It’s been another strange week in tech. The release of the iPhone SE 2 gave Apple fans something new to gawp at last week, but now we’re reminded once again of the inevitable industry slowdown caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.
It’s hard to argue that coronavirus has been anything but horrific for anyone, but it’s certainly seen a surge in users for Netflix, so it’s this week’s big winner. On the less fortunate side of things, we saw lots more games jump ship from Nvidia’s innovative game streaming platform, GeForce Now.
We felt a little guilty slapping the ‘losers’ tag on Nvidia GeForce Now – it’s a platform that has impressed us since release and offers something genuinely valuable for gamers – but we don’t feel so bad dishing out the label to 5G conspiracy theorists, who resurfaced in this week’s headlines.
This week we reported that conspiracy theorists had vandalised 50 5G masts across the UK, seemingly in the belief that 5G can spread coronavirus. That’s obviously ridiculous, but it’s been deeply harmful too. Many of the masts that have been vandalised are crucial for emergency services personnel to communicate quickly and efficiently when responding to emergencies across the country.
Everyone has been talking about Tiger King, and anyone who hasn’t been talking about Tiger King has probably been watching something else on Netflix. These are strange times, but great times to be in the business of entertainment streaming.
In a letter to shareholders, Netflix said that over 64 million households had watched Tiger King in its opening four weeks. That puts the show on a pedestal with the hugely popular sci-fi drama Stranger Things, one of Netflix’s most successful series.
As well as producing one of lockdown’s most talked about cultural phenomena, the streaming service has also beaten its growth predictions. “Our membership growth has temporarily accelerated due to home confinement,” Netflix explained in its investor letter this week, and growth is almost an understatement.
Before lockdown, Netflix had predicted that it would gain seven million net new paid subscribers, but the platform bagged 15.7 million instead.
To top off that roaring success, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made headlines for the right reasons this week, as he and his wife, Patty Quillin, donated $300m towards the development of a Covid-19 vaccine (via Variety).
Losers: Nvidia GeForce Now (and 5G conspiracy theorists)
First things first, it’s worth saying that we love what Nvidia is trying to do with GeForce Now. Offering gamers the chance to stream their Epic Games or Steam libraries, from the cloud, onto any device, wherever they are. That’s great. It avoids the pricey exclusive store that we’ve seen on streaming competitor, Google Stadia, and gives gamers real choice.
However, the latest bad news for the platform has seen that choice eroded. Fans of GeForce Now had already watched on disappointedly as the likes of Bethesda and Activision Blizzard abandoned the platform, but this week things got worse…
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Codemasters, Xbox Game Studio and Klei Entertainment were all announced to be leaving the platform. The developers take with them some huge games including the Batman Arkham series and Halo, which is a huge blow for the GeForce Now platform.
While other developers, including the likes of Ubisoft, issued supportive statements, it did little to relieve GeForce Now fans. The platform itself is technically impressive and wowed us when we reviewed it, but it seems Nvidia are struggling to build and maintain the partnerships needed for the game streaming platform to excel.
Losing iconic games, with iconic characters like Master Chief and Batman, hand over fist, can only make GeForce Now harder to market and that’s a real shame for Nvidia and for gamers.
On the subject of Batman, ask yourself this question – ‘How stupid would the citizens of Gotham City have to be to vandalise the Bat-Signal?’
Pretty stupid, right? Well, as it turns out, some people in the UK, in reality, are approximately that stupid. This week saw the continuation of a spate of 5G mast vandalism, with vandals seemingly believing that the masts helped the spread of coronavirus.
Tragically, some of those masts are crucial to emergency services, at a time when they’re more stretched than ever. One of the sites that was targeted over Easter weekend provided connectivity to the Nightingale hospital in Birmingham.
“What these people are doing is they’re attacking the ability of the UK to carry out lockdown, and to ensure that people stay at home, to ensure that emergency services can carry out their work. Let’s not forget, an ambulance that’s going out and about is not connected by a fixed line, it’s connected by mobile,” Gareth Elliott, Mobile UK’s head of policy, told Trusted Reviews.