As Halloween approaches, we are in full-tilt Pumpkin Spice madness. You can’t move an inch on the internet without seeing some article or listicle or think piece about, in opposition to, and in defense of, the Pumpkin Spice Latte and all the various pumpkin spice offerings that have come in its wake.
This week, Starbucks has announced that it will be adding a new flavor to their seasonal lineup, the first new addition in 5 years: the Chestnut Praline Latte. This new flavor won’t technically be in competition with Pumpkin Spice: the PSL is a fall offering and the Chestnut Praline will be accompanying eggnog and peppermint mocha varieties on the winter menu. No doubt they are capitalizing on the hot trend of seasonal offerings in hopes of ramping up their foot traffic this holiday shopping season, as huge improvements in online shopping have been keeping customers at home.
The winds of change that blew in the new latte are carrying something even bigger: tales of a complete overhaul to Gmail. It’s called Inbox, and technically it’s not even an overhaul, it’s a long-term replacement. The most notable feature, from what we’ve seen so far, is that Inbox will no longer display, well, an inbox. Instead, messages will be displayed in a social-media inspired feed with emphasis on visuals and web integration. Google hasn’t discussed a release date, but when it is released it will be on an invite-only basis.
Speaking of “invite-only”, remember Ello? The invite only, ad-free, “ethical” social media platform was all the rage about a month ago. Most of the buzz seems to have died out, probably in large part due to the fact that most people still can’t access it. The vast majority of critics have been skeptical about the company’s claims to never show ads or to sell users information. This week, however, the Ello team sent out an email to users and potential users to squash any doubts about the seriousness of that claim. The company is now officially a public benefit corporation, and they have signed a charter that would make it strictly illegal for them to use ads or to sell user data at any point, for any reason, ever. So how will they make money? The plan is to create an app store that would sell add-ons, widgets, etc. for users to customize their experience, similar to how Line charges for stickers. As dubious as that plan may sound, it hasn’t scared off investors. The company is said to have raised $5.5 million in financial backing. Whether this concept for a social media site will eventually overthrow behemoths like Facebook and Twitter remains to be seen, but it’s a move in an interesting direction.