Weekend Roundup: Google’s COVID Savings; Facebook iOS Headaches

It’s the weekend! Before you shut down, let’s cover some of the big stories from the week, including Google’s massive cost savings due to COVID-19, Facebook’s simmering tensions with Apple hitting a new level, and Jeff Bezos selling tickets to spaaaaaaaace.

COVID Saved Google a Lot of Cash

Alphabet, Google’s parent company, could end up saving a substantial amount of cash due to COVID-19, according to the search-engine giant’s latest financial breakdown. That documentation stated that Alphabet saved $268 million in expenses during the first quarter, including travel and entertainment; that’s in addition to massive cost savings in 2020 due to cutbacks in advertising, entertainment, and employee travel. 

As the Los Angeles Times points out, Google is likely saving even more cash because it halted expensive in-office perks such as cafeterias, gyms, and “corporate retreats.” Meanwhile, Google has plowed significant resources into a new hiring spree, with plans to create 10,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. this year (in addition to investing $7 billion in offices and real estate). The company has clearly adjusted well to rapidly changing circumstances.

Facebook Predicts iOS 14.5 Headaches 

For the past few years, Apple and Facebook have been on a collision course. Facebook needs lots of user data in order to fuel its advertising business; meanwhile, Apple has made stringent privacy controls a selling point for its products. That conflict seems to be coming to a head with Apple’s release of iOS 14.5, which allows users to block apps’ ability to track their activity across other apps and websites.

Facebook evidently expects many iOS users to opt out of Facebook apps’ ability to track them. “We continue to expect increased ad targeting headwinds in 2021 from regulatory and platform changes,” Facebook CFO Dave Wehner wrote in the company’s Q1 2021 earnings release, “notably the recently-launched iOS 14.5 update, which we expect to begin having an impact in the second quarter.”

For Facebook, the future might look something like this: Either the company needs to accept that its ad revenue from iOS devices will decline, or else it needs to figure out another way to vacuum up as much user data as possible. The latter, of course, could drive Apple to take additional steps to curtail Facebook advertising, which could lead to Facebook trying something else. This isn’t a cold war that’ll end anytime soon. 

Tickets to Spaaaaaaaace

Ever wanted to go to space? Blue Origin, the spaceflight company started by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, will begin selling commercial tickets aboard its New Shepard rocket. According to TechCrunch, each ticket could cost “hundreds of thousands of dollars.” For those with a lifelong dream to spend a few minutes in zero gravity while the Earth drifts past your windows, the expense could be worth it. An undetermined number of tickets reportedly go on sale May 5.

That’s it, everyone! Have a great weekend!