What’s up with Amazon: phones, streaming series, drones

Amazon — competitor to many a Silicon Valley company in areas such as mobile, delivery and more — was in the news this week. We’ve rounded it up for you.

• Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos announced late last year that Amazon is testing delivery drones, prompting both excitement and yes, ridicule. Now, Brandon Bailey reports that Google has been testing its own delivery-drone program for the past couple of years. People want their stuff delivered quickly, and Amazon and Google are two of the biggest names fighting in that space.

The U.S. still is weighing rules about the use of unmanned aerial vehicles for commercial purposes, so Google has been conducting outdoor tests in Australia. Should Amazon be worried about the competition? Probably, because Google is known to think big, and has a fat wallet to match. But Amazon has intentions of starting its drone deliveries next year, and Google may be getting a later start.

• What’s up with Amazon’s video offerings? Amazon has been going the Netflix route and producing its own streaming shows. But can Amazon find as much success as Netflix (“House of Cards,” “Orange is the New Black”) has? Amazon’s efforts so far haven’t yielded much buzz, and its choice of pilots this time around has NPR’s Monkey See asking “what exactly are these guys trying to accomplish here?”

• Finally, Amazon doesn’t release specific numbers about its various offerings. So there’s a lot of guessing involved about how many of its new smartphone, the Fire Phone, have been sold. The phone went on sale in late July, and our own Troy Wolverton wrote that it has some cool features. But has it made any gains against Apple’s iPhone and Google Android phones, which have  a huge head start? The Guardian takes a look at numbers from a couple of sources and concludes that sales of the Fire Phone probably are modest — to put it diplomatically — that they number in the tens of thousands. Others point out, though, that the phone is available only on AT&T so far.


Photo of the Amazon Fire Phone  by Ted Warren/Associated Press



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