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Amazon Promises Robots Won’t Take (All Of) The Jobs

Some, yes. But not all just yet.

To Serve Man

Prime Cut: Whether or not that’s on a silver platter, a la The Twilight Zone, depends on our plans for robots. Amazon already deploys about 100,000 warehouse automatons, or one-fifth of its fulfillment center workforce, which scurry about the massive buildings carrying inventory to and fro.

TWICE Take: Amazon Robotics chief technologist Tye Brady says the machines are no threat to employees, or at least not to their jobs. Though vital in contending with the growing tsunami of online orders, the Kiva robots are still no match for the dexterity and plain old common sense of people, Brady said at an MIT Technology Review conference. This was demonstrated during a warehouse incident in which the machines continued to drive over a fallen glob of popcorn butter, leaving a big, slippery mess for the humans to clean up. Our score: Robots 1, People 0.

See the full story at Technology Review.

Justice League

Prime Cut: A felonious couple in Muncie, Ind., got their comeuppance for defrauding Amazon out of $1.2 million in MacBooks, Xboxes, Surface notebooks, Samsung smartwatches, GoPro cameras and other assorted CE.

TWICE Take: Their modus operandi: Ordering thousands of products under hundreds of false identities; reporting them broken; and receiving free replacements under Amazon’s liberal return policy. Their ill-gotten gains got them five years each in a federal pokey, and likely led to the crackdown on returns at Amazon.

See the full story at The Indianapolis Star

Game On

Prime Cut: Rumor has it that Xbox has finally found its voice, although the voice that Microsoft has chosen belongs to another.

TWICE Take: In a post-Kinect world, Xbox owners’ only voice-command option is Cortana, which still requires a headset. But for those who wish to order their consoles around unencumbered, there’s reportedly an update on the way that will give voice to Amazon Alexa and that other virtual assistant from Google.

See the full story at Windows Central.

We’re No. 1! No?

Prime Cut: Hold your horses there, Amazon. While your vertical climb to the upper reaches of the tech-sales stratosphere has been nothing short of stunning, you’re not the king of consumer electronics retail just yet.

TWICE Take: That crown still belongs to a re-energized Best Buy, which, according to TWICE’s Top 100 Retailers Report, actually widened the gulf between the two tech leaders, giving it a $2.3 billion lead in annual sales. Better luck next year Amazon.

See the full story at TWICE.

Lucky No. 13

Prime Cut: Conversely, that’s where Amazon ranks in white-goods sales according to TWICE’s tandem report, the Top 50 Major Appliance Retailers.

TWICE Take: Despite major majap inroads through its third-party sellers and a Kenmore distribution deal with Sears, the very nature of big, bulky home appliances, and the challenges of delivery, installation and haul away, have kept Amazon at bay for the time being.

See the full story at TWICE.

Amazon Quote Of The Week

“When there are tens of thousands of orders going on simultaneously, you are getting beyond what a human can do.” — Tye Brady, Amazon Robotics chief technologist, on why the e-tailer needs robots