Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

Amazon is training Alexa to speak like a newscaster, a feature that will roll out in a few weeks. The new speaking style is based on Amazon’s neural text-to-speech (NTTS) developments. The new voice style doesn’t sound human, but does stress words as a TV or radio announcer would. Before creating this voice, Amazon did a survey that showed that users prefer this newscaster style when listening to articles. The new voice is also an example of “the next generation of speech synthesis,” based on machine learning. Continue reading New Alexa Speaking Style Created by Neural Text-to-Speech

With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Last month, YouTube began showing free, ad-supported Hollywood movies including “The Terminator” and “Legally Blonde,” an offering it began to promote in the site’s movie section. Although users have been able to purchase prime-time TV shows and feature films there, this is the first time YouTube has offered a free, ad-supported option. YouTube director of product management Rohit Dhawan would not disclose the terms of the agreement with studios, but noted the movies represent an opportunity for users and advertisers. Continue reading With Free Hollywood Films, YouTube Evolves into TV Network

Apple Signs a Deal With A24 to Produce Indie Feature Films

Apple inked a multi-year partnership with studio A24 to make independent features, the first time that it expanded its ambitions to make content beyond TV programming. Last year, Apple announced it had committed $1 billion to create scripted shows, moving into a field dominated by Amazon and Netflix. Prior to the deal, Apple had only signed deals for two films, the documentary “The Elephant Queen” and family-friendly animated film “Wolfwalkers.” A24 is known for its Oscar-winning feature “Moonlight.” Continue reading Apple Signs a Deal With A24 to Produce Indie Feature Films

Mobile Use, Online Shopping and Video Spur Digital Ad Growth

A report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers shows marketers are spending considerably more on digital advertising due to an increased use of mobile devices, as well as online shopping and greater consumption of video, music and podcasts. Digital advertising ramped up 23 percent to $49.5 billion in the first half of 2018, from $40.3 billion during the same period in 2017. Of that, advertisers spent almost 63 percent ($30.9 billion) on mobile advertising in 2018, compared to 54 percent in 2017. Continue reading Mobile Use, Online Shopping and Video Spur Digital Ad Growth

Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Seattle-based Amazon finally announced that it has selected two locations for its next major corporate outposts. Referring to the planned sites as headquarters, the company will eventually bring 25,000 employees to both Long Island City in Queens, New York and the Crystal City area in Arlington, Virginia, outside of Washington DC. Amazon also revealed plans to build a third facility in Nashville, Tennessee — an operations facility that will house 5,000 employees. The new headquarters are expected to cost $5 billion in construction and investments. Continue reading Amazon Confirms Selection of New York and Virginia for HQ2

Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Amazon inked a deal with Apple to sell more of the tech giant’s products, including the new iPad Pro, iPhone XR, iPhone XS, Apple Watch Series 4, and its Beats headphone line. Amazon will begin listing those products — from Apple-authorized resellers only — in the next few weeks in the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan and India. Before this deal, Amazon already directly sold MacBook laptops, Beats headphones and a few other Apple devices. Other products were only available through its third-party resellers. Continue reading Amazon, Apple Ink Deal to Directly Sell More Apple Products

Alibaba Breaks Singles Day Record, But Economy Is Slowing

A recently invented Chinese holiday, Singles Day, posted $1 billion in sales in 85 seconds on November 11, with a gala kickoff event headlined by singer Mariah Carey, model Miranda Kerr and basketball star Allen Iverson. For the holiday, the equivalent to our Black Friday, sales rose 27 percent, nonetheless the slowest annual increase in its 10 year history (last year sales rose 39 percent). Alibaba shares doubled in 2017 but this year are down 16 percent, the result of a slowing economy and U.S. trade tariffs. Continue reading Alibaba Breaks Singles Day Record, But Economy Is Slowing

Google, Microsoft Target Triple-A Games via Cloud Streaming

Microsoft and Google are engaged in efforts to enable people to play triple-A games — the most visually complex, big budget games — on devices that are not connected to the Internet, without expensive specialized hardware. The two tech behemoths join game developer Electronic Arts in this 10+year push to allow gamers to stream from the cloud, anytime and anywhere, attracting those who don’t want to buy game consoles or high-end PCs. The move might also tempt existing gamers to play more and spend more time and money. Continue reading Google, Microsoft Target Triple-A Games via Cloud Streaming

Roku Channel Adds Entertainment and Sports to Free Lineup

Roku is adding more sports and entertainment content to its ad-supported free streaming channel that already offers free-to-stream movies and news. The Roku Channel introduced live news earlier this year from ABC News, Cheddar, Newsmax, Newsy, People TV, The Young Turks and Yahoo. New entertainment content will now come from partners including AFV, FailArmy, People Are Awesome, The Pet Collective and TMZ, while live sports will be available from Adventure Sports Network, Combat GO, EDGEsport, Stadium, WHAM Network and others. Continue reading Roku Channel Adds Entertainment and Sports to Free Lineup

In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

When Amazon’s Alexa asks for the name of an actor, athlete, author or another noun in response to a question, there’s a method to the madness: it’s trying to fill a “slot type,” which defines how data is recognized. A skill or third party app with a slot type for actors would likely query filmographies listing names of actors. These slots are intended to save time, says Amazon, as well as provide a more consistent experience. Amazon is adding four new slot types: Creative Work, Food, Sport and Video Game. Continue reading In Speedier Rollout, Amazon Adds Four New Alexa Slot Types

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 Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

Amazon has finally made a decision regarding its second headquarters, according to individuals familiar with the process. Following a yearlong search that involved numerous cities in North America vying for Amazon’s business, the company is reportedly planning to split the headquarters between two East Coast locations — the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens in New York and the Crystal City area of Arlington, Virginia. While it already has more employees in the two regions than anywhere else outside of its Seattle home base and the Bay Area, Amazon is expected to have a total of 50,000 employees between the two locations once the headquarters are completed. Continue reading Amazon Is Reportedly Splitting HQ2 Between Two Locations

Huawei Takes On Apple and Samsung in the Mobile Market

IDC reports that Huawei surpassed Apple in smartphone shipments for Q2 and Q3 2018, marking the first time in seven years that Samsung and Apple did not maintain the top two spots together. Huawei held 14.6 percent of Q3 market share, representing a 32.9 percent jump over Q3 the previous year (Samsung took 20.3 percent of the market for Q3 this year, while Apple held 13.2 percent). Huawei is doing well with its P20, P20 Pro and Honor models, while analysts are watching what happens with the newly released Mate 20 and Mate 20 Pro. Continue reading Huawei Takes On Apple and Samsung in the Mobile Market

Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

Apple reported record revenue and profit for the fourth consecutive quarter, due to higher iPhone prices and App Store sales, but shares fell 6.5 percent to $207.76 in after-hours trading. Investors were unhappy about the company’s announcement that it plans to stop reporting unit sales for products. Apple’s numbers reflect a trend of tech share price drops, due to investor concern about the combination of high valuations, slowing revenue growth and rising costs. Apple forecasts that December quarter revenue will be between $89 billion and $93 billion. Continue reading Apple Shares Dip Despite Report of Record Revenue, Profit

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