The Department of Product


Thursday, 28 September, 2023

Spotify's voice clones, Apple's new patent, surge pricing surges Plus: Snapchat's subscriber milestone, a GA4 alternative, DALL-E 3

Hi product people ūüĎč,¬†

Spotify has unveiled a new feature called Voice Translation which allows content creators to clone their voice and translate it into other languages. The results are remarkably realistic and the new tools could have an impact on product teams. Aside from the obvious applications of Voice Translation in the context of content creation, these new translation tools could make expansion into other territories easier. Dedicated internationalization SaaS products like Lokalise are paying attention and have recently rolled out new AI features of their own.

Spotify’s latest tool, like many others, is built on OpenAI’s LLMs and as Microsoft is now discovering, this strategic dependency comes at a cost. And there are reports this week that Microsoft is developing its own in-house rival to OpenAI to offset some of the costs associated with using its API. Despite Microsoft being a major investor in OpenAI to the tune of $10 billion with a reported 49% ownership, Corporate Vice President and head of Microsoft Research Peter Lee is reportedly leading a team of roughly 1,500 researchers to create conversational AI that is smaller in size and costs less to operate.

Paris-based company Mistral is hoping to capitalise on this sentiment and has announced the launch of its own free LLM it says outperforms competitors.

Meanwhile, as you‚Äôll probably know, Google Analytics 4 has created quite the stir in the product development community since its launch and as a result, many teams are considering their options for alternatives. This week, GA alternative¬†June announced¬†a bunch of new features worth checking out including new integrations with CRMs and ‚Äėcomputed traits‚Äô which allow users to define metrics based on unique user actions.

Finally, if you or a friend are on the lookout for a new role at the moment, this new job feed API is worth checking out.

Enjoy the rest of your week!


Essential reads for product teams

New from the DOP Substack

(Department of Product)

Process –¬†What makes fast product and engineering teams fast?

What are the traits of fast, productive software engineering teams? A look at what the actual data say about questions like, ‘Are smaller teams really faster?’ and ‘Does backlog size matter?’ (Socratic*)

Learn more

UX –¬†How to make the case for better design systems

A good system acts like a useful starter kit of technical constraints and helps us make sure we’re delivering something meaningful for the user without getting lost in the weeds. (Better by Design)

Strategy –¬†Startups using lean methodologies are less likely to engage in innovation

Do lean startup methodologies result in innovation? This new research paper by SSRN suggests that the model leads to a bias towards running very specific, fast experiments with easily measured outcomes. But, this model means startups fail to adopt longer term, innovative, strategic bets that can’t be tested quickly. (SSRN)


In a rare interview, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg joined Alex Heath, to discuss where AI is going next, the new Quest 3 headset, Threads, and his ongoing rivalry with Elon Musk.

Tools you can use

  • Frame¬†–¬†a new productivity app for teams which brings tasks, whiteboards, goals, notes and focus all in one place

  • Dall-E 3¬†– the latest iteration of the genAI design tool

  • Fabric¬†– transform your phone‚Äôs screenshots into a searchable database

New product features, launches and announcements this week

Reddit has announced a new monetization program for contributors. The revamped Gold system will allow users to show appreciation for content using an upvoting system which can be ultimately be exchanged for real money. X recently announced an ad-revenue sharing monetization program for its users and it appears more social media platforms are vying to replicate YouTube’s ad-sharing model.

Spotify has launched a Jam feature which allows users to create a shared playlist and listen to it together in real time. Other streaming services have offered similar features in the past but they’ve never really taken off with consumers. 

Apple has filed a patent application for user identification using headphones. The product would give Apple the capability to identify if a user wearing a pair of headphones is the person that actually owns them, using their movement patterns. 

OpenAI¬†has¬†updated ChatGPT¬†to include the ability to ‚Äėsee, hear and speak‚Äô. Image input allows users to upload photos and get hints or further information. This includes use cases like taking a photo of your fridge and the ingredients in it and asking for hints on what to cook for dinner. The new voice capabilities include the ability to create audio speech from text and pose serious existential questions for startups like ElevenLabs, whose entire value proposition is based upon the same use case.¬†

Amazon has unveiled a series of LLM-powered Alexa devices which introduce a more conversational tone and utility to Alexa. The company also announced a $4 billion partnership with AI company Anthropic. 

ūüďą Product data and trends to stay informed

Google¬†has¬†paid¬†an estimated¬†$120 billion¬†since 2010 to be the default search engine on iOS. In 2022, Google’s payment was equal to a third of its net income and increased Apple’s income by 25%.

The value of digital wallet tap-to-pay transactions will grow by over 150% by 2028. Full report on consumer payment habits in the US.

Snapchat’s subscription product now has over 5 million paying customers.

Increasing customer retention rates by just 5% can increase a company’s overall profits by 25% to 95% according to a new survey of product managers and marketers.

Surge pricing is becoming a more popular¬†and widely accepted pricing model that will ‚Äėeventually be everywhere‚Äô. Product companies currently deploying the tactic include AWS,¬†Ticketmaster, DoorDash and¬†Uber.

TikTok expects to generate $20 billion in ecommerce this year and ~ $15 billion will come from southeast Asia. 

Other product news in brief

Peloton’s co-founder and chief product officer, Tom Cortese, is stepping down. 

Ex-Apple designer Jony Ive is rumoured to be designing a new hardware device with OpenAI’s Sam Altman.

Former Tinder CEO Renate Nyborg’s new startup has raised a new funding round to tackle loneliness

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Product Briefing – November 9, 2023

GPTs for everything, Google Maps gets Immersive, Netflix’s QR codes
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Product Briefing – November 2, 2023

Google Slides’ superpowers, a Sublime second brain, Pinterest’s PMF
Plus: Tech salary report, how to manage API integrations, Spotify, Instagram and LinkedIn MAUs in context

Product Briefing – October 26, 2023

Discord monetization strategies, Slack ditches X, Spotify growth
Plus: 50+ product analytics tools, Microsoft impresses, Google Meet gets appearance enhancers

Product Briefing – October 19, 2023

Netflix’s $8 billion quarter, Figma in limbo, Synthetic UX research. Plus: YouTube’s major release, a new way to manage your calendar, the Web Technologies Report 2023

Product Briefing – October 5, 2023

Google Docs’ new competitor, AI wars, App industry benchmarks
Plus: Airbnb’s ML patent, DoorDash’s swipe for restaurants and Uber expands to returns

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