On this edition of the Futurum Tech Podcast updates from Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference, can HP make 3D printing great again, the International Space Station opens itself to private enterprise, Huawei finds fertile ground in Russia, facial recognition best practices gets discussed. Those stories and more coming up on this episode of FTP.
Our Main Dive
What the world needs now…. isn’t a $999 monitor stand. Apple’s WWDC (Worldwide developer conference) 2019 had a number of interesting announcements, from updated hardware and software systems to new privacy features and more.
Our Fast Five
We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:
- HPE is delivering 3D printing for (heavy) metal
- Microsoft suggests we forget to change our password more often
- Baltimore reveals just how expensive a ransomeware attack can be
- The International Space Station is now “open for business”
- Facebook swipes left on pre-installations on Huawei phones
Amazon has started using user-generated information in its advertising. That may not seem so bad, but in this case, they’re using images from its Ring security devices featuring suspected criminals, and that might not be the best approach.
Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses
Apple’s new Mac Pro carries a hefty $5,999 entry point, and its Pro Display XDR monitor adds another $4,999. But can Apple really sell a monitor stand that costs an additional $999 (even if it does spin from landscape to portrait mode)? Hint: tilting your head is a lot less expensive.
Daniel Newman: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m the host today, Daniel Newman, joined by my always esteemed friends, colleagues, and analysts at Futurum Research, Olivier Blanchard and Fred McClimans. I’m going to skip the niceties of saying hello, because I know they’re there, and I know it’s a nice day. But we’ve got a lot to talk about and we want to do it in a relatively, respectable amount of your time. But it’s Worldwide Developer Conference week at Apple. Of course, who would we be in the tech community having a tech podcast and not talking about one of Apple’s big days, big announcements, that overtakes Twitter, overtakes the news, and makes wonderfully stimulating announcements like stands for your monitor that are more expensive than most monitors? Fred, Olivier, welcome to the show.
Olivier Blanchard: It’s good to be here.
Fred McClimans: Welcome.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I didn’t want to give you guys much more time than that, at least not for the niceties in the beginning of the show. But I am really excited to be here. I am excited to talk a little bit about the Developer Conference. Before I do that, I need to jump in and do the little disclaimer bit and basically say, once again, the Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. So while we will talk about many publicly traded companies, we may even talk about these companies and their stocks, and our beliefs in how they are performing. We are not giving you financial advice. We are not suggesting that you buy or sell anything. We’re just giving our perspective. We hope you enjoy it, find it entertaining, maybe even get a laugh or two out of it. Of course, we want to be one of your favorite sources for information on the tech industry.
So this week, Tim Cooke, up on stage, big announcements. Big announcements around iOS. Big announcements around the watch ecosystem. iTunes, big announcements around iTunes or not so much iTunes. The Mac Pro, big announcements. Lots going on. So gents, let’s start here. Fred, what was the most interesting and exciting announcement that you heard at this week’s Worldwide Developer Conference?
Fred McClimans: That’s a good question. There were a number of things that they touched on. Some, like the stand that we’ll talk about in a bit, yeah, not so much. Didn’t really catch my eye there at all. I’d have to say though, I think if there was one area that they kind of really focused in on, it would be on the OS space. The new iOS 13, I thought they had some really good announcements there. Particularly one of my favorites, Dark Mode for the iPhone. That’s something that they’ve struggled with a bit in the past. Then of course, the new Catalina macOS coming in, that does a number of things. The new Siri that is actually a computer-generated voice that actually sounds really real, rather than the existing Siri that is based on a particularly individual’s voice.
As well as some of the things that I thought they should have done this a while ago. I’m glad they’re kind of catching up. But the ability, for example, to implement their Sidecar app and use your iPad as an extended monitor off your desktop or your laptop. I mean little tiny things like that, that I think just kind of, they round out the operating system and kind of set the stage for the next direction of Apple. That’s even further away from the hardware devices, iPhones and so forth, and more into the value that their software can really bring to the table for businesses and consumers.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think you hit some things on the head. Olivier, I know you mentioned offline that you were sort of not overwhelmed or excited by the watch stuff. You’re sort of a fitness guy, you’re a IoT guy, you cycle. You would think that if Apple was nailing it, they would definitely grab your attention but they haven’t. What’s up with that?
Olivier Blanchard: They haven’t. That’s been kind of like a big disappointment for me because Apple does so well with the Apple Watch, right? To my dismay, the Android smart watches have not been able to really deliver on the promise of wearables that they ought to. I think that’s their failure. It has nothing to do with Apple. So I’ve kind of expected Apple to push the envelope a little bit because Apple Watch is so important for them. It’s such a great win for them, and one of the rare places where they actually do something better than the Android ecosystem.
There’s been this kind of general push towards thinking of the Apple Watch as a medical device or medical-adjacent device, anyways. Like this really kind of slick, consumerization of medical wearables that could potential drive the consumer market towards a more kind of personalized technology management of your own health and potential medical conditions. The low-hanging fruit for that is basically turning the Apple Watch into a heart rate monitor, which is nothing new. Wrist-worn watches that look and perform like heart rate monitors have been around for several decades now. Polar had them. Garmin has them now. You can buy them on Amazon for like 49 bucks. It’s nothing special.
But for all of the hype around Apple moving into the space and hoping to dominate it, I’m still not seeing Apple doing anything really cool or advanced or groundbreaking in that space. Essentially, the Apple Watch is still a heart rate monitor like every other heart rate monitor. It doesn’t really matter how slick the app is, and how good it looks, and how the swipe integration is like super smooth, or the gesture control gets better. It’s still just a heart rate monitor. Because it’s just a wristwatch, it’s something that’s worn on your wrist and the contact points are not secure, or as secure as they would be with a medical-spec’d device, it’s not still in my mind a reliable device when it comes to EKGs, or monitoring heart rates, or even diagnosing potential problems. So there’s a disconnect for me between what Apple claims it’s doing, and what I think is a clever marketing strategy and actually a useful niche for Apple to fill, and the reality of the Apple Watch that still falls very, very short of delivering on that.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I thought, to their credit, they did a few clever things. The hard part is, and we’ve talked about this in past shows, Apple has set the bar so high years ago in the Jobs era, that it almost seems impossible now for them to ever do anything. We certainly are outspoken critics in many ways of Apple. They did regain some of my affection when they finally came to the table with Qualcomm because it bothered me so much that they’d strayed from what they knew was the best quality product for their consumers. But I’ve still, because of those periods of times, those doubts, explored new technologies. I moved to a Surface Book 2. I moved to a Samsung S10 Plus and had the chance to see what life was outside of the Apple ecosystem, and found that there’s quite a bit going on there.
But to their credit, I think some of the innovation was good. I think personalizing the watches, new watch faces, new looks, so that everybody doesn’t look like a clone of each other, so your watch can look a little bit distinctive and unique beyond just the band, I like that. I like to see the splitting of the Apple Watch ecosystem, the Apple iPad ecosystem, and the Apple phone ecosystem. I think that’s smart because the devices do not function completely the same way. So giving them all the same ecosystem was somewhat limiting and frustrating.
Having said that, I think killing iTunes is something I couldn’t be happier about. Anyone, and Fred, I’m sure you as more of an Apple user versus Olivier, knows that doing an update or a backup through iTunes, getting a new phone, getting it started was a pain in the butt. iTunes is this really heavy app. It’s clunky. The fact that you could only have five devices registered to it was always a nightmare. Or sorry, not five devices, authorize five machines to actually do your updates and to manage your ecosystem. So the fact that they’re going to do away with iTunes is just terrific. The fact that the things that are coming behind it are pretty ordinary, right? A gaming environment, a movies and television environment. So they’re Netflix now. They’re GameFly now. They’re the bank now. All that stuff, we’ve talked about that. None of that stuff is particularly exciting to me. But to their credit, with the brand equity and trust they have, I would probably suggest those things will do well, better than they should.
So, I mean overall, I thought that the company had a pretty good showing. Now for me, the thing that stood out to me the most was their movements towards privacy. I thought that that was probably the one thing that they really did that was encouraging to me. Now again, you can’t entirely give Apple all the credit for doing it, and they’re certainly doing it still within their walled garden. But they did offer a number of new privacy features and functionalities. So let’s talk about really quickly what a few of those things are. The encrypted sign-in, so when you go to Apple and you download an app, you could use your Apple ID and make sure that the app developers do not get your email. I thought that was a terrifically useful privacy function that they didn’t have for anyone else. Fred and Olivier, did you guys check out kind of some of the new privacy announcements that they made?
Fred McClimans: Yeah. It’s interesting though, the single sign-on with Apple, I see some really great advantages to that in terms of privacy and allowing, as you mentioned, third-party app developers to authenticate you, and for you to do that in a way that doesn’t expose too much more additional data then we already have. But at the same time, that’s sort of a double-edged sword there because you have now a situation where Apple is kind of setting itself up as that single verifier of ID in the entire ecosystem. That ecosystem touches so many different applications, so many different sites, so many different aspects of technology that we have seen some pushback against that with people saying, “Look, we don’t want Apple to be another Facebook. We don’t want Apple to be another dominant player that requires everybody to have an Apple ID to kind of get access to value that’s out there in the technology marketplace.”
Daniel Newman: But it is their ecosystem. It is their App Store. So I totally agree with you, I just mean like this is a function that they’re offering to people who use their ecosystem. If nothing else, couldn’t it be something that Android and others could look at as a cue? For me, what I actually saw was an interest in … This is, obviously you guys have heard me speak offline about this a lot. This is an interesting topic to me. I think there’s a renaissance around privacy and data protection. I think there’s a bigger story to be told here. I think people are regaining interest in it. Again, it’s not just about getting back your privacy. I think that ship has sailed. Nobody’s going to ever fully regain access and control to their data. It’s just having a little more transparency and a little bit more control. Picking fewer companies that do better things with your privacy and are more oriented towards protecting you.
Fred McClimans: You know, at the end-
Daniel Newman: Because the Google … Go ahead.
Fred McClimans: To that point though, it’s interesting because I agree. I think what Apple is doing with the single sign-in or the Sign In with Apple, I think that’s a good thing. But I understand at the same time how other ecosystems could potential push back against that, and how users in general may just see this as sort of that slippery slope. Whereas new technology comes available, as new apps come available, new components, they’re going to gravitate towards that type of application and that type of sign-in because it’s easy and relatively universal given the market share that Apple has. It kind of leads us down that path of an industry technology provider kind of driving that verification.
At the same time, I think it’s also worth pointing out that that focus of privacy on the user, that also extends into other areas. One of the things that came through with this, the whole wave of announcements, was an increased focus on the individual and the contacts that that individual has, the people that they communicate with, that they share with. There are a number of small little tweaks here and there that I think will take the operating system, whether it’s for the Mac, or for the iPhone, or the iPads, and start to shift it a bit from an application focus to more of a, “Here’s what I’m going to share, here’s the people that I’m going to engage with, with a particular app.” I think that’s a very important shift there.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I think you hit on a lot of things. I want to make just two last comments about the privacy things. Then I want to go into one more thing around the Developer Conference and get you guys’ take on it. But the first thing was I thought the opportunity to give your location data one time was a super smart move, that every app store and app ecosystem should give. Again, this is the on-ramp/off-ramp. “I want the great experience, I’ll share my location. But I don’t want to keep sharing my location with you forever. I’m not an expert with my device. I don’t feel that I should have to always go back in after giving you access and take it back away from you. That’s putting all the responsibility on me.” When you’re using a lot of apps and trying to create a lot of experiences it just becomes unmanageable for most people.
The second thing I will say is I thought they made a very clear and blatant shot at their competition, for good or for bad. But I snapped a photo of him during the presentation and it basically had a huge in white letters across a black screen it says, “Apple doesn’t record or save your audio.” Whether this is true or not, I said this will still be met with some skepticism because a lot of people say, “Oh, are you sure? Because it always feels like someone’s listening.” But if they’re right about this, that was a pretty aggressive swipe at companies like Amazon and Google, who have been sort of outwardly found to be actively capturing a lot of data, even when people do not think they do. So I want to talk about one last thing.
Olivier Blanchard: Wait. Wait, wait, wait. Hang on though because I want to point something out real quick and then I’ll just-
Daniel Newman: Yeah, yeah.
Olivier Blanchard: Two seconds. Because Apple is really good at marketing and this was a super clever move, and I applaud them for it. But just because they don’t record your data doesn’t mean they don’t capture it and don’t listen to it and don’t do something with it. For the same reason that just because they don’t sell your data to a third-party, doesn’t mean that they’re not capturing it. So you have to be really careful here to read between the lines. Because Apple is crafting its messaging around this very, very carefully, and giving you the impression that they’re very different from everybody else because through these differences they’re expressing their desire to respect your privacy more. That’s actually not the case. They’re just not using your data in the same way, or as liberally as other companies are.
One of the main reasons for that is Apple’s business model. Like you pointed out earlier, they are a closed ecosystem. They are a walled garden. They’re a stack. They want to keep everything on the inside. Whereas Google and Facebook, their business model is to sell your data to other parties. So I would just caution people not to mistake one type of data intrusion, or a data intrusion that doesn’t necessarily involve as much selling your data to third-parties, as necessarily respecting your privacy.
Daniel Newman: Well, and I think that’s something that would be really, really important to continue a discussion around and debate, Olivier. Because the words they used were not, “We capture …” They’re not even really debatable. That’s why I actually said there’s going to be skepticism. But when you say, “I do not record or save,” if they’re capturing it, they’re lying. Because there’s no in between the lines there. “We don’t have it. We don’t keep it.” That’s what they’re saying. “We don’t record it, therefore we don’t have it, and we don’t save it.” So between those two things they should not have any capture of that data. I’m not saying they don’t. I’ve said, and I’ve been very outspoken in saying, I don’t know if I believe it. But what they’re saying, like you said, it’s clever marketing.
Fred McClimans: Yeah. It doesn’t also prohibit them using your data in real time to generate some other component of value, some nugget of goodness out of what you’re doing to extract information and then thus create a new dataset based on what you’ve done. So it is a fine line-
Daniel Newman: But if they were to be caught doing that, they would be absolutely violating their community’s trust. I’m not saying they’re not. I’m just saying it’ll be interesting to watch. Because if it was to come out that they are doing what you’re saying, at the best case scenario, they would use some sort of clever mincing words. But frankly, if you found out that they were in real time using your data, creating a secondary data source with that data, that they then save, that’s pretty damn manipulative.
Fred McClimans: Well, I’ll give you an example. With Siri, Siri has to be listening to what you’re doing. Given the ability of the processors to operate in real time with that data, they have to be doing something with your voice. They’re interpreting, they’re setting up the series of commands and features that they’re going to offer to you next. They already are, they’re processing in real time. The statistics around that processing or the data around that processing that are generated, that has to take place, otherwise the system simply can’t function.
I think what they’re saying here is, “We’re not recording your voice and then passing along a snippet of that, like Amazon does to their Alexa team, to verify that what you say is what you say.” But that doesn’t mean that they’re not deriving insights and value out of what you’re doing that are then shared or used internally within Apple for other purposes.
Olivier Blanchard: I think that when they say stuff like that you have to put an asterisk next to it.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. That’s why I said, I mean, it’s going to be met with a certain amount of skepticism. I’m just saying there are certain things that you say as a company, that if it comes back and it turns out you’re doing something else, that will create a much stronger resistance from your community than others. This is one of those things right now. That they’re building this hill, and it’s a hill they’re seemingly looking to die on, that they’re more private than their competitors. That’s why you should pick them. That’s why they’re the right company to work with. If it was to come out that they were just manipulating or reordering words to confuse people, that’s not going to go over well.
That doesn’t mean they’re not doing it. I just mean this would be a big risk for them if it comes to fruition that they are basically full of crap. Again, many companies are. I mean, look at how many times Facebook has done it. But Facebook has no trust left. They have two groups of people now. They have people that have no faith in them, and people that don’t care. But nobody trusts them. Maybe somebody. Nobody might be the wrong word. There’s like probably three of four people out there that still trust them.
All right. I got to move on to our Fast Five, guys. It’s great discussion. I will circle back. I have one more Worldwide Developer Conference I want to talk about, but I’m going to save that at the end for our Crystal Ball. But for now, because our Fast Five isn’t always the fastest of fast, let’s dive right into that. Olivier, I’m going to have you go first, if you don’t mind, talking about ISS is open for business.
Olivier Blanchard: Yes. The International Space Station is now open for business. NASA has kind of reversed itself on a longstanding policy that they weren’t going to allow space tourism to happen. But they’re looking for money. They need to fundraise. I think part of the reason why is they need to fund further missions to the Moon, and to Mars, and so on, and so forth. NASA is now allowing, or announced that they were going to allow, private companies or private individuals to hitch a ride to the ISS and stay there. It’s very expensive. It’s very cost-prohibitive. The cynicism drives us towards talking about millionaires or even billionaires taking advantage of this to go play astronaut for a month. But the reality is that private companies are probably going to take advantage of this much more than private citizens, and use this opportunity to go do research in orbit.
Apparently, the cost of this is going to be somewhere around $50 plus million for the trip, plus an exorbitant amount of money per day to stay on the ISS. I think you’re required to stay there at least a month before you can come back down to Earth. This is going to be pretty serious. It’s not going to be Jeff Bezos getting on a rocket and spending 24 hours on the ISS and flying back down. It’s going to be more serious types of applications. So I welcome it. I think that partnerships between organizations and agencies like NASA in the private sector are always going to produce a net positive for everyone, for NASA and for private enterprise. With the privatization of space, or space research, I think this is overdue.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. It’s exciting. It might be my next location if I can’t manage my stress here down on Earth. All right. So Fred, Baltimore’s paying the bills for a new ransomware. What’s going on there?
Fred McClimans: Yeah. So Baltimore has been the target of a ransomware attack, or they were the target. It started oh, a little over a month ago. It was pretty devastating to the city. It literally brought the city’s operations in some areas to a grinding halt. It’s one of those interesting things where we talk a lot about the frequency of data hacks and ransomware attacks, but we don’t often talk about the impact after the fact. In this particular situation, the city of Baltimore has opened up and said, “Look, it’s been three, four weeks since the attack was officially over. We’ve now calculated the cost for that.” So what does a ransomware attack on a city cost? Well, they’re estimating that the cleanup cost itself is going to be $10 million plus. Then there’s an additional $8 million in lost revenue to the city during the duration of that ransomware attack and the cleanup.
You know at $18 million that may not seem like a lot, but it’s a lot, especially for one of the medium-sized US cities to kind of deal with here. There’s a lot more that I think we’ll come out with on this. I wouldn’t be surprised if the actual cost tally at the end is a good bit over $18 million. But just this attack as well, it’s kind of taken on a life of its own.
There are now some separate investigations related to it. It appears that the ransomware attackers may have actually lifted some data while they were in there, based on some documents and so forth that have shown up across the web. So more to come on this, but we’re finally able to kind of peg a dollar value on this. For the city of Baltimore, it cost the city $18 million, one ransomware attack. Word to the wise, be prepared.
Daniel Newman: And we’ve seen them go up into the hundreds of millions. So just imagine if this became a wider spread epidemic. So ransomware’s an area that-
Fred McClimans: That’s the concern, that this becomes a viable source of revenue and protest/disruption tactic for many.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. We’ll have to keep our eyes on that. But moving along, so my Fast Five talks about Facebook’s suspending app pre-installs on Huawei phones. Gosh, what a tough couple of months for China, for Huawei. Although they did get the reprieve, I believe they got the thumbs up, go ahead from Russia, to help them build their 5G network. Of course, whatever we’re doing, you can always count on other parts of the world doing the exact opposite. But Facebook decided that they’re no longer going to allow pre-installation of their apps on Huawei phones. This is a pretty big deal. This doesn’t affect people who already have the phones. This is the same sort of thing as Android. They’ll continue to support the existing deployed units, but on new devices going out of the factory, no more pre-installations.
Now, having said that, that whole vernacular is a little bit marchitecture to me. So no pre-installations, but what does that mean if you want to go into an app store and acquire? Of course, that’ll depend on having Google and Google Play, most likely, on that device. But will they not support it at all if you’re able to load it on the device? Or are they just saying it won’t come on the device when you get it? That’s kind of an interesting question. But Facebook’s coming out obviously showing their willingness to support the measures from the US government.
Now, one thing of note is the analysts do believe that this is going to have a huge impact on Huawei technologies and their smartphone business. Reuters, who I actually read the article to, talked about polling some customers that are coming out of stores, mobile phone stores. Basically they are saying they are hesitant to purchase a Huawei device right now because of the uncertainties about what devices and tools and support they’re going to get access to. There is a pretty dramatic expectation for a drop in sales of Huawei smartphones. I’m going to punt it back your way, Olivier. HP is printing steel.
Olivier Blanchard: Yep. I should just add that maybe a phone that doesn’t come with Facebook pre-installed and may not be able to support Facebook might not be a bad thing. It might actually be a selling point for a lot of people.
Daniel Newman: I think Fred and I might be okay with it. I’m not sure about you, though.
Fred McClimans: Yeah, no. I’d be fine.
Olivier Blanchard: I think I would be. It wouldn’t suck. Yeah. I would be totally fine with that. So yes, HP. So we never talk about 3D printing anymore, which is sad because when we first started talking about digital transformation, 3D printing was kind of like one of the overarching technologies that were kind of, not at the core of digital transformation, but definitely showed opportunities, especially with smart manufacturing. We kind of circled back after a long silence about 3D printing and not much exciting stuff happening there, to a 3D printing story that caught my eye this week. It’s from HP.
As you know, HP has been pretty solid in the printing business, but they’re also really solid in the 3D printing business. They just announced a new category of 3D printers that actually prints metal. This is nothing new. Metal 3D printers have been around for a while, but this one is particularly impressive. It’s called the Jet Fusion 3D Printer. It’s the 5200 series. What’s cool about it is these printers are not just for prototyping, like their 300 and 500 series. They aren’t just for limited production, which is more typical in additive manufacturing, that you’re going to do short, limited runs with 3D printers, not mass production. HP also has the 4200 series, which is specifically designed for limited production uses. This 5200 series is really, truly for real, true volume production of hundreds of thousands of parts.
They’ve announced as a two-part announcement, not just the introduction of this printer, but also a partnership with major players in the space like Siemens and BASF. And another company called Materialize, which is less known than Siemens and BASF. I’m kind of excited by this because it just kind of, it shows you that 3D printing is still relevant, that it’s still innovative, and that it still might have a pretty serious impact on modern manufacturing. It’s much more modular. As we talk about the Space Station, and potential Moon bases, and going into space and colonizing Mars at some point, 3D printing, and especially being able to print metal parts in space, is going to actually be really important. This might be kind of like one of the inflection points, in my mind, that will make that possible.
Daniel Newman: All right. I like it. So when I move to the Moon, I can also 3D print all my steel necessities.
Olivier Blanchard: Exactly.
Daniel Newman: Fred, so take me home. Microsoft, always a company that I admire for one reason or another. They’ve got something to say about mandatory passwords that maybe isn’t going to jive with what we’ve been hearing for a long time.
Fred McClimans: Well, depending on where you are in the privacy and data protection space, this may come as a bit of a surprise or it may be welcome, long overdue news. For the past couple of decades, when it comes to passwords the mantra has been change your password often. To the point where we have applications that require a mandatory password change every X number of attempts or every X number of months. Well, it turns out that this may not actually be the best way to protect yourself with a password. I mean, we all know the value of a long password, random characters, and so forth, and we know how to generate those, but we don’t know how to remember them very easily. This kind of plays into the issue that we’re seeing here.
Over the last couple of decades, we’ve noticed a couple of clear trends in the creation of passwords. People tend to use something that they can remember very easily. When they have to change the password, they keep that in mind, and they create a password that looks a lot like the prior password with minor changes. That’s just not an effective way to create a password. So Microsoft is finally stepping up to the plate and saying, “Look, you should forget to change your password more often.” Recognizing that every time you change a password, that’s a security risk. It’s a chance that you’re going to create a password that is less than effective. With the technology that’s available out there, simply using the word password with an @ sign for an A, something along those lines, or adding a 123 at the end is something that modern software can guess really, really easily.
So, Microsoft has stepped up. They said, “Look, we’re going to stop requiring people to change their password on a regular basis, and instead put the emphasis on creating a long-lasting, very hard to guess, unique password.” I think for security people, that’s a great thing. The challenge now is going to get people to actually do that. That’s where we see a lot of value in some of the password management apps that are out there. Of course, the problem being there, myself like many others, we simply don’t trust the integrity of those apps to manage our passwords. So there’s still some room to grow in this marketplace. But if you change your password every month, take a moment and skip a month or two. Let it go.
Daniel Newman: I kind of agree. I think that they’re on the right track. I think a lot of us do that. Actually, when you said they change your password to just slight variants of the last password, I do that all the time. But having said that, my passwords are nasty. So I end up having a lot of reboots because I can’t ever remember what they are.
Fred McClimans: I do that-
Olivier Blanchard: I do the same thing.
Fred McClimans: I do that all the time. In fact, the majority of times that I change a password, it’s because I couldn’t remember the prior password. It’s easier for me to just go to the website, request a new password, use that password. Especially for apps that I don’t use particularly often or sites that I don’t visit often, I’ll rely on two-factor authentication to kind of get me through there.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. I two-factor most things and I use a lot of characters. The problem is I forget which ones.
Fred McClimans: Well, you are a character.
Daniel Newman: Well, thank you, guys. So anyone that got anything out of that in terms of trying to get my passwords would realize I can’t remember them, so maybe you can help me. So when you get in there, let me know what it was. Anyhow, so let’s talk about Tech Bites. Amazon. So I’m not actually calling them out as a straight up Tech Bites, but I want to talk about this one as a slight debate, almost a second dive here. Amazon’s Home Surveillance Company, this is the header of the article, is Putting Suspected Petty Thieves Into its Advertisements.
So, the question mark right now is we have more surveillance than ever. A lot of surveillance is put in by the city or by retailers or by stores. It’s designed as such that it’s to be used to protect us. If someone commits a crime, police or law enforcement gets access to that surveillance to use it to help solve the crime. But what happens when the company that’s providing that footage gets involved in actually the process of helping to capture an alleged or suspicious person, and puts out still frame pictures of this person in specific area codes, and asks for the help of the people to identify this person? Is it going too far? Does every camera get to be surveillance? Does every company have the individual rights and capabilities to put content out there to potential embarrass or humiliate a person who isn’t yet guilty, and doesn’t necessarily have …
Like in the case of this article, it’s a person where a camera caught that they think this person might have been the person to have stolen a wallet out of a car. The crime wasn’t exactly captured but the person was in frame around the time that the crime was thought to have happened. I think this is an extremely interesting ethical debate in a surveillance world. Then when Amazon takes those pictures, boosts them, and puts them in Facebook ads, is that going too far? Olivier, you’re a liberal that likes liberal rights. Would that be okay on the liberal rights side? That’s not right. Liberal right. Liberal right’s side. Towards the liberal thinking, is that going too far? What do you think?
Olivier Blanchard: Well, speaking for all liberals, because we all think exactly the same-
Daniel Newman: Yes. You get to do that. That’s how it works.
Olivier Blanchard: Right. It’s an interesting dilemma because on the one hand, you have a responsibility to protect the privacy and good name of people. We are all innocent until proven guilty in this country, which is actually easier said than done, obviously. But at the same time, there is a compelling public interest, and especially a public safety interest sometimes, where you have to err on the side of public safety as opposed to privacy. That equation between privacy and public safety is always one that we hope law enforcement weighs carefully, but they’re not always going to get it right.
I would say that it’s not really a question of liberal thinking and conservative thinking. It’s a question of jurisprudence. We hope that the people who are in charge of making these decisions every single day to try to keep us safe, are doing the best they can. That’s all really we can hope for. So I’m not going to make this political. I just think that it’s a very complicated question, that hopefully we won’t have to rely on the Supreme Court to decide for us, because they don’t always get it absolutely right, so.
Daniel Newman: Yeah. Absolutely not fair-
Olivier Blanchard: To be continued, right?
Daniel Newman: … to completely put an entire side of a political party on your shoulders, by any means. One of the real things that came to my mind though, is like when do we get rights and when do we not get rights? There’s a lot of surveillance that is intended for the purpose of capturing people to help law enforcement. But historically what happens, right, is the police do their policing. They go to the area where a crime is committed, they identify where cameras may be, they go through a process and they get footage that might be available to them. They privately analyze that footage, right? And then determine that they think there’s a person of interest, or they think that they’ve caught a crime being committed. Then, at that point, they might make the decision to post that or share that with the media. But I did think it’s interesting. I can’t think of in all time, like where the 7-Eleven that got robbed actually has 7-Eleven putting an advertisement of themselves being robbed, and being like, “Here’s a …” You know what I mean?
Olivier Blanchard: Right.
Daniel Newman: Usually they let the police do the policing and they support it.
Olivier Blanchard: We’ve seen that done with bank robberies for quite a few years. Before we had this kind of privacy cameras everywhere, there were always cameras inside banks. So when somebody stole something in a bank or a store, you’d see like kind of the image from above, right? From the CCTV camera with somebody with a mask holding a gun or whatever, or walking out with a paper bag. That was the genesis of this. I think that there’s a natural kind of ecosystem for this already. There’s a place in our culture for this that’s not egregious.
Daniel Newman: For sure. Fred?
Fred McClimans: This is an interesting one. I think it’s worth pointing out though, that the images that Amazon/Ring are using here, and the copy, this is coming from police departments. It’s not coming directly from the individual users. So Amazon, in their defense or their argument, they’re saying, “Look, we’re taking information that has already been put out there by a local police department and we’re kind of sharing that.” So a little bit of nuance there.
I think the bigger issue that we may need to think about or consider here, is that in their mind and in the mind of the police department, they’re putting out something that the police department says, “Look, this is a person of interest, somebody that we would like to talk to because of their proximity to an event or a crime or something of that nature.” But in the eyes of the person viewing the ad, well, that’s a little bit different thing. They look at that and they go, “Oh, criminal.” We know that the mob mentality on the internet can run very swiftly.
I think it’s only a matter of time before somebody that is wrongly accused of a particularly crime, or is simply wanted as a person of interest, somebody that the police would like to talk to about an event, becomes the victim of targeted online harassment because the mob assumes guilty. I think that’s really the issue that we need to kind of consider here very carefully. It’s a bold move on the part of Amazon. I’ve got to say, it’s not one that I necessarily feel comfortable about.
Olivier Blanchard: To circle back to your kind of political question earlier, if there was a liberal kind of perspective on this it would be this. If this happened to me, so if I log on to Facebook and I have 50 messages saying, “Hey, is this you?” and it directs me to one of these ads in which my face is prominently featured as a person of interest in a crime or something, and I know for a fact that I didn’t commit the crime, I was just there. So yeah, great, the police wants to talk to me. I’ll talk to them. For me, it would be easy to get on Facebook or Twitter and take a screenshot, and just kind of laugh it off and go, “Wow, look at what happens. By the way, I’m innocent.” That would be pretty much the end of that. It would be an interesting footnote.
But if I’m not this privilege white guy with a strong social media following and presence, if I’m a homeless or rather economically challenged person, who doesn’t have my technology savvy, who doesn’t have my following, who is not a privileged white guy, the way that they would be dealing with this situation would be very different. Their opportunity to be able to deal with this situation would be different from mine. So there’s kind of a social justice aspect of this, where some people will not be harmed by this type of error or this type of online bias, but other people might have a much harder time proving their innocence, or kind of bringing themselves out of the kind of damage to their reputation that this kind of thing would do. That would be my political caution on that front.
Fred McClimans: You know, Olivier, we saw an example of that not too long ago, where there was the manager of a fast food restaurant who apparently was essentially set up by a group of diners that had posted previously about grabbing and running with food, or basically ordering, collecting food, and then refusing to pay and leave the store. They posted video. I mean they went into this store, into this food chain, with the intent of doing exactly this. They videotaped the whole thing before, during, and after, posted clips of that. The store manager literally had her life ruined because of the online harassment. It wasn’t until somebody independently said, “Wait a minute, something doesn’t seem right here,” and started to research the story a bit for the truth to actually come out.
But this person, she was fired from her job by the company. Retroactive or after the fact when the true details came out, she was offered the job back. To her credit she said, “No, thanks. I’m going to move on and do something else.” But we’ve seen the impact of this here. This person, even today, a considerable amount of time after this has taken place has said, “Look, my life is simply not the same because of this false accusation.”
Daniel Newman: Gents, we got to move on. It’s a super interesting topic. If you really think about it, there is so much nuance here. Again, I framed it a little bit like I have a side but I don’t. I think this is just one of those evolving topics with facial recognition, surveillance everywhere. I’d always rather find ways to get criminals caught. It’s just, is there any hope left for the innocent? Obviously, with all kinds of manipulations of technology, the innocent or the guilty before being proven guilty, is a scary proposition for society. The Minority Report world, right? “I didn’t do it.” “But you were going to.” “Well, I don’t know. I don’t think I was going to.” “Oh yeah, we know.” It’s insanity.
So, let’s circle back, the Crystal Ball here, gents. Worldwide Developer Conference. We talked about a lot of the good, some of the mediocre, and even a little bit of the bad. But nothing maybe is worse than a $1,000 monitor stand. I just got to ask you guys. You’ve heard about this. $1,000 for the stand. $1,000 so you can hold your Parmesan cheese grater Mac Pro monitor. Is there going to be a flurry or a flop? This thing going to sell or is it going to slop? Quickly, couple words, what do you guys think?
Fred McClimans: $1,000 for, well, I don’t think anybody ever expected that Apple would have the success they did with the $1,500 plus monitors that adorn either side of my MacBook here, the 27-inch monitors there. But yeah, if you look at this, the new computer system itself, the MacBook Pro that they announced, I mean that’s $5,000 plus. The monitor is equally expensive. In the grand scheme, is the monitor that much more than the total price? Probably not in their eyes. But in my mind, $1,000 for a monitor stand, yeah that’s off my list completely. Maybe somebody in the animation space, the graphics space, somebody that’s really using the MacBook Pro to is full, maybe they kind of say, “Yeah, we’ll accept that cost.” But gosh, for the average user, no. Not a chance. Not a chance.
Daniel Newman: That’s insane. That’s insane.
Fred McClimans: Knockoffs have to come to market.
Daniel Newman: Olivier, what do you think?
Olivier Blanchard: Well, what I think is that if I happen to have an HP Jet Fusion 5400 Series 3D Printer, what I would start doing is designing and printing a very near replica of that stand, and sell it on Amazon and AliExpress for $49.99 and retire.
Daniel Newman: Or even $499.99.
Olivier Blanchard: Or even that, yeah.
Daniel Newman: Because geez Louise. Well now that we have no relationship left with China, any hope of preventing counterfeiting has just gone out the window. They might not been able to counterfeit a Mac Pro itself, but they might be able to counterfeit a $1,000 stand and sell it for 100 bucks.
Olivier Blanchard: It’s a stand.
Daniel Newman: It is still a stand. I don’t know. To me, it’s like I’ve lost the plot. I thought the $1,500 phone was expensive, but at least there’s some utility there. I mean, this thing literally holds the monitor. That’s it. So no, it’s a big fat failure. I think they’ll sell a few units. Maybe it’ll find its way into some movies and advertisements. But my god, if you have that money, send it to me. I’ll invest it for you. This show is not about investments. It’s for information and entertainment purposes only. But I’ll invest that money for you and I’ll show you some returns.
All right. So I got to wrap up here. I want to say thank you to everybody out there for tuning into this week’s episode of Futurum Tech Podcast. Olivier and Fred rocked it as always. We appreciate all of you. We like hearing from the community. We appreciate all your support. We’ll be back next week. But for now, the team here at Futurum Research, we got to go. We’ll see you later.
There will be plenty of more tech topics and tech conversations right here on the Futurum Tech Podcast, FTP. Hit that subscribe button. Join us. Become part of our community. We would love to hear from you. Check us out, futurumresearch.com or Futurum Tech Podcast. Daniel Newman, Fred McClimans, Olivier Blanchard. We’ll see you later.
Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.
Daniel Newman is the Principal Analyst of Futurum Research and the CEO of Broadsuite Media Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise. Read Full Bio