Amazon (AMZN) Faces Alibaba (BABA) & Retail Threat

Morning Money Memo…

In this Sept. 15, 2014 file photo, Alibaba Group founder and Executive Chairman Jack Ma smiles before an IPO road show at a hotel in Hong Kong. Vincent Yu/AP Photo

Amazon is facing a growing challenge on several fronts. E-commerce giant Alibaba, often called the Amazon of China, is not only going public, but may expand into the U.S. and Europe, using the cash raised by its IPO. "We hope the become a truly global company," says Alibaba CEO Jack Ma.

His company could raise more than $20 billion from its offering later this week, which would be the largest-ever IPO. Alibaba reported almost $250 billion in sales last year, more than Amazon and Ebay combined. The Chinese firm's executives have been meeting this week with American, Asian and European investors. It will trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol BABA.

Alibaba has already made several key U.S. investments. "Alibaba paid more than $200 million for a 39 percent stake in Shoprunner, which competes with Amazon Prime," says USA Today. The company also bought a stake in game developer Kabam and Lyft, a ride-sharing mobile app.

Amazon is also facing a fast delivery challenge from several big retailers. Macy's Bloomingdale's and Foot Locker plan to test same-day delivery for products purchased online. More announcements could be coming soon.

"The inventory that they have is already sitting in stores which lie about 5 miles from 90 percent of the population," says Daphne Carmeli, CEO of Deliv - which picks up orders from local stores and delivers them within hours.

Retailers are using their stores to fight back against their biggest online competitor. "Amazon clearly is a leader in e-commerce," says Carmeli. "They're really set the bar for customer experience and in everything they do that bar gets higher and higher." Superfast delivery to consumers who live in or near large cities will be more widely available during the holiday shopping season.

From the 1970's through the 1990's Sony was the world's most highly regarded consumer electronics company. No more.

Sony expects its annual loss to swell to more than $2 billion in the current fiscal year after writing down the value of its troubled mobile business as phone sales were battered by brutal competition. Sony has been trying to reshape its business after years of red ink.

If you have an iPhone or iPad, the latest operating system will be available today. It's called iOS8 and offers updates like an improved keyboard.

"You're not necessarily going to see that much different," says Dana Wollman, manager editor at the tech site Engadget. "It actually looks pretty much identical to iOS7 which came out last year."

But iOS 8 has quite a few updates. The improved keyboard lets users type faster and there is a handoff feature so you start a project on one device and pass it to another from an iPhone to an iPad or an iPhone to a Mac computer for example.

The business of space. NASA has picked two companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to transport astronauts to the space station in the future. The deal will end NASA's reliance on Russia. U.S. astronauts have been riding Russian rockets since NASA's shuttles retired in 2011. The commercial crew's first launch is tentatively scheduled for 2017.

Customer-service agents at American Airlines are voting overwhelmingly to join a union and reverse a "no" vote last year. The voting covered about 14,000 employees at airports reservation centers and home based agents.

Richard Davies Business Correspondent ABC News Radio Twitter: daviesnow

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