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  1. Over the next five years, three new heavy-lift rockets will put thousands of satellites into low earth orbit as part of Amazon's Project Kuiper. The project aims to provide broadband connections using a constellation of 3,236 satellites. Rival Starlink is said to have more than 2,300 satellites in orbit already. The rockets will be made by Arianespace, Blue Origin - which was founded by Amazon owner Jeff Bezos - and United Launch Alliance. Amazon says Project Kuiper aims to provide high-speed, low-latency broadband to customers including households, businesses, government agencies, disaster relief operations, mobile operators, and other organisations "working in places without reliable internet connectivity". Like Elon Musk's Starlink, users will connect to the internet via a terminal that communicates with the satellites. Amazon says its experience in shipping and making products like Echo and Kindle will be useful in producing and distributing these. "Project Kuiper will provide fast, affordable broadband to tens of millions of customers in unserved and underserved communities around the world," said Dave Limp, senior vice-president for Amazon Devices & Services, in a statement announcing the deal. New rockets Amazon plans 83 launches over the next five years, saying it constitutes "the largest commercial procurement of launch vehicles in history". The firm plans two "prototype" missions later this year - but using a rocket made by ABL Space Systems, and not the three that will launch the bulk of the satellites. An illustration of the Vulcan Centaur, one of the new rockets used for the launches Unlike Elon Musk's Falcon 9 rockets, the three new rockets used for Project Kuiper's launches are still in development. Another satellite internet firm OneWeb, which is part-owned by the British government, recently decided to use SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets after losing access to the Russian-built Soyuz rockets it had been using, following the invasion of Ukraine. In total Mr Musk hopes to launch as many as 30,000 Starlink satellites into space. The value of this type of low-earth orbit satellite internet has already been demonstrated in Ukraine, where the United States Agency for International Development said, in conjunction with SpaceX, it had helped ship a total of 5,000 Starlink terminals to the country's government. But, as low-earth orbit becomes increasingly congested, astronomers have complained that the light reflected from these satellites as they pass overhead increasingly disrupts the view of the night's sky. Astro-photographer Mary McIntyre, said on Twitter: "The satellites are literally destroying our beautiful night sky." Source
  2. Few commodities are as tricky to navigate as chicken wings. After all, there are only two wings available per chicken, so supply is limited. Our football-induced obsession with wings doesn’t help the supply/demand volatility. Though pricing instability is for restaurant operators to figure out, figure out they must since we consumers hanker for wings year after year after year. That’s especially true this year, with wings servings up 5% from the prior period, according to the NPD Group. As we transition into November, and into the throes of football season, chicken wings are yet again taking flight. Just take a look at Wingstop as an example. Earlier this week, the company reported a 12.3% increase in same-store sales for Q3, the highest comps in the industry thus far (and by far). David Portalatin, NPD’s vice president, food industry adviser, said Americans have consumed nearly 1 billion servings of wings this year (942.5 million servings). There are a few reasons for this growth. The wing category is changing and blurring and innovating in a way that it’s never quite done before. Namely, there are more wing concepts—Wing Zone, Wingstop and Buffalo Wild Wings among them. These players are relatively new compared to some of the legacy brands in the restaurant space, conceived in 1993, 1994 and 1982 respectively (for context, McDonald’s has been around since 1955). There are also smaller, yet growing, wing concepts, like East Coast-heavy Atomic Wings, Nashville-based The Wing Basket, emerging Epic Wings, college campus staple Wings Over and more. This doesn’t even count the pizza joints, including Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s, that have leaned heavily into wings, and KFC, which just added wings to its permanent menu, a rarity in the QSR category. (Notably, McDonald’s Mighty Wings launch in 2013 was an abject failure). A growing category combined with innovation (both flavors and cuts) and more accessibility and you’ve got a perfect storm for increased consumption. “I’ve always believed that there are big, established behaviors in American eating patterns and one of those is that we love wings,” Portalatin said. “When companies in the marketplace do things that are new, innovative, exciting, or there are companies that are building new stores and growing, the consumer responds favorably to that.” Consumers clearly responded favorably to Wingstop this past quarter. The chain’s same-store sales growth came despite wing prices being up nearly 23% this year. To navigate the commodity headwind, Wingstop launched a national test on whole wings. “This test is key to our strategy of mitigating the volatility that we see in markets due to the price of bone-in chicken,” CEO Charlie Morrison said during the earnings call. “Overall, we were pleased with what we learned from the test and we'll use our learnings to continue to find ways that we can leverage purchasing whole birds as a way to mitigate the volatility of wing prices.” Wing Zone took a similar approach, introducing thigh wings in all of its domestic locations in early August. CEO Matt Friedman said the launch has been successful so far. “We had high expectations on guest feedback and we are seeing 70%-plus success with two key questions: ‘Would you order thigh wings again?’ and ‘Would you recommend thigh wings to someone you know?’ Each week, we are seeing more and more orders, showcasing continued success of the launch,” he said. Beyond that customer feedback, Friedman said the company is better able to control costs with the new product. “We started to explore additional chicken items that were unique and lower cost. Traditional wings continue to be in great demand and prices have been higher this year. Wing Zone locked in a fixed price on traditional wings, so that has had a great impact on reducing food cost,” he said. “Chicken thighs, consisting of dark meat, are approximately 50% less than wings. We have been able to reduce our food cost by 2.5% through innovation and increased buying power.” Friedman adds that Wing Zone’s research shows it is the only wing-themed restaurant to offer a thigh wing. “I believe this is the most innovative menu item we have launched in our 26-year history. I cannot recall a menu item being in research and development for this period of time,” he said. Portalatin does question use of the word “innovation” when it comes to these types of approaches, but admits the newness of products like thigh wings will turn on plenty of customers nonetheless. “It’s the same with boneless wings. Are they truly under the banner of innovation? Maybe it’s not the right word, but the American consumer loves to try new things especially if we’re already familiar with it,” he said. “We love wings. We always have. If you give us new flavors, forms and shapes, we’ll try it.” He adds that restaurant operators are forced to think beyond the traditional wing because of the supply chain squeeze. Still, wing innovation extends beyond cost cutting/supply chain opportunities. Chicken is certainly a versatile protein, and wing purveyors have not been shy in experimenting with new, bold flavors accordingly—something more consumers are demanding. Wing Zone currently has 17 flavors, rolling out one or two new flavors each year. The chain plans to launch its newest flavor, Nashville Hot BBQ, in March 2020 to coincide with the NCAA Basketball Tournament. KFC already has a Nashville Hot offering for its wings, alongside Buffalo and Honey BBQ. Wingstop recently launched limited-time Ancho Honey Glaze and Harissa Lemon Pepper flavors to add to its 11 original flavors. These aren’t flavors you’d find from a time machine trip back to 1993. Wings’ popularity can also be attributed to accessibility. Wingstop has generated a significant amount of investor confidence because of its digital prowess. For Q3, digital sales represented 36% of domestic systemwide sales, pushing toward the chain’s goal of “digitizing every transaction.” Most of Wingstop’s transactions (75%) are takeout orders, and the chain continues to ramp up its delivery capability, with 90% of the system expected to offer the channel by the end of the year. Meanwhile, 80% of Wing Zone’s thigh wing orders are coming from its online channel, Friedman said. Speaking of accessibility, KFC now delivers its wings and offers a subscription service for its most fervent fans. That subscription service sold out in about two hours, by the way, underscoring the demand for this product. Further, at just over 4,000 domestic units, KFC’s footprint is significantly deeper than any other wing concept (Wingstop has about 1,110), which means this permanent menu addition and the chain’s quick-service model could very well be a game changer for the wing category and its supply. “Wings have become popular across all restaurant formats, so it doesn’t surprise me that someone in QSR wants to make a play in this space,” Portalatin said. “The competition is already intense and is getting more intense. But it’s a big enough market for a lot of people to play in.” Of course, such intensity means there could be supply chain challenges down the road. Perhaps that’s why these new cuts and flavors and channels are, indeed, innovative. “When there are two wings on the bird, the demand for wings outstrips the ability of the supply chain to keep up. Restaurants are forced to innovate in a way that is outside of a straight commodity wing. We’re seeing that diversity now,” Portalatin said. “It will be important for this innovation to continue for the growth to continue.” Source
  3. Microsoft pushes Edge as 'best for business' in battle with Chrome At this year's Ignite conference, Microsoft offered up a host of reasons why its browser is better for the enterprise than Google Chrome. Do those claims stack up? Microsoft Microsoft last week pitched Edge as "the browser for business," as in fact, "the best browser for business," and revealed some of the new features and functionality it will use to convince customers that its aspirations are more than posturing. Edge, which Microsoft relaunched in January after tearing it down to the studs and rebuilding it with the same code from the Chromium project that powers Google's Chrome, has managed to scratch its way into second place on the world's browser standings. At the end of August, approximately 8.5% of all browser activity was attributed to Edge. That was a mere 1.5 percentage points higher than at the January restart, equivalent to about two-tenths of a point per month. While that pace might be enough to put Edge at 11% by year's end, it wouldn't be enough to replace Chrome before around 2034. But because Edge is Chrome, more or less, the business angle is not just Microsoft's best bet to push its browser but really its only bet. To justify the cost – in money, personnel and other resources – in switching browsers, enterprises must have substantial grounds for doing so. How do the features Microsoft offered during its Ignite conference last week stack up? Computerworld took a spin through what Microsoft touted. Linux in October A Linux edition of Edge will be available next month, according to Microsoft. The firm did not say when in October, but whenever it's released, the browser will be available from the Insiders website, initially only in a Dev channel version. Chrome has long been available in a Linux edition. Enterprise IT admins can start here. Internet Explorer lives! Enterprises will be able to soon manage the underlying Enterprise Mode Support list from the cloud, rather than from a locally-stored XML file, Microsoft said. Enterprise Mode Support and its list are the heart of Internet Explorer (IE) mode in Edge. That list determines which websites and web apps are to open in the aged browser rather than Edge. With cloud management, the list will be placed in a Microsoft-managed, GDPR-compliant cloud location, according to Shilpa Subramanian, a senior program manager. The list will be managed, Subramanian added, from the Microsoft 365 admin center. Chrome also has an IE mode, dubbed Legacy Browser Support, or LBS. Recently, Google eliminated the LBS browser add-on, as it had rolled the functionality into Chrome. Enterprise IT admins can start here with the built-in LBS. Roll, roll on back
 Edge will offer rollback, which lets customers restore an earlier version after, for example, discovering that a crucial web app won't run in the latest. "This feature is designed to be a safety net for enterprises deploying Microsoft Edge," Microsoft stated in a support document on the upcoming feature. Not surprisingly, caveats apply to rollback; the most important is a possibility of data loss, notably the user's browsing history, bookmarks, and other saved settings. "Only use rollback when necessary, there's always the risk of data loss," Microsoft wrote in the support document. Rollback is supposed to debut in Edge 86, which is currently set to ship in early October. Chrome has had this same capability – dubbed downgrade by Chrome – since version 84 (released in July). More information about downgrade can be found in this Google support document and in this support doc. New tab page content added for enterprises Microsoft has been pushing Edge's, well, edge over rivals when searching for inside-the-enterprise content and a customized new tab page that draws information from Office 365 and Microsoft 365 accounts. New plans for the new tab page include the inclusion of company and industry news, which will take the place of the kind of general news that features prominently in the consumer experience on Edge. For some reason, Microsoft does not want to give Edge a leg up over Chrome here, as it's created an add-on that customers can apply to Google's browser that replicates the Microsoft Search and new tab page experiences there. At one point, the Redmond, Wash. company was going to add the extension automatically to Chrome; it retreated from the idea after push-back from critics. More information about Chrome and Microsoft Search is available here. Validate digital signatures in PDFs "Coming soon is the ability to view and validate PDF digital signatures in Microsoft Edge, which helps to ensure that the file is legitimate and hasn't been tampered with," wrote Liat Ben-Zur, a Microsoft marketing executive, in a long post last week to a company blog. Every browser offers PDF viewing and navigation at this point, but Edge will soon tackle what Microsoft called a top request from enterprises: validating digital signatures without additional licensing requirements and costs. Other PDF-related features that Microsoft has in its sights can be found here. Chrome does not validate digital signatures. Instead, Google recommends that customers use Adobe software, such as Adobe Acrobat Reader, for that task. Microsoft pushes Edge as 'best for business' in battle with Chrome
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