Amazon’s First Drive-Up Grocery Store Expected in California

Amazon may open its first drive-up grocery store in Sunnyvale, California, where customers can pick up items they ordered online. Shoppers would place their orders and choose a window during which they could pick up their groceries. The model could provide a viable alternative to traditional grocery shopping for busy consumers, while also addressing some of the challenges faced by the AmazonFresh delivery service, which first launched in the Seattle area and has since expanded to parts of Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City and Philadelphia. Continue reading Amazon’s First Drive-Up Grocery Store Expected in California

Comcast Plans Streaming TV Service as an Alternative to Cable

Comcast announced that it plans to launch a trial of its IP-based video service Stream by the end of the summer in Boston, followed by Chicago and Seattle. The $15-per-month streaming service will offer about a dozen broadcast networks and HBO. Subscribers will have access to some TV Everywhere applications, Streampix for movies and a cloud DVR service. As an add-on to broadband service meant for PCs, laptops and mobile devices, customers will need Comcast Internet service to subscribe. The company is planning a nationwide rollout for early next year. Continue reading Comcast Plans Streaming TV Service as an Alternative to Cable

Amazon Receives FAA Approval to Test Drones in Open Spaces

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Amazon’s request to test drones outdoors. The FAA is stipulating that the tests be conducted only during the day and no higher than 400 feet off the ground. Amazon is hoping that unmanned aerial vehicles may be used for a future 30-minute package delivery service, and the open-space testing would help in its development efforts. During testing, Amazon will report to the FAA regarding the number of flights, any software issues and related data. Continue reading Amazon Receives FAA Approval to Test Drones in Open Spaces

Vive VR Headset Unveiled at Game Developers Conference

We recently reported that HTC partnered with Seattle-based gaming company Valve to develop Vive, a new VR headset with plans to compete with the Oculus Rift and Sony Morpheus. Valve is the developer behind Steam, the social platform for distributing and managing games. The Vive headset was unveiled at last week’s Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, and is already generating positive reviews for its tech advances, including low latency and a fast refresh rate that reduces the incidence of “Sim Sickness.” Continue reading Vive VR Headset Unveiled at Game Developers Conference

E-Commerce: Amazon’s Return Policy Jumps Ahead of the Pack

While Amazon may be best known for its fast delivery and massive product selection, the Seattle-based company has also devoted a great deal of effort to offering one of the best refund and return policies possible. In fact, Amazon currently leads all e-commerce retailers when it comes to cash back for items returned. Where some companies take days, even weeks to reimburse customers for returns, Amazon takes an average of 1.3 days, according to a new study by StellaService Inc.  Continue reading E-Commerce: Amazon’s Return Policy Jumps Ahead of the Pack

Amazon Expands its Offerings with Takeout & Delivery Service

Amazon is taking on the likes of DeliveryHero, GrubHub and Seamless with its new Takeout & Delivery, the latest service available to those in search of a convenient way to order food from local restaurants. A live version of the service recently launched in Seattle and other cities are expected to be added soon. Amazon’s Takeout & Delivery allows users to charge food orders to their existing Amazon accounts. It follows the success of Amazon’s door-to-door grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh. Continue reading Amazon Expands its Offerings with Takeout & Delivery Service

Amazon Plans to Tackle Travel Services with New Booking Site

Amazon is partnering with independent hotels and resorts to offer a prepaid booking service via a new site. The initial rollout will feature select locations within hours of New York, Los Angeles and Seattle. The online retailer is expected to collect a standard 15 percent commission for prepaid bookings. Amazon Travel is likely to mirror existing hotel booking sites with pricing details, room availability and photos, and is expected to launch as early as January 1, 2015. Continue reading Amazon Plans to Tackle Travel Services with New Booking Site

U.S. Postal Service to Slash Prices for E-Commerce Retailers

To be more competitive, the U.S. Postal Service will cut its prices by as much as 58 percent on certain Priority Mail packages for retailers shipping at least 50,000 packages per year. Both UPS and FedEx believe the price cuts are an unfair way for the USPS to gain an edge in the e-commerce business. Amazon and USPS already have a partnership to deliver on Sundays, but the two organizations are teaming up again to test grocery deliveries in San Francisco. Continue reading U.S. Postal Service to Slash Prices for E-Commerce Retailers

Amazon Unveils New 3D Fire Phone with Dynamic Perspective

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos unveiled the company’s new Fire Phone yesterday in Seattle. The 4.7-inch smartphone, which features a 3D display that detects where eyes are looking on the screen with “Dynamic Perspective,” will be available July 25 starting at $200. The device includes a scanning feature with its Firefly app, which allows users to scan products, signs, UPC or QR codes (ideal for shopping on Amazon), and Shazam-like features to identify songs and pinpoint scenes in movies or TV shows. Continue reading Amazon Unveils New 3D Fire Phone with Dynamic Perspective

Amazon Releases App Figures in Preparation for Launch Event

Following several hardware launches over the past year, including new Kindle Fire tablets and its Fire TV streaming box, Amazon is expected to unveil its first smartphone during a launch event in Seattle on Wednesday. To generate buzz, the company posted a YouTube video about a mysterious new product and announced that the number of apps in its Appstore nearly tripled over the past year. More than 240,000 apps are now available, and Amazon claims developers can make more money with its apps. Continue reading Amazon Releases App Figures in Preparation for Launch Event

Mixed Reports: Amazon Considering Streaming Media Service?

Yesterday The Wall Street Journal ran a report that insiders suggest Amazon is considering an ad-supported streaming TV and music-video service, separate from its $99-per-year Prime subscription service. Amazon reportedly outlined the proposed service to potential partners as one that could launch in coming months featuring original and licensed content. Amazon has since denied the plans. “We’re often experimenting with new things, but we have no plans to offer a free streaming media service,” said a spokesperson. Continue reading Mixed Reports: Amazon Considering Streaming Media Service?

Amazon Prime Bumped to $99, Retailer Considers Music Service

Insiders say that Amazon is hoping to introduce an on-demand music-streaming service for its growing number of Amazon Prime customers. While the company has negotiated with record companies and music publishers in regards to licensing, financial terms are said to remain an obstacle. The music service is expected to be one of several new possible features the company may bundle with Prime as it raises the annual membership fee from $79 to as much as $119. Amazon already announced a $20 increase to take effect in April. Continue reading Amazon Prime Bumped to $99, Retailer Considers Music Service

Amazon to Introduce Kindle Checkout System for Retail Stores

Amazon plans to offer brick-and-mortar retailers a new checkout system using its Kindle tablets, expected to be available as early as this summer. The development stems from Amazon’s acquisition last year of certain tech and engineers from GoPago, a startup known for its cloud-based mobile payment platform. The move could provide Amazon with a significant growth opportunity. However, it also faces numerous competitors in the checkout system space.  Continue reading Amazon to Introduce Kindle Checkout System for Retail Stores

Viggle Purchases Dijit Media and Popular TV App NextGuide

TV loyalty program provider Viggle, formed in 2010, announced it has acquired San Francisco-based Dijit Media, a b2b platform developer and maker of TV and movie guide apps for mobile devices. Dijit’s primary consumer app is NextGuide, which combines listings from live TV and streaming services such as Amazon, Hulu, iTunes and Netflix for an automated and curated directory of movies and television shows. Financial terms of the deal have yet to be disclosed. Continue reading Viggle Purchases Dijit Media and Popular TV App NextGuide

Amazon Opens Pop-Up Stores to Market Tablets and E-Readers

Seattle-based Amazon is promoting Kindle tablets and e-readers in a pop-up shop in a San Francisco mall, providing a glimpse at what the online retailer could look like in a physical space. Amazon is also offering devices, branded covers and power adapters via vending machines. While Amazon has been expected by some to follow Apple and Microsoft in opening brick-and-mortar storefronts, the company said it has no immediate plans to do so. Continue reading Amazon Opens Pop-Up Stores to Market Tablets and E-Readers