Archive for Amazon
Android tablets are out on top, beating Apple for the first time ever and by a comprehensive margin. Figures revealed by analysts Gartner show that Apple has had a 36 percent share of the tablet market in 2013, almost half that of the 62 percent share that Android has had for the same period. Android accounted for 121 million tablet sales in 2013, compared to 70 million iPads sold. In all, 195 million tablet devices were sold in 2013.
For Apple, the results were in spite of registering a growth over its 2012 sales where 61 million iPads were sold. That number translated to a 53 percent share of the tablet market. For the same period, Android accounted for 46 percent share of the tablet market, or 53 million tablets.
Apple can still take consolation from the fact that the iPad continues to be the single largest tablet brand, outselling others by a comfortable margin. Samsung came in second, having sold 37 million tablets to equal a 19 percent market share, a huge improvement over the 7 percent market it had in 2012. Asus made up the third slot, having sold more than 11 million tablets, which comes to 5.6 percent share. Surprisingly, Amazon, who started the affordable tablet race, managed to sell just about 9 million tablets in 2013. Its market share dropped to 4.8 percent from 6.6 percent in 2012, making it the only manufacturer among the top 5 to record negative growth rate.
As for reasons behind the rise of the Android tablet, it is the emergence of low cost entry level tablet options that appears to have done the trick. For the first time, consumers had a lot of affordable tablet devices to choose from. Fortunately for them, these tablets offered decent specs in spite of the relatively cheap price tag. In contrast, the iPad caters to the premium segment that makes it within the reach of a distinct class of consumers. However, the challenge before Android is to ensure the huge user base who has invested in an Android tablet gets to have an endearing user experience so that they remain within the Android fold.
Further, both Apple and Google will have to watch out for a resurgent Windows platform that has registered growth in 2013. Though still quite insignificant with 2.1 percent market share and 4 million tablet sales, it could make for a much better performance in 2014 on the back of rumors of a thoroughly improved Windows 9. Also, the emergence of improved low power chips have led to better acceptance of Windows tablet which is poised for a take off if Microsoft gets its act together in providing for an enhanced software experience over Windows 8.1.
Amazon Prime has a number of compelling features that makes people glad to spend $79.99 per year. There is free shipping, a free eBook every single month and access to Amazon Instant Video. The Seattle based company announced during a recent earnings call that they were talking about increasing the Prime membership by $40.00. They cited rising shipping costs as being a prime motivator, but the price increase may also pave the way for a new Amazon Streaming Music Service.
Amazon is reportedly in talks with major music labels with the aim of releasing a music service of the future, hoping for low rates much as Apple did when negotiating for iTunes Radio. Amazon is hoping to go head to head with Beats, Spotify, Pandora, and Apple.
According to Re/Code “Amazon has been beefing up its roster of executives with digital music experience in the last few years. In October 2012, it hired Michael Paull, a Sony music executive, to head up its digital music operations. At the same time, it brought in Drew Denbo, who had handled business development at streaming services Rhapsody and MOG, to do the same job at the e-commerce site. And last year it hired Adam Parness, who handled licensing for Rhapsody.”
The industry standard for a streaming music service is currently six cents per 100 songs streamed. Apple ended up agreeing to pay 13 cents for each song played, along with 15% of net advertising revenue. Likely, Amazon is looking for the same deal, or cheaper.
Amazon launched ACX in 2011 to connect up publishers, authors and producers for unsold audiobook rights. Indie authors have begun to use the program more than the publishing companies and Amazon has tweaked their program a number of times to be more appealing. Today, the company announced they were adjusting the royalties it pays on audiobooks.
When the ACX program first launched, companies like HarperCollins and Random House primarily used it to compliment their eBook strategies with audiobooks. Lots of famous actors loaned out their voice to read novels and producers were earning extra income. A year later self-published authors started to take over the platform and Audible adjusted their strategy to have a wider appeal.
Until now, the royalties paid on audiobooks have been really solid. If you wanted to market it exclusively through Audible you would get paid around 50–90%, if you wanted to sell it outside of Audible you would earn 25–70%. Amazon has now lowered the exclusive rate to 40% and the non-exclusive version to 25%.
Further, a bounty of $50 will be awarded to the royalty earner every time your book is the first purchase of a new AudibleListener. Under the previous program, a $25 bounty was awarded every time your book was one of the first three purchases by a new AudibleListener. In Royalty Share deals, the Rights Holder and Producer will now split the $50 bounty equally.
If you have produced an audiobook in the past, the royalty structure will not change. Authors and Producers will still earn the old amount for audiobooks published before March 11, 2014. The commission adjustment is only applicable for new titles being published, although the bounty rate will change across the board.
Amazon, Audible and ACX have continued to make their platform less appealing to authors as time as gone on. It was not too long ago that the company paid authors an additional $1.00 everytime their book was purchased or downloaded. They did this to draw attention to their platform as a viable way to distribute audiobooks to the masses. This new adjustment to royalties is the latest decrease to revenue earning potential. But really, where else are you going to sell it?
There are less than 1,000 independent bookshops in the UK, a figure that is the lowest the country has had since accurate records of shops began being kept. The Booksellers Association has already called it a crisis situation, as there are just 987 bookshops across the entire country.
“Bookshops are important cultural and community hubs, and make a vital contribution to the health of our high streets and local economies in particular, so it is always disappointing to see them close,” said Tim Godfray, chief executive of the Booksellers Association, in an interview with The Bookseller.
“Everyone should sit up and take notice of this. The book trade, the government and the general public need to realise that if we don’t take action now, the future of our bookshops – and therefore the health of the publishing industry and reading itself – is at risk.”
The rise of the ebook culture is being held responsible for the slow demise of independent bookshops across the world. Not surprisingly, Amazon is held as the prime culprit, with Ibis Bookshop owner Linda Jones putting the blame squarely on the online retail giant for driving her out of business. Ibis Bookshop had been in business for 76 years and is the oldest independent bookshop in the UK; it is slated for closure next month.
Other reasons cited for the steady decline in bookshops are high rent (which has made it difficult to maintain a high street presence of late for the owners), parking fees–another factor that too is acting as a deterrent for buyers to actually travel to the bookshops–and supermarkets offering steep discounts on books and periodicals, luring customers away from the bookshops.
The country had 1,535 bookshops in 2005. Sixty-seven bookshops have closed in 2013, though 26 new bookshops also opened last year.
However, not everyone paints a negative picture. As Morag Watkins of Chorleywood Bookshop told The Bookseller, “It’s not all doom and gloom though. Those that have changed their models have been alright. We run festivals, go into schools and basically take the bookshop on the road. We’ve evolved into community-based hubs because we had to.”
Amazon is all set to unleash its Prime services in the UK which will enable Britishers to avail of unlimited access to Amazon’s video library, next-day deliveries and ebooks downloads all as part of a single package that cost £79 a year. The online retail giant said the above mentioned cost is 35 percent cheaper if users subscribe to LoveFilms and one day delivery schemes separately. In any case, the above move will bring curtains down to LoveFilms which will cease to exist post Feb 26 which is when Prime Instant Video takes over. However, existing LoveFilm subscribers can still continue to pay £5.99 to rent or buy TV shows or movies as they have been doing, while allowing them the option to walk out of the contract or re-join anytime they want. However, when the term expires, new renewal will cost £79 instead of £49. Also in doing so, they won’t have additional Prime benefits such a quick deliveries and access to ebooks.
The above move is aimed at bettering similar schemes offers by Apple while also posing a direct challenge to the likes of Netflix, Sky and BT. Amazon has stated they also plan to produce their own programs for which the retails giant has already earmarked millions. Netlix already boasts of the hugely successful series House of Cards.
“We’ve worked hard to offer the best selection of TV shows and movies for Prime Instant Video.
“We also added high definition video and introduced apps for popular devices like Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Samsung and Sony TVs and iPads and iPhones,” said Tim Leslie, Vice President of Amazon Instant Video for the UK and German.
Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime, said: “Millions of customers in the US have streaming video included as part of their Prime membership and they tell us they love the combination of unlimited delivery, the ability to borrow Kindle books, and access to thousands of movies, TV shows and exclusive videos.
“We are delighted to be bringing that same combination of services to the UK, providing members truly unique benefits they can enjoy every day of the year.”
Meanwhile, Amazon by post services remains unchanged though it remains to be seen how long before users will be asked to make the digital switchover.
Amazon has opened up its Amazon Coins for use outside of the Kindle Fire tablet range. Amazon’s virtual currency will now be compatible with other Android smartphones and tablet devices. However, the coins can only be used to make purchases from the Android App Store. Further, this is valid only for the countries where Amazon has launched the virtual currency, which includes the US, UK, and Germany.
This virtual currency launched last year in the US, and was later expanded to the UK and Germany. The online retail giant encouraged Kindle Fire tablet users to make their purchases using the Amazon coins, throwing in various incentives in the process. For instance, every Kindle Fire purchase came bundled with 500 coins free, which otherwise will cost $5. Further, purchases made using Amazon coins incur a discount of 10 percent. Users also get to earn the coins when downloading some specific apps or after having reached a particular level in some games.
Amazon introduced Amazon coins as alters the buyer’s mindset; they are led to believe they are spending virtual currency and not real dollars. Also, with the coins sold in batches of 500 for $5 or 1,000 for $10, users can feel like they are getting a lot of the virtual currency to play with for little actual money. The aim has been to make users to spend more by simplifying the buying process. Unleashing the currency on the entire Android family of smartphone and tablet devices is no doubt a step in the right direction in achieving much higher levels of transactions.
Amazon purchased Liquavista from Samsung in 2013 and the intention behind the deal was to offer a new breed of color e-readers.There is active development at Amazon right now that will give us a six inch screen, with the same resolution as the existing Kindles, but with a full color screen. One of the big benefits of this screen technology is that it doesn’t draw much power. We might see a new Kindle by the end of the year with a Liquavista screen, according to recent job postings by Amazon.
Currently, Amazon is hiring for; Operations Program Manager (Asia based), Process Quality Engineer, Product Test Engineer, Process Development Engineer, Product Development Manager. These are obviously all senior level positions and the job descriptions mention working on multiple products at once. This leads me to believe that we will not likely see just one new Kindle this year adopting this technology, but a few. One interesting note is some of the positions entail working directly with the boys over at Lab126. This is the research and development arm of the company, who basically designed every single Kindle ever made.
It will be interesting to see what Amazon does with the e-reader space with this screen technology. Obviously, color e-ink did not live up to the hype, because it could only display about a thousand colors, which made everything look washed out. If you look at the prototype Kindle screen below, you can get a sense of how content would look on a six inch e-reader.
Love is in the air and for those who’d like to convey the feelings with something that is more tangible (read tablet devices), there are some nice lucrative deals for the Kindle Fire HDX to consider this Valentines Day. Discounts being offered range from just $15 for the 7 inch Kindle Fire HD to a massive $80 for the Kindle Fire HD 8.9. In between, the latest Kindle tablet versions too benefit from a price cut of $30 for the 7 inch Kindle Fire HDX while its bigger cousin, the Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 is getting a price cut of $40.
Overall, the entire Kindle Fire range including even the HD version continues to amaze us with its brilliant display and performance, all of it is backed by an equally impressive tablet ecosystem. Or to put it in other words, it’s the best time to invest in a Kindle Fire device, particularly the bigger screened version to make the most of the discounts on offer.
The price structure for the entire Kindle Fire range valid till the Valentine’s Day is as follows:
Kindle Fire HD 7 – $124 ($139)
Kindle Fire HDX 7 – $199 ($229)
Kindle Fire HD 8.9 – $339 ($379)
Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 – $189 ($269)