Science & Technology
Still on top: Cyber Monday
sales on track to hit record
Feb. 9, 2018, file photo packages move down a conveyor system were they
are directed to the proper shipping area at the new Amazon Fulfillment
Center in Sacramento, Calif. “Cyber Monday” is still holding up as the
biggest online shopping day of the year, even though the same deals have
been available online for weeks and the name harks back to the days of
dial-up modems. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)
New York (AP) —
Cyber Monday is still holding up as the biggest online shopping day of
the year, even though many of the same deals have been available online
for weeks and the name harks back to the days of dial-up modems.
Shoppers are expected to spend a
record $9.4 billion on purchases made on their phones and computers
Monday, up about 19% from last year’s Cyber Monday, according to Adobe
Analytics, which tracks transactions at 80 of the top 100 U.S. online
The busiest time is expected to be
in the hour before midnight, as people race to take advantage of
discounts before they disappear.
Cyber Monday was created by
retailers in 2005 to get people to shop online at a time when high-speed
internet was rare and the iPhone didn’t exist. The idea was to encourage
people to shop at work, where faster connections made it easier to
browse, when they returned from the Thanksgiving break.
“It’s somewhat antiquated,” said
Rob Graf, vice president of strategy and insights at cloud computing
company Salesforce, which tracks shopping behavior of the online stores
that use its platform. “But retailers are still using it as a big
milestone and driving heavy discounts.”
At least one brand played up Cyber
Monday’s origins: Bonobos, the men’s clothing seller owned by Walmart
Inc., photographed models posing with clunky computers and
black-and-white TVs for its site.
“Boot up the dial-up,” one of its
Cyber Monday ads said.
On average, retailers offered 30%
off on Monday, the steepest discounts of the year, according to
Some have been offering deals for
days. Amazon started offering Cyber Monday deals on Saturday, calling
the three-day extravaganza “Cyber Monday Weekend.”
Walmart kicked off online discounts
for the holidays a week before Halloween. It was a way to combat the
shortened holiday shopping season.
Thanksgiving is always celebrated
on the fourth Thursday of November. This year, that was Nov. 28, cutting
the typical time between Thanksgiving and Christmas by nearly a week,
making it the shortest stretch between the two holidays since 2013.
Adobe said the bestselling toys on
Cyber Monday were those related to the “Frozen 2” movie, “Paw Patrol”
show and the LOL Surprise brand. TVs from Samsung and laptops by Apple
were also hot sellers. And Amazon’s devices, such as its voice activated
Echo, did well, too.
Not all online shopping ended with
a box being delivered. Despite frightful weather in parts of the U.S.
this weekend, buying online and picking up in a store has become a
popular option, growing 43% so far from last year.
“These services are breathing new
life into physical stores,” Adobe said. “And we expect growth to climb
as we get closer to Christmas.”
Facebook tests tool
to move photos
to Google, other rivals
London (AP) —
Facebook started testing a tool on Monday that lets users move their
images more easily to other online services, as it faces pressure from
regulators to loosen its grip on data.
The social network’s new tool will
allow people to transfer their photos and videos directly to competing
platforms, starting with Google Photos.
The company said it will first be
available to people in Ireland and will be refined based on user
The tool will then be rolled out
worldwide in the first half of 2020.
U.S. and European regulators have
been examining Facebook’s control of personal data such as images as
they look into whether the tech giant’s dominance is stifling
competition and limiting choice for consumers. Facebook CEO Mark
Zuckerberg has reacted by calling for new rules to address “data
portability” and other issues.
Facebook said that as it worked on
a new set of data portability tools, it had discussions with
policymakers, regulators, and academics in the U.K., Germany, Brazil and
Singapore to learn about which data should be portable and how to
The company is developing products
that “take into account the feedback we’ve received and will help drive
data portability policies forward by giving people and experts a tool to
assess,” Steve Satterfield, director of privacy and public policy, said
in a blog post.
China tests Mars lander in
international cooperation push
lander is lifted during a test of hovering, obstacle avoidance and
deceleration capabilities at a facility in Huailai in China’s Hebei
province, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
Huailai, China (AP) —
China showed off its Mars spacecraft during a landing test Thursday as
the country pushes for inclusion in more global space projects.
The demonstration of hovering,
obstacle avoidance and deceleration capabilities was conducted at a site
outside Beijing simulating conditions on the red planet, where the pull
of gravity is about one-third that of Earth.
China plans to launch a lander and
rover to Mars next year to explore parts of the planet, one of four
scheduled missions. The U.S. and Europe are also sending rovers to Mars
next year, and the United Arab Emirates plans to launch an orbiter.
China’s burgeoning space program
achieved a lunar milestone earlier this year by landing a spacecraft on
the mysterious far side of the moon.
It has developed rapidly,
especially since it conducted its first crewed mission in 2003, and has
sought cooperation with space agencies from Europe and elsewhere.
The U.S., however, has banned most
space cooperation with China out of national security concerns, keeping
China from participating in the International Space Station.
Despite that, China’s ambitions
continue to grow as it seeks to rival the U.S., Russia and Europe in
space and cement its position as a regional and global power. It is
gradually constructing its own larger, more permanent space station in
which it has invited foreign participation.
The lander on Thursday successfully
avoided ground obstacles during a simulated low-gravity descent,
according to the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the
Chinese space program’s main contractor.
The refrigerator-sized craft was
lowered gently on 36 cables through the air for about a minute and used
onboard jets spraying rust-colored fumes to alter its downward course.
“After the probe is launched, it
will take about seven months to reach Mars, and the final procedure of
landing will only last about seven minutes, which is the most difficult
and the most risky part of the whole mission,” said the Mars mission’s
chief designer, Zhang Rongqiao, standing before the 140-meter (460-foot)
-tall testing facility.
Many Mars-bound spacecraft launched
by the U.S., Russia and other countries have been lost or destroyed over
the years. Only the U.S. has pulled it off and has made eight successful
The remote test site lies an hour
north of the Great Wall from Beijing.
Guests at Thursday’s event came
from 19 countries and included the ambassadors of Brazil, France and
“This event is the first public
appearance of China’s Mars exploration mission, also an important
measure for China to pragmatically carry out space international
exchanges and cooperation,” the China National Space Administration said
in a statement.
Yahoo Japan, Line to merge business to form online giant
Kita/Kyodo News via AP)
Tokyo (AP) —
Online services Yahoo Japan and Line Corp. have announced they are merging.
Z Holdings Corp., which owns SoftBank
Corp. that operates Yahoo Japan, and Naver Corp. of South Korea, which owns
a majority stake in Line, said Monday they are aiming for a final agreement
by next month.
The combination in a joint venture
through a tender offer will form an online giant with retail services,
advertising and other mobile services such as messaging.
The combined sales would be the largest
among Japanese online business operators, surpassing Rakuten Inc., according
to Kyodo News service.
The companies said combining forces
will allow them to stay competitive in a drastically changing market,
including expansions into robotics and other new areas.
The integration will be carried out
equally, according to the companies, but the price is expected to be decided
Discussions had been ongoing between
Naver and Z Holdings since June, they said. After a deal is completed, Line
will get delisted.
The new company will primarily focus on
the Japanese market, seeking to answer to Japan’s social needs such as a
shrinking worker population and natural disasters, SoftBank said in a
“Social and industrial conditions
surrounding us are changing drastically and daily on a global basis,” it
said, adding that Japan needs to catch up, and coming together might help.
“Particularly in the internet market,
overseas companies, especially those based in the United States and China,
are overwhelmingly dominant.”
The chief executives of both companies
later appeared together at a Tokyo hotel, wearing ties with the other
company’s colors — green for Line and red for Yahoo.
They said the companies not only shared
similar values but also the same sense of crisis of being dwarfed by
American and Chinese rivals, even after the two companies come together, by
size in terms of sales, research investment amount and number of employees.
“We both felt we needed to act now to
prepare for the future,” said Line Chief Executive Takeshi Idezawa.
The merger is planned to be completed
by October next year, with the new entity having 10 board members, three
from each company and four outside members, they said.
They said the companies are a good
match because they both operate online content and financial services, but
can complement each other. Line, for instance, is stronger in messaging and
Yahoo in online commerce, they said.
“Yahoo values surprising its users, and
Line values wowing its users, and so by coming together we hope to excite
our users around the world,” said Kentaro Kawabe, chief executive of Z