Amazon lays off ‘several hundred’ people working on Alexa

Amazon has begun laying off ‘several hundred’ workers in its Alexa division according to an internal memo sent to employees last week from Daniel Rausch, Vice President of Alexa and Fire TV. This comes exactly one year after Amazon cut approximately 10,000 jobs in its Devices & Services division where many of the layoffs also involved Alexa-related positions. The memo states that these new cuts are at least partially for “maximizing our resources and efforts focused on generative AI.” The memo continues to say that they “remain very optimistic about the future of Alexa” and that “Alexa remains an incredibly important part of our business.”

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Amazon lays off thousands of employees working on hardware devices and services

Earlier this week, The New York Times reported that Amazon was planning to layoff approximately 10,000 employees. SVP of Devices & Services at Amazon, Dave Limp, who oversees all the work behind Fire TVs, Echos, Fire Tablets, Kindles, and much more, has now confirmed the cuts in a memo posted this morning. Specifics about the number of employees let go, and from which teams, were not revealed, but chatter suggests that Amazon Alexa teams have been hit the hardest. Read more ›

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Amazon bans reviews tied to free or discounted products


Amazon has updated its community guidelines to no longer allow incentivized reviews. These are product reviews made by individuals who receive products for free or at a discount in exchange for writing a review. While manufacturers don’t always explicitly require a positive review, the nature of receiving a product for free creates bias towards the positive side. Amazon is not ending their Amazon Vine program, which lets manufacturers go through Amazon to distribute products to trusted reviewers, who never deal with the manufacturer directly. Read more ›

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Amazon scales back its hardware division at Lab126


The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Amazon has laid off “dozens” of engineers at its hardware development office, Lab126, in Silicon Valley. Along with the layoffs is a broader reassessment of current projects, with some being slowed down and others being stopped all together. Rest assured that there is no mention or indication that the Fire TV is one of the affected projects. Read more ›

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Small and light items on Amazon now ship Free

Amazon is introducing a new free shipping option dubbed “Fulfillment by Amazon Small and Light” that does not require a minimum order value or Prime membership. Items which weigh less than 8 ounces, measure under 9x6x2 inches, and cost less than $10 will qualify for the new free shipping option available to everyone. All orders using this new shipping option will come from Amazon’s Florence, Kentucky shipping hub, so you can expect them to arrive in four to eight business days. Amazon Prime’s free shipping perks will remain unchanged, as will the company’s current free standard shipping for orders greater than $35.

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Fire TV is the best-selling media box on Amazon this holiday season

Amazon today has shared some interesting facts for this holiday season. For starts, the Amazon Fire TV was the best-selling streaming media box on this holiday season. No doubt an achievement obtained by the killer $69 Cyber Monday sale and the $79 sale that is still ongoing. The Fire TV Stick is the fastest-selling Amazon device and among the most wished-for items this holiday season. Impressively, Amazon saw record growth for Amazon Prime with more than 10 million new members signing up during the holidays. Lastly, the Fire TV’s ASAP feature, which tries to predict what you’ll watch and saves you time by pre-buffering content, has apparently saved customers over 100 million seconds. Enough, Amazon playfully says, to watch all eight Harry Potter movies more than 1,400 times.

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Amazon pulls their Fire TV Weather app from the Appstore

About a week ago, Amazon released a Weather app for the Fire TV and Fire TV Stick. The app was simple and elegant, but now the app is nowhere to be found. The app was a bit of a surprise when it arrived since it was the first time Amazon released a first party app for the Fire TV platform. Perhaps we’ll see the app return as an added feature to the Fire TV home screen in a future software update.

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Amazon offers $7.99 one-hour & Free two-hour deliveries with Prime Now

Amazon has launched a new service called Prime Now which brings one and two-hour delivery to Amazon Prime members in select cities. The service is currently only available in Manhattan, but will be expanding to other cities soon. Orders can be placed between 6am and midnight, 7 days a week through a new Prime Now app available on Android and iOS. The app will notify users when the service becomes available in their local area. Prime Now seams to be Amazon’s response to competing services like Google’s Shopping Express and eBay’s Now service which have yet to gain much traction.

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Amazon Appstore Best in Reaching Big Gaming Spenders


A new report from Newzoo analyzing gamer spending trends across all three major appstores has revealed that the Amazon Appstore has the highest percentage of users who spend money on games. 64% of Amazon Appstore users have purchased games versus an average of 41% across all app stores and just 37% on Google Play. Appstore users as a whole who spend any money on gaming is up 10% since 2012, with the total number of appstore users up 23%. The US and UK have among the highest percentages of gaming spenders, while Italy and the Netherlands have the smallest percentage.

The daily app deals and free coin rewards have no doubt played a role in Amazon’s success. One look at the sidebar on this website, which I update numerous times a day, will show you the abundance of game deals available at Amazon.

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Amazon Enters the Cloud Gaming Business with Latest Game Release

Amazon Game Studios has just released The Unmaking and, in doing so, has entered the cloud gaming business. The game, which for now is only compatible with Amazon’s three latest Fire tablets, renders much of itself on Amazon’s cloud servers in order to create action sequences involving thousands of enemies and destructive environments. A feat which is difficult to accomplish by the latest gaming consoles and impossible on mobile platforms. The release is being dubbed a preview and is available through January 31st 2015.

It’s unfortunate the game, for the time being, isn’t available on the Fire TV since the Fire TV has proven itself a very capable cloud gaming console. Playcast, a cloud gaming service, launched their open trial for the Fire TV in July. The service performs great and uses Amazon’s servers as their backend. With the caveat of a fast internet connection that cloud gaming requires, it makes sense for Amazon to bring this type of gaming to the Fire TV which is likely to be connected to a fast home internet connection.

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