Amazon had a very productive year and managed to keep themselves in the news with ton of product releases and business maneuverings. Today, we take a look back at the 10 most notable things Amazon did in 2014.
Amazon Buys Twitch
Amazon acquired the video-game streaming site Twitch Interactive Inc. in August for $970 million. The company doesn’t make a lot of acquisitions, so one of this size was notable. The video streaming service will complement Amazon’s Prime Music streaming service, which is part of its Amazon TV system. Already Twitch culture has changed since Amazon bought it, when partial nudity is no longer allowed.
Send in the Drones – Meet Amazon Air Prime
Amazon took over the blogosphere by storm when it announced their futuristic Prime Air program. It promises a quad helicopter will drop off your package 30 minutes after ordering it. Amazon wants to get it running in the next few years but FAA restrictions are not making it easy.
In April Amazon announced Fire TV which allows you to install apps and watch Amazon-produced content on their TVs. It is similar to Apple TV and Roku, except it has more of an emphasis on playing games.
The main Fire TV unit came with a remote and optional game controller. At the tail end of 2014 the company unveiled the Fire Stick, which is an alternative to the Google Chromecast.
The Golden Globes
Amazon produced “Transparent” receives two Golden Globe nominations. The success of the show marks Amazon’s real entrance into the competitive online television network. The show is available via Amazon Prime, which Amazon mentioned got 10 million new members during the holiday season.
The Kindle Voyage is widely considered the best e-reader ever made. It has the highest resolution e-paper screen in the world and the PPI is unparalleled. It has buttons built into the bezel, an ambient light sensor and employs a new hybrid magnesium alloy. This not only makes the e-reader lighter than previous iterations, but prevents scuffs and fingerprints. Family Sharing allows you to share purchases with your friends and family.
Fire Phone Flops
Amazon admitted that their first ever smartphone was a flop, but that is not going to dissuade them from releasing more in the future. The phone suffered from a very high price and exclusivity with AT&T when it first launched. Its fairy cheap now and the unlocked version has fallen from its $699 launch price.
AWS Lowers its Price
Amazons cloud computing network powers Netflix and other major companies all over the world. They cut their data transfer rates by 43% starting in December 2014, which is halving many startups bills that can’t afford their own server farms. The reduction in price was made to help combat competition from Microsoft, Google and the giant VMware, not to mention the hundreds of cloud companies sprouting up around the world.
Hachette Dispute Dominated the headlines
Amazon and major publisher Hachette were locked in a six month long contract dispute which polarized the entire publishing industry. Never before have we seen pop culture and various author groups lambaste Amazon as being a money grabbing empire, who is bad for authors.
Kindle Unlimited Launches
Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the ebook and audiobook subscription service that lets members pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to its catalog, went live during the summer. It offers users a thirty day free trial and the option to pay $9.99 a month for the service. There are over 700,000 e-Book and audiobook titles available. Major publishers have yet to embrace the platform and the vast majority of titles are from indie authors who publish on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing. This service has been in the news in the last few months as many authors are seeing a huge decline in sales.
Amazon added nearly 4 million square feet of office space in Seattle in 2014. The company is constructing two 38-story high-rise buildings and a five-story “bubble” building in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood. It is on track to have enough space for more than 71,000 employees in the city in the next five years.
Michael Kozlowski has been writing about audiobooks and e-readers for the past twelve years. His articles have been picked up by major and local news sources and websites such as the CBC, CNET, Engadget, Huffington Post and the New York Times. He Lives in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.