Weekly Issue: Verizon is bulls up on 5G, paving the way for a Disruptive Innovator Leader position

Weekly Issue: Verizon is bulls up on 5G, paving the way for a Disruptive Innovator Leader position

This content is for members only
Weekly Issue: As earnings season continues, the market catches a positive breather

Weekly Issue: As earnings season continues, the market catches a positive breather

This content is for members only
Tematica Investing: Thematic Tailwinds for 2019 and Scaling into AXON

Tematica Investing: Thematic Tailwinds for 2019 and Scaling into AXON

This content is for members only
Tematica Options+: A Thematic Look at 2019 and a New Option Trade

Tematica Options+: A Thematic Look at 2019 and a New Option Trade

This content is for members only
Weekly Issue: Looking Around the Bend of the Current Rebound Rally

Weekly Issue: Looking Around the Bend of the Current Rebound Rally

This content is for members only
Amazon aims to put Amazon Pay in stores

Amazon aims to put Amazon Pay in stores

While we’ve witnessed the digital wallet explode in Asia, thus far it remains a rather fragmented nascent market here in the US. We’ve seen efforts by Apple, Google, PayPal, and others, but so far here in the US adoption of mobile payments remains low compared to that in Asia. Yes, there are some successes, like the one enjoyed by Starbucks, but so far there is no “universal” mobile payment platform that has taken the country by storm.

This has prompted Amazon to make its move, leveraging consumer comfort with its online digital wallet and one-click payment capability to bring Amazon Pay to the mobile payments space. While Amazon may not be first or second in the mobile payments space, as we’ve seen time and again from Apple, being early with a new technology or disruptive platform doesn’t get a company across the gold medal. Rather, waiting for the inflection point in adoption and having a simple to use and intuitive solution tends to win the race. That could very well be what Amazon is doing as it looks to pick up another tailwind in our Digital Lifestyle investing theme.

 

Amazon.com Inc.  is gearing up to challenge Apple Inc. in the mobile-payments race.

The e-commerce giant is working to persuade brick-and-mortar merchants to accept its Amazon Pay digital wallet, according to people familiar with the matter, attempting to expand a service now used primarily for purchases online.

To start, the company is looking to work with gas stations, restaurants and other merchants that aren’t direct competitors, a person familiar with the matter said. Retailers that view Amazon as a threat could resist the effort, the people said.

The push to become a bigger player in consumer payments shows Amazon’s desire to further integrate itself into the lives of its customers. It isn’t clear exactly how customers would use Amazon Pay in stores: They could tap their phones at checkout, much the same way they use Apple Pay, or scan a code on their phones, among other options. Apple says Apple Pay was accepted at more than five million in-store locations in the U.S. as of May, and the number of merchants accepting its wallet is growing.

Currently, shoppers can use their Amazon accounts to check out at a small number of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar locations, such as Amazon Go and its bookstores, and a growing number of online merchants accept Amazon Pay, its third-party service. Amazon Pay stores credit- and debit-card numbers, allowing shoppers to skip the step of typing in their account information at checkout and making them more likely to complete purchases.

Currently, shoppers can use their Amazon accounts to check out at a small number of Amazon’s brick-and-mortar locations, such as Amazon Go and its bookstores, and a growing number of online merchants accept Amazon Pay, its third-party service. Amazon Pay stores credit- and debit-card numbers, allowing shoppers to skip the step of typing in their account information at checkout and making them more likely to complete purchases.

Amazon also is working to make Alexa, its virtual assistant, an in-store payments platform, people familiar with the matter said. For example, a customer paying for gas could tell the Alexa voice assistant in the car to use Amazon Pay.

Source: Amazon Pay Accepted Here? Web Giant Aims to Put Digital Wallet in Stores – WSJ

Sony reminds that content remains king

Sony reminds that content remains king

Even though we’ve consolidated our investing themes a few months back, which meant folding Content is King, Connected Society, and Cashless Consumption to form Digital Lifestyle, companies like Sony continue to ride those underlying tailwinds. While most recall Sony the company that pioneered the personal electronics industry, it has quietly remade itself into one that is benefitting from the consumer’s desire for content.

The thing is, most other companies ranging from Netflix and Amazon to Facebook, Google and before too long Apple are focused on streaming video content. Sony, on the other hand, has successfully tapped into the tailwind of consumer demand for gaming. That not only makes for a different business model than in the past at Sony, but it is also one that is driving growth.

For those on the fence with this, Nintendo also delivered a robust quarter and guided its outlook higher as we head into the holiday shopping season also due to gaming.

 

Japan’s Sony Corp boosted its annual profit outlook by 30 percent to a record level after a strong second-quarter, propelled by popular game titles like “Marvel’s Spider-Man” as well as growing demand for its online gaming services.

The results are a vindication of a strategic shift by the entertainment and electronics firm to build up more content-oriented businesses like gaming, which generate recurring revenue and are less susceptible to the earnings ups and downs seen in consumer electronics.

“Sony has become, more than most people realize, a company that generates profit through content. Until just a few years ago, the worry was always that it was going to revise down on hardware woes but now it has transformed to generate stable earnings,” said Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Securities.

… domestic gaming peer Nintendo Co Ltd said sales of Switch consoles and games pushed operating profit up 30 percent in the July-September period to reach the firm’s highest quarterly result in eight years.

Source: Sony forecasts big jump to record annual profit on winning gaming strategy | Reuters

Amazon and Qualcomm put Alexa assistant in more headphones

Amazon and Qualcomm put Alexa assistant in more headphones

It looks like we are approaching an inflection point with digital assistants as Qualcomm looks to expand where and how they are used by focusing on the wireless earbud market. The most recognized adoption of that technology for that purpose, which is in keeping with our Disruptive Innovators investing theme, has been Apple’s AirPods, which include connectivity with its own digital assistant Siri. To say the AirPods have been a hit would be an understatement, and while there are competitors in the wireless earbud market, it would appear the competition is only now going to heat up as Qualcomm brings Amazon’s Alexa into the playing field in a meaningful way.

It could be the enemy of my enemy is my friend given how Apple competes with Amazon in the digital assistant space, and Qualcomm is at odds over chips and royalties, but odds are it will foster more wearable digital assistant powered devices at better price points and hopefully foster far greater innovation as well. Underneath it all, Qualcomm is sticking with the strategy that made it a formidable mobile phone and smartphone chip company – being a merchant arms dealer that wins no matter who wins the war.

 

Microchip firm Qualcomm is joining Amazon.com to spread the use of Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant in wireless headphones, the companies said on Monday.

Under the deal, Qualcomm will release a set of chips that any maker of Bluetooth headphones can use to embed Alexa directly into the device. When the headphones are paired to a phone with the Alexa app on it, users will be able to talk to the voice assistant by tapping a button on the headphones.

The functionality would be similar to Apple Inc’s AirPods wireless earbuds, which enable users can tap the devices to talk to Apple’s virtual assistant, Siri.

Amazon and Alphabet’s Google, whose voice assistants have most often been found in their respective smart speakers for the home, are rushing to partner with headphone makers.

Models from Bose and Jabra feature Alexa built in, and Sony said earlier this year that a software update will make some of its headphone models work with Alexa. Google Assistant can be used on headphones from Bose, JBL and Sony, along with Google’s own Pixel Buds.

The Qualcomm partnership could expand that lineup. Qualcomm has developed a pre-made circuit that headphone makers can drop into their device to imbue it with Alexa.

Source: Amazon.com, Qualcomm to put Alexa assistant in more headphones

WEEKLY ISSUE: Confirming Data Points for Apple and Universal Display

WEEKLY ISSUE: Confirming Data Points for Apple and Universal Display

This content is for members only