Walmart Builds Its Own Cloud Computing Farm to Rival Amazon

In five years, Walmart invested millions of dollars in six giant server farms that now account for 80 percent of its cloud capacity. The move has enabled the company to keep up with its burgeoning growth for the last three quarters. Most retail businesses rent cloud computing, but Walmart’s determination to best Amazon led to its decision to build its own cloud network. With this internal network, the company can leverage all its customer data, be competitive with its prices and control inventory and other key functions. Continue reading Walmart Builds Its Own Cloud Computing Farm to Rival Amazon

Amazon Plans to Launch New Delivery Service for Businesses

Amazon plans to launch “Shipping with Amazon,” a delivery service that will start in Los Angeles and cater to the independent merchants that sell on its site. The company intends to expand the service to additional cities and businesses over time. But analysts conclude that Amazon would have to spend tens of billions of dollars, and buy thousands of trucks, hundreds of planes and create thousands of sorting centers to scale out to the national level and handle millions of packages daily. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Launch New Delivery Service for Businesses

Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Walmart’s tech incubator, Store No. 8 recently purchased Spatialand, a small virtual reality startup that specializes in software tools designed for transforming existing media content into immersive experiences. The acquisition is part of Walmart’s plans to create future shopping experiences for store locations and websites. Spatialand founder Kim Cooper and 10 employees will join Walmart; Store No. 8 principal Katie Finnegan will serve as interim CEO. Financial terms were not revealed. Continue reading Walmart Acquires VR Startup With Eye on Future of Shopping

Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

Physical CDs are still selling well, although the U.S. has seen sales down by 18.5 percent. But Best Buy and Target have just taken steps that may hasten the demise of physical media. Best Buy, which was once the biggest music seller in the U.S., has told its music suppliers that it plans to pull CDs from its stores on July 1. The company will continue to carry vinyl records for two years, fulfilling a promise made to vendors. Meanwhile, Target is now telling music suppliers it will sell CDs on a consignment basis. The move would also impact sales of movies, TV shows and other video content on DVD. Continue reading Best Buy to End CD Sales, While Target Adjusts Sales Model

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

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple recorded glowing quarterly financial results for Q4 2017, for a combined market value of over $2 trillion. Apple’s revenue rose 13 percent to $88.29 billion, in part due to the iPhone X. Alphabet marked its 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth of 20 percent or more, and a 38 percent increase in revenue to $60.5 billion, with $1 billion per quarter profit in cloud computing. Amazon built beyond its core market, with the largest cloud-computing business, a Hollywood studio and the purchase of Whole Foods. Continue reading Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and FedEx

Amazon’s quick delivery of groceries, cleaning supplies and other products is now expanding into a trial whereby consumers buy directly from merchants, with Amazon providing the latter with lower delivery costs, warehouse inspections, logistics software and recommendations. By doing so, Amazon shifts the burden from its own warehouses. In the process, however, it cuts out United Parcel Service and FedEx, both of which would have picked up the parcels from merchants’ warehouses and delivered them to customers. Continue reading Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and FedEx

Study Shows Consumers Worldwide Are Warming to AR, VR

According to new research released at CES this week, consumers are warming to the idea of virtual and augmented reality, but their interests are more focused on practical daily applications than gaming. Harris Interactive conducted a study for Accenture across 19 countries and learned that 47 percent of online consumers would be interested in using AR or VR headsets to play games, while percentages jumped into the 50s and 60s regarding consumers interested in learning about travel and new skills, visualizing how clothing would fit, and shopping for household items and furniture. Continue reading Study Shows Consumers Worldwide Are Warming to AR, VR

AR Developers Make Their Cases for First Uses of Technology

Turning the car’s windshield into an AR screen for navigation, a mobile AR device that helps the blind navigate the real world, and a mobile app to envision that couch from the furniture store in your living room. These are all real-world AR applications that their creators are touting as a good first step into nascent consumer products. GlobalData research director Avi Greengart, who moderated the CES 2018 panel on augmented reality, noted that AR developers have had to find a way to create customized solutions using limited existing hardware and software.
Continue reading AR Developers Make Their Cases for First Uses of Technology

Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Facebook is debuting facial recognition that will automatically notify users when their photo is posted; the feature is part of the social media company’s answer to criticisms from European regulators, the U.S. and elsewhere that it is disseminating fake news and hate speech, as well as not respecting privacy rights. The feature is based on technology already in use to suggest tags for people in posted photos. Although the company hopes it could help combat some abuses, it may raise more privacy issues. Continue reading Facebook’s Facial Recognition Features Spur Privacy Debate

Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

If measured in press impressions, 2017 has most definitely been the “Year of AI,” But looking past the hype, a few things are clear: 1) progress in actual machine intelligence capability has been slow and fragmented; 2) applied AI is still the domain of less than 20 companies; and 3) still, machine learning (not AI) is being deployed across enterprise domains of numerous business sectors and creating big value. Similarly, and since it will take another year or two for current advances in machine learning to trickle down to the consumer sector, we’re not really expecting much breakthrough in AI or even machine learning at CES 2018. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

At last year’s CES, wearables were a viable category but had lost a bit of the luster of previous years, as consumers were deluged with competing fitness bands, smartwatches and even smart fabrics and jewelry. Although many of the entrants were intriguing, nothing popped out as revealing the path forward. CES 2018 promises to be similar, with some notable exceptions. Shipments in the wearables market are at an all-time high, but few manufacturers think wearables will have a significant impact on their bottom line in 2018. Continue reading Smartwatches, Fitness Bands Still Dominate Wearables Sector

Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon’s new AR addition to its iOS app, called “AR View,” allows customers the ability to visualize products in their own home. Thousands of products are viewable across a range of categories for both the office and home. By utilizing Apple’s ARKit, the experience unfolds in real-time, allowing the customer to rotate both the object and change its perspective. By introducing the new feature, Amazon joins other retailers such as Target and IKEA that have all recently introduced augmented shopping experiences to their mobile platforms. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon is introducing Amazon Key, a service that, via a smart lock and a security camera, allows its couriers to unlock the consumer’s front door and drop a package inside. Similarly, Latch, a startup that makes smart locks, inked a deal this summer with Walmart online shopping site Jet.com to pay for its locks to be installed in 1,000 New York City apartment buildings. Amazon Key, which starts at $250, is a kit that includes an Amazon Cloud Cam (available separately for $120) and a Yale or Kwikset smart door lock. Continue reading Amazon to Debut New Delivery Service in 37 Cities Next Month

Amazon Debuts B2B Version of its Popular Prime Membership

Amazon is following up the success of its Prime membership for consumers by launching a new Prime membership aimed at businesses. Investors worry that Amazon will wrest revenues from traditional industrial suppliers, much as it did with retail operations and bookstores among other businesses. For that reason, the news that Amazon now offers Business Prime Shipping had an immediate impact on WW Grainger, whose shares dropped as much as 4.6 percent, and Fastenal, whose stock dipped as much as 4.2 percent. Continue reading Amazon Debuts B2B Version of its Popular Prime Membership

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