Amazon is planning to give Prime Video a big makeover

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 9.07.39 AM.pngCould user profiles and better personalization features be coming to Amazon’s Prime Video app at long last? The company’s new Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke just teased that a major upgrade to Amazon’s streaming video app is in the works – and she already has it running on a phone in her office, she said.

The exec was speaking at the Television Critics Association’s summer press tour in L.A., according to reports from AdWeek [paywall], TheWrap, and Deadline, when she mentioned the app’s big makeover.

And while Salke’s statements were light on key details – like when such an effort would reach end users, for example, or what changes, exactly, would be in store, there’s plenty of room to speculate on what Prime Video’s app today lacks.

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Why Amazon and Google’s Global Share of the Smart Speaker Market Is on the Decline

amazon-decline-CONTENT-2018Amazon and Google’s grip on the voice-enabled device market is slipping, at least according to Strategy Analytics.

In a new report, the analytics firm found Amazon shipped 4 million smart speakers in the first quarter of 2018, accounting for 43 percent of the 9.2 million units shipped globally. But it also means Amazon’s global market share has been cut nearly in half since the same period last year, Strategy Analytics said.

Meanwhile, Google shipped 2.4 million units, putting it at No. 2 on the list of global smart speaker shipments, and Alibaba came in at No. 3 with 700,000 units. Apple was fourth with 600,000, followed by Xiaomi with 200,000.

In Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ annual shareholder letter, he said 2017 was Amazon’s best year to date for hardware sales. The company sold tens of millions of devices. But Amazon had a nearly three-year head start over some competitors, and it may be time to ask whether it can maintain its lead.

In the first quarter, Amazon and Google faced new competition from Apple, which released its HomePod in February. At the same time, Alibaba and Xiaomi are making waves in China.

Amazon finally reveals how many Prime users it has

https_blueprint-api-production.s3.amazonaws.comuploadscardimage7571428f1759fb-6a13-4fcb-9eaf-ce57bf16ced2Finally, Amazon is spilling the beans on Prime membership.

The online retailer has been famously opaque about how many of its users pay for Prime, its annual subscription service. Now, in a letter to shareholders, CEO Jeff Bezos has revealed that Amazon has more than 100 million paid Prime members. Not too shabby, Jeff.

“In 2017 Amazon shipped more than five billion items with Prime worldwide, and more new members joined Prime than in any previous year – both worldwide and in the U.S. Members in the U.S. now receive unlimited free two-day shipping on over 100 million different items,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos shared other milestones about Marketplace, Alexa, devices, music streaming, and more — often relying on his favorite numerical stat, “tens of millions.” (Which, let’s be clear, could mean anything from 10 million to… 99 million).

According to the letter, 2017 was Amazon’s best year for hardware sales ever.

“Customers bought tens of millions of Echo devices, and Echo Dot and Fire TV Stick with Alexa were the best-selling products across all of Amazon – across all categories and all manufacturers,” Bezos wrote.

Bezos also shared details (sort of) about Amazon Music.

“Amazon Music continues to grow fast and now has tens of millions of paid customers,” Bezos wrote. “Amazon Music Unlimited, our on-demand, ad-free offering, expanded to more than 30 new countries in 2017, and membership has more than doubled over the past six months.”

At least we now know that tens of millions subscribe to Prime!

Google’s and Facebook’s share of the U.S. ad market could decline for the first time, thanks to Amazon and Snapchat

Google and Facebook — the world’s biggest online ad companies — could see their share of U.S. digital advertising decline for the first time, thanks to slowing growth and competition from the likes of Amazon and Snap.

Google’s share is expected to decline from 38.6 percent last year to 37.2 percent in 2018, according to digital measurement firm eMarketer, while Facebook could shrink slightly from 19.9 to 19.6 percent.

Meanwhile, Amazon’s ad business is expected to grow to nearly 3 percent of the market in that same period from 2 percent last year, for a total of $2.9 billion in ad revenue for 2018. Snap’s share of the ad market is expected to grow from 0.6 percent last year to 1 percent this year. Both Amazon and Snap ad shares are expected to grow through 2020.

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Amazon may soon let you pay using a selfie

AmazonPatent1.jpgAmazon wants you to be able to authorize a transaction with a selfie, so now you’ll have to make sure you’re looking halfway decent when you’re doing some late-night, online shopping.

Amazon’s patent application for this technology, first seen by Re/Code, was filed Thursday. The patent describes using a camera to identify a user using facial recognition and then verifying that they are real by asking them to perform an action, like blinking.

The patent talks about the need for improved security around these electronic systems that allow you to purchase items with one click. It is possible to get someone’s password to his or her Amazon account, where you can go on a buying spree, but using facial recognition could make it a lot harder for hackers and thieves to use your accounts.

Amazon also describes the annoyance of typing in passwords on mobile devices that have small touch keyboards (AutoCorrect is a feature on your smartphone for a reason). Being able to take a picture and tilt your head to one side to verify that you are you and you are real could be a lot easier than typing in a super-secure password rife with capital letters, numbers and symbols.

The patent suggest the technology could be used on a number of devices, including desktops, laptops, phones and tablets. There is also an image showing that the image verification would be completed separate from the place a user is purchasing from.

Not only could this technology deter hackers, it could also deter less-responsible people from purchasing items. For example, children who are using their parents’ devices might make in-app purchases if they know a password, but won’t be able to purchase things without permission if they need their parents’ faces.

 

MasterCard recently announced they are rolling out their own “selfie pay” that allows MasterCard holders to make mobile payments using facial recognition technology. It looks like we’re moving toward a future where selfies are not just prevalent, but a necessary security component in modern commerce.