Netflix on Monday announced a blockbuster deal that will bring no less than 300 hours of original content from DreamWorks to its streaming video service. That means Netflix will have the rights to premier new series with characters from franchises that might include Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda and Casper the Friendly Ghost. A deal of this magnitude with a leading animation house could be extremely expensive and no details about actual programming have been divulged at this point. That’s why it’s fascinating that Netflix’s share price soared by as much as 8% on Monday. More →
Amazon brings the Kindle Fire HD to more than 170 countries, expands Appstore to nearly 200 countries
Amazon on Thursday announced expanded availability of its Kindle Fire HD tablet lineup. Both the 7-inch and 8.9-inch models are now available for preorder in more than 170 countries worldwide. The Kindle Fire HD is equipped with 1280 x 800 pixel resolution display and a 1.2GHz dual-core OMAP4460 processor, while the 8.9-inch model features a 1920 x 1200 pixel resolution display and a 1.5GHz dual-core OMAP4470 processor. The Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9 are available for $199 and $269, respectively, and will ship to new countries beginning June 13th. Amazon also announced that it has expanded access to its Android Appstore, which can now be used by customers in nearly 200 countries worldwide.
Millenial Media, a leading mobile advertising platform, is out with another Mobile Mix report. It shows Amazon’s tablets gaining share in the mobile content market at a fairly dizzying clip. The Mobile Mix report is based on billions of monthly ad impressions and it offers an interesting glimpse of emerging trends in mobile content consumption. Perhaps the biggest bombshell is that Amazon is now hogging 28% of ad impressions served to Android tablets; just marginally behind Samsung’s tablets that get a 35% share. No other Android vendor has achieved double digits. The cheapo Kindle tablet strategy has helped Amazon to already vault to the top tier of the U.S. tablet market when it comes to content consumption. More →
College graduates would love to land a job at Google, Apple or one of the many startups in Silicon Valley. But according to a survey from Universum Global, there are quite a few students who would prefer the rainy days in Washington over working in the golden state. The American Student Survey asked students from five different fields of study — business, engineering, IT, natural sciences and liberal arts — about their ideal company to work for. Companies such as Google and Apple unsurprisingly topped the charts in almost all categories, however there were some surprising results: Microsoft consistently outranked both Facebook and Amazon. The company ranked higher than Amazon in all fields of study and even higher than Apple in IT. Students found Microsoft more appealing than Facebook in almost all categories as well, with the exception of liberal arts.
We’ve been waiting for a long time for Amazon to get into the smartphone game and now unnamed sources have told The Wall Street Journal that the company has been developing a smartphone with a full 3D screen. The Journal says that “Amazon has been developing a wide-ranging lineup of gadgets, including… an audio-only streaming device” and two smartphones, one of which will have a 3D display. The Journal’s sources say that the 3D display will use “retina-tracking technology” to make “images on the smartphone… seem to float above the screen like a hologram and appear three-dimensional at all angles.” The device could even allow users to “navigate through content using just their eyes,” two sources said. The reported smartphone would mark Amazon’s first attempt to get into the mobile handset business after experiencing some solid success with its Kindle Fire line of tablets. A release date for the new device is uncertain but according to the latest rumors it won’t launch until at least after June.
Apple was criticized by a number of pundits when it finally unveiled the iPad mini last November. While the device itself was well received by reviewers and consumers alike, some industry watchers felt Apple wasn’t doing enough to compete on price. Starting at $329, the iPad mini is far more expensive than devices like the Kindle Fire or Nexus 7. If Apple’s recent earnings beat showed us anything, however, it’s that squeezing as much profit as possible out of the iPad mini was definitely the right move — iPad sales hit a new March-quarter record in 2013 and margins were sustained enough to help deliver $9.5 billion in profit. Not everyone has adopted Apple’s strategy though, and a new report suggests the race to the bottom in the 7-inch tablet segment is squeezing profits across the board. More →
Amazon is getting ready to make its biggest push yet into consumers’ living rooms. Unnamed sources have told Bloomberg Businessweek that Amazon is planning to release a set-top box that “will plug into TVs and give users access to Amazon’s expanding video offerings” including “its a la carte Video on Demand store, which features newer films and TV shows, and its Instant Video service, which is free for subscribers to the Amazon Prime two-day shipping package.” Businessweek’s sources say that Amazon is building its own dedicated set-top box to draw more traffic to its own content offerings since Amazon is just one of many video streaming apps available on consoles such as the Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation. However, Businessweek’s sources say that the set-top box will “likely” offer access to competing streaming apps such as Netflix and Hulu even though it will be primarily centered around Amazon’s video services.
Amazon apparently isn’t willing to let Apple and Google hog the market for voice-enabled personal assistants. Unnamed sources have told TechCrunch that Amazon has purchased Evi, a Siri-like voice assistant application that had been developed by True Knowledge, “a British startup with a natural language search engine developed in university labs.” Although TechCrunch has been unable to get official confirmation from Amazon, the publication’s sources say that Amazon paid around $26 million to acquire the app. Given Amazon’s investment in both Evi and voice recognition software company Ivona, TechCrunch speculates that the company may be inching close to developing its own smartphone to compliment its Kindle Fire line of tablets.
It has been widely reported that Amazon (AMZN) may be working on a Kindle smartphone that is expected to debut later this year. Adding more fuel to the fire, the company has hired Charlie Kindel, a former general manager at Microsoft (MSFT) who headed the development of Windows Phone’s app platform and developer experience. Little is known about Kindel’s new role at Amazon, although he revealed that he will be a director of “something secret.” More →
AT&T (T) on Monday announced the availability of Amazon’s (AMZN) Kindle Fire HD 8.9 4G LTE tablet online and in stores later this week. AT&T is selling the tablet for $399 and will allow customers to add the device to their existing Mobile Share plans for $10 a month. However the carrier also says it will knock off $150 for customers who sign a two-year service agreement, lowering the overall cost to $249. The Kindle Fire HD is equipped with an 8.9-inch 1920 × 1200 pixel display, 1GB of RAM and a 1.5GHz dual-core TI OMAP4 processor. More →
Earlier reports have suggested that Amazon (AMZN) is preparing to launch its long-rumored Kindle smartphone later this year. According to Digitimes, the new device will include a 4.7-inch display, slightly bigger than the 4.3-inch display that the company had originally planned. Amazon is said to have increased the screen size in response to the growing demand for larger devices among consumers. The company has also reportedly been working on “enhancing other specifications of the smartphone,” which may relate to recent reports of manufacturing delays. The Kindle smartphone will presumably run a heavily customized version of Android, similar to the Kindle Fire tablet, and could cost between $100 and $249. The device is expected to be released sometime after June.
Samsung (005930) is the world’s largest flat display panel maker and two years ago, the company extended its reach with the acquisition of Netherlands-based Liquavista. The Dutch company manufactures display panels that utilize electrowetting technology and are commonly used in eReaders. As eReader popularity continues to decline, however, Bloomberg reports that Samsung already wants out and is in talks to sell Liquavista to Amazon (AMZN). Details of the negotiations were not reported, but Bloomberg claims Samsung paid less than $100 million when it purchased Liquavista two years ago.
Amazon (AMZN) is the latest company rumored to be prepping a subscription music service, according to The Verge. Although the streaming music business has not yet proven to be all that profitable, a number of companies have expressed interest in joining a growing field of services. Amazon already offers a robust music store with features such as cloud music storage and a Cloud Player, however the company has reportedly reached out to various music companies about the idea of starting an “on-demand” subscription music service similar to Spotify. Earlier reports have indicated that Apple (AAPL) and Google (GOOG) are also in talks with record labels to launch competing music streaming services.