x5: Facebook Inflates Video Views and Snapchat Launches Spectacles

September 26, 2016 Eric Mercer

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x5 is our news update that covers the 5 things that happen in tech each week and why they matter.


Thalmic Labs raises $120M USD from Intel and Amazon Alexa

The Kitchener, Ontario-based company completed its Series B raise, mainly led by Intel Capital, Fidelity Investments Canada, and the Amazon Alexa Fund. Thalmic Labs has already released the Myo armband, a gesture control device. They say that this latest round of funding will be used for development of both new and existing products.

Why This Matters

Besides this being a large sum of money, the news is significant because a Canadian company is getting major investment from large U.S. capital. The fact that Intel and Amazon Alexa are looking north of the border for investments speaks volumes about the state of technology and innovation in Canada. Many stories and opinion pieces have surface this year about how Toronto and Waterloo may well be the next Silicon Valley; this investment round is evidence of the growing importance and acknowledgement of tech startups and business in Canada.

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Facebook admits to inflating video views metric

Facebook recently announced that for the past few years it has overestimated the views metric for videos posted to the platform. The system counted views if they were 3 seconds or longer, which will change going forward. According to the Wall Street Journal, Facebook told media agency Publicis that its previous method “likely overestimated average time spent watching videos by between 60% and 80%”.

Why This Matters

Many media agencies and advertisers are very upset right now. This metric has determined media spending that amounts to millions, if not billions, of dollars. With the news of an inflated metric, marketers and advertisers will now have to re-evaluate which video platforms truly offer the highest performance and returns, likely resulting in a shift in spending away from Facebook.

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Apple has plans to release a competitor to Echo

According to Bloomberg, Apple has been working on different iterations of an Echo-like product for the past two years. They plan on integrating this product with Siri and having the ability to process Siri commands as well as other voice command triggers like those used with Amazon Alexa on the Echo.

Why This Matters

Apple has been working on this for a long time. While Amazon may have launched the Echo earlier than Apple, its goals may be different with these devices. Possibly the biggest benefit of the Echo to Amazon is the ability for consumers to purchase products from its store via voice command. Apple seems to be gearing its device towards controlling the smart home, which will put it in more direct competition with Google’s Home Device. One of the features of iOS 10 is the new Apple Home app, which is meant to serve as a controller hub for smart home devices. With a suite of products and an ecosystem that already works seamlessly together, this new device could well be adopted much faster that any of the other devices we’ve seen so far.

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Snapchat launches Spectacles

Recently rebranded as Snap Inc., the company revealed its new camera glasses product last week. Available in limited quantities this fall, Spectacles will cost $130 USD. The device can capture up to 30 seconds of video, which will be wirelessly transmitted to the wearer’s device. Footage will be filmed in circular format, which will then be transferred to the app in portrait format.

Why This Matters

Many people are comparing this launch to that of Google Glass. What was meant to be a revolutionary product, turned into something that was nerdy and felt as a threat to people’s privacy. If Snap Inc. is able to overcome the existing stigma around wearable eye tech, they will also need to offer a different and better experience using the Spectacles versus simply using one’s phone. If they are able to accomplish this, it could open up a whole new sub-category of content creation, especially when mixed with Snapchat’s ever growing filter and AR technology.

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Airbnb raises $555 Million

The company originally planned on raising $850M, with a valuation of $30B. They have not yet closed the round, still aiming to raise closer to the $850M. Google Capital and Technology Crossover Ventures are leading this round of funding.

Why This Matters

Airbnb has been trying to solve a lot of problems in the last few months. Between its anti-discrimination policy and the Friendly Building Program, the platform’s goal is to make Airbnb easier and more widely accepted. Keep in mind, Airbnb is still privately owned. This round of funding will likely ease pressure on Airbnb to IPO, despite the fact that the company isn’t necessarily strapped for cash. With this large amount of additional funding, Airbnb may be able to further develop its Friendly Building program – which, if successful, could be huge for the company and be a major disruption for the hospitality industry.

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