Summary of “How Technology Is Changing Our Reading Habits”

How is technology affecting the publishing industry?
About a decade ago, when Amazon introduced its first e-reader, publishers panicked that digital books would take over the industry, the way digital transformed the music industry.
It has definitely become a new way for readers to connect with authors and discover books, but it has probably also cut into the time that people spend reading.
Many new authors are skipping traditional publishers and use tech tools to go straight to self-publishing their own e-books or print books.
There have been a handful of massively successful self-published authors who have started their own publishing companies, and they’ve started to publish other “Self-published” authors.
In many parts of the country, Barnes & Noble is the only place people can buy books, and it’s still a beloved brand.
The store even looks like a 3-D version of the website, with book covers facing out and curated sections that reflect what’s popular with Amazon’s customers.
I’ll be curious to see how Indigo Books, the Canadian chain, will do here next year when it expands into the United States.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Amazon Alexa pays the people building its skills”

Wilson unexpectedly joined a new Alexa economy, a small but fast-growing network of independent developers, marketing companies and Alexa tools makers.
Two years ago, there wasn’t nearly as much to do on Alexa and the market for making Alexa skills was worth a mere $500,000.
“Every skill makes Alexa smarter or more useful,” Rob Pulciani, director of Amazon Alexa, said in a statement to CNET. “We can’t do that by ourselves and we want to enable indie developers to innovate and extend Alexa capabilities at a rapid pace. If our developer community succeeds, we succeed.”
The Alexa economy is just beginning to take shape, according to interviews with a dozen indie Alexa coders, marketing executives, industry watchers and Amazon itself.
If you’ve ever played chess through Alexa using the Chess Master skill or used Black History Facts, you’ve used one of his seven available skills.
Joseph “Jo” Jaquinta, 52, an IBM senior developer from Winchester, Massachusetts, said he’s spent the past two years – usually working two hours every night – trying to turn his Alexa skills into moneymakers.
Hoping to squeeze some money out of these skills, he’s self-published two books, put up for sale Starlanes T-shirts, bought ads through Google AdWords to draw in users and tested ads through his skills, though ads are now strictly forbidden on Alexa.
Amazon also added its Amazon Pay service to skills so, for example, TGI Friday’s customers can pay for their food orders through Alexa.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon and Whole Foods versus everybody”

The most important deal of the year was Amazon’s $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.
To my mind the single biggest and most aggressive move this year was by Amazon, with its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods.
It caused ripples that go beyond just groceries – ripples that are slowly turning the entire US economy into a case of Amazon versus everybody else.
The first ripples were pretty obvious: Amazon immediately started lowering prices at Whole Foods, increasing pressure on rivals like Kroger to compete amid sliding share prices.
The Whole Foods acquisition has resulted in shockwaves across the cloud-computing market, where Amazon and its massively profitable Amazon Web Services reign supreme.
After Amazon’s Whole Foods tie-up, Walmart reportedly issued an ultimatum to its vendors: Quit AWS and start using competitors like Microsoft Azure or Google Cloud – or else.
In other words, Amazon spent $13.7 billion – just slightly more than the $13.2 billion Google spent on Motorola in 2011 – and managed to cause upheaval across the grocery retail sector, the major superstore chains, and even enterprise IT. It’s a mark of how seriously corporate America now takes Amazon: When Amazon acts, the world reacts.
As we enter 2018, it’s becoming clear that either you’re against Amazon or, eventually, you might just become part of Amazon.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Inside the Home of Instant Pot, the Kitchen Gadget That Spawned a Religion”

In person, Mr. Wang is soft-spoken and earnest, with a nerd’s enthusiasm for the technology that powers the Instant Pot.
In 2010, after several months of sluggish sales in and around Ontario, Mr. Wang listed the Instant Pot on Amazon, where a community of food writers eventually took notice.
You wouldn’t know it from his small, bare-walled office, but Mr. Wang, who cooks steamed sweet potatoes and soft-boiled eggs in his three Instant Pots at home, has built a profitable empire.
And why now? After all, pressure cookers aren’t new, and most of the Instant Pot’s functions are replicated by other common kitchen appliances.
Mr. Wang says that more than 1,500 Instant Pot cookbooks have been written, including several of Amazon’s current best-sellers.
Mr. Wang said he believed that the Instant Pot’s passionate online following will protect it from being crushed by a larger rival.
He showed me videos in which fans sang the Instant Pot’s praises, and a blog post about a woman who credited her Instant Pot with helping her lose 83 pounds.
Mr. Wang declined to comment when I asked about Instant Pot’s plans for future products.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Google and Amazon are punishing their own customers in a bitter feud”

Amazon has just responded to Google’s decision to remove YouTube from all Fire TV products and the Echo Show.
“We hope to resolve this with Google as soon as possible.” YouTube is being pulled from the Show effective immediately, and Fire TV owners will lose out on the popular, essential video streaming app on January 1st. Google says it’s taking this extreme step because of Amazon’s recent delisting of new Nest products and the company’s long-running refusal to sell Chromecast or support Google Cast in any capacity.
Kicking the Echo Show to the curb doesn’t impact nearly as many people, but it still stings since watching cooking videos from YouTube on the Alexa screen in your kitchen seemed like one of the perfect uses for the thing! But since Google is being pedantic and needlessly obsessive over every detail of how the app functions on Amazon’s device, that’s no longer possible.
Sources familiar with Google’s position say the company takes issue with Amazon overlaying its own voice controls on top of YouTube.
Google is dealing Amazon’s devices real damage by withdrawing YouTube, and you could reasonably argue it has the upper hand here.
Is the company under any obligation to sell Google Home – the chief rival to its own Echo? Of course not.
Google says “We hope we can reach an agreement to resolve these issues soon.” Business terms take priority and customers come second.
Amazon and Google, your options are to make this right, take your grievances to the FTC, or go to court.

The orginal article.

Summary of “The Hidden Player Spurring a Wave of Cheap Consumer Devices: Amazon”

Knockoffs get a bad rap because they are of indeterminate quality: Even if it’s selling at a good price, who wants to risk buying a no-name portable smartphone charger if it might blow up in your face? Allen Fung, the general manager of Sunvalley’s American division, said that what was unique about Amazon was that its store encouraged low prices while heavily penalizing companies that made shoddy products.
Mr. Fung recently spent a couple of hours providing an in-depth look at how he manages his company’s brands on Amazon.
All of these investments are costly and time-consuming, and competition on Amazon is intense.
Mr. Fung said his teams regularly looked to Amazon as a kind of product road map – they look for categories dominated by high-priced items from well-known brands, and then try to create better, cheaper versions.
While the growth of high-quality, low-priced brands on Amazon seems unquestionably good for consumers, the trend does produce economic losers.
The classic worry about Amazon is that it puts local retailers out of business.
Mr. Wingo said global brands across a variety of categories – electronics, apparel, home improvement – regularly approached his company looking for a way to compete with low-priced rivals on Amazon.
“In a way, Amazon is providing all this information that replaces what you’d normally get from a brand, like reputation and trust. Amazon is becoming something like the umbrella brand, the only brand that matters.”

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon is so good at keeping prices low, it’s changed how economists think about inflation”

Kevin Kliesen, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, thinks Amazon might be to blame.
At a recent conference at the St. Louis Fed, Kliesen presented research suggesting Amazon and other online retailers have limited inflation by keeping prices low.
To make his point, Kliesen showed how persistently low inflation has correlated with two other trends: e-commerce taking a bigger slice of retail sales, and e-commerce prices getting cheaper.
Low prices have been central to Amazon’s business philosophy since day one.
Amazon started out by driving down the cost of books and has since expanded into all sorts of consumer merchandise and services, from electronics to groceries to auto parts.
Just today, Amazon declared Cyber Monday 2017 the “Single biggest shopping day” in company history, bolstered by its usual online deals plus deep discounts on turkeys at Whole Foods for Amazon Prime members.
What might frustrate Federal Reserve economists watching over inflation is still a boon to US consumers, who have flocked to Amazon and comparable e-commerce sites in droves.
Read next: Amazon may have patented the next big thing in online shopping.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Living in cars, working for Amazon: meet America’s new nomads”

Most could not afford to stop working – or pay the rent.
Since 2009, the year after the housing crash, groups of such workers had migrated each fall to the mobile home parks surrounding Fernley.
Amazon recruited these workers as part of a program it calls CamperForce: a labor unit made up of nomads who work as seasonal employees at several of its warehouses, which the company calls “Fulfillment centers”.
“Jeff Bezos has predicted that, by the year 2020, one out of every four work-campers – the RV- and vehicle-dwellers who travel the country for temporary work – in the United States will have worked for Amazon,” read one slide in a presentation for new hires.
Amazon doesn’t disclose precise staffing numbers to the press, but when I casually asked a CamperForce manager at an Amazon recruiting booth in Arizona about the size of the program, her estimate was some 1,400 workers.
The workers’ shifts last 10 hours or longer, during which some walk more than 15 miles on concrete floors, stooping, squatting, reaching, and climbing stairs as they scan, sort, and box merchandise.
By the end of the 2013 holiday season, Don anticipated he’d be working at the Amazon warehouse five nights a week until just before dawn, on overtime shifts lasting 12 hours, with 30 minutes off for lunch and two 15-minute breaks.
Many said they were “Retired”, even if they anticipated working well into their 70s or 80s. Others called themselves “Travelers”, “Nomads”, “Rubber tramps”, or, wryly, “Gypsies”.

The orginal article.

Summary of “McKinsey: automation may wipe out 1/3 of America’s workforce by 2030”

Amazon has opened dozens of smaller pop-ups across America this year, aimed at showcasing its hardware products, like the Kindle Fire.
This was the first in Europe, and, according to Alvaro Morilla, an analyst with Kantar Retail, it hints at a new model for how e-commerce companies will test products, learn about consumer tastes, and burnish their brands.
Amazon’s London pop-up is not about capturing traditional retail sales at all.
Amazon furnished the entire townhouse to look like a family home, with Amazon products strategically placed in rooms where they would be used.
“With no checkout point at the store, Amazon was clearly trying to make this about having fun,” says Morilla, who argues that Amazon’s goal is not to generate in-store sales, but to “Create retail theater and hospitality,” and encourage shoppers to buy via its increasingly popular smartphone app.
“All the staff we spoke to were helpful, and more interested in creating an experience and guided shop over actually ‘selling,'” says Morilla.
Why it may be the future of retail: That Amazon tested this high-concept pop up in the U.K. makes sense, says Morilla, given that in the UK, more than 90% of population has a smartphone, versus just 77% in the U.S. As smartphone penetration rises, and they account for a rising share of e-commerce traffic, on-line retailers will need to market to customers in the physical world to encourage them to make impulse buys on their devices as they go about their day.
In China, where mobile shopping is even more popular than in Europe and the U.S., Alibaba is testing a “New Retail” program, where it mimics its online revenue model in the offline world, charging third-party sellers for premium placement of products in pop-up stores and its growing stable of permanent retail spaces.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon’s next job for Alexa is helping out in your office”

Amazon’s business subsidiary, Amazon Web Services, has announced a new initiative to get companies using Alexa in the office.
With the new scheme, Alexa for Business, companies will be given the tools to manage a fleet of Alexa-enabled devices.
They’ll also be able to build their own apps for the assistant, with Amazon suggesting functions like helping with directions around the office, reporting problems with equipment, and ordering new supplies.
The office is a big new frontier for Alexa, which has proved to be a surprise hit for Amazon.
Amazon has quickly capitalized on its lead in the industry, launching a slew of new Alexa devices, including screen-equipped versions for the kitchen and bedroom.
In a talk announcing Alexa for Business at Amazon’s re:Invent conference today, the company’s CTO Werner Vogels described voice interfaces as the future of computer interfaces.
As well as letting companies build their own tools for Alexa, Amazon is working with other popular enterprise firms, including Concur Solutions, SAP SuccessFactors, and Salesforce.
If other companies follow suit, it would be a whole new domain for Alexa – and Amazon – to master.

The orginal article.