The Enemy Within?
Prime Cut: Amazon and Best Buy CEOs Jeff Bezos and Hubert Joly became best buds last month over the e-tailer’s Fire TV line. Best Buy has agreed to sell an updated assortment through its own stores and website and on Amazon as a third-party seller under its private-label Insignia brand and Hisense’s Toshiba badge. But some believe the No. 1 CE retailer may live to regret the deal, which kicks off exclusively this summer.
TWICE Take: According to analysts at Los Angeles investment firm Webush, the TVs, which ship with Alexa on board, will be a conduit to Amazon Prime membership, and could pick off Best Buy customers who don’t already shop online.
Webush further suspects the gloves will be off by Q4, when the two go head-to-head again in holiday competition.
See the full story at Barron’s
Prime Cut: Renewed concerns over privacy in the age of virtual assistants were raised last week when a Portland, Ore., couple reported that one of their many Echo smart speakers recorded a conversation in their home … and sent it to someone on their contact list.
Breaking: Facebook / Amazon listening to microphones… since 1975. pic.twitter.com/uQkfThGVHt
— Joanna Stern (@JoannaStern) May 27, 2018
TWICE Take: The husband was alerted to the breach by an employee who had randomly received the audio file. Amazon attributed the incident to Alexa picking up its wake word, a “send message” request, and a contact name from the couple’s background conversation, in what it described as an “extremely rare occurrence.”
The family has since unplugged all its Echoes, which were used to control various smart-home functions, and has requested refunds for the devices. The request has thus far been denied.
See the full story at KIRO 7 News.
And Speaking Of Echo …
Prime Cut: That Portland couple may soon be joining the millions of expected Google Home buyers who could push the No. 2 smart speaker ahead of Echo for the very first time in the marketplace.
TWICE Take: The projection is based on a new report by tech research firm Canalys showing that worldwide Q1 shipments of Google Home and Home Mini devices came in at 3.2 million units, outpacing Amazon’s 2.5 million Echo shipments for the first time in Google Home history.
But before the two tech giants crow or counterattack, they both ought to consider Asian e-tail powerhouse Alibaba, which shipped 1.1 million Tmall Genies in Q1 to capture the Chinese smart speaker market and a 12 percent share worldwide.
See the full story at Canalys.
Ain’t No Stopping Us Now
Prime Cut: Amazon’s relentless reinvestment in R&D and infrastructure, often at the cost of profits, has helped create a critical mass that renders the retail leviathan seemingly unstoppable.
TWICE Take: According to analyst Rob Sanderson of MKM Partners, Amazon is on track to nearly triple its share of the U.S. retail market, to 14.5 percent from last year’s 5.2 percent, by 2025. “The brand, logistics infrastructure, secular trend and management competency will continue to drive meaningful share gain” in retail and Cloud computing he observed.
To drive home the point, Sanderson noted that Amazon’s market cap increased by $318 billion since October — which is nearly the entire market cap of Walmart and Salesforce.com combined.
See the full story at CNBC.
Somebody’s Watching Me
Prime Cut: Ever have the feeling you’re being watched? Thanks to Amazon’s Rekognition video-analysis technology, there’s now a pretty good possibility that you are.
TWICE Take: According to The Washington Post (a fellow Jeff Bezos-controlled company), Amazon is selling its facial recognition tools and consulting services to law enforcement, prompting an outcry from civil rights groups that deem it “a grave threat to customers and communities across the country.”
Also Rekognition sounds like a secret Arcade Fire album
— the first rock NFT (@RMac18) May 23, 2018
But Amazon said the two-year-old AWS service has also been used to find abductees, locate lost children at amusement parks, and even to identify attendees at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle.
Watch the full story at TWICE.
Amazon Quote Of The Week
“At first my husband was like, ‘No you didn’t!’ And the [recipient of the audio files] said ‘You sat there talking about hardwood floors.’ And we said, ‘Oh gosh, you really did hear us.'” — Echo owner Danielle X., upon learning that Alexa shared their private conversations