Archive for Amazon
A report released by J.D Power and IDC, indicates that Apple is starting to lose tablet market share again (despite remaining at the top of the list of those device manufacturers). The survey also showed that Apple has slipped into the number two slot for customer satisfaction, right behind Amazon (and their line of inexpensive Fire tablets).
Of course, if the survey is to be believed, there is no satisfying these consumers. On one hand they state that Apple isn’t innovating fast enough, but then they say that even with upgraded iPads launched this fall, users are upgrading more slowly.
It is my opinion that Apple doesn’t really care whether people are upgrading their old iPads… not really, anyway. Sure they want users to have iPads (and other iOS devices), and sure they want those users to keep them reasonably current (so they can run the latest operating system version), but hardware isn’t where they make there money. It isn’t where any of these manufacturers make their money. Profit is realized within the app ecosystem –with Apple taking a sizeable portion of the monies charged for apps and their now-famed in-app purchases.
Add to this the fact that market share does not equate to profit share. It’s easy to take a huge number of inexpensive tablets and drop them in the laps of consumers who wouldn’t be Apple customers anyway. That isn’t a loss for Apple.
With the new iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 shipping and the 2014 holiday season just getting started, the results from the next quarter could tell us a little more than these numbers do –which tablets are being wrapped and put under our trees? Which app store sees the most traffic in the early part of the new year?
Unfortunately for all of you that had weekend plans to strip down before broadcasting videos of your gaming exploits, Twitch has updated their Rules of Conduct. Inspired by their new owners at family-friendly Amazon, this adjustment likely shouldn’t come as a surprise.
It doesn’t matter how good you look naked (or nearly naked), Twitch’s new rules are very clear:
“Nerds are sexy, and you’re all magnificent, beautiful creatures, but let’s try and keep this about the games, shall we?
Wearing no clothing or sexually suggestive clothing – including lingerie, swimsuits, pasties, and undergarments – will most likely get you suspended, as well as any full nude torsos*, which applies to both male and female broadcasters. You may have a great six-pack, but that’s better shared on the beach during a 2-on-2 volleyball game blasting “Playing with the Boys.”
* If it’s unbearably hot where you are, and you happen to have your shirt off (gents) or a bikini top (ladies), then just crop the webcam to your face. If your lighting is hot, get fluorescent bulbs to reduce the heat. Xbox One Kinect doesn’t zoom? Move it closer to you, or turn it off. There is always a workaround.”
While some people may feel this is unnecessary censorship, some of us are wondering if it was a really big problem to begin with? It seems the change was kept fairly quiet by Twitch, but that is likely moreso because they didn’t want to make it seem like they used to be all about the nudity.
It looks like Apple isn’t the only one bracing for the impact Chromecast will have on the way we watch TV, Amazon has released their Fire TV Stick as a viable contender. Built using powerful hardware (a dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 8GB of storage, dual-band, and dual-antenna Wi-Fi with MIMO), the Fire TV Stick boasts Amazon’s award-winning user interface accessible by the included remote control (or “you can use your phone as a remote with the free mobile app that includes voice search”).
Beyond just being easy to use (plug it in and you’re basically ready to stream in a matter of moments as it arrives pre-registered), the Amazon Fire TV Stick is content rich:
“[Giving you access to a] vast selection of the most popular video and music services, including Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, and more for instant access to shows like Transparent, House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, Game of Thrones, and The Wire—plus the largest selection of movies and TV episodes to rent or buy from Amazon Instant Video.”
Like the Chromecast, you can fling or mirror content directly from your smartphone or tablet to the Fire TV Stick as well.
If you are now curious enough to give the Fire TV Stick a try, it will be available for sale on November 19th and can be pre-ordered now for $39 USD. Lucky Amazon Prime members ordering before 6:00 a.m. (PT) on October 29, 2014 will receive a significant discount and only have to pay $19 USD. As an added benefit, eligible customers will also enjoy free trial periods with Neflix and Amazon Prime with their purchase of a Fire TV Stick.
Simon and Schuster has just reached a new agreement with online bookseller Amazon, and empowers the publisher to once again establish their own prices on eBooks. The deal has been in the works since July of 2014, and has remained under the radar, as the Hachette saga has taken center stage.
One of the benefits of the new contract is that the royalties that authors earn will remain the same. It also allows S&S to determine the pricing of eBooks and print titles, but allows Amazon to give discounts as they see fit.
Simon & Schuster titles also will be well promoted on Amazon’s website, a source close to the situation has said. The contract that had been in place previously was set to expire in two months.
Amazon on Monday evening confirmed the deal, adding, “The agreement specifically creates a financial incentive for Simon & Schuster to deliver lower prices for readers.”
Over the course of 2015, Amazon has new contracts to negotiate with Penguin Random House, Macmillan, and HarperCollins. The Hachette dispute has been ongoing since May of 2014, and has still not been resolved.
Amazon has confirmed to Good e-Reader that they are opening up two pop-up stores in California to take advantage of the holiday season. The first location will be in Westfield San Francisco Centre and Sacramento, in the Westfield Galleria at Roseville.
Amazon has been testing the waters of retail for a number of years with pop-up stores, lockers and vending machines. Industry experts are wondering if this is a larger push for permanent physical retail presence, similar to the likes of Apple’s retail stores.
There will be a number of devices that will be on display with product specialists on hand to answer any questions or concerns. The Kindle Voyage, Kindle Basic, Kids Tablet, HD6, HD7 and Amazon Kindle Fire 8.9 will be available. Amazon will also be showcasing their Fire TV and Fire Phone and they will also insure you can buy a data plan with AT&T for all of the new hardware.
It is interesting to note that the Westfeld Galleria has hosted their fare share of pop-up stores in the past. Google opened up a Play Store there recently that allowed people to play with Nexus phones and tablets.
In case you needed additional evidence to suggest that the traditional retail format is evolving, Amazon UK has added same-day deliveries. Working with newspaper distributor Connect Group, Amazon UK’s new service (labelled ‘Pass My Parcel’) promises to deliver packages to local shops and high street stores throughout Britain within 12 hours.
Some restrictions apply of course: if your order is made by 7:45PM, it will leave your designated pick-up point by 6:30AM the following day. If you place your order before the 11:45AM cut-off point, your items will be ready a few hours later, by 4:00PM. So far there are about 500 pick-up points that you can take advantage of, but Amazon intends to increase this number over the next year.
If you happen to be an Amazon Prime subscriber, this speedy delivery option will come to you free of charge until the end of the year; others can take advantage of Pass My Parcel for €4.99 per shipment.
This news comes just a few days after Amazon announced that they plan to hire over 1,000 additional, permanent staff members for their already over-extended UK distribution centres. It is the company’s expectation that every one of the 6,000 people employed by their UK warehouses will be required to meet the growing demand for goods purchased online.
Kindle First has just launched in the United Kingdom and this Amazon program gives bookworms the ability to read eBooks before they are formally released.
Every month the Amazon Publishing editors will select four books, letting you pick the one you want to read before its official release date. If you don’t have an Amazon Prime account you will still be able to select one of the featured books each month, and you’ll be able to buy it for just £0.99.
The eBooks in this program can be read on your Kindle e-Reader or any device that has the Kindle app installed, such as a tablet or smartphone. The books available this month cover a wide array of genres, such as Thriller, Mystery, Historical Fiction and Non-Fiction. The eBooks available for October are; The Cradle by Louise Voss and Mark Edwards, The Glassblower by Petra Durst-Benning, The Fallow Season of Hugo Hunter by Craig Lancaster and My Sister’s Grave by Robert Dugoni.
Amazon acquiring Goodreads back in March 2013 wasn’t without controversy; weathering accusations of censorship and hindering creativity when user reviews and ratings were deleted without any warning. Since then, Goodreads has held steady as the go-to book recommendation service. This week, Amazon has released a welcome update to their iOS app (with an Android update heading our way soon as well).
The updates to the app are rather simple, but they make a huge difference. Now when the app opens, you are greeted with a home-screen that acts as a customized news feed featuring all of your friends –allowing you to like or comment on the books they are currently reading. Other updates streamline navigation, make it easier for you to show your own progress, and create more meaningful shelves (with custom names) for the books you still need to get to.
For those who are unfamiliar, Goodreads is an app that is one part social network and one part literary to-do list. Use it to keep track of the books you would like to read (even scanning barcodes while you are in the library or bookstore), connect with other readers, get future recommendations based on the books you like, read reviews, find literary events nearby, and participate in reading challenges!
If you haven’t yet tried Goodreads, download it now and see what books your friends are currently wrapped up in.
Over the course of 2014, Amazon has been relentless in the number of new hardware offerings they have released to the public. They have a new television box, smartphone, Amazon Dash, and 8 new e-readers and tablets. According to a new report, this is just the beginning, as Amazon is hiring more hardware engineers and intends on entering the connected home segment and a new smartwatch.
Amazons research and product development occur at the Silicon Valley based Lab126. They currently have 3,000 full-time employees and is looking to expand to at least 3,757 full-time staff at the office by 2019. Amazon will invest $55 million in Lab126’s operations in Sunnyvale and Cupertino, the agreement posted on the California governor’s website shows.
According to Reuters, Amazon is testing a simple wi-fi device that could be placed in the kitchen or a closet, allowing customers to order products like detergent by pressing a button. Lab126 is also interested in wearable devices, but we will have to adopt a wait and see approach, as some prototypes never hit the market.
The connected home segment is starting to catch on like wildfire. In January, Google bought Nest Labs, a smart thermostat maker for $3.2 billion. In June, Apple announced plans for HomeKit, its own framework for connecting household gadgets. It is currently unknown what Amazons plans are, but we can see an inkling of whats to come with Dash, which allows you to scan bar codes and UPC labels and automatically order them online.
One of the joys of reading has always been the ability to share books with your loved ones –how many times have you found a new favourite book that you can’t wait to discuss with the people around you? While there have been band-aid solutions and workarounds for a while now, being able to share digital book purchases from Amazon hasn’t been possible… until now! Amazon’s new Family Library feature includes support for household sharing that extends to books, apps, Prime Instant videos, audiobooks, and games.
Taking their existing Kindle loan program a step further (that only allows books to be loaned once and for a limited time period), the Family Library will give up to six users the ability to share content (allowing two adults to manage up to four children). Cleverly, this feature will work on Kindle devices (including the Kindle Fire phones, tablets, and e-ink readers), but will also extend to any third-party device running Amazon’s apps.
While I do appreciate their need to limit the number of people the app can share with, the 2 adults/4 children number seems a bit arbitrary. I’ve always liked the approach that says ‘anybody using the same home network’, but I may be alone on this one.
Along with the Family Library announcement, Amazon also added the ability to create user profiles for Kindle devices (building on the FreeTime feature they already released that creates kid-safe sections of their tablets). This is a very nice feature for any families that share devices, allowing each user to save their preferences for things like screen brightness and progress through each book or video they have on the go.
Movies, music, and television shows are not included in the Family Library, but for the moment we will take what we can get! They may have to re-think that choice though, when competing services like those offered by Apple do include this content as well.
Do family sharing features like this make you more likely to choose an Amazon device (or even just use their app)?
Amazon has realized that making tablets geared towards kids is big business. Samsung, V.Tech, Fisher Price and a number of other entrants consistently release new hardware with bright, bubbly interfaces and are aimed primarily at the little ones. In order combat these companies, Amazon has just unveiled the Fire HD Kids Edition.
The Fire HD Kids edition comes in two different sizes and price points. You will lay down $149 for a 6” tablet and $189 for a 7” and both come with an unlimited two year warranty, because kids break stuff right? Parents will also be able to choose between three different colors, blue, green and pink.
The Fire HD Kids tablet comes with the same hardware internals as the HD6 and HD7 tablets announced today. It has a different interface and comes with a kid-Proof Case is designed to be the perfect solution for parents who need worry-free protection against drops, bumps, and the typical mayhem caused by kids at play. Designed to be durable and lightweight, the Kid-Proof Case fits perfectly in little hands without adding unnecessary weight to your Fire HD tablet.
Fire HD Kids Edition comes with Amazon FreeTime, which offers innovative parental controls that encourage learning before play and that help manage screen time. With FreeTime, you select all of the content your kids can see, and you can limit your kids’ screen time by content type—for example, you may choose to limit videos and games, but make reading time unlimited. FreeTime blocks stores and in-app payments, so you don’t have to worry about additional expenses. There is currently 5,000 books, movies, TV shows, educational apps, and games—at no additional cost available.
Spotify fans in the US, with a premium subscription, now have an additional incentive to enjoy the popular music streaming service: full support for Amazon Fire TV. For those who may not be familiar already, Spotify offers on-demand access to more than 20 million songs instantly (with no Internet connection required and no interruption for advertisements).
In their launch statement, Spotify announced:
Using Spotify Connect on your Amazon Fire TV allows you to control your music using the Spotify app on your mobile or tablet. You can seamlessly switch your favorite music from your mobile to the TV and continue to make calls, use other smartphone apps and go out of wifi range, all without interrupting the music.
Amazon Fire TV was released in April, intending to rival devices like Apple TV, Chromecast, and Roku. Initial reviews for the Fire TV have been positive, particularly given the increasing popularity of Amazon’s Prime streaming service.
If you haven’t tried Spotify for Android, download it now and start your 30-day free trial; when you become addicted, the service will cost you an affordable $9.99 per month.