Good morning! Today’s smartphone launch is the Huawei P50. The P-series, at one stage a true pinnacle of hardware, has been the early guide for how camera technology will look in future flagships. Even if this one will run HarmonyOS, not Android.
PS5 at lightspeed
Despite continuing shortages and very human battles with bots/scalpers, Sony announced that the PlayStation 5 is its fastest-selling PlayStation ever.
- Sony said it’s now sold over 10 million units, up from 7.8M announced back in April, setting speed records.
- That’s even without PS5-only titles with massive pulling power — more on the games in a second.
- First, let me tell you after months of trying I bought a PS5 this week, needing the help of monitoring bots that send out tweets when marketplaces have stock. And in the end, I actually paid a finder’s fee to someone helpful on a Discord server for helping me secure one.
- Still, Sony hasn’t driven up the price of the console.
- On the games front, gamesindustry.biz noted Sony data which said: “Spider-Man: Miles Morales has sold over 6.5 million copies since its launch last year. PS5 exclusives Returnal, released in April, has exceeded 560,000 copies, and Ratchet & Clank: Rift Apart, which was released last month, is already on over 1.1 million units worldwide.”
- And China’s been a key player in moving consoles. Sony PlayStation boss Jim Ryan said: “The one launch that I would call out is China. The console gaming model is not well established there, it’s all free-to-play and mobile, but we had a hunch that the time might be right to change that and rolled a few dice. We made a lot of noise at launch, allocated a good amount of stock, and it blew through very, very quickly. Same sort of energy that we see in the West. It’s early days yet but we’re encouraged by that.”
- Ryan also said: “While PS5 has reached more households faster than any of our previous consoles, we still have a lot of work ahead of us as demand for PS5 continues to outstrip supply.”
Xbox had its own moment(s) this week:
- We don’t get Xbox sales numbers — the company stopped giving out details back in the Xbox One era, so we don’t know Series X and S numbers, but Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella did say, during the company’s earnings call this week, that “The Xbox Series S and X are our fastest selling consoles ever, with more consoles sold life-to-date than any previous generation.”
- And the next-gen Xbox series does have its own big event this week, though it’s not limited to its latest consoles: The Halo Infinite first multiplayer beta begins today, July 29 (The Verge).
- It only runs until Sunday, August 1, and it’s about testing gameplay against bots, and a bot arena, with three maps. “The Bots still have their quirks,” said 343 Industries, the developer of the next Halo game.
Poco X3 GT launched: Fast chip, fast screen, fast charging (Android Authority).
Latest Galaxy Z Flip 3 details now showcase some funky case designs out of Samsung (Android Authority).
898: This might be the name of Qualcomm’s 2022 flagship phone chip (Android Authority).
Oppo Watch 2: Oppo’s second-gen Apple Watch clone boasts 16-day battery life and packs the Snapdragon Wear 4100 chip (Android Authority).
Google is banning ‘sugar daddy’ apps as part of new sexual content restrictions (Engadget).
Apple says don’t buy AirTag replacement CR2032 batteries that have a bitter coating. I had to look that up; it’s something to stop kids from swallowing batteries (MacRumors).
Facebook maintained its growth, despite impending regulations, iOS reducing tracking, and more, though it did warn of headwinds to come. Zuck said video accounts for half the time spent on Facebook (TechCrunch). Facebook’s (expensive) metaverse was discussed, too (Protocol).
Apple, AMD, and Intel shift priorities and talk preparations as chip shortages continue (Ars Technica).
Google “will start requiring vaccines to work on campus,” as companies start to draw a line. Google also delayed the return to the office by more than a month (Google blog). Same vaccine requirement over at Facebook in the US, at least.
This robot arranged 100,000 dominoes into a Super Mario Bros. mural in one day (The Verge).
Extreme heat could also mean power and water shortages (Wired).
A scathing report says the British monarch somehow lobbied Scottish ministers to become the only person in Scotland not bound by a green energy rule (The Guardian).
Animals emerged 350 million years earlier than previously thought, a fossil discovery suggests: maybe 890-million years ago, before oxygen was really a thing via the Neoproterozoic Oxygenation Event, but still a few billion years after bacteria fossils were found some 3.5 billion years ago. More tests to come (Gizmodo).
The 2021 NBA Draft will be held in-person tonight: Cade Cunningham expected to be picked first by the Detroit Pistons (ESPN).
Rocket Lab launched a US military satellite in the early hours this morning, on a return-to-flight mission after a May failure (Space).
“What happens at a chemical level when a bottle of liquor is allowed to “rest”?” (r/askscience)
On this day in 2009, Yahoo Search was sold to Microsoft for $0 … more or less.
That was remarkable because much of 2008 was spent following Microsoft courting Yahoo! for tens of billions.
The history of Yahoo! …is a lot. There are books, textbooks, case studies. But in this transaction there’s a thread to follow:
- In 2006, Yahoo was the most popular website on the internet.
- In 2008, Yahoo! cofounder Jerry Yang turned down offer after offer from Microsoft to buy the company for a reported $44.6 billion in cash and stock.
- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Yang argued in public across the year and Yahoo!’s value plunged as Microsoft walked away by mid-2008.
- The upshot of it all, was, a year later, Yahoo Search was sold to Microsoft for 10 years, with no cash changing hands (BBC). Bing would power Yahoo!’s search site.
- As part of the deal, Yahoo! got to keep 88% of the revenue from all search ad sales on its site for the first five years of the deal.
- As you might know, reading in 2021, it didn’t go great. Yahoo shares closed down 12.1% that day.
- Happily, Yahoo! had invested in Alibaba in 2005, and the stock would recover during the Marissa Mayer years as the story more or less fizzled out into a sale to Verizon and the rebrand to Altaba, a private fund.
Anyway, the point is: What if Microsoft had put $45 billion into Yahoo (and Alibaba, a stake worth around $50 billion by the time it was finally sold in 2019?)
Tristan Rayner, Senior Editor.