Amazon announces its Fire Phone with launch on July 25th

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Date: Thursday, June 19th, 2014, 08:17
Category: Amazon, Android, Announcement, Features, Mobile Phone

Amazon_FirePhoneOn Wednesday, Amazon introduced the latest iPhone competitor, the Fire Phone which boasts a number of unique features. First up is the Dynamic Perspective feature which gives users a 3D perspective view of items on a map or within a game. The same technology allows you to tilt, auto-scroll, swivel, and peek to navigate menus and access shortcuts with one hand. These functions are controlled by its four forward facing cameras located in the four corners of the handset. This allows two cameras to track the user’s head regardless of the position in which the phone is held. Imbedded infrared sensors allow the feature to be used in complete darkness.

Next up is Firefly, Amazon’s equivalent to Shazam for everything you can buy as well as other information. Point the Fire Phone’s 13 MP rear-facing camera at a book or an item in a magazine, and Firefly will return results about the item that may be important such as where to buy it, or bring up a celebrity’s IMDB entry. Firefly can also read telephone numbers and give you the option of calling or saving the information. It’s a little like what Google Googles was supposed to be, but mainly for media and text.

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Amazon introduces Prime Music – more value for your $99

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Date: Friday, June 13th, 2014, 08:49
Category: Amazon, Announcement, iOS, Mac, music, Opinion, Review, Services

AmazonPrime_music-title

Amazon just announced the latest service in its Prime family, Prime Music, which together with Prime Instant Video and Prime Shipping will cost $99 a year. Earlier this year, Amazon increased the the price of a Prime subscription from $79 to $99, but at the time there was no indication that there would be any new features to offset the higher price-tag (unless you count the promise of a sky full of drones).

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A good view of the Amazon smartphone

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Date: Friday, May 2nd, 2014, 08:13
Category: Amazon, Features, Hardware, Mobile, News, photos

amazon-logo-150x60What’s the one thing missing from today’s tech lifestyle? That’s right, another smartphone! At least that is what Amazon is betting on when it launches its own phone later this year. There have been a few photos of phone’s hardware in the last month, but it appeared that there was some type of case obscuring details of the device’s appearance. The folks over at BGR have managed to snag a nice, clear image of Amazon’s yet unnamed smartphone.

 

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ComiXology removes in-app comic purchasing

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Date: Thursday, May 1st, 2014, 14:08
Category: Amazon, Android, App Store, Apple, Apps, Google, iOS, Software

Comixology_biteI think it’s safe to say that it was Amazon that did the removing, but the fact remains that a major feature of the iOS app was removed. For the Android version, there were also some changes, but not as drastic. Comic purchases are now routed through comiXology instead of Google. The move is intended to avoid paying Apple and Google a premium for making purchases through their systems.  For Apple, that means loosing 30 percent of each purchase, something it has charged for in-app purchases since 2011. Instead of buying within the app, in the iOS case, customers will now have to make purchases via the comiXology website. Purchases will then be downloaded to the app once the user opens it, much like e-books do on Amazon’s Kindle for iOS app.

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Amazon grabs a new demographic…comic book readers

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Date: Friday, April 11th, 2014, 09:44
Category: Amazon, Announcement, Business, iPad

comics-by-comixologyIf you love comic books and love reading on your iPad, you’ve probably heard of comiXology. The company (and app) are responsible for bringing comic books into the digital age of online purchasing and reading content on a mobile device. So it was only a matter of time before it attracted the eye of the largest online source for purchasing reading material. ComiXology’s CEO, David Steinberger, posted the news on their web site Thursday afternoon that they had been purchased by Amazon.

 

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Amazon raises Prime pricetag to $99

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Date: Thursday, March 20th, 2014, 09:50
Category: Amazon, Business, News, retail

amazon-money1Back in February, we wrote about rumors that Amazon might be raising the cost of its Prime service as much as $40. Amazon decided to split the difference rather than alienate all its customers by only raising the price by $20, but it seems that was enough to rile up a lot of Amazon Prime customers into threatening to stop paying for the service. An email was recently sent to current subscribers to notify them of the change which included an explanation for the price increase;

“Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.”

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Stephen Hawking documentary ‘A Brief History of Time’ is now on iTunes

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Date: Thursday, February 27th, 2014, 17:32
Category: Amazon, History, iTunes

A Brief History of TimeIn preparation of its release on Blue-ray, the Criterion Collection has made Errol Morris’s documentary about Stephen Hawking available on the iTunes Store. The 1991 film tells the story of Hawking’s struggle with the degenerative disease that paralyzed him. From the description;

“Errol Morris turns his camera on one of the most fascinating men in the world: the pioneering astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, afflicted by a debilitating motor neuron disease that has left him without a voice or the use of his limbs. An adroitly crafted tale of personal adversity, professional triumph, and cosmological inquiry, Morris’s documentary examines the way the collapse of Hawking’s body has been accompanied by the untrammeled broadening of his imagination. Telling the man’s incredible story through the voices of his colleagues and loved ones, while making dynamically accessible some of the theories in Hawking’s best-selling book of the same name, A Brief History of Time is at once as small as a single life and as big as the ever-expanding universe.”

The film won numerous awards including 3rd place for Best Documentary from the National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA 1993. The movie can be purchased on iTunes for $19.95 (HD), $14.99 (SD), or rented for $3.99 (HD), $2.99 (SD). The Blu-ray/DVD edition can be pre-ordered on Amazon for $24.99 and will be released on March 18.

 

 

Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Will subscribers of Amazon Prime still think it’s a good value at $119?

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Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 08:46
Category: Amazon, Business, Finance, Opinion, Services

amazon-money1Last Thursday, Amazon reported their holiday quarter earnings and things didn’t look good. Their overall revenue was up 20% at $25.59 billion but analysts expected sales to come in at  just over $26 billion. This sounds very similar to the report of Apple’s earnings, which were good, but given the thumbs down for not meeting analysts’ expectations?  Unfortunately, Amazon’s net income of $239 million missed estimates by a huge margin. During the call, Amazon cited the rising cost of fuel and transportation for the increase, as well as the high frequency of orders from Prime members. As a result, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak suggested that it may raise the price of Amazon Prime memberships between $20 and $40 per year (currently $79), bringing the total annual cost of the service up to as much as $119.

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