News You might have missed: Week of August 25th, 2017

Amazon’s Whole Foods acquisition to close on Monday

Amazon and Whole Foods Market announced on Thursday that Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods Market will close on Monday, August 28, 2017, and the two companies are not wasting any time. Their vision is making Whole Foods Market’s high-quality, natural and organic food affordable for everyone. So, as a first step, starting Monday, Whole Foods will offer lower prices on a selection of best-selling products across its stores: Whole Trade bananas, organic avocados, organic large brown eggs, organic responsibly-farmed salmon and tilapia, organic baby kale and baby lettuce, animal-welfare-rated 85% lean ground beef, creamy and crunchy almond butter, organic Gala and Fuji apples, organic rotisserie chicken, 365 Everyday Value organic butter, and much more. Amazon Prime Members will also benefit from perks such as rewards programs, Whole Foods products being added to AmazonFresh, Prime Pantry and Prime Now and the use of Amazon Lockers in store.

Via Amazon.com

  • Reducing prices is something every consumer like me who has shopped at Whole Foods rejoices about. Yet, I am sure I am not alone being concerned about the quality of the products going forward. Amazon reassured that quality will remain as high as we have been accustomed to so I suppose we should give it the benefit of the doubt.
  • A reward system and possible special offers limited to Prime Members will be a good incentive for people who have yet to sign up. It also represents an added value for current members as more stores now offer two day and same day delivery shipping options.
  • Price reductions are great news for customers and bad news for competitors who were probably not expecting the deal to close this quickly or for Amazon to move as fast

HTC Considering Options

The Taiwanese firm is working with an adviser as it considers bringing in a strategic investor, selling or spinning off its Vive virtual reality headset business.

Via Bloomberg 

  • Differentiating on hardware alone in the smartphone market has become impossible especially when differentiation does not come with lower prices.
  • Spinning off Vive to sell it I could see as an opportunity. While we are still in VR’s early days it is a segment where many vendors are hoping to be successful. Vive was able to establish itself as a leading player in the VR market. Buying Vive will give both expertise and a respected brand.
  • Spinning off the smartphone division is not something I see ending well. HTC has very little in terms of patents and I am not sure who could benefit.
  • HTC is manufacturing the Pixel for Google which some may think it would be enough for Google wanting to buy it. Yet, the current deal is much better for Google that can control the product without absorbing the risk of manufacturing
  • While some rumored the Chinese vendors as an option I do think, brands such as Xiaomi or Huawei would find it hard to use the HTC brand.

Google may be considering an Echo Dot- like Speaker

This week Android Police reported that at a rumored event in October, Google will be launching more than the awaited Pixel 2. Apparently, a Chromebook and a mini Google Home are on the way too.

Via Android Police

  • Google Home was an already aggressively priced device but as Amazon is pushing more Echo devices onto the market and lowering prices of current ones, Google cannot be standing still
  • The Echo Dot has done very well for Amazon. The impulse buy device has broadened the opportunity for Alexa with many users even adding several to the home and some even adding one to their car
  • So, it is no surprise to see Google consider a similar product. For both these players, hardware sales are not important per se. They only matter as far as they can help engage consumers with Google Assistant or Alexa.
  • Amazon has also moved up in price with Echo products such as Show and it will be interesting to see if Google will follow that path too. With Apple pointing to the quality of sound as the differentiator, Google and Amazon too might have to focus more on their speakers’ core functionality.

Apple scales Back Car’s Ambitions

Apple’s automotive ambitions are said to be more modest. The company has put off any notion of an Apple-branded autonomous vehicle and is instead working on the underlying technology that allows a car to drive itself. As cook said autonomous cars are the mother of all AI. Apple’s testing vehicles will carry employees between its various Silicon Valley offices. The new effort is called PAIL, short for Palo Alto to Infinite Loop, the address of the company’s main office in Cupertino, Calif., and a few miles down the road from Palo Alto, Calif. Apple’s in-house shuttle service, which isn’t operational yet, follows Waymo, Uber and several car companies that have been testing driverless cars on city streets around the world.

Via The New York Times 

  • It seems that Apple is becoming more realistic about what it should focus on with its effort.
  • Owning the car experience does not mean Apple has to make the car no more so than you believe Apple needs to build a house to sell me on HomeKit.
  • Considering the market push for car as a service it might also be plausible that Apple is more interested to provide a fleet for rental than cars to be bought at a dealership
  • Reining in the effort not to waste time and money on redesigning things that are not crucial to the final delivery of a product is a sensible thing to do and should not drive us to believe Apple wants a smaller role in this next phase of rethinking transportation
  • I still think Apple is more concerned about owning our experience in the car when the car becomes an extension of our living room or our office than selling us a car. Revenue will come from that experience not from the car itself.

Via The New York Times

 

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Carolina Milanesi

Carolina is a Principal Analyst at Creative Strategies, Inc, a market intelligence and strategy consulting firm based in Silicon Valley and recognized as one of the premier sources of quantitative and qualitative research and insights in tech. At Creative Strategies, Carolina focuses on consumer tech across the board. From hardware to services, she analyzes today to help predict and shape tomorrow. In her prior role as Chief of Research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, she drove thought leadership research by marrying her deep understanding of global market dynamics with the wealth of data coming from ComTech’s longitudinal studies on smartphones and tablets. Prior to her ComTech role, Carolina spent 14 years at Gartner, most recently as their Consumer Devices Research VP and Agenda Manager. In this role, she led the forecast and market share teams on smartphones, tablets, and PCs. She spent most of her time advising clients from VC firms, to technology providers, to traditional enterprise clients. Carolina is often quoted as an industry expert and commentator in publications such as The Financial Times, Bloomberg, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. She regularly appears on BBC, Bloomberg TV, Fox, NBC News and other networks. Her Twitter account was recently listed in the “101 accounts to follow to make Twitter more interesting” by Wired Italy.

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