Amazon

Amazon

Former Tooth and Nail A&R Releases Christian Living Novel

Chad Johnson, former Tooth and Nail A&R who helped discover Underoath, mewithoutYou, As Cities Burn, and many more, released his new book today. It’s titled One Thousand Risks and can be purchased on Amazon. The description reads:

One Thousand Risks is proof that Jesus can set you up to discover adventure in abundance. With an all-out-fight against comfort, fear, and living half-heartedly present, One Thousand Risks will help you know how to experience a super-powered life of spiritual significance. Your problem is fear–mostly the fear of man, fear of failure, and fear of rejection. In response to a dare, I began deliberately and consistently fighting fear–one tiny risk at a time, right where I was–which translated into this awkward, awesome life with Jesus.

Amazon Prime Video Comes to Apple TV

Amazon Prime Video is now available on the Apple TV. MacStories writes:

The timing of Prime Video’s release coincides with Apple’s release of tvOS 11.2 earlier this week, which adds a new Sports tab to the TV app. This enables tracking and watching games from various sports, and is a perfect complement to Prime Video’s release due to Amazon being the rights holder for Thursday Night Football games. Starting tomorrow night, users will be able to watch NFL games using the TV app and Prime Video.

I’ll take this moment to plug The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, which is fantastic.

Amazon Announces ‘Lord of the Rings’ TV Series

Amazon has announced they’ll be producing a new Lord of the Rings TV series. The Hollywood Reporter has more:

The retail giant and streaming outlet announced Monday that it has acquired global television rights to the Lord of the Rings franchise, based on the best-selling novels by J.R.R. Tolkien. Amazon has handed out a multiple-season commitment. The Amazon LOTR series will be produced in-house at Amazon Studios alongside the Tolkien Estate and Trust, publisher HarperCollins and Warner Bros. Entertainment’s New Line Cinema.

Amazon Announces “Amazon Key”

Amazon has announced “Amazon Key,” a new service that lets you get packages delivered inside your home. From the press release:

This state-of-the-art technology doesn’t simply replace a key with a digital passcode. Each time a delivery driver requests access to a customer’s home, Amazon verifies that the correct driver is at the right address, at the intended time, through an encrypted authentication process. Once this process is successfully completed, Amazon Cloud Cam starts recording and the door is then unlocked. No access codes or keys are ever provided to delivery drivers. And, for added peace of mind, in-home delivery is backed by Amazon’s Happiness Guarantee.

Uh, fuck no.

Apple, Amazon Join Race for James Bond Film Rights

The Hollywood Reporter:

The James Bond sweepstakes has taken an unexpected turn. While Warner Bros. remains in the lead to land film distribution rights to the megafranchise — whose deal with Sony expired after 2015’s Spectre — a couple of unlikely suitors have emerged that also are in hot pursuit: Apple and Amazon.

The tech giants are willing to spend in the same ballpark as Warners, if not much more, for the rights, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter. MGM has been looking for a deal for more than two years, and Sony, Universal and Fox also had been pursuing the property, with Warners and Sony the most aggressive.

Jeff Bezos Becomes World’s Richest Person

The New York Times:

A 1 percent pop in the shares of Amazon.com — the internet company Mr. Bezos founded, which accounts for the vast majority of his wealth — was enough to bump him over the wealth of Mr. Gates, the philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder, according to a real-time list of billionaires by Forbes.com, which has tallied the fortunes of the uber-rich for decades.

Forbes now estimates the wealth of Mr. Bezos, currently Amazon’s chief executive, at about $90.6 billion, compared with $90 billion for Mr. Gates.

The Backstory of Amazon Buying Whole Foods

Texas Monthly:

As he stepped off the American Airlines flight at JFK (Whole Foods doesn’t own a jet, and Mackey flies coach), his phone lit up with urgent text messages and voice mails. A hedge fund in New York called Jana Partners had snatched up almost 9 percent of Whole Foods’ stock and announced that it would pressure the company to either overhaul its business or sell itself—perhaps to another grocery giant, such as Kroger, or to a less traditional player, such as Amazon. Mackey and other leaders might have to be replaced. A media frenzy ensued, and the PR team who had carefully staged what should have been a traveling celebration of their boss as a thought leader shifted into immediate crisis mode.

“From that moment on, I was drowning in it,” Mackey says.

This whole story reads like an episode of Billions. Fascinating stuff.

Amazon Buys Whole Foods

Amazon is buying Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion:

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO.

I see that not even Jeff Bezos can get out of Whole Foods without overspending.

Amazon Introduces New Bestseller List

Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch:

Today, Amazon announced Amazon Charts, a new kind of bestseller list that will give users, for the first time ever, a top 20 list of ‘most read’ books on Amazon — a new metric that combines how much books are read on Kindle and listened to via Audible.

Amazon Unveils the “Echo Show”

Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch:

Today Amazon unveiled the Echo Show, a WiFi-enabled home device with a seven-inch screen that is the newest addition to its Alexa-powered Echo range of home hubs that plays media and responds to voice commands. […] The device, which comes in black and white versions, will cost $229.99 and will be shipped from June 28, with preorders available now. It appears that it will be available first in the U.S. only.

I use my Echo for controlling the lights, playing the daily Jeopardy game, setting cooking timers, re-ordering common items, and playing a “favorites playlist” when I don’t have my phone near. Pretty much in that order. It’s a nice device, I’m glad we have it, but I wouldn’t call it anywhere near essential yet. As they get more powerful and more capable of understanding queries and context, I think this will be an interesting space to watch. This device, however, looks like a bad piece of corporate tech from the ’90s. It’s hideous.

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Amazon’s New Echo Look Has a Built-In Camera for Style Selfies

Brian Heater, writing for TechCrunch:

With the addition of a camera, Amazon’s new Echo Look device can now see and hear all. The device is a sort of standalone selfie machine so users can take full-length photos and videos of themselves specifically for the sake of checking their fashion choices in the morning.

I’m always worried that as I get older my inner-curmudgeon will lead to me not getting technology in the same way I did when I was younger. This device sounds a little like something from a dystopian novel, right? A device that can take photos, videos, and listen at all times … that they recommend you put in your bedroom?

Barry Jenkins to Adapt ‘The Underground Railroad’ for Amazon Series

The director of the fantastic Moonlight, Barry Jenkins, will next adapt Colson Whitehead’s novel, The Underground Railroad, as an Amazon series.

“Preserving the sweep and grandeur of a story like this requires bold, innovative thinking,” Mr. Jenkins said in a statement. “In Amazon we’ve found a partner whose reverence for storytelling and freeness of form is wholly in line with our vision.”

Amazon Refusing to Hand Over Data on Whether Alexa Overheard a Murder

Ars Technica:

Amazon is balking at a search warrant seeking cloud-stored data from its Alexa Voice Service. Arkansas authorities want to examine the recorded voice and transcription data as part of a murder investigation. Among other things, the Seattle company claims that the recorded data from an Amazon Echo near a murder scene is protected by the First Amendment, as are the responses from the voice assistant itself.

Amazon and Alexa’s Roll in the Future of Music

Stephen Witt interviewed Amazon’s Jeff Bezos and Steve Boom about Amazon Music, the music industry, and the Echo’s roll in the future:

If you’re asking people to pay for streaming music in a world where there are a lot of free alternatives, then you need to build a service that they want to use every day. And that’s one of the beauties of this device. What we are seeing is that people are listening to more music than ever: we see from data, and we hear anecdotally from customers. Since I have the Echo in my kitchen, my living room, my bedroom, the kids’ room, we’re listening to more music than we were listening to in the past

‘1984’ Rises to Top of Amazon Charts

George Orwell’s classic, 1984, has recently shot up the Amazon charts.

On Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning the book was #1 on Amazon’s computer-generated list of best-selling books. The list reflects hourly book sales.

The 68-year-old novel appeared on the list on Monday, hovered around the #6 spot for much of the day, rose to #2 by Tuesday afternoon and then hit #1.

Police Seek Amazon Echo Data in Murder Case

Billy Steele, writing at Engadget:

Amazon’s Echo devices and its virtual assistant are meant to help find answers by listening for your voice commands. However, police in Arkansas want to know if one of the gadgets overheard something that can help with a murder case. According to The Information, authorities in Bentonville issued a warrant for Amazon to hand over any audio or records from an Echo belonging to James Andrew Bates. Bates is set to go to trial for first-degree murder for the death of Victor Collins next year.

Amazon declined to give police any of the information that the Echo logged on its servers, but it did hand over Bates’ account details and purchases. Police say they were able to pull data off of the speaker, but it’s unclear what info they were able to access. Due to the so-called always on nature of the connected device, the authorities are after any audio the speaker may have picked up that night. Sure, the Echo is activated by certain words, but it’s not uncommon for the IoT gadget to be alerted to listen by accident.

What a strange new world we live in.

Amazon Go: Retail Stores With No Checkouts

Amazon:

Amazon Go is a new kind of store with no checkout required. We created the world’s most advanced shopping technology so you never have to wait in line. With our Just Walk Out Shopping experience, simply use the Amazon Go app to enter the store, take the products you want, and go! No lines, no checkout. (No, seriously.)

Uhm, wow.

Amazon Debuts Amazon Music Unlimited

Sarah Perez, writing for TechCrunch, on Amazon’s new music streaming service, “Amazon Music Unlimited”:

Rumors have been swirling around Amazon’s plans to launch its own, standalone music streaming service, and now those reports have been proven out: the company is today announcing the launch of Amazon Music Unlimited. This new, on-demand streaming service offers access to tens of millions of songs, and is available for $7.99 per month for Prime members, or $9.99 per month for non-Prime members. Amazon has also launched a “for Echo” subscription plan that lets you listen only on its connected speakers for just $3.99 per month.