borrow good artists great artists steal feature ideas from app du jour.
That might as well be the collective mantra of consumer tech companies, some of which have a well-documented habit of imitation. This week it was Spotify’s turn. While Spotify isn’t literally in Silicon Valley, it’s certainly a tech giant geographically. It’s the world’s largest music streaming service, it’s spent over $1 billion building its podcast business (which is now undergoing a strategy shift), and it says it’s nearing $40 billion in payouts to artists.
It’s also known for having a comically cluttered app, and on Wednesday the company unveiled a new design meant to make it easier to find. “Spotify now has different feeds for discovering songs, podcasts, and audiobooks that have a look that’s half TikTok’s infinite scroll and half Instagram stories,” writes WIRED’s Amanda Hoover. Yes, it is Spotify’s TikTok-ification.
Your inbox doesn’t have to look like mine (overflowing with new technology offers) to know that TikTok app verification is very real. Google introduced more visual infinite search results. YouTube has shorts. Meta has retooled its algorithms to force-feed reels to Instagram users and now allows reels to be cross-posted to both IG and Facebook. Pinterest has a watch tab for short videos. And it’s not just the big tech companies that are doing it. Gen Z video-dating app Snack, for example, is described as a cross between Tinder and TikTok.
The froth for TikTok-like feeds is currently only frothed by apps that use ChatGPT to… well, who knows. Does anyone know exactly what the long-term plan for these chatbots is? Microsoft, Salesforce, Snap – all “integrate” ChatGPT. In the last year, app makers have launched new strategies for the Metaverse, Web3, crypto and NFTs, and prominent venture capitalists have shed their weight behind. This year, the buzzword is “generative AI,” a technology so powerful that the term “chatbot” seems dangerously simplistic. One of the world’s greatest social experiments – how we interact with technology and how that technology affects our humanity – is beginning to feel like a game of mad libs, with tech executives rushing to fill in the blanks and hoping that Bottom line this doesn’t sound totally nonsensical.
Collective FOMO in Silicon Valley is not a new phenomenon. Do you remember when Apple launched a music social network? When Google tried to ride the wave? When Reddit launched a Clubhouse competitor? When Twitter got into newsletters? Whether driven by good old fashioned inspiration or full fledged FOMO, the end goal is to keep users engaged with their app, and their app only, as a rule. Or to advance a potentially transformative technology. Often both. Sometimes you can’t blame them for trying.
In other cases, however, Silicon Valley’s FOMO matters more than a streamlined home feed or a gimmicky chatbot. Just ask any of the thousands of tech workers who were recently fired because their CEO’s pet project, Pivot-to-X, was deemed nonessential. The new FOMO is about “Focus”: who can streamline, maximize and optimize better than the next tech company? Cut enough departments, lose enough middle managers, hand it over to artificial intelligence, and Wall Street’s jubilation could drown out the uncomfortable realization that the same strategy for apps is now being applied to human capital.
Finding your airport uber just got easier
If you ever wanted to count your steps after a long flight, there was always… Uber. Hailing a ride from the airport usually meant navigating a maze of terminals, levels, and parking garages just to find your Uber driver. (And while that’s annoying for a weary traveler with luggage, it’s a nightmare for someone with limited mobility.)
Uber says it is now tackling this issue by introducing airport walking time estimation and offering step-by-step navigation with photos that directs people to ridesharing opportunities within airports. The initial rollout includes instructions at designated terminals at 30 airports around the world, including Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York, San Francisco, Delhi, London, Madrid, Mexico City, Paris, and Rome other Sao Paulo. Uber scheduled the feature’s release for Spring Break because the Transportation Security Administration expects travel season to return to pre-pandemic levels during Spring Break, and because we know the most important thing for spring breakers is to be sober from the terminal 2 to navigate to Garage 3 and not have any inconvenience to their Uber drivers.
Apple Music serves Tár
I listen to quite a bit of classical music when I work; not because I’m an expert on the genre, but because my brain doesn’t do words very well (typing) while processing other words (lyrics). Most listening happens on Spotify – but Apple’s new app just might win me over. On March 28, the company will release a companion app to Apple Music dedicated to classical music. It’s called Apple Music Classical and will be included in the $10-per-month subscription fee for Apple’s existing music service or offered as part of Apple’s pricier cloud bundles.
Classical music may not seem like a, uh, button Part of Apple Music considering Classical is a small fraction of all music streaming. But Apple signaled its intention to cue the orchestra a few years ago when it bought a classical music service called Primephonic, ArsTechnica writes. Primephonic had developed a search function that allowed users to search for alternative spellings of composer names or performances by specific artists. A payment structure was also created where payouts were based on how long a track was played – an important consideration when tracks are 20 minutes long – versus how many times a track was played.
https://www.wired.com/story/silicon-valley-fomo-spotify-tiktok/ Silicon Valley Has a FOMO Problem