Amazon unveil’s robot-driven warehouse for handling holiday orders


This post is by Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat


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Amazon uses robots and people in its new warehouse.


Amazon.com revealed its latest-generation warehouse in time for Cyber Monday. The warehouse uses robotics, vision systems, and other high-end tech to speed up deliveries for its e-commerce customers.

Seattle-based Amazon said its eight-generation fulfillment center uses 20 years worth of software and mechanical innovations. The company plans to build 10 warehouses based on the technology that it has developed.

“The Amazon fulfillment teams are dedicated to innovating in our fulfillment centers to increase speed of delivery while enabling greater local selection at lower costs for our customers. The advancements in our latest fulfillment centers hit all three of these customer desires while continuing to provide a work environment that is great for employees,” said Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer service, in a statement.

Amazon uses Kiva robots in the new center, and it already has 15,000 such robots operating in the U.S. The new center also uses Robo-Stow, one of Earth’s largest robotic arms for moving large quantities of inventory for customer order fulfillment. The vision systems enable the unloading and receipt of an entire trailer of inventory in as little as 30 minutes instead of hours;.

The warehouse also has graphically oriented computer systems for employees to use while fulfilling orders for customers. Amazon recently said it will hire 80,000 seasonal employees to fulfill customer orders this holiday, a 14 percent increase over last year. The company expects that thousands of those employees will stay on in regular, full-time roles.

 




Rules For Drones


This post is by Frederic Lardinois from TechCrunch


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DSC06280 People are idiots and when you put high-powered flying lawnmowers machines into their hands, things can get ugly fast. This Christmas, more people than ever will get quadcopters and that means even more of them will think it’s a good idea to fly them on a field right next to their local (or international) airport or over a stadium full of people. Thanks to people like this and general… Read More

Tech purchases on Black Friday were up despite weaker overall retail sales


This post is by Dean Takahashi from VentureBeat


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Black Friday


Technology purchases increased over the Black Friday weekend this year, according to a survey by the Consumer Electronics Association.

About 51.2 million American adults, or 45 percent of all shoppers, bought or planned to buy consumer tech products during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, said the CEA, the trade group for the consumer electronics industry. That happened even as overall shopping traffic was down compared to last year, the CEA said.

“Consumers’ appetite for purchasing technology products during the start of the holiday shopping season hit new highs this Thanksgiving weekend,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist of the CEA, in a statement. “We saw more shoppers putting tech in their baskets this holiday weekend – 45 percent – than in any of the last three years. Only clothing, at 69 percent, was more popular among consumers; and toys were again third, at 43 percent. This shows tech is poised to enjoy strong sales throughout the entire 2014 holiday season.”

Altogether, 113..2 million U.S. adults (46 percent of the population) shopped or plan to shop over the holiday weekend from Thanksgiving to Cyber Monday, down 18 million shoppers from 2013.

The CEA estimates Americans will spend $39.9 billion over the entire 2014 Thanksgiving shopping weekend. While the overall number of shoppers declined in 2014, consumers who shopped spent more. Those consumers spent an average of $371, a 4.8 percentage point increase over 2013.

“Black Friday and Cyber Monday were once relatively independent shopping days, but they’ve expanded into a 10-day shopping period that encompass the days ahead of Black Friday as well,” said DuBravac. “A drop in shopping traffic over the holiday weekend is likely due to transactions being pulled forward, as retailers offer more deals in-stores and online earlier in the week than in previous years.”

The most popular consumer electronics devices was the TV, purchased or intended to be purchased by 37 percent. Tablets came in second at 35 percent. Notebook computers were 23 percent, and portable wireless speakers were also at 23 percent.

“While televisions are always a popular item for shoppers during the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, consumers showed a remarkable appetite for them this year,” said DuBravac. “We’re in a ‘sweet spot’ for TV purchases, consumer demand appears to be driven by three main factors: phenomenal deals across all TV categories, movement into a new upgrade cycle for consumers and interest in new technologies such as 4K Ultra HD.”

About 45 percent made their purchases online, and 77 percent shopped in stores (down 10 percentage points from 2013). The CEA predicts that total tech spending will increase 2.5 percent during the entire holiday shopping season, up from 0.9 percent growth in 2013. Total tech sales are expected to reach $33.76 billion in the season.

Of the Americans who shopped online, 88 percent cited convenience as the top reason. About 78 percent wanted to avoid crowds, and 77 percent wanted to be able to compared deals online.

The CEA predicts that 30.1 million U.S. adults (12 percent) plan to shop on Cyber Monday, up 2.4 million shoppers over last year. Of those planning to shop online on Cyber Monday, most plan to shop for clothing (61 percent), followed by books or music (44 percent), tech or tech accessories (38 percent) and toys (38 percent).

The survey was conducted via the telephone with a random national sample of 2,008 U.S. adults between November 28 and 29, 2014.

 


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Vox Media Raises $46.5M At A Reported $380M Valuation


This post is by Catherine Shu from TechCrunch


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Vox Media Vox Media, which owns sites like The Verge, Racked, and SB Nation, has raised $46.5 million from General Atlantic at a valuation of $380 million. The new funding, which is supposed to be announced on Monday, was reported in a New York Times article that has been retweeted by Vox Media. We’re taking that as confirmation of the funding amount, but have reached out to Vox to see if the… Read More

Facebook, Google, And Twitter’s War For App Install Ads


This post is by Josh Constine from TechCrunch


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app-install-ads Big brands aren’t the only ones to suck up to anymore. No one buys a car or Coca-Cola on their phone, at least not yet, so proving the return on investment of mobile ads to these businesses is tough. There is one thing people will instantly plop down a few bucks for on the small screen, though: Apps.

Lured by billions in app install ad spend per quarter and hoping to grow that pie… Read More

Best Buy puts LG G Watch on sale for just $79 in time for Cyber Monday


This post is by Dante D'Orazio from The Verge - All Posts


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If you’re looking to get your hands on Android Wear for as cheap as possible, we might have a deal for you. Best Buy is selling the LG G Watch, one of the very first Android Wear devices, for $79 as part of its Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. That’s even better than Google’s sale on the watch, and it’s $150 off the device’s list price. Now, we don’t recommend the G Watch — it’s already been superseded by a newer model and it’s been left in the dust by the competition — but it’d definitely a bargain-basement price. It looks like it’s sold out online, but you might be able to find it at a local Best Buy near you.

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Score Great Cyber Monday Deals on VIZIO TVs From Amazon and Target


This post is by Shep McAllister, Commerce Team on Deals, shared by Shep McAllister, Commerce Team to Lifehacker from Lifehacker


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Score Great Cyber Monday Deals on VIZIO TVs From Amazon and Target

Target’s Cyber Monday TV deals are live, and the highlights are a variety of VIZIO Smart TVs at low prices, and with generous gift cards thrown in for good measure. In many cases though, Amazon has either matched the deal, or beaten it by about $20 with cash discounts for Prime members (get a free trial here). Just note that if you’re taking advantage of the Prime savings, you’ll see the discount at checkout.

Read more…




News Heads Back to Intermediation


This post is by Frédéric Filloux from Monday Note


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by Frédéric Filloux

Thanks to digital, news publishers thought they could build a direct relationship with their customers. Recent deals signal the opposite. 

Two recent deals between media and technology companies struck me as a new trend in the distribution of news. One involves the personal note management service Evernote and Dow Jones (publisher of the Wall Street Journal and owner of the giant database Factiva); the other involves Spotify and Uber.

The first arrangement looks symmetrical. Based on the Evernote Premium user’s profile and current activity, an automated text-mining system — “Augmented Intelligence” in Evernote’s parlance — digs up relevant articles from both the WSJ and Factiva. A helpful explanation can be found on the excellent SemanticWeb.com quoting Frank Filippo, VP for corporate products at Dow Jones:

Factiva disambiguates and extracts facts about people, companies and other entities from the content that comes into its platform. With the help of Factiva’s intelligent indexing, “as users capture their notes, we detect if a company name is mentioned and dynamically present back a Factiva company profile with related news about that company” from any of its premium news and business sources.

The deal is reciprocal: WSJ Subscribers who pay $347.88 a year (weird pricing) get one year of Evernote Premium (a $45value); and Factiva subscribers are eligible for a one-year five-login Evernote Business membership (a $600 value). This sounds like a classic value vs. volume deal: per subscriber value is high for Dow Jones while it should allow Evernote to harvest more Premium and Business accounts at smaller ARPUs. At this stage — the service starts this month and for the US only — it’s unclear which company will benefit the most.

At first, the Spotify-Uber deal doesn’t look at all related to the news business. But it breeds a broader trend in the distribution of news products. The agreement provides that Spotify Premium users will be allowed to stream their music in participating Uber vehicles. In this case, respective ARPUs differ even more than in the DowJones/Evernote arrangement. A Spotify Premium is charged $10 while, according to Business Insider, the average Uber rider spends about $50 to $60 a month. To sum up, it looks like this:

346_interm_final

In the these two deals, the advantage goes to the distributor. Without risking anything, Evernote get access to a valuable professional target group. As for The Wall Street Journal and Factiva, they push content that bears the risk of being more than rich enough for Evernote Premium users – without further need of a subscription to the Journal or Factiva. In this case, the key metric will be the conversion rate of users who are in contact with WSJ articles and opt for a trial subscription. (Based on past experience, publishers always overestimate the attractiveness of their paid-for contents.) This doesn’t mean Dow Jones should have passed on the deal; every new distribution channel needs to be explored. As for Spotify/Uber, it shouldn’t move the needle for either partner.

Except for the data issues.

This is the key point in which parties may not equally benefit. Having dinner with a business predator like Uber requires a long spoon — a strong legal one — to determine the accessibility of stats and customer data. To me, this is much more critical than the difficult to assess financial parameters of such deals.

What’s next? There is no shortage of possibilities. Among many:

346_next_distrib_model

Deciding wether it is an opportunity or a danger for the news media sector is, to say the least, chancy. One sure thing: Digital technologies have successfully reconnected news media publishers to their customers. Some media outlets such has The Financial Times have successfully removed the intermediaries in the path to their audiences– whether these are B2C or B2B.

Today, everyone is worried about the unfolding of Facebook’s ambition to become the essential news distributor (see a previous Monday Note: How Facebook and Google Now Dominate Media Distribution.) In such context, letting other tech companies control too many distribution channels might create vulnerabilities. Possible ways to prevent such hazards are: (a) bullet-proof contracts and (b) approach new distribution schemes in a collective manner. (That’s the science-fiction part of this column.)

frederic.filloux@mondaynote.com

comScore: E-commerce spending on Thanksgiving tops $1B for the first time, passes $1.5B on Black Friday


This post is by Emil Protalinski from VentureBeat


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cash money


Reports have been coming in all weekend about how Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales are up this year, in double-digit percentages yet again, but now the first raw number estimates are finally here. comScore has announced that Thanksgiving Day has passed the $1 billion mark for the first time, and Black Friday managed to surpass the $1.5 billion figure.

More specifically, Thanksgiving Day saw a 32 percent gain to $1.01 billion in spending. In addition to breaking the $1 billion record (which Black Friday first achieved in 2012), it’s also worth noting that this Thanksgiving (November 27) marked the first day of the 2014 season to reach such a level of spending. Naturally, the record was immediately broken the following day.

Black Friday (November 28) spending was up 26 percent over the same day in 2013. This pushed online sales to $1.51 billion.

comscore_thanksgiving_blackfriday_2014

Adding the two days together, the combined spending in the U.S. was $1.96 billion in 2013. This year, that number grew to $2.51 billion.

comScore naturally suggests this is good news for the upcoming holiday season. If Thanksgiving and Black Friday broke new online sales records, there’s no reason to believe Cyber Monday and other days closer to Christmas don’t do the same.

“Thanksgiving and Black Friday both saw exceptionally strong online growth rates as each day surpassed $1 billion in desktop spending,” said comScore chairman emeritus Gian Fulgoni. “The strength we saw in the early online buying rush likely reflects a few things, including overall health in consumer spending, responsiveness to the strong deals being offered online, and perhaps some shoppers opting to stay home on Thanksgiving rather than head out to the stores that opened their doors early.”


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Wonderful short film imagines the day when we conquer the solar system


This post is by Dante D'Orazio from The Verge - All Posts


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“I am tormented with an everlasting itch for things remote.”

That quote from Moby Dick, perhaps more than anything else, best explains a fantastic and inspirational new short film called “Wanderers.” In fewer than four minutes, the film takes you on a stunningly beautiful journey across our solar system. But this is no space documentary: it’s a thoughtful and perceptive dream of what our corner of the universe would look like if we were to expand beyond planet earth.

Touch the stars

“Wanderers” comes from Swedish animator and digital artist Erik Wernquist, and its the product of careful scouring of the NASA archives to piece together realistic portrayals of our neighboring planets. Wernquist has published a detailed explanation of his…

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