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Harvey Hits

Walmart has been on the offensive when it comes to its support for Texas and Louisiana residents affected by Hurricane Harvey. Among its efforts at press time include a pledge of $20 million dollars to relief organizations, as well as pharmaceutical support at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center and delivery of water, hygiene, bedding, clothing and other needed supplies.

Our Take: Few words can adequately capture the level of devastation that has occurred and the effort it will take to rebuild. TWICE has donated to the Red Cross and will continue to keep the Gulf region residents and retailers alike in our thoughts.

YouTube’s App Gets A Makeover

YouTube rolled out a host of new features to its mobile app last week, including a redesigned interface, the ability to speed up and slow down video playback, and a feature that displays a row of suggested videos while in full-screen viewing mode. The company noted that the YouTube player will soon also change shape to match the video format users are watching, such as vertical, square or horizontal. Say goodbye to black bars!

Our Take: The enhancements will help YouTube in its video arms race with Facebook as the two platforms battle in the content wars.

You Can Finally Throw Out That Bowl Of Rice

One company has introduced a smartphone case that may help dry out water-damaged cellphones. The Absorbits Wet Phone Rescue Pouch promises to remove moisture from mobile devices in as little as six hours. (The company caveats this by noting the case won’t fix waterlogged components.) The pouch carries a $9.99 suggested retail and can be used repeatedly.

Our Take: We wonder if Absorbits has thought about selling them in public-restroom vending machines. Just saying.

No Tips Required

Ford is teaming with Domino’s to explore the role self-driving vehicles can play in pizza delivery, including how consumers interact with them. Over the next several weeks, randomly selected Domino’s customers in Ann Arbor, Mich., can choose to receive their delivery order from a Ford Fusion Hybrid Autonomous Research Vehicle. (It will be manually driven by a Ford safety engineer.) Participants will be able to track the delivery vehicle through GPS using the Domino’s Tracker, receive text messages as the car approaches, and retrieve their pizza via a unique code. Ford intends to begin production of self-driving vehicles in 2021.

Our Take: Given consumer wariness around the safety of autonomous vehicles, we don’t imagine they will held to the iconic 30-minutes-or-less time constraints.

Say Cheese! Selfie Market To Reach $6.37 Billion In 8 Years

The global selfie accessories market is projected to reach a market valuation of $6.37 billion by 2025, according to a recent study by Persistence Market Research. This is up from an estimated $1.96 billion by the end of this year, respresnting a compound annual growth rate of 16 percent for the eight-year period.

Our Take: It’s not just social networking and overall narcissism driving the increase; enterprise environments (such as the insurance industry) are increasingly requiring photos as a method of identification.

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