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Amazon Prime Day is starting off with a caffeine blast.
If you act fast, you can score 30% off on one of Amazon’s best-selling coffee machines. We’re talking about the Nespresso Breville Vertuo Coffee and Espresso machine, which usually sells for $249.95, but you can grab it for
has come and gone, with a slew of product announcements, from a brand new and , to a . But the star of Amazon’s smart home is, as always, Alexa. Amazon’s voice assistant continues to expand its reach, connecting with over 140,000 smart home devices, and boasting more than 100 million Alexa-compatible devices installed across its user base. But Alexa’s power isn’t just in its and .
When I spoke to Daniel Rausch, Amazon’s vice president of smart home and Alexa mobile, before the hardware event, he said Alexa is becoming more independent too. Alexa will soon be able to act onwithout asking, to listen for and react to sounds other than a wake word, and to protect your home more actively with an .
All this will lead to what Rausch called “the ambient home,” in which Alexa is “ready to respond [to voice commands], but is more predictive and proactive.”
Here are the biggest upgrades coming to Alexa.
Alexa Guard Plus
Amazon has rolled out and expandedover the past couple of years to allow you to monitor your home while you’re away. While it’s activated, Guard will listen for glass breaking, smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, and footsteps and other signs of a break-in, and will send you a mobile alert.
The company is now offering something called, a subscription service that runs $4.99 per month, and it adds a few features on top
It is hard to argue with Amazon’s (AMZN) performance in 2020. Even amidst a global pandemic and a struggling economy, all the cards have fallen into place for the e-commerce behemoth. Amazon has seen revenue soar during the viral outbreak and so has its stock. Shares are up by 70% on a year-to-date basis.
However, one analyst thinks the Street has got it all wrong on Amazon. So, is there a bear among the long list of Wall Street Amazon bulls?
On the contrary. Pivotal analyst Michael Levine argues the Street is undervaluing Amazon’s SOTP (sum of the parts). In fact, the analyst calls Amazon “the best mega cap on a multiyear basis” and has just increased his price target to a Street high of $4,500. Levine, therefore, expects shares to add another 43% from current levels. No need to add, but the analyst’s rating stays a Buy. (To watch Levine’s track record, click here)
Levine argues investors are “materially underestimating the earnings power of the business.” The 5-star analyst, however, doesn’t exempt Pivotal from misjudging Amazon’s future earnings potential.
“We and almost every other investor we have spoken to over the years, has been framing the AMZN SOTP valuation wrong,” Levine said. “Amazon advertising is only ~5% of revenues, but is a far greater contributor to overall non-AWS EBIT margins than the street recognizes. Said differently, if advertising was viewed as a stand-along business unit, it would represent well north of 300% of 2020E non-AWS EBIT.”
Levine claims “valuation is often more of an art-form than pure science,” but that after all, what really matters is “what is the underlying earnings potential of the business.”
And here is where after crunching the numbers, Levine arrives at an estimate far above the current consensus. Splitting Amazon’s business
Earlier this week, Amazon unveiled Amazon One: new technology for its Amazon Go stores that lets shoppers pay for their groceries by scanning the palm of their hand. By analyzing the shape of your hand and the unique configuration of veins under your skin, Amazon says its technology can verify your identity the same way facial recognition does.
Although Amazon One will initially be used for payments only, it’s clear the tech giant has much bigger ambitions for this hardware. In the future, it says, Amazon One could not only be used for shopping but as a replacement for tickets at music and sporting events, and as an alternative to your office keycard, letting you scan in with a swipe of your hand. In other words, Amazon One isn’t a payment technology. It’s an identity technology, and one that could give Amazon more reach into your life than ever before.
Understandably, some experts are skeptical about Amazon’s claims of convenience, and worry about a company with a spotty track record on privacy becoming the controller of a new identity standard. Whether it’s Amazon’s use of biased facial recognition algorithms or its ambitions to grow a network of home surveillance cameras, this is an organization that has proved many times that individual privacy is not always its biggest concern. Is it a good idea if Amazon knows exactly who you are from the palm of your hand?
Let’s start by looking at the technology itself, which is blessedly straightforward. Palm scanning has been around for years, and although Amazon isn’t offering many details on its own implementation, it looks to be similar to examples of the tech we’ve seen before.
As the company explains on its FAQ page, the
New Amazon technology, introduced at two Amazon Go stores this week, lets shoppers pay for purchases by holding their hands over a scanner. The system, called Amazon One, may herald a new way of identifying yourself and paying for things that could change the way people shop, enter concerts, use public transportation, and many other things.
You’ve probably used a fingerprint scanner or facial recognition to unlock your smartphone. You already know that your voice and your retinas can be used to positively identify you and give you access to your various devices, and possibly to secure government or corporate facilities. Amazon’s new Amazon One technology takes biometrics a step further by allowing shoppers to pay for purchases with a simple scan of their palms.
To stave off privacy concerns, the company says it is encrypting biometric data before storing it in the cloud, and that the data will be deleted from the cloud at the customer’s request. An Amazon executive told GeekWire that the company had deliberately chosen users’ palms as a biometric identifier because people can’t be recognized from their palms the way they can from their faces. (Amazon has faced controversy over law enforcement use of its facial scanning technology and has suspended such use for one year.) Another benefit is that the user must choose to hover his or her hand over the scanner, meaning that users can’t be scanned without their knowledge or consent.
Shopping in 15 seconds?
GeekWire’s Todd Bishop tried Amazon One out at Seattle’s Amazon Go stores and found that his shopping experience was incredibly fast. As the company promised, it took less than a minute to set up the scan of his palm at a small kiosk, linking it with his credit card and mobile number. Amazon Go stores have no