Pongo Points 1/11/24

Microsoft is making an AI keyboard | Ethereum and Solana infrastructure alliance | Bitcoin depository receipts go live | Bitcoin ETFs approved by SEC | Apple launches virtual reality headset

1. Microsoft Goes All-In on AI with new Copilot Keyboard

Why it’s interesting: Microsoft is introducing the “Copilot” key on new PC keyboards, which will be used as an automatic AI assistant trigger for various software applications on Windows.

What stands out: This is the first new keyboard button added in over 30 years, which might push other computer manufacturers to add it to their upcoming products.

What’s next: AI is gearing up to be more deeply integrated into everyday user workflows, and the addition of a new keyboard key suggests that Microsoft will be impressing upon third-party software developers to integrate either Microsoft’s in-house AI tools or OpenAI tools.

2. Etherscan Buys Solana Counterpart

Why it’s interesting: Etherscan is an Ethereum infrastructure company that allows users to easily view transactions conducted on the Ethereum blockchain, and it recently acquired (or “collaboratively merged with”) its Solana blockchain counterpart, Solscan.

What stands out: The crypto community is always promoting the concept of decentralization, so this merger is somewhat antithetical to the core ethos of crypto, but will likely serve to strengthen blockchain infrastructure products moving forward given Etherscan’s success.

What’s next: Etherscan’s acquisition of Solscan’s team suggests that Solana’s blockchain is not competitive with the Ethereum blockchain but perhaps complementary, especially if large ecosystem players are interested in contributing to both projects.

3. Receipts Depository Corporation Launches Bitcoin Depository Receipts

Why it’s interesting: RDC is a company that issues depository receipts to allow investors to purchase shares of foreign companies without trading directly on foreign exchanges, and has developed the first Bitcoin depository receipt for institutional buyers.

What stands out: RDC claims that the aim of these Bitcoin DRs is to offer institutions with qualified and regulated means of investing in and holding Bitcoin, likely to assist in enabling the newly launched Bitcoin ETFs.

What’s next: The development of Bitcoin DRs is positive for integrating Bitcoin into the traditional finance system, but is superfluous and completely defeats the point of blockchains - i.e. decentralized accounting ledgers.

4. Bitcoin ETFs Approved by SEC

Why it’s interesting: After over a decade of attempts from numerous institutions, 11 spot Bitcoin ETFs were approved by the SEC for listing on US exchanges.

What stands out: In a fierce competition to attract investors, the 11 approved ETF managers have been pushing fees down from 0.3% to 0.25% to a variety of promotions ranging from 0% fees for 6 months and more.

What’s next: The long awaited Bitcoin ETF approval did not make much impact on the price of Bitcoin itself, despite industry hopes that this more accessible format would attract large inflows of new capital.

5. Apple Launches Augmented Reality Headset

Why it’s interesting: As one of the last major tech companies to announce a mixed reality headset, Apple’s long awaited Vision Pro will launch on February 2nd.

What stands out: With Apple Vision Pro joining the likes of Microsoft’s HoloLens and Meta’s Quest, major companies are increasingly betting on wearable technologies being the future of computing - just like the smartphone 15 years ago.

What’s next: While Apple was a first mover in the smartphone space with the launch of the iPhone and Microsoft was late to that party, it’s one of the “last movers” in the virtual reality headset space - which begs the question: Will Apple Vision Pro have a robust enough ecosystem to compete with existing products that had a head start?

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