E-Commerce Takes Center Stage as Top Retail Trend in 2020

In 2020, the year of the COVID-19 pandemic, e-commerce went mainstream, with Amazon and Walmart earning top spots as retail’s biggest successes. According to GroupM, e-commerce will grow by “low-double-digit percentages through the next six years,” even after social distancing rules abate. In addition, new services are being offered. Amazon opened its first Fresh grocery store with smart shopping carts and introduced prescription delivery and a hand-scanning payment option. Walmart introduced Walmart+, its membership program and partnered with Shopify and TikTok. Continue reading E-Commerce Takes Center Stage as Top Retail Trend in 2020

Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

Salesforce.com inked a $27.7 billion cash-and-stock deal to buy Slack Technologies. The purchase, double any other Salesforce acquisition, positions the company to compete with Microsoft and Alphabet. Salesforce chief executive Marc Benioff pioneered software subscriptions running on remote servers, which evolved into tech tools for businesses. Slack Technologies chief executive Stewart Butterfield pioneered online collaboration tools as an alternative to email but, when COVID-19 hit, Slack was slow to pick up video tools. Continue reading Salesforce to Purchase Slack Technologies for $27.7 Billion

IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

IBM and others are advocating the adoption of Confidential Computing, a standard that they state will provide deeper levels of security and privacy in the cloud. With encryption that can only be unlocked by keys held by the client, Confidential Computing guarantees that the company hosting data and applications can’t access the underlying data, regardless of whether it is stored in a database or passing through an application. That prevents hackers from accessing encrypted data when it moves to the application layer. Continue reading IBM Advocates for Confidential Computing Security Standard

Booming Computer Sales Still Cannot Meet School Demand

Remote working, learning and home entertainment have soared during the COVID-19 pandemic, and with it, sales of personal computers. Gartner reports that sales of Chromebooks have risen 90 percent in the third quarter, in part driven by school districts’ desperate need for Chromebooks and low-cost laptops for students learning from home. Gartner states that worldwide PC sales rose about 9 percent year-over-year in the quarter, with Chromebooks representing 11 percent of the combined market. Continue reading Booming Computer Sales Still Cannot Meet School Demand

More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

Although Microsoft and Walmart’s joint bid was considered the leader to become the “trusted partner” of the U.S. operations of ByteDance’s social video app TikTok, cloud and platform services company Oracle has come out on top. The structure of the Oracle deal is still unknown, but one source said it will not be an “outright sale.” The White House and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) still have to approve the proposal. President Trump stated he would ban TikTok if it isn’t sold by September 20. TikTok has about 100 million monthly users in the U.S. Continue reading More Details on Oracle’s Bid to Be TikTok’s Trusted Partner

Huawei to Sell Phones with Its Own OS and App Ecosystem

Next year, Huawei Technologies will begin to sell phones running its own operating system, HarmonyOS, and app ecosystem. After the Trump administration limited the Chinese company’s access to U.S.-originated components and chips built with U.S. technology, Huawei was cut off from all Google software. Nonetheless, in Q2, its phones were top sellers, beating out Samsung and Apple, mainly due to strong domestic sales. The beta version of its new phones will be available to app developers by the end of 2020. Continue reading Huawei to Sell Phones with Its Own OS and App Ecosystem

Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

According to Google Cloud chief executive Thomas Kurian, the coronavirus pandemic has had an impact on the development of new cloud features. “Every week, there’s a new set of dimensions, and we have to adapt, keep people positive, and focus through it,” he said. A new security product that encrypts data while it’s being processed, for example, is aimed at luring businesses in highly regulated industries to adopt cloud services. Another cloud-computing product is Assured Workloads for Government, a new way to secure public sector deals. Continue reading Google Developing New Cloud Services During the Pandemic

Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Intel will debut Pohoiki Springs, an experimental research system for neuromorphic computing that simulates the way human brains work and computes more quickly and with less energy. It will first be made available, via the cloud, to the Intel Neuromorphic Research Community, which includes about a dozen companies (such as Accenture and Airbus), academic researchers and government labs. Intel and Cornell University jointly published a paper on the Loihi chip’s ability to learn and recognize 10 hazardous materials from smell. Continue reading Intel to Unveil Experimental Neuromorphic Computing System

Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Gartner just released figures on total global smartphone sales that show decreased sales in Q4 2019 despite small year-on-year increases for Apple and Xiaomi. In that quarter, consumers purchased 406.6 million new phones compared to 408.5 million in the same quarter the previous year. Samsung, the long-time leader in smartphone sales, retained the same 17.3 percent market share although it sold fewer units year-on-year. In comparison to Q4 2018, Apple sold 5 million more mobile devices in that quarter in 2019. Continue reading Gartner’s Mobile Data Shows a Mixed Bag for Phone Makers

Honeywell Prepares Launch of Powerful Quantum Computer

In three months, Honeywell International will roll out an “early stage” quantum computer for “commercial experiments,” with JPMorgan Chase as its first public user. Honeywell Quantum Solutions president Tony Uttley stated it will speed up calculations and develop new materials and trading strategies for financial services firms, but it could also be used to power machine learning calculations by aerospace, oil and gas companies. IBM, Google and Microsoft are also at work on quantum computing solutions. Continue reading Honeywell Prepares Launch of Powerful Quantum Computer

Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

Amazon is testing two AI-powered systems as customer support agents, one of which will automatically field customer calls without human intervention and the other which will help human service agents respond more quickly to requests. Amazon applied-science manager Jared Kramer said the AI agents rely on machine learning and refer requests they can’t handle to human agents. Amazon also debuted its cashierless “Go” technology in a large grocery store, in advance of possibly licensing the system to other retailers. Continue reading Amazon Tests AI Customer Support Agents, Opens Go Market

CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

When CES 2020 opens on January 7th in Las Vegas, I expect experiences — of which ‘entertainment’ is one option — will be center stage. We will be watching for repositioning of products and services as experiences, as well as for new ideas for experiences themselves. To state the obvious, for mixed reality and immersive experiences to work well, the user experience (UX) should be intuitive and match user expectations. Companies are working to achieve this by dealing in their own individual ways with the convergence of multisensory, multiplatform, immersive media technology and language (VR, AR, MR, XR); AI; 5G; IoT; robotics and autonomous things; and blockchain. Gartner describes this as a shift from technology-literate people to people-literate technology. Continue reading CES: Expectations for the Immersive Experience Landscape

Amazon Web Services Unveils AI Tools for Enterprise Clients

Amazon introduced Contact Lens for Amazon Connect and Amazon Kendra, two AI-enabled tools to help enterprise customers gain more information from data found in multiple sources. Both services, available for preview now on Amazon Web Services, assist cloud customers in incorporating natural language processing in a timely fashion. According to Amazon, Contact Lens for Amazon Connect and Amazon Kendra’s functionality are based on the integration of machine learning. Both services are plug-and-play. Continue reading Amazon Web Services Unveils AI Tools for Enterprise Clients

Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

Amazon launched its Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud-computing unit in 2006. AWS generated $8.4 billion in sales in the latest quarter, with operating income up 29 percent to $2.1 billion. Research firm Gartner reported that AWS’ $15.5 billion in annual cloud services is about half of total revenue for this sector last year. Amazon’s closest rival, Microsoft and its Azure cloud service, represents about 15 percent of cloud market sales. Amazon chief technology officer Werner Vogels described the company’s path to dominance. Continue reading Amazon Technology Chief Details Rise to Cloud Dominance

Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

Amazon first indicated its ambition to put Alexa into cars several years ago, and in 2018 introduced Echo Auto, designed to be integrated into vehicle entertainment systems. Since then, Audi and BMW began selling some models that incorporate the company’s digital assistant. But Amazon faces stiff competition from Apple and Google, which have already made inroads, and some vehicle manufacturers are loath to adopt third-party technology. Although Amazon won’t generate much revenue initially in the auto market, the company believes that opportunities will grow much larger in the future. Continue reading Amazon Ramps Up Efforts to Bring Alexa to More Vehicles

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