Cloud-gaming platforms were 2020’s most overhyped trend

It was an unprecedented year for [insert anything under the sun], and while plenty of tech verticals saw shifts that warped business models and shifted user habits, the gaming industry experienced plenty of new ideas in 2020. However, the loudest trends don’t always take hold as predicted.

This year, Google, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon each leaned hard into new cloud-streaming tech that shifts game processing and computing to cloud-based servers, allowing users to play graphics-intensive content on low-powered systems or play titles without dealing with lengthy downloads.

It was heralded by executives as a tectonic shift for gaming, one that would democratize access to the next generation of titles. But in taking a closer look at the products built around this tech, it’s hard to see a future where any of these subscription services succeed.

Massive year-over-year changes in gaming are rare because even if a historically unique platform launches or is unveiled, it takes time for a critical mass of developers to congregate and adopt something new — and longer for users to coalesce. As a result, even in a year where major console makers launch historically powerful hardware, massive tech giants pump cash into new cloud-streaming tech and gamers log more hours collectively than ever before, it can feel like not much has shifted.

That said, the gaming industry did push boundaries in 2020, though it’s unclear where meaningful ground was gained. The most ambitious drives were toward redesigning marketplaces in the image of video streaming networks, aiming to make a more coordinated move toward driving subscription growth and moving farther away from an industry defined for decades by one-time purchases structured around single-player storylines, one dramatically shaped by internet networking and instantaneous payments infrastructure software.

Today’s products are far from dead ends for what the broader industry does with the technology.

But shifting gamers farther away from one-off purchases wasn’t even the gaming industry’s most fundamental reconsideration of the year, a space reserved for a coordinated move by the world’s richest companies to upend the console wars with an invisible competitor. It’s perhaps unsurprising that the most full-featured plays in this arena are coming from the cloud services triumvirate, with Google, Microsoft and Amazon each making significant strides in recent months.

The driving force for this change is both the maturation of virtual desktop streaming and continued developer movement toward online cross-play between gaming platforms, a trend long resisted by legacy platform owners intent on maintaining siloed network effects that pushed gamers toward buying the same consoles that their friends owned.

The cross-play trend reached a fever pitch in recent years as entities like Epic Games’ Fortnite developed massive user bases that gave developers exceptional influence over the deals they struck with platform owners.

While a trend toward deeper cross-play planted the seeds for new corporate players in the gaming world, it has been the tech companies with the deepest pockets that have pioneered the most concerted plays to side-load a third-party candidate into the console wars.

It’s already clear to plenty of gamers that even in their nascent stages, cloud-gaming platforms aren’t meeting up to their hype and standalone efforts aren’t technologically stunning enough to make up for the apparent lack of selection in the content libraries.

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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

Cosmos Video — a ‘Club Penguin for adults’ to socialise and work — raises $2.6M from LocalGlobe

All over the world startups are piling into the space marked “virtual interaction and collaboration”. What if a startup created a sort of “Club Penguin for adults”?

Step forward Cosmos Video, which has a virtual venues platform that allows people to work, hang out and socialize together. It has now raised $2.6 million in seed funding from LocalGlobe, with participation from Entrepreneur First, Andy Chung and Philipp Moehring (AngelList), and Omid Ashtari (former president of Citymapper).

Founders Rahul Goyal and Karan Baweja previously led product teams at Citymapper and TransferWise, respectively.

Cosmos allows users to create virtual venues by combining game mechanics with video chat. The idea is to bring back the kinds of serendipitous interactions we used to have in the real world. You choose an avatar, then meet up with their colleagues or friends inside a browser-based game. As you move your avatars closer to another person you can video chat with them, as you might in real life.

The competition is the incumbent video conferencing platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but calls on these platforms have a set agenda, and are timeboxed — they’re rigid and repetitive. On Cosmos you sit on the screen and consume one video call after another as you move around the space, so it is mimicking serendipity, after a fashion.

As well as having a social application, office colleagues can work collaboratively on tools such as whiteboards, Google documents and Figma, play virtual board games or gather around a table to chat.

Cosmos is currently being used in private beta by a select group of companies to host their offices and for social events such as Christmas parties. Others are using it to host events, meetup groups and family gatherings.

Co-founder Rahul Goyal said in a statement: “Once the pandemic hit, we both saw productivity surge in our respective teams but at the same time, people were missing the in-office culture. Video conferencing platforms provide a great service when it comes to meetings, but they lack spontaneity. Cosmos is a way to bring back that human connection we lack when we spend all day online, by providing a virtual world where you can play a game of trivia or pong after work with colleagues or gather round a table to celebrate a friend’s birthday.”

George Henry, partner at LocalGlobe, said: “We were really impressed with the vision and potential of Cosmos. Scaling live experiences online is one of the big internet frontiers where there are still so many opportunities. Now that the video infrastructure is in place, we believe products like Cosmos will enable new forms of live online experiences.”


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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

What Is Affiliate Marketing

What Is Affiliate Marketing?

You have probably heard that there are other ways to make money online that are not directly related to the sale of products and services.

Affiliate marketing is a business model

Affiliate marketing is a business model that aims to increase the income of merchants, also known as product creators or brands. It allows you to make money by promoting other companies and their products, and vice versa. [Sources: 3]

One of the most active markets in the world

Affiliate marketing is one of the most active markets in the world, in which both parties are involved. If you’ve always dreamed of making money, affiliate marketing may be what you want to look at. Affiliate marketing is a very popular business model and also the one with the highest potential to generate passive income online. So if you’re sleeping over it, then affiliate marketing is the kind of business you want to look at. [Sources: 0, 3]

It is easy to see why so many people come into play with this ROI potential on the table. The same research shows that affiliate marketers in the UK earn about 15p for every PS1 spent and the same for affiliate sellers. [Sources: 0]

Don’t get me wrong, I am Not to say that affiliate marketing is easy or that you get rich quickly, but building meaningful income from affiliate sales is quick and easy for most people who choose the affiliate route, which is definitely the easiest way. [Sources: 0, 7]

4 basic steps you should take

If you want to become an affiliate program reseller and then make money selling your products to your affiliates, there are 4 simple, if not easy, steps you can take. In this post, I will present the 4 basic steps you should take to get started on this page of the affiliate marketing industry. [Sources: 7]

In this case, the best way to start is to understand what affiliate marketing is, and I will explain everything in the following lines.

Get Started With Affiliate Marketing – For FREE, Here!

In the next section, I will show you how to generate ideas based on what is already popular. [Sources: 6, 7]

Affiliate marketing can be defined as the practice of advertising a party’s product or service for a commission.

This practice became popular with Amazon in the late 1990 “s, when it introduced an affiliate program that enabled websites and bloggers to link to Amazon sites to review and discuss products for which they receive an advertising fee when they purchase.

Earn commissions

Performance – based marketing where affiliates promote a merchant’s products or services and earn commissions for each visit. Subscriptions and sales are sent to the merchant and the provider with the product / service is advertised for commissions. [Sources: 2, 6]

In this sense, affiliate marketing is essentially a form of outsourcing, where the act of selling is outsourced to a third party such as a company or service provider, and not to an individual. [Sources: 2]

According to Business Insider, 15% of all e-commerce revenue can be attributed to affiliate marketing. In this beginner affiliates marketing guide, we’ll show you how to get started right away.

By definition, affiliate marketing is an online retailer or advertiser that pays a commission when a user purchases their product through a referral link. [Sources: 2, 8]

Sales, not clicks

Unlike other types of ads that pay based on clicks or views, affiliate marketing works based on sales, not clicks. [Sources: 8]

When someone makes an action (i.e. purchases a product), we earn a commission for the purchase of that product or service from that person. [Sources: 8]

If you are wondering what affiliate marketing is, how do you earn a commission and what different types of affiliate marketing can you use? There are many others, but you can use a different type of affiliate marketing, and it is a business model for affiliates that pays you to advertise and sell another’s product or service. [Sources: 1]

This is a performance-based agreement where you are only paid if you make a sale or generate an advance. Pay for Sale, and the affiliate is paid for every sale it generates, but there are other types of affiliate marketing, such as paid-for-per-sale and performance-based agreements, that pay you if and only if sales are made or leads are generated. [Sources: 1, 4]

When it comes to affiliate marketing, most people think it’s about earning a commission by promoting other people’s businesses or products. The most common model is that you are at risk as a partner, but there are many other models from which you can choose. [Sources: 4]

Affiliate marketing has become one of the most popular ways to make money online. However, many people still have no idea how to get started with affiliate marketing.

Although it may seem easy to simply find a product you love to promote and make a portion of the profit from sales, there are a whole host of moving parts that need to be monitored. [Sources: 4, 5]

It’s easy to understand that companies want to boost their revenue by attracting more customers, but how does affiliate marketing work for you? [Sources: 5]

If you sell your products through different channels, whether online or in traditional stores, you may have had to deal with affiliate marketing in the past. [Sources: 5]

Get Started With Affiliate Marketing – For FREE, Here!

  • Sources:
  • [0]: https://www.ventureharbour.com/affiliate-marketing-guide/
  • [1]: https://nichehacks.com/affiliate-marketing-beginners/
  • [2]: https://www.investopedia.com/terms/a/affiliate-marketing.asp
  • [3]: https://www.osiaffiliate.com/blog/affiliate-marketing-works-not/
  • [4]: https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/affiliate-marketing-guide
  • [5]: https://www.cloudways.com/blog/what-to-know-about-affiliate-marketing/
  • [6]: https://www.amnavigator.com/blog/2019/01/03/affiliate-marketing-what-it-is-how-it-works/
  • [7]: https://neilpatel.com/what-is-affiliate-marketing/
  • [8]: https://www.wpbeginner.com/beginners-guide/affiliate-marketing-guide-for-beginners-step-by-step/

A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

3 Places to Use Your One-Liner To Convert More Customers

Are you telling your customers who you are before you tell them what you do?

This is a common mistake in the marketing world. We want our customer avatar to know our brand name, so the first thing we do is tell it to them. The problem is, that name is meaningless until we tell them what we do for them.

Your customer avatar doesn’t care about the clever name of your company until they know what your company is going to do for them. Sure, your name is important… but only once they’ve been assured that your company is relevant to a problem they’re having in their life.

That’s where the one-liner comes in. CEO of StoryBrand Donald Miller brought us through his strategy for creating stories around brands in a recent Insider Training. He taught us how to sell with story, as well as what one of the most important aspects of that story is.

It’s the one-liner.

We’re going to give you a look inside Donald Miller’s Insider Training and show you what a one-liner is and the 3 places you can use it to get results.

Let’s get started.

What is a One-Liner?

A one-liner is the single sentence that describes what your company does in a specific format to make sure the person listening actually cares. That’s the secret of a one-liner—it delivers information based on the priority of importance to the reader or listener.

There are 3 components of a one-liner and here’s how you’re going to deliver them:

Component #1: State the problem or pain point your customers face

Component #2: Talk about your product or the solution to the problem you just stated

Component #3: Talk about the results someone will experience if they buy that product

Here’s an example Donald Miller gave of a one-liner for an E-Bike company based in Nashville:

Component #1: State the problem or pain point your customers face

With 110 people moving to Nashville every day, people are wasting more and more time sitting in traffic.

Component #2: Talk about your product or the solution to the problem you just stated

With a Circuit E-Bike fitted just for you…

Component #3: Talk about the results someone will experience if they buy that product

…you’ll get to work faster and add hours back in your day.”

When we put that one-liner together, here’s what it looks like:

“With 110 people moving to Nashville every day, people are wasting more and more time sitting in traffic. With a Circuit E-Bike fitted just for you, you’ll get to work faster and add hours back in your day.”

A great one-liner filters out the people who will care about your product in the first line. That’s why the first line talks about the pain point. If someone doesn’t live in Nashville, they’re not going to be very interested in a Circuit E-Bikebecause they don’t need to be. You don’t want a leads list of people living outside of Nashville if you can only deliver your bikes to Nashville.

Your first line tells your audience who this is for. Anyone living in Nashville living through the traffic problem is immediately going to think, “Yes, I AM wasting more time sitting in traffic, and it’s only getting worse with all these people constantly moving here.”

Only after you’ve drawn them in with their pain point is it time to tell them your solution. This is when you can talk about your products or your solution and guarantee you have their interest at heart.

Lastly, you’ll remind them of why they want to have this problem solved. Anyone sitting in traffic wants to have that time to spend with their family or friends instead (or really anything but sitting in traffic). Your one-liner ends with the result your customer avatar gets to experience if they choose your product.

Your one-liner answers the question of “What do you do?” in a clear, concise way. If someone wants to know more, then you can go into your expanded elevator pitch that gives them the detail they’re looking for.

Where would someone want to learn more?

Your one line can be used in a lot of places, and we’ll only be able to cover a few here. Pretty much anywhere that your customer avatar is going to run into your brand for the first time is the best place to put your one-liner.

Keep reading for examples of what that’s going to look like on:

Your social media profileYour websiteYour email signature

3 Places To Use Your One Liner

Your one-liner will live in more places than just these three options, but we wanted to go with the options that you’re most likely going to be able to use. Let’s take a look at what your one-liner would look like on your social media profile, your website, or your email signature.

Example #1: Social Media Profile

Your social media profile is a hub for brand awareness. You’re going to be meeting a lot of your customer avatars here, so it’s crucial that they know who you are and what they do. It’s more important that they remember it.

It’s easy to make a social media profile that doesn’t help your customer know who you are. If you have a marketing agency, it’s easy to forget that our customers need more than just, “We’re a marketing solution for ecommerce companies.” to understand what our business does. That’s why Donald uses one-liners.

Instead of saying something general like, “We’re a marketing solution for ecommerce companies,” let’s create a one-liner that says exactly what your agency is about.

For background, let’s say you have a marketing agency for ecommerce businesses and you only focus on Instagram marketing.

Component #1: State the problem or pain point your customers face

Juggling ads on too many social platforms?

Component #2: Talk about your product or the solution to the problem you just stated

We can take your ecommerce business to 6+ figures just using Instagram…

Component #3: Talk about the results someone will experience if they buy that product

…so you can refocus on growing your business.

When we put that all together, it looks like:

Juggling ads on too many social platforms? We can take your ecommerce business to 6+ figures just using Instagram, so you can refocus on growing your business.

Everyone who finds your profile is going to know what you solve (juggling ads on too many social platforms), what your product and solution are (ecommerce marketing to make 6+ figures), and what the result is (refocus on growing your business).

Example #2: Your Website Landing Page

Your landing page will be seen by people new to your brand, familiar with it, or ready to buy. The clearer you can be about what problem you solve, what your solution is, and what results come from it—the better chance you have of conversion.

Your one-liner will go as high as possible on your landing page with the hope of it being one of the first things a visitor reads when your page loads. If you can put it in your above-the-fold content, that’s perfect.

Since your website gives you more room than the 150-character bio limit on Instagram, we can expand this one-liner a bit to give a bit more detail about the problem, solution, and results our company focuses on. Slack has done a great job of putting together a one-liner and using it in their above-the-fold content.

Their one-liner is:

Teamwork can be hard, messy, complicated…and still the best way to work. That’s why we made Slack—a place where people get work done, together.

Let’s breakdown the components of Slack’s one-liner:

Component #1: State the problem or pain point your customers face

Teamwork can be hard, messy, complicated…and still the best way to work.

Component #2: Talk about your product or the solution to the problem you just stated

That’s why we made Slack—

Component #3: Talk about the results someone will experience if they buy that product

a place where people get work done, together.

After their one-liner, Slack includes a call to action button with “Try For Free.” When you’re using your one-liner in your above-the-fold content, always make sure to include a CTA just like Slack has.

Example #3: Your (and Your Team’s) Email Signature

Yep, we’re taking it from social media profiles and fancy websites to emai l. When’s the last time you opened your inbox? If you’re like us, it was a few minutes ago and as you’re reading this article you just saw a notification for a new email.

If you’re emailing potential clients regularly, your email signature is a prime-time location to put your one-liner. You can also use this in the signatures of your team. For example, every time a sales associate reaches out to a potential lead your one-liner is after their name. Or, your customer support team always ends their emails with your one-liner.

We’ll let you decide if you want your entire team to have your one-liner or some of the team members, but we will say we’re pro the former. You never know when somebody knows somebody who could use your help. The only way for them to know what problem you solve, how you solve it, and what the result is if you tell them.

Let’s say you’re a freelance marketer. Your one-liner is going to talk about:

What problem you solveWhat your product or solution isWhat the result is

For this example, we’ll say you specialize in helping software businesses with their content marketing strategy using your signature “Distribution Matrix.”

Here’s what your one-liner will look like:

Component #1: State the problem or pain point your customers face

Software brands can create interesting content.

Component #2: Talk about your product or the solution to the problem you just stated

Using the Distribution Matrix…

Component #3: Talk about the results someone will experience if they buy that product

…you can maximize your content reach and consistently bring in qualified leads.

When we put it all together, your one-liner is hyper-specific about who you help (software companies), what you help them with (content), and what the result is (qualified leads).

Software brands can create interesting content. Using the Distribution Matrix, you can maximize your content reach and consistently bring in qualified leads.

Congratulations—you just turned your email signature into a lead generator and we (and Donald Miller) couldn’t be prouder.

Creating a one-liner bypasses one of the biggest mistakes a company can make: thinking their customers care about their brand before they know what they do. With your one-liner, you’re going be able to tell the short story of your brand. But, that’s just the start.

There’s more to creating an engaging and converting story. Learn from the master storyteller himself, Donald Miller, about creating a brand story that your customers can’t forget inside our StoryBrand Playbook.

The post 3 Places to Use Your One-Liner To Convert More Customers appeared first on DigitalMarketer.

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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

Bizzabo raises $138M for a platform that helps you build and run virtual conferences

Conferences have — for better or worse (and if you’ve ever been trapped in a cavernous CES exhibition hall, you might say worse) — become a significant cornerstone of how industries engage with their audiences, whether they are comics superfans, or iOS developers, or insurance brokers. This year has undoubtedly seen a huge shift in how those conferences exist. The Covid-19 health pandemic has drastically curtailed travel and how people spend time in crowded places, decimating the wider event industry, estimated to be worth more than $1 trillion annually before Covid, in its wake.

Today, however, comes news of a significant round of funding for a startup that is showing one way out of the mess. Bizzabo, which provides a platform to plan and run both virtual and in-person conferences, from its earliest stages of conception and handling sponsorships, through to managing interactions between attendees, and provisioning the conference itself, has closed a round of $138 million — funding it will use to drive the growth of its business, said CEO Eran Ben-Shushan (who co-founded the company with Alon Alroy and Boaz Katz) in an interview, after seeing that business boom this year, running conferences for large businesses and event planners. (Its customers include companies like Uber, Gainsight, Github, WeWork, Accenture and actually — disclosure –TechCrunch.)

Revenue has grown 100%, with the number of events organized through Bizzabo up 65%, he said, with the number of attendees registering for events with Bizzabo up 500% and overall usage is up 150x.

“With a vaccine likely and more hybrid events in the future, we anticipate even greater growth,” he added. “Bizzabo has been the category leader, experiencing hyper-growth both pre-pandemic and during the virtual transition, we are excited to continue to lead the market forward by doubling down on product, technology, and user experience, to help organizations unlock the power of hybrid experiences.”

He said that will include the building of more tech to integrate virtual and in-person experiences, and tripling its engineering, product and experience teams, adding two new offices in Europe for the Tel Aviv-New York startup.

This Series E is being led by Insight Partners, the VC known for its big growth investments; previous backers Viola Growth, Next47, and OurCrowd also participated. Viola led Bizzabo’s previous round, a $27 million Series D in April 2019. Ben-Shushan did not disclose the valuation in this round except to say that it has grown by 400% since then. The company has raised some $195 million to date, and for some further context on valuation, recall that Hopin — another platform to help manage events online — last month raised $125 million at a $2 billion+ valuation.

Bizzabo started life in 2011 positioning itself as the “Salesforce for events.” Leaning heavily on cloud architecture and providing integrations into the many productivity and communication tools that an event organizer might use, the idea was to provide a platform to knit all that together and give organizers a way of using apps and online services to extend touch points between and with attendees. That could take the form of registration software to sign people up and collect payments for would-be attendees; chatrooms for people at specific sessions, better ways for exhibitors and sponsors to connect with visitors, and for those visitors to connect with each other during and after the event.

All of that changed this year when key in-person events started to get cancelled. At first these just disappeared into a black hole with virtually nothing to replace them, and then gradually, as the year went on, organisers started to look for virtual alternatives.

“The virtual conference market was almost non-existent” before 2020, said Ben-Shushan. “Pre Covid, a fraction of events were virtual, less than 2% of total events. March 2020 started the ‘virtual transition period’ in which live events were no longer possible in most parts of the world.”

That move dovetailed with a bigger shift in workplace communications: a huge surge of video use spearheaded by the likes of Zoom, Google, Microsoft and many others that had built platforms for people not just to speak to each other over the internet, but to see each other, too. While videoconferencing has been around for years, much of it was based around very costly hardware and software packages used mostly by large corporates. The big innovation was leveraging the growth of faster internet, better basic computers and cameras, and the cloud to make videoconferencing something anyone can use.

Event organisers seized the moment and the bigger events, which had already been offering streams of their live events to those who could not attend in person, started to think of how to shift the whole experience online. That was a whole new set of demands on organisers and those participating in the conferences, but turned out to be just one more thing to add in and consider for the likes of Bizzabo. It hasn’t rebuilt its platform but has just continued to extend what it does within in.

For example, it didn’t offer streaming as a core part of its service, but it’s very much a part of it now, in partnership with Kaltura, which provides live streaming technology as a service.

Interestingly, while a lot of that been in effort to “make up the difference” and has resulted in some interesting approaches to provide new, and sometimes even better, bridges between people, some Bizzabo does not think the live event should be left for dead.

“Our data shows that although there are meaningful advantages to virtual events (higher reach, lower production costs), event organizers and attendees want to go back to live events,” said Ben-Shusan. “2021 will mark a new era in the event industry – the hybrid era that integrates experiences of remote and live participants.”

Hybrid will indeed be the name of the game, it seems, even if we still may have a lot of question marks over how big that game will be after all this is over. Inevitably, some events may never come back.

“COVID-19 has permanently transformed the professional events category,” said Matt Gatto, a Managing Director at Insight Partners, who will join the Bizzabo board of directors, in a statement. “Bizzabo’s impressive growth and momentum began pre-pandemic and accelerated during it as they launched the industry’s first end-to-end event technology solution. Their pedigree in both in-person and virtual events and their impressive execution capabilities have them well-positioned to lead this rapidly evolving space. We are excited to partner with their leadership team and to support them in this new phase of growth.”


Read more: feedproxy.google.com

A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

Daily Crunch: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

Salesforce announces its acquisition of Slack, Amazon brings the Mac mini to the cloud and Google Maps gets a newsfeed. This is your Daily Crunch for December 1, 2020.

The big story: Salesforce buys Slack for $27.7B

The acquisition, which was first reported last month, is now official.

“This is a match made in heaven,” said Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff. “Together, Salesforce and Slack will shape the future of enterprise software and transform the way everyone works in the all-digital, work-from-anywhere world.”

This cash-and-stock deal should make Salesforce a more serious competitor in the enterprise communication market. It also seems that Slack (which went public last year) was an obvious target for a takeover, due to an underwhelming stock price and a net loss of $147.6 million during the two quarters ending on July 31 of this year.

The tech giants

AWS brings the Mac mini to its cloud — This was just one of the announcements that Amazon Web Services made today at its re:Invent conference.

Google Maps takes on Facebook with launch of its own news feed — The feed is designed to make it easier to find the most recent news and recommendations from trusted local sources.

Facebook’s self-styled ‘oversight’ board selects first cases, most dealing with hate speech — The Facebook-funded body that the tech giant set up to distance itself from tricky content moderation decisions has announced the first set of cases it will consider.

Startups, funding and venture capital

SoftBank takes a $690M stake in cloud-based Swedish customer engagement company Sinch — Sinch provides cloud-based “omnichannel” voice, video and messaging services to help enterprises communicate with customers.

Voi, the European ‘micromobility’ rental company, raises $160M additional equity and debt funding — Voi says the new funding will be used to invest in technology development, fuel growth in current Voi markets and bring its latest e-scooter model to more cities.

Floww raises $6.7M for its data-driven marketplace matching founders with investors, based on merit — Having made more than 160 investments himself, founder Martijn De Wever says he recognized the need for a platform connecting investors and startups.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

Bottom-up SaaS: A framework for mapping pricing to customer value — For the first time, individual employees are influencing the tooling decisions of their companies.

Who’s building the grocery store of the future? — Startups offering cashierless checkout, software analytics and robotics will clean up on aisle five.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which aims to democratize information about startups. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

China’s Chang’e-5 lunar lander successfully lands on the moon — China’s Chang’e-5 mission will be the third ever to bring back soil or rock samples from the moon.

US shopping app downloads on Black Friday reached a record 2.8M installs — Many U.S. consumers spent this year’s Black Friday sales event shopping from home on mobile devices.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

This Week in Apps: Snapchat clones TikTok, India bans 43 Chinese apps, more data on App Store commission changes

Welcome back to This Week in Apps, the TechCrunch series that recaps the latest in mobile OS news, mobile applications, and the overall app economy.

The app industry is as hot as ever, with a record 204 billion downloads and $120 billion in consumer spending in 2019. People now spend three hours and 40 minutes per day using apps, rivaling TV. Apps aren’t just a way to pass idle hours — they’re also a big business. In 2019, mobile-first companies had a combined $544 billion valuation, 6.5x higher than those without a mobile focus.

This week, we’re digging into more data about how the App Store commission changes will impact developers, as well as other top stories, like Snapchat’s new Spotlight feed and India’s move to ban more Chinese apps from the country, among other things.

We also have our weekly round-up of news about platforms, services, privacy, trends, and other headlines.

Top Stories
More on App Store Commissions

Last week, App Annie confirmed to TechCrunch around 98% of all iOS developers in 2019 (meaning, unique publisher accounts) fell under the $1 million annual consumer spend threshold that will now move App Store commissions from a reduced 15% to the standard 30%. The firm also found that only 0.5% of developers were making between $800K and $1M; only 1% were in $500K-$800K range; and 87.7% made less than $100K.

This week, Appfigures has compiled its own data on how Apple’s changes to App Store commissions will impact the app developer community.

According to its findings, of the 2M published apps on the App Store, 376K apps are a paid download, have in-app purchases, or monetize with subscriptions. Those 376K apps are operated by a smaller group of 124.5K developers. Of those developers, only a little under 2% earned more than $1M in 2019. This confirms App Annie’s estimate that 98% of all developers earned under the $1M threshold.

Image Credits: Appfigures

The firm also took a look at companies above the $1M mark, and found that around 53% were games, led by King (of the Candy Crush titles). After a large gap, the next largest categories in 2019 were Health & Fitness, Social Networking, Entertainment, then Photo & Video.

 

Of the developers making over $1M, the largest percentage — 39% — made between $1M and $2.5M in 2019.

Image Credits: Appfigures

The smallest group (1.5%) of developers making more than $1M is the group making more than $150M. These accounted for 29% of the “over $1M” crowd’s total revenue. And those making between $50M and $150M accounted for 24% of the revenue.

Image Credits: Appfigures

AppFigures also found that of those making less than $1M, most (>97%) fell into the sub $250K category. Some developes were worried about the way Apple’s commission change system was implemented — that is, it immediately upon hitting $1M and only annual reassessments. But there are so few developers operating in the “danger zone” (being near the threshold), this doesn’t seem like a significant problem. Read More.

Snapchat takes on TikTok

After taking on TikTok  with music-powered features last month, Snapchat this week launched a dedicated place within its app where users can watch short, entertaining videos in a vertically scrollable, TikTok-like feed. This new feature, called Spotlight, will showcase the community’s creative efforts, including the videos now backed by music, as well as other Snaps users may find interesting. Snapchat says its algorithms will work to surface the most engaging Snaps to display to each user on a personalized basis. Read More

India bans more Chinese apps

India, which has already banned at least 220 apps with links to China in recent months, said on Tuesday it was banning an additional 43 Chinese apps, again citing cybersecurity concerns. Newly banned apps include short video service Snack Video, e-commerce app AliExpress, delivery app Lalamove, shopping app Taobao Live, business card reader CamCard, and others. There are now no Chinese apps in the top 500 most-used apps in India, as a result. Read More.

Weekly News
Platforms

Apple’s App Store Connect will now require an Apple ID with 2-step verification enabled.
Apple announces holiday schedule for App Store Connect. New apps and app updates won’t be accepted Dec. 23-27 (Pacific Time).
SKAdNetwork 2.0 adds Source App ID and Conversion Value. The former lets networks identify which app initiated a download from the App Store and the latter lets them know whether users who installed an app through a campaign performed an action in the app, like signing up for a trial or completing a purchase.
Apple rounded up developer praise for its App Store commission change. Lending their names to Apple’s list: Little 10 Robot (Tots Letters and Numbers), Broadstreet (Brief), Foundermark (Friended), Shine, Lifesum, Med ART Studios (Sprout Fertility Tracker), RevenueCat, OK Play, SignEasy, Jump Rope, Wine Spectator, Apollo for Reddit, SwingVision Tennis, Cinémoi.

Services

Fortnite adds a $12/mo subscription offering a full season battle pass, 1,000 monthly bucks and a Crew Pack featuring an exclusive outfit bundle. More money for Apple to miss out on, I guess.
14 U.S. states plus Washington D.C. have now adopted COVID-19 contact tracing apps. CA and other states may release apps soon. Few in the U.S. have downloaded the apps, however, which limits their usefulness. 
Samsung’s TV Plus streaming TV service comes to more Galaxy phones

Security & Privacy

Apple’s senior director of global privacy, Jane Horvath, in a letter to the Ranking Digital Rights organization, confirms App Tracking Transparency feature will arrive in 2021. The feature will allow users to disable tracking between apps. The letter also slams Facebook for collecting “as much data as possible” on users.
Baidu’s apps banned from Google Play, Baidu Maps and the Baidu App, were leaking sensitive user data, researchers said. The apps had 6M U.S. users and millions more worldwide.

Apps in the News

Robinhood’s co-founder Baiju Bhatt steps down as co-CEO ahead of IPO.
TikTok’s deadline for a sale gets another extension, this time to Dec. 4th.
Google launches an AR app for “The Mandalorian“
Google launches Task Mate in India which pays users for taking pictures of storefronts or recording short voice clips, the latter which is likely being used to train speech recognition systems.
Nintendo’s Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp adds AR features.
Microsoft’s Translator app for Android can now automatically translate speech in one-on-one conversations.
TikTok adds a feature that allows users to avoid videos that could trigger epileptic seizures.
Parler users haven’t actually left Twitter, it seems.
Google Docs, Sheets, and Slides can now edit Microsoft Office files on iOS. The feature already worked on Android and the web.
Roblox hosts a Ready Player Two treasure hunt in its app.
Spotify is still testing Stories.

Trends

Image Credits: Sensor Tower

U.S. Brick-and-mortar retail apps saw 27% growth in first three quarters of 2020, or nearly double the growth of online retailer apps (14%), as measured by new installs. Top apps included Walmart, Target, Sam’s Club, Nike, Walgreens, and The Home Depot.
App Annie forecast estimates shoppers will spend over 110M hours in (Android) mobile shopping apps this holiday season.
PayPal and Square’s Cash app have scored 100% of the newly-issued supply of bitcoins, report says.
All social media companies now look alike, Axois argues, citing Twitter’s Fleets and Snap’s TikTok-like feature as recent examples.

Funding and M&A

CoStar Group, a provider of commercial real estate info and analytics, acquires Homesnap’s platform and app for $250M to move into the residential real estate market.
Remote work app Friday raises $2.1M seed led by Bessemer Venture Partners
Stories-style Q&A app F3 raises $3.9M. The team previously founded Ask.fm.
Edtech company Kahoot acquires Drops, a startup whose apps help people learn languages using games, for $50M.
Mobile banking app Current raises $131M Series C, led by Tiger Global Management.
Square buys Credit Karma’s tax unit, Credit Karma Tax, for $50M in cash.


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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

TikTok’s epic rise and stumble

TikTok’s rise in the West is unprecedented for any Chinese tech company, and so is the amount of attention it has attracted from politicians worldwide. Below is a timeline of how TikTok grew from what some considered another “copycat” short video app to global dominance and eventually became a target of the U.S. government.

2012-2017: The emergence of TikTok

These years were a period of fast growth for ByteDance, the Beijing-based parent company behind TikTok. Originally launched in China as Douyin, the video-sharing app quickly was wildly successful in its domestic market before setting its sights on the rest of the world. 

2012 

Zhang Yiming, a 29-year-old serial engineer, establishes ByteDance in Beijing.

2014

Chinese product designer Alex Zhu launches Musical.ly.

2016

ByteDance launches Douyin, which is regarded by many as a Musical.ly clone. It launches Douyin’s overseas version TikTok later that year.

2017-2019: TikTok takes off in the United States

TikTok merges with Musical.ly and and launches in the U.S., where it quickly becomes popular, the first social media app from a Chinese tech company to achieve that level of success there. But at the same time, its ownership leads to questions about national security and censorship, against the backdrop of the U.S.-China tariff wars and increased scrutiny of Chinese tech companies (including Huawei and ZTE) under the Trump administration.

2017
November

ByteDance buys Musical.ly for $800 million to $1 billion. (link)

2018
August

TikTok merges with Musical.ly and becomes available in the U.S. (link)

October

TikTok surpassed Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube in downloads. (link)

November

Facebook launches TikTok rival Lasso. (link)

2019
February

TikTok reaches one billion installs on the App Store and Google Play. (link)

The U.S. Federal Trade Commission fines TikTok $5.7 million over violation of children privacy law. (link)

May

TikTok tops the App Store for the fifth quarter in a row. (link)

September

TikTok is found censoring topics considered sensitive by the Beijing government. (link)

October

TikTok bans political ads (link) but does not appear to take action on hashtags related to American politics. (link)

TikTok taps corporate law firm K&L Gates for advice on content moderation in the U.S. (link)

U.S. lawmakers ask intelligence chief Joseph Maguire to investigate if TikTok poses a threat to national security. (link)

TikTok says it has never been asked by the Chinese government to remove any content and would not do so if asked. (link)

November

The Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States reportedly opens a national security probe into TikTok. (link)

Instagram launches TikTok rival Reels. (link)

TikTok apologizes for removing a viral video about abuses against Uighurs. (link)

December

The U.S. Navy reportedly bans TikTok. (link)

The first half of 2020: Growth amid government scrutiny

The app is now a mainstay of online culture in America, especially among Generation Z, and its user base has grown even wider as people seek diversions during the COVID-19 pandemic. But TikTok faces an escalating series of government actions, creating confusion about its future in America. 

A man wearing a shirt promoting TikTok is seen at an Apple store in Beijing

A man wearing a shirt promoting TikTok is seen at an Apple store in Beijing on Friday, July 17, 2020. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

2020
January

Revived Dubsmash grows into TikTok’s imminent rival. (link)

March

TikTok lets outside experts examine its moderation practices at its “transparency center.” (link)

Senators introduce a bill to restrict the use of TikTok on government devices. (link)

TikTok brings in outside experts to craft content policies. (link)

April

TikTok introduces parental controls. (link)

TikTok tops two billion downloads. (link)

June

TikTok discloses how its content recommendation system works. (link)

YouTube launches TikTok rival. (link)

July

Facebook shuts down TikTok rival Lasso. (link)

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says the U.S. is looking to ban TikTok. (link)

TikTok announced a $200 million fund for U.S. creators. (link)

Trump told reporters he will use executive power to ban TikTok. (link)

The second half of 2020: TikTok versus the U.S. government

After weeks of speculation, Trump signs an executive order in August against ByteDance. ByteDance begins seeking American buyers for TikTok, but the company also fights the executive order in court. A group of TikTok creators also file a lawsuit challenging the order. The last few months of 2020 become a relentless, and often confusing, flurry of events and new developments for TikTok observers, with no end in sight. 

August

Reports say ByteDance agrees to divest TikTok’s U.S. operations and Microsoft will take over. (link)

Trump signals opposition to the ByteDance-Microsoft deal. (link)

Microsoft announces discussions about the TikTok purchase will complete no later than September 15. (link)

Trump shifts tone and says he expects a cut from the TikTok sale. (link)

TikTok broadens fact-checking partnerships ahead of the U.S. election. (link)

August 7: In the most significant escalation of tensions between the U.S. government and TikTok, Trump signs an executive order banning “transactions” with ByteDance in 45 days, or on September 20. (link). TikTok says the order was “issued without any due process” and would risk “undermining global businesses’ trust in the United States’ commitment to the rule of law.” (link)

August 9: TikTok reportedly plans to challenge the Trump administration ban. (link)

Oracle is also reportedly bidding for the TikTok sale. (link)

August 24: TikTok and ByteDance file their first lawsuit in federal court against the executive order, naming President Trump, Secretary of State Wilbur Ross and the U.S. Department of Commerce as defendants. The suit seeks to prevent the government from banning TikTok. Filed in U.S. District Court Central District of California (case number 2:20-cv-7672), it claims Trump’s executive order is unconstitutional.  (link)

TikTok reaches 100 million users in the U.S. (link)

August 27: TikTok CEO Kevin Mayer resigns after 100 days. (link)

Kevin Mayer (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Walmart says it has expressed interest in teaming up with Microsoft to bid for TikTok. (link)

August 28: China’s revised export laws could block TikTok’s divestment. (link)

September

China says it would rather see TikTok shuttered than sold to an American firm. (link)

September 13: Oracle confirms it is part of a proposal submitted by ByteDance to the Treasury Department in which Oracle will serve as the “trusted technology provider.” (link)

September 18: The Commerce Department publishes regulations against TikTok that will take effect in two phases. The app will no longer be distributed in U.S. app stores as of September 20, but it gets an extension on how it operates until November 12. After that, however, it will no longer be able to use internet hosting services in the U.S., rendering it inaccessible.  (link)

On the same day as the Commerce Department’s announcement, two separate lawsuits are filed against Trump’s executive order against TikTok. One is filed by ByteDance, while the other is by three TikTok creators.

The one filed by TikTok and ByteDance is in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (case number 20-cv-02658), naming President Trump, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and the Commerce Department as defendants. It is very similar to the suit ByteDance previously filed in California. TikTok and ByteDance’s lawyers argue that Trump’s executive order violates the Administrative Procedure Act, the right to free speech, and due process and takings clauses.

The other lawsuit, filed by TikTok creators Douglas Marland, Cosette Rinab and Alec Chambers, also names the president, Ross and the Department of Commerce as defendants. The suit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (case number 2:20-cv-04597), argues that Trump’s executive order “violates the first and fifth amendments of the U.S. Constitution and exceeds the President’s statutory authority.”

September 19: One day before the September 20 deadline that would have forced Google and Apple to remove TikTok from their app stores, the Commerce Department extends it by a week to September 27. This is reportedly to give ByteDance, Oracle and Walmart time to finalize their deal.

On the same day, Marland, Rinab and Chambers, the three TikTok creators, file their first motion for a preliminary injunction against Trump’s executive order. They argue that the executive order violates freedom of speech and deprives them of “protected liberty and property interests without due process,” because if a ban goes into effect, it would prevent them from making income from TikTok-related activities, like promotional and branding work.

September 20: After filing the D.C. District Court lawsuit against Trump’s executive order, TikTok and ByteDance formally withdraw their similar pending suit in the U.S. District Court of Central District of California.

September 21: ByteDance and Oracle confirm the deal but send conflicting statements over TikTok’s new ownership. TikTok is valued at an estimated $60 billion. (link)

September 22: China’s state newspaper says China won’t approve the TikTok sale, labeling it “extortion.” (link)

September 23: TikTok and ByteDance ask the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to grant a preliminary injunction against the executive order, arguing that the September 27 ban removing TikTok from app stores will “inflict direct, immediate, and irreparable harm on Plaintiffs during the pendency of this case.” (link)

September 26: U.S. District Court Judge Wendy Beetlestone denies Marland, Rinab and Chambers’ motion for a preliminary injunction against the executive order, writing that the three did not demonstrate “they will suffer immediate, irreparable harm if users and prospective users cannot download or update” TikTok after September 27, since they will still be able to use the app.

September 27: Just hours before the TikTok ban was set to go into effect, U.S. District Court Judge Carl J. Nichols grants ByteDance’s request for a preliminary injunction while the court considers whether the app poses a risk to national security. (link)

September 29: TikTok launches a U.S. election guide in the app. (link)

October

comedian Sarah Cooper's page is displayed on the TikTok app

WASHINGTON, DC – AUGUST 07: In this photo illustration, comedian Sarah Cooper’s page is displayed on the TikTok app. (Photo Illustration by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Snapchat launches a TikTok rival. (link)

TikTok says it’s enforcing actions against hate speech. (link)

TikTok partners with Shopify on social commerce (link)

October 13: After failing to win their first request for a preliminary injunction, TikTok creators Marland, Rinab and Chambers file a second one. This time, their request focuses on the Commerce Department’s November 12 deadline, which they say will make it impossible for users to access or post content on TikTok if it goes into effect.

October 30: U.S. District Judge Wendy Beetlestone grants TikTok creators Marland, Chambers and Rinab’s second request for a preliminary injunction against the TikTok ban. (link)

November

November 7: After five days of waiting for vote counts, Joe Biden is declared the president-elect by CNN, followed by the AP, NBC, CBS, ABC and Fox News. With Biden set to be sworn in as president on January 20, the future of Trump’s executive order against TikTok becomes even more uncertain.

November 10: ByteDance asks the federal appeal court to vacate the U.S. government’s divestiture order that would force it to sell the app’s American operations by November 12. Filed as part of the lawsuit in D.C. District Court, ByteDance said it asked the Committee on Foreign Investments in the United States for an extension, but hadn’t been granted one yet. (link)

November 12: This is the day that the Commerce Department’s ban on transactions with ByteDance, including providing internet hosting services to TikTok (which would stop the app from being able to operate in the U.S.), was set to go into effect. But instead the case becomes more convoluted as the U.S. government sends mixed messages about TikTok’s future.

The Commerce Department says it will abide by the preliminary injunction granted on October 30 by Judge Beetlestone, pending further legal developments. But, around the same time, the Justice Department files an appeal against Beetlestone’s ruling. Then Judge Nichols sets new deadlines (December 14 and 28) in the D.C. District Court lawsuit (the one filed by ByteDance against the Trump administration) for both sides to file motions and other new documents in the case. (link)

November 25: The Trump administration grants ByteDance a seven-day extension of the divestiture order. The deadline for ByteDance to finalize a sale of TikTok is now December 4.

This timeline will be updated as developments occur.


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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

Gift Guide: Black Friday tech deals that are actually worth checking out

Black Friday approaches! In a year where asking Alexa what day today is feels totally normal, this Black Friday seems like it came out of nowhere.

As we say pretty much every year, a lot of Black Friday deals are … not that good. While there are certainly deals to be found, there’s also a lot of hand-waving going on to help retailers and manufacturers clear out the old models and get that Q4 numbers boost.

It can also be a day where it’s way too easy to buy junk just because it’s got a 40% off tag on it. With that in mind, we’ve tried to limit this list to the stuff we’d recommend even when it’s not on sale. If we see anything else worthwhile over the next day or two, we’ll add it — so feel free to check back in.

This article contains links to affiliate partners where available. When you buy through these links, TechCrunch may earn an affiliate commission.

A few tips to keep in mind today:

If you see something is on sale and want to check if the “sale” price is really any better than normal, pop it into a price tracker like camelcamelcamel. If the price suddenly increased last week only to be “reduced” by whatever percent this week, you know something’s up.
Be at least a little wary of TV deals. There are TV deals to be had, for sure — but the most eye-popping deals tend to be surplus panels with a new model number slapped on them. Google the model number; if that specific TV seems to only exist for the sake of Black Friday, think twice.

 

Apple

Airpods Pro

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Once unheard of, Apple deals on Black Friday are now a little easier to find. They tend to go fast though!

Both Amazon and Walmart are selling AirPods Pro for $170 — a super steep discount from the usual $250. The stock seems to be coming and going fast, so this one might be tough to get.
The 40mm, GPS version of the latest Apple Watch (Series 6) is down to $379 from $399 on Amazon right now. While that’s only a drop of $20, these things only just hit the shelves back in September.
Best Buy has some pretty solid deals on the latest (8th gen) iPads, like a 10.2″ 32GB model for $280 (usually $330), or the 128GB model for $360 (usually $430).

Amazon

Image Credits: Amazon

With people already flocking to Amazon on Black Friday, the company usually offers some pretty massive discounts on its Amazon-branded devices as a means of seizing the moment and getting more people into their ecosystem. Sure enough:

Amazon’s Fire HD 10 tablet is down to $80, normally $150.
The super new, super spherical Echo Dot is down to $29, normally $50. The version with the built-in clock display, meanwhile, is down to $39, usually $60.
The ad-free version of the highest-capacity Kindle Paperwhite eBook reader is down to $129 (usually $180), while the absolutely incredible Kindle Oasis is down to $219 from $299.

Google

google nest hub

Image Credits: Brian Heater

Google tends to go pretty big with the Black Friday discounts, and this year is no exception. Some examples:

The Nest Hello doorbell is down to $179, normally $229.
Nest Hub is down to $50 (normally $90), and its bigger brother the Nest Hub Max (pictured above) is down to $179 (normally $229).
The latest generation of the Nest Mini smart speaker is $19, down from $50. The beefier Nest Audio speaker, meanwhile, is down to $85 each (usually $99) with the catch that you’ve got to buy two.
Stadia Premiere Edition — effectively a starter kit for Google’s gaming-in-the-cloud service Stadia, including both a Stadia controller and a Chromecast Ultra — is down to $70 from $100. The controller alone would normally cost you $70, so if you were already considering giving Stadia a spin it’s sort of like getting a free Chromecast Ultra?

Roku

Image Credits: Roku

Roku’s new Streambar — basically a Roku box and a soundbar crammed into one package — is going for $100 today, down from its normal price of $130.

Sonos

Sonos Move 11

Image Credits: Sonos

If you’re going to expand your Sonos system (which, hey, is sort of the point of having a Sonos system), Black Friday is usually a good day to do it. Alas, this year’s Sonos sales are a bit limited, but there are still savings to be found. Amazon has the portable Sonos Move down to $299 (normally $399) and the Sonos SUB down to $599 (usually $699), while Sonos itself is also selling its Beam Playbar for $299 (usually $399).

Hulu

Image Credits: Hulu

If you don’t mind ads, Hulu is slashing the price of its ad-supported plan from $6 a month to $2 a month for 1 year. Sadly, no deal for the ad-free plan, which is still at its normal $12 a month — but if you were planning on checking out the ad-supported plan anyway, you might as well save a couple bucks.

Calm

Image Credits: Calm

Calm, the popular subscription-based meditation/sleep sounds service, is offering up a pair of promos: They’ll cut the price on a one-year membership down by 50% (from $70 to $35), or a lifetime membership by 60% ($399 to $159.)

Video games

You probably won’t be finding any deals on this year’s new Xboxes or Playstations because … well, they already couldn’t keep up with demand. This year’s best deals are going to be on games, services and, in a few cases, accessories.

Hell, the same goes for the Nintendo Switch. Even without a new hardware release this season, Nintendo’s console is flying off the shelves. If you’re looking for big savings on a Switch itself this year, know that the inventory is incredibly low — any retailer offering a Switch deal is really just doing it to get your hopes up and get you on the site. We’re having a hard time finding any in stock even at full price.

Xbox deals

Microsoft is selling Xbox controllers (which will work with the next-gen Xbox Series consoles!) for $40, down from the usual $60.
Best Buy is selling 3 months of Xbox Game Pass (Microsoft’s Netflix-style game subscription service) for $23, down from the usual $45.
Gears 5 is $5 (usually $40) at Best Buy, Doom Eternal is $20 (usually $60) at GameStop, and Microsoft is taking $10 off the newly remastered Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2.

Playstation deals

Sony is selling 12 months of Playstation Plus (its service that lets you play multiplayer games online) for $45, down from $60.
Amazon is selling Last of Us Part II for $30 (normally $60), and GameStop and a number of other retailers have Ghost of Tsushima going for $40 (normally $60). Sony has the oh-so-hard-but-oh-so-addicting Cuphead for $15, down from $20.
Most retailers will also have sales on Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order, Watch Dogs Legion and Star Wars Squadrons.

Switch deals

Nintendo is selling Luigi’s Mansion, Super Mario Maker 2, Yoshi’s Crafted World, Mario Tennis Aces and Zelda Link’s Awakening for $40 (normally $60) through Amazon and most other retailers. All of these are fantastic!


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A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors may give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review, alternatively, I may have bought the product myself. However I make no promises to vendors regarding what I write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.