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UBER TO LAUNCH DELIVERY SERVICE: Uber is hiring bike couriers in New York City who will deliver packages to consumers around the city. Carriers will be paid $US20 and hour and receive a free iPhone to manage deliveries. The job listing, which was posted on Craigslist, is a clear sign that Uber is preparing to launch its new on-demand delivery service any day now. Once that happens, Uber and Amazon and eBay (the two e-commerce companies also have delivery services) will be on a crash-course to compete for same-day delivery. (Craigslist)
A PARTNERSHIP TO TAKE ON STARBUCKS: Blue Bottle Coffee and Tonx, an online subscription coffee service, have forged a partnership. After a few months, Tonx will become the e-commerce arm of Blue Bottle. The deal has the makings to disrupt the coffee industry in the U.S., as no major company has yet to tap into e-commerce for coffee. Starbucks has a stronghold on retail coffee through its massive chain of cafes, and Starbucks’ partnership with Green Mountain has brought single-serve coffee to offices, but Starbucks has yet to make any dent in the coffee delivery market. (Wired)
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AMAZON DASH AND THE RACE TO REDUCE FRICTION: Amazon’s Dash shopping wand is the latest effort by a major tech company to reduce the friction between a consumer’s desire to buy something and making the purchase happen. Yesterday, we reported on how PayPal wants to allow mobile app users to make payments at retail stores without ever having to take the phone out of their pockets. Amazon’s Dash takes a different approach to accomplish a similar aim. Dash is a standalone, remote control-like device that people can use to add items to their Amazon grocery shopping list, by scanning bar codes of items in their kitchens (it also records voice requests). It’s intended to be used as a small appliance, clearly aimed at busy families: “Keep it on your kitchen counter or hang it on the refrigerator,” reads Amazon’s marketing copy for Dash. “Did your kids just eat the last of the cereal? Conveniently refill and restock your home’s everyday essentials, and have fun doing it.”
FOLLY OR BRILLIANT? Analyst reactions to the Dash have run the gamut, from befuddlement over whether Dash really added any real convenience, to intrigue over Amazon’s foray into shopping hardware. “Why do you need a standalone ‘wand’ for an operation that is perfectly feasible with today’s smartphones?” writes Tyler Wells Lynch for Reviewed.com. But R.J. Hottovy, a senior analyst at Morningstar, notes that just like Amazon’s newly announced Fire TV set-top video streaming box, the Dash gives the Internet retailing giant a direct line into consumers’ homes, and their purchase decisions. “It’s a pretty compelling device to enhance the overall ecosystem,” he tells BII. “The company’s giving consumers every reason to shop through Amazon, and the hardware they need to do it.” The Dash is now available for free, but only to Prime Fresh subscribers in Los Angeles and San Francisco. “Once we learn more from our customers about their experience we will consider expanding the trial,” Amazon said in a statement. (Tech Reporter Keith Griffith For BI Intelligence)
REMEMBER CUECAT? Amazon’s Dash reminded us of the CueCat, a goofy-looking, cat-shaped barcode scanning device released in 2000 that attached to PCs through a USB connector. It was basically an early version of today’s QR code systems. The company that made the CueCat is no longer around, and in 2009 CueCat had the dubious honour of being chosen for Gizmodo’s Worst Gadgets Gallery. Consumers will decide whether Dash will be tomorrow’s CueCat, or whether it will inaugurate a new product category — stand-alone shopping gadgets. Amazon certainly can’t be faulted for not trying to innovate in shopping tech.
SHOPKEEP 2.0: Shopkeep, a point-of-sale system for the iPad, has been updated with a slew of new features. In addition to a streamlined user interface, Shopkeep now supports single sign-on so retail managers and staff don’t need multiple access codes. Additionally, Shopkeep’s creators redesigned the system’s transaction flow to reduce the amount of time it takes to check-out a customer. (Cult of Mac)
NEW STARTUP ACCELERATOR IN INDIA: Pitney Bowes, the 94-year-old maker of mailing and marketing technology for businesses, is launching a startup accelerator in India to create new technologies and innovations to support its business. The accelerator will give Pitney Bowes a place outside its corporate culture where it can fund disruptive new technologies. Pitney Bowes joins Target, Coca Cola, and other corporate giants who have recently launched startup accelerators in India — one of the fastest growing e-commerce markets in the world. (TechCrunch)
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