Welcome to this first experimental edition of This Week in Tech!
At Windows Central, we cover all things Microsoft, Windows, Surface, and Xbox, but there’s a big, bolder tech world out there crammed with all sorts of cool gadgets and intriguing science breakthroughs that we often don’t explore.
While we don’t want to flood the site with topics that go beyond our typical news beat, I thought I’d take a weekly look at the biggest stories of the week to let you know what’s going on outside of the Microsoft-o-sphere, whether it’s awesome new devices, space discoveries, cutting-edge tech, and beyond. In the future, we may even bundle this as a part of a newsletter for those of you who prefer to get your news that way, too.
In any case, let’s get the ball rolling. We have a few interesting stories this week, from robotic killer dogs to Amazon Medicare.
Tesla ditches a ton of bitcoin, but hangs onto its doge
Elon Musk’s historic Tesla bitcoin investment from early 2021 has largely been liquidated, in a sell-off that will see Tesla claw back $936 million dollars from its initial $1.5 billion investment.
Elon Musk’s car manufacturer, Tesla, revealed the sale in a quarterly statement to investors, where it stated the crash of the cryptocurrency’s value had affected the firm’s profitability. At its peak, Bitcoin was trading for almost $70,000 dollars, but general market volatility multiplied by energy prices and growing regulatory interest have contributed to a large-scale sell-off in the crypto market, with Bitcoin now trading below $24,000 as of writing. As part of statements to shareholders, Musk disclosed that he didn’t plan to sell any of the firm’s dogecoin, which is another cryptocurrency often pushed by Musk for its meme-worthiness.
Musk said that the sell-off wasn’t an indictment of bitcoin or crypto in general, but instead, it was due to the need to boost liquidity faced with tough market conditions, — particularly in China, where coronavirus lockdowns are ongoing. Still, Musk also stopped taking Bitcoin payments for Tesla products last year, over concerns about the sustainability of cryptocurrency from an energy use perspective.
What if robot dogs had guns too?
Remember the cutesy dancing Boston Dynamics dancing robot Spot? The quadrupedal robot with AI movement has fostered something of a renaissance for robotics, although they’re still probably a few years out from being a common sight on every street corner. The New York police department has been using them in a law enforcement capacity, however, leading to comparisons to Robocop’s murderous ED-209 robot.
Indeed, those nightmarish visions of killer terminator robots took a step further towards reality this week, after this video went viral on social media. Reportedly the brainchild of Alexander Atamanov who is building a hoverbike company in Russia, this UnitreeYushu robot “fun” hackjob is unlikely to take arms on the field of battle anytime soon. Arms manufacturers are undoubtedly salivating at the potential, though. Perhaps we’re closer to living in The Matrix than any of us previously thought.
Amazon buys up One Medical health clinic network
But hey, if you do get shot by a robot dog, perhaps Amazon will be on hand to help patch you up!
That’s right, as part of Amazon’s on-going encroachment into healthcare, the firm announced that it’s acquiring One Medical (via Ars Technica) for a tidy $3.9 billion. One Medical is an 8,000-employee-strong health clinic provider, operating in some 180 sites across the United States.
Amazon has been dabbling with healthcare provision for a few years, most notably as part of its Haven initiative, which fell apart after just three years. Haven was an attempt by Amazon and its partners to “lower costs” and improve patient outcomes, but it seems disrupting the entrenched U.S. healthcare system may prove more complex than Amazon had previously expected.
In an interview with Business Insider, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy previously expressed a desire to bring increased competition to the U.S. healthcare system in an attempt to drive down costs and waiting times. This business venture with One Medical may be part of a broader play to get more involved in the space, although it remains wholly to be seen whether or not Amazon can make a serious dent. Mark Cuban of Shark Tank fame has been making headlines for his “Cost Plus” affordable medicine operation in recent years, so perhaps there is room for some true disruption in the space. It remains to be seen whether the general public has an appetite for Jeff Bezos-brand healthcare, though.
Netflix loses 1 million subscribers, but shares rally
It has been a tough few months for streaming giant Netflix, as competition from Disney+, HBO Max, and Amazon Prime continues to mount.
In statements to shareholders, Netflix revealed it had lost another 1 million subscribers for the Q2 period between April and July. And while that may seem like bad news, it was actually nowhere near as bad as the firm expected, causing shares to rally from monthly lows of $172 all the way up to $216 as of writing. Still, it pales in comparison to where Netflix started out the year, up over 600 points. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings hailed “Stranger Things” as the main driver preventing users from quitting.
2022 marked the first year in the company’s history where subscribers began to quit for other services. Subscription fatigue may be partially to blame, but also increased competition and the loss of many high-profile shows are also likely part of the problem for the streaming giant. Netflix has had limited success diversifying its revenue streams, but this week it inked a deal with none other than Microsoft to explore a new cheaper ad-based tier, with Microsoft becoming the exclusive partner for commercials and tech. The partnership even led to speculation that, should Netflix’s share price slide further, they could angle for an exit or acquisition by Microsoft itself.
Another intriguing week in tech
I thought I’d do an experiment with a new newsletter-type format given that we are planning to ramp up on our newsletter offerings in the coming weeks and months ahead. Beyond Microsoft, Xbox, Surface, and Windows, there’s a big wide tech world out there that intersects with our favorite ecosystem. Whether it’s artificial intelligence, cryptocurrencies, cybersecurity, intriguing gadgets, or the vast reaches of outer space, I’m planning to pay more attention to all things cool and quirky in this weekly column.