What’s new in tech
BMW challenges Uber and Lyft
“BMW is testing an Uber competitor in Seattle,” said Sean O’Kane in TheVerge.com. The German carmaker has been offering a Zipcar-like car rental service, ReachNow, in the city. Now members there can get the same BMWs and Mini Coopers with drivers too: ReachNow has added an option to hail a car or schedule a ride up to a week in advance. At prices that align with Uber’s “higher-tiered options,” the company is also marketing some unusual perks to lure customers. Riders can customize a “set of small luxuries,” requesting a specific temperature, radio station, or even flagging “that the ride should be quiet.” Unlike competitors Uber and Lyft, which ask drivers to pay for their own cars and upkeep, and take a share of drivers’ receipts, ReachNow will provide the cars and pay drivers $14.25 an hour, plus benefits.
Samsung’s folding mega-phone
Samsung is developing what it hopes will be “the splashy device to help re-energize its slumping handset business,” said Timothy Martin in The Wall Street Journal. The Korean electronics giant plans to unveil a foldable-screen smartphone early next year that would sit alongside the Galaxy S and the oversize Galaxy Note as its third flagship mobile device. Insiders say the prototype, dubbed “Winner” internally, has a screen that “can be folded in half, like a wallet.” Fully stretched out, the new phone’s screen will measure roughly 7 inches diagonally, the size of a smaller-format tablet and noticeably bigger than the 5.8 inches of Apple’s iPhone X. Samsung will begin the rollout by pitching the phone to niche markets like mobile gaming, positioning it for a broader commercial debut in the second half of 2019.
Walmart hits the small screen
Walmart is looking to join the streaming wars, said Todd Spangler in Variety. The retailer will compete against Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu in the increasingly crowded battle, with a service that it plans to unspool in the last quarter of the year. Vudu, Walmart’s digital-entertainment division, will offer the subscription video-on-demand package for $8 per month. That’s several dollars less than rival plans charge, in line with Walmart’s low-price ethos. Like its competitors, the Vudu streaming plan will include licensed shows and movies, as well as original productions. Vudu has already begun talking to media companies about licensing content.