💻 How PCs became giant smartphones

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The big idea
personal computers

How PCs became giant smartphones

We all know the pandemic juiced sales of toilet paper and hand sanitizer.

You can add PCs to that list, too.

According to Christopher Mims at The Wall Street Journal, quarterly PC sales were up 50%+ vs. 2019 as remote work became the norm.

Smartphones have taken over the world…

… but the PC — with a bigger screen, physical keyboard, and no Candy Crush app — is the better option for productivity.

And, to be really useful, PC manufacturers are trying to integrate the best parts of the smartphone experience:

  • Longer battery life
  • Thinner and more portable sizes
  • High-quality cameras (for ugh Zoom meetings)
  • And, soon, direct cellular network connection including 5G

While the changes are nice, we remain adamantly against all attempts of turning laptops into foldable tablets.

Apple has pushed the industry

Mims writes that Apple’s decision to build its own PC chip (M1) is forcing competitors to play catch-up.

By closely integrating software and hardware, Apple’s laptops and desktops are blazing fast.

The one-size-fits-all approach pioneered by Intel — which still powers ~80% of laptops — is changing. PC makers are embracing the new ethos by tapping chip designer Arm and manufacturers like Qualcomm and MediaTek for custom chips.

The big winner might be Google

“Thanks largely to rapid adoption in the education market,” writes Mims, “[Google’s] Chromebooks as a share of PCs sold have exploded in the last 18 months.”

Chromebook laptops — which are built around the Chrome OS and browser-based productivity — are among the most affordable options.

Even with Google’s gains, the entire market is growing for the first time in a decade, and there’s a prize worth fighting for.

Just in time for the madness: Microsoft will announce its new Windows PC operating system on June 24.

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SNIPPETS

Lumber prices are coming back down, partly due to increased production at ~3k US sawmills and fading demand. #ecommerce-retail

A German research institute is building a drone that can hear human screams. Weird, sure, but helpful for search and rescue. #emerging-tech

Facebook’s Clubhouse rival — Live Audio Rooms — is now rolling out in the US. It joins Spotify’s Greenroom, which dropped last week. #big-tech

Google’s tossing its cookies. The Washington Post examines how that could affect users, competitors, and consumer privacy. #privacy

People are using blue-to-red stripes that illustrate global warming on clothes, cars, and cakes to start conversations about climate change. #clean-energy

Wanna build a 7-figure newsletter? Here are 14 threads from Ethan Brooks on how to do just that. #hustle-picks

Sotheby’s says it’ll take crypto for a 101.38-carat diamond valued at $10m-$15m. The auction is on July 9 in Hong Kong. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Travel Bug
Airbnb and Vrbo logos

Airbnb and Vrbo grapple for more hosts amid fresh demand

It’s hot vax summer, baby!

Competition is heating up between home-sharing platforms Airbnb and Vrbo as Americans hit the road.

Airbnb and Expedia Group’s Vrbo are both recruiting new hosts to their platforms as demand outpaces supply, per The Wall Street Journal.

The state of short-term rentals

April 2021 saw the highest-ever occupancy rate for short-term rentals (STRs) in the US at 61.6%, per data from AirDNA.

Travelers also stayed 25% longer — likely due to new remote-friendly work policies.

Meanwhile, there are fewer open properties as owners removed them amid the pandemic, often to stay in them themselves. As of May, ~52k new units had been added to Airbnb and Vrbo, 10% lower than usual.

To get more room supply:

  • Airbnb is offering mentorship for new hosts, referral payments, and an easier sign-up process.
  • Vrbo is attempting to siphon guests from its rivals, letting Airbnb hosts transfer their ratings. Vrbo claims thousands of hosts have participated in its Fast Start program.

Where are people staying?

Demand in small-town and rural markets was up by 67% compared to April 2019. Destination and resort locations were also up 25% YoY.

Conversely, demand in the 50 most populous cities was down by 41%.

Overall, AirDNA predicts at least 2 years of higher occupancy rates due to fewer short-term rental units and higher demand.

While Airbnb and Vrbo battle for hot rental properties, they are partnering on one thing: shutting down those nuisance party homes everyone’s always complaining about on Nextdoor.

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Tokyo Olympics
Tokyo Olympics logo

Will advertisers’ gamble on the Tokyo Olympics pay off?

After being postponed last summer, the Tokyo Summer Olympics are slated to start on July 23.

There’s a big problem, though: A lot of people don’t want it to happen.

According to The Economist, 50%+ of Japanese citizens want the games to be postponed again. Due to COVID, parts of Japan are still in a state of emergency, and it’s not even clear if fans can attend.

Big money is on the line

To host the games, Tokyo was able to raise:

  • A record $3B+ from dozens of (mostly domestic) brands including Japan Airlines, Toyota, and Canon
  • $500m from top global sponsors including Coca-Cola, Visa, and Airbnb

While the actual return for Olympic sponsors is often not clear, the audience that the event offers can’t be disputed.

Case in point: 3.2B people watched some part of the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics, per The Economist.

With so much opposition to hosting the games…

… there may not be much Olympic halo for the Tokyo advertisers, particularly the domestic brands.

The top sponsors — like Coca-Cola — are in a slightly different boat: They sign multiyear deals across many summer and winter games and can survive one bad Olympics.

However, there is a big problem on the horizon for these global brands: The upcoming Winter Olympics in 2022 will be hosted in Beijing, which some countries may boycott based on China’s treatment of its Uyghur population.

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Prank of the day
Amazon boxes

Source: YouTube / CBS

Amazon’s discount Prime Day started yesterday… which brings up one big question: What will you do with all those empty boxes once your shopping onslaught is over?

Here’s a wild story.

Back in 2019, a woman from Wisconsin gave her husband an April Fools heart attack by placing dozens of empty Prime boxes in front of their home.

According to PopSugar, the woman saved the boxes up “for months” in preparation for the prank. So, yeah, there’s one idea.

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