Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Archive for the ‘amazon’ Category

Hating Social Media, Loving Divorce in the Amazon

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Newsflash: Americans apparently have a love/hate relationship with social media.

According to the results of a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, they regard services such as Facebook to be divisive and a threat to privacy but continue to use them.

Across age groups and political ideologies, adults in the survey said they held a negative view of the effects of social media—even though 70% use such services at least once a day.

The results also suggest Americans are generally optimistic about the benefits that technology will bring to their lives and the economy, but they seem to struggle exactly what it is that policymakers and regulators should do to address some of the grievances people have about social media.

It’s Friday, my head hurts, The Masters starts next week, so I’m just going to think about puppies and golf balls.

But if you want more on the tech front, and the content wars specifically, get this: Apple Music has overtaken Spotify in U.S. paid subscribers.

In February, Apple Music had more than 28 million subscribers in February, while Spotify had 26 million. Does that bode well for Apple’s looming TV content play? I think it’s way too soon to tell, considering that nothingburger of an event last week in Cupertino, but it does at least seem to suggest that the Apple hardware penetration (iPhones, MacBooks, etc.) continues to be a benefit in reaching users with its services play.

The razors have to lift up the Apple razor blades or Apple’s dominance will inevitablye dwindle.

Who’s not dwindling? Ex-wife of Amazon Founder Jeff Bezos, MacKenzie Bezos, who got 4 percent of the company in a stake worth roughly $36 billion, making her one of the world’s richest women.

Bezos keeps 75 percent of their Amazon stock and voting power over all the voting shares the couple own together.

The Bezos divorce settlement started the way the marriage ended, with a Tweet.

We hate social media until we love it again.

Written by turbotodd

April 5, 2019 at 12:20 pm

Posted in 2019, amazon, social media

Tagged with , , ,

AI Bored, Amazon HQed

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I continue to keep my eye on many things AI.

Last week, Google announced a new AI ethics board, but Vox is reporting that it is "already in trouble."

The board was founded to guide "responsible development of IA" at the company, writes Vox, and would have had eight members and met four times over the course of this year to consider concerns about Google’s AI program.

Just a week after it was announced, Google’s new AI ethics board is already in trouble.

The board, founded to guide “responsible development of AI” at Google, would have had eight members and met four times over the course of 2019 to consider concerns about Google’s AI program — everything from how AI can enable authoritarian states, how AI algorithms produce disparate outcomes, whether to work on military applications of AI, and more.

Apparently a Google employee outcry led to the requested removal of Kay Coles Hames, president of conservative think tank Heritage Foundation. Another was CEO of drone company Trumbull Unmanned, Dyan Gibbens. Privacy researcher Alssandro Acquisti has already announced on Twitter he wouldn’t serve.

Maybe they need a bot board instead?

Meanwhile, MIT is hitting "pause" on its relationships with Chinese tech firms Huawei and ZTE, following a review of international projects or partnership that pose an elevated risks, according to a report from CNN News.

"MIT is not accepting new engagements or renewing existing ones with Huawei and ZTE or their respective subsidiaries due to federal investigations regarding violations of sanction restrictions," Maria Zuber and Richard Lester, the university’s vice president for research and associate provost respectively, said in a letter to the school community on Wednesday.

The administrators also said that the university had determined that working with certain countries — particularly China, Russia and Saudi Arabia — "merit additional faculty and administrative review beyond the usual evaluations."

Any projects involving funding from people or entities from these countries, or MIT faculty or students doing work there, would face further review.

And if you’ve been watching the Amazon U.S. city 2nd headquarters saga, you’ll be interested to know that Geekwire is reporting that Amazon plans to relocate its entire Seattle-based worldwide operations team to Bellevue, Washington….by 2023. That would add thousands of employees to its new campus just across Lake Washington. This according to an internal email that Geekwire obtained.

Sources familiar with the plans said several thousand employees will be moving to Bellevue in the years ahead. Amazon confirmed the authenticity of the email obtained by GeekWire.

Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.Worldwide operations is one of the most critical teams at Amazon, the arm responsible for getting packages to customers’ doors. It oversees more than 175 operating fulfillment centers around the world and the 250,000 employees who work there. The team also manages Amazon’s thousands of delivery truck trailers and its fleet of 40 airplanes. New logistics initiatives, like Amazon’s “Delivery Service Partners” program, also fall under the worldwide operations purview. Amazon will start moving employees to Bellevue this month and will finish the migration by 2023. The company currently has 700 employees in Bellevue and more than 45,000 at its Seattle headquarters.

So the new winner of the great Amazon 2nd HQ shootout of 2019 is…the home of Microsoft??

Todd "Turbo" Watson
Twitter:@turbotodd
Blog: www.turbotodd.com
Email: toddhttp://about.me/toddwatson

Written by turbotodd

April 4, 2019 at 9:55 am

Posted in 2019, amazon, artificial intelligence

Tagged with , ,

Amazon Grows

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Happy Monday.

Before the weekend, The Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major US cities.

The stores would not be part of the Whole Foods market chain,  and while the company has already signed leases according to the story, there is no guarantee it will open the stores.

Remind you of a recent deal in Long Island City, New York?

Just coincidental that this new grocery brand comes as Amazon is also rolling out its cashierless Amazon Go stores, the ones that require very few humans but lots of cameras and algos?

I think I’ll still with Trader Joes…for now. 

Meanwhile, back in San Francisco the RSA security conference gets underway for its 2019 edition.  Should be lots to talk about!

IBM’s Security Intelligence blog offers a few tips and tricks for those of you attending. 

My own two cents: Wear very comfortable shoes, carry some layers to wear, and pack a small umbrella. 

Oh yeah, and don’t use the free wi-fi networks while you’re there. It’s a cyber security conference, duh.

Written by turbotodd

March 4, 2019 at 10:39 am

Posted in 2019, amazon

Tagged with , , ,

Hindi Commerce

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Happy Tuesday, and for those of you in these United States I hope you had a very happy and productive Labor Day holiday weekend.

For those of you who were not in these United States, I hope you enjoyed the break away from your peers and colleagues here in these United States.

Now on to some tech news… The New York Times is reporting that Amazon is making it’s local website and apps available in India’s most popular language, Hindi.

According to the article, users of the India site or app will be able to choose Hindi as their preferred language, much as American users can choose Spanish.

The Times writes that Amazon is already the number two player in India’s $33 billion e-commerce market and says it has about 150 million registered users. But with so many Hindi speakers, English simply was not going to get the job done.

The story also suggests that if the Hindi versions of its sites and apps are successful, Amazon plans to quickly at options to shop and other major Indian languages.

Namaste, Jeff Bezos.

Written by turbotodd

September 4, 2018 at 10:11 am

Posted in 2018, amazon, e-commerce, india

Tagged with , , ,

Amazon PillPack

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CNBC is reporting that Amazon will acquire online pharmacy PillPack “in a deal that could disrupt the U.S. drugstore business.

PillPack’s core business is the packing, organizing, and delivery of drugs, and sends consumers packages with the specific number of medications they’re supposed to take at specific times.

CNBC writes that:

The deal is the strongest indication yet of Amazon’s intent to move further into the health-care industry. It threatens to remove one of the few distinguishing factors pharmacy chains have relied on to fend off Amazon, the sale of prescription drugs. Retailers like Walgreens Boots Alliance, CVS Health and Rite Aid have seen their so-called “front of store” sales threatened as shoppers increasingly buy household staples online or from convenience stores.

PillPack is currently licensed to ship prescriptions in 49 states, and apparently PillPack had been in previous discussions with Walmart about a sale for less than $1 billion.

Terms of the Amazon deal were not disclosed.

Written by turbotodd

June 28, 2018 at 8:59 am

Smarter Speakers…and Payments

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Strategy Analytics has released sales figures for voice assistants in the first quarter of 2018, and has reported that Apple sold an estimated 600K HomePod speakers.

If that number is correct, then Apple would have captured just 6 percent of the global smart speaker market, well behind Amazon and Google, according to a report by MacRumors.

During the same time period, Amazon shipped an estimated 4 million Echo smart speakers, giving it a 43.6 percent market share, and Google 26.5 percent with 2.4 million sales.

And year-over-year, Amazon’s sales increased by two million, and Google’s by 2.1 million.

Meanwhile, back at the payment settlement ranch ​PayPal is looking to square its game against Square and Stripe by buying iZettle for $2.2 billion in an all-cash deal.

According to a report from TechCrunch, the deal is expected to settle in Q3 2018, and would be PayPal’s biggest-ever transaction.

iZettle currently has operations in 12 markets, including several in northern Europe and Mexico, as well as in the U.K.

Written by turbotodd

May 18, 2018 at 10:23 am

Posted in 2018, amazon, payment systems

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No Laughing Matter

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Did you hear the one about the personal voice assistant that, for seemingly no apparent reason whatsoever, started breaking into strange laughing noises at random?

No?

Well, I heard about it firsthand, but apparently I missed the opportunity to hear random guffawing of my own personal Amazon Tap.

According to Bloomberg, Amazon confirmed yesterday that in rare circumstances, the voice assistant can mistakenly hear the phrase “Alexa, laugh,” which under its normal programming would cause it to chuckle. 

Amazon has updated a fix for the problem, and is changing the trigger phrase for laughing to “Alexa, can you laugh?” instead.

A few moments ago, I tried the new command, and all I got from Alexa was a “Tee hee.”  

How very anti-climactic.

This quirk has been referred to in AI circles as a “false positive.”

Let’s just hope the voice commands for the AI algos running the armed drones have their laughs in order.

Written by turbotodd

March 8, 2018 at 9:02 am

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