Home What's Brewing? CyberMonday Nets Out in Seattle

CyberMonday Nets Out in Seattle

Today is Cyber Monday! How will major Web E-tailers like Amazon.com weather the nation’s economic stormclouds? If the customers are all Seattlites, the goose egg may turn out to be golden!

According to a National Retail Federation study, consumers plan to spend an average of $832 on holiday-related goods, an increase of 1.9 percent from $816 in 2007. The estimate is based on the Holiday Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey of 7,000 consumers. But a second survey says Seattle shoppers will spend more than others in the nation, and will focus on gift cards, clothing, “experiences” and green and/or recycled items.

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The Deloitte Services LP survey conducted in September and October showed that 55 percent of those Seattleites plan to reduce their spending to about $1,800, said Alana Hoskin Smith of Deloitte’s Seattle consumer business and retail group.

“Seattleites are also using the Internet to make smarter choices,” said Smith, who said 73 percent of Seattle consumers do at least part of their holiday shopping online.

Surveys commissioned by the National Retail Federation and Yahoo indicate that online shopping grew 12 percent this year as shoppers look for free shipping and online discounts. [24×7]

TroopTube Delves Beyond YouTube With Seattle’s Help
The U.S. military, with help from Seattle startup Delve Networks, has launched a video-sharing Web site for troops, their families and supporters, a year and a half after restricting access to YouTube and other video sites.

TroopTube, as the new site is called, lets people register as members of one of the branches of the armed forces, family, civilian Defense Department employees or supporters. Members can upload personal videos from anywhere with an Internet connection, but a Pentagon employee screens each for taste, copyright violations and national security issues.

Part of Delve’s work was to build speedy tools for approving and sorting incoming videos. Its technology also crunches video files into several sizes and automatically plays the one that best suits viewers’ Internet connection speeds.

But the startup’s real åforte is making sure searches on the site turn up the best video results. Delve’s system turns a video’s sound into a text transcript. It pares unimportant words like “this” and “that,” then compares what’s left against a massive database of words commonly uttered in proximity to each other, collected from crawling hundreds of millions of Web pages.

The result: Even if speech recognition software trips on the one word someone is searching for, there’s a good chance Delve can still deliver relevant results.

In May 2007, the Defense Department banned employees and soldiers from accessing sites including YouTube and MySpace, citing security and bandwidth issues. Delve Chief Executive Alex Castro called TroopTube a “retention tool” aimed at a generation of soldiers who bring laptops to the front lines.

“A lot of people are excited in the company to be doing something for the people who make sacrifices,” said Castro, his eyes tearing. “We’re proud of this.” [24×7]