One Plus has finally launched its popular One Plus One smartphone in India. This handset is exclusively available on Amazon for those who has received an invite. One Plus One packs a 5.5-inch Full HD display, 2.5 GHz quad-core Snapdragon 801 processor, 13 megapixel rear camera, 4G LTE Connectivity and more. It runs on the Android 4.4 (KitKat) based CyanogenMod 11S.
Similar to its global invite system, Indian user will need an India-specific invite to purchase this device. To get an invite, you will need to participate in the contests and promotional events hosted on the company’s forums or social media channels as well as by Amazon.in. You can also ask someone who has bought a OnePlus phone for an invite. To learn more, head over to this page. One Plus One comes with a price-tag of INR 21,999.
Do you have a ton of space in your OneDrive account and don’t know what you want to do with it? How about taking the bold step of moving your music collection to OneDrive?
Wait a second, you may say. OneDrive does not “support” music files, you may say. Well, maybe not openly and definitely not as a streaming music service could. However, as I coincidentally found out over the weekend, as long as you have the OneDrive app (I tested on Windows Phone, iPhone and Windows 8), you may at least be able to play your music, one song at a time.
Through a variety of promotions and tie-ins, I have almost 240GB of space on my OneDrive, and very soon, it is going to be 1TB because I have an Office 365 Home subscription.
To The Cloud
First though, moving the collection. If you are like me, and have many ways to listen to your collection, and have multiple forms of backup running, you may be wary of moving things around. I took a deep breath and took the plunge, although I knew what I wanted to achieve: move the music to the cloud but not lose the local files, and still continue to back up to my cloud backup service, Crashplan.
So, on my Windows 8 “home server”, I took the music off the data drive and moved it to my OneDrive’s sync location under a convenient location like OneDrive\Music. It took a while to move my 120GB to the cloud, but once I copied it to the location, I let it do its thing uploading the music to OneDrive. This step should be identical if you have Windows 7 (or even a Mac) with the OneDrive sync client installed.
The advantage with this approach as opposed to leaving the music on the home server is that I now have the ability to access my music from virtually any device connected to the internet. At the same time, since the music is still on my home server, I did not lose the ability to play the music from devices on the home network like my Apple TV.
Backup vs Sync
One common confusion is mistaking backup for sync, or vice versa. I think of it this way: I want my important data to be backed up without any manual effort, and I want some of the digital memories synced so that I can access them from anywhere, at anytime. The nuance here being, the backup is a one-way data transfer from my home server to the cloud whereas syncing enables me to add to my music collection from anywhere. So the next time I see a great deal on Amazon Music for a $5 album, I can not only purchase it but also download it and make it available to my other devices.
Use the OneDrive apps
Speaking of being able to access from anywhere, what happens when you try to open one of your (DRM-free, of course) audio files? Well, it depends. If you open from a browser, it simply opens the dialog to download the file. This is because the OneDrive web app is not set up for streaming music. It is only meant to interpret documents (Office formats, text and PDF), pictures and video. In the mobile OneDrive apps on the other hand, you can navigate to the folder with the songs, and tap on the actual song and it will start playing the song.
I hadn’t noticed this earlier, and while this is good, it by no means makes the OneDrive app a music player like Amazon Music app or Google Play Music app. For example, the app does not play an entire folder. It does not understand playlists. When you skip a song, it simply returns you to the folder instead of playing the next song.
But the fact that it can now stream (not download and then play) is a good sign that perhaps the OneDrive app may unbundle the photos/videos, documents and music features into their own apps just like Google and Amazon have done. I can see a OneDrive app like it is today, for general storage features, an Office app to only surface the files that Office mobile can open, OneDrive Photo app for pictures and videos, and OneDrive Music or Xbox Music app to surface audio files.
Owning music vs renting
I say all of the above but I am one of those who has slowly learned to give up trying to deeply control the music collection. I mostly rent music via one or more of the streaming services like Spotify, Rdio, iHeart, etc. I am also a paying subscriber for Xbox Music Pass which lets me play any song from their catalog on-demand. As a result, the real need to listen to music I “own” (because you know, this collection goes way back to the Napster and Kazaa days), has gone down tremendously. There are still some comedians whose performances I have in my collection which are not available on iTunes or Xbox Music catalog. There are also some Bollywood songs which did not match when I tried iTunes Match and also Xbox Music matching, but those are general the exception rather than the rule.
And then there’s services like Apple’s iTunes Match. It allows one to “match” their local collection with iTunes’ catalog and whenever there is a match, iTunes allows you to listen to the songs from any authorized device. The service is not free, but at $25/year it is a small price to pay for hassle-free management of your music collection. It also allows customers to upload the songs which do not match, although the uploaded songs would count against the iCloud storage quota. Once Apple’s newly announced storage plans go in effect, it would be a good idea to let iTunes completely manage the collection, which is taking one more step towards freeing up your collection. Xbox Music advertised long ago that this feature was coming to the service but so far it only does matching but does not allow you to upload unmatched music to the cloud.
Use the cloud, any cloud
To conclude, I recommend that you start thinking about simplifying your data management. Why leave stuff on your hard drive when you can use the cloud? For digital stuff like music and photos, it is better to make the cloud your primary “drive” and sync it to the devices you use. I used OneDrive as an example in this article but feel free to explore the cloud of your choice. It won’t harm going instead with Google, Amazon, or coming soon, Apple because all of the big ecosystem providers understand that providing a reliable storage solution is key to keeping customers “sticky”. Start planning the move to the cloud, as long as your bandwidth permits.
What’s your personal cloud situation? What about owning vs renting music, do you use any of the streaming services? Which ones? Why? Let us know!
After years of speculation, it has finally happened. Amazon India is now open for business. More than a year after launching Junglee, a price comparison engine, the ecommerce giant has launched its own full-fledged marketplace.
“Our vision, at Amazon, is to be Earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover virtually anything they want to buy online. With Amazon.in, we endeavor to build that same destination in India by giving customers more of what they want – vast selection, low prices, fast and reliable delivery, and a trusted and convenient experience,” said Greg Greeley, Vice President of International Expansion at Amazon.com. “We’re excited to get started in India and we will relentlessly focus on raising the bar for customer experience in India.”
India is Amazon’s tenth marketplace, after countries like USA, UK, Canada, China, and Japan. The Seattle based online retailer is starting off with its strong suite – books. Amazon India claims that it currently has more than 7 million books in its catalog. The Indian store also has nearly ten thousand movies and a little over one thousand TV shows for sale. Other categories including Mobiles and Camera are expected to be launched soon.
The Amazon India launch was months in the making. However, the biggest stumbling block was the Indian government. Restrictions on foreign investment on multi-brand retailers prevented Amazon from setting shop in India. However, it appears that Amazon has found a way around the regulations. Unlike in the US and many other countries, Amazon won’t be maintaining its own inventory. Instead it will be operating purely in a marketplace based model. Times of India is reporting that Amazon has signed up 100 vendors across the country, and has setup a 1.5 lakh sqft fulfillment center near Mumbai to service online orders. Amazon is also inviting other retailers to sign up and list their products in the Amazon marketplace. It is providing two options for vendors – Selling on Amazon and Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). The former allows the seller to list their products on Amazon.in, while retaining control over inventory, shipping, and customer service. The latter allows the seller to leverage Amazon’s expertise by offloading logistics, shipping and customer service also to Amazon.
The Web’s giant retailer Amazon has said it will buy the popular book-recommendation and social networking site Goodreads for a undisclosed amount.
The San Francisco-based Goodreads was founded in 2007, and currently has 16 million members. It is one of the most prominent online communities for readers to review and rate books. It also enables users to follow friends and others with similar interests and have discussions about books with them. The 16 million members have contributed more than 23 million reviews and the site has catalogued nearly 360 million books.
The acquisition will provide Amazon with another way to get readers to buy books from it, both digitally and from its warehouses. It will not just revamp Amazon’s book reviews and recommendations, but will also boost up the sales.
Here’s a look at the spike in books added per month in a graph from last August as shared by TechCrunch:
“Amazon and Goodreads share a passion for reinventing reading,” said Russ Grandinetti, Amazon Vice President, Kindle Content. “Goodreads has helped change how we discover and discuss books and, with Kindle, Amazon has helped expand reading around the world. In addition, both Amazon and Goodreads have helped thousands of authors reach a wider audience and make a better living at their craft. Together we intend to build many new ways to delight readers and authors alike.”
Goodreads co-founder, Otis Chandler, said the deal would allow the company to move faster in bringing its user experience to more people around the world.
One of the most prominent features of Goodreads is the books recommendation technology. Although Amazon has its own recommendation engine, Goodreads’ technology adds a bit more value to the growing self-publishing industry.
The best part about it is that the service enables authors to create their own author pages. Readers and fans can follow this page and interact directly with the authors using the comments section. Authors can also run private blogs, send out giveaways, and publicize events using the service.
The acquisition in every possible way is certainly good for Amazon. The complete details of the acquisition including the financial terms were not disclosed, however, it looks like it is worth every penny. The acquisition is expected to be completed in the next quarter.
Back in 2011, Apple sued Amazon regarding the latter company’s new “Appstore” for Android devices, claiming the ‘app store’ name was trademarked by Apple and would cause confusion among consumers. Apple claimed that Amazon’s app store would harm Apple’s reputation. Last year, a judge wasn’t fully convinced regarding Apple’s claims, saying Apple had not demonstrated “real evidence of actual confusion” between the various “app stores”, and suggested that Apple was “not likely to prevail” in the case.
Today, Amazon has succeeded in having Apple’s lawsuit over its “App Store” trademark thrown out, reports Bloomberg. Microsoft also took on Apple, arguing that the “App Store” trademark is no less generic than “Windows.”
Amazon posted its earnings for Q3 2012, with net sales increasing to $13.806 billion, but net losses increasing to $274 million. Of the total sales, product sales accounted for $11.546 billion, while service sales accounted for $2.260 billion. Media sales accounted for $4.6 billion, while Electronics and other general merchandise accounted for $8.558 billion.
Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of Amazon.com, said:
“Our approach is to work hard to charge less. Sell devices near breakeven and you can pack a lot of sophisticated hardware into a very low price point. And our approach is working — the $199 Kindle Fire HD is the #1 bestselling product across Amazon worldwide. Incredibly, this is true even as measured by unit sales. The next two bestselling products worldwide are our Kindle Paperwhite and our $69 Kindle. We’re selling more of each of these devices than the #4 bestselling product, book three of the Fifty Shades of Grey series. And we haven’t even started shipping our best tablet — the $299 Kindle Fire HD 8.9” ships November 20.”
The earnings release seemed to be focused on targeting the iPad mini more than anything else. Amazon posted a complete comparison of the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD vs the iPad mini, and tried to skewer it completely in terms of specs and price.
Amazon’s strategy is to sell hardware at breakeven, and make money on digital content sales, as compared to Apple, which makes money on both. So far, Apple is winning in terms of both – device and content sales, as well as profit.
Given the upcoming holiday period, and the recent launch of the Kindle Paperwhite, we expect Amazon to post a loss even in the next quarter.
While Apple’s approach is definitely more lucrative and probably better, there can be only one Apple. Amazon is pursuing the exact opposite route, and is focusing more on sales and market share than profitability in the short term.
On the operational front, Amazon has continued to add more digital content to its platform, and also improved the capabilities of its fulfillment centers.
AWS continues to be one of Amazon’s fastest growing businesses, and probably powers almost half the internet today.
Amazon ended the quarter with $2.98 billion in cash and cash equivalents and $2.268 in marketable securities.
Last week, it was reported that Apple had hired a key chip designer from Samsung. AllThingsD reports that Apple has hired William Stasior, a search veteran from Amazon and early search engine AltaVista, to run its Siri division.
Stasior has an impressive pedigree (you can read his resume and see a really geeky binary image he posted of himself here). The MIT Ph.D. has taught here too and has done stints at Oracle, Netcentives and AltaVista. He came to Amazon in 2003 as its director of search and navigation.
He will now be in charge of Siri, which is Apple’s famous voice-activated personal-assistant program. The tech giant acquired Siri in April of 2010 to garner a big stake in voice-activated search.
Stasior previously lead Amazon’s A9 unit, the company’s worldwide search and search advertising division. Back in April 2010, Apple acquired Siri and made it a major part of iOS 5 and the iPhone 4S in October 2011.
The addition of Stasior may suggest where Siri as a product is headed and where Apple plans to take the product in the future.
According to a report by Calcalist, Amazon may be in the process of buying the smartphone and tablet chip business of Texas Instruments. TI recently announced that it will be shutting down its operations in the smartphone and tablet space, and focus on its core strengths – embedded device platforms.
Amazon is one of the perfect buyers for that business. By having its own chip manufacturing operation, it can have greater control over the chips running its Kindle devices. Given the rumors that it may enter the smartphone space and the fact that its Kindle device sales are growing significantly, this seems like a logical move.
Amazon’s competitors like Barnes & Noble use TI’s chips, so such an acquisition could also help Amazon gain a competitive advantage and make things tough for its rivals.
TI’s chip business could be worth billions of dollars, and Amazon could also be willing to pay a huge premium, given the high strategic value to it. Google, Apple and Samsung are all moving towards an operational model wherein they are trying to increase their control over the components that make their devices.
Groupon’s troubles just keep on piling up. As if it weren’t troubled enough already by a sagging stock price and its failure to turn a profit, today, eBay, the original internet e-commerce giant, started testing an online deals offering, which would compete directly with Groupon’s core offering – daily deals.
The new feature is called eBay Lifestyle Deals, and is being tested out in some urban areas like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.
Groupon already has tremendous competition in the space thanks to Google Offers and LivingSocial which is bankrolled by Amazon. While the daily deals space has yet to mature as a market, it is the next natural step for many e-commerce providers, since it is a nice way to improve sales and increase inventory turnover.
eBay already provided product deals, but is now also looking into deals on services, which could be even more lucrative, partnering with deal providers who arrange them with local businesses and merchants.
eBay is also looking to completely revamp its complete website to boost sales and modernize its brand image. It’ll be interesting to see how the daily deals wars play out after the entry of eBay.
Canonical is finally taking some serious steps towards monetization of the Ubuntu platform. Ubuntu is the most popular Linux distro and is widely used by home users looking for an alternative to Windows. It has some serious revenue earning potential. The Firefox browser bundled with Ubuntu integrates Google search, which earns a major chunk of revenue for Canonical. Taking this monetization plan further, Ubuntu now wants to integrate affiliate plans from Amazon. Amazon offers an unmatched affiliate program and this will bolster Canonical’s revenue stream from Ubuntu. Olli Ries, the Director of Technology at Canonical has commented on a postat the Ubuntu Forum, saying,
Another addition is that we will be including Launcher web apps icons to Amazon and the Ubuntu One Music Store by default. We feel that these icons will provide convenient access to these resources for our users and also benefit the project with the generation of affiliate revenue in those cases that these resources are used.
The Ubuntu community is not very happy with this decision from Canonical, as this was announced after the feature freeze. People are already upset with Unity, and are increasingly shifting to a different desktop environment or a different flavor altogether. Canonical dominates Ubuntu and its development, and it has every right to make money from the distro it has worked so hard to create. For those that do not want the icon on their Unity dashboard, you can simply drag and drop it to the trashcan to remove it. However, Ubuntu has a close competitor in Linux Mint, without all the antics. It has to take wise decision to stay in the competition.
After Google Maps made the folly of increasing its pricing, everyone is shying away from using Google Maps for their mapping solutions, and there could not be a better time for other players to launch a competing mapping solution of their own. Amazon took the cue, and has been quick to launch an Amazon Maps API, as part of its Amazon Mobile App SDK offering.
Currently, the Amazon maps API is supported only on the Kindle Fire and the Kindle Fire HD devices. The new devices will also support location-based services through the Android location API, and a mapping service was absolutely necessary to complement those services.
The features on offer are pretty much standard, and include pan and zoom controls with an option for satellite view. The location API will be used to display custom overlays, as customized pin markers. Additionally, the Amazon Maps API also promises an easy migration from Google Maps.
Amazon is licensing the Nokia Location Platform (NLP) for maps and geocoding.
Amazon´s decision to choose the Nokia Location Platform is further proof point that our competence in this space is a key differentiator also for other leading players in the industry to offer great location consumer experiences.
Currently, the public mapping space is dominated by Google at large, with Open Street Maps being its only competitor. Device and platform specific maps are provided by Apple and Nokia as well, but Nokia is clearly emerging as a major enterprise-mapping provider with most of Yahoo maps, Bing maps and now Amazon Maps being powered by its map data.
Amazon has launched three new Kindles at its event today, and it’s not done. It also launched two new variants of the Kindle Fire, which has been one of the most popular tablets in the last year. The Kindle Fire has been refreshed with better hardware, and Amazon also launched a Kindle Fire HD with a bigger display and even better hardware.
Amazon Kindle Fire
The new, refreshed Kindle Fire comes with a 7 inch display, a faster processor and twice the amount of RAM in the original Kindle Fire. It has also dropped the pricing down to $159. The refreshed Kindle Fire starts shipping from September 14.
Amazon Kindle Fire HD
Here’s the more interesting part. It also launched two new versions of the Kindle Fire HD, with 7 inch and 8.9 inch displays, and some really good hardware under the hood.
The 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD features a larger display with a resolution of 1920 x 1200 pixels, and a display density of 254 ppi. It is powered by a TI OMAP 4470 and includes stereo speakers. It also offers dual band Wi-Fi support for better connectivity and new MIMO technology.
The 16 GB variant of the Kindle Fire HD 8.9 is priced at $299. The 16 GB variant of the Kindle Fire HD 7 (with a 7 inch display) is priced at $199. Amazon will soon reveal the exact difference between the two in terms of hardware specifications.
Besides these three, Amazon also unveiled another variant of the Kindle Fire HD. It announced a Kindle Fire HD (8.9 inch) with 4G LTE bundled in at just $50 per month. This 4G Kindle Fire HD comes with 32 GB of internal storage, and is priced at $499, at par with the entry level iPad. The Kindle Fire HD variants will ship on November 20.