SpaceX launches 16th Falcon 9 in 2017, recovers first stage

SpaceX launches 16th Falcon 9 in 2017, recovers first stage

SpaceX just successfully launched its 16th Falcon 9 rocket this year, for client KT SAT, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The mission is to deliver the company’s Koreasat-5A satellite, which will provide broadband communications services to KT SAT’s customers.
As part of the launch, SpaceX also successfully recovered its Falcon 9 first stage, which landed aboard the drone spaceship ‘Of Course I Still Love You,’ floating in the Atlantic Ocean.
The recovery is the 19th that SpaceX has managed, and it’s been a long while since it’s failed to do this, even with changes in how its rockets return to Earth. Nailing this aspect is key to its long-term strategy for reusable rockets and affordable spaceflight.

Rothenberg Ventures founder Mike Rothenberg ordered to pay former CFO $166K in damages

Rothenberg Ventures founder Mike Rothenberg ordered to pay former CFO $166K in damages

Former Rothenberg Ventures CFO David Haase has won his case against the firm’s founder Mike Rothenberg.
The ruling came down in favor of Haase in the Superior Court of California this last week. Rothenberg must now pay Haase $166,000 for expenses and losses incurred during his employment at the firm, plus attorneys fees for the suit and for legal services related to an SEC investigation of the firm.
Haase joined Rothenberg Ventures in the spring of 2016 to help the firm rapidly grow financially. The former CFO routinely used his own American Express card to cover expenses for the firm, including flights, hotels, partial payment for Rothenberg’s suite at Oracle Arena for the Golden State Warriors games and just under $35,000 Rothenberg put on the card to purchase a Beyonce concert suite for himself, which was eventually reimbursed to Haase from his personal account.
Other expenses totaling over $100,000 had not been reimbursed, however, leaving Haase holding quite a large debt in the four months he was employed at the firm.
Rothenberg owed Haase $109,352.20 plus interest accrued. According to his suit, Rothenberg had “wrongfully and capriciously refused to pay” that debt. The head of the venture firm must now pay that amount as well as $57,000 in fees for the SEC investigation, which includes Haase’s activities when he was acting CFO.
Rothenberg has so far not gotten back to us about the settlement, but Haase tells TechCrunch he is “quite relieved” to be done with the case.
“There were many good people at Rothenberg whose stories have not been told,” he added. “Most were as surprised as the general public to find out what Mike had been doing with investors’ money.  I hope this helps them in their class action and also helps paint a clear picture of the true story.”
A separate class action lawsuit has been filed against Rothenberg and his firm. We’ll be sure to update you when we have more on that case.

Watch SpaceX launch Koreasat-5A on a Falcon 9 rocket live

SpaceX is launching a commercial communications satellite for client KT SAT, South Korea’s lone satellite service provider, today at 3:34 PM EDT (12:34 PM PDT). The window extends for two hours and twenty-four minutes, so the launch could take place anytime between then and 5:58 PM EDT, depending on conditions.
The launch will aim to put the Koreasat-5A satellite into geostationary orbit, where it will replace Koreasat-5, an older satellite operated by KT SAT.
SpaceX will also be attempting to recover the first stage of the Falcon 9 used during this mission, via a landing at sea in the Atlantic Ocean aboard its “Of Course I Still Love You” drone ship, which you can watch live above shortly following the initial launch.
This will be SpaceX’s 16th launch of 2017, which reflects the quickening pace it’s achieving regarding the frequency of its launches.

Latest episode of ‘Bubbleproof’ showcases a partnership with unusual terms

Silicon Valley is a land of ideation and thinkfluence and Qi drinks with tapioca mushroom protein.
In this fourth episode of Bubbleproof, an original mockumentary series on the influence and ignorance of Silicon Valley, we get a closer look at the evolving/devolving relationship between startup founder guru Michael Fertik and venture capitalist David Cowan (who co-wrote the series with Fertik and director Martin Sweeney).
The episode, “Gravity is My Co-Pilot,” highlights the inaugural meeting of David and Michael’s new team and displays the different planes the two are operating on. This happens while a joint interview between the two showcases just how differently each views Cowan’s role as a partner in this venture.
Check out episode 4 of Bubbleproof above. If you haven’t seen the ones before it, check them out here.

Following exec shakeup, Amazon Studios announces expansion plans

Following exec shakeup, Amazon Studios announces expansion plans

Amazon today announced plans to expand its TV and movie division, Amazon Studios, which includes relocating to a new location in Culver City, California. The physical move coincides with Amazon’s plans to increase hiring across new roles in creative, technical, marketing and legal, the company said.
According to Amazon’s website, there are currently 84 openings in Santa Monica for Amazon Studios.
The announcement follows quite a bit housecleaning at the executive level at Amazon Studios in recent days, including most notably the departure of studio chief Roy Priceamong harassment allegations. After Price, Amazon Studios’ head of unscripted, Conrad Riggs, also left; as did head of comedy, drama and VR, Joe Lewis.
Variety reported Lewis had been under internal investigation for his behavior and reportedly pressured producers into casting his girlfriend, Yara Martinez, in Amazon’s original series, “The Tick.” Riggs, meanwhile, had helped Amazon bring former “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson to Prime Video, Variety also said, but the show had not lived up to the hype. Other unscripted series failed, too, including “American Playboy: The Hugh Hefner Story” and “Eat the World With Emeril Lagasse,” the report noted.
In addition, Apple this month hired away Amazon Studio exec Morgan Wandell in its push for scripted programming. Wandall had most recently served as Amazon’s Head of International Series.
Despite these shake-ups among the exec ranks, the Amazon Studios division itself is still growing. Amazon says its new office space at The Culver Studios will occupy more than 280,000 square feet, and will house not only Amazon Studios, but also IMDb, Amazon Video and World Wide Advertising.
The studio space was originally developed by silent movie pioneer Thomas H. Ince, and has been home to productions including Gone with the Wind and Citizen Kane,Amazon noted in today’s announcement.
“We are very excited about being a part of 100 years of movie and TV history at The Culver Studios,” said Albert Cheng, Head of Amazon Studios, in a statement. (Cheng has been serving as interim head of Amazon Studios, following Roy Price’s suspension.)  “Most importantly, this new LA-based office will give us the much-needed space for our team to work and grow so we can keep bringing Prime Members the very best in series and movies,” Cheng added.
Amazon has already been making a name for itself in Hollywood, with Emmy wins for shows like “Transparent,” as well as The Man in the High Castle and Mozart in the Jungle. Amazon also took home the first best picture nom for any streaming service with Manchester by the Seawhich later won. However, it hasn’t had as many hits – critical or otherwise – as rival Netflix. Many people see Prime Video as a nice-to-have upgrade with their Prime subscription, but not necessarily something that could stand on its own as a Netflix rival.
However, Amazon is increasing its investment in streaming, to further challenge Netflix and others. Its $4.5 billion budget in 2017 is due to increase next year, Variety has said.
The company also recently announced it would operate more like a traditional Hollywood studio by handling its own theatrical distributions.
Amazon said today it employs over 700 people in Santa Monica, California and will begin moving into the new office space, located at 9336 West Washington Boulevard in Culver City, at the end of this year.
Additional reporting: Matthew Lynley

People with chronic illnesses and disabilities get their own media channel with The Mighty

People with chronic illnesses and disabilities get their own media channel with The Mighty
People with chronic illnesses and disabilities get their own media channel with The Mighty
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There’s a corkboard in the kitchen at the office of The Mighty, the social network for people with chronic illnesses, mental health disorders and disabilities, which has pictures and letters from many of the site’s thousands of contributors and readers who have benefited from the stories the site shares.
It’s there to remind the company’s staffers of the faces behind the work they do and the impact that the site has on its legion of readers and writers.
For The Mighty founder, Mike Porath, the site’s mission is as much a personal story as it is a professional one. In a piece announcing the company’s launch in 2014, Porath wrote about his family’s own struggles.
Porath’s two-year-old daughter suffers from a rare genetic disorder, diagnosed the same day that his pregnant wife, Sarah, received news that the baby she was carrying would likely be born without at least one organ.
Lying in bed that night we were shaken and lost. This was not the life or family we had planned. I remember feeling small and hollow, a powerless husband and father. Whether it was a futile attempt to comfort my wife or a way for me to make sense of it all, I told her that we were going to do something good with this. How, she asked. I had no idea. We were in tears.
The Porath’s struggled through the adversity, in part through the help of a community of supporters, and from that experience The Mighty was born.
The founders (Porath’s wife is in charge of human resources) have gone from that post three years ago to create a community that now numbers more than 1 million members and has raised $8.2 million in new financing.
Initially, the Porath’s bootstrapped the business and within a few months had gotten the website up and hired Meg Griffo, a Huffington Post writer, as their editor. Within a year the company grew from 2,000 to 20,000 visits per day, which was when Joanne Wilson came on as a seed investor.
The corkboard in the offices of The Mighty
At first, the site was more of a Huffington Post-style platform for authors to share their experiences, but as it has evolved, it has created a hub-and-spoke approach, with community members able to take on more autonomy and create topics and post content on their own.

Now the company has partnered with the advertising giant WPP, which started a new health and wellness vertical earlier this year. The partnership with WPP will allow The Mighty’s contributing storytellers to reach a new audience — the doctors that treat them or care for their family members, loved ones and friends.To give a sense of the company’s scale, there are 15 editors and writers on staff, helping out a population of more than 10,000 unpaid contributors.
“Through their clients in healthcare, they saw the rise in patient-centered approaches and a shift toward more content marketing,” Porath said of the deal with WPP. “We fit both of these trends, as we have authentic stories coming from personal perspectives. We’ve opted to run sponsored posts rather than the kind of branded drug ads that you’ll find on WebMD and similar publishers.”
These revenue-generating opportunities will open up the prospect of payment for The Mighty’s contributors (one could almost view them as micro-influencers) as more sponsored content begins to appear on The Mighty’s pages. While contributors share their personal stories, they do not recommend any treatments or pitch any products, according to Porath.
So the company avoids any potential liabilities that would potentially arise from an influx of snake-oil salesmen. There’s nothing to sell.
Mike and Sarah Porath’s daughter, Annabel
It’s been a long road for the Los Angeles-based company, and one that seed investors like Joanne Wilson, Brad Feld (through the FG Angel syndicate) and Upfront Ventures have been happy to traverse.
New lead investor GGV Capital and WPP, which participated in the financing, were intrigued by the company’s 1 million community members, 10 million-strong newsletter subscriber base and the addition of 5,000 new signups for the newsletter every month.
The incipient revenue that the company is generating from sponsored posts, videos and surveys likely also helped buoy investor confidence in the burgeoning media site.
Porath says the company’s mission is to “empower and connect people facing health conditions and disabilities,” and the company has been staffing to ensure that it can successfully achieve that goal.
Peter Wang has joined the company as its new chief technology officer, coming from similar roles at Refinery 29 and Buddy Media — both successful media properties.
Now, with the additional staff, The Mighty will be building out new features like a Quora-style question and answer service and one-to-one messaging.
“The day someone gets a diagnosis, The Mighty will be the place to go to find support and guidance for whatever journey someone is on,” Porath wrote to me in an email.
It’s all part of what Porath sees as a bigger challenge for the business — to create a social network designed to appeal to hundreds of millions of users worldwide.
About 10 percent of the company’s visitors already come from countries outside of the U.S., Canada and the U.K., where English isn’t the native language, according to Porath. And one of the reasons why the company turned to GGVC as a new lead investor, and Hans Tung as the company’s latest board member, is so they can tap the firm’s experience growing internationally.
China, for instance, which is a huge focus for GGVC, has an incredible need for new healthcare services.
“We share our happiest moments on networks like Facebook and Instagram, but they are not the place most people want to share their vulnerable moments,” Porath writes. “We’ve built a brand and safe space that more than a million people have joined, but reaching global scale requires that we deliver so much more value to our members.”

Former media honcho Edgar Bronfman Jr. is cofounding a new VC firm

Former media honcho Edgar Bronfman Jr. is cofounding a new VC firm

Former media chief Edgar Bronfman Jr. is starting a venture firm called Waverley Capital with longtime investor Daniel Leff, reports Bloomberg, which says the two are looking to raise up to $100 million.
The idea: to target media investments.
Media companies are an abiding passion for Bronfman Jr., the former head of Warner Music. He led Seagram, the liquor business built by his grandfather, Samuel, into the entertainment industry — and eventually an ill-fated acquisition in 2000 by France’s Vivendi. Seagram owned Universal Studios and Universal Music Group at the time and sold for $32 billion in an all-stock deal, but Vivendi’s fortune’s abruptly turned, dragged down by the dot.com bubble’s burst and one too many acquisitions (including the TV and film company Canal Plus and the educational publisher Houghton Mifflin).
In fact, despite the well-documented revenue struggles of streaming services like Pandora and Spotify, Bronfman Jr. — who left Warner in 2012 after selling the unit to billionaire Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries — told CNBC earlier this year that he thinks “music is probably as compelling a content story as there is right now.”
Said Bronfman Jr., “I think ultimately, music is better off under a streaming or subscription model than it was, even in the ‘80s and ‘90s when it was selling albums” because “more people will be buying music” even if it’s “less people than the fanatics who were buying albums.”  At the end of the day, he’d added, “it broadens [music’s] distribution base.”
Bronfman Jr. is no stranger to making investments. Even while serving as chairman and CEO of Warner Music, he served as the managing partner at Accretive, an 18-year-old, private equity and venture firm based in New York.
In fact, readers might recall that Accretive, along with Access Industries, made a spurned offer to buy Time Inc. last year. Bronfman Jr — probably rightly — called Time a “magazine company begging to be a media company.” (Time more recently decided not to sell itself.)
Bronfman’s cofounder in Waverley Partners, Leff, has been running Luminari Capital, a Palo Alto, Ca.-based digital media fund, since 2013.
Leff sits on the boards of a number of media companies, including the newly public digital streaming platform company Roku, the Internet TV service fuboTV, and a Snapchat-focused marketing company called Naritiv that sold in part to Hootsuite earlier this year.
He was previously an investor with Globespan Capital Partners for more than five years.
According to Variety, Bronfman intends to spend a substantial portion of his time on the firm’s activities, but Leff will run the firm’s day-to-day operations.

Twitch’s concurrent streamers grew 67% in Q3, as YouTube Gaming declined

Twitch’s concurrent streamers grew 67% in Q3, as YouTube Gaming declined

Amazon-owned game streaming site Twitch is continuing to see solid growth, according to a new report from Streamlabs, which found that Twitch increased its numbers of concurrent streamers on the platform by 67 percent in the third quarter of 2017. That growth is being attributed, in part, to Twitch’s newer initiatives focused on allowing smaller streamers to generate revenue from their channels through things like subscriptions, virtual tipping and game sales.
However, the growth in streamers using Twitch hasn’t yet paid off in terms of concurrent viewers, the report also found.
In Q3, the number concurrent viewers remained roughly the same. This could be because it takes time for the newer streamers to gain a following and grow their audiences, the company theorized. It’s estimating we won’t start seeing the actual impact of the additional streamers on Twitch’s platform until either Q4 2017 or even Q1 2018.

Today’s market for gaming video streaming is huge – over 600 million viewers in 2017, according to another third-party report, and continuing to grow. But things are also changing quickly, with YouTube, Twitter’s Periscope, Facebook Live, and Microsoft’s Mixer all competing with their own live video products.
Twitch, however, seems to be running away with the market for now, with 25,000 concurrent streamers on its platform in Q3, compared with second place YouTube Gaming.
In Q3, YouTube Gaming Live had 8,200 concurrent streamers and 281,200 concurrent viewers to Twitch’s 25,000 concurrent streamers and 736,700 concurrent viewers.
In fact, this represents a 12 percent decline in average concurrent streamers’ and viewers’ growth on YouTube, Streamlabs found.
That said, overall, YouTube Gaming grew more quickly than Twitch in Q3, with a 56 percent increase in monthly active streamers (not concurrents) on Streamlabs’ platform compared to Twitch’s 16 percent growth. In other words, YouTube is gaining streamers and viewers, but they’re less engaged.
Plus, Twitch still had 737,622 total unique active streamers in Q3, compared with YouTube’s 267,434, Facebook’s 17,091 and Mixer’s 9,699.
One notable finding from Streamlabs’ new data was Periscope’s growth.
In Q3, Twitter’s live streaming service increased 80 percent in concurrent viewers to reach 41,000. The figure points to live streaming’s potential to be a growth opportunity at a company that’s otherwise been historically challenged with regard to signing up new users in large numbers.
Twitter recently surprised everyone with the addition of 4 million new users last quarter, but the overall user base only grew by 2 million because Twitter had been miscounting its user numbers. However, the company attributed its growth to making the service easier to newcomers, not to live video.
Another big reveal from the new report has to do with monetization of live streams.
One of the more popular ways that streamers generate revenue is through virtual tipping. Twitch offers Cheering with Bits, and YouTube followed with the introduction of Super Chat in January.
Streamlabs found that virtual tipping like this is on the rise, more than doubling from 2015’s total of $43 million to reach $100 million this year. Streamlabs itself processed $25 million in Q3, outpacing 2016 by 25 percent, it says.
The number of monetized channels that received tips during Q3 also grew by 14 percent.
The reports’ data comes from Streamlabs’ platform, which offers a suite of tools that help streamers grow their channels. However, it should be noted that its report doesn’t include YouTube Live, only YouTube Gaming; and it only can see the public Facebook Live broadcasts, not those that are friends-only.
The full report will be available on Streamlabs’ website on Tuesday.

Square announces the Register, a $999 point-of-sale device for larger businesses

Square announces the Register, a $999 point-of-sale device for larger businesses

Square is expanding its hardware lineup with a new point-of-sale device called the Square Register.
Square’s Head of Software Jesse Dorogusker explained that while the company’s existing products incorporate existing hardware (the Square Stand, for example, turns an iPad into a POS stand), the Square Register is “totally integrated — our hardware, our software, all in the box, all by Square.”
CEO Jack Dorsey added that the Register is meant to address concerns from larger sellers using Square or considering using it. For one thing, he said some businesses felt the Stand was “very consumer-focused,” so they wanted something “more professional.”
More specifically, Dorsey said the Register solves a big pain point by coming with separate screens for the buyer and seller. The Square team thought it was “clever” to design the Stand to swivel back-and-forth (“and it is quite clever”), but larger sellers wanted separate displays, allowing the customer to see each product as they’re being rung up.
The customer display also allows businesses to show off their imagery and branding. It’s detachable to accommodate different countertops. And it supports tap-to-pay, allowing customers to pay with their phone or watch without having to pass it over to the cashier.
Other features include Ethernet and offline support, so that businesses without good WiFi (say at a concert venue, or in the basement of a mall) can still use it without worrying about connectivity, and a five-port USB hub, so that the Register can be connected to other devices.
Square Register
This isn’t necessarily going to replace the Stand or Square’s other hardware. Instead, Dorogusker said this gives larger sellers “two great choices,” and he added that the real goal is to replace “the giant beige and gray boxes that are out there in the world.”
As for whether Square is shifting away from supporting smaller businesses, Dorsey said they’ll “always be a part of our growth plan and always who we serve.” At the same time, he said the company decided early on that it wasn’t just going to focus on small and independent retailers: “The problem with that is, they want to grow … We can’t be a service that says, ‘Oh, you’re too big for us.'”
The Square Register will cost $999, plus a transaction fee of 2.5 percent and 10 cents per transaction. Dorogusker acknowledged that might sound a little pricey (“You wouldn’t consider $999 an impulse purchase”) but he said larger retailers are already spending thousands of dollars on point-of-sale hardware. Plus, the price is lower than buying two comparable iPads. Square is also offering a financing option where businesses pay $49 a month for 24 months.
Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream is already using the Square Register in select locations. And as part of the launch, Square is hosting a pop-up with Top Dawg Entertainment at the Square Showroom in New York City.

Instagram injects 2X bigger Stories previews mid-feed

Instagram injects 2X bigger Stories previews mid-feed

Instagram Stories is doing so well, the app wants to ensure you don’t just scroll by its Snapchat clone. Instagram confirms to TechCrunch that it has redesigned its mid-feed re-engagement box for Stories to show preview tiles of people’s slideshows that are twice as big as the Stories bar atop the feed. The box appears slotted between traditional permanent posts part way down the feed.
For now, Instagram says it has no plans to replace that smaller Stories bar you see above the feed with the larger design. But interrupting the feed to get people viewing Stories indicates just how crucial the ephemeral, full-screen sharing format is to the future of Instagram.
Social media pioneer Chris Messina first spotted the redesign over the weekend, prompting us to ask Instagram what’s up. A company spokesperson replied, “We recently updated the design of the stories bar that you see while scrolling through feed. This update makes it easier to preview the stories from the people and accounts you care about.”
The design is similar to fellow Facebook-owned Stories product Messenger Day’s initial layoutbefore it switched to a less obtrusive version that uses round bubbles with smaller previews like Facebook Stories.
Instagram now gets two different swings at getting you to watch a Story. First, it shows the profile photos of friends in smaller circles right at the top when you open the app. This leaves the app enough room to simultaneously show the Stories bar and a full-sized square post below it before you have to start scrolling. Then mid-feed, it uses the preview tiles to tempt you to open Stories you’ve missed, in case what people recorded is more grabbing than their face.
Instagram Stories has 250 million daily users, more than Snapchat’s entire app. Rapid feature launches, slick design quality, fast loading and its combination with the already addictive Instagram feed has made Stories a massive win for an app with more than 800 million monthly users.
This old Stories bar design still appears at the top of the feed. But while it used to also appear mid-feed, it’s been replaced by the preview tiles.
Snapchat has refused to offer any kind of algorithmic sorting like Instagram Stories, instead showing the most recently added-to Stories first instead of those from your best friends. And with Stories cloned, Spectacles selling slowly, user count growing at a crawl and augmented reality filters becoming table stakes, Snapchat will need some serious innovation to keep up the competition against Instagram.
SnapMap, AR art and 3D characters like its Dancing Hot Dog may not be enough. Snapchat will either require a radically new feature or a fundamental reimagining of some of its core product philosophies like chronological sorting in order to gain ground. And even then, Instagram will be waiting to copy and refine what Evan Spiegel pioneers.

AWS continues to rule the cloud infrastructure market

AWS continues to rule the cloud infrastructure market

AWS’s domination of the Infrastructure as a Service market continues unabated this quarter. Yes, Microsoft, Google, Alibaba and others continue to grow much faster than AWS, but that has not had a significant impact on AWS’s command over the IaaS market.
For starters, AWS had a monster quarter posting $4.57 billion in earnings. That was higher than the $4.51 billion that was expected by analysts and put Amazon’s cloud computing arm on an $18 billion run rate, as its steady upward growth trajectory continues.
But I hear you saying, “Didn’t Microsoft post a $20 billion run rate?” Well, yes it did, but you have to do reasonable comparisons when it comes to that number, and Microsoft earned the majority of that substantial sum of money from its SaaS business — Office 365 — not from Azure, its infrastructure as a service platform (for a low down on cloud computing terminology, check out this article.)
John Dinsdale from Synergy Research, an analyst firm that tracks cloud market share across the different types, says you have to be careful to separate out that SaaS business when measuring market share. His company found that AWS continues to control 35 percent of the market and that its challengers continue to trail far behind when it comes to infrastructure, which they define to include infrastructure, platform and hosted private cloud services.
“This stream of research is focused on cloud infrastructure services (or cloud computing), so it covers IaaS, PaaS and hosted private cloud services. It does not cover SaaS (we do that in a different set of numbers).The majority of what is included in Microsoft’s cloud numbers is software/SaaS. Microsoft is the leader in the SaaS market by a big margin,” Dinsdale told TechCrunch, but it trails dramatically when it comes infrastructure.
Synergy’s latest numbers are consistent with its previous reporting that AWS is “in a league of its own.” While Microsoft has a nice little infrastructure business going, it’s still not anywhere near AWS. These numbers are consistent with Canalys, which shows slightly lower numbers of 31 percent market share for AWS, but still close enough for meaningful comparison.
The other thing that tends to confuse people is the eye-popping growth rates of these competing firms. While these companies are growing at huge rates, with Canalys reporting that AWS is growing at around 40 percent, Microsoft growing at 90 percent and Google at around 75 percent. As always, it’s worth pointing out that it’s much easier to grow from a smaller market share number than it is as you get bigger, making the AWS number all that more impressive.
There’s unquestionably plenty of room left in the market for everyone to grow as the pie expands over the next decade and more workloads get pushed to the cloud. But as the first company to market AWS has a distinct advantage, even as Microsoft pushes from behind.
“AWS will continue to benefit from its first-mover advantage, broadest cloud services portfolio and strong awareness among developers. But Microsoft’s substantial growth, driven by its huge enterprise installed base, compatibility with its Office portfolio and enhanced hybrid cloud solutions, means it will remain AWS’ closest competitor,” Liu said in a statement.
While AWS clearly recognizes the advantage of that head start, CEO Andy Jassy, said in an interview earlier this year, that he sees that the competition is coming fast.
“There won’t be just one successful player. There won’t be 30 because scale really matters here in regards to cost structure, as well as the breadth of services, but there are going to be multiple successful players, and who those are I think is still to be written. But I would expect several of the older guard players to have businesses here as they have large installed enterprise customer bases and a large sales force and things of that sort,” he said.
Regardless, it’s important to understand what you are looking at when you see cloud marketshare numbers and to understand that growth rates and revenue are not always the most accurate way to compare these companies. AWS rules the market, and for now nobody else is even close.

Samsung’s Gear IconX earbuds find life outside the gym

Samsung’s Gear IconX earbuds find life outside the gym

Far and away the question I get asked the most when I’m wearing a pair of AirPods is: do they stay in? It’s a fair question, and for the answer is, yes, but probably not for everyone. I like the wireless earbuds quite a bit, but they suffer the same issue as practically every Apple headphone before them — the hard plastic design is a bit unforgiving for different sized ears.
I haven’t had an issue getting them to stay put during workouts, and day to day use, but individual experiences may differ. That’s a disclaimer that ought to appear on every wearable review from now on. Samsung’s Gear IconX, on the other hand, are a different beast altogether. And really, that’s the beauty of them.
Samsung’s keenly aware of what’s driving wearable purchases these days, and it’s no coincidence that the latest version of its wireless earbuds appeared alongside the Gear Sport. Like its predecessor, the new IconX is explicitly built with fitness in mind. With that, comes swappable silicone tips and a rubberized loop on top that helps the buds stay put when going for a run — or just rushing to catch the subway.
But while fitness remains the focus this time out, Samsung’s clearly learned the most important lesson from the first generation IconX: a $200 bluetooth headphone needs to be more than just a fitness tool. For a majority of consumers, spending that much on a pair of earbuds comes with the expectation that they’ll do the job even after the workout is over. That means more than a rated 1.5 hours of battery life. The new headphones deliver there as well.

Air bud

Samsung’s never been much for design subtlety, but the IconX (with the notable exception of the pink version), surprisingly, don’t go out of their way to stand out. The all-black model I tested, only butts out slightly when inserted into the ear, going mostly undetected. In fact, unlike Apple’s dangling white AirPods, no one stopped me to ask about the headphones when I wore them around. It was something that I appreciated mid-podcast, and a bucking of the traditional neon coloring fitness headphones.
Most of the IconX’s weight is distributed in the pod itself, rather than the AirPod’s long, hanging stems. That might be an issue during workouts, but the silicone loop up top nestles nicely into the ear, holding it in place. It’s a well-designed alternative to the plastic spikes of older exercise headphones. Frankly, I was a bit surprised that I didn’t have any issue keeping them things in place while going a few rounds with a heavy bag at the gym.
The headphones work on a similar principle as most other bluetooth earbuds, with a charging case to help them outlast their meager on-board battery. In all, you should get upwards on five hours of music playback with a fully charged case, or seven hours of stand by. Keep in mind, that battery will continue to drain if the headphones aren’t nestled firmly in the charging case. Even so, that should be enough last between trips to an outlet.

Personal trainer

Part of extending battery life meant dropping the heart rate monitoring from the previous model. For the majority of users, I expect this won’t be a huge sacrifice. After all, most of those early adopters likely have some kind of wrist worn wearable, as well, so embedding that technology in an earbud was likely just a bit of gimmicky overkill.
The earbuds do, however, contain on-board voice coaching — a feature embraced by a number of these sorts of fitness headphones of late. It’s a nice idea, but one I’ve never found to be particularly useful in my own workouts. When it comes to pushing yourself, nothing beats a good song choice. And I found myself accidentally activating the feature a couple of times while I wasn’t working out and awkwardly fumbled to try to silence it.
The touch panel on the side is a nice feature as well. Not surprisingly, I found myself accidentally hitting that from time to time — though that’s just par for the course for this sort of technology. The control scheme also takes a little getting used to — no surprise, given the fact that there’s really not a lot of space to work with here.

Gearing up

The pairing isn’t quite as magical as what you’ll get on an AirPod/iPhone combo, but it’s pretty seamless, once the button on the back of the case is pressed. Not surprisingly, like the Gear Sport, the IconX gets a few extra tricks if you use it along with a Galaxy handset, like the ability to transfer offline tracks via bluetooth, so you can leave the phone at home during a workout. Otherwise the process takes some dragging and dropping.
There’s 4GB of storage on the headphones, which can be used to keep “up to 1,000 songs,” by Samsung’s count. More than enough to get your through that daily run. Unlike the Gear Sport, there’s no offline Spotify capability for these headphones, and it won’t be coming during a future update. If that’s a big deal, I’d suggest holding out for the next generation, as those will almost certainly be getting that functionality.
The headphones use the same Gear app as the rest of Samsung’s wearables, switching between them is accomplished by a simple drop down up top. The app is fairly barebones, but it offers a good amount of info, including a track listing of what’s being stored locally and the battery level on each bud.

X factor

Samsung kept what worked with the initial IconX and mostly fixed what didn’t. The company didn’t try to give the world its own take on the AirPod, and that’s worked out for the best. The second-gen bluetooth earbuds are fitness focused much like their predecessor, but improvement on features like battery life help them transform into a product for everyday use — just as one would hope for a $200 headphone.
Usage hasn’t quite caught up to the seamlessness of Apple’s W2 chip experience, but those who already own a Galaxy handset will find a lot to like here, including offline music listening. And for everyone else, the IconX still stands out as one of the best pair of Bluetooth headphones around.