Monthly Archives: November 2016

How Amazon sold 5 million of Echo devices in two years?

Echo has been over two years since its release in November, 2014. In the past two years, Echo becomes the most popular smart home appliances in the market.

echo5

Consumer Intelligence Research Partners(CIRP) reported that Amazon sold 5.1 million Echo devices in United States by November 21, 2016.

CIRP made a report in April and revealed the sales of Echo reached 3 million units in United States then. That is, the sales of Echo increased by 2 million in past 7 and a half of months.

According to the prediction of CIRP made, Amazon sold about 2 million Echo devices by September, 2016. With the sales increase, the customer awareness of Amazon Echo devices increased sharply as well. The customer awareness of Amazon Echo increased from 20% in March, 2015 to 69% in September, 2016. Its customer awareness increased obviously in the past year.

CIRP also made survey concerning how consumers use Amazon Echo. Based on Echo’s multiple responses allowed, one third users apply it for information, and 40% of users apply it to listen music, and 10% of them apply it to control home appliances.

Amazon did not rush to promote Echo after its release. It invited a group of users from Prime subscribers to do close beta test and offered reasonable price. The Prime subscribers could get a Echo at $99, which was sold at $199.

Amazon collected feedback from beta test users and made improvements based on them. The initial version of Echo did not include smart assistant Alexa. Echo team found that consumers were interested in such function and they launched Alexa API skills kit.

Slice Intelligence found that the sales of Echo made a hit in November, 2015. Amazon kept improving its functions after the release of Alexa, such as Prime Music, Audible book and Google Calendar. The sales increase was also associated with holiday promotions. Amazon announced on November 10, 2015 that consumers could experience Echo at 3,000 offline stores in United States before they made decision to purchase it. The chain stores included The Home Depot, Staples and Sears. Amazon offered discount to Echo on Cyber Monday to stimulate more sales.

This March, Amazon released two new products named Echo Dot and Amazon Tap on the basis of Echo audio speaker. Amazon Tap is portable, smaller and built with Alexa assistant. It shares with the similar function of Echo if Amazon Tap accesses to Wi-Fi.

Home Appliance has promising aspects. Google also followed the pace of Amazon to explore smart home appliance. It released Google Home to compete with Amazon Echo.

Bankrupted VR startups: content is the biggest obstacle to develop VR technology

Expensive price, fewer products of VR are not the main reasons for the slow down of developing VR. Content attraction is the key to success.

Virtuleap is a startup company to help developers show their VR concepts to the world. Amir-Esmaeil Bozorgzadeh stated in an article that the biggest obstacle to develop VR technology is the lack of attractive VR content.

vr

Vrideo was entrance platform and established in 2014. It aimed at being the VR YouTube. It quit game field and shut down the company last week. In VR industry, these two years were equal to 10 years. Vrideo raised $2 million in 2015 to develop VR, however, it still failed as it spent all that money.

The reason why Vrideo failed was that it failed to provide attractive VR content. Virdeo could not go further as it failed to atttract more users.

This year is the key year for VR products. Many enterprises provided VR helmets for families with attractive prices. However, the pressure goes to content developers. They have to create interesting and attractive content so that users can enjoy and love them.

Nic Mitham, CEO of WEARVR, claimed that it was hard to popularize VR if it lacked of content or excellent content when users experienced VR.

Hess Barber, president of First Contact, addressed that the biggest problem that VR industry faced was the lack of high performance VR content.

Therkel Sand Therkelsen, founder of CopenX, assumed it was the key point to seek for solutions to edit new content instead of providing the same service and stories in this new platform.

Therkelsen added:” Developers need to ask themselves why they are editing VR content and where is its value.”

The diversity of VR content would help to attract more users and popularize VR technology better. No one wishes to expend money in similar services or products which they had accessed to.

News Media evaluated 13 tech companies have competitive AI technology

MIT Technology Review evaluates top 50 most intelligent tech companies each year. According to the statistics of news media,20% tech companies of this list reply on AI to make profit. The evaluated 13 tech companies are below:

mit4

NVIDIA: It specializes in chip business and acquired Irish startup Movidius in the beginning of this year. It made achievements in “AI in a box”.”Ai in a box” can be wildly used, such as VR, self-driving and drone.

Facebook: Oculus contributed to Facebook performance when it was listed in MIT Technology Review. AI technology is performanced well on Facebook social networking platform.

Baidu: The capitalization value of Baidu reaches $ 55 billion. It is launching Deep Speech 2 now.

Line: The application of Chatbot brought it vitality.

Microsoft: Microsoft just set up an AI team with 5,000 workers and will attempt to intergrate AI technology into all platforms and experiences..

Enlitic: It applies X ray of AI technology to check the potential human health problem. It may help doctors to find cancers in advance and work out treatment methods.

IBM: AI technology becomes an important part for IBM business mode. IBM has invested a great amount of money and spent a lot of time in AI.

Tesla: Tesla self-driving system applies camera and radar to realize real-time perception of the surroundings. It is reported that the application of AI technology reduced 50% of car accidents.

Improbable: It is British startup for producing operating system. It avails of AI technology and Deep learning to stimulate the operating and allows users to edit rules and make custom setting.

Fanuc: As one of Japanese leading robot companies, Fanuc applies AI to enables its robot to learn by itself. A robot only takes 8 hours to accomplish the learning of a new skill.

Alphabet: Most of applications made by Alphabet apply AI technology. Google Search and Deep Mind are wildly known.

Bosch: It wishes to embrace AI technology to get a better future. It is predicted that AI technology will bring extra billions of dollars to Bosch.

Intel plans to carry out wearable device department job cuts

It is reported that Intel will carry out wearable device department job cuts. Intel acquired Basis, which is a wearable device manufacturer in 2014. It integrated Basis brands into its New Device Group then. Intel was plan to explore in wearable device market and released pressure to its rival Qualcomm Inc.

ruby

Intel acquired Recon in June of 2015 then. It specialized in manufacturing helmet devices.
However, the plan of exploring wearable device went wrong this summer.

In June, Intel recalled Basis Peak smart watch which encountered with overheating problem. It stopped selling Basis Peak instead of changing another device for users. Intel will take further measures to stop supporting softwares of Basis Peak by the end of this year.

It is obviously that Intel encountered frustration in wearable market. The acquisition of Basis did not bring Intel much profit besides it released Titanium smart watch.

According to the confirmed source, Intel is planning to cut investments on wearable devices, and even gives up this market. It plans to carry out New Devices Group and New Technologies Group job cuts.Intel just integrated New Devices Group into New Technologies Group last April. It was considered as a sign of dis-satisfactory of wearable device department.

Intel has informed some of employees in these two groups concerning job cuts. Many of them will resign from the company by the end of this year.

Besides job cuts, Basis Ruby, a new smart watch which is under manufacturing may come to an end.

Alipay is introduced to Tokyo’s Narita Airport and available for Chinese tourists

Though the news of Chinese overseas shopping declined, Chinese outbound tourists did not decrease. Japan becomes the preference destination for some parts of Chinese tourists. According to the data provided by Japan National Tourism Organization, Chinese tourists accounted for 3.07 million among 11.71 international visitors for the first half of 2016.

alipay

With the visit to Japan, Chinese tourists also brought their payment habit to Japan besides sightseeing. Alipay was introduced to Japan in November, 2015, aiming at those Chinese tourists who visited Japan. It has been introduced to those high-end consuming places. So far, Alipay is accessable to about 4,000 stores include the following ones:

International Airports: Tokyo’s Narita Airport, Kansai International Airport

Home Appliance Vendors: BIC CAMERA,YAMADA,EDION, Joshin

Department Stores: Takashimaya, DAIMARU,Tokyu,Odakyu, Tobu,Kintetsu

Duty-free stores: Don Quixote,LAOX Takeya

Garments: United Arrows BEAMS, UNIQLO

Convenience Stores: 7-11, Rawson, FamilyMart

Drugstores: Kirindo, Welcia

To attract more Chinese tourists, Tokyo’s Narita Airport offers convenience for Alipay introduction. Alipay is accessable to Fa-So-La, TAX FREE, and AKIHABARA stores in No.1 and No.2 terminal buildings, as well as all famous brands stores in brand mall.

The supported merchants of Alipay in Tokyo’s Narita Airport have increased to 71 stores by November 4. To match up the promotions made by Alibaba on December 12, the merchants will be increased to 300.

Chinese tourists will be able to shop, pay bill for meal with Alipay soon. In the meanwhile, Alipay will offers promotions of duty-free stores based on LBS, or brands connection.

Alipay will be introduced to more international airports in the future. Toyko’s Narita Airport is its first attempt.

Google has acquired many AI companies to develop AI technology

Google keeps acquiring AI companies in the road to artificial intelligence.

Google built AI department in 2011. So far, there are about 100 teams using machine learning technology, including Google Search, Google Now and Gmail. Google products and services are mainly depending on AI technology, for instance, Google applies deep learning technology to improve search engine, recognize Android cellphone command and test images of Google+.

Google announced to regroup the company, established parent company Alphabet in August, 2015. However, the acquisitions of AI companies made by Google started in 2006. Let’s learn some startups it acquired in recent years.

deepmind

DeepMind was acquired by Google on January 26, 2014. DeepMind was considered as the most popular AI startup then. Though it was acquired by Google, DeepMind has authority to operate the business independently. Its goal is to product software which can be of an independent mind. To develop all kinds of AI softwares, DeepMind applied machine learning technology to train its AI to accomplish missions with the help of a great amount of data.

DeepMind mainly develops in the fields of Game, Medical Treatment and Computing.

api.ai was acquired on 19 September, 2016. The API of api.ai helps computer to learn the transforming of human languages by voice recognition, plan recognition and context.It assisted developers to created assistants which are similar to Siri, chatbot, App and smart appliance.

Mooodstocks was acquired on July 6, 2016. It was established in 2008 as a small startup. It specialized in image recognition technology and released Moodstocks Notes. It will keep launching its own visual image recognition tools even after it joined Google’s Paris research and development team.

Dark Blue Labs, a deep learning company, was acquired on October 23, 2014. It dealt with data framing and algorithm development and was merged into DeepMind after acquisition.

Jetpac, where its headquarter locates in San Francisco, was acquired by Google on August 17, 2014. It edited city tourist service in virtue of Instagram’s sharing tool. Jetpac can analyze the city characters by its food, decorations and photos. It had three smartphone apps before it was acquired, including city tourist assistant, image analyzer and image detection tool.It was merge red into Picasa after acquisition.

There are still many other startups out of listed. If you are interested, you can search more news concerning Google acquisitions made in recent years.

Microsoft Surface Book is ready on sale for$ 2399, 30% increase of battery life

Since the release of Windows 10, Surface Studio becomes the most concerned product. If you wish to purchase new model with powerful Surface Book or Surface Dial, you can access these two products today.

 

surfaceb

As an updated product, new Surface Book deployed NVDIA 965M video card to replace 940M. Its graphics performance increased by twice, and battery life increased by 30% with 16 hours of working. Microsoft still applied Intel Core processor instead of the latest Kabv Lake processor. It is more practical to enhance its battery life than upgrade its processor.

It is a pity that Microsoft won’t allow you upgrade the old iPad to newest version though you can do in theory. The new Surface Book has better performance but weights lighter. It is under 4 pounds and with longer battery life.

Surface Dial is also on sale today. However, consumers need to wait until December 15 for its official delivery date. Though Surface Dian is designed for Surface Studio, it is not a matter for you to purchase to apply on other devices. The most featured character of Surface Dial is to be displayed on the screen by dimmer control. However, this feature is only available for Surface Studio ( or devices that updates of Surface Book and Surface Pro fixed hardware). Without using screen control, Surface Dial is compatible with all desktops.

In terms of prices, Surface Book with Performance Base starts with $2399,while Surface Dial configured with 256G ROM and 8G RAM AND i7 processor is sold at $99.

Apple acquired partial technology of Omnifone to enhance music app performance

TechCrunch reported that Apple just acquired partial technology of Omnifone for $ 10 million. Omnifone is a global music platform.

omnifone

It had been reported that this acquisition started from this July, however, the difference is Apple did not acquire Omnifone completely. The acquisition is excluded the patent portfolio of Omnifone.

In addition, Omnifone employees revealed the change of personnel on LinkedIn profiles. There were about 16 Omnifone employees’ profiles showed that they work for Apple, most of them are engineers.

TechCrunch assumed that those engineers were poached to work for projects of iTunes and Apple Music so that Apple integrates Omnifone new technology to iTunes and Apple Music apps.

It is unclear which technologies of Omnifone were acquired. Omnifone has over 50 patent portfolios concerning musical technologies, including digital media recognition, streaming media and download technology.

Omnifone was established in London in 2003. The operation of music cloud platform is its core business, including the tech support of MusicStation. In addition, Omnifone offers tech support for the music services of Samsung, Blackberry, Sony, Vodafone,and PonoMusic.Samsung Milk Music is based on the application of Omnifone.

Apple has been paid much attention to its music business in recent years. It is considered as a new strategy to solve the problem of smartphone growth.Apple earnings in Q3 showed that its music business revenue increased by 24% yoy, up to $630 million. That is one of the reasons why Apple seeks for potential music companies to acquire or cooperate.

Google Capital buys more shares of Snapchat

Google Capital, Alphabet subordinate investment department, had announced to rename as CapitalG last Friday. In the meanwhile, it revealed that it would buy more shares of Snapchat. However, Google Capital did not confirm the date, reason and share ratio of investing Snapchat. Winnie King, Google spokesman, confirmed that Snapchat is one of the companies that Google Capital invests on. Snapchat spokesman made no comment concerning financial details.

snap2

Google Capital was established in 2014. It specializes in investing on mature enterprises. It stated its goal on official website that it aims to make investments

Customized Amazon Prime comes to Chinese consumers

A blue Prime logo pops up at the side of commodities’ price when you open Amazon China website. Amazon released the customized Chinese Prime membership system one week ago. Amazon offers free delivery service for customized Amazon Prime members yearly if they buy over 200 yuan goods for cross-boarder orders, while no limit to domestic orders when they purchase the blue Prime logo commodities.

amazonprime

China is the first country that Amazon offers free-delivery service for cross-boarder orders among 12 membership countries. This service covers 9 million terms on Amazon China and about 4 million terms from oversea markets.

In United States, consumers need to pay$ 79 to become Prime memberships so that they can enjoy freely two-day shipping service. It costs a lot for logistics and labor in United States. Therefore, the subscription fee for Prime sounds reasonable and convenient.

Prime Membership system is a key to Amazon business. It obtains a variety of users. Prime membership, marketplace and AWS are considered as three pillars of Amazon by Jeff Benzos.

Amazon Prime members are over 65 million so far. Wall Street analyst predicted that Prime service contributed $ 7 billion revenue in cash to Amazon.

It is hard to copy that business mode in Chinese market. Oversea shopping is demand point that Prime found in Chinese market. Chinese consumers have great demand on overseas commodities now. However, they balance the delivery fee and delivery time for their purchases. They would rather choose cheapest delivery mode. Amazon aims at attracting more Chinese consumers by introducing customized Prime service.

It hopes to introduce Prime service to more Chinese consumers before November 11th and Black Friday. By August, 2016, Chinese consumers made over 10 million oversea orders Amazon oversea sites, increased by 400% yoy.

It faces the competition from Tmall.com and JD.com in China. Time will tell us whether Prime service works in China.