Retailers & Distributors

Amazon Has a Voice Assistant… In a Tube

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In a surprise announcement Amazon reveals what is surely its oddest product yet-- the Echo, a black cylindrical speaker that is actually cloud-powered, voice-controlled, always-on virtual assistant.

Amazon Echo Essentially the Eco is a lot like Apple's Siri, but within a piece of hardware. It promises room-filling sound via 360-degree speaker, and carries 7 microphones paired with beam-forming technology and "enhanced" noise canceling to hear speakers from any direction, even while it is playing music.

As for actual functionality, an adorably awkward video shows the various uses the Echo can find, such as assistant duties (wake up alarms, shopping lists, reminders, news, weather information), the answering of queries via Wikipedia, unit conversion, music playback (from Amazon Music Library, Prime Music, TuneIn and iHeartRadio). Powering all is the Amazon cloud, to which the Eco connects via mobile device and companion Echo app.

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European Store Expansion Heads North

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Apple opens its long-awaited Edinburgh store, the first in the Scottish capital and the fourth in the country, on 18 October with much of fanfare, kilt-clad staff and, of course, bagpipes. 

Apple Store EdinburghFor the interested the Store is also the 38th in the UK and 106th in Europe. 

Located at the historic Princess Street, the Edinburgh Store was officially announced last July but has been in planning since 2010. Customers started queuing before the outlet's 10am opening as early as 4am, and the first 1000 to enter got a commemorative tshirt for their trouble. 

The building housing the Edinburgh Apple Store dates from 1769, and was the first residential property on Princess Street. It later beca the Crown Hotel before housing a Burger King, Woolworths and the Pick 'n Mix. 

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Dixons Carphone, EE, Vodafone to Divide Phones 4u

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Phones 4u storeAccording to Bloomberg, Dixons Carphone, EE and Vodafone are set to buy at least some shops from Phones 4u, which shuttered down last week following the loss of business from mobile networks, including EE and Vodafone.

EE plans to buy 58 stores and take 359 employees, pending court approval, and is reportedly also set to buy the Phones 4u Life mobile service resale business.

On the other hand Vodafone says it will buy 140 shops and take on around 900 employees, pending court review of the sale.

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Phones 4u Closes Down

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Phones 4u goes into administration, announcing it will close 550 stores on Monday due to mobile networks EE and Vodafone deciding to no longer sell phones through the retail chain.  

Phones 4u"Following the unexpected decision of EE and Vodafone to withdraw supply from Phones4U , we regret that we are offline," a simple statement on the retailer's website reads. 

The retailer lost the business of other mobile networks, namely O2 and Three, earlier this year, meaning the EE withdrawal amounted to nothing less than a death blow putting 5596 jobs at risk. 

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Apple Opens Basel Store With Edinburgh Teaser

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Apple opens a fourth Store in Switzerland at 47 Freie Strasse Basel, a famous shopping street replete with high-end stores and restaurants. 

Apple Store BaselThe other 3 Swiss Apple Stores are in Geneva, Zurich and Wallisellen. 

The new Basel outlet fills 3 floors across 900 square metros, and features the new interior visual design replacing the signature white-background product shots with colourful visuals pulled from the most recent Apple TV and online ad campaigns. 

According to the reaction on Twitter the new store attracted an enthusiastic crowd, and attendees got commemorative shirts in celebration. 

Interestingly Apple used the Basel store opening to tease the debut of another European store-- one in Edinburgh's historic Princes Street. Apple only says the new store is "coming soon," but rumors suggest the grand opening takes place on either 26 July or 2 August. 

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