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Uber’s self-driving car service in SF lasted less than 24 hours before the state of California told it to pump the brakes.
The Hustle Thur, Dec 15

Uber just had one of the weirdest days ever

Yesterday morning, Uber announced that its self-driving car service was live in San Francisco. However, the launch wasn’t without its share of controversy. Apparently, the 7-year-old company failed to get a permit from the California DMV for “autonomous vehicle testing.”

According to Uber, that’s because they don’t consider their cars to be autonomous, since they have 2 humans involved — one ready to grab the wheel, the other watching for pedestrians and taking notes.

Fast-forward a few hours…

A video was uploaded to YouTube that shows one of Uber’s modified vehicles running a red light. And we’re not talking about a questionable offense here… it’s pretty darn blatant.

Then, around the same time, a Lyft rider tweeted that a self-driving Uber had just “lurched into the intersection” nearly hitting that car she was in.

Doesn’t look like Uber ever responded to the second incident (maybe they think it’s their competitor, Lyft, trying to blow up their spot?), but here’s their response to the video:

“This vehicle was not part of the pilot and was not carrying customers. The driver involved has been suspended while we continue to investigate.”

Hmm, okay.

And it only got worse from there…

The California DMV, clearly frustrated by Uber’s utter disregard for the rules, sent a letter saying that the company “must cease” operating its self-driving cars.

They then added, “If Uber does not confirm immediately that it will stop its launch and seek a testing permit, DMV will initiate legal action, including, but not limited to, seeking injunctive relief.”

Ladies and gentlemen, we present to you the worst first day in self-driving car history. Well, the only first day, but still…

 

Yesterday in Amazon…

Wednesday, December 14th was a big day for the Bezos Empire, though you wouldn’t know it by the look on Jeff’s face during Trump’s tech meeting.

It’s like he’s feeling sad and frightened, while contemplating his own existence… all at the same time. Anyway, onto yesterday’s news.

The first Amazon PrimeAir drone delivery has been completed

Yesterday morning, Amazon announced its first successful delivery by drone (here’s the video).

The recipient was some guy in the UK named Richard, who ordered an Amazon Fire Stick streaming device and a bag of popcorn (great combo, Dick). And apparently it took all but 13 minutes to arrive.

Now, before you get too excited — this was part of a private trial for Amazon customers in the Cambridge area of England, where there’s a fulfillment center nearby and a ton of open space for drones to land.

Therefore, it would appear that we’re still months, maybe even years, away from drones making deliveries in places like New York City… where they’ll be dodging telephone poles and landing on pigeons.

That being said, there’s no denying the importance and overall awesomeness of this event. Dear future, we have arrived. But, Vegas isn’t about to be out done…

“Hey Alexa, is this the real Caesar’s Palace?”

The Wynn Las Vegas just announced that it will put an Amazon Echo in all 4,748 of its hotel rooms by this summer, allowing guests to control things like the TV and room temperature all via voice-control.

“I have never, ever seen anything that was more intuitively dead on to making a guest experience seamlessly delicious, effortlessly convenient than the ability to talk to your room,” said CEO Steve Wynn.

That does sound pretty delicious. Unfortunately (or fortunately, for privacy reasons), any commands tied to your personal account — like playing music or buying things on Amazon — will be disabled for now.

Anybody else feel like this is a massive, massive win for Amazon? Not only did they just sell close to 5,000 Echo’s (and they’ll sell plenty more once this catches on in the hotel industry), but this is also the perfect way to introduce the device to potential customers.

 

Super Mario has arrived on the iPhone

With the release of Super Mario Run today, Nintendo is finally jumping headfirst into smartphone-centric mobile gaming and their promo video has us amped.

The game has the same look and feel of old Mario, goombas and all, but features simplified, touchscreen-friendly controls, which just makes it that much more addicting.

“TELL US MORE.” – You guys right now

Along with the paired down controls, the game’s short levels (only a minute or 2 long) make the game feel “exciting and twitchy,” but also strangely satisfying.

It’s like filling a to-do list with lots of tiny tasks. You check off more things and inevitably feel more accomplished. Plus, Nintendo’s being a G and trading all those pesky in-app purchases for a single up-front cost of $9.99.

Nintendo’s back, baby

In true Nintendo form, the game seems perfectly balanced between simplicity (to hook you) and complexity (to keep you coming back).

And, if all 20M people on the waiting list download the app, that’s $200M in sales for the company. Not a bad comeback after their big miss with the Wii U back in 2012.

It’s also about the brand

Beyond the success of the game itself, pivoting to mobile is a great move to help Nintendo introduce their characters to a broader (and younger) audience.

The success of Niantic’s Pokemon Go has already revitalized the brand and opened the door for new channels of monetization like clothing, toys, and, dare we say… a Pokémon movie reboot??

 

Magic Leap’s elephant in the room

This week, several news sources published articles questioning the viability of Magic Leap’s technology, and their PR team isn’t exactly taking it in stride.

Chief PR exec Andy Fouche will be headed for greener pastures to work under Andy Rubin (of Google Alphabet’s Android project), leaving the company to deal with the scandal themselves. Because, according to insiders…

Magic Leap’s technology is a bit of a stretch…

Or to put it another way, their AR “magic” seems like more of a leap than a reality.

Since Magic Leap debuted their famous “elephant in the palm of your hand” teaser video, we have yet to see anything close to a viable consumer product.

And thanks to recent exposés, we now know that the original prototype technology was essentially a fancy projector the size of a refrigerator. Not exactly accessible to the masses.

That means the their actual product (revealed to be a pair of glasses) is not only behind schedule, but it won’t use the same technology promised in their hype videos.

On top of all that, the only answer that founder Rony Abovitz has given on a timeline for Magic Leap’s product release is, “soon.” So, we’re thinking it might be time for us all to lower our expectations.

Wow, what a buzzkill…

Yeah, that’s what happens when you let a marketing team run wild with promo videos for half-baked technology. It’s also what happens when you straight up mislead people.

We meant One of the company’s viral videos “Just Another Day in the Office at Magic Leap,” showed employees fighting robots using Magic Leap headsets with the caption, “This is a game we’re playing around the office.”

Except the game didn’t exist and the video wasn’t filmed with Magic Leap technology. According to employees, it was an “aspirational conceptual” video, not meant to depict the actual technology. “Aspiring” a little too hard right now, Magic Leap…

 
 
things you should…
 

NOT BUY: Prescription lenses for Spectacles, $29+

Spectacles are sweet. No argument there. But if you’re paying to upgrade yours to full-on prescription glasses, you might need to…
REEVALUATE YOUR LIFE →

WATCH: Tucker Max @ Pizza & 40’s

We had the man, the myth, the guy with 2 first names come speak a few months back and he blew everyone away. Solid career advice, amazing stories, and a whole lot of transparency. 37:22 mark is gold…
FIRE UP THE YOUTUBE →

BACK: Rok Blok, $79

Rok Blok has a kickstarter for the first wireless record player — it’s kind of like the roomba of vinyl. The tiny speaker is bluetooth connected and spins on top of your record, so you can be a hipster on the go.
SPIN IT →

LEARN: How to launch a tech product without a tech background, FREE

Follow the journey of Pat, a non-technical founder who launched a health and wellness app with almost no tech experience. and learned that the skills to succeed were inside him the whole time…
FOR YOUR HEALTH →

USE: Eva Bot from Vizzi, $30-$50

Make gift giving easy this year. Just CC Eva in an email to your giftee, and she’ll personally reach out and work with the people on your shopping list to send them the perfect present. Not even joking.
GET JOLLY →

 

Reminder: Our first ever “Get Better At” online event is happening later today in about an hour and a half (10:30am Pacific). Russ Perry, the founder of Design Pickle, will share the exact decision-making tactics he used to build a remarkably successful business from scratch. It’s completely free to attend and will last about an hour. Here’s the link if you want to join in on the fun.

 
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