Do Not Read Until Monday – June 19
It may be grey outside, but the sun always shines in our hearts on a Summer Friday. Enjoy your weekend and get caught up on the latest tech news Monday morning.
AMAZON 👏 BOUGHT 👏 WHOLE 👏 FOODS
Plus they might buy Slack, and don’t want Echo Ads… yet.
First, Amazon made us question whether we need physical stores at all, and now it’s buying up a massive supermarket chain. Whole Foods, which it aims to purchase for crazy money $13.4B, began as a fresh, organic food supermarket – but has struggled to keep its footing in an increasingly crowded market.
Amazon has experimented with physical stores and grocery pick up recently. However, the acquisition would give Amazon an immediate international brick-and-mortar presence.
Additionally, in what’s now just a footnote compared to that, Amazon might buy Slack. [Yawns] The move would BEEF* up Amazon’s enterprise appeal, as it already hosts web services and recently began offering a cloud-based customer service platform to businesses.
Another thing: Alexa doesn’t want to have ads – yet. Developer policy changes killed VoiceLabs, which had been working with major brands to innovate in the area.
*Get it, because, remember the thing about Whole Foods?
This Week in Snapchat vs. The World: Back to where they started
Following last week’s L in the market, Snapchat put on a fresh face this week and came out swinging. News leaked that Spectacles 2.0 could be a ‘radical’ re-invention of the device/fashion item, likely including enhanced AR capabilities. That wasn’t enough to stop Snap’s stock tumble continuing, though, and it hit parity with its IPO level Thursday, even as other companies continue to bite its features for profit.
Maybe the biggest news surrounding Snap this week may also be the most overlooked. As image recognition (and related targeting) becomes more integral to advertising, it’s AI component will become a key technology development area. And Snap just proved it could beat Google in this arena.
The Verdict: It’s a stalemate as Snap’s rosy long-term prospects clash with its dismal current state.
- Facebook has made it much easier for advertisers to blacklist publishers they do not want their ads featured alongside via Audience Network. It’s probably looking to avoid stuff like this or this.
- Meanwhile, it’s teaching bots to outsmart us so soon we might have bigger fish to fry anyway.
- Twitter looks different.
- Instagram’s working on standardizing influencer sponsorship disclosures. This should help brand avoid legal peril when deploying such tactics.
Cortana tests pit convenience against conscience
Microsoft recently revealed its personal assistant, Cortana, will soon be able to ‘pop up’ and offer price comparisons when you’re shopping online (only if you’re using the Edge browser with a special update, but still). Alexa, Siri and Co. could easily follow suit, meaning this may integrate to things like Google Home and Amazon Echo. This even-more ‘frictionless’ comparison, paired with the ease of purchase with rapidly evolving home assistant technology could drive prices down or greatly favor low-price retailers.
This reinforces the idea that brands need to have a strong enough identity to make customers pause for consideration. In many cases, this manifests as “social purpose”, the subject of a recent article by The Next Web. Purchases are often complex, multi-factor equations. It will be interesting to see convenience and conscience continue to battle in users’ decisions as buying gets more seamless.
- June 16, 2017