Tag: Amazon

Microsoft offers start ups Azure credits

Pic Mike MageeMicrosoft has launched a package to lure start-ups and SME’s to its Azure profile by offering them $500,000 in Azure credits. 

The deal, announced by partner Y Combinator, is only available to Y Combinator-backed companies and will be offered to the 2015 Winter and future batches.

It seems that Microsoft is following Google, AWS and IBM which already offer incentives for start-ups to join them.

Microsoft is giving Y Combinator start-ups a three years Office 365 subscription, access to Microsoft developer staff and one year of free CloudFlare and DataStax enterprise services.

It is starting to look like Microsoft is getting more aggressive in its competition with Amazon Web Services and Google, both of whom already offer credits and freebies.

Amazon offers $25,000 in AWS credits and other freebies, while Google offers $100,000 in Google platform credits and IBM offers $120,000 in credit for SoftLayer infrastructure of BlueMix PaaS.

Writing in his company’s bog Sam Altman said that this brings the total value of special offers extended to each YC company to well over $1,000,000. “The relentless nagging from partners to grow faster we throw in for free,” he said.

It is likely that the YC deal is the first of many which will be rolled out worldwide to Microsoft’s partners.

 

Adblock Plus asks for “security” money

shut-up-and-take-my-moneyThere have been howls of derision on the interwebs after it was revealed that ad-blocking browser Adblock Plus  has been paid off by Google, Amazon, Microsoft, and Taboola.

What appeared to have been a brilliant bit of software which kept adverts out of your browser, has turned into something of a debacle.

PC Mag said that  that one digital media company, which asked not to be named, said Eyeo had asked for a fee equivalent to 30 percent of the additional ad revenues that it would make from being unblocked.

What this means is that all you need to do to make a bit of dosh is write an ad-blocking code, it does not even have to work that well, and show up at the Big IT companies and say: “That is a nice bit of advertising, it would be terrible if something happened to it” and collect your cheque.

PC Mag ummed and ahed about how advertising drives the free Web and sites were not staying in business long these days, but the fact that you have to pay people who write anti-advertising software to look the other way does strike us as the central part of the story.

What this means is that the big companies who can afford to pay,  can run adverts while the smaller magazines will see their sites blocked.  In short the big guys win and the little sites are stuffed.

Lenovo pips Amazon at the tablet game

cheap-tabletsApple continued to be the market leader for tablets in 2014 but it, in common with other vendors, showed a drop in sales.
A report from Trendforce said that the tablet industry has no reached the maturity point with shipments globally totalling 192 million units. That’s a fall of 2.2 percent compared to 2013.
Apple fared rather worse, it shipped 63.4 million units, a drop of 13.6 percent.
Number two in the pack was Samsung, but its shipments at 41 million units dropped only 2.5 percent.
Lenovo beat Amazon to take third place, and now has 5.6 percent market share.
Both Amazon and Google trailed behind, and Microsoft hasn’t really hit the numbers with its Surface Pro 3.

 

Some analysts believe that not only has the market reached maturity, but it’s hard to persuade people to upgrade.  Others think that tablets are being squeezed on the one hand by larger screen size smartphones and others by low cost notebook PCs.

People keep taking the tablets

ipad3Despite reports suggesting that the market for tablets is in decay, fresh data shows that it ain’t necessarily so.
Digitimes Research said that overall global tablet shipments in the fourth quarter last year grew by 16.9 percent to total 74.77 million units, mostly down to Apple and first tier vendors good performances.
But so-called “white box” tablets declined in the fourth quarter.
The survey said these white box tablets, using the Android operating system, offer very slim margins and many vendors have given up on manufacturing.
Apple managed to ship 21.9 million iPads in Q4 2014 and was the largest tablet vendor.
Samsung failed to introduce new tablet products in the second half of last year and so it say some stagnation.
Third in line was Amazon, displacing Lenovo from that position in the marketplace.

 

EU watchdogs suspect that Amazon deal broke law

watchdogEuropean antitrust watchdogs have serious doubts about Amazon’s cosy arrangement with Luxemburg to dodge its taxes.

According to a report released today, the European Commission believes the Amazon deal constituted state aid and doubted that such aid was lawful.

The European Commission, which rules on competition and subsidies in the European Union, announced in October that it had opened an investigation into a tax ruling struck in 2003. It published details of its case on Friday.

The 23-page document, which was penned in October 7, concluded that Luxemburg gave Amazon an unfair advantage over European competition.

“The Commission’s preliminary view is that the tax ruling of 5 November 2003 by Luxemburg in favour of Amazon constitutes state aid… and the Commission has doubts at this stage as to that ruling’s compatibility with the internal market.”

Amazon expands in EU

FireOnTheAmazonPosterOnline bookseller Amazon has created 6,000 new full-time positions in Europe in 2014 to respond to booming demand.

The company said that it now employed 32,000 permanent staff in the European Union, with the new jobs created in logistics centres, customer service, software development, supply chain management and design.

Amazon vice president for EU retail Xavier Garambois said the company was still investing and will be hiring even more in in 2015.

He said that customer demand in Europe was bigger than ever.

Amazon said around 1,200 of the new jobs were in Germany, its second-biggest market after the United States where it employs 10,000 warehouse staff plus more than 10,000 seasonal workers. Britain had the next most new positions with the rest spread around other countries.

It does not seem that Amazon is particularly concerned about the increased union militancy of its staff in Germany. Last year Amazon was been hit in Germany by a series of strikes over pay and working conditions.

Trade union Verdi has organized frequent strikes since May 2013 to try to force the retailer to raise pay for warehouse workers in accordance with collective bargaining agreements across Germany’s mail order and retail industry.

So far these issues have not been resolved and Amazon insists that its warehouse staff are logistics workers and that they receive above-average pay by the standards of that industry.

 

eBay heads into the enterprise

Amazon-Cloud-OutageWhile Amazon is known to many for delivering CDs, books and foot spas, not many are aware that it has grabbed a sizeable chunk of the enterprise market too.
And now it seems eBay wants a slice of that enterprise action too.  The company said today it has introduced a global programme that will pull in companies selling retail, business consultancies, system integrators and digital agencies.
It said it wants its partners to advise, design and integrate “omnichannel” commerce using eBay Enterprise elements including Magento, Retail Order Management, Store and Warehouse fulfilment and customer care.
eBay said it will extend facilities in the future and wants to provide retailers with the opportunities to grow their businesses internationally – indeed globally.
It has already recruited a number of partners including Gorilla Group, Bridge Solutions, AOE, and Vamio.  These companies all have a multi-national presence.
Craig Hayman, CEO of eBay Enterprise, said: “This is just the beginning as we set the stage for future programme enhancements that create mutual opportunities for growth with our key partners.”

 

Analysts tip tablet sales

new-ipadDespite evidence that sales of tablets showed signs of decline in 2014, one market intelligence is bucking the trend by predicting healthy sales in 2015.

ABI Research said that although 2014 was “lacklustre”, it predicted that there will be solid growth during the next five years with shipments of tablets close to 290 million units in 2019.

But the growth is not for every vendor – Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and Google will show year on year falls in shipments.

On the other hand, Acer, Asus, Dell, HP, Lenovo, LG, Microsoft and Samsung are predicted to show higher volumes in 2014.

Senior analyst Jeff Orr doesn’t have good news for Apple.  He said: “Historically, Apple has counted approximately 35 percent of its iPad sales in the last calendar quarter of the year.  Unless Apple can pull off a 32+ million unit quarter, sales for 2014 will be down for the first year since the iPad launched.”

He said that Apple probably shipped 68 million iPads in 2014, but managed to sell 74 million in 2013.

On the operating systems front, Android has 54 percent of branded tablets, Apple iOS has fallen to 41 percent, and Windows 8 has a meagre five percent of shipments.

How Snowden put the brakes on Amazon’s cloud

snowdenWhile the industry is telling the world+dog know that 2015 was the year of the cloud, one has to wonder what it would have been like if Edward Snowden had not revealed high level snooping of off-site data centres.

This year Taser discovered first hand some of the problems. It won a high-profile contract to supply body cameras to the London police. But the deal nearly collapsed because video footage on Amazon’s cloud.

The deal survived only after Taser dropped Amazon.com because it did not have a data centre in Britain.  The UK coppers did not want their data going overseas where it could be snooped upon by the US.

Larger companies are getting worried about relying too heavily on Amazon’s public cloud servers, preferring to store data on their own premises or work with cloud providers that can offer them the option of dedicated servers.

It has opened the door for Microsoft which has flogged the private cloud over the public and offered companies more direct oversight of their data in the cloud.

Steve Herrod, the former chief technology officer of VMware now a venture capitalist at General Catalyst Partners said Edward Snowden did more to create a future with many clouds in many locations than any tech company has managed.

A web of new laws restricting how data can move across national borders creates another hurdle for Amazon and led for calls for it to build more localised clouds.

SAP has ruled out working with Amazon on many upcoming projects due partly to data-location issues.

Amazon insists that demand for AWS, including in Europe and Asia, has never been stronger, and that any contracts lost to rivals are the extreme exception. It said that it will build data centres in every large country over time, but that will cost a bomb.

However it is having to face that fact that the model it pioneered in 2006 is slowing down because it is UScentric – at least for now.

AWS is five times the computing capacity of its next 14 rivals, including Microsoft, Google and IBM, according to Gartner and analysts are predicting that AWS revenue will more than double from 2014 levels to $10.5 billion in 2017, faster than the market overall.

But Synergy Research Group said that it could have been a lot different. At the moment  AWS holds a 27 percent market share in the third quarter of 2014, compared to 10 percent for Microsoft’s Azure cloud business. Azure, however, grew 136 percent on a rolling annualized basis in the quarter, while AWS grew 56 percent.

Part of the reason that Azure did so well is because that Microsoft is willing to work with third-party data centre managers, such as Fujitsu, when clients are required to keep data within a country’s borders.

 

Vole is helping companies add cloud capabilities to their existing data centres and create a “hybrid” model that Amazon has only just started to offer.

Aix months ago, Barclays chose  Azure over AWS to power some development and testing work because of its private-cloud option, along with Barclays’ existing familiarity with Microsoft’s data-centre software.

Vole has the advantage that it knows a few people in corporate and government and is using them to  peddle Azure. AWS has only just started to build such ties.

It would have been different if it had not been for Snowden making those corporates and governments very nervous about allowing their data out of their sight.

 

Amazon faces strike action

Amazon-Cloud-OutageGerman workers at Amazon warehouses have staged a three day strike – starting today.

They want better pay and conditions and are being backed by trade union Verdi. Reuters said the union expected 2,000 workers to walk out with five of Amazon’s nine distribution centres in Germany affected.

But Amazon claims only a tiny number of workers had taken strike action and 19,000 people in Germany continue to pack their boxes, ahead of the Christmas holidays.

The trade union has staged previous strikes because it wants Amazon to up pay along with collective bargaining agreements in Germany, Reuters said.

But Amazon claims that the people working in warehouses earn more than average pay compared to other people packing boxes and shifting stuff around the massive warehouses.

Germany is Amazon’s second biggest market after the USA.

UK to tax Amazon, Google

gosborneUK chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne unveiled his autumn statement today and said he would tax multinationals who avoid paying tax.

He told the House of Commons that the government will raise £5 billion over the next five years by taxing profits from banks and companies like Google and Amazon who make money in the UK and then shift it abroad.

He said that some large multinationals including companies in technology “use elaborate structures to avoid paying tax”.

He will introduce a 25 percent tax on such profits. The diverted profits tax might be difficult to collect however.

Earlier this year, Google chairman Eric Schmidt said that if governments griped about companies like his not paying enough tax, they should introduce legislation to change the picture.

However, the situation is complicated by the fact that firms like Google and Starbucks will simply find other ways to avoid paying tax and such changes really require international cooperation.

One financial analyst told TechEye that even if 20 countries agreed to such changes, the companies might simply find country 21.

Apple fudges book cartel rulings

Apple's Jonathan IveThe company which designer Jonathan Ive described a week or two back as built on integrity has finally agreed to cough up $450 million after it conspired with five publishers to hike the prices of e-books.

On Friday, US district judge Denise Cole told Apple it must pay $40 million to as many as 23 million people if it lost a hearing that showed it was liable under antitrust laws. But Apple is pushing for a fresh hearing and if it is unsuccessful it won’t have to pay anything.

And if that happens, the same judge may have to preside over the same case all over again.

Even though Apple agreed to settle the case in June, it can continue with an appeal  after it was found guilty last year  of conspiring to hike e-book prices and unfairly compete against Amazon.

Apple’s appeal is due to be heard in mid-December and if it is successful it might go to a new trial and continue to ramp up the cost of lawyers who have already racked up an estimated $20 million.

Bricks and Mortar turned over by Amazon scam

supreme_court_backs_walmart_over_closedstore.jpeg.size.xxlarge.letterboxBricks and Mortar outfits in the US have been warned against competing against online retailers, after a fraud emerged which cost Walmart thousands.

Walmart had been running a deal, where it promised to match any price found online.

However some customers worked out that the only thing they needed to show Walmart was an Amazon advert.

All they did was register an account which created an official looking Amazon page with a bogus advert on it.

Few Walmart employees appear to have verified the legitimacy of these online deals and many customers were able to buy PS4 gaming systems for $90.

Walmart should have known better. Consumerist found that Sears accidentally listed several Nintendo consoles on its site for $60. Members of Twitter and Reddit communities posted pictures of receipts documenting that Wal-Mart had accepted these fake Amazon listings.

Amazon squeezes Royal Mail profits

Royal Mail CEO Moya GreenRoyal Mail declared profits of £279 million today, a fall of 21 percent compared to the six months to the end of September in 2013.

And the recently privatised firm, which said when it went public that it would concentrate on parcel deliveries, warned that Amazon schemes to deliver its own parcels would likely threaten its future.

Amazon is experimenting with all sorts of ways to cut out services like Royal Mail including whacky experiments using drones down to using taxi cabs to deliver parcels to its customers.

Royal Mail, as part of its privatisation, intends to restructure itself in its financial year 2016, a move which will save over £700 million a year but will also affect jobs.

CEO Moya Green said she was pleased with the company’s overall performance but said “the UK parcels market remains challenging”.

Shares in the PLC fell on the news.

Amazon Web Services has another bite at Oracle

giant-spider02Amazon Web Services is having another crack at kicking Oracle in its relational databases.

Aurora is Amazon’s relational database which it claims is just as capable as proprietary database engines and costs 90 percent less.

Aurora is the latest battle in a long war with Oracle which started with Amazon’s RedShift a few years ago.

The database will compete with MySQL, SQL Server, PostgreSQL, and yes Oracle on the company’s Relational Database Service (RDS) lineup. And it is compatible with MySQL, Amazon said.

Amazon has worked out that people have had a gutsful of Oracle’s cost structure and refusal to budge from older licensing models. The outfit has mostly saved itself because no one wants to dump their database.

To try to encourage the Oracle, Amazon has released a new AWS CodeDeploy, code-named Apollo, which the company said will enable rolling upgrades and ease deployments to multiple instances. It is available now and will work with customers’ existing toolsets.