Tech round-up for September 29: Netflix in Canada, Dyson's electric vehicle, Twitter's expanded character count

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Categories Consumer technology | Film, television

This week, James Dyson is expanding his company’s portfolio and Twitter is doubling its size, in a way. But first, Netflix likes what Canadians are creating.

Netflix wants more Canadian content, and is willing to pay for it

This week, Netflix committed to investing “a minimum” of Can$500 million over the next five years on original Canadian film and television productions. This includes specific support for French-language content.

It’s an investment that was made with the support of the federal government, and all but assures that there will be no “Netflix tax” in Canada; it also suggests that Netflix will not be expected to follow the same Canadian content rules that traditional TV and radio broadcasters do.

It’s a smart move for Netflix. We’ll see how well it works out for Canadian content makers.

I believe there is a place for Canadian content rules. Similar rules exist in many other countries that don’t have the same clout, in terms of demographics or money, to compete with the American entertainment juggernaut.

With this deal, Netflix is saying it believes in Canadian content and content creators, too.

Netflix has admitted it spent well over Can$100 million on Canadian productions recently, so committing that amount over the next five years is pretty much business as usual for the company.

But Netflix might also be reducing its total development spend in the coming years, so this amount isn’t exactly insignificant. While Netflix has spent as much as US$6 billion a year recently, the company has started to cancel series, which may be a sign it’s tightening the purse strings a bit. If that’s the case, then Can$100 million a year is nothing to sneeze at.

It’s true that Netflix doesn’t pay tax in Canada, and doesn’t have a Canadian operation. It’s part of this new world economy that we’re all trying to figure out.

Dyson is developing an electric vehicle and wants to have it ready by 2020

James Dyson wants to clear the air. Literally.

The British inventor, and the founder of the company that bears his name, said this week that a battery electric vehicle is being developed at Dyson with a projected launch date of 2020.

In a memo to employees that was provided to media, Dyson said, “We’ve started building an exceptional team that combines top Dyson engineers with talented individuals from the automotive industry. The team is already over 400 strong, and we are recruiting aggressively. I’m committed to investing £2bn on this endeavour.”

For Dyson, the man, this initiative comes out of an interest in reducing air pollution. His memo states World Health Organisation statistics that air pollution led to the death of 7 million people worldwide in 2012.

He claims that in 1993, engineers at the company had a prototype to capture particulates from diesel exhaust, but that the project was shelved because auto manufacturers had no interest in trying to solve the problem.

The Dyson EV will solve that problem and will, he says, be “something quite unique and better.”

With Twitter, will double the character count mean double the fun?

Twitter has begun testing messages that are up to 280 characters in length, double the existing 140 character limit.

“We understand since many of you have been Tweeting for years, there may be an emotional attachment to 140 characters – we felt it, too. But we tried this, saw the power of what it will do, and fell in love with this new, still brief, constraint,” wrote product manager Aliza Rosen.

It’s also an attempt by the company to keep the network relevant.

Twitter is rolling out the change over time. When using Twitter in a browser, I’m getting 280 characters, but in the various Twitter clients I use (like Tweetbot), I’m still limited to 140.

As Charles Adler noted in a response to my test tweet, though, it takes longer to read tweets that are longer.

I’m not sure that is a user experience that Twitter tested.


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