The 12,000 satellite Starlink constellation could fund rocket development by selling faster, worldwide internet service

A satellite tracker image is seen displayed on a smartphone with a Starlink logo in the background
A satellite tracker image is seen displayed on a smartphone with a Starlink logo in the background
Photo: Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, SpaceX is the first private company to launch a reused rocket, to complete a resupply mission to the International Space Station, and, in 2020, to launch humans into orbit. Its reusable rockets allow the company to charge some of the cheapest rates available for carrying space cargo, and its spaceships have successfully ferried astronauts to the ISS for a fraction of what it cost predecessors. But Musk has far greater ambitions for his company, including building bigger rockets, bringing down cargo costs further, and most famously, transporting the first humans to Mars.

Still, even with reduced costs, aerospace manufacturing and launches come with enormous price tags. For Musk, the solution to this problem has been to fund SpaceX’s moonshot projects with money he makes elsewhere. This is where Starlink, SpaceX’s satellite internet project, comes in. Musk hopes the project will bring the internet to the hardest to reach regions around the world and expects this business to generate ten times more revenue than SpaceX’s core launch business by 2025. He plans to use this burgeoning and potentially wildly lucrative internet service to provide the much-needed funds for SpaceX’s flashy space travel ambitions. …


One in four subscribers to Disney+ is from Hotstar, India’s largest streaming platform

A Disney+ and Hotstar company logo seen displayed on a smartphone
A Disney+ and Hotstar company logo seen displayed on a smartphone
Photo: Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket/Getty Images

Like so many other companies, Disney appeared destined to exit 2020 with a trail of disappointments, disasters, and crises needing management. The pandemic forced the company to shutter its revenue-generating theme parks, delay the release of highly anticipated movies in cinemas, and lay off thousands of employees. But while these events triggered huge quarterly losses and harmed public perception of the iconic entertainment giant, the company was able to simultaneously lean into its Disney+ streaming platform — fortuitously launched in November 2019 — as a much-needed lifeline and its brightest light at the end of the tunnel.

Before its launch, analysts from research firm MoffettNathanson expected Disney+ to gain around 20 million subscribers by October 2020, but after raking in 10 million subscribers on the very first day, the streaming platform continued its meteoric rise through the new year and the pandemic. As it celebrated its first birthday this November, Disney+ boasted over 73 million subscribers. To put that in context, Disney expected to reach 60 million to 90 million subscriptions by 2024, but it has already blown past the lower estimate and is expected to reach the higher estimate by mid-2021. This makes Disney+ the second largest US-based streaming platform, only behind Netflix — an impressive feat for a platform that is just a year old. But Disney didn’t reach 73 million people with its brand new platform alone. It was generously helped by a streaming platform from India: Hotstar. …


And how its impact extends beyond the 48 hours

In just five years since its introduction, Amazon Prime Day has become one of the most anticipated sales extravaganzas on the retail calendar, finding its place among long-established shopping events like Labor Day and Black Friday.

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Source: Amazon

Prime Day Over The Years

Amazon introduced Prime Day on the eve of its 20th birthday in 2015 with the goal of offering unmatched discounts to its loyal Prime members. The 24-hour event, spanning nine countries, was an immediate success as the company sold more items than it did during Black Friday 2014. Many sellers saw record-breaking unit sales and the Instant Pot, a multi-functioning pressure cooker, became an unlikely benchmark for the Prime Days to come after selling 24,000 units that day. …


From Ankhi Das to Shivnath Thukral, will anything change?

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

Earlier in August, The Wall Street Journal published a revelatory report on Facebook’s biased hate-speech rules in India. An Indian politician belonging to the ruling BJP party repeatedly expressed anti-Muslim rhetoric on the platform, going as extreme as saying Rohingya Muslim immigrants should be shot and mosques should be demolished. Facebook’s content policing team had concluded that this not only violated the company’s hate speech rules but also advised that he should be permanently banned from the platform under the company's, “Dangerous Individuals and Organizations” policy.

Yet, months after this conclusion, this politician was active on Facebook and Instagram. Facebook employees said that the company’s top public-policy executive in the country, Ms. Ankhi Das, overruled any punishment. She argued that penalizing a member of Mr.Modi’s …


Microsoft’s recent experiment shows that this is not just feasible, but also practical

Earlier this summer, Microsoft made an unusual call to some marine specialists asking for their help to retrieve a shipping-container sized capsule from the seafloor off Scotland’s Orkney Islands. After an intricate performance by ropes and winches attached to a gantry crane, out came a data center covered in algae, barnacles, and sea anemones. The Microsoft team was “pretty impressed with how clean it was.” While most electronics go kaput with the slightest water spillage, this one thrived in it.

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Marine specialists retrieve the data center from the seafloor off the Orkney Islands. Source: Microsoft

This bizarre endeavor is the brainchild of Microsoft’s Project Natick team. This team is studying the feasibility and practicality of underwater data centers and they sunk the recently hauled out data center in spring 2018 for a two years-long experiment. …


As the pandemic pushes the tech giant to diversify its supply chain, India is eager to take up the mantle

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Employees at the Foxconn plant in Shenzhen, China on May 26, 2010. Photo: Qilai Shen/Getty Images

An interesting thought experiment emerged when Trump hastily banned TikTok in the United States and sent it on a hunt for an American buyer: What would happen if President Xi Jinping cited similar security reasons and forced Apple to sell its China operations?

Apple’s soaring share price would come crashing down, and its future would be thrown into disarray, because China is not just Apple’s largest revenue source after the United States and Europe; it’s also home to a huge portion of Apple’s supply chain. …


After its launch in Kenya, Loon appears to be the leading solution to bring internet connectivty to underserved regions around the world

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The Mid-Range Ensemble

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iPhone SE vs Samsung Galaxy A51 vs OnePlus Nord vs Google Pixel 4a. Image Source: Manufacturer Websites

With the launch of the Google Pixel 4a, the choice of mid-range phones for 2020 just got better. These phones sit well above entry-level smartphones and just below flagships in terms of features, and they’re priced between $350 to $500, lesser than half of what the flagships from these same companies cost. Simply put, these phones offer the best features per dollar that the smartphone world has ever seen.

But which one of these is the right one for you? Rather than choosing based on numbers on the spec sheet, let’s go by what you’ll most likely use it for.

Pixel Perfect (Camera)

Winner: Pixel 4a
Runner-up: iPhone…


Google, Facebook, and Microsoft all want a slice of this tech pie

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People on bicycle passes by a Jio store in Kolkata, India, 13 July, 2020. Photo: NurPhoto/Getty Images

Jio is a household name in India, and it’s finally getting some attention in the rest of the world. The young tech company is not just weathering the Covid-19 storm, but thriving in it. In the last four months, the company has raised over $20 billion from a list of high-profile investors at a time when many companies are struggling to stay afloat.

To put this unparalleled fundraising in context, Jio has raised more money in four months than the entire Indian start-up ecosystem raised in 2019, combined.

The fundraising streak began in April, when Facebook invested $5.7 billion to take an enormous 10% stake in the company. Soon after, a steady stream of private equity firms joined the foray. Abu Dhabi Investment Authority, Mubadala, and Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, all sovereign funds of major Middle Eastern countries, also pitched in. Reliance, Jio’s parent company, became net debt-free nine months before its targeted date, and it appeared as if the investment spree had ended. …


IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft are cautious not because of algorithmic bias, but because their technology is unregulated

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Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Over the last couple of months, amidst all the reckoning, three of the biggest companies in tech, IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft, announced that they will stop offering facial recognition software to law enforcement agencies.

IBM led the way with a letter to Congress, in which its CEO, Arvind Krishna, called for “shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported.”

Soon after this announcement, leading news companies like the New York Times, The Washington Post, BBC, and Quartz put out articles stating that IBM has ended its facial recognition program and credited this partially to a landmark research conducted in 2018. …

About

Sarvesh Mathi

freelance technology writer | sarveshmathi.com

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