Friday, July 24, 2015

Amazon replaces Walmart as world's biggest retailer ... HBO Now available on some Amazon tablets ... Fire TV and Stick updated to access hotel WiFi with log-in screens, a how-to guide ... Other new features installed in Fire TV and TVFire Stick ... HBO Collections in Amazon Prime ... Unusual discounted Kindle books alert for 7/23-24 ... amusing, less-known facts about Amazon's history

Amazon and Kindle news updates
The photo at the left -- or in the center for Kindle Blog Edition subscribers who get the most-recent 20~ blog posts in each Kindle version (14-day free trial) -- is from a wonderful look by at the original Amazon page 20 years ago when Amazon made its first appearance.

The story includes 14 other things most of us did not know about ye olde Amazon, including why it was named 'Amazon' in the first place (the original name chosen is hilarious and I think the company probably wouldn't have been quite as successful with it) and what that underlying arrow in the logo means.

The article mentions Amazon's oft stated 4 principles:
"• Customer obsession rather than competitor focus
 • passion for invention
 • commitment to operational excellence and
 • long-term thinking."

It's somewhat fitting then that on its 20th birthday Amazon has suddenly become (last night) the world's largest retailer by market value, replacing Walmart as #1 after Amazon stock surged almost 17% when their latest quarterly report exceeded expectations, even including a profit for once.  Amazon has preferred to invest money back into expanded operations and new services of every conceivable type.  Its market cap is now approximately $264 billion to Walmart's $235 billion.

 The BT article on Amazon's history includes a picture of the company's first office building after the business graduated from Jeff Bezos' garage.  It's always amazing to me what one person with a vision and laser-focused energy can accomplish in this world

A little break here for a more mundane note, a small tip on the Kindle Daily Deal today (for those not watching daily)
  For fans of NY Times bestseller Michael Koryta
  Three of Koryta's thrillers are available at $1.99 each today only.

  And, probably even better, some unusual SHORT-term Kindle book discount alerts for the last two days
  NOTE: These last usually 1-3 days, but too often just one day.

N E W:
HBO Now (ad-free) is now available for Android devices and Amazon's Fire tablets. The PR release mentions "latest" Fire tablets, 6", 7", and HDX but does not mention the older tablets and I asked for clarification.  Found, at the app page that my Yr 2013 HDX 8.9" is eligible, And Amazon responded with this list of eligible Kindle Fire and Fire tablet devices.
 •       Kindle Fire HD 7
 •       Kindle Fire HDX 7 WiFi
 •       Kindle Fire HDX 8.9 WiFi
 •       Fire HD 6
 •       Fire HD 7
 •       Fire HDX 8.9 WiFi

  HBO Now will also be available in a few weeks for FireTV and Fire Stick - for those hoping to free themselves from Cable.  This will be at $15/mo. but if that can get some viewers off Cable TV's ever escalating monthly fees, it may be worth it for HBO watchers.
   I subscribe to Hulu (formerly known as Hulu Plus), and Showtime is going to be there with no need for a cable TV subscription, for $9/mo.

  This differs from the HBO Collection of older series already available on Amazon Prime.

How to attach Fire TV to a public WiFi network (hotel etc)
Amazon announced the software update that enables using Fire TV and FireTV Stick with hotel networks requiring a login screen.
   Mainstream tech sites had reported it was coming, although slowly over several weeks and 'over the air' to Fire TV and Fire TV Stick.
  That was back in late March:

  Now it should be generally installed, so here are the Instructions for or guide to doing this.

  As Verge explained from the Amazon press release:
' Amazon says both devices are the first media streamers to support the "captive portal," or Wi-Fi networks that require web-based authentication. You'd typically find these at hotels, where it's often hard or impossible to connect your own Apple TV or Chromecast to the Wi-Fi network. But now Fire TV owners can replace the hotel's own lacking entertainment options with the content they'd normally watch at home. '
'the OTA release will add a few significant new features, led by support for expandable USB storage for the set-top box. You'll be able to plug in an external USB drive to boost the amount of space for your Fire TV apps and games — if you've somehow already managed to exceed the built-in storage, that is.'
  [Note that the support for an external USB drive isn't of course available for the little FireTV Stick though.]

'Curated playlists from Prime Music, hidden PIN entry (to keep the kids from seeing your code), and quicker shortcuts for putting the Fire TV to sleep or activating screen mirroring round out the latest update.'
More tidbits from that BT article on Amazon
Also from that BT article on things we didn't know about Amazon, there were some interesting actual numbers on some items sold on the infamous PrimeDay.  I had seen that, early that day, they'd sold 4,000 Echo's in 15 minutes, at $50 off, but here are some other items noted:
' To celebrate its 20th birthday, Amazon launched Prime Day with exclusive discounts for Prime members. 56,000 Lord of the Rings trilogy box sets, 47,000 televisions and 14,000 iRobot Roomba 595 Pet Vacuum Cleaning Robots were sold; in the case of the latter, this compared to just one the previous Wednesday. '
Intrigued by what the iRobot Roomba was like that involved 14,000 buys that day vs one purchase the week before, I went to see the product listing and saw that it's $380 now and wondered what the discount was when it sold so many.  I've always been curious about it but not at that current listed price.

There is more news to catch up on, but I've been able to drop one larger project that was keeping me away from this blog and will be able to be here more often again, so will report the rest in a couple of days.

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