Fluence, the energy storage systems developer, is now worth over $1 billion after QIA investment

The Qatar Investment Authority is investing $125 million into energy storage systems integrator and power management tech developer, Fluence, in a deal that will value the company at over $1 billion.

The joint venture between the American independent power producer, AES Corp. and the German industrial conglomerate Siemens, was already worth $900 million prior to the transaction, according to Marek Wolek, the vice president of strategy and partnerships at Fluence.

With the new cash, Fluence will look to develop and acquire software and services that can expand the company’s offerings to its core clients among utilities and independent power project developers, Wolek said.

And it might not be too long before the company seeks additional liquidity from the public markets, Wolek said. He noted that the QIA is already backing the battery company QuantumScape, which was acquired by a special purpose acquisition company in late November and whose shares have been on a meteoric rise ever since.

After the QIA investment, AES and Siemens will remain majority shareholders. Each will hold a 44 percent stake in the company after the investment.

“We believe the global problem of climate change can only be tackled by  leveraging the combined capabilities of technologists and investors from around  the world,” said Manuel Perez Dubuc, Fluence’s Chief Executive Officer, in a statement. “We see  energy storage as the linchpin of a decarbonized grid and adding QIA to our  international shareholder base will allow Fluence to innovate even faster and  address the enormous global market for large-scale battery-based energy  storage.” 

One of six founding members of the One Planet Sovereign Wealth Fund Initiative, QIA is a multi-billion dollar investment vehicle that has significant stores of capital to continue its support of climate tech companies like Fluence.

Fluence has already deployed roughly 5 gigawatts of energy storage and management systems to a wide array of customers, according to Wolek.

And while Wolek said Fluence sees itself and its energy storage business as a key component of the global decarbonization which needs to occur to combat climate change, electric storage isn’t the only technology that’s needed.

It’s difficult looking at the energy market and looking at one technology and saying that one technology is going to solve everything,” said Wolek. 

Rather, the company’s role is to ensure that the battery technology Fluence is deploying can be integrated with the other technologies required to provide industry and society with the power it needs, he said. “We want to absolutely be the experts on battery-based storage,” Wolek said. “At the same time we do invest quite a bit on the digital side to expand our dispatch capabilities beyond storage.”

That could mean teaming up with other energy suppliers (like developers of hydrogen fuel proejcts) in the future, he said.

“We want to master the energy piece on the battery side,” Wolek said of the company’s ultimate goal.

That goal puts the company on something of a collision course with the energy business being built by Elon Musk’s Tesla.

The billion-dollar valuation that Fluence currently enjoys and the $36.6 billion market cap that QuantumScape has goes some way toward explaining why Tesla can be considered to be a company worth over $650 billion.


Source: Tech Crunch

Imagine being blind and trying to attend a virtual event. Try that next time you stage one.

How do you make a virtual event accessible for people who are blind or visually impaired?

When I started work on Sight Tech Global back in June this year, I was confident that we would find the answer to that question pretty quickly. With so many virtual event platforms and online ticketing options available to virtual event organizers, we were sure at least one would meet a reasonable standard of accessibility for people who use screen readers or other devices to navigate the Web.

Sadly, I was wrong about that. As I did my due diligence and spoke to CEOs at a variety of platforms, I heard a lot of “we’re studying WCAG [Web Content Accessibility Guidelines] requirements” or “our developers are going to re-write our front-end code when we have time.” In other words, these operations, like many others on the Web, had not taken the trouble to code their sites for accessibility at the start, which is the least costly and fairest approach, not to mention the one compliant with the ADA.

This realization was a major red flag. We had announced our event dates – Dec 2-3, 2020 – and there was no turning back. Dmitry Paperny, our designer, and I did not have much time to figure out a solution. No less important than the dates was the imperative that the event’s virtual experience work well for blind attendees, given that our event was really centered on that community.

We decided to take Occam’s razor to the conventions surrounding virtual event experiences and answer a key question: What was essential? Virtual event platforms tend to be feature heavy, which compounds accessibility problems. We ranked what really mattered, and the list came down to three things:

  • live-stream video for the “main stage” events
  • a highly navigable, interactive agenda
  • interactive video for the breakout sessions.

We also debated adding a social or networking element as well, and decided that was optional unless there was an easy, compelling solution.

The next question was what third-party tools could we use? The very good news was that YouTube and Zoom get great marks for accessibility. People who are blind are familiar with both and many know the keyboard commands to navigate the players. We discovered this largely by word of mouth at first and then discovered ample supporting documentation at YouTube and Zoom. So we chose YouTube for our main stage programming and Zoom for our breakouts. It’s helpful, of course, that it’s very easy to incorporate both YouTube and Zoom in a website, which became our plan.

Where to host the overall experience, was the next question. We wanted to be able to direct attendees to a single URL in order to join the event. Luckily, we had already built an accessible website to market the event. Dmitry had learned a lot in the course of designing and coding that site, including the importance of thinking about both blind and low-vision users. So we decided to add the event experience to our site itself – instead of using a third-party event platform – by adding two elements to the site navigation – Event (no longer live on the site) and Agenda.

The first amounted to a “page” (in WordPress parlance) that contained the YouTube live player embed, and beneath that text descriptions of the current session and the upcoming session, along with prominent links to the full Agenda. Some folks might ask, why place the agenda on a separate page? Doesn’t that make it more complicated? Good question, and the answer was one of many revelations that came from our partner Fable, which specializes in usability testing for people with disabilities. The answer, as we found time and again, was to imagine navigating with a screen reader, not your eyes. If the agenda were beneath the YouTube Player, it would create a cacophonous experience – imagine trying to listen to the programming and at the same time “read” (as in “listen to”) the agenda below. A separate page for the agenda was the right idea.

The Agenda page was our biggest challenge because it contained a lot of information, required filters and also, during the show, had different “states” – as in which agenda items were “playing now” versus upcoming versus already concluded. Dmitry learned a lot about the best approach to drop downs for filters and other details to make the agenda page navigable, and we reviewed it several times with Fable’s experts. We decided nonetheless to take the fairly unprecedented step of inviting our registered, blind event attendees to join us for a “practice event” a few days before the show in order to get more feedback. Nearly 200 people showed up for two sessions. We also invited blind screen reader experts, including Fable’s Sam Proulx and Facebook’s Matt King, to join us to answer questions and sort out the feedback.

It’s worth noting that there are three major screen readers: JAWS, which is used mostly by Windows’ users; VoiceOver, which is on all Apple products; and NVDA, which is open source and works on PCs running Microsoft Windows 7 SP1 and later. They don’t all work in the same way, and the people who use them range from experts who know hundreds of keyboard commands to occasional users who have more basic skills. For that reason, it’s really important to have expert interlocutors who can help separate good suggestions from simple frustrations.

The format for our open house (session one and session two) was a Zoom meeting, where we provided a briefing about the event and how the experience worked. Then we provided links to a working Event page (with a YouTube player active) and the Agenda page and asked people to give it a try and return to the Zoom session with feedback. Like so much else in this effort, the result was humbling. We had the basics down well, but we had missed some nuances, such as the best way to order information in an agenda item for someone who can only “hear” it versus “see” it. Fortunately, we had time to tune the agenda page a bit more before the show.

The practice session also reinforced that we had made a good move to offer live customer support during the show as a buffer for attendees who were less sophisticated in the use of screen readers. We partnered with Be My Eyes, a mobile app that connects blind users to sighted helpers who use the blind person’s phone camera to help troubleshoot issues. It’s like having a friend look over your shoulder. We recruited 10 volunteers and trained them to be ready to answer questions about the event, and Be My Eyes put them at the top of the list for any calls related to Sight Tech Global, which was listed under the Be My Eyes “event’ section.  Our event host, the incomparable Will Butler, who happens to be a vice-president at Be My Eyes, regularly reminded attendees to use Be My Eyes if they needed help with the virtual experience.

A month out from the event, we were feeling confident enough that we decided to add a social interaction feature to the show. Word on the street was that Slido’s basic Q&A features worked well with screen readers, and in fact Fable used the service for its projects. So we added Slido to the program. We did not embed a Slido widget beneath the YouTube player, which might have been a good solution for sighted participants, but instead added a link to each agenda session to a standalone Slido page, where attendees could add comments and ask questions without getting tangled in the agenda or the livestream.  The solution ended up working well, and we had more than 750 comments and questions on Slido during the show.

When Dec. 2 finally arrived, we were ready. But the best-laid plans often go awry, we were only minutes into the event when suddenly our live, closed-captioning broke. We decided to halt the show until we could bring that back up live, for the benefit of deaf and hard-of-hearing attendees. After much scrambling, captioning came back. (See more on captioning below).

Otherwise, the production worked well from a programming standpoint as well as accessibility. How did we do? Of the 2400+ registered attendees at the event, 45% said they planned to use screen readers. When we did a survey of those attendees immediately after the show, 95 replied and they gave the experience a 4.6/5 score. As far as the programming, our attendees (this time asked everyone – 157 replies) gave us a score of 4.7/5. Needless to say, we were delighted by those outcomes.

One other note concerned registration. At the outset, we also “heard” that one of the event registration platforms was “as good as it gets” for accessibility. We took that at face value, which was a mistake. We should have tested because comments for people trying to register as well as a low turnout of registration from blind people revealed after a few weeks that the registration site may have been better than the rest but was still really disappointing. It was painful, for example, to learn from one of our speakers that alt tags were missing from images (and there was no way to add them) and that the screen reader users had to tab through mountains of information in order to get to actionable links, such as “register.”

As we did with our approach to the website, we decided that the best course was to simplify. We added a Google Form as an alternative registration option. These are highly accessible. We instantly saw our registrations increase strongly, particularly among blind people. We were chagrined to realize that our first choice for registration had been excluding the very people our event intended to include.

We were able to use the Google Forms option because the event was free. Had we been trying to collect payment of registration fees, Google Form would not have been an option. Why did we make the event free to all attendees? There are several reasons. First, given our ambitions to make the event global and easily available to anyone interested in blindness, it was difficult to arrive at a universally acceptable price point. Second, adding payment as well as a “log-in” feature to access the event itself would create another accessibility headache. With our approach, anyone with the link to the Agenda or Event page could attend without any log-in demand or registration. We knew this would create some leakage in terms of knowing who attended the event – quite a lot in fact because we had 30% more attendees than registrants – but given the nature of the event we thought that losing out on names and emails was an acceptable price to pay considering the accessibility benefit.

If there is an overarching lesson from this exercise, it’s simply this: Event organizers have to roll up their sleeves and really get to the bottom of whether the experience is accessible or not. It’s not enough to trust platform or technology vendors, unless they have standout reputations in the community, as YouTube and Zoom do. It’s as important to ensure that the site or platform is coded appropriately (to WCAG standards, and using a tool like Google’s LightHouse) as it is to do real-world testing to ensure that the actual, observable experience of blind and low-vision users is a good one. At the end of the day, that’s what counts the most.

A final footnote. Although our event focused on accessibility issues for people who are blind or have low vision, we were committed from the start to include captions for people who would benefit. We opted for the best quality outcome, which is still human (versus AI) captioners, and we worked with VITAC to provide captions for the live Zoom and YouTube sessions and 3Play Media for the on-demand versions and the transcripts, which are now part of the permanent record. We also heard requests for “plain text” (no mark-up) versions of the transcripts in an easily downloadable version for people who use Braille-readers. We supplied those, as well. You can see how all those resources came together on pages  like this one, which contain all the information on a given session and are linked from the relevant section of the agenda.


Source: Tech Crunch

Amazon acquires podcast network Wondery

Amazon just announced that it’s acquiring Wondery, the network behind podcasts including “Dirty John” and “Dr. Death.”

Wondery will become part of Amazon Music, which added support for podcasts (including its own original shows) in September. At the same time, the announcement claims that “nothing will change for listeners” and that the network’s podcasts will continue to be available from “a variety of providers.”

Media companies and streaming audio platforms are all making big bets on podcasting, with Spotify making a series of acquisitions including podcast network Gimlet, SiriusXM acquiring Stitcher and The New York Times acquiring Serial Productions. Amazon is coming relatively late to this market, but it will now have the support of a popular podcast maker as it works to catch up.

“With Amazon Music, Wondery will be able to provide even more high-quality, innovative content and continue their mission of bringing a world of entertainment and knowledge to their audiences, wherever they listen,” Amazon wrote.

Financial terms were not disclosed. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that acquisition talks were in the works, and that those talks valued Wondery at around $300 million.

The startup was founded in 2016 by former Fox executive Hernan Lopez (who’s currently fighting federal corruption charges tied to his time at Fox). Numbers from Podtrac rank it as the fourth largest podcast publisher in November, with an audience in the U.S. of more than 9 million unique listeners.

Wondery has raised a total of $15 million in funding from Advancit Capital, BDMI, Greycroft, Lerer Hippeau and others, according to Crunchbase.


Source: Tech Crunch

Dear Sophie: Tips for getting a National Interest green card by myself?

Here’s another edition of “Dear Sophie,” the advice column that answers immigration-related questions about working at technology companies.

“Your questions are vital to the spread of knowledge that allows people all over the world to rise above borders and pursue their dreams,” says Sophie Alcorn, a Silicon Valley immigration attorney. “Whether you’re in people ops, a founder or seeking a job in Silicon Valley, I would love to answer your questions in my next column.”

Extra Crunch members receive access to weekly “Dear Sophie” columns; use promo code ALCORN to purchase a one- or two-year subscription for 50% off.

Dear Sophie:

I’m working in the Bay Area on an H-1B visa and my employer won’t sponsor my green card.

I really want permanent residence, but I never won a Nobel prize; I’m single; and I don’t have a million dollars yet. However, I think I might qualify for an EB-2 NIW green card.

What can you share?

— National in Napa

Dear National:

Wonderful that you’re taking matters into your own hands! This is a complicated process, so the most important advice I can give you is to retain an experienced business immigration attorney to represent you and prepare and file your green card case.

For additional do’s and don’ts in U.S. immigration, please check out the recent podcast that my law firm partner, Anita Koumriqian, and I posted on the commandments of immigration (and especially what to not do when it comes to visas and green cards).

This particular episode focuses on family-based green cards, but these recommendations are timeless and apply to individuals who are self-petitioning for employment-based green cards, such as the EB-2 NIW (National Interest Waiver) for exceptional ability and the EB-1A for extraordinary ability. Our top recommendation in that podcast episode is to avoid DIY immigration, so definitely retain legal counsel!

Filing for an EB-2 NIW or any green card requires more than just filling out the appropriate forms. The process needs to be understood, as the law and legal requirements, and the analysis of whether and how you can best qualify is complicated.

With any immigration matter, one needs to have the resources to fully understand the process, the steps for applying, and the timing and deadlines. We want to always make sure that you always maintain legal status (never falling out of status) so that you can remain in the U.S. (and don’t have to leave).

Source: Tech Crunch

Attending CES 2021? TechCrunch wants to meet your startup

It’s that time of year again. Of course, this year is going to be different (to be honest, even looking at that lead image makes me uneasy). For the first time ever, CES is going all-virtual – but as usual, TechCrunch will be around to (virtually) cover it. The new format offers some unique challenges and opportunities, and we’re (virtually) here for it.

This year, we’re taking a different approach to help sort the signal from the noise. For past events, we’ve issued a similar form to find unique and interesting companies for our stage. While we don’t have stage (or booth or physical presence of any sort) this year, we’re still looking to talk to as many great companies as possible.

Getting noticed at a show the size and scope of CES is difficult even in normal years – and that difficultly is likely to only be compounded for many smaller startups in this new all-digital format. We’re looking to get out in front the mid-January scrum. If you’re showing off something cool or have some noteworthy news at this year’s event, fill out the form below and we’ll do the rest.


Source: Tech Crunch

From the U.S. to China, Korea, India and Europe, antitrust action against tech is gaining serious momentum

After decades of global expansion and consolidation in the tech sector, antitrust is now a headline issue for the industry across the world.

What has been a slow and sputtering series of disparate actions over the past decade has coalesced in just the past few weeks into a rapid and comprehensive series of actions against the industry, with the United States being a notable laggard worldwide.

Nowhere are these actions more prominent than in China, where the competition authorities have — after many years of a reasonably laissez-faire policy to its internet giants — suddenly decided to take sweeping action against its largest tech companies.

That movement started after Chinese regulators thwarted Ant’s record-shattering IPO in early November. Ant is one of China’s most important tech companies, a fintech company that was looking at a valuation north of $300 billion and that has 1.3 billion active users globally centered on China and the overseas Chinese diaspora.

That regulatory action led to a $60 billion dollar immediate drop in Alibaba’s market cap, given Alibaba’s 33% stake in Ant.

The bad news from Beijing has continued for the tech industry though. Earlier this week, market regulators laid out a “rectification” plan for Ant, including tougher lending standards that are expected to deeply impact the high-flying company’s revenues, margins, and growth. The Wall Street Journal reported this morning that China also specifically intends to “shrink” Jack Ma’s own influence over his business empire, with the government itself potentially acquiring larger ownership stakes in tech companies.

Furthermore, Beijing seems ready to force Alibaba and Tencent to play nicer with each other and create breathing space for startups outside of their two inter-locking corporate webs. Earlier this month, authorities fined Alibaba a nominal amount and also reviewed a Tencent acquisition, actions that were perceived by analysts as the opening shots in a new round of antitrust intervention. More action is expected in 2021.

It’s not just China though that has been bringing tech companies to heel. Almost exactly a year ago, Germany-based Delivery Hero announced a $4 billion takeover of Seoul-based Baedal Minjok, a popular food delivery app. Yesterday, South Korean competition authorities ordered Delivery Hero to divest its existing local delivery assets to get approval for the acquisition — a demand that undermined one of the reasons for acquiring Baedal Minjok in the first place. Delivery Hero has said that it will sell its unit to complete the transaction.

Meanwhile this month, Europe and soon-to-be-Brexited Britain announced a spate of new policies and regulations designed to heighten competition in the tech sector, including increasing legal liabilities for illegal content, broadening transparency around services, and mandating open competition on major platforms. Those policies have been a long-time coming, but now that they are starting to gain traction, they portend huge changes on how the highest-scale tech companies can operate on the Old Continent.

While many of these global policies are designed to undo the consolidation and scale of the industry, in India, regulators are working to prevent such scale in the first place. Local competition authorities there announced in November a framework that would prevent any company from owning more than 30% of local payments volume, and also mandating financial interoperability standards. That policy appears to be designed to avoid the kind of fintech duopoly seen in China between Alipay and WeChat Pay.

With all this global antitrust action bubbling, the laggard has actually been the United States, perhaps since the largest tech giants are all headquartered domestically. While Congress, the president, and dozens of state attorneys general have become increasingly strident on the scope of companies like Amazon, Google, and Facebook, action remains very early against the giants.

The largest and most notable action so far has been a massive lawsuit by 46 states against Facebook that was filed earlier this month. As we reported then, the lawsuit “alleges that the company bought competitors ‘illegally’ and in a ‘predatory manner’ in order to grow and preserve its market power. The suit cites Facebook’s acquisitions of Instagram and WhatsApp as prominent examples.”

Of course, as some of us remember from the 1990s with the U.S. government’s case against Microsoft, antitrust lawsuits often take years to full wend their way through the courts — and often don’t even lead to much if any change in the end anyway.

Whether a Biden administration will dramatically change the course of these actions remains unclear, with the transition offering very limited insight as it prepares to take office next month.

Nonetheless, all of these antitrust actions happening simultaneously across the globe within weeks of each other portends huge regulatory fights for tech in 2021.

Source: Tech Crunch

23andMe raises $82.5 million in new funding

DNA testing technology company 23andMe has raised just shy of $82.5 million in new funding, from an offering of $85 million in total equity shares, according to a new SEC filing. The funding, confirmed by the Wall Street Journal, comes from investors including Sequoia Capital and NewView Capital. It brings the total raised by 23andMe to date to over $850 million.

There’s no specific agenda earmarked for this Series F round, according to a statement from the company to the WSJ, beyond general use to continue to fund and grow the business. 23andMe’s business is based on its distribution of individual home genetic testing kits, which provide customers with insights about their potential health and their family tree based on their DNA.

While the company’s pitch to individuals is improved health, and more knowledge about their ancestry and family tree, the company has also turned its attention to conducting research based on the data it has collected in aggregate, both for its own studies including a recent one that examined how genetic markers could affect a person’s susceptibility to COVID-19, and also for use in supporting the work of third-parties – though it stresses that data is only shared in aggregate, de-identified formats for those purposes.

In January, 23andMe confirmed layoffs affecting roughly 14% of its global workforce. The company’s work this year around COVID-19 has, however, perhaps put the value of its platform in a new light, in the face of this pandemic and the potential of future similar global health issues that may arise.

Source: Tech Crunch

CommonGround raises $19M to rethink online communication

CommonGround, a startup developing technology for what its founders describe as “4D collaboration,” is announcing that it has raised $19 million in funding.

This isn’t the first time Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz have launched a startup together — they also founded video networking company BigBand Networks, which won two technology-related Emmy Awards, went public in 2007 and was acquired by Arris Group in 2011. And before that, they worked together at digital compression company Optibase, which Oz co-founded and where Bassan-Eskenazi served as COO.

Although CommonGround is still in stealth mode and doesn’t plan to fully unveil its first product until next year, Bassan-Eskenazi and Oz outlined their vision for me. They acknowledged that video conferencing has improved significantly, but said it still can’t match face-to-face communication.

“Some things you just cannot achieve through a flat video conferencing-type solution,” Bassan-Eskenazi said. “Those got better over the years, but they never managed to achieve that thing where you walk into a bar … and there’s a group of people talking and you know immediately who is a little taken aback, who is excited, who is kind of ‘eh.’”

CommonGround founders Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz

CommonGround founders Amir Bassan-Eskenazi and Ran Oz

That, essentially, is what Bassan-Eskenazi, Oz and their team are trying to build — online collaboration software that more fully captures the nuances of in-person communication, and actually improves on face-to-face conversations in some ways (hence the 4D moniker). Asked whether this involves combining video conferencing with other collaboration tools, Oz replied, “Think of it as beyond video,” using technology like computer vision and graphics.

Bassan-Eskenazi added that they’ve been working on CommonGround for more than year, so this isn’t just a response to our current stay-at-home environment. And the opportunity should still be massive as offices reopen next year.

“When we started this, it was a problem we thought some of the workforce would understand,” he said. “Now my mother understands it, because it’s how she reads to the grandkids.”

As for the funding, the round was led by Matrix Partners, with participation from Grove Ventures and StageOne Ventures.

“Amir and Ran have a bold vision to reinvent communications,” said Matrix General Partner Patrick Malatack in a statement. “Their technical expertise, combined with a history of successful exits, made for an easy investment decision.”

Source: Tech Crunch

As launch market matures, space opportunities on the ground take off

The space economy in the last few years has been in large part driven by the increasing cadence and reliability of launch services, and while that market will continue to grow, the new economy enabled by those launches is only just beginning to take off. If you thought the launch boom was big, just wait for when it combines with the private satellite boom.

The consensus among experts, company leadership and investors in the space sector is that launch has commanded an outsize share of both money and attention, both because it’s so broadly appealing and because it was a prerequisite to any kind of space-based economy.

If you thought the launch boom was big, just wait for when it combines with the private satellite boom.

But as we’ve seen over the last year, and as is expected to be further demonstrated in 2021, the launch industry is moving from investor-subsidized R&D and testing to a full-fledged service economy.

“To date the launch industry has received 47% of the industry’s venture capital, even though it’s less than 2% of the global space economy,” said Meagan Crawford, managing partner at SpaceFund, at TC Sessions: Space last week. “We feel like that’s a problem that’s been solved, or that’s being solved. What we want to know is what is enabled by launch, right? What are the new things that can happen now, the new business models that close today that didn’t close three years ago when launch was not as frequent, reliable and low cost?”

Within the launch industry this view seems to be shared, even at companies that have yet to take a payload to orbit. Their focus is not just on proving their launch vehicle can do it, but taking their place in a massively supply-constrained (on the launch side) market by differentiating and appealing to new business models. That involves far more than building a working rocket.

“It’s not just about mass to orbit,” said Mandy Vaughn, president of VOX Space. “It’s about all those other elements of, how can we react quickly? How can we design and produce something quickly, as well as deploy that capability, maybe in a unique way from an unexpected location? In terms of the investment landscape, it’s not just about the technology of one rocket, or what’s your ISP [in-space propulsion] compared to another’s. It really is, what is the complete vertical infrastructure and business model beyond just mass to orbit?”

Tim Ellis, founder and CEO of Relativity Space, which will launch its first fully 3D-printed rocket in 2021, concurred in a conversation we had outside the conference.

“The thing we’re watching closest is not, while it’s fun, the different launch providers, but how many new satellite companies are getting to orbit,” he said. “We’re still seeing the market growing faster than the launch vehicle companies have been able to keep up with.”

Source: Tech Crunch

Samsung hasn’t announced the Galaxy S21 yet, but you can already reserve one

For obvious reasons, many of us are spending the final week of 2020 looking forward. Samsung is hoping some folks are looking far enough ahead to reserve a spot in line for its still-unannounced Galaxy S21 handset (not an official name, mind, but probably a safe guess).

If you’re on the Samsung Mobile mailing list, you may well have received an email, compelling you to “Get ready to jump to the next Galaxy.” The link brings you to a reservation page that offers up some perks for getting in early on the company’s new flagship, including credits on other Samsung products like Galaxy earbuds.

The company recently noted that it would have more information in January – be it at CES or, more likely, a standalone event. That bucks trends a bit, which have found the company introducing its latest Galaxy S devices closer to Mobile World Congress (the S20 — pictured above — was announced February 11). Of course, MWC has been delayed until late June next year, and nothing is really normal besides.

As I noted in a recent piece, 2020 was the roughest in a series of rough years for the smartphone industry, so why not get those pre-orders started a little early? And hey, not everyone got what the wanted for the holiday. Why not treat yourself to a new phone?

Source: Winfuture

The good news is we (think we) know a lot about the unannounced phone. Samsung’s never been great at keeping things under wraps and we’re already starting to see some key details leaking out a few weeks ahead of the expected official unveil. Surprisingly, camera specs look to more or less be in line with the last model, after the company promised some big imaging strides in 2021. Perhaps those updates will arrive more in the form of software, instead of straight hardware bumps.

Specs from Winfuture point to – naturally – the Snapdragon 888 in the U.S., with the Exynos 2100 chip in other locales. The S21 sports a 6.2-inch display and 4000mAh battery, where as the Plus upgrades things to 6.7 inches and 4,800mAh, per the leak.

Samsung is expected to make everything official on January 14.


Source: Tech Crunch