x5: Twitch Sells Games, Nokia 3310 Comeback & More

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Amazon to start selling video games on Twitch this spring

Twitch quickly established itself as the go-to for gamers looking to livestream their gameplay experiences. Just a few years later, the company was bought out by Amazon in 2014 for close to $1 billion. Amazon is now looking to capitalize and expand its retail reach through the platform. This addition will allow partnered broadcasters to add “Buy” buttons to their channels that allows viewers to buy the game they’re watching at that point in time. To incentivize this new feature, broadcasters will get a 5% share of the sale.

Why This Matters

By using Twitch, Amazon has found a way to get the perfect user review—real-time interaction. With thousands of gamers streaming at any given time, viewers get access to real gameplay. While written reviews can help find a more rational approach to buying products, watching a video of someone enjoying a game creates a more intuitive purchasing decision. This also helps publishers who have already been marketing on the platform to convert promotional efforts into direct sales. Amazon looks set to shake up yet another retail sector–one that has been dominated by Steam for the last decade.


Microsoft to ship Windows 10 mixed reality developer kits this month

Microsoft teased an augmented reality system over two years ago but not a lot came of it. Until now. The first HoloLens headsets, made by Acer, will soon bring mixed reality experiences to the general public. But first, Microsoft plans on shipping the headsets and dev kits out to developers this month. This will help build a base layer of software for consumer release across Windows 10 and Xbox devices for release in 2018.

Why This Matters

If the development phase goes well and a solid suite of software is built for the HoloLens, mixed reality could make a stronger impact than virtual reality. In fact, Microsoft might already have a head start on VR in providing valuable content. The Creator’s Update, which was announced last year, will spearhead the effort to bring mixed reality into a more professional environment. Mixed reality allows users to play in a world that combines virtual and augmented realities so it will give marketers more room to be creative, getting consumers to interact with products in their natural or a created environment.


Nokia 3310 makes a comeback

Nokia’s iconic 3310 is making a comeback with a modern makeover by HMD Global. The Finnish startup focuses solely on building products with the Nokia brand and has already created its first phone. Revealed over the Mobile World Congress, the phone is more closely related to the original than a smartphone. While it does have apps, they’re very toned down. Instead, a majority of the functionality focuses on making phone calls and texting. And just like the original 3310, the new Nokia phone has a battery that lasts a month, the classic Nokia ringtone and Snake to keep old-school fans happy.

Why This Matters

The new Nokia 3310 is a feature phone and only costs around $50. It doesn’t have the functionality of a smartphone and it’s definitely not trying to compete against the new iPhone. For some it might seem like a novelty phone but it can be a boon to those in emerging markets. In Africa, smartphone sales actually declined last year while in India, 50% of the market is still controlled by feature phones. With a phone that comes cheap, with a long battery life and no data costs, people in lower income areas of the world have a much more affordable source of communication.


IKEA Canada tests VR for kitchen showcases

IKEA is piloting a new virtual reality experience around the world. In Canada, the Etobicoke location will be joining the program. As part of the experience, customers will get a chance to interact with kitchen showcases by either flipping pancakes or just experiencing their kitchen the way they want it.

Why This Matters

Experience is one thing that will always give physical retail an edge over online shopping. As virtual reality technology gets better, brands like IKEA will be on the forefront of customer experience. For brands selling furniture, the challenge is helping customers visualize their dream home. IKEA has already done a great job of creating showcase rooms and that’s largely contributed to its success. But virtual reality will help take it one step further by allowing people to customize spaces to their needs and wants.


Sunrise Records to take over 70 former HMV locations

Toronto-based Sunrise Records is executing on a bold expansion plan. It will begin taking over 70 stores left vacant by HMV. Sunrise has seen a large portion of its sales come from vinyl records but it’s not getting romantic about the idea. Instead, it’s promising to also expand its selection by offering non-music related items like clothing, DVDs and board games.

Why This Matters

CD sales have long been declining thanks to on-demand streaming services like Apple Music or Spotify. A lot of retail stores have now begun to compete with online retailers by providing wider selections and more customized experiences. In music, Virgin was able to do something similar with its early stores and saw a lot of success with it. However, Sunrise looks to be more bullish and adaptable than some of its bigger counterparts. Could they find profit in a retail sector that’s been steadily losing money since the mid-2000s?

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