"Competition for consumers' time and engagement remains vibrant . . . we remain quite small relative to overall screen time," said Netflix on Tuesday.
Quibi proved its point on tough streaming competition a day later. The mobile "quick bites" video service said it was shutting down after only six months. Its share of screen time was tiny next to Netflix's — viewership was much lower than expected as users failed to renew initially free subscriptions.
The concept had sounded promising and the service seemed to have identified a new niche. Short videos like TikTok, but instead of user-generated content, quality shows and series like Netflix would be served up, and all over smartphones through an app that featured a neat portrait-view innovation.
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But despite paying for high-quality content, there were no big hits to get users addicted. Advertising suffered, critics questioned why the service was not available on smart TVs from the start and, to top it all, there was a patent lawsuit filed against it over the portrait-view video option.
Its leaders, Disney veteran Jeffrey Katzenberg and former HP chief Meg Whitman, were reported to have had differences, but, in a blog post on Wednesday, they said Quibi had failed because of one of two reasons, or perhaps a combination of both:
"Because the idea itself wasn't strong enough to justify a standalone streaming service or because of our timing."
By timing, they were referring to the pandemic, with travel restrictions meaning there were few commuters wanting a quick hit of short videos. And yet, many people were at home itching to be entertained.
In May, Mr Katzenberg had attributed everything that was going wrong to coronavirus. The fact he now says the idea maybe didn't stand the test is an admission that a pairing of the best in tech and Hollywood is no guarantee of success, in a sector and era where hits are viral.
The Internet of (Five) Things
1. AT&T says streaming is big box office
After Netflix and Quibi's bad news, HBO Max turned out to be a bright spot in AT&T's earnings today. Total subscribers to HBO, including the Max platform, climbed to 38m in the quarter, and 57m worldwide. The number of HBO customers who activated the new streaming service doubled to 8m in the quarter.
2. Facebook and Twitter chiefs' subpoenas
A US Senate committee has voted to issue subpoenas to Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter boss Jack Dorsey to testify about why their platforms restricted access to a New York Post article concerning Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden's son. We also have an analysis of TikTok, with the app facing its first major moderation test: preventing its platform from being poisoned by politics.
3. Tesla's record quarter
The electric carmaker delivered a fifth straight quarterly profit in the three months to the end of September, as it recovered from a coronavirus-induced shutdown in March and reiterated its goal to deliver a record-breaking 500,000 cars in 2020. Lex says Elon Musk is proving the naysayers wrong with third-quarter operating profits of $809m that were triple last year's figure.
4. McAfee falls on debut
Shares in the cyber security company fell 7 per cent on their trading debut, marking a disappointing return to public markets after a decade in private hands. At the $20 initial public offering price, McAfee had commanded a market capitalisation of about $8.6bn.
5. Airbnb rents Jony Ive
Apple's former chief designer will work with the home rental site to redesign its systems and create new products., as it prepares to go public later this year. Brian Chesky, Airbnb's chief, said it had entered into a multiyear "special collaboration" with Sir Jonathan's design company, LoveFrom.
Forwarded from Sifted — the European start-up weekThe British Business Bank released a new report showing that business owners from minority backgrounds continue to make less money than white entrepreneurs, despite often having more qualifications. The disparities are most pronounced for female entrepreneurs from minority backgrounds. Meanwhile, a group of venture capitalists and start-up founders have called upon the business sector to use the term BAME more critically when looking into issues around diversity, and to recognise that black entrepreneurs face different challenges to Asian entrepreneurs, for example.
In other news, Spanish venture capital firm Samaipata is raising a new €100m fund to invest in start-ups in Europe, while digital bank Monzo launched its new £15-a-month Premium accounts, which offer users phone and travel insurance and a glitzy metal card (each of which costs £50 to produce).
Sifted also took a look at the Italian tech sector, which is finally ready for take-off, and asked a big question of Europe's blossoming vertical farming start-ups: can they ever grow anything other than herbs and leaves — and truly revolutionise agriculture?
Tech tools — Huawei Mate 40 ProHuawei's limited access to Android due to sanctions is handicapping its smartphones, but it still leads Samsung in global market share. Ben Wood, chief of research at CCS Insight, says that outside of China "there is a real risk that the Huawei Mate 40 family of devices could be the company's 'last hurrah' in smartphones", as it struggles with component supplies and software. Launched today, the Mate 40 Pro (above) marks the debut of Huawei's new flagship 5nm Kirin 9000 chipset and includes curved 6.76in OLED displays and 50W wireless charging, says The Verge. The phone has an outstanding four-lens camera, co-developed with Leica, says Engadget, but there are "substantial gaps in the list of apps most people in the west consider to be essential".
- Financial Times