MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

Startup MoviePass, which charges subscribers $10 per month for the option to watch one film per day in a participating theater, said it has passed 2 million subscribers. The company also reported that it was responsible for $128.7 million of the domestic box office for this year’s Oscar nominated films. MoviePass chief executive Mitch Lowe has described the math behind the company’s claim. He also has an explanation for how the company will survive its biggest economic challenge: that it loses money on any customers who sees at least two movies a month. Continue reading MoviePass Sells $128M in Tickets for Oscar-Nominated Films

Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon is introducing home delivery of Whole Foods products through the company’s one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service. Initially, the program will launch for neighborhoods in select Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach areas, but Amazon plans expansion throughout the year. While the company has not offered details on the expanded rollout, it’s worth noting that it took less than three years for Prime Now to reach more than 50 global markets. However, the company’s own grocery delivery arm AmazonFresh scaled back delivery in some areas last year. Continue reading Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

Snapchat debuted “context cards” this week, a new feature that helps its users easily make a restaurant reservation or book an Uber ride without having to exit the app. The new feature is designed to keep users engaged with the app and its contextual location-based search. By swiping up from geotagged images while viewing certain stories, users will get related data such as contact info, directions and reviews. Early partners include Bookatable, Foursquare, Michelin, OpenTable and TripAdvisor. Ultimately, more time on Snapchat could mean more advertising revenue for the popular messaging app. Continue reading Snapchat Introduces its New Location-Based Discovery Tool

First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

In Reykjavik, Iceland, e-marketplace Aha is using Israel’s Flytrex for the first-ever fully autonomous drone delivery service. Aha, a digital hub for grocery stores, retailers and restaurants, has become one of Iceland’s leading e-commerce sites. Drone delivery is ideal for Reykjavik, which is situated on a large bay, meaning road transportation is circuitous. The Icelandic Transport Authority (ICETRA) conducted a regulatory process enabling Aha to cut a 20+ minute route to four minutes. Continue reading First Autonomous Drone Delivery Service Debuts in Iceland

Taco Bell Is Experimenting With New Marketing Vehicle: Lyft

Fast-food chain Taco Bell is teaming with ride-sharing firm Lyft to offer passengers a “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app for requesting rides between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. that include a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through. The option will be tested around Newport Beach, California the next few weeks, and will likely expand nationally in 2018. “I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.” Continue reading Taco Bell Is Experimenting With New Marketing Vehicle: Lyft

Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Amazon added restaurant chain TGI Fridays to Amazon Pay Places, the tech giant’s new payments feature for its mobile app that allows people to make purchases in stores and restaurants. Amazon Pay Places is available for pick-up orders at a limited number of TGI Fridays restaurants on the East Coast, but will expand to additional locations. Amazon isn’t alone in pursuing digital payment features; Apple, PayPal, Samsung and others are also focused on such services for online and in-store purchases. Continue reading Amazon Adds TGI Fridays to Its New Payment App Feature

Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

Snap is opening up Snap to Store, letting advertisers make the best use of Snapchat’s database to determine how well their ads are working. Snap has been testing Snap to Store since 2016, with Paramount Pictures and 7-Eleven among a handful of others who would like to know if their campaigns are actually driving viewers to movie theaters, stores and other venues. Now, Snap is rolling out Snap to Store to more brands, in retail, fast food, movie and automotive, as well as providing more data and a proprietary digital dashboard. Continue reading Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

Hoping to leverage the traveler’s yen for experiences that make her feel more connected to the places she visits, Airbnb is now offering local tours, activities from surfing lessons to pub crawls, and its travel services in major cities worldwide. Airbnb, valued at $30 billion, is currently one of the world’s fastest growing privately held companies, although it hasn’t been welcomed in all cities. Bringing in local hosts as guides, the tours have been tested by Airbnb in a few cities, soon expanding to 12 and, by 2017, 50. Continue reading Airbnb Debuts Tours and Activities in Turn Towards Services

Facebook Integrates Social and Utilitarian with New Features

Facebook has a strategy to become more useful in everyday life, combining and improving on the services similar to those from Yelp, Foursquare and others. The added value, says Facebook, would be its network of social connections and businesses. That idea is behind the updates the company is now unveiling, which will allow users to order food from a restaurant’s Facebook page or make an appointment at the beauty salon. Retailers must use third-party services such as Delivery.com, Slice, HomeAdvisory or MyTime for it to work. Continue reading Facebook Integrates Social and Utilitarian with New Features

Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Later this month in Denver and Phoenix, Walmart will launch a pilot project, in partnership with Uber and Lyft, to deliver groceries to homes. Other companies that have competed in this area include Instacart, DoorDash, the U.S. Postal Service, Uber and Amazon, all of which vie to establish accounts with retailers and restaurants. Walmart is also testing a delivery service with its warehouse company Sam’s Club in Miami, using startup Deliv, which also handles same-day deliveries for Kohl’s, Macy’s and others. Continue reading Walmart Evolving its Supply Chain with Uber, Lyft and Drones

Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

Google launched a pilot for Hands Free, a mobile wallet application that allows a buyer to use her phone for purchases without taking it out of her purse. The pilot, conducted in the southern San Francisco Bay area, is available in a few stores and designated McDonald’s and Papa John’s locations. The cashier’s system can detect the user’s phone; to close the transaction, the user asks to pay with Google and gives her initials to the cashier. The cashier can also detect if the user is the same person in the Google profile. Continue reading Google Launches Pilot Program for Hands-Free Mobile Wallet

New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Santa Clara-based startup SoundHound has developed a voice-powered digital assistant that could take on early players in the field, including Siri, Google Now and Cortana. Like the others, the Hound app (for iOS and Android) allows users to interact via voice so that it can perform requested tasks. However, Hound claims to be faster and smarter than its competitors. The app has been in beta with 150,000 testers since last summer, and is now publicly available along with new Yelp and Uber partnerships for restaurant info and ride hailing from within the app. Continue reading New Voice-Powered App Takes On Leading Digital Assistants

Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Ride-hailing service Uber is expanding its new meal delivery service to 10 U.S. cities in the coming weeks. People in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Dallas will be able to order food from dozens of local restaurants through a dedicated UberEats app and have an Uber driver deliver the meal. UberEats will have longer hours of operation than Uber’s existing lunchtime-only food delivery service in these cities. Continue reading Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Now reaching nearly one billion users, WhatsApp, the mobile messaging startup Facebook purchased for about $19 billion in February 2014, is looking at ways to make money. Until now, it’s been free for a year, and $1 per year thereafter, making it very popular for users outside the United States. In the process it’s become a social network and a way for businesses to communicate with the world. Now, chief executive Jan Koum dropped that $1 fee and has begun to experiment with how to create revenue. Continue reading WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Facebook Users Can Search Top-Ranked Local Businesses

Amazon and Google have recently made efforts to connect Internet users with home and local service providers, taking on companies such as Angie’s List and Yelp in the process. Now, Facebook is testing its own feature that directs social media users to the top-reviewed service providers in their area. The new site is only available on desktop, but Facebook offers the ability to find local businesses on mobile via “Nearby Places.” In addition to home services, Facebook’s feature highlights restaurants, bars, nightclubs and travel-related businesses such as hotels, sightseeing and tours. Continue reading Facebook Users Can Search Top-Ranked Local Businesses

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