This could allay some doubts as to whether Amazon has the stomach to keep competing in the tablet wars vs Apple’s iPad and a growing fleet of products powered by Google’s Android operating system. The e-retailer says today that it bought IVONA Software, the Poland-based firm that powers the “Text-to-Speech,” “Voice Guide” and “Explore by Touch” features on Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets as well as other companies’ products and services. IVONA’s voice and language portfolios include 44 voices in 17 languages. “The IVONA team shares our passion for innovation and customer obsession, and we look forward to building great products to deliver world-class voice solutions to customers around the world.” Amazon Kindle VP Dave Limp says. The companies didn’t disclose financial terms. Amazon shares are up about 2.5% in early trading.
UPDATE, 11:10 AM: It’s official — there’s a new Kindle. It’s called Kindle Paper White, costs $119 and will ship October 1. At 9.1 millimeters and 7.5 ounces, it is very slender. “Thinner than a magazine, lighter than a paperback,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said as he announced the product in Santa Monica this morning. A higher-priced $179 Kindle Paper White has free 3G wireless. Both also have a bright light so you can read in the dark and it has eight weeks of battery life. It also has a timer that tracks individuals’ reading speed and can then tell them how long it will take them to finish a chapter or a book. A total of 180,000 books available on the Paper White are exclusive to Amazon, Bezos said.
The CEO today also unveiled the new Kindle Fire HD. The new 8.9-inch tablet is designed to be almost glare free, comes with dual speakers and advanced WiFi. With a few implied digs at the cost and limitations of Apple’s iPad, Bezos said the 32 GB and 4G wireless tablet will retail for $499 and ships November 20. “Is it a little bit more expensive? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely,” he told the crowd.
Amazon shares touched an all-time high today of $252.27. With an hour to go before the market close, the shares are up around 1.8% — in line with the overall market. (The S&P 500 is higher than it’s been since May 2008.)
LOS GATOS, Calif., Nov. 15, 2011 – Coinciding with the first shipments of the Amazon Kindle Fire and Barnes & Noble NOOK Tablet™, Netflix, Inc. (NASDAQ:NFLX) today unveiled a new interface for Android-powered tablets that makes browsing and instantly watching unlimited TV shows and movies streaming from Netflix better than ever.
The redesigned Netflix experience is much more immersive and provides more focus on the growing Netflix catalog by displaying twice as many titles than the previous interface. In addition, through optimization for touch-enabled tablets, Netflix members can swipe through multiple rows of titles with larger artwork. As a result, it is now much easier to discover and instantly watch movies and TV shows on Android tablets.
Amazon stoked the hype around its new Kindle Fire tablet by shipping it a day ahead of schedule, the company announced today. That’s a smart move: In addition to the extra PR and customer goodwill it generates, the decision gives the online retailer one more day to sell videos, music, and books that will “offset the weaker margins (or even losses)” it may see this quarter by selling the tablet below cost, Caris & Co analyst Scott Tilghman says. Research firm iSuppli estimates that Amazon spends about $210 to make each Kindle Fire that it sells for $199. No wonder the promotion machine is in high gear: Hulu Plus — which is available on the iPad and Barnes & Noble’s new Nook Tablet — today joined the parade of content companies crowing about their Kindle Fire apps. A Hulu Plus subscription costs $7.99 a month, and can be used on any device that accommodates it. Hulu’s “never-ending mission is to bring you the world’s premium content when, where and how you want,” senior product manager Lonn Lee says in a blog post.
Amazon startled investors last night with its report of a huge 3Q profit miss. The stock is off about 11.5% this morning from yesterday’s close of $227.15 before the announcement. But analysts are taking the disclosure in stride, saying that Amazon’s just going through some growing pains while CEO Jeff Bezos awaits a huge inflow of cash from sales of the company’s new Kindle Fire tablet. RBC Capital Markets analyst Ross Sandler maintained his “outperform” recommendation on the stock, although he trimmed the target price to $240 from $265. “We view these quarterly pullbacks as good opportunities to add to (investment) positions, and see the upcoming Kindle Fire product launch as the next catalyst that should allow for revenue upside in 2012,” he says. Credit Suisse’s Spencer Wang also trimmed his target, to $200 from $210, yet maintained his “neutral” position on Amazon. He considers it a “core holding in the sector” but urges investors to wait for ”a more attractive entry point.”
SEATTLE — Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) today announced an expansion of a licensing agreement with PBS Distribution that will allow Amazon Prime members to instantly stream, at no additional cost, current and archived PBS programming. This will bring the total number of Prime instant videos to 12,000 by the end of this year, more than doubling the Prime instant video title count since its launch. Amazon Prime members can enjoy this selection on over 300 different devices, including the recently announced Kindle Fire—the Kindle for movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more. Kindle Fire customers enjoy a free month of Amazon Prime right out of the box.
A few surprises this morning in Amazon’s release of its Kindle Fire tablet. The bad news: It’s Wi-Fi only, which means you can’t download content when you’re away from a hot spot. Other tablets, including Apple’s iPad, can handle wireless 3G connections. But Amazon says it will offer free cloud storage for content bought from Amazon. The company also will deploy its Whispersync technology for movies and TV shows: If you’re watching a video on your Kindle and are interrupted in the middle, you can pick up where you left off later on another device including the TV set. The Kindle Fire will have a 7-inch screen and cost $199 beginning Nov. 15 when it goes on sale. The company also announced new, low-priced versions of the Kindle e-reader. Here’s the release:
SEATTLE, Sep 28, 2011 (BUSINESS WIRE) — (NASDAQ: AMZN)–Millions of people are already reading on Kindles and Kindle is the bestselling e-reader in the world for four years running. Today, Amazon is excited to introduce an all-new Kindle family: three all-new Kindle e-readers that are smaller, lighter, and more affordable than ever before, and Kindle Fire – a new class of Kindle that brings the same ease-of-use and deep integration of content that helped Kindle re-invent reading – to movies, TV shows, music, magazines, apps, books, games, and more.
“We’ve now reached the magical two-digit price point for Kindle – twice: the new Kindle and Kindle Touch are only $79 and $99. Kindle Touch 3G is the new top of the line e-reader with free 3G – no monthly fees or annual contracts – and is only $149,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon.com Founder and CEO. “Kindle Fire brings together all of the things we’ve been working on at Amazon for over 15 years into a single, fully-integrated service for customers. With Kindle Fire, you have instant access to all the content, free storage in the Amazon Cloud, the convenience of Amazon Whispersync, our revolutionary cloud-accelerated web browser, the speed and power of a state-of-the-art dual-core processor, a vibrant touch display with 16 million colors in high resolution, and a light 14.6 ounce design that’s easy to hold with one hand – all for only $199. We’re offering premium products, and we’re doing it at non-premium prices.”