Amazon

Happy 10th anniversary, Android

It’s been 10 years since Google took the wraps off the G1, the first Android phone. Since that time the OS has grown from buggy, nerdy iPhone alternative to arguably the most popular (or at least populous) computing platform in the world. But it sure as heck didn’t get there without hitting a few bumps along the road. Join us for a brief retrospective on the last decade of Android devices: the good, the bad, and the Nexus Q. HTC G1 (2008) This is the one that started it all, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the old thing. Also known as the HTC Dream — this was back when we had an HTC, you see — the G1 was about as inauspicious a debut as you can imagine. Its full keyboard, trackball, slightly janky slide-up screen (crooked even in official photos), and considerable girth marked it fr...

Amazon makes offline retail push in India

Amazon unleashed a flurry of new products this week at a U.S. press event, but halfway across the world, it is getting deeper into physical retail in the Indian market. The U.S. e-commerce giant is buying up 49 percent of More in a deal that sees Amazon partner and PE firm Samara Capital pick up the remaining 51 percent. Amazon and Samara have created an entity called Witzig Advisory Services Private Limited which will hold the ownership stake through the deal, which is reportedly worth around $585 million according to Indian media. Regulation prevents Amazon from owning the business entirely, hence it requires a local partner to take a majority stake. The deal is significant because it represents a major move for Amazon in brick and mortar retail in India, which is one of the up-and-comin...

Amazon launches an Alexa microwave with built-in popcorn Dash button

One of the weirder rumors ahead of today’s Amazon event has come to fruition. The company’s attempting to make a big push into home appliances, so it’s leading the way with its very microwave. The Amazon Basics Microwave apparently began life as an in-house reference product, as the company was developing an API for third-parties to develop their own Alexa-powered devices. The microwave is “still stuck in the late 70s,” the company said at the event. So it built a new one. Among the other things the company had to solve was the ability to make the microwave work with WiFi signals — which has proven a difficult problem to solve. Unlike early rooms, Alexa isn’t built in, rather the appliance works with a nearby Echo, so you can cook things via voice. The real killer app, however, is a built-...

Why the Pentagon’s $10 billion JEDI deal has cloud companies going nuts

By now you’ve probably heard of the Defense Department’s massive winner-take-all $10 billion cloud contract dubbed the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (or JEDI for short).Star Wars references aside, this contract is huge, even by government standards.The Pentagon would like a single cloud vendor to build out its enterprise cloud, believing rightly or wrongly that this is the best approach to maintain focus and control of their cloud strategy. Department of Defense (DOD) spokesperson Heather Babb tells TechCrunch the department sees a lot of upside by going this route. “Single award is advantageous because, among other things, it improves security, improves data accessibility and simplifies the Department’s ability to adopt and use cloud services,” she said. Whatever company they ch...

Amazon will start selling real, large Christmas trees

Sorry Santa Claus, Jeff Bezos is your Father Christmas now. Amazon, in its ongoing quest to utterly dominate the holiday season, has announced plans to start shipping real, live Christmas trees, come November. That news comes courtesy of The Associated Press, which notes that the seven-foot-tall Douglas firs and Norfolk Island pines will be sent via Amazon box, sans water. Shipping should occur within 10 days of being cut down, so as to keep them green. The firs will run around $115 a pop, along with $50 for a wreath. This isn’t the first time the online giant has dabbled in trees. Amazon dipped its toes in the water by offering up Charlie Brown-style trees measuring less than three-feet last year. Third-party sellers also used the platform to sell their own larger trees. The whole prospec...

Amazon’s cashier-free Go store is coming to NYC

A day after cutting the ribbon on its second (and largest) cashier-free convenience store in Seattle, Amazon has confirmed it will be bringing the Go concept to the City that Never Sleeps. The Information first noted the news through a number of job listings last night. The company has since confirmed its plans in an email to TechCrunch. “We plan to open Amazon Go in New York,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch. And that’s basically it for the statement. No information on key details like launch timeframe here, but at least the company really cut to the chase on this one. The stores are a bit of an experiment for the company, which has been dipping its toes into the brick and mortar experience. Announced during the 2016 holiday season, Go still feels like a novelty for retail. The con...

Alexa is now available on 20,000 devices

That large number comes courtesy of Amazon’s press event at IFA in Berlin this week. It’s an impressive jump, given that the company was only boasting around 4,000 the last time it reported a number at the beginning of the year. “Just this year,” exec Daniel Rausch told the crowd, as reported by CNET. “Alexa has sung Happy Birthday millions of times to customers, and she’s told over 100 million jokes.” That’s a lot jokes — at least one or two of them must have been good, right? Alexa confirmed the number with TechCrunch, noting that Alexa is on “20k+ devices you can control with Alexa, from 3500+ brands.” Amazon’s own devices only make up a small portion of the overall number, of course. There just aren’t that many Echo smart speakers, the Fire TV and Fire tablets. But the company has been...

How Silicon Valley should celebrate Labor Day

Ask any 25-year old engineer what Labor Day means to him or her, and you might get an answer like: it’s the surprise three-day weekend after a summer of vacationing. Or it’s the day everyone barbecues at Dolores Park. Or it’s the annual Tahoe trip where everyone gets to relive college. Or simply, it’s the day we get off because we all work so hard. And while founders and employees in startup land certainly work hard, wearing their 80-hour workweeks as a badge of honor, closing deals on conference calls in an air-conditioned WeWork is a far cry from the backbreaking working conditions of the 1880s, the era when Labor Day was born. For everyone here in Silicon Valley, we should not be celebrating this holiday triumphantly over beers and hot dogs, complacent in the belief that our gravest lab...

Bernie Sanders’ problem with Amazon

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is seeking additional information about the working conditions in Amazon warehouses in advance of legislation he’s preparing to introduce on September 5.  Income inequality was, after all, the centerpiece of Sanders’ 2016 presidential campaign. It was a populist message that resonated strongly with voters, giving the dark horse candidate a boost among concerned progressives and independents during a tooth and nail primary battle. But while the message, perhaps, wasn’t enough to put him over the top, it’s a mission that’s remained central to Sanders’ work on Capitol Hill, finding him taking aim at some of the world’s largest corporations. In recent months, Amazon has been in the senator’s sights. Earlier today, Sanders tweeted out a link asking employees of th...

Bose takes on the HomePod with a $400 Alexa smart speaker

The latest Echo devices are a touch more premium than their predecessors, but Amazon hasn’t gone out of its way to compete with Apple’s HomePod head-on. And why bother, really, when hardware partners are willing to do the heavy lifting? Bose is certainly making a compelling case with the Home Speaker 500. The compact smart speaker finds the audio company going all in on the smart assistant market, along with a pair of new soundbars that also sport Alexa functionality. The company has cautiously embraced Amazon’s smart assistant in recent years, but the trio of new products are the first Bose speakers to feature Alexa built-in, rather than relying on a skill. The Home Speaker is a fairly compact device, measuring 8 x 6 x 4 inches, with two custom drivers built-in, designed to reflect sound ...

Amazon opens its second Amazon Go convenience store

Amazon this morning announced the opening of its second Amazon Go convenience store, which is again located in the retailer’s hometown of Seattle. The new store is 1,450 square feet in size – a bit smaller than the first store’s 1800 square feet – and will be located at 5th and Marion in Seattle. It will feature a range of ready-to-eat breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack options, as well as Amazon’s Meal Kits. The food options will be made by Amazon chefs and various local kitchens and bakeries, the retailer notes. For example, it will stock quick snacks like chips, bars, candy and locally made chocolates, along with lunch options like salads, sandwiches, and wraps. For dinner, the Amazon Meal Kits offer all the ingredients for a home-cooked meal for two that takes about 30 minutes to prepa...

Amazon isn’t the only tech company getting tax breaks

Amazon has a big target on its back these days, and because of its size, scope and impact on local business, critics are right to look closely at tax breaks and other subsidies they receive. There is nothing wrong with digging into these breaks to see if they reach the goals governments set in terms of net new jobs. But Amazon isn’t alone here by any means. Many states have a big tech subsidy story to tell, and it isn’t always a tale that ends well for the subsidizing government. In fact, a recent study by the watchdog group, Good Jobs First, found states are willing to throw millions at high tech companies to lure them into building in their communities. They cited three examples in the report including Tesla’s $1.25 billion 20-year deal to build a battery factory in Nevada, Foxconn’s $3 ...