News You might have missed: Week of August 11th, 2017

Consumer Reports pulls recommendation for Microsoft Surface laptops

Consumer Reports based its decision on the results of an annual subscriber survey about the products such people own and use. It estimates Microsoft’s laptops and tablets will experience breakage rates of 25% within two years of ownership, loosely defined as any issue that comes up that prevents the computer from working as the owner expects. As a result, Consumer Reports added that it couldn’t currently recommend any other Microsoft laptops or tablets, including the latest Surface Pro model that was introduced in June.

Via USA Today

  • The methodology of this report leaves a few questions unanswered starting with how large the sample of actual Surface users was.
  • Given the sample is based on consumers I would have to assume the numbers are quite small.
  • Considering the question focused on the specific period of “within 2 years” one would assume that the devices used for reference here are older than a Surface Pro 4 and probably not including many Surface Books.
  • If I am correct in my assumptions of which models are part of the sample and I look at the most aggressively priced Surfaces, Surface RT and Surface 3 could make up a large proportion of this sample.
  • While the assessment of those specific products might be correct it is certainly not a reflection of Surface current line up.

YouTube CEO Susan Wojicicki has the perfect response to the Googler memo

Ms. Woijicicki had to answer a difficult question from her daughter: “Mom, is it true that there are biological reasons why there are fewer women in tech and leadership? And she said: “I thought about all of this, looked at my daughter and answered simply. No, it’s not true.”

Via Fortune 

  • I found this short but pointed article perfectly spot on. A great summary of what many women face in the workplace both in Silicon Valley and outside.
  • Freedom of expression does not mean that a company should ignore stances that perpetuate negative stereotypes on any group of people based on their gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.
  • Freedom of speech means that YouTube CEO can express her opinion on the memo while her company airs Damore’s first interview granted to alt-right YouTube personality Stefan Molyneux.

Snap Q2 earnings

Snaps revenue hit $181.7 million vs. $ 189 million that was expected and 173 million daily active users vs. 175 million expected. The number of daily Snap users only increased by 7 million from the first quarter but analysts’ expectations were for 10 million. Average revenue per user for the quarter grew to $1.05 from $0.50 year on year. Around 81% of Snap’s second-quarter revenue came from North America. Spectacles sales dropped.

Via Snap

  • Snap seems to be suffering from a slower than expected growth in international markets coupled with increased competition in its largest market, North America.
  • Spectacles sales were down over Q1 raising questions about their long term relevance. While they do a great job for holidays and special occasions they are something you need to remember to carry with you. I am certainly not the right demographic, but, I found that I have been leaving them home more and more as the novelty wears off.
  • CEO Evan Spiegel gave a shout out to “Our dancing hot dog is likely the world’s first augmented reality superstar.” My big question is whether Snap will be able to keep up with the pace of innovation large companies like Apple and Google will put behind AR.

Uber new in-app chat

Uber is rolling out in-app messaging to allow drivers and riders to communicate without exchanging phone numbers. If you want to contact the driver you select “contact” and then “chat.” This is to avoid exchanging phone numbers when calling. Uber already uses an anonymizing technology to mask phone numbers when you call or text outside the app, so it shows up as a random number. But while that technology is used in the US, it isn’t available in some emerging markets.


  • Considering the many negative stories on Uber as of late and I am referring more to leasing faulty cars rather than the CEO vs. Board saga, I feel that anything to increase the sense of security is a good step.
  • While the idea of chatting without having to share phone numbers is a great one I do wonder how effective that will be in a real life situation. Most of the times when you are contacting the driver is to explain your location and that might not be as easily done via texting.
  • Aside from ease of use the other concern would be the speed of the actual chat client within the app. I am sure I am not alone to have experienced poor refresh and connectivity within the app just when tracking the car or even receiving the final score card at the end of the trip.

Disney Streaming Service

As part of its announcement on Tuesday, Disney said that it would spend heavily on original programming for its entertainment streaming service and pull future Disney and Pixar movies from Netflix. Disney has not yet decided whether to pull its Marvel or “Star Wars” movies from Netflix. The streaming plans start with the introduction early next year of a subscription service to be built around ESPN’s sports programming. It will be powered by BamTech, a technology company that handles direct-to-consumer video for baseball teams and HBO, among others. Disney paid $1 billion a year ago for a 33 percent stake in BamTech.

Via New York Times 

  • Netflix seemed the biggest loser in this announcement, however, even with Disney pulling all its content the value proposition for the kids’ audience remains strong as the Disney content is a small portion of the Netflix offering.
  • In order to appeal to a broad audience, Disney will have to invest a lot in original content in my view. What Disney will distribute through cable and what they will distribute via their streaming service will require a delicate balance. While cable revenue might be in decline it still represents a sizable chunk that cannot be jeopardized before the alternative source is solid.
  • I am curious to see if Disney is entertaining the possibility of distributing early on their streaming service some of the movies available in cinemas. This is an idea that Apple was toying which but an idea that faced a lot of negative feedback from cinemas due to the potential loss of revenue from concessions. Disney might have better luck with it.

Published by

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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