Global PC shipments set to drop 7% in 2020

New numbers from Canalys project a 7% drop in global PC sales, owing to financial strains. The category is one of countless impacted by the COVID-19-related shutdowns, but the group notes that the virus’s direct impact is mostly behind the industry, due to the rebounding of China’s supply chain.

A resulting global recession, on the other hand, is expected to continue to have a notable impact on the industry, moving forward. Simply put, people just don’t have the money to spend on upgraded devices.

Here in North America, the vertical is expected to take a 6% hit, as U.S. citizens have already filed 40 million unemployment claims since the pandemic’s start. The firm says it doesn’t expect a full recovery until 2020, when the category is expected to grow 4% from the year prior. Obviously these are projections. A lot can change in two years — particularly at the rate we’re going.

China and the broader Asia Pacific region experienced smaller declines and are expected to recover more quickly, owing to being at the front of the first wave and due to what appears to have been effective management of the crisis.

It’s also worth noting that the PC industry wasn’t as hard hit as the smartphone category. Manufacturers were able to slow the slide, owing to consumers and businesses purchasing equipment in order to upgrade home office set ups.


Source: Tech Crunch

Peloton’s fitness app finally lands on Apple TV

Since announcing in March that they were extending the free trial of their digital subscription from 30 to 90 days for a short time, Peloton has been rolling out more support for TV screens, adding Android TV back in April and announcing today that they’ve launched an official Apple TV app.

Shelter-in-place and the associated shutdowns of gyms across the country have led to a surge in sales of at-home gym equipment that have also benefitted Peloton. Peloton’s share price has been on a tear since shelter-in-place took hold, nearly doubling in value since early March.

Since then, the company has had to deal with unexpected adjustments like changes to how they deliver their at-home hardware safely, how they record exercise classes in a socially distant manner, but they’ve also had to expand to more platforms as they’ve seen usage shift.

Initially, dedicated TV apps didn’t make a ton of sense since users could already cast to their TVs from an iOS or Android device, but as Peloton has built out the audience of their digital-only subscription plan, the use case of people setting their yoga mat in front of their TV and firing up a class became less fringe.

The company’s digital-only subscription plan retails for $12.99 per month. The Apple TV app is available for download today.

 


Source: Tech Crunch

Pitch deck teardown: The making of Atlassian’s 2015 roadshow presentation

In 2015, Atlassian was preparing to go public, but it was not your typical company in so many ways. For starters, it was founded in Australia, it had two co-founder co-CEOs, and it offered collaboration tools centered on software development.

That meant that the company leaders really needed to work hard to help investors understand the true value proposition that it had to offer, and it made the roadshow deck production process even more critical than perhaps it normally would have been.

A major factor in its favor was that Atlassian didn’t just suddenly decide to go public. Founded in 2002, it waited until 2010 to accept outside investment. After 10 straight years of free cash flow, when it took its second tranche of investment in 2014, it selected T. Rowe Price, perhaps to prepare for working with institutional investors before it went public the next year.

We sat down with company president Jay Simons to discuss what it was like, and how his team produced the document that would help define them for investors and analysts.

Always thinking long term


Source: Tech Crunch

Zigazoo launches to be a ‘TikTok’ for kids, surpasses 100,000 uploads and downloads

Like many parents, Zigazoo founder Zak Ringelstein worries about his children’s screen time. His worries only grew when COVID-19 led to school shutdowns and kids came home to a world of remote learning. Now, as lockdowns extend, Ringelstein is learning to embrace screen time as a way to sneak education and entertainment into his kids’ digital diet.

Ringelstein, the former founder of UClass (acquired in 2015), launched Zigazoo, which he describes as a “TikTok for kids.”

Zigazoo is a free app where kids can answer short video-based exercises that they can answer through video and share responses with friends. Exercises range from how to create a baking soda volcano to making fractions out of food, and targets kids from preschool to middle school.

To ensure the app’s privacy, Ringelstein says that parents should be the primary users of the app. Users have to accept a friend request in order for their content to be seen, a move Ringelstein sees as key to avoiding bad actors or potential bullying.

Additionally, Zigazoo uses an API through SightEngine to moderate content.

Ringelstein’s first users were his own kids, a test he says was very rewarding.

Ringelstein’s son participating in a Zigazoo prompt.

The testing process made him realize that kids like to create longer videos, and watch smaller videos, so Zigazoo is figuring out an attention span for viewing. Currently, average time on site per user has gone up to 19 minutes and 43 seconds per day.

Ringelstein pointed to “Sesame Street” as his inspiration. Mixing education and entertainment has proven successful for a number of businesses. Kids were drooling in front of the screen watching the characters of “Sesame Street,” spending mindless hours staring at the television set, he recalls.

“The creators of Sesame Street…used the medium to educate kids and entertain them at the same time,” Ringelstein said. Vox described “Sesame Street” as a “bedrock for educational television,” bringing loved characters to the table with former First Lady Michelle Obama or using a silly song to teach kids about recycling.

In one month, Zigazoo has had 100,000 videos uploaded to and downloaded from its site.

While Zigazoo claims to be a “TikTok” for kids, it is competing with the platform itself. Some teachers have turned to TikTok to create lessons on solar cell systems and experiments.

Others are putting together guides of “kid friendly” TikTok creators. And TikTok itself recently let parents set restrictions on content, DMs and screen time for their kids.

Video-based learning is a better way for students to engage actively in an educational activity, versus passively reading a paragraph from a Google doc, according to Ringelstein.

Combining education with entertainment comes with a set of risks around child safety. Last March, The New York Times wrote a story about how “kidfluencers” has grown as a concept, where parents put their kids online, touting brands, and make money off of it. The resulting ethical concerns are why Ringelstein is confident that Zigazoo is needed.

“Zigazoo is a not a kid play date smack dab in the middle of an adult party like YouTube and TikTok, it is a universe tailor-made for kid safety, learning and enjoyment,” he said.

Ringelstein sees Zigazoo’s “friend” versus “follow” feature as key to the safety of kids: Unlike TikTok, where there is a public feed and users can follow everyone, Zigazoo requires users to opt-in to being followed, similar to Facebook.

The partnerships will allow Zigazoo to post verified content using favorite and well-known characters to teach kids about the subjects they care about. And in a world where digital detoxes are no longer a reality, a smarter screen-time activity seems much needed.

Recently, Zigazoo partnered with The American Federation of Teachers for a capstone project directed at millions of K-12 students. Students are invited to submit a video using Zigazoo to encapsulate their learning experience over the past school year, which AFT says is a “far better way to sum up learning than a high-stakes test.”

This summer Ringelstein is launching “Zigazoo Channels” with a select group of major children’s entertainment companies, podcasts, museums, libraries, zoos, social media influencers and more.


Source: Tech Crunch

Podcast app Majelan pivots to premium audio content around personal growth

French startup Majelan is pivoting a year after launching a podcast player and service. The company, created by former Radio France CEO Mathieu Gallet and Arthur Perticoz, is ditching the podcast aggregation side of its business and focusing on premium audio content going forward.

Like many podcast startups, Majelan faced some criticism shortly after its launch. Aggregating free podcasts with premium content next to them à la Luminary is a controversial topic in the podcast community. Spotify has been going down the same path, but Spotify is also an order of magnitude bigger than any other podcast startup out there.

Some podcast creators have decided to remove their podcast feeds from Majelan to protest against that business model.

Podcasts remain an open format. Creators can create a feed, users can subscribe to that feed in their favorite podcast app. You don’t have to sign up to a particular service to access a particular podcast — everything is open.

“We have decided to stop aggregating free podcasts — free podcasts mean podcasts, period. For us, podcasts are RSS feeds, it’s an open world,” Perticoz said in a podcast episode. “We need an app that is more focused on payment. We can’t aggregate free podcasts given that our strategy is paid content.”

The result is a more focused service that is going to launch on July 7th in France. After a free trial, you have to subscribe for €5 to €7 per month, depending on the length of your subscription. You can then access a library of premium audio content — Majelan rightfully doesn’t call them podcasts.

“Going forward, we’re going to focus on original content, we’re going to focus 100% on paid content,” Gallet said in the same podcast episode.

And in order to be even more specific, Majelan will focus on personal growth, such as creativity, activism, mindfulness, innovation, entrepreneurship and health. According to the co-founders, some content will be produced in house, some content will be co-produced with other companies, and the startup will also acquire existing podcasts and repackage them for Majelan.

That move has been in the works for a while. The startup pitched it to its board of investors back in December. Premium subscriptions have worked well for movies, TV and music. Now let’s see if subscriptions will also take off with spoken-word audio.


Source: Tech Crunch

Apple has just patched the recent iOS 13.5 jailbreak

Well that didn’t last long.

Apple has patched a security vulnerability that allowed hackers to build a jailbreak tool allowing deep access to the iPhone software.

In a security advisory, Apple acknowledged that it had fixed the vulnerability in iOS 13.5.1, posted Monday. The technology giant credited the unc0ver team, which released the jailbreak just last week, for finding the vulnerability.

Although details of the vulnerability are not yet public, Apple typically works quickly to patch vulnerabilities that allow jailbreaks, fearing that the same vulnerability could also be abused by malicious hackers.

In a tweet, one of the lead jailbreakers confirmed that updating to iOS 13.5.1 will close the vulnerability and render the jailbreak useless.

Jailbreaking is a popular way to allow users to break free from Apple’s “jail” — hence the term — that prevents deep access to an iPhone’s operating system. Apple has does this to improve device security and to reduce the surface area in which hackers can attack the software. But jailbreakers say breaking through those restrictions allows them greater customization over their iPhones in a way that most Android users are already used to.

Security experts typically advise against jailbreaking as it can expose a device owner to a greater range of attacks, while advising users to install their devices and software as soon as update become available.

Apple said iOS 13.5.1 also comes with new Memoji stickers and other bug fixes and improvements.

Update today. If security isn’t your thing, at least do it for the Memoji stickers.


Source: Tech Crunch

Sony postpones PlayStation 5 event, in order for ‘more important voices to be heard’

Sony’s planned June 4 PS5 event has been postponed indefinitely, as the U.S. grapples with widespread protests over the death of George Floyd. It’s understandably a difficult time to focus on video game launches, amid national and global unrest. 

The company noted via Twitter, “While we understand gamers worldwide are excited to see PS5 games, we do not feel that right now is a time to celebrate and for now, we want to stand back and allow more important voices to be heard.”

The event was set to unveil new titles for Sony’s next-gen console due out at the end of the year. It follows a recent similar event from Microsoft, as companies readjust their schedules in the wake of COVID-19-related cancellations of big gaming conferences like E3. Sony’s call to “stand back” follows similar comments from other tech giants, though so far the company has done so without specifically citing Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police or the subsequent protests.

The decision is — perhaps unsurprisingly — being met with mixed reactions from gamers. The complaints range from notes that gaming is a form of escapism from reality to…well, far more problematic suggestions from people upset about having to wait just a little longer before seeing some gaming trailers. As much as it may disappoint some people to say, however, there are, indeed, more important things than video games.


Source: Tech Crunch

India’s richest man built a telecom operator everyone wants a piece of

As investors’ appetites sour in the midst of a pandemic, a three-and-a-half-year-old Indian firm has secured $10.3 billion in a month from Facebook and four U.S.-headquartered private equity firms.

The major deals for Reliance Jio Platforms have sparked a sudden interest among analysts, executives and readers at a time when many are skeptical of similar big check sizes that some investors wrote to several young startups, many of which are today struggling to make sense of their finances.

Prominent investors across the globe, including in India, have in recent weeks cautioned startups that they should be prepared for the “worst time” as new checks become elusive.

Elsewhere in India, the world’s second-largest internet market and where all startups together raised a record $14.5 billion last year, firms are witnessing down rounds (where their valuations are slashed). Miten Sampat, an angel investor, said last week that startups should expect a 40%-50% haircut in their valuations if they do get an investment offer.

Facebook’s $5.7 billion investment valued the company at $57 billion. But U.S. private equity firms Silver Lake, Vista, General Atlantic, and KKR — all the other deals announced in the past five weeks — are paying a 12.5% premium for their stake in Jio Platforms, valuing it at $65 billion.

How did an Indian firm become so valuable? What exactly does it do? Is it just as unprofitable as Uber? What does its future look like? Why is it raising so much money? And why is it making so many announcements instead of one.

It’s a long story.

Run up to the launch of Jio

Billionaire Mukesh Ambani gave a rundown of his gigantic Indian empire at a gathering in December 2015 packed with 35,000 people including hundreds of Bollywood celebrities and industry titans.

“Reliance Industries has the second-largest polyester business in the world. We produce one and a half million tons of polyester for fabrics a year, which is enough to give every Indian 5 meters of fabric every year, year-on-year,” said Ambani, who is Asia’s richest man.


Source: Tech Crunch

Mark Zuckerberg commits Facebook to $10 million donation to ‘groups working on racial justice’

Even as Facebook continues to take a hands-off approach to monitoring violent rhetoric and disinformation on its platform, the company will make a $10 million donation “to groups working on racial justice” in the U.S., according to a late Sunday night post from chief executive Mark Zuckerberg.

The commitment from Facebook follows a week of protests around the country challenging police brutality — spurred by the dissemination of a video on Facebook showing the death of George Floyd, an African American man who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis.

Zuckerberg’s pledge comes after several prominent Facebook employees expressed their frustration with their company’s response on Twitter and only a few hours before a number of the company’s workers staged a virtual walkout.

“I work at Facebook and I am not proud of how we’re showing up,” Jason Toff, a director of product management at Facebook, wrote on Twitter. “The majority of coworkers I’ve spoken to feel the same way. We are making our voices heard.”

Zuckerberg’s statement comes as several technology companies have issued their own messages of solidarity with the protests and the systemic injustices they are challenging.

In his Facebook message, Zuckerberg calls attention to the fact that the video capturing George Floyd’s murder was posted on his platform.

“… it’s clear Facebook also has more work to do to keep people safe and ensure our systems don’t amplify bias,” wrote Zuckerberg. “The organizations fighting for justice also need funding, so Facebook is committing an additional $10 million to groups working on racial justice. We’re working with our civil rights advisors and our employees to identify organizations locally and nationally that could most effectively use this right now.”

The commitment from Facebook is in addition to roughly $40 million that Zuckerberg has invested “annually for several years” in organizations working to combat racial injustice.

For critics like Anand Giridharadas, the commitments from Facebook’s coffers don’t outweigh the problems with the company’s business model and its inability to adequately address the ways in which the company’s service amplifies disinformation.

“And so the giving back that he’s doing isn’t just a negligible contribution that won’t really make much difference,” Giridharadas writes. “It actually helps to make things worse, by buying his toxic business model a little more breathing room and political capital.”


Source: Tech Crunch

Amid protests, US police scanner apps and others saw record downloads

Downloads of police scanner apps, tools for private communication and mobile safety apps hit record numbers this past weekend in the U.S., amid continued nationwide protests over the police killing of George Floyd, as well as the systemic problems of racial prejudice that plague the American justice system. According to new data from app store intelligence firm Apptopia, top U.S. police scanner apps were downloaded a combined 213,000 times this weekend, including Friday — a 125% increase from the weekend prior and a record number for this group of apps.

The group of top apps included those with similar, if somewhat generic, titles such as Scanner Radio – Fire and Police Scanner, Police Scanner, 5-0 Radio Police Scanner, Police Scanner Radio & Fire and Police Scanner +.

The Police Scanner app saw the most downloads of the group, with 19,000+ on Friday, nearly 24,000 on Saturday and 35,700+ on Sunday. However, the daily active user count for the Scanner Radio – Fire and Police Scanner app was higher throughout the weekend, with some 43,000+ to nearly 45,000 users launching the app on a daily basis during this time. That was followed by Police Scanner, whose daily user count ranged from 38,000 to more than 40,000, per Apptopia’s report.

Overall, however, the downloads were fairly spread out among the group of apps. That indicates people were likely coming across the apps through app store searches, rather than through increased word-of-mouth recommendations for one specific app or an ad of some kind.

In addition to the record downloads for police scanners, two other apps also saw significant increases due to the protests: encrypted messaging app Signal and Citizen, the latter a community safety app for real-time alerts and live video.

Signal was downloaded nearly 37,000 times over the weekend and Citizen was installed over 48,000 times, the firm found. On Sunday, both apps broke new records for single-day downloads in the U.S., as well, with nearly 24,000 downloads for Citizen and 15,000 for Signal.

Police scanner and other communication apps were only some of the tools being used to keep track of protests over the weekend. Users have also communicated through social media posts across Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, including by posting and sharing videos, photos and other live-streamed events. Some people believe these platforms give a better window into what’s happening on the ground in real time compared with news reports, which editorialize the content or present it with bias and miss some of the key stories that would otherwise not gain attention. 


Source: Tech Crunch