Japan has joined the US, UK, Germany, and India as the fifth country where Alexa and Amazon Echo devices are available. Just as Amazon has done with every new country where Alexa is launched, Echo devices in Japan are currently available by invite only while they work out potential issues and quirks with Alexa before releasing the voice assistant to all Japanese customers. Read more ›
Amazon announced today that Alexa and the Amazon Echo will be released in Japan later this year. It’s not clear if the entire line of Echo devices will be made available to Japanese customers, but it seems as though at least the new 2nd generation Echo will be sold in Japan. Read more ›
Amazon devices are currently on sale in the UK and Japan. The Fire TV Stick is on sale for £29.99 in the UK and ¥3,980 in Japan. The Fire TV is on sale for £64.99 in the UK and ￥10,380 in Japan. Additionally, the Fire 7″ tablet is on sale in the UK for £39.99 and the Fire HD 10 tablet is on sale in the UK for £139.99. Germany and Austria’s Amazon sites don’t have any of these devices on sale, which is a bit odd since all three international sites tend to have sales in unison.
Amazon has announced that they’ve greenlit season four of Transparent, their critically acclaimed original series which has won multiple Golden Globe and Emmy awards. The series will continue with its original cast intact. Series creator Jill Soloway will also remain as the showrunner. Season 3 will be released this fall, with season 4 slated for a 2017 release.
Amazon will also be kicking off their original video library in Japan, the latest region to gain Amazon Video and Fire TV devices, with twelve new shows. The lineup includes four dramas, three variety shows, two kids shows, and three documentary series. It’s unclear at this time if the Japanese originals will be available to Prime members in other regions.
Game developer Square Enix has just released five new games for the Amazon Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The games include Final Fantasy XIII, as well as its two sequals, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning Returns. Also released are The Last Remnant and Murdered: Soul Suspect. Unfortunately, geographic restrictions currently limit these games to customers in Japan, but they’ll likely make their way to other regions eventually.
What’s possibly more interesting than the games is the unique trial period and sale being applied to these games. Square Enix is no stranger to unique sales and they’re continuing the trend with these new releases. All five games are available for free, but are limited to a 30 minute free trial period each. After 30 minutes of play, each game must be unlocked through an in-app purchase, which ranges between ¥2,000 (about $18.70) and ¥3,400 (about $31.79). A sale running thru May 12th discounts the game’s prices by as much as 50%, bring the unlocking price down to between ¥1,200 (about $11.22) and ¥1,980 (about $18.52) depending on the game. After the in-app purchases return to their regular price, Amazon will be running a second promotion, between May 18th and June 17th, which gives customers 25% of the in-app purchase price back in Amazon Coins.
Amazon today announced the availability of the new Fire TV and Fire TV Stick in Japan for the first time. Japan now joins the US, the UK, Germany, and Austria as the 5th country where Fire TV devices are available. Japanese customers can pre-order the new 4K Fire TV today for ¥12,980 (about $108), the Fire TV Stick for ¥4,980 (about $42), and the Fire TV Stick with Voice Remote for ¥6,480 (about $54). For the next 3 days, existing Prime members in Japan can use promo code FIRETV3000 to receive ¥3,000 (about $25) off the purchase of either three devices. Additionally, non-Prime customers who buy a Fire TV or Fire TV Stick and sign up for Prime in the process will receive a ¥4,000 (about $33) Amazon gift card, which is a fantastic deal considering Prime membership is only ¥3,900 (about $32) in Japan. So, assuming the ¥3,000 off promo and ¥4,000 gift card for new Prime members can be used together, Japanese customers can buy a Fire TV Stick and get 1 year of Prime membership for a total out of pocket cost of just ¥1,880 (about $15).
Amazon is also selling the new Fire TV Game Controller in Japan for ¥5,980 (about $50), but not the gaming bundle. Notably, Amazon is also selling the new wifi-based 2nd-Gen Voice Remote seperatly in Japan for ¥2,980 (about $25) which is currently not available for sale in any other country. Only the older bluetooth based voice remote is currently available for sale separately outside of Japan. All Fire TV devices and accessories will begin arrived at Japanese customer’s doorsteps on October 28th.
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Amazon has announced that they’ll be bringing their Prime Instant Video service to Japan this fall. This is surely a direct response to Netflix who, earlier this month, announced they’ll be launching their streaming service in Japan on September 2nd. Amazon says Prime Video in Japan will feature “thousands of popular Japanese and U.S. movies and TV shows, anime series, music concerts and variety shows, plus Amazon’s own award-winning originals and new Japanese originals.” Japan’s Prime membership will remain at the relatively cheap price of ¥3900 per year, which is about $32.50 per year. For comparison, Netflix will be priced from ¥650 (about $5.40) to ¥1,450 (about $12) a month in Japan. Amazon’s advantage in Japan over Netflix is that they’ve been running Amazon Prime in Japan for over 10 years and already have an existing base of subscribers, while Netflix will be starting from scratch.