Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Amazon Go, an experimental convenience store in Seattle that relies on a mobile app instead of human cashiers, is moving into its next stage prior to a public opening. Amazon Go was originally slated to open early this year, but technical glitches led Amazon to postpone the launch. The technology is improving, and Amazon has shifted hiring from engineers and research scientists to construction managers and marketers. Shoppers will scan their smartphones upon entering; cameras and sensors will track the items removed. Continue reading Amazon Go Closer to Public Launch, Amazon Opens Pop-Ups

Google, Microsoft Develop New Ways to Compete with AWS

Amazon currently is the dominant cloud computing service; according to Amazon Web Services chief executive officer Andy Jassy, the company has several times as much business as the industry’s next busiest 14 providers combined. In the No. 2 and No. 3 spots are, respectively, Microsoft and Google, and both of them attempt to leverage their strengths and exploit perceived weaknesses of AWS to boost their own market share. Both companies see some strengths in AWS — its self-service model, for example — as vulnerabilities. Continue reading Google, Microsoft Develop New Ways to Compete with AWS

Amazon’s Whole Foods Adjusts Approach With Niche Brands

With the purchase by Amazon completed, Whole Foods is moving forward on changes with its operations, evolving into a more traditional grocery store. Beginning in April, the store’s 470 locations will end the practice of allowing brands to promote their products or check on how those products are stocked and displayed. Also going by the wayside is the ability of brands to pitch products to individual stores or geographic regions, with much of the decision-making on products centralizing in its Austin, Texas headquarters. Continue reading Amazon’s Whole Foods Adjusts Approach With Niche Brands

FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

Federal antitrust regulators approved Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market yesterday, shortly after Whole Foods shareholders voted to approve the deal. The $13.4 billion acquisition “will give Amazon a major brick-and-mortar presence with more than 460 stores in a huge retail category where success has eluded the company,” reports The New York Times. “Amazon has run an Internet grocery business, AmazonFresh, for a decade, but it accounts for less than a 2 percent share of total grocery spending in the United States.” The Federal Trade Commission concluded that the proposed merger would not harm competition. Continue reading FTC Approves Amazon’s Acquisition of Whole Foods Market

E-Commerce Giant Amazon Looking to Offer Event Ticketing

According to multiple sources, Amazon is currently looking to team with venue owners to sell event tickets online in a move that would provide consumers with more options and potentially loosen Ticketmaster’s hold on the lucrative business sector. The move could also generate more Amazon Prime members for the world’s largest online retailer, while introducing new merchandising opportunities for its partners. “The Seattle-based company sees the U.S. ticketing market as ripe for attack,” reports TechCrunch. “Consumers dislike ticket fees, and venue owners, sports leagues and teams want more distributors for their tickets as they seek to boost sales.” Continue reading E-Commerce Giant Amazon Looking to Offer Event Ticketing

Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

While Amazon dominates online retail sales, an increasing number of brands and manufacturers are fighting back by promoting local retail stores, establishing minimum advertised prices and providing new products to local stores first. Amazon says more than half of the products sold on its site come from smaller businesses, and that it helps them by providing access to its more than 300 million global customers. Amazon has also started to sell its own products; AmazonBasics, for example, sells numerous small items from iPhone chargers to batteries and washcloths. Continue reading Numerous Brands Now Support Local Retailers Over Amazon

Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Facebook just acquired Ozlo, a small AI startup founded four years ago and based in Palo Alto, California. The social media giant made the purchase in order to improve Messenger’s virtual assistant, dubbed M. Ozlo describes its product as “an index of knowledge about the real world,” which implies that a user could ask questions and receive answers about a wide range of topics. The company has 30 employees, and a majority of them will be joining Facebook’s Messenger teams in Menlo Park, California and Seattle, Washington. Continue reading Facebook Buys AI Startup Ozlo to Improve Virtual Assistant M

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Microsoft’s Build 2017 conference in Seattle showcased Azure cloud services for the Internet of Things, using multiple sensors and small computing devices to track data analyzed by Microsoft’s combo of cloud and AI tools. The new Azure IoT Edge speeds up the process because computing can now take place on-site. The first use cases will be industrial applications. Among its 29 AI services, Microsoft also now has automatic language translation for PowerPoint and video indexing by sight or tag when a word or phrase is spoken. Continue reading Microsoft’s New Cloud Service With AI Tools Targets IoT Use

Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

Amazon’s plan to open Amazon Go, a convenience store without a cashier, has suffered a setback. In beta since December, the first store was scheduled to open to the public by the end of March, but sources reported that there are problems with the technology used to automatically charge customers when they leave the store. Brick-and-mortar stores are key to Amazon’s desire to enter the food sales market in earnest. The company is also exploring the possibility of retail stores to sell furniture, appliances and other items. Continue reading Amazon Hits Roadblocks in Pursuit of Retail Grocery Business

China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

When Chinese company Baidu was able to lure Andrew Ng away from his position leading Google Brain, that company’s deep-learning project, it seemed like a good omen for China’s prospects in AI. Now, however, Ng has left Baidu, and China’s ability to compete with U.S. companies is in question. That’s in part because Chinese tech firms rely on free-agent talent to lead research, and Ng’s departure makes it unclear whether they can retain foreign talent. But even U.S. firms are vying for top talent in the burgeoning field. Continue reading China and Others Vie for Top Scientists in Race to Dominate AI

Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

A new report suggests that the commercial Internet now represents 6 percent of our gross domestic product. “The ad-supported Internet contributed about $1.121 trillion to the U.S. economy last year and is responsible for more than 10 million jobs across all 50 states, according to a new study commissioned by the Interactive Advertising Bureau,” reports The Wall Street Journal. The study found that the number of jobs created by the Internet more than doubled from 2012 to 2016, largely spurred by the rapid adoption of mobile devices, the transition to e-commerce, and the growth of a new gig economy. In regards to size and scope, “About 86 percent of the ad-supported Internet economy falls outside of New York City, San Francisco, Boston, the Washington, DC area, and Seattle.” Continue reading Commercial Internet Now Supports More Than 10 Million Jobs

Amazon Unveils Plans to Build New Air Cargo Hub in Kentucky

Amazon is taking the next step in expanding the transportation and delivery side of its e-commerce business, and lessening its reliance on carriers such as FedEx and UPS. The Seattle-based company announced yesterday it plans to build an air cargo hub for its growing fleet of aircraft. The facility, expected to create more than 2,000 jobs, will be located in Hebron, Kentucky at the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport. According to insiders, Amazon aims to transport and deliver its own packages and eventually branch out to other retailers while competing with traditional carriers. Continue reading Amazon Unveils Plans to Build New Air Cargo Hub in Kentucky

Amazon Expands into Food Sales, Tests New Grocery Stores

Amazon introduced its first brick-and-mortar store that is part of Project Como, aimed at garnering a market share of food sales. The “small format” Amazon Go, one of three different types of grocery stores the company plans for the coming months, will open in early 2017. In the next few weeks, Amazon will also open two prototypes of another format, a drive-through without in-store shopping. Depending on the results of the tests, Amazon plans to open more than 2,000 such brick-and-mortar grocery stores. Continue reading Amazon Expands into Food Sales, Tests New Grocery Stores

Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

Amazon accounts for 15 percent of U.S. consumer online shares, according to the Department of Commerce. But Amazon’s actual reach in the retail market may be as much as double that due to an undetermined volume of sales transacted with third parties. Just as Walmart destroyed many smaller retailers, so may Amazon’s massive reach have an even greater disruptive impact. The comparison is apt because Amazon is now building pickup locations for groceries in Seattle that could open by the end of 2016. Continue reading Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

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