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Big Revolution - Questions for Mark Zuckerberg

Welcome to Thursday's newsletter. I'm skipping SXSW for the second year in a row. I have more import
March 7 · Issue #365 · View online
Big Revolution
Welcome to Thursday’s newsletter.
I’m skipping SXSW for the second year in a row. I have more important things to do back home, but I still can’t help but feel a twinge of FOMO. It’s not the crucial event it used to be, but you can’t beat it for catching up with people from all around the world in one place. Have fun if you’re going.
– Martin from Big Revolution

Big things you need to know today
  • Facebook is pivoting to privacy. In a significant blog post, Mark Zuckerberg outlined how the company will switch its focus to encrypted and private conversations. This raises more questions than it answers. More on this below.
  • Google is rolling out its A.I.-powered restaurant-booking service for Pixel 3 users in 43 US states. Duplex was shown off as an early test at Google I/O last year, but it has fast become a real product.
  • Amazon is set to close all 87 of its pop-up stores around the US, CNBC reports. However, the company is set to expand its physical retail presence across the US through many more of its Amazon Go cashier-free stores and other grocery stores.
  • Microsoft has open-sourced the Windows calculator app on GitHub. This move would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
The big thought
Credit: Benjamin Dada on Unsplash
Questions for Mark Zuckerberg
Has Facebook taken all the recent criticism on board and changed its ways? That was the question many asked as Mark Zuckerberg announced yesterday that Facebook would be switching its focus to encrypted, private conversations between users.
Zuckerberg acknowledged obvious shifts in internet use. Many people are less keen on sharing their thoughts and life events with big groups of people, preferring to talk in smaller-scale groups. Facebook needs to embrace this, or it will quickly lose relevance.
A plus for Facebook is many of these conversations around the world happen on its own WhatsApp, Instagram, and Messenger apps. A minus is that if you encrypt those conversations, it messes up the company’s business model, which relies on knowing what you’re saying (currently only WhatsApp is encrypted by default).
The move ties in with Facebook merging WhatsApp, Messenger and Instagram into one, dedicated back-end platform, although the apps will all continue to operate as separate products.
There are many questions about the move though:
  • Will the public like the idea that a Facebook friend can find them and contact them on WhatsApp? There are benefits to the apps being separate.
  • How will Facebook make money if it can’t see people’s conversations? The answer probably lies in the metadata about who is contacting whom, combined with data collected over time and from elsewhere. And Facebook presumably doesn’t expect usage of its main ‘blue app’ to die off completely.
  • Has Facebook given up on the Chinese market? It certainly seems that way.
  • Will integrating WhatsApp with other apps cause antitrust headaches? Journalist David Meyer thinks it could.
  • Will politicians buy this as a completely positive move and back off on regulation of Facebook? That has to have been part of the aim here.
While the 'pivot to privacy’ was presented as a positive move by many in the tech press in the first hour or two after Zuckerberg’s announcement, questions like those above quickly came to the surface. And Facebook’s harshest critics certainly aren’t buying it.
If Facebook wants to convince the world it’s changed, it needs to earn our trust – which kind of harks back to yesterday’s Big Thought, doesn’t it?
One big read
The Prototype iPhones That Hackers Use to Research Apple’s Most Sensitive Code The Prototype iPhones That Hackers Use to Research Apple’s Most Sensitive Code
“Very few people have heard of them, but "dev-fused” iPhones sold on the grey market are one of the most important tools for the best iOS hackers in the world.“
One big tweet
Donald Trump caused much mirth yesterday when he called Apple CEO Tim Cook ’Tim Apple.’
timmy apple
Getting the whole gang together:

Tim Apple
Jeff Amazon
Elon Tesla
Mark Facebook
Jack Twitter
Sundar Google
Larry Oracle
Mark Salesforce
Satya Soft
Reed Flix
10:48 PM - 6 Mar 2019
That’s all for today...
I’ll be back tomorrow with Friday’s newsletter. See you in your inbox then.
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