Jefferson Graham reviews the new GoPro Hero6 camera from a seaplane above San Francisco and an ice cream museum, where the shots are steadier than with previous models on TalkingTech.
LOS ANGELES — The tech shopping season is now started.
Apple kicked it off with the release of two new iPhones last week. Wednesday, Amazon joined in with new and lower-priced Echo/Alexa speakers. Thursday, GoPro showed off the latest in a line of Hero cameras, the Hero6, and Friday saw the release of Nintendo’s highly coveted Super SNES Classic video game system.
On Wednesday, it’s Google’s turn.
The Internet giant is expected to update its answer to the Echo, with the Google Home connected speaker, and a new state-of-the-art sequel to the Pixel smartphone. (The same day, Sonos looks to introduce its answer to the Echo with a “smart” higher fidelity speaker at an event in New York City.)
Sonos will be competing with the previously announced $349 Apple HomePod, the I-maker’s entry into the talking speaker segment. The release is targeted for December.
Late September to early December is when tech companies pull out the stops to sell consumer products, a time that produces a hefty boost in sales, as much as 30%, according to the National Retail Federation.
The best-sellers of 2017 look on tap to be quite similar to 2016—the new iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, Samsung Galaxy S8 (both updated with new models) and low-priced merchandise priced to move, like Amazon’s Echo update, streaming boxes from Amazon (a new Fire TV box), Apple TV, Google’s Chromecast and Roku (which went public this week with an IPO priced at $14 a share, and valuing the company at $1.4 billion.)
What’s expected to be the most coveted, hard-to-get tech product of the year, the re-designed iPhone X, is expected to sell out in as little as an hour when it goes on pre-sale October 27th for in-store delivery Nov. 3th. Analysts see the $999 tenth anniversary edition of the iPhone in scarce stock until January/February at the earliest, due to consumer demand and issues Apple is having getting supplies for the new phone.
In Seattle this week, Amazon introduced three new Echo units, starting at $99, (down from $179) and promising better audio quality, while in San Francisco, GoPro brought reporters on seaplanes and helicopters to show how the new camera produces steadier video footage than previous models.
(You can see the results in my Talking Tech video report here.)
Get out your credit cards!
Meanwhile, in other tech news this week:
280 big ones. We’ve all struggled to compose a finely phrased tweet in 140 characters, so news this week that Twitter was testing a way to super-size your phrases got a lot of attention. Twitter says a small group is beta testing 280 character tweets, but most of the reactionwe saw to the change this week was negative. There was something quaint and comforting about the small, finely crafted and to-the-point tweet. But sadly, the writing is probably on the wall. Your tweets are going to get much longer, whether we like it or not.
Russia and social media. Speaking of Twitter, the company told lawmakers it found some 200 accounts linked to the same Russian groups that bought $100,000 worth of ads on Facebook to sow political unrest and manipulate U.S. voters during the presidential election. Meanwhile, president Donald Trump had a social media war of words with Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, who accused the social network of being “anti-Trump”. Zuck responded that Facebook is “a community for all people.” Facebook, notes Jessica Guynn, faces intensifying scrutiny for Russia-linked advertisements placed on the social network that were designed to help Trump’s candidacy.
IKEA Task Rabbit. Hate assembling those chairs and tables purchased at home retailer IKEA? Good news: the Swedish company has acquired TaskRabbit, the tech startup that specializes in contracting short-term jobs — like furniture assembly.
Amazon streamed its first Thursday night NFL game and made it across the goal line without hiccups. However, as Mike Snider reports, some miscues played out, similar to what happened on the field in the matchup in which the Green Bay Packers won 35-14 over the Chicago Bears. This was the first of 11 scheduled NFL games that will be available to Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 for faster shipping and entertainment.
In-air texts. Beginning Sunday, airline carrier Delta will offer free mobile messaging on its Wi-Fi-enabled planes via Apple’s iMessage, and Facebook’s WhatsApp Messenger and Facebook Messenger. Delta is the first legacy airlines to offer such services. But as Ben Mutzabaugh notes, customers on JetBlue already have free Wi-Fi — which would include unlimited texting — and Alaska Airlines customers have had access to free in-flight messaging on its Wi-Fi enabled aircraft since January.
Your Tech Week in audio
Films about photographers. SmugMug, the photo sharing site, makes movies about about how photographers get their shots from exotic places like Iceland, the Mojave desert and Tokyo. SmugMug CEO Don MacAskill explains why this is good business.
Miss the iPod? Meet the Mighty. Apple doesn’t sell pure-play MP3 players anymore, so meet the Mighty, a small, Nano-like device with a twist. It will play MP3s and playlists downloaded from Spotify. We hear all about it from Mighty co-founder Anthony Mendelson.
Charge a car in the garage wirelessly? Forget about charging a new iPhone without plugging it into the wall: how about using the same technology for a car? Listen to what BMW has in store.
Ditched the landline, but keep the number? Many hold onto their landline for nostalgia, they don’t want to get rid of their old phone number. We discovered how to ditch, and keep the old number in the family, with a service called NumberBarn.
GoPro introduces steadier Hero camera. Our report from the GoPro launch event in San Francisco.
And that’s your week in tech. Have fun shopping everyone!
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