Welcome to “The Week in Tech,” where we recap some of the most interesting technology and mobile stories from the past week.
This week we highlight IBM’s purchase of The Weather Company, Yahoo’s live stream of an NFL game, Walmart’s testing of drone delivery, and JPMorgan Chase’s mobile payments platform.
IBM buys Weather Company’s digital assets
IBM announced this week that it will acquire the digital assets of The Weather Company, which includes Weather.com, The Weather Channel mobile app, Weather Underground, and other mobile and web properties.
The Weather Channel TV network will not be included in the deal. Who watches that anymore, anyway?
The two companies have been working closely together already. A deal was struck earlier this year where The Weather Company would host its weather data services on IBM’s cloud platform, and IBM would leverage The Weather Company’s data.
IBM will now own all of that weather data, which comes from over 100,000 weather stations around the world. IBM looks to integrate it into its artificial intelligence platform Watson, which will now be able to analyze data from 3 billion weather data points. This partnership will also be the foundation of Watson’s Internet of Things initiative to which IBM dedicated $3 billion earlier this year.
Yahoo live streams the Internet’s first NFL game
The first ever NFL game to be live streamed on the internet for free took place this past Sunday and was a big success for all involved.
The matchup between the Buffalo Bills and Jacksonville Jaguars in London was watched by 15.2 million people around the world, with about a third of them outside of the U.S. across 185 countries. The stream garnered 33.6 million total views.
While those numbers are impressive, they of course still pale in comparison to TV broadcasts, which can attract a viewership of over 20 million viewers.
Regardless, the NFL recognized the success of the endeavor and is sure to continue to air NFL games on the internet for free. Yahoo paid $20 million for the rights to this game, and rights to future live streams are sure to be pricier.
Walmart is testing package delivery by drone
Walmart looks to join Amazon and Google in the race to deliver packages by drone.
On Monday, the world’s largest retailer submitted an application to the Federal Aviation Administration for permission to perform outdoor tests of drone delivery. Walmart has been testing its drones indoors.
In addition to package delivery to consumers’ homes, the company plans to use drones to check inventory of its trailers outside of warehouses and deliver packages to Walmart facilities.
Like Amazon and Google, Walmart looks to decrease its dependence on ground transportation providers and associated delays in delivery. 70% of the U.S. population lives within five miles of a Walmart, so drone delivery could potentially be implemented quickly and have an immediate impact on shortening delivery times.
JPMorgan Chase announces mobile payments platform
Mega bank JPMorgan Chase announced that it will soon launch its own mobile payments platform to compete with Apple Pay and Android Pay.
The bank will partner with MCX, a conglomerate of merchants building CurrentC, an app that uses QR codes to facilitate mobile payments. Merchants involved with MCX include Walmart, Best Buy, Kohl’s, and many more. CurrentC is slated to launch in 2016.
Chase Pay certainly has some advantages over current mobile payment offerings.
First, its partnership with MCX gives it access to over 100,000 retail locations across the U.S., many more than any existing platform.
Next, Chase Pay will be cross-platform, so both iPhone and Android users can leverage the platform for payments.
Third, retailers’ loyalty programs will be supported, alleviating the need for plastic cards or key fobs to earn points.
Fourth, Chase will charge lower transaction fees to merchants in order to increase adoption.
Finally, while Chase Pay can only be used by its debit, credit, and pre-paid card holders, there are 94 million of those cards that are active, a massive number.
On the flip side, QR codes have not been highly adopted in the U.S., and it’s unsure if that will change.
Additionally, the experience of using Chase Pay is less convenient than the near-field communications-based technology of Android Pay and Apple Pay. With Chase Pay, you have to unlock your phone, open the app, and then have the cashier scan the QR code. With NFC, all you have to do is wave your phone over a payment terminal and you’re done.
Regardless, battle lines have been drawn in the war of mobile payments.
What do you think of these stories? Have you read other interesting mobile and technology stories this week that are worth mentioning? Feel free to add your thoughts to the comments.
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