Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

E-commerce giant Amazon is readying the October launch of its own Fire TV sets featuring its Alexa voice assistant. The Amazon Fire TV Omni Series 4K, which starts at $409.99, and the Amazon Fire TV 4-Series 4K, which starts at $369.99, will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy stores. Toshiba and Insignia, Best Buy’s house brand, have sold TVs powered by Amazon’s Fire TV operating system, the latter since 2018. Amazon adds TVs to its other branded products including clothing, groceries and even batteries. Continue reading Amazon Readies Launch of Fire TV Sets with Alexa Assistant

Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales

Amazon’s Prime Day sales this year reached $5.6 billion on the first day (Monday) and $5.4 billion on day two (Tuesday). According to Adobe Analytics, these numbers made Monday the biggest day for digital sales this year and Tuesday the second biggest, with total U.S. online retail sales 6.1 percent higher than Prime Day’s $10.4 billion worth of sales in 2020. Last year’s Cyber Monday previously held the record of busiest digital sales day at $10.9 billion, although that was a 24-hour event versus Prime Day’s 48 hours. Continue reading Amazon Prime Day 2021 Breaks Prior Record for Digital Sales

EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

Clearview AI, the facial recognition tool based on a database of faces scraped from Facebook and elsewhere, is facing several legal complaints from privacy watchdogs in Austria, France, Greece, Italy and the United Kingdom. The complaints, originally filed by privacy advocates, state that Clearview AI violates privacy protections established under the GDPR data privacy law and its UK equivalent. The New York City-based company claims to have helped thousands of U.S. law enforcement agencies arrest criminals and predators. Continue reading EU Nations and UK Accuse Clearview AI of Privacy Violations

CES: Keynotes Address 5G, AI, Robotics, Pandemic, Security

CES 2021 was the first-ever all-digital version of the annual confab produced by the Consumer Technology Association (CTA). This year’s show featured nearly 2,000 companies and more than 100 hours of conference programming. Despite its new virtual format, CES offered compelling keynote addresses by top executives from major companies such as AMD, Best Buy, General Motors, Microsoft, Verizon and Walmart who discussed plans for new products, services and business models, in addition to an array of changes underway designed to address a world facing a pandemic. Continue reading CES: Keynotes Address 5G, AI, Robotics, Pandemic, Security

CES: Snapshot of All-Digital Show’s Announcements, Trends

CES 2021 concluded last week in the wake of a challenging year marked by political unrest, social upheaval and a global pandemic that continues to impact our personal and professional lives. And much like all that we’re juggling in our current COVID world, the all-digital format of this year’s CES presented a number of unique challenges, most notably how to determine which products and services are most relevant to an M&E audience without the benefit of interacting up close in person. We’re still working our way through information from nearly 2,000 companies and will continue to report our findings on ETCentric. In the coming weeks, ETC will also publish a comprehensive overview of the show with a focus on four dynamic themes, rather than trends: Adaptation, Change, Snapback and Opportunity. In the meanwhile, we provide this snapshot of some of the key products, technologies, trends and announcements. Continue reading CES: Snapshot of All-Digital Show’s Announcements, Trends

All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

The sprawl of CES, typically measured in millions of square feet of exhibit space, multiple venues, and hundreds of thousands of attendees, now spans the globe as the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) sets “the global stage for innovation” in an all-digital format when it opens its four-day run on January 11. However dispersed, CES Week will still be the focal point for the consumer technology sector and trends will emerge, even if news and product announcements will originate from both CES events and individual company presentations. Continue reading All-Virtual CES 2021 Focuses on Innovation Despite Pandemic

Major Surge in Online Sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

This year’s Black Friday was a marked contrast to those of previous years, due to the rise in COVID-19 cases and guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to avoid crowds. Brick-and-mortar stores were the losers, with Morgan Stanley analysts estimating a 20 percent drop in sales compared to last year. Instead, according to Adobe Analytics, shoppers spent $9 billion online on Friday, capturing a 21.6 percent increase from the previous year, and the second biggest number ever for online sellers. Meanwhile, consumers shelled out $10.8 billion on Cyber Monday for a new single-day sales record. Continue reading Major Surge in Online Sales for Black Friday, Cyber Monday

Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

Microsoft is reentering the mobile phone market with the Surface Duo, a dual-screen Android device priced at $1,399 and up. According to Microsoft chief product officer Panos Panay, the company is accepting preorders for the phone that will ship on September 10. The phone will be sold on Microsoft’s website, and at AT&T and Best Buy. The Surface Duo’s screens completely unfold to act as a phone or a book to provide more space for apps. The Surface Duo may appear before Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold 2, which currently has no official release date. Continue reading Microsoft Launches Dual-Screen Foldable Surface Duo Device

Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

Google has tried to compete with Amazon in online shopping four times since 2013. But, with shoppers stuck at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, the company now sees another opportunity. To lure sellers, Google said it would waive sales commissions, which range from 5 percent to 15 percent, and let retailers use third-party payment and order management services like Shopify. In the European Union, meanwhile, Google is facing the demand that it “make major concessions” related to its $2.1 billion purchase of Fitbit, including how it uses customer data for search and advertising. Continue reading Google Ramps Up Online Shopping, Faces Scrutiny in Europe

As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

Bose, which opened its first retail store in 1993, will close its remaining 119 retail stores in Australia, Europe, Japan and North America. The company didn’t reveal how many jobs will be lost due to the closures, but it is believed to be in the hundreds. Bose stated that the move is due to “the dramatic shift to online shopping in specific markets,” and that “approximately 130 stores located in Greater China and the United Arab Emirates; and additional stores in India, Southeast Asia, and South Korea” will remain open. Continue reading As Sales Shift to E-Commerce, Bose Shutters Retail Stores

Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

According to Amazon, this week’s Prime Day 2019 topped last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined. Despite competing discounts offered by eBay, Best Buy and Walmart, Prime members purchased more than 175 million products during the annual sales event. The tally is challenging to compare to previous Prime Day events since the e-commerce giant keeps expanding the duration of the sale (this year it was 48 hours, compared to 36 hours in 2018 and 30 hours in 2017). However, the event set a number of sales records, including new milestones for Amazon devices. Continue reading Once Again, Prime Day Shatters Sales Records for Amazon

Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Amazon and Toshiba are launching a line of Fire TV Edition sets that include support for Dolby Vision. The 4K televisions, which will be sold exclusively through Amazon and Best Buy, come in a 55-inch model ($499.99) that is available today, followed by 43-inch ($329.99) and 50-inch ($379.99) models to be released on June 30. Dolby Vision’s HDR format is regarded as superior to HDR10 because it allows scene-by-scene adjustments to picture quality. The Amazon-Toshiba sets mark the first time that Dolby Vision will be available in more affordable Fire TV Edition models. Continue reading Toshiba Fire TV Model Lowers Price Barrier for Dolby Vision

Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

Apple and Best Buy announced the two companies are extending their partnership so that technicians can repair iPhones at any of the 992 Best Buy locations in the U.S. The companies also revealed that 7,600 Geek Squad techs are now certified for iPhone repairs using genuine parts from Apple. While Apple will continue to offer repairs at its own stores, the new deal should prove beneficial to iPhone users in Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Vermont, West Virginia and Wyoming, since Apple does not presently have stores in these states. Continue reading Apple iPhones Can Now Be Repaired at Any U.S. Best Buy

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.

Continue reading Amazon’s One-Day Shipping Plan Boosts Logistics Startups

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

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