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In this week’s What’s Appening, it’s the year 2032, and “all restaurants are Taco Bell now”. Just kidding. But the Demolition Man movie references were flying around 3Advance HQ as Taco Bell announced its futuristic restaurant that is “optimized for mobile”. We also have news on Spotify entering the world of audiobooks. Xbox launches the Xbox TV app, with which you can play premium games without the need for a console. Our Stat of the Week looks at how Pokémon GO catches all the revenue. And What’s dAppening has news of Jack Dorsey’s new Web5 project.

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Takes 🎬

🌮📱 Taco Bell – First Restaurant “Optimized for Mobile” Opens in Minnesota

With all that’s ‘appening in the world the last week, it might seem strange we’re reporting on a new drive-thru restaurant. But our focus is apps, and this one is kind of important. Last week, Taco Bell opened its “Defy” restaurant in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and it has marketed it as the first-ever Taco Bell that’s “optimized for mobile”. Broadly speaking, that means the premises have been designed to cater primarily to people ordering through the app. Three of the four drive-thru lanes are dedicated to mobile orders, including for delivery app drivers, whereas the final lane is left for the people who want to do things the old-fashioned way. You may have noticed Fast Food apps – and ordering process – have come on leaps and bounds the past few years (no-doubt pandemic inspired). But look out Chick-fil-A, because Taco Bell is not ready to lose without a fight. While Taco Bell are most certainly open on Sundays, they’re also now selling alcohol in their Cantinas all over the country. But back to the tech: Taco Bell has a goal of getting people through their drive-thru in less than two minutes, so they’re using apps, QR codes and, eh, “food tubes” to shoot us our orders from the kitchen above. And while it may currently be the only example of a restaurant custom-made for app users, it does speak to an ever growing desire for consumers to use apps for ordering food, and the responsibility restaurant owners have for meeting those customers where they are. It seems Taco Bell are all in. For all you old enough to remember the dystopian movie Demolition Man, you may recall Sandra Bullock proclaim that Taco Bell “won the franchise wars”. Well, with this futuristic new restaurant, perhaps there was something to that. #TacoMoBellFirst Read more here.

📕 🎧 Spotify – Audiobooks Proposed for the Music Streaming Service

It conquered the music industry, and it took a big slice of the podcast industry, but now it seems Spotify has something else in its crosshairs – Audiobooks. Spotify executives pitched the idea to investors last Wednesday, suggesting it could become a new vertical on the platform. If Spotify was to move into the sector – and nothing is concrete yet – it could have huge implications for the publishing industry. The business of audiobooks has quietly evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry, eclipsing revenues made by podcasts, for example. While it seems like a logical step for Spotify to add this type of content to the platform and get some of that market share from Amazon-owned Audible, there is a problem with fee modeling: Audiobooks don’t come cheap, and Audible and other incumbents haven’t been able to offer an all-you-can-eat streaming subscription that you’ll find with music and podcasts services. The answer, according to Spotify, is to provide books with adverts. So, when you are listening to your favorite part of, err, 50 Shades of Grey, you might suddenly be interrupted by an advert for tight-fitting leather clothing. Will that be a turn-off for book lovers? Spotify seems to think not. As we said, there’s nothing set in stone yet beyond Spotify’s pitch to investors. But keep an eye on it, as it could have huge ramifications for audiobooks and the wider publishing industry. #50ShadesOfSpotify Read more here.

📺 🎮 Xbox – Xbox TV App Suggests a Console-less Future for Gaming

It’s one of the great ironies of the gaming industry that the biggest cheerleader for the demise of the games console is one of the largest producers of said consoles. This month, Xbox is launching the Xbox TV app, which will allow owners of Samsung smart TVs (new models in the 2022 range) who subscribe to Xbox Game Pass Unlimited to play up to 100 Xbox games without the need for a console. Now, like the Taco Bell story, this one is more about the future than it is about gamers getting easy access to Halo Infinity. Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s Executive VP of Gaming and de facto Xbox boss, has made it his mission to expand gaming’s reach by seemingly prioritizing cloud gaming over consoles. For now, you might get a slightly better experience playing that shiny Xbox Series X console, but the hardware might be obsolete sooner than you think. Spencer is really keen on the idea of “gaming for all”, and he recently laid out his vision for the next 20 years of the industry, where he sees premium content being accessible anywhere, anytime, on any device. Plenty of kids were left disappointed at Christmas as suppliers ran out of ninth-generation consoles like the Xbox Series X and PlayStation 5. It might not be an issue the next time around. XboxlessXbox Read more here

🧐 Stat of the Week – $6 Billion Pokémon Go Spending

Wanna know how to get your users to engage in in-app spending? Best have a chat with Niantic, as it has been announced that spending on the Pokémon GO game has now surpassed $6 billion. That’s an average of $1 billion per year since the hugely popular mobile AR title was released in 2016. While it seems Pokémon GO will continue to be a lucrative revenue earner for Niantic for some time yet, it is worth noting that player spending was down significantly (45% year on year) in Q1 2022. Still, we can think of few better examples of the freemium gaming model where users play for ‘free’ but still part with their cash time after time. #GottaPayForThemAll Read more here.

🕸️ What’s dAppening?

A dApp is a decentralized app. Here’s the latest in web3, nfts and blockchain apps.

🌍 🧐 Jack Dorsey announces ‘Web5’ platform based on Bitcoin

To choose just one story in Cryptoland this week is dang near impossible. While Wall Street officially entered a bear market, Cryptocurrencies have suffered worse. Much worse. The value of crypto tokens has taken a battering, and with the DeFi lending platform Celsius looking like the next Terra Luna, the world’s largest exchange, Binance, paused Bitcoin withdrawals blaming “extreme market conditions”… Yes, a pretty terrible week, but there was one story that woke us up from this “Crypto Winter” feeling. Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey has unveiled plans for a new platform built on the Bitcoin blockchain. This web-based platform, called “Web5” will be designed to provide individuals the ability to “own their data” and “control their identity”. This is the idealistic vision for web3 and one we wholeheartedly embrace. Dorsey believes that web3 is not truly decentralized, so is openly embracing a combination of Web 2.0 and web3 to fulfill the promise of a user-driven and user-owned Internet. But why on Bitcoin, not Ethereum or Solano? Apparently, Dorsey says, there is a ‘single point of failure’ problem for many other blockchains. You can learn about the tech, and the mission over at TBD. #Web56789 Read more here.

Meanwhile at 3Advance…

We’re planning our first retreat in three years, and we couldn’t be more excited. The location is still a secret, but as we prep to fly our team out and check out hotel options, we’ve been using a great new platform called TravelPerk! What we love about TravelPerk is that we can create events and trips, and track all our team’s travel plans in one place. Our favorite feature allows employees to choose their own flight plans, then submit their preferred option for approval. This worked wonderfully for organizing our Product Management team trip to DC last week, and we’ve got the pics to prove it!

Finally, don’t forget that our video episode will be released shortly after this email goes ot – usually on Wednesdays – on Youtube, Facebook and LinkedIn. There’s also the mini-recap on TikTok and Instagram. As always, we appreciate y’all following along on any of these social platforms and we’d love to hear your feedback.