Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

Walmart is leveraging computer vision tech by Ireland-based Everseen and several other companies in more than 1,000 of its stores to more closely monitor checkouts. The surveillance program is internally referred to as Missed Scan Detection, and uses AI-powered cameras to identify and correct problems such as errors, fraud and theft during the checkout scanning process at self-checkout registers and those run by cashiers. The National Retail Federation notes that U.S. retailers lost an estimated $47 billion in 2017 to such problems. Continue reading Walmart Monitors Store Registers with AI-Powered Cameras

IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon-owned IMDb — the popular online database featuring information related to movies, television and video games — is rebranding its recently launched Freedive video service as IMDb TV. Thanks to new deals with MGM, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Warner Bros., the ad-supported VOD service will add thousands of new titles in the upcoming months, essentially tripling the number of TV shows and movies available to U.S. viewers for free. The company also plans to expand its audience with a European launch later this year. Continue reading IMDb Rebrands Its New AVOD Service and Triples Content

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

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Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Amazon Marketplace, a third-party seller network worth about $250 billion, has long been the go-to platform for online entrepreneurs who refurbish and sell old Apple computers. But the Mac resale sector has gone up in smoke since Apple and Amazon struck an agreement to limit sales of Apple products only to “the largest companies” and authorized providers. Amazon Marketplace is “the preeminent place” to sell products, offering logistics and shipping unlike competitors eBay and Walmart, as well as Overstock and Etsy. Continue reading Apple Sells Products via Amazon, Tightens Resale Market

Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery to Compete with Amazon

This week, Walmart announced that it will start offering free, next-day delivery on select online orders over $35 without any added membership fee. This announcement comes after a similar one from rival retailer Amazon just last month. Amazon, the lucrative e-commerce giant, announced that it is investing $800 million in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure with the goal of cutting the speed of its Prime deliveries from two days to just one. For now, Walmart’s quicker deliveries will only be available in select markets.

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Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

Last month, Amazon made a pledge to spend $800 million in efforts to make next-day delivery the new standard. In turn, this put increased pressure on brick-and-mortar rivals like Walmart, Best Buy, Macy’s and many others who are rushing to keep up. And it could mean big deals for the logistics companies that work with those physical retailers. As just one example, the Seattle warehouse space and online order fulfillment startup Flexe just announced a $43 million investment from New York firm Tiger Global Management.

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Walmart Plans to Launch Original Content For Vudu Service

As the world’s largest retailer, Walmart is known for selling many things, including TVs. However, it’s not typically known for what consumers watch on those TVs. That could soon change. This week, Walmart will unveil a sampling of a new slate of original programming to advertisers in New York with the goal of driving viewership to its Vudu streaming service. Unlike other streaming giants like Netflix and Amazon, Walmart doesn’t plan to sell subscriptions. Instead, it wants to use shows to advertise products directly.

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Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Google’s YouTube is planning new original programming with a focus on live specials and interactive content. Ben Relles, former head of unscripted for YouTube Originals, will assume his new role as head of innovation to lead the initiative. Reporting to Susanne Daniels, global head of original content, Relles will be responsible for the development of new scripted and unscripted original programming intended to foster interaction and engagement with viewers. Interactive content has been getting more attention since the success of Netflix’s “Black Mirror: Bandersnatch.” Continue reading YouTube Taps Ben Relles to Lead Programming Innovation

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

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.

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

Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

Amazon launched Freedive, a free, ad-supported streaming video channel on its Internet Movie Database (IMDb) site, featuring 130 movies and 29 TV shows licensed from CBS, NBCUniversal Television, Sony Pictures Entertainment/Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. Television and others. Movies include “Awakenings,” “A Few Good Men,” “Adaptation,” “Memento,” “True Romance,” “The Last Samurai” — and TV shows include “Fringe,” “The Bachelor,” “Gilligan’s Island,” “Duck Dynasty,” “Quantum Leap,” “Born This Way,” “Kitchen Nightmares” and “Without a Trace.” Continue reading Amazon’s IMDb Debuts Free Ad-Supported Movie, TV Service

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

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