Anyone who has followed audio hosting and streaming platform SoundCloud over the past year or so knows that they have had major financial issues. There have been layoffs and office closures, amid rumors that they might not survive 2017. The company offers free or nearly-free hosting of audio files for musicians and, to a lesser extent podcasts. The popular differentiator for the company is their player, which many people seem to like. As it turns out, though, offering a very expensive and popular service like media hosting for little to no money is not a sustainable business plan.
Someone I worked with several years ago used to say, "You can sell dollar bills for 90 cents and you will have a lot of customers, but eventually the dollar bills run out." That expression was used at the time to describe the business model, or lack thereof, of MetroPCS. For them, when the dollars bills ran out, the company sold itself to T-Mobile. Unfortunately for SoundCloud, there has not been any interest in helping them out.
This week, co-founder Alex Ljun announced internal that 40% of the staff were being laid off, and newly hired employees' contract offers were being revoked without notice, despite clauses requiring 4 weeks notice. According to information from inside the company, during a conference call with the remaining employees, the co-founders announced that, even with the layoffs, there was only enough money to survive another 80 days.
This news created turmoil within the company, including employees jumping from the sinking ship. One customer, however, took action. Chance the Rapper, who shouted out SoundCloud in his Grammy acceptance speech in February,
tweeted that he was working on it. Unfortunately, there is no information on what exactly this means, but it is unlikely that he would be investing in the company, or buying it outright. After confirming a conversation with SoundCloud, he tweeted SoundCloud is here to stay, with the company posting a similar message on their blog.
The problem here is that, even if they had a MASSIVE influx of cash, there is no way that their "business model" will be able to keep the lights on. The company is going to have to completely change the way they do business, starting with removing their free hosting, and increasing their existing plans significantly. Once that happens, smaller podcasters, who have tried to use the service to keep costs low, are going to switch to companies like Blubrry, or close entirely, rather than stay with SoundCloud - something that has already started. Musicians are going to leave, and the relevance of SoundCloud is going to drop, meaning that new musicians will likely switch to another platform, like Groove or Spotify.
At this point, there is no real way for SoundCloud to save themselves. The company leadership dug a hole that is too deep from which to escape. If you're using the service now, you should definitely look for alternatives before it is too late.
For the 3rd year in a row, Amazon hosted a full day of sales aimed at their Prime members. This event has had varying degrees of success, with the first year being a
complete dumpster fire. Unlike 2015's 55 gallon drum of lube or "female urinal," 2017 offered mostly products that someone somewhere would be looking for. That did not stop the #PrimeDayFail hashtag from making an appearance, though (you've got to love the horse grooming block).
Even though there were some oddities and issues, Amazon was more than pleased with the day. In fact, the company announced that Prime Day 2017 was their single largest sales day in company history, claiming the mantle from Prime Day 2016 by quite a margin. In fact, 2017 exceeded 2016 by more than 60 percent. Even when you consider that Prime Day was more than 20% longer this year than last, they still came out way ahead. July 11, 2017, also heralded the most number of new Prime members of any single day in company history.
While the top product of the day was the Amazon Echo, and the highest sales for any TV in company history was the Element 55 with Fire TV, there were some very popular non-Amazon products, too. Some products, like the Instant Pot in US and Canada make sense, others are pretty weird. For example, the #2 product in Canada was an 8-pack AA batteries, and the top 2 products in Japan were whey protein and bottled water.
Prime Day did not go off without problems, though. Many people experienced problems trying to watch deals on the evening of the 10th, getting repeated failures due to overloaded servers. This does not make Amazon Web Services look great as a service, considering Amazon can't even load balance their own content, let alone customers' servers. Other people noted that some prices were higher during Prime Day than they were before the "sales" began. For example,
Merrell Men's Vapor Glove 2 Trail Running Shoe 9.5 D was on sale for $85, but a user bought the shoes on July 8 for $56, and today they are available for $70, with a lowest price of $50. Other products were erroneously marked as free, such as Star Wars miniatures.
One of the more bizarre issues on Twitter was a woman named
Zeina Koinis who claimed repeatedly that some technical glitch on Amazon's part resulted in an issue that put her family's business in jeopardy. Someone from Buzzfeed reached out to her on Twitter, but no article was ever published. Most of her tweets are in response to a post by another user, StevenKoinis, whose original tweet has been removed. There is no telling what might have happened, if anything, but it seems that whatever it was turned out to be less than presented.
Despite the issues, clearly Amazon had a positive day, in the middle of the summer, when sales are traditionally lower. Let us know about your Amazon Prime Day experiences in the comments.
announced the 3DS in 2010, there have been 6 distinct models of the hardware. The 3DS and 3DS XL shared hardware, but differed in screen sizes. The New 3DS and New 3DS XL worked the same way, sharing hardware but different screens. The 2DS and New 2DS XL are very different with the 2DS is the only device in the family to not be hinged, but both devices lack the 3D screen that differentiated the platform from other handhelds.
This week, Nintendo announced that production would end for another model in the family: the New 3DS. This change leaves only 3 models in the family: 2DS, New 2DS XL and New 3DS XL. The 2DS, which
was announced almost 4 years ago, is an aging product, and is currently selling for about half of its original price, suggesting that Nintendo might also be end-of-lifing this device in the near future.
This change marks the second real Nintendo product to get discontinued in the past year, starting with
the Wii U in November. Discontinuing the Wii U was an obvious and expected decision, being as the Nintendo Switch was designed to undo the problems of its predecessor. Discontinuing a model of the 3DS line, however, could indicate that the Switch has also begun affecting 3DS sales, which Is also not unexpected.
Even is Nintendo decides to cut down to just the two newest members of the 3DS family, it should not be seen as an abandonment of the platform. In fact, Nintendo promised to keep the 3DS family alive in the era of the Switch. Considering the sheer number of units in the wild today, and the lack of availability of the Switch, keeping the hardware around and continuing to develop games makes a lot of sense.
It's no secret that the iPhone is behind its competitors in technology. The devices have inferior batteries, they don't offer NFC or wireless charging, features that almost all other smartphones on the market seem to offer. One place that Apple has always excelled has been in keeping its mouth shut about what's going on inside, something that does not seem to be the case anymore. When you combine these 2 scenarios, you end up with a list of instances of leaks about issues with the 10th Anniversary iPhone. The device, being called the iPhone 8 or iPhone X in rumors, seems to have more than its fair share of production issues.
This week, we learned that the rumored Apple inductive charging plate, which looks suspiciously like a Palm Touchstone, is being delayed. In fact, it is possible it will not launch with the device at all. All signs point to Apple including technology from our friends at the Wireless Power Consortium, which produces the standard Qi. This standard is the same, that is in most Android and Windows Phones. Apple is a member of the organization, so using the technology is not terrible surprising.
So where might Apple be having problems including this technology? It's possible that Apple was trying to build-in long-range wireless charging technology, but was incapable of including it in time, as the technology is still very new. Instead, they are opting for the Qi standard. It's not an unusual scenario for Apple to ignore standards and instead build around technology that is unpopular or unproven, so this is not a far-fetched suggestion. According to
Apple blogger John Gruber, the technology "might be late," suggesting that there is still a possibility of pulling it off in time.
Another suggestion for the delay comes in the form of another rumor. It is said that Apple is having trouble building software to take advantage of several of the pieces of hardware included in the new device. For example, rumors have been around for weeks that Apple cannot quite figure out how to get the under-screen Touch ID to work. If that's the case it's possible that the delay on including Qi could be entirely software driven. The theory becomes even more sound because rumors suggest that the 3D sensor on the front, which works similar to Microsoft Kinect or the Dynamic Perspective on
Amazon's disastrous Fire Phone, is suffering the same fate. Apparently, according to , the hardware works fine, but Apple's software engineers can't figure out how to make them work.
Fast Company sources
If the software issues continue to be a problem, Apple will have to make a very tough decision as to whether to delay the anniversary iPhone, or launch the hardware without the features in issue enabled. Either way, this could be a big embarrassment to the company that
many believe to be the most innovative technology company in the world.
If Apple launches the phone without all of that hardware enabled, will it change your opinion on buying the phone? Let us know in the comments below.