Summary of “Why We May Soon Be Living in Alexa’s World”

In an effort to do so, I recently dived headlong into Alexa’s world.
Late-night shrieks notwithstanding, one day very soon, Alexa or something like it will be everywhere – and computing will be better for it.
At least 50 devices are now powered by Alexa, and more keep coming.
Many don’t include some of Alexa’s key functions – I tested devices that don’t let you set reminders, one of the main reasons to use Alexa.
Alexa on my Echo is the same as Alexa on my TV is the same as Alexa on my Sonos speaker.
Ford – the first of several carmakers to offer Alexa integration in its vehicles – lent me an F-150 pickup outfitted with Alexa.
Google, which is alive to the worry that Alexa will outpace it in the assistant game, is also offering its Google Assistant to other device makers.
Sonos now integrates with Alexa, and is planning to add Google Assistant soon.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Winn-Dixie and Tops grocery stores are close to bankruptcy”

Bloomberg reports that Winn-Dixie parent Bi-Lo and Tops Friendly Market could both declare bankruptcy this month, an ominous shakeout in a grocery industry that is bracing for new competition from Amazon and its newly acquired Whole Foods subsidiary.
Dig a little deeper and the situation is more complicated: Both companies are wheezing under heavy debt loads after being acquired by private equity firms.
Tops was sold by Koninklijke Ahold to Morgan Stanley Private Equity in 2007, and then in another leveraged deal to the company’s management in 2013.
PE firm Lone Star Funds bought Bi-Lo in 2005, saw the company through a bankruptcy in 2009, and then helped fund the acquisition of Winn-Dixie.
The classic PE playbook is to buy a company with borrowed money, take out enormous loans, and pocket the proceeds.
According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, from 2013 to 2017 PE firms received $100 billion in debt-funded payouts, while PE-owned companies defaulted on $49.2 billion worth of loans.
Last week the footsteps of doom in the grocery sector got louder: Amazon announced the launch of two-hour Whole Foods delivery in four US cities, free for Prime members.
“Free two-hour grocery delivery is ludicrously convenient, perhaps the most convenient thing Amazon has come up with yet. And why should we consumers pay for huge dividends to Kroger shareholders?”.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Why Amazon’s Grocery Store May Not Be the Future of Retail”

Retail is littered with promising technologies introduced with great fanfare that didn’t become mainstream because they didn’t sufficiently benefit either the retailer or the customer.
One reason is that new tools often don’t save the retailer enough or generate sufficient new revenue to cover their cost.
To become the new normal, a technology has to make it beyond the early adopters – typically 10 to 15% of retail shoppers – and appeal to the less tech-savvy majority.
So before adopting any technology, retailers must answer two questions: How does this benefit us? And will consumers like it? Let’s look at how retailers have – or have failed to – answer these questions.
At the British retailer John Lewis, for example, store staff today can scan an item of clothing in a store to find out what sizes are available on the shelf, in the back room, and in a warehouse for online delivery, and then send a customer all the details by email.
Many retailers are considering their own payment apps in part to avoid credit card fees and encourage customers to pre-pay for purchases before they even reach the store.
The stock market was excited about Amazon Go because it signaled a promising new technology by a digital retail powerhouse that is aggressively moving into physical stores.
If Amazon is right, investors are betting, the model could transform traditional retail.

The orginal article.

Summary of “What Could Amazon’s Approach to Health Care Look Like?”

Proponents liberally term it “Disruptive,” seeing a natural diversification opportunity for the company that has aspired to be “Earth’s most customer-centric company.” Meanwhile, skeptics highlight Amazon’s lack of expertise in health care, a sector that many deem curiously resistant to the competitive forces that characterize the retail and web services markets in which Amazon has thrived.
For existing health care companies, the operative words in that mandate have been “Health care”; for Amazon, the operative words likely are “Service that needs to be delivered to a customer.” To the extent that Amazon’s perspective is correct, it is worth considering the types of experience the company could apply to health care.
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods has given it a retail footprint that could conceivably offer, among other things, basic health care services that are found at retail clinics such as those offered by CVS MinuteClinic or Walgreens.
While the capture of online data is a capability that Amazon has had since its inception, its recent move into cashier-less retailing with its Amazon Go store in Seattle offers a glimpse into the company’s potential for health care.
To the extent that the technology Amazon developed for Amazon Go can be turned to services beyond grocery shopping, health care may be one of the early beneficiaries.
Amazon has an internal challenge – managing the health and health spending of its employees – that is shared by many other companies.
As the debate over Amazon’s potential to transform health care ctent thontinues – including discussions related to the implications of Amazon’s overall growth for market competition and consumer privacy – it is important to acknowledge that the company’s path forward in this sector is marked by many uncertainties.
To the extent that success in transforming health care requires a deeper institutional knowledge of health, medicine, and insurance, Amazon may face an uphill battle.

The orginal article.

Summary of “21 Questions Amazon Asks Its Job Candidates”

Amazon goes to great lengths to ensure that they are hiring the right people.
We sifted through hundreds of Glassdoor reviews to find some of the company’s toughest interview questions.
Questions about employee behavior and past performance were asked most frequently inside the interview rooms.
“I’d rather interview 50 people and not hire anyone than hire the wrong person,” CEO Jeff Bezos once said.
Bezos used to interview every single applicant to ensure that the right people were tasked with moving his company forward.
So it should come as no surprise that aspiring Amazon employees have to answer several difficult interview questions to find out if they have what it takes to be hired with the top tech company.
Business Insider sifted through hundreds of Glassdoor interview reviews and found 21 of the toughest questions that Amazon has asked its candidates in the past year.

The orginal article.

Summary of “When Amazon Opens Warehouses”

He has tried to get a job with Stater Brothers to no avail, and says there are few other local options but at Amazon or at companies that work for Amazon.
The lack of other opportunities for people like Gabriel Alvarado illuminates the problem these communities face when deciding to offer tax breaks and incentives to compete for Amazon to build warehouses in their towns.
Many people who start out at Amazon warehouses begin as “Pickers.” These are the people who walk through the vast aisles in the Amazon warehouses where goods are stored, and, reading information from a handheld scanner, put items that have been ordered online into yellow bins, called totes.
Another man, a former carpenter who works in the stow department in Moreno Valley who didn’t want his name used because he still works for Amazon, said that without warning, Amazon changed the amount of time workers had to stow an item from six minutes to four minutes and 12 seconds.
At one Kentucky facility, according to Lindsey, the Amazon spokeswoman, there are more than 100 employees who have been with Amazon for more than 15 years.
A report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance found that Amazon paid 11 percent less than the average warehouse in the Inland Empire; a similar analysis by The Economist found that workers earn about 10 percent less in areas where Amazon operates than similar workers employed elsewhere.
There is potential for Amazon to be the shining knight that city officials hope it will be when it opens in their cities.
Fresno, another economically depressed city in California, offered Amazon $15.3 million in property tax rebates and $750,000 in sales tax rebates to locate a facility there, an offer Amazon was happy to take up.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Is Amazon Prime worth it?”

Amazon Prime is the club that makes it okay to ship yourself toothpicks and Cheetos instead of running to the store.
In January, Amazon hiked the price of Prime for members who pay monthly to $13, bringing their Prime bill to an eye-popping $156 per year.
As Prime has added perks such as streaming video, music and e-books, members have stuck around – 92 percent after the first year, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners, a firm that studies shopper habits, which also produced the new estimate on Prime membership.
So I spoke with retail insiders, Prime customers, Amazon critics and Amazon itself to try to figure out what makes Prime worth it – or not.
First, you need to know this important fact: Amazon last year lowered its threshold for free standard shipping – five to eight days, compared with two for Prime – to packages worth just $25. Amazon could always yank this away, but for now it means being strategic with your shopping cart could get you most of the advantages of shopping on Amazon without paying for Prime.
Amazon has an answer for people like me: But, wait, there’s more! Prime membership includes access to a selection of Prime videos, songs and e-books – but it’s a small fraction of what Amazon sells.
Prime membership makes me feel confident I can flick open the Amazon app and, in less than two minutes, find a good-enough version of what I need and have it headed my way.
Less than 1 percent of Amazon Prime members even consider other sites in the same shopping session, according to market research consultancy Millward Brown Digital.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon Health – Stratechery by Ben Thompson”

It’s pretty rare for the same company to feature in two consecutive Weekly Articles; yesterday’s announcement of a health care initiative involving Amazon is not only incredibly intriguing, it also fits directly into some of the most important themes on Stratechery.
I’ve gotten more and more questions from readers about the possibilities of Amazon and health care, even before this announcement.
Amazon starts building out infrastructure for those healthcare suppliers, requiring them to serve Amazon’s employees using a standard interface.
What would make more sense to me is that, having first built an interface for its employees, and then a standardized infrastructure for its health care suppliers, is that Amazon converts the latter into a marketplace where PBMs, insurance administrators, distributors, and pharmacies have to compete to serve employees.
First, Amazon could not only open up its standard interface to other large employers, but small-and-medium sized businesses, and even individuals; in this way the Amazon Health Marketplace could aggregate by far the most demand for healthcare.
The key words there are “Commoditize and modularize”, and this is where the option I dismissed above comes into play, but not in the way most think: Amazon doesn’t create an insurance company to compete with other insurance companies; rather, Amazon makes it possible – and desirable – for individual health care providers to come onto their platform directly, be that doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, etc.
If Amazon is facilitating the connection to patients, what is the point of having another intermediary? Moreover, by virtue of being the new middleman, Amazon has the unique ability to consolidate patient data in a way that is not only of massive benefit to patients and doctors but also to the application of machine learning.
Or, to put it another way, they don’t provide any of the services that Amazon Health Marketplace might make obsolete, and specialize in the one thing Amazon Health Services would need.

The orginal article.

Summary of “Move slow and break nothing”

What’s going on is that we have greatly increased the magnitude of complexity of our society’s systems, even as we couple them more tightly together.
It’s an oxymoronic term for a very intelligent observation: that what we think of as “Accidents” or crashes or bugs are really quite common and indeed, inevitable, given the design of systems that we rely on.
Complex systems are ones in which changes, even small ones, can have disproportionate effects on the outcome of a system.
On top of complexity, tight coupling means that various independent parts of a system are designed to work closely together.
Everything about our modern world has increased complexity and how tightly coupled our systems are.
The clearly designed APIs and libraries of the host operating system have been replaced by a ghastly and constantly evolving collection of libraries and web frameworks, a palimpsest of code and hope.
We are all responsible for these outcomes, and we all need to take the opportunity to reduce complexity and increase reliability for any system we are a part of, whether software or not.
Can we do sensitivity analysis on each component of the system to ask what would happen if one system – or a combination of systems – would fail? Can we run simulations to prepare everyone from software engineers to CEOs how to handle a data breach, or a database failure, or a power outage? Can we build up more resilience by ensuring that there are carefully-designed redundancies in our most critical systems?

The orginal article.

Summary of “Amazon Go Photos: Here’s what the new cashier-less convenience store looks like”

While the retail giant purchased Whole Foods last year, Amazon had previously opened up a convenience store for employees under its own brand in Seattle in 2016.
Amazon Go was supposed to be a cashierless, checkout-line-free store to help get people in and out faster – a convenience store of the future.
While Amazon employees have been able to use the store for the past year or so, it had failed to open to the public.
You scan a special Amazon Go app on the way in to get access to the store.
Amazon Go has food for all day parts: breakfast, lunch and dinner.
While the Amazon Go store is cashierless, there will be a worker checking IDs in the wine and beer section.
This might be an Amazon Go store, but Amazon isn’t wasting an opportunity to feature the Whole Foods 365 brand.
So a reminder: If you live in Seattle, the cashierless Amazon Go store opens to the public on Monday, Jan. 22.

The orginal article.