Company points to foreign exchange rate issues, maintains execution excellent
Despite posting sales figures of $22.7 billion, e-retailer giant Amazon has posted a net loss of $57 million in its first quarter of business of 2015. Net sales increased 15 percent to $22.72 billion in the first quarter, compared with $19.7 billion in first quarter 2014. Excluding the $1.3 billion unfavorable impact from changes in foreign exchange rates throughout the quarter, net sales increased 22 percent compared to first quarter 2014.
Gaming news summary for April 15, 2015
The Weekly Game Replay is no more, because there will be more posts than just once a week, due to popular demand. Rebranded the Game Replay and published every Sunday and Wednesday, the staff of MacNN and Electronista provide a look at the wider gaming landscape. Today's list of noteworthy gaming items include the launch of Grand Theft Auto on PC, the return of Guitar Hero, and one gamer's attempt to recreate the ill-fated OnLive using Amazon Web Services.
Amazon Echo adds support for Hue, WeMo home automation systems
The Amazon Echo has been updated to include support for other connected devices. The voice-controlled device is able to make changes to the WeMo Switch, Insight Switch, and Light Switch, reports TechCrunch, with the Hue A19, Lux, BR30, Bloom, and LightStrip also supported, allowing users to verbally alter the lighting or control other devices.
Sling TV incorporates DishWorld service into new Sling International offering
Sling TV is adding more channels to its Internet TV service, by rebranding an existing Dish product. DishWorld has been turned into Sling International, providing close to 200 channels in 18 languages, for $15 per month. While Sling International has its own app, complete with the new Sling TV interface, customers who subscribe to both Sling TV and Sling International will be able to access channels from both subscriptions from within the same app.
Amazon adds Android tablet support to Prime Instant Video app
Amazon has finally allowed Android tablets access to Prime Instant Video. Previously only available to iOS devices and, since September last year, Android smartphones, tablet users can now watch the same Prime Instant Video content via their device, reports Android Police. Prime subscribers need to install the dedicated Prime Instant Video app from the Amazon Appstore before watching shows.
Single button ordering system offered to small number of Amazon Prime subscribers at no charge
Amazon is testing out a way to simplify the ordering process for consumable and perishable consumer goods, by providing customers with single-purpose buttons. A follow up to the Amazon Dash ordering device from last year, the Amazon Dash Button is a compact unit with a single button, which can be pressed to request an order for a variety of household goods, such as washing powder, coffee, or batteries.
Drone delivery tests carried out away from restrictive FAA regulations
Amazon's attempts to test its drone-based Prime Air delivery service on a larger scale are being carried out in secret in Canada, according to a report. The retailer has apparently tested out the drones outdoors in British Columbia on a frequent basis, in order to sidestep the restrictive rules that apply to commercial drones in the United States, hampering development of the potential service.
Customers can buy services packages from local professionals via Amazon
Amazon has launched a new service providing listings for professional services, something the retailer initially tested in November. Amazon Home Services offers the ability to search a list of pre-selected service providers in a number of different industries, such as appliance installation, plumbing, and other specialized household tasks, with the option to set an appointment with the provider to carry out the job at the customer's home.
Unlimited file storage on Amazon servers undercuts cloud storage competitors
Amazon is going after Dropbox, Google Drive, and OneDrive, by offering customers unlimited cloud storage at a very low cost. The retailer is upgrading its existing Cloud Drive service by adding two more tiers for non-Prime subscribers, each providing unlimited storage of files and photographs, but with subscription prices that severely undercut the same offerings by its competitors.
Amazon expands Prime Now one-hour deliveries to Dallas
Amazon Prime Now, the retailer's high-speed delivery service, is opening up in Dallas. Just as with its other Prime Now locations, Prime subscribers in the fourth location will be able to use a mobile app on iOS and Android to place orders for groceries and household goods, between 8am and 10pm seven days a week, with TechCrunch reporting it still costs $8 for one-hour deliveries, while two-hour deliveries are free.
Recent Amazon drone authorization was for obsolete model
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is speeding up the process for commercial drone operators to be provided exemptions allowing them to fly. The change in policy comes amid complaints from Amazon over the application process, which it claims is so slow that its recent FAA approval it received was for a drone that has since become obsolete.
Fire TV range adds external USB storage support, hidden PIN entry
Amazon has made a number of changes to its Fire TV and Fire TV Stick media streamers, as part of a software update. Changes to the devices, including the notable addition of support for external USB drives for extra local storage, come just in time before the retailer releases the Fire TV Stick in the United Kingdom, six months after the Fire TV shipped in the country.
Leaked presentation suggests selection of apps, in-app purchases will be offered at no charge
Android users may be able to benefit from free apps, if a rumor about Amazon is true, The retailer is said to be considering creating a new section of its Amazon Appstore called "Unlocked," which would provide users with access to paid apps at no charge, with typical in-app purchases also receiving the same treatment, being effectively free for users to select.
Restrictions of FAA certificate only for local testing of Amazon Prime Air drones
Amazon's plan to bring drone-based deliveries to the United States has taken another step to becoming reality, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The regulator has examined Amazon's request to test its potential service, and has granted the online retailer with an "experimental airworthiness certificate," allowing it to perform testing outdoors.
OnePlus alters price of One smartphone in Europe over exchange rate changes
OnePlus is raising the prices of its OnePlus One smartphone in Europe, due to euro exchange rate changes causing the smartphone to be sold at a slight loss. While accessories will cost the same as before, the 16GB Silk White edition of the smartphone will increase to €299 ($320), while the 64GB Sandstone Black model will cost €349 ($370), with the new pricing kicking in from March 25.
Company discovered breach seven months after intrusion
Washington state-based healthcare provider Premera has suffered a massive cyberattack, which has potentially led to the theft of 11 million customers' data. More than six million people affected by the breach live in Washington state, with many employees of Microsoft and Amazon at risk. The initial attack happened on May 4, 2014, with the realization that the system had been breached not occurring until January 29, the same day fellow provider Anthem realized that they had been attacked.
Company building facility devoted to Apple Watch inside Tokyo department store
In a previously-unannounced move, Apple is creating a store dedicated to just selling the Apple Watch (and accessories) as part of an existing upscale department store in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The "store-within-a-store," borrowing from previous Apple retail concepts, could be come a permanent display for the fashionable Apple Watch if sales merit it. The department store, Isetan, is placing the mini-shop near its main entrance.
MBA 13-inch version features 2x faster flash storage than before
Apple's just-updated 2015 MacBook Air and 2015 MacBook Pro are now available for sale on Amazon, following availability on the Apple online store. The company lists immediate availability for the two MacBook Air models, which start at $899, while the updated 13-inch MacBook Pro is slightly more constrained, with a warning that it may take an extra one to two days to ship, and 3-5 days for delivery. Pricing for the Pro begins at $1,299.
News from the video game industry for the week of March 2
Every Sunday, MacNN and Electronista rounds out the week by bundling together some notable stories from the world of gaming. In the same week as GDC's various hardware and software development announcements, EA shuttered the spiritual home of The Sims and SimCity, Amazon reveals it is porting games from its Fire devices to iOS, and Epic Games shows off what could be coming in its openly-developed Unreal Tournament reboot.
High-speed delivery of Amazon orders reaches more NYC Prime subscribers
Amazon is making its Prime Now one-hour delivery service available to more people in New York City. The retailer's initial service, launched in December, will now expand from its original small single-ZIP-code operating area to cover all of Manhattan, bringing the high-speed online delivery service to all Prime subscribers located within the borough.
Online retail behemoth may take the opportunity to showcase products, facilitate pickup
Last month, Electronista reported on the financial woes of venerable electronics retailer RadioShack. The 94-year-old company was facing the possibility of going bankrupt this month unless a solution was found. As the deadline nears, it appears that Sprint is interested in taking over a sizable chunk of their stores -- but they may face competition from Amazon, which has allegedly expressed interest in some of the company's stores as showcase and pickup locations.
Purdue University first to have staffed Amazon pickup, drop-off location
Amazon has started to offer Kindle Convert, an app which allows users to scan their existing physical books and turn them into Kindle ebooks. At the same time, the online retailer is continuing to help its physical book sales and those of other products by opening its first staffed customer order pickup and drop-off location in Purdue University.
Amazon shipments fall nearly 70 percent
The global tablet market shrank year-over-year for the first time during the most recent quarter, according to new estimates from IDC. The market dipped 3.2 percent, from 78.6 million units to 76.1 million -- driven in large part by declines at Apple and Amazon. Apple's iPad shipments fell nearly 18 percent, from 26 million to a little over 21.4 million; Amazon, meanwhile, plummeted almost 70 percent, from 5.8 million units to 1.7 million. Also contributing, however, were drops at Asus and Samsung. The former slid from four to three million tablets, while Samsung went from 13.5 million to 11 million.
Amazon adds iTunes, Spotify, Pandora music options to Echo
An update to the Amazon Echo has added more options for music playback. Recode reports the Internet-connected speaker now offers voice control for Spotify, iTunes, and Pandora, when the Echo is paired with a device that has the required apps installed. Improved responsiveness, question accuracy, and more voice commands have also been touted for the device, which has yet to have a wider release outside of its invitation-only testing.
Companies agree to make in-app purchase systems more visible
Major app store operators Amazon, Apple, and Google -- as well as French publisher Gameloft -- have reached a deal with Italy's Antitrust and Competition Authority that will let them avoid fines for misleading people about so-called "free-to-play" or "freemium" apps. The Wall Street Journal reports that the companies have agreed to remove the word "free" from apps that may require in-app payments to be useful. The parties have also committed to making it clearer when a person is about to make an in-app purchase. All of the changes will be applied across the European Union.
Sales up 15 percent to $29.3 billion, Amazon Prime boost credited
Amazon released its fourth quarter and annual numbers today, through a its investor relations site and a web cast conference call. Prime service membership was called out as a key contributing factor towards increases in Q4 and full year 2014 numbers, with new Prime membership growing slightly faster in markets outside North America.
WorkMail hosted on AWS, provides 50GB storage for each user for $4 per month
Amazon is taking on Google, Microsoft, and other suppliers of remote workplace communications, with its own corporate email service. Dubbed WorkMail, the service is claimed to be a "secure, managed business email and calendaring service," hosted in the cloud on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and could be an easier and cheaper corporate email system to manage than current services like Exchange servers.
Motorola details online store discounts for early February
Motorola will be offering multiple discounts on devices in its mobile store, as part of a Valentine's Day promotion. From February 3 until February 14, the manufacturer is discounting pre-tax purchases worth $500 by $100, or $35 off $250 purchases, though an customers registering for the promotion within a one-hour window on February 2 will get codes worth $140 and $50 off the $500 and $250 respective purchases.
App for managing store loyalty cards, gift cards no longer available for download
Amazon has quietly pulled an Android app for a service it launched half a year ago. The Amazon Wallet app, launched in July last year and previously available on Google Play and the Amazon Appstore, is now no longer available to download, suggesting that the app failed to make as much of an impact as the online retail giant anticipated.
Plans to bring movies to Prime Instant Video within weeks of premiere
Amazon is expanding its media empire once again, by moving into the movie business. Not content with producing its own programs, Amazon Studios plans to produce and acquire original movies for release in cinemas, though unlike typical theatrical releases, the retailer is aiming to add the films to Prime Instant Video shortly after the premiere.
European Commission investigation finds issues with Amazon tax affairs
The European Commission believes Amazon's tax arrangement with Luxembourg can be classed as "state aid." A document published today suggests that Amazon benefited from an agreement with Luxembourg over taxes payable in Europe, one which allowed the retailer to pay proportionately less than other companies had to over the last decade.
Library of over 500 tracks available to Twitch game streamers
Twitch is providing music to users of its game-focused video-streaming service, in order to allow its broadcasters to avoid potential copyright problems. The extra help to game streamers comes as the Amazon-owned service attempts to diversify into different areas, by launching an experimental "Music" category for musicians to stream them playing or creating music.
Last same-day delivery by Amazon before Christmas 3 cases of energy drink
In a release today, Amazon claims that the company's 20th holiday season has brought "record growth" to the Amazon Prime subscription service, despite a price hike to $100 per year earlier in 2014. Amazon reports that more than 10 million new members worldwide tried Prime for the first time, with nearly 60 percent of customers shopping on a mobile device. Other highlights from Amazon for the holiday point to the Fire TV Stick being the fastest-selling Amazon device ever, expansion of Sunday delivery to thousands of US cities, and delivery to 185 countries.
Free apps for your Android phones and tablets
You've no doubt seen some of our picks for discounted iOS apps, and our "beyond-the-last-minute" Gift Guide, but we've been poking around the Android side of things as well. The biggest deal going for Android users is a special offer from Amazon's app store currently has $220 worth of normally for-pay apps available for free. Read on to discover just a sampling of what Santa-zon has in store for you.
Apps, e-cards and other instant-delivery options for the procrastinators
We're some 40 years overdue for flying cars, teleportation and printers that can output copies of our dreams, but there are a few methods by which the chronic procrastinators of this world can still swoop in with a last-minute gift for someone at Christmas they'll actually like. While Amazon has closed the doors to physical delivery of any products at this point -- even for Prime members - by the 25th, you still have perhaps a few hours left to send a Boxing Day present, or get in now to ensure a timely New Year's gift. Or you can read on for more suggestions.
Samsung Smart TVs to gain PlayStation Now in 2015
Sony's PlayStation Now is heading to new Samsung smart televisions. The game streaming service, which allows gamers to play hundreds of PlayStation 3 games without the console, will be available on "select" Samsung TVs arriving in the first half of 2015. Samsung has yet to state which sets will receive PlayStation Now, but more details are likely to surface during CES next month.
Dev channel for Chrome OS includes always-on voice search option
Google is bringing the always-on "Ok Google" voice command to Chromebooks. Spotted in the Dev Channel version of the operating system by Francois Beaufort, the function lets users perform a search verbally at any time, in a similar manner to some Android smartphones. It is unknown if or when the feature will reach non-developer users.
Prime customers can pay for one-hour delivery, get two-hour deliveries free
After experimenting with same-day deliveries in a number of cities, Amazon is now increasing the speed of delivery for some customers with the launch of Prime Now. The new service, launching in Manhattan today, will let Prime subscribers place orders for thousands of essential items, and receive the delivery on their doorstep in an hour or less.
Streaming app from HBO hits Fire TV today, Fire TV Stick in spring
HBO Go is heading to a number of streaming devices now and in the near future, it has been revealed. Owners of Roku streamers on Comcast will soon gain access to the app and Showtime, while Amazon's Fire TV users are able to stream from the service straight away, with the app also including support for the Fire TV's voice search functionality.
Claims Apple was taking on 'predatory pricing' by Amazon
At least one, and possibly two, of the three judges overseeing the appeal of the e-book antitrust verdict against Apple, have expressed strong doubt about the entire basis of the case against the iPhone maker - with Dennis Jacobs, was "openly hostile to the [US] government's case" on the first day of proceedings, says Agence France-Presse. Apple is accused of conspiring with book publishers to artificially inflate the costs of e-books, with a particular aim at undermining Amazon. Jacobs today argued, however that Apple was a "new entrant" into an established e-book world, "breaking the hold of a market by a monopolist who is maintaining its hold by what is arguably predatory pricing."
Book Browser iPad-only for now
Amazon has issued a major update to the Kindle app for iOS, v4.6. Central to the update is the Book Browser, a feature that lets people search through text and audiobooks hosted on Kindle Unlimited. Tapping on a book's cover provides information, such as a description and customer reviews. People subscribed to Unlimited can download a title immediately; the Browser is, however, restricted to the iPad.
Amazon promises sellers won't be affected or penalized by flaw
A brief error on Amazon.co.uk, the British version of the online mega-store, led to thousands of third-party sales erroneously priced at $0.01. A glitch by Amazon Marketplace's Repricer Express led to the pricing errors, between 7PM and 8PM GMT on December 12. Compounding the problem, Amazon seller's fees had not been cut, leading to a temporary situation where sellers were actually giving money to Amazon to sell the goods for near-free.
App replaced by 'Amazon Shopping' app with no links to app store
As a result of a revised developer's agreement, Google has made the original Amazon Android app undiscoverable in Google Play. Amazon has replaced the removed app with a new "Amazon Shopping" app, which notably removes access to the retailer's app store through a Google Play-sanctioned app, leaving users forced to "sideload" a separate app from another source in order to facilitate downloads and purchases from Amazon's app store.
Ultra HD streams of Amazon originals, Sony Pictures movies offered to Prime subscribers
Amazon has started to make some of its Prime Instant Video content available to view in 4K, later than originally thought and months after major competitor Netflix started offering its Ultra HD streams. The change will allow Prime subscribers to stream a selection of movies and TV shows, including some of Amazon's original productions, as well as offering up 4K movie purchases to all customers.
Firms lag behind likes of Intel, Microsoft, Google
Apple and Amazon are two noteworthy holdouts among major technology companies refusing to share their EEO-1 diversity data with the media, says USA Today. US businesses submit an annual EEO-1 form to the Federal government, detailing the racial, ethnic, and gender lines of their workforces. While resistance to sharing that data has been common for years, in recent months, more and more companies have been bowing to pressure. Facebook, eBay, Google, Yahoo, and LinkedIn have made their EEO-1s public; Intel has been disclosing its data for a decade.
iCloud attacks likely key subject of discussion
Apple CEO Tim Cook met with Lu Wei -- the chairman of China's State Internet Information Office -- during the latter's recent trip to the US, reports say. Lu is also said to have met with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. It's unclear what Lu discussed with the executives.
Amazon Kindle tablets and e-readers from $49
Black Friday deals are on now at Amazon. No need to wait outside in the cold, or battle the hoards of deal-hungry shoppers to get these great prices. To kick things off today, the online store is offering discounts on their line of Kindle tablets and e-readers. The all-new Kindle with touch has been reduced again by $30, and can be had for only $49 with special offers that display on the lock screen, or $69 without the ads.
Fire Phone cut to less than a third of original launch price
Amazon has dramatically cut the price of its Fire Phone for a second time, and not as part of a holiday sale or other promotion. The retailer has brought the smartphone down in cost to $199 off-contract from an earlier $0.99 price on a two-year AT&T contract or $449 off-contract, itself a cut from the original launch price of $199 on-contract or $650 unlocked.
OnePlus experience store in Beijing formally opens December 20
OnePlus is seemingly trying to make acquiring its smartphone and accessories easier to acquire in some markets, both online and offline. The company is apparently planning to allow OnePlus One invitation holders in India to buy the smartphone through Amazon's Indian operation, while OnePlus' first offline retail store is opening in China.
Amazon delivery pick-up locations in the United Kingdom exceeds 16,000
Amazon has made two announcements relating to services provided to its customers, on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. In the United Kingdom, the retailer is increasing the number of delivery pick-up locations in time for the holidays, while customers buying certain products in the United States will be alerted to installation services in the local area.