Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Vudu will now let people convert their DVD and Blu-ray Disc content into digital copies for use on various Internet-connected devices by simply scanning the UPC barcode via their smartphones. One caveat, however, is that the Vudu Mobile Disc-to-Digital feature requires the user to be physically located at their home billing address. That requirement is an anti-fraud measure put in place by Walmart, which bought the premium video-streaming service in 2010. The feature is also limited to transfer 100 titles per year per account. Continue reading Vudu’s Mobile App Converts DVDs, Blu-rays into Digital Copies

Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Walmart is expected to cut about 1,000 jobs by the end of January, before the close of its fiscal year. “The plans mark one of Walmart’s largest rounds of corporate job cuts as it works to preserve profits while making the company more efficient and responsive to fast-changing consumer behaviors,” reports The Wall Street Journal. According to CEO Doug McMillon, the company’s chief information officer, Karenann Terrell, will step down in February. Other retailers have been making similar moves; Macy’s recently announced it would close stores and cut 10,000 jobs. Walmart is working to fend off Amazon and smaller discounters. The retail giant purchased Jet.com in September, and its founder, Marc Lore, took over the e-commerce business. Continue reading Walmart Plans Job Cuts and Continues its E-Commerce Push

Established Companies Look to Startups for New Tech Growth

Major U.S. corporations are beginning to see acquisitions of startups as a way to purchase rather than develop new technologies, a major turnaround from many decades of avoiding Silicon Valley. Until recently, established manufacturers preferred to build their own new products or buy other deep-rooted companies. Then, in 2015, Ford Motor Company bought Chariot, a crowd-sourced commuter-shuttle startup for $65 million, signaling a change in strategy, not just among auto-manufacturers, on how to move into future technologies. Continue reading Established Companies Look to Startups for New Tech Growth

Amazon Expands into Food Sales, Tests New Grocery Stores

Amazon introduced its first brick-and-mortar store that is part of Project Como, aimed at garnering a market share of food sales. The “small format” Amazon Go, one of three different types of grocery stores the company plans for the coming months, will open in early 2017. In the next few weeks, Amazon will also open two prototypes of another format, a drive-through without in-store shopping. Depending on the results of the tests, Amazon plans to open more than 2,000 such brick-and-mortar grocery stores. Continue reading Amazon Expands into Food Sales, Tests New Grocery Stores

Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

According to separate research from Adobe and the National Retail Federation, Black Friday set new records for e-commerce with online sales surpassing $3 billion for the first time, while also marking the first day in U.S. retail history to experience more than $1 billion in sales made from mobile devices. Adobe reports $3.34 billion in total online sales, a 21.6 percent jump over last year, with mobile accounting for $1.2 billion, a 33 percent increase. And shoppers were thrifty this time around. While the NRF found that the number of shoppers increased over the weekend compared to 2015, average consumer spending dropped 3.5 percent, including online and offline purchases. Continue reading Black Friday Sets New Records, More Consumers Go Mobile

Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Movie ticketing company Fandango launched its VOD service FandangoNOW on Microsoft’s Xbox One and Xbox One S consoles. FandangoNOW, which is already on Android TV among other platforms, offers 40,000 new-release and catalog movies as well as next-day TV shows for rent and purchase. The move puts Fandango in direct competition with Apple iTunes, Amazon Video and Walmart’s Vudu. Fandango’s end game is to deploy the rebranded FandangoNOW to increase overall revenues via a home entertainment offering. Continue reading Fandango Brings Movie VOD Service to Xbox Game Consoles

Media Companies Leverage Data-Driven AI to Evolve, Prosper

The media industry’s interest in artificial intelligence goes much deeper than simply portraying its implications in movies such as “Her” or “Ex Machina.” Recommendations and push notifications are just two examples of how media uses AI. YouTube has evolved its use of machine learning algorithms to improve its content recommendations. In the early days, the site used “collaborative filtering” to feed videos to viewers. Now the company uses much more complex models based on deep learning powered by neural networks. Continue reading Media Companies Leverage Data-Driven AI to Evolve, Prosper

Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

Amazon accounts for 15 percent of U.S. consumer online shares, according to the Department of Commerce. But Amazon’s actual reach in the retail market may be as much as double that due to an undetermined volume of sales transacted with third parties. Just as Walmart destroyed many smaller retailers, so may Amazon’s massive reach have an even greater disruptive impact. The comparison is apt because Amazon is now building pickup locations for groceries in Seattle that could open by the end of 2016. Continue reading Amazon’s Reach in Online Retail Much Bigger Than Estimated

Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Retail giant Walmart announced the launch of its free, ad-supported streaming video service called Vudu Movies On Us, which offers thousands of titles available for 1080p HD streaming, and supports Dolby Digital sound when available. Vudu has been selling and renting movies and TV shows for almost 10 years. The new service, however, will not feature new releases or current series. Instead, it will focus on older blockbusters and classics. Vudu considered developing a subscription VOD service, but opted for the ad-supported model since the majority of Walmart customers expressed interest in free or discounted video services. Continue reading Walmart Debuts Free, Ad-Supported Video Streaming Service

Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Walmart told its investors that it was opening fewer brick-and-mortar stores in favor of investing in online operations, a strategy that was initiated when Walmart chief executive Doug McMillon paid about $3.3 billion for e-commerce startup Jet.com. That company’s founder, Marc Lore, will lead the initiative. The company predicts online sales will grow 20 percent to 30 percent in the next three years. Still, it’s a risky gambit since Amazon is increasing its dominance in the U.S. consumer space. Continue reading Walmart to Ramp Up Online Operation, Google Opens Pop-Up

Roku Refreshes Media Box Line-Up, Offers Ultra HD and HDR

Roku updated its line-up of streaming media boxes, discontinuing the Roku 1, 2, 3 and 4 devices but hanging on to its $50 Roku Streaming Stick. New products for the “low-end” HD market now include the compact $30 Roku Express that has an HDMI port to connect to HDTVs and an infrared remote, and the $40 Roku Express Plus, sold exclusively at Walmart, offering a composite cable port to connect to TV sets without an HDMI port. Roku also emphasizes 4K/Ultra HD with three new players, two of which are HDR-capable. Continue reading Roku Refreshes Media Box Line-Up, Offers Ultra HD and HDR

Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

In its biggest bid yet to compete more directly with Amazon, Arkansas-based Walmart is acquiring e-commerce startup Jet.com for $3.3 billion ($3 billion in cash and $300 million in shares to be paid over time). Walmart has been busy expanding its online operation, and the Jet.com deal provides it with a shopping site that is adding 400,000 consumers monthly and has already reached a $1 billion gross merchandise run rate. Store-based businesses such as Costco, Target and Walmart have been looking for effective ways to contend with Amazon’s successful online model. Continue reading Walmart to Purchase Jet.com in Bid to Compete with Amazon

Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

Walmart is expanding its mobile payment service, Walmart Pay, to its entire chain of 4,600 U.S. stores. The feature can be found on the retailer’s app, which is available for Android and Apple devices. According to the company, more than 20 million consumers regularly use the app, which offers discounts and helps locate products. Walmart, which has 140 million weekly shoppers, is aiming to make the shopping and checkout experience more convenient. It is also looking to compete with companies such as Apple, Alphabet and Samsung, all of which offer ways to make mobile purchases. Continue reading Walmart Makes Mobile Payment App Available to Entire Chain

Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

In its annual ranking of companies based on revenue, the latest Fortune 500 lists Apple third on the list, followed by Walmart and Exxon Mobil. With $233 billion in revenue, Apple is the top tech company on the Fortune 500. “Apple jumped two slots from last year, and it was also the most profitable company, with $53 billion in profits in 2015,” reports Business Insider. Amazon is listed as number 18, with $107 billion in sales, while Verizon is ranked 13th, HP 20th, Microsoft 25th, IBM 31st and Alphabet 36th. Meanwhile, Facebook jumped 85 spots to number 157, and Netflix moved from 474 to number 379. Continue reading Fortune 500 Lists Apple as the Highest Tech Company in Sales

Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

According to an annual survey of online shoppers conducted by UPS and comScore (now in its fifth year), consumers indicate for the first time that they made more purchases via the Web than in physical stores. Shoppers say they made 51 percent of purchases online this year, compared to 48 percent last year and 47 percent in 2014. Respondents also indicated an increase in mobile shopping; 44 percent of smartphone users used their device for purchases, compared to 41 percent the previous year. As a result, some department stores are experiencing sales slumps. Continue reading Survey Shows Growth in Online Shopping, Impacting Retailers

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