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Google’s New Motto: “Don’t Appear To Be Evil”?–Futurum Tech Podcast Episode 033

On this edition of FTP, The Futurum Tech Podcast, we take a look at Google and their amazing ability to surprise consumers with tech like microphones in products they didn’t know existed. Plus, we’ll be taking a look at Apple and Goldman Sachs. They’re betting that you’ll spend more money with a Goldman Sachs Apple credit card. Plus, when image recognition technology goes bad, Facebook finally bringing a little bit of privacy to Android users, the latest on Microsoft Dynamics. When kids realize their parents have over shared their childhood online, and what in the world is 5G and 6G and 5GE? If you’re confused, so are we. All this and more on this edition of FTP.

Our Main Dive

Remember Google’s “Don’t Be Evil” motto? We do, and we miss it. The motto was quietly swept aside after the 2015 restructuring of Google under parent Alphabet. Perhaps it’s for the best as today it might look a bit more like “Don’t Appear To Be Evil.”

Our Fast Five

We dig into this week’s interesting and noteworthy news:

  • Apple & Goldman Sachs want you to spend more
  • When image recognition goes bad
  • Facebook’s long-overdue privacy fix for Android
  • The latest on Microsoft Dynamics
  • When kids realize their parents share TMI online

Tech Bites

The alt-reality of 6G.

Crystal Ball: Future-um Predictions and Guesses

AT&T “marketing” rollout of 5Ge on mobile devices get’s challenged in court because it’s not 5G! Who wins and who loses in this vaporware battle?


Daniel Newman: Welcome to this week’s edition of FTP, Futurum Tech Podcast. I’m your host for this week’s episode, Daniel Newman and I’m joined today by Fred McClimans. The usual Olivier Blanchard will not be with us as he is making his annual pilgrimage to Mobile World Congress and it takes him one day longer to get anywhere thanks to his comfy location in South Carolina that flies direct to nowhere. Meanwhile, I will be leaving tomorrow and getting there before him because I’m leaving out of O’Hare, and as long as my flight does leave, I can get anywhere really, really quickly. Very excited about MWC but also excited about this week’s edition of Futurum Tech Podcast because we’re going to be talking about some really, really fun and sometimes troublesome topics that are going on in the tech space. So Fred, as I’m about ready to jump in, how you doing today?

Fred McClimans: Hey, I’m doing great and while we’ll miss Olivier this week, I’m entertained by the fact that you called him the usual Olivier Blanchard. Sometimes he’s a bit the unusual Olivier.

Daniel Newman: I guess we could say he’s usually in attendance, but he’s always a bit unusual. He’s usual like the usual suspects are unusual. If you don’t know that reference, you’ve missed a good movie. If you haven’t seen that movie, I say Netflix it. If it’s not available on Netflix, find another way to watch it, very good flick. Okay, moving on.

This is not a movie recommendation engine, and while I’m talking about things we are not, we are also not a show giving financial and stock advice. While we might talk about companies that are publicly traded, we are not offering any sort of financial guidance or advice, so please do not pick your stocks based on anything we say in this show. It is for entertainment and informational purposes only. All right, Fred, main dive today.

Fred McClimans: Yes.

Daniel Newman: We have a specific topic, Google and Nest, and some really troubling news that came out yesterday as it’s reported that on the Nest secure keypad, that has utilized part of the Nest system, they were adding the capability for Google Voice Assistant and they were excited to make that announcement. The problem was in order for Google Voice Assistant to work, there needs to be a way for your voice to be processed meaning a microphone.

Now, no big deal. Well, maybe a big deal because it also came out as part of this announcement that, oops, Google Nest had forgotten to tell you that there was a microphone in that device all along, and somehow on accident and it was definitely a mistake and not done on purpose, according to Google, that device has had a microphone in it all along. How convenient. Here we are again, show after show, dealing with these big companies and they’re just constant abuse of privacy.

The reason I really think this is main dive worthy is not just this particular incident, it’s become the quantity in which these types of incidents are taking place. The question marks that surround them about ethics, about business practice, about governance, about oversight, Google is basically throwing their hands up and saying oops. Let’s face it, Fred, a lot of businesses make mistakes day in and day out. They forget something, they’re late on a project, they don’t put something into a manual, they don’t take a customer service call in a timely manner. I know when Bezos was checking in on how fast Amazon was answering service calls at one point, he actually got on the line himself to discover that they stunk at it. Companies make mistakes, even companies that are known to be really good.

Fred McClimans: Right.

Daniel Newman: But forgetting a detail like this does not seem like a mistake. With the absolute lack of trust that exists in the marketplace, we have to ask a big question. A, is it possible that Google actually forgot to tell you that there was a microphone in this keypad? The second question is, if they did forget, is there any culpability for the fact that they’ve been putting devices in your house unknowingly with a microphone and is that an issue? Third-

Fred McClimans: Yeah, okay, there’s a third, okay.

Daniel Newman: Hold on, I’m almost on the top. Third is they’re claiming that these microphones were not activated and it would take a manual software update and activation by the user to activate these microphones. These are all big considerations but since the microphone was supposedly not active, does any of this matter? Second of all, was it really not active and how do we know? If by some way the microphones any percentage of them had been activated accidentally throughout this time, what is Google’s culpability? So far I’m going to take a breather and I’m going to finally let you have your say.

Fred McClimans: Well, in a perfect world, this type of situation would not happen. We would not find ourselves in a situation where a device that by design has the ability to listen to what is taking place within a home just suddenly appears in devices around the world, it wouldn’t happen. But we live in a far from perfect world and Google is a far from perfect company, and I’ve gone on my various Google rants at times and I’ll stand by them. I think that if you go back to 2015 when Google reorganized, and the parent company became alphabet and everything fell into place beneath there, that was the same time that they changed their do no evil model. They literally eliminated it from their corporate records, does not exist. Now does that mean that Google does evil? Well, I think what we have here is a situation where Google itself has demonstrated over the years, consistently, that they don’t put user privacy first, they don’t put user disclosure first, they don’t even put employee disclosure first.

Now look at the situation where we have time and time again Facebook, Twitter, and Google invited to publicly testify in congressional hearings about the state of digital, about the state of data, about the state of privacy. Who doesn’t show up? Google doesn’t show up. When they do show up, it’s all about Google because they have their own separate session that they’re going to sit down with and they’ll have their little one on one conversation. This just gets tired, then you look at what Google has done, not even disclosing to its employees that it was working on a search engine for China that would censor results. Just the same lack of putting the user first with that. Now with Nest, is it possible that this was in there and it really is somewhat of an oversight? Back when the whole report took place, Nest was spun out into a separate company, it was then subsequently brought back in under Google. Is it possible that somewhere in translation this got missed?

Yeah, it’s possible but I think in any well run organization that puts users first, they’re going to look for those type of situations and disclose them. Now, it may well be that this device was never turned on, but as we know, technology has a habit of being hacked. I have no doubt that if somebody knew this was there, somebody tried to take a cut at it and I wouldn’t be surprised at all to find out in a week, a month, a year that, “Oh, yeah, hey, by the way, somebody did actually activate this and somebody was pulling data off the system.” We’ve had similar issues just involving Nest capturing more information about comings and goings through the doorbell system and so forth that… Oh, wait, that was Ring, wasn’t it? You got to look at it and say this is an ongoing issue and I think if we want to be fair, and when we criticize companies like Facebook, companies like Equifax, that had a massive breach year and a half back.

If we’re going to be consistent in our criticism of their plans and policies, we’ve got to do the same to Google. As you well know, last year, I stepped away from Facebook, to a large extent, because I did not trust their data collection system and I wasn’t really thrilled with the way the application and the service was moving forward. I’ve got to admit, I don’t use Google Search very often, it’s fallen into my number two slot and I just I don’t trust them.

Daniel Newman: You DuckDuckGo there?

Fred McClimans: Yeah, I’ll DuckDuckGo, I’ll Bing, and occasionally I will Yahoo and we’re going to edit that one out. But that was Dan, not me. This is an ongoing issue with Google and at this point, their model may not officially be do evil, but I’ve got to increasingly ask is this a larger symptom of technology companies making their way into our lives without some type of ethical code? It doesn’t exist there today and I think we need that.

Daniel Newman: Basically, we have hit a point where it’s almost split in half, we’ve almost the market is almost split in half. We have the halves which are Google, Amazon, Facebook, they’re these data collecting companies that are trading free, cheap tech and it’s all about you, using you, you are the product. Then in these companies’ eyes, they have productized humanity, and then it’s interesting because I was at IBM I think last week, and the other side of it or the other halves are the traditional texts, the IBMs, Ciscos, Dells, Oracles, Microsoft. Who really are standing behind and pledging a loyalty to providing some control of your data and privacy. Providing a means through blockchain, means through AI and machine learning. You’ve heard Chuck Robbins from Cisco actually outspokenly say we need to return some of the control of people’s data back to the individual.

I think we almost have this line, and I’m not saying those giant tech companies are all good and the others are all evil. But it’s just there’s a big split that’s being created right now down the middle and it has to do with those that want to invade your life, take your data, monetize it, and utilize it to dominate an industry, and those that want to collaborate on this journey of better data, better experiences. But maybe at the risk of not being able to create quite as good of an experience because they don’t have all the data they need because they’re providing you more control.

Like you said, Google are they evil? I mean, people use it every day, I still use it a lot and like you were saying about your decisions around Facebook and using it and such, we speak with our actions, not our words. Like as hard as I can be on Apple, I still use some Apple products every day. I’m still a better customer to them than someone that stands by or even promotes them all day long but never buys anything.

Fred McClimans: Yeah, and I’m not saying I don’t use Google, I do, but-

Daniel Newman: I’m just saying you put your money where your mouth is and what I’m saying is if we have real beef, the best thing individually that we all can do is not use their services and products. Of course, the other thing we can do is educate, it’s inform and educate people. I think that’s what we’re trying to do here is say, “Look, you just need to be very aware.” I would call myself a skeptic when a company like Google says they accidentally left something out. Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? No. Is it possible that none of those mics have ever been activated are very few, are very limited? Yes. Is it also possible that those things have passively been listening and collecting data for a long time?

Yes. Would some oversight body be able to detect that and know where that data is and serve that data and request that data? No.

There’s probably no chance and Google knows that. That’s exactly why Google can say, “Well, we never turn those on.” Well, maybe they didn’t, but maybe they did and we’ll never really know. We’ll know what we’re told.

Fred McClimans: Dan, I’ve just got a question, though, a company that thinks about what it’s putting into its products, somebody knew that this microphone was there, clearly somebody knew it was there. In my mind, it comes down to that mindset that says, “We’re so big and our valuation is so large and our cash stockpile is so massive that we don’t need to think about disclosing these type of things. We can simply pay a fine, take a little ding here, there and we’ll make it up.” Now, I think what’s interesting here, and I’m going to shift a little bit from Google to Facebook, we’ve talked about what’s going on in Germany with Facebook in the past. Where you have a situation now where Germany is literally saying, “Look, you don’t, Facebook, have the right to get unfettered access to all data that a user may have on their app or on their device in exchange for the service, in exchange for you being able to monetize the data and then better serve the customer.”

That whole equation that the customer is the product, I mean, we’ve talked about this. If you’re not paying for it, you are the product. There’s something that you’re getting back and maybe it’s time that we do step back a bit from that and say, “Look, there are limits to what you can do and there are regulations about what you have to disclose.” I think given the pervasiveness of technology and the fact that it’s almost impossible to get through a day without using technology in today’s world, we have to step in and we have to say, “Look, this is what we’re willing to accept and what we’re not willing to accept.”

Daniel Newman: Well, speaking of limits, we’ve hit the limits on this particular segment, but this topic will not die anytime soon. Like you said, when the service is free, you are the product. It’s been changed a little bit to now when the service is free or the product is less than a few hundred bucks, you are the product. Now it’s pretty much anytime you use the internet, no matter how much you pay for the darn device, you are the product. We’ve seen quite an evolution there but you are very right, Fred, and this discussion will carry on and will carry forward and you can be sure here on Futurum Tech Podcast we will be talking about that. But now we want to talk about something more quickly. Well, let’s say five things more quickly.

Fred McClimans: Five things.

Daniel Newman: We’re going to jump right into our fast five which is sometimes a relatively fast or even a mediocre really fast five. We’re going to try to go real fast with our fast five today. Fred, you’re going to kick it off talking about a new partnership between Apple and Goldman Sachs, which sounds like something designed for the privilege.

Fred McClimans: Yes, it does. What we have here is a report out in the Wall Street Journal, a report that is linking Apple and Goldman Sachs to a new jointly developed, jointly promoted credit card. A great set of special features, I’m sure we’ll be available with that integration into Apple Wallet, spending goals, purchases, rewards, all that nifty stuff. It’s interesting because Apple Pay has been around for about four years now, and we’ve been talking about what does Apple look like post iPhone? When I found is not their big driver of revenue, what do they do? We’re starting to see bits and pieces of that here. This is an interesting one but I’ve got a wonder is there a data play here?

Is Apple really looking to get more into the data game or is this really just a financial way that they can incentivize consumers to buy more products?

Unclear at this point but it is a notable move and it’ll be interesting to see if the Amazons and the Googles and the Facebooks of the world, God I hope not Facebook, follow suit with this type of program. But, payments, that’s a great way to make a little piece of a penny off every transaction.

Daniel Newman: Oh, man, it’s slipping my mind right now, what was that really popular TNT show about the hacker?

Fred McClimans: Well, that’s good question, was it You’ve Been… Hang on.

Daniel Newman: It just came out. I just remember Evil Corp.

Fred McClimans: Is that Mr. Robot?

Daniel Newman: Yeah, Mr. Robot.

Fred McClimans: Mr. Robot.

Daniel Newman: I feel really dumb for not being able to pull that out of my recollection and I look at a lot of information each day. But very interesting, but Evil Corp was the everything corp and it took over the world and they had everything from your banking and finances to all your technology all under one roof, all connected, kind of scary.

In more not so scary news, just a quick update from Microsoft. They had some announcements this last week about new applications for Dynamics 365 and apps for their phones. I just thought they were worth mentioning because what they’re really doing is bringing a lot of mobile AI and mixed reality services right to the users of Dynamics.

Everything from Remote Assist, which is basically allowing you to, through your Android device or through a pair of a hollow lens, to see instructions right in front of your eyes in very, very simple to digest capacities, really helping the frontline workers.

They’ve got new product visualization tools, they can help people see things mixed reality for healthcare, for automotive, for manufacturing. You’re bringing the real and the design rendered world together. That’s being built right now. You’ve got a new AI and bots being built, they’re calling their virtual agent for customer service. Then you also have new AI based fraud detection apps and customer insight apps all being built, also being built on their AI platform powered by Azure. So lots of interesting announcements coming from them. Azure and Dynamics 365 together are working hard to try to compete with Salesforce, and as they keep getting smarter and keep putting more AI behind it and giving those data lakes that people can use and Azure is growing very, very quickly, I think we’re going to continue to see Microsoft grow market share.

You can actually see that my opinions on this have been pretty consistent over the last year or so just by checking out what I’ve been saying on the MarketWatch. Fred, I’m going to kick this one back to you for the third fast five, and talk to me about what’s going on in California.

Fred McClimans: If you drive or if you ride, you no doubt go through numerous intersections, toll booths, however you want to put that, where your license plate information is being captured by a tool sensor. Even though here in the East Coast and in DC area, we’ve got the E‑ZPass system that you plug in your little E-ZPass, put it up on your dashboard and you drive anywhere and it just automatically sucks money out of your account every time you drive. In this situation here, that we’ve got an interesting one where a piece of technology apparently did not work the way it was expected to work and the results were less than spectacular. A California privacy advocate was pulled over late last year after a license plate reader at a toll booth mistakenly identified the cars being stolen. It was a rental car, he was pulled over by police and then more people police joined in, and at one point there was allegedly a gun drawn and they were told to exit the car, down on the ground, the works.

It wasn’t until they were actually able to use another piece of tech, their mobile phone, and the rental car transaction that they were able to prove, “Look, the car’s not stolen. It’s not us.” They were let go. But there is a lawsuit that has been filed on this, it’s going to be an interesting thing to watch. Because as we become more of a surveillance society, eventually, these type of situations are going to arise. I think this falls back into that same general area of just because we can put a reader out that’s 99.99% accurate, what do we do when it’s that occasional not so accurate situation?

Daniel Newman: Yeah, that’s a good one, and speaking of a good one, this one I have is a little bit a lot of fun. In the Atlantic today, there’s an article with the header that says, “When kids realize their whole life is already online.” I read this and I just had so much fun as a parent who has been posting without my children’s permission, pictures on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc., etc. The whole premise of this article is when kids take to Google and they Google themselves and they realize that a lot of their life has been documented. That there’s a lot of photos of them, not necessarily all flattering, because if you think about all these cute photos of us with cake smashed on our face and maybe in a diaper, in the bathtub. Yeah, sure, that wasn’t always a thing and it was kept in a photo album, perhaps in our homes, but now it’s out there for everybody.

For the rest of your life, you have publicly placed a lot of content, a lot of data that’s been distributed without the permission of these children, and it actually brings up a really big topic that’s going to come up in the future. Because this is the first generation, these kids are the first generation who from birth to adulthood have been documented online and have had the ability to be documented online, and who really has the rights to this, and at what point do children have the right to say, “I don’t want you to put my photographs on your Facebook page. I don’t want every minute of my life streamed and I don’t want you to put all my sporting events, my birthdays, my dances, and my photos and talk about my boyfriends.” You see shaming out there, you see parents that embarrass their kids, you see parents who brag about their kids.

But in any capacity, it gives the child no ability to create their own digital identity and there’s no way now for these children to go back and manage that dilemma. This is a fascinating topic, maybe a topic for a whole show at some point. But at the very least, interesting to see it being covered, very interested to see how this plays out. Okay, it’s a little fun, a little interesting.

Fred McClimans: I think this ultimately, Dan, I think this plays out in court, I see a lot of kids through their parents-

Daniel Newman: … or some collective of children that feel they were digitally abused are going to come together and do a class action suit maybe against their parents, maybe against more likely these companies that have allowed the adults to post all their data online. I have a feeling they’re going to pay for it at some point because I think these kids have a case. I don’t really think digital identity and custodianship has been fully identified because, again, never until now has a child whose entire life been documented now become an adult, and they want to take back their identity and they have no way to do it.

Fred McClimans: Right.

Daniel Newman: Speaking of no way to do it, there’ll be no way to do this show without at least having one of our fast five be about Amazon. Take me home.

Fred McClimans: Facebook, actually, take you home fast five.

Daniel Newman: That’s what I meant.

Fred McClimans: Yeah.

Daniel Newman: I said Amazon, Facebook, Google, they’re all the same.

Fred McClimans: Exactly, they’re all part of that Fang kind of group out there. You’re an Apple user of a sort, I am as well, I’ve got an iPhone 8 Plus here. When I was using Facebook, I would typically disable the location settings because it’s not something I want to share with Facebook. But a lot of people do share their location, they check in, they say, “Hey, I’m here. Here with my friends.” Boom, there’s the location and then, of course, the whole wave of minor earthquake happens and everybody hits on Facebook and says, “I’m safe, I’m okay.” A lot of checking activity there. The issue here is that Facebook has just introduced a new privacy setting for Android users, and what’s interesting about this is, and I didn’t realize this, I’m not an Android user, but the location setting for Facebook on Android previously was such that if you actually enabled location setting to check in or allowing Facebook to track you, they never stopped tracking you. The app consistently and continuously tracked you in the background everywhere that you were.

Massive, massive data flowing into Facebook about not just who you are, who you’re with, and your kids and so forth, but where you’ve actually been. Facebook has corrected this, I’m not sure corrected is the right word, but they finally have rolled this out and brought Android apps up to parity with iOS apps. I think that’s a great thing, and I do have to take this as an opportunity to smack Facebook and saying, “Dudes, what took you so long?” It’s ridiculous.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, well, I’m sure they had some analytics or they’ve been listening to their users for some lengthy period of time to determine where they need to be. When a company says, “We are listening to you and we want to respond to your needs.” Just know that they may mean something completely different by what they’re listening to and what they’re listening to and how they are listening to you. All right, that wraps up our Fast Five section. Moving on to our tech bites, and yes, every week tech does bite and every week we do pick one company, person, idea that really bites. This week of shout out goes to our Commander in Chief and the President of the United States, Donald Trump, for making a ridiculous assertation today in one of his various rants, where he said, I’m trying to get this right, so I can get it somewhat verbatim. But let’s just say he urged wireless technology companies to step up their efforts to build next generation data networks tweeting that he wanted 5G and even 6G technology in the United States as soon as possible.

Okay, so I’m breathing because I’m just trying to be completely visceral in my reaction to this. Now I’m on my way to Mobile World Congress, I mentioned that 5G will be the big topic and 5G is a thing, President Trump. Second of all, have you heard of Qualcomm? Have you heard of Intel? These are two American companies who are leading in terms of developing 5G and our standards, who have been heavily involved in past standards and who will continue to be key proponents of the next standard. There are a couple of companies that are challenging and duking it out in the public but they are definitely big contributors of this standard. I’m pretty sure when you sign that executive order not to let Broadcom acquire Qualcomm, you knew this. I’m hoping you knew this, I don’t know why else you did that. On a second note, 60 is a long, long, long, long way away President Trump.

Fred McClimans: It doesn’t exist.

Daniel Newman: Theoretical, it’s a theory, it’s a in labs, I would bet you and companies like Qualcomm and Intel, there are people that are responsible for identifying what will be 6G. In the eyes of the average constituents citizen and even technophobe, like you and I, we have no idea what will actually define a 6G standard. But the audacity, stupidity, unbelievable Twitter fingers to just even type that it’s embarrassing. No matter what side of politics you stand on that request is insane, it said two things. One, you don’t know anything about technology, B, you’re just trying to fool us to think you don’t know anything about technology. Or, C, you’re not aware that there are companies here in the U.S. who are the leaders, who are driving forces behind these evolutions. Finally, this is a global communications world, this does not happen in isolation, you need European influence, you need Asian influence, you need influence from companies all over the world to have worldwide communication standards.

It does not work that way, it cannot be limited, we are not connecting phones with tin cups and wires. This isn’t so much a political statement, if you know me, you know I don’t even jump into this much. This is me as offended technology analyst that says, “I really wish our politicians would invest a little more to get to know what is going on in the tech space.” Fred.

Fred McClimans: Let’s just let’s step back for a moment and just talk about that last word you said, politicians. In general, if you look at the level of discussion of discourse of insight of knowledge, working knowledge, about technology in U.S. congressional hearings, compare that to what we see in the EU and other regions. The U.S. we’re lagging, we need to figure out a way to either inject technology into the cerebral cortex of our politicians, or let’s start thinking about politicians that actually understand the world that we live in, understand the technology, and can talk intelligently about the issues that we do face. Because, realistically, 5G is still a bit amorphous, it’s not all baked yet. There are no 5G providers in the U.S. that are really out there going, “Hey, look, by my mobile phones, it’s got 5G in it.” But we’re still working on that and to throw out that, “Hey, we want 5G as quick as possible and we want 6G.”

Because we’re greater, we’re better, we’re making America great again by wildly talking about technology that doesn’t exist. You’re right, man, it’s a bit of an embarrassment and I think it highlights the fact that we’ve got to do, you and I and others in the space, we’ve got to do a better job of educating the political arena about what’s real and what’s not real. I think voters need to stand up and go, “Hey, look, guys, we use this stuff every day.” Go back to, what was it, George Bush who had a bit of difficulty with a scanner in a grocery store during his tenure. This is an ongoing issue that we definitely need to fix. While you’re over in this thing for Mobile World Congress, if you can dig up any insights on 7G, because that’s where I’m putting my big bet.

Daniel Newman: Oh, yeah, 7G, 8G. I’m going to go ahead and announce that I’ve identified 8G and see if I can make myself a little money on that. All serious, whether it’s been the questioning that’s come from committees on Congress of executives from Silicon Valley, it’s become a little bit astonishing to watch our politicians be so inept. When they have humongous staffs, they have young college grads who are technologically savvy on their staffs, and it’s like no one’s talking to these people. Or if they are talking to these people, these people just are not listening. Now, I don’t think anybody on either side of the aisle would argue much that Donald Trump tweets what he’s thinking and sometimes I don’t know that he thinks or asks anyone before he actually hits the tweet button. I just think that when you’re talking about your own country’s capabilities and you have companies that are actually leading and playing significant parts in leading those technologies, and you tweet stuff like that you actually make your country look more inept and incapable than they are.

It’s almost like he cut his nose despite his face. I don’t know what it was but he definitely should be aware, I think, he is aware and I don’t know if this is just one of those like, “Oops, zoned out, forgot. Sorry, Qualcomm, forgot you were there. I’m going to go ahead and tweet that anyway.”

Fred McClimans: We see the same thing, Dan, with neutrality discussions.

Daniel Newman: Oh, God.

Fred McClimans: With social media discussion.

Daniel Newman: What has been going on with that? [inaudible] remember, he stopped showing up and can’t do it now. Don’t start. Let’s do [inaudible] because we’re hitting the end of the time right now. Speaking of 5G, 6G, great caveat to the crystal ball, Fred. With MWC coming up, 5G been the hot topic, Trump asking for 6G, we’re still really only on 4G LTE and Advanced LTE networks right now. 5G really is just barely becoming a thing now, and it’s going to be a big thing and it’s going to be a huge thing this week at Mobile World Congress. But AT&T for a while now has been putting the 5G with a little lowercase e in the upper corner of a number of their devices in different markets to insinuate what they call their 5G evolution network, which is actually an advanced LTE 4G network. That they are using the pretense that because 5G is not in a single moment in time, that this is evolutionary as they’ve really gone to these gigabit, multi-gigabit networks and they’re creating lots of market confusion.

Quickly speaking, Verizon has written them a stern letter of dissent to AT&T asking them to stop this campaign. More recently, Sprint has filed a lawsuit against AT&T for this behavior. AT&T, meanwhile, stands heartedly behind their campaign but I would say, overwhelmingly, the public has no idea most people have that service on their phone or looking at the upper corner of their phone saying, “Oh, I have 5G. Hey, Mr. President, I already have 5G, I got it from AT&T. I’m going to get 6GE pretty soon,” because that’ll be their next evolution. Long and short, crystal ball, what happens to AT&T?

Fred McClimans: This is a difficult one to unpack completely because even in the U.S. when we talk about 4G and LTE, we equate the two. In fact, outside of the U.S., 4G and LTE are one in the same. In the U.S., it’s not quite the same. We have a different interpretation of 4G locally here. I think-

Daniel Newman: You have about one minute here to unpack it, so go.

Fred McClimans: In this situation here, in fact, maybe this is fueling some of the disinformation that we hear out of the politicians on all this, but I think AT&T will find a way to work their way out of it and say, “Look, it’s our name for 4G or 4.5G as some interim step.” I don’t see any big teeth on the part of the the lawsuit from Sprint, I think it might cause a little bit of legal bills to rise up. But, yeah, I don’t think they’ll have to change anything here. It’s a marketing issue. Personally, I wish they would stop, I wish they would just say, “Look, here’s what we have,” and not try and to confuse the market because all they’re going to do is so dissatisfaction with the cellular services that we have.

Daniel Newman: Yeah, I think they need to be stopped, I don’t think they will and by the time they probably would have any sort of injunction just seeing how long it takes, 5G will be a reality and I think AT&T knows that. Shame on you, but at the same time to the marketers, I toast to you. It’s one of those, as a marketer, I get what you’re doing, as a tech purist, I wish you would be a little more respectful to the fact that your constituency has no idea they’re not getting real 5G. All right, well, that wraps up this week’s edition of FTP. I want to thank everybody out there for tuning in yet again. Please be sure to follow us on iTunes, stay in touch, stay subscribed, feel free to reach out, keep in touch. Say hello, reach out on Twitter, reach out on Facebook at Futurum Research, we want to hear from you. Meanwhile, we got to go, we will see you later. Until next time, we’re out.

So, guys, thank you very much. We have to close it here. And that obviously does it for this week’s edition of FTP, the Futurum Tech Podcast. So, thanks to both of you for hopping on today and listening to me rant and for your wonderful insights. To our listeners, thanks for listening to another week of analysis. Obviously, don’t forget to hit that subscribe button if you haven’t already. And catch us next week for another round of news and analysis of technology. In the meantime, have a great week, everybody.

Disclaimer: The Futurum Tech Podcast is for information and entertainment purposes only. Over the course of this podcast, we may talk about companies that are publicly traded and we may even reference that fact and their equity share price, but please do not take anything that we say as a recommendation about what you should do with your investment dollars. We are not investment advisors and we do not ask that you treat us as such.

Author Information

Daniel is the CEO of The Futurum Group. Living his life at the intersection of people and technology, Daniel works with the world’s largest technology brands exploring Digital Transformation and how it is influencing the enterprise.

From the leading edge of AI to global technology policy, Daniel makes the connections between business, people and tech that are required for companies to benefit most from their technology investments. Daniel is a top 5 globally ranked industry analyst and his ideas are regularly cited or shared in television appearances by CNBC, Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal and hundreds of other sites around the world.

A 7x Best-Selling Author including his most recent book “Human/Machine.” Daniel is also a Forbes and MarketWatch (Dow Jones) contributor.

An MBA and Former Graduate Adjunct Faculty, Daniel is an Austin Texas transplant after 40 years in Chicago. His speaking takes him around the world each year as he shares his vision of the role technology will play in our future.


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