5 Most Important Things in Business Today

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Amazon.com Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) Alexa devices pick up private conversations, raising privacy concerns. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Amazon.com Inc. said that one of its Echo home speakers mistakenly recorded a private conversation and sent it to a person in the owners’ contact list, an incident that raises questions about the security of such voice-operated devices.

Confirming a report by a local television station in Seattle, Amazon on Thursday said that the Echo device misunderstood pieces of a conversation as commands, causing it to think it was being instructed to send the message.

Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) won a huge judgment against Samsung over patent infringement. According to The Wall Street Journal:

Samsung Electronics Co. must pay Apple Inc. $539 million for infringing patents related to the iPhone’s design, a federal jury found Thursday, a new victory for Apple in a seven-year-old legal battle over the spoils of the smartphone market’s boom.

The jury’s decision in the U.S. District Court in San Jose, Calif., increases the amount that Samsung previously was ordered to pay Apple for the patents under dispute from $399 million to $539 million. The bulk of the new damages award, $533.3 million, was for infringing three Apple design patents on the iPhone. An additional $5.3 million was for infringing two utility patents.


United Continental Holdings Inc. (NYSE: UAL) has a new board chair. According to The Wall Street Journal:

United Continental Holdings Inc. has named its first female chairman.

Jane C. Garvey, a United board member since 2009, was selected as the new nonexecutive chairman, the U.S. airline said Thursday.

“Jane steps into this critical role bringing with her decades of experience as both a leader and pioneer in our industry,” Oscar Munoz, United’s chief executive, said in a statement.

China box office sales are starting to top those in the United States. According to CNBC:

China’s box office takings surpassed the U.S. in the beginning of the year and that’s setting the Chinese film industry up for a “Hollywood moment,” HSBC said in a May report.

Box office revenues in China beat numbers out of North America in the first three months of this year, totaling 20.2 billion yuan (around $3.17 billion), according to numbers from Variety. Revenues collected in North American cinemas, referring to both the U.S. and Canada, came in at $2.85 billion during the same time frame, Variety said, citing data from ComScore.

The value of corporate mergers has soared this year. According to CNNMoney:

Merger mania is back with a vengeance this year. Companies have announced more than $2 trillion in deals so far in 2018.

That’s a record pace for merger activity, topping the deal volume from the first few months of 2007, according to Thomson Reuters. And if this keeps up, merger activity should easily pass the all-time annual record of $4.7 trillion in deals set in 2015.