Tag Archive: amazon


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Amazon just reported second-quarter earnings, with sales increasing 22 percent to $15.7 billion in the second quarter, compared with $12.83 billion in second quarter 2012. Net loss was $7 million in the second quarter, or $0.02 per diluted share, compared with net income of $7 million, or $0.01 per diluted share, in second quarter 2012. Analysts expected $15.74 billion in revenue, and $0.05 on earnings per share.

Operating income decreased 26 percent to $79 million in the second quarter, compared with $107 million in second quarter 2012.

“We’re so grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle devices and our digital ecosystem. This past quarter, our top 10 selling items worldwide were all digital products – Kindles, Kindle Fire HDs, accessories and digital content,” said Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, in a statement.

“The Kindle service keeps getting better. The Kindle Store now offers millions of titles including more than 350,000 exclusives that you won’t find anywhere else. Prime Instant Video has surpassed 40,000 titles, including many premium exclusives like Downton Abbey and Under the Dome. And we’ve added more than a thousand books, games, educational apps, movies and TV shows to Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, bringing together in one place all the types of content kids and parents love.”

Bezos didn’t address why Amazon missed on expectations for the quarter, but perhaps this will be revealed in the call. According to analyst estimates, the ecommerce giant was expected to post net income of $28.3 million.

It’s been an eventful quarter for Amazon. Towards the end of the first quarter, Amazon purchased social reading service Goodreads, which now has 20 million members. Amazon also expanded its international footprint, including expansion to India. Additionally the company bought screen technology company Liquavista from Samsung.

Other news included the expansion of its grocery delivery service to L.A. and San Francisco, a new Facebook-focused gifting product, an online store for 3D printers, and of course there were those smartphone rumors.

UPDATING

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Amazon is known for pouring the revenue it generates back into its business. Now, it’s ready to give a chunk away.

The Seattle-based retailer today announced a corporate philanthropy program called AmazonSmile, which allows Amazon shoppers to direct 0.5 percent of their purchase totals at the e-commerce giant toward a charitable organization of their choice. Amazon will then donate the money on behalf of its customers.

At launch, “basically every physical product is eligible” for the program, according to AmazonSmile general manager Ian McAllister.

But there are exceptions. Digital-media products such as Kindle e-books won’t be eligible for the program, although that could change, McAllister said. Purchases made through Amazon’s subscribe-and-save subscription program are also ineligible.

There will be no cap on donation amount.

The program will only be available to shoppers who visit Amazon via a special Web address – smile.amazon.com – instead of the normal Amazon.com homepage.

When customers enter through the new gateway, they will be prompted to select from one of a handful of featured charitable organizations, or to search a database of nearly a million 501(c)(3) organizations if they are looking to support a cause that isn’t featured. That breadth of choice pretty much matches up with the Amazon brand.

The shopping experience the customers encounter on the AmazonSmile landing page will otherwise be identical to the regular Amazon.com site – same selection, same prices – with the exception that eligible products will be marked as such on product detail pages, the company said.

An Amazon spokesperson said the company will market the program on Amazon.com, via email, and on its social network accounts.

A rep for Charity:Water, one of the organizations Amazon touts in its press release, said it will not do paid advertising of its own to promote AmazonSmile, but will publicize it to its social network followers.

Corporate charitable giving is nothing new, of course, and can take on varied forms. Google’s charitable initiatives include grants, free product handouts and an overall pledge of one percent of its profits toward its charitable organizations.

Last year, Walmart said it gave $1 billion in cash and in-kind contributions to U.S. organizations.

And Salesforce is known for donations and discounts to nonprofits of its customer-relationship-management software.

But the sheer size of Amazon’s customer base, the ease with which donations are made once someone becomes aware of the program and the charity choice given to shoppers make for a unique program. For those who end up making a routine out of shopping through smile.amazon.com, there will likely be the feeling that you’re doing good while shopping, which has the potential to be another powerful differentiator to set Amazon apart.

“At their scale, there’s potential to truly test whether &#8216cause’ affects buying decisions,” said Jeff Smith, chief innovation officer at Matter Unlimited, a boutique creative agency focused on social-responsibility campaigns. “It would be fascinating to really connect the dots.”

A side benefit of corporate-giving initiatives like this one are the tax deductions – and Amazon’s case is no different. The company, not Amazon shoppers, will receive the tax benefits for the donations. Donations will be made through an entity called AmazonSmile Foundation and will come out of Amazon’s pockets, not from any of its marketplace sellers.

McAllister, AmazonSmile’s GM, said tax benefits did not guide the decision to launch AmazonSmile. Nor did focus groups or customer surveys.

“We thought our customers would love it,” he said of the reason for the initiative.

When I asked a spokesperson whether Amazon cares about what Wall Street and its shareholders will think about a company that doesn’t frequently turn a profit creating such a charitable initiative, the response was similar.

“We think our customers will love it,” he said.

Amazon said in a message on its homepage on Monday that it was running a one-day, 15-percent-off sale for its new line of Kindles to celebrate the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent reversal of a longtime policy that banned airplane passengers from using electronic devices during takeoff and landing. Nick Bilton, the New York Times journalist who had pushed for the change, received a shout-out from Jeff Bezos in the prepared remarks for Amazon’s third-quarter earnings report.

E-Reader vs. iPad

Q:

My wife started reading e-books downloaded from the library on her iPad 2. Indoors the print is very readable, but it loses some of the sharpness in bright light. Some of her friends suggested the Kindle Paperwhite as a better reader in all types of light. What is your opinion?

A:

All current color tablets use a screen technology that washes out in sunlight and can become almost unreadable in direct, bright sunlight. The Kindle monochrome e-readers, including the Paperwhite, use a different technology that does well in all kinds of light. However, I have never noticed any degradation of screen readability on iPads or other quality color tablets in bright indoor light.

Q:

Is it fair to say that the iPad Air, like its predecessors, is designed more for content consumption than content creation, and that someone who really needs a computer but also wants a tablet (and can’t afford both) would do better with something like the new Surface?

A:

The iPad can be a fine productivity and creativity tool, with or without an accessory keyboard, depending on the app you are using. Business email and calendars, or the editing of office documents, work fine on the iPad, as do many drawing applications. You can even sign legal documents on it electronically. However, if you are looking for all the functions of a PC, a full Windows 8 tablet like the Surface 2 Pro would be a better choice, because it runs all the programs a Windows computer does.

Q:

In the new Mac OS X operating system, Mavericks, it appears it is not possible to sync Notes, Contacts and other data using iTunes via a cable connection. Is this true?

A:

Yes. Apple says: “In Mavericks, OS X syncs Contacts, Calendars and Notes using iCloud.” (That’s Apple’s Internet cloud service.) The company adds that, if you make changes to your data and don’t have access to the Internet, OS X will sync the data the next time an Internet connection is available.

Email Walt at mossberg@wsj.com.

bookstore interior

Amazon has not been seen as a fast friend of the brick-and-mortar bookstore business. The rise of discounted books sold online often undercuts what traditional retailers have been able to offer, leading to the death of those local businesses – a trend that has been accentuated with the rise of e-books that do away with the idea of anything paper-based altogether. Now, somewhat improbably, Amazon is launching Amazon Source, a new program where it hopes to work with independent booksellers to sell Kindle e-readers and Kindle Fire tablets.

Amazon Source builds on a groundbreaking deal that Amazon cut with Waterstones in the UK in 2012. That deal saw the latter company jump into bed with Amazon to resell Kindle devices in its stores, after months of speculation that Waterstones would team up with Barnes & Noble instead to resell its Nook devices, with the head of the UK bookseller publicly slamming Amazon in the lead-up to the deal. Because of all this, at the time, Amazon’s deal with Waterstones was seen as an aggressive, typically Amazonian, coup.

While we have seen various moves to counterbalance the effect that Amazon has had on independent booksellers (the French government being a big force here) some beg to differ about claims that independent bookstores have been impacted by the rise if Amazon – specifically, it’s the biggies that have been hardest hit, the argument goes. Indeed, a lot of indie bookstores have made the move even to selling directly on Amazon as part of its marketplace.

With Amazon Source, Amazon is building on the latter argument and business model, with the idea being that independent bookstores have customers who want to buy e-books as much as they want to buy physical copies, and this gives those shops a route to offering the most popular device in this category.

“We believe that retailers, online or offline, small or large, should be striving to offer customers what they want-and many customers want to read both digital and print books,” said Russ Grandinetti, Vice President, Amazon Kindle, in a statement. “For many years, bookstores have successfully sold print books on Amazon – now Amazon Source extends this opportunity to digital. With Amazon Source, customers don’t have to choose between e-books and their favorite neighborhood bookstore-they can have both.”

The program will see Amazon offering bookstores the chance to sell Kindles (which they buy wholesale at between 6% and 9% discount from the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price, Amazon says), and to share in some of the benefits of doing so – for a limited time, at least. For every Kindle book that a user buys after purchasing the e-reader or tablet, the bookseller gets a 10% cut for the first two years of ownership.

Booksellers also get a discount on buying Kindle accessories wholesale (at a 35% discount from the Manufacturer Suggested Retail Price). Amazon says the discounts on Kindles can be bigger if booksellers choose to forego the 10% cut on e-book sales. And there is an insurance policy of sorts: after the first order from Amazon Source, the company says, “if a retailer decides they no longer want to sell Kindle, Amazon will buy back the inventory for up to six months after their first order, with no questions asked.”

As someone who lives in London and is a regular visitor to Waterstones, it’s interesting to see the Kindle displays in the stores. They always have people converged around them, often children who have been dragged into the shops by their parents.

Waterstones also has made a point of offering other devices as well to give users a full choice. “We are committed to offering the best possible book buying experience. It is a truly exciting prospect to harness the respective strengths of Waterstones and Amazon to provide a dramatically better digital reading experience for our customers,” notes James Daunt, MD of Waterstones, in a statement. “Alongside Amazon, we have married the best digital readers, the Kindle family, to the singular pleasures of browsing a curated bookshop. With the combination of our talents we are on our way to offering the exceptional customer proposition to which we both aspire.”

In Waterstones’ flagship store in the city, it puts the Kindle stand very close to check-out, meaning that users will may only visit it after they’ve done their browsing for physical devices. Smaller bookstores may not have the luxury of creating layouts that lead users in such a way.

It will be interesting to see whether other booksellers take the plunge to offer a similar kind of choice to users. Maybe it’s common sense and inevitable for physical booksellers to make sure they offer their customers as much choice as they can, and maybe there really are people who are walking into these shops looking for e-books and e-book readers rather than printed volumes. Still, I can’t help but think that this is a little like punching a guy after you’ve already knocked him down, and the guy (if bookstores say yes) more or less saying, please, punch me more!

Image: Flickr

IronPatriot

Some of us fans have been waiting for a Marvel Lego game and were happy to hear the announcement that we would be mini-figing it this fall as our favorite Marvel heroes. Not much has come out since that spectacular Game Informer reveal until now that is.

Okay really we found out that there will be some spiffy pre-order bonuses. The coolest of the bonuses lie at your local Wal-Mart where you can snag an exclusive Iron Patriot mini-fig. Woot! Heading to the old Gamestop and plunking five bucks down will get you the pretty sweet Spider-Man keychain. Powerup Rewards members will almost score a free DLC pack. Lastly, pre-ordering at Amazon gets a fresh $10 games credit.

Hit the break to check out the trailer, pay attention to the shadow at the end! Marvel Lego heroes will hit consoles and PC this fall.

Created by MDKGraphicsEngine - Licensed to LEGO System A/S

Amazon’s Q2 Is a Miss

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JOE KLAMAR/AFP/GettyImages

First quick look at Amazon’s earnings numbers, and it’s a miss.

The online retail giant posted a loss, at an EPS of minus two cents on revenue of $15.7 billion.

Though Amazon’s net sales rose 22 percent compared to the year-ago quarter, it’s a disappointing miss against analysts’ expectations that the company would post earnings per share of four cents to six cents on $15.74 billion in revenue.

“This past quarter, our top 10 selling items worldwide were all digital products – Kindles, Kindle Fire HDs, accessories and digital content,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a canned statement. (Of course, with no actual sales numbers on the amount of Kindle products sold – as always.)

Not a ton of color in this release as to why Amazon missed, nor are there any notes on AmazonFresh, the company’s experimental grocery delivery service. Hopefully, CFO Tom Szkutak will address these points on the conference call with analysts coming up shortly.

Shares of Amazon were trading off around two percent on the news, at around $297 per share.

Amazon’s Audible.com, the popular audiobook service, has had an iPhone app since 2010. Today, however, the company updated its app, finally adding support for the iPad and the iPad mini. The Audiobooks from Audible app is now universal and downloadable on any iDevice.

The new tablet-optimized app takes advantage of the iPad’s screen size to deliver what Audible calls a “visually stunning and more engaging library browsing and playback experience,” which should mark a huge improvement from look of the smaller iPhone app expanded on the bigger display.

According to Audible, 20 of its consumer base use the Audible iPhone app on the iPad, which has spurred the company to give tablet users some love. “We’re now delivering a vastly improved listening experience for this quickly growing segment of Audible customers, which is also great news for anyone who’s always wanted to try the Audible service on an iPad, says Ajay Arora, VP of Mobile Applications.

If you’re not familiar with Audible.com, it is a site that sells digital audiobooks, radio and TV programs, and audio versions of newspapers and magazines. It’s primarily known for its digital books subscription program, which provides audio credits for a base monthly fee.

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The base price is $14.95 for one book a month, or $22.95 for two credits a month. Audiobooks on average provide upwards of eight hours of listening time, making the subscription a solid deal. Individual audiobooks can also be purchased from the site as a one time deal, but because unfettered prices are so high, the subscription model is far more attractive.

With the new iPad app, you can browse for books right on the tablet, using the app’s new full screen view. Books play by chapter and can be paused any time. A library stores all of your existing books, and a “Me” section provides statistics for overall listening times and a new achievement badge collection that is similar to what is offered by Foursquare.

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All in all, it’s a great redesign for Audible customers and well worth checking out if you were considering becoming an Audible subscriber. The Audiobooks from Audible app can be downloaded for free from the App Store.

The problem with most ebooks is you can’t exactly give them with a friends or pass them onto your children when you’re done. But Amazon might actually address that with a new patent to sell used ebooks. Unfortunately you can’t just buy an ebook and own an ebook and do what you want with it. So basically the patent means Amazon could own the rights to letting people resell the digital pages or audio files they have stored in their tabler or e-reader. You know, like Craigslist for your old Kindle copy of The DaVinci Code (50 cents or best offer!) Or a garage sale for 50 Shades of Grey on your iPad. (Sorry, I want at least $1.17 for that, but I’ll throw in these gardening gloves.) Except you’d have to go through Amazon, rather than selling digital books in your own digital yard sale, so to speak.

Read the full story at Gizmodo.

To determine the current distribution of Web usage among leading tablet devices following the holiday season, Chitika Insights sampled U.S. and Canadian tablet ad impressions running through the Chitika Ad Network. The data used to compile current market share was drawn across the time range of January 19-25, 2013.

The share of North American tablet traffic coming from users of Kindle Fire tablets grew from 4.88 impressions per 100 iPad impressions (as reported in December) to 9.48 impressions, or 7.7% of the market as a whole. Google Nexus, Samsung Galaxy, and Barnes & Nobile Nook tablets also saw smaller gains this past month, with all three now constituting a combined 6.7% of North American tablet Web traffic.

In its post-holiday mobile device report (using data from December 1-27, 2012) Chitika measured Kindle Fire usage share within their network at 7.51% and it has remained relatively the same at 7.7% one month later. Similarly, the iPad was at 79% following the holiday season, and has recovered slightly to 81%.

Chitika: Share of U.S. and Canadian Tablet Web Traffic, January 19-25, 2013

Chitika: Share of U.S. and Canadian Tablet Web Traffic, January 19-25, 2013

Read more in the full article here.

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