This Week in Tech: Black Friday Results, Google Gets Friendly And Lights Up, And Sony Struggles

This week in tech revealed the results from the holiday shopping kickoff weekend, Google Friday Flashback11 This Week in Tech: Black Friday Results, Google Gets Friendly And Lights Up, And Sony Strugglesmaking strides to become more kid-friendly and inspire coding, and Sony struggling with their recent hack that has gone from bad to worse.

Here’s what happened, this week in tech.

1. The Mad Rush to Shop…Online. After the busiest shopping weekend of the year, we have the results of this four-day sale phenomenon known as Black Friday weekend.

According to Fundivo.com, this year, Black Friday spending reached $ 50.9 billion, which was lower than last year, but Black Friday online shopping went from $ 1.198 billion in 2013 to $ 1.505 billion this year. Cyber Monday sales showed success as they were up from the $ 2.290 billion spent in 2013, to $ 2.680 billion this year. Overall, online sales were a huge success for most retailers, while in-store sales weren’t as profitable. One retailer that needed to pull in some sales and did exceptionally well was Walmart. Walmart.com experienced over 1.5 billion pages viewed by customers, and “70 percent of its traffic coming from mobile devices.”

According to IBM and its Benchmark tool that tracks sales in real time, in total online sales were up 17 percent over last year and mobile continued to be a sales driver accounting for 51.2 percent of ecommerce browsing and 28.9 percent of sales.

However, some companies, such as Best Buy, experienced a website crash. During Black Friday (and actually for a bit on Saturday morning), Best Buy’s website was unavailable. A spokesperson for Best Buy reported that “a concentrated spike in mobile traffic triggered issues that led us to shut down BestBuy.com in order to take proactive measures to restore full performance.” Fortunately though, Best Buy crashed due to high traffic and although they haven’t reported their numbers, it is predicted that the outage wasn’t that detrimental to their overall four-day sales total.

2. Google Gets Friendlier. Thanks to a focus on cybersecurity and keeping children out of harm’s way on the net, Google is now working on a kid-friendly version of its search engine. Since kids are big consumers of technology, being born after the advent of widespread technological adoption, Google searches from kids 12 and under are on the rise. This new focus for Google could include kid-friendly versions of YouTube and Chrome, with controls for parents to help manage what their kids may see and do. The vice president of engineering who is leading the way, Pavni Diwanji, stated that, “the big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children.” There’s no official word on a launch date, but it’s rumored that this feature may make its debut sometime next year.

3. Light It Up. Speaking of kid-friendly, Google recently rolled out their Made with Code program to help girls become more interested in technology. Over 300,000 people – mostly young girls – helped design the lighting display for the 92nd Annual White House Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony, which includes 56 official White House Christmas Trees. Girls ages four through 20 participated in writing the code to bring the Christmas Trees to life. One participant and Made with Code ambassador, Brittany Wegner, 20, will join ten other Made with Code girls to watch the lighting extravaganza. She explains that each code created will have a specific time for its debut, “down to the exact second.”

Made to Code helps introduce coding to girls at a young age by showing the different possibilities there are to using this incredible skill. In Wegner’s words, “Made with Code is more of an introductory learning platform to get girls interested in coding so it makes it super easy.” Other girls wanting to be part of lighting up the White House this Christmas is encourage to participate through Google’s Made with Program. The White House trees will continue to add more programs for future submissions for those that missed the lighting ceremony.

4. The Sony Struggle. Last week, Sony was hacked and the initial thought was that the hack was possibly a result of misuse internal sources. Unfortunately, the story is unraveling and Sony has a bigger issue to deal with this week.

This week, movies were leaked and employee information (think social security numbers, salaries, health information, etc.) was exposed to the public. The hack was so serious, that the FBI is now warning other companies to keep a watchful eye on their data. Memos were also leaked from employees who are less than satisfied with Sony’s performance and this sensitive data puts Sony at risk for losing money, respect, and possibly employees. The salary leak revealed uneven gender and race paychecks, and exposed employee information puts thousands of Sony employees at risk for identity theft. With the threat of taking a year to sort through and deal with the hack, the fingers are now pointed at North Korea who may be the source of the attack as a rebuttal against the soon-to-be release of the film “The Interview,” in which the characters plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Yikes!

That’s all for this week in tech. Did we miss anything?

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Innovation » Jen Cohen Crompton