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Black Friday sees record $7.4B in online sales, $2.9B spent using smartphones – TechCrunch

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Following swiftly on the heels of a Thanksgiving that broke records with $4.2 billion in online sales, Black Friday also hit a new high, although it just fell short of predictions. According to analytics from Adobe, consumers spent $7.4 billion online yesterday buying goods online via computers, tablets and smartphones. The figures were up by $1.2 billion on Black Friday 2018, but they actually fell short of Adobe’s prediction for the day, which was $7.5 billion.

Salesforce, meanwhile, said that its checks revealed $7.2 billion in sales (even further off the forecast).

Popular products included toys on the themes of Frozen 2, L.O.L Surprise, and Paw Patrol. Best selling video games included FIFA 20, Madden 20, and Nintendo Switch. And top electronics, meanwhile, included Apple Laptops, Airpods, and Samsung TVs.

A full $2.9 billion of Black Friday sales happened on smartphones. These conversions are growing faster than online shopping overall, so we are now approaching a tipping point where soon smartphones might outweigh web-based purchases through computers.

“With Christmas now rapidly approaching, consumers increasingly jumped on their phones rather than standing in line,” said Taylor Schreiner, Principal Analyst & Head of Adobe Digital Insights, in a statement. “Even when shoppers went to stores, they were now buying nearly 41% more online before going to the store to pick up. As such, mobile represents a growing opportunity for smaller businesses to extend the support they see from consumers buying locally in-store on Small Business Saturday to the rest of the holiday season. Small Business Saturday will accelerate sales for those retailers who can offer unique products or services that the retail giants can’t provide.”

Adobe Analytics tracks sales in real-time for 80 of the top 100 US retailers, covering 55 million SKUs and some 1 trillion transactions during the holiday sales period. Salesforce uses Commerce Cloud data and insights covering more than half a billion global shoppers across more than 30 countries.

One of the reasons we may be seeing slightly less fervent sales than the analysts had predicted is because the holiday sales season is starting earlier and earlier. Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving when many people have days off, has for a long time been seen by retailers as the start of holiday shopping season. That has changed as retailers hope to catch more sales over a longer period of time.

As more people shop, they are also shopping for more expensive items. Adobe noted that Average Order Value was $168, a new record level yesterday for Black Friday, up 5.9% on a year ago.

Smartphone sales were up 21% over last year and those who were not buying were, as a start, browsing, with whopping 61% of all online traffic to retailers coming from smartphones, up 15.8% since last year.

As with yesterday, e-commerce “giants” with over $1 billion in sales annually were doing better than smaller sites: they had more smartphone sales, and 66% conversions on browsers on smartphones, Adobe said. They have overall also seen a 62% boost in sales this season, versus 27% for smaller retailers.

As with the Thanksgiving sales patterns — when bigger retailers also appeared to do better than their smaller counterparts — there are a couple of reasons for this. One is that the bigger sites have a wider selection of goods and can afford to take hits with deep discounts on some items, in order to lure users in to add other items to their shopping cars that are not as deeply discounted. Or, bigger online retailers can simply afford to give bigger markdowns.

The other is that the bigger stores often have more flexible delivery options. Adobe noted that those using click-and-collect orders, or buy online, pick up in store / curbside grew by 43 percent.

The story is not all rosy for big retailers, however. Edison Trends notes that some big platforms are actually seeing very mixed results this time around.

It will be interesting to see how and if patterns change for smaller retailers on Sunday, which is being dubbed “small business Sunday” to focus on buying from smaller and independent shops. Shoppers have already spent $470 million, and Adobe believes it will pass the $3 billion mark. Cyber Monday, the biggest of them all, is expected to make $9.4 billion in sales.



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Apple Back to School 2021 promo adds free AirPods to select iPad and Mac

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Apple has launched its new Back to School deals, and if you’ve been considering a new iPad or Mac for the classroom – either remote or in-person – you could get a treat for your ears, too. The Cupertino company is adding to its usual education discount with an AirPods promo, and a discount for Apple Care+.

There are actually seven new deals, all of which include a free set of AirPods. If you’re looking for a Mac, you can take your pick from Apple’s latest M1-powered models both portable and desktop.

The MacBook Air is priced from $899 under Apple’s education pricing, for example, or $73.91 per month for 12 months. The MacBook Pro 13-inch, meanwhile, starts at $1,199 for students, or $99.91 per month for 12 months.

As usual, there are bundles of software with educational pricing as well. The Pro Apps Bundle for Education – which includes Final Cut Pro, among other things – is $199.99, for instance.

If it’s your dorm room desktop that needs an upgrade, meanwhile, Apple has two options there. The new 24-inch iMac – using Apple Silicon – gets new education pricing, starting at $1,249, or $104.08 per month for 12 months. Again, you get a set of free AirPods. The Mac mini is included too, for $649, or $54.08 per month for 12 months.

Those who have a bigger budget – or bigger requirements – can also get education pricing on the Mac Pro. That starts at $5,599, or $466.58 per month for 12 months.

Over on the tablet side, there are two education deals arriving just in time to get going on iPadOS 15. If you want an iPad Air, that starts at $549 for students, or $45.75 per month for 12 months. The Apple Pencil 2nd generation is $119, while the Smart Keyboard Folio for iPad Air is $159.

The new iPad Pro, meanwhile, will start at $749 for students, or $62.41 per month for 12 months. The iPad Pro’s Magic Keyboard is from $279.

As for Apple Care+, education pricing knocks 20-percent off the cost of Apple’s extended warranty.

To quality for education pricing, you’ll need to be either a current or newly accepted college student, or the parent of such a student. Faculty, staff, and homeschool teachers of all grade levels also qualify, and there are discounts for other models in Apple’s range, albeit without the free AirPods deal.

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Leica Leitz Phone 1 wraps a hefty 20MP 1-inch camera in familiar design

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Leica has revealed a new smartphone, with the Leitz Phone 1 promising a hefty sensor for photography along with 5G capabilities. Although the camera company has co-branded smartphone cameras before now, the Leica Leitz Phone 1 takes a fairly atypical approach.

Where it’s common to find three or four sensors on most recent smartphones, regardless of price point, Leica’s handset takes a more focused approach. It has a single rear sensor, in fact, packing 20-megapixels.

What makes the difference is the sensor’s physical size: a full 1 inch, which is far larger than the primary camera on just about every other device out there. It has an f/1.9 ultra-wide, 19mm-equivalent lens, too. If you’ve been keeping track of recent photo-focused smartphone launches, that might sound familiar.

Indeed, Sharp announced its Aquos R6 back in May, and the 1-inch Summicron camera and lens system tallies with this Leica-branded phone. The big sensor is primarily being positioned as a foolproof way to get more light, of course, just as you’d expect from a regular camera. However there’ll also be what Leica is calling “Leitz Looks,” which are basically things like monochrome modes to edit images.

Unsurprisingly then, there’s a 12.6-megapixel selfie camera on the front of the Leitz Phone 1 as well. There’s also a 6.6-inch IGZO OLED screen with a 240Hz variable refresh rate, to trim motion blur, running at 2,730 x 1,260 resolution. An ultrasonic fingerprint sensor is under the display.

Also inside is Qualcomm’s Snapdragon 888 5G chipset running Android 11, paired with 12GB of memory and 256GB of storage. There’s a microSD slot compatible with up to 1TB cards as well. In addition to 5G there’s WiFi 802.11ax and Bluetooth 5.2; a 5,000 mAh battery rounds out the key specs, and the whole thing is finished in an IP68 glass and metal shell.

What distinguishes the two phones – Sharp-branded and Leica-branded – really is the aesthetic. That’s an important factor in the photography world, where Leica’s cameras are known for their distinctive red dot. For the Leitz Phone 1, there’ll even be a special branded soft-case, and a Leica lens-cap to protect the sensor.

Softbank will be offering the Leica Leitz Phone 1 as an exclusive in Japan, priced at 187,920 yen ($1,714), and right now there’s no apparent plan to launch it outside of the country.

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Amazon’s fake reviews policy catches a popular charger brand

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Most who shop on Amazon check the reviews for a particular product to ensure it’s worth their hard-earned money. However, many who frequently shop on Amazon may not realize how rampant fake reviews are on the website. There are many brands who pay people who purchase their products for reviews, sometimes handing out gift cards to entice buyers to leave five-star reviews.

Naturally, Amazon has a policy against fake reviews. Some very popular makers of electronics and electronics accessories have recently been booted from Amazon for allegedly violating that policy. The most recent brand to fall afoul of Amazon’s fake review policy is called RavPower, a popular maker of phone batteries and chargers.

Amazon has confirmed that all RavPower products have been removed from its virtual store shelves. There has been no official word from Amazon on why it removed RavPower products. Over the weekend, a journalist from the Wall Street Journal named Nicole Nguyen posted to Twitter that a RavPower charger she purchased had a card inside promising a $35 gift card in exchange for a review.

While Amazon hasn’t confirmed that tweet is the reason the RavPower products were removed from its marketplace, the proximity to the tweet and the products removal seems clear. RavPower isn’t the first popular brand on Amazon to be removed from the store. Previously Aukey and Mpow were also removed from the Amazon storefront. While no specific reasons for the removal have been offered, it appears the fake review policy resulted in those products being eliminated.

While, as of writing, you can still find some Aukey products listed on Amazon. However, it appears that everything RavPower branded has been eliminated. It’s worth noting that fake reviews aren’t limited to electronics on Amazon. I purchased a pump spray bottle for oil to use for seasoning cast iron pans earlier this year based entirely on many five-star reviews. When the product came in, inside was a card offering a $10 gift card if I showed them I left a five-star review for a product that cost me about the same amount. Ordering a product based on lots of good reviews only to find the reviewers are being paid to leave those reviews is quite disturbing.

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