Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

During Microsoft’s E3 press conference yesterday in Los Angeles, Xbox head Phil Spencer announced that the company has acquired game studios Compulsion Games (Canada), Playground Games (United Kingdom), Ninja Theory (United Kingdom) and Undead Labs (Seattle). Microsoft is planning to expand its Xbox Game Pass service; building up its in-house game development should assist in that effort. Spencer also revealed that the company is developing a cloud-based game-streaming network that will work across Xbox, PCs and phones. Continue reading Microsoft Buys Four Game Studios to Ramp Up Development

Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

Microsoft revealed interesting news during this week’s Build developer conference in Seattle, Washington. Among the key announcements: a pair of mixed reality enterprise apps for the HoloLens; a partnership with DJI to bring Microsoft’s AI and machine learning tech to commercial drones; a preview launch of deep learning acceleration platform Project Brainwave; prototype hardware designed for the meeting room of the future; and Project Kinect for Azure, which provides developers with the opportunity to experiment with a package of sensors and Microsoft’s next-generation depth camera. Continue reading Microsoft Reaches Out to Developers at its Build Conference

8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Creating Metaverse, the digital universe depicted in “The Matrix,” “TRON” and “Ready Player One” and described by novelists William Gibson and Neal Stephenson, sounds like a nearly impossible feat. But Seattle-based 8 Circuit Studios, staffed by veteran gamers, plans to rely on its expertise plus blockchain and cryptocurrency to develop this world more quickly than previously deemed possible. That’s because the company proposes that gamers, developers and publishers will work together to create the Metaverse ecosystem. Continue reading 8 Circuit Studios Uses Blockchain, Ethereum to Build Games

Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

The EarthNow project, which plans to launch 500 small satellites to provide video coverage of the world, now has three notable investors: Airbus, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and SoftBank Group chief executive Masayoshi Son. Satellite entrepreneur Greg Wyler, who has also partnered with Airbus and SoftBank on OneWeb, another satellite Internet project, is a fourth investor. Project chief executive Russell Hannigan says EarthNow will cost more than $1 billion, but didn’t reveal tech details or a launch date. Continue reading Airbus, SoftBank and Bill Gates Invest in EarthNow Satellites

Amazon Opens Its Mini-Mart Minus Cashiers to Seattle Public

After testing Amazon Go, the company’s mini-mart without cashiers in Seattle, the shop opened to the public on Monday. The market is in a 1,800-square foot building, with floor-to-ceiling offerings of prepared food, potato chips, drinks and other groceries. Customers gain admittance with a swipe of their Amazon Go smartphone apps, and Amazon technology keeps track of every item each customer picks up off or puts back on the shelf. The items are automatically added up in the customer’s online account. Continue reading Amazon Opens Its Mini-Mart Minus Cashiers to Seattle Public

Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

Now that Amazon has entered the U.S. grocery market, offering home delivery, other companies selling food are stepping up their operations. Walmart is doing so by experimenting with delivery and, more importantly, launching curbside pickup. Target just acquired startup Shipt, which delivers groceries on the same day an order is placed. Traditional supermarkets are also battling startups such as meal-kit company Blue Apron and organic vendor Thrive Market. Amazon, however, remains the giant to beat. Continue reading Walmart, Target to Compete with Amazon’s Grocery Delivery

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

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