Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

Taylor Swift, the last streaming holdout among major musical artists, embraced the technology by releasing her seventh studio album, “Lover,” on Spotify and other streaming services. She had pulled her music from Spotify in 2014, and, in 2017, withheld her sixth album, “Redemption,” from streaming services for three weeks. According to Nielsen, in that year, streaming accounted for about 60 percent of all U.S. music consumption; this year it’s up to 80 percent. Spotify is making the most of Swift’s move with a very visible marketing campaign. Meanwhile, Swift has also helped launch an industry-wide conversation about copyright. Continue reading Taylor Swift Returns to Streaming With Her Seventh Album

Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

During the star-studded D23 Expo in Anaheim the last several days, Disney announced plans for an Epcot transformation, the new Avenger Campus theme park attractions, a retail collaboration that will bring Disney stores to select Target locations, a first-of-its-kind Cirque du Soleil show coming to Disney Springs, a summer 2020 reopening of Disney’s Hotel New York in Disneyland Paris featuring a design based on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new port of call for Disney Cruise Lines on Eleuthera, and a new docu-series on the people behind Disney movies and parks. The company also revealed more details of its upcoming streaming video service. Continue reading Disney Announces Project Updates During D23 Expo 2019

X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

X2 Games released “St. Noire,” an AI murder mystery board game that integrates Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant. “St. Noire” ($40 on Amazon) lets players become private eyes and explore the eponymous, shady town to determine the culprit in a recent murder. Players ask Alexa to “examine” locations such as Black Saint Bar or Greasy Spoon, or to pretend to be a suspect during interrogation. The game, which requires the use of Alexa, is similar to the board game “Clue” in that it evolves by the process of elimination to determine the specifics of each crime. Continue reading X2 Games Integrates Alexa to Update Board Game Format

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

Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Walmart launched Delivery Unlimited, which offers consumers a subscription grocery delivery service for $98 per year or $12.95 per month, with a 15-day trial period. Per-order fees run $9.95 or less. The new subscription service is priced competitively, with Shipt and Instacart charging $99 per year. Prime Now costs $119 per year, but touts all of the benefits of Amazon Prime, including fast shipping and streaming media content. Target, which bought Shipt, now offers shoppers same-day delivery and a first-time $9.99 per order fee.

Continue reading Amazon, Target, Walmart Ramp Up Their Delivery Services

Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

The federal government is listening to complaints about how the major digital platforms exploit their size and the paucity of regulations — and companies are lining up to tell their tales of woe. Yelp public policy chief Luther Lowe says firms that once quietly grumbled are now talking to the Department of Justice about anti-competitive behavior by the big tech companies, all of which vigorously deny the accusations. Two Instagram executives stated that, although some would like to break up social giant Facebook, that won’t help the problem. Continue reading Companies Complain to Justice Department About Big Tech

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

Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery to Compete with Amazon

This week, Walmart announced that it will start offering free, next-day delivery on select online orders over $35 without any added membership fee. This announcement comes after a similar one from rival retailer Amazon just last month. Amazon, the lucrative e-commerce giant, announced that it is investing $800 million in its warehouses and delivery infrastructure with the goal of cutting the speed of its Prime deliveries from two days to just one. For now, Walmart’s quicker deliveries will only be available in select markets.

Continue reading Walmart Offers Next-Day Delivery to Compete with Amazon

Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Google debuted the results of a partnership with Anker, releasing the $50 Roav Bolt, that brings Google Assistant to automobiles. Previously, consumers who wanted Google Assistant in their cars could purchase a vehicle with Android Auto or install the Android Auto app on their phones. The device fits into a car’s 12-volt port (the cigarette lighter) and features USB ports on the side for charging a phone, with an AUX jack as well. The user activates the device by saying “Hey Google” or pressing a physical button. Continue reading Google, Anker Debut Device for In-Vehicle Google Assistant

Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

YouTube, founded in 2005, has operated outside the advertising rules that regulate television broadcasting. But due to its significant reach and influence, the site is now under scrutiny for potential regulation — which will likely start with children’s programming. A digital influencer like 15-year old JoJo Siwa is a case in point: she draws millions of young female viewers to her quirky videos. But she also inks endorsement deals and sells branded fashion lines with Target, blurring the lines between content and advertising. Continue reading Social Platforms Under Scrutiny For Rules Related to Kids

Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon plans to open dozens of grocery stores — distinct from Whole Foods — starting with Los Angeles and then in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington DC, and Philadelphia among other cities, said sources. The L.A. store is expected to open as early as the end of 2019, with others scheduled for early 2020. The name of the stores hasn’t yet been disclosed. The move is part of Amazon’s more recent focus on physical retail, especially grocery stores. Now traditional grocers will have yet more competition from Amazon. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Another Grocery Store Brand in the U.S.

Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

Amazon is poised to be an advertising behemoth, even as it dominates in online retail, handling almost half of all online sales in the U.S. The company currently holds the No. 3 spot in online advertising, behind Google and Facebook, with a mere 4 percent of the market. But Amazon is on a hiring binge for its advertising division, and, according to eMarketer, is on track to double its ad revenue this year to $5.83 billion. One source of tension is the fact that Amazon’s own products compete with retailers on its site. Continue reading Amazon On Track to Be a Bigger Player in Online Advertising

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’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon’s Prime program that offers two-day shipping to its 100 million members has become a standard that other retailers have struggled to meet. Last year, Target, Walmart and many Google Express vendors started offering two-day delivery, some of it free. The latest company to do so is Overstock.com, which claims it can reach 99 percent of the U.S. in two days from one distribution center in Kansas City, Kansas. In comparison, Amazon operates 75 fulfillment centers and 25 sortation centers. Continue reading Amazon’s Two-Day Delivery Sets the Bar for Today’s Retailers

Amazon Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

According to sources, Amazon is contemplating aggressive growth for its new Amazon Go cashierless stores. With plans to open as many as 3,000 new stores, Amazon would rival 7-Eleven, Subway, Panera Bread and mom-and-pop shops where people go to get a quick meal. Chief executive officer Jeff Bezos sees the move as a way to reduce time to buy a meal in busy cities and “reinvent” the brick-and-mortar store experience but hasn’t settled on the best format: a store for prepared foods and limited groceries or one that offers speedy meals. Continue reading Amazon Considers Opening 3,000 Cashierless Stores by 2021

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