This week’s Tech Roundup features Twitter’s new service for business, Apple’s initial success with iPhone 7, GM’s new Bolt and the winner of the TechCrunch Startup Battlefield.
Twitter announced it is rolling out a some new features that will help users better connect with businesses offering customer support through their official Twitter accounts. The businesses can offer this service through a new Customer Support settings page on the Twitter Dashboard website. This feature will also allow the user to receive Direct Messages from anyone, making it easier for the business to contact the customer directly. This is what it looks like:
Accounts like @AppleSupport, @Uber_Support, @BeatsSupport, @ATVIAssist (Activision Support) and others tested this service early on, while T-Mobile, which is highly active on Twitter, has already adopted the new features.
What does this mean: The new feature encourages users to start a private conversation with the business rather than ranting publicly about the business on Twitter, thereby lowering the number of negative comments that show up on Twitter. It also enables Twitter to be in a better position to compete with Facebook, which already has a similar service. By making interactions between companies and customers more interactive and private, the company should become a more important link between companies and their customers. This would allow companies to quickly resolve customer problems, which in turn result in increased sales over time. As such, we believe this new service will create increased value for Twitter. Make no mistake about it – Twitter has a long way to go to right the ship, so to speak. But moves like this will certainly position the company for success in the future.
After last week’s product introduction, Apple updated investors this week. Initial orders for iPhone 7 and 7 Plus have been solid. Verizon said orders were within expectations, while T-Mobile and Sprint said they’ve seen new records for iPhone sales (albeit from a much lower base). Meanwhile, Apple is saying its 7 Plus is sold out in all colors, and the iPhone 7 is sold out in jet black for now. The company is not going to report initial sales volume, as it has with other models. All these are positive signs for Apple, which is trying to regain ground against Samsung. The company’s stock has reacted positively, up about 12% this week alone. Although we fully expect Apple to sell many millions of iPhone 7’s to its loyal customer base, we continue to believe the company is playing catch up technologically, and any innovation in its smart phone line up will likely occur with the iPhone 8. In related news, several Asian companies announced cheaper competitors to Apple’s AirPods such as Taiwan’s Erato. Lower end models will be priced around $50-60 while high-end models will be more expensive than Apple’s AirPods, and are priced in the $180-190 range.
GM this week beat Tesla at its own game, and updated its mileage range for its all-electric Chevy Bolt. Although experts agree EV’s need to produce mileage in the 200 range to be considered significant, GM came in at a whopping 238 miles on a single charge for its Bolt. Its fuel economy equivalent is 119 MPGe. That didn’t just meet the 200-mile requirement — that pretty well shattered it. The price tag on the Bolt also comes in better than the competition (i.e. Tesla), with an MSRP “below $37,500”. If you add in government incentives of $7,500, the post-incentive price will be below $30,000, making the Bolt much more affordable than a Tesla Model S or Model X.
What does this mean: Currently there are no viable competitors to Chevy. Although Tesla receives all the hype and news flow, at the end of the day, the performance of Tesla’s forthcoming Model 3 is still be proven, even though expectations are it will be in a similar range. More importantly, though, the Model 3 production is still slated for late 2017 and with Tesla’s financial position increasingly in question given Elon Musk’s never ending science projects and related spending spree, we would not hold our breath and wait for the Model 3. Chevrolet is really the only player in town at the moment. Given GM’s strong financial position, we believe the company will likely capture a large portion of the market once production starts this year.
Winner of TechCrunch Disrupt 2016 Startup Battlefield: Mobalytics
TechCrunch held its Disrupt SF conference this week in San Francisco. The highlight of the event was their Startup Battlefield, which started with 25 handpicked startups. Each company presented to various groups of VCs and technology leaders (the judges), with the winner walking away with $50,000 and the coveted Disrupt Cup. The final six companies were: BlazingDB, Carbon Health, EverlyWell, Mobalytics, Sqreen and UnifyID. In the end, the winner was Mobalytics, which is a coach for competitive gamers. The company provides a visual analytics engine that helps gamers figure out their strengths and weaknesses, and make changes as they go along. With e-sports taking off as promising market, Mobalytics is in a good position to gain market share. For example, Mobalytics is initially targeting League of Legends, which is a hugely popular online battle with tens of millions of monthly active users and a vibrant community of hardcore devotees.
BitNavi is a blog conceived by Karl Motey in the heart of Silicon Valley, dedicated to emerging technologies and strategic business issues challenging the industry.
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