This is issue no. 204. The last issue had a 🔥 52.56% open rate with ⚡️ 7.08% of you going to this article on Barstool's (relative) Pay-Per-View success. Updated:

Download this Chrome plugin (here) and browse to better understand the volatility of commodity pricing throughout their marketplace. If Amazon has one flaw that Wal-Mart's resurgent eCommerce operation can exploit, it's Amazon's lack of pricing transparency

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Today's Top Intelligence (10 Reads)
Eight Brands Amazon Wants to Build On Its Own
Amazon is many things — restless tech giant, consumer-obsessed disruptor and e-commerce innovator. It is one of the top companies to watch in fashion, setting the tone for how to serve shoppers online, experimenting with how to sell to them in a physical environment through its new book stores and beckoning brands with billions of consumer clicks on its marketplace.

The Eight
MEDIA: The leaders split into three working groups to address the promise and perils of platforms, how to go beyond ads, and how to build direct connections with audiences. We held these meetings under Chatham House rules, agreeing that all discussions be on the record, only without attribution of names and companies. What follows are the candid thoughts these leaders shared during the first day of meetings. Needless to say, Google and Facebook are very much at the top of these leaders’ minds.

RETAIL: Revamping the in-store experience is a huge undertaking, and as a result, the “store of the future” moniker checks a box that says a company has its eye on innovation, without setting up expectations for a mass rollout. The more grandeur that accompanies an in-store project, the less likely it is to take off across a full fleet of store locations outside of San Francisco, as it exists in a vacuum and marketers do little to make sense of the resulting data.

VOICE FIRST: Amazon announced Amazon Connect. It is based on the same contact center technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world to power millions of customer conversations. It is a cloud-based contact center that any company can setup in a few clicks. With-in seconds agents can begin taking calls. The power of this system is context and efficiency along with the Voice First technology of Lex, the same systems used by Alexa and Echo.

INT'L ECOMMERCE: Amazon's foremost competitor in Asia, Alibaba, is slowly yet steadily gaining a foothold in India, the world's fastest-growing e-commerce market. The Chinese internet giant has started working out of a shared office space in India's Silicon Valley, Economic Times reports. This comes a few months after Alibaba announced its first India office in Mumbai a stone's throw away from rival Amazon's headquarters.

DATA: On any given weekday, there's a group you might not expect to be hard at work in the offices at Spotify: scientists. Yes, scientists. They're not your typical lab coat-wearing, Bunsen burner-wielding geeks, although they might as well be. These relatively recent hires make up Spotify's new Marketing Sciences area, a department dedicated to growing the company as a data-driven, constantly listening, marketing machine.

DATA: Artificial intelligence is very difficult to define for a few reasons. First, there are two types of artificial intelligence: the artificial intelligence described in that Vanity Fair article is Artificial General Intelligence, that is, a computer capable of doing anything a human can. That is in contrast to Artificial Narrow Intelligence, in which a computer does what a human can do, but only within narrow bounds. For example, specialized AI can play chess, while a different specialized AI can play Go.

ECOMMERCE: Amazon’s retail business “is like this massive slowed-down stock exchange,” says Juozas Kaziukėnas, founder and chief executive of Marketplace Pulse, a business-intelligence firm focused on e-commerce. The usual market dynamics are at work: Sellers entering and leaving the market, temporary scarcity when someone runs out of stock or a manufacturer falls behind, and sellers testing consumers and each other with high and low prices.

MEDIA: At platform companies there is a great deal of clarity that they believe they can create far better publishing tools and environments than publishers, just through scale and expertise. Virtual reality, artificial intelligence applications like Amazon’s Alexa, and Google’s Home, augmented reality, are all applications that are difficult to develop within individual newsrooms.

MEDIA: Snap Inc. has signed a pact with NBCUniversal for the 2018 Winter Olympics that will make the popular messaging app a home for Olympic-themed content and allow NBCUniversal to sell Games-related geofilters and “lenses” to advertisers for the first time.

Last Word: Patent Marketing Is Still Turning Heads
Patent filings as marketing announcements are on the upswing. So far, none has garnered as much attention as CB Insight Analyst Zoe Levitt's revelation of Amazon's airborne fulfillment center. Ms. Levitt's revelation was first covered in Issue no. 175 before TechCrunch's Lora Kolodny picked it up for MSM distribution. We may have a new one on our hands.

According to today's article in Verge: 

Samsung, like Motorola and Microsoft before it, is trying to turn a phone into a PC. Samsung’s Galaxy S8 will pair with a new Samsung Desktop Experience (DeX) dock accessory to morph into a desktop PC-like environment. The specialized dock, that looks like a candle holder, supports a monitor connection via HDMI, keyboard, mouse, and two USB ports to help expand the Galaxy S8’s capabilities. Samsung’s dock even has a special embedded cooling fan to help keep the Galaxy S8 cool when you’re using it to display Android apps on a monitor, and a USB-C connection to power it.

It seems that Apple's March 23, 2017 patent filing was timed to counter Samsung's pending interpretation of the super-portable workstation. According to the filing (linked through the image above), the iPhone x MacBook combo serves quite the purpose: 

An electronic accessory device, comprising: an operational component that provides an output to a user; a housing carrying the operational component, the housing having a recess; and a control interface coupled to the operational component and configured to receive a control signal from an electronic host device when the electronic host device is positioned within the recess and coupled to the control interface, wherein the electronic accessory device is inoperable without the electronic host device being coupled to the control interface. 

In short, Apple may believe that they can convert iPhone users into MacBook owners by replacing the trackpad with an iPhone insert that powers the GUI and memory of the host while the surface acts as the trackpad. Imagine buying a  much cheaper MacBook Pro host for your iPhone. Given that few of us use desktop hardware, these days, Apple may have found another way to challenge Samsung's innovation.

This is the #ProJo opinion of @Web Smith

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