Apple Music launches Facebook Messenger Bot
Apple Music subscribers can now share full songs on Facebook without having to leave the Messenger app.
Messenger users who subscribe to Apple Music can now discover, listen and share full songs with other Apple Music subscribers, without any need to switch between apps. This can either be enjoyed as a solo experience to listen to music or sharing experience.
And weirdly, users who send emojis in the Apple Music bot will now be recommended playlists that correspond with their chosen emoji. Essentially, if you share a teary-eyed emoji, expect to be recommended a listen to Kate Bush’s This Woman’s Work.
To non-subsribers, the Apple Music bot will offer 30-second soundbites for listening and sharing.
Burger King uses ‘It’ film to troll McDonald’s
While horror film It may have broken box office records in America and the UK as the most lucrative horror film of all time, overseas it has drawn criticism for Pennywise the Clown’s similarities to Ronald McDonald.
In fact, Burger King Russia has gone as far as calling for ‘It’ to be banned after accusing the film of being free promotion for rival McDonald due to these supposed similarities.
Burger King’s German division has poked fun at this with a new advertising stunt. During a preview screening in Germany, it added a scene right as the film fades to black for the credits. Right before the credits for the two hour film ran, the screen went black and a spotlight appeared with the text, “The moral is: never trust a clown.” This was followed by a smaller spotlight at the bottom of the screen with the Burger King logo.
The audience erupted in laughter and applause for what is the longest – ‘It’ runs for over two hours – Burger King advertisement in history. The gesture also prompted the hashtag #nevertrustaclown, which Burger King is using for its promotions.
Ryanair forced to offer pilots better pay to stop potential walkout crisis
Ryanair’s CEO Michael O’Leary has written to his pilots directly to offer them better pay and conditions in the wake of the airline’s cancellation crisis.
In the letter, Mr O’Leary also apologised for changes that caused disruptions to their rotas and urges them not to leave the airline.
His apology is somewhat of a shift after he recently accused the pilots of being “full of their own self-importance”. And in the letter seen by the Irish Independent newspaper, he urges pilots to stay with Ryanair “for a brighter future”.
O’Leary’s apology comes as many of the airline’s 4,200 pilots had joined unions over the past two weeks due to discontent with the disruptions caused by changes to their rota. Ryanair staff are also thought to be planning mass strikes.
Tesco’s £3.7bn Booker takeover faces uncertain future
Tesco announced a £3.7bn deal to acquire wholesale giant Booker at the start of the year. However, the deal faces an uncertain future after the bosses of seven of the UK’s largest wholesalers have come out fighting calling on the competition watchdog to block the deal.
They claim Tesco’s takeover “threatens the survival of the independent retailer”. According to The Telegraph, they also refute Tesco’s claim that the deal will enhance competition and promote consumer interests, with the wholesalers arguing the deal with will mean Tesco has an even tighter grip on the grocery market.
The wholesalers, who together account for 60% of the market, say in the letter “Tesco will have incontestable power over the procurement of all grocery categories in the UK. Suppliers will find it even harder to resist Tesco’s demands.”
Their chief argument is that they are already disadvantaged as they cannot match Tesco’s 29% share of the grocery market or pricing power, which will only increase with the Booker deal.
Netflix increases prices for the first time in two years
If you’re a Netflix subscriber then your monthly fee could be about to rise by £1.
A standard UK plan will rise 50p to £7.99 a month, while a premium subscription for four simultaneous users jumps £1 to £9.99 a month, with the film streaming giant raising prices for the first time in two years.
The US, Germany and France are among the other countries where prices will rise.
The rise comes during a healthy period for Netflix. In July it revealed it now had 104 million subscribers globally, while revenues rose 32% in the second quarter to $2.8bn. However, the rises could be to offset increased competition from Amazon and other sites such as Hulu in the US.
Thursday 5 October
Google launches AI powered next generation Pixel 2
Google has launched its next generation Pixel 2 smartphone powered by a new AI operating system.
The Pixel 2 (£629) and larger version Pixel 2 XL (£799) have a curved screen, squeezable body that activates Google Assistant and can take “portrait mode” photos via the front and rear single-lens cameras. The tech giant explained that this camera innovation makes more space for the battery and has enabled it to introduce front-facing speakers.
Despite previously mocking Apple’s decision to drop the traditional headphone socket on its new iPhone 8 Google has followed suit, dropping the headphone jack in favour of a USB-C charging socket. Users will now need Google’s wireless headphones, known as Pixel Buds, to listen to music on their phone.
The OLED (organic light-emitting diode) screen has been designed to automatically show the name of any song heard playing in the surrounding area, a Shazam-like function which accesses a database of tens of thousands of songs.
Google signalled its serious play for the smartphone market last month when it paid Taiwanese electronics company HTC $1.1bn (£828m) to hire 2,000 of its engineers to work on the Pixel phone.
IPA reveals 29% of consumers are “put off” using voice assistant technology
Almost a third of consumers (29%) are put off using voice assistant technology because they don’t like the idea of speaking commands out loud, according new research released today by the IPA.
Over half of those questioned (54%) said they have not used voice assistant technology and are not interested in doing so in future, because they do not see how they can benefit from the technology.
Security is also a major source of concern. Of the 29% of consumers put off using voice tech, a quarter “worry about the security of using it”.
The IPA study also found that women (33%) are more put off by the technology than men (25%), while adoption of voice skewed highest amongst 16-24s (51%), followed by 25-34s (27%).
Apple’s Siri is the most commonly used voice assistant (52%), followed by Google Assistant (32%), Amazon’s Alexa (27%) and Microsoft’s Cortana (27%).
Looking specifically at the users who describe themselves as interested in using voice assistant technology, three quarters look to it as a means “to entertain”. This is followed by 65% who use the technology to control home appliances, 56% who are using it to book services and 42% to order groceries. Some 84% of users questioned say they feel most comfortable using voice technology at home.
Diageo plans to develop Guinness brewery site in Dublin
Diageo is looking for a partner to develop a section of its flagship St James’s Gate Guinness brewery in Dublin into offices, shops and homes.
The plan is to redevelop 12.6 acres of the 50-acre site to create a “new urban quarter”. The Telegraph reports that the proposed plans will span 63,000sq m of office space, 5,000sq m of retail space and 22,000sq m for hotel and leisure use, as well as 500 new homes.
Diageo moved all its UK and Ireland brewing operations to the site in 2008 and since announcing 2012 it would be investing heavily in the facilities at St James’s Gate, the company now says it can brew more beer in less space, freeing up room for redevelopment.
Airbnb targets business travel market with co-working tie-up
Airbnb is making a play for the business trip market through a new partnership that will allow its users to rent a desk at offices operated by co-working space provider WeWork.
Launched today, the trial covers WeWork offices in Chicago, London, Los Angeles, New York, Sydney and Washington, DC. Operating across 45 cities on five continents, WeWork currently accounts for a quarter of all London’s leasing activity.
Airbnb has been moving increasingly towards the business travel market since 2015 when it launched its Business Travel Ready feature, which allows users to select accommodation that includes WiFi and a laptop-ready workspace.
Warburtons debuts new ad fronted by Peter Kay
Warburtons has teamed up with comedian Peter Kay on a new ad campaign that hopes to bring “romance and nostalgia to the bakery aisle”.
Premiering in a special one-off slot on ITV this Saturday, the 180-second “Pride & Breadjudice” advert sees Peter Kay pitching his concept for a steamy television period drama to chairman Jonathan Warburton. The concept is centred around the love story between Thomas and Ellen Warburton, a tongue-in cheek take on the real life origins of the bakery business 141 years ago.
This latest ad campaign follows on from the The Giant Crumpet Show fronted by the Muppets, which was released by Warburtons in 2015.
The television spot will be supported over the coming weeks by out of home, digital, social and PR activity, in a bid to increase Warburtons’ brand presence across the UK.
Wednesday 4 October
Yahoo data hack ‘affected all accounts’
Last year, Yahoo was forced to admit that data from more than 1 billion user accounts was compromised by hackers in August 2013.
But the damage is worse than originally anticipated. The tech company revealed yesterday (3 October) that every one of its 3 billion accounts was affected by data theft.
Yahoo included the finding in an update to its account security update page. The company said it will begin alerting accounts that were not previously notified of the attack.
However, the company said the latest investigation indicated that the stolen information did not include passwords in clear text, payment card data, or bank account information.
The hack has been a costly one for Yahoo. Some 43 consumer class-action lawsuits have been filed against the company, while Verizon in February lowered its original offer by $350m for Yahoo assets in the wake of cyber-attacks at the internet company.
Tesco sales rise for seventh quarter in a row
Tesco is on a roll, as its latest results show sales at the supermarket grew for the seventh quarter in a row.
Like-for-like sales rose 2.1% in the second quarter. Pre-tax profit was also up, rising to £562m for the first half compared with £71m for the same period last year.
Tesco CEO Dave Lewis has hailed “strong progress” at the company, and said that despite “challenging” market conditions, it had “worked hard to minimise price increases”.
Amazon faces tax bill from EU
Apple is not the only global giant having to fight off the European Commission for supposedly not paying enough tax.
Amazon is facing a bill for hundreds of millions of euros in back taxes linked to an alleged “sweetheart” tax deal with Luxembourg, according to reports by the FT.
It follows a three-year investigation into tax arrangements between the US online retailer and Luxembourg. In a preliminary ruling the commission said the deal “constituted state aid”.
Such a move by the European Commission would be similar to a 13bn euros (£11.5bn) bill it levied against US technology giant Apple last year for Irish back taxes, the FT said.
Unilever and Britvic jobs at risk following ‘efficiency savings’
More than 350 jobs have been put at risk after the firms behind squash brand Robinsons and Colman’s mustard announced plans that could result in a shared factory in Norwich closing down.
Soft drinks group Britvic said it was transferring its production lines for Robinsons and Fruit Shoot from the town to other facilities in East London, Leeds and Rugby, affecting 242 employees. The plans aim to create “significant productivity and efficiency savings”.
Meanwhile Unilever said it had launched a review of its own 113-strong unit at the same Carrow Works site, which produces Colman’s Mustard, sparking fears that manufacture of the iconic British product could move overseas.
A Unilever spokesperson said: “Although no decisions have been made, we need to recognise that Britvic’s proposed withdrawal would have serious implications for Unilever in Norwich.”
Instagram launches new poll feature to allow brands to interact with followers
Instagram has introduced a new feature in a bid to get more brands engaged with the platform.
An interactive poll sticker in Stories will allow brands to ask a question and see results from their followers in real time. For the first time, brands will be able to interact directly with their followers through Instagram Stories, outside of just direct messaging.
After a brand has shared a poll, its followers can immediately start voting and see real-time results. And just like the story, the poll and its results will disappear after 24 hours.
Instagram has suggested some use cases for the poll, including asking followers to choose between options for a new product flavour or colour, pick their favourite of pieces from a new collection or pick what they would like to see more of on the brands’ Stories.
Tuesday 3 October
Shop Direct places ‘big bet’ on AI as it posts record sales
Shop Direct, owner of Very.co.uk and the Littlewoods.com brand, has posted its fifth year of record sales, with mobile now accounting for over half of sales for the first time.
Like-for-like sales rose by 5.6% to £1.93bn, with smartphone sales now contributing to 53% of online sales. The new MyVery app, meanwhile, accounted for just under a third of its mobile sales.
CEO Alex Baldock says the brand is placing a “big bet” on artificial intelligence and machine learning to ensure it stays relevant on mobile. It is investing in chat bots that can help detect customer behaviour to improve the shopping experience.
“We want to democratise the personal shopper,” said Baldock. An example would be a reminder to re-order a face cream alongside a targeted promotion.
The firm already uses artificial intelligence in its finance arm to detect fraud.
Uber’s UK boss quits
Uber’s UK boss and head of northern Europe affairs, Jo Bertram, has handed in her resignation.
The taxi app says the move is unconnected to the fact it is currently fighting to have its London licence renewed after Transport for London (TfL) deemed the company “unfit” to operate the service in the capital.
In an email to staff, Bertram said she had “decided to move on to something new and exciting” but didn’t go into details. She has been with the firm for four years and was central to its expansion in London.
Uber’s London licence expired on Saturday but it can continue to operate in the area while it appeals against the decision.
New chief executive Dara Khosrowshahi is set to meet TfL commissioner Mike Brown to discuss matters today.
M&S launches campaign with Breast Cancer Now
Marks & Spencer has partnered with Breast Cancer Now for Breast Cancer Awareness month and will be showcasing the stories of seven women who have been affected by the illness in a nationwide campaign to support the initiative.
The retailer will donate 20% of pink bra sales to the charity during October as part of its ongoing goal to prevent 9,000 cases of breast cancer a year by 2025.
The seven women – Emi Lou Howe, Katie Hughes, Laura Otrofanowei, Helen Peedell, Hayley Rock, Heather Shekede and Lesley Stephen – will take part in online and in-store activity, each modelling items from M&S’s range of pink bras.
Activity kicks off with a short film outlining each of their experiences called ‘Life, Love, Laughter and Breast Cancer: In Our Words’.
M&S and Breast Cancer Now have been working together since 2015. Together they aim to raise £13m over five years in a bid to prevent 9,000 cases of breast cancer a year by 2025. The partnership will contribute towards Breast Cancer Now’s wider goal of reducing breast cancer cases by 30% by 2050.
M&S has a track record of successful corporate-NGO partnerships. Its tie-up with Oxfam was selected as the second “most admired” partnership in C&E Advisory’s latest Corporate-NGO Partnerships Barometer in an unprompted voting exercise.
Snapchat ad revenue forecast slashed again
Snapchat’s parent company Snap Inc. is expected to make $161.4m less ad revenue globally this year than previously forecast, according to eMarketer, which says the firm still “remains in the experimental bucket for many marketers”.
It is the second time the firm has adjusted its expectations. It first said global ad revenue would hit $935.5m but this was lowered to $900m in March, which it said was due to due to higher than expected revenue sharing with publishing partners. Its forecast now stands at $774.1m, 17% lower than the latest adjustment.
UK moves towards becoming a cashless society
More than a third (38%) of British shoppers describe themselves as “card-first” and one in six say they now don’t use cash at all on an average day, suggesting the UK is moving towards becoming a cashless society.
The survey commissioned by payments technology company Square also finds that one in five people will now avoid using companies that don’t accept card payments, with more than a quarter stating they have walked away from a purchase because payment by card was not on offer.
Nearly half of small business owners surveyed say they are not missing out on sales as a result of not having a card payment option, however 60% of consumers suggest they would shop more at local businesses in their area if they could pay by card.
Monday, 2 October
Monarch Airlines collapses into administration
Monarch Airlines, the UK’s fifth biggest airlines, has collapsed into administration, leaving more than 110,000 passengers stranded abroad and ruining the travel plans for hundreds of thousands more.
Monarch had been in last ditch talks with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) about renewing its licence to sell package holidays. It had until midnight last night to reach a deal, but failed to do so. The company has now hired KPMG to work through the details of administration.
Those abroad will be repatriated by the CAA, which is chartering more than 30 aircraft over the next fortnight. Those who have bookings will also receive refunds through the Atol system.
McCain removes gay couple from TV ad campaign
McCain has removed a gay couple who featured in its TV ads after they suffered homophobic abuse on social media. Lee and Mat Samuels-Camozzi appeared in the campaign with their baby earlier this month. However, they received dozens of abusive comments on social media.
McCain says the couple will no longer feature in the campaign because it is no longer showing the 60-second ad in which they appear and will from now on be airing a 30-second version of the TV spot that does not feature them.
However, a McCain spokesman says the decision not to feature the couple in the 30-second spot was “absolutely not” connected to the social media backlash, about which the company said last week it was disappointed.
He adds: “Our campaign is all about celebrating the diversity of family life and not everybody’s a normal family. There’s only so much you can say in 30 seconds. We’re still promoting them, they’re in the posters and we’ve got them on social media.”
Nestlé aims for bigger slice of the UK coffee market
Nestlé is prepping to take an even bigger slice of the coffee market with plans to expand its Nespresso brand and move into the coffee chain market.
Nespresso is launching a new coffee machine, the Vertuo, in the UK that will offer “high quality coffee” for larger cups ranging in size from 150ml to 414ml. Currently Nespresso focuses on espresso, although Vertuo has been on sale in the US and Canada.
Separately, Nespresso has bought a majority stake in coffee shop chain Blue Bottle. That moves Nestlé away from its traditional reliance on people drinking coffee at home as it looks to up its appeal among younger consumers.
Twitter’s profits fall 21% in the UK
Profits at the UK arm of Twitter slid by 21% last year despite the company pulling in almost £80m in ad revenue. Profits were down to £2.7m, in part due to a £1.4m “restructuring expense” that came about after Twitter reorganised the business and cut jobs globally. However, in the UK, it increased staff numbers by 24 and now employs 187 in the country.
Google ditches first click free policy
Google is ditching its policy of forcing new organisations to offer free articles in order to appear in its search engine. Previously, Google required publishers to offer three free articles a day before showing readers its pay wall; now news organisations will be able to decide how much, if any, content they give away for free.
The move is part of a number of measures aimed at showing it supports the growth of digital subscriptions. Google is also making it easier to pay for subscriptions to news organisations by enabling one-click payment.