Category Archives: amazon

Netflix a lone bright spot among a tech lull

Orange is the New Black: does "TV" get better than this?

Orange is the New Black: does “TV” get better than this?

For technology watchers, 2013 hasn’t exactly been an exciting year. There seem to have been more flops over the first seven months than hits, with a number of big companies either limping along or treading water.

There is, of course, Apple, which hasn’t done anything notable this year other than get nailed in court in the Great E-Book Conspiracy. That hasn’t stopped the rumour mill from churning - are cheaper iPhones on the way? How about ones with bigger screens? Yet, if a smartwatch is the sexiest thing we can expect from the company this fall… well, it’s going to be a boring end to 2013.

Google’s biggest headline of the year so far is the flopping of Glass, the augmented reality glasses that were supposed to transform the world but which actually came to be considered as cool as Bluetooth earpieces. Maybe these things morph into something cool as they iterate, but maybe not. And sure, the company announced a new Nexus 7 tablet and Chromecast streaming device on Wednesday and the Moto X smartphone will debut next week. But smartphones, tablets and media streaming devices? How 2011. Read the rest of this entry »


Amazon’s monopoly is as real as dragons

Don't look now but it might be time to slay the big evil dragon named Amazon.

Substitute gold coins for books and this big, evil dragon’s name could be Amazon.

If you haven’t slapped your forehead recently, you should try paying attention to what’s going on in book publishing. On Wednesday, a U.S. judge pronounced Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to raise book prices - a verdict the company plans on appealing. Far more interesting, though, was a New York Times story  last week that suggests Apple’s enemy in this matter - Amazon - has finally accomplished its mission of establishing a book-selling monopoly. Smack!

The two are very related. The Apple situation came about in 2010, when the company launched the iPad. Knowing that e-books would be a big selling feature of the tablet, Apple arranged an “agency model” with several book publishers that would allow them to set their own prices. The publishers were keen on the agreement because they felt that Amazon was amassing too much power. As a retailer, Amazon was also free to set its own prices, and it was selling many e-books cheaply. The publishers didn’t like this because they felt that Amazon would establish a psychologically low price level in the minds of consumers.

As the judge in the case ruled, Apple played “a central role” in convincing publishers that its model would raise e-book prices, which it did. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on July 11, 2013 in amazon, apple, ebooks


Kindle Fire HD not so hot without Prime

kindle_fire_hdAmazon’s announcement last month that the Kindle Fire HD tablet e-reader was finally coming to Canada elicited some excitement from gadget watchers. I myself wondered if the news might mean renewed interest from Amazon in a country where it has devoted less than its full attention, a fact that has probably resulted in the stalling of the e-book wave here.

I’ve been playing around with the smaller of the two announced tablets, the seven-inch Kindle Fire HD, for the past week and can safely say that nope, Amazon really isn’t ramping up its Canadian operations. The device itself is fine, but it’s not very useful because of what it doesn’t come with - a decent version of Amazon’s premium subscription service, Prime.

Hardware-wise, the Fire HD is about as nice a device as you’ll get - and it’s tough to beat on price. The seven-inch version sells for $214 while the larger 8.9-inch model, which has a slightly higher screen resolution, goes for $284. The closest decent tablet is Google’s Nexus 7, which regularly sells for about $239, while the iPad Mini starts at $329. With a solid screen, stereo speakers on its back and the capability to do most of what you want to do on a such a device - surf the web, check email, read e-books, play videos and post to Facebook - the Fire HD is good value. Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on June 21, 2013 in amazon, apple, Google


Kindle Fire may spark e-book sales in Canada

Jeff Bezos' Kindle Fire is finally coming to Canada.

Jeff Bezos’ Kindle Fire is finally coming to Canada.

The way that coincidental news events sometimes happen really makes you wonder if there really is some unseen hand guiding everything. This week got me questioning whether there’s an omnipotent god of reading somewhere up in the clouds, overseeing the evolution of e-books.

We start with the news that e-books have apparently plateaued, making up about 15 per cent of all book sales, according to BookNet Canada. E-books peaked at 17.6 per cent of sales in the first quarter of 2012, which is normal given that people go on buying binges after getting e-readers and tablets for Christmas, then dropped to 12.9 per cent by the last quarter. So far in 2013, the same trend appears to be repeating.

Conventional wisdom suggests the percentage should be continuing to grow, similar to how other media including music and movies have done. With e-books being far more convenient to acquire and in many cases cheaper than physical counterparts, it’s normal to expect they’ll eventually make up the majority of sales. Yet, according to BookNet, that’s not happening - at least not in Canada - because buyers still like to shop in stores: Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Posted by on May 24, 2013 in amazon, ebooks


E-books have a lot more evolution left in them

downloadable-books-ebooks-2The other day, when Canadian e-reader maker Kobo announced the release of its latest device - the Aura HD - I couldn’t help but wonder, “Who cares about e-readers anymore?” With the price, size and weight of tablets coming down dramatically, the single-purpose e-reader seems like something of an anachronism.

Evidently, I wasn’t the only one who thought that. The Globe and Mail had a story that asked much the same question, with an analyst pointing out that there is indeed “almost no upgrade cycle.” In other words, people who have e-ink readers already are either perfectly happy with them and aren’t buying new ones, or they’re switching over to tablets. E-readers are thus either destined for the obsolescence pile, or they’ll be coming out of Kinder eggs soon enough.

That said, the things that actually come on e-readers - e-books - are nowhere near finished evolving and innovating. As The Guardian reports, publisher Faber & Faber is just one of many experimenting with the medium in an effort to take e-books beyond just simple text on an a virtual page and into their “next generation.” Read the rest of this entry »


Posted by on April 18, 2013 in amazon, ebooks, kobo


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 270 other followers