News You Might Have Missed, Week of December 21st, 2018

London Gatwick Airport Shuts Down Due to Drone Activity

On Thursday the runway at Gatwick airport remained closed until 3 a.m. and then was shut down again 45 minutes later after “a further sighting of drones.” It was still closed as of Thursday evening, and police are hunting for the drones’ operator.

Via Cnet

  • London Gatwick is one of the busiest airports in Europe especially at this time of the year.
  • While many might think it is silly to think that a small drone could inflict any damage to a plane there is plenty of research that proves the opposite. While the probability of a collision is small, drones can be drawn into the turbine of the plane or could inflict serious damage to a cockpit windshield.
  • According to the UK Airprox Board, there were 92 instances of aircraft and drones coming close to colliding in 2017.
  • As prices continue to decrease and capabilities continue to increase, the threat that drones pose to an aircraft is high. Charter planes or helicopters that are smaller and tend to fly at lower altitudes are the biggest risks but of course, all planes during takeoff or landing are a target.
  • The risk is high because there is a certain degree of stupidity in this area with users not realizing the impact that a small device can have when gravity comes into play. Stupidity aside there is also a high risk of criminal activity where bad players might want to intentionally cause harm.
  • Retail drones have a geofence that does not allow them to fly within a couple of miles from an airport but apparently, this can easily be bypassed if you know what you are doing.
  • There is technology available to track, divert and disable rogue drones but these systems are being deployed very slowly in specific locations rather than systematically across countries.
  • Drones pose other security threats when you think about crowded events or even heavy traffic roads.
  • Like many other technologies that are being brought to market today, we are simply unprepared when it comes to security, safety, insurance and of course policies and regulations.
  • I do also wonder if today’s culture is very different from the past. Model airplanes are no different from drones but I do believe that today’s culture looking for the stunt, the video hits on social media and of course terror threats make the comparison between drones and model planes quite hard.

Google Home Holidays Ad

In the “Home Alone Again” ad Google brings back Macaulay Culkin in his role of Kevin — but this time, with a more modern, Google Assistant-powered setup.

Via The Verge

  • Google is going all in with Holidays ads they even have one for Google Duo where the Video Chat service is strategically positioned as a FaceTime that works across platforms and keeps families on Android and iOS together!
  • In this very cute Google Home ad, Culkin relies on Google to help with some of the famous bits from the movie, including the famous “Operation Kevin” that automates things like locking the door, moving around a cardboard cutout on a Roomba, and turning on the lights to protect against a Joe Pesci-like thief.
  • Why am I talking about an ad? Because making an emotional connection with consumers is as important as showing how a digital assistant can help.
  • There is still a lot of work that needs to be done to get consumers to push the boundaries of what they can ask their digital assistant to do as well as how many devices can be connected to and operated through a digital assistant.
  • In past ads, Google had been focused on what Google Assistant can do for you with the “Make Google Do it” with this add there is a more deliberate focus on the connected home.
  • There were many products shown in the ad but interestingly there were no Nest products despite a request to lower the temperature and one for showing the front door.
  • After bringing back Nest into the Devices groups it seems to me that their products are still not seen as part of the Made by Google line up and therefore mostly an afterthought. A very different approach from Amazon’s rapid assimilation of the Ring product line.
  • Some have also noticed that the phone used in the ad does not reflect any existing hardware which seems a little strange given how popular the Pixel Phones have been.
  • If the phone was meant to show a generic Android device then I would have expected to see third-party Google Assistant enabled devices but this was not the case as all the other devices were Made by Google devices.
  • Maybe we are all reading too much into this phone thinking about an unreleased model when the answer could be as simple as the fact that for a company that has focused on software for so long the world of hardware is still all a bit new.

Slack Bans Users Who Have Visited US-sanctioned Countries

On Thursday, some Slack users began to report receiving a message from the app notifying them they had been banned from the service because of their ties with one of the countries the US has an embargo with Iran, Cuba, North Korea, Syria, and the Crimea region or Ukraine.

Via Mashable 

  • The message clearly states that the ban from the services is due to complying with export control and economic sanctions laws.
  • However, many users who received the message and lost access to the service took to Twitter to say they are not in Iran nor do they have any ties with any of the countries listed.
  • Furthermore, users lamented the inability to appeal against the decision especially given that they received no warning this was going to happen.
  • It is clear to me that the current political climate is making companies nervous and when you are popular but well aware that you do not have the gravitas the big Internet giants have you pick safe over sorry.
  • According to a Slack representative the ban was implemented through geolocation which relies on IP addresses as Slack does not have access to nationality or ethnicity data of its users.
  • Considering how some of the users who were banned did not reside in any of the countries listed, one has to wonder how accurate that geolocation data was.
  • I suppose it is somewhat refreshing to see a company not adopting the “move fast break things” mantra. But, it does seem that Slack is either over concerned or not up to speed with all aspects of the law in this regard.
  • Since 2014, US sanctions have included a license for personal communication tools like chat and social media that are used to exchange personal communication. It would seem to me that Slack would fall into this category.
  • Some of the concerns Slack might have about making sure to be compliant might be linked to the fact that its service is not blocked in Iran like other messaging services are possibly making it a preferred service.
  • After ZTE and more recently Huawei, it is understandable why a US company might want to take a broad brush approach first and maybe review later.

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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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