Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

Following a series of leaks, Microsoft has now confirmed the existence of another new game console, the Xbox Series S, which it dubs the smallest Xbox ever (60 percent smaller than the Series X). The company said the “slim, white console” will debut “soon,” provide “next-gen performance” and be priced at $299. Reports suggest that Series S and Series X will be available for purchase on November 10 and hint that many Series S features are similar to those of Series X, but with less disc drive and less powerful CPU and GPU. Microsoft stated that the Xbox Series X “will be four times more powerful than its predecessor, the Xbox One X.” Continue reading Microsoft Confirms the Debut of $299 Xbox Series S Console

KidHQ: Walmart and Mattel Renting Space in Virtual Store

Online toy shopping is getting increasingly creative, as digital reality tools rise in popularity among retailers and consumers. Walmart and Mattel are now leasing “floors” at the BuzzFeed-produced interactive video experience KidHQ, a virtual reality store that allows users to browse products via choose-your-own-adventure-style videos. Both companies are looking ahead to the holiday season as they try to sell toys ranging from Barbies to “Frozen 2” merchandise, and are using interactive video to connect with consumers to do so. 

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Amazon Curated Annual Holiday Toy Guide Comes at a Cost

Amazon released its annual Holiday Toy Guide featuring more than 1,700 “curated” items. In order to be considered for a spot in the well-regarded guide, Amazon charges toy companies millions of dollars, according to documents reviewed by Bloomberg. Amazon sells “Holiday Toy List” sponsorships for up to $2 million, and “the more sponsors pay, the more products they can nominate to be on the list and the more prominently their own products will be featured on the popular website.” Amazon’s summer toy list charged lower rates.

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Walmart Aims to Take On Amazon by Subsidizing Vendors

It seems as though the holiday online shopping competition is already revving up. Walmart will soon release a new program to compete with the Amazon marketplace, which boasts 40 percent control of the U.S. e-commerce market. On Walmart’s own marketplace site, vendors pay a fee to list goods. Soon, the prices of some of these goods will temporarily lower, but the vendors will still be paid in full with Walmart subsidizing the difference, according to a description of the plan obtained and reported by Bloomberg

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FedEx Ends Delivery for Amazon, Supports Other E-Tailers

FedEx will not renew its contract, which expires end of August, for ground delivery of packages for Amazon. In June, FedEx ceased shipping Amazon packages by air but continued ground delivery. FedEx is cementing its relationships with Target, Walmart and other big e-tailers that compete with Amazon. The company released a statement that its move is “consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market,” and its chief operating officer Rajesh Subramaniam said FedEx is “all-in on e-commerce.” Continue reading FedEx Ends Delivery for Amazon, Supports Other E-Tailers

Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Consumers around the world are warming to wearables, including activity trackers, fitness bands and smartwatches. IDC reports that the global wearables market increased more than 31 percent during Q4 2018, representing a new record of 59.3 million units. Total shipments of 172.2 million units for 2018 mark a 27.5 percent jump over the previous year (although IDC now includes ‘hearables’ such as headphones and earbuds in its calculations). Apple led the charge with 16.2 million devices shipped in Q4 2018, 10.4 million of which were Apple Watches. Continue reading Consumers Are Adopting Smartwatches and Fitness Bands

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Alphabet, Amazon and Apple recorded glowing quarterly financial results for Q4 2017, for a combined market value of over $2 trillion. Apple’s revenue rose 13 percent to $88.29 billion, in part due to the iPhone X. Alphabet marked its 32nd consecutive quarter of revenue growth of 20 percent or more, and a 38 percent increase in revenue to $60.5 billion, with $1 billion per quarter profit in cloud computing. Amazon built beyond its core market, with the largest cloud-computing business, a Hollywood studio and the purchase of Whole Foods. Continue reading Alphabet, Amazon and Apple Post Record-Breaking Quarters

Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and FedEx

Amazon’s quick delivery of groceries, cleaning supplies and other products is now expanding into a trial whereby consumers buy directly from merchants, with Amazon providing the latter with lower delivery costs, warehouse inspections, logistics software and recommendations. By doing so, Amazon shifts the burden from its own warehouses. In the process, however, it cuts out United Parcel Service and FedEx, both of which would have picked up the parcels from merchants’ warehouses and delivered them to customers. Continue reading Amazon Takes Control of Delivery, Cutting Out UPS and 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

Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Amazon is in the process of filling 50,000 positions — 40,000 of them full-time — for its fulfillment network, hiring people who will pack orders in warehouses and drive delivery trucks. Although the jobs are tough and relatively low-paying, thousands of people lined up to apply at a dozen locations for the company’s first Jobs Day on Wednesday. Many of the applicants hope that a foot in the door at the tech giant could lead to better compensated work in the future. Amazon’s non-union warehouse jobs pay $12 to $15 an hour. Continue reading Thousands of Applicants Line Up for First Amazon Jobs Day

Record-Breaking Launch Weekend for New Nintendo Console

The new Nintendo Switch hybrid video game console had the highest first weekend sales in the U.S. of any system in Nintendo’s history, beating a record previously held by the Nintendo Wii. “Zelda: Breath of the Wild,” the first major title for Switch, is also the best-selling launch title in the first two days of sales. The initial numbers are promising for Nintendo, but the challenge is to keep the momentum to reach its goal of selling more than 100 million Switch consoles. That kind of success hasn’t been seen since Nintendo’s Wii console, but so far, the Switch is off to a solid start. Continue reading Record-Breaking Launch Weekend for New Nintendo Console

Enjoying Healthy Profits, Amazon Turns to Investment, Growth

Amazon has typically chosen revenue growth and investments over profits, but in Q4, profit rose 55 percent to $749 million, while revenue increased 22 percent to $43.7 billion. The company has enjoyed seven consecutive profitable quarters. While brick-and-mortar sales reported disappointing sales during the holiday season, Amazon won an estimated 42 percent of total holiday online spending growth during that quarter. The company is about to invest heavily, having pledged to create 100,000 full-time jobs by mid-2018. Continue reading Enjoying Healthy Profits, Amazon Turns to Investment, Growth

Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Analytics service Mixpanel reports that Apple had a decent holiday season, as more iPhone 7 devices were sold than Google Pixel smartphones. During the first few days following Christmas, iPhone 7 numbers “increased by 12.7 percent, compared with an 8.5 percent increase for Google’s newest flagship,” explains TechCrunch. “And when comparing iOS to Android devices in general — including phones, tablets, and iPods — more new Apple devices were switched on … after Christmas than Android devices.” Apple devices had the most global activations leading up to Christmas, while Samsung came in second. The number of “Apple Watches increased by 8.9 percent … the first three days after Christmas,” but “that’s down from 18.6 percent during the same time last year.” Continue reading Apple Experiences Strong Holiday Sales Numbers for iPhone 7

Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

Marking the biggest week of the year for mobile games, research firm Sensor Tower reports that sales of game apps between Christmas and New Year’s Day jumped 53 percent over the same period last year. “Smartphone and tablet users spent a record $967.6 million on game apps for iOS and Android devices,” notes The Wall Street Journal. “Two factors typically goose spending during the week: mobile devices given as gifts, and people off from work and school who have free time to load up on apps.” Additionally, game developers typically introduce “discounts and special holiday-timed events during the week.” According to Newzoo, mobile is now the largest slice of the $100 billion video game pie. Continue reading Mobile Gamers Spent Nearly $1 Billion Last Week of December

CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

Television displays are must-see products at CES. Last year saw LG’s 98-inch 8K display and that company’s prototype 18-inch rollable display among other highlights. This year, expect to see more manufacturers unveiling what was shown last year — 4K and 8K, HDR and OLED — in more varied and mature versions. But the biggest, brightest TV displays don’t matter a whit for an entire generation that’s happy with a few streaming video services and a laptop. They too will have more choices at CES 2017. Continue reading CES: Advances in OLED, 4K, HDR TVs and Streaming Options

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