The Hottest Product At CES Is A Doggy Door
While garage doors aren't exactly the most exciting business to be in, it's a strong business nonetheless for Chamberlain Group, the world's largest manufacturer of automatic garage door openers.
Chamberlain Group's brands have embraced the trend of smart homes, for example its myQ brand has teamed up with Amazon to offer In-Garage Delivery, enabling Amazon Fresh and Whole Foods Market groceries to be delivered securely inside your garage.
myQ stole the show at this year's CES with the debut of its new Pet Portal as it hopes to capitalize on the booming pet industry. The myQ Pet Portal, which won the CES 2021 Smart Home Innovation Award, is designed to replace an existing exterior door so your pets can come and go as they please.
The futuristic take on a simple pet door includes live video streaming and 2-way communication using the myQ Pet Portal app. The patent-pending, elevator style opening mechanism is unnoticeable from the exterior of a home and uses a smart collar to detect when your pet wants to come or go.
myQ is taking deposits for the Pet Portal, which retails for $2,999 and will ship to the first customers this spring. The package includes a custom configured myQ | Kolbe Door integrated with Pet Portal as well as a 1 year subscription for video history.
Chamberlain Group hopes to position itself for when people return to work and their pets are left at home alone. They argue that the lofty price is less than half of what pet owners would spend annually on a dogwalker.
"A bright spot for many people in a challenging 2020 has been adding a furry friend to the family. But as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in 2021 many dogs will experience a dramatic change in their routine," Chamberlain Group Director of Product Marketing Beril Altiner said. "The myQ Pet Portal can help alleviate some of the stress and expenses that might come along as schedules change. It's a secure and convenient way to make sure your dog can go outside when they need to, while also giving you access to your best friend anytime through your smartphone."
While the idea may sound absurd, a team of a dozen employees at Chamberlain Group have been working on the idea for 16 months while conducting surveys and focus groups to perfect the technology. According to a national survey conducted by the company, just 8% to 11% of pet owners have a pet door in their homes. The survey also found that 68% of households who routinely let their pet outside don't have a pet door.
Despite the lofty price tag, it may not be long before this becomes a common door in new homes across America as they become increasingly connected and filled with pets.
Apple eyed Canoo last year. Amid rumors Apple is eyeing an electric vehicle, the company reportedly held talks last year with electric vehicle company Canoo, according to The Verge. Apple was reportedly drawn to Canoo's electric vehicle platform called "skateboard" as the two companies discussed a range of options from an investment to an acquisition. Talks fell apart as Canoo, which ended up going public via a SPAC deal, reportedly was only interested in an investment from Apple. "Canoo doesn't openly comment on strategic discussions, relationships or partnerships unless deemed appropriate," Canoo's executive chairman Tony Aquila said.
Borrowers rush to refinance their mortgages. With the average contract interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage bouncing off of record lows, mortgage applications to refinance a home loan jumped by 20% last week to the highest level since March, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association's seasonally adjusted index. Mortgage applications to purchase a home increased by 8% last week as buyers are faced with tight inventory and surging home prices. "The expectation of additional fiscal stimulus from the incoming administration, and the rollout of vaccines improving the outlook, drove Treasury yields and rates higher," MBA associate vice president of economic and industry forecasting Joel Kan said.
Amazon launches Amazon Academy. Amazon announced it will launch a learning platform called Amazon Academy in India to help students prepare for the Joint Entrance Examination, which is a test required for admission into certain engineering programs in India. Amazon Academy will be available through an Android app as well as desktop as Amazon says it will be free "for the next few months" in a hint it may start to charge for the service. "Amazon Academy aims to bring high quality, affordable education to all, starting with those preparing for engineering entrance examinations," Amazon India director of education Amol Gurwara said.
Dropbox announces layoffs. After committing to not laying off employees in 2020 amid the pandemic, Dropbox announced it is laying off 315 employees, or about 11% of its global workforce. "Last spring I made a commitment to all of you to preserve job security through 2020, and it was important to me that we honored that promise," Dropbox co-founder and CEO Drew Houston wrote. "But looking ahead at 2021 and beyond, it’s clear that we need to make changes in order to create a healthy and thriving business for the future."
Walgreens expands financial services offering. Walgreens announced a push into financial services offerings through a partnership with Synchrony and Mastercard that will see the launch of credit cards and prepaid debit cards. The new offerings will be the first in a series of new financial products the company is rolling out to enhance its loyalty program and customer personalization. "As we continue to focus on creating new revenue streams, we look forward to exploring and introducing even more health and well-being payment initiatives in the near future," Walgreens President John Standley said.