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

Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Comcast, which owns roughly one-third of Hulu, has agreed to sell its stake in the streaming video service to Disney. The deal calls for Comcast to sell its interest for Hulu’s fair market value no earlier than 2024. The Hulu joint venture launched nearly 12 years ago with the goal of providing a legal platform for television content that would serve as an alternative to YouTube and pirate sites. The platform has since become a major Netflix competitor. Disney’s share increased with its recent $71.3 billion purchase of 21st Century Fox’s movie and TV studios. AT&T, which picked up 9.5 percent of Hulu with its $85 billion deal for Time Warner, recently sold back its share to Hulu for $1.43 billion. Continue reading Disney Finalizes Deal with Comcast to Take Control of Hulu

Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

The number of Snapchat app users will remain the same this quarter, news that was a relief to investors and helped propel Snap shares up 22 percent, to $8.62 in after hours trading. Since it went public in March 2017, Snapchat has competed with Facebook’s Instagram, which adopted many Snapchat features. Snap also redesigned the app, to the dismay of some advertisers and users. In Q4, Snap, with 186 million daily active users, was on a par with the previous quarter, although down one million from the same period a year ago. Continue reading Snap Maintains User Numbers, Aims for Profitability in 2019

Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

To battle Amazon’s ubiquity and customers’ fickle loyalty, some retailers are testing the new Customer 360 software from Salesforce.com and Freshworks to improve their customer service. The software lets retailers build shopper profiles similar to Facebook to better understand what each customer wants and increase the odds that he or she will become more loyal to the retailer in question. Other strategies retailers are employing are the use of improved chatbots and better customer support training. Continue reading Retailers Adopt Software, Chatbots to Hone Customer Service

Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

At its Cloud Next conference, Google revealed that its AutoML Vision, which allows non-experts to train their own self-learning models for image and object recognition, will soon be available in public beta. It also debuted AutoML Natural Language and AutoML Translation. To democratize such techy AI tools, Google relied on a simple graphical interface and such widely adopted interfaces as drag-and-drop. The company is also pitching its cloud services to corporations, having recently nabbed Target as a client. Continue reading Google to Open Up Its AutoML Vision AI Tool for Public Beta

The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

In Las Vegas this week, Samsung is showcasing its first MicroLED consumer television. Dubbed “The Wall,” the 146-inch, bezel-less, 4K TV is modular, offering consumers the ability to customize its size and shape by adding or removing sections without affecting image quality. MicroLED’s self-emitting tech uses millions of micro-sized chips that individually emit light, which eliminates the need for color filters or backlighting. If one day affordable, this tech could replace LED for consumer TVs and lead to wallpaper screens. The Wall by Samsung is expected to be available later this year, although pricing has yet to be announced. Continue reading The Wall: Samsung Wows CES Attendees With MicroLED TV

Google to Take On Tech Giants With Second-Gen Hardware

Google just debuted its second-generation Pixel smartphones and Google Home speaker, among other hardware devices, as it competes with Apple, Samsung and Amazon to break into the top ranks of consumer electronics. The company’s first year in the space was mixed: although the devices got positive reviews, the Pixel smartphone suffered from supply shortages, capturing only a minute market share in the U.S. and elsewhere. Likewise, Google Home only made minor inroads into the arena dominated by Amazon’s Echo. Continue reading Google to Take On Tech Giants With Second-Gen Hardware

CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

Eighty-four million wearables were sold in 2015, and experts are predicting the market will grow to 245 million by 2019. That means that, once again, CES 2017 will be the venue to check out the latest commercially available products and the newest technologies that will power wearables of the future. MEMS and sensors are key to wearables’ capabilities and, Karen Lightman, executive director of the MEMS Industry Group, says CES 2017 will showcase some “exciting” new wearables features. Continue reading CES: Wearables Sporting New Capabilities in Maturing Market

YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

YouTube has spent more than a year creating YouTube Go, a site that has been customized to accommodate the limitations and needs of millions of new users from Brazil, China, India and Indonesia. These new users, online for the first time, bring different devices, connectivity and ideas about what the Internet is to them. YouTube has sent designers, engineers and researchers to those countries to plan a strategy. The challenges are balanced by the chance to engage more than one billion people of every socioeconomic level. Continue reading YouTube Go Maximized for New Users of Brazil, China, India

Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

According to an annual survey of online shoppers conducted by UPS and comScore (now in its fifth year), consumers indicate for the first time that they made more purchases via the Web than in physical stores. Shoppers say they made 51 percent of purchases online this year, compared to 48 percent last year and 47 percent in 2014. Respondents also indicated an increase in mobile shopping; 44 percent of smartphone users used their device for purchases, compared to 41 percent the previous year. As a result, some department stores are experiencing sales slumps. Continue reading Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

Siri co-founders Dag Kittlaus and Adam Cheyer are getting ready to debut Viv, a new platform and virtual assistant that represents the latest frontier in artificial intelligence. In development for four years, Viv was recently tested by a group of engineers who were able to place an order for several pizzas — without a Google search, phone call or app — and the pizzas were delivered as requested. That success has been repeated with about 50 partners, and will be publicly demonstrated at a major industry event today. Continue reading Siri Creators Introduce Next Generation Digital Assistant Viv

WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Now reaching nearly one billion users, WhatsApp, the mobile messaging startup Facebook purchased for about $19 billion in February 2014, is looking at ways to make money. Until now, it’s been free for a year, and $1 per year thereafter, making it very popular for users outside the United States. In the process it’s become a social network and a way for businesses to communicate with the world. Now, chief executive Jan Koum dropped that $1 fee and has begun to experiment with how to create revenue. Continue reading WhatsApp Nears One Billion Users, Explores New Applications

Twitter and Facebook Widen Streaming Video Gap with Meerkat

Real-time streaming video has been the focus of several companies in recent months, and now bigger players Twitter and Facebook seem to be decisively pulling ahead of independent player Meerkat. Or not, says Meerkat founder Ben Rubin, who disputes the measurement criteria. What we do know is that Twitter’s live video app Periscope now boasts 10 million total accounts, while Meerkat, in May, reported two million accounts. Live video is still, however, a very small percentage of all consumer video on the Internet. Continue reading Twitter and Facebook Widen Streaming Video Gap with Meerkat

Facebook Steps Into Commerce, Building Shops Within Pages

Facebook has taken a leap into commerce by building out shops within Facebook Pages, allowing businesses with a Facebook Page a chance to sell directly to consumers. Although the new move into commerce is in its testing phase, some shops already sport a “buy” button, which keeps the consumer on the page from product browsing to purchase. The “buy” button was introduced last year, but Facebook’s new aim is to make the shopping experience more robust and integrated. Facebook currently does not take a percentage of sales. Continue reading Facebook Steps Into Commerce, Building Shops Within Pages

Chinese Company Offers Unbreakable Sapphire-Screen Phone

Desay, a Chinese manufacturer that supplies companies like Ford and Apple, has released an “unbreakable” smartphone. The display is made with sapphire, the second hardest mineral after diamond. The 5-inch Magical Mirror X5 costs $160, which reportedly does not cover the production costs of the phone. Apple had previously planned to use sapphire screens in the iPhone 6, but the company they were working with failed to produce enough of the mineral. Continue reading Chinese Company Offers Unbreakable Sapphire-Screen Phone

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