#amazon

Zach Epstein apparently has some details (and images) of the forthcoming Amazon smartphone:

The device houses an additional four front-facing cameras that work with other sensors to facilitate the software’s 3D effects. One source tells us these four cameras, which are situated in each of the four corners on the face of the phone, are low-power infrared cameras.

The device’s extra cameras are used to track the position of the user’s face and eyes in relation to the phone’s display. This allows Amazon’s software to make constant adjustments to the positioning of on-screen elements, altering the perspective of visuals on the screen.

The result is a 3D experience without the need for 3D glasses or a parallax barrier in front the LCD panel like the solutions used by the Nintendo 3DS portable video game console and HTC’s EVO 3D smartphone from 2011.

While I’m hesitant to say so definitely before seeing it, this reeks of pure novelty. Just as it was with every other “3D” phone before it

The question you have to ask is: at the end of the day, does such a feature make for a truly better user experience? Or is it just a novelty trying to mask itself as a differentiating feature? Or worse, does it actually make the device harder to use?

Yes, the iPhone has a “parallax” effect with iOS 7. But Apple doesn’t shy away from it being purely ornamental. And, by the way, a lot of people hate that feature.

The Amazon Phone need only be an Amazon Prime Phone, not some weird, novelty-laden thing.

Jeff Bezos in his annual shareholder letter:

Failure comes part and parcel with invention. It’s not optional. We understand that and believe in failing early and iterating until we get it right. When this process works, it means our failures are relatively small in size (most experiments can start small), and when we hit on something that is really working for customers, we double-down on it with hopes to turn it into an even bigger success. However, it’s not always as clean as that. Inventing is messy, and over time, it’s certain that we’ll fail at some big bets too.

Always a good read.

The reviews are starting to come in for Amazon’s new Fire TV and the consensus seems to be that it’s… okay.

People really like the voice search (but complain that it’s limited to Amazon and Hulu content). To anyone who has ever tried to search for anything using the Apple TV remote, this makes perfect sense. This is clearly how it should be done, especially if you have a product like Siri…

People also like the gaming functionality, though note that the controller feels cheap. Also something obvious for Apple to add to the Apple TV, though ideally with a much better controlling mechanism. 

Overall, sounds pretty “meh” to me. But at $99, I’ll probably pick up one just to try the gaming aspect.

Greg Bensinger:

Amazon.com Inc. will begin shipping its long-awaited video-streaming device in early April, through its website as well as retailers including and Staples Inc., said people familiar with the company’s plans.

The weirdest thing about this device is that Amazon is apparently going to sell it through Best Buy and Staples. And that those guys are apparently going to allow them to.

Greg Bensinger:

Amazon said it is considering a more than 50% increase in the U.S. to its popular “Prime” two-day membership program to help cover increased shipping and fuel costs.

The change – of between $20 and $40 annually – would be the first in the nine-year history of the Prime program. Amazon has brought in millions of higher-spending customers through the program, which promises unlimited shipping on many items, as well as video streaming for U.S. customers.

I would have absolutely no problem paying this — that’s how much of a steal Amazon Prime is right now. And it seems like a lot of folks I follow on Twitter feel the same way.

Anonymous asked:

Amazon tried their own delivery service once. It was called Tote, and it was only available in Seattle.

A few people wrote to me about this (due to this post), I actually was not aware of it — yet, sure enough.

I do wonder if this isn’t like a Webvan situation though. You could argue that Webvan was a good idea, it was just poor execution and perhaps before its time. Now Amazon (and others) are tackling the same thing — and Amazon happens to be doing it with many former key Webvan people.

In this light, it’s not hard to envision a word where AmazonTote gets resurrected…

Laura Stevens, Serena Ng, and Shelly Banjo:

The shipping delays at UPS sparked outrage among people who had bought gifts from Amazon.com Inc., Kohl’s Corp. and other online retailers in the days and weeks before Christmas. Many had been swayed by guarantees from the retailers that their packages would be delivered by the holiday.

The official Amazon statement on the matter is interesting:

Amazon fulfillment centers processed and tendered customer orders to delivery carriers on time for holiday delivery. We are reviewing the performance of the delivery carriers.

While the drone initiative gets all the buzz, you have to wonder how long it is until Amazon starts handling more traditional shipping on its own? With fuck-ups like this one, they almost literally can’t afford not to.

Doesn’t seem like they could afford to buy either UPS (market cap near $100B) or FedEx (market cap near $50B), but maybe that’s what AmazonFresh is all about, long term.

Speaking of Amazon, here’s Jason Del Ray on some insane numbers the company is projected to see from Kindle owners:

Based on its research and analysis, CIRP estimates that Kindle owners spend $1,233 per year on Amazon compared to $790 per year for Amazon shoppers who don’t own one of the company’s e-readers or tablets. Kindle owners aren’t necessarily buying more at a shot, but are buying more frequently.

“Another way to look at Kindle Fire and Kindle e-Reader is as a portal to Amazon.com,” CIRP’s Mike Levin said in a statement. “Kindle Fire provides access to everything Amazon sells, while Kindle e-Reader has become the way that Amazon customers buy books, Amazon’s original product line.”

On the surface, at least, one could make the argument then that Amazon could potentially drop prices on the devices to get them into the hands of more people, since they become more valuable customers. But, drop prices too far and you may attract a different set of customers that may cause that spending disparity to shrink.

This, in a nutshell, is why I think it’s probably smart to think of any phone Amazon does as more of a “Amazon Prime Phone” and less of a “Kindle Phone” (even if it’s called something more along those lines). It’s sole purpose may be to supercharge Amazon sales (both digital and physical)

Alistair Barr on the impending launch of “Pantry”, a new project by Amazon to take on bulk players like Costco and Sam’s Club:

The service will be targeted at existing members of Amazon’s Prime shipping program. It will launch with about 2,000 products typically found in the center of grocery stores, such as cleaning supplies, kitchen paper rolls, canned goods like pet food, dry grocery items like cereal and some beverages.

Amazon will let Prime shoppers put as many of these items into a set sized box, up to a specific weight limit. If the products fit and they don’t exceed the maximum weight, Amazon will ship the box for a small fee.

The only thing surprising here is that Amazon didn’t move into this space sooner. This could, quite literally, be huge.