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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Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

The FTC and New York attorney general announced yesterday that Google is being fined $170 million following the investigation of YouTube’s alleged violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The investigation claims that Google marketed the video platform to advertisers based on the popularity of channels with younger audiences, and tracked viewing histories of children to serve them ads, without first getting consent of the parents. Google and YouTube will pay $136 million to the FTC and $34 million to New York in the largest COPPA fine to date (Congress enacted the law in 1998). Continue reading Google Will Pay $170 Million in Record COPPA Settlement

Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

A new study from Recreate Coalition suggests that Amazon’s live-streaming video platform Twitch is gaining in popularity with content creators. The study “estimates that revenue-earning American Twitch streamers grew to nearly 9,800 in 2017 (a 59 percent increase from 2016) and made an estimated $87.1 million (representing a 30 percent YOY increase),” reports TechCrunch. “In terms of year over year growth in number of creators themselves, Twitch falls just behind Instagram and YouTube, and ranks second behind Instagram in YOY revenue growth for those creators.” Continue reading Twitch Streamers in the U.S. Generated $87 Million in 2017

Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Amazon has opened a brick-and-mortar retail store, dubbed Amazon 4-star, in New York City’s Soho neighborhood. Amazon 4-star is so named because it will carry goods — starting off with consumer electronics, kitchen, home, toys, books and games — that shoppers have rated with at least four stars, are sold by top sellers or are “new and trending.” This physical retail store joins Amazon’s 12+ bookstores and a few cashierless Go convenience stores, as well as the Whole Foods grocery stores it acquired. Continue reading Amazon Unveils NYC Retail Store for 4+ Star Online Products

Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Toy maker Mattel just opened a new division, Mattel Films, to develop and produce movies based on its brands and headed up by Academy Award-nominated producer Robbie Brenner. Known for her work on “Dallas Buyers Club,” “Mirror Mirror” and “The Fighter,” Brenner will report directly to Mattel chief executive/chair Ynon Kreiz, a media and entertainment veteran, who has worked on children’s content. The new division could help bolster Mattel, which has seen slumping sales since the shuttering of Toys R Us. Continue reading Mattel Launches a New Film Division to Help Revitalize Sales

Amazon Will Extend its Popular Prime Day Sale to 36 Hours

Amazon just announced that its annual Prime Day anniversary sale will offer discounts for a full day and a half this time around. Starting July 16 at 3:00 pm ET and running through July 17, Prime Day 2018 will feature special bargains for its Prime members. Traditionally, the event has offered deals on everything from Amazon’s own Kindle, Fire TV and Echo devices to a wide range of televisions, computers, game consoles, home appliances, clothing, jewelry, furnishings, toys, books, and more. In the past, Lightning Deals introduced steep discounts on specific products for a short period of time. Continue reading Amazon Will Extend its Popular Prime Day Sale to 36 Hours

Artificial Intelligence Front But Not Center at CES Trade Show

CES 2018 is out the gates, and, as expected, artificial intelligence is still very much present in products, conversations and conference panels. Still in its quest to become synonymous with AI, Nvidia did not disappoint at its press event Sunday and its “Autonomous Machines” keynote Tuesday morning. From doubling down on autonomous vehicles to AI-composed music (in partnership with Disney), to a technically impressive foray into intelligent video analytics to power smart cities, the CES darling is still — by far — the biggest AI enthusiast at the show. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence Front But Not Center at CES Trade Show

Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

If measured in press impressions, 2017 has most definitely been the “Year of AI,” But looking past the hype, a few things are clear: 1) progress in actual machine intelligence capability has been slow and fragmented; 2) applied AI is still the domain of less than 20 companies; and 3) still, machine learning (not AI) is being deployed across enterprise domains of numerous business sectors and creating big value. Similarly, and since it will take another year or two for current advances in machine learning to trickle down to the consumer sector, we’re not really expecting much breakthrough in AI or even machine learning at CES 2018. Continue reading Artificial Intelligence at CES 2018: Expect More of the Same

Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Amazon’s new AR addition to its iOS app, called “AR View,” allows customers the ability to visualize products in their own home. Thousands of products are viewable across a range of categories for both the office and home. By utilizing Apple’s ARKit, the experience unfolds in real-time, allowing the customer to rotate both the object and change its perspective. By introducing the new feature, Amazon joins other retailers such as Target and IKEA that have all recently introduced augmented shopping experiences to their mobile platforms. Continue reading Amazon Introduces New ARKit Shopping Feature to iOS App

Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Consumer electronics companies from all over the world debut their newest gadgets at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, and this year some of the most notable new devices were not phones. The interactive HoloCube by Merge, for example, is an AR system that displays games and educational content on a toy cube. Roborace built a self-driving car that can reach speeds of 200 mph. Additional gadgets that made a splash this year include a new 12-inch Samsung tablet, the 5x Dual Camera Zoom prototype from Oppo, and Giroptic’s 360-degree, live-streaming camera. Continue reading Eye-Catching Products Displayed at Mobile World Congress

Prime Day Experiences Sales Surge, Big Day for Fire TV Stick

According to Amazon, product orders made during its second annual Prime Day surpassed last year’s sales by more than 60 percent worldwide (50 percent in the U.S.), while third-party vendors experiencing a 30 percent surge. Amazon says it tripled sales of its own devices in the U.S.; the Fire TV stick was the most popular Amazon device sold during Tuesday’s event. Prime Day debuted last year to commemorate the company’s 20th anniversary and encourage consumers to sign up for its Prime membership service, which offers perks such as two-day shipping and access to Prime Video and Prime Music. Continue reading Prime Day Experiences Sales Surge, Big Day for Fire TV Stick

Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

Anki, the company that introduced Anki Drive, artificial intelligence-powered racecars, will ship its second product in October: a robot dubbed Cozmo, the size of a coffee mug that costs $180. By combining artificial intelligence, computer-vision science, advanced robotics, character development and machine-learning algorithms, Cozmo is a toy that is intended to be much like a real-world Wall-E or R2-D2, says chief executive Boris Sofman. The company is also offering SDKs for Cozmo’s components. Continue reading Cozmo: Anki to Launch Robot Powered by Machine Learning

CES: Emerging Opportunities and Equally Growing Risk of IoT

The Internet of Things will grow larger once again at CES 2016 with both incremental and innovative advances in objects, systems and simplicity, but for the entertainment industry the past year should also serve as a cautionary tale. Smart home sensors that track and analyze movements to enable new levels of seamless interaction will impact both the home and the world at large. Security will likely become an increasing concern as the infrastructure is created to effectively connect devices and systems. Continue reading CES: Emerging Opportunities and Equally Growing Risk of IoT

Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

While retailers have extended their special online deals before and after Cyber Monday this year, yesterday’s sales are still poised to break records. Adobe reports that by 10:00 yesterday morning, shoppers had already spent a record $490 million. When the numbers are finalized, Adobe predicts the day will represent the biggest e-commerce day on record with $3 billion in sales. Mobile shopping is also on the rise; Adobe notes that 41 percent of shopping visits originated on smartphones and 12 percent from tablets. Continue reading Cyber Monday Sets Sales Records, Mobile Shopping on Rise

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