Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Amazon is introducing a voice-activated gaming feature called Alexa Game Control that lets players dictate the action. The February 2023 release “Dead Island 2” will be the first game to incorporate Alexa Game Control. Currently in private beta, the new feature will initially roll out to a wider audience only in North America. Players who want to use the technology will need either a free Amazon account or Amazon Prime. With that in place, one can activate Game Control using push-to-talk or with a hands-free Voice Activity feature that automatically detects speech. Continue reading Amazon Schedules Rollout of Alexa Voice Control for Gamers

Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

Walmart is taking a page from Amazon’s playbook and providing its Walmart+ customers streaming video content thanks to a deal with Paramount Global. Walmart+ subscribers will receive an ad-supported Paramount+ subscription as a perk. In addition to helping Walmart keep customers happy, the deal will further Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish’s stated goal of having 100 million Paramount+ subscribers by 2024. Walmart launched Walmart+ about two years ago charging $98 a year, or $12.95 a month, in exchange for free shipping with online purchases, free grocery deliveries for orders above $35 and discounted prescriptions and gas. Continue reading Walmart+ Subscribers Get Basic Tier of Paramount+ for Free

Amazon Reports Online Sales Are Down While Revenue Is Up

Amazon increased revenue by 7 percent to $121.2 billion in the second quarter, beating analyst expectations and sending the stock soaring 12 percent despite a $2 billion loss. That contrasts with a $7.8 billion profit for the same period last year. The loss was due in part to Amazon’s investment in the electric car company Rivian, whose value has plunged this year. “Despite continued inflationary pressures in fuel, energy, and transportation costs, we’re making progress on the more controllable costs we referenced last quarter, particularly improving the productivity of our fulfillment network,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy. Continue reading Amazon Reports Online Sales Are Down While Revenue Is Up

Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Amazon is rolling out a redesigned Prime Video app for Android and connected living room devices, including Fire TV for customers worldwide, with iOS and web to follow. The company says the new interface will make discovery and navigation much easier. Among the visual enhancements are a Top 10 Chart showcasing trending Prime Video content and “Super Carousel” displays with “poster-style artwork” for Amazon Originals. Also emphasized is graphical distinction between content included with Prime memberships versus that which is available for general purchase. Continue reading Amazon Launches Updates to Its Prime Video User Interface

Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

In the wake of the European Union’s strict new digital-competition laws, Amazon has proposed settlements in two EU antitrust cases. The U.S.-based e-commerce giant says it will stop using non-public data it obtains from the activities of independent sellers on its marketplace to inform its own business decisions in competition with those sellers. A separate investigation found Amazon to be self-dealing with regard to its Buy Box and Prime plans, resulting in a commitment to give third-party sellers equal treatment. The commitments would remain in force for five years, monitored by a trustee reporting to the European Commission. Continue reading Amazon Offers Concessions to Call Off EU’s Antitrust Probes

Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

Amazon is combatting inventory shortages with a new invite-based ordering protocol for high-demand products, starting with U.S. fulfillment of the Sony PlayStation 5 game console, followed by Microsoft’s Xbox Series X. The idea is to prevent hoarding by “scalpers” who program bots to buy in quantity then resell the items at significant markup. Participation does not require Prime membership, merely a request for the invitation. Amazon plans to roll the program out to more countries as it strives to ensure a positive shopping experience for individual customers and households. Continue reading Amazon Intros Invite-Based Ordering for High-Demand Items

Streaming Battle in Asia as Locals Compete for Market Share

A strong showing by Netflix in Asia amidst an otherwise lackluster Q1 report has focused attention on the region, where streaming is just coming into its own in territories that house roughly half the global population. There are still potentially hundreds of millions of untapped subscribers in the Far East. But the area has its own challenges, namely local streaming services that offer a wide variety of regional content. Not to mention deep-pocketed domestic rivals, including Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video are also competing for market share. Continue reading Streaming Battle in Asia as Locals Compete for Market Share

Amazon’s $3.8 Billon Quarterly Loss Is Its First in Seven Years

Electric vehicle maker Rivian, which produced almost $12 billion in profit for Amazon last year, cratered in the January through March period, prompting the retail giant to record a $7.6 billion loss on the investment. Overall, Amazon posted a $3.8 billion quarterly loss, its first in seven years and a contrast to profit of $8.1 billion during the same period in 2021. A 7 percent increase in quarterly revenue marked the tech giant’s most anemic performance in 20 years, as consumers adopted post-pandemic habits and resumed in-store shopping. Continue reading Amazon’s $3.8 Billon Quarterly Loss Is Its First in Seven Years

Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Google Shopping is introducing new tools to help merchants and brands improve online sales performance. A Shopping Experience Scorecard will provide retailers the opportunity to earn a “Trusted Store” badge. In addition, Google is offering data analytics, including a conversion rate measurement tool, a price comparison feature and shipping and return overview pages. Since revamping its market portal as Google Shopping in 2019, the company has been trying to make it easier for users to “research and buy” using Google Search. Continue reading Google Shopping Adds Analytics Tools, Trusted Store Badge

Amazon Luna Streaming Game Service Launches with Twitch

After a year of limited availability, Amazon is officially launching its Luna cloud streaming subscription game service in the U.S. with new channels and integration with Prime and Twitch. Amazon Prime Gaming already offers a quantity of downloadable monthly games. Luna+ expands those offerings and adds three new a la carte channels — for Twitch, Jackbox Games and arcade favorites. “Play high-quality and immersive games, without lengthy game downloads, hardware upgrades, or game updates,” Amazon announced. Amazon debuted Luna in September 2020, offering it on an invitation-only basis as it tested the service. Continue reading Amazon Luna Streaming Game Service Launches with Twitch

Amazon Profits Double While Q4 Operating Income Plunges

Amazon had a merry Q4, doubling net income to $14.3 billion from $7.2 billion the prior year. While quarterly revenue of $137.4 billion was up 9 percent due largely to its “biggest-ever” Black Friday to Cyber Monday shopping weekend, the profit surge was the result of a pre-tax gain of $11.8 billion from its investment in Rivian. The electric car manufacturer completed an initial public offering in November. The Amazon Web Services cloud unit grew revenue 40 percent to $17.8 billion, more than $5 billion of it income. Total 2021 revenue was $469.8 billion, up 22 percent. Continue reading Amazon Profits Double While Q4 Operating Income Plunges

Amazon Prime Video Is First to Launch a Clip-Sharing Feature

Amazon is adding an interactive clip-sharing feature to its Prime Video streaming service that allows users to share short video clips from Amazon Originals via social media and direct message. The feature is available for Amazon series “The Boys,” “The Wilds,” “Invincible” and “Fairfax,” with plans to expand to other original TV shows and movies in the future. Users can click on the “Share a clip” button while watching the content, and the app will generate a 30-second clip. Amazon is the first major streaming platform to introduce such a video-sharing feature. For the initial rollout, the feature is only available for iOS users in the U.S. Continue reading Amazon Prime Video Is First to Launch a Clip-Sharing Feature

Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Comcast is upping its hardware play, launching a branded wireless streaming device, the XiOne, and offering TVs running its own software, dubbed XClass in the U.S. The cable giant plans to make XiOne its branded global platform. Comcast describes XiOne as a plug-and-play device with faster processing, more memory and a voice-activated remote. It supports Dolby Atmos, Dolby Vision, Wi-Fi 6, 4K UHD and HDR. XiOne boxes are currently available in Italy and Germany to some subscribers of Sky Q, which Comcast owns. Comcast has begun introducing the devices in the U.S. to customers using older boxes.  Continue reading Comcast Launching XiOne Streaming Device and XClass TVs

Amazon’s POS System Will Take on Shopify, Square, PayPal

Amazon is developing a new point-of-sale system designed to lure small businesses that use Shopify, Square and PayPal for checkout needs. The new POS system manages in-store and online transactions, adds Amazon checkout options, provides inventory counts and offers business analytics. The system also integrates with existing Amazon services, including the Prime membership program, the One palm-based identification technology, and the Flex delivery network. Amazon also reportedly tasked its “Project Santos” team with a POS system that could be sold to third-party sellers. Continue reading Amazon’s POS System Will Take on Shopify, Square, PayPal

Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year

Amazon plans to open two “Just Walk Out” Whole Foods stores in 2022, in Washington D.C. and Sherman Oaks, California, leveraging the same technology used in its Amazon Go and Amazon Fresh stores. The company also offers the technology for sale to other retailers. This marks the first time that Amazon is using its cashierless technology at the 500-store Whole Foods, which it bought in 2017. Shoppers enter and leave the store by scanning a QR code in Amazon or Whole Foods apps and motion sensors track their shopping choices. Continue reading Amazon to Open Cashierless Whole Foods Stores Next Year