Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Snap Inc. announced yesterday that its popular Snapchat app now features multiplayer games, starting with “Bitmoji Party” and five other titles. The move is an effort to compete in a new social space dominated by “Fortnite” in which real-time, multiplayer games also serve as online communities. Snap plans to work with game developers such as Zynga and ZeptoLab. The combination of gaming and social networking is on the rise. According to Epic Games, its “Fortnite” had 250 million players as of March, while Netflix recently suggested that it competes with “Fortnite” more than HBO. Continue reading Snapchat Now Competing in the Multiplayer Gaming Arena

Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Partnering with 23 brands, Facebook’s Instagram debuted an easy-to-use in-app checkout tool for U.S. users. Adidas, Burberry, Dior, Nike, H&M, Zara, Kylie Cosmetics and Kim Kardashian West’s KKW Beauty are among the first retailers to sign on, with more to be added to the beta test throughout the year. Users in the U.S. will see the feature roll out over the next few weeks. Instagram head of product Vishal Shah noted that, “given that 80 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, the desire really is there to shop.” Continue reading Instagram Tool Lets Users Make In-App Fashion Purchases

Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon plans to open dozens of grocery stores — distinct from Whole Foods — starting with Los Angeles and then in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia among other cities, said sources. The L.A. store is expected to open as early as the end of 2019, with others scheduled for early 2020. The name of the stores hasn’t yet been disclosed. The move is part of Amazon’s more recent focus on physical retail, especially grocery stores. Now traditional grocers will have yet more competition from Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon Says It Will Support But Stop Selling Dash Buttons

Amazon announced that it would stop selling its Dash buttons, small devices for the connected home that were designed to help consumers easily update orders of needed household items. Usefulness and interest in the Dash buttons has slowed, so the company has decided to halt global sales. However, Amazon explained that it plans to continue support for new orders through existing Dash buttons as long as consumers use them. The company claims that more options in the connected home helped to cause the device’s demise. Continue reading Amazon Says It Will Support But Stop Selling Dash Buttons

Amazon’s Project Zero Lets Brands Delist Counterfeit Goods

In the fight against counterfeiting, Amazon has introduced Project Zero, which allows brand owners to delete listings they deem to be fake. This is the first time that Amazon has shared responsibility for policing counterfeiting, reasoning that it is more efficient for brands than navigating the company’s reporting process. After testing Project Zero with 15 brands for several months, Amazon will begin to select and invite additional brands, with the goal of making it available to all brand owners at some unspecified future date. Continue reading Amazon’s Project Zero Lets Brands Delist Counterfeit Goods

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 Faces Opposition to its Planned New York Campus

According to sources, Amazon executives are rethinking the decision to build a New York City campus, which would create 25,000 jobs in Long Island City and $2.5 billion in investment. That’s heated up the conflict between government officials who support the project and local officials who have been vocally opposed to giving the company tax incentives worth billions. Should Amazon abandon its plan, it would also be a dramatic upset of its very public search for a second headquarters over a year’s time. Continue reading Amazon Faces Opposition to its Planned New York Campus

Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

In the “risk factors” section of its annual report, e-commerce leader Amazon listed counterfeit products, stating that the company may be “unable to prevent sellers in our stores or through other stores from selling unlawful, counterfeit, pirated, or stolen goods, selling goods in an unlawful or unethical manner … or otherwise violating our policies.” This is a first for the tech giant, which had never discussed the ongoing problem. In principle, it has a “zero tolerance” policy but the site is full of merchants selling knockoffs. Continue reading Amazon Has Growing Problem of Third-Party Counterfeiters

Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

Industry consortium Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) plans to shutter the UltraViolet cloud-based digital media locker on July 31. However, users are advised not to delete their accounts. According to the UltraViolet site, “You can continue to access your UltraViolet movies and TV shows through the retailer(s) linked to your UltraViolet Library” between now and the shutdown date, after which, “Your UltraViolet Library will automatically close and, in the majority of cases, your movies and TV shows will remain accessible at previously-linked retailers.” Continue reading Cloud Movie Locker UltraViolet Plans to Close This Summer

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

Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

IBM chair, CEO and president Ginni Rometty made her second CES keynote appearance and focused on artificial intelligence, big data, quantum computing, and closing the skills gap in computer science in a series of onstage conversations. Rometty drew a distinction between big data and deep data as she explained that there is a tremendous amount of information collected for specific analysis, but there is a wealth of analytical and predictive opportunity yet available. As an example, she cited analysis of fingernails as a means of predicting health issues or weather data to better forecast mid-air turbulence. Continue reading Keynote: IBM Chief Uses Case Studies to Explain Deep Data

HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

At CES in Las Vegas, HTC unveiled an upgrade to its Vive Pro VR headset, the Vive Pro Eye, featuring integrated eye tracking for in-app controls, analysis of user attention and foveated rendering. The last item relates to the ability of cameras in the headset to precisely track the position of the eyes’ pupils to enable the GPU to focus processing on that location. With foveated rendering, the GPU is said to save 30 percent over its power, which can be used to conserve power or increase detail within the rendered area. Continue reading HTC Unveils New Vive Pro Headset With Foveated Rendering

CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

The advent of 5G doesn’t mean that 4G is going away any time soon, explained industry leaders at CES. “It’s not a light switch,” suggested AT&T Mobility vice president, IoT solutions Joe Mosele. “There’s still room for 4G LTE to grow, and it will continue to be a complement to 5G.” Boingo Wireless chief technology officer Derek Peterson added that, “we’ll see gigabit speeds on LTE.” “You’ll see continuous advancements with Wi-FI as a component as well as unlicensed spectrum and near-band IoT,” he said. “It’s an evolutionary cycle.”

Continue reading CES Research Summit: Experts Consider 5G Tech, Use Cases

CES Panel: 5G and Internet of Things From Robots to Tractors

Internet of Things is no longer just about smartwatches and fitness bands. At CES 2019, 5G enables ubiquitous connectivity — from tractors to robots. TechRadar mobile editor David Lumb presided over a panel of speakers from companies as diverse as John Deere, LG Electronics and Bosch. “We have a huge need for our machines to be connected,” said John Deere director of digital solutions Lane Arthur. “All our machines are enabled with 4G and we’re already moving a lot of data. 5G will enable us to do more.” Continue reading CES Panel: 5G and Internet of Things From Robots to Tractors

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

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