Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every day this week I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.
GOOGLE VS. MICROSOFT VS. SLACK
- Google’s cloud services and enterprise conference started out extremely boring yesterday, but today was all action, starting with the news that Hangouts is turning into a full-on competitor to Slack.
- Dieter’s piece really gets into the messaging strategy mess Google’s created for itself — it’s quite a mess! But Gmail and Google Apps for business are still entrenched; building a messaging system around the email and calendaring system so many people already use is very smart, especially since Hangouts is also commonly used for quick video chats. The chaos of Google’s consumer messaging strategy might have cleared out enough space for Hangouts to be a focused enterprise strategy.
- Still, I’d bet that a lot of companies that use Google Apps also use Slack right now — and until the chat features of Hangouts have 1:1 feature parity with all the wacky Slack integrations and services, no one’s going to be happy about switching corporate platforms just because it’s slightly cheaper or comes from a single vendor.
- But neat products like Google’s new Jamboard whiteboard will certainly help.
- As for Slack, it’s now facing down two huge enterprise email / calendar providers in Microsoft and Google who can make a pretty convincing case that group chat is a terrific adjunct to email, not a complete replacement. Where does Slack go from here? What makes it a product, not just a feature? Slack’s a smart company and I’m sure they have answers, but it’s not going to win by putting out more ill-considered full-page print ads in the Times.
POWER MAKES YOU DUMB
- Let’s talk about powerful people making weird / bad decisions. First, the huge Samsung corruption lawsuit began today, and Sam Byford delivered a clear explainer of what’s going on, who’s implicated, and how it involves, um, horse racing. Samsung has always been sort of a faceless organization, and this new layer of shadowy drama will be hard to shake.
- Scott Pruitt, the new head of the EPA, denied that CO2 causes climate change today. This flies in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus — there is a good and robust policy debate to have about climate change and environmental policy, but denying the rate of change caused by human industrial production illustrated in this very good XKCD panel is just nonsense.
- The latest Fast and Furious 8 trailer is out, and it’s full of… self-driving cars? Sure.
- More cars! The Geneva Auto Show is still going on, and today Bentley came after Tesla with a hot new electric concept. This is sort of the same thing as Slack: Tesla created this huge new market, but established players can pick off customers at a variety of other price points. And this Bentley looks so hot.
- Over a hundred thousand people watched a block of ice melt because of Game of Thrones. The new season premieres on July 16th. This is our world now.
- Finally, here are two neat little wireless speakers: the new Tivoli Model One Digital and the Chromecast-based Mondo+. The overwhelming trend is to put enough smarts in the speakers to handle pulling the audio stream from the cloud directly instead of relying on a phone — it’s all the same basic idea whether it’s Spotify Connect or Google Cast or Sonos or whatever. Which make me wonder: what the hell is going on with AirPlay? Apple pioneered the idea of sending content from a phone to another device, and it’s so far behind the state of the art now I don’t even consider using it anymore. Are there still AirPlay fans out there?