Like Amazon, Uber Adopts Growth-Over-Profits Strategy

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NYPD Detective Goes Ballistic On Uber DriverThe on-demand car service startup Uber Technologies Inc. has been exhibiting some serious growth and has gotten a flattering comparison as a result even if it they’ve gone through rough patches to do so.

Uber’s growth has compelled observers to liken it to Amazon.

Why?

Mainly because Uber’s mission is to expand its operations as rapidly as possible on a global scale and to not concern itself with the short-term promise of immediate profits.

Another facet to that strategy is to not be that concerned with their losses; in an outside report given to potential investors, it’s been stated that Uber has a loss total of $470 million as opposed to gains of $415 million.

Uber representatives view those numbers with skepticism.

Amazon for a stretch of years was deemed a company that wasn’t profitable despite their growing presence.

But after going public in 1997, the company underwent a tough road towards stability that saw them trim their workforce and losses in subsequent years in the early 2000’s.

Uber’s road may see the same bumps but with new ventures into messenger services and food delivery along with increased expansion in other cities, they’re hoping that their losses decline just as fast.

Christopher A. Smith

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Google, Amazon, eBay, Etsy And Others Drop Confederate Flag Merchandise

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Confederate_Rebel_Flag.svgIn the wake of the racially motivated shooting that took place in a historically African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, online retailers have done away with offering all merchandise with the Confederate flag emblazoned on it.

Amazon, Google, Etsy and eBay have made the decision not to carry these items as the uproar over the flag has dominated discussion after last week’s shooting by a white assailant that took the lives of nine members of the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, including their pastor, who was also a state senator.

eBay issued an announcement on Tuesday that it would prevent the sale of items bearing the Confederate flag due to it being in line with their policies prohibiting items for sale that provoke racial animosity.

A spokesman for Amazon also said on Tuesday that they would be removing items with the controversial flag from their website.

Google planned to remove items with the flag from their Google Shopping sites as well as to remove the image of the flag from any of their advertisements.

A spokeswoman for Etsy also confirmed on Tuesday that it would remove items bearing the flag from their site, citing that it would fall under their own policies regarding items that promote hatred of a certain group.

These online companies join Sears, Kmart and Walmart in banning these items in response to the growing public uproar and unease.

Christopher A. Smith

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Amazon Will Pay Some Authors By Pages Read Instead Of Downloads

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Amazon Will Pay Some Authors By Pages Read Instead Of DownloadsThe online retail company Amazon’s recent decision to pay authors by the amount of pages of their books being read instead of downloads may contain a ripple effect throughout the publishing and tech industries down the line.

The new policy will go into effect next month.

Amazon’s previous method of paying authors who publish using their services was to set aside a pool of money and split it all up among these authors.

They used an algorithm to measure the number of “borrows”, or  downloads to aid in calculating exactly how much in royalties each author received.

The new system could be applied to those books and authors in the Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Online Lending Library programs, which between the two have over 800,000 titles.

There is, however, some speculation as to how this will affect both larger publishers and smaller book presses as well as self-published authors.

For its part, Amazon’s public commentary on the new policy states that this will directly affect those books that are in the Kindle Select program which is distributed through their Kindle Direct Publishing program.

The pay-per-page model will definitely bring up a pertinent question for writers who not only utilize Amazon but who have had to adapt their writing style and output to keep in line with the new demands.

Could this lead to a rise in shorter novels?

Could there be those looking to put one over on Amazon and customers?

Only time will tell.

Christopher A. Smith

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Amazon Has Updated The Way They Rank Reviews

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Amazon Launches Free Lightweight Delivery ServiceOnline e-commerce giant Amazon has now updated their review system in an effort to help improve the ability of their customers to give more beneficial commentary on items.

Amazon is relying on a newer internal machine-driven learning system that will aid in giving more helpful updates to reviews posted on the American version on its site.

The hope is that in addition to more recent reviews getting prominent space at the top of search results for an item, that the system will prune out more of the bogus reviews that have been a slight irritant to Amazon over the years.

The latter is something that the company rarely mentions, but the change will no doubt limit those hassles.

The new system will also go a long way to help give more authentic ratings of items overall – previously, items got their ratings as an estimate based on all reviews listed for that particular item.

Christopher A. Smith

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Amazon Launches Free Lightweight Delivery Service

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Amazon Launches Free Lightweight Delivery ServiceAmazon just added a new shipping feature that may strike at the heart of other online retailers offering free shipping.

On Wednesday, the company introduced a new service entitled “Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light”.

The delivery service will be free of charge for customers ordering items that weigh no more than 8 ounces.

Before this, a user would have to place an order that would total $35 or more or be an Amazon Prime member.

All orders placed with this service will be shipped out from a new hub located in Kentucky and will take anywhere from four to eight days.

The items that qualify would be smaller items like makeup and electronics accessories that usually fall into a price range under $10.

It takes its cue from other stores like Walgreens and Wal-Mart which has seen a jump in sales of these items over the past few years.

Amazon’s own tests found that these items with the newer delivery service were snapped up quicker than those with the standard shipping price over a 13-week period.

The move is another play by Amazon to gain further dominance in retail and possibly open avenues to alternative modes of shipping it has explored in the past.

Christopher A. Smith

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Amazon Prime Makes Free Same-Day Delivery Available In 14 Cities

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Amazon Prime Makes Free Same-Day Delivery Available In 14 CitiesAmazon Prime is upping the ante on what it can offer both their regular subscribers and those on the fence about subscribing.

The subscription service announced Thursday that they will now start offering free delivery on the same day in fourteen select cities and regions nationwide.

The cities included are: Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Dallas/Fort Worth, Baltimore, Washington D.C., Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Diego, Atlanta, Indianapolis and the San Francisco Bay and Seattle/Tacoma regions.

There are certain conditions to taking advantage of this new feature:

First, the free same-day delivery comes into play on orders that cost $35 and up – any orders costing less than that will incur a shipping charge. Another key point is that users are recommended to check if they qualify by entering their zip code on the site.

Christopher A. Smith

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Amazon Planning To Launch Their Own Food Brand

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Amazon Home Services LaunchesIn its quest to be the premier brand for all of their customers’ needs, Amazon is making plans to embark on doing business in a new field: groceries.

The global online retailer is looking to go toe-to-toe with other companies such as Target, Costco Wholesale and others by engaging food manufacturers to create their own private food label.

These manufacturers include TreeHouse Foods, a top company in the field.

The move is a major expansion of their Elements portfolio that offered diapers at one point as well as baby wipes to Prime subscribers.

Amazon reportedly also filed for trademarks on a slew of products in close to two dozen categories that include items ranging from razor blades to soups and pastas.

Amazon is looking to grab a share of the lucrative market that in-house brands have become thanks to shoppers being more fiscally conscious and taking advantage of the bargains offered by in-house brands like Costco’s Kirkland Brands and Target’s Archer Farms.

The company offered no comment on the reports.

Christopher A. Smith

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Target CEO Says: “Uber Could Certainly Be A Partner Someday”

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Target Settles Data Breach Class Action Lawsuit For $10 MillionYou might not think of Target and Uber in the same light, but recent shifts in the industry may make the pairing more than likely.

The topic came up for discussion during an interview of Target CEO Brian Cornell at the Code Conference held in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on Wednesday afternoon.“We won’t take anything off the table right now.”, he remarked when asked about a possible collaboration.

Uber has been actively exploring possibilities in providing merchandise delivery to customers, and their recent hire of Tom Fallows last year bolsters that initiative.

Fallows was previously the head of Google’s own same-day delivery service.

Target has been working to put together an outreach to a growing consumer base that is steadily relocating to the larger environs of urban cities.

The retail giant, known for its massive store properties, does have smaller “city center” stores within these areas and have started to see how even smaller stores dubbed “Target Express” would fare with these customers.

For Cornell, the goal is to have Target on pace with other retail outlets like Amazon and doing so means increasing their presence where their customers are now living.

To that end, Uber’s recent plans could make for an intriguing partnership with a company that already has a dedicated group of customers.

Christopher A. Smith

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10 Percent Of U.S. Households Are Using Shared Netflix Passwords

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Netflix Sees Record GrowthWith the rise of Netflix across the country’s households, there’s one thing that has stood out among the streaming service’s subscriber base.

And it’s not what you think it is.

According to recent reports, it’s been found that among those that use Netflix and Hulu in their homes with broadband connections, 11 percent and 10 percent respectively use someone else’s account and password information to gain access.

Also included in the report was an accounting for Amazon Instant Video subscribers, which clocked in at 5%.

The report was provided by research firm Parks Associates of Dallas, Texas.

The news comes as the streaming video services industry has seen explosive growth, with the recent additions of HBO Now which gives U.S. subscribers the opportunity to stream video content from HBO without a cable subscription and Dish Network’s Sling TV which consists of a live-streamed online TV package offered at $2o per month.

The report also found that the majority of 18 to 24 year olds who have access to broadband service compose the highest amount of those who share passwords, at 22 percent.

Part of the statistic comes from the fact that Netflix and other streaming video companies don’t have policies in place that crack down on such practices.

In addition, Netflix’s subscription tiers do allow for two to four people to watch content through the platform based on which tier they have chosen.

Christopher A. Smith

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Etsy Counterfeit Issues Are Taking Their Toll

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Etsy Files For IPOEtsy’s current polished outlook has just encountered a bit of tarnish.

Based on a recent account from a former seller who left the e-commerce artisan website and analyst reports, Etsy is experiencing a serious downward spiral thanks to posting a loss last quarter and the larger issue of counterfeit goods being offered through the site which is turning off longtime artisans and causing them to leave.

This has bolstered the ranks of competitors like Shopify.

As former seller Grace Dobush states, “In practical terms, scaling the handmade economy is an impossibility. So while Etsy maintains a hipster façade, they lost their indie cred years ago.”

The website gained prominence as a haven for budding artisans but as it got bigger, it is evident that upscaling has presented its challenges.

Etsy is reported to have pulled in $47 million in seller fees yearly, and is fifth in terms of most-visited web retailers after Amazon, eBay, Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Another example of Etsy’s lack of action regarding counterfeit goods lies in the rise of their biggest seller, Alicia Shaffer who reportedly earns $1 million from her store on the site.

But her items are all made overseas and imported wholesale.

So far, Etsy has refused to make any comment on any and all remarks on counterfeit goods sold in their marketplace.

Christopher A. Smith

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