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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Amazon Expands Business-Sales Marketplace After Three Years

Zuma Press
After three years of testing, Amazon.com is hoping to widen the reach of its business customer marketplace site with a rebranding and expanded product selection.
Amazon Business, as the site will be known, will offer some merchandise exclusively to business customers, as well as better prices for some goods, said Prentis Wilson, a company vice president. Amazon is phasing out Amazon Supply in mid-May in favor of the new site, which will require a business license to access.
The new marketplace, which will continue to sell things like beakers, wrenches, and wood sanders, potentially gives Amazon a leg up in a capturing sales that otherwise rely heavily on catalogues and specialty sites like industrial supplier Grainger.
Among the goods offered at special prices on Amazon Business are a Belkin iPad air case for $23.81, compared with $29.81 on Amazon.com and a Fellowes adjustable keyboard tray at $191.43 versus $209.82, according to a spokeswoman.
Wilson declined to say if the distinct pricing on Amazon Business was the result of the Seattle company’s contract with suppliers or whether Amazon is altering the prices itself after paying wholesale.
He said the site will also have business-specific advertising and products not offered elsewhere. Those include scientific goods like antibodies and protein screening kits, among “hundreds of millions” of other items.
In other ways, the site will operate like Amazon.com. Members of Amazon’s $99 Prime program will get unlimited two-day shipping and many of the goods will be stored in Amazon warehouses, said Wilson.
For now Amazon Business will be only for U.S. customers, but Wilson suggested it could expand internationally over time.

Over 1 Million Sign-Ins within First 10 Days of Periscope Opened

Twitter today gave the first official news about the growth of its live-streaming video acquisition Periscope, with CEO Dick Costolo saying more than 1 million people signed in to the app in the first 10 days after its official launch on March 26. The public is closely watching Periscope’s growth, as it’s in a heated battle with independent competitor Meerkat for the mobile live-streaming market. Costolo said “we have seen tremendous early growth” in Periscope.
And that’s only on iOS. Periscope has yet to launch on Android, but Twitter investor Chris Sacca today previewed a version of Periscope for Google’s mobile OS during a Periscoped interview with the product’s CEO Kayvon Beykpour. The two revealed that Periscope’s web viewers will also get the ability to comment on streams today.
Periscope is now at No. 167 in the US-Overall iOS chart and No. 22 in US-Social Networking, according to App Annie. For comparison, Meerkat appears to have fallen out of the top 1,000 U.S. apps, and is at No. 129 in the US-Social Networking chart.
Periscope App Annie
Meerkat App Annie April
Costolo took time to specifically discuss video today during Twitter’s Q1 2015 earnings call. He also mentioned Twitter’s native video products and its acquisition of Niche [disclosure: My cousin is one of Niche’s founders], which connects Vine and other social media stars to brands so they can get paid for creating sponsored content.
CFO Anthony Noto mentioned that “Since the launch of native video on the platform on iOS and Android, we’ve seen orders of magnitude increases in the volume of video shared to Twitter. That content is some of the most engaging on the platform.”
Costolo also said that Twitter has the potential to push video to logged out users and syndication as well as people who use its apps, noting “I’m super excited and confident in the ability to grow the Periscope user base.”
Kayvon headshot
If Twitter is a way to instantly know what someone’s thinking, Periscope instantly shows you what they’re seeing. Whether it’s for news, celebrities connecting with fans, or simply interesting content, all of Twitter’s top styles of tweets would be even more vivid with live-streamed video.I hear Costolo has been even more enthusiastic about video. Sources tell me that he has been telling new employees during orientation that “video is the future of Twitter.” That’s similar to how we heard Costolo pitched the acquisition to Periscope’s founders. The more organic video content Twitter can get on its platform, the more highly lucrative video ads it can insert without users getting mad.

Over 1 Million Sign-Ins within First 10 Days of Periscope Opened

Twitter today gave the first official news about the growth of its live-streaming video acquisition Periscope, with CEO Dick Costolo saying more than 1 million people signed in to the app in the first 10 days after its official launch on March 26. The public is closely watching Periscope’s growth, as it’s in a heated battle with independent competitor Meerkat for the mobile live-streaming market. Costolo said “we have seen tremendous early growth” in Periscope.
And that’s only on iOS. Periscope has yet to launch on Android, but Twitter investor Chris Sacca today previewed a version of Periscope for Google’s mobile OS during a Periscoped interview with the product’s CEO Kayvon Beykpour. The two revealed that Periscope’s web viewers will also get the ability to comment on streams today.
Periscope is now at No. 167 in the US-Overall iOS chart and No. 22 in US-Social Networking, according to App Annie. For comparison, Meerkat appears to have fallen out of the top 1,000 U.S. apps, and is at No. 129 in the US-Social Networking chart.
Periscope App Annie
Meerkat App Annie April
Costolo took time to specifically discuss video today during Twitter’s Q1 2015 earnings call. He also mentioned Twitter’s native video products and its acquisition of Niche [disclosure: My cousin is one of Niche’s founders], which connects Vine and other social media stars to brands so they can get paid for creating sponsored content.
CFO Anthony Noto mentioned that “Since the launch of native video on the platform on iOS and Android, we’ve seen orders of magnitude increases in the volume of video shared to Twitter. That content is some of the most engaging on the platform.”
Costolo also said that Twitter has the potential to push video to logged out users and syndication as well as people who use its apps, noting “I’m super excited and confident in the ability to grow the Periscope user base.”
Kayvon headshot
If Twitter is a way to instantly know what someone’s thinking, Periscope instantly shows you what they’re seeing. Whether it’s for news, celebrities connecting with fans, or simply interesting content, all of Twitter’s top styles of tweets would be even more vivid with live-streamed video.I hear Costolo has been even more enthusiastic about video. Sources tell me that he has been telling new employees during orientation that “video is the future of Twitter.” That’s similar to how we heard Costolo pitched the acquisition to Periscope’s founders. The more organic video content Twitter can get on its platform, the more highly lucrative video ads it can insert without users getting mad.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Samsung’s Q1 Profit Drops 39%

Samsung Electronics has disclosed its first-quarter earnings, with operating profit tumbling once again thanks to pressure from rival smartphone makers. Its performance stands in sharp contrast to Apple, which posted its second-largest quarterly earnings of all time earlier this week.
The South Korean company reported net profit of 4.63 trillion won (about $4.35 billion), a 39 percent drop from the 7.49 trillion won it reported a year ago. This fell below analysts’ expectations, as well as Samsung’s own forecast for operating profit of 5.9 trillion won. Revenue slipped 12 percent year-over-year to 47 trillion won.
Samsung Electronics’ smartphone sales have been hurt by competition with Apple and a slew of smaller Android device makers, but Samsung sounded an optimistic note, predicting a recovery in the second quarter thanks to its new Galaxy S6 and Galaxy S6 Edge.
The company also said in its earnings call that China and India will drive demand for its smartphones this year, even though it faces stiff competition from makers like Xiaomi and Micromax in those markets.
Samsung Electronics’ mobile unit saw its first-quarter operating profit plunge 57 percent year-over-year to 2.74 trillion won. Its operating profit margins climbed 10.6 percent quarter-over-quarter, however, which the company attributed to stronger sales of its mid-range smartphones. The company said it plans to continue boosting margins by spending less on marketing.The company warned, however, that overall smartphone and tablet sales demand might stagnate due to seasonality. On the other hand, demand for high-end televisions and air conditioners is expected to increase in the second quarter, but that may not be enough to help Samsung Electronics’ consumer electronics unit totally recover. It posted a loss of 140 billion won, compared to a 190 billion won profit a year ago.
In addition, the company also believes its second-quarter earnings will be buoyed by its semiconductor business, as it sells memory chips to other smartphone manufacturers that are about to launch new flagship smartphones (for example, Samsung Electronicswill reportedly supply processor chips for the next iPhone). Like mobile, its semiconductor unit has also seen an improvement in margins, which climbed to 28.5 percent this quarter compared to 20.8 percent a year ago.

40M Active Small Business Pages in Facebook

Facebook is announcing some new programs today for small businesses, particularly ones that advertise. At the same time, the company’s also arguing that plenty of businesses find out value on the social network without buying ads.
Specifically, Facebook says the number of active small business Pages keeps growing — it’s up to 40 million, compared to 30 million last June. And only 2 million of them are active advertisers.
The fact that there are so many active businesses that don’t bother with ads seems particularly noteworthy given the declining reach of organic (non-ad) content from Facebook Pages. But Jonathan Czaja, Facebook’s director of small business for North America, said that creating Pages isn’t just about pushing posts to potential customers.
“Creating a presence on Facebook … is a powerful asset in its own right,” he said.
As for those new programs, Facebook will be holding more events for small businesses around the country, with half-day events in San Diego, Minneapolis, Nashville and Boston.
And for advertisers, it’s also adding one-on-one chat support. The idea of customer support through chats might not seem all that unusual or worth celebrating, but again, we’re talking about millions of advertisers here.
Before now, if you were a small business buying ads on Facebook and you needed help, you had to send an email and wait for a response. Czaja said many of those advertisers were asking for live support, so Facebook is giving it to them. It’s rolling out the program in the United States, United Kingdom, and Ireland in the next few months, with more countries to follow.
“We’ve got hundreds of reps worldwide providing both email and chat support,” Czaja said. “We intend to grow that dramatically in the coming years.”

Instagram Launches @Music

Instagram today announced the launch of a new official community on its service dedicated to music and musicians that will live under the handle @music. This marks the first time the company has created a dedicated account devoted to a single subject, explains the Facebook-owned social network in a blog post out this morning.
The idea for the new community was sparked by activity on Instagram itself, as one-quarter of the most popular accounts on Instagram today are those coming from musicians. Now Instagram is working to further fuel the flames of its 300 million+ users’ interest in the subject.
Explains Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom, “The music community is — and always has been — an important part of Instagram. For the past four years, we have become the home for artists big and small — a place where people across the musical spectrum come to share stories, reveal their creativity and connect directly with fans,” he writes.
A number of popular artists today have Instagram accounts, including Beyonce, Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Katy Perry, Justin Bieber, Madonna and more. But it has also become home to emerging artists, who are looking to grow their fan base.
The new @music community, which will be headed up by Instagram Music Editor Alex Suskind, will cover a range of topics related to music, says Instagram, including all kinds of artists, both up-and-comers like Tricot and stars, instruments, lyrics, studio sessions, concerts, album illustrations, music fans and more.
There will be just six posts per week added to this account and they will be grouped into series designated by specific hashtags. For example: #LocallySourced will cover unsigned acts, #DoubleTrack will focus on artists’ interests outside of music, and #15SecondLessons will include videos on how to perform “everything from riffs to drumbeats,” says Instagram.
The “community” aspect to the service involves getting @music followers to participate not only in the comments of the posts itself, but also with a new, music-themed monthly hashtag project, the company notes. This will be similar to the Weekend Hashtag Project Instagram currently runs on its main @Instagram account, only tailored to music community.
The main account has over 60 million followers, and is used by the company to spotlight creative members of its community. @Music is an extension of that.
The @music community is kicking off its launch today with the first feature on Questlove. Unlike many Instagram posts, these community contributions aren’t just a simple photo or video and a quick comment, but rather include long-form content. In the case of Questlove, for example, there’s a multi-paragraph article that provides a deeper look into the artist’s musical origin story.
The decision to branch into verticals focused on users’ interests is an interesting move for the photo-and-video sharing network, which had not before launched its own online communities to engage the service’s users in a meaningful way. If @music is successful, it could mean that Instagram will use it as a model to expand into other areas that also make sense for its user base, with other dedicated accounts like those for art or fashion, for example.
That would perhaps make the service more of a rival to networks like Twitter or Snapchat, for instance – the former which also serves as a way for musicians and other public figures to communicate with their fans, and the latter which has more recently expanded into content as well, with the launch of the news-focused section “Discover.”
However, Instagram says today it doesn’t have plans to launch other verticals at this time or run ads on @music. Rather, the company tells us, @music is an expansion of Instagram’s long-running editorial operation. “Creating content isn’t new for us,” an Instagram spokesperson explains. “We think spotlighting the most talented and creative members of the music community on Instagram is a very strategic long-term.”In addition, having an online topic-based community could help Instagram attract advertisers who want to reach a specific audience – Instagram’s younger, music-obsessed fans, that is. Today, there’s not a good way for advertisers to target a narrow demographic on the service because its users’ profiles are kept free from information that could help an advertiser identify their demographic data or interests. An online community (or communities) could eventually change that.

Journey To Zelda’s Hyrule In Any Web Browser

The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past was a technical feat on a home console back in 1991 when it was launched, but today a team has brought the entire overworld mapfrom the game to your browser using only HTML5. Thanks to the team behind “JADSDS engine,” you can now navigate to Hyrule from any device, including your iPhone or iPad, and check out a scrollable version of the map from the game complete with environment and NPC animations.
It’s an impressive demo of their JavaScript animator tech for web developers, but it’s also awesome even if you have no interest in the nuts and bolts behind the tech. There’s something very nostalgic about being able to zoom out and take a good look at the animated Hyrule map from a bird’s eye view right in Safari or Chrome.
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If you’re having trouble loading the page, just keep trying; the site seems to be under heavy load currently.
Via The Verge

Twitter’s New Dedicated Food Account Could Help Broaden Appeal

Twitter is launching @TwitterFood today, a dedicated account that sifts through the myriad food-related tweets shared on the social network and offers up a curated selection of hand-picked missives from heavyweights in the field, including Martha Stewart and Alton Brown, as well as choice posts from the general public.
The Twitter Food account is a smart idea for a company looking to expand its appeal in order to find a new, more general audience. While the network has a strong cadre of die-hard users, it’s still struggling to gain a foothold in the broader market the way Facebook has managed to do.
Food isn’t the company’s first curated feed; Twitter Music and Twitter Sports operate in much the same way, for instance. But focusing on areas of high engagement that’s more likely to appeal to user groups beyond news hounds and real-time information junkies is a wise decision.
Onboarding remains one of the biggest challenges facing Twitter in terms of growth; curated feeds like Twitter Food offer one-stop shopping for new users, giving them a smattering of high-quality content relevant to their needs from which they can branch out and find new follows to fill their timeline.
 The financial picture painted by Twitter’s earnings release yesterday isn’t all that rosy, and user growth was a key causal factor there, so anything that can contribute to growth is a worthwhile effort right now.It’s also a good way to avoid irritating faithful users of the service but keeping the basic mechanics (i.e. time-based timelines) in place while making it easier for new users to get beyond the initial “so what now?” feeling that can accompany signing up without any close friends to follow or clear intent in terms of why you joined.

Airbnb Finally Releases An App For Browsing Its Listings On Tablets

Airbnb Finally Releases An App For Browsing Its Listings On Tablets
A few weeks ago, I was looking for an Airbnb in Austin to share with my girlfriend while we’re in town for a buddy’s wedding. We were specifically looking to find a place that didn’t involve sleeping in an Airstream or someone’s converted garage, and a place where we were unlikely to be awoken in the morning by some hippie’s chickens.*
After some period of frustration handing my laptop back and forth while we browsed listings, my girlfriend had a brilliant idea. She would download the app on her iPad, and then we’d have a slightly less annoying device to pass between us. But then, after a quick search on the app store:
“There’s no iPad app. What the hell?”
I was just as surprised. After all, Airbnb has been around for so long that we just sort of expected there had to be an iPad app. But there wasn’t — at least not until today.
That’s right, today Airbnb is finally** rolling out an app that will enable users to browse and search its listings on a device that’s bigger than a phone, but not quite as unwieldy as a laptop. But more than that, the new app for iPad and Android tablets is designed to provide users with some inspiration for where they might want to take their next trip.
The app was designed to target a huge — and growing! — number of users who already use Airbnb on their tablets. According to Airbnb head of design Alex Schleifer, about 12 percent of all Airbnb users are coming to the site via iPad.
But the company didn’t want to just build a scaled-up iPhone app, or port over a more “native” version of its responsive web experience for tablets. It wanted to build something new and special for tablet users.
Like everything Airbnb does, the tablet app just oozes design. While it’s built for utility — yeah, the search field is just a tap away, and it’s really easy to get over to your messages with hosts or guests — the company also wanted to show off all the wonderful places you could be staying, even if you don’t have anywhere you plan to go.
When you first open it, the what-body-part-is-it Airbnb logo (the B√©lo!) appears in animation while the names of different cities flash across the screen. It’s like a loading screen for a video game, but in this case it’s totally unnecessary — except, you know, to look cool.
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Beyond that, the app welcomes you with beautiful images of all the various locations you can browse through, letting you swipe right and left between them. It’s meant to feel like you’re thumbing through a travel magazine, which in a way, you kind of are.
“People hold the iPad like a magazine or like a book,” Schleifer explains. “We wanted to bring the quality of print design into the digital space.”
In each viewing mode, the app seeks to highlight beautiful imagery while keeping the nitty gritty details slightly hidden but easily accessible. When you choose a city to browse in, you’re shown large panes of property images with listing price and a short description. Peeking out of the left side of the screen is a map that can be used to bounce around or refine your search, if you choose.
Click through to any listing and you’re engulfed in full-bleed images. Airbnb likes to say it has the largest collection of professional home photography in the world, and the company loves to sow that off in the app. Property information is a flick of the wrist away, slightly hidden in the bottom pane of the screen.
The app also has all the tools hosts have come to expect, including the ability to edit listings, manage their calendars, and also quickly reply to messages from guests. It also provides all host stats and dashboard — what Schleifer calls the host command center.
With the app, Airbnb had a couple of constituencies it wanted to please — those who will use the app mainly for browsing, and those who want to just get down to business and book.
“We thought about how different people use Airbnb. I use it to sit back and explore, let it guide where I want to go,” Schleifer told me, which was behind the idea of making it more of a magazine. But then there are other people, he says, that want the design to “just get out of the way and let me book.”
It was a long time coming, sure, but it appears Airbnb has an app that succeeds on both fronts.

Microsoft Introduces Azure SQL Data Warehouse

Microsoft today announced a new service in its Azure database lineup during its Build developer conference keynote today. The Azure SQL Data Warehouse, which will go into public preview in June, is meant to give businesses access to an elastic petabyte-scale, data warehouse-as-a-service offering that can scale according to their needs.
With SQL Data Warehouse, enterprises can ensure that they only pay for the usage they need and when they need it, Microsoft’s corporate VP for its data platform T.K. “Ranga” Rengarajan told me earlier this week. Customers are billed for their Azure blob storage, as well as the hourly compute rates they incur while working with the data. Because it separates compute and storage, users only pay for the queries they need. This means a business can aggregate all of its data and only pays for storage until it needs to run a quarterly report over this information, for example.
sql_lake
As Microsoft notes, the service is meant to give businesses the features they expect from their databases like full indexing, partitions and columnar indexing. The company also argues that other data warehouses can take hours or days to resize, while SQL Data Warehouse can adjust to a user’s needs in minutes. As the name implies, the query language for the service is SQL (specifically Microsoft SQL Server’s Transact-SQL), which most developers are probably familiar with at this point.
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The service can be integrated with other tools like PowerBI for visualizing data, Azure Machine Learning, Azure Data Factory for event processing and Azure’s HDInsight Hadoop-based big data analytics service.
With SQL Data Warehouse, Microsoft adds yet another product to its range of database services that now include SQL Database for regular relational databases and the DocumentDB NoSQL document database, as well as tools like StorSimple for storing and securing large amounts of data.

Microsoft’s New Add-In Frameworks Let Developers Access Office’s Data Graph

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At its Build event in San Francisco, Microsoft just showed off its new add-in frameworks for Office that let developers build applications on top of the company’s productivity apps that will run everywhere Office does.
Instead of siloing data off within its productivity suite, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Microsoft wants to “move to a semantically rich graph of data that developers can view and extend.”
These mini-applications aren’t limited to Windows (or even the desktop). Since they’re built in HTML and JavaScript, the same add-in that users become familiar with on their PC at the office will also show up when they make a quick change in the app on the iPad or web versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook.
In an on-stage demo, Nadella and an Office Product Manager showed several applications from early partners, including a DocuSign app running within Word and an add-in from SAP running in Excel, pulling data from what the user is looking at and automatically turning it into something easier to work with.
Nadella says these new frameworks will make Office applications more powerful by allowing for sub-apps that fit within specific user contexts — thus offering the benefits of broadly applicable and powerful apps like Excel while also bringing in interfaces and tools built for niche user bases.

Microsoft Expects 1 Billion Windows 10 Devices In 2-3 Years

At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that it expects Windows 10, its forthcoming operating system, to run on 1 billion devices in two to three years. That’s the idea, at least.
The goal is reasonable, given the company’s decision to offer Windows 10 to current Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 users for free for a year. That, combined with the normal PC sales cycle and the upgrade of Windows Phone users, is how Microsoft gets to the 1 billion-device figure.
Keep in mind two things: Microsoft has granted itself quite a lot of wiggle room — a multi-year timeframe that has a full year of slack is a pretty wide band. But that’s hardly surprising, given that Microsoft has something at risk in this case. If the company cannot attract a mass of users quickly, developers might pass on building for the platform.
And if developers don’t opt-in, consumers might eschew using the Windows Store. That cuts downloads, revenue for Microsoft and, of course, developer incomes. It’s a negatively reinforcing cycle.
The 1 billion figure is a good stab into the future for Microsoft (who can ignore that amount of potential reach?), and it’s a benchmark that now must be met. Windows 10 is coming out in a few months, and then for Microsoft, this particular clock begins to tick.

Microsoft’s New Browser->Microsoft Edge

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We knew that Internet Explorer was dead.
We knew a successor was coming.
We just didn’t know the official name, beyond the “Project Spartan” placeholder.
Now we do: Microsoft’s new browser is called Microsoft Edge.
Just announced at the company’s build conference, Edge will be the primary/default browser built into Windows 10.
Details are still light on of what’s unique to Edge, but here’s what we know:
  • It has built in Cortana support
  • It has built-in reader, note-taking, and sharing features
  • The design focuses on simplicity and minimalism
  • The rendering engine is called EdgeHTML
While no fullsize screenshots have been released yet, here’s what we could grab from the demo screen as it debuted:
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Uber Is Quietly Testing A Massive Merchant Delivery Program

Uber is planning to launch a merchant delivery program that would allow online shoppers to get same-day delivery of goods through both UberRush couriers and Uber drivers. TechCrunch has obtained training documents for Uber drivers and couriers who are part of the merchant delivery pilot program.
Sources say that Neiman Marcus, Louis Vuitton, Tiffany’s, Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss are all in talks with the Uber Merchant Delivery program, and one source in particular said that there are over 400 different merchants currently in talks (or already testing) with Uber for same-day delivery. (Cohen’s Fashion Optical and Hugo Boss are both used as examples in the training presentation.)
We’ve also confirmed that Spring, the mobile shopping app from David Tisch, is part of the initial test of the platform with a limited set of brands. The company sent out an email yesterday offering Spring + UberRush for a limited time for brands such as illesteva, Bing Bang Jewelry, Phyllis + Rosie, Mack Weldon, Jinsoon, Industry Standard, Outdoor Voices and Negative Underwear.
Spring offers an interesting testing ground for this type of service, as it already has its own back-end for merchants to list the exact amount and type of inventory available on the Spring platform at any given time. Combined with Uber’s merchant program, those same vendors simply have to list the daily available inventory as opposed to weekly or monthly.
Screenshot 2015-04-28 14.07.39
More traditional retailers, such as Neiman Marcus or Tiffany’s, will likely have a harder time transitioning to a system that requires data around exact inventory that is locally available throughout the day.
When reached for comment, an Uber spokesperson issued the following statement: “Experimenting and finding new, creative ways for the Uber app to provide even greater value to our riders and driver partners is a way of life at Uber. We have been piloting UberRUSH with multiple retailers for the last year.”
That might be true, and Uber has even publicized some of these experiments as early as last summer. However, the manual we’ve obtained points to broader ambitions by the company, since it has apparently built a separate app just for merchant deliveries.
From what we can gather from the manual, it seems that Uber drivers and couriers are currently taking merchant orders through a different app (and even a separate phone) than the one they use to receive regular UberRUSH orders. Eventually, however, Uber drivers will be able to take both human passengers and Uber Merchant orders at the same time through an intelligent routing system, all from a single driver-side app.
Uber has been getting deeper into the delivery space of late, with investments in delivering fresh produce with UberFresh, as well as the recent launch of UberEats in Chicago and New York (already available in Los Angeles and Barcelona), letting users order curated meals for lunch and dinner that are delivered curbside by UberEats drivers.
The company also launched a program called UberEssentials that delivered household goods to a user’s home on-demand, but that service was run as a limited test and eventually shuttered.
The merchant program seems to target higher-end brands with an online retail presence, offering the ability to deliver inventory that is locally available on the same day that a customer places the order. For an added fee, of course.
One source told TechCrunch that Uber’s original plan for merchant delivery focused on large e-commerce retailers like Amazon and eBay, but found that sourcing inventory from warehouses wasn’t worth the effort. Getting inventory from local stores, on the other hand, is possible as long as the vendor has control over the amount and type of inventory available in a single day.
It’s a difficult logistics business, but Uber has the built-in infrastructure with thousands of drivers and couriers to deliver this type of offering to merchants and, ultimately, consumers.
It’s not hard to imagine Uber combining these verticals — fresh food, restaurant food, home goods, online purchase orders, and more — into a single logistics framework that is dispatched to its thousands of drivers and couriers. A driver could theoretically have Johnny’s pizza in the front seat, Jenny’s new Louis Vuitton bag in the trunk, and you in the backseat.
Here’s the manual in full:
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Microsoft Launches Visual Studio Code

At its Build developer conference, Microsoft today announced the launch of Visual Studio Code, a lightweight cross-platform code editor for writing modern web and cloud applications that will run on OS X, Linux and Windows. The application is still officially in preview, but you can now download it here.
This marks the first time that Microsoft offers developers a true cross-platform code editor. The full Visual Studio is still Windows-only, but today’s announcement shows the company’s commitment to supporting other platforms.
visua_studio_code
“A lot of people use Windows as their development environment, but we are also seeing a lot of people on Linux and Mac,” S. ‘Soma’ Somasegar, Microsoft’s corporate VP of its developer division, told me earlier this week. “Instead of making them go to Windows, we want to meet them where they are.” Developers on these platforms are also often perfectly happy with using a regular code editor like Sublime Text instead of a full IDE like Visual Studio.
Visual Studio Code offers developers built-in support for multiple languages and as Microsoft noted in today’s Build keynote, the editor will feature rich code assistance and navigation for all of these languages. JavaScript, TypeScript, Node.js and ASP.NET 5 developers will also get a set of additional tools.
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The editor features all of the standard tools you would expect from a modern code editor, including syntax highlighting, customizable keyboard bindings, bracket matching and snippets. Somasegar tells me it also works with Git out of the box and
As Somasegar told me, the new editor is partly based on Microsoft’s experience with writing the online Monaco editor for Visual Studio Online, but the company also worked on bringing some of Visual Studio’s language features to Visual Studio Code. These include the Roslyn project, for example, Microsoft’s .NET compiler platform and Microsoft says the language services it built for Visual Studio Code will be available in other editors as well, including Sublime Text, Vi and Atom.
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Some of these language features are also available to other editors. Not too long ago, Microsoft launched a TypeScript plug-in for Sublime Text, for example, and Somasegar tells me the company is committed to launching similar projects in the future (it’s all about meeting developers where they are, after all).
Today’s announcement will surely come as a surprise to many. It does, however, fit in well with the direction the company’s developer group has been on for quite a while now, be that the open sourcing of .NET Core (and taking that platform cross-platform) or the launch of the free Visual Studio Community edition.