‘Amazon Primed’ is a short recap of the larger stories that dominated the headlines this week surrounding everyone’s favourite cardboard abuser, Amazon. If you want the full, deep look at what Amazon is doing every week, subscribe to ‘What Did Amazon Do This Week‘ newsletter (called ‘Obsessive…in the very best way.”).
Ending it with ‘weak’ Q1 Earnings guidance, Amazon had a mixed week. Starting with opening it’s third Amazon Go store in San Francisco (now more than ten stores across the world), announcing Hollywood directors for content announcements on Amazon Prime Video, the week quickly spiralled into investigations. Italy’s competition watchdog announced multiple investigations into Amazon for alleged anti-competition practices. Amazon isn’t the only company to pull criticism and adulation from different corners of the world but it is becoming more frequent for doing so.
In a move that will hopefully sort the fart apps builders from the health ones, Amazon announced its AWS Certified Alexa Skill Builder for Developers – Specialty certification building. This move means that Developers who go through this course will be somewhat validated by Amazon;
The goal, says Amazon, is to open up “more opportunities to build engaging voice experiences” that can reach customers across the more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices on the market today.
In other words, Amazon wants those Alexa developers dabbling with skill building to learn not only the basics, but also the industry best practices — then use this knowledge to create more skills that will actually resonate with customers.
The certification program arrives at a time when smart speakers have hit critical mass in the U.S., but the ecosystem of third-party skills has not had its “app store moment” with a breakout hit, as Bloomberg recently noted.
TechCrunch has the story.
Rakuten (aka the Amazon of Japan) launched ‘Rakuten Wallet’, a cryptocurrency offering, this week which left many pontificating about the future moves of Amazon in the cryptocurrency space – a move many believed was years away despite Amazon being bullish on crypto (the company has two blockchain products; Amazon Managed Blockchain (AMB) and Quantum Ledger Database (QLDB) and domains registered). Thanks to this move by Rakuten, Amazon may have to consider launching plans publicly in the space much earlier according to Forbes;
Some big names in bitcoin and cryptocurrency have cheered the announcement, with the chief executive of Binance, the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange by volume, repeating a past statement that this signals eventually “everyone will be in crypto.” So far, Amazon has resisted calls for it to begin accepting bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, with Binance’s CEO Changpeng Zhao, often known simply as CZ, previously saying he expects Amazon adoption to trigger the next bitcoin bull run.
Rakuten Wallet, previously known as Everybody’s Bitcoin, was acquired by Rakuten for $2.4 million last August before being rebranded and “closed for refurbishment” in March.
Aimed directly at companies like Amazon, the European Parliament has passed online platform rules that stop what the EU sees as ‘unfair practices’. While not perfect, the new rules push for greater transparency and rebalancing the power to the consumer. The push for transparency that will likely be met with obfuscation by all parties and cause some strategic changes to avoid disclosure but the rules are a step in the right direction for consumers and lawmakers to start penalising mega-businesses like Amazon for being anti-competitive;
The idea is to curb what the EU sees as unfair practices by app stores, search engines, ecommerce sites, and even hotel booking services. While the EU says the rules target about 7,000 online platforms, those most likely to be impacted are Amazon, eBay, Apple’s App Store, Google Play, Facebook, and Booking.com.
One of the goals is to give small businesses, which are increasingly dependent on such platforms, more leverage when they have grievances. For instance, the platforms will now be required to provide detailed explanations if they suspend an account, offer clearer terms of service, improve dispute resolution programs, and maintain greater transparency.
That last part is likely to cause the biggest rift between Europe and the tech giants. The EU expects disclosure of such information as how goods and services are ranked, the kind of insights companies typically insist must remain secret to avoid manipulation.
VentureBeat has the full story.
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