News You might have missed: Week of Sept 8, 2017

Google and Xiaomi partner for new Android One phone

At the start of the week, Google and Xiaomi announced a partnership to bring Android One to India and other markets in the shape of the new Mi A1, a smartphone that is priced at just over $200 and comes with the tagline “created by Xiaomi and powered by Google.” The A1 is very similar to the Mi X5 recently announced in China. It has a 5.5-inch 1080p screen, a metal body, and a dual-camera system that includes a secondary telephoto lens for 2x zooming and portraits with shallow depth of field and runs on Qualcomm Snapdragon 625. As to be expected from the tagline the A1 runs stock Android.

Via engadget

  • This is the second attempt to go into emerging markets with Android One product and the key difference is the price point. The initial play was at a very low price point but consumers just did not seem to be interested in getting an entry level device running on Android
  • For Google, this represents the opportunity to get a higher-end device with a very attractive price point that running on stock Android to drive higher engagement on Google services.
  • For Xiaomi, it means a broader market reach compared to the countries it usually launches in: 40 markets altogether. This is a big opportunity for Xiaomi, enabled by the fact that it did not have to come up with the software and services for each country.
  • The lack of Xiaomi’s usual user experience is the big risk for the vendor that grew a strong and loyal fan base precisely on its differentiated UI more so than hardware
  • In January, rumors had it that Android One was coming to the US market in the summer but so far we have not seen anything. It will be interesting to see who the partner will be for it but clearly, we could expect someone that can deliver aggressively priced higher end devices.

Amazon HQ2

Amazon is looking at opening a second North American HQ and is asking cities to bid for it

Amazon is looking for a location with strong local and regional talent—particularly in software development and related fields—as well as a stable and business-friendly environment to continue hiring and innovating on behalf of our customers. Bezos’s company is expect to invest over $5 billion in construction and grow this second headquarters to include as many as 50,000 high-paying jobs – it will be a full equal to the campus in Seattle. In addition to Amazon’s direct hiring and investment, construction and ongoing operation of Amazon HQ2 is expected to create tens of thousands of additional jobs and tens of billions of dollars in additional investment in the surrounding community.

Via Amazon

 

  • Amazon seems to have outgrown Seattle, a city that grew thanks to Amazon but now is faced with many of the challenges we see here in Silicon Valley: traffic, high cost of real estate and public infrastructure strain
  • Adding a second HQ will provide more flexibility to the new hires which might be a competitive advantage when it comes to hiring the best talent
  • Given Amazon is talking about North America, Canadian options could be considered but Bezos would attract even more criticism from the US President. Alternatively, cities in Illinois, Kentucky, and Ohio could also be an option has they already have been generous with state and local subsidies.
  • Texas might be an option given Wholefoods is headquartered there as well as the fact that Austin is becoming an active tech hub
  • For Seattle, after the recent departure from Boeing, this news is all positive as the city could not have coped with an extra 50k people.

Google rumored to buy HTC

A couple of weeks ago, HTC said it was evaluating options as far as selling its business or spinning off its Vive business. Today, a report from a Taiwanese news outlet called Commercial Times says Google is in the final stages of acquiring all or part of smartphone maker HTC.

Via Mashable

  • The only reason why I think it makes sense for Google to buy HTC is if it thought it could be bought by someone else and therefore unable to continue to make Pixel phones for Google. In a way, this is not dissimilar from Microsoft buying Nokia when it feared it could lose the largest Windows Phone maker they had
  • The interesting part would be if Vive were also on offer as this could give a competitive edge over Facebook and Oculus
  • Of course, this would not be Google’s first rodeo when it comes to buying a smartphone maker. Why is HTC different from Motorola? Because Google would focus on Pixel as a brand, not HTC
  • Some analysts said that HTC could cut its staff in half and try to stay afloat for longer. Right now HTC has more than double the staff of Motorola or Sony, yet a lower sales volume than either of the two.

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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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