The power of technology and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

Some of the things that I love most about reading technology news are the vision and hope that they can impart. Some people might find it cold but I find tech news to be more hopeful than human-interest stories. This week, as I found myself too caught up in life’s little details, news such as: SpaceX’ third attempt at recovering a rocket via drone ship; NASA’s recent images of pyramid-shaped structure on dwarf planet Ceres; and Google’s built-from-the-ground-up self driving car being tested in California, fill me with hope for the future and a sense of wonder. News like these made me take a pause to reflect on our place in the universe and how we are starting to live with technology conjured by science fiction not so long ago. I hope you find these as uplifting as I did.

The solitary peak juts out from the horizon in this image snapped by Dawn

Here are this week’s most relevant news in tech and retail:

In tech:

  1. Space news: Microsoft’s augmented reality headgear HoloLens will be used on board the International Space Station in partnership with NASA; SpaceX will attempt another drone ship rocket landing this Sunday (you can watch it here); NASA’s Dawn probe reveals pyramid-like structure on dwarf planet Ceres
  2. Google news: Google’s panda-shaped self-driving cars are now being tested in California; Google Genomics collaborates with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to develop data-driven tools to fight diseases;
  3. IAC/InterActiveCorp is planning an IPO for The Match Group, conglomerate behind dating websites, Tinder and OKCupid
  4. French company Thales unveils robots that could replace immigration officers
  5. Music streaming: Google launches free, ad-supported tier to its Google Play Music streaming service; Jay-Z’s music streaming service Tidal loses interim CEO; Taylor Swift’s 1989 album will be available on Apple’s music streaming service (to launch on June 30) after Apple’s change of royalty policies

In retail:

  1. H&M Q2 profits up as sales rise with store and product expansions
  2. Lululemon Athletica recalls 318,000 women’s tops over reported injuries of elastic drawstrings
  3. Walmart to start charging vendor fees as costs increase; will affect 10,000 U.S. suppliers in the
  4. Olapic raises $15M in new funding to help brands boost sales with user-generated images from social media such as Instagram
  5. On-demand delivery startup raises Series D round of $80M at a $400M valuation

Self driving cars and the weekly roundup in tech and retail

News and commentaries

I have talked about self-driving cars before here and I am far from finished. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate driving. I actually enjoy it at times especially when I’m alone, singing along with Awolnation from my Google Play Music, blasting through the car speakers. But, with the proliferation of smartphones, I have increasing distrust of drivers around me. And don’t get me started on when people actually start using their Apple Watches on the road. Apparently, Google also thinks that people do stupid things while driving which is why they removed the steering wheel from their self-driving cars. Apparently, humans can’t be trusted. The Oatmeal aptly illustrated and talked about it here – saying that Google’s self-driving cars are timid (as compared to an average driver). Not exciting perhaps, but safety seldom is.

Image from The Oatmeal

Apart from Google, there are other companies getting into autonomous driving technology. And we may not have to wait for 2020. If you have the deep pockets to afford Tesla’s Model S, you could have it by this summer, as in Summer 2015. In an announcement this week, Tesla’s CEO Elon Musk said that software updates would give the Model S the “ability to start driving themselves, at least part of the time, in a hands-free mode.” If this is not another evidence of software eating the world, I don’t know what is.

Here are the most relevant news in tech and retail:

  1. Tesla’s latest software updates to the Model S addresses range anxiety and will include autopilot mode
  2. Google news: Google, Intel and TAG Heuer to work on Swiss smartwatch; Google Android Auto is now available in compatible cars in US, UK and Australia
  3. Pinterest valuation at $11B after $367M round
  4. Apple to introduce revamped version of Apple TV this summer
  5. Taiwan’s Foxconn Technology Group may invest $600M in India’s Snapdeal

In retail:

  1. Amazon expands 1-hour delivery in Miami and Baltimore; Amazon gets FAA approval for drone testing outdoors
  2. Zara owner, Inditex sales growth hits two-year high, will share profits with employees
  3. Other earnings: J. Crew reports quarterly loss as sales fall at namesake brand while Madewell brand grew 33%; H&M reports a better than expected 15% sales rise in February
  4. US Mall operator Macerich rejects unsolicited $16B bid from rival Simon Property Group Inc.
  5. Japanese online retailer Rakuten to buy US e-book company Overdrive for $410M