Another “win” for Starbucks?


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Starbucks recently announced it’s Black Friday deal; a refill tumbler with free refills for one month. Of course, this product is not coming with the cheapest price tag but it does come with free coffee or tea in a more unique gifting method other than gift cards. These supplies are limited so if you are a Starbucks Phanatic you should probably consider this holiday deal, and fast. The $40.00 tumbler is equivalent to a grande drink and not surprisingly excludes Starbucks “Reserve” coffees. The only unfortunate part of this tumbler deal is that you must first buy a drink to get your free refill of coffee or tea. However, for any customers who may cherish Starbucks’s holiday flavors, this gift could be the ultimate stocking stuffer or gift exchange!

In my opinion, I think this is a great gift for a friend, parent, and definitely a girlfriend. The price is about the equivalent as purchasing a gift card only now you get the tumbler! When comparing this concept to Dunkin’ I think Starbucks has taken a leading role in the coffee industry and other companies should look into what other options there are to make them stand out next to Starbucks. I’m not positive if this gift has been introduced during previous Starbuck’s holidays but it is surely one concept to continue in the future.



From Streaming Competition to Mobile Application Competition



In the midst of the “streaming war” there is also a “mobile application war” occurring across the globe as major media companies scramble for the next big thing. But, who’s to be the next winner? Analysts say, the recent explosion of the app Tik-Tok may be the next mobile application trend and could even wipe out Snapchat and Twitter in the future. In 2018 Tik-Tok was rated the number one most downloaded app on IOS and the fourth most downloaded app on Google Play. Not only that but, 40% of its users were outside of the company’s birthplace in China and expanding tremendously in the United States. 

So what do other companies do in order to avoid such a crisis? Well, of course, they begin to make replicas of the already existing concept. Snapchat has launched its own version of lip-syncing music to videos by using their new filters and Facebook also launched the app “Lasso” just last year, which uses the same concept as well. However, Tik-Tok is still dominating this lip-syncing market, it has even won my attention, even after I said, “It’s for little kids”; I was wrong. The application has a unique feature that allows users to share “life hacks,” popular trends, pranks, and so much more. Media companies are going to have to develop a more complex and dual service in order to steal viewers from Tik-Tok. 


Goodbye Instagram “likes”


Instagram will soon begin to remove how many people are liking your photos and who is liking your photos. Typically, on Instagram you can view how many likes someone receives and what exact followers liked the photo but, the company is doing away with this feature for mental health purposes. Users will still be able to see who likes their pictures but the information will be private from everyone else. Recently the company also removed the “following activity” tab which allows users more privacy as well. Famous celebrity, Kim Kardashian also agrees that for the sake of mental health this feature should be removed. ABC states that many anxiety issues have stemmed back to Instagram’s platform. The Head of Instagram also believes that many of the platform’s younger users, “experience bullying and a sense of unnecessary competition because of the likes.” So, the new outlook for Instagram he says is to, “…Make it less of a competition and give people more space to focus on connecting with people that they love, things that inspire them.” The removal of “likes” has already been tested in other countries such as Canada and Japan providing feedback on potential outcomes for removal in the U.S. The company is aware of how this may slightly affect branding with other companies but they are focused on mental health first.

I think this is a really important subject, although it may seem insignificant. I’m curious to know if Facebook or Twitter will take part in this action as well. 


Apple Requires Updates for Certain Devices

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If you happen to still be an owner of an iPhone 5, iPhone 4 or specific generations of ipads, then Apple has most likely sent you a reminder to update your devices before November 3rd. The most recent update available for the products is 10.3.4 which will be updating a multitude of applications. By not updating your devices prior to November 3rd you will no longer have access to certain applications and in order to use the applications again, you will have to update your device by connecting to a computer. All newer models of the iPhone and iPad are unaffected by this circumstance. 

Some people may ask why only older generations are being targeted? Is Apple trying to provide an incentive to upgrade old devices by forcing users who are unfamiliar with updating to go to a store? Or maybe Apple is just trying to improve services for older iPhone users? Regardless of intent, many iPhone 5 users who do not see news of this mandatory update will be utterly confused when their devices no longer operate as they should. After November 3rd it is possible many Apple customers will be making a trip to local stores for assistance with updating. 


Issues in Amazon Paradise 


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The heavily praised multi-dimensional company, Amazon, is currently facing some backlash after customers received expired food. According to CNBC, “Interviews with brands, consumers, third-party sellers and consultants all point to loopholes in Amazon’s technology and logistics system that allow for expired items to proliferate with little to no accountability. Consumer safety advocates worry that as the marketplace grows, the problem will only get worse.” This is a major issue considering that 58% of Amazon’s sales are food-related. There are policies that these third party sellers are supposed to abide by when it comes to food expiration but the question is how much Amazon is doing to enforce those rules. Customers have complained about a wide variety of food expiration that includes anything from Tevanna tea bags, yogurt, baby food, Doritos and so much more.

In order for Amazon to stay in the online grocery business, it must maintain its customer’s trust by ensuring quality fresh food 100% of the time. However, many people suggest that this could be the downfall of Amazon’s food business if policies are not enforced thoroughly and as soon as possible. A spokesperson for Amazon says they use a combination of A.I data and human monitoring to tackle any issues that may arise and they strongly encourage anyone with an issue to contact Amazon support directly so proper action can be taken. 


Snapchats Progression Towards 3D Pictures

Snapchat’s newest addition to its platform includes 3D photos. These photos are intended to “…create Snaps that capture spatial detail, changing in perspective and appearance based on how you move your phone when you view them. These new Snaps look different, act different, and feel different.” A similar concept was introduced on Facebook, where users can engage with 360 photos that are immersive and captivating. Based on feedback, Facebook was able to say that the launch of 360 photos has had a large engagement with audiences. In light of this new development, this feature could be beneficial for brands that want to stand out from their competitors. At the moment only iPhone X owners can create 3D snaps and anyone who is a Snapchat user can receive the Snapchat but are unable to create their own without owning a recent iPhone.

More importantly, the idea of 3D photos has molded the new concept of progression towards holographic. The expansion of 3D photos onto social media platforms has been a clear success so, how much longer until we should expect to engage with friends, family, and media brands with the use of holographic. If 3D photos are highly captivating for audiences, it’s likely that holographic will attract users even faster and are in the making for many social media platforms.



Changes to Instagram’s “Following” Feature


If you happen to be a frequent user of the “Following” feature Instagram offers, then you are about to receive some unfortunate news. Instagram is currently in the process of removing this feature due to users not being aware that their likes and comments are being displayed for others to see. Now, instead of users being able to view what their followers are liking and commenting on, users can only view their own activity of liking and commenting. The “Following” feature has been a part of Instagram since 2011 and throughout the years has shown to cause many issues in relationships and even jobs. However, the company claims that the removal of the feature is mainly due to inactivity. Many users took to Twitter and other webpages to discuss whether or not this was the right move for Instagram. Some people agreeing it was a bit of an invasive feature that should have been removed a while ago.

I think the removal of the feature is probably for the better, although it could come in handy if you were trying to explore what your friends like. Personally,  I hardly ever engage with the feature, Instagram could definitely use a slight update as a whole. 


Netflix’s Plan for Survival in the Streaming Industry

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Amongst the rising competition, Netflix has formulated a plan to capture the attention of well-known filmmakers. In order to reach viewing goals, Netflix has devised a plan that would benefit filmmakers if their movie reached viewing goals or was given a major award. Any films that meet the expected viewing target or receive an award are eligible for a bonus payment on behalf of Netflix. According to The Guardian, “Traditionally, Hollywood studios have been able to offer “back end” payments – ie percentages of box office and profits – from a film’s cinema release as a part of a deal to film-makers. But with limited time in cinemas, Netflix is unable to accrue this level of income, so hitherto they have offered film-makers payment upfront as well as covering their production costs.” 

The launch of this plan could be good news for Netflix’s longevity if filmmakers decide to collaborate with the company. Movies on Netflix such as “Murder Mystery” and “Bird Box” received tremendous viewing ratings (Murder Myster with 30.9 million streams in three days) likely giving Netflix creators this incentive idea. However, what might incentives like this do to movie theater sales or other streaming services? Should offers like these be off-limits to large streaming companies?


NBC Universal’s “Peacock” Streaming Service



As streaming becomes increasingly popular many broadcasting companies are also joining the bandwagon of “online” television. NBC Universal is working on its new streaming service called “Peacock” which is said to include The Office, Parks and Recreation, and other hit 90s shows. The launch of this new service could put Hulu in a difficult position for the future. NBC originally partnered with Hulu paying the licensing fees to air This is US but now that NBC is launching its own streaming service Hulu may lose some shows to other popular streaming services or old and new seasons may be split between Hulu and Peacock, forcing consumers to ultimately choose one provider over the other. 

In order for Hulu to overcome these newly developed streaming services, they may need to move forward with more Hulu originals. Their content will have to become unique, with features other services don’t offer. Additionally, Hulu’s payment plan could be outweighed by Peacock’s “free” ad-supported option, which is a large competing factor for Hulu’s business model. Disney owners plan to use Hulu as a first-run distribution platform to test out the FX series. Hulu still has time to work against its competitors but it will most definitely need a partnership, or exclusive content in order to survive in our competitive streaming society.



McDonald’s Plans for Developing a “Faster” Drive-thru

If fast food wasn’t already fast enough for you, McDonald’s is now developing another technical feature to offer in their restaurants that should speed up orders both dine-in and dine-out. McDonald’s recent purchase of “Apprente Inc” (a voice recognition app for restaurants, developed in 2017) will be used in drive-thru’s in order to “boost sales” and service. The app has actually been tested out in Chicago area restaurants using artificial intelligence to take orders and allows for employees to make changes or take control at any time.

Alongside the growing technology, more job positions are being generated. McDonald’s currently is occupying Apprente’s headquarters in California to launch a tech lab where more inventions for restaurants can be designed. Fast food companies are often looking for new ways to beat out their competitors and McDonald’s might just be one step ahead. The process of globalizing Artificial Intelligence within the fast food industry is right around the corner. “McDonald’s already is testing the technology in two locations in the drive-thru lane, which makes up about 70% of the company’s business. It plans to roll Apprente’s technology out nationwide, Easterbrook said. He predicted it will have a “positive impact on more than half of our customers.”

Technology has launched us into an entirely different world and eventually, we may see artificial intelligence being used in more than just McDonald’s locations. Many stores have already transitioned into “self-checkouts” or other methods of “faster” checkout, such as grocery delivery and pickup. Companies are evolving faster than ever with these incredible technologies.