Weekly Roundup: October 26th

Observations October 26, 2014 4:06 pm


Media: The Changing Music Landscape

  • Music Sales Decline: In last week’s roundup, we discussed the rapidly changing TV landscape and how the shift in consumer behavior is driving the market towards digital, a la carte programming. This week, sales reports from the music industry highlight a very similar shift: as of Monday, not a single album has gone platinum this year, and on Friday, reports surfaced that digital music sales on the iTunes store have fallen 13% since the start of the year. Because Apple is the largest music seller in the world, this is not good news. Who’s to blame? Streaming services. Because why would you buy music when you can stream it? FutureVision looks at how some artists are trying to future proof music sales.
  • Streaming Services Go Premium: Spotify introduces a family plan to entice more members to go premium, and Google Play integrates Songza’s concierge to personalize music discovery for premium members. How long until all subscribers are premium subscribers?
  • Wearable Tech + Music: Before there was UP, there was Jambox. Jawbone is returning to its roots as an audio company with the introduction of Drop, a Twitter-powered music streaming service. Drop makes use of Fabric, the newly announced mobile developer platform from Twitter. To use Drop, users sync their Rdio and/or Spotify account, so when Twitter users tweet them a song name, a playlist is automatically generated.


Payments: One Week With Apple Pay
  • Easy to Use: Business Insider took Apple Pay for a spin in NYC this week, reporting that the new payment solution was easy to setup and easy to use. Not surprisingly, though, many employees at various stores didn’t know if they accepted Apple Pay or not, even though all but one retailer the reporters tested did. Employees also were confused about how to accept a return using Apple Pay, but the negatives seem to end here. A reporter for VentureBeat echoed this statements, noting that Apple Pay was “fast, easy, and boring.
  • Apple Pay Isn’t Perfect: Apple Pay doesn’t yet accept retailers’ proprietary cards, meaning people who have Macy’s or Bloomingdale’s will miss out on deals or earning loyalty points if they switch to Apple Pay. This presents a conflict of interest between retailers and Apple, as retailers like Macy’s see nearly 1/2 of their sales from proprietary cards.
  • The Future of Payments: Apple Pay is just one of the many ways we’ll pay for things in the future. Our peers at JWT Intelligence publish a report exploring how far we’ll move beyond cash and credit in the report, “The Future of Payments and Currency.”

Google vs. Google

  • Did Google Just Launch A Gmail Killer?: Google reinvented email with the introduction of Gmail ten years ago, and now the company is giving us a peek into the next evolution of email. Inbox is a new email app (currently invite only) that simplifies Gmail with the help of Google Now-like cards and a new “bundling” system. The main selling point seems to be that you don’t actually have to open emails to see what’s inside. For example, if you make a purchase on Amazon, an image of the order would appear on the screen, along with the option to track the package, without having to click into the actual email. Will Inbox eventually displace Gmail?
  • Will Magic Leap Compete Against Google Glass?: Arguably one of the bigger headlines this week was Google’s lead in the $542 million investment in Magic Leap, a super secret startup working on “cinematic reality.” But what is cinematic reality, and what is Magic Leap working on? That’s the confusing part. The company has yet to publicly demonstrate the technology, but Magic Leap is being described as a pair of glasses that project images onto the user’s eyes to enable them to see virtual objects as if they were real. What are the use cases for Magic Leap? According to a blog post by founder Rony Abovitz, the sky is the limit: “I want Magic Leap to become a creative hub for gamers, game designers, writers, coders, musicians, filmmakers, and artists. We also have the possibility to positively transform the process of education. To change how we design things. To make our communications feel real. How we shop. How we create. How we discover each other, and how we can explore completely new worlds.”


R/GA Launches Second Accelerator Cohort
  • From Connected Devices to the Internet of Things: The startups in the 2015 Accelerator class focus less on gadgets and wearables, and instead focus on the software powering the Internet of Things. The ten startups are also more mature than last year’s class; roughly half of the companies have already raised funding and are generating revenue. The class is as diverse as it was last year, with companies solving problems in the workplace, agriculture, and media.
  • Updates From The 1st Class: Where are the startups in the inaugural R/GA Accelerator? QoL’s gamified breathing trainer Alvio won a Gold and Bronze Mobile Lion at the 2014 Cannes Lion Festival, Grove Labs has raised $2M for their indoor hydroponic grove, and all of the companies who presented at demo day have exceeded their funding goals.

R/GA Originals

  • This Week in Mobile: Starbucks’ ramps up in-store mobile strategy, Samsung donates phones to fight Ebola
  • FutureVision Feed: How brands like Target, BCBG, and Ikea are hacking Instagram for greater functionality.

Visualizing Our Health and Fitness

  • What We Eat: National Geographic visualizes how daily diets have changed around the world over the past 50 years. Globally, average daily caloric intake increased nearly 31% from 1961 to 2011. The visualization breaks down the changes by country, and dives specifically into meat consumption, which has nearly doubled per person in the past 50 years.
  • How We Look: With the sharp increase in our caloric intake over the past 50 years, it’s no surprise that our bodies have changed as well. Nickolay Lamm’s Body Measurement Project visualizes the average male’s measurements; with a waist measuring 39 inches and a BMI of 29, the average US Male (30-39) is… large. And just shy of being considered medically obese.
  • What It Will Take To Break A 2 Hour Marathon: Despite the average person’s decline in health, runners are getting faster. Runner’s World explores what it will take to break the two-hour marathon barrier. All other factors aside (which there are many, from temperature to course elevation to age), a runner who weighs 120 pounds and is only 5’6″ tall has the best chance at breaking the world record.

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