News You might have missed: Week of Oct 27th, 2017

Amazon launches Amazon Key

Amazon announced this week it will be rolling out an in-home delivery service for its Prime members starting on November 8 in 37 American cities and their surrounding areas. To make that possible, Amazon launched a new internet-connected security camera called Amazon Cloud Cam, priced at $ 120. If you want to be part of the Amazon Key service you also have to buy a “smart” lock to allow delivery people to enter your home. Combined camera-lock packages start at $250.

Via recode

  • Most commentary I have seen on this news on Twitter and on Facebook could be summed up by the most common reply: “hell, no!” Yet, if you are on NextDoor, I am sure you have seen an increasing amount of neighbors reporting stole packages. This trend gets particularly bad around the holidays which I am sure explains Amazon’s timing.
  • Amazon tries to reassure potential users of the service by saying that all delivery people used by Amazon are vetted both with a background check and a vehicle records review.
  • The process of unlocking the door for the delivery person also seems quite thought out: A delivery driver arrives at a home and requires access. Through an encrypted authentication process, Amazon checks that the driver is at the correct address at the correct time. When everything checks out, the Amazon Cloud Cam starts recording and the door is unlocked. No codes or special keys are ever given to the delivery person.
  • We have a smart lock that can be programmed with temporary codes which is undoubtedly very convenient and much more reliable than issueing duplicate keys for cleaners, babysitters or dog walkers. I believe the big difference here is that while these people are also offering a service they are people that we vetted directly who built trust over time. Amazon makes the choice for us so we need to trust Amazon to get it right which is not quite the same as trusting Amazon itself.
  • Even when trust is not an issue the service might limit itself to Prime members without pets who might be concerned about pets running out the door or biting the delivery person.
  • My example of cleaners and dog walkers makes me wonder if these are services that Amazon could be offering soon. Amazon could even offer a delivery and set up service for electronics all done though the new Amazon Key service. You order your TV, and by the time you get home from the office, it is all set up for you.
  • If you are skeptical, remember that convenience sells best! Plus, our research shows that consumers trust Amazon when it comes to security and privacy. The E-commerce giant comes after Apple and Microsoft in the ranking among US consumers. Whether this trust expands to our home, it remains to be seen.

Apple buys Wireless Charging Company

This week Apple confirmed that it had acquired New Zealand firm PowerbyProxi. The Auckland company is best known for creating the Proxi-Module platform, a modular wireless power and data system that can be adapted and incorporated into various types of devices to give them wireless capabilities. A few years ago, Samsung also invested $4 million into the company but did not acquire it.

Via Reuters

  • This acquisition raised some questions given Apple only recently added wireless charging technology based on Qi standard to the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X.
  • Qi is a somewhat old technology by now that while called wireless is still pretty much plugged in. The difference is that it is the mat or the cradle that is plugged in rather than your phone. The overall experience does not change much though.
  • Apple is also working on the AirPower, a mat that will allow users to place multiple devices on it to charge simultaneously.
  • Having looked at a video of what PowerbyProxy’s products can do, I think Apple has a much longer term view of wireless charging and a much broader list of products in mind.
  • PowerbyProxy demoed at CES a box where any object that was running on their AA and AAA designed batteries could be charged. They literally threw in game consoles controllers, headsets, TV remotes, toys.
  • If you think about Apple products today like AirPods, Pencil, Siri TV remote and products of the future like glasses, you can easily see why Apple might want to think of a different solution than a mat both for the home and the car.
  • Of course, aside from the full solution PowerbyProxy also holds a good number of patents that Apple might have been interested in

Uber launches Its Own Credit Card

On Wed. at Money 20/20, Uber in collaboration with Barclays and Visa launched its own credit card. You can apply for the card online, and you will be approved in a matter of minutes. The card is automatically available for use for Uber rides and UberEats purchases and a physical card will show up in the mail within a week or so. You will earn points as you go. The card has no fees and will give you $100 if you spend $500 in the first month. There are a set of credits that depend on purchase type and another $50 when you spend $5000 a year. All of course can be redeemed for rides!


  • Uber clearly did not think that knowing where we are going and what food gets delivered is enough for the company. In a similar way to Amazon they will now be able to track much more of what we do via what we spend money on.
  • Probably aimed at Millennials who have been making up the largest portion of their base, Uber must hope that these users are less concerned about privacy and are more willing to share their information in return for something.
  • Uber’s track record on privacy has not been the strongest. Back in August, it settled FTC’s accusation that company failed to protect consumers’ sensitive data which resulted in employees having access to rider and driver information and led to a data breach in 2014 that exposed thousands of drivers’ names and license numbers. The settlement required for Uber to hire an outside firm to audit its privacy practices every two years for the next two decades, and violations of the settlement could lead to financial penalties.
  • Also in August, Uber ended its tracking of users after they completed their rides. A feature that was turned on in the Uber App in November and that immediately raised concerns.
  • In 2012, Uber used rides data to calculate “one night stands” by stating: “[A]nyone who took a ride between 10pm and 4am on a Friday or Saturday night, and then took a second ride from within 1/10th of a mile of the previous nights’ drop-off point 4-6 hours later (enough for a quick night’s sleep) [has engaged in a one-night stand].”
  • The reward system offered by Uber seems quite complex and with credit cards moving more to straight cash rewards the appeal might just not be the same
  • This comes at a time where we have seen users boycott Uber and switching to Lyft so any misstep at this point could cost dearly
  • Uber clarified to Engadget that it would not get any information on individual spending, as that will stay with the issuing bank, Barclays. The only thing Uber will know is the amount of spending that occurs on their cards in aggregate. The company says it will have access to how many Uber credits that rider has earned through the percent back on an individual level. This post has been edited in light of those details.
  • Even with this level of data, Uber will be able to offer information to retailers and come up with a service pairing that you can only pay through your Uber card.

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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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