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• Interesting observation from 24/7 Wall Street - that both Walmart and Amazon, locked in a pitched e-commerce battle, have seen their stock prices go up 14 percent this year.

The story notes that while the investor class has been skeptical about Amazon's cost of doing business and customer acquisition, which has seemed more focused on market share than profit; recently, the story says, Walmart seems to have earned some investor confidence with a re-energized approach to e-commerce.

But, the story says, "Amazon's market cap is $365 billion and Wal-Mart's is $216 billion. Wal-Mart's shares will need to outperform Amazon's by a wide margin next year to show that investor confidence this year was warranted.

Forbes reports that "Amazon wants to put its digital voice assistant, Alexa, into as many devices as possible. For help, it’s partnering up with more chipmakers to make it easier for outside developers to get Alexa up and running on devices like speakers, thermostats and wearables."

For example, "Conexant, maker of audio processing chips, announced it’s releasing a development kit approved by Alexa Voice Services, which is Amazon’s program for hooking up third-party products to Alexa in its cloud." And " chipmaking giant Intel announced last week that it would be integrating Alexa into its smart home platform kit, called the Smart Home Hub. Intel is also creating a reference design of a smart speaker powered by Alexa that’s coming out in early 2017."

The goal is to integrate Alexa software into as much hardware as possible - in part because Alexa serves as a window into Amazon's ecosystem, making it easier to buy stuff from it, and in part because Amazon knows that it is competing with the likes of Google and Apple for consumers' hearts and minds and wallets.

Investor's Business Daily reports that Amazon is pushing deeper and more strategically into the fashion business with "a line of private-label dress shirts for men.

"Amazon announced Buttoned Down, a private-label shirt brand with a starting price of $39.99 and available to members of Amazon Prime. The company said it plans to expand into dress pants, sport shirts and sweaters in the future."
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