Announcing Processor, the new name for this newsletter

Hello and well met! You're reading the first newsletter we're calling Processor. It's a newsletter about "computers," but I am using that term in a winky way. What I mean is consumer technology: gadgets, tablets, computers, phones, software, and the companies that make the products we use every day. So Processor is about the computers that are all around us — on your wrist, on your wall, and yes, your lap, too.

Every day I'll be rounding up the most important tech stories from The Verge and delivering them into your inbox with short commentaries and the occasional editorial essay. You can find an archive of previous newsletters here if you're looking for examples of what I mean. That archive exists, by the way, because this newsletter has until now been called Command Line — if you're already subscribed to that, Processor is the same thing.

This newsletter's goal will be to catch you up quickly on the biggest news in consumer tech every morning and also to give you sharp, pithy commentary on it.

Hopefully that's not any different from what you've already been getting in your inbox from Command Line. Thanks to TC, Jake, and everybody who started that newsletter (which is this newsletter) and for letting me take the reins. Command Line is dead. Long live Command Line, er, Processor.

Okay, I promised some thoughts on CES last year and so I'll deliver those after the links. It's starting this weekend!

- Dieter

News from The Verge

└ No one is ready for California's new consumer privacy law

Kim Lyons:

But the CCPA is likely to be an even greater compliance challenge. It's the first sweeping legislation in the US to give consumers control over how their personal information is used online, and may signal how other states will seek to protect their residents' privacy, Hirsch says.

└ Netflix claims The Witcher is already one of its most popular shows of 2019

Somehow I suspect this metric is not an indicator of quality -- among other things.

Netflix stated that rankings were determined by counting the total number of accounts that streamed a title for a minimum of two minutes during the first 28 days of its release.

└ US Army bans soldiers from using TikTok

└ TikTok claims zero takedown requests from China in first transparency report

└ Could this be Samsung's bezel-less 8K TV?

└ Trump signs law increasing max robocall fine to $10,000

Fines can now reach $10,000 per call. The law also requires major carriers such as AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile to use a new technology called STIR/SHAKEN to help customers know if they're being targeted by a robocaller with a spoofed number.

└ FDA expected to ban most flavored e-cigarette pods

The flavored pod ban would be a step back from the nearly complete flavored vape ban the Trump administration initially floated back in September, as lung injuries from vaping were on the rise. There are two notable changes: menthol flavoring would be allowed, in addition to tobacco; and the flavor ban would only be applied to pods — flavored nicotine liquids could still be sold for open tank systems, according to the reports.

What's coming for gadgets in 2020 and at CES

This editorial appears on our full CES preview, which also has a breakdown of a few big categories in consumer tech, including phones, rideables, PCs, headphones, gaming, and more. It's going up on The Verge today, look for it!

In 2020, this is what to expect in the world of consumer tech: the best stuff is going to get more powerful and more premium. At The Verge, we actually don't like calling stuff "premium" because it's such an overused word. But this year, it's going to get used even more and, well, it fits. It tells you that the best stuff is going to get better and — more importantly — more expensive.

The changes are also premium because a lot of the improvements at the high end are going to be things that most people won't need: 5G phones are going to be everywhere — maybe even coming from Apple — but the networks for them are still nascent. TVs are going to get new features like high refresh rates that will matter to gamers, but perhaps no one else. And the latest PC chips could be the biggest leap for laptops we've seen in years, but we won't know until they start getting released at scale. 

A lot of gadgets will fold in half, too — which is going to be neat, but we don't know if it will be necessary.

Other innovations will be a little more practical. Those scooters you see everywhere? They're not going away, but they should be getting a little more robust and a little less disposable. And as the year winds on, we'll see the console wars heat up again as Sony and Microsoft get their new consoles ready for battle.

There's one more big trend to talk about that's more software than hardware: streaming TV. The streaming wars are in full tilt and we'll get even more services launching in 2020. How many will most people be willing to subscribe to and how much will all these competitors spend on making new shows? Answers, respectively: more than they want to and way more than you'd expect.

All of these trends are set to kick off at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. The Verge will be there, with coverage starting in earnest on Sunday, January 5th. CES won't have every major gadget that will matter this year, but it is a place to see where the electronics industry is going. Walk into any big box store and you'll see TVs for a couple hundred dollars with features that were multithousand-dollar curiosities just a few years ago. Phones with in-screen fingerprint sensors debuted at CES only to become ubiquitous a couple years later. 

Since the biggest tech companies usually save their best products for their own announcements, you can also expect CES to be a place where smaller players have a better shot at their time in the spotlight.

Trickle-down economics isn't a viable economic theory anymore, but it still applies to gadgets. The stuff at the top eventually gets commoditized, with prices coming down and fancy features hitting the mainstream. In 2020, that'll keep happening — and the premium gadgets will mostly be about making existing categories better instead of creating new ones.


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You are reading Processor, a newsletter about computers by Dieter Bohn. Dieter writes about consumer tech, software, and the most important news of the day from The Verge. This newsletter delivers about four times a week, at least a couple of which include longer essays.

If you enjoyed this email, please feel free to forward to a friend. You can subscribe to Processor and our other newsletters by clicking right here. You can also follow Dieter on Twitter: @backlon.

Processor is also a video series with the same goal: providing smart and surprising analysis with a bit of humor (there will be dad jokes). Subscribe to all of The Verge's great videos here - please do!

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