Mobile Digest: Commercial jet slams into drone, a first for North America

A hobby drone hit a commercial prop plane in Canada. Andrew Tolve reports on why that’s a problem.

In the news

 

A prop plane with six passengers onboard smashed into a drone near the Jean Lesage airport in Quebec City, marking the first time a commercial jet has collided with a drone in North America. The plane sustained minor damage on its wing and landed safely, but the incident raised awareness about the potential danger of millions of drones taking to the air, whether it be commercial drones part of large delivery fleets (as Amazon hopes to deploy) or hobby drones sporting GoPros. Unlike a bird, a drone could bring a plane down if it were to collide with the cockpit or the engine, experts say. Both Canada and the US prohibit drones flying at night and in restricted areas like airports, but lawmakers are now questioning if regulations need to go further, both in restricting drone usage and increasing the punishment if people or companies violate them. The Trump administration has proposed a drone bill that would allow the US government to seize or shoot down any drone if deemed a danger.

 

In the money

 

Lyft kept pressure on rival Uber with a fresh $1 billion funding round led by CapitalG, the funding arm of Google parent company Alphabet. Lyft plans to use the capital to expand internationally and further subsidize the cost of rides in the US to further bite into Uber’s domestic marketshare. Meanwhile Uber’s main rival in Southeast Asia, Grab, raised $700 million in debt funding to grow the size of its fleet. It plans to offer drivers attractive financing on vehicles to get more Grab drivers on the road. 

 

Never heard of TBH before? That’s because you’re not a teen. The app has taken off in the past two months, amassing 5 million downloads and a daily user count of 2.5 million. The app allows teens to answer questions such as “Looks the most like Gwyneth Paltrow” and then pick from their contacts the best answer. The contact then receives the compliment. Teens have gone gangbusters for it. That’s why Facebook just bought it for roughly $100 million.

 

In other news

 

ZTE unveiled a dual-screened foldable smartphone called the Axon M. The phone can function like an ordinary single screened phone, but flip the second screen open and presto, you’ve got yourself an extra large viewing area for games and maps and whatever else catches your fancy. The phone also offers a Dual Mode in which users can run different apps on different screens, enabling greater productivity (or distraction). The phone will be exclusively available through AT&T when it launches in November.

 

A flood of new smart home speakers hit the market in anticipation of the holiday season. Amazon launched the second generation of its Echo device ($99), which now comes in six different trims from cloth to wood and is shorter, squatter and more fetching than the original. Amazon also unveiled the Echo Plus ($149), which adds a smarthub that automatically connects to all devices in the room. Both devices come with new Dolby speaker technology. 

 

The reigning king of sound, Sonos, debuted its own smart speaker, the Sonos One, that comes with full Alexa integration. Some had hoped that Sonos would give users a buffet of voice assistants to choose from (everything from Cortana to Google Assistant to Alexa to Siri) the way Sonos offers a buffet of musical options (Apple Music, Spotify, Pandora, etc). But for now, that’s not the case. Retail set at $199.

 

More smart home debuts: Google launched the Home Mini and Home Max with Google Assistant onboard. JBL unveiled the Link 300. Oh, and Harman Kardan launched the first smart speaker with Microsoft Cortana integration. It’s called the Invoke and does everything from perform math to set alarms to play music and look up information on the Internet. 

 

Huawei launched its new flagship smartphone, the Mate 10 Pro. It measures in at 6 inches (that puts it fully in phablet territory) and comes with one of the best cameras on the market, second only to Google Pixel 2 according to its DxOMark of 97. The phone retails for $949. We’ll see if that’s enough for it to run toe-to-toe with the iPhone X ($999). Huawei recently edged Apple as the second biggest smartphone maker in the world and would love to keep up the pressure. 

 

Finally, Apple and Samsung are now tied at 35% apiece for marketshare in the US. Data from Kantar Worldpanel Comtech reveals that for the three months ending in August 2017, Apple grew its sales share by 3.7 percentage points year-on-year. That’s a good sign for Apple given that this is pre-launch for the iPhone 8, 8 Plus and iPhone X. iOS also posted growth in China, Germany, France, and Spain, with consolidated market share for iOS in Europe's five largest markets up by 1.2% year on year.

 

The Mobile Digest is a biweekly lowdown on the world of mobile, combining Open Mobile Media analysis with information from industry press releases.

 

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to Open Mobile Media.