Friday, 20 April 2018

Amazon has more than 100m Prime Members

"Prime – 13 years post-launch, we have exceeded 100 million paid Prime members globally. In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S. Members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100 million different items. We expanded Prime to Mexico, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, and introduced Business Prime Shipping in the U.S. and Germany. We keep making Prime shipping faster as well, with Prime Free Same-Day and Prime Free One-Day delivery now in more than 8,000 cities and towns. Prime Now is available in more than 50 cities worldwide across nine countries. Prime Day 2017 was our biggest global shopping event ever (until surpassed by Cyber Monday), with more new Prime members joining Prime than any other day in our history.
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Marketplace – In 2017, for the first time in our history, more than half of the units sold on Amazon worldwide were from our third-party sellers, including small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Over 300,000 U.S.-based SMBs started selling on Amazon in 2017, and Fulfillment by Amazon shipped billions of items for SMBs worldwide. Customers ordered more than 40 million items from SMBs worldwide during Prime Day 2017, growing their sales by more than 60 percent over Prime Day 2016. Our Global Selling program (enabling SMBs to sell products across national borders) grew by over 50% in 2017 and cross-border ecommerce by SMBs now represents more than 25% of total third-party sales.
Alexa – Customer embrace of Alexa continues, with Alexa-enabled devices among the best-selling items across all of Amazon. We’re seeing extremely strong adoption by other companies and developers that want to create their own experiences with Alexa. There are now more than 30,000 skills for Alexa from outside developers, and customers can control more than 4,000 smart home devices from 1,200 unique brands with Alexa. The foundations of Alexa continue to get smarter every day too. We’ve developed and implemented an on-device fingerprinting technique, which keeps your device from waking up when it hears an Alexa commercial on TV. (This technology ensured that our Alexa Super Bowl commercial didn’t wake up millions of devices.) Far-field speech recognition (already very good) has improved by 15% over the last year; and in the U.S., U.K., and Germany, we’ve improved Alexa’s spoken language understanding by more than 25% over the last 12 months through enhancements in Alexa’s machine learning components and the use of semi-supervised learning techniques. (These semi-supervised learning techniques reduced the amount of labeled data needed to achieve the same accuracy improvement by 40 times!) Finally, we’ve dramatically reduced the amount of time required to teach Alexa new languages by using machine translation and transfer learning techniques, which allows us to serve customers in more countries (like India and Japan)."

Friday, 6 April 2018

Chinese manufacturer Transson accounts for 30% of African phone sales

"No matter how many phones you sell, Yu Weiguo has learned, it’s tough to keep to a schedule when the government declares martial law. During his eight years in Ethiopia, Yu has helped turn little-known Transsion Holdings, owner of the sleepy Chinese brand Tecno Mobile, into Africa’s leading mobile device maker. Having sold at least 200 million phones on the continent, he picked the outskirts of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, as the site for a 280,000-square-foot factory. It was supposed to be pumping out as many as 2 million phones a month by July, but things aren’t working out as planned.
Ethiopia’s ruling coalition declared a state of emergency in mid-February after the surprise resignation of Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn destabilized the rest of the autocratic regime. For Transsion, the fallout has been a lesson in risk. The company profits from China’s checkbook diplomacy in Africa but now faces the downside: public outcry against worsening inequality and repression. “There are many things that can’t be controlled in Africa,” Yu says. “Sometimes your plans don’t work.”
To say Transsion and its phones are little-known outside Africa is an understatement. Tecno has never cracked the top-10 smartphone brands in China and doesn’t sell in the U.S. or Europe. Yet its parent accounts for 30 percent of African phone sales, compared with 22 percent for second-place Samsung, according to researcher Canalys. Reclusive founder Zhu Zhaojiang controls the private company via a string of related backers and funds, as well as some government-backed investment. Zhu, 44, has said he plans to go public at some point through a reverse merger with Shimge Pump Industry Group, a Chinese manufacturer of stainless steel pumps."

The US self-storage industry generated nearly $40bn a year

"Despite recessions and demographic shifts, few building types have boomed like self-storage lockers. In fact, they’ve proven to be one of the surest bets in real estate over the last half century, while malls, starter homes, and even luxury commercial space in big cities, once safe and steady investments, have struggled. Behind the combination locks and roll-up doors lies a $38 billion industry.
One in 11 Americans pays an average of $91.14 per month to use self-storage, finding a place for the material overflow of the American dream. According to SpareFoot, a company that tracks the self-storage industry, the United States boasts more than 50,000 facilities and roughly 2.311 billion square feet of rentable space. In other words, the volume of self-storage units in the country could fill the Hoover Dam with old clothing, skis, and keepsakes more than 26 times.
Though the adage “sex sells” is hard to dispute, the decidedly unsexy self-storage industry made $32.7 billion in 2016, according to Bloomberg, nearly three times Hollywood’s box office gross. Self-storage has seen 7.7 percent annual growth since 2012, according to analysts at IBISWorld, and now employs 144,000 nationwide."

13m ARKit apps have been downloaded in 6 months

"iPhone and iPad users worldwide have installed more than 13 million augmented reality apps built expressly using Apple’s ARKit framework since they debuted on September 19 of last year, Sensor Tower Store Intelligence data shows.
As the following charts reveal, these downloads have been heavily concentrated around a few key App Store categories, including Games, Utilities, and Lifestyle. In addition to this, we’ve put together top 10 rankings of the most downloaded free and paid ARKit-only apps and games, along with the highest grossing offerings so far in this growing space."
Source:  SensorTower, 28th March 2018

Online alcohol delivery revenue grew by 33% in the US in 2017

"New data shows that online alcohol-delivery revenue grew almost 33 percent last year, increasing at an average rate of 3 percent month over month. According to Slice Intelligence, the growth of alcohol-delivery service Drizly helped give the market a boost, with revenue that grew by a whopping 62 percent in 2017.
Drizly is an eCommerce marketplace for consumers who want alcohol delivered to them the same day, connecting them with local retailers who are part of Drizly’s marketplace, available in over 40 markets across the U.S. and Canada.
“We have been collecting great data as a result of selling beer, wine and spirits online,” Drizly Co-founder and COO Justin Robinson told PYMNTS last year, “and for an interesting customer base — a base that everyone wants to know more about, one that skews toward millennials with an average consumer age of 33 — those are the consumers who are starting trends.”
The Slice data also shows that December is the highest revenue-earning month in 2017, comprising over 12 percent of annual sales, thanks to the holiday season."

Apple's app store shrank for the first time ever in 2017

"The Apple App Store endured its first ever contraction in 2017 — dropping from 2.2 million published iOS apps in the beginning of the year to 2.1 million by year-end.
The news comes from a new report from Appfigures, according to TechCrunch. The App Store’s contraction was paired with the Google Play stores’ expansion — in 2017, it reportedly grew 30 percent to around 3.6 million apps.
The drop off, according to Appfigures, comes as a result of a few issues. Apple has begun pushing for stricter enforcement of app guidelines — meaning more apps were categorized as spam and removed. There were also technical changes to the App Store that required developers to adopt 64-bit architecture.
The change also reflects a purge of apps that were considered abandoned, outdated, or those that were out of step with current app-development guidelines. That clean-up began in 2016, but analysts suspect that purge may well have continued into 2017.
Other explanations for the great app thin-out include a temporary move to template-based apps, but that policy was relaxed over SMB complaints that the requirement made the App Store inaccessible for smaller businesses."

Amazon 'isn't as appealing to Gen Z as to Millennials'

"Though Amazon’s retail stronghold continues to pose a threat to companies both large and small, there’s one demographic the e-commerce giant has yet to crack: Gen Z.
According to a report by Yes Lifecycle Marketing, Gen Z consumers, more than any other generation, choose to shop at other retailers besides Amazon, with 31 percent citing that they prefer the in-store shopping experience. Additionally, in a survey of whether individuals made a purchase on the platform in the last month, 79 percent of millennials reported they had, while just 62 percent of Gen Z said the same.
Ed Kennedy, senior director of commerce at Episerver, said Amazon isn’t appealing to experience-driven Gen Z shoppers, in large part because the platform’s main value proposition — namely convenience and cost — doesn’t speak to them. While older generations are busy managing careers and families, Gen Z has time and disposable income and is seeking unique retail experiences."

VR & AR start-ups raised $3.6bn in the 12 months to March 2018

"AR/VR startups raised a record over $3.6 billion from VCs and corporates in the last 12 months to the end of Q1 2018. Over three-quarters of a billion dollars was invested in the first 3 months of this year alone. A fundamental transition in the fundraising market towards AR from VR, as well as the very early-stage dynamics of mobile AR, are driving an acceleration of fundraising trends anticipated at the start of the year. As expected in a transitional year, overall deal volumes declined slightly in the short-term as VCs and corporates look to medium-term mobile AR and long-term smartglasses growth.
The investment dollar figures for the last 12 months and first quarter are impressive, but digging beneath the surface reveals what is really going on. As has become more expected in early-stage tech markets, mega-rounds take the lion’s share of dollars invested. In the last 12 months Magic Leap raised nearly $1 billion ($502 million in Q4 2017 and $461 million in Q1 2018), Improbable raised $502 million, Niantic raised $200 million and Unity did another big round."