Amazon Is Hacking Alexa

Grind for May 15th, 2018

“At eighteen our convictions are hills from which we look; at forty-five they are caves in which we hide.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Too Good To Be True

The Headline

North Korea promises to dismantle nuclear site

The Grind

North Korea on Saturday announced it would be dismantling the Punggye-ri nuclear site starting May 23rd. Since 2006, the site has been the location of six nuclear tests – two of which took place in 2017.

The announcement to destroy the site follows through with a commitment Kim Jong-un made to South Korean President Moon Jae-in when the two met for the first time in April. At the time, experts doubted Kim’s intent to follow through with the promise.

The Kim regime said it would destroy all tunnels, research sites, and observation facilities at the test site and has invited journalists from around the world to watch.

The Details

The regime also said it would suspend all nuclear and missile tests, but that it would continue with “subcritical” nuclear testing – a method of testing nuclear weapons without causing an explosion.

North Korea’s announcement comes just days after Sec. of State Mike Pompeo returned home from Pyongyang with three Americans who had been held hostage there for more than a year. During his visit, Pompeo solidified plans for Trump to meet with Kim on June 12th in Singapore.

Confirmation of the meeting between Trump and Kim is a “game changer in terms of diplomacy,” said Senator John McCain (R-AZ). “Often these kinds of processes lead up to a presidential-level meeting if they are successful…This is completely flipping the script on that, and so it will start at the highest possible levels. The upside is that maybe this makes a deal more possible. The downside is if it fails then we’ve hit the diplomatic cliff and could fall off the other side.”

Welcome To The Jungle

The Headline

Smart speakers are a unique challenge for American brands

The Grind

As more and more Americans use smart speakers to order groceries and other basic goods, brands are scrambling to figure out how they can get Alexa to suggest their products.

If you ask Alexa to “order batteries,” the device will order whichever brand you purchased last. If you haven’t used Alexa to buy batteries, the device will automatically order Amazon brand batteries.

For products that Amazon doesn’t offer directly, Alexa defaults to products with an “Amazon Choice” badge. After that, she recommends products based on reviews, price, and shipping speed.

These designations are a major threat to brands because they can’t pay to get them.

The Details

Smart speakers are only responsible for about $2 billion in annual sales, but that number is expected to climb to $40 billion by 2022.

“Niche competitors are growing. Retails are slashing prices to compete against Amazon. And commodity costs are rising,” notes CNN Money.

According to the S&P 500, General Mills has lost 28% so far this year. Procter & Gamble is down 20% and Hershey has lost 18%.

“A new Wild West has opened up,” says marketing professor Z. John Zhang. And “Alexa is the gatekeeper.”

Did you know… There are more female than male millionaires in the United States.

April grew up in the Midwest, where she developed a passion for writing and storytelling at a young age. She transformed that passion into a degree at Indiana University (2008-2012), after which she promptly moved to South Florida to escape the cold.

Since then, April has worked as a content writer, editor, proofreader, blogger, tour guide, scriptwriter, and - I’ll admit it - bartender. Her favorite topics on which to write include health, politics, science & nature, and space exploration (anything but sports, really).

April is an amateur artist who enjoys spending time outdoors and inventing new cocktails. She currently resides in St. Petersburg, Florida

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