From The New York Times:
Amazon is hiring aggressively to meet customer demand. Traffic has soared on Facebook and YouTube. And cloud computing has become essential to home workers.
Amazon said it was hiring 100,000 warehouse workers to meet surging demand. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, said traffic for video calling and messaging had exploded. Microsoft said the numbers using its software for online collaboration had climbed nearly 40 percent in a week.
With people told to work from home and stay away from others, the pandemic has deepened reliance on services from the technology industry’s biggest companies while accelerating trends that were already benefiting them.
Amazon has muscled in on brick-and-mortar retailers for years, but shoppers now reluctant to go to the store are turning to the e-commerce giant for a wider variety of goods, like groceries and over-the-counter drugs.
Streaming services like Netflix have dampened box office sales for movies in recent years. Now, as movie theaters close under government orders, Netflix and YouTube are gaining a new audience.
Companies were already dumping their own data centers to rent computing from Amazon, Microsoft and Google. That shift is likely to speed up as millions of employees are forced to work from home, putting a strain on corporate technology infrastructures.
Even Apple, which once appeared to be among the American companies most at risk from the coronavirus because of its dependence on Chinese factories and consumers, appears to be on good footing. Many of Apple’s factories are nearly back to normal, people are spending more time and money on its digital services, and on Wednesday it even released new gadgets.
“The largest tech companies could emerge on the other side of this much stronger,” said Daniel Ives, managing director of equity research at Wedbush Securities.
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[W]hen the economy does eventually improve, Big Tech could benefit from changes in consumer habits. And despite more than 18 months of criticism from lawmakers, regulators and competitors before the pandemic hit the United States, the biggest companies are likely to finish the year stronger than ever.
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Michael Crowe of Charlotte, N.C., ordered groceries from Amazon for the first time a few days ago because he didn’t want to risk going to a supermarket, he said.
“I could see myself doing it longer term when this is over,” said Mr. Crowe, 36, who works for the home improvement retailer Lowe’s.
As more customers try different Amazon services, they may create permanent shifts in buying habits, said Guru Hariharan, a former Amazon employee and the founder of CommerceIQ, a company whose automation software is used by major brands like Kellogg’s and Kimberly-Clark.
In a blog post last week, Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, said it was adding the new jobs at its U.S. warehouses and delivery network because “our labor needs are unprecedented for this time of year.”
One reason for Amazon’s increase in demand is that shoppers are buying a broader variety of goods. From Feb. 20 to March 15, over-the-counter cold medicine sales rose ninefold on Amazon in the United States from a year earlier. Dog food orders increased 13-fold, and paper towels and toilet paper sales tripled, according to CommerceIQ.
Link to the rest at The New York Times