Sony Reveals Details on PlayStation 5 Consoles, New Games

Sony debuted two versions of its PlayStation 5 game console as well as new games, in advance of the holiday season. The PS5 Digital Edition, the second version, omits the Blu-ray Disc drive, and its download-only feature could eventually impact Amazon, GameStop, Walmart and other retailers. The Digital Edition also sports a sleeker design and, potentially, a lower price. New games include the latest “Spider-Man” and “Gran Turismo” titles and an enhanced version of Take-Two Interactive Software’s “Grand Theft Auto V.” Continue reading Sony Reveals Details on PlayStation 5 Consoles, New Games

TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

With the presidential election and the Tokyo Summer Olympics, television networks expected robust advertising in 2020. But MoffettNathanson noted that, with the Olympics postponed and presidential campaigns muted due to the coronavirus pandemic, advertising revenue is expected to drop 12 percent; the WARC research group predicted that will pencil out to a $25.5 billion loss in spending. Although viewership has exploded during the shutdown, research firm Kantar said that companies have cut advertising budgets more than 40 percent. Continue reading TV Ad Budgets Dwindle, Productions Shut Down in Pandemic

Amazon Takes Aim at Market Share Ceded Due to COVID-19

As online shopping skyrocketed during the COVID-19 shutdown, Amazon was overwhelmed with orders and its rivals saw an opportunity to grab market share. In the last quarter, Target’s online sales increased 141 percent, Etsy’s went up nearly 80 percent and Walmart’s rose 74 percent. Amazon, however, is regaining its footing by removing limitations of the products in its warehouses, offering promotions and, again, shipping more products in one-to-two days. It also plans to increase its Prime Air fleet to about 200 planes. Continue reading Amazon Takes Aim at Market Share Ceded Due to COVID-19

Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

When the U.S. shut down in March, people went online to shop. Adobe’s Digital Economy Index reported that U.S. e-commerce skyrocketed 49 percent in April, compared to the baseline period in early March. Some e-commerce companies have become stronger during the shutdown. But buying patterns have been volatile, with the latest uptick sparked by government stimulus checks that were sent out April 11. Many experts believe that consumer habits are changing in ways that will continue beyond the threat of the coronavirus. Continue reading Pandemic Shutdown Leading to Major Shifts in E-Commerce

Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

According to Amazon, the crush in deliveries sparked by the coronavirus pandemic is slowing down and it is again allowing suppliers to send an unlimited amount of inventory to its warehouses. Consumers can once again expect to see Amazon’s typical one- and two-day deliveries return in the next few weeks. Once it fell behind, Amazon had to hire 175,000 people to meet demand. As to the number of its own workers struck down by COVID-19, Amazon declines to reveal figures, saying they are “no worse” than the rest of the country. Continue reading Amazon Shipping Recovers, States Question Worker Health

Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

All around the globe, from China to Israel to the U.S., robots and drones are delivering everything from groceries to medical supplies during the coronavirus pandemic without the threat of transmitting COVID-19. In Sacramento, for example, startup Nuro’s R2 robots are delivering personal protective equipment, clean linens and food from a supply depot to a field hospital. But, as many businesses and governments are eager to use robots, the startups that make them are challenged to ramp up production to meet demand. Continue reading Robots and Drones Make More Deliveries During Pandemic

NBCU’s Fandango Purchases Streaming Video Service Vudu

Following the soft launch of its Peacock streaming service to Comcast Xfinity X1 and Flex customers, NBCUniversal is bringing another streamer into the fold, this time to expand its Fandango offerings. Movie ticket seller Fandango has acquired digital movie and TV streaming platform Vudu from retail giant Walmart, with plans to merge it with digital marketplace FandangoNOW. According to Walmart, Vudu is available on more than 100 million devices, while its mobile app has more than 14 million downloads.  Continue reading NBCU’s Fandango Purchases Streaming Video Service Vudu

Amazon Tries to Temporarily Tamp Down Consumer Demand

Amazon is so overwhelmed by orders that it’s trying to slow down demand. CommerceIQ’s Guru Hariharan said the growth of the last few months would ordinarily take years, comparing it to a “a run on the bank.” Not all products are available, and some will take weeks to deliver. Amazon has earmarked supplies for Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods and, for some products, prioritized customers with recurring orders. It’s also changed its website to discourage buying, even cancelling Mother’s Day and Father’s Day promotions. Continue reading Amazon Tries to Temporarily Tamp Down Consumer Demand

Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

After prioritizing essential products, such as cleaning and healthcare items, Amazon is again allowing third-party sellers to ship non-essential products. Its refusal to accept shipments of such products frustrated its third-party sellers that form 58 percent of Amazon’s overall sales. Amazon, which will limit quantities of non-essential products, is hiring 75,000 more employees to keep up with demand. The company also asked new Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market delivery/pickup customers to join a waitlist. Continue reading Amazon Scales Up to Address Demand During the Pandemic

German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Although Germany’s carriers plan to launch 5G networks, large companies including BASF, BMW, Bosch, Lufthansa and Volkswagen have applied to set up local private 5G networks. The German network regulator reported that, so far, 33 companies have bought licenses, which became available last November. Experts observe that private 5G networks are useful for industrial applications that require speedy, reliable connectivity with low latency for real-time critical jobs such as driverless vehicles and robots. Continue reading German Firms Plan to Build Their Own Secure 5G Networks

Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

Fox Corporation is purchasing San Francisco-based, ad-supported streaming platform Tubi for $440 million in cash and the potential of $50 million in future deferred consideration and unvested options. Tubi, which currently has 25 million users in North America and Australia, streams thousands of movies and TV shows from more than 250 content partners including Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros. Tubi is accessible via numerous streaming devices, including the Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Roku, and smart TVs from brands such as Samsung and Sony. Continue reading Fox Corporation Acquires Streaming Platform Tubi for $440M

Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

On Monday, Amazon will introduce a new business unit, Just Walk Out, to sell the technology that makes its Amazon Go cashierless convenience stores possible, with a website launching on the same day. The company said it already has several signed deals, but would not be more specific. According to Loup Ventures, the market for retail stores without cashiers could grow to $50 billion. As Amazon vice president of physical retail/technology Dilip Kumar put it, “Do customers like standing in lines?” Continue reading Amazon Debuts Unit to Sell Its Cashierless Store Technology

Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

In a rare bipartisan move, Democratic and Republican legislators joined forces to propose the Shop Safe Act, which would make e-commerce companies responsible for counterfeit products from China and other countries sold on their websites. The bill would focus on trademark liability for those fake products that impact consumer health and safety, such as pharmaceuticals and medical products, and would force e-tailers to more closely vet sellers and remove those who repeatedly sell counterfeits. Continue reading Bipartisan Bill Would Make Platforms Liable for Fake Products

Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

Walmart is preparing to publicly test a paid membership program, dubbed Walmart+, to complete with Amazon Prime. According to eMarketer, Walmart accounts for five percent of all U.S. online retail sales versus Amazon’s 40 percent. Currently, more than half of Walmart’s top spenders are also Amazon Prime members. To distinguish itself from Prime, Walmart plans to offer features that Amazon cannot, such as text messaging to place grocery orders. Walmart+ is expected to launch as a rebrand of the company’s Delivery Unlimited service. Continue reading Walmart Tests Paid Membership Program, Vying with Amazon

Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

Humans fear the very real possibility of robots replacing them in work environments, so manufacturers are doubling down on designing those robots to look friendly rather than threatening. As University of Central Florida professor Peter Hancock puts it, “it’s like Mary Poppins … a spoonful of sugar makes the robots go down.” Even if they don’t replace humans, robots already in the workplace are working in management, tracking workers’ every move, telling them to work faster, and even docking their pay. Continue reading Robots Look Friendly But Surveil, Manage Staff in Workplaces

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