Amazon shows off its new Prime Air drone,
Blackberry pulls out of Pakistan, Apple Music is coming to Sonos, and more… It’s Monday, Nov 30th, and this is Crunch
Report. Amazon updated its Prime Air’ project today
— just about two years after it showed the first iteration of its delivery drone, which
has now moved to a hybrid design… so it’s still a quadcopter and takes off and lands
vertically, but it also switches to a regular horizontal flight mode, which is more efficient.
Amazon says the new design allows the drone to cover over 15 miles and fly over 55 mph,
and that it’s working on a family of drones for different environments and purposes..
The new style is definitely bigger than in previous renderings, which is potentially
problematic if it’s flying through the air and people don’t understand that it is not,
in fact, an alien. Once it arrives at its intended location, it’ll scan the area and
look for a landing spot, for example, an Amazon logo in your backyard. The drone then lands,
drops off the package and takes off again. An Amazon spokesperson tells TechCrunch “One
day, seeing Prime Air vehicles will be as normal as seeing mail trucks on the road.” Oh hey, Happy Cyber Monday.. the day that
sounds so much like porn, but is actually about shopping. Let’s get caught up on how
online retail is doing… According to Adobe which has been tracking 4,500 sites including
80% of the top 100 retailers, the first two days of the U.S. holiday sales period, which
was Thanksgiving and Black Friday, totaled $4.45 billion in online purchases, with mobile
devices, the majority being smartphones — accounting for a record $1.5 billion of that amount.
Mobile still lags behind desktop computer sales, but the gap is shrinking…IBM says
that mobile accounted for 60% of all online traffic on Thanksgiving, which is up 14.8%
over a year ago; and it took 54.4% of traffic on Black Friday, up 16.6%. As for actual sales,
mobile devices made up for 40% of them on Thanksgiving, and Black Friday saw 35.3%.
ComScore also predicts that mobile will account for most of the growth in e-commerce holiday
shopping this year. Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced
last night that he and his wife Priscilla Chan have launched the Breakthrough Energy
Coalition with Microsoft founder Bill Gates to invest in zero-carbon energy technology
around the world.. trying to solve the problem of climate change. The organization’s members
include other big names like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos, and Alibaba’s Jack Ma. The U.N.
Climate Control Conference is taking place in Paris this week, where Gates and U.S. President
Barack Obama are expected to launch a new initiative called Mission Innovation, to double
public investments in energy research over the next five years. The Washington Post reports
that 19 countries have already joined Mission Innovation and will increase their annual
spending on clean-energy research and development to $20 billion by 2020. The Breakthrough Energy
Coalition, which is a separate program, aims to cover gaps in government funding in countries
by commercializing the most promising and scalable ideas to come out of public research
institutions… including electricity generation and storage, transportation, industrial use,
agriculture, and energy system efficiency. BlackBerry is throwing in the towel on Pakistan,
for now.. the company confirmed that because of Pakistan’s national government continuing
to demand to monitor user data, Blackberry chose to withdraw from the country of 180
million people. Back in July, the Pakistan Telecommunications Authority (PTA) said it
would shutter BlackBerry Enterprise Services (known as BES) by December 1st for “security
reasons.” BlackBerry encrypts emails, BBM messages and other data from its users which
prevents authorities from gaining access to information, even when it’s necessary for
national security. In a statement, Blackberry explained “Pakistan’s demand for open
access to monitor a significant swath of our customers’ communications within its borders
left us no choice but to exit the country entirely.” Blackberry previously gave Indian
authorities access to data from BBM and Blackberry Internet Services back in 2013, and believed
to have made similar concessions in Russia and China before that. My fellow music lovers, I’ve got good news.
That speaker company you like is going to come back in style. Sonos just announced it’ll
be adding an Apple Music beta on December 15th at no extra charge for users. A reminder
that Sonos doesn’t use Bluetooth, or AirPlay, or Chromecast Audio to hook into services..
Sonos speakers are connected to your Wi-Fi network, which you control via the Sonos app
on your phone or computer. It’s great if you use mulitple music apps, bevause then you
just control everything from one place. And for those of us who loved playing our carefully
curated Rdio stations via Sonos, Apple Music might be a great alternative… along with
Spotify, which is also Sonos compatible. As is Pandora. And SoundCloud. Now that Apple
Music’s on Android as well as iOS, Sonos support checks off all the major availability boxes.
And there’s always music in the air. That’s the report for today. I’m Sarah
Lane. Crunch Report airs every weekday at 7 pm Eastern,
4 pm Pacific, on Techcrunch.com. You can also find us on iTunes, and on YouTube. See you