🦻 Why hearing aids could blow up

The Hustle

Back in April, Aaron Greenberg, the GM of Xbox Games Marketing, promised that if Xbox won a Twitter “Battle of the Brands” contest, the company would create an Xbox refrigerator. Well, they won, and this week the $99 minifridge went up for sale and sold out in 15 minutes.

Today’s rundown:

  • All ears: Why Big Tech wants in on hearing aids.
  • Roundup: What Apple, Google, and Samsung announced this week.
  • TMTG: Trump’s new media and tech group, explained.
  • Around the web: A 60-second meditation site, a working Fisher-Price telephone, and more wild internet things.

Let’s do it.

The big idea
Hearing aid

Hearing aids could be big business — and Big Tech is all ears

When you think about hearing aids, you probably picture the traditional beige variety that wraps around the ear. Thanks to a new rule proposed by the FDA, that could be changing soon.

The rule would allow consumers to purchase hearing aids over the counter without a prescription, per The New York Times.

Hearing loss is a widespread problem

Around 38m adults in the US experience some degree of hearing loss, and the vast majority don’t use hearing aids. This is likely due to the hurdles to getting them:

  • Access: Consumers traditionally need a prescription, which requires tests and fittings
  • Price: Hearing aids cost $5k on average since they aren’t covered by Medicare or many private health insurance plans

The new rule would help make hearing aids more accessible and drive competition in the market, which would lower the cost.

While those with severe hearing loss will still need prescription devices…

… mild hearing loss is an untapped market, with only 10% penetration today. Tech companies are already waiting in the wings:

  • Apple recently announced it’s exploring ways to use AirPods to enhance hearing
  • Bose developed a hearing device that it plans to sell once the FDA makes the rule official

Participation from high-quality hardware manufacturers could also raise the baseline for nonprescription hearing products (many existing options are poor quality).

The rule could lead to ancillary benefits

Beyond helping those with hearing loss, other benefits include:

  • Increasing consumer education about hearing loss
  • Eliminating the stigma of hearing aids with sleeker designs
  • Making hearing loss services like tests and treatments more readily available

Given Big Tech’s seemingly endless struggle against bad press, hearing loss is one market that could be a win-win for all parties.

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SNIPPETS

Apparently, everyone wants Crocs? The shoe brand’s 3rd quarter revenue grew 73% YoY, even with supply chain issues. #ecommerce-retail

Solar steel: A 150-year-old Colorado steel mill will be the 1st to run almost entirely on solar power, thanks to 750k panels. #clean-energy

AR party: Facebook Messenger now has group AR experiences for you and your friends. There are 70+ effects to choose from, including games. #emerging-tech

More info, please: The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau ordered platforms including Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Square, and PayPal to share more info about their payment systems. #privacy

Playboy is releasing its Rabbitars collection, which includes ~12k NFTs. This is the brand’s 2nd collection. The 1st sold out in 3 minutes. #fintech-cryptocurrency

Good news for app developers: Google is cutting its Play Store commission fees from 30% to 10%-15%, starting in 2022. #big-tech

Event Roundup
Macbook

Product Roundup: Summarizing releases from Apple, Google, and Samsung

This was a big week for consumer tech, with Apple, Google, and Samsung all making product announcements.

If you didn’t have time to watch, here’s a little recap.

Apple Unleashed focused largely on music and MacBooks:

  • The new Voice Plan ($4.99/month) uses Siri to access Apple Music songs, playlists, and stations across all Apple devices.
  • The sweat- and water-resistant AirPods 3 feature spatial audio ($179).
  • There are 2 new MacBook Pros: the 14-inch for $1,999 and the 16-inch for $2,499 (neither has a Touch Bar, but ports are back!)

Google had kind of a disastrous Pixel 6 event…

… considering its store crashed immediately. Still, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have some cool features, including:

  • Google’s new Tensor processor, which uses machine learning for better speech recognition, translations, and photos.
  • A 50-megapixel camera and an ultra-wide camera. Other features include face unblur and a magic eraser to remove photobombers.
  • Especially cool is Google’s Real Tone tech, which takes better photos of people with darker skin tones.

Samsung’s Galaxy Unpacked Part 2…

… showed off the Bespoke edition for the Galaxy X Flip 3 foldable phone and the Galaxy Watch 4.

  • The Bespoke phone ($1,099) will come in 49 color combinations.
  • The Galaxy Watch 4 ($199+) will get a foxy limited edition collab with French-Japanese fashion/music label ​​Maison Kitsuné.
  • Other Watch features include live wallpaper, new gestures, and better fall detection.
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SPAC Stuff
Trump at a podium

Trump’s SPAC, explained

With how wild 2021 has been, it was inevitable that the following sentence would be typed by business journalists: Donald Trump is rolling out a SPAC.

As a quick primer, a SPAC is “special purpose acquisition company” that raises money into a public shell corporation before acquiring a business (we wrote an explainer here).

Trump’s venture is called Truth Social…

… and plans to merge with a SPAC called Digital World Acquisition per Axios.

The venture is supposedly Trump’s effort at building a new media empire, but details are lacking:

  • What’s the product? So far, there’s a preorder for Truth Social in the App store (Axios says it looks like a “reskinned Twitter”).
  • Who’s running it? The SPAC sponsor Patrick Orlando has not completed a successful SPAC merger, and the only other names mentioned are Trump as chairman and Scott St. John as a streaming producer.

Shares in the vehicle ($DWAC) jumped 300%+ on the news and trading was halted multiple times because of volatility.

The larger ambition…

… is an entity called the Trump Media & Technology Group. In a 22-page slide deck, the competitive landscape includes over $5T in market cap value (CNN, Twitter, Facebook, Amazon Web Services, Stripe).

Unsurprisingly, there are no further details.

Somehow, this isn’t even the wildest SPAC announcement this month. Two 20-something frat brothers — one the scion of a Dallas energy family — just raised $125m to find a Latin American acquisition target.

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AROUND THE WEB

📺  On this day: In 1962, President John. F Kennedy addressed the nation regarding the Cuban Missile Crisis, which began several days earlier when US intelligence discovered Soviet missile sites in Cuba.

🍵 How to: Here’s a simple guide to kick off your mornings: how to buy, prepare, and enjoy matcha at home.

🐶 Aww: TikTok is obsessed with whether or not it’s a bones day. This is determined by Noodle, a 13-year-old pug who predicts whether it’s a good (“bones”) or meh (“no bones”) kind of day.

🦴 Huh: Speaking of bones, people are debating the ethics of JonsBones, a TikTok user who sells human bones to schools, doctors, artists, and search and rescue teams’ training dogs.

☎ Haha: Fisher-Price made a $60 version of its Chatter Telephone that can actually make calls.

🎧  Wanna learn NFTs?: Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Islands founder Tiffany Zhong launched “Probably Nothing,” a one-stop podcast for NFT news, deep dives, and interviews.

💆 Chill out: Pixel Thoughts is for when you need a break. Put your worries or stressful thoughts in a bubble, then follow the prompts to chill.

IN CASE YOU MISSED IT

(A roundup of our best reads from the last couple weeks…)

✈️ Why airlines need business travel to return, explained visually

🎃 How Spirit Halloween became a $500m+ business

🌿 Meowijuana wants to get your cat high

🏰 Disney: Where dreams come true and wallets go empty

🗺️ Our convo with Kayak’s CEO on the future of travel

Shower Thoughts
  1. “With the death of each person, the world loses a font.”
  2. “‘Don’t Text And Drive’ signs are most likely being missed by their target demographics.”
  3. “Lifetime warranties really mean the company’s lifetime, not yours.”
  4. “The thermal shock of turning on a light is allegedly what wears it out, yet the light in the refrigerator seems to require very little replacement.”
  5. “A harpoon is a water gun. But a water gun is not a harpoon.”
via Reddit
The Hustle Recommends

Weekend Read

The Metaverse Primer

Matthew Ball’s fascinating 9-article guide is perfect for people who hear the term “metaverse” and think, “Sounds fantastic, but how the f*ck will it work?” If you’re interested in the future, it’s worth a skim.

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Data shows where markets are headed.

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