Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Google has streamlined its Shopping desktop and mobile portals in anticipation of the holiday season and unveiled a fashion recommendation engine for Google Lens, its AI-enabled computer vision search tool. According to Google Shopping vice president Surojit Chatterjee, the redesign is aimed at making it easier for users to “research and buy” what they are looking for. A personalized homepage offers product suggestions, and new sections allow re-ordering. Also more prominent are links to “nearby and online” stores. Continue reading Google Upgrades Shopping Portal, Extends Lens Capability

Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

This holiday season has shown that U.S. consumer confidence is high despite the volatile stock market. Amazon reported record-breaking revenue and noted that “tens of millions of people worldwide” registered for the company’s Prime service, many enticed by free two-day shipping. During the holiday, Amazon stated, more than one billion items were shipped via Prime. According to Amazon, year over year, that included millions more Alexa-enabled devices like the Echo, Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick 4K, and Alexa Voice Remote. Continue reading Amazon and Alexa Devices Have a Lucrative Holiday Season

In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

To better compete with Walmart and Target for online holiday shopping, Amazon will offer free shipping without the $25 minimum purchase required of shoppers who are not Prime members. This first-time Amazon offer is good only in the U.S., and will be in effect from November 5 until Amazon can no longer promise delivery in time for Christmas, typically five to eight days. Also for the upcoming holiday season, Amazon plans to add 100,000 staffers, fewer than the last two holiday seasons, evidence that the company is successfully automating operations. Continue reading In First, Amazon Offers Free Holiday Shipping for All Orders

Amazon to Tutor Chinese Firms on How to Sell to U.S., Europe

Amazon is scheduled to hold an event in Hangzhou, the city where its rival Alibaba has its headquarters, to get 400 Chinese manufacturers up to speed on buying trends among American and European consumers and be ready for the 2018 holiday season. The event, dubbed “Coming Together for U” and sponsored by Amazon Global Selling, is evidence of Amazon’s effort to dominate e-commerce globally. The company would earn revenue from helping Chinese manufacturers source goods from factories and ship them quickly to other countries. Continue reading Amazon to Tutor Chinese Firms on How to Sell to U.S., Europe

Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Although Amazon currently sells a certain number of Google smart home Nest devices, the company has decided to stop doing so, thus ramping up the competition in this space between the two tech behemoths. Nest employees apparently had been expecting the move, which came in a conference call last year when Amazon said it would not list any of the newer Nest products such as the Nest thermostat and Nest Secure home security system. The decision reportedly came directly from Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. Continue reading Amazon, Google Ramp Up Competition in Smart Home Market

Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

Strategy Analytics predicts the smart speaker market will nearly quadruple in unit volume this year, bringing the total to 24 million. According to eMarketer, smart speakers will likely outsell wearables in the U.S. this holiday season. “We expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points,” said eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu. The research firm anticipates continued growth for devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers in the U.S., but slowed growth in terms of usage. Continue reading Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

According to the Consumer Technology Association, 170 million people (68 percent of U.S. adults) plan to purchase tech gifts this holiday shopping season. While the CTA’s annual report indicates tech spending is expected to only increase 1 percent to $96.8 billion during Q4, it still represents a new record following a strong 2016. “On the surface, it sounds pretty weak, but we saw 3.8 percent holiday growth in 2016,” said Steve Koenig, CTA’s senior director of market research. “That’s a tough act to follow. It’s hard to post 3 percent to 4 percent growth rates year after year.” Headphones, drones, VR headsets, 4K TVs, laptops and smartphones are among the products predicted to be top-sellers. Continue reading CTA: 170 Million to Purchase Tech Gifts This Holiday Season

Amazon Taking More Delivery In-House, Rivaling UPS, FedEx

Amazon is getting ready to rollout Seller Flex, a new delivery service it has been testing in India for the last two years. With the service, more products will be eligible for free two-day shipping. Sources say this will not only ease overcrowding in the company’s warehouses but also shift more of the delivery functions away from its long-time partners United Parcel Service and FedEx. The confidential U.S. pilot project is taking place in West Coast states, with a wider rollout planned for 2018.
Continue reading Amazon Taking More Delivery In-House, Rivaling UPS, FedEx

HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

Just weeks after Facebook temporarily reduced the price tag for its Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, HTC announced it is chopping $200 off the cost of its Vive headset. The HTC Vive now costs $599, which brings it closer to the $499 Rift (currently $399 during its summer sale). Both VR devices require connection to a computer. HTC’s new price point is intended to spark new interest in the device and its accessories such as the Vive Tracker, wireless adapters and a new head strap. The deal also offers access to VR game titles through a one-month free trial to HTC’s Viveport subscription service. Continue reading HTC Slashes Cost of its Vive Virtual Reality Headset by $200

Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Best Buy is going all out to promote sales of the Oculus Rift and Sony PlayStation VR, with what’s regarded as the first mainstream test of VR products. The Oculus Rift demonstrations, which began their rollout in May, will be in 500 stores in time for the holiday season, with an added 200 demonstrations for PlayStation VR starting in October. The genesis of the push to VR began with chief executive Hubert Joly, who had a “mind-boggling” VR experience with a man-eating shark. He’s betting the U.S. public will be equally smitten. Continue reading Best Buy Bets Big on Virtual Reality with First Mainstream Test

Tablet Sales Declined in 2015, Detachable Devices Offer Hope

The overall tablet market shrank last year, but promising sales of detachable devices offer an opportunity for future tablet market growth. According to a report from the International Data Corporation (IDC), total shipments of tablets in 2015 were 206.8 million, 10 percent less than the 230.1 million shipments in 2014. Apple still maintains the lead in market share, but competitors such as Samsung, Amazon and Lenovo are catching up as more consumers opt for more affordable tablets. Continue reading Tablet Sales Declined in 2015, Detachable Devices Offer Hope

Video Game Downloads Becoming More Popular This Year

This holiday shopping season comes at an opportune time for the gaming industry — the latest “Fallout” and “Call of Duty” games have hit the shelves and the newest consoles have hit their stride in terms of price and availability. However, video game sales are down and GameStop and Electronic Arts recently reported disappointing earnings. The dismal numbers may be due to an increased number of game downloads, which are not usually counted in these reports. Continue reading Video Game Downloads Becoming More Popular This Year

CTA Predicts Decline in CE Sales Growth This Holiday Season

During last week’s CES Unveiled event in New York, the newly named Consumer Technology Association (former Consumer Electronics Association) released its annual holiday purchase pattern study. According to Shawn DuBravac, CTA’s chief economist and senior research director, consumer electronics will have a strong showing this holiday season, but spending is expected to shift from high-end TVs to less expensive audio devices, mobile electronics and emerging technologies. The shift is expected to result in a drag on industry sales growth. Continue reading CTA Predicts Decline in CE Sales Growth This Holiday Season