Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

According to new estimates from Morningstar, the number of Amazon Prime members may soon exceed the number of cable and satellite TV subscribers in the United States. Morningstar points to 79 million Prime members, up from 66 million at the end of 2016 (based on analysis of Amazon’s cash-flow statement). S&P Global projects 90 million U.S. households will pay for cable or satellite television this year. Recode reports, “According to these estimates, more U.S. households may have an Amazon Prime subscription than a pay TV subscription as soon as next year.” Continue reading Amazon Prime Members May Soon Top Pay TV Subscribers

Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

As a number of retailers go bankrupt due to the consumer migration to online shopping, mall owners are adjusting strategies to make their real estate and facilities more appealing. These changes have included turning malls into destinations, with everything from rock-climbing gyms and mini-golf courses to restaurants and bars. The major remodels will mean higher rents for new tenants but, even so, say the experts, it’s uncertain that the mall owners are taking into account the increased expenses of running large customized spaces. Continue reading Mall Owners Reinvent Their Properties in Online Shopping Era

QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Cable TV rivals QVC and the Home Shopping Network announced they plan to merge through an all-stock transaction valued around $2.1 billion. QVC chief exec Mike George will run the combined company and 17 cable channels. As impulse buying and video watching increasingly go mobile, the TV-based retailers have been facing increased competition from Amazon. “QVC’s sales in the U.S. have declined in each of the last three quarters,” reports The Wall Street Journal. “Revenue at HSN has declined for six straight quarters, and the company has been searching for a new CEO.” Continue reading QVC to Purchase HSN in All-Stock Deal Valued at $2.1 Billion

Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Private equity firm Sycamore Partners has agreed to purchase office supply retail chain Staples for $6.9 billion. Staples is another retailer that has been impacted by the growing success of Amazon and other online shopping services. Amazon, for example, has become a major competitor for corporate customers, while Staples’ overall sales have declined 6.1 percent over the past five years, according to ABC News. In 2015, Staples attempted to merge with Office Depot in an effort to stay competitive online, but last year the deal was blocked by a federal judge in response to a lawsuit initiated by the Federal Trade Commission. Continue reading Sycamore Partners to Acquire Retailer Staples for $6.9 Billion

Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

According to a new report from App Annie, the app economy will be worth $6.3 trillion in five years, up from $1.3 trillion in 2016. The average consumer is not downloading more apps, but is spending more time and money in apps. The measurement firm predicts the number of worldwide app users will nearly double to 6.3 billion in 2021, and the time those individuals use apps will more than double. Ninety percent of last year’s total app economy was represented by the purchase of goods and services through mobile apps, a figure App Annie expects will increase to 95 percent by 2021. Continue reading Mobile Commerce to Push App Economy Over $6T by 2021

Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

The European Union issued a record-breaking $2.7 billion fine against Google yesterday for violating EU antitrust rules. Margrethe Vestager, European commissioner for competition, announced that the seven-year investigation determined the U.S. tech giant had manipulated search results in order to place its own shopping service ahead of services offered by rivals, thereby creating an “illegal advantage.” Google now has up to 90 days to adjust its practices or potentially face additional penalties. The company is said to be considering an appeal. Continue reading Antitrust Case: EU Slaps Google With Record $2.7 Billion Fine

Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Amazon’s drone delivery program faces the challenge of getting drones near enough to large population centers, but the company just filed a patent application for a solution. What Amazon calls “multi-level fulfillment centers for unmanned aerial vehicles” would place drones in the midst of cities in vertical structures, thereby letting drones fly in and out of the building while avoiding pedestrians. Although this idea would solve one problem, it raises others pursuant to drones flying in the sky above a city. Continue reading Amazon Files Patent for Safer Drone Delivery in Urban Areas

Technicolor Experience Center Opens, Launches Mars Project

Technicolor officially opened its Technicolor Experience Center (TEC) for augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality last week, and announced an ambitious new project based on NASA research and images. The facility, on La Cienega in Los Angeles, launched last year and has been experimenting with immersive media. TEC has partnered with Hewlett-Packard and Nvidia to create a realistic simulation of what life could be on Mars for 1 million people. A community of engineers, designers, architects and artists will work under the direction of Technicolor to create this immersive experience. The project also involves Unreal Engine, Fusion, Autodesk and HTC Vive. Continue reading Technicolor Experience Center Opens, Launches Mars Project

Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Online retail giant Amazon.com announced it plans to acquire Whole Foods Market in a deal valued at $13.7 billion. Organic grocer Whole Foods, founded in 1978, has more than 460 locations, but has been facing increased competition from large chains such as Walmart that have introduced more natural and organic products. The Austin, Texas-based company built its brand on premium service and generally higher prices. This approach may mark a change for Amazon, which has built much of its business on lower prices. Whole Foods will continue operating under its existing brand and CEO John Mackey will remain in his position. Continue reading Amazon to Acquire Whole Foods Market in $13.7 Billion Deal

Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual Internet trends report at last week’s Code Conference in California. This year’s presentation featured 355 slides and a new section on healthcare. Among the key takeaways: global Internet users reached 3.4 billion in 2016 (46 percent of the world’s population, more than double the number from 2009); digital advertising jumped 22 percent to $73 billion; worldwide smartphone growth is slowing; China is the new leading market for interactive gaming; Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook are collectively worth $2.4 trillion, while seven of the next 16 top tech firms are Chinese companies such as Alibaba and Tencent. Continue reading Mary Meeker Delivers Her Annual State of the Internet Report

WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

China’s most popular messaging app WeChat is drawing in luxury fashion brands. France’s Longchamp and U.K.’s Burberry are selling clothes and purses there, and LVMH brands Givenchy and Dior are conducting flash sales on the app. By hosting upscale retail, WeChat owner Tencent Holdings has put itself in competition with Alibaba Group Holding, China’s dominant e-commerce company, as well as search engine Baidu. All three titans are testing the waters outside their traditional businesses. Continue reading WeChat Adds Luxury Brands, Competes With Alibaba, Baidu

E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Walmart gained momentum in its fight against Amazon, with its online sales growing at its fastest clip in at least five years. Walmart reported a 69 percent increase in its e-commerce business in the first quarter of 2017. The growth seems to reflect concerted investment in online expertise and acquisitions. “All of a sudden, Walmart is the primary competitor to Amazon, as opposed to a fragmented cluster of people,” said Greg Portell, a partner at consulting firm A.T. Kearney. Continue reading E-Commerce: Walmart Reports Major Growth in Online Sales

Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

In August, Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock, a vote of confidence that the e-commerce startup’s founder/chief executive Marc Lore understood the way that Walmart could successfully compete with Amazon. Lore believes that Walmart should focus on product areas that are newly popular online, including clothing, fresh food and everyday essentials found in the drugstore. Shortly after acquisition, Lore and his management team took over Walmart’s domestic e-commerce operations, including 15,000 employees. Continue reading Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

Snap is opening up Snap to Store, letting advertisers make the best use of Snapchat’s database to determine how well their ads are working. Snap has been testing Snap to Store since 2016, with Paramount Pictures and 7-Eleven among a handful of others who would like to know if their campaigns are actually driving viewers to movie theaters, stores and other venues. Now, Snap is rolling out Snap to Store to more brands, in retail, fast food, movie and automotive, as well as providing more data and a proprietary digital dashboard. Continue reading Snap Widens Snap to Store, Serving User Data to Advertisers

With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

So far this year, nine major U.S. retailers have declared bankruptcy, a rate disturbingly close to recessionary levels. Bankrupt retailers include Payless ShoeSource, hhgregg, The Limited, RadioShack, BCBG, Wet Seal, Gordmans, Eastern Outfitters and Gander Mountain. Another trend shows retailers that are hanging on to their businesses closing down stores in record numbers, with more than 3,500 stores expected to close in the next several months. J.C. Penney, RadioShack, Macy’s, and Sears alone will close more than 100 stores each. Continue reading With Nine Retail Bankruptcies in 2017, Levels Approach 2008

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