Round up #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

Round up #162: Amazon’s auggies, should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Should Amazon buy Toys R Us?

This is just speculation on my part, just kicking around an idea and I’m interested in your thoughts on it.

Toys R Us recently filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. They expect to keep their approximately 1,600 stores open through the holidays (that includes their Babies “R” Us stores).

Bankruptcy certainly doesn’t mean you are going out of business…necessarily. It appears they are massively in debt (I’m seeing five billion dollar figures).

Many articles cite Amazon as a major reason for their troubles…that got me thinking. Should Amazon just buy Toys “R” Us?

They recently bought Whole Foods, and that was expensive, of course. I’ve been saying that I think one of the reasons is for the physical locations…that they may start using them as staging areas for non-Whole Foods sorts of items (like expensive gadgets at the holidays) so they can deliver them more quickly.

Toys “R” Us would give them something like four times the number of locations as Whole Foods did…and in different sorts of neighborhoods. As a former brick-and-mortar retail manager (bookstore, gamestore…), I’ve felt like, certainly in the past decade (TRU is something like seventy years old), the big toy chain has managed their stock pretty well. They move a lot of things on and off the shelves, and even on Black Friday, you don’t tend to see empty shelves or boxes on the floor. My guess is that it would be a good base for an “express fulfillment center”.

Amazon already does a lot with toys (putting out a high-profile list each holiday season, for example), and TRU is a nostalgia brand which did adapt as times changed. It’s famous for easy returns (that was part of their success), and even carries books. 🙂

Amazon could make the Toys “R” Us stores function somewhat like their Amazon Books stores: intentionally set up to be “showrooms”. Customers could interact with toys and electronics, and then (most of the time) order them online from Amazon for quick delivery. There would be some stock on hand for “store to trunk” purchasing, but that wouldn’t be the focus.

It feels to me like a good match, but I don’t know the economics of the possible deal…

News on Amazon auggies supposedly leaks

I’ve been waiting for this!

Regular readers have probably been a bit bored 😉 by my speculating that Amazon was going to get into VAM (Virtual/Augmented/Mixed/Merged Reality) in a significant way this year. I’ve been careful not to limit that to any sort of idea of Amazon creating VAM hardware. I would count it as a “hit” if they just added a Prime Video app to the Samsung Gear/Oculus store. (I’m in VAM pretty often, and the main thing I do there is watch Hulu or Netflix…that’s where I think the real disruption is right away, with expensive big screen TVs).

However, Augmented Reality (much more than Virtual Reality…with AR, you still see the world around you with overlays…with VR, your reality is “replaced”) is, I believe, about to become a common part of many people’s lives. “Ambient computing” is another revolution people cite, but the two can merge. “Ambient computing” means computing which is always available…you don’t say, “Now I will turn on or log on to a computer”, you just ask a question or interact in some other way.

That’s how the

Echo family (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

works, for the most part.

You just ask a question to “the air”, and get an answer.

The just announced

Fire HD 10″ with hands-free Alexa (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

will be a tablet with hands-free Alexa as an option.

Augmented Reality Ambient Computing (ARAC…I just made that up) would be a game changer.

There needs to be a breakthrough in wearability, but basically, it would be able to put images into what you see, and you would be able to interact with it easily.

An initial level would be it overlaying items of your choice, things which wouldn’t interact with the environment, but I think we are past that.

When I use my auggies (that’s my term for VAM enabling hardware) now, it already interacts with the environment. Using an AR app called


I can virtually put mustaches, glasses, or full faces on actual people in real time, that will move with their heads.

ACAR would mean that I could ask for something whenever I wanted. For example, as a vegetarian, I could be in a grocery store (maybe an Amazon-owned Whole Foods) and ask it to show me which products on the shelf are vegetarian. Green lines might “appear” around the foods that fit my request.

The next level would be for the artificial intelligence to come more into play, so that it already knew I was a vegetarian and put those green lines on for me (even if I hadn’t thought to ask for them)…but that’s getting ahead of the game.

This widely-cited

Financial Times article by Tim Bradshaw and Leslie Hook

says that Amazon is working on “smart glasses” that would be Alexa-enabled.

The idea, at least, would be to be able to interact with Alexa any time, anywhere.

The article suggests Amazon might have something innovative: bone conduction audio.

What’s that?

Rather than sticking headphones into or over your ears, you “hear” the audio through soundwaves traveling through your bones. Personally, I have a “thing” about having my ears touched…it really creeps me out! I do use earbuds, but I’m always aware of them.

Having a bone conduction device would mean that you could hear what was going on around you easily when you weren’t invoking Alexa…and still hear when you were.

You could do the conduction with a glasses type device…the stems of the glasses would do the conduction.

However, this could be a lot more than that…the lenses (if there are any) could be used to display information to you, as I suggested with the green lines.

There are a lot of interesting rumors out there: a Google Home Echo Dot type device, an Amazon homecam, and we know that there will be standalone auggies (no phone, no computer tether) this year (at least, they are scheduled to be released).

It’s going to be an interesting holiday season! I would bet on more Amazon hardware announcements soon (Fire TV, maybe Kindle EBRs) and service announcemnts…I’m thinking with the next week. However, November 20th is the 10th anniversary of the Kindle…I’m going to put together something for that (and invite you to contribute), so they might tie something really innovative into that anniversary (like the auggies).

Happy birthday…

I’ve been tweeting out “On this date in geeky history” on  my @TMCGTT account, and today (September 20) is George R.R. Martin’s birthday! George R.R. Martin born at TMCGTT.

It’s also the birthday of

Upton Sinclair (at AmazonSmile*)

who I will eventually get into TMCGTT…like many authors who are best known for works which might be assigned in school, Sinclair also write geeky works (including the Gnomobile).

What do you think? Should Amazon buy Toys “R” Us? Would you be interested in Amazon’s auggies…or anybody’s? What would they have to do before you would be willing to try them? Is it your birthday? 🙂 Feel free to let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

All aboard The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amaz on site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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