Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Uber demonstrated the transport of a McDonald’s meal via its Uber Elevate A4200 drone with custom-designed delivery box. The drone was set to fly only half a mile away, but the trip was canceled due to a 26-knot breeze. The demo is still noteworthy as a practical application of the technology. Uber isn’t the only company pinning some of its high-tech hopes on drone delivery. Google already has the greenlight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to make similar unmanned commercial deliveries in Virginia, and Amazon also debuted its drone delivery service. Continue reading Uber Demonstrates Its Drone Delivery Service in San Diego

Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

In India, Facebook and Reliance Industries Limited, the latter headed by India’s richest man, Mukesh Ambani, have teamed to encourage citizens to go online and join messaging service WhatsApp. India is already the world’s fastest growing Internet market, and the two companies have sent out marketing teams that use entertainment to educate and entice people to upgrade or sign up for the first time, offering cheap phones and rates with the Reliance Jio network as well as Facebook’s popular messaging service. Continue reading Reliance and Facebook Join Forces to Find New Indian Users

Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

A new Adobe Analytics survey of 1,000 U.S. consumers has found that voice assistants and smart speakers are becoming increasingly popular. Adobe predicts that following the next holiday season, almost half of U.S. consumers will own a smart speaker. The market has grown about 15 percent in less than one year; more than 32 percent of consumers now own a smart speaker. People are most commonly using such tech to play music, check weather forecasts, set alarms/reminders as well as obtain directions, check sports scores and traffic, and ask fun questions. Continue reading Survey Finds That Smart Speakers Are Gaining in Popularity

Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

The U.S. Department of Transportation selected 10 local, state and tribal governments to test drone commerce in partnership with Intel, Uber, FedEx and Qualcomm, among others. The Integration Pilot Program, promoted by the Trump administration to speed up approvals of longer-range unmanned flights, has enthused drone companies, including startups such as Flirtey and AirMap. Notably missing from the list, however, is Amazon, which has a project in development to deliver packages to people’s homes. Continue reading Department of Transportation Selects 10 Drone Test Projects

California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

The California Supreme Court replaced the existing test for determining whether employees are independent contractors with another, simpler one used in Massachusetts and New Jersey. The former test relied on 10 factors, including the amount of supervision, to assess the company’s control over the worker. The new “ABC” test deems the worker an employee if he does a job that is part of the “usual course” of the company’s business. The ruling could have a profound impact on Uber and others in the so-called gig economy. Continue reading California Court Changes Test to Determine Status of Workers

Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Amazon is introducing home delivery of Whole Foods products through the company’s one- and two-hour Prime Now delivery service. Initially, the program will launch for neighborhoods in select Austin, Cincinnati, Dallas and Virginia Beach areas, but Amazon plans expansion throughout the year. While the company has not offered details on the expanded rollout, it’s worth noting that it took less than three years for Prime Now to reach more than 50 global markets. However, the company’s own grocery delivery arm AmazonFresh scaled back delivery in some areas last year. Continue reading Amazon Prime Now Begins Delivery of Whole Foods Products

Alibaba’s Shopping App Mixes E-Commerce and Social Media

Alibaba is expanding beyond e-commerce into social media and entertainment with its mobile app Taobao. Founded in 2003 as a site for small businesses to sell directly to consumers, Taobao has since blossomed with social and entertainment, a “one-stop shop” paradigm that’s getting Chinese youth to spend more time on the site than visitors to Amazon and Twitter, and mobile revenue more than doubling in the most recent quarter. What helps to make the site so successful are its more than 1,000 special interest groups. Continue reading Alibaba’s Shopping App Mixes E-Commerce and Social Media

Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Ride-hailing service Uber is expanding its new meal delivery service to 10 U.S. cities in the coming weeks. People in Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, Austin, Washington DC, San Francisco, Atlanta, Houston, Seattle and Dallas will be able to order food from dozens of local restaurants through a dedicated UberEats app and have an Uber driver deliver the meal. UberEats will have longer hours of operation than Uber’s existing lunchtime-only food delivery service in these cities. Continue reading Uber is Bringing its New Meal Delivery Service to 10 U.S. Cities

Uber Approaches $62.5 Billion Valuation, Rivals Form Alliance

Uber Technologies, which increased its U.S. gross revenue about 200 percent this year, plans to raise as much as $2.1 billion in its latest financing round that would value the company at $62.5 billion. The funding would enable Uber to pursue its goals of branching into new services such as food and package delivery, explore new technology such as autonomous cars, and grow globally, particularly in China. Meanwhile, Lyft and other international Uber rivals have formed an alliance to inter-connect their services. Continue reading Uber Approaches $62.5 Billion Valuation, Rivals Form Alliance

LINE Messaging App Plans to Start Subscription Music Service

The company behind the LINE messaging app is the latest to join the crowded music streaming business. LINE will launch “LINE MUSIC” in collaboration with recording labels Avex Digital and Sony Music Entertainment. The new venture is backed by about $4 million, but it will have to compete with established streaming services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Google. LINE has achieved success with its messaging app, which now has over 500 million registered users. Continue reading LINE Messaging App Plans to Start Subscription Music Service