This Way of Selling Online is the Future of Retail (and It's Often Overlooked)

The Internet has revolutionized shopping. Customers can now purchase whatever they’d like with a simple click of a button or tap of the finger. Most purchases now come from online retailers rather than brick-and-mortar stores. While buyers are happier than ever, traditional retailers are suffering – they’ve lost 25% of operating earnings as a percent of sales due to meteoric online growth.

E-commerce giants like Amazon may be threatening every business under the sun, but retailers are quickly adapting. Many have already embraced online shopping and tailored their companies to suit an emerging market, but the savviest retailers are combining drop shipping with third-party logistics (also known as ‘3PL’). In simpler terms, the retailer gets a third-party company to manufacture and ship the goods to the customer.

Embracing Drop Shopping

Say that a customer buys an item from a retailer. The store pays a third-party manufacturer to create and ship the item directly to the customer’s house. The retailer and manufacturer both receive money and the customer gets fast delivery for a reasonable price.   

The main advantage of this model is that retailers will no longer need to keep inventory in a costly warehouse which requires transportation and storage fees. As a result, businesses can efficiently and quickly scale by adding new suppliers & product, all which help win new customer business. Drop shipping also allows traditional companies that have been leaning on their brick-and-mortar sales and truly leverage e-commerce without sinking years on build-out and merchandising. 

Smarter Selling

Retailers can source 3PLs and drop shippers close to the customer’s location, which saves money on delivery time and fees. Shoppers demand rapid fulfillment and often won’t have the patience for delays or long wait periods. Happy customers lead to high retention and sales, both of which are great for business. 

One company that is revolutionizing e-commerce is Zebit – a unique online marketplace with zero physical goods. The company realized that scaling their business required establishing flexible communication protocols with vendors. Zebit soon partnered with Logicbroker whose adaptable, cloud-based platform and extensive network helped onboard new suppliers, expand their product collection, and scale their business efficiently. Logicbroker’s automated processes and software integration streamlined vendor relations, allowing engineers to focus more on their work.

“Over the past year, we have experienced tremendous growth,” said Colby Ross, Zebit’s Director of Product Management. “We have grown our business 10x, much due to our partnership with Logicbroker and the drop ship vendors they work with.” 

Evolution is Critical to Survivability

Businesses must evolve to meet evolving technology and demands lest they want to go the way of Borders and Blockbuster. Embracing new methods will help companies cut costs, increase efficiency, and remain relevant while those sticking to legacy processes will unfortunately be unable to keep pace.

“Too many traditional retailers are clinging to eCommerce fulfillment processes that worked a decade ago,” said George Heudorfer, VP Digital Commerce at Logicbroker. “Forward-thinking retailers are eliminating the headaches of internal order fulfillment by combining drop ship vendors with a third-party logistics network.”

In today’s sharing economy, third-party reliance is critical, especially for car rides, customer service, lodging, and even pet-sitting. It’s time that stores did the same.

For an informative journey on the retail matters at hand, eTail West is February 26-March 01, 2018 in Palm Springs, CA this year. The conference will cover omni-channel commerce strategies, how to succeed in digital, and how to harness emerging tech, and more.

Cisco beats estimates, boosts buyback program by $25 billion

(Reuters) – Cisco Systems Inc reported its first rise in quarterly revenue in more than two years, which also topped analysts’ estimates, as the network gear maker’s years-long efforts to transition to a software-focused company begins to take hold.

Shares of the Dow component rose 5.3 percent to $44.34 in after-market trading on Wednesday.

The company said its board raised its buyback program by $25 billion.

Revenue from its infrastructure platforms category, which includes switching, routing and data center businesses, rose 2 percent to $6.7 billion, beating analysts’ estimate of $6.6 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Revenue from Cisco’s security business, which offers firewall protection and breach detection systems, rose 6 percent to $558 million, but missed analysts’ average estimate of $589.5 million.

The world’s largest network gear maker forecast third-quarter adjusted profit between 64 cents and 66 cents per share, compared with analysts’ estimate of 63 cents per share.

The company posted a net loss of $8.8 billion, or $1.78 per share, in the second quarter ended Jan. 27, compared with a profit of $2.3 billion, or 47 cents per share, a year earlier.

The loss was due to an $11.1 billion charge related to the recent changes to the U.S. tax law.

Excluding items, the company earned 63 cents per share.

Revenue rose 2.7 percent to $11.9 billion.

Analysts on average had expected Cisco to report a profit of 59 cents per share and revenue of $11.8 billion.

Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

Suunto Spartan HR Baro Review: The Smartwatch for Skiiers and Snowboarders

On a powder day in January, I went snowboarding to test the Suunto Spartan Sport Wrist HR Baro. My friend noticed that I was checking the time on my phone in the lift line. “Aren’t you supposed to be testing a watch?” she said.

“It’s too much trouble,” I said. “It’s easier to just get my phone out of my jacket.”

“That better make it into the review,” she said.

So, there it is.

It’s hard to write that because I liked the watch so much. The Suunto Spartan HR Baro is so baller. It has a gleaming steel bezel with a gorgeous, mineral glass touchscreen display that tracks the motions of over eighty different sports, and offers stats and training suggestions on each. It looks and feels exactly like the sophisticated, high-tech mini computer that it is.

But after a few weeks of wearing it while hiking, running, climbing, snowboarding, swimming, doing yoga, and sleeping, I found myself using it less and less. It’s just too big, and its companion app is too frustrating.

Bring Me A Higher Love

The Spartan HR Baro is the latest version of the Suunto Spartan HR, but with a barometer (duh). The barometric altimeter is a much more accurate tool with which to measure elevation changes, a function at which GPS trackers have been notoriously awful.

It took two hours for the watch to charge completely. The battery lasted for several days of regular hour-long hikes or workouts, but it could vary tremendously depending on the activity. Five hours’ worth of snowboarding ran down the battery to 25 percent in one day.

You do have to set your reference altitude, as barometers fall when low-pressure systems are coming in, which is all the time in places like Portland, Oregon. Suunto does suggest checking your reference points frequently. An accurate altimeter is a particularly nice thing to have if you are a mountain person versus an ocean person. You need to track your elevation changes a lot more while climbing and skiing than you do with open water swimming.

But the real draw of the Suunto sportwatches is the Suunto Movescount platform. You can track a dizzying array of sports, and more are coming online all the time. I met Suunto digital director Heikki Norta at CES 2018, who remarked that it’s a priority to develop custom “moves” for every different sport. Eighty sports are currently available on the watch, with more customizable on the Movescount app.

“Each [sport] has its own passionate community of enthusiasts,” said Norta, and each community deserves to be served.

Movescount is a wonder. For example, when I logged in after skiing, I could track twenty-seven different stats, from time I spent descending to max speed, to my excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). I could plot each data set out on the other, to see heart rate against speed against altitude.

That’s in addition to the map and route tracker. As long as the GPS is activated, you can set routes and points of interest, or literally follow a breadcrumb trail back to where you started. For the well and truly lost, you can also select “Find Back” and a blue arrow will direct you to where you activated the GPS, counting down the feet until you get back. As the possessor of the world’s most cockeyed internal compass, the Find Back feature was invaluable to me.

Dance Dance Revolution

In addition to a barometer and host of other sensors, the Spartan HR Baro also has an optical blood flow measurement sensor to track your heart rate. It manifests as a flickering, bright green light on the base of the watch. You wear the watch higher up on your wrist and cinch the wrist strap for the best results.

You can also purchase the watch with an optional heart rate measurement belt. If heart rate is a very important stat for you, I suggest doing so. I’m a pretty cool customer, but there’s just no way that my resting heart rate is 44 beats per minute. The watch would occasionally slip and bathe me in the bright green lights of a Matrix disco rave when I was trying to fall asleep or hold one of my kids.

There are other factors that make the watch a little annoying to use for your ordinary, run-of-the-mill person who likes sports. When I started a move, I scrolled through the list of exercise activities and selected it—”climbing”, “yoga”, etc. The watch started recording.

But often, I pulled my sleeve over the watch and found that I’d inadvertently touched the screen and prematurely ended my “move.” I started locking the screen, but then I’d have to unlock it to check the time. And that’s why I started locking it, tucking it into my sleeve, and checking the time on my phone instead.

I also found myself pulling out my phone to check notifications. The watch can receive and show texts and other alerts, but you can’t respond to them. If you want to experience Millennial Hell, try snowboarding while in a lively group text, your wrist constantly buzzing with no way to respond. Dante could never have imagined such a punishment.

I didn’t pull out my phone to check the Movescount app. While on the computer, Movescount is incredibly helpful—logging 30-day training plans, keeping track of all-time bests, and exporting data to Strava and other workout platforms—on the phone, it’s useless. It only shows a few select pieces of data for each sport. The phone app is mainly for logging data like your feelings, post-workout, which gets taken into account when assessing recovery plans. It’s pretty easy to scroll through your workout logbook on the watch, but again, the displays are pretty perfunctory.

Heart of Glass

There was so many things to love about the watch. The touchscreen is gorgeous, colorful, and fun to use. I liked being able to choose between different colors and watch faces, and it was easy to swipe through the watch to find what I was looking for. To get back to the watch face, all you have to do was tap twice. I liked using Movescount to trace my routes and check my heart rate on different climbing routes. Under different circumstances, the Find Back navigation feature could literally save your life.

But it’s just too darn big. The face is almost two inches across. It’s 0.66 inches thick. I had a hard time getting it in and out of my jacket sleeves and I kept knocking the heart rate monitor off my skin. I smacked myself in the face with it while I was sleeping. By the end of two weeks, I found myself taking it off more and more often.

If you are a craggy, Paul Bunyan-type with wrists like tree trunks, whose ability to track elevation changes and trace routes is what will keep yourself and others alive, this watch would be the perfect pick for you. It’s worth noting that the Suunto watches have a loyal following among the professional and amateur alpine enthusiasts that I know.

“Oh,” one said, when he saw it. “A barometer, huh? They put in another reason for me to go back and spend more money?”

But for most people, a smaller and lighter option like the Suunto Trainer would be a better (and cheaper) bet, especially since a smaller watch would stay put. Movescount is definitely a platform worth using; I just don’t want to have to keep whacking myself in the face in order to do so.

When Modeling the Mississippi River, a Supercomputer Won't Do

The Mississippi River—it’s a big deal, OK? The combined ports of South Louisiana and New ­Orleans move more cargo, ton for ton, than any other US port. So figuring out the Mississippi’s hydrodynamics—the way its water, silt, and sand ebb and flow—matters. Matters so much, in fact, that Louisiana has dropped $18 million on a 10,800-square-foot model of Big Muddy’s sinuous meanders. It’s made of 216 panels of high-density foam, carved to match mapping data down to a quarter-millimeter tolerance.

Sure, the Center for River Studies could have just simulated all this in a supercomputer, built from spreadsheets and algebra. And that’s typically what happens nowadays: IRL models of natural phenomena are the exception. But when you can watch in an hour how the river bottom could transform in the course of, say, a year—and directly observe the potential effects on navigation—the impact is more immediate.

“We can bring out students, politicians, and fishers who are tired of seeing PowerPoint or don’t believe computer models,” says civil engineer Clint Willson.

That’ll teach people what they can and can’t build (and where) along a waterway critical to the US economy but more and more subject to the severe effects of climate change.


This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now.

Google to debut emails that automatically update

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – Gmail is about to get dynamic. Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Google on Tuesday plans to demonstrate a software programming system that would enable emails to feature continuously updating information and greater interactivity.

Users could see automatically updated flight information in a booking confirmation email. They could fill out surveys without leaving a message or review close-up shots of products in a marketing pitch without opening a browser window.

The envisioned changes are an outgrowth of Google’s AMP project, or accelerated mobile pages, Aakash Sahney, a product manager overseeing Gmail, said in a blog post Tuesday.

AMP is a set of programming intended to make webpages load faster by stripping out layers of technology.

It has drawn praise from publishers such as Hearst Corp and the Washington Post for making their websites more inviting for users. But some web developers have expressed concern that Google is getting too much say in how the web operates.

Google is pushing forward. The Gmail integration marks the first broader use for AMP. Other email providers can adopt AMP as well, Google announced as it kicks off an AMP-focused conference for software developers in Amsterdam.

The initial version of AMP for email is aimed at bulk senders. A retailer, for example, that sends a weekly sales notice could ensure that recipients see the current price or availability of an item no matter when the email is opened.

Bookmarking service Pinterest, scheduling app Doodle and Priceline Group Inc’s (PCLN.O) Booking.com are testing AMP for email, according to Google.

Reporting by Paresh Dave; Editing by Cynthia Osterman

U.S., UK government websites infected with crypto-mining malware: report

(Reuters) – Thousands of websites, including ones run by U.S. and UK government agencies, were infected for several hours on Sunday with code that causes web browsers to secretly mine digital currencies, technology news site The Register reported.

More than 4,200 sites were infected with a malicious version of a widely used tool known as Browsealoud from British software maker Texthelp, which reads out webpages for people with vision problems, according to The Register.

The news comes amid a surge in cyber attacks using software that forces infected computers to mine crypto currencies on behalf of hackers. The prevalence of these schemes has increased in recent months as the volume of trading in bitcoin and other crypto currencies has surged.

The tainted version of Browsealoud caused inserted software for mining the digital currency Monero to run on computers that visited infected sites, generating money for the hackers behind the attack, The Register said.

Representatives of the U.S. and British law enforcement agencies and Texthelp could not immediately be reached for comment.

Texthelp told The Register that it had shut down the operation by disabling Browsealoud while its engineering team investigated.

Reporting by Jim Finkle in Toronto; Additional reporting by Mark Hosenball in Washington; Editing by Daniel Wallis

What Microsoft’s Antitrust Case Teaches Us About Silicon Valley

In the twilight of the 20th century, Bill Gates was well and truly a tentacular squid, with his sucker-covered limbs extending into every level of the computer industry. The one area that Gates didn’t dominate: the World Wide Web. And how he tried to conquer that newfangled internet led to an epic court battle that continues to shape how the world sees the five-headed beast that Big Tech has become.

Microsoft famously missed the rise of the web in the early ’90s, with Gates dedicating only a fraction of his mid-’90s tome The Road Ahead to the internet. Meanwhile, Netscape introduced millions to the pleasures of browsing and surfing, forcing Microsoft to do one of its notorious “fast follows” (i.e., rapid copycat product launches). The company introduced Internet Explorer in 1995 and wasted no time in browbeating and cajoling companies the world over into making it the default web browser on their systems.

Word of Microsoft’s depredations reached the US Department of Justice, which in 1998 sued the company for violating the Sherman Act, a vague and archaic law that regulates the ability of conglomerates to assemble monopolies and stifle competition. What’s more, the government’s lawyers wouldn’t just move to penalize Microsoft with fines—they’d seek to break it into smaller companies.

Related Stories

The case would last more than five years, and the trial had its share of Perry Mason moments, as the wily lead litigator, David Boies, arguing on behalf of the DOJ, dueled in cross-examinations with Micro­soft witnesses. The most damning evidence submitted at trial, however, was a videotaped deposition of Gates. Unlike robber barons of yore, he wasn’t a portly, cigar-smoking chieftain. He was a rumpled geek who testified about Microsoft’s past practices with an amnesiac level of vagueness and a truly Napoleonic persona. This wasn’t save-the-world techno-­optimism. It was sharp-­elbowed libertarianism, and the press coverage of his performance introduced audiences at home to a new character of the digital age: the ruthless tech tycoon. From Gates it was a short jump to Steve Jobs, infamous distorter of reality fields; Jeff Bezos, slayer of publishing’s “sickly gazelles”; and so many other dark lords with world-warping visions.

Microsoft lost the first round in 2001, with the presiding judge ordering the company’s breakup. This “structural solution” (to use antitrust lingo) was later overturned on appeal, largely because under US law being a monopoly per se isn’t illegal. It’s typically only when a company abuses that dominance through coercion and collusion (among other anticompetitive tactics that raise prices and hurt consumers) that drastic remedies must be taken, and the appeals court wasn’t convinced that the judge in the first trial applied the correct standards to order a breakup. Microsoft and the government decided to cut their losses and reach a settlement, with the company agreeing to a series of “behavioral remedies” that dampened its ability to strong-arm others. Microsoft as Gates built it would survive, but the message from the government was clear: No one company could dictate the tech industry’s playbook.

Now, as Gates is off trying to cure malaria, and the chorus of complaint against Big Tech reaches a crescendo, could Bezos and his fellow giants end up in the government’s crosshairs? It’s unlikely, mostly because the tech world is fundamentally different today than it was in 1998 while US antitrust laws are essentially the same. To use a geopolitical analogy, technology was then a unipolar world and Microsoft its lone superpower. The tech world has since become multipolar: Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, and (a reduced) Microsoft are near-­absolute monarchs of their respective domains. No single giant can dominate any other, and one company can coerce another only with great difficulty, if at all. The prospect of Facebook twisting Apple’s arm to ship a new iPhone without any social media apps except for Facebook’s—which is more or less what Microsoft supposedly did to Apple with Explorer—is unthinkable.

Today’s titans tower over their kingdoms, secure behind their walls of user data and benefiting from extreme network effects that make serious competition from startups nearly impossible. US antitrust laws, written in the industrial age, don’t capture many of the new realities and potential dangers of these vast data empires. Maybe they should.


Antonio García Martínez (@antoniogm) is the author of Chaos Monkeys.

This article appears in the February issue. Subscribe now.

Bitcoin and Bug Bounties on the Hill, Apple and Cisco’s Cyber Deal, iPhone Leak

Good morning, Cyber Saturday readers.

On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate convened two hearings on a couple of this newsletter’s favorite topics: cryptocurrencies and bug bounty programs. The day’s testimonies were chock full of fresh insights—and were a welcome diversion, for this author, from the government’s unending budgetary troubles.

The first hearing before the Senate Banking Committee saw Jay Clayton, chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, and Christopher Giancarlo, chair of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, dish about virtual money. Amid cratering prices, repeated thefts, and recent banking credit bans, Bitcoin investors had braced themselves for the worst. The regulators, however, struck several positive notes during the session, praising Bitcoin for spurring innovations in digital ledger technology. Giancarlo, for one, promised “a thoughtful and balanced response, and not a dismissive one” to the digital gold rush.

One point to keep an eye on: Clayton warned entrepreneurs against “initial coin offerings,” recent fundraising phenomena that founders have used to raise billions of dollars through the sale of digital tokens. “To the extent that digital assets like ICOs [initial coin offerings] are securities—and I believe every ICO I’ve seen is a security—we have jurisdiction and our federal securities laws apply,” he said. Expect Clayton’s agency to continue to pursue action against projects it deems in violation of securities laws.

The second hearing before the Senate Subcommittee on Consumer Protection invited cybersecurity professionals to the Hill to discuss the historically uneasy relationship between companies and hackers. Some highlights: John Flynn, Uber’s chief information security officer, told the panel that his company “made a misstep” by failing to promptly report a 2016 data breach that recently came to light. Mårtin Mickos, CEO of HackerOne, a bug bounty startup, urged legislators to revise laws used to prosecute hackers and to standardize data breach notification requirements at the federal level. And Katie Moussouris, founder of Luta Security, a bug bounty consultancy, pressed companies to adopt clear policies around vulnerability reporting. (HackerOne posted a nice recap of the day’s happenings, which you can read on its blog here.)

Both hearings were highly encouraging. Let’s hope that when the lawmakers reexamine their books, they’ll keep the good sense of these experts in mind.

Have a great weekend.

Robert Hackett

@rhhackett

[email protected]

Welcome to the Cyber Saturday edition of Data Sheet, Fortune’s daily tech newsletter. Fortune reporter Robert Hackett here. You may reach Robert Hackett via Twitter, Cryptocat, Jabber (see OTR fingerprint on my about.me), PGP encrypted email (see public key on my Keybase.io), Wickr, Signal, or however you (securely) prefer. Feedback welcome.

THREATS

Digital defense discount deals. Insurer Allianz will offer discounts on cybersecurity insurance coverage to customers that use Apple devices, like Macs and iPhones, Cisco security products designed to protect against ransomware attacks, and risk evaluations from Aon, the professional services firm. Apple CEO Tim Cook and Cisco CEO Tim Robbins revealed in June that they were collaborating with insurers on these new policies.

Suspicious spy saga sours. U.S. intelligence agents, lured by the possibility of recovering hacking tools stolen from the NSA, paid a Russian intermediary an installment of $100,000 for the alleged cyber weapons last year. Further negotiations fell through after the Russian source delivered only materials already made public by the “shadow brokers,” a mysterious group that first started leaking the NSA attack code in 2016, and as the source continued to push unverifiable, allegedly compromising materials related to President Donald Trump.

Intern infiltrates iPhone internals. Apple forced the code-sharing website Github to take down a post containing leaked source code for the iPhone’s boot process this week, as Motherboard first reported. Apparently, the code escaped Apple headquarters when a lowly intern absconded with the files and shared them with friends in the “jailbreaking” hacker community.

Banks ban Bitcoin buys. Credit card issuers are forbidding cryptocurrency purchases on credit in an effort to reduce financial and legal risks. Firms that have recently blacklisted Bitcoin sellers include Bank of America, J.P. Morgan Chase, Citigroup, Capital One, Discover, and Lloyds.

Hey, you using that nuclear supercomputer? Mind if I borrow it for something?

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ACCESS GRANTED

“If we lived in a dystopian world without trust, Bitcoin might dominate existing payment methods. But in this world, where people do tend to trust financial institutions to handle payments and central banks to maintain the value of money it seems unlikely that bitcoin could ever be as convenient as existing payment means.”

Antoine Martin, an economist at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, penned an op-ed that takes a whack at Bitcoin. He said the cryptocurrency could be useful—just not in this universe. But then, that’s what a Fed banker would say…

Meanwhile, Tyler Winklevoss told CNBC that people who fail to see Bitcoin’s potential suffer a “failure of imagination.”

ONE MORE THING

Inside the “smart” home panopticon. If you’re interested in living in a “smart” home—an abode outfitted with hi-tech, Internet-connected gadgetry—you should first understand the extent to which everyday household items will spy on you. This Gizmodo investigation details, in an entertaining firsthand account, the many ways that connected TVs, security cameras, coffee makers, mattress covers, and more mundane objects invade people’s privacy. Add to that the micro-aggravations of dealing with buggy domestic devices and you’ll be left wondering how this stuff ever came to be called “smart.”

Uber board got assurances on diligence ahead of self-driving deal: investor

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A key Uber investor testified on Thursday that the company’s board received assurances that due diligence had turned up no problems with a self-driving car startup which Uber acquired, differing from testimony by Uber’s former chief executive.

Benchmark venture capitalist Bill Gurley, who has since left Uber’s board, said that before the company acquired a startup founded by a former Waymo engineer in 2016, board members were told that due diligence on the company “had turned up nothing.”

Alphabet Inc’s (GOOGL.O) Waymo sued Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] a year ago, accusing it of theft of self-driving car trade secrets.

Waymo said that one of the company’s former engineers, Anthony Levandowski, downloaded more than 14,000 confidential files containing designs for autonomous vehicles before Uber acquired his startup, Otto.

The trial could influence one of the most important and potentially lucrative races in Silicon Valley – to create fleets of self-driving cars.

Gurley’s recollection is different with former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, who testified on Wednesday that he never read a due diligence report prepared by an outside firm that determined Levandowski did possess Alphabet data.

Kalanick denied telling the board that diligence on Levandowski had come back “clean.”

As part of the Otto acquisition, Uber indemnified Levandowski and his team against any future lawsuits filed by Waymo over trade-secret theft.

In a brief appearance on the witness stand on Thursday, Gurley said he could not say for sure who from Uber management assured the board, but recalled that Kalanick led the majority of the presentation. He called the indemnification agreement “atypical.”

“We as a group made the decision to move forward because the diligence was OK,” Gurley said in court on Thursday. He also said “as far as I know” no trade secrets came from Waymo to Uber.

The trial is expected to continue through next week. The jury will have to decide whether the documents downloaded by Levandowski were indeed trade secrets and not common knowledge, and whether Uber improperly acquired them, used them and benefited from them.

Reporting by Heather Somerville; Writing by Dan Levine; Editing by Bill Rigby

Watch Out, Sony and Microsoft: Google Is Developing a Video Game Streaming Service

Google, which has largely sat on the sidelines of the video game industry, seems ready to get in the fight.

The company is working on a new service codenamed Yeti, which would let people play games streamed to them online, potentially eliminating the need for a dedicated console like the PlayStation 4 or a high-end gaming computer.

News of the service first broke via The Information. Gaming industry insiders, who were not authorized to speak on-the-record, tell Fortune that Google is targeting a holiday 2019 release for Yeti, though the company is currently behind schedule and that date could shift.

Google recently hired Phil Harrison, a long-time gaming industry veteran. Sources indicate he is closely involved with the project. Harrison spent 15 years as the head of Sony’s network of game studios and three years as a senior member of Microsoft’s Xbox team. Since leaving those companies, he has served as an adviser and board member to various gaming companies.

Google declined to discuss the initiative, citing a company policy of not commenting on rumors or speculation.

Some details about Yeti are still fuzzy. It could be a dedicated streaming box or could operate through the company’s Chromecast device. How it will overcome issues of in-game lag is one of the biggest hurdles. But Fortune has learned that several major publishers are working with Google on the project.

Yeti would compete with Sony’s Playstation Now streaming service, which carries a $19.95 monthly fee (or $100 annual fee). That service, built off of one of the pioneers in game streaming, has not found an especially large audience, in part because of the high price and older catalog of games. Microsoft has previously discussed launching a game streaming service, but has not made any announcements about a new streaming product.

Google has flirted with the game industry before. It almost acquired Twitch in 2014 for $1 billion, but the deal fell apart in the final stages. (Amazon would later acquire that game streaming service.) Since then, Google’s YouTube division has dramatically increased its presence in the video game world, live streaming from E3, the video game industry trade show, and enabling live game streaming.

There’s certainly a big financial incentive for Google in video games. The industry saw revenues of $36 billion in the U.S. alone in 2017. Globally, it generates over $100 billion each year.