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Amazon's TV and Facebook's Glasses: Can They Succeed Where Others Failed?
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The most important thing in tech today is …
the unveiling of Amazon’s branded 4K TVs and Facebook’s collaboration that resulted in Ray-Ban Stories. Both products are a version of the “flying car” in modern consumer technology: innovations long promised but never delivered in a form that wowed the mainstream.
Many have tried.
On the TV front, pundits have speculated for at least 15 years about when Apple will release a branded television. Microsoft had WebTV, later MSN TV, which wasn’t quite a standalone television but clearly would have gotten there if it had caught on. Today’s smart TVs feel like a compromise, and they’re generally made by TV manufacturers who seem focused on augmenting their industry, not disrupting it.
On the glasses front, there was Google Glass, a spectacular (ahem) failure from nearly a decade ago; Snap Spectacles, which are a niche product if we’re being generous; and long ago there were various glasses with mp3 players built in. Nothing yet has broken out as so useful that we want to routinely put it on our faces.
So why again? Why now?
On the TV front, you can now reasonably offer a large, premium 4K TV for just over $1,000, which is what Amazon is doing with its 75” Fire TV Omni; I’d bet it will go for under $1,000 on Black Friday. On the glasses front, semiconductor and optical tech is good enough that you can squeeze cameras, mics and speakers into the form factor of fashionably chunky glasses and still get several hours of battery life. That’s new.
In the past, the barriers to these products were the physics, the technology. Today, they’re cultural. Should we trust TVs that listen? Should we trust glasses that watch?
Coming up today on CNBC’s TechCheck, 11 a.m. ET / 8 a.m. PT …
Zscaler CEO Jay Choudhry
While you were sleeping …
Amazon announced Thursday its first branded TV sets. There will be two versions — the high-end Amazon Fire TV Omni Series and the more affordable Amazon Fire TV 4-Series — each available in different sizes. They go on sale in October at prices ranging from $369.99 to $1,099.99. CNBC
Tinder CEO Jim Lanzone will be the new chief of Yahoo, according to a company memo obtained by CNBC Friday. CNBC
In the broader world …
Prices that producers get for final demand goods and services surged in August at their highest annual rate since at least 2010, the Labor Department reported Friday. The producer price index rose 0.7% for the month, above the 0.6% Dow Jones estimate though below the 1% increase in July. CNBC
On the horizon …
Today, 2:30 p.m. EP / 11:30 a.m. PT: Fortt Knox 1:1 with Samsara CEO Sanjit Biswas