Hello friends and welcome back Weekly review!
I took the last few weeks to relax and make sure my 2022 shots were as searing as possible, or at least as premonitory as possible. This week we’re talking about what I’m sure could be one of Apple’s biggest scandals of the decade yet: the tiny AirTag.
You can get it in your inbox every Saturday morning from newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.
the big thing
AirTags are a very useful product from Apple that work pretty much exactly as advertised.
Unfortunately, this is the problem.
There has been quite a bit of controversy lately about how Apple has deployed them and how, while these are great devices for keeping track of your keys, they can also be easily abused to track down someone. ‘a. This is not a purely theoretical question either, it is already happening.
This isn’t a particularly unique scenario where technology can be used for good or bad purposes – just think of the decades-long conversation around encryption – that said, I have a feeling it is about ‘a scenario in which Apple will lose and it will be more embarrassing than any misstep in recent memory.
Over the past few years, Apple has organized much of the marketing of its wearable products around how its devices work in the use cases at the edge. The latest generations of the Apple Watch have focused on health tracking features that could help identify rare conditions or help users with a life-threatening situation. TV commercials have documented the individual stories of users who have found Apple Watch to be a lifesaving tool. With AirTags, there is potential for some of these same benefits, but there are also many more disadvantages. Next year we’re no doubt going to see examples of AirTags being used in a nefarious manner that, taken together, are the antithesis of one of those Apple Watch ads. It can end up being a product defined by its glaring flaws.
Apple made its own post-launch efforts to tighten up how AirTags that don’t belong to a certain user can be detected, but these notifications have proven to be buggy and often waited far too long to alert users. Add in the fact that Apple seemed to view Android’s integration as an afterthought, not a partnership needed to ship a device like this, and Apple’s incompetence seems a bit more serious.
I highly doubt that Apple will be able to find a solution to this problem. Regardless of what they send to iOS to back down, Android’s fractured ecosystem means warranties won’t reach large numbers of people who could be targeted.
For a nascent product category with such potential for PR accountability, it’s hard to see how Apple justifies continuing to sell AirTags. This is Apple’s unique mistake in that the company delivered exactly what it initially promised, but failed to consider the full extent of the direct consequences of that initial promise.
Here are a few stories this week that I think you should take a closer look at:
Elizabeth Holmes sentenced on 4 of 11 charges
Finally, the trial of Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes resulted in a resolution. Now we await the conviction as well as further indications as to whether Holmes will be retried on several of the charges the jury was unable to reach a verdict on. Holmes was convicted of conspiracy to defraud investors, as well as defrauding investors in the DeVos family, hedge fund manager Brian Grossman and former estate and trust attorney Dan Mosely, she was not convicted of any charges related to patient fraud, ”reported my colleague Amanda.
Google violated Sonos technology and commercial court rules
Google’s smart speakers have violated key patents owned by Sonos, a US regulator ruled this week, and the company will no longer be allowed to import counterfeit products made in China. Google has already started implementing design changes that it hopes will interrupt its ability to sell its smart speakers. Sonos has seen its lead in the smart speaker war dissipate as the tech giants have stepped in, but the smaller computer hardware company is not backing down.
A smaller, quieter CES
The Omicron wave prevented the TechCrunch team from traveling to Las Vegas to check out the latest gadgets from the Consumer Electronics Show, but we were at the show in mind and watching with countless livestreams. While it was certainly a more low-key year, there were still plenty of wild gimmicks this year. Here are some of the best we’ve seen.
Some of my favorite reads from our TechCrunch + subscription service this week:
How startups can prevent tech debt from piling up
“… Fostering a short-term plan for getting a faster time-to-market option isn’t always bad, as long as the company has a backup plan to deliver well-designed code that would simplify operations. iterations and future innovations. But for startups, redesign is difficult because deadlines and a lack of resources prevent developers from producing clean, flawless code. Startups prioritize short-term plans and focus more on adding features to reach milestones, sign up big-name clients, or raise funds. This overhaul of the roadmap and disregard for the long-term vision is triggering the technological debt… ”
5 marketing growth predictions for 2022
“… It’s been a crazy year in growth marketing, with the meteoric rise of TikTok, sweeping iOS privacy changes, and $ 240 billion paid to US startups as of September 30. All that new money has meant heavier investments in growth marketing throughout 2021. The heaviest investments have been made during uncertain times, with startups scrambling to find ways to measure iOS conversions and unlock TikTok as a new channel …“
3 things founders need to know about mergers and acquisitions
“… Mergers and acquisitions are particularly beneficial for startups that are struggling to scale operationally, as they are essentially buying cash flow, revenue, and traffic from other companies, which means startups take a larger share of their markets. It is also a good way for startups to find, consolidate and experience their value proposition. The problem, however, is that most founders don’t know how to get started with mergers and acquisitions and resign themselves to the shadow of the bigger players. But mergers are accessible and advantageous for companies of all sizes… ”
Thanks for reading, and again, you can get it in your inbox every Saturday morning from the newsletter page, and follow my tweets @lucasmtny.
Have a good week!