Amazon To Buy Twitch for $970 Million

twitch logoWe’ve been watching this sale unfold over the last several weeks, as Google/Youtube initially pushed forward with an offer, and now Amazon has swooped in to seal the deal. Twitch will be under the Amazon umbrella of services by end of year.

Twitch is a relatively young, but insanely popular video game broadcasting service, where people can share game play and host video game content. As it was starting to struggle under the weight of its own popularity, it made sense that it would eventually get swallowed up by a larger entity. Youtube seemed likely, as it already pushes a mind boggling amount of video every day, but Amazon’s cloud services and servers should also be a huge shot in the arm for Twitch’s stability as a platform.

What should be interesting to watch is the continued battle over Copyright. Recently Youtube started muting videos of game play over music rights issues. Twitch also recently implemented a music ID scan which can mute portions of a broadcast if it detects Copyrighted audio, and whether Twitch sold to Google or Amazon, the deal probably depended in part on their plans to enforce Copyright. As Amazon is an incredibly popular media distribution service, yet they didn’t have a Youtube-like service constantly in lawyer’s sights, moving forward many gamers will be watching to see if Amazon’s approach is stricter than Google’s might have been.

You can read Amazon’s full PR below.

Continue reading “Amazon To Buy Twitch for $970 Million”

Amazon Fire Phone Coming Exclusively to AT&T – 32GB for $199 on Contract

feature-fireos._V349436017_The long rumored Amazon phone is official!

The Fire Phone builds off of Amazon’s Kindle ecosystem, delivering a similar “FireOS” user interface running on top of a custom build of Android. This means 3rd party Android apps will be compatible, but Google services wont be included as this will use the Amazon App store instead of Google Play.

The hardware is a mix of mid-range and high-end. I’m glad to see the slightly smaller 4.7″ screen, though it’ll come in at 720p instead of the terrific 1080p found on the HTC M7. The venerable Qualcomm 800 quad-core is on board backed up by 2GB of RAM, plenty powerful for gaming on this screen resolution. Storage comes in 32GB and 64GB flavors, with no MicroSD card expansion it seems like a good platform to push Amazon Cloud Storage, as you can upload photos taken from a Fire Phone for free. Continue reading “Amazon Fire Phone Coming Exclusively to AT&T – 32GB for $199 on Contract”

Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and More Stand Against FCC Proposed Rules

Nothing like waiting until the last minute right guys?

FCCWhile Netflix had been a common talking point for illustrating the concept of Net Neutrality, pretty much any company doing business online should be interested in how bandwidth is regulated.

Now the big boys are starting to make a little noise. In a letter sent to the FCC yesterday, 150 companies including those listed in the title of this post, signed on in opposition to the FCC’s proposed “fast lane” rules. The proposed rules will allow carriers and ISP’s to negotiate separate deals with individual companies for consistent bandwidth.

The FCC will vote on the proposal in one week. If you’re interested in voicing your concerns to the FCC and your elected officials, we’ve put together a contact list here.

You can read the letter below.

Continue reading “Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook and More Stand Against FCC Proposed Rules”

Amazon settles eBook Antitrust Lawsuits with credits for customers

amazon ebook anti-trust emailIf you’re an Amazon Kindle customer, chances are pretty good you got an email from them today about your eBook purchasing history, with a nice little surprise.

In December 2013, a federal court approved legal settlements by publishers Hachette, HarperCollins, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, and Penguin in antitrust lawsuits filed by State Attorneys General and Class Plaintiffs about the price of eBooks. Those settlements resulted in credits for qualifying Kindle books purchased between April 1, 2010 and May 21, 2012.

Depending on how many eBooks you’ve purchased, you’ll be issued credits for future Amazon eBook purchases, but that credit is only good for 90 days.

You can catch more info, and if you have any credits waiting for you, on Amazon’s settlement page.

The Sky Is Falling! Amazon to raise price of Prime by 20 WHOLE Dollars!

Amazon-logoIt’s been nine years folks. Nine years since Amazon launched their Prime service, which started as a membership offering reduced prices on shipping, and has expanded to include streaming video and the Kindle Lending Library for ebooks.

It’s been around for almost a decade with nary a market correction or twitch despite increasing fuel costs, and a number of legal battles over things like state sales taxes. Good old Amazon Prime, always $79.

Now new members and people renewing after April 17th will see that price jump. Amazon Prime will now cost $99 a year and Amazon Student Prime will rise to $49. Amazon Fresh will remain unchanged at $299.

Of course this price increase is arriving with the requisite “loyal customer” echo chamber of whinging and gnashing of teeth. Continue reading “The Sky Is Falling! Amazon to raise price of Prime by 20 WHOLE Dollars!”

The Future of Amazon Delivery? Drone to door service. 30 minute local drop off!

image-gallery-02._V367569984_Amazon is pulling out all the stops in their competition with traditional brick and mortar retailers. They used to be free from taxes, but many major markets now tax internet sales. They’re currently experimenting with local storage lockers, they might single-handedly save the US Postal Service, and they’re now talking high tech.

Yup. Drone technology might be the new front in their war on package delivery times. Dubbed Prime Air, these unmanned aircraft will be capable of carrying up to a five pound payload. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but over 80% of Amazon’s shipments are less than five pounds. For customers within a Prime Air zone, packages could be delivered in as little as 30 minutes. It sounds like a great solution for those times you need a cable or memory card quickly. There’s no way I could make a trip to an electronics store and back home in Los Angeles in less than half an hour.

Sign me up!

Pump your brakes there Juan. There are still plenty of kinks to work out. Sure there’s still technology hoops to jump through, but the bigger issue is getting swarms of flying devices through FAA approvals.

Still, CEO Jeff Bezos is optimistic that we could see an Amazon Air Force relatively soon, like four or five years. Maybe on the outside chance this happens quickly, we might even see a limited trial of the service by the end of 2015.

We wont have flying cars like Back to the Future 2 promised us we’d have, but if I don’t have to leave my house for deliveries, that might be almost as good! Check the Amazon video below for more info on Prime Air.

SomeGadgetGuy’s 2013 Holiday Tablet Buying Guide!

ipad miniTis the season for shiny new glowing rectangles! Tablets are proving to be all the rage this year, and if you were thinking of shopping one for a loved one (or for yourself you cheeky bugger you), here’s the scoop on our favorite computing slabs.

Apple: iPad Mini ($399)

Ok. This one’s easy. The iPad Air is the big dog, but the Mini now sports a proper retina display and pretty much the same processor guts as its big brother. The Mini is a touch easier to leave the house with thanks to its smaller form factor, and you’ll save yourself a cool $100 opting for the little iPad over the bigger one. Thankfully that wont come with a performance deficit. This is likely going to be one of the hottest sellers of the year, so make sure you get that pre-order in before it goes on sale later this month if you want to secure a place in line.

Apple announces iPad Mini.

Microsoft: Nokia Lumia 2520 ($499, available later this month)

WP_20131024_19_19_31_ProWe’re restricting our discussion here to Windows RT powered devices. Microsoft is doing a great job of blurring the lines between proper PC’s and consumer tablets, but keeping the playing field equal here, we’re looking at ARM powered portable devices not X86. Sorry Surface Pro and Sony Tap.

The Surface 2 might be Microsoft’s example of what Windows RT should resemble, but Nokia looks like they might take the cake. The Lumia 2520 runs $50 more than the Surface 2, but it comes with LTE built in. Activate it on a carrier which supports it, and you can count on ultra-fast data anywhere you have cell service. To put it into perspective, for $499 you could get a WiFi only iPad Air with 16GB of storage (and no ability to add more storage), or you could get a Lumia 2520 with LTE, 32GB of storage, MicroSD card slot, and a proper USB port.

Microsoft’s OS is still geared a little more towards “work” than “play” but we should see the app ecosystem improve radically once Windows Phone and Windows RT merge early next year (Power Keyboard shown in this pic sold separately).

Hands on with the Lumia 2520!

Android: Tie – Samsung Note 10.1 2014 Edition ($599) vs Asus Google Nexus 7 ($229)

Samsung-Galaxy-Note-10.1-2014Sorry folks. I really tried. It was just too much of a Sophie’s choice to declare one clear winner. Thankfully these two exist at POLAR OPPOSITES of the Android spectrum. Samsung takes an “everything and the kitchen sink” approach to their devices and the Note 10.1 is audacious.

An incredible WQXGA (2560×1600) display exceeds the iPad by almost a million pixels, 32GB of on board storage plus a memory card slot, the ability to use two apps at the same time, Samsung’s excellent S-Pen stylus, and an IR port to use it as a huge universal remote for your TV. It’s a premium experience at a premier price point.

nexus 7 FHD side angle 2013Contrast that with with Google’s market disrupting Nexus 7. Asus helped Goog build out a high end mini-tablet with solid specs, and the two are offering it up at a price usually reserved for “disposable” gear. A 1080p HD screen paired up with a mid-range Qualcomm quad-core and 16GB of storage. You wont get some of the bells and whistles like expandable storage or an IR port, but it’s hard to be disappointed when you consider the bang for buck.

Honorable Mention: Kindles Galore

kindle paperwhite second generation ereader review somegadgetguy (3)So each ecosystem has its strengths and weaknesses, and there’s a lot of overlap.

If you’re an Amazon junky however, a Kindle Fire might be the content consumption platform for you. Powerful specs, great screens, and Amazon prices them low to encourage you to buy music, books, apps, and movies through their online shopping portals.

Lastly, if books are your thing, never underestimate the value of a proper digital ink eReader.

Those are our picks for the year! Did we miss your favorite slate? Is there another tablet which you think is better? Leave us a comment below.

Amazon fights Brick & Mortar stores while trying to save the US Postal Service

Amazon-logoTwo birds. One stone.

Starting now, Amazon Prime customers in Los Angeles and New York Metro areas might be able to receive packages on Sundays via the US Postal service. Amazon is hoping to roll out the service to other major markets like Dallas, Phoenix, and New Orleans throughout 2014.

It’s a pretty clear stab at the recent transitions Amazon has gone through in these major markets. Most states are now trying to enact some kind of internet sales tax on companies like Amazon. Now the online sales giant has been experimenting with ways to combat local sales. First with services like Amazon Locker, now with Sunday delivery. It still wont have the instant gratification of buying something in person, but you’ll no longer have to wait until Monday to get your hands on a Thursday or Friday purchase.

If it helps out the US Post Office, well that’s just a win-win for everyone.

Full PR after the jump. Continue reading “Amazon fights Brick & Mortar stores while trying to save the US Postal Service”