Amazon’s ‘Special Offers’ Ad Supported Kindle is a Bestseller

Amazon Kindle 3According to Amazon’s list of bestsellers in the electronics category, which has been dominated by the Kindle Wi-Fi for about an year, the new #1 bestseller is the Kindle Wi-Fi with Special Offers, the advertisement supported variant of the Kindle, which is priced at $114, $25 cheaper than the $139 Kindle Wi-Fi.

When it was first announced, there were mixed reactions. Many doubted whether users would be willing to spoil their reading experience by viewing ads for $25 off. But Amazon had clarified that the ads would be display unobtrusively, only on the Kindle’s screensaver, and on the bottom of the display. No ads would be displayed in any books, thus preserving the excellent reading experience that the Kindle is known for.

So far the feedback had been quite positive, with users even finding the Special Offers quite useful, but now we have confirmation. The users have voted with their wallets; the ad-supported Kindle is now the most popular Kindle. This may lead to Amazon giving away free Kindles, supported wholly by ebook purchases and ads.

As for the ‘Special Offers’ Kindle, I suspect it will remain on the top, at least until Amazon launches the rumored Android ‘Kindle’ tablet.

via BI

Amazon’s Android Tablet to be Launched Soon

A new report by Digitimes has given rise to heightened speculation that Amazon is working on an Android tablet, to replace its Kindle ebook reader. According to the report, Amazon has already placed orders with its OEM partner, Quanta Computer, for its upcoming Android tablet. The touch panels for the tablet will be provided by E Ink Holdings, and will support Fringe Field Switching technology.

Amazon expects the sales to touch 700,000 to 800,000 units during the peak season. The Amazon Kindle has been a very popular device, but since the launch of the iPad and the new Android tablets, sales might have been slowing, as more and more users prefer a multi-functional device like a tablet, over an ebook reader. The Nook Color, an Android powered ebook reader has seen huge sales, thanks to its low pricing and its ability to double up as an Android tablet.

With the launch of the new Amazon Android tablet, Amazon can probably capture a large share of the Android tablet space and also sell more ebooks. Amazon recently launched an Android app store. It may also start offering music and videos, leveraging its new cloud locker service. It might be priced around the $200 range, and may be an ad-supported version, like the new $114 Kindle it launched recently.

Desktop is Past, Mobile is a Parallel Universe and the Cloud is Where Stuff Really Happens

Over the last few years, there has been a paradigm shift in computing and data storage from desktop to cloud to mobile. The transition has overlapped at many places and it has seemed more than once that the whole issue is bloated. Mobile processing is getting stronger by the day, and the cloud drives major online services. In the midst of all this development, the desktop is losing importance very fast and it attracts very few developers nowadays. Making a choice among the three is hard.

cloud-computing

(Image Source)
Right now, we make do with a perfect blend of all three. Mobile computing, mobile data storage and access have allowed us to remain productive for prolonged hours. Apps make hot news and success stories every day. An increase in the processing power of cellphones has made it possible to bring popular services to the mobile platform. Not only this, new dimensions in development like location awareness can be used to create compelling products and services.

The cloud has become increasingly popular and forms the backbone for all web-services. Cloud computing and storage has become a major business and Amazon has taken cloud to the very next level by building a strong business around it. For a company that has perfected the cloud so efficiently, it is interesting to see that Amazon always stays out of news.

Whether it is the mobile or the desktop, the very idea of software as a service makes cloud an essential part of the process. If we rule out the cloud completely, the mobile will end up being just like the desktop is today.

Amazon’s North Virginia Data Center Goes Down, Takes FourSquare, Quora, Reddit Along With It

Amazon AWSAmazon’s Cloud Computing Platform as a Service(PaaS) solution, Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) and it’s related services, Elastic Block Storage (EBS) & Relational Database Service were severely affected today as a result of downtime in North Virginia data centers.

This incident has brought down several of Amazon’s high profile clients, including FourSquare, Reddit, Quora, Heroku and several other startups relying on EC2. The problems started at about 01:00 PDT and Amazon is still working on it to recover and bring the services back on their feet. While Amazon hasn’t yet provided the full details of the outage, they have however posted an update saying that a networking event resulted in large re-mirroring of EBS volumes in US-EAST-1 region, which is catered to by the North Virginia data center.

Amazon AWS Status

This re-mirroring resulted in significant latency, making sites hosted in this region go offline. At the time of writing this, Reddit was under emergency read-only mode, Quora & FourSquare have put up a static “We’re having technical difficulties” page, while Heroku was crawling.

Amazon’s EBS has come under fire off late due to their elevated error rates, so much so that reddit’s admin jedberg has mentioned about “figuring out ways how to not use EBS anymore”. EBS’s last outage was just about a month ago, taking reddit down for a good part of the day.

It is, however, important to note that some other services using AWS, such as Netflix & Twilio have not suffered downtime due to their use of AWS instances from multiple availability zones, ensuring that even if a data center goes down, the instances from other availability zones are able to continue serving the websites.

 

Amazon Working on Android ‘Kindle’ Tablet

A very pervasive rumor that Amazon is working on its own Android powered tablet has been around since a few months now. Today, Peter Rojas, the founder of Engadget and GDGT, posted a well reasoned article which outlines Amazon’s tablet strategy.

According to almost everyone in the tech industry, Amazon is (or at least, should be) working on an Android tablet to compete with the Apple iPad. The Amazon tablet will be built by Samsung and will be powered by a heavily customized version of Android which will be tightly integrated with Amazon’s services. It will likely be a 7 inch tablet.

Amazon, currently, is in the best possible position to compete with the Apple iPad. It has almost everything in place to fight Apple – ebooks (Kindle), music (its digital music locker), subscription based video offerings (Amazon Instant Video) and apps and games (Amazon’s own Android App Store).

It will likely price the Amazon Android tablet at much lower than the current average price, knowing that it can make money on content. The Nook Color has already proved that there is a market for a cheap, functional Android tablet. Amazon recently experimented with the Kindle’s pricing, offering a $25 cut for anyone willing to view “special offers” on their Kindle, so it could very well do the same for its Android tablet. Another indication of an Amazon tablet being real is the way in which they don’t really seem to care about Apple’s new in-app purchase / subscription policy which could result in Amazon having to pull the Kindle app from the App Store. If an Amazon tablet were to be launched, such a move could actually help it gain more users.

The Amazon Android Tablet could be the next version of the Kindle – the Amazon Kindle 4. What are your thoughts on an Amazon Android tablet? Let us know in the comments.

The Amazon Appstore for Android Is Bad For Developers

The Amazon Appstore for Android opened with controversies over the name and is running smoothly. Though, the app store is not developer-friendly and raises serious concerns over the amount of control Amazon has over the store. Amazon rigidly dictates the pricing of apps on its app store. This has upset the IGDA as it is not in the developer’s best interest.

amazon-appstore

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Amazon has laid out in a clause that it will pay developers either 20 percent of the list price or 70 percent of the purchase price. Either way, Amazon is going to choose the lower of the two while paying. What is alarming here, is the discounted price Amazon wants to offer. According to another clause, if an app sells at a discounted price somewhere else, Amazon wants to lower the price of that app to that discounted price permanently. This marks an end to any weekend bonus you have been running.

Amazon is making one wrong move after another in its competition with the Apple Appstore. The IGDA expressed their concern over a letter to Amazon. It has written,

Amazon dictates that developers cannot set their list price above the lowest list price available or previously available on any Similar Service.In other words, if you want to sell your content anywhere else, you cannot prevent Amazon from slashing the price of your game by setting a high list price. And if you ever conduct even a temporary price promotion in another market, you must permanently lower your list price in Amazon’s market.

There are numerous such claims that are listed by Dean Takahashi on this page.

Nokia E7 Now Available In The US For $679

Back in September, Nokia announced the Nokia E7 smartphone at the Nokia World 2010 in London. This handset looks quite similar to the Nokia N8, but it comes with a larger screen and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard. Nokia E7 runs on the Symbian^3 Operating System. This handset is already available in Finland, Sweden, India and other European countries, but it was not released in the US until last week. Finally, after waiting for almost 7 months, folks in US can purchase this handset from Nokia’s online store or from the Amazon.

nokia e7

Nokia E7 features a 4 inch touchscreen display with 640 x 360 pixels resolution, 680 MHz processor, Symbian^3 Operating System, slide-out QWERTY keyboard, 3G Connectivity, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, 8 megapixel camera with dual LED flash, HD (720p) video recording, 16 GB internal storage, 256 MB RAM, 1 GB ROM, MicroUSB 2.0, A-GPS, FM Radio, Music Player, 3.5 mm headset jack, TV-out, up to 9 hours talktime, up to 18 days stand-by time and a 1200 mAh battery.

Nokia E7 comes with a price tag of $679. You can easily purchase this handset from Nokia’s online store. Alternately, you can also get this handset from Amazon for $649. Nokia E7 will be available in 5 vibrant colors Dark Grey, Silver White, Green, Blue and Orange. To purchase this handset, head over to this page at Nokia’s online store or this page at Amazon.

Amazon To Release An Android Handset With Solar Charging And Mirasol Display!

Amazon recently launched its own AppStore to compete with Google’s own Android Market. Even though Amazon’s AppStore is available only for people based in the U.S, it has been pretty well received by the mass.

Not only does Amazon give away one popular app for free everyday, its AppStore also has some features which the Android Market lacks. Amazon also launched its Cloud based music player for the Android and Windows OS, so as to compete with Google’s upcoming Music service.

Amazon_Blaze

Now, the folks over at AndroidPolice have got their hands on an upcoming Android handset, to be released by Amazon! The code-name of the handset is Blaze’ and it will be powered by a 1.2Ghz dual-core processor from Qualcomm, and pack 512MB of RAM.

Other specs of the handset include 32GB of internal storage, 5MP camera at the back, 1.3MP camera in the front for video calling, MHL (Mobile High-Definition Link), NFC chip, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, 1700mAh battery and a 4.3-inch Mirasol’ display. Amazon will launch the handset with Android 2.3 Gingerbread on-board, with their own custom skin running on top of it.

According to the tipster, the Mirasol’ display will not require any backlighting to display content, which means it is going to be light on power consumption. Apparently, the back of the phone will also sport a solar panel, which will be made up of a new material unlike other solar panels which are made up of copper.

To know more about Amazon’s Blaze handset, readers should head over to this link.

HTC Arrive Up For Pre-Order At Amazon For $149.99

Sprint recently announced the Windows Phone 7 powered HTC Arrive smartphone. This handset offers well-known Microsoft services like Microsoft Mobile Office, Zune and Xbox LIVE. HTC Arrive is also the first CDMA Windows Phone 7 smartphone. This handset features a 3.6 inch WVGA touchscreen display, 1GHz Snapdragon Processor, 5 mega pixel camera, Wi-Fi connectivity and more. HTC Arrive is currently up for pre-order at Amazon. If you are planning to buy this smartphone, then don’t forget to check out the complete specs below.

htc arrive

HTC Arrive comes with a 3.6 inch WVGA capacitive touchscreen display with 800 x 480 pixels resolution, Windows Phone 7 OS, 1GHz Snapdragon Processor, Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n, Stereo Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR, 5 mega pixel camera with flash and autofocus, HD (720p) video recording and playback, SRS WOW HD surround sound, 3.5 mm headset jack, full HTML Web browser with Bing search, 16GB internal memory, Office Hub, up to 6 hours talktime and a 1500 mAh Lithium-ion battery. This handset measures 117.6 mm x 58.9 mm x 15.5 mm and weighs 184 grams.

HTC Arrive is currently up for pre-order at Amazon. This handset originally comes with a price tag of $199.99 on contract, but you can pre-order this smartphone from Amazon for just $149.99. This handset will be shipped from March 20th. If you are planning to purchase this smartphone, then just head over to this page at Amazon.

Serious Security Flaw in Amazon.com Passwords

Amazon.com has faced a serious security flaw that allows users to log in with passwords that are close but not exact.
amazon-security
This is caused by the use of the crypt() function that has many flaws.

crypt() is the password encryption function. It is based on the Data
Encryption Standard algorithm with variations intended (among other things) to
discourage use of hardware implementations of a key search.

key is a user’s typed password.

salt is a two-character string chosen from the set [a-zA-Z0-9./]. This string
is used to perturb the algorithm in one of 4096 different ways.

The function takes in two arguments as key and salt. The basic operation of the function is hugely flawed as it converts all the characters to upper case at first and then considering only the first 8 characters.

The uppercase conversion eliminates a whole 26 letters from the supported character set, and the usage of only the first eight characters are a further blow. In short, the possible number of combinations for a password with crypt are just 36 powered to 8, whereas, it should have been 62 powered to 8.

Effectively, whenever you write a password longer than 8 characters, it is read only uto the first 8 characters and the rest does not matter. Neither does the case as it is converted to uppercase before storage.

We should all wake up and seriously stop using methods like these. Another popular method used to hash passwords MD5 also does not match the current processing powers and has an easily breakable hash. The crypt function uses DES, which is defunct itself. Security needs to upgrade. We are living in an era where hardware growth has surpassed Moore’s Law. Security upgrades are needed imminently and we need to wake up now.

(Image source: Punkinsite)