By Reuters | Updated: 7 July 2023
Amazon’s $1.7 billion (nearly Rs. 14,100 crore) acquisition of robot vacuum cleaner maker iRobot may reduce competition and strengthen Amazon’s position as online marketplace provider, EU antitrust regulators warned on Thursday.
The European Commission opened a full-scale investigation and will decide by November 15 whether to clear or block the deal.
“We continue to work through the process with the European Commission and are focused on addressing its questions and any identified concerns at this stage,” an Amazon spokesperson told Reuters.
Antitrust enforcers around the world have stepped up scrutiny of Big Tech acquiring smaller rivals, concerned about the accumulation of troves of data by a few companies, and big players leveraging their dominance into new markets.
The acquisition announced in August last year would add iRobot’s Roomba robot vacuum to Amazon’s portfolio of smart devices, which include the Alexa voice assistant, smart thermostats, security devices and wall-mounted smart displays.
IRobot made its first Roomba robot vacuum in 2002. Amazon has previously said the vacuum cleaner market is very competitive, with lots of Chinese players.
“The Commission is concerned that the transaction would allow Amazon to restrict competition in the market for robot vacuum cleaners and to strengthen its position as online marketplace provider, ” the EU executive said.
“The Commission closely cooperated with other competition authorities during the initial investigation and will continue such cooperation during the in-depth investigation (…) the opening of an in-depth inquiry does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation”.
The Amazon spokesperson also said the company could “offer a company like iRobot the resources to accelerate innovation and invest in critical features while lowering prices for consumers.”
The EU competition enforcer’s decision confirmed a Reuters story last month and came a month after the UK antitrust agency cleared the deal unconditionally after a preliminary review.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
LG Electronics Targets $77 Billion Sales by 2030, Aims to Enter List of Top 10 Global Vehicle Component Firms
By Reuters | Updated: 12 July 2023
LG Electronics said on Wednesday it is targeting KRW 100 trillion (roughly Rs. 6,33,791 crore) in sales by 2030 and plans some KRW 50 trillion (roughly Rs. 3,19,007 crore) of investment as the South Korean company announced its future strategy.
It plans to become a global top 10 company in vehicle components by more than doubling revenue to KRW 20 trillion (roughly Rs. 1,27,595 crore) by 2030, while strengthening service platforms on its home appliance and TV businesses that generate recurring profits, such as media subscriptions and rentals.
“LG Electronics will tranform its business portfolio… increase profits by growing in business-to-business, and transition to a service business,” CEO William Cho told a press conference.
“We will not rest on our past success in home appliances.”
LG also plans to enter new markets such as electric vehicle charging and digital healthcare.
To achieve its goals, LG said it will actively consider inorganic growth such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions.
LG said it aims for an operating profit margin of 7 percent by 2030.
In 2022, LG reported about KRW 65 trillion (roughly Rs. 4,14,761 crore) in consolidated sales excluding affiliate LG Innotek, which makes device components such as camera modules for smartphones.
LG said it expects the order backlog of its fast-growing Vehicle component Solutions, the company’s newest business division, to approach KRW 100 trillion (roughly Rs. 6,38,323 crore) by end-year, with those revenues spread over many years.
That would be up from more than KRW 80 trillion ($61.72 billion) as of end-March, according to an eBest Investment & Securities report on Monday.
Vehicle component Solutions, which also makes infotainment systems and lamps, turned to profit last year and reported KRW 2.4 trillion (roughly Rs. 15,317 crore) in sales in the January-March quarter.
On Friday, LG Electronics estimated its second-quarter operating profit rose 12.7 percent from a year earlier to KRW 892.7 billion (roughly Rs. 5,697 crore), its second-largest April-June quarter profit ever.
The only time LG announced a higher second-quarter profit was in 2021.
© Thomson Reuters 2023
Amazon Working to Enable Alexa to Mimic Any Voice, Confirms Senior Vice President
By Reuters | Updated: 23 June 2022
Amazon wants to give customers the chance to make Alexa, the company’s voice assistant, sound just like their grandmother — or anyone else. The online retailer is developing a system to let Alexa mimic any voice after hearing less than a minute of audio, said Rohit Prasad, an Amazon Senior Vice President, at a conference the company held in Las Vegas on Wednesday. The goal is to “make the memories last” after “so many of us have lost someone we love” during the pandemic, Prasad said. Amazon declined to share when it would roll out such a feature.
The work wades into an area of technology that has garnered close scrutiny for potential benefits and abuses. For instance, Microsoft recently restricted which businesses could use its software to parrot voices. The goal is to help people with speech impairments or other problems but some worry it could also be used to propagate political deepfakes.
Amazon hopes the project will help Alexa become ubiquitous in shoppers’ lives. But public attention has already shifted elsewhere. At Alphabet’s Google, an engineer made the highly contested claim that a company chat bot had advanced to sentience. Another Amazon executive said on Tuesday that Alexa had 100 million customers globally, in line with figures the company has provided for device sales since January 2019.
Prasad said Amazon’s aim for Alexa is “generalisable intelligence,” or the ability to adapt to user environments and learn new concepts with little external input. He said that goal is “not to be confused with the all-knowing, all-capable, uber artificial general intelligence,” or AGI, which Alphabet’s DeepMind unit and Elon Musk-co-founded OpenAI are seeking.
Amazon shared its vision for companionship with Alexa at the conference. In a video segment, it portrayed a child who asked, “Alexa, can grandma finish reading me the Wizard of Oz?”
A moment later, Alexa affirmed the command and changed her voice. She spoke soothingly, less robotically, ostensibly sounding like the individual’s grandmother in real life.
© Thomson Reuters 2022
LG Electronics to Enter Next-Gen Logistics Market, Set to Sign MoU Agreement With CJ Logistics
By ANI | Updated: 16 June 2022
LG Electronics and CJ Logistics will enter the next-generation logistics robot market.
LG Electronics said it will sign an MOU agreement with CJ Logistics to jointly develop logistics robots at CJ’s TES Innovation Center in Dongtan, Gyeonggi-do on the 15th with Kim Kyung-hoon, head of TES Logistics Technology Institute, and Jang Ik-hwan, head of LG Electronics’ BS division, attending.
Under the agreement, the two companies will set optimised robot operation processes for each logistics hub, jointly develop order picking systems based on self-driving robots to find and classify products, and apply robot solutions to CJ Logistics warehouses.
Next month, LG Electronics will supply logistics robot solutions such as LG CLOi CarryBot, warehouse facility control solutions, and multiple robot control systems to CJ’s largest logistics centre Megahub Gonjiam.
It plans to expand the application in CJ’s other logistics centres.
The CLOi CarryBot is a logistics robot to loads a large number of products and transports them to their destination. It is a robot that evolved from an automated guided vehicle (AGV) to an autonomous mobile robot (AMR).
LG Electronics completed the verification of the CLOi CarryBot last month and conducted a test operation for proof of concept (POC) at the large logistics hub.
The global logistics and delivery robot market is currently growing fast. Japan’s Fuji Research Institute predicted that the related market size will reach KRW 11.5 trillion (roughly Rs. 693 crore) by 2025.
In addition to supplying logistics robots, LG Electronics will also focus on establishing logistics solutions for all logistics processes from order to last-mile delivery.
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