retail news in context, analysis with attitude

…with brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

• Amazon announced this morning that in anticipation of the end-of-year holiday shopping season, it "has expanded its fast, free, and convenient delivery options. From Los Angeles, Calif. and Killeen, Texas to Elkhart, Ind. and Philadelphia, Pa., Prime members across the U.S. now have access to over 10 million items available for delivery the next day for free, including popular holiday gifts such as toys, games, and electronics. Amazon has also expanded its Prime Free Same-Day Delivery, bringing the convenience of doorstep delivery within hours to millions more members since last holiday season. This is in addition to free shipping on millions of items that all customers can enjoy year-round on orders over $25."

In announcing the Prime Free One-Day Delivery and Same-Day Delivery options in 46 major metropolitan areas, Amazon looked to head off some criticism by saying that "these delivery options are not only convenient for customers – they’re better for the planet because the fastest delivery speeds ship from local fulfillment centers so they travel shorter distances and generate the least carbon emissions."

Bloomberg reports that Apple is hoping that the second time is a charm, as it hires a team of engineers to work "on new smart-home software and devices in an effort to catch up in a field where Google and have dominated … The overhaul is designed to spur more outside accessory and appliance makers to connect smart-home products such as lights and garage doors with the iPhone and Apple's voice-activated digital assistant, Siri. The team also is exploring the possibility of building new home devices beyond the HomePod speaker."

The story goes on: "Gaining a foothold in the smart-home market is critical for Apple as it looks for new offerings beyond the iPhone and seeks ways to keep people buying its products and services. The company first dipped its toe into the area in 2014 with the launch of HomeKit, a Siri-connected platform that connects smart-home devices to Apple products like the iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch, and HomePod. Apple offers a Home app on most of its devices, letting users lock and unlock doors, connect to sprinklers, open blinds, and control media on TVs and speakers using its AirPlay protocol. While Amazon and Google have opened up their Alexa and Google Assistant to third-party products, the Siri voice assistant is only available on Apple devices, but it can control third-party products via HomeKit."

However, HomeKit didn't really catch on, and so now Apple is trying again.

If at first you don't succeed… Actually, this isn't much of a surprise. This market is too big and has too much potential for Apple not to take another shot at it. But Apple's seeming inability to compete was evident to me a year and a half ago when I filed this piece.
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