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Sep. 16, 2013, 9:15 AM| Sep. 16, 2013, 9:15 AM | 3 Comments
Sep. 13, 2013, 12:42 PM
- Amazon Web Services' (AMZN -0.3%) pivotal U.S.-East data center is having network connectivity issues that are impacting major clients such as Salesforce's Heroku unit and software project hosting platform GitHub.
- Fast-growing AWS has periodically seen outages and connectivity issues. The last major disruption was on Aug. 26.
- Gartner recently estimated AWS possesses 5x the utilized compute capacity of all other cloud infrastructure (IaaS) providers combined, while effectively declaring the platform in a league of its own. "[AWS] is a thought leader; it is extraordinarily innovative, exceptionally agile and very responsive to the market. It has the richest IaaS product portfolio..."
- Analyst Lydia Leong: "Many Gartner clients now actually have multiple incumbent providers (the most common combination is AWS and [Verizon's] Terremark), but nearly all such customers tell us that the balance of new projects are going to AWS, not the other providers."
- Analysts think AWS is now on a $3B+/year run rate, after generating ~$2B in sales last year.
Sep. 12, 2013, 5:01 AM
- Shipments of tablet computers will outstrip those of PCs for the first time in Q4, research firm IDC predicts, saying that tablet deliveries will reach 84.1M units and PC shipments 83.1M.
- Those benefiting from the trend include Apple (AAPL), Amazon (AMZN) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK), while those suffering include HP (HPQ), Microsoft (MSFT) and Dell (DELL).
- The total market for Internet-connected devices of desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets is projected to climb 28% to $622.4B in 2013 and then to $735.1B in 2015. (PR)
Sep. 11, 2013, 12:44 PM
- The pictures comes from BGR, which has already leaked display resolutions and other specs for Amazon's (AMZN -0.2%) 3rd-gen tablet models.
- As BGR notes, the images show an "extensive design overhaul" that includes a fresh button/speaker layout, and " a more angular design that gives the device a much harder look."
- The site also reports that while a new 7" Fire HD "may launch in the coming weeks," an 8.9" model might not arrive until November. Amazon staggered last year's Fire HD launches in a similar manner.
- Tablet competition is as intense as ever (particularly on the low-end), as OEMs battle over a market expected by IDC to grow to 227.4M units in 2013 (+58% Y/Y).
Sep. 11, 2013, 11:46 AM
- ChannelAdvisor (ECOM +0.7%) reports its clients saw 18.9% Y/Y eBay (EBAY +1.6%) same-store sales growth in August. That's down a bit from July's 20.4%, but above May/June levels and better than expected.
- Surprisingly, eBay's auction sales rose 7.8% Y/Y after falling 23.3% in July and 17.2% in June. eBay's new Cassini search engine could be giving auction sales a lift. Fixed-price sales +20.2% vs. +20.3% in July, Motors growth decelerated to 18.5% from 26.6%. ChannelAdvisor thinks strong new car sales could be hurting used car sales.
- Client same-store sales growth for Amazon (AMZN -0.2%) edged lower to 24% from July's 24.9%. That's a 12-month low, but still well above the 16% growth comScore believes was seen in total Q2 U.S. e-commerce sales (exc. travel).
- Google's (GOOG +0.4%) numbers aren't great: search ad-driven same-store sales +0.2% vs. +0.6% in July, shopping engine-driven sales +7.7% vs. +12.9%.
- Search ad clicks for client sites fell 3% Y/Y, and cost per click fell 6% to $0.50 (is mobile a factor?). But the average order value for ads rose 8% to $111.27.
Sep. 9, 2013, 3:54 AM
- Amazon (AMZN) doesn't intend to introduce a mobile phone this year, spokesman Drew Herdener has told Bloomberg. And even if the retailer does sell a handset some time in the future, the company won't give it away for free.
- Herdener was responding to a report last week that Amazon would provide a phone without charge.
Sep. 6, 2013, 4:41 PM
- Ex-WSJ reporters Amir Efrati and Jessica Lessin state Amazon (AMZN +0.6%), no stranger to subsidizing hardware, is looking to provide its long-expected smartphone for free to consumers.
- However, they add "there are many unanswered questions about the plan and what strings will be attached for customers," such as whether an Amazon Prime subscription will be required.
- Amazon plans to sell the phone through its site, rather than through carriers. The company's smartphone efforts have reportedly been slowed down by a reluctance among manufacturers to anger Google by building a phone running a non-Google version of Android.
- Digitimes and other Taiwanese media sources have been reporting for a while an Amazon smartphone is on the way, but most of their ETAs have already proven to be inaccurate.
- If Amazon prices its phone aggressively, it could tap into a booming market for low-end/mid-range Android hardware, particularly in emerging markets. Of course, its efforts to undercut tablet rivals with the Kindle Fire haven't exactly gone as planned, as a slew of Asian OEMs have come to offer competitively-priced Android tablets (backed by Google services).
Sep. 6, 2013, 10:58 AM
- Two months after U.S. district judge Denise Cote declared Apple (AAPL +0.2%) guilty of conspiring to fix e-book prices, and two weeks after the DOJ proposed e-book injunction terms, Cote has issued an injunction.
- As suggested by the DOJ, Apple is prohibited from striking restrictive e-book pricing deals with publishers for 5 years, and is required to stagger its talks with publishers to prevent collusion. Also, an external monitor has been assigned for two years.
- However, Apple won't be required to allow rivals to sell e-books through their iOS apps without giving Apple a 30% cut, as the DOJ had suggested. Amazon (AMZN +0.4%) has refused to sell e-books through its Kindle iOS apps out of an unwillingness to pay Apple 30% of its take.
- Meanwhile, Reuters nearly backs up yesterday's Sina Tech report by reporting China Unicom (CHU -0.3%) and Telecom (CHA -0.6%) will begin selling the iPhone 5S/5C shortly after it goes on sale in the U.S., a major change of pace from the delays accompanying past Chinese iPhone launches.
- Other news: Apple Insider reports Mac OS X 10.9 (Mavericks) will be released at the end of October, and Quantcast and Piper estimate iOS' share of U.S. mobile browsing traffic has grown to 65%.
- The latter is a negative for Google (GOOG +0.2%), due to the huge traffic acquisition payments it makes to Apple for Mobile Safari search ad clicks. However, Google doesn't have to pay Apple if iOS users rely on Chrome, as a growing portion of them are.
Sep. 3, 2013, 4:00 PM
- Shortly after a listing for a new Kindle Paperwhite came and went, Amazon (AMZN +2.8%) has officially unveiled the device. As previously leaked, the new Paperwhite begins shipping on Sep. 30. It'll cost $119 with built-in ads, and $139 without ads. (PR)
- In addition to an improved display and CPU, Amazon is integrating content and sharing tools for top book discussion site Goodreads, which Amazon acquired for $150M-$200M earlier this year.
- Parental controls, a page preview option, a "Page Flip" tool for scanning texts, and a "Smart Lookup" tool for phrases have also been added.
- Interestingly, the new Paperwhite only says "Amazon" on its back, and not "Kindle" (it still says "Kindle" on the front). An Amazon exec says the change is due to the fact the Amazon brand is better-known internationally.
- The Verge, after spending a few minutes with the new Paperwhite: "While it's definitely an iterative update, the tweaks Amazon made improve what is probably the finest e-reader we've ever used." Is it good enough to convince e-book fans to continue using both an e-reader and a tablet, instead of only the latter device?
Sep. 3, 2013, 11:44 AM
- With Amazon (AMZN) having free reign to set its own e-book prices (and lose money on sales if it wishes), the company is offering Kindle copies of books for which a customer has already bought the print copy at any time in Amazon's history for $2.99 or less (in some cases, the title is free). The service, known as Kindle MatchBook, initially supports 10K+ titles. (PR)
- After growing at a torrid pace for several years, e-book sales growth has slowed considerably, even though e-books still only account for ~25% of total U.S. book sales. Proposed explanations include the popularity of other reader options on tablets, purchase fatigue amongst e-book early adopters, and the fact some readers simply prefer print. MatchBook appears to be an attempt to give a second wind to e-book demand.
- Separately, Amazon temporarily provided a listing for its next-gen Kindle Paperwhite e-reader before pulling it. The second-gen Paperwhite goes on sale on Sep. 30, and offers an improved display (better contrast, lighting, and touch input) and CPU. Like its predecessor, the device starts at $119.
- The current Paperwhite has been well-received by e-reader enthusiasts, but there are fewer of those these days thanks to tablet cannibalization.
Aug. 29, 2013, 9:14 AM
- Amazon (AMZN) announces the launch of a Kindle store in Mexico with over 70K eBooks in Spanish.
- The Kindle and Kindle Paperwhite will be sold at Gandhi stores in the nation.
Aug. 27, 2013, 6:20 PM
- CEO Eric Lefkofsky says Groupon (GRPN) is looking to buy at least 3 warehouses to support its direct e-commerce sales/fulfillment efforts. A Kentucky facility has already been singled out for acquisition.
- Groupon's e-commerce sales have been taking off. Revenue for Groupon's Goods e-commerce platform jumped 69% Y/Y in Q2 to $241.8M, accounting for 40% of revenue and helping offset slumping daily deals sales. Moreover, Groupon's direct revenue (inc. a large chunk of Goods sales) rose 190% Y/Y to $190M.
- However, this growth has pressured Groupon's gross margin. Lefkofsky argues creating warehouses and bringing shipping/fulfillment in-house will improve margins.
- Last December, Groupon bought CommerceInterface, a provider of channel management software for retailers, manufacturers, and distributors, to improve Goods' order execution.
- By creating a fulfillment infrastructure, Groupon is looking to mount a challenge to Amazon (AMZN), which has been building warehouses left and right, and now derives 40% of its unit sales from 3rd-party merchants.
Aug. 27, 2013, 2:25 PM
- Amazon's (AMZN -2.1%) in-app purchase platform for developers using its Appstore for Android now supports the purchasing of "contextually relevant" physical goods from Amazon's site. For example, a sports app could promote sneakers or soccer balls for sale on Amazon's site. (PR)
- Amazon is promising referral fees of up to 6%. Thus, the API gives Appstore developers a way to monetize their apps that isn't available via Google Play. The Appstore has seen decent growth, but its share of Android downloads remains well below that of Play, which is bundled with most Android phones outside of China.
Aug. 26, 2013, 9:55 AM
- The outage lasted 59 minutes on Sunday afternoon, and was caused by connectivity problems at AWS' (AMZN) giant U.S.-EAST data center.
- Popular sites/apps such as Instagram, Airbnb, Flipboard, Twitter's Vine, and Amazon's Audible were affected.
- Fast-growing AWS, which is now making stronger efforts to attract enterprise clients, has periodically witnessed outages (I, II). A Christmas eve outage led some top clients to reconsider their dependence on the platform.
- Amazon's main site was hit by an outage a week ago. AWS was unaffected by it.
Aug. 22, 2013, 10:31 PM
- Sources tell Bloomberg Amazon (AMZN) has tested a mobile data network for its hardware using spectrum from Globalstar (GSAT.OB). However, they caution it's not clear if the tests, conducted "in the vicinity" of Amazon's Lab126 R&D unit (responsible for the Kindle line), are still ongoing.
- Amazon has partnered with carriers to provide subsidized mobile connectivity for Kindle devices. Last year, the company introduced a 4G-capable version of the 8.9" Kindle Fire HD that offered 250MB/month of data for just $50/year. But even a moderate data user (never mind a heavy Prime Instant Video user) will go through 250MB in a month quickly.
- The cost of any large-scale mobile network, even one limited to major urban areas, would run into the billions. Amazon's up-front costs would be much lower if it decided to lease capacity from an existing carrier and become an MVNO.
- Hard-luck Globalstar has been petitioning the FCC for the right to use 80% of its satellite spectrum for terrestrial 4G mobile and Wi-Fi services. A ruling could arrive in the coming months.
Aug. 21, 2013, 12:17 PM
- Bloomberg observes Amazon (AMZN -0.6%) has spent nearly $13.9B to build 50 new fulfillment centers since 2010, and that the e-commerce giant had 89 of them worldwide at the end of 2012 (5 more have been announced this year).
- Amazon's efforts to lower delivery times, both for its own goods and those of its merchant partners, have much to do with this spending binge. Consulting firm MWPVL thinks Amazon could offer same-say delivery to 50% of Americans (up from a current 15%) by placing fulfillment centers closer to the top-20 metro areas.
- FastCompany recently took note of AmazonFresh's role in the company's same-day efforts.
- Accompanying the warehouse-building are behind-the-scenes attempts to improve efficiency, such as adding machinery and floor levels. "We now get about twice as much product in this building as we would have four or five years ago," says an Amazon exec about a TN facility.
- Amazon's fulfillment expenses rose 35% Y/Y in Q2 to $1.84B, outpacing rev. growth of 22% and amounting to 12% of revenue.
Amazon.com 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 offers electronic devices like Kindle e-readers and Fire tablets.
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