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Amazon Primed: Unbundling Threats, Facial Recognition Worries, In-App Ad Bonanza

3/25/2019 10:03:41 AMVisitors: 384

There may be big trouble ahead for everyone's favourite cardboard abuser if Germany’s Monopolies Commission's Achim Wambach has anything to do with it. Wambach thinks Amazon has an unfair advantage because it bundles services and wants to unbundle them. Considering EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager recently confirmed an early-stage probe into Amazon's use of data is "quite advanced", any action (or just further scrutiny) won't make Mr Bezos and co. happy as it could be said there's an ugly trend forming. Welt.de interviewed Wambach and explored the issue further (quote from Bloomberg quoting interview in Welt.de); 

“One could think in the direction of an unbundling on a product level at Amazon,” Wambach said. “Amazon Prime connects different services as well” and only subscribers can view certain films or series, he said, referring to the company’s membership program. Germany’s Monopolies Commission is an expert panel that advises the country’s federal government.

Washington County Sheriff deputies are using Amazon's facial recognition software (called 'Rekognition') to catch $12 criminals. While no doubt facial recognition has a slew of upsides, the downsides are overreach and overuse according to civil liberties organisations.  CNET has the full story;

But behind this debate, WCSO officials confirmed they've mostly trained this sophisticated and controversial tool on mundane crimes, including one in which a woman stole a $12 gas tank from an Ace Hardware store, a CNET investigation into WCSO police reports found. That revelation from one of Amazon's only known Rekognition law enforcement partners  could undermine the company's promotion of the software for solving major crimes, like finding missing children. It raises questions about the value of facial recognition for everyday policing. Plus, it highlights how minimal legislation on the technology lets police use facial recognition for just about any case they want.

Amazon's ad ecosystem got a boost this week when sources confirmed it will be placing ads in the main retail app. Previously only testing on iOS, Amazon now seems intent on rolling out the ads to the wider app platform to snatch money from Google and Facebook. Bloomberg has the full story;

The brief video spots appear in response to search results on the shopping app, valuable space for advertisers since people searching for products on the app have a higher propensity to buy than those scrolling through Facebook or watching videos on Google’s YouTube.

Amazon has emerged as a   fast-growing challenger  in the digital advertising market since it captures 50 percent of all online sales in the US. Amazon’s digital advertising market share will grow to 8.8 percent this year from 6.8 percent in 2018, according to EMarketer Inc. Market-leader Google will see its share slip to 37.2 percent from 38.2 percent.

IKEA isn't immune to Amazon's disruption. Speaking to CNBC, IKEA's Chief Digital Officer, Barbara Martin Coppola, spoke candidly about the challenges IKEA (and others face) thanks to new players and new moves from old ones:

Amazon is a threat (undeniably), in markets such as the U.S.,” Martin Coppola told CNBC. “There’s different actors in different countries, in China, Alibaba. In Europe, we haven’t seen much threat. It’s (about) thinking, what is that new retail world going to be? So, there is an interesting movement of tech companies becoming physical and physical companies going digital. And that intersection, that ‘phygital’ world is still to be defined,” she said.

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