Retailers & Distributors

Dixons Carphone Teams Up with EE

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In an effort to avoid the same fate as Phones4U-- specifically that of closing down due to losing support from the major UK mobile carriers-- Dixons Carphone forms a multi-year alliance with EE.

Carphone WarehouseThe retailer already has similar long-term agreements with Vodafone and O2, as confirmed earlier last year.

“This long term partnership with EE takes us in to the next decade with a joint focus on the amazing potential of connected technology, building on EE’s industry-leading 4G network and growing presence in the home," Carphone Warehouse CEO Graham Stapleton says. "Creating deeper relationships with our network partners reinforces the ongoing importance of providing customers with independent advice and deals that are personalised to their needs."

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How Much Does Phones 4U Owe?

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Phones 4U owes a number of creditors £168 million in various debts, The Telegraph reports-- debts the retailer will only pay very little of (if at all) following its controversial collapse last September.

Phones 4UFor the curious, the above mentioned includes £78m in taxes (as divided between £69.2m in VAT and £8.8m in corporation tax), £4.8m in customer refunds, £42m to suppliers, £25.9 to employees and £17.2m in unpaid bills.

And here's the fun (or not, if you're a Phones 4U creditor) part-- according to administrators PwC only 0.4%, or £6720000, of the debt will be repaid. The retailer is currently raising funds through the sale of shops, and made £15m from the sale of 198 outlets to EE and Vodafone, but 365 shops remain closed.

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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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