to switch engagement and still remain connected with the core base.
  • Instagram seems to have remained immune from most that plagues Facebook, from Fake News to politically charged posts. This might not only drive more engagement but might also provide a more positive environment for advertizing to thrive.
  • It will be very interesting to see what Zuckerberg will do next, now that Systrom and Krieger are no longer there to try and keep Instagram as true as possible to their original vision.
  • As far as Systrom and Krieger and what they will do next, they did not share much but it would be hard to believe they can pull out another Instagram success from their hat.

Samsung Electronics Chairman Indicted on Charges of Union Sabotage

Lee Sang-hoon, the chairman of Samsung Electronic’s board of directors, has been indicted for allegedly sabotaging unions in what prosecutors claim is a violation of South Korea’s labor laws, reports the Financial Times. Lee, who became chairman in March of this year, will face trial along with 31 other executives from Samsung and its affiliates. It’s the latest in a long series of corruption charges against Samsung executives.

 Via The Verge  

  • It has been a long year for Samsung’s leadership, starting with the indictment of the Vice Chairmam Lee Jae-yong for corruption. He was released from prison on a suspended sentence.
  • Then came the reorganization that tried to instill new life into the company with younger leaders appointing Kim Kinam as head of Samsung’s semiconductor and display businesses; Kim Hyunsuk as head of its consumer electronics division and DJ Koh as the head of the mobile business.
  • While these kinds of news make for good headlines they usually have little impact on the choices consumers make on what they buy, especially at an international level.
  • If you are thinking about the impact on company morale, you need to consider culture differences both at a country and company level. When the Vice Chairman was indicted the feelings were very mixed. Some felt it was time for a changed and were appalled by the behavior, but many could not forget that Samsung, at the end of the day, is a cornerstone in the Korean economy and more personally the one that puts food on the table for many families across several lines of business.
  • In today’s world where employees walk out in protest againt a company business decision and succeed in changing it like it happened with Google and their AI project, it is interesting to see how differently America, and to some extent, European companies are judged compared to those based across Asia.

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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