Entries with tag amazon.

US Consumers Receive Credits from E-book Antitrust Case

Consumers who purchased electronic books in 2010 and 2012 have begun receiving notices that they will receive credits from a $166 million settlement in a high-profile, price-fixing antitrust case that the US Department of Justice and state attorneys general brought  against five large publishers. The publishers—Macmillan, Penguin Group (USA), Hachette, Simon & Schuster, and HarperCollins—were accused of collaborating on their pricing strategies to ultimately raise the retail price of books. As a result, books sold on Amazon that had cost $9.99 rose to $12.99 or $14.99, causing consumers to pay more than they should have. Most consumers who bought e-books from the publishers between 1 April 2010 and 21 May 2012 were given credits ranging from 73 cents to as much as $3.17 per book, the higher amount for a book on the New York Times bestseller list. Consumers in the state of Minnesota will receive between 94 cents and $3.93 per book as that case was settled separately. Most of the affected consumers were Amazon customers who can use the credit to purchase print or e-books from the company, which was not a party in the suit. Other retailers are also providing customers with credits or, in the case of Sony, checks. Apple, which also sells e-books, has yet to settle its case with the government and is scheduled to go to trial in May. (Reuters)(Bloomberg Businessweek)(San Francisco Chronicle)(Attorneys General and Class E-books Settlements)

Amazon Expands Micropayment System to Android

Amazon announced it will now support its virtual currency on Google Android mobile devices in the US, UK, and Germany. Amazon Coins are a virtual currency introduced by the company in 2013, originally intended for Kindle Fire tablet users to make micropurchases, including applications. Each coin is now worth a penny. The company is reportedly working toward establishing “an end-to-end ecosystem” for developers. Some observers are skeptical about Amazon billing it as a virtual currency since it is linked to a user, unlike Bitcoin, which is anonymous. (SlashDot – 1)(SlashDot – 2)(Tech Crunch)(Amazon.com)

Amazon Tries Vending Machines for Kindle Products

Pioneering online retailer Amazon has begun testing the waters in the physical world by offering its tablets and e-readers in vending machines. The company didn’t appear at the recent Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas but did have one of its vending machines at the Las Vegas airport. Amazon launched its Kindle Kiosk machines late last year. “Electronics vending is not novel, but “any foray by Amazon into the world of offline retail is a big deal,” said Wired. (Wired)(GeekWire)

Report: Web-Based Firms Increasingly Build Internet Infrastructure

Numerous Internet-based companies—including Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft—are increasingly buying and constructing the Internet’s network backbone, bypassing conventional development by telecommunications firms such as Sprint. According to the Wall Street Journal, companies active on the Internet are buying, leasing, or installing dark fiber infrastructure to ensure they have needed connectivity for their customers. Google now owns 100,000 miles of private fiber-optic routes worldwide, while Facebook recently invested in a trans-Pacific cable. Driving the investment is the explosion in traffic prompted by streaming video and smartphones use. “Internet companies are responding by investing in pipes themselves to make sure that traffic can be supported and reach new and more remote users,” noted the Wall Street Journal. “That is partly because telecom companies aren’t spending as much on new construction to avoid squeezing their profit. But it is also because Web companies crave the certainty that comes from owning the assets.” (Gizmodo)(The Wall Street Journal) 

Amazon Plans Delivery by Drones

Although Amazon is best known for its online technology, it announced it is working on a novel delivery system that would use autonomous flying robots or drones. Jeff Bezos, the company’s chief executive, told the 60 Minutes television newsmagazine its Prime Air is being designed to deliver packages via octocopter drones within 30 minutes of purchase. After a consumer makes a purchase, the less-than-five-pound item would be placed in an Amazon container, which moves on a conveyor belt to an Amazon drone. The flying drone delivers the package to the person’s doorstep, according to a company video. Although it will require Federal Aviation Administration and other regulatory approval, Bezos claims Prime Air will be airborne in 2015. Amazon has been working on other delivery programs in the meantime, including same-day delivery, Sunday delivery via the United States Postal Service, and expanded grocery service. (SlashDot)(The Los Angeles Times)(60 Minutes Overtime @ CBS News)

Amazon Problems Take Sites Offline

Several websites reliant on Amazon Web Services were offline as a result of software problems at an Amazon's data center. Sites including Airbnb, Instagram, Netflix, and Vine experienced hours of problems 25 August 2013 that were triggered by a series of operational problems at the company’s northern Virginia datacenter. Users reported issues, starting at about 4 p.m. EDT, including intermittent access and problems with logging in. Service was restored by about 6 p.m. PDT/ 9 p.m. EDT. Amazon attributed the problems to “partial failure of a networking device.” The company’s own website went dark for about 30 minutes less than a week ago. (BBC)(PC Mag)

Apple Objects to Proposed Punishments in e-Book Case

Apple attorney Orin Snyder says the US Department of Justice’s revised proposed punishment for colluding with publishers to set electronic book prices is “a 12-page broadside masquerading as a brief” that provides competing e-book vendor Amazon with a significant advantage. Apple is appealing last month’s verdict that found the company guilty of working with five major publishers to set e-book prices. The initial reforms sought by the US government included a 10-year injunction on Apple prohibiting it from negotiating contracts with the publishers, the company letting other e-book retailers link to their online stores from iOS apps, and the appointment of an external antitrust monitor. Apple objected to the proposed reforms, stating that they were vague, overreaching, and unwarranted. It also said the proposed punishment “introduces needless regulation and complexity to an evolving marketplace.” The judge in the case ordered government and Apple officials to meet and discuss remedies. (GigaOm)(CNET)

Amazon Site Goes Dark

The Amazon.com website was offline this week, which may have caused significant financial losses for the online retailer.  The precise length of the outage has varied. The online retail service was offline between 12:32 p.m. PDT and 1:46 p.m. PDT according to Outage Analyzer, the Compuware cloud service monitoring site. Other sources contend the site was offline for roughly an hour. North America and Europe were affected by the outage. The Amazon Web Services cloud service subsidiary was reportedly affected during an update. Based on the company’s 2012 net sales, reporters estimate the event theoretically cost Amazon US$66,240 per minute. It last had such an outage in June 2008, which cost the company nearly $31,000 per minute. Amazon has reportedly not commented on the events. (Forbes)(Information Week)

Crowdsourced Grocery Delivery Service Funded

A startup looking to crowdsource grocery delivery has been capitalized with a US$8 million investment by Sequoia Capital. Instacart promises to alleviate the operational costs that limit conventional delivery services by using personal shoppers -- who operate on paid commissions based on the number of items and orders they deliver in their own vehicles --  to pick up items from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and Costco. Customers place their orders based on an extensive menu from Instacart’s online or smartphone application. It competes with Amazon Fresh, Peapod, FreshDirect, and the Safeway chain’s home delivery. Apoorva Mehta, who worked at Amazon between 2008 and 2010, observed the operations of the Amazon Fresh delivery service. One of the problems he saw was it offered items only in its warehouse, leading him to conclude, he told Mashable, “The selection, the price and the convenience were just off.” The funding will be used to expand the service outside the San Francisco area, which Mehta says should be an easier process than comparable delivery services because they don’t need a fleet of vehicles or a warehouse. (Bloomberg Businessweek)(Mashable)(All Things D)

Amazon Expands Kindle Sales Worldwide

Amazon has announced that it is expanding sales of its Kindle tablet computers worldwide, making it available in about 170 countries, and launching its Appstore in nearly 200 countries. These moves are designed to promote the Kindle sales and servicesoutside the US. Some analysts noted the expansion should also attract more application developers to the platform. Until now, the Kindle Fire had limited sales outside the US. Amazon does not disclose sales data, but it is the world’s fourth-largest seller of tablet computers, according to market-research firm IDC. Despite limited distribution, it reportedly sold 1.8 million Kindle units in the first quarter of 2013 alone. (AFP)(CNET)(Tech Crunch)(Amazon.com)

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