Amazon

Richard Waters

It looks like Microsoft has won a significant victory in its ongoing campaign to exert its claims over some of the key intellectual property in the Linux open source operating system.

Late on Monday, it announced a patent cross-licensing deal with Amazon. Among other things, this will cover the e-commerce company’s use of Linux in its servers. That is a big deal: given Amazon’s ambitions to become one of the biggest operators of public computing “clouds”, this amounts to a major endorsement of Microsoft’s claims over some of the core IP in Linux.

There is a caveat, though: the announcement was short on detail. And that is sure to bring accusations that the software company is once again using FUD to scare other Linux users into submission. Read more

David Gelles

Amazon is clearly concerned about the Apple tablet, judging today’s news.

Though it has yet to be unveiled, the impending arrival of the iPad, or iSlate, or whatever it may be called, is likely to shake up the market for digital books in a big way.

Apple is in talks with the major publishing houses in an effort to secure content deals for the tablet. If it succeeds in working out deals, integrating e-book sales into the iTunes store would be a cinch. Add to this that the tablet is expected to boast a large colour touchscreen, and you have an e-reader on steroids. Read more

Chris Nuttall

CrowdFlower, the crowdsourcing start-up that aggregates online labour for data-crunching tasks, has tapped venture capitalists for a $5m Series A funding round.

Lukas Biewald, chief executive of the San Francisco company, said the money would fund expansion.

“We are creating a new global market that will make it possible for everyone in the world to do real, productive work at anytime, from anywhere,” he said. Read more

Chris Nuttall

Sony had a bestseller of a Christmas with its Reader devices  in the US, according to executives here at CES in Las Vegas,  and Qualcomm is expecting to spice up the market with colour displays in 2010.

December sales of the Reader were four times the value of the previous year, eReaders were the biggest growth area for Sony Electronics in the run up to Christmas and had the largest unit volume of all its products, according to Steve Haber, president of its digital reading division. Read more

Chris Nuttall

A new e-reader entrant is pitching itself as cheaper, lighter and more open than Amazon’s Kindle or Sony’s Reader, and with a larger selection of titles.

The Cool-er is the brainchild of Neil Jones, an avid reader and entrepreneur, whose company is based, appropriately, in Reading, in the UK.

(This review was first posted on May 14 2009) Read more

Chris Nuttall

Another day, another internet box bringing content to the television.

A day after Roku announced it was adding Amazon’s Video on Demand to its $99 box, another Silicon Valley company, ZillionTV,  has unveiled its own device and content partners including the big five Hollywood studios.

(This post was first published on March 5 2009) Read more

David Gelles

Just as Amazon’s Kindle is going all gangbusters at the start of the holiday season, the launch of perhaps its most-formidable rival is getting off to a rocky start.

The Nook, an e-reader from bookseller giant Barnes & Noble, was hailed as an improvement on the Kindle when it was unveiled in October. It supports the open Epub file format, and has a colour, touch-screen navigation interface in addition to an E-Ink screen.

But Barnes & Noble looks to have been blindsided by high demand for the Nook. A week before Thanksgiving the company said the Nook would be sold-out through the holidays.

Now comes news that while shipments will begin today, as scheduled, the Nook will not be available in Barnes & Noble stores until December 7Read more

David Gelles

Amazon and Apple must be feeling pretty good about the holidays so far.

Buoyed by Black Friday, Amazon said that November has been the best sales month ever for its Kindle. Amazon still won’t release sales figures, and e-readers could soon be outdated devices, but for now, the Kindle remains the market leader in one of the hottest consumer electronic categories of the year. (It helps that Sony’s new flagship reader and the Barnes & Noble Nook are sold out.)

Meanwhile, traffic on Amazon.com was up 28 per cent from the previous year.

Apple, too, looks to have had a big Black Friday, with online sales up 39 per cent. Sales in Apple’s retail stores appeared down, but overall, the maker of Mac computers, iPhones and iPods seems poised for robust sales this holiday season.

Even brick and mortar retailers tried to tap the web’s magic to boost holiday sales. Read more

David Gelles

Part of Amazon’s success is attributable to the ease it has brought to the payments experience. Shopping on Amazon.com is made simple by Amazon storing much of a customer’s checkout information and minimising clicks, and a few years ago Amazon rolled out Checkout, which lets users on other websites pay using their Amazon credits or payments information stored on Amazon. (Amazon doesn’t reveal Checkout has been successful.)

Now Amazon has released a Mobile Payments Service. The programme will let e-commerce sites integrate the Checkout experience into sites designed for mobile phones, presenting yet another option for developers who are eager to encourage more mobile-commerceRead more

Joseph Menn

While some cast yesterday’s news in the Google books saga as the death of the settlement that would have resolved the search king’s long fight with publishers, the bigger picture is that out-of-print books for all just got a lot closer to reality.

True, the New York federal court filing was officially a request to withdraw the deal Google struck late last year with publishers and authors, in the wake of objections Friday from the US Justice Department. But that version had a good chance of getting rejected by the judge, given that the regulatory concerns followed major objections from the non-profit world, other interested parties and the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Yahoo. Read more

Richard Waters

In the evolution of the Amazon Cloud, Wednesday’s news of a trial service designed specifically for the core applications of large companies seems to mark a watershed.

So far, the Amazon pitch has mainly been directed at smaller companies, or at bigger ones looking for somewhere to host high-volume Web services. It is now trying to take things one step further. Read more

Richard Waters

Next month it will be precisely ten years since the US Patent and Trademark Office issued patent number 5960411 to Amazon.com.

This is the case that did more than any other to draw attention to a US patenting system run amok. It gave Amazon protection for its “1-click” check-out system. Armed with this official seal of exclusivity, Amazon quickly persuaded a judge to block a rival system used by Barnes & Noble. Read more

David Gelles

A lucrative if relatively unknown side business for Amazon.com is powering the online websites of other major retailers.

The partnerships began at the height of the dot-com boom ten years ago, when Amazon had established an early lead in e-commerce and bricks-and-mortar companies were looking for ways to sell their goods online.

Initially, some retailers opted to maintain “store fronts” on Amazon’s own site. Later, Amazon also provided fulfillment and website management services for some retailers’ new separate sites, including Target.com and the UK’s Marks & Spencer, through its enterprise services business.

Now Target has decided to end its relationship with Amazon. Read more

David Gelles

Amazon.com was taken to task earlier this month after it deleted unauthorised copies of George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm, with critics accusing the leader in the e-book industry of Big Brotherish behaviour.

Amazon eventually gave the affected customers refunds, and chief executive Jeff Bezos apologised for the episode, calling it “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with our principles.”  But the damage to Amazon’s reputation had already been done.

Now the incident has sparked a lawsuit. Read more

David Gelles

As part of his turnaround strategy for Ebay, chief executive John Donahoe has been working to revive the main Ebay shopping site. This has meant improving search results, moving to more fixed-price sales, and making the buying experience more reliable. As we reported in Monday’s paper, the strategy finally seems to be working.

Now Mr Donahoe is aiming to bring even more formality to the once freewheeling marketplace. Starting in October those sellers with the highest customer service rating will receive a Top-Rated Seller badge. The badge is more than just ornamentation. Read more

Joseph Menn

Apple is aiming to ship its oft-rumoured tablet-style touch-screen computer this fall, we reported over the weekend, combining a big screen with the functionality of an iPod Touch.

The company has been striving to perfect the device for years, while attempt by PC makers to peddle Microsoft-powered tablets have fizzled. Read more

David Gelles

PayPal said in March that it planned to double revenues in two years, growing from $2.4bn to $5bn by 2011. It was an audacious goal, but today PayPal gave some indication of how it hopes to achieve as much.

With the official introduction of its platform on Thursday, PayPal invited third-party developers to tap into the PayPal experience and weave it into their own applications and websites. Called Adaptive Payments, the platform should expand PayPal’s reach, bringing it to iPhone, Facebook and Twitter applications, and perhaps into the physical retail world. Read more

David Gelles

  • Barnes & Noble unveiled its challenge to Amazon’s Kindle e-book service with an expanded online store selling more than 200,000 e-book titles for both laptop computers and mobile devices. The chain also said it would provide the e-book store for a wireless portable e-reader being developed by Plastic Logic that is scheduled for launch next year.
  • Texas Instruments, the second largest US chipmaker, reported a surge in demand for its products in the second quarter as it beat revenue and profit expectations. Following Intel’s positive outlook last week, TI gave another boost to the tech sector, forecasting solid growth in the current quarter.

 Read more

Richard Waters

Amazon’s woeful decision to delete unauthorised copies of 1984 and Animal Farm from its customers’ Kindles hammers home an uncomfortable lesson.

The idea that you can “own” digital data, in the same sense that you can own a book, was always suspect. But at least some forms of digital media have conveyed many of the attributes of ownership. With local storage, the bits have been delivered onto a device that you can unplug and put in your pocket. The information, at that point, is “yours”. Read more

David Gelles

The FT’s John Gapper says the most influential piece of personal technology to emerge in recent years did not come from Apple, Amazon or Research in Motion. Instead, he points to the Asustek’s Asus Eee PC, which created the category now known as “netbooks”.

Few analysts grasped the significance of the Eee because they did not think that people in the developed world would buy a not-very-powerful device with a tiny screen and a small keyboard. Meanwhile, US companies from Dell to Microsoft and Apple gazed studiously elsewhere. Read more