Amazon wants to take over your TV. On Wednesday, the company unveiled a $99 set-top box called Amazon Fire TV. The device will start shipping immediately.
The huge Internet retailer showed off its latest piece of hardware— a device “thinner than a dime” that connects televisions to streaming video services like Netflix, Hulu and of course, Amazon’s own video streaming service.
“We need to invent and simplify on behalf of customers,” Peter Larsen, Amazon’s vice president of Kindle, said to a group of journalists and analysts in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. “When we looked at the living room we took the same approach. How do we make the complexity disappear?”
Fire TV also comes with a “small, elegant” remote and is connected via Bluetooth, which “really helps to make it disappear,” Larsen said. The device itself will fit underneath or behind your TV.
Amazon’s next hardware move likely will be a much-rumored set-top box, and it appears the company also has in development a Bluetooth gaming controller that could work with it. Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet has been blazing with video game action, noted IDC analyst Lewis Ward, who said, “I think Amazon is about to jump into living room gaming in a big way.”
Amazon is raising the price of its popular Prime membership to $99 per year, an increase of $20.
It’s the first price increase since the online retailer introduced its Prime membership program, which includes two-day free shipping on many products, in 2005. The company said it would probably raise the price by $20 to $40 in January.AP Photo/Paul Sakuma,
The hike will apply to users when they renew their membership. Users who renew membership before April 17 will pay $79 for the year. After April 17 the price will change to $99. New customers that start a free trial between now and March 20 will lock in the $79 rate for the first year.
The company said it added a million new Prime members in the week before Christmas and a surge in online ordering in the U.S. contributed to huge delays for people sending gifts just ahead of the holiday.
But that has rankled some investors, who are looking for bigger returns.
PayPal, a wholly owned subsidiary of eBay, serves as the main financial tool for transferring money to American hate groups, and it earns fees on every transaction that vary in size according to a variety of factors. Research conducted by the Intelligence Report finds that at least 69 of the hate groups listed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) rely on PayPal to help finance their activities.
The irony is that PayPal bans such activity in its terms of service. PayPal says that its policy “regarding payments for goods and services that may promote hate, violence, or intolerance” considers the following factors: 1) The promotion or glorification of hate, violence or intolerance because of a person’s race, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation; 2) any graphic portrayal of violence or victims of violence; and 3) previous activity associated with the account holder. It specifically bans the sale of “[i]tems containing Nazi, SS, or Ku Klux Klan symbols, including authentic German WWII memorabilia.”
More: Financing Hate
PayPal is not the only merchant service that serves hate groups, however inadvertently. Over at Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, it’s possible for hate sites to earn money in a number of ways. Hate groups can and do advertise qualifying Amazon products on their own sites and earn commissions of up to 10%. A neo-Nazi site, for instance, could advertise books about World War II sold by major publishers and earn fees for referring its supporters to Amazon to buy them. In addition, even without advertising specific Amazon products, hate sites can and do encourage their visitors to do all their shopping at Amazon via portals on the hate sites, again generating significant commissions for the sites’ operators.Amazon helps sell hate literature like John Derbyshire’s From the Dissident Right. It also pays commissions to hate sites like VDARE when followers shop at the online retailer via a VDARE portal. - via splcenter.org
Take the blog vdare.com, named after Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas and a potent symbol for white nationalists. VDARE specializes in bashing non-white immigrants and is home to such illuminating essays as “IQ: Why Africa is Africa — and Haiti Haiti.” In December, VDARE was carrying a banner ad atop its front page reading, “amazon.com: Stop by Christmas Corner,” and linking to holiday products on Amazon’s site. On the same front page, VDARE implored supporters, “Remember to enter Amazon via the vdare.com link and we get a commission on any purchases you make—at no cost to you!”
The Report contacted Amazon in September about the participation of hate groups and hate sites in Amazon programs that earn them commissions. Amazon said it would assign “appropriate teams to investigate, review applicable policies, and take appropriate action” but that it would not give out “information about any action taken.” Three months later, in early December, the Counter-Currents and VDARE hate sites were still earning commissions through Amazon.
amazon.com is testing delivering packages using drones, CEO Jeff Bezos said on the CBS TV news show 60 Minutes Sunday.
The idea would be to deliver packages as quickly as possible using the small, unmanned aircraft, through a service the company is calling Prime Air, the CEO said.
Bezos played a demo video on 60 Minutes that showed how the aircraft, also known as octocopters, will pick up packages in small yellow buckets at Amazon’s fulfillment centers and fly through the air to deliver items to customers after they hit the buy button online at amazon.com.
The goal of the new delivery system is to get packages into customers’ hands in 30 minutes or less, the world’s largest Internet retailer said. Putting Prime Air into commercial use will take “some number of years” as Amazon develops the technology further and waits for the Federal Aviation Administration to come up with rules and regulations, the company added.
If all digital data were stored on punch cards, how big would Google’s data warehouse be?
Google almost certainly has more data storage capacity than any other organization on Earth.
Google is very secretive about its operations, so it’s hard to say for sure. There are only a handful of organizations who might plausibly have more storage capacity or a larger server infrastructure. Here’s my short list of the top contenders:
Amazon (They’re huge, but probably not as big as Google.)
Facebook (They’re on the right scale and growing fast, but still playing catch-up.)
Microsoft (They have a million servers, although no one seems sure why.)
Let’s take a closer look at Google’s computing platform.
As a reminder, it goes byte, kilobyte, megabyte, gigabyte, terrabyte, petabyte, exabyte… O_o
David Good’s parents come from different countries - hardly unusual in the US where he was raised. But the 25-year-old’s family is far from ordinary - while his father is American, his mother is a tribeswoman living in a remote part of the Amazon. Two decades after she left, David realised he had to find her.
It had been two decades, but David recognised his mother.
“I knew it was her right away,” he says. “I stood up and approached her. And then it just hit me - what do I do? Everything in me just wanted to hold her, to hug her, but that’s not the Yanomami way of greeting people.
“So it was just this awkward encounter. I put my hand on her shoulder and she started trembling and crying. And I looked into her eyes and I just couldn’t help but start crying myself.”
“There was a silence,” says Hortensia Caballero, who had come upriver with David. “What I remember was a silence. It was a very beautiful, intense moment. Of course all the women in the village, including me, found we had tears on our cheeks.”
David started to speak softly in English. He said “I’m here, I’m finally here,” and “I made it, I’m back” and “It’s been so long”.
Fascinating long read from the BBC.
Online retailer Amazon is severing ties with its online associates in Missouri because of a new state law that subjects their transactions to sales taxes.
Amazon Associates write blogs or product reviews then link to amazon.com, and collect commissions - between 4 percent and 8.5 percent - if people use that link to buy something on Amazon’s site.
Amazon is blaming a new Missouri new law that takes effect next week subjecting those online transactions to sales taxes for its decision to sever the ties, the Kansas City Star reported.
The retailer notified its Amazon Associates in an email last week that, it will no longer “pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon site after August 27.”
Apple lost a major case when District Judge Denise Cote ruled that the company led a conspiracy to raise e-book prices above those charged by Amazon. Cote’s 160-page ruling, released this morning, offered some intricate detail on just how that conspiracy worked.
Cote described how Apple struck agreements with each of the five publisher defendants—who settled the case before trial—in order to push e-book rates higher than Amazon’s. The negotiations happened in the seven weeks leading up to the January 27, 2010 announcement of the iPad.
Publishers told Apple they were unhappy with Amazon’s standard price of $9.99. Although they received the full wholesale value of each book sold by Amazon, publishers didn’t want $9.99 to catch on as the new default price for e-books, especially since this was so much lower than hardcovers. One strategy they used to keep revenues up was to delay the release of e-book versions of new books, but Apple told publishers it opposed this tactic in its then-forthcoming e-books store. HarperCollins wanted to flat-out charge as much as $18 or $20 for e-books, but Apple Senior VP Eddy Cue also made it clear that this was unrealistic. Apple was more amenable, however, when HarperCollins suggested using an “agency model” instead of the wholesale model used by Amazon.
With a wholesale model, Apple would purchase e-books and resell them at a price of its choosing, whereas with an agency model “a publisher sets the retail price and the retailer sells the e-book as its agent.” Apple would become the agent selling the books, taking a 30 percent commission on each sale, just as it does with its App Store.
But Apple did not want to open an e-book store at all unless it was profitable, Cote wrote, and in order to make it work, the company had to deal with Amazon. Apple had even considered proposing a partnership with Amazon, “with iTunes acting as ‘an e-book reseller exclusive to Amazon and Amazon becom[ing] an audio/video iTunes reseller exclusive to Apple,’” Cote wrote.
Amazon and other e-commerce firms are cutting ties with all Minnesotans who earn money by posting links that send traffic to online merchants after lawmakers passed a tweak to state sales tax law.
Minnesota E-Fairness legislation, signed by Gov. Mark Dayton on May 23 and going into effect July 1, classifies independent bloggers and online reviewers as a physical presence of a business in the state. This means online companies who pay these people to generate new sales must collect tax not just on those sales, but on all sales in the state.
The tax on online sales is already due, but the onus has been on consumers, who often never pay the tax. The new law puts the onus on Amazon, as long as they have a single blogger posting links to its products from Minnesota.
The state has estimated the new law will generate $5 million in new revenue, but Amazon is having none of it.
The company sent an email to associates in Minnesota, saying it will close all accounts in the state to avoid the tax.
“This is a direct result of the unconstitutional Minnesota state tax collection legislation passed by the state legislature and signed by Governor Dayton,” the letter said. “We will no longer pay any advertising fees for customers referred to an Amazon Site after June 30 nor will we accept new applications for the Associates Program from Minnesota residents.”
The state Department of Revenue said it is working on this issue today, but was not immediately ready to comment.
Aaron Hall, an attorney in Minneapolis who has clients who will be affected and has written about the new law, said even he will lose a couple hundred dollars a month as Amazon pulls the plug on the Minnesota program.
“A lot of bloggers have been hit,” Hall said.
Amazon, which was not immediately available for further comment, is not the only company cutting off ties with Minnesota bloggers and reviewers. Commission Junction, a California-based firm that handles online marketing and advertising, has also pulled out of the state, Hall said. Commission Junction was not immediately ready to comment.
The people affected are part of a grass-roots, independent e-commerce sales force, creating accounts with these companies and posting special links to blog posts, reviews and display ads that credit them for sales. Sometimes they earn a commission, up to 6 percent, Hall said. Some people make tens of thousands of dollars a year.
Amazon has already pulled out of states like California, North Carolina, Colorado, Connecticut, Arkansas, Illinois and Rhode Island for similar reasons.
The online giant called Minnesota’s E-Fairness legislation “unconstitutional” in its lette, and called for federal lawmakers to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act to resolve the confusion of online sales tax policy from state to state.
“Congressional legislation is the only way to create a simplified, constitutional framework to resolve interstate sales tax issues and it would allow us to re-open our Associates program to Minnesota residents,” Amazon said.