Google is losing Andy Rubin, co-founder and former head of its Android mobile business, and presently head of its budding robotics business. “Rubin provided crucial leadership and vision that helped Google keep up with Apple Inc. as smartphones became the go-to computing device for most people around the world,” The Wall Street Journal reports. Rubin is going off to create his own technology startup incubator.
What went wrong with Amazon’s mobile strategy? Among other missteps, the ecommerce giant admits to pricing its debut phone incorrectly. “We didn’t get the price right,” David Limp, Amazon’s senior vice president of devices, tells Fortune. As Fortune writes, with its Fire phone, “Amazon stuck to standard industry pricing, asking $199 for the 32 gigabyte model and $299 for the 64 gigabyte.”
Sending the business world abuzz, Tim Cook has finally gone public about his sexual orientation. “Throughout my professional life, I’ve tried to maintain a basic level of privacy,” Apple’s CEO writes in Bloomberg Businessweek. Yet, “I’ve come to realize that my desire for personal privacy has been holding me back from doing something more important.” Among other advantages, Cook explains that being gay “has given [him] a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority,” and has made him a stronger, more empathetic person.
Did Facebook buy the wrong messaging app? Well, Line just saw its revenue double year-on-year to $192 million. As TechCrunch points out, news of the messaging service’s strong performance comes days after “Facebook revealed that WhatsApp, its $18 billion messaging app acquisition, posted an overall loss for the first half of this year.” At least for the moment, WhatsApp boasts a far bigger marketshare than Line. The Facebook unit currently has roughly 600 million active monthly users, compared to Line’s 170 million monthly active users.
Albeit with less fanfare than Apple’s Watch unveiling, Microsoft debuted its first “wearable” on Wednesday. Retailing for $199, Microsoft Band is a simple black wrist strap that tracks one’s steps, heart rate and stride length, while also displaying text, email and Twitter alerts. Mostly though, Band is about personal health. “It's really designed to do two things: have people live healthier, and be more productive,” Yusuf Mehdi, Microsoft’s CVP of Devices and Services, tells The Verge.
It’s not clear how much money is involved -- if any -- but Benchmark has taken a stake in Tinder, Kara Swisher reports. In exchange, Matt Cohler, one of the VC firm’s partners is joining Tinder’s board. “Tinder is controlled by the Match Group, which in turn is a subsidiary of online conglomerate IAC, which is, of course, run by uber-mogul Barry Diller,” Swisher notes. “Interestingly, sources said that no actual money was invested by Benchmark and IAC continues to hold a massive and controlling stake in Tinder via Match.”
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki says the video giant could throw more weight behind content subscription services. “YouTube right now is ad-supported, which is great because it has enabled us to scale to a billion users,” Wojcicki said at a conference this week, as reported by Re/Code. “But there’s going to be a point where people don’t want to see the ads.” As Re/Code notes: “In 2013, YouTube let individual content owners sell subscriptions to their stuff, but it has done little to promote that option since then.”
To advertisers’ delight -- and privacy activists’ chagrin -- Verizon Wireless is making its customers and their mobile activity infinitely trackable. “Critics say that it’s … a reckless misuse of Verizon’s power as an internet service provider -- something that could be used as a trump card to obviate established privacy tools such as private browsing sessions or ‘do not track’ features,” Wired reports. One expert likens the tracking technology Verizon is using to a “perma-cookie.”
Ecommerce sites are charging different prices for products and services depending on consumers’ computing platform of choice, mobile operating system, phone model, and other factors. For example, “Users of mobile devices who surfed to Home Depot saw products that were roughly $100 more expensive than those offered to desktop-computer users,” The Wall Street Journal reports, citing new researcher from Northeastern University’s College of Information science. Meanwhile, “Travelocity charged users of Apple’s iOS mobile operating system $15 less for hotels than other users.”
How’s Foursquare doing a couple months after breaking its business into two separate apps? Not well, reports VentureBeat, according to data collected from comScore, App Annie, Google, and Foursquare. “As of October 22, Foursquare ranked #923 overall in the U.S. App Store,” it writes. At its peak, Foursquare ranked #44 overall in 2011.” Meanwhile, the company’s Swarm app -- which, confusingly, does what the Foursquare app used to do -- isn’t faring much better.