- Occasionally, a big company decides to fix a big collectice pain point for customers and challenge their own established business models. This time it's Epson, betting on an alternative to all those little expensive ink cartridges we are all accustomed to hating. Unfortunately it sounds like designed obsolescence may still be on the table for the machine itself.
- Soylent has unveiled their latest formulation, and is packaging it in some pretty dull bottles. But if you're that disinterested in solid foods, maybe you'll appreciate the simplicity. We think the future of food (with climate change and population growth) will look very different than it does now, particularly for Americans with protein sourced from big, resource intensive mammals- but we have our doubts that Soylent is going to be a big player in that future. Time will tell.
- Autodesk the CAD software company continues it's opaque and curious efforts to reinvent itself, place strategic bets on the future of digital everything, or both. Last we checked they had developed their own 3D printer, started incubator/accelerator/maker spaces in multiple U.S. cities, aquihired a handful of tech service businesses - this time it's their very own video game engine which they're calling Stingray, which seems to be targeting small(ish) game designers with low cost and easy integration with other Autodesk software.
Roadmapping the future:
- The big established 3D printing companies (3DSystems, Stratasys) are falling short of Wall Street expectations. We think this is a reflection of just how uncharted the 3D printing map truly is- with too much hype in some segments and outdated cynicism in others, makes it hard for even the experts to predict which companies stand to win or lose year to year.
- Significant robotics investment continues at a good clip, this time it's another round ($11 million) for Jibo, a domestic robot that has more in common with the Amazon Echo than your Roomba. As voice recognition + processing technology improves we may be getting close to a future where we are not tethered to little screens scattered across the home.
- We believe very few products really have any reason to involve gender designations. Apparently, customers are speaking out to the same tune and Target is listening, removing gender specific language from their toy department.
- Smartphone maker HTC is on the edge, with their stock prices way down for the year - analysts are pricing it effectively at the level of cash it has on hand, even disregarding assets like factories. It's a tough time to be selling smartphones and not be Apple. The article states that LG is making as little as 1.2 cents of profit per handset sold. Ouch. HTC is also known for being one of the companies on the earlier side of the tech company acquiring design firms trend, buying up San Francisco based One & Company in 2008.
More next week.