In order to woo these blue-chip brands, Amazon has pledged to be far more hands-off than it normally would. That includes giving them independent power on pricing, inventory and selection, with Amazon simply offering the backend and “merchandising tools.”
Amazon has, historically, not had the best relationship with the sort of fancy labels that retailers crave to be involved with. The retailer’s open platform means that it has an issue with piracy and counterfeit goods that it’s still working hard to crack down upon. Not to mention that its image as an everything mega-retailer can be at odds with the snooty-tooty luxury look companies like LVMH seek to cultivate.
In 2016, LVMH CFO Jean-Jacques Guiony said that there was “no way” the luxury retailer would ever work with Amazon. And historically, these names have had the cache and money to run their own distribution and work with others where it was appropriate. Even high-end department stores like Barney’s and Neiman Marcus, which hosted Louis Vuitton areas in their stores, were actually staffed by LVMH employees.
Unfortunately, retail trends, exacerbated by the pandemic, has shifted the landscape enough that Amazon may be a better option than oblivion. After all, Barneys went bankrupt last year and COVID-19 has caused a shock in the commercial real estate market that may see more fashion stores go under.
A 2020 McKinsey report on the luxury goods sector made for grim reading, saying that the market was in dire straits. As well as the economic shock, the reduction on travel meant that veblen goods bought by traveling one percenters were laying unsold on shelves. It suggested that even high-end retailers needed to open their own e-commerce platforms or risk becoming irrelevant. Or worse: Discounting their products.
Microsoft is releasing a non-subscription Office suite in 2021
In a blog post announcing the next version of its Exchange Server, Microsoft has slipped in a single line that’s bound to make those who hate paying subscription fees for Office apps happy. “Microsoft Office will also see a new perpetual release for both Windows and Mac, in the second half of 2021,” the tech giant’s Exchange team wrote (as spotted by Windows Central), confirming that a new version of Office you can purchase with a one-time payment is coming next year.
The company has been pushing Microsoft 365 for years now as the main way to get its Office apps. This subscription-based version of its suite gives you access to Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook and other apps for a monthly payment. While you can use some of those apps for free online with a Microsoft account, you won’t be able to install them on your PC like you’d be able to if you pay for a subscription.
Microsoft’s Xbox Series X 1TB expandable storage priced at $219.99
Microsoft’s first 1TB expandable storage drive for the Xbox Series X / S will be priced at $219.99. Best Buy has started taking preorders for the accessory, revealing a final price that had leaked recently. These expandable storage cards slot into the rear of both the Xbox Series X / S to match the internal SSD speed and provide 1TB of extra storage.
Microsoft’s expandable storage solution is proprietary, and only Seagate has been announced as a manufacturer so far. Microsoft tells me more suppliers and additional sizes will be available in the future, but the $219.99 price will still surprise many potential next-gen Xbox owners.
The Xbox Series X ships with 1TB of SSD storage, and the Xbox Series S just 512GB of storage. Microsoft’s pricing means the $299 Xbox Series S jumps to nearly $520 if you want to add the additional storage and bring it up to 1.5TB overall. That may make the larger Series X more appealing to those who need the storage, particularly as games will start to require it once they’re enhanced for the Xbox Series X / S. Games for the Xbox Series S can be 30 percent smaller than the Series X, which will certainly help with storage options.
An alternative to this expandable storage is simply using any USB drive to store games when you don’t need to play them. If they’re not enhanced for Xbox Series X / S then you’ll even be able to run them direct from USB storage, or you can simply copy them and use drives as cheaper cold storage.
It’s difficult to judge the price of these expandable storage cards, simply because there aren’t enough comparable PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs out there. Sony has chosen to allow players to slot their own drives into the PS5, but these drives will need to meet the speed requirements of the internal SSD. Those speed requirements mean that PS5 owners will need the very best PCIe 4.0 NVMe drives that are starting to make their way into PCs. Samsung announced its 980 Pro earlier this week, which looks like it might be an ideal candidate for the PS5 due to its fast read and write speeds. Samsung’s 1TB option for the 980 Pro is priced at $229.99, but Sony has not yet revealed which drives will be compatible with the PS5.
The benefits of Sony’s more open approach is that pricing on compatible PCIe 4.0 NVMe SSDs will inevitably drop over time due to competition and lower manufacturing costs. Assuming Sony certifies most high-end drives, there should be a lot of options. Microsoft will need more manufacturers producing its expandable Xbox Series X / S storage cards for competition to take place and prices to be lowered over time. It’s going to be a waiting game to see exactly how Sony and Microsoft handle expandable storage options in the coming months, but it’s clear from Microsoft’s pricing that it’s not going to be cheap for early adopters.
Seagate’s 1TB Game Drive for Xbox Series X, Series S costs $220
At this price (and with no other sizes or manufacturers available so far) adding storage to the cheaper console costs two-thirds of the system’s price. If you’d like to have some extra space to install those launch-day games, then you can pre-order the 1TB Game Drive for Xbox Series X and Series S right now and have it ship on November 10th.
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