Turbotodd

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

Archive for the ‘retail’ Category

Tablets and Slackers

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Happy Friday.

Feels like this week blew by pretty quickly

So what’s the close of the week looking like for tech news?

First thing that caught my attention was Computerworld reporting that Google is officially done making its own tablets.

The last model, the Pixel Slate, was introduced into the market last year, and though Google apparently had two smaller-sized tablets under development, it opted to drop work on those devices and refocus its efforts on laptops.

For the record, I’m writing this post on a Google Pixelbook from 2018, a hybrid laptop-tablet that has exceeded my expectations (in terms of performance, etc.)

And Google also has its Pixel line of smartphones, so it probably makes sense to focus on a couple of form factors that represent where the market is leading, and to orient those efforts around Chrome OS.

Meanwhile, if you’re wondering which telco provider has the fastest mobile network in the U.S., PC Mag is reporting AT&T overtook Verizon this year for first place with its not-quite-full-5G offering, "5G Evolution."

AT&T has also secretly been helped by improvements in smartphone modems over the past two years. Wireless spectrum forms the lanes on which all smartphone traffic travels, and AT&T has more LTE spectrum than T-Mobile or Verizon, according to Fierce Wireless. But AT&T’s spectrum is typically highly fragmented, coming in many small pieces rather than a few large chunks. New modems are better able to aggregate a lot of small channels into one fast connection, which is working to AT&T’s advantage.

Next time you’re in a Walmart and thinking to yourself, "I think I’ll just walk out of here with this George Foreman Grill hidden under my jacket." Well, think again.

According to a report from The Verge, Walmart has been surveilling its checkout registers with a computer vision technology called "Missed Scan Detection" to identify when items move past the scanner without having been scanned.

The system runs on cameras that watch as items move across the register. If an unusual activity occurs, such as an item moving into a bag without being scanned, a checkout attendant will be notified to take action. Missed Scan Detection was designed to help reduce theft and other losses, a problem that has cost US retailers up to $47 billion in 2017.

And if you were wondering how Slack’s IPO worked out yesterday, it closed the day at $38.62, 48% above its $26 reference price (and valuing Slack at $20B).

Hardly a Slacker of an IPO…Keep an eye out for the floats of Postmates and Peloton soon.

Written by turbotodd

June 21, 2019 at 11:36 am

Who Turned Out The Lights?

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Happy Monday!

Okay, golf fans out there, how about that U.S. Open?  Hats off to Gary Woodland, who held off the always lurking Brooks Koepka (and previous two-years-in-a-row U.S. Open winner) and fastidious Justin Rose to win his first ever major championship.

And there was hardly any bitching about the conditions of the venue, Pebble Beach, which I consider to be a good sign (i.e., no out of control rough, crazy fast greens, streaking fans…okay, that last one I made up just to see if I have your attention).

Of course, it’s kind of hard to bitch much about Pebble Beach — I’ve never been there in person, but even on TV it’s breathtaking.

Now, if you happened to be at a Target over the weekend trying to buy some merch, you might have had reason to bitch. For two days in a row, Target experienced a register outage that caused long lines and forced some customers to pay with cash.

You remember cash, right? That green stuff issued by the Federal Reserve that has pictures of past presidents and stuff on it?

Target shares are down more than 1.5% today as investors figured the missing weekend cash into the investment equation. The Wall Street Journal “Morning Download” email newsletter this morning cited Target as explaining the incident wasn’t security related, but rather blamed the outage on a data center issued related to “routine maintenance.” 

Tell me about those self-driving cars, again?  You know, the ones inextricably linked to the same clouds that are running the Target cash registers??

It could have been worse. You could have been trying to do the tango in Argentina (and Paraguay…and Uruguay…and parts of Chile…and Brazil). The power went off and left tens of millions in darkness for several hours on Sunday, and nobody seems to know why.

This as The New York Times on Sunday reported that the U.S. is escalating cyber attacks on Russia’s electric power grid and has placed potentially crippling malware inside the Russian system. Moscow responded today by saying such hacks could escalate into a cyberwar with the U.S.

Mutually assured power outages, anyone?

And on the subject of mutually assured whatever, Huawei’s CEO is doing some advance damage control on the U.S./China Chill-But-Getting-Colder trade war, explaining he expects the company’s revenues to drop $30B below forecast over the next two years.

That’s due largely to a drop of 40 to 60 million international smartphone shipments. 

I would recommend he go talk to Alexa about his problems, but according to a recent survey of 1,000+ U.S. adults, 46 percent never use voice assistants, and 19 percent use them less than once a month.

And for those who do use virtual assistants, 49 percent use them via smartphones as opposed to 18 percent on smart speakers.

Siri, tell Google Assistant to text Alexa not to bother me!

Written by turbotodd

June 17, 2019 at 11:14 am

Show Me the Money

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Facebook had a big quarter. Or, should I say, a BIG quarter.

Despite all the privacy snafus and regulatory chafing, the company reported Q1 revenue of $15.08B, with advertising revenue up 26% at $14.91B. 

Also, Facebook explained it would set aside $3B to cover expenses associated with a fine from the Federal Trade Commission over its privacy practice (although the fine apparently could go as high as $5B).

Facebook also indicated that its Facebook stories feature now has 500M daily users across both FB and Messenger, and WhatsApp’s status has 500M daily users (poor Snapchat has a paltry 190M DUs by comparison).

In other words, Facebook sneezes, the rest of the ad industry still catches cold.

Microsoft also announced big earnings, reporting Q3 revenue was up 14% to $30.6B and net income was up 19% to $8.8B. Intelligent Cloud Revenue was up 22% to $9.7B. 

Earlier today, the company became only the third U.S. company ever to pass a market cap of $1T (the other two were Apple and Amazon).

But it’s not just the techs who are in tech.

TechCrunch reported that Walmart announced earlier today a new “store of the future,” a sort of proving ground for emerging tech, including A.I.-enable cameras and interactive displays.

Code-named “IRL” (for, the “Intelligent Retail Lab”), the store operates out of a Walmart Neighborhood Market and contains over 30,000 items. Not unlike Amazon Go’s convenience stories:

the store has a suite of cameras mounted in the ceiling. But unlike Amazon Go, which is a grab-and-go store with smaller square footage, Walmart’s IRL spans 50,000 square feet of retail space and is staffed by over 100 employees.

Plus, in Walmart’s case, these A.I.-powered cameras are not being used to determine what items customers are buying in order to automatically charge them. It still has traditional checkout stations. Instead, the cameras will monitor inventory levels to determine, for example, if staff needs to bring out more meat from the backroom refrigerators to restock the shelves, or if some fresh items have been sitting too long on the shelf and need to be pulled.

The idea is that the A.I. will help the store associates know more precisely where and when to restock products. And this, in turn, means customers will know the produce and meat is always fresh and in stock when they arrive.

The system apparently generates so much data, 1.6TB per second, that it necessitates a big data center on site.

And yet it seems to be obviously avoiding getting into the business of automated checkout solutions (which Amazon has tackled head on), instead “using the A.I. system to ensure that there are shopping carts available at all times and that registers are open and staffed.”

But don’t kid yourself…it’s probably only a few years before we’ll be seeing a virtual Sam hologram himself welcoming you to the new and improved Ai-driven Walmart.

Save Money. Live Better.

Written by turbotodd

April 25, 2019 at 10:41 am

Oh Thank Heavens

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It’s all about convenience.

MacRumors is reporting that 7-Eleven announced yesterday that Apple Pay and Google Pay are accepted at nearly all of its 10,000+ locations across the United States.

The company also highlighted some of the technology improvements that it has introduced recently including the 7-Eleven NOW app for placing on demand orders with Apple Pay, the 7Rewards loyalty program that allows customers to earn points for purchases, and the 7-Eleven Bot on Facebook Messenger to allow customers to get quick answers to questions.

Those all-critical questions that often arise at 2 AM, like: “Do you have any hotdogs left?”

To use Apple Pay at 7-Eleven stores, customers will need an iPhone 6, 6s, 6, 7, 8, 6 Plus, 6s Plus, 7 Plus, 8 Plus, SE, or X, and/or a compatible Apple Watch model.

Written by turbotodd

September 11, 2018 at 9:35 am

Posted in 2018, apple, payments, retail

Tagged with , , ,

Cyber Monday Record Breaker

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TechCrunch is reporting that Cyber Monday was the largest-ever single day of online sales in the U.S., coming in at $6.59 billion purchased online.

Purchases made by smartphone also broke a new record, coming in at $1.59 billion in sales.

The figures come from Adobe, which has been tracking shopping online in the last few days as retailers officially kick-off of holiday shopping season, the most important time of the year for their businesses. These early days are seen by many as a bellwether for how the next six weeks will play out.
– via TechCrunch

Overall, Adobe said traffic was up 11.9 percent for the day (season average: 5.7 percent). As with other days in the long weekend, mobile has been very much a part of the story: 47.4 percent of visits (39.9 percent smartphones, the rest tablets), and 33.1 percent of revenues. Notable in the mobile story is that of smartphone-based browsing and purchases. The record-high of $1.59 billion in sales made via smartphones was a whopping 39.2 percent year-on-year increase: an outsized number compared to the rest of the increases across the board that ran between 10 and 20 percent.
– via TechCrunch

And Amazon accounted for the most sales of any single platform:

According to Hitwise, the e-commerce giant accounted for 45.1 percent and 54.9 percent of all transactions respectively on Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Hitwise puts the actual numbers at 5.6 million and 7.1 million transactions.
– via TechCrunch

Written by turbotodd

November 28, 2017 at 8:57 am

Hacking Black Friday

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Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Hacking Black Friday

leave a comment »

Uber’s back in the sheit again. Happy Thanksgiving!

Bloomberg reports that hackers stole the personal data of 57 million customers and drivers from Uber, a breach that the company concealed for more than a year.

As a results, Uber fired its chief security officer and one of his deputies for hiding the breach, including a $100,000 ransom payment. Uber has hired cybersecurity firm Mandiant to investigate the hack.

Back at Hewlett Packard Enterprise, CEO Meg Whitman has announced she’ll step down as CEO early next year, and President Antonio Neri will take her place.

“Today, Hewlett Packard moves forward as four industry-leading companies that are each well positioned to win in their respective markets,” Whitman said in a statement. “Now is the right time for Antonio and a new generation of leaders to take the reins of HPE. I have tremendous confidence that they will continue to build a great company that will thrive well into the future.”
– via CNBC

Okay, so there’s the relevant tech news for the day…let’s now get down to the important matters at hand, hacking Black Friday.

If you’re getting ready to mix it up either online or at the brick ’n’ mortars looking for the best deals, I’ve been in search of some tips ’n’ tricks to hopefully help you make your travails just a little more painless.

Katie Jackson from Today had some choice bits:

1) Review Amazon price histories on camelcamelcamel.com to get a sense of recent pricing.

2) Always use a new pricing (remembering dynamic pricing can be impacted by browsing patterns based on existing cookies). In fact, Jackson suggests going into “incognito” mode for your holiday shopping.

3) Use today to start scouting stores. That way you know where the stuff you’re looking for is located as you trample your fellow humans bright and early Friday morning so you can be FIRST to get that gold-plated Tickle Me Elmo (KIDDING! Be KIND to your fellow shoppers!)

C:NET suggests starting early (Amazon’s already started discounting items like the Kindle Fire 7 Kids Edition and the Kindle Paperwhite)

And yes, visit TheBlackFriday.com to see scans of the Black Friday ads that will help you scout the best deals.

Good luck, and for those of you in the U.S., have a very Happy Thanksgiving and a most fruitful Black Friday!

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2017 at 9:34 am

Posted in 2017, black friday, retail, uber

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