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All posts tagged "amazon"

Monday, November 21, 2011

Online Music Stores Compared

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 07:00 PM

"Each music store is a little different. This showdown is all about the music stores that these companies offer-not their respective players, applications, or services. We can't help but mention them in terms of usability and integration with the store and the user experience, but we're going to try and focus on the features of the stores and steer clear of the bugs or quirks of each player."

Online music stores have garnered attention of late for a number reasons, including the recent launch of the new Google music store. Lifehacker has done another nice job comparing products, this time focusing primarily on the iTunes store, the new Google store and the Amazon music store offerings. If you are outside of the US you may not even have access to all of these stores and their related services, but the review is still useful as you get a feel for what the offerings encompass, and in the future you may indeed get to use them. There is something unique, positive, and negative about each store. The Read link will provide that insight for you.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

What's Your Digital Convenience Price Threshold?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

In the tug of war between atoms and bits, how much does it take to sway you one way or another? Digital download or buying DVDs - which way do you roll? I bought the first episode of "Breaking Bad" on iTunes a few weeks ago, watched it yesterday, and enjoyed it quite a bit. Since I don't currently have an active account (it's a DVD rental service) I'd be looking at buying Breaking Bad season one. How do the numbers work out? Read more...

Friday, June 17, 2011

Amazon Stops Associates Program For Connecticut Following Sales Tax Dispute

Posted by Brad Wasson in "Digital Home Talk" @ 06:00 PM

"Prompting Amazon's breakup with Connecticut is a new state law that attempts to tax the eCommerce giant through its Associates Program. This program allows website owners to place ads on their sites, and then receive a percentage of any purchases made through those ads, the Examiner's Michael Santo explains."

A new state law attempts to tax Amazon through its Associates Program. This program allows website owners to place ads on their sites, and then receive a percentage of any purchases made through those ads. Under the new law, online retailers (not just Amazon) who have agreements with locally owned websites are considered to have a presence in that state, and are thus subject to sales tax. MaximumPC has the intricacies of the whole story, available through our Read link.

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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

eBooks Outsell Print Books at Amazon

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM,281...,2385592,00.asp

"In July 2010, Amazon announced that sales of electronic books for its Kindle e-book reader surpassed sales of hardcover books on the site. Six months later, sales of Kindle books surpassed that of paperbacks. Now, customers are downloading Kindle books more than hardcovers and paperbacks combined."

The writing was on the wall. As technology improved and eReaders such as the Kindle offered at least an adequate reading experience, the draw of eBooks would mean that they would eventually outsell paper books. The ease of purchasing, the ability to carry libraries of books with you and the plethora of devices you can read your eBooks on certainly has its advantages. Of course, there is the classic argument that there is nothing quite like read a paper-bound book, and that is something I can appreciate. But in this digital age, it looks like the paper format will eventually become a niche market. Unfortunately, I see that means that paperbacks and especially hardcovers will likely increase in price as publishers print smaller numbers.

Tags: amazon, kindle, ebooks

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Engadget's Amazon Prime Instant Video Hands-On Test

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Articles & Resources" @ 09:30 PM

"Amazon has just turned on its Prime Instant Video service, letting paid Prime subscribers (sorry, students) in the US (sorry, foreigners) stream any of 5,000 movies and TV shows directly to their machines free of charge -- well, free beyond the $79 Primers already pay. Jeff Bezos has confirmed that there will be no extra charge going forward for this service and that Prime itself will not be getting more expensive to pay for all these bits and bytes. Right now the selection is limited, particularly if you already have a Netflix subscription, but we just had to try it out. Click on through for our impressions on a variety of devices."

I'm used to applauding most moves that Amazon makes, but this one is a bit of a head scratcher. If Amazon were to survey 100 users of Amazon Prime and ask them "What would make this service even better?", I'd guess exactly zero of them would have said "Please add streaming video!". Sure, it's free if you're an Amazon Prime customer - which I'd totally be if they offered it in Canada - but can Amazon really compete with Netflix?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Physical CD Prices Now Lower Than Digital Downloads?

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Talk" @ 08:00 AM

I'm starting to see a pattern emerge with more frequency when it comes to physical CD prices versus digital downloads: the purely digital versions of songs, when packaged in album form, are more costly than the physical CD. It doesn't happen all the time, but today I found it twice: once, with the Lee Dewyze album shown above, and the Glee Volume 4 album. In both cases, the physical CD is $2 less. This makes me think that record companies are willing to make less profit on physical disc sales in order to prop up falling sales, but I wonder what it says about us as consumers - is it worth paying more for the instant gratification? Or is it more that buying a physical disc and ripping it is a hassle and it's easier to stick to being purely digital? I wish Amazon offered Amazon Prime in Canada, because then there'd be no shipping costs and I'd easily select the physical disc option every time.

What about you? Do you still prefer to own a physical CD, or is it worth it to pay slightly more in order to have the instant gratification of a physical download?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

eBooks Outselling Hardcovers on Amazon

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 06:30 AM

"Now the company has hit a more significant milestone, selling 143 e-books for every 100 hardcover books sold over the course of the second quarter. The rate is accelerating: For the past month, Amazon sold 180 e-books for every 100 hardcovers, and it sold three times as many e-books in the first six months of this year as it did in the first half of 2009."

It was expected, of course, as people become more comfortable in the digital age, that they would start favouring eBooks over the traditional paper format. While it is a milestone, hardcover books is only a stepping stone. I think the announcement would be more dramatic if eBooks were outselling paperbacks, which, to my understanding, tend to sell in much greater quantities. Of course, Kindle eBooks are still generally priced higher than their paperback counterpart, so I imagine that it will be a long time before they reach that milestone, even with the potential benefits that eBooks can offer. I think it also goes to show that while books in general could become a commodity, it demonstrates that lots of people are willing to pony up a fair chunk of change for content that is worthwhile. I am an audiobook fan myself, but when it comes to reading, I find myself just as comfortable with digital over analog. Anyone still in favour of dead trees?

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Kindle Is Not Just An eBook Reader Anymore

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 AM

"Some of the parallels that people draw between the digital transformation of the publishing industry and the music industry—the preferred reference point, since it maps over the most neatly—are a stretch. Paper books aren't going anyway anytime soon. But digital publishing is now at the same kind of inflection point the music industry was at few years ago: Disposable devices vs. sustainable platforms."

In some ways, I think that Matt Buchanan has a point. The Kindle, as what it is turning out to be is much more a platform than an actual device. However, I do believe that claiming that the Kindle is a more open system is a fallacy. Yes, the eBooks are not limited to a specific piece of hardware, but it is restricted to the Kindle ecosystem. While that ecosystem is not restricted to one manufacturer, it is limited to an overall supervisor. The concept of a supervisor is not bad, as it is necessary for publishers to feel more comfortable in releasing their eBooks on a particular platform, and it also gives the customer a single point of contact for any problems or concerns. Will the Kindle succeed against the newly launched iBooks? Possibly. It would be nice if the purchasing infrastructure was spread out more so no single company has significant control over the distribution network, no matter how much that company might be trusted. I recall reading reports of how Walmart, one of the major sellers of CDs (Remember those?) was able to get music labels to change the lyrics and art to some songs and CDs as they wanted something more family friendly. That kind of control is scary.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Online Music Stores - Which Do You Use?

Posted by Andy Dixon in "Digital Home News" @ 06:00 AM

"iTunes is still king with over two-thirds of the online music market according to NPD, but Amazon is solidifying its #2 status with prominent position on Android devices. The latest NPD data has iTunes at 69.9%, Amazon at 11.6% and Zune, Walmart, Napster and Rhapsody all coming in at 1-2% for the Jan-March calendar year."

The latest NPD data has some interesting stats about the current state of online music and where we as consumers are buying it from. Still top is iTunes with a market leading 69.9% followed by Amazon with 11.6%. This is obviously quite a gap and Apple have really cornered the online music store market up to now making it difficult for others to get as much market share. However, according to the NPD data this seems to be changing as Android devices become more popular. Amazon have a tie in with Android which sees the Amazon MP3 store featured on new Android devices which may be why their market share has increased by 4% last year, compared with iTunes at 1%. Which makes me wonder, does the device you use to listen to music influence where you buy your music, or is it simply that there is more choice now compared with when iTunes exploded on to the market?

Friday, March 19, 2010

MP3 Downloads: Amazon or iTunes?

Posted by Reid Kistler in "Digital Home Talk" @ 04:30 PM

"...I heard a song that I liked a lot.... The next day I was thinking to myself that perhaps the rest of the album was worth getting.... So I went over to iTunes I saw that it was available for $9.99.... [But] I... discovered that it was available on for a good bit less...."

Dan Cohen at GearDiary has done a small comparison of MP3 album prices between Amazon and iTunes. His article points out some interesting differences between the two sites, such as albums having differing number of tracks, which certainly surprised me! He concludes that Amazon was the less expensive retailer, at least for the titles he compared. Frankly, I have never downloaded an MP3 album, as I still prefer a "hard copy" (a CD, or LP...), but for those of you who have, is Amazon or iTunes your vendor of choice? And is price the only important distinction between the two? Or are there other retailers which offer even better bargains or other advantages?

Thursday, March 11, 2010

When Having a .ca Domain is not Enough

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 12:30 PM

"Internet retailer has smashed up against Canadian pride in its efforts to open a distribution center in Canada, as booksellers grumble that it can't understand the role of Canadian culture."

In Canada, we take our media very seriously. We are so serious about it that for decades, we have implemented and enforced Canadian content regulations across various industries. If you are a radio or television station in Canada, a certain percentage of what you air must be labelled as Canadian. What gets labelled Canadian is up for debate as there are these long and winding specifications. What it all comes down to is that we have this protectionist gig going on here and the Canadian Booksellers' Association suports it. In a way, I can understand their position. I am a proud Canadian and I like to see Canadians get top billing in Canada. But on the other hand, I cannot shake the feeling that Canadian Content is an artificially inflated industry. I would like to think that what we Canadians come up with is so good that it will survive in an open market. Of course, there are a huge amount of other factors such as economies of scale and production dollars, but I like to believe that at least at this stage, Canadian products can stand on their own.

Tags: amazon, canada

Thursday, February 11, 2010

e-Book Prices Go Up. Will Sales Follow?

Posted by Hooch Tan in "Digital Home News" @ 02:00 PM

"When digital editions have cost more, or have been delayed until after the release of hardcover versions, these raucous readers have organized impromptu boycotts and gone to the Web sites of Amazon and Barnes & Noble to leave one-star ratings and negative comments for those books and their authors."

Just how much is a book worth? A thousand pictures? A thousand, thousand pictures? If publishers have any say, e-books will start costing up to $14.99. It is understandable, given the current economic climate, and CES demonstrating that there is a different e-book reader for every person. Readers do not seem to agree. If the music industry is to be any gauge, sales are going to suffer. When prices on iTunes went variable and hot songs started going for $1.29, sales slowed. The music industry claims that the market is maturing. Maybe the e-book market will mature earlier than expected as well! As an aside, there is one thing I need to get off my chest. While I will not dispute that there can be great value in books, I disagree with the concept that since e-books cost next to nothing to produce, they should cost next to nothing to buy. The cost of manufacturing something should only help determine the lowest possible price, not the value or selling price of something. If I were only to be paid the actual cost (in kilocalories?) of sitting at a desk, starting at a computer screen doing my job, it would be a pity pittance. Books are worth more than a few pennies. But are they really worth $14.99? How much would you pay for the latest Harry Potter, Twilight, or one of my favourites, "Where the Sidewalk Ends"?

Friday, November 27, 2009

58% Off an HP LX195 MediaSmart Home Server

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home Events" @ 10:44 AM

"Automatically back up and protect your digital memories, centralize your media and content for sharing with friends and family, and enjoy your digital media while at home or away with the HP LX195 MediaSmart Home Server. The LX195 is the first HP MediaSmart to be powered by the efficient Intel Atom processor, which helps use less energy and save you money on your electrical bills. A Sleep Mode conserves energy and saves you money in more ways than one. The built-in sleep mode consumes only 3W of power, and the server can take on many of your PC's responsibilities, enabling you to turn off your individual computers to further save energy and money."

People, this is an AMAZING deal! Amazon normally sells this for $472, but it's on sale right now for $199, a whopping 58% off. This is a full-fledged Windows Home Server, with all the awesomeness that entails, but it's aimed at someone who doesn't need ungodly amounts of storage right out of the box - it has 640 GB of storage, and no internal storage bays for expansion. It has four USB ports though, so you can easily expand it using external USB hard drives. This isn't the right product for everyone, but for $199, this is a great product for anyone that doesn't have lots of digital media but has multiple computers and is looking for an easy way to keep them backed up. I believe that Windows Home Server is a truly fantastic product that should be in every home, and I've never seen such an affordable way to do it...and what a gift this would make!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Amazon: "Windows 7 is the Biggest Pre-Order Product Of All Time"

Posted by Jason Dunn in "Digital Home News" @ 03:48 PM

"Windows 7 has beaten boy wizard Harry Potter to become the biggest pre-order product of all time in the UK, says Amazon. The UK arm of the retail behemoth adds that the new operating system sold more copies in the first eight hours of its release in July than Vista did in its entire pre-order period. The new OS launches officially tomorrow (October 22)."

Above: Incredibly cool graphic courtesy of Engadget.

Tomorrow is the big day, and it seems a lot of Amazon UK users are anxious to get their hands on it. I think this is the modern-day equivalent of what happened with people lining up at midnight to get Windows 95. Windows 7 is a great operating system, and people have heard the buzz.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Amazon and YouTube Coming Soon to Roku?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:00 PM

"We knew Amazon Video on Demand was headed to Roku’s media streamer ($99) early this year. And now, via their forums, we have word that the service has entered private beta. I had hoped Amazon VOD functionality was hidden within the recent 1.5 software update, however it’s rolled into a more significant 2.0 upgrade."

Roku is going to need to change the name of The Netflix Box to better reflect this added functionality. They are basically taking what was an outstanding one-trick pony (watch for my review to be posted shortly) and giving it an entire repertoire of content. I have not had reason to try Amazon's video service yet, but this might be just the reason.

Tags: amazon, netflix, roku

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Amazon MP3 and Android, Sitting In a Tree...

Posted by Darius Wey in "Zune News" @ 08:10 AM

", Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) today announced that the Amazon MP3 music store will be pre-loaded on the T-Mobile G1, the world's first Android(TM)-powered mobile phone in partnership with Google. T-Mobile G1 users can search, download, buy and play music from Amazon MP3, which offers over 6 million DRM-free MP3 songs from all four major music labels and thousands of independent labels that can be played on virtually any hardware device and managed with any music software. "Amazon wants to make it easy for customers to discover, buy, and play their music wherever they happen to be--whether sitting at their computer or on the go," said Bill Carr, Vice President for Digital Music and Video. "We look forward to the release of the T-Mobile G1, which will put Amazon MP3's vast selection of low-priced DRM-free music at the fingertips of even more customers in more places." The T-Mobile G1 comes pre-loaded with an Amazon MP3 application, giving customers a phone-optimized version of the Amazon MP3 store and the immediate gratification of buying and playing their favorite music. Amazon MP3 has worked to make its DRM-free music available through numerous products and services, such as Pandora MySpace Music, and now Android and T-Mobile G1."

The mobile music downloads market just got a lot more interesting with announcing the availability of the Amazon MP3 music store on the Android-powered T-Mobile G1. Its biggest rival is, of course, the iTunes Store on the iPhone and iPod touch, followed by the Zune Marketplace on the Zune. However, Amazon MP3 trumps one or both in a few areas: (a) all tracks are DRM-free; (b) most content is better-priced; and (c) tracks can be browsed, previewed, and purchased on the T-Mobile network, and later downloaded via Wi-Fi.

What can Microsoft and Apple conjure to match or beat this?

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