Each of us has heard about the idea of a modern and intelligent home. Self-closing doors, gates, curtains, lights that turn off when you clap your hands, your favourite song plays after saying its title, one-touch temperature control throughout the house, sensors and tons of other possibilities. Is all this possible or is it just an idealized reality?
Many of the tech companies, instead of focusing on common development and innovative solutions to smart homes for all of them and consumers, create solutions that compete with each other. For example, devices manufactured by Apple for HomeKit are based on a different system and operation than devices distributed by Amazon such as Alexa (Zigbee, Z-Wave, Wi-Fi, Cloud or Bluetooth). Which discourages consumers from using a smart home, because it takes too much time and effort to figure out which devices are compatible with each other and work in conjunction with each other, and eventually give up the whole solution.
“That’s where Matter comes in.”
What is Matter? Previously called Connected Home over IP – CHIP for short is a smart home device system. The operating system is based on the possibility of free communication between technological devices at home to increase security and efficiency of use in everyday life. Over the years, the idea has been joined by corporate giants such as Apple, Amazon, Google, Samsung and also smaller companies.
“The smart home should be a natural evolution of our homes, bringing better appliances, better systems, better experiences.”
Matter wants to meet the expectations of an ideal smart home, all devices designed by the companies participating in the project are to interact with each other without any problems using the application. And all this is coming soon! At the end of 2022, the first devices with their certificate will be introduced. What distinguishes Matter from previous efforts to create a smart home is technology based on IP technology, which means that the solution they use is designed to provide pipelines and language for communication between devices without the need for constant internet access.
It will be a completely different, modern and, above all, effective solution for creating a smart home, meaning development for Google Home, HomeKit and many others.
The company installed the cameras in February 2021, explaining that they were needed for safety.
Drivers of Amazon’s delivery service in the US must now sign a “biometric consent” form in order to continue working for the company , The Verge writes on March 24.
It involves agreeing to collect data from cameras installed in delivery vans. Drivers must agree to the use of “certain technology, including cameras” as a “condition of delivering packages for Amazon,”  according to Vice.
The drivers in question are those who rent Amazon vans under the Partner Service Delivery programme. According to Vice, about 75,000 drivers could be affected.
What kind of data the company will collect depends on what kind of equipment is installed in the vans, The Verge suggests. But the agreement implies a wide range of data to be collected. This includes cameras using facial recognition to confirm driver identity and connect to an account, according to Vice.
Among those collected, for example, is data on the van’s movement, including speed, acceleration, braking, turns and distance travelled, “potential traffic offences” such as speeding or unbuckling a seatbelt. As well as “potentially dangerous driving behaviour” – when the driver is distracted from the road or falling asleep.
The company says it installs the cameras for “safety” and “to improve delivery”. But some drivers have already refused to sign the agreement.
Amazon installed  artificial intelligence cameras in vans rented by drivers participating in the Partner Service Delivery programme in February. They have built-in software that can detect 16 different safety issues, including if drivers are distracted, speeding, braking sharply and more.
In early March, senators from five US states wrote to Amazon  saying that the use of surveillance cameras in delivery vans “raises important privacy and worker oversight issues that Amazon must respond to”.
In September 2020, human rights activists had already spoken out about the hard work at Amazon – for example, the company has an electronic employee monitoring system, there are cameras in warehouses and drivers’ locations are constantly recorded.
My two prior entries detailed the issues of privacy and were primarily focused on a one key actor – Facebook. That is why I decided to disprove the common view of another “marvelous” tech giant – Amazon.
While the ongoing pandemic is a true hit for many businesses many of large, multinational companies are actually only getting bigger. One of them is Amazon. Its sales in the last quarter rose as much as 51% in comparison to the previous year. Also, it has surpassed Walmart as the biggest retailer by market capitalization in the United States. While other businesses are closing Amazon is only increasing its power and commercial reach. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing bad in “bigness” and with developing. The argument that Amazon creates terrific opportunities both in terms of creating the jobs and facilitating people setting up their own business is also perfectly logical and rational. However, too often have we fallen for the alleged benefits and too little have we considered the risks that stem from company’s enormous market power.
While in Poland Amazon services do not yet have a strong market presence, in the United States and the UK it is a go-to service when it comes to essentially buying anything. You want to buy diapers? You order them on Amazon. You need a new dog toy? You go to Amazon. You are out of cheese? You only need to log in to Amazon Fresh and it can be delivered to you at once. However, with all those possibilities and freedom of choice for customers there has to be a catch. We rarely realize that the ones paying the price for Amazon’s incredible efficiency and speedy deliveries are its employees. Probably many of you are now thinking that it is their job and there is nothing they can complain about. They can always quit or file a complaint, right? Believe me, they do that. In November, when the holiday season started, as much as 600 of them signed and delivered a petition to improve their working conditions. It was only in one warehouse in New York and there are many more.
Nevertheless, let me show you how working for Amazon looks like. If you worked as a sorter you would have to scan 1800 Amazon packages in an hour. It is 30 packages per minute. Also, you would get 15-minute breaks. However, you would need that 15 minutes to walk to and from the room where you can spend your break. Did I mention that you can get fired every time you miss your hourly rate?
There is no doubt that working for Amazon, in pretty much any non-senior capacity, is no dream job. Since Amazon is a marketplace, beyond the employees – there are also millions of sellers who use the platforms and as such, drive Amazon’s operations. From this, things can get ugly as well. I will present it in a form of a screenshot from the Amazon forum:
That is not a joke. They did that and that poor seller was not the only one. What is more, there are many other factors which can restrain sellers from making profits or for that matter, selling their products altogether. First of all, one can get banned unexpectedly and usually, there is no appeal mechanisms where we could oppose the decision. One of the banning reasons may be that a product that was sent was damaged or did not match its description. However, it is a classic example of a situation where Amazon (inherent in its policy) have always favored buyers, who tend to abuse it. The thing is if someone wants to return a product and does not want to pay for return shipping, he can always mark a product as damaged. There is nothing as a penalty for buyers and sellers are to ones who have everything to lose:
“One time, a buyer purchased a bunch of our napkins, used them for a party and soiled them, and then returned them for a full refund stating that the item was not as expected. We had to eat the cost.” – a seller.
Other negative aspects are that Amazon can force you to sell your products at a certain price. Also, it can force you to sell items on vendor central. It means that you must sell your products at a wholesale price to Amazon directly. The result is you have no control over them and little profit, which can destroy your product sales and listings. Amazon can squeeze all small businesses and they can do nothing about it.
The third aspect that I would like to stress is obviously data collection and privacy. Amazon’s incredibly rapid growth is a fact. However, increased risks are associated with that expansion. Corruption and potential data leaks are one of them. A company of such size and power should be held accountable and directly responsible for such situations. The problem with Amazon was workers who inappropriately accessed internet data and misused it. They were selling confidential information about sellers on Amazon. Later, that data allowed other sellers to gain advantages on the website. Also, employees of Amazon were selling Amazon Vendor Central Accounts which allowed buyers to enter other sellers’ listings and illegally change them.
However, misused data collection does not concern the black market only. The company itself has recently been accused by FTC of breaching US federal antitrust rules. Among other things, it allegedly used internal data about its sellers to compete with them. The gathered data allowed Amazon to detect best-selling products and adjust their own products following those criteria. As a result, Amazon basically avoids any risks of fair competition. While the investigation is still ongoing and the case is pending, serious accusations have already been made and charges are still yet to be presented.
Undeniably Amazon is a huge platform which is only expanding day by day. To be clear, I am not denying that Amazon is a great platform. In many respects, it really is. However, the company should remember that with great power comes great responsibility and that because of its size and influence, it will be expected to constantly improve. Maybe if such improvement was in place, Mr. Bezos would still be the World’s richest person.
 Chou S, “The Dangers Of Selling On Amazon And Horror Stories From Real Amazon Sellers” (MyWifeQuitHerJob.com)
2. “Amazon: It All Ads Up” (Subscribe to read | Financial TimesOctober 30, 2020)
3. Emont J, McMillan R and Stevens L, “Amazon, Amid Crackdown on Seller Scams, Fires Employees Over Data Leak” (The Wall Street JournalDecember 10, 2018)
4. Risicaris G, “Forums” (Amazon2006)
5. Weise K, “Prime Power: How Amazon Squeezes the Businesses Behind Its Store” (The New York TimesDecember 19, 2019)
6. Wisniewska A and Bradshaw T, “How 2020 Changed the Way We Use Technology” (Financial TimesJanuary 2, 2021)
Amazon announced this week, its huge move into the pharmacy business; it sent shockwaves through the industry. Is the tech giant going to take the heath care world by storm or break it?
Amazon recently launched Amazon Pharmacy, its online and mobile prescription medication ordering and fulfillment services. The service lets users buy medications, order refills online and have it delivered to their doorsteps, in a couple of days. Amazon Pharmacy will allow customers to complete pharmacy transactions on their desktop or through the Amazon’s mobile app.
Now, the world’s largest online retailer run by the world’s richest man is getting even further into the U.S. healthcare market by offering to send prescription drugs to its customers’ doors. In announcing the new venture on Nov. 17, Amazon said in a statement that customers can purchase prescription medications with or without insurance.
Customers will be able to create a secure pharmacy profile to add their insurance information, manage prescriptions, and choose payment options before checking out, Amazon explained in a statement.
Prime members receive unlimited, free two-day delivery on orders from Amazon Pharmacy included with their membership, the company added. Additionally, it announced a program for Amazon Prime members that let them buy medications at a discount when paying for them without insurance. The program, available at the Amazon Pharmacy and 50,000 pharmacies across the USA, can save Prime members 80 percent off generic drugs and 40 percent off brand name medications.
A number of self-service options are also available at Amazon’s pharmacy, as well as 24/7 phone access to “friendly and knowledgeable” pharmacists to answer questions about medications.
Doctors can send prescriptions directly to Amazon Pharmacy, currently available in the US only, or patients can request a transfer from their existing retailer.
Amazon has been quietly building out its pharmacy offering for several years after ramping up internal discussions in 2017 and buying PillPack in 2018. Amazon paid $753m two years ago to acquire Pillpack, which will continue to run its own business. However, Amazon will leverage its pharmacy software fulfillment centers, and relationships with health plans.
When Amazon acquired online pharmacy Pillpack in 2018, they said health data would remain separate and distinct from that on its retail site and no information would be shared with advertisers without permission.
But, many are afraid of the ‘data problem’. If you’re an Amazon user your data is used by the company for marketing and advertising purposes. Many believe Amazon can now track your conditions, your medications, and when you last had them filled, And use predatory methods of advertising. Plus, many believe that Amazon is slowly becoming a monopoly and may take over this industry. CVS, Walgreens, and other huge pharmaceutical companies’ stocks already plummeted since the announcement of Amazon Pharmacy.
However, a lot of people see the introduction of Amazon Pharmacy as a big win, especially in a pandemic. Individuals do not have to wait in lines in public for their prescriptions; instead, they can stay home and order safely. Moreover, the discounts Amazon is offering on generics (up to 80%) to people with or without insurance are incredibly attractive.
Forrester analyst Arielle Trzcinski, in her research notes on the Amazon announcement, sees a number of benefits for consumers in the new pharmacy offering.
“The ability to track your order is a nice added feature than many PBMs (pharmacy benefit manager) and pharmacy experiences do not provide,“ she wrote. “Visibility across the supply chain will provide greater comfort to consumers who may be fearful of delays or the risk of medications getting lost in the mail.“
Arielle Trzcinski, Forrester analyst
Although Amazon Pharmacy service is only available across the states at the moment, it is expected to be available worldwide in good time. As the need for pharmaceuticals is everywhere; it’s a global opportunity.
Amazon Scout is a fully-electric robot that uses autonomous devices to safely deliver goods to the customers.
After many hours of development in Seattle, Amazon has finally decided to let their robots to the tasks they were designed for. Initially, only 6 robots have been released now and all of them are in Washington state, Snohomish County. They will deliver packages Monday through Friday in daylight hours. While traveling through the County’s pavements, the robots can avoid human, pets or other objects on the way, but at the initial release which took place at Wednesday – Amazon said that the robots will be accompanied by an Amazon employee.
This is how the process is supposed to look like.
As you can see the robot is fairly big. My main concern is security. What could be stopping a potential robber from just straight up coming up and stealing the whole robot or when the lid opens taking out the package and running off. The idea is great, but somehow seems to have many holes that could be exploited. Those questions aren’t answered yet, but Amazon is looking at it pretty optimistically.
We are happy to welcome Amazon Scout to our growing suite of innovative delivery solutions for customers and look forward to taking the learnings from this first neighborhood so Amazon Scout can, over time, provide even more sustainability and convenience to customer deliveries.
Looks like they are equipped with proper tools and a plan. It is very exciting to see new autonomous devices helping people like this robot or Amazon’s drones. Questions will arise:
Is it likely for robots like this to take jobs away from people, leading to more unemployment?
And when will the technology leave the US and make it to Poland?
The fact that web portals manage the data of their users without their awareness is known not from today, but the way in which Facebook does, it’s just beyond comprehension.
The New York Times is showing the truth.
In connection with recent reports from The New York Times, we read that Facebook sold access to various types of “sensitive data” about its users to such companies as: Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, Yahoo, Netflix, Spotify. Netflix and Spotify had even access to private correspondence. In most cases, the data obtained by the companies were to help in the selection and positioning of advertisements for users of the said portals. It does not change the fact that through the sale of these data Facebook broke an agreement from 2011 with the American Federal Trade Commission, which clearly states that Facebook can share user data only if it is given accurate and explicit consent.
Companies answer the allegations!
All companies mentioned in the report of The New York Times issued a special statement. One of them is the statement of the Netflix press office regarding access to private correspondence of Facebook users. We read in it about:
“Over the years, we’ve tested various solutions to help Netflix understand the wider community, one of which was a feature introduced in 2014 that allowed site users to recommend their favourite series and movies to their Facebook friends via Messenger or a Netflix account. It has not been that popular as we assumed, which is why we decided to remove it in 2015. At no time did we have access to private messages of Facebook users, or we asked for the possibility of receiving them. “ – Netflix press office says.
The New York Times was really well prepared for this investigation.
It doesn’t change the fact, that The New York Times interviewed more than 60 people, including former employees of Facebook and its partners, former government officials and privacy advocates. Thanks to that we can be sure that Facebook did something illegal and now tries to bury the truth.
“The Times also reviewed more than 270 pages of Facebook’s internal documents and performed technical tests and analysis to monitor what information was being passed between Facebook and partner devices and websites.” – as The New York Times said.
What is my view about this situation?
In my opinion, companies that have access to sensitive data of their users should make every effort to ensure that this data does not leak. In this way, eg. Apple, which extremely highly appreciates the safety of data users of their products and whenever they commit some “mistakes at work”, they plead the guilty and try to repair the whole situation (eg. icloud leaks affair).
Facebook approaches similar situations in a different way, which tries to whitewash the truth and pass the buck on others. The Cambridge Analytica scandal is a perfect example of frauds and deceptions, thanks to which we learned how Facebook can influence election results in one of the most powerful countries in the world, such as the USA is. That sort of stuff is not conducive to peace but exacerbates the conflict on the Facebook and Users relations.
Since the release of Amazon Alexa in 2014 there have been many controversies regarding the amount of data that the speaker is collecting at all times. The way it works is that the Echo device is designed to detect “wake words” and only then start working. However, there were a lot of cases when Alexa actually recorded more than the user would expect. Echo can sometimes misinterpret the “wake words” or other commands and start listening and recording even when a user does not intend to record.
Even though this is something that should not happen at all, the New Hampshire authorities investigating the murders of two women still want to check. A judge ruled that they can examine recordings from the Echo device because they believe that there might be evidence related to the crime. Investigators believe that Echo could have recorded the attack and the events that followed it.
Last year, when the similar case occurred in Arkansas, the suspect who owned the speaker agreed to release recording from the day of the suspected crime. In the end, a murder charge was dropped.
Is our privacy at stake?
Though these recordings might be beneficial in such cases, we have to think about the amount of information we are giving away to large corporations. Should we question our actual privacy, or should we believe that our recordings are in good, safe hands? Using Alexa you can do almost anything, from ordering food to your home address, to checking your bank account. While at a time it is very convenient, we need to keep in mind that such devices are always listening and gathering all kinds of personal data from the user.
It all comes to personal preferences and the ability to adapt to the actual changes. In the modern world the word “privacy” almost lost its meaning. Every device that you own collects information. About you, your data usage, your shopping preferences and so on. There is almost nothing you can do about it, since this is the life that we have now. This data can be used in many different ways, from personalized ads to such things like winning presidential campaigns. In most of the cases it won’t affect you that much, however, it is worth imagining what could be done with the information that is being collected about you. Who knows, maybe one day you say something that you would like to buy around Echo speaker and a couple of days you will see ads about this on Amazon.
Reading Time: 3minutesHave your ever thought, how convenient it might be to have your package delivered inside your house or apartment when you are not at home, or get your friends to access your place to feed your cat, when you forgot to give them a key? Well, Amazon had already been thinking about such opportunity for a while.
In fact, the world of IoT is not sleeping and is in the process of creation of new things to make your life easier. On October 25th, 2017, Amazon has launched a new service to comfort its customers at most – the Amazon Key to allow an in-home delivery.
The idea behind that is to allow the Amazon courier to deliver the packages, you have ordered, to your place and leave it behind your front door, even if you are out of your place. Amazon has gone much further than just the smart key, as it provides a whole kit of services, like cloud camera, smart lock and application. For now, the service is available only for Amazon Prime users and it costs around 250$.
So, how does it work?
You order from Amazon and on the day of delivery you are notified that your package is about to arrive. Then, it is just up to you to authorize a carrier to enter your house or not. And, if you’ve decided to let a stranger to come in, the smart lock will open the door. Though, to ensure full security of your belongings, you get the chance to watch the stranger-carrier through the camera installed in front of your door, which starts working when there is motion detected.
Besides, you are also able to allow your entrusted people to enter your place by the same way – authorizing them through the application.
Isn’t it great?! Isn’t it a good solution to manage your tasks at home, while being not at home?
Unfortunately, according to Recode, only 5% of Americans and 4% of Prime Amazon users would definitely add this new tech to their homes, while 60% would not take this step.
But, why there is such a negative reaction to this new and so convenient tool? The answer is easy – security! There rises a tough question – do you trust people to enter your house, even if they are watched? The reason for such attitude is that the security is based only on one small camera that is supposed to record every motion that is going on inside your house.
Therefore, according to The Verge, the cloud cam would be able to learn what are the normal in-house motions, like your dog, cat or your child and in future, it would easily distinguish some foreign to your house triggers in order to produce various alerts (the camera is also installed with microphone and speakers).
In result, it is up to you – to step on the side of safety or the side of convenience.
Though, there is always a question of security as we are entering a new way of living, by allowing technology to make a great change in the things that we are so used to. But, maybe, it is worth giving up some old norms, patterns and habits and open new doors to the other era.
Our markets have been transformed digitally in every sense. Life has become much easier, compared to a decade back. People prefer to buy a product online as it helps them save their time, avoid traffic and your product is there at your doorstep. So this is a very serious market, and everyone, be it a Major company or a startup has the access to reach across their targets with ease. Its more of an equal opportunity that makes the digital world a step ahead compared to offline sales or marketing.
The eccomerce market is in a state of expansion and consolidation. There are even more consumers who are going digitally, which means worldwide retail ecommerce is sales are rising. This also means that the big fishes, that are Amazon and Alibaba are expanding their kingdom to smaller and secondary markets by buying local companies.
It is said that the retail ecommerce markets are shooting up in 2017, rising by 23.2 %, i.e $2.290 trillion. It is estimated that by the end of 2021, equating to 16.1% of their total sales.
On a global level, Amazon and Alibaba are leading the market, around the world. Accoridng to Deloitte, report in January 2017, the sales for Amazon reached $79.27 billion, which is nearly triple of the second largest digital retailer, China based JD.com ($ 26.99 billion). This ranking is followed by Apple on the third with $24.37 billion and Wallmart ($ 13.70 billion).
Alibaba is not featured on Deloitte’s list, likely because the data excludes consumer-to-consumer (C2C) sales and sales from third-party sellers, both of which make up a large part of Alibaba’s business. When those are included, however, Alibaba is likely on par, if not ahead, of Amazon.
Retail ecommerce sales worldwide will increase at four times the rate of retail sales this year, jumping 23.2% to $2.290 trillion. Ecommerce sales growth will stay in the double digits throughout the forecast period.
China and the US will combine for $1.584 trillion in ecommerce sales this year, representing 69.1% of global ecommerce.
In 2017, mobile commerce will account for more than 70% of ecommerce sales in both China and India, and 59.0% in South Korea. In Germany, the UK and US, mcommerce will comprise at least one-third of total retail ecommerce sales.
Our markets are growing at a high scale everyday, and in time, we realize that the development is so high that we can’t even imagine how better the digital market can come up with a better idea, that helps lead in the competition ladder. Our future is bright, its getting smarter and faster by day.
Reading Time: 2minutesWhat makes Amazon great? Why and how the company has become so big?
– Inspirational management? Well-knit team? Company culture? Or innovativeness? Or probably all together?
All those components have led to a unique synergy that drives the company ahead, and innovativeness is probably the main part of the progress.
Being proactive is ain’t easy. Thinking out of the box is a huge skill developed with years, and trained by the experiences. Managing the technology and the change in a fast-developing world is an art. Jeff Besos is an artist who has implemented numerous successful innovations in the company. Here are the best of them, those who made Amazon one of the leading IT-companies in the world.
In 2016 Amazon introduced the most advanced shop in the world. Smart shopping is real – no lines, no cash desks. The shop is supported by the application Amazon Go, which allows to do any transaction with the help of the smartphone, just scan the item and put it in the basket. Special technology, called Just Walk Out, automatically detects when the products are taken from or returned to the shelves and keeps track of them in a virtual cart.
Currently it is often only for Amazon employees in a Beta program, yet in 2017 it will open to the public.
First Customer delivery
Amazon is not the first company to use drones as a delivery vehicle, but Amazon is the first to put it into their business strategy, not only use it as a promotional tool. The very first parcel was delivered in December, 2016. Amazon will continue using drones in the area of Cambridge.
In 2014 Amazon has filed a patent for using airship warehouses that would work in tandem with drones to make a delivery. Amazon calls those air stations “Airborne fulfilment centres”(AFc), which are aimed to be used in the times of a high demand (e.g. Christmas holidays) to deliver goods to metropolitan areas using drones. They will be dispatched directly from the AFc, which will make the delivery faster than ever.
What else has Amazon planned for us in 2017? We’ll see. But we can be sure – it’s going to be astonishing.