Amazon announcement storm: precursor to hardware announcement?

Amazon announcement storm: precursor to hardware announcement?

Amazon has put out six press releases (well, okay…two of them were the same, just in different languages) in the last two days.

The last time that happened was in June…when the

Amazon Echo (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

became generally available.

I checked: there was also a flurry around the time of the announcement about new models last year in September.

Now, this pattern is different…those press releases came afterwards or were concurrent. These are (perhaps only very slightly) before.

However, I think that part of what may happen is that Amazon is arranges deals and creates features to make the release of hardware even more exciting. They want heightened interest in Amazon generally as well at that time, and goodwill.

These announcements also give you options even if you aren’t interested in buying new hardware.

Amazon Prime Members Enjoy Digital Access to The Washington Post for Free

The upshot here?

“Prime members can now enjoy six months of free unlimited access to The Washington Post National Digital Edition, a subscription usually retailing for $9.99 per month. After the first six months of access to world-class national and international news, Prime members can continue to enjoy unlimited digital access with a discounted monthly subscription rate of only $3.99, a savings of 60% per month.”

I did enjoy the Washington Post (owned by Amazon Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos) when we got it for free for six months on Fire tablets, which I wrote about it:

Washington Post free on Kindle Fire

Even though I could have continued it at a very low cost, I didn’t. It was one of those things where I have enough to read without it, and it was symbolically challenging for me to pay for it at all.

I figure I’ll read it for the six months, and then cancel it again. I don’t feel like that’s cheating: I’m paying for Prime anyway, and they aren’t asking me to get it only if I think I might subscribe.

Note that this time it is for Prime members (not based on having a Fire tablet), and you can read it on many platforms…including the website.

Oh, this isn’t available for current subscribers, by the way…so I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t sign up before. 😉

Start here:

Now Available: The Complete Sex and the City Series on Prime Video

Amazon started giving Prime Members free streaming access to older seasons of some HBO shows a bit more than a year ago

Round up #255: authors’ insults, HBO ruh-roh

and now they’ve added the complete Sex and the City.

Interestingly, it is available for download for offline watching. The selection of downloadable Prime Videos has gotten much better recently: a lot more well-known titles. This is a way that Amazon differentiates itself from Netflix and Hulu, and it looks like it wants to push that.

Downloadable titles (for Prime members, at no additional cost) now include:

  • Transparent
  • Downton Abbey
  • Extant
  • Grimm
  • Under the Dome
  • American Horror Story
  • Wallace & Gromit: the Complete Collection
  • Curious George
  • Vikings
  • Justified
  • Orphan Black
  • Teen Wolf (the new MTV version)
  • 24: Live Another Day
  • Sons of Anarchy
  • Hand of God
  • Girls

Note that it isn’t all seasons of those, but this is still nice!

Oh, and movies, too, including:

  • Pulp Fiction
  • The Bling Ring
  • Kill Bill
  • Spy Kids
  • Life After Beth
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Under the Skin
  • Sling Blade
  • Spring Breakers
  • The Neverending Story
  • Ella Enchanted

Amazon Fire TV—Largest and Fastest Growing Selection of Any Streaming Media Player

This one was a general Fire TV announcement (and they might be introducing a new version of it, I suppose). That might be in part a response to the new Apple TV announcement…that sounds cool, but it’s relatively expensive. Apple TV will start at $149, as opposed to $99 for the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and $39 for the

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Hey! The Fire TV is unavailable! Very good chance that means an announcement for a new gen soon…before the end of the week I would guess. I know, I know…I didn’t think that was the case with the Fire Phone when I wrote about it yesterday, but this is different…especially with the announcements of new content.

The press release includes these interesting bits:

  • “Popular new titles include AT&T U-Verse, HBO NOW, Pac Man 256, Orbitz, Quiplash, Tastemade, and Tennis Channel Everywhere. FOX NOW, FXNOW, Poker Central, and Turner Classic Movies will be coming to the platform soon.”

If TCM is free (to watch the movies, not just to get the app), I’m an especially happy camper. 🙂

This is also useful:

“Fire TV integrated universal search from the very beginning, and customers have loved being able to easily search across multiple services, including HBO GO, Showtime, Hulu, STARZ PLAY, ENCORE PLAY, and Vevo. Plus, Amazon will be adding over 10 services to universal search by the end of the year, including A&E, HISTORY, Lifetime, and PBS.”

Amazon Continues to Expand its Superfast Delivery Service: Prime Now Lands in Los Angeles Featuring Tens of Thousands of Items from Amazon, Local Store Deliveries Coming Soon

Prime Now is this incredible, two-hour delivery service (you can pay $7.99 to get something in one hour).

They are establishing four (!) hubs for this in Southern California, and will be covering quite a few cities (“Los Angeles and Orange County including areas such as Santa Monica, Redondo Beach, Silver Lake and Irvine, to name a few…”).

Additionally, they’ll deliver from some local stores, like Sprouts. My Significant Other likes an Icelandic yogurt called Siggi’s which we can get at Sprouts…but it’s never a good shopping experience. We aren’t covered by Prime Now (yet), but getting it deliveed in two hours at no additional cost? Yes, please.

Amazon Announces Finalists of Second Indie Literary Contest for Spanish-Language

For a final press release, also available in Spanish:

Amazon Anuncia los Finalistas del Segundo Concurso Literario de Autores ‘Indie’ en Español

we get something that has to do specifically with books. 🙂

Amazon has been taking submissions of unpublished books in Spanish, and they are down to five finalists. See this page for more information: (at AmazonSmile*)

The winner will “have the opportunity” to be published in print, audio, and e-book by Amazon.

The winner will be announced October 15th.

There you go!

In the middle of writing this, I tweeted about the Fire TV unavailability…I wanted to get that out before Amazon made an announcement. 😉

What do you think? Is Amazon about to announce new hardware? What does it mean that they are taking more interest in non-English publishing? Does all of this have to do with new models, or is it just a coincidence and build up for the holiday season? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.



8 Responses to “Amazon announcement storm: precursor to hardware announcement?”

  1. Tom Semple Says:

    Apple TV currently does not have an app for Amazon Instant Video, and judging by this page: that is not going to change by the time the new model ships. Or perhaps Apple is disinterested in promoting AIV there. While you can play video through the AppleTV from an iOS device using AirPlay, that’s not ideal.

    Since an important feature of Amazon Instant Video on most platforms is the ability to purchase content, I wonder if there is sufficient incentive for Amazon to publish an app for Apple TV that does not allow in app purchase (assuming the Apple TV platform has the same in-app purchase restrictions as iOS, i.e., Apple insists on a cut of the proceeds, which is a condition that makes digital retail sales economically unfeasible. In the end, a lot of Amazon customers are Apple customers, so it probably makes sense to do it.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Tom!

      I think the question would be, “Would an Amazon customer stop being an Amazon customer because they can’t watch AIV on Apple TV?” I think the answer is no. Would an Amazon customer choose a Fire TV over an Apple TV because they can’t watch AIV on the latter? I think that’s more likely.

      Arguably, the $149 Apple TV isn’t really directly in competition with the less expensive Fire TV…but again, I think they are in the same market.

  2. Edward Boyhan Says:

    I’m not sure that PR volume is any harbinger of an Amazon H/W event (:grin). Last year Amazon had it’s big H/W announcement event on September 17.

    Apple went last week, and Microsoft is going on Oct 6 (in NYC — I’ll be there). There is, I suppose, a small window between now and the MS event, but I think Amazon would want a wider buildup period — given that no invites have gone out.

    More telling might be the recent flurry of layoffs at Lab126 — maybe Amazon is clearing the decks for action?

    I’m guessing they’ll go after MS. I have to say I haven’t any idea at all what they might announce, or (more importantly) what I might like to get (now that there’ll be no phone upgrade).

    In the past these announcements have always come with new FireOS updates — there are things I wish they would do there.

    AS you recently postulated maybe they’re turning more to video distribution than books. Of the 28 or so new TV shows coming this fall, two or three are coming from Amazon with good pre-launch buzz.

    Bezos has been aggressively hawking the Washington Post: first there was an app bundled with some Fire tablets. When that expired he offered me an all device all edition sub for $39/year — thus I don’t feel at all deprived to miss out on this latest offer (:grin).

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      Well, I guess you were right 🙂 — this am Amazon via a flurry of PR’s announced a bunch of new H/W including a new Fire HD, a $50 Fire, and Fire TV with 4K support, a new Fire Kids edition, and a Fire TV gaming edition. I haven’t read the PR’s in detail — so I’m not sure what else (new S/W?) might be in there.

      This might be the first new Amazon H/W announcement that prompts me to buy nothing 😀 .

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I did already buy one…the Fire TV 2. I may buy the $50 Fire tablet as well, to be able to write about that one. Outside of that, it would depend partly on the feel of the keyboard case for the Fire 10″. I’d consider that…the touch on my Lenovo laptop has been terrible…way too stiff.

    • Edward Boyhan Says:

      Not sure but the Fire tablets seem underpowered (meh): display (over 1 million pixels: 1280×1024???); processor from mediatek — never heard of them. Last year’s Fire HDX 8.9 seems much better than today’s Fire HD — of course these may represent price reductions from last year.

      OTOH new Fire TV, and Fire TV Stick (price unchanged: $100, $49) now come with “Alexa support” — not sure how this works without the Echo’s speaker, or if answers could be diverted to an existing Echo.

      New version of Fire OS based on Android “Lollipop” called “Bellini”; features: (meh)

      Fire TV gaming edition ($139) comes with game controller (which includes a mic for voice control and Alexa support), and beefed up processor, and memory.

      I think I’ve garnered everything from the PR’s — I’m sure tech journo’s will have lots more to say tomorrow. 😀

      • Bufo Calvin Says:

        Thanks for writing, Edward!

        I’ll probably have more to say tomorrow, too. 🙂

        I think the ability to share Prime Videos with Family accounts is big…and Word Runner may be a hit as well (a speed reading option).

        Alexa is apparently going to be just the “parse-onality”. It doesn’t look like (at this point) that it will control the device. The music (and answer audio) would play through your television’s sound system.

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Edward!

      A PR storm might not always presage new hardware releases…you are right there. 🙂 As we know in hindsight, it appears that this time it might have been.

      There is a

      Keyboard Case (at AmazonSmile*)

      available for $99.99 for the 10″…that could be seen as a competitor for the Surface.

      They did announce “Bellini”, Fire OS 5.0. I would guess that is coming to some of the older Fire tablets.

      I’ll write more about it, but some key features:

      * Sharing Prime video with a Family account
      * ASAP (which has been on the Fire TV) which predicts and prepares your next video
      * On Deck (not at launch) downloads Prime Videos during idle time…so you always have something to watch, even if you are unexpectedly away from wi-fi
      * A new homescreen with supposedly easier access (no more carousel?)
      * Word Runner: a speed reading type app, sort of like Spritz…I suggested Amazon add something like that back in March of 2014:

      I polled people, and it was the least popular of my three choices, but still… 😉

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