Amazon

Amazon Tracker: Holiday Cheer & Countermeasures

First up in this week’s sweet Amazon Tracker, an update on the story that broke (and broke hearts) just before Christmas came around. Amazon’s coveted Echo smart speaker is still sold out. And as it turns out, the backlog is actually more severe than first reported.

A quick search on the retail website shows that the black Amazon Echo won’t be in stock again until Jan. 26, 2017. Not even Christmas magic can make this right. The white Amazon Echo will be in stock on Jan. 20, 2017. So, consumers willing to compromise on color can get their hands on the smart speaker a bit sooner (hopefully, it won’t clash with your décor). Fortunately, for consumers who can’t imagine living another moment without a voice-activated Amazon product, the Echo Dot and Amazon Tap are both back in stock.

And if by chance it takes so long for Echos to come back into stock that they’re able to be delivered by drone, consumers can rest assured their aerial delivery will be safe from hacking attempts.

Amazon recently received a U.S. patent it had filed for back in Aug. 2015, covering technology to be used as “countermeasures of threats to an uncrewed autonomous vehicle.” And while aerial countermeasures might sound a bit foreboding, the technology will be used to help prevent Amazon’s drones from becoming targets of hackers using signal jammers to affect the drone’s ability to fly, among other possible hacks. Additionally, the technology patent will be used to monitor for internal errors and malfunctions.

In a nutshell, the technology patent is based on a mesh network and the ability of several drones to communicate and share data via encrypted communication links as a way to cross-check and assure the accuracy of flight and navigation data.

If data coming from a drone seems fishy and doesn’t match with its linked partners, it will be flagged as compromised. So, if and when Amazon drones fill our skies and deliver our detergent, we’ll know there are mechanisms in place to keep them in the air and safe from earthly interference.

Amazon recently announced that the 2016 holiday shopping season was its best ever. While exact totals and sales figures have yet to be disclosed, Amazon did reveal some interesting facts and food for thought about popular items and consumer behavior in 2016.

More than 1 billion items shipped worldwide with Prime and Fulfillment by Amazon this holiday season, and more than 72 percent of Amazon customers worldwide shopped using a mobile device this holiday. Shopping from the Amazon mobile app likewise grew by 56 percent worldwide this holiday season. Amazon noted that Dec. 19 was the peak worldwide shipping day this holiday season.

Top-selling items included the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, Fire tablet and the Amazon Echo. Additionally, customers purchased enough 4K TVs on Amazon’s website to reach the peak of Mount Everest more than nine times, and the number of customers who purchased enough copies of the Harry Potter: Complete 8-Film Collection on Amazon’s website could play the series consecutively for more than 300 years.

Finally, and just in time for returns season — the second most wonderful time of the year — Amazon has partnered with Goodwill to make donating unused or unwanted merchandise easy, while also finding an additional use for any old Amazon delivery boxes consumers might have stashed away.

Users can pack old Amazon boxes, fill them with items to donate and print out a shipping label. USPS or UPS can pick up the boxes, which will then be delivered to the nearest Goodwill store. You’re basically donating and recycling simultaneously, which has got to count for at least a few extra points on the Nice List for next year.

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