Posts tagged with "Best Buy"

Amazon to launch Fire TV sets in bid to firm up its foothold in living rooms

September 10, 2021

Amazon plans to roll out  a line of Fire TV sets that will feature its Alexa voice assistant—an expansion that also showcases a growing ambition to place itself at the center of customer living rooms, reports The Wall Street Journal.

On September 9, the tech giant announced two lineups of Amazon-branded TVs—one named Amazon Fire TV Omni Series, starting at $409.99, and the other Amazon Fire TV 4-Series, which will start at $369.99. The TVs will be available on Amazon’s website and at Best Buy. locations in October.

TV brands including Toshiba and Best Buy house brand Insignia have for years sold televisions powered by Amazon Fire TV’s operating system after Amazon and Best Buy joined forces in 2018.

What’s more, the Journal notes, Amazon has become dominant in streaming, with its Fire TV devices regularly ranking among top sellers. Its entertainment services include the Prime Video streaming platform, Fire TV operating system, and an assortment of streaming devices.

In recent years, Amazon has expanded its own-brand business in several arenas, including apparel, groceries and even items such as batteries. The company has opened branded grocery shops and plans to operate several department stores that will feature its private-label brands, the Journal reported last month.

Through its branded TVs, the online retailer is taking on a segment of electronics known for low margins that have dissuaded some competitors. Apple spent years studying the potential for an Apple TV, but has so far only developed a streaming device and the video service Apple TV+. The iPhone maker has long targeted opportunities to integrate hardware and software to make products where it can command hefty premiums and profit margins.

Amazon, meanwhile, historically has sought market share over profit and to appeal to customers with lower prices. The company in recent years has released an array of Alexa-enabled products, including ear buds and glasses.

An Amazon TV “speaks to Amazon’s product road map—anything customers spend time on, they want to take a shot at,” said Loup Ventures tech analyst Gene Munster. “There will be a market for cheap, good tech.”

The streaming industry is crowded with competitors. Amazon has faced steep competition from Roku  while being challenged by broadband giants such as Comcast,  which has worked with Walmart  and Chinese manufacturer Hisense to develop smart TVs.

Amazon said its Omni Series TVs will be equipped with the company’s Alexa assistant, which will feature “far-field voice controls” that enable customers to ask Alexa questions without a remote, much like the company’s Echo smart speakers.

The TVs will be available in sizes ranging from 43 inches to 75 inches diagonally and will have 4K resolution. Amazon said its Fire TV 4-Series will support Alexa capabilities available through its Alexa Voice Remote. The more affordable 4-Series TVs will be available in 43-inch, 50-inch and 55-inch models.

Daniel Rausch, vice president of Amazon Entertainment Devices and Services, said the television lineup will build on the company’s effort to bring ambient computing to people’s homes. He likened their capabilities to its smart speakers, with the Omni Series models responding and turning on to a wake word—often programmed as “Alexa”—even when they are turned off.

Finally despite launching competing TV products, Amazon said its partnerships with Toshiba and others aren’t changing. The company Thursday also announced new Fire TV-powered televisions by Toshiba and Pioneer. Amazon has clashed with partners and potential partners over how it has launched products that compete with them. The company has said it doesn’t use confidential information that other firms share with it to build competing products.

Aside from its branded TVs, Amazon on Thursday also revealed the latest iteration of its Fire TV Stick 4K product. The new Stick 4K “Max” (priced at $54.99) will include Alexa features and have power and networking upgrades.

 Research contact: @WSJ

Forgot to pack a warm coat? Try the airport vending machine

November 15, 2018

If you are traveling by air, don’t worry about packing lightly. There’s almost no limit to what you can buy at the airport now, if you find you have forgotten an important item or need something unexpectedly.

Zara Harding had a nagging concern as she walked to her gate after an airport layover last June,” she told The Wall Street Journal for a November 14 story.  She had run out of time to buy a coat for the glacier hike in Washington’s Cascade Mountains she was heading to and was “worrying about being cold in the snow.”

But to her surprise and delight, she found her solution right there at Hollywood Burbank Airport. “Lo and behold,” she says, “a Uniqlo brand vending machine appeared in my path.”

Harding, 39, a group fitness instructor from Northern California, told the business news outlet that she paid $69.90 for an ultra-light down jacket made by the Japanese casual clothing retailer.

Indeed, according to the Journal, the retailer started rolling out vending machines in August 2017 at airports and shopping malls near New York, Houston, Oakland, and seven other U.S. cities—selling basic, travel-friendly attire to customers with no time to browse through the racks or wait on a line.

Although Uniqlo won’t comment on its sales, San Francisco International Airport officials told the New York-based newspaper that the machine there brings in a whopping $10,000 a month.

And according to the Journal, Uniqlo is in the forefront an exponentially expanding number of companies that are using vending machine to sell everything from apparel to makeup, to electronics and high-end foods at hubs nationwide.

The machines can be stationed in unused corners of an airport and make sales around the clock. Some new machines have touch screens and robotic suction arms to deliver expensive products.

“There’s only so many stores you can fit in an airport,” Elias Bizannes, CEO of San Francisco-based ZoomSystems said in an interview. The company operates machines for Uniqlo, as well as Best Buy, Benefit Cosmetics, Nespresso, and Proactiv.

Sarah Skwire, a senior fellow at a think tank in Indiana was on her way to Washington, D.C., when she got a text message that she needed her own makeup for a filming, the Journal reports. At Indianapolis International Airport, she found one of the pink, 59 bus-shaped Benefit machines that are parked at 37 U.S. and Canadian airports.

Before, she says, “I would make sarcastic remarks: Who’s going to blow $40 on Benefit while waiting for a plane, from a vending machine?”

This time, Skwire, 47, bought a travel makeup kit to get herself camera-ready. A few months later, she was back at a Benefit machine after a compact of pressed powder came apart in her bag during a security screening. “I went from a skeptic to a minor enthusiast.”

At some airports, vending machines offer local flavor. Ted Drewes, a St. Louis frozen-custard institution, has been selling $6 “concretes”—custard so thick you can turn it upside down without spilling—from machines at St. Louis Lambert International Airport since mid-2015. Travelers bought 15,000 concretes in the machines’ first year and sales climbed 25% the next year, according to Las Vegas-based AVendCo, which operates the four frozen-custard machines.

At Pittsburgh International Airport, a vending machine operated by Arcadia Publishing sells books on the history of local neighborhoods for about $20.

What’s next? Maybe food or other supplies for all of those companion animals that are catching flights with their owners?

Research contact: @alyrose