No BlackBerry sale, but thankfully Heins is out
So much for BlackBerry getting bailed out by another tech giant or hedge fund. Instead of announcing a buyer, the smartphone maker announced the $4.7 billion agreement with Fairfax Financial is over. And the company is now on the market for a new CEO, as Thorsten Heins was shown the door.
I can’t imagine too many people are surprised about the news, given the company’s struggles and ho-hum patent portfolio.
And all of those articles touting interest from Facebook, Cisco, and Google? They’re all based on courtesy meetings, according to Dan Primack:
In many of those cases, I called corporate development folks at the possible “buyer.” Usually it went like this:
Me: Are you considering a Blackberry bid?
Me: Then what do you make of the reports?
Them: They asked us to look, so we took the meeting as a courtesy.
Twitter’s (Possible) New News Service: Event Parrot
Twitter just launched Event Parrot, a Twitter account that delivers the news to you (though the account is labeled a “Twitter experiment” without any label as it being from Twitter HQ, it’s pretty much a given that it is.)
Thus far, I’ve received two direct messages from @eventparrot, one about Libyan Prime Minister Ali Zidan being kidnapped and one about Alice Munro winning the Nobel Prize for Literature:
At first glance, it reminds me of the notification alerts I get from the New York Times. Only major events are sent me my phone often once or twice a day. Usually the news has already broken on Twitter before I receive the alerts, which sort of defeats the point of it in the first place for me. But I imagine most NYT digital subscribers aren’t constantly checking Twitter throughout the day. Instead, they rely on these alerts to break this information.
And that’s why I just don’t understand the point of @eventparrot. Both of the direct messages I received were old news for me because I’d read about them… on Twitter. If a Twitter user is interested enough in receiving major news alerts, you’d think they’d already follow most breaking news Twitter accounts, like @BreakingNews, @NYT, etc.
So who is this really for? People who like news, but don’t want to clog up their feeds with news outlets? People who check Twitter occasionally?
And if these people are subscribing to this feed, why aren’t they being updated as news develops? Ali Zidan wasn’t held captive for long, yet I never received another message about the situation.
I think it’s interesting that Twitter is trying out these public experiments to try out new products for users. But this one feels half-baked at best.
Is Nest on its way to a Smart Home?
A few tech outlets just published their profiles of Nest’s latest product, a smart smoke detector:
The $129 Nest Protect, launching this fall, is a handsome white square with rounded corners and an op-arty sunflower pattern. When smoke or carbon monoxide reaches a government-specified level of peril, the device performs like every other alarm. But what sets Nest Protect apart is its vocal warning before things get that bad. This feature has the potential to save lives: Millions of people intentionally disable smoke alarms because they’re fed up when the alert blares at the slightest hint of charred bacon. Nest’s verbal alert gives owners a chance to head off a heart-palpitating klaxon call when none is warranted, making it less likely they’ll rip out the batteries in disgust. And the Nest Protect will never wake you at 3 a.m. to inform you that the battery is low—instead, when the lights go down at bedtime, its gentle ring of light provides a status report. A green glow means all is fine; a yellow circle tells you that it’s time to replace the battery.
I’m still on the fence about how much demand there will be for the Nest Protect. Outside of tech enthusiasts, I’m not sure how many people give enough thought to their smoke detectors. Obviously, more people should out of safety. But I don’t know how many people are willing to spend that much cash for something they use infrequently.
But more than anything, this article makes me wonder, just what else are they planning to introduce? After all:
Nest’s great promise is to vivify all the dumb, banal, and annoying products in our lives with excellent design, connectivity, learning ability, even personality. As these common household devices begin to burst with charm and intelligence, our homes may come to resemble a real-life Pixar movie in which toasters, light bulbs, and vacuum cleaners all vie for best supporting roles in the category of smart appliance.
Of the top of my head, I imagine they’ll tackle locks, air conditioners, vents, light fixtures, doors, and maybe even larger appliances, like fridges. And that’s not even accounting for the corporate world, where I imagine the majority of their sales will eventually come from.
And while all of the possibilities are exciting, it’s hard to imagine these products as anything more than a niche offerings. Not everyone wants to make their homes smarter, nor can they afford to do so. And while I love the efficiency from Nest’s learning thermostat’s, they’ll need to make their products more affordable before they have any real traction in the home appliances industry.
Early Thoughts on Twitter’s S-1 FIling
Twitter just filed its Form S-1 with the SEC. The company will use TWTR for its ticker symbol and is looking to raise $1 billion.
While most business and tech publications are sifting through each word, I wanted to point out the insights that stuck out to me so far:
- Twitter’s revenue is growing at an impressive rate: $28m in 2010, $316 million in 2012, and $253 million in only first 6 months of this year
- Twitter has more than 215 million monthly active users, but only 100 million are daily active users
- The company only added 1 million US users from March to June 2013; in the previous quarter, Dec 31-March 31 2013, the company added 3 million users. This is a major problem.
- The company estimates that less than 5% of monthly active users are spam or false accounts, which is crazy low, though Twitter admits that it’s using internal data that hasn’t been independently verified
- With 12% of the company’s stock, co-founder Evan Williams is going to make the most from the IPO
- Twitter loved the Oreo Superbowl blackout tweet so much it mentioned it in its S-1
- There’s no love lost between Twitter and Facebook; in the S-1, Twitter mentions that Facebook “has been introducing features similar to those of Twitter.”
- There are still no women on Twitter’s board.