Seeking Alpha, Inc. (AMZN)

  • Yesterday, 7:32 PM
    • Day two of Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) AWS re:Invent conference has brought the beta launch of AWS IoT, a service for processing and analyzing data from numerous Web-connected embedded devices (cars, home appliances, industrial equipment, medical devices, etc.).
    • AWS exec Jeff Barr: "Although critics sometimes dismiss [IoT] as nothing more than 'put a chip in it,' I believe that the concept builds upon some long-term technology trends ... To me, the most relevant trends are the decreasing cost of mass-produced compute power, the widespread availability of IP connectivity, and the ease with which large amounts of information can be distilled into intelligence using any number of big data tools and techniques."
    • Microsoft, IBM, and Salesforce are among the companies to have already announced cloud-based IoT analytics/data-processing services. AWS IoT follows Amazon's March purchase of IoT service provider 2lemetry.
    • Also launching today: AWS Mobile Hub, a solution promised to simplify "the process of building, testing, and monitoring mobile applications that make use of one or more AWS services." A console UI gives app developers the ability to pick "higher-level features" combining one or more services, SDKs, and pieces of code. Barr: "What once took a day to properly choose and configure can now be done in 10 minutes or so." A slew of AWS mobile app development services have launched over the last 3 years.
    • Meanwhile, Amazon has received good reviews for yesterday's AWS announcements. Many observers note the new offerings, such as the Snowball storage/data-transfer appliance and database-migration services (not to mention a new Accenture business unit focused on AWS migrations), aim to make it as easy as possible for enterprises to ditch traditional IT infrastructures in favor of AWS' public cloud.
    • The NYT's Quentin Hardy: "Previously, old-guard enterprise companies dismissed A.W.S. and cloud computing, then grudgingly ceded them a place for start-ups and new applications. But with about three-quarters of information technology spending going to maintaining legacy systems, they could afford to. Wednesday, Amazon went after the rest of their business."
    | Yesterday, 7:32 PM | 1 Comment
  • Yesterday, 11:57 AM
    • ETSY has sold off following the launch of the Handmade at Amazon craft goods marketplace (anticipated for several months). Volume has been moderate - 430K shares vs. a 3-month daily average of 1.12M.
    • "Etsy has a decade of experience understanding the needs of artists and sellers and supporting them in ways that no other marketplace can," the company states in an official response to the Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) launch. "Our platform attracts 21+ million thoughtful consumers seeking to discover unique goods, and build relationships with the people who make and sell them."
    • For now, Etsy's selection dwarfs Amazon's - the company had 29M items listed on its site at the end of 2014, whereas Amazon's marketplace (has set strict listing rules) currently has 80K+. Amazon is hoping to gain ground by promoting its marketplace to its 285M+ active customers, by offering craft goods makers access to its fulfillment services (including Prime, for those able to ship quickly), and by courting sellers who have struggled to get noticed on Etsy. “I want to get more than 150 page views," says one Etsy seller giving Amazon a try.
    • Notably, Amazon is taking a 12% cut on marketplace sales. Etsy charges only 3.5% plus a $0.20/item listing fee. Not all Amazon e-commerce platforms attempting to unseat entrenched incumbents have been major successes, as Groupon can vouch.
    | Yesterday, 11:57 AM | 5 Comments
  • Yesterday, 10:30 AM
    • ChannelAdvisor (ECOM -5.7%) reports clients selling on eBay (EBAY -6.3%) saw their same-store sales rise 1.1% Y/Y in September. That's down from 3.4% in August, well below U.S. e-commerce growth of ~15% (per comScore), and the slowest rate of growth over the last 12 months.
    • Only a 13.3% increase in Motors same-store sales (down from 20% in August) kept eBay's growth positive. Auctions were down 31%, and fixed-price sales 0.7%.
    • Amazon (AMZN -1.9%) fared better, with same-store sales rising 19.2%. However, that's down from August's 24.7%, and also a 12-month low. 35.9% of Amazon-related GMV relied on Amazon's fulfillment services (FBA), up from 29.9% a year ago, with sellers using FBA seeing 30.1% same-store growth.
    • Google Shopping/Product Listing Ads (indirectly competes with Amazon) were strong, registering 46.1% same-store growth with the help of higher conversion rates. Some of their growth came at the expense of search ads (dominated by Google), which saw a 9.5% same-store decline.
    | Yesterday, 10:30 AM | 16 Comments
  • Yesterday, 4:13 AM
    • Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has launched a marketplace for handcrafted goods, a move that takes direct aim at market leader ETSY.
    • "We don't allow any mass manufacturing, we don't allow any factory-made products. All of these products have to be handmade and hand-manufactured," Amazon Marketplace vice-president Peter Faricy told Reuters.
    • The new site, called Handmade at Amazon, went live at 3 a.m. ET with a lineup of over 80K items from 5K sellers in 60 countries.
    • Take a look at the new website here
    • Previously: Amazon plans to launch Etsy rival (May. 22 2015)
    | Yesterday, 4:13 AM | 6 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 7, 2:49 PM
    • Accenture (ACN +0.7%) is partnering with Amazon Web Services (AWS), by far the biggest player in the public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) services market, to create the AWS Business Group, an Accenture unit that will offer consulting and IT services to enterprises looking to migrate and/or run workloads on AWS.
    • Accenture and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) promise to "invest significant resources over multiple years in the development of new services and technology solutions including application migration and development, cloud-based enterprise applications, and analytics and Big Data solutions," and to "train an additional 1,000 Accenture professionals and certify 500 Accenture professionals on the AWS Cloud in the first year."
    • Initially, the main focus areas will be "transformation services" for migrating existing apps and developing new apps on AWS, and enabling AWS-powered big data/analytics services. IoT and security-related services will be explored, among others.
    • The announcement comes during Amazon's annual AWS re:Invent conference, and a day after Accenture announced a refresh for its cloud services platform. New features include easier virtual machine migration, better data resource control and bill management, and integration with top cloud IT service management (ITSM) software vendor ServiceNow's products.
    | Wed, Oct. 7, 2:49 PM | 7 Comments
  • Wed, Oct. 7, 1:38 PM
    • As expected, AWS chief Andy Jassy's keynote at the annual AWS re:Invent conference (webcast) hasn't been short on product announcements. Perhaps the biggest is QuickSight, a cloud-based business intelligence/analytics service that integrates with AWS cloud storage and database services, and which Amazon (AMZN -0.2%) claims will allow customers to start visualizing data within 60 seconds.
    • The WSJ recently reported an analytics solution was on tap. Much like BI/analytics tools from Tableau (NYSE:DATA), QLIK, Microsoft, and Salesforce (among others), Amazon is looking to appeal to non-technical corporate workers, many of whom still use Excel spreadsheets for data analysis and reporting.
    • As usual, Amazon is pricing aggressively: It claims QuickSight will cost 1/10 as much as rival products (rivals might beg to differ). Analysts defending the market's existing players have argued Amazon's solution will appeal more to SMBs than enterprises, given enterprises have preferred on-premise BI solutions.
    • Also launching: Snowball, a 50TB storage appliance for clients that need to transfer huge amounts of data to AWS. A built-in Kindle acts as an automatic shipping label.
    • Other product announcements: 1) A service for migrating databases to AWS, a schema conversion tool for making databases AWS-friendly, and support for the open-source MariaDB database. 2) Kinesis Firehose, a data-transfer solution for the Kinesis real-time data streaming service (launched in 2013). 3) Inspector, a tool for detecting potential security and compliance issues with AWS-run apps.
    • Amazon's AWS revenue totaled $1.82B in Q2 (+81% Y/Y), and op. income $391M. For the 12 months ending in June, revenue totaled $6B.
    • Last year's AWS re:Invent announcements
    • Update: Also announced: IT consulting/outsourcing giant Accenture is forming a new business group to help companies migrate workloads to AWS. Accenture and AWS plan to invest significant resources over multiple years in the development of new services and technology solutions including application migration and development, cloud-based enterprise applications, and analytics and Big Data solutions. The companies are committed to train an additional 1,000 Accenture professionals and certify 500 Accenture professionals on the AWS Cloud in the first year, and support go-to-market activities."
    • Update 2: One thing not announced today: AWS price cuts. Jassy insists Amazon simply isn't choosing to focus on price cuts at re:Invent. "Prices will continue to go down. Prices went down several times already this year."
    | Wed, Oct. 7, 1:38 PM | 11 Comments
  • Tue, Oct. 6, 4:04 PM
    • Following multiple rumors to the effect, Rackspace (NYSE:RAX) has announced a deal with rival Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN) at the AWS re:Invent conference under which Rackspace will "offer tools, expertise, application management, and operational support to customers on the AWS Cloud."
    • In addition to a core support service known as Fanatical Support for AWS, Rackspace is launching (in beta) AWS-related services for managed security, compliance support, and the management of Adobe's Experience Manager content management solution. The company has also become an authorized AWS reseller and consulting partner.
    • With revenue of $6B for the 12 months ending June 30, AWS remains the 800-lb. gorilla of the public cloud infrastructure (IaaS) market. Rackspace closed down 0.5% today, after rallying strongly yesterday.
    | Tue, Oct. 6, 4:04 PM | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Oct. 6, 3:11 PM
    • "Multiple content owners have told me that Amazon (AMZN -1.6%) has been quietly asking them about licensing content for a live streaming service," streaming industry analyst Dan Rayburn reports. He cautions those he has spoken to haven't disclosed how far Amazon has progressed in creating such a service, and that the company may simply be exploring its economics.
    • Rayburn notes Amazon's recent purchase of video encoding/processing software and service provider Elemental Technologies (reportedly for ~$500M) would be helpful if it goes ahead with a live streaming launch. This year has seen Dish and Sony respectively launch their Sling TV and PlayStation Vue Web TV services; there have also been several reports Apple is prepping an offering.
    • Separately, in a report that helps back up Eric Schmidt's assertion that Amazon (rather than Microsoft, Yahoo, etc.) is Google's (GOOG -0.2%) biggest search rival, e-commerce software firm BloomReach states a survey of 2,000 U.S. shoppers found 44% go directly to Amazon's site/apps when looking looking to buy/research a product online. 34% start with Google or another search engine, and 21% go to another retailer's site.
    • Direct visits to Amazon affect Google's search ad revenue, which depends heavily on ad-buying from online retailers (including Amazon). Google has been trying to counter Amazon by integrating its successful Product Listing Ads with search results, and (through a feature called Purchases on Google) by allowing those who click on the ads to complete their orders on Google's site, using payment data already connected to their Google account.
    • Amazon's AWS re:Invent conference kicks off today. New product announcements, including possibly an analytics service, are expected during a Wednesday keynote (starts at 11:30AM ET) from AWS chief Andy Jassy.
    • Update (10/7): Bloomberg also reports Amazon is working on an online TV service. It adds the company has reached out to network owners such as CBS and NBCUniversal to gauge their interest.
    | Tue, Oct. 6, 3:11 PM | 9 Comments
  • Mon, Oct. 5, 5:08 PM
    • The WSJ reports Amazon Web Services (NASDAQ:AMZN) plans to use this week's AWS re:Invent conference (runs from Tuesday-Friday) to unveil a cloud-based business intelligence/analytics solution (codenamed Space Needle) aimed at non-technical workers, thereby challenging existing products (offered both on-premise and via the cloud) from Tableau (DATA -1.4%) and Qlik (QLIK +2.2%), as well as IT giants such as IBM, SAP, and Microsoft.
    • Details about the service are limited; the WSJ notes it will "include a faster method for transferring or copying data to AWS," and that Amazon will "supply a storage device that customers could send back filled with data" in situations where uploading the data via the Internet would take too long.
    • "This will be the new 800-pound gorilla in the [business intelligence] market," predicts a Forrester analyst talking with the WSJ. He argues (as Tableau often has) the enterprise analytics market remains in its early stages, and estimates spreadsheets are still used for half of all business reporting. AWS claims over a million clients, Netflix, Dropbox, Nike, Johnson & Johnson, and Bristol-Myers.
    • William Blair's Bhavan Suri and FBR's Daniel Ives downplay the report, arguing most enterprises prefer on-premise BI solutions and that Amazon's reach (for now at least) will be limited to the low-end. Suri: "[W]e believe it makes the most sense for BI solutions to be deployed where the majority of an organization’s data resides. Thus, although we believe the company will be able to leverage its brand recognition to drive healthy initial traction at the SMB level and within businesses that currently house most of their data on AWS, we do not view it as a significant near-term threat."
    • Ives: "We believe this market is only roughly 10% penetrated to date ... we view [Amazon's] ability to be successful in the big data market as very limited to the lower end of the market and not posing a major competitive threat to pure-play vendors in the near term ... The scalability and scope of current leading offerings from vendors such as Tableau have set a high bar in the market, with many enterprises already looking to pure-play analytics vendors for this enterprise-wide market, greenfield opportunity."
    • Amazon has already launched a service for warehousing and analyzing structured data (Redshift), and a service for processing real-time data streams (Kinesis). Meanwhile, ahead of AWS re:Invent, Tableau has unveiled a connector that allows its platform to interact with AWS databases, as well as the availability of its core Tableau Server product on the AWS Marketplace.
    | Mon, Oct. 5, 5:08 PM | 2 Comments
  • Fri, Oct. 2, 9:26 AM
    • Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) will be the number two player in non-food consumables by 2018, according to a new report from Cowen & Company.
    • The company is leveraging its powerful Prime platform to gain market share in the highly-competitive field by highlighting to consumers its advantages on pricing and delivery.
    • Amazon's gains could come at the expense of store traffic for Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Target (NYSE:TGT), and Walgreens (NASDAQ:WBA), notes Cowen.
    • The Amazon Effect could also impact pricing in the personal care, household, pet, and baby products sectors - a wide swath of the consumer goods industry that impacts companies such as Procter & Gamble (NYSE:PG), Avon Products (NYSE:AVP), Revlon (NYSE:REV), Kimberly-Clark (NYSE:KMB), Carter's (NYSE:CRI), Colgate-Palmolive (NYSE:CL), Ulta Salon (NASDAQ:ULTA), Unilever (UN, UL), and Church & Dwight (NYSE:CHD) as they negotiate deals.
    • Related ETFs: IYK, UGE, SZK
    | Fri, Oct. 2, 9:26 AM | 32 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 1, 7:22 PM
    • GE, Samsung, and Oster are among 11 new supporters of Amazon's (NASDAQ:AMZN) Dash Replenishment Service (DRS), which allows Web-connected appliances and electronics to automatically reorder supplies when they run low. Existing supporters include Whirlpool, Brita, and Brother.
    • Examples of DRS-enabled devices at work include printers automatically reordering ink, water pitchers automatically ordering filters, and washers ordering detergent. Amazon claims hardware makers can support the service by adding as few as 10 lines of code to a device's software.
    • DRS complements Amazon's Dash Buttons (mocked by some, praised by others), which let Prime subs reorder a name-brand product simply by pressing a button on a small device that can be hung or stuck someplace within a home. Supported brands include Gillette, Tide, Gatorade, Clorox, and Ziploc. Each button costs $4.99, but comes with a $4.99 credit towards an initial purchase
    • Both solutions are arguably part of a broader effort by Amazon to keep consumers (Prime subs especially) habitually ordering from the company, by offering a level of convenience and value-added services smaller online retailers can't provide.
    • Separately, in an eyebrow-raising move, Amazon has told marketplace sellers it won't allow Apple TV set-tops and Google's Chromecast HDMI stick to be sold on its site as of Oct. 29, The Fire TV vendor claims the move is due to the fact Apple TV/Chromecast don't "interact well" with Prime Video.
    | Thu, Oct. 1, 7:22 PM | 14 Comments
  • Thu, Oct. 1, 11:00 AM
    • (AMZN +0.8%) and CBS (CBS -0.6%) have built on an existing partnership with a new exclusive multi-series licensing deal -- a coup amid hot competition with Netflix and Hulu for content rights.
    • The move makes Amazon Prime the video home of upcoming comic thriller series BrainDead, where members will be able to stream episodes four days after a broadcast airing. The two used a similar quick-turnaround approach for Under the Dome three years ago, and Amazon also has rights to Extant, starring Halle Berry.
    • The deal also means more CBS and Showtime library titles are available to Amazon Prime members, including I Love Lucy, The Tudors, The Amazing Race and films like Inside Llewyn Davis.
    | Thu, Oct. 1, 11:00 AM | 3 Comments
  • Tue, Sep. 29, 10:48 AM
    • "Make $18–25/hr delivering packages for Amazon with your car and smartphone. Be your own boss: deliver when you want, as much as you want," reads the pitch for Amazon's (AMZN +0.2%) Flex part-time delivery driver network. Flex has launched in Seattle, and will be available "soon" in NYC, Chicago, Dallas, and several other cities.
    • For now, Flex is limited to Amazon's Prime Now rapid delivery service (orders delivered in 1 or 2 hours), but could expand to other packages in the future. Drivers need to be at least 21 years old, have an Android phone, and pass a background check. They can "choose any available 2, 4, and 8 hour blocks of time to work the same day, or set availability for up to 12 hours per day for the future."
    • Assuming it's able to hire enough drivers, Flex gives Amazon a low-cost way to expand its rapid/same-day delivery footprint, and represents a challenge to ride-sharing giant UBER, which has been hungry to expand into delivery/logistics services. Both Uber and Amazon (the latter via Prime Now) have launched food delivery services.
    | Tue, Sep. 29, 10:48 AM | 17 Comments
  • Wed, Sep. 23, 1:06 PM
    • Amazon (AMZN -0.1%) will drop the price of a Prime subscription for new customers to $67/year in a one-day special offering launching Friday. The normal price for the service is $99/year.
    • The company says the deal is to celebrate its strong performance at the Emmy Awards last weekend, although the development falls in a period of heightened competition between the Seattle e-commerce firm, Wal-Mart, and Target.
    • Amazon is estimated by CIRP to have 44M Prime members as of July, up from 41M in May.
    | Wed, Sep. 23, 1:06 PM | 26 Comments
  • Sun, Sep. 20, 12:53 PM
    • Publix is the latest large grocery store chain to step into the home delivery game. The private chain is using Shipt to delivery online orders to a large swath of Atlanta. Shipt offers the same type of delivery service as Peapod, Instacart, Amazon Fresh (NASDAQ:AMZN), and FreshDirect.
    • Looking to keep market share, Kroger (NYSE:KR) and SuperValu (NYSE:SVU) have pick-up options for online orders and are dabbling with home delivery.
    • Target (NYSE:TGT) has tipped that it would like to "test" grocery delivery in the future and already has a curbside pickup option at some stores. Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT) is also testing various online grocery programs.
    • Though Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ:WFM), Trader Joe's, Sprouts Farmers Market (NASDAQ:SFM), and The Fresh Market (NASDAQ:TFM) still hold an advantage with consumers for fresh produce - analysts note the specialty grocery category is getting crowded. Whole Foods is the company with the most advanced home delivery program (1-hour in some markets) in the group.
    • Data dive: Online grocery shopping is estimated to be growing at a 25% to 30% rate. Perhaps an even more important statistic is that 87% of online shoppers use more than one store for their grocery needs in a trend that could pressure pricing.
    | Sun, Sep. 20, 12:53 PM | 25 Comments
  • Thu, Sep. 17, 10:06 AM
    • Confirming a recent WSJ report, Amazon (AMZN +0.9%) is launching a $50 tablet simply called the Fire. It features a quad-core, 1.3GHz., CPU, 7" 1024x600 display, dual cameras, and 8GB of storage. Those buying five units get one a sixth one free.
    • Also launched: 8" and 10.1" Fire HD tablets that respectively go for $150 and $230. Both feature 1280x800 displays - many high-end tablets now have higher resolutions - quad-core, 1.5GHz., CPUs, and 8GB-16Gb of storage. The Fire HD 6 (launched last year) remains priced at $100.
    • All three new tablets rely on an updated version of Fire OS called Bellini said to feature "dedicated content pages for books, games, and apps, video, music, audiobooks, and Newsstand," as well as an app store feature called Amazon Underground that provides many freebies. By opting for a custom version of Android, Amazon's tablets have to do without Google Play and various other Google mobile apps/services.
    • A week after Apple showed off a new Apple TV set-top supporting the App Store and Siri, a new Fire TV set-top has been unveiled: It costs $100, supports 4K video and the high-efficiency HEVC codec (lowers 1080p streaming bandwidth needs), the Alexa voice assistant, and 75% more processing power. Meanwhile, Amazon is now offering a version of the Fire TV stick that comes with a voice remote; it goes for $10 more than the standard Fire TV.
    • Rounding out today's launches are two product bundles: A Fire Kids Edition that goes for $100, and comes with a "kid-proof" case and a year of Amazon's FreeTime kids' content service, and a Fire TV Gaming Edition that sells for $140, and comes with a gaming controller, 32GB microSD card, and two games.
    | Thu, Sep. 17, 10:06 AM | 26 Comments
AMZN vs. ETF Alternatives
Company Description Inc is an online retailer. The Company sells its products through the website which provides services, such as advertising services and co-branded credit card agreements. It also offerselectronic devices like Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets.
Sector: Technology
Country: United States