Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

Amazon has decided to cancel plans to develop a new campus in New York’s Long Island City, taking with it the promise of 25,000 new jobs and $2.5 billion in investment. In recent weeks, a debate has heated up between government officials who supported the e-commerce leader’s plans and New York politicians, activists and labor union leaders who have criticized a lack of transparency regarding deal specifics and questioned the necessity to provide Amazon with tax incentives worth billions. Despite the debate, the news still came as a surprise to many, especially real estate developers and renters who were rushing to the Long Island City neighborhood. Continue reading In Surprise Move, Amazon Opts to Scrap HQ2 Plans in NYC

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 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

Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

In India, Facebook and Reliance Industries Limited, the latter headed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, have teamed to encourage citizens to go online and join messaging service WhatsApp. India is already the world’s fastest growing Internet market, and the two companies have sent out marketing teams that use entertainment to educate and entice people to upgrade or sign up for the first time, offering cheap phones and rates with the Reliance Jio network as well as Facebook’s popular messaging service. Continue reading Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

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

Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

On November 1, Amazon will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour for all its U.S. employees, including part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. More than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at Whole Foods and 100,000+ workers hired for the holiday season, will benefit from the boost. The company also stated it would lobby to raise the federal minimum wage, which has been $7.25 per hour for almost ten years. Many interpret Amazon’s move as a response to a tightening labor market and political pressure. Continue reading Worker Shortage Behind Amazon Pay Raise to $15 Per Hour

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 Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

According to sources, Amazon is contemplating aggressive growth for its new Amazon Go cashierless stores. With plans to open as many as 3,000 new stores, Amazon would rival 7-Eleven, Subway, Panera Bread and mom-and-pop shops where people go to get a quick meal. Chief executive officer Jeff Bezos sees the move as a way to reduce time to buy a meal in busy cities and “reinvent” the brick-and-mortar store experience but hasn’t settled on the best format: a store for prepared foods and limited groceries or one that offers speedy meals. Continue reading Amazon Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

Salesforce Chair Marc Benioff Buys Time Magazine for $190M

Meredith purchased Time Inc. only eight months ago, but now has agreed to sell Time magazine to Salesforce co-founder/chair and co-chief executive Marc Benioff and his wife Lynne Benioff, for $190 million. The couple is buying the magazine as individuals, unrelated to Salesforce, and the deal is expected to close within 30 days. The Benioffs have said they will not play a role in the magazine’s day-to-day operations or its journalistic decisions. They also have no plans to purchase any other magazine titles from Meredith. Continue reading Salesforce Chair Marc Benioff Buys Time Magazine for $190M

FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

The Federal Trade Commission has begun a series of 15 to 20 hearings scheduled over the next few months to address whether companies based on new technologies should spur changes in its competition and consumer protection policies. FTC chair Joseph Simmons noted that the “broad antitrust consensus” in existence for 25 years is now being challenged, and that he will approach the topic with an open mind. The Justice Department may also start investigations into whether Google and other social media sites are biased against conservative voices. Continue reading FTC Ponders New Antitrust, Consumer Protection Regulations

Sanders’ Proposed Tax Bill Aimed at Amazon and Jeff Bezos

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) introduced a bill to tax big companies whose employees need federal benefits to stay afloat. In doing so, he targeted Amazon founder/chief executive Jeff Bezos, who, said Sanders, “could play a profound role” by ensuring his employees earn a living wage. “This would not only improve lives for thousands of people at Amazon; it would send a message to every corporation in America that that’s where we should be going as a nation,” said the senator, whose bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California). Continue reading Sanders’ Proposed Tax Bill Aimed at Amazon and Jeff Bezos

Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

Amazon’s shares rose to $2,050.50 on Tuesday, pushing the company’s value to over $1 trillion, making it the second U.S. firm to reach that pinnacle since Apple did so early last month. By the end of the day, shares fell to $2,039.51, below the $1 trillion mark. Amazon, which employs more than 550,000 people, generates more than $178 billion in annual revenue and captures 49 cents from every dollar spent on e-commerce. To continue its growth, Amazon is now offering its local Indian website and apps available in Hindi. Continue reading Amazon Briefly Worth $1 Trillion, Targets India With Hindi Site

Amazon Adjusts Ad-Free Viewing on its Twitch Prime Platform

On September 14, Amazon will end ad-free viewing on Twitch Prime, which has been complimentary since it was launched two years ago as a benefit for Amazon Prime subscribers. Twitch Prime has since evolved into its own thriving platform, featuring free games, in-game prizes for some titles and a monthly channel subscription credit that the user can award to a streamer of his/her choice. These perks will remain despite the end of ad-free viewing. Amazon is positioning the change as a way to better support creators. Continue reading Amazon Adjusts Ad-Free Viewing on its Twitch Prime Platform

Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

Amazon and Microsoft gave a public demonstration of the integration of Alexa and Cortana into all Echo speakers and to all Windows 10 users. That means that a user can ask Windows 10’s Cortana to open Alexa, and ask Alexa on Echo speakers to open Cortana. This integration is now available to most users but will completely roll out around the country over the next week, said a Microsoft spokesperson. Some features, such as streaming music, audiobooks and news flashes will not be available at launch. Continue reading Amazon, Microsoft Introduce Integration of Alexa and Cortana

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