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By Michelai Graham
Boardroom's Tech Reporter
January 14, 2024
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Tech Talk is a weekly digest by Boardroom’s Michelai Graham that breaks down the latest news from the world’s biggest tech companies and the future of industry-shaping trends like AI.

The Justice Department is inching closer to filing an antitrust lawsuit against Apple as it investigates how the Big Tech giant blocks rivals from using iMessage, how the Apple Watch operates with iPhones, and more. I’ll follow up to see how this plays out as US officials continue targeting Big Tech leaders and their business practices.

A peek into today’s edition: 

  • SEC approves first batch of spot Bitcoin ETFs
  • The Apple Vision Pro gets a February launch date
  • Amazon announces more mass layoffs

SEC Approves 11 Spot Bitcoin ETFs in Landmark Victory for the Crypto Industry

After months of speculation, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finally authorized spot Bitcoin exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Bitcoin‘s price has been steadily climbing with optimism surrounding this moment, and while the token’s price has fluctuated in the aftermath, it was trading for above $46,560 at the time of this writing. Additionally, the Bitcoin ETF saw $4.6 billion in trade volume by Thursday’s end.

The commission approved 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs from a group of asset managers, including BlackRock, Grayscale, Bitwise, Fidelity, and Invesco. The news comes after an unknown hacker posted on the SEC’s X account on Jan. 9 that spot Bitcoin ETFs were approved, a day before the commission made the official announcement.

Anyways. I think it’s safe to say crypto is back.

I’ll end this bit with a fun fact: The Winklevoss twins were the first to submit a spot Bitcoin ETF application to the SEC in 2013, which was eventually rejected. That makes this moment 10 years in the making. Check out my piece for more on what the SEC’s approval of spot Bitcoin ETFs really means.

The $3,499 Apple Vision Pro Arrives on Feb. 2

Apple‘s highly-anticipated first headset will arrive on shelves in the US on Feb. 2 for a whopping $3,499. Pre-orders begin on Jan. 19 at 8 a.m. EST, and the Big Tech company will be running free demos of the Apple Vision Pro at its retail stores on launch day. The headset will be equipped with 256GB of storage and will be available for purchase at all retail stores and online. Check out my full download of what to expect from the Apple Vision Pro.

I want to point out that Apple has been steering clear from using terms like virtual reality and augmented reality to describe apps for the Apple Vision Pro. The company told developers creating visionOS-compatible apps to call them “spatial computing apps,” and Apple is even referring to its new device as a spatial computer. I’m not sure how I feel about that yet because I’m still too focused on the price tag, and I’m so curious to see how quickly the headsets will sell out.

Also, this week, Jan. 9, marked 16 years since Steve Jobs unveiled the first iPhone, a device he described as a touchscreen mobile phone with an iPod, camera, and web browsing. Apple has released over 30 smartphone iterations since its inception, and it hasn’t stopped yet.

The Biggest Tech Announcements at CES 2024

The annual Consumer Electronics Show took over Las Vegas this week, and to no surprise, artificial intelligence was the talk of the town. I’ve been following the news coming out of this year’s electronics trade fair, but there is so much to keep up with.

Here are some of the big announcements that were made at CES 2024:

  • X is expanding its original content offerings with new shows from former CNN anchor Don Lemon, former congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard, and more that will air exclusively on its platform.
  • Volkswagen announced that it’s integrating ChatGPT into all Volkswagen models equipped with its IDA voice assistant and will be offering ChatGPT as a standard feature in its vehicles moving forward.
  • Samsung debuted a transparent MicroLED glass display with a frameless design and high pixel density and brightness. The consumer electronics company hasn’t announced when the new screens will go to market, but it’ll be a while.
  • Sony teased a new unnamed spatial mixed-reality headset that’s expected to arrive later this year. The new headset is targeting creators and artists who work in virtual spaces.
  • Nvidia announced a suite of new AI features, including a new partnership with Getty Images to launch Generative AI by iStock, a text-to-image platform designed to make stock photos.

  • Amazon announced another round of mass layoffs, cutting hundreds of jobs across its Prime Video and MGM Studios divisions, including 500 employees, or 35% of staff, at Twitch. This latest round of layoffs comes after Amazon cut more than 27,000 jobs since November 2022.
  • Former Twitter CEO Parag Agrawal raised roughly $30 million for his new AI startup that’s building software for developers working on large language AI models, The Information’s Kate Clark first reported. Agrawal has not disclosed the name of his company or more information on what he’s building just yet.
  • Meta will spend the next few weeks updating Facebook and Instagram accounts for teenage users to its most restrictive content control settings after facing lawsuits from a bipartisan group of 42 attorney generals last year. The group alleged that Meta developed addictive features on purpose for young adults across its platforms.
  • As promised, OpenAI launched a GPT Store for developers to list personalized chatbots they built for others to download. The AI company also released a smaller version of its ChatGPT enterprise offering for businesses called ChatGPT Team. The new offerings come days after OpenAI published a response to The New York Times’ lawsuit against it, saying it’s without merit.
  • Byte Dance is in talks with gaming giants, including Tencent, to sell its gaming assets as it pulls away from its ambitious push into the industry, Reuters reported. There are no deals officially on the table yet.
  • Speaking of gaming, Warner Bros. Games reported that over 22 million copies of Hogwarts Legacy were sold in 2023, 2 million of which were sold during the holiday season alone. Since launching last February, the Harry Potter-inspired adventure became the best-selling game of 2023 worldwide.

Lawmakers introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to prohibit the creation and distribution of unauthorized digital replicas following a slew of AI voice clones across the music industry and celebrity deepfakes in the past year. I’m going to bet that this bill will pass in the first half of this year and that we’ll also see an influx of digital replica licensing agreements across entertainment industries.