EconByte

Issue 3/2019

The streaming war heats up

Here are eight bits of news I found interesting this week, along with some brief commentary.

1. NBC finally jumps in the streaming wars — announces a new service to compete with Netflix, Disney and Amazon.

NBC has announced it will launch a streaming service in Q1 2020, free for pay-tv subscribers but ~$12/month for everyone else. Amazon, Disney, Hulu, AT&T/WarnerMedia, now NBCUniversal are all jumping, or have jumped, into the streaming space… Watch out Netflix! So much for that monopoly. On the topic of Netflix, it recently decided that now is the appropriate time to raise the price of its most popular plan (for US customers only) from $10.99 to $12.99 per month; good luck with that! Consumers 1, antitrust lawyers and wannabe monopolists 0.

2. RCS Chat is launching on Google Fi.

Google is rolling out Rich Communication Services (RCS) messaging support on the Google Fi network available on its Pixel phones, the Moto G6, LG V35, LG G7, and Android One Moto X. There is one crucial element missing from Chat, however. While the original RCS protocol allowed the implementation of client-to-server encryption, Chat will not offer end-to-end encryption like iMessage or Signal. In short, it allows for the same legal intercept standards as its predecessor. Lame. In an increasingly privacy-conscious world, I don’t think Google has a winner here.

3. “Underappreciated” consequences of Encryption Bill could damage Australian security industry for years.

A survey (so take it with a grain of salt) but two-thirds of Australian technology companies believe the federal government’s new encryption laws will compromise trust in their products and damage their export prospects in the long term. I wrote in detail about the foolishness of the bill here.

4. Facebook’s ‘10 year challenge’ is just a harmless meme - right?

Why do people trust anything Facebook says or does? In response to the question of why so many people willingly handed over their information to Facebook, CEO Mark Zuckerberg replied “I don’t know why. They “trust me”. Dumb f**ks.” No doubt he’s saying the same again (but probably not in an email this time), as “thanks to this meme, there’s now a very large dataset of carefully curated photos of people from roughly 10 years ago and now… that could be used to train a facial recognition algorithm on aging”. The sooner this company goes belly up, the better.

5. HSBC banks on blockchain to finesse forex trades.

Probably the best real world use-case for cryptocurrencies (so far)? An exciting space and I plan to write about it in more detail at some stage. “The London-headquartered bank, a heavy-hitter in forex dealing, has processed more than 3m FX transactions worth $250bn using blockchain technology in the past year, it said on Monday. That represents a tiny sliver of its overall currencies business, but still offers a rare example of a blockchain-based product that has proven its worth in wholesale finance.”

Elon Musk wants to “save the human race”. As he explains, his main goal is to wire a chip into your skull to give you the digital intelligence needed to progress beyond the limits of our biological intelligence. Note to self: don’t go out for drinks with Elon Musk.

7. DuckDuckGo will use Apple Maps for local searches on the web.

DuckDuckGo, the privacy-focused search engine that promises not to track you, has announced that Apple Maps will now power its local search results on both desktop and mobile web browsers. DuckDuckGo says that it will now have “improved address searches, additional visual features, enhanced satellite imagery, and continually updated maps”. A good move, I suppose; while Apple is no angel, it’s less evil than Google.

8. Random: An Egg, Just a Regular Egg, Is Instagram’s Most-Liked Post Ever.

A simple picture of an egg posted by an anonymous Instagram user has set the world record for most likes, surpassing Kylie Jenner’s 18m record. “There’s nothing special about the egg. Seems like a fine enough egg. But more than 22 million people have liked it, dethroning Kylie Jenner’s birth-announcement post.”

Yep. Welcome to the internet. Your move, Kylie Jenner.

Image of the week

No business model lasts forever (music edition). It seems peak music spending was 1998 - 2000. The music industry over time

That’s all for this week, have a great weekend.

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The streaming war heats up was compiled by Dr Justin Pyvis. Feel free to send feedback, suggestions for future issues, ideas, insults, or pretty much anything that crosses your mind to his Keybase chat.