The No. 1 U.S. online retailer is also exploring adding a same-day delivery option on all items sold by third-party merchants on its site, a move that some logistics experts said may help offset the high costs of speedy, last-mile delivery.
The company’s global ambitions for same-day delivery were echoed in at least seven listings for senior product and marketing jobs based at the company’s headquarters in Seattle, including three posted online this week.
“Our long-term vision is that customers can order and receive a sellers’ product the same day anywhere in the world,” according to one job listing posted in late October.
It is not clear when Amazon hopes to meet its goals and how it would extend same-day delivery to more third-party sellers, who account for 40 percent of items sold on Amazon’s website and pay fees between 8 percent and 20 percent in most categories.
An Amazon spokesman declined to comment.
Amazon offers same-day delivery in just over a dozen U.S. cities, charging $5.99 for members of its Prime program while non-members pay $8.99. In October, the company launched a same-day delivery service in the United Kingdom with newspaper delivery company Connect Group PLC.
A senior product manager role advertised on Tuesday called for a candidate to shape the future of same-day delivery and “drive large worldwide projects with huge customer-facing and financial impact.”
Offering fast shipping is a key piece of Amazon’s strategy to compete with brick-and-mortar stores. But the effort is costly – during the first nine months of 2014, Amazon’s shipping costs were more than double its shipping revenue.
But the potential payoff could be big, analysts say. According to a September survey by RBC Capital Markets, just 4 percent of Amazon customers used same-day delivery, but they spent 15 percent more than others.
Amazon.com Inc will move more of its drone testing outside U.S. borders unless it gets quick permission from U.S. regulators to proceed with outdoor trials, the company said in a recent letter to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The U.S. online retailer has already started conducting outdoor tests “in other countries with regulatory environments more supportive of small (unmanned aircraft systems) innovation,” according to the letter written by Amazon vice president of global public policy Paul Misener.
Amazon says outdoor testing is crucial to developing its “Prime Air” program, which aims to use drones – small unmanned aircraft – to deliver packages in 30 minutes or less. It said it preferred to keep that testing within the United States.
In July, Amazon sought permission from the FAA to test drones in outdoor areas near Seattle, where one of its research and development labs is working on the technology, but the FAA has been slow to give its approval.
“Without approval of our testing in the United States, we will be forced to continue expanding our Prime Air R&D footprint abroad,” Misener wrote in the letter, first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Drones are among several initiatives underway at Amazon to help control rising shipping costs and compete with brick-and-mortar stores by delivering items quickly. Amazon said there were dozens of U.S. job openings for its Prime Air division for hardware engineers and research scientists.
Amazon.com Inc has installed more than 15,000 robots across 10 U.S. warehouses, a move that looks to reduce operating costs by one-fifth and get packages out the door more quickly in the run-up to Christmas.
The orange 320-pound (145 kg) robots, which scoot around the floor on wheels, show how Amazon has adopted technology developed by Kiva Systems, a robotics company it bought for $775 million in 2012. Amazon showed off the robots ahead of Cyber Monday, the biggest online shopping day of the year.
The robots are designed to help the leading U.S. online retailer speed the time it takes to deliver items to customers and better compete with brick-and-mortar stores, where the bulk of Americans still do their shopping.
The robots also may help Amazon avoid the mishaps of last year’s holiday season, when a surge of packages overwhelmed shipping and logistics company UPS and delayed the arrival of Christmas presents around the globe. Amazon offered shipping refunds and $20 gift cards to compensate customers.
Amazon deployed the robots this summer, ahead of the key holiday quarter, when the company typically books about one-third of its annual revenue. The updated warehouses are in five states — California, Texas, Florida, New Jersey and Washington.
The move comes at a cost. Amazon estimated in June 2013 that it would spend about $46 million to install Kiva robots at its warehouse in Ruskin, Florida, including $26.1 million for the equipment, according to company filings to local government.
The Kiva robots have allowed Amazon to hold about 50 percent more items and shorten the time it takes to offer same-day delivery in several areas, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations and customer services.
The company also just deleted thousands of negative online customer reviews of the smartphone on its website.
The latest discount first appeared on Amazon.com last week, dropping the unlocked 32GB price from its original $649 to $199; the price still includes one year of Prime service, worth $99, and is good through Cyber Monday (Dec. 1).
In addition to the price cut, Amazon deleted thousands of customer reviews of the product, leaving up only reviews posted since the price cut went into effect.
Just one review appeared as of noon ET Wednesday: “Dan” gave the Fire four stars out five and called the $199 price “awesome,” adding that he wished it ran pure Android. (It runs the Fire OS, an Android variant.)
An Amazon spokeswoman said there weren’t more reviews because the revised unlocked version just launched on its Web site. She said it has been upgraded with added features such as text translation, a secure corporate VPN and user interface and performance improvements; those added features will be rolled out to existing Fire customers over-the-air in coming weeks, she added.
By comparison, customer reviews back in late October scored the device with just 2.4 stars out of five, based on nearly 4,000 reviews.
Various negative complaints included access to too few apps and concerns that the Fire got hot to the touch. Some users called the phone “gimmicky,” pointing to various innovative features like Firefly for instant access to information on products and objects, customer support with Mayday and a sensor system with 3D-like capabilities called Dynamic Perspective.
Rocket Internet, whose shares have had a bumpy ride since listing last month, said its 12 most successful companies saw average growth in gross merchandise volume — a measure of sales made through online marketplaces — of 104 percent in the six months to June 30.
It also announced a global agreement with Facebook, which will involve the U.S. company helping Rocket with advertising strategy and automation of ads and giving it access to tests of new advertising features.
Rocket Internet shares, which have rebounded to above the offer price of 42.50 euros after positive broker notes in recent days.
Investors who bought shares in Europe’s largest tech listing since 2000 were hoping to ride a wave of euphoria which culminated in Alibaba’s bumper New York flotation. However, the shares came under pressure over concerns about how long it might take the Rocket start-ups to turn a profit.
Among Rocket’s top performers were Russian fashion site Lamoda and Indian online store Jabong, which saw first-half revenue grow 112 percent and 187 percent respectively.
Founded in 2007 by brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc Samwer, Rocket has set up dozens of e-commerce and online marketplaces for everything from taxis to meal deliveries, aiming to replicate the success of Amazon and Alibaba in new markets like Africa, Latin America and Russia.
Sources are telling us that we should expect new skateboarding titles from both Electronic Arts and Activision in 2015. Word is that Activision is preparing a new Tony Hawk title and Electronic Arts will be bring out a new Skate title as well.
While Activision and Electronic Arts have not made the announcements yet, our sources tell us that we should expect both titles to be announced in the near future for a likely late 2015 release. It is unknown who might be handling the development on both titles, but word is that both titles are already deep in development.
With the release of a new Tony Hawk and Skate titles, it will revive the Skateboarding segment that has been dormant for quite some time. EA has not produced a new title in the Skate franchise since Skate 3 and the late couple of Tony Hawk titles didn’t do so well, but the re-issue of original Pro Skater for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 with DLC made up of levels from 2 & 3 have shown that interest does still exist for this segment.
Our hope is that it will be less like what we saw with the SSX revival that EA tried and then realized that it was not really want the people wanted and more like a new next-generation skateboarding title that puts the fun back into skating. We will have to wait and see.
That’s according to Cisco’s fourth annual Global Cloud Index, which predicts that the cloud will account for 76% of total data center traffic by 2018. That’s up from the cloud’s accounting for 54% of data center traffic last year.
The report, released on Tuesday, also showed that by 2018, half of the world’s population will have residential Internet access, and 53% of those users will store content on personal cloud storage services.
Cisco’s study was released the same day that Google renewed its push to pick up momentum in the public cloud market by dropping prices and adding and updating features.
Google, along with cloud rivals Amazon, IBM and Microsoft, are pushing their cloud efforts because the market is growing so fast.
In the spring Forrester Research reported that the public cloud market is set for “hypergrowth,” and is expected to reach $191 billion by 2020. That’s a big jump from the $58 billion market at the end of 2013.
While the public cloud is showing a 50% growth rate, the growth rates of both hybrid and private clouds come in at a strong 40% and 45%, according to Synergy Research Group.
Cisco’s report echoes similar growth predictions.
The study predicts that global data center traffic will nearly triple from 2013 to 2018, growing from 3.1 zettabytes per year in 2013 to 8.6 zettabytes per year. A zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes.
Cisco said 8.6 zettabytes of data center traffic is equivalent to streaming all of the approximately 500,000 movies and 3 million television shows ever made in ultra-high definition 250,000 times.
The company’s report is calculated by using data from server shipments to data centers, the installed base of workloads and the volume of bytes per workload per month. The company said it used data from market research firms Gartner, IDC, Synergy Research and Juniper Research.
Apple’s iPad finished in second place in the latest satisfaction survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, with a score of 824 out of a possible 1,000. For the first time, Amazon took first place, scoring 827.
Samsung came in at 821 for third, while Asus and Acer filled out the first five, but those stragglers’ scores were under the category average.
J.D. Power’s satisfaction score included five separate measurements for performance, ease of operation, features, styling and design, and cost, with each accounting for different percentages of the final number. Performance, for example, counted as 28% of the total; cost for 11%.
Apple received high scores in performance and styling and design, while Amazon performed best in ease of operation and cost, said Kirk Parsons, senior director of telecommunications services at J.D. Power.
“Within the tablet segment, there’s a balance of cost and value, and for this period, Amazon was at the equilibrium,” said Parsons. “For the money, [Amazon tablets] do what buyers need them to do. And the Mayday feature really helped them in ease of operation.”
Mayday is a feature on Amazon’s higher-end tablets that lets customers video chat with support representatives using the device.
Parsons called out Amazon’s Fire HDX, which launched in October 2013 in a 7-in. size and a month later in an 8.9-in. format, for driving the brand’s scores. Amazon now sells the 7-in. Fire HDX for $179; the 8.9-in. model starts at $379. “The new Fire HDX did really, really well” in the survey, Parsons noted.
J.D. Power polled nearly 2,700 U.S. tablet owners who had had their current devices for less than a year. The survey period ran from March to August.
The last time J.D. Power published tablet customer satisfaction scores, Amazon placed fourth. Its jump to first was a small surprise, said Parsons. “I figured [Amazon's] scores would improve, but I didn’t think they’d take the top spot,” he admitted.
Price is increasingly important to satisfaction, said Parson, as costs fall and capabilities climb across the board, making it more difficult for premium-priced tablets like Apple’s iPad, to retain their polled positions. On average, tablet customers now spend $345 on their tablets, $48 less than in April 2013, a decline of 12%.
Amazon is persisting in buying content to round out its service, with designs to take on Netflix Inc and other online digital media services. But that increasing spending has helped keep the company in the red, inviting criticism from investors.
Audible, the audiobooks service it bought in 2008 for $300 million, is picking up the 10-person company for an undisclosed sum. Audible founder and Chief Executive Donald Katz said in a statement on Monday the company had been attracted by Rooftop’s content as well as its pool of comic talent.
Rooftop records comedians at clubs across the country and licenses the digital rights to thousands of hours of comedy, which is broadcast either live or later on demand. The company’s media partners include Apple Inc and Yahoo, and it also works with streaming services such as Sirius XM, Spotify and Pandora.
Its content now becomes part of Audible, itself a fast-growing seller of online audiobooks, and vastly increases Rooftop’s audience, said Rooftop Chief Executive Officer Will Rogers.
Amazon is expected to continue acquiring digital content at a rapid clip. In past years, it began investing heavily to branch out from its online retail roots, delving into Hollywood-style content production as well as developing a line of tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes to accelerate the sale of digital content.
In an interview that Xbox head Phil Spencer gave to IGN, he says that a new IP is in development at one of Microsoft’s development studios. It apparently isn’t a new racing or military space marine title.
Spencer says that the Xbox brand needs “new stories and new characters” which provide a “canvas to try new things.” He went on to add that “Sunset Overdrive is a great example of a game that isn’t like anything else in our portfolio, and he thinks that is great. I want to continue to invest in things which push the boundaries.”
Spencer believes that it has to be a commitment from the first-party publisher to try things that are new and unique. While he would not offer a clue as to which studio might be working on this new IP or what the new IP might be, he does seem to imply that there is at least more than one internal/external studio that is working on unannounced games for Microsoft studios.
In the interview he again says that he wants RARE to be more than the Kinect Sports developer and he is in fact heading out to see them soon to look at a new pitch from the studio.
Pandora Media Inc, owners of the leading Internet radio service, reported a lower-than-expected increase in listeners in the third quarter, sending the company’s shares down 6 percent in extended trading on Thursday.
Pandora said it had 76.5 million active listeners as of Sept. 30, an increase of 5.2 percent from a year earlier.
Analysts, on average, had expected 76.7 million, according to market research firm StreetAccount.
Total listener hours rose to 4.99 billion from 3.99 billion, but again fell short of the average estimate of 5.02 billion.
Pandora’s profit and revenue both beat market expectations, however, as more people listened to streamed music on their mobile phones.
Mobile revenue increased 52 percent to $188 million, while local advertising revenue rose 118 percent to $41.8 million.
Despite its huge user base, Pandora faces stiff competition from Spotify, Apple Inc’s Beats online streaming service, Google Inc, and Amazon.com Inc in the fast-growing music streaming business.
Amazon, which had been in discussions with Simon & Schuster since July over pricing, confirmed the deal first reported by the Business Insider news blog that the two had reached an agreement.
Amazon had been locked in a months-long standoff with publisher Hachette Book Group, the fourth-largest U.S. book publisher owned by France’s Lagardere, over digital book pricing. That has led to numerous issues for authors.
Industry experts had expected other publishers eventually to be drawn into negotiations as well, as the Internet retailer tries to set new benchmarks for the e-book market.
Negotiations with Simon & Schuster took about three weeks and closed two months before Amazon’s contract expired, according to Business Insider.
Simon & Schuster made its original offer and an agreement was reached after a few changes by Amazon, the source told Business Insider.
The firm claims that its IBM Internet of Things Foundation service “makes it possible for a developer to quickly and easily extend an internet-connected device such as a sensor or controller into the [IBM Bluemix] cloud”, and then “build an application [for] the device to collect the data and send real-time insights back to the developer’s business”.
IBM promotes its Bluemix cloud services as an open standards cloud platform for building, managing and running all types of applications for the web, mobile, big data and smart devices.
Big Blue says its Internet of Things Foundation service “delivers rapid access to, and provides valuable insights from, IoT device data coming from billions of internet-connected sensors and controllers”.
The firm cited IDC estimates that there are already nine billion IoT devices in the world, and that there will be as many as 28 billion IoT devices by 2020.
IBM foresees that by providing IoT devices connectivity in cloud services, “equipment and asset manufacturers can use IoT to provide remote service and monitoring to residential and commercial customers, oil and gas companies can remotely monitor and provide predictive maintenance to critical equipment, and logistics companies can track and monitor the condition of goods in transit”, as just some of the industrial, consumer services and financial applications of IoT-enabled systems.
“Think of the IoT Foundation as an extremely fast on-ramp to the cloud for the millions of intelligent IoT devices that are now being shipped, and the billions already internet connected,” said IBM Internet of Things VP John R. Thompson.
IBM said it plans to enlist partners for its IoT efforts, which it expects will include ARM, B&B Electronics, Elecsys, Intel, Multi-Tech Systems and Texas Instruments. Along with these partners, it plans to develop a set of certified instructions, or “recipes” for connecting IoT devices, sensors and gateways.
IBM Bluemix cloud services are already available for developers worldwide, and the IBM Internet of Things Foundation will be available from 21 October. You will need an IBM account to participate, of course.
Amazon.com Inc is add more territory to its online grocery delivery program to Brooklyn’s well-heeled Park Slope neighborhood, giving the No. 1 U.S. online retailer a foothold in one of the wealthiest and densest markets in the United States.
The AmazonFresh program, which offers same-day or next-day delivery on more than 500,000 items including fresh and frozen groceries, will soon expand to other areas in Brooklyn.
The move is part of Amazon’s slow build-out of its “Fresh” program, targeting one of the largest retail sectors yet to be upended by online commerce. Amazon declined to say if it will expand to Manhattan or other parts of the New York metro area.
“Currently, we are offering AmazonFresh in Brooklyn and will continue being thoughtful and methodical in our expansion,” an Amazon spokeswoman said in an e-mail.
Groceries have proven to be one of the toughest sectors for technology companies to manage, and Amazon faces competition from established companies like FreshDirect as well as fast-growing startups like Instacart.
But a successful foray in Park Slope could help Amazon cement customer loyalty and boost sales, especially among wealthy and middle-class families, analysts have said.
The top 10 to 20 percent of wealthiest Americans spend between 3 and 4 times more on food than the average American family, according to Bill Bishop, chief architect at Brick Meets Click, a consulting firm focused on retail technology.
“They are the sweetest of shoppers so anybody who attracts that business is taking the cream of the market,” Bishop said.
Amazon could also use its Fresh program to experiment with its own delivery service, analysts have said.
The Google Express service, which was earlier only available in certain parts of California and New York City, will be expanded to Boston, Chicago, and Washington D.C., Google said in a blog.
Membership for the service, which was earlier called Google Shopping Express, will cost $95 a year, or $10 a month.
Online retailer Amazon’s same-day delivery service, called Prime, charges customers $99 per year, after a free one-year trial.
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, at a public speech made in Berlin on Monday, called Amazon its “biggest search competitor”, the Financial Times and other media reported.
“Many people think our main competition is Bing or Yahoo. But, really, our biggest search competitor is Amazon,” the FT quoted Schmidt as saying.
Schmidt said internet users are likely to go directly to the retailer if they are shopping.