So far, so good. The new year has decided to play nice with Amazon’s stock. (Last year, if you recall, Amazon’s stock caught a small case of the post-Yuletide blues.)
Shares rose quickly at the beginning of the month from the 750s in late December to the 790s on Jan. 6, 2017. The last five days have seen numbers bouncing around between $790 and $800. While not quite back up to last October’s highs, these numbers are nothing to scoff at. Amazon’s market cap currently sits at an impressive (and intimidating) $378.42 billion.
Amazon’s retail app saw an average of over 65 million unique monthly users in 2016, a year-on-year growth of 43 percent — making Amazon the top-growing app of the year.
Another number was on Amazon’s mind of late as well: $20 million. Just a few days ago, Amazon quietly acquired AI security startup harvest.ai for around that sum.
Harvest.ai, cofounded by a team that includes former NSA employees, leverages machine learning and AI technologies to monitor how a customer’s intellectual property is being accessed in real time. The technology analyzes user behavior around a company’s key IP address with the goal of identifying threats and shutting them down before any sensitive user data can be compromised.
The exact terms of the acquisition have yet to be disclosed. Where exactly Amazon will use harvest.ai’s technology is also up to speculation, though some possible areas of application include in its cloud service’s security features or to build out additional artificial intelligence projects.
The number 11.5 million, the estimated population of the southern Indian city of Bangalore, also has some significance for Amazon. Last week, the company launched a test version of a new P2P marketplace there.
If successful overall, the marketplace could allow consumers in India to sell their used items via Amazon’s online retail platform. Amazon plans to attract consumers using other P2P online marketplaces by covering logistics. After a transaction is completed, Amazon will pick up, box and ship items to the buyer. Sellers will pay Amazon per-item fees based on each item’s value.
Amazon has invested billions of dollars in developing a logistics network across India. As of this past summer, Amazon had 21 fulfillment centers and 5 million cubic feet of storage in the nation, allowing the company to reach all serviceable postal codes.
The Indian market isn’t the only place Amazon has expanded into since the last Amazon Tracker. While Alexa’s skills were once the talk of the town as it quickly racked up 1,000, 2,000, 3,000 and more, now, it appears that Alexa’s numbers game has shifted. This time around, it’s all about Alexa integrations. (Spoiler alert: There are many.)
Seems like lately everyone is banking on Alexa — it’s like voice-activated AI assistants are the touchscreens of 2017.
Ford and Volkswagen both recently announced that Alexa would show up in their cars. Alexa will power Ford’s in-vehicle command center, Ford Sync, which is part of the SmartDrive platform that enables an in-vehicle, app-based experience for drivers and passengers.
For Volkswagen, Alexa will be part of its User-ID app, a system that stashes user preferences and pulls them up in any of Volkswagen’s connected cars. The AI technology will enable drivers and passengers to navigate better, unlock the vehicle itself and operate their smartphone and other devices from the car. Alexa is also slated to show up in Hyundai’s Blue Link connected cars.
But it’s not just cars. Alexa is being integrated into Huawei’s debut smartphone and into two of LG’s latest products — Hub Bot and the Smart InstaView fridge. Amazon also recently integrated Alexa’s functionality into Amazon Restaurants, the food delivery service side of Prime Now. At CES 2017, Whirlpool said it will be adding Alexa to nearly every appliance the company is planning to put out.
With the demand for voice-activated AI assistants projected to rise as part of growing consumer interest in “supplementary connected devices,” don’t expect the rate of Alexa integrations or Amazon’s interest in smart hubs, AI and AR/VR to die down anytime soon.