Amazon has unveiled an expanded line of Echo products that are set to change the landscape of the home tech market, and with it, present opportunities for small businesses. The tech giant introduced four all-new Echo devices: the Echo Pop, Echo Show 5, Echo Show 5 Kids, and Echo Buds. Additionally, the Echo Auto is now available in eight more countries, bringing Alexa’s assistance to even more drivers around the globe.
Small businesses can leverage these advancements as Amazon’s smart devices become increasingly integrated into daily routines. With over half a billion Alexa-enabled devices now sold, these innovations are set to have broad reach and diverse applications.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission has approved a final consent order in its first-ever enforcement action over a case involving “review hijacking,” or when a marketer steals consumer reviews of another product to boost the sales of its own. In this case, the FTC has ordered supplements retailer The Bountiful Company, the maker of Nature’s Bounty vitamins and other brands, to pay $600,000 for deceiving customers on Amazon where it used a feature to merge the reviews of different products to make some appear to have better ratings and reviews than they otherwise would have had if marketed under their own listings.
The case exposes how sellers have been exploiting an Amazon feature that allows sellers to request the creation of “variation” relationships between different products and SKUs. The feature is meant to help marketers and consumers alike as it creates a single detail page on Amazon.com that shows similar products that are different only in narrow, specific ways, the FTC explains — like items that come in a different color, size, quantity or flavor. For instance, a t-shirt may have a dozen SKUs associated with one another because the shirt comes in a wide variety of colors. For shoppers, it’s helpful to see all the options on one page so you can pick the item that best matches your needs and budget. In the case of supplements, the feature could be used to combine the same products by merging various SKUs featuring different quantities of the item in question, like bottles with 50, 100 or 200 pills, for example.
When Amazon announced it was laying off another 9,000 employees today, AWS employees were not exempt with Amazon CEO (and former AWS CEO) Andy Jassy announcing the cloud division would be included into today’s round.
TechCrunch is hearing that around 10% of today’s total came from AWS. The company would not confirm those numbers, instead referring to Jassy’s memo to employees that was published this morning as the gist of its statement.
The TechCrunch Top 3
- Game on: Amazon is in talks to acquire Indian video streaming giant MX Player from Times Internet, Manish reports. He writes that the video app is “popular for supporting a wide range of video formats and reliability on low-cost Android smartphones, has expanded to original content in recent years and has amassed more than 300 million users globally.”
- Gone phishing: Reddit confirmed that hackers accessed its internal data in what it is calling “a sophisticated phishing attack” that targeted its employees, Carly writes. The company said the attack gave hackers access to documents and source code.
- And, just as quickly as it came, it left: Five days ago, India banned over 90 apps, some associated with China, related to lending. Today, Manish writes that this ban on apps, like PayU’s LazyPay, Kissht, KreditBee and Indiabulls’ Home Loans, was lifted.
TYLER HAMILTON HAS optimized his every waking minute. Between Black Friday and Christmas, five nights a week, he pulls himself out of bed, brushes his teeth, and rushes to his car just before sunset. On his drive to the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee, Minnesota, he stops at Wendy’s to buy two bourbon bacon burgers, two large chilis, fries, and a drink.
Hamilton eats the burgers as he drives and then punches in to start his shift arranging incoming product inventory just before 5 pm. In the middle of the night, he takes thirty minutes of unpaid break time and reheats the chilis. By the time he clocks out at 5:30 am, his car has frozen, so Hamilton sits huddled in the dark until it warms enough that he can drive home.
Amazon says small businesses racked up more than $1 billion in sales on its platform during the Thanksgiving and Black Friday holiday weekend.
The company says sales from small business sellers were the highest volume ever at Amazon.com.
Hundreds of millions of products sold by small businesses at Amazon were sold, the company said recently.
Amazon became the latest technology giant that’s likely to conduct large-scale layoffs, according to the New York Times. On Monday, the outlet reported that the company planned to lay off some 10,000 people, citing “people with knowledge of the matter.”
It’s the latest post-pandemic labor rout in the tech industry. Earlier this month, Twitter laid off roughly 3,000 employees. Meta laid off over 11,000 people last week. Google, Apple, and Disney have announced plans to cut costs or slow down hiring.
Amazon and Apple posted better than expected sales, reassuring investors that the tech giants will be able to weather slowdowns in global economies.
Amazon forecast in a trading update that higher fees for its Prime membership would boost its bottom line, while Apple said demand for its all important iPhone remained strong.
Both firms said they were making progress controlling running costs, despite prices rising at rapid rates.
The updates sent shares soaring.
The quarterly updates from Apple and Amazon are closely watched as indicators of how customers are reacting to the economic climate.
Looking for a quality tablet for streaming and e-books (without the Apple prices)? Amazon has pretty much cornered the market in that regard. The brand’s Fire HD 10 is inexpensive and high performing, and ideal if you’re already invested in the Amazon ecosystem with a Prime membership or Alexa-enabled devices. It’s also a solid choice for people who use the Microsoft app suite for work.
The Amazon Fire HD 10 ($149.99) boasts a brighter display, a more durable screen, and 50 percent more RAM than the previous gen Fire 10 tablet — along with a 2MP front-facing and 5MP rear-facing camera. Its low price compared to the iPad (starting at $329) makes it a serious contender in the tablet market, and it comes in four color options (black, denim, lavender, olive).
You know how every other ebook reader under the sun supports EPUB files, but Amazon’s Kindle stubbornly refuses to do so? Well, that’s changing.
Amazon quietly updated its help documentation (via Goodreader) to state that Kindle devices will start supporting EPUB files.
There’s a catch, though. “Beginning in late 2022, Send to Kindle applications will support EPUB (.EPUB) format,” says the document. This means you’ll be able to send EPUB files to your Kindle via Amazon’s handy Send to Kindle system, which essentially lets you upload documents to your Kindle by emailing them to your Kindle email address. It’s unclear, however, whether Kindles will natively support EPUB files, allowing you to purchase ebooks from Amazon’s library in the EPUB format directly.