Posts Tagged ‘amazon’

Amazon Mines Its Data Trove to Bet on TV’s Next Hit

November 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In May, a dozen Inc. executives, including Chief Executive Jeff Bezos, gathered in a Seattle conference room to select the first original TV shows the company would produce for its streaming video service. A group of 14 “pilot” episodes had been posted on the company’s website a month earlier, where they were viewed by more than one million people. After monitoring viewing patterns and comments on the site, Amazon produced about 20 pages of data detailing, among other things, how much a pilot was viewed, how many users gave it a 5-star rating and how many shared it with friends. Those findings helped the executives pick the first five pilots—winnowed down from an original pool of thousands of show ideas—that would be turned into series. The first will debut this month: “Alpha House,” a political comedy about four politicians who live together, written by Doonesbury comic strip creator Garry Trudeau. Read the rest of this post on the original site »

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Amazon Builds the Spheres, While Google Opts for the Hulk

October 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

As with Apple, Facebook, Samsung and many other tech companies, Amazon and Google are in the analog building business of late. According to the Seattle Times , the e-commerce giant had its plan for a “five-story office building formed by three intersecting spheres” unanimously thumbs-upped by that city’s design-review board. There are still other approvals to go, as well as building permits, for the structure in downtown Seattle by architect NBBJ, part of a larger 3.3 million square-foot campus. Noted the Times: “The spheres still would range in height from 80 feet to 95 feet and feature a mix of flex work space and an atrium of plants and trees. The area between the spheres and a 38-story office tower would still include a dog park, a walkway and an open field.” Perhaps more intriguingly, Google is apparently working on a floating data center that CNET is describing as “hulking.” Wrote CNET: “It’s unclear what’s inside the structure, which stands about four stories high and was made with a series of modern cargo containers … One expert who was shown pictures of the structure thinks so, especially because being on a barge provides easy access to a source of cooling, as well as an inexpensive source of power — the sea. And even more tellingly, Google was granted a patent in 2009 for a floating data center, and putting data centers inside shipping containers is already a well-established practice.” And, of course, since it’s Google, it’s hiding in plain site in the middle of the San Francisco Bay. Google also has a big HQ project going with NBBJ , which is also the architect behind the new Samsung North America campus in Silicon Valley and Tencent’s new digs in China. Facebook, too, has ambitious plans to expand its campus. And, of course, Apple has already got the go-ahead for its Apple Campus 2 project , a 2.8-million-square-foot structure of curved glass, concrete and steel nicknamed the “Spaceship.” (Image of Amazon offices rendering courtesy of NBBJ.)

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Amazon Notches $17.1 Billion in Q3 Revenue, Beats Street

October 24, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Amazon beat Wall Street’s expectations with $17.1 billion in revenue in the third quarter, compared to an average analyst estimate of $16.8 billion. That’s a 24 percent jump over the same quarter last year. As expected, the company posted a loss, and it was exactly what analysts on average were expecting: Nine cents a share. As for the all-important fourth quarter, Amazon didn’t totally extinguish concerns, raised by eBay last week , that consumer spending may not grow as quickly as originally expected. If Amazon hits the low end of its guidance, revenue would grow just 10 percent next quarter, the company said. The top end of the range would see revenue climb 25 percent. On a call with media, CFO Tom Szkutak said the company was “optimistic” about the fourth quarter and “very excited about the inputs we see.”

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Managing Platforms Is a Human Art

October 21, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Pictofigo In March 2012, I left the suburban enclaves of San Jose and went on safari to Kenya. Early in the trip I toured the Ngorongoro crater, filled with African lions, rhinos, hippos and giraffes. But my favorites were the monkeys. I loved Curious George as a boy. Seeing George’s real cousins, I asked our tour guide, “Can I give a banana to the monkey?” I had become the real-life Man with the Yellow Hat. The tour guide responded with an immediate and stern refusal, “Absolutely not.” He explained with a calm voice, “If you give a banana to a monkey you will destroy our ecosystem. You will teach monkeys to beg, and not forage, for food. You will pose danger to your fellow safari goers who might not have bananas to offer. And your action will cause other actions, for the plants, the wolves, the trees and everything else. You must not give a banana to the monkey.” He was right, and I knew it. Prior to visiting Kenya, I had managed the seller platform at eBay for over eleven years.

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ShopRunner’s Scott Thompson: We’re Building So Much More Than An Amazon Prime Competitor

October 12, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Earlier this week, ShopRunner, the two-day online retail shipping service, said it had raised a giant $200 million-plus investment from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba and American Express. With the investment, Alibaba Executive Vice Chairman Joe Tsai joined ShopRunner’s board. The investment size was surprising for many reasons, but mostly because of how large it was and how seemingly cost-effective ShopRunner’s current model is. What in the world does ShopRunner need all that money for? ShopRunner partners with retailers and brands such as Brooks Brothers and Calvin Klein to provide free two-day shipping to ShopRunner members who shop at the partners’ online stores. ShopRunner members pay $79 a year or $8.95 a month for that privilege. The brands and retail operations handle all the packing and shipping, with ShopRunner plugging into their backend systems to make sure its members are getting their orders when promised. ShopRunner takes two to five percent of each Shop Runner-eligible purchase a member makes on partnering e-commerce sites. In return, the company attempts to prove to its retail partners that it is bringing them new, repeat customers who will spend more than non-members. I spoke this week with ShopRunner CEO Scott Thompson, who’s making a run at a redemption after after the controversy over inaccuracies on his resume forced his departure from Yahoo where he was briefly CEO. Here’s an edited version of our conversation. That’s a huge investment. Why Alibaba and why so much money? Scott Thompson: Think of this as a growth-equity type infusion. We are at right at this point where we know the product is solid, know the experience is real good and getting better by the day, we’ve launched our mobile apps and are beginning to see some early traction on that. And this month we’ll cross a million members [including some non-paying ones who’ve signed up through an American Express partnership]. With this infusion of cash, this is the perfect time for this business. I hate to say it because every startup does, but we’re at this inflection point

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Hulu Gets Its Second New Boss of the Year

October 11, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Hulu is under new management, for the second time this year. Andy Forssell, who has been running the video site since last spring as an interim CEO, is out. 21st Century Fox executive Mike Hopkins is headed in. The fact that Forssell is leaving isn’t surprising. After Hulu sales boss JP Colaco left last month , Forssell was the sole high-profile executive left at the site with ties to original CEO Jason Kilar. And if Hulu’s owners — Fox, Disney and Comcast — had wanted him to run the business on a permanent basis, they could have said so anytime in the last six months. Instead, Fox and Disney executives — a deal with federal regulators means that Comcast doesn’t have a say in the site’s management — have been conducting a search for a new site head. Hopkins has run distribution for Fox, so his appointment has some logic to it, if you think of Hulu as a digital hub for its owners’ content. But Disney and Fox could have gone in different directions, by picking an executive with an ad sales background, or one with strong product skills. Both Bloomberg and Reuters reported Hopkins’s appointment late Thursday night. As always with Hulu, the real issue for the video site isn’t its management, but what its owners want to do with it. Fox and Disney executives have gone back and forth over the site’s future for years. In July, when they announced that they wouldn’t sell Hulu, but would instead invest $750 million to help the site compete with Netflix and Amazon , it seemed that they were aligned. But people familiar with both companies say they are at loggerheads again. In a memo announcing his departure, distributed to Hulu employees Thursday, Forssell said Hulu was on track to generate close to $1 billion in revenue this year. In 2012, the company reported $700 million in revenue .

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Kindle Fire HDX: A More Helpful Tablet

October 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

[ See post to watch video ] What if you could summon a tech-support person to pop up in seconds in a live video on your digital device? And what if that person could draw on the screen or even take over the device to solve a problem? Well, starting Oct. 18, you can do just that with the latest in Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet line, the Kindle Fire HDX. This help system, called the Mayday button, is the most unusual feature of what is otherwise a mainly evolutionary new model of the company’s color tablets. A better help system isn’t exactly the prime reason to buy a new tablet. After all, tablets are supposed to be simple and easy to figure out. But Mayday is consistent with Amazon’s long, well-earned reputation for customer support. X-Ray for Music shows lyrics synchronized to the song playing on the Kindle Fire HDX. I’ve been testing the Fire HDX, and it’s a good, basic color tablet. This latest model, which starts at $229 for the 7-inch-screen version I used, is a definite improvement on last year’s Fire HD, which started at $199 for the 7-inch version. (There’s also a costlier, larger HDX version, with an 8.9-inch screen.) Like earlier Fire models, it’s best thought of as a hardware gateway to buying digital content from Amazon. The base model blasts ads at you from the home screen, but you can buy one without ads for $15 more.

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New Kindle Paperwhite Is a Snappier, More Capable E-Reader

October 7, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

There’s a new Kindle in town: the Kindle Paperwhite. This latest product in Amazon’s line of basic monochrome e-readers has some welcome improvements over last year’s Paperwhite, including a faster processor and a nicer screen. But since it’s not a blow-your-mind upgrade, Kindle lovers might be wondering whether it’s worth an upgrade. And e-reader newbies may wonder what the difference is between this one — which starts at $119 — and the $69 entry-level Kindle. I’ve been using the new Kindle Paperwhite for the past week, reading mostly media theory and economics books, which means I use it for less than an hour a night before I fall asleep. My conclusion is that it’s probably not a must-have for people who are perfectly happy with their 2012 Paperwhite, but it is very tempting

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How $10 Million Can Lose You $250 Million

October 3, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

Image copyright Ilin Sergey Every company is seeing a rise in mobile traffic, but often can’t figure out why direct revenue from mobile isn’t increasing at a rate proportional to traffic. While mobile still represents a seemingly small percentage of overall revenue — generally between two percent and 10 percent depending on the business — the growth rate is impossible to deny. A recent study by IBM found that mobile commerce grew by 31 percent in Q1 of 2013, outpacing all e-commerce at 20 percent and in-store at 3.7 percent. Any statistician will tell you that percentages are only as good as their perspective size, coercing many marketing strategies to focus on other “channels.” However — to be blunt — mobile is not a channel. It begins, reinforces and sometimes completes all channels. By not understanding the influence that mobile devices exert in all revenue centers, any company is susceptible to losing revenue at 25 times that of direct mobile revenue. Applying research from a March 2013 Deloitte study , mobile can influence traditional in-store purchases by an astounding 17x. In addition, BloomReach’s internal data anonymously connecting mobile and Web usage on the same merchant shows that mobile can influence a desktop e-commerce channel by up to 7x. So, hypothetically, a company that loses $10 million in yearly mobile revenue that provides poor mobile experiences stands to lose $70 million from desktop revenue and an additional $170 million from in-store purchases — totaling a whopping $250 million. Think it’s not possible

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Newspaper Challenge

October 2, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

I knew the quality of the people would be very high. The business challenges in the newspaper industry have nothing to do with the quality of the people. These are big industry-wide trends. – Jeff Bezos , talking about the Washington Post sale on “Good Morning America” last week

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