Oct 4, 2017

Axios Login

What a week. I think I had it right Monday.

Google tries, yet again, to prove itself a hardware maker

With details on its new speakers and phones having already leaked, the big question heading into Wednesday's event isn't what Google will unveil, but rather how it plans to make this year's gear more successful than past efforts.

What we've heard: According to leaks to various news sources, the company is expected to follow last year's pattern with two Pixel phones, a standard and XL version, with the former made by HTC and the latter by LG.

  • We also know Google is expanding the Google Home line to include a cheaper "mini" version, via confirmation by Walmart which had a pre-order listing pop up on its site.
  • And we might see more, including a Pixel-branded Chromebook.

Facing the competition: The company is spending enough these days on its hardware efforts that it needs to do more than just show partners how they might do things better. And, Google has stiff competition.

Doubling down, not backing down: Last month the company announced plans to acquire 2,000 engineers from HTC as part of a deal to buy a chunk of the Taiwanese company's phone operation. However, Google hasn't really clarified what it hopes to get out of that deal, or how it can shift from being a bit player in the phone business.

  • Note: I'm more interested in that, frankly, than any of the technical details of the new products.

The bottom line: Google really needs to go big or go home. It's a defining moment for Google's latest hardware effort, which is being spearheaded by former Motorola chief Rick Osterloh.

Read more of my piece here.

Yahoo and Equifax race to the bottom

It seemed Equifax was doomed to another day as the poster child for bad security after a congressional grilling produced a series of damning acknowledgments about the poor practices that led to its massive security breach.

And, given the amount of sensitive information disclosed, Equifax may well still be the worst mass leak of private data.

Yes, but: When it comes to sheer number of people affected, Yahoo once again proved itself unbeatable. New parent company Verizon disclosed Tuesday that its 2013 breach affected all 3 billion users, not the 1 billion previously estimated.

This tweet, from Bloomberg Gadfly's Shira Ovide, summed it up nicely:

"Equifax: We're totally the worst about hacking! Yahoo: Hold our unpatched servers."

An Uber update

It was a nice, quiet day in Uber-land. Just kidding.

What's happening:

  • New CEO Dara Khosrowshahi was in London trying to rectify the company's precarious position there, after its license was suspended.
  • Meanwhile, he and the rest of Uber's board approved a compromise that will expand the size of its board and curtail some of the voting rights of early investors (including former CEO Travis Kalanick).
  • It will also move ahead with efforts to finalize an investment from SoftBank and aim to take itself public by 2019.
  • Oh yeah, and its trial over Waymo's allegations of trade-secret theft has been pushed back to December.
​Senate to vet self-driving bill

The Senate Commerce Committee will consider a bill today to speed the rollout of self-driving cars.

In the bill: The gist is similar to what passed the House: It would let companies test more cars and would give the feds broad standard-setting power. Autonomous trucks and buses aren't part of the bill, as unions worry about the impact on drivers' jobs. And there are still concerns about privacy and security, Axios' David McCabe reports.

What's next? The bill has bipartisan support, so it should move ahead to a floor vote. Self-driving car legislation may be one of the few things Congress can actually move to President Trump's desk.

In Memoriam: Paul Otellini 1950-2017

Former Intel CEO Paul Otellini, who died Monday at age 66, spent his entire career at the Santa Clara chipmaker. He joined the company in 1974, the same year he got his MBA from the University of California, Berkeley.

Career path: Before serving as CEO from 2005 to 2013, Otellini had served as COO, head of sales, and head of the company's processor business. At one time, he served as chief of staff to then-CEO Andy Grove.

Among Otellini's many accomplishments was spearheading a 2009 deal that enabled Intel to replace IBM as the processor vendor for Apple's Mac, though, in what Otellini described as his biggest regret, the company missed an opportunity to power the iPhone.

Read more: Don Clark has more on Otellini's life and tenure in this New York Times story.

Take note

On tap: The Google event in San Francisco (see story above)...Sonos also is having a product launch. The company is widely expected to introduce a new speaker that supports multiple voice assistants in New York, per The Verge...Lots of conferences including Grace Hopper Celebration in Orlando, with Melinda Gates among the speakers, Vanity Fair's New Establishment Summit in L.A., and Oracle OpenWorld in San Francisco.

Trading places: Lyft hired YouTube HR executive Emily Nishi to be its new chief people officer...Pandora VP Dominic Paschel is leaving the company after seven years, Inside Radio says...Former Obama advisor Dan Pfeiffer is leaving his post as communications chief for GoFundMe to focus on his political consulting and podcast work.

ICYMI: The WSJ reports this morning that NATO officials believe Russia has been hacking into soldiers' personal smartphones, although Russia denies the allegations...The company may be in bankruptcy proceedings, but Toys R Us is launching an app to turn its stores into an augmented reality playground...Breaking with Google and Facebook, IBM is supporting a sex-trafficking bill that would put more burden on internet service providers to monitor what gets posted...CNN says Russia-linked Facebook ads during the 2016 election targeted voters in key swing states Michigan and Wisconsin...Microsoft showed off new Windows-based "mixed reality" hardware from Samsung and announced it had acquired social network AltspaceVR, which had been on the verge of closing.

After you Login

In honor of all the fall hardware launches, here's a flashback to my favorite fictional product launch.