Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

After posting its best profits over the previous four quarters, Amazon broke its streak; its Q2 profit rose 3.6 percent from a year ago, to $2.63 billion, missing analysts’ predictions. Profitability got a hit from the increased costs of shipping, as Amazon struggled to make one-day shipping the standard for all its Prime members. Chief financial officer Brian Olsavsky said that “when the dust settles, we will regain our cost efficiency over time.” Revenue was a bright spot, however, with performance above analysts’ expectations. Continue reading Amazon Revenue Strong, Record Profitability Streak Ends

Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Although Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos has touted the possibility of drones delivering packages, he’s now talking up human drivers. This summer, he declared that would-be entrepreneurs could earn $300,000 per year by investing as little as $10,000 up front in creating their own delivery businesses. Following in FedEx’s footsteps, Amazon now wants to build a national network of independent delivery people, offering discounts on vans and insurance and an endless supply of packages to deliver. Continue reading Amazon Seeking Entrepreneurs to Build Delivery Businesses

Amazon Lowers Echo Prices to Gain Foothold in Smart Home

It’s a great time to buy a smart speaker, due to Amazon lowering prices of its six Echo devices on Black Friday. Over the Thanksgiving Day weekend, the entry-level Dot — whose price plummeted from $50 to $30 — became the No. 1 seller on Amazon’s website. Amazon, Apple and Google share the same strategy for smart speakers and their virtual assistants: as an entry point to the connected home. But because home speakers’ functionality is limited, consumers don’t see them as necessary and aren’t willing to pay a high price. Continue reading Amazon Lowers Echo Prices to Gain Foothold in Smart Home

Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

Amazon, ranked third in streaming music, launched virtual assistant Alexa on its Amazon Music apps this week to better compete with No. 1 provider Spotify and No. 2-ranked Apple. Amazon Music will provide a button which users can push to access Alexa “play” commands that will work as they do on Echo. Amazon determined that Alexa is now the primary way that users listen to Amazon Music. Competitor Apple offers its virtual assistant Siri on Apple Music. Meanwhile, Google has decided to stop supporting the Amazon Echo Show on YouTube. Continue reading Amazon Launches Alexa on Music Apps to Attract New Users

Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Amazon dominates e-commerce, but now Google and Walmart Stores are partnered to compete. Google will enable customers to place orders via its virtual assistant, and Walmart will join Google’s online shopping market Google Express. Walmart will fulfill orders made through Google Express, and will also share consumers’ purchase history with Google, which streamlines re-ordering of products. Voice-enabled shopping is a rapidly growing market sector, with Amazon enabling it through its Alexa voice assistant and Echo speakers. Continue reading Walmart and Google Partner to Better Compete With Amazon

Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

For a year-and-a-half, Amazon has been promoting subscriptions to HBO, Starz and other streaming services. Now, it plans to expand Amazon Channels to Austria, Germany and the U.K. with between 25 to 42 live and on-demand channels from its content partners, thus offering the kind of a la carte TV that many viewers want. Apparently, the success of Channels took Amazon by surprise, and it has created two new channels — Anime Strike and Heera for Bollywood fans — while postponing plans for its own live service. Continue reading Following U.S. Success, Amazon Brings Channels to Europe

Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

In August, Walmart purchased Jet.com for $3.3 billion in cash and stock, a vote of confidence that the e-commerce startup’s founder/chief executive Marc Lore understood the way that Walmart could successfully compete with Amazon. Lore believes that Walmart should focus on product areas that are newly popular online, including clothing, fresh food and everyday essentials found in the drugstore. Shortly after acquisition, Lore and his management team took over Walmart’s domestic e-commerce operations, including 15,000 employees. Continue reading Walmart Pushes into E-Commerce, Now Offers 40M Products

Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Although Amazon declined to comment, sources say that the company is readying a premium Echo-like speaker for release in Q1 2017. The form factor is a break with Amazon’s cylindrical devices controlled by digital assistant Alexa. Instead, the new speaker will feature a seven-inch touchscreen that will tilt upwards, so users can see it when they are standing and looking at the speaker on a countertop. Sources add that, “at least one prototype version of the device places the speakers below and behind the screen.” Continue reading Amazon Developing High-End Take on Popular Echo Speaker

Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon debuted its streaming music service Amazon Music Unlimited, which costs $7.99 per month for Prime members and $3.99 a month for consumers who’ve purchased its Echo speakers. The Echo deal is significantly less than the $9.99 charged by Amazon’s many, already-established competitors. Amazon is also playing up another way Echo distinguishes its offering: a user can ask Echo’s digital assistant Alexa to play a band’s “new song” without knowing the title, a group’s music from a specific decade or a song based solely on its lyrics. Continue reading Amazon Ties Digital Music Service to Echo Speaker and Alexa

Amazon, Pandora Ready Launch of Music Streaming Services

This year, for the first time, streaming music topped digital downloads as the largest source of music revenue in the U.S. The two biggest sources are Spotify and Apple Music, but SoundCloud, Deezer, Tidal and Google Play are also active. Now, both Amazon and Pandora are readying their entries into this crowded market. Both companies have almost locked-up licensing deals with the largest record labels. Amazon plans to launch its on-demand service as early as September, and Pandora will unveil its service later this year. Continue reading Amazon, Pandora Ready Launch of Music Streaming Services

Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV

Although Amazon won’t comment, those in the know say that the company will soon open up Prime Instant Video to other on-demand networks. With this move, Prime customers will be able to add other online subscriptions to their accounts, and Amazon will be able to aggregate its own network bundles. Amazon has also signed a deal with JetBlue to feature its streaming video and music services on the airline’s satellite Internet system, and Apple TV users will soon have access to a Prime Instant Video iOS app. Continue reading Prime Instant Video Heads to New Networks, JetBlue, Apple TV