PBS Inventors’ Competition
Stanley Black & Decker, Amazon Launchpad and Ace Hardware are among the companies underwriting Make48, a new invention competition series on PBS that is aimed at encouraging American ingenuity. The eight-episode Make48 series debuted this fall, and production on Season Two has already begun. In addition, they are taking applications for Season Three. Three winners, picked by judges, will get help creating prototypes and producing marketing videos, and get the chance to pitch their products to major retailers. The producers describe the series as reality TV that really works. More than 207 public television stations are airing the show, reaching more than 90 million households.
Pre-Fab Homes for Sale on Amazon
Amazon Prime members can now have a tiny home delivered to their doorstep. Priced at $36,000 plus $3,754 for shipping, the 320-square-foot pre-fabricated homes are shipped in containers. They're manufactured by MODS International, and include a bedroom, shower, toilet, sink, kitchenette and living area, along with double patio door, connections for sewer, water and electric and heat and air conditioning. Before you order one check with your municipality, as they are too small to meet required home sizes for some areas. While being compared to the Sears home kits of the early to mid-1900s, these little homes are constructed out of shipping containers. Some journalists are calling Amazon the Sears Catalog of this generation.
Protecting Data a Top Priority
Cyberthreats are now on the top of CEOs’ worry lists for fear a data breach could cost them their jobs and take down their businesses. The fallout from big breaches at Target, Yahoo and Equifax weighs on executives. The number of U.S. data breaches jumped to a record 791 in the first six months of 2017, according to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center and data-security firm CyberScout. That’s a 29% jump from the same time period in 2016. The Wall Street Journal reported that CEOs said that five years ago cyber security was “someone else’s job,” but now it’s a top concern of the top executives in every major company. One of the threats comes from the fact that there is a lot of information available to the public about most CEOs and top executives, particularly those who run publicly held companies. That makes it easy for scammers to construct phishing emails that appear to have come from the boss instructing recipients to click on links or refresh their personal information.
Amazon Disrupting Business as Usual
Amazon has already spearheaded what is generally regarded as an omnichannel retail revolution that is trying to understand the shifting consumption patterns and changing needs and priorities of consumers today. Amazon is making forays into businesses that are far afield from their retail roots, from pharmaceuticals to groceries to iconic brands like Nike that ten years ago would have never considered being sold on Amazon. According to internet marketing service BloomReach, 55% of product searches start on Amazon, far more than the 28% that start on search engines. Amazon captures an estimated 40% of every shopping dollar spent online and is already the second-largest apparel seller in the US, right behind Walmart.
Smart Speaker Home Market Growing Rapidly
The number of households with voice-activated wireless speakers such as Amazon’s Echo and Google Home has more than tripled in just the past year, according to market research firm NPD Group. About 15% of households with internet now own a home automation device, up from 10% in April 2016. Security and monitoring systems have the largest dollar share, but categories such as smart lighting and video doorbells are growing rapidly. Google is reportedly building a tabletop smart screen named “Manhattan” which would compete with Amazon’s Echo Show. Manhattan would offer YouTube, Google Assistant, Google Photos and support video calling. It will also act as a smart hub for Nest and other smart home devices. Google abruptly stopped making YouTube available on Amazon’s Echo Show the end of September. Homebuilder Lennar Homes is now offering residences in South Florida with home-automation voice control by Alexa built in. Using an Amazon Echo screen, homeowners can control home appliances, answer video calls, view security cameras, check the weather and control their lights and locks. The townhomes are priced from the high $300s; single-family homes start around $572,000.
Business Messaging Market Grows
Walmart is the latest, and undeniably the largest, company that is adopting the enterprise version of Facebook’s social networking tool across its workforce of 2.3 million employees. The tool is known as Workplace, and enables co-workers to communicate, collaborate and share content through a web interface mobile app with built-in enterprise-grade security and administration features. Workplace was launched in 2015 as a pilot project and to date has been deployed by more than 14,000 companies, including Stanley Black & Decker and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Facebook’s rivals in the business-messaging market include Slack Technologies, Jive and Microsoft’s Yammer, which is offered through Office 365. Microsoft recently announced that their instant-messaging tool called Teams will be replacing Skype for Business as their primary workplace collaboration software.
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