Microsoft Kicks Off Space Race With Amazon
Microsoft and Amazon have gone head-to-head in the cloud computing space for years. As the market matures, each company continues to search for new opportunities to maintain growth.
Microsoft's announcement yesterday made it clear the next frontier in which the two companies will compete is outer space. Microsoft introduced Azure Orbital yesterday, which enables satellite operators to communicate with and control their satellites, process data and scale operations within Microsoft Azure. The launch of Azure Orbital puts Microsoft in direct competition with Amazon's AWS Ground Station, which offers similar capabilities and was launched nearly two years ago.
Microsoft announced that it has brought satellite companies Amergint, Kratos, KSAT, Kubos, Viasat and US Electrodynamics INC onboard as partners. Azure Orbital will initially be available for "private preview” to a handful of Microsoft customers.
"Data collected from space to observe Earth is instrumental in helping address global challenges such as climate change and furthering of scientific discovery and innovation," Azure Networking Principal Program Manager Yves Pitsch wrote. "The cloud is central to both modern communications scenarios for remote operations and the gathering, processing, and distributing the tremendous amounts of data from space."
Microsoft and Amazon have a firm grip on the cloud computing market. Amazon had infrastructure as a service (IaaS) revenues of nearly $20 billion in 2019, giving it a 45% share of the global market, according to technology industry research company Gartner. Microsoft pulled in nearly $8 billion in a distant second, with an 18% share of the IaaS market.
Microsoft has little choice but to move into satellites given Amazon is aggressively expanding its efforts. Amazon Web Services even launched a dedicated business unit called Aerospace and Satellite Solutions in June, which is working on space projects with the likes of NASA, the U.S. military and Lockheed Martin. Amazon even hired Air Force Major General Clint Crosier, the former head of the U.S. Space Force, to oversee the group.
"Microsoft is well-positioned to support customer needs in gathering, transporting, and processing of geospatial data," Pitsch wrote.
As Microsoft and Amazon kick off a new space race, one can only wonder what the next frontier in the cloud computing wars will be. Leftover Crumbs
Powell makes promise. Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell told the House Financial Services Committee that the Fed is committed to helping the economy recover from the coronavirus. "We remain committed to using our tools to do what we can, for as long as it takes, to ensure that the recovery will be as strong as possible, and to limit lasting damage to the economy," Powell said. "Economic activity has picked up from its depressed second-quarter level, when much of the economy was shut down to stem the spread of the virus. Many economic indicators show marked improvement."
Housing strength continues. Sales of existing homes in the U.S. increased by 2.4% in August to a seasonally adjusted annualized rate of 6 million units, according to the National Association of Realtors. August's total is 10.5% higher compared to August of last year and marks the highest sales pace since December 2006. At the end of August, there were 1.49 million homes for sale, which is less than half the inventory levels seen in 2006 when sales were as strong. The median price of an existing home sold jumped to a record high $310,600 in August, marking an 11.4% increase from the same period last year.
Amazon finds partner to offer spin bike. Amazon has teamed up with Echelon to offer the Echelon Ex-Prime, aka the "Prime Bike," for $500. While significantly cheaper than the Peloton, the bike will not come with a connected smart device to stream exercise classes. "We were built on the idea of attainable fitness for everyone. The Prime Bike was developed in collaboration with Amazon, aiming to create an amazing, connected bike for less than $500 and it's proven to be a phenomenal match," Echelon CEO Lou Lentine said.
Walmart turns to drones. Walmart is teaming up with Quest Diagnostics and drone services provider DroneUp to test delivering coronavirus tests to people's homes using drones. Customers would administer the nasal swab test and then send it back to Quest Diagnostics for testing. A trial is underway in north Las Vegas, while a trial in Cheektowaga, New York will begin in early October.
Ralph Lauren announces overhaul. Ralph Lauren announced it will reduce its global workforce by 15% to reduce costs and shift more of its business online. Based on its nearly 25,000 employees at the end of March, the move could affect close to 4,000 jobs. "The changes happening in the world around us have accelerated the shifts we saw pre-COVID, and we are fast-tracking some of our plans to match them,” Ralph Lauren CEO Patrice Louvet said.