Good morning! This Monday, it's the end of Black Friday as we know it (and we feel fine), Adam Mosseri will testify before Congress, Nreal drops its Light glasses this week, and Meta's big Giphy acquisition appears to be in peril.
The end of Black Friday
Black Friday used to be the day you braved crowds at the mall to buy cheap TVs and winter coats. Then it was just "the day with all the best deals." Now it's … well, what is it, exactly?
Black Friday may be losing its luster as the way we shop continues to change. After 2020, a year in which absolutely nothing was normal, the biggest shopping weekend of 2021 showed a few signs of returning to pre-pandemic life and mostly signified that the way we shop has changed forever.
- Shoppers spent a total of $8.9 billion online on Black Friday this year, Adobe found, which is actually slightly lower than last year. Another $5.1 billion was spent on Thanksgiving Day, which is flat from last year's number.
- Some of that shopping is happening in stores now: In-person shopping on Black Friday was up 47.5% over last year, per Sensormatic, but down 28.3% compared to 2019.
- Some of the hot tech stuff this season: PlayStation 5s (when they're in stock), Meta (formerly Oculus) Quests, AirPods, all things Amazon Echo and the new Nintendo Switch. Big gaming year this year.
- Today is Cyber Monday, which Adobe is predicting will account for about $10 billion or so in sales. And there's also Small Business Saturday and Giving Tuesday, and it can really feel like every day is a shopping holiday now.
Obviously, this year is hardly a normal case. Beyond the lingering pandemic, there's also a historic chip shortage, massive supply-chain issues all over, volatile inflation and general uncertainty about, you know, everything.
But if you sell anything, it's time to broaden your definition of "Black Friday." This year's shopping season started in early October, in part thanks to fears about the supply-chain shortage, but that won't change even as ports open up. Going forward, shoppers are clearly willing to buy at any time as long as the price is right, and they're increasingly looking to people and sources they trust to tell them when and what to purchase.
- Shoppers have spent more than $3 billion on 19 different days since Nov. 1. (Last year? Five.) China's Singles' Day is becoming a thing in the U.S. Yep, Veterans Day is suddenly a big shopping holiday. There's absolutely still a "shopping season," and it's happening right now. But it happens in more places, and in more ways, than ever before.
Shopping isn't an event anymore, it's a constant activity. No matter where you are on the internet — scrolling on Instagram, browsing Pinterest, watching your favorite creators' livestreams — you're never far away from a Buy button.
- Mobile shopping of all kinds continues to boom: 44.4% of online shopping on Black Friday happened on smartphones, Adobe found, which is up 10.6% from last year. And mobile shoppers account for about 62% of total shopping traffic on the web.
- Mobile shoppers are finicky, though. Adobe's data shows that desktop shoppers are about twice as likely to actually click the Buy button than those on smartphones, which suggests that a lot of people are browsing on the couch, but they actually open up the laptop when it becomes time to check out.
- That might be changing. Shopify's numbers skew more digital-friendly by definition but are even more mobile-first: 72% of its Black Friday sales happened on mobile devices, up from 67% last year.
The internet is becoming a shopping mall. Everything is for sale, and always only a click or two away. The metaverse will be even more that way, turning shopping into a video game and making digital goods equally shoppable. Whether you're buying NFTs, PS5s or just about anything else, the future of shopping revolves around exclusive drops and big-name creators, not days on the calendar.
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People are talking
The tech industry, including Alexis Ohanian, took to social media to mourn the death of designer Virgil Abloh:
- "The world lost an amazing talent today. I had no idea what he was fighting. Please don't squander your time. I'm trying to do better myself."
Madonna is mad at Instagram for taking down photos "without warning":
- "Giving thanks that I have managed to maintain my sanity through four decades of censorship…… sexism……ageism and misogyny."
Cathie Wood thinks Apple should have bought Tesla when it had the chance:
- "We're happy they didn't."
Elon Musk told employees not to rush end-of-quarter sales:
- "What has happened historically is that we sprint like crazy at end of quarter to maximize deliveries, but then deliveries drop massively in the first few weeks of the next quarter."
Coming this week
It's Cyber Monday! Check out our Shopping Week coverage to help you prep for the holiday shopping season.
AWS re:Invent begins today. AWS CEO Adam Selipsky is scheduled to speak at the weeklong event.
The European Collaboration and European Cloud summits start today. One ticket will get you into both conferences.
Timnit Gebru is expected to speak before the European Parliament tomorrow. Gebru was fired from Google's AI ethics team about a year ago.
Nreal's Light MR glasses drop in the U.S. tomorrow. They'll sell in Verizon stores first and become available online later this week. (Protocol's Janko Roettgers chatted with Nreal's CEO in September.)
In other news
Adam Mosseri is the next to testify before Congress. He's expected to talk sometime next week as part of a series of hearings around online protections for kids.
The U.K. plans to block Meta's Giphy acquisition. The Competition and Markets Authority has been looking into the $400 million deal for more than a year, and has already expressed serious anti-competitive worries. A final decision is due this week.
Buy a Spider-Man ticket, get an NFT. AMC is giving away 86,000 NFTs to its members who buy tickets for "Spider-Man: No Way Home," which might help explain why excited viewers crashed AMC's website when tickets went on sale last night.
Pinterest settled discrimination claims. The company is paying $50 million to resolve allegations of discrimination against women and people of color, and part of that settlement frees former employees from NDAs.
Australia won't let anonymous trolls get away under new legislation. The country's prime minister introduced a law that would force social media platforms to unmask anonymous users who defame others online.
Italy fined Apple and Google 10 million euros each. The country wants the companies to pay for failing to give users clear information about how their data was being used. Apple and Google plan to appeal the fine.
Cameron Janes left Amazon. Janes played a big role in creating physical retail locations for the company.
All the world's a metaverse
The metaverse is still very far out for many people. But people in Seoul will be able to experience the metaverse starting on New Year's Eve.
Seoul is launching a virtual version of itself, called "Metaverse Seoul." Users can interact with the city — they can make reservations for city activities, go on bus tours, visit landmarks and more — virtually using avatars. If you want a glimpse of the metaverse you can visit in 2022, but for the whole experience, you'll have to wait till 2026, when officials aim to finish the project.
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