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Benedict's
Newsletter

This is a weekly newsletter of what I've seen in tech and mobile and thought was interesting. I work at Andreessen Horowitz. See more or subscribe at www.ben-evans.com.
News

Facebook is tweaking the newsfeed to show more stories from close friends and family and fewer shared news stories from third party publishers. In other words, the firehose of traffic Facebook sends out is going to be turned down. My Facebook thesis is that Zuckerberg's key skill is surfing user behaviour, and spotting and killing anything that detracts for the experience. It doesn't matter how strategically (or financially) important that thing might be - it it's unbalancing the surf board it gets pushed off. Link

Facebook has updated its Messenger Bot platform, following feedback after F8. Addresses many of the micro pain points but I think discoverability is a big gap. Link

A Tesla using the Mobileye-based collision-avoidance crashed, killing the driver. Not entirely clear what happened yet, and manual drivers are killed in accidents every day, but it's also not clear if all Tesla users quite understand that this capability isn't anything approaching autonomy. Link

Apple and Spotify are fighting over whether Spotify can put an app in the app store that bypasses Apple's in-app payment. This feels very 2010 (especially after Apple cut the commission to 15% after 1 year just before WWDC) but for anyone who has marginal cost (as is baked into Spotify's model) 15% is still a big issue. Link

Meanwhile, after buying Beats (for talent and artist relationships) Apple might now be looking at Jay Z's small streaming app Tidal. More talent, relationships and exclusives? Link 

Amazon is expanding the Amazon Dash product. I find this thing fascinating - Amazon wants to plumb your home for commodity products. A side effect is that this bakes in your choice for, say, soap-powder: no more impulse purchases based on brand or what shelf it's placed on in the supermarket. Link

Qualcomm has partnered with Google to implement chip support for 'Project Tango', its camera-based smartphone AR/hand-tracking thing project. Link

Anki (a16z portfolio company) launched a personal robot. Cute little thing. Link

Twitter is building an AR/VR team. Link

There's a vulnerability in Symantec products so bad that just emailing an encrypted description of it to Symantec breaches their systems. Link

Facebook is shutting down its Paper news reading app. This was a lovely thing that never took off, which is an interesting thread - Facebook doesn't seem to have had such success building new things itself for a long time (seems to be doing OK regardless, though.) Link 

There's a rumour that the next iPhone won't have a standard 3.5mm headphone jack. Not exactly important in the scheme of things but oh wow will we hear all about it. Overview here. Link

Blog posts

Interesting musings on what Snapchat is. Not sure I understand it myself, which is kind of the point. Link

Rare and long interview with Li Ka-Shing. Link 

The Economist on AI, neural networks and what started working. Link

A16z primer on quantum computing. Link

WhatsApp commerce in Africa. Link

Magic Leap predictions for augmented reality. Link

Merging of tech and cars. Link

Live-streaming apps in China (hint- big deal). Link

Be careful using Google Trends. Link

'Blackbird' - a car that reconfigures itself to stand-in for different CG cars. Link

Statistics

Facebook has 8bn video views a day (note - not everyone is a fan of Facebook's definition of 'view') Link

 
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