President Donald Trump has launched a fierce attack on Amazon, suggesting the online retail giant is ripping off the US Postal Service.
The president tweeted that the US Post Office would lose $1.50 “on average for each package it delivers for Amazon”, but supporters of Amazon dispute this.
President Trump also said the Washington Post was a “lobbyist” for Amazon.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos also owns the Washington Post, which publishes stories unpalatable to Donald Trump.
The Post has reported on stories including Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s continuing investigation into links between the Trump election campaign and Russia, as well has the president’s alleged relationship with Stormy Daniels.
Saturday’s edition details how three different legal teams are scrutinizing the Trump Organization’s accounts.
Donald Trump’s attacks on Amazon have seen its share price fall in recent days, amid concern that he might push for its power to be curbed by anti-trust laws.
He tweeted that the US Post Office was losing “billions of dollars” in its contract with Amazon.
“If the P.O. ‘increased its parcel rates, Amazon’s shipping costs would rise by $2.6 Billion.’ This Post Office scam must stop. Amazon must pay real costs (and taxes) now!” Donald Trump continued, quoting the New York Times.
Amazon has not commented.
However, supporters of Amazon point out that the Postal Regulatory Commission, which oversees the industry, has found that the US Postal Service makes a profit from its contract with the company.
This in turn helps subsidize the costs of letter delivery, which avoids the need for price rises.
November 22, 2015. Arkansas. Victor Collins, a 47-year-old father of five, is found dead in a hot tub. He was strangled and drowned. A man – the owner of the property on which the body was found – has been arrested, but hard evidence seems to be lacking. It would later transpire that the police were looking to a nearby Amazon Echo is help solve the case.
This doesn’t that the authorities turned to the device and said “Alexa, could you help solve this murder?”, by the way. It means that the police believe that the device may have picked up on some key audio evidence. After all, as long as the Amazon Echo is plugged in, it’s listening to what’s happening – and it would appear that Amazon are keeping recordings of all the Echo hears. This is why the police continued to put pressure on Amazon to share the relevant data, something Amazon only eventually agreed to do in March of this year.
Amazon appears to have spent some time fighting the affidavit that law enforcement sent out in an attempt to retrieve the data they felt may provide crucial evidence to solving the crime. Such resistance may be understandable from a business and data privacy perspective. After all, the Echo wasn’t built to record people’s conversations and actions just so Amazon would have data to use against their customers. (Presumably.) Sharing such data may indeed be a violation of the trust between Amazon and their customers. In any case, the company relented in March, allowing authorities access to the data.
It’s highly unlikely that the homicide defense attorney in this case will have ever dealt with “testimony” from an Amazon Echo before now. Still, it’s entirely possible that there is nothing of particular use to the authorities in Amazon’s data logs.
A case similar to this also had the tech world in its grip throughout last year. In December 2015, the San Bernardino shooting attack took place. A court order was sent to Apple; the FBI wanted access to the data on the iPhone of one of the shooters, demanding that Apple comply and hand over the information. Apple resisted, claiming that it was in their customer’s best interests that the company didn’t simply hand over data – which they assure their customers is not shared with anyone – to the authorities. This drama eventually ended when an unidentified third party unlocked the phone.
All of this raises important questions about the nature of data privacy and tech companies’ responsibilities to their customers. While many of us will be able to see how the release of such data can help put bad eggs behind bars, there’s simply no denying that police pressure to release private information about citizens should concern all of us. Representatives at Amazon and Apple have said in both cases that the information gathered by these devices are protected by the free speech protection of the First Amendment. Amazon explicitly argued that the police should have to hop through several legal hoops before customer data is released.
Be careful with what devices you’re using, and what information you’re sharing on them. Oh, and try not to commit any murders in their presence.
Online retail sales have experienced a massive boom in the last few years especially, exceeding £130 billion in the UK in 2016. It is a highly lucrative market with plenty of opportunities for growth, though one that is seemingly dominated by the big names such as Amazon, eBay and more. Any ecommerce website hoping to challenge them or prosper in their own niche needs to avoid the following mistakes.
Image source Flickr
Problem: Having a secure website is of upmost importance for any ecommerce business. There are two main areas at risk with a security breach; the finances of the business and sensitive data. Information about customers, clients and employees can be accessed if slack security is in place, losing customer confidence and creating a risky environment.
Solution: To best avoid the chances of a network or application attack, Nettitude penetration testing can reduce the risk. This identifies vulnerabilities and provides context around them, so that your ecommerce business can fix any such problems. This means you should have the best security measures in place to prevent any such security breach.
Problem: If an ecommerce site is hard to navigate then it will instantly put off potential customers. Likewise, poor presentation in terms of the layout of text, images and buy buttons will do the same. Small or no product descriptions and poor quality images further add to the problem.
Solution: Look at the competition and see what they are doing well. Think about what you like when you go to buy something online, what makes it an easy process and draws you in to buy products. This could be having plenty of images, descriptive product descriptions and an easy to understand layout.
Lack of Marketing
Problem: Nobody’s visiting your ecommerce website! This really is a problem, as you need customers to make sales and keep the business ticking over. One of the main reasons for this could be a lack of marketing for your ecommerce business, as potential customers may not be aware of it.
Solution: There are many proven ecommerce marketing strategies, from digital marketing to Google Ads. Some of the simple tasks to improve your online marketing and presence are to create and utilise social media accounts, implement an SEO plan and more.
Avoid these three mistakes and use the solutions to ensure your ecommerce business prospers.
Keywords are very important elements before you begin any search campaign. You need to include the right keywords in your content so that search engines can quickly tell what your website is about when they crawl and index its web pages. With so many keyword research tools available today, there’s no excuse for not finding the right keywords. Let’s look at a few tips to help you find a set of perfect keywords you can rank for.
Use the Google keyword tool
Using the keyword tool, you can get numerous ideas of keywords based on your product or service title. Opt for long-tail keywords which are basically 3 to 5 phrases and may have lower search volumes. Long-tail keywords are easier to rank for, cheaper to bid and more likely to send targeted traffic that’s easier to convert.
There are many tools that you can choose from in terms of keyword research. You can also explore the Amazon research tool when it comes to the titles of your products or services. You’ll certainly learn about ways on how to rank better using particular keywords.
You may also want to figure out what is popular on search and use it to come up with keyword ideas. Look for trendy search queries or topics. List down those related to your product or service. You can use Google Trends to discover trending search queries and add them to your list of keywords.
Add a location to generic keywords
When you have a list of generic keywords, consider adding your location to make them stand out from the crowd. You can add the name of your city or country to the keyword. This will help to ensure that your site appears on local search results. Location-based keywords are usually very effective if you have a physical location for your business. These keywords can even improve site rankings by making sure your business shows up on Google Maps.
Google Analytics can also give good ideas on what kind of keywords are bringing in the traffic to your website. Look at the search traffic each page gets. Review some of the keywords that are getting the most traffic. You can add these words to your keyword list and use them in your website copy to boost rankings.
Check the competition
You may also review some of the keywords or phrases that your competitors are ranking for. There are tools for keyword analysis that can help you to check which words and phrases each web page is being optimized for. You can then consider looking for variations of that keyword.
Donald Trump has praised tech giants’ “incredible innovation” during a summit at Trump Tower.
Hosting with three of his children – Donald Jr., Eric and Ivanka – the president-elect told the executives he would make trading across borders “a lot easier”.
Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, Apple’s Tim Cook and Tesla’s Elon Musk attended the meeting.
Paypal founder Peter Thiel, a member of Donald Trump’s team, was also at the December 14 meeting.
Peterr Thiel, who has been a vocal Trump ally and spoke about his nomination at the Republican National Convention this summer, is expected to act as the bridge between the new administration and tech leaders.
Throughout his campaign to be elected president, Donald Trump put technology companies and their executives in the firing line, with calls for boycotts and accusations of tax-dodging.
Donald Trump told his guests he was “here to help you folks to do well”.
The president-elect said: “We want you to keep going with the incredible innovation. There’s nobody like you in the world.
“You’ll call my people, you’ll call me, it doesn’t make any difference. We have no formal chain of command around here.”
Donald Trump also told the group that technology companies benefited from a “bounce” after his election, adding “everybody in this room has to like me at least a little bit”.
He struck a positive tone with industry leaders despite bashing companies like Apple and Amazon throughout his campaign for sending jobs offshore and their stance on encryption.
Earlier this year, more than 140 tech leaders from Silicon Valley signed an open letter arguing against Donald Trump’s candidacy, warning the Republican “would be a disaster for innovation”.
Notably absent from this meeting was Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey.
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has become the world’s third richest person, according to Forbes, after strong earnings from the company.
Jeff Bezos owns 18% of Amazon’s shares, which rose 2% in trading on July 28.
Forbes estimated Jeff Bezos’ fortune to be $65.3 billion.
Amazon’s revenue beat analysts’ expectations, climbing 31% from last year to $30.4 billion in Q2 of 2016.
The company’s profit was $857 million, compared with $92 million in 2015.
According to Forbes estimates, Jeff Bezos’ fortune is only surpassed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, worth $78 billion, and the $73.1 billion fortune of Zara founder Amancio Ortega.
Amazon had developed a reputation for announcing little or no profit each quarter, but appeared to hit a turning point last year and has seen improving earnings since.
Amazon shares have spiked 50% since February.
Its Prime membership, which offers extra services including free shipping for an annual fee, saw impressive international growth.
In June, Amazon launched Prime in India to take advantage of the country’s large consumer market.
Jeff Bezos said: “It’s been a busy few months for Amazon around the world, and particularly in India – where we launched a new [Amazon Web Services] Region, introduced Prime with unlimited free shipping, and announced that Prime Video is coming soon, offering Prime members in India exclusive access to Amazon Original Series and Movies – including original content featuring top Indian creators and talent.”
Amazon has boosted Prime membership by improving its video streaming offerings, an area in which it competes with Netflix.
Prime Day, Amazon’s annual promotional shopping festival earlier this month, was the company’s largest ever sales day.
Amazon does not release figures for its Prime membership, but Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimated US membership to be close to 63 million. Members spend an average of $1,200 a year, compared with $500 by non-members, according to the research company.
The company’s cloud computing unit also spiked. Revenue for Amazon Web Services (AWS), climbed 58.2% to $2.89 billion, beating analysts’ exceptions of $2.83 billion.
Sales growth for the unit in North America climbed 10% and 8% in the rest of the world.
Amazon has grown its market share in cloud computing compared with rivals such as Microsoft and Google.
It introduced a new Asia Pacific region for its cloud unit this quarter.
Amazon has also been looking to expand its presence in other areas. The company has now launched its online grocery store in the UK.
Earlier this month, it announced a partnership with US bank Wells Fargo to offer discounts on student loans for members of its Prime Student services.
Amazon plans to stop selling Apple and Google video-streaming devices because they don’t “interact well” with its own media service.
The online retailer said it wants to sell products that work with its in-house streaming video service known as Prime Video.
Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast don’t easily support Prime Video.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon is planning on dropping streaming devices that don’t work with its Prime Video streaming service as of October 29.
Amazon sent an email to its marketplace sellers letting them know that no new listings for Apple TV or Chromecast products would be allowed and that existing listings would be removed as of October 29, Bloomberg reports.
The retailer said it had made the decision to avoid “customer confusion.”
Amazon said along with its own Fire TV, it will continue to sell other companies’ devices that are compatible with Prime Video.
These include Roku, Microsoft’s Xbox, and Sony’s Playstation.
Amazon has rapidly expanded its online content, using it to attract subscribers to its Prime loyalty membership scheme which offers fast delivery on purchases.
The company has used similar tactics with book publishers.
Last year Amazon blocked pre-orders for some books from the publisher Hachette, while the two sides negotiated over prices.
Many authors were angered by the move and accused Amazon of being anti-competitive.
Amazon has bought video-game streaming service Twitch for $970 million.
Earlier in the year, Google’s YouTube had been reported to be in late-stage acquisition talks for a similar amount.
Founded in 2011, Twitch, formerly known as Twitch.tv, allows users to watch other people play video games.
As of July of this year, the service had over 55 million unique monthly viewers.
“Broadcasting and watching gameplay is a global phenomenon and Twitch has built a platform that brings together tens of millions of people who watch billions of minutes of games each month,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement.
“We look forward to learning from them and helping them move even faster to build new services for the gaming community,” he added.
The move is seen by many analysts as helping Amazon in its quest to beat other streaming video sites like YouTube and Netflix.
Twitch allows users to broadcast snippets of their game play and its services are built into gaming platforms like Sony’s PlayStation 4 and Microsoft’s Xbox One.
Amazon has bought video-game streaming service Twitch for $970 million
Amazon currently offers Prime subscribers access to streaming television and movies on its site, and has recently begun commissioning original programming – following in the footsteps of Netflix, which found success with House of Cards and Orange is the New Black.
Twitch adds a cadre of committed gamers to Amazon’s potential audience.
The all-cash deal is one of Amazon’s biggest acquisitions to date.
Twitch’s founders have attempted to quell any concerns that the Twitch’s community may have about the acquisition.
“We chose Amazon because they believe in our community, they share our values and long-term vision, and they want to help us get there faster,” wrote Emmett Shear in a letter to users.
“We’re keeping most everything the same: our office, our employees, our brand, and most importantly our independence. But with Amazon’s support we’ll have the resources to bring you an even better Twitch.”
Twitch.tv was created as an offshoot to Justin.tv, which was founded by Justin Kan and Emmett Shear as a platform in which Kan could live-stream his life.
Following the success of Twitch, Justin.tv was closed earlier this month.
Amazon has been sued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for allowing millions of dollars of unauthorized purchases by children in its mobile app store.
The FTC is seeking refunds for parents who were charged.
Amazon resisted a settlement offer from the FTC, and wrote in a letter to the regulator earlier this month that it would not accept tighter controls.
In January, Apple settled with the FTC over similar charges.
Amazon has been sued by the FTC for allowing millions of dollars of unauthorized purchases by children in its mobile app store
“Amazon’s in-app system allowed children to incur unlimited charges on their parents’ accounts without permission,” said FTC chair Edith Ramirez in a statement.
“Even Amazon’s own employees recognized the serious problem its process created,” she added.
In response to the allegations, an Amazon spokesperson cited a letter the company sent to the FTC on July 1 in which it wrote it was “deeply disappointed” by the FTC’s demands.
“The [FTC]’s unwillingness to depart from the precedent it set with Apple despite our very different facts leaves us no choice but to defend our approach in court,” wrote Amazon.
In its complaint, the FTC used the example of an app called “Ice Age Village”, a game designed for children.
The FTC alleged the game “blurred the lines between what costs virtual currency and what costs real money”, with “acorns” and “coins” both serving a purpose within the game as well as being available for purchase. The largest quantity purchase available in the app would cost $99.99.
In its complaint, the FTC also alleges that Amazon employees had warned in December 2011 that “allowing unlimited in-app charges without any password was <<…clearly causing problems for a large percentage of our customers>>, adding that the situation was a <<near house on fire>>”.
In January, Apple offered refunds of up to $32.5 million to parents who had been impacted by unauthorized charges and said it would change its billing practices to prevent future unauthorized charges.
Blackberry and Microsoft have both cut prices on their flagship products in a bid to boost sales.
In the US, Blackberry has cut the price of the Z10 phone to as low as $49 with a contract – down from $199 four months ago.
In the UK, Microsoft dropped the price of the 32GB Surface RT to £279 ($438) from £400 ($628), with the 64GB model’s price down by the same amount to £359 ($564).
Both companies have developed the devices to show off their latest software.
And both have tried to compete with Apple, Google and Samsung on smartphones and tablets – with limited success.
In the US, the cheapest Surface tablet went down to $349 from $499.
Blackberry in particular is battling to revive its share of the smartphone market with the touchscreen-only Z10, which shows off its new BB10 operating system.
Blackberry has cut the price of the Z10 phone to as low as $49 with a contract, down from $199 four months ago
Users can get the Z10 through US carriers AT&T and Verizon Wireless, for $99 with a two-year contract, but the phone costs $49 with a contract at retailers Amazon and Best Buy.
The company reported an $84 million loss for its last quarter and refused to say how many devices running BB10 it sold – but it sold fewer phones in those three months than in the same period the year before.
Blackberry has said it shipped one million Z10s in the first three months of 2013.
Microsoft’s Surface tablet is intended to challenge the iPad and Android-based tablets and runs Windows RT, a slimmed-down version of its latest Windows 8 operating system.
Recent figures from analysts IDC show that 49.2 million tablets shipped in January, February and March – and about 900,000 of those were Surfaces.
Other Windows-powered tablets totaled 1.8 million units sold across all vendors. Apple’s iPad and iPad Mini accounted for 19.5 million of tablets sold.
“We’ve been seeing great success with pricing and cover promotions over the past several months on Surface RT in the US and other markets,” a Microsoft spokeswoman said.
“People who buy Surface love Surface, and we’re excited about all those additional people out sharing their excitement for Surface with other people.”
Microsoft also offers the Surface Pro, which runs the full version of Windows 8 and starts at $899 for the 64GB model. It has not had its price cut.
Amazon and its UK-based subsidiary LoveFilm are to put to the public vote on their websites 14 pilot shows, including Alpha House and Zombieland.
Viewers can submit feedback influencing which shows get made into full series.
The 14 shows are made by independent production companies and produced by Amazon Studios, the film and series production arm of Amazon.
“This is the first time Amazon Studios has done this,” said Simon Morris, LoveFilm’s chief marketing officer.
Eight adult comedies and six children’s animation series will be put to the public vote.
The shows will be aired on Amazon’s pay subscription services – Amazon Prime in the US, and LoveFilm in the UK.
Amazon and LoveFilm are to put to the public vote on their websites 14 pilot shows, including Alpha House and Zombieland
Simon Morris said shows would be available to everyone and not just subscribers.
The adult pilot shows include Alpha House, about four senators who live together in a rented house in Washington DC and stars John Goodman, who was recently in Oscar-winning film Argo.
“Bill Murray has got a cameo in Alpha House, looking a bit older, a little bit more bedraggled, but definitely Bill Murray,” Simon Morris added.
Onion News Empire is set behind the scenes of the Onion News Network, a satirical daily news service, and “shows just how far journalists will go to stay at the top of their game”, according to Amazon Studios.
It stars Arrested Development‘s Jeffrey Tambor as the “egomaniacal lead anchor”.
Musical comedy Browsers stars Cheers and Frasier actress Bebe Neuwirth as the “terrifying” boss of a news website in Manhattan.
Other pilot shows include Zombieland – based on the film of the same name – featuring four survivors attempting to outwit zombies, while animated comedy Dark Minions, written by Big Bang Theory’s Kevin Sussman and John Ross Bowie, is about two “slackers” working on an intergalactic warship.
The children’s shows include animations Sara Solves It, where Sara and Sam solve maths-based mysteries, and Creative Galaxy, an interactive art adventure series.
Ongoing problems with the latest version of SimCity led Amazon to briefly stop selling the game.
Amazon stopped sales late on March 7 as players reported continued problems with the city building title.
The latest version of SimCity was launched on March 5 and, like many current games, demand players stay online as they play.
EA has also taken steps to fix login delays by turning off some features to lighten the load on game servers.
Prior to this latest release, SimCity was a stand-alone game, but EA has added the online element to infuse the title with more realism.
Now player cities exist as part of online regions and share some characteristics of those virtual environments such as pollution, crime and essential resources.
The online requirement is also seen as an attempt to curb piracy of the title as a web connection is required even if a player shuns the chance to connect their cities to others.
However, the requirement for all players of the game to be connected has led some to wait 30 minutes or more to play. The server problems have led to sluggish response times, crashes and other bugs.
Ongoing problems with the latest version of SimCity led Amazon to briefly stop selling the game
Amazon’s sales suspension of the downloadable PC version of the game only lasted a few hours, but it has put a warning note on the product page about the “issues” with the game. These have contributed to the one-star score purchasers have given SimCity on Amazon.
In official discussion forums and on its Twitter feed EA has apologized for the trouble players have had.
In one of its latest messages, an EA spokeswoman said it had added server capacity and rolled out a quick fix to SimCity servers to speed up game play and get more people into the game.
To lighten the load on its back-end servers, EA turned off some features including leader boards and achievements. It has also removed the option to run the game at its fastest setting, known as “cheetah speed”. Instead, all cities will now run at the lower “llama speed”.
In a message posted to the official EA discussion forums, SimCity’s senior producer Kip Katsarelis said the launch week had been “challenging” for the company.
However, he added, there was a positive side to the delays.
“What we saw was that players were having such a good time they didn’t want to leave the game, which kept our servers packed and made it difficult for new players to join,” he wrote
If you don’t want to face the Black Friday crowds, there’s no reason to miss out on the holiday bargains. Cyber Monday, the lazy person’s answer to the seasonal sales, is almost upon us.
In fact, with 97% of online retailers getting in on the action, some might argue that Cyber Monday deals are even better than those on Black Friday.
Of course, with the wealth of options available, it can be difficult to know where to get started, let alone navigating the minefield of discount codes and special Twitter and Facebook offers.
If you do your research, though, and log on early, you can secure the bargains you want, without the risk of sustaining any injuries.
With that in mind, we bring you some of the best deals so far – whether you’re chasing the latest tablet or the perfect party dress.
Amazon: The online retail giant is celebrating Cyber Monday with a whole week of bargains.
Among the best discounts are 80% off thousands of Kindle books; up to 70% off selected headphones (10% off Beats by Dr Dre and Bose headphones) and $25 off spends of over $60 on selected Fisher-Price toys.
Among the best buys will be a Panasonic VIERA 55-Inch TV at 60% off, a Samsung 11.6 in Chromebook for $249, a Dyson DC25 Ball All-Floors Upright Vacuum Cleaner at $299 and DVDs such as Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 for just $1.96.
Follow @AmazonDeals on Twitter for flash “Lightening Deals”. There will also be special offers on the Amazon Facebook page.
Best Buy:The chain’s Cyber Monday deals will run until January 2, with free shipping for the duration.
Highlights include cameras from $40 and the HTC Titan Windows phone and HTC Wildfire S Android are both free with a new two-year contract. Selected laptops will also be reduced to as little as $279.99.
Cyber Monday 2012 Best Deals
Kmart: Buy-one-get-one-half-off on footwear; Jaclyn Smith and Sofía Vergara comforter sets at $49.99 (from $79.99-$109.99); 75% off all diamond earrings; 50% off selected outdoor Christmas decorations.
Specific offers include 12-in-1 game table for $89 ($60 off), a 19-inch LED Proscan TV/DVD set for $119 and a Pulse Charger electric scooter at $71.99 (40% off).
Kohl’s: The Kohl’s Cyber Monday deals kick off tomorrow, and will run until Tuesday November 27.
Online shoppers can enjoy 20% off their entire purchase, along with free shipping.
There is one perk to shopping in-store though. Kohl’s is picking up the tab for one shopper in every store, every day until Christmas Eve.
Macy’s: Buy-one-get-one-free on selected women’s sweaters and boots; 50per cent off selected handbags; up to 70% off comforters.
Specific offers include a Cuisinart 8-cup food processor for $69.99 and a Travel pro Highlite three-piece luggages set at $139.99.
Free shipping on all orders over $75 with the discount code CYBER on checkout (offer excludes furniture, mattresses and rugs).
Sears: The Sears sale goes on until Thursday November 27.Highlighted deals include a $430 discount on a Maytag washer and dryer, each priced at $399.99, when purchased together.
A NordicTrack elliptical is down by $400 to $499.99 and there is an $80 discount on a Kenmore Elite® 5-qt. stand mixer, down to $169.99.
Target: A number of the retail giant’s Cyber Monday deals will last for the whole week, though most of the bargains won’t be released until the day itself.
Among the deals announced so far are: Buy-one-get-one-half price on selected video games, 25% on all Dyson Vacuums and an Acer Aspire One 10.1″ Netbook for $199.99 (Monday only).
There will also be $50 Target gift card giveaways on purchases including a Motorola Digital Baby Monitor and a KitchenAid Professional 6-Qt Stand Mixer.
Walmart: You can take advantage of Cyber Monday offers from tomorrow until December 2.
Many deals are yet to be announced, but bargain-hunters can already expect to pick up an Xbox 360 Skylanders Family Fun Bundle for $159, a Samsung 55-inch 1080p Class LED television for $1,498 (a saving of up to $1,000) and a Little Tikes Kitchen for $50.
A new survey has found that more customers are opting to shop from the comfort of their homes this Thanksgiving weekend, forgoing the chaos of Black Friday for the ease of Cyber Monday deals.
But web shoppers beware: For the first time, residents in California, Texas and Pennsylvania will be automatically charged state sales tax at the checkout on Amazon and other online stores.
And next year, they will be joined by shoppers in Virginia and New Jersey, and by January 2014, those in Nevada, Indiana and Tennessee.
What comes as bad news for shoppers comes as good news for Amazon’s competitors, who have expressed their relief at finally “leveling the playing field” with the e-commerce giant, which earned a staggering $17.45 billion in the holiday quarter last year.
Other stores have claimed that Amazon’s success is partly due to the fact it can undercut them by avoiding sales tax, which is as high as 9% in some states.
The changes are coming into play after individual states have passed legislation on online sales tax after Congress has failed to pass a national law. Chains including Wal-Mart and Target have been lobbying the bills, Politico reported.
“Now for a sizeable chunk of the U.S. population, Amazon is playing by the same rules as the rest of the retailers,” Jason Brewer, a spokesman for the Retail Industry Leaders Association, told the site.
“There are going to be fewer people who shop online solely for the sales tax benefit.”
But Amazon maintains that it expects this holiday season to be its most successful yet.
“As analysts have noted, we offer customers the best prices with or without sales tax,” said Scott Stanzel, an Amazon spokesman.
“We collect sales tax or its equivalent in more than half of the areas where we do business and we are pleased to say we are thriving in those geographies because Amazon offers low prices, vast selection and fast delivery.”
Residents in California, Texas and Pennsylvania will be automatically charged state sales tax at the checkout on Amazon and other online stores
Yet some retailers said they are already noticing a difference in states were Amazon is collecting sales tax.
Best Buy has seen a four to six per cent increase in sales in California, Texas and Pennsylvania compared to the rest of the chain, Amy Von Walter, a spokesperson at Best Buy, told Politico.
“These are encouraging data points,” she said.
“It lends itself to the idea that a level playing field is good for business.”
Online sales during Cyber Monday last year reached $1.25 billion, up 22% from the previous year, according to ComScore. This year, the data firm expects $1.5 billion in sales that day.
Despite changes to sales tax, research has shown that more people are shunning the mania of Black Friday to shop from their homes on Cyber Monday.
A survey by shopping comparison site PriceGrabber.com revealed that almost half of all Thanksgiving weekend shoppers will shop online on Monday – and more than half of these said they would shop more online than at shops on Black Friday.
Of the 5,000 people surveyed, 41% of people said they would shop on Cyber Monday – up from the 37% in 2011, and 33% in 2010, Fox News reported.
Eighty-four per cent of Cyber Monday shoppers said they wanted to take advantage of one-day deals, discounts and free-shipping offers.
A third of shoppers said they would be shopping on Monday after scouting for deals over the weekend.
But although the interest in online shopping is growing, the total sales will still not come close to those in shops on Black Friday. Stores are expected to take as much as $11.4 billion.
Cyber Monday, the Monday after Thanksgiving, was created in 2005 as an online alternative to Black Friday.
This year, as Black Friday begins earlier than ever – with retail giants nudging their opening times into Thanksgiving – e-commerce departments are doing the same.
Walmart emailed customers this week to reveal that its Cyber Monday sale will start this Saturday and last until Sunday, December 2, 2012 for deals on toys, electronics and video games.
Target, Best Buy and Amazon also announced they would have tech deals starting on Black Friday.
Amazon is also offering special Sunday deals – so that bargain hunters don’t have to click from their work computers come Monday – on golf equipment, clothing, lamps, books, clothes and cameras.
Amazon has contacted some of its US customers to offer partial refunds for e-books bought between April 2010 and May 2012.
The compensation – $0.30-$1.32 per title – is the result of a settlement between publishers and the US authorities.
Barnes & Noble is expected to email its customers with a similar offer soon.
Several e-book publishers – plus Apple – were accused of colluding to fix and raise prices.
Customers covered by the settlement will not receive refunds until a hearing approving its terms takes place in February next year.
The compensation will cover titles produced by three major publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. The firms have together raised a fund of $69 million to pay the fees.
Two other publishers, Penguin and Macmillan, declined to agree to the settlement and will instead be taken to court, along with Apple.
Compensation will increase depending on the number of titles bought by a customer. While the exact amounts are yet to be confirmed, they will differ depending on whether or not a title appeared in the New York Times best-seller list.
In an email to customers sent over the weekend, Amazon said: “We have good news.
“You are entitled to a credit for some of your past e-book purchases as a result of legal settlements between several major e-book publishers and the attorneys general of most US states and territories, including yours.”
The company added: “In addition to the account credit, the settlements impose limitations on the publishers’ ability to set e-book prices.
“We think these settlements are a big win for customers and look forward to lowering prices on more Kindle books in the future.”
The case, which was brought in April, was fuelled by several major publishers’ decision to change how they worked with e-book retailers.
Physical books are typically sold at a wholesale price, where retailers buy on bulk and are then free to set their own prices.
E-books were also sold in this way until five publishers decided to switch instead to an agency model. Under this system, publishers set the price of a book and the retailer selling it gets a 30% cut.
This method was seen as a way of curbing Amazon’s dominance of e-book sales on its Kindle platform – and was said to be favored by the late Apple founder Steve Jobs.
According to a biography published after his death, Steve Jobs once said: “We were not the first people in the books business.
“Given the situation that existed, what was best for us was to do this aikido move and end up with the agency model. And we pulled it off.”
Sources close to Amazon revealed on Monday that the company was in the process of acquiring UpNext, a 3D mapping startup.
According to GigaOm, the UpNext team will move to Seattle where they will join the Amazon mapping team as they move towards a Google and Apple maps competitor.
Some analysts believe the move is an attempt by Amazon to reboot its Amazon Kindle Fire tablet which already relies on information from the UpNext team, others believe the company may push further into the consumer electronics sector with help from the UpNext team, potentially towards an Amazon Kindle smartphone.
Amazon is in the process of acquiring 3D mapping startup UpNext
UpNext is a four-person shop that provides various mapping applications for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire devices, the company’s software currently covers 50 cities throughout the United States with “enhanced details” for 23 of those cities.
In 2011 UpNext secured $500,000 in funding from a private group of investors and while the purchase price by Amazon is not yet known however investors are believed to have recuperated up to five times their initial investment.
Before this acquisition the Amazon Kindle Fire was only able to provide maps over a Wi-Fi connect, a problem that could very well be remedied with top-notch mapping software with 3D mapping capabilities.
Both Amazon and UpNext are not yet commenting on the acquisition.
Should Amazon snag a good deal for UpNext they will be purchasing a country that has already managed to attract a lot of attention, including a deal with the NFL to provide 3D stadium maps of the surrounding area for Super Bowl games.
UpNext would also provide Amazon with its own set of point-to-point directions.
Amazon has announced the launch of Kindle Touch, its touchscreen version of iKindle e-reader, in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy.
The Kindle Touch will be available for delivery from 27 April, five months after it went on sale in the US. Unlike in America, there will not be a discounted version with adverts.
Kindle Touch aims to challenge touch-based e-readers from Kobo and Sony.
Amazon had no update on a European release date for its bestselling Kindle Fire Android-based tablet.
Kindle Touch is being sold in UK for £109 with wi-fi, and £169 with both wi-fi and 3G connectivity, with no monthly fee. Both options allow books to be bought “on the go” from Amazon.
The device also contains an “experimental” web browser, but it only works with a wi-fi signal.
The e-reader is 70 grams (2.5 ounces) heavier and slightly larger than the basic Kindle model, which is sold for £89.
However, it also offers an “x-ray” feature – exclusive to the device – which lets users to find related passages in a book as well as more detailed information from Wikipedia and Amazon’s community-written book encyclopaedia “Shelfari”.
The latest version of its operating system will allow books to be read in both portrait and landscape mode. US-owners had previously been restricted to holding the device vertically and had pressed Amazon to make both options available.
Amazon has announced the launch of Kindle Touch, its touchscreen version of iKindle e-reader, in the UK, Germany, France, Spain and Italy
Amazon said UK readers will have access to more than one million books including the Harry Potter series, which has just become available to the firm and its rivals.
“We launched our first Kindle here 18 months ago and it very quickly became successful with 500,000 titles,” said Jorrit Van der Meulen, Amazon’s European vice president of Kindle.
“It is the best-selling e-reader in the world, but the comments that we got back… were ‘we wish it had touch’, and so we’re excited now to bring this to the UK market as well.”
Jorrit Van der Meulen would not explain the reason for the gap in launch dates. He also confirmed that European users would not be able to lend books to each other or borrow titles from public libraries as they can in the US.
When asked about the Kindle Fire – which shipped on 14 November in the US – he said: “We generally don’t talk about upcoming products or future plans.”
Gadget site, Pocket-Lint’s editor was not convinced many users would want to pay a premium over the entry-point Kindle, which uses push-buttons to change pages.
“The basic version sold like hot cakes at Christmas and it is likely to remain the market leader,” said the site’s founder Stuart Miles.
“You don’t really need to touch a book to make the pages turn when a button does the same, and for another £20 that’s basically all you are getting.”
In the US, the Kindle Touch faces competition from the Nook Simple Touch, which is sold ad-free at a cheaper price, and the Nook Color which can screen movies and television shows.
There had been rumours that the rival e-readers might soon launch in the UK after their maker – Barnes & Noble bookstores – sponsored an event for developers in London earlier this month.
However, the firm’s senior vice president of communications, Mary Ellen-Keating, said: “We have nothing to announce at this time.”
Amazon has released today the Kindle Fire color tablet that costs just $199, which will put it in direct competition with Apple’s iPad 2.
Kindle Fire, the new Android touchscreen will be just one of a clutch of new tablet models, including one as cheap as $80.
Kindle Fire, the new Android device has a 7 inches color screen, and will weigh 14.6oz. The device can store 100,000 films, 17m songs, and magazines.
Kindle Fire, the new Amazon device has a 7 inches color screen, and will weigh 14.6oz, can store 100,000 films, 17m songs, and magazines
Unlike iPad, Kindle Fire won’t need to dock with a computer , but will “sync” wirelessly via Amazon’s Whispersync service, which uses 3G networks and wi-fi.
Kindle Fire is set to launch in US on November 15, but the device will be wi-fi only, rather than equipped with a 3G connection.
Amazon has also unveiled its own internet browser, Amazon Silk – an unexpected move, which seems even more aggressive towards Apple.
Amazon’s Kindle is the site’s best-selling product – but Kindle Fire, the tablet unveiled today, takes the gadget beyond being a cheap techno-bookshop to a multi function tablet with access to the huge amount of film, music and television Amazon already hosts on its site.
Kindle Fire’s worldwide release date is yet to be confirmed.
Reactions on Twitter ranged from “They’re out of their league” to outright disgust – but were outnumbered vastly by users saying they had already pre-ordered.
“The price is pretty amazing actually. With all of those services backing it up, there’s a lot of reason to think this will make a big splash,” said Stuff magazine editor Will Findlater.
“We don’t really know what the user experience is like yet, but this is a staggering price.”
Amazon is already invested heavily in cutting-edge cloud computing services and content delivery systems, all of which lend themselves to powering a piece of multimedia hardware like the Kindle Fire.
“Over 25% of consumers who plan to buy a tablet in the next year remain undecided which brand or model to buy. Over 50% of people who want to buy a tablet are waiting for prices to come down. We are likely to see Christmas wish lists rewritten overnight.”
“It’s a risky move that puts Amazon in direct competition with Apple – but could be essential to the site surviving in an age where downloads of entertainment will become the norm,” Jeff Bezos, the Amazon CEO pointed himself.
Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos said of the evolution of the device:
“Four years ago we stated with 90,000 books – today it’s a million. You can choose any of these books and have them in 60 seconds wirelessly.”
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO unveils the Kindle Fire today in New York
However, insiders worry that Amazon may have rushed in. The hardware is rumored to be similar to BlackBerry’s PlayBook – a huge flop that caused reported redundancies at the company, and is now offered at huge discounts online.
Rumors are also circulating that an upgraded model of Kindle Fire will come out shortly after Christmas.
Will Findlater, editor of Stuff magazine:
“This is Amazon expanding its repertoire. It’s already invested heavily in cutting-edge cloud computing services and content delivery systems, all of which lend themselves to powering a piece of multimedia hardware like the Kindle Fire.
“The Kindle will remain the de facto choice for people who just want to read – and there are lots and lots of them – while the Kindle Fire caters for those of us who want music, video and apps, too.”
Amazon’s advantage is that – unlike BlackBerry – it is not trying to make money from the device itself. Kindle Fire will merely be a portal to Amazon’s video, music and eBooks.
Amazon is already the world’s largest online retailer – and comes armed with a one-click ordering system that can deliver entertainment from books to films to music with a single button-press. Other iPad rivals may simply not have been entertaining enough.
Analysts suggest that Amazon’s willingness to sell hardware at a loss in order to sell more e-books,films and music will put it in a position to offer the first serious challenge to Apple – whose “core” business is still selling phones, tablets, and iPods.
American tech industry analysts Forrester Research wrote on their company blog that Amazon’s tablet could be the “only credible iPad competitor” and could even “completely disrupt the status quo”.
Even on iPad, consumers often prefer buying books via Amazon’s Kindle app to Apple’s own less-well-stocked iBooks store.
“Apple sells software and services, but the lion’s share of Apple’s revenue still comes from hardware,” wrote Forrester Research.
“This makes it vulnerable to a company, such as Amazon, that isn’t seeking profit from hardware sales.”
Analysts still expect Apple to dominate the tablet market for “several years” – at present, Apple controls at least 75% of tablet sales worldwide, despite High Street chains such as Comet selling Android tablets for as little as $150.
Kindle Fire vs. iPad:
Kindle Fire comes in one model priced at $199, iPad 2 is $499-$829.
Kindle Fire has no camera, front or back.
Kindle Fire’s resolution is 1024×600, iPad 2’s 1024×768.
iPad 2 comes in several models, some with 3G connections. Kindle Fire’s low price is partially down to its lack of a 3G connection.
Kindle Fire’s screen is 7 inches, iPad 2’s is 10.1 inches.
Kindle Fire has 8Gb built-in storage – iPad 2 has from 16Gb to 64Gb.
Kindle Fire’s maximum battery life is 8 hours, iPad 2’s is 10.
Amazon Kindle color tablet, the new iPad rival, will be unveiled tomorrow during a press conference.
Amazon is holding a press conference on Wednesday where it’s widely expected that the giant online retailer will unveil a new color Kindle that puts it on collision course with Apple – a device that could be half the price of iPad 2.
Other tech giants from Motorola to Nokia have tried the same thing, of course – and crashed and burned.
But Amazon is already the world’s largest online retailer – and comes armed with a one-click ordering system that can deliver entertainment from books to films to music with a single button-press.
Other iPad rivals may simply not have been entertaining enough.
Amazon Kindle tablet is rumored to cost a mere $250 - including “free” access to Amazon's Prime film-streaming service
Amazon’s Kindle tablet is rumored to cost a mere $250 – including “free” access to Amazon’s Prime film-streaming service, vastly undercutting Apple’s price.
Amazon Kindle tablet is also more pocketable, at a rumored seven inches.
Analysts suggest that Amazon’s willingness to sell hardware at a loss in order to sell more e-books, films and music will put it in a position to offer the first serious challenge to Apple – whose “core” business is still selling phones, tablets, and iPods.
According to Forrester Research, the US tech industry analysts, Amazon Kindle tablet could be the “only credible iPad competitor” and could even “completely disrupt the status quo”.
Even on iPad, consumers often prefer buying books via Amazon’s Kindle app to Apple’s own less-well-stocked iBooks store.
“Apple sells software and services, but the lion’s share of Apple’s revenue still comes from hardware,” wrote Forrester.
“This makes it vulnerable to a company, such as Amazon, that isn’t seeking profit from hardware sales.”
The tech blog Techcrunch suggested that Amazon Kindle tablet might be called Kindle Fire.
Simon Osborne-Walker, Associate Editor of Britain’s Stuff magazine, said of Amazon Kindle tablet:
“Where other manufacturers have taken on Apple in a tech-spec arms race, Amazon’s all about the content.
“It doesn’t care if it makes a loss on every device it sells; they’re just shop windows and cash registers connecting to the world’s biggest superstore.”
Amazon Kindle is already the company's best-selling product and the colour version is described as the 'first credible rival to iPad 2
Industry insiders have, however, cast doubt on Amazon’s ability to produce an operating system that looks and “feels’ as good as Apple’s, however.
Amazon’s “strength” has always been the technologies that underlie its products – such as the one-click buying system it pioneered, or the “recommendation” system that is now imitated on many other e-commerce sites on the web.
Whether Amazon can produce an experience as slick as Apple’s best-selling iOS remains to be seen.
Analysts still expect Apple to dominate the tablet market for “several years” – at present, Apple controls at least 75% of tablet sales worldwide, despite High Street chains such as Comet selling Android tablets for as little as $300.
Amazon Kindle tablet vs. iPad:
Kindle an Android tablet – but TechCrunch claim to have seen a prototype that adopts Amazon’s orange, black and blue color scheme.
Kindle will have a seven-inch display and will be much more pocketable than iPad.
A bigger, 10-inch version is due, but not before Christmas.
The smaller model of Kindle tablet will cost “around half the price” of the entry-level of iPad 2.
Kindle’s price will include access to Amazon Prime – including a new film-streaming service, and faster deliveries on “real world” Amazon products.
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