Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

Apple is reportedly aiming for a March or April event to announce its new streaming TV service that is expected to include original content plus subscription services from CBS, Viacom and Starz among others. Apple has been hinting at such a service for quite a while, has spent about $2 billion on original programming, and has signed major players such as Oprah Winfrey. Apple’s service is expected to take on competitors Netflix and Amazon Prime Video by launching globally, possibly distributed via the App Store since it is already available in more than 100 countries. Continue reading Apple Readies TV Service With CBS, Starz, Viacom Content

Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

Streaming music giant Spotify has signaled its commitment to building a leading podcast network with strategic acquisitions of podcast publishing platform Anchor and podcast content creator Gimlet Media. The purchases are part of the company’s plan to produce more original programming, grow Spotify’s audience, and eventually become the top global audio platform. Spotify founder and CEO Daniel Ek predicts that expanding podcast offerings will lead to a future in which non-music audio content will represent 20 percent of listening via Spotify. Continue reading Spotify Commits to Podcast Network With Major Acquisitions

India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

According to App Annie, in 2018 India was the country with YouTube’s biggest audience. As 4G rates in that country are below $2 per month, Indians are now streaming mobile video at rates that are 10 times and billions of hours more per year than in the last three years. Research by global consulting firm Analysys Mason boils that down to 85 gigabytes of data, potentially more than 40 hours of video per month without using Wi-Fi, more than rates in the U.S., China or Japan. The mobile video usage is transforming Indian media. Continue reading India Is YouTube’s No. 1 Audience with 250M Monthly Viewers

German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

A regional court in Munich recently ruled that Amazon’s click-to-purchase Dash buttons for Prime members violate German consumer protection legislation. Based on the contention that the thumb-sized, adhesive Dash buttons do not always provide the latest pricing information, the court ordered Amazon to halt taking purchase orders through the Wi-Fi-connected devices. The decision follows a case brought against Amazon by a German consumer protection watchdog group that says it took action after fielding complaints by consumers. Germany is Amazon’s second largest market. Continue reading German Court Rules That Amazon Dash Button Violates Law

Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

Amazon plans to build more Whole Foods stores across the United States, indicate sources, with the goal of adding more customers within reach of the company’s two-hour delivery service. The move is a transformation for the grocery store, which had slowed its growth in the years before Amazon’s 2017 purchase for about $13.5 billion. Although Amazon wouldn’t comment on expansion plans, sources say that Whole Foods staffers are searching for potential retail space in Idaho, Utah and Wyoming, which currently don’t have Whole Foods stores. Continue reading Amazon to Expand Whole Foods Stores, Prime Now Delivery

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Although Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has touted the possibility of drones delivering packages, he’s now talking up human drivers. This summer, he declared that would-be entrepreneurs could earn $300,000 per year by investing as little as $10,000 up front in creating their own delivery businesses. Following in FedEx’s footsteps, Amazon now wants to build a national network of independent delivery people, offering discounts on vans and insurance and an endless supply of packages to deliver. Continue reading Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

After decades of unreliable profits, Amazon has had four consecutive quarters with profits over $1 billion, and a net income of $2.9 billion in Q3. Although the numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations, the e-commerce giant also revealed that revenue in its core retail business was below expectations, with sales up 29 percent to $56.6 billion, and sales in its online store rose only 11 percent over the last year, half the pace of a year ago. As a result, discontent investors recently dropped shares 7 percent in aftermarket trading. Continue reading Amazon Seeks Efficiency While Investing in New Businesses

Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

According to Amazon, Alexa can perform 50,000+ skills, from turning on lights to playing music. The tech giant is now focused on improving Alexa’s skills to compete with Google for voice assistant dominance. Last month, Amazon empowered Alexa developers, by allowing them to charge users for purchases within skills, with the ultimate goal of making Alexa a more comprehensive, powerful platform. Former Alexa head of product Ahmed Bouzid noted that the path is “exactly what we saw with the App Store for the iPhone.” Continue reading Amazon Unlocks Revenue Potential for Alexa Skill Developers

U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

According to a new study from Country Financial, a majority of U.S. consumers are sharing their login info for mobile, shopping and streaming accounts, but are not necessarily sharing the tab. The study found that overall, 74 percent of consumers say they share accounts for Airbnb, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Netflix, Spotify and Uber with their family members and friends (and, in some cases, even their exes). However, more than 36 percent of those who freely share their accounts also indicate that they do not share the monthly costs of those accounts with others. Continue reading U.S. Consumers Admit to Sharing Amazon, Netflix Accounts

China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

According to a Bloomberg Businessweek cover story today, Chinese spies infiltrated nearly 30 U.S. companies including Amazon and Apple by embedding tiny chips into servers in the technology supply chain. In 2015, malicious microchips were reportedly embedded in servers bound for U.S. companies, which resulted in compromised software used in numerous hardware devices. While the report cites former government officials and “senior insiders” at Apple, both Amazon and Apple — as well as motherboard manufacturer Supermicro and China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs — have firmly disputed the findings. Continue reading China Reportedly Used Tiny Chips to Hack U.S. Companies

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon’s Prime program that offers two-day shipping to its 100 million members has become a standard that other retailers have struggled to meet. Last year, Target, Walmart and many Google Express vendors started offering two-day delivery, some of it free. The latest company to do so is Overstock.com, which claims it can reach 99 percent of the U.S. in two days from one distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas. In comparison, Amazon operates 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers. Continue reading Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

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