Amazon Appstore operates in nearly 200 countries
Amazon will be putting its Kindle Fire tablets on sale in 170 more countries next month, and has also expanded its Appstore to operate in nearly 200 countries. Pre-orders for the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models of the Kindle Fire HD through Amazon.com, its UK site, France, and Amazon Germany have commenced, with shipments to customers due to start on June 13th.
Google adds voice search to home page in Chrome update
Google has updated Chrome to enable voice search, among other additions. Chrome version 27 enables conversational search through the Google homepage, providing a clickable microphone to start it off, and then switching to a larger Google Now-style mic logo. The update, spotted by Searchengineland, also provides a new API for Chrome Store developers, 14 security fixes, and a 5-percent speed boost to page loads.
Amazon has cancelled two television pilots, after poor screenings. The television version of Zombieland will not be made into a series by the internet retailer, nor will Bebe Neuwirth's musical comedy Browsers about interns at a Huffington Post-esque website. Amazon has picked up John Goodman's Washington DC satire Alpha House, and Silicon Valley sitcom Betas.
Amazon adds 5 NBC shows exclusively to Prime Instant Video catalog
Amazon has signed a deal with NBCUniversal to add the previous seasons of five shows exclusively to its Prime Instant Video Roster. Grimm, Suits, Covert Affairs, Hannibal, and Defiance will be available on the streaming service over the course of this year and 2014. A number of other shows, including Smash, Alphas, and Warehouse 13, will also appear on the service, though under a non-exclusive distribution deal.
Indicates Apple was pushing for prices higher than Amazon
US Department of Justice filings in the e-book price-fixing case against Apple reveal an exchange between former Apple CEO Steve Jobs and News Corporation/HarperCollins' James Murdoch, notes AllThingsD. In the course of a Jobs-penned email, which dates back to January 2010, the CEO explains why Apple is proposing to tie e-book prices to hardcover ones. "We simply donít think the e-book market can be successful with pricing higher than $12.99 or $14.99," Jobs writes.
Offers first offline playback support
Amazon has released a native version of Cloud Player for Windows. Previously, Cloud Player was only accessible through mobile and web apps. Amazon says it also working on native Mac software, but no release date is available.
Samsung offloaded display company after not meeting expectations
Confirming earlier reports, Amazon has purchased touchscreen company Liquavista. The company, previously owned by Samsung, is one of the developers of low-power color e-paper technology. No terms of the deal are currently known. Samsung was previously said to be seeking sale of the manufacturer due to the acquisition not meeting expectations of Samsung executives.
Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD owners receive 500-coin gift
Amazon has launched its virtual currency in the United States, and has provided Kindle Fire owners with an initial credit on their accounts. The 500 Amazon Coins, valued at $5, can be used to buy apps from the Amazon Appstore as well as in-app items, along with an incentive to continue buying packs of the virtual currency instead of usual cash transactions.
iPad Netflix now cues TV episodes automatically
Yesterday Netflix rolled out the next major release of its iOS app, introducing a new auto-play feature for TV shows. While currently restricted to the iPad users, the new feature brings the software in line with the functionality of the current web and TV app. At the end of a TV episode Netflix will minimize the credits and cue the next episode in the season. If users do nothing, then the episode will will automatically begin playing within 10 seconds. In addition, post play also works for movies by providing users with three recommendations of other movies they may enjoy.
Audio-only streaming device also claimed as being developed
A report claims that Amazon is creating a number of devices, including two smartphones and an audio-only device said to be designed for streaming. Though there are little in the way of details for the gadgets, one of the two phones is said to use a screen capable of showing 3D images without the need to wear special glasses.
Facebook makes first appearance on list
Business magazine Fortune has released the 2013 edition of its list of the 500 biggest corporations in the US. One of the most significant shifts in the list is the ascendancy of Apple, which has jumped from 17th place to sixth, breaking into the top 10 for the first time. Fortune comments that while the company has "maintained more than disrupted" its product line, and even had to apologize for iOS 6 Maps and its Chinese warranty services, it "remains an innovation icon."
China launch forms part of 200-country Appstore expansion
Amazon has launched its Android Appstore for paid apps in China, ahead of Google and its Play store. The release of the Appstore in the country now means that Amazon is the first of the two main Android app stores to launch in the region and opens the door to Amazon releasing its Kindle Fire tablets in China and other nearby territories.
Small form factor Windows 8 tablet set to go on sale soon
Acer is preparing to release an eight-inch Windows 8 tablet in the near future, according to a leak. A page listing the Acer W3-810 tablet on Amazon appeared far earlier than planned, revealing images of the mobile device as well as its internal specifications, shortly after the company presented a number of new notebooks and a 7.9-inch Android tablet to the media.
Japanese readers get added font
Amazon has updated the iOS Kindle app with support for Apple's VoiceOver feature. Once enabled through iOS' settings, VoiceOver can now read books and guide blind users through the app's interface using a synthetic voice. Text can be read character-by-character, word-by-word, line-by-line, or continuously.
KINDLEPW code gets a Paperwhite for $99
E-reader giant Amazon is holding a special promotion for its Kindle Paperwhite e-reader, making versions of the device available for $99 with a special promotional code. The Kindle Paperwhite can be bought for $20 off by entering the coupon code "KINDLEPW" during the ordering process. The deal applies to any version of the Kindle Paperwhite, and it runs through April 30, 2013.
LivingSocial issues warning for users in all countries
Daily deals coupon site LivingSocial has issued a warning to its customers that their user data may have been breached in a recent cyberattack. The company last week reported an attack on its systems that gave malicious parties access to as many as 50 million users' names, email addresses, dates of birth, and "encrypted passwords," according to Reuters. The company says it is working with law enforcement to investigate the issue.
iPad beats out Kindle Fire, others in J.D. Power rankings
Apple's iPad is the best tablet on the market in terms of consumer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power and Associates' new 2013 U.S. Tablet Satisfaction Study. The survey looked at the opinions of 1,857 tablet owners who've had their devices for less than a year, and Apple's bestselling tablets came out on top for the second time in a row. Apple devices hold the top spots in J.D. Power rankings for both tablets and smartphones.
Vine confirms Android version of video app in the works
Popular video app Vine will be headed to Android in the future. Co-founder of the Twitter-owned app Dom Hofmann confirmed to The Verge it will be ported, following its successful launch on iOS devices. The app, which allows users to create six-second video clips for sharing on social networks, is also reportedly going to include the ability to tag friends to a clip, in order to foster more sharing between users.
Revenue estimates for second quarter expectedly bleak
Amazon today announced financial results for its first quarter that ended March 31. The company reports that net sales increased 22 percent to $16.07 billion in the first quarter, compared with $13.18 billion a year ago. Despite the increased sales, net income decreased 37 percent to $82 million in the first quarter, or $0.18 per share, compared with $130 million, or $0.28 per share in the first quarter of 2012.
Amazon cuts Kindle, Paperwhite price by $10 in Canada
Amazon has dropped the price for some of its Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite e-readers in Canada. The standard Kindle has dropped from $89 to $79, while the Paperwhite version, with its lighter screen and built-in light, sells for $129 instead of $139. The 3G-enabled version of the Kindle Paperwhite remains at $199.
Google Glass companion app includes 'Eye Gestures' functions
Google may allow for users of Glass to use their eyes to control the headset. A user by the name of fodawim on Reddit found eye options hidden in the code of the companion app for Android, specifically functions for winking. Of the five, two related to wink calibration, two turned the function on and off, and one last seems to allow a wink to trigger a photo from its 5-megapixel camera. Other eye-related controls have yet to be found, though the company has patented a number of different control systems that could potentially be used with Glass.
Amazon Instant Video, Lovefilm users to help judge shows
Amazon is allowing its customers to view new television shows on its streaming services in the US and the UK, in order to decide which to create into a full series. The 14 pilot shows, created by subsidiary Amazon Studios, can be watched on Amazon Instant Video and Lovefilm, with the retailer hoping to use viewer comments to influence its choice of which shows get a full 13-episode season commission.
Marks end to European investigation
In order to end an antitrust investigation by the European Commission, Pearson-owned book publisher Penguin has offered to drop e-book deals with Apple that inflated prices for Amazon and other vendors, Reuters reports. Penguin is the fifth publisher to settle, joining Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Hachette, and Macmillian, which along with Apple reached a settlement with the Commission in December.
Buyout offer nixed Goodreads integration into iBookstore
Amazon's buyout of Goodreads in late March also had the effect of derailing Apple plans for the iBookstore, say Wall Street Journal sources. During the past year, Apple and Goodreads reportedly discussed integrating Goodreads content into the iBookstore, namely in the form of displaying user reviews and ratings. The scheme would've echoed the way Rotten Tomatoes ratings are presented alongside movies on iTunes.
Voice assistant app for Android or iOS
Amazon has reportedly acquired voice-assistant app developer Evi Technologies, unnamed sources have told TechCrunch. The deal, which is said to be worth $26 million, is said to be focused on Evi's mobile apps for Android and iOS, which provide functionality similar to that of Apple's own Siri technology, though both parties have yet to make an official announcement.
Nearly 200 countries will be able to buy apps from Amazon
Amazon is looking to expand its Appstore for Android into nearly 200 countries in the next few months. The retailer has announced that app developers will be able to submit their products to the store for distribution in the new locations, with those registered for international distribution becoming automatically available to download in countries as the store expands.
Number of music buyers remains constant
Apple remains in control of digital music sales in the US, but has lost some ground in the past few years, according to a new NPD Group report. The company currently holds a 63 percent marketshare with iTunes, down from 66 percent in 2010. Amazon has meanwhile established itself as a major player, now at 22 percent of the market versus 13 percent in 2010. The companies are however competing for a static number of music buyers, since the number of Americans that have bought at least one song has remained at roughly 44 million annually for the past three years.
May set difficult bar
Amazon has added Apple to a list of companies it measures against when deciding executive pay, according to a US Securities and Exchange Commission filing found by India's Economic Times. The document also shows that Amazon increased compensation for its executives in 2012. It's uncertain, though, if the pay bump is directly related to Apple's inclusion as a reference point.
Amazon's Lovefilm gains more Warner Bros programming
Lovefilm has signed an agreement with Warner Bros International TV Distribution, adding more content to its on-demand roster. The Amazon-owned British subscription streaming service will now offer a number of extra TV series, including seasons one to seven of The West Wing, all nine seasons of One Tree Hill, all seasons of Nip Tuck, and episodes of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Kindel joins book retailer amid Amazon phone rumors
The former General Manager of Windows Phone at Microsoft has joined Amazon. Charlie Kindel, after leaving Microsoft in 2011 in order to concentrate on his own projects, has updated his LinkedIn profile to read "now at Amazon working on something wonderful," with his new project likely to be mobile-related in some way.
New feature insures same file version across Mac OS X, Windows, Android
A Monday update to Amazon's Cloud Drive application has delivered a crucial feature -- cloud drive users can now synchronize content between Windows, Mac OS X or Android devices. Changes to files stored on the cloud drive are automatically propagated to other connected devices. The update removes the biggest flaw most reviewers saw for the service on release.
Service brings 300,000 book clubs, 16 million users plus reviews
To bolster its already-large inventory of user reviews, Amazon has reportedly acquired Goodreads, a Web site indexing user-provided book reviews. The purchase comes at a time when rumors swirled that the review site might start selling both physical and e-books.
One in six data buckets found to be publicly viewable
An investigation into Amazon's Simple Storage Service (S3) discovered a sixth of data stores, known as buckets, on the service are left open to public viewing. Further examination showed that a number of items on open display were of a sensitive nature, including source code for mobile games, user log-in details, and various other items of personal information.
Foxconn manufacturing claimed cause for device delay
Amazon is still working on a smartphone to go along with its Kindle Fire tablet line, according to a new rumor. The retailer will allegedly be eschewing the 4.3-inch screen that some state it will use in favor of a larger 4.7-inch display, and is looking to release the long-rumored device at some point in the second quarter.
Amazon adds X-Ray functionality to popular TV shows
Amazon has updated the X-Ray feature of its Instant Video service to now include television shows. The update will allow users to view IMDB information for individual episodes of programs, including the names of actors, what other shows they have appeared in, and other similar content. Expanding what the company has done to movies in the last six months since the feature's launch, X-Ray is available to use for a number of popular TV shows on the Kindle Fire, Kindle Fire HD, and the Amazon Instant Video app on the Wii U.
More original content to hit streaming services
Netflix and Amazon are working on more exclusive programming for their respective streaming services, in order to increase their market share. Netflix will be producing a series by the creators of The Matrix and Babylon 5, while Amazon will be adding a single episode of the Zombieland series to the roster for its Amazon Instant Video pilot scheme.
Prohibitions against phones likely to stay in place
The US Federal Aviation Administration is hoping to announce looser restrictions on in-flight use of portable electronics by the end of 2013, according to sources for the New York Times. The people belong to an industry working group set up by the FAA, and add that the latter is specifically considering allowing reading devices during takeoff and landing, including tablets and e-readers. Devices may still have to be set to Airplane mode, though, and cellphones are expected to remain off-limits.
Acquisition in 2011 failed to meet Samsung expectations
Samsung is looking to sell Liquavista to Amazon, and are currently in private discussions with the online retailer, according to a report. The electronics manufacturer is said to want the sale of the Dutch company, a maker of e-reader display technology, after the acquisition in 2011 "didn't meet its expectations."
Device rumor follows recent price drops
Amazon has denied rumors that it is building a sub-$100 version of its 7-inch Kindle Fire HD. A report stated that the retailer would be putting the tablet, complete with a 1280x800 resolution and TI processor like the existing 7-inch Kindle Fire uses, into production and ready to ship later this year, something that Amazon claims is not happening.
Ten-year deal likely consists of massive Langley-hosted cloud offering
According to sources familiar with the matter, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has signed a contract with Amazon to provide cloud services. The deal, worth $600 million over 10 years, is intended to help the agency construct a private cloud to keep up with data-mining tasks in a cost-effective manner and scale not previously possible under the agency's previous efforts.
Wi-Fi version sees $30 cut, 4G model slashed by $100
On the heels of an announcement expanding the availability of the Kindle Fire, Amazon has said that it is cutting the price on the 8.9-inch version of the tablet. The Wi-Fi only version now costs $269, a $30 reduction. The 4G wireless model now begins at $399, a $100 cut from the previous $499 retail.
Publishers, Barnes & Noble issue complaints to ICANN
Amazon has received criticism over its attempts to register new generic top-level domains (gTLDs), in complaints sent to ICANN. The Authors Guild, the Association of American Publishers, and competitor Barnes & Noble have all objected to applications for the suffixes .book, .author, and .read, citing the potential abuse of Amazon's market position in using the new domain endings.
Government still pursuing Apple over alleged fixing of e-book prices
As part of its case against Apple for allegedly conspiring to "falsely inflate" e-book prices, the US Department of Justice has opted not to pursue its plan to demand copies of the notes from Steve Jobs' biographer or testimony from Walter Isaacson himself regarding any remarks Jobs may have made about the arrangements Apple made with publishers in its effort to both set up its own e-book service and fight against the predatory pricing of Amazon, which had a near-monopoly on e-books and was driving rivals out of business.
Google, Amazon fill out top three
For a sixth year in a row, Apple has claimed the top position in Fortune's annual World's Most Admired Companies list. The chart is based on a poll of executives. "Apple has had a rough time lately with its stock price in a free fall and the widely publicized failure of its Maps feature," Fortune writes. "However, it remains a financial juggernaut, posting $13 billion in net income last quarter, making it the most profitable company in the world during that period. The company has its fanatical customer base, and it still refuses to compete on price, making the iconic iPhone and iPad products that are still widely seen as prestige devices. Competition may be stiff, but so far it remains behind: In Q4 2012, the iPhone 5 was the world's best selling smartphone, followed in second place by the iPhone 4S."
Launches six months after iPhone/iPod version
Amazon has released a v2.0 update of Cloud Player for iOS, finally bringing the app to the iPad. The app was initially released for iOS roughly six months ago, but launched without a native iPad interface. Both the iPhone and iPad interfaces have been tweaked to use a new look, and sport a new setting for managing cache size.
Android tablets reach 41 percent of ad impressions
Apple's dominance in the mobile industry became less pronounced in 2012, according to tracking data compiled by mobile ad network Millennial Media. Millennial notes, for instance, that while the iPhone continued to generate the most ad impressions amongst phones, growing 72 percent year-over-year to a 15.59 percent share, Samsung's Galaxy S series grew 182 percent to hit a 4.24 percent share, pushing BlackBerry Curve phones down to third place at 3.91 percent.
Suit blames DRM for lack of ability to enter the market
Independent booksellers The Book House, Posman Books, and Fiction Addiction are suing Amazon and the "Big Six" publishers consisting of Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin, Random House, and Simon & Schuster. The suit accuses the seven companies of monopolizing the e-book market by selling titles encumbered by draconian digital rights management, and says that the companies have a seeming unwillingness to enter into agreements with smaller bookstore chains or groups. The moves have limited consumers' choices, and barred independents from successfully entering the e-book market, the booksellers say.
Major tech companies wield influence on American government
Google increased the amount it spent on lobbying the US government 90 percent year-over-year in 2012, according to data compiled by Fortune. The company ended up spending $18.22 million, easily beating out any other American technology firm. Microsoft, in fact, came in second place with $8.09 million, despite likewise increasing its spending. Other major tech businesses that funneled more money toward lobbying last year included HP, Facebook, and Amazon.
Represents an evolving position on sales tax collection
The biggest retailer on the Internet, Amazon, is throwing some of its weight behind a new Senate bill that would allow states to collect sales tax for online sales -- provided they simplify tax laws regarding variations in rates and collection methods. While not explicitly saying it endorses the bill in its current form, the Kindle maker thanked the authors of the bill for bringing the issue forward -- another sign that Amazon's formerly hard-line stance against online sales tax is softening.
British streaming service to also show Amazon Studio pilots
Amazon's Lovefilm service in the UK has signed a deal with BBC Worldwide to continue offering BBC content to its customers through Lovefilm Instant. The announcement comes at the same time as the Lovefilm app reaches Sony Bravia televisions, as well as news that it will also stream 11 original TV series test pilots from Amazon Studios.