Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Both Amazon and Google are thinking about turning their respective home speakers — Echo and Google Home — into home telephones. Knowledgeable sources say the tech giants could introduce the feature this year, with the goal of gaining yet more control over consumers’ home lives. But the companies are also finding that it’s not so simple, facing issues related to privacy, telecom regulations and emergency services — as well as the potential that consumers will be wary that their conversations are being recorded. Continue reading Amazon and Google Look to Turn Home Speakers into Phones

Super Bowl 2017: Still an OTA Event, With Uptick in Streaming

Although streaming video has become increasingly popular, the Super Bowl still draws most fans to an over-the-air broadcast. That’s been true in the past and is still true for 2017, for what is expected to be the biggest TV event of 2017. Despite streaming options for the Super Bowl, on February 5, only 16 percent of U.S. viewers will watch the New England Patriots play the Atlanta Falcons this way, according to a survey commissioned by advertising company MGID. Those fans that wish to stream the game can access it through Fox Sports. Continue reading Super Bowl 2017: Still an OTA Event, With Uptick in Streaming

Holiday Shoppers Buy Record Number of Products on Amazon

Amazon experienced its “best ever” holiday shopping season, with its voice-controlled Echo and Echo Dot smart speakers leading sales, followed by the Fire TV Stick and $50 Amazon Fire tablet. Sales of the Alexa-enabled devices were nine times higher than sales during the previous year’s holiday season and the company had trouble keeping them in stock. Amazon Prime members reportedly purchased more than one billion items over the holiday season. The online retailer said its customers purchased enough 4K TVs to scale Mount Everest more than nine times. Among the top sellers included Samsung’s 32-inch smart LED TV and Avera’s 32-inch LED TV. Continue reading Holiday Shoppers Buy Record Number of Products on Amazon

Amazon Makes its First Commercial Drone Delivery in the UK

Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos reports that, on Dec. 7, the company made its first commercial drone delivery — of an Amazon Fire streaming device and popcorn — to an Amazon shopper in Cambridgeshire, England. The drone took off from a nearby Amazon warehouse and flew two miles in approximately 13 minutes. Amazon will now test drone deliveries in that country with two more customers near Cambridge, where it has a drone testing facility. The company hopes to expand the trial to up to dozens of people in the next months. Continue reading Amazon Makes its First Commercial Drone Delivery in the UK

It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

As projected, this week’s Cyber Monday shopping event set a new single-day online sales record, according to Adobe. Following Black Friday’s record of $3.34 billion in online sales, as well as a new record of $1.2 billion in purchases made via mobile devices, Cyber Monday reached a staggering $3.45 billion in sales in the U.S., up 12.1 percent compared to the same day in 2015. Thanksgiving weekend is generally considered the start of the holiday shopping season and an indicator of economic health and consumer confidence. From November 24-28, consumers spent $12.81 billion, a 16.4 percent jump over last year. Continue reading It’s Official: Cyber Monday Bigger Than Black Friday This Year

Amazon Lures Tablet Buyers with Price and Alexa Integration

Five years after Amazon first launched a tablet, it now has a new model, the Fire HD 8, that focuses on one compelling factor: price. The Fire HD 8 is an 8-inch touchscreen tablet with 50 percent more RAM, longer battery life and 16 gigabytes of storage, double Amazon’s previous model (and the same as Apple’s 8-inch iPad). Even as the Amazon tablet’s specs have improved, the price has dropped, from $149.99 to $89.99. That combination is allowing the company to beat the market trend of softening tablet sales. Continue reading Amazon Lures Tablet Buyers with Price and Alexa Integration

NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

For the first time, viewers of the Olympic Games in Rio will be able to watch on connected TVs and via devices such as Apple TV, Google Chromecast, Roku and Amazon Fire. There’ll be a lot to watch: NBC Olympics plans on 4,500 hours of live event coverage of 34 sports to numerous digital devices. Also for the first time, NBC will stream content digitally — but only to pay TV customers, since parent company Comcast’s core mission is to keep people paying for cable TV. Continue reading NBCUniversal Marks Numerous Firsts for Upcoming Olympics

Amazon Debuts Budget Phones Loaded with Apps and Widgets

Amazon unveiled two new Android smartphones for its Prime members, the BLU Products R1 HD and 4th generation Lenovo Moto G. Both phones, dubbed Prime Exclusives, are subsidized by Amazon ads: the R1 HD starts at $50 unlocked, $100 and up without the discount; the Moto G starts at $150 unlocked, $200 and up without the discount. With the discount, the Prime Exclusive phones include Amazon apps, services and ads, the latter appearing on the lock screen. The user has to forego the discount to get rid of the ads. Continue reading Amazon Debuts Budget Phones Loaded with Apps and Widgets

Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Internet retailer Amazon introduced two new Echo-related products yesterday: the $130 Amazon Tap — a smaller, portable version of the Echo; and the $90 Echo Dot — a hockey puck-size version of Echo, minus the powerful speaker. As is the case with the newly popular Echo, users interact with both devices via the Alexa voice service. Amazon Tap features a rechargeable battery and uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect with mobile devices and the Internet. The Dot, which connects via wire or Bluetooth, is designed to provide Alexa for existing speaker systems. Continue reading Amazon Announces Alexa Voice-Controlled Household Devices

Super Bowl 50 Sets New Streaming Record, According to CBS

Although CBS has yet to release official figures, the network claims yesterday’s Super Bowl matchup between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers drew a record number of viewers who streamed the game. NBC broke streaming records last year with 800,000 viewers per minute on average and about 1.3 million concurrent users. Eclipsing the previous year’s numbers should come as no surprise since today’s consumers are more comfortable with streaming, and CBS made the game easy to access for free via OTT devices including Apple TV, Roku and Xbox One. Continue reading Super Bowl 50 Sets New Streaming Record, According to CBS

Tablet Sales Declined in 2015, Detachable Devices Offer Hope

The overall tablet market shrank last year, but promising sales of detachable devices offer an opportunity for future tablet market growth. According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), total shipments of tablets in 2015 were 206.8 million, 10 percent less than the 230.1 million shipments in 2014. Apple still maintains the lead in market share, but competitors such as Samsung, Amazon and Lenovo are catching up as more consumers opt for more affordable tablets. Continue reading Tablet Sales Declined in 2015, Detachable Devices Offer Hope

Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

Amazon announced it will sell its Amazon Echo device with office supply chain Staples; however, it will only be available online. The Echo, a voice-activated speaker with the ability to answer questions, dim lights, and play music and more will be available for $179.99. The decision to sell the product through a third party has received mixed feedback, because the device still lacks a retail presence. While Staples carries Kindles, Fire TV and the Fire tablet, the Echo will not be showcased in stores. Continue reading Amazon Offers Echo Through Staples, But Exclusively Online

Verizon to Offer HBO Now to Broadband, Mobile Video Subs

Verizon Communications has signed a multiplatform deal with HBO that will allow the telecom to offer HBO’s standalone streaming video service to more than 100 million wireless customers in addition to non-Verizon mobile device users. Verizon will offer HBO Now on its upcoming mobile video platform (reportedly to be called Go90) and to its DSL and FiOS broadband customers for $15 a month. Verizon is the latest distributor for HBO’s OTT offering, which initially launched in early April with Apple and Cablevision Systems. Continue reading Verizon to Offer HBO Now to Broadband, Mobile Video Subs

Amazon Launches Streaming Music Update with Prime Stations

Amazon has introduced “Prime Stations” for users of its Prime Music iOS app. The mobile update is intended to help the music service better compete with the likes of Pandora and iTunes Radio. Prime Stations are ad-free stations that offer unlimited song skips. The updated app features personalized recommendations that are based on a user’s play history and will therefore become more accurate over time. Prime Stations can also learn from user feedback (thumbs up or thumbs down) to create better playlists. Continue reading Amazon Launches Streaming Music Update with Prime Stations

Amazon May Open its First Physical Store in New York City

E-commerce giant Amazon reportedly has plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store in the heart of New York City. The company’s new space on 34th Street across from the Empire State Building may likely be used as a mini warehouse that will handle same-day delivery, product returns, and pick-ups of online orders. A physical store is expected to help provide faster service and delivery for New Yorkers in addition to building more brand recognition for the online-based company. Continue reading Amazon May Open its First Physical Store in New York City

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