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What losing the red button means for the BBC

March 28, 2016 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Computers, Customer Service, Personal Security, Search Clinic, search engines, Televisions, Uncategorized, YouTube

The BBC is to explore closing its Red Button services as part of £150m of cuts that include a £35m reduction in sports rights spending.

The BBC is to explore closing its Red Button services as part of £150m of cuts that include a £35m reduction in sports rights spending.

What does this mean for the corporation, and the viewer?

In the UK, 97% of people use the BBC and on average spend 18 hours a week with it in one form or another. The BBC also needs to cut around £700m and something will have to go.

Reconciling those two facts is never going to please everybody.

The announcement that in the first £150m of cuts a “phased exit” from red button services is now being considered makes sense if you think the BBC will increasingly be accessed online via the iPlayer.

The red button, for instance, took on what remains of the old teletext service, Ceefax, and offers extra channels for events such as Wimbledon, the Proms and Glastonbury. It looks a bit old fashioned.

The BBC is rolling out its Red Button+, which gives people a chance to see the iPlayer on the big screen and a number of other internet services. The direction of travel is assumed to be towards an online system.

The problem is sport, weather, headlines, alternative commentaries and repeats of popular programmes on the old red button services are still used by large numbers of people.

They are more likely to be older viewers, but older viewers watch more TV and are a growing part of the population. The BBC knows it has to chase the viewers of tomorrow and deliver programmes in the way they want to watch them, but it can’t afford to alienate the people who are the heaviest users of its services.

The £35m of cuts to sports rights will also pose a problem for the part of the population whose viewing is dominated by sport. The loss of the Open Golf Championship is just the latest in a long line of events that have slipped through the BBC’s fingers.

The sport that it has hung on to, for instance Formula One and the Olympics, now look a little less secure.

Given the audience is becoming more fragmented, there is a marked reluctance to cut the size and scope of the BBC. If the corporation wants to reach 97% of people in the years to come, it will have to respond to a rapidly changing technological environment.

It is worth noting that at the moment the BBC announced its latest cuts, Sky was revealing its new Sky Q box that allows viewers to record four television programmes simultaneously and watch content around the house.

Sky isn’t alone. Amazon, Apple and Netflix are all in their own ways changing the landscape of TV with new services and technology.

YouTube has just announced a new kids service in the UK, while Disney is to launch a digital streaming service at the end of the month.
Future of television: big or tiny?

What is perhaps most interesting is how many of the new developments are aimed squarely at the big screen in the living room. For the people who said TV was dying, the future for the big screen is looking very perky.

Things, then, are changing fast, and huge amounts of money are being spent on creating programmes, especially drama, and devising new technology in order to win the battle for living-room viewing.

The BBC is in the midst of a process in which the government is considering its “size and scope” and also imposing big cuts on its funding. That question of “size and scope” is very clearly set as a question about whether the BBC is too big.

Tax dodging Amazon announces lower profits

January 30, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, Uncategorized

Amazon has announced a sharp fall in profits for the end of 2012.Tax dodging Amazon announces lower profitsNet income for the three months to the end of December was £61.5 million, down from £112 million for the same period in 2011.

The fall came despite an increase in revenues during the period, from £11.08 billion a year ago, to £13.54 billion- a jump of 22%.

That growth came as the world’s largest internet retailer bagged a big share of internet spending during the crucial holiday period.

After reporting the results, Amazon’s shares rose by close to 7%.

“We’re now seeing the transition we’ve been expecting,” said Jeff Bezos, founder and chief executive of

“After five years, e-books is a multi-billion dollar category for us and growing fast – up approximately 70% last year.

“In contrast, our physical book sales experienced the lowest December growth rate in our 17 years as a book seller, up just 5%.

“We’re excited and very grateful to our customers for their response to Kindle and our ever-expanding ecosystem and selection.”

The Seattle based company also said operating income increased by 56% to £257 million in the fourth quarter.

Google Nexus and Amazon Kindle in new content deals

December 10, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Customer Service, Dr Search, Ecommerce, EReaders, Google, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google’s Nexus 7 and Amazon’s Kindle tablets have launched new deals that highlight how content are helping drive device sales.Google Nexus and Amazon Kindle in new content dealsThe Times newspaper is subsidising the cost of the Nexus as part of its digital editions bundle.

Amazon is launching an “all-you-can-eat” media subscription offer targeted at children in the US.

Apple’s share of worldwide tablet shipments dipped from about 66% to 50% between the April-to-June quarter and the July-to-September period, according to data from IDC.

By contrast the Kindle and Nexus devices’ share grew. Investors will watch to see how that trend is affected in the current period following the launch of the iPad Mini.

The Times is promoting its Nexus 7 Digi Bundle – which gives online access to The Times and Sunday Times papers – by offering the 32GB version of the tablet for £50, on top of the price of its standard package, rather than the £199 it is sold for in shops.

The deal involves an 18 month commitment to the paper, bringing the total cost to £299 for the period.

It is notable that the firm picked Google’s tablet, bearing in mind News International’s chief executive, Rupert Murdoch, had previously described the firm as a “parasite” for offering his papers’ content in its news search listings.

Amazon’s FreeTime Unlimited service charges a monthly fee for access to book, game and educational apps, movies and TV shows. Disney, DC Comics, Nickelodeon and the team behind Sesame Street are also among the publishers that have allowed their content to be included.

The product is focused at children aged between three and eight and will promote content depending on their gender and age.

It costs about £3 per month per child, although there is a discount for members of the Amazon Prime programme.

EBay pays £1.2m in UK tax on sales of £800 million

October 29, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, eBay, Ecommerce, Facebook, internet, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

eBay has paid just £1.2 million in tax in the UK an investigation has found.EBay pays £1.2m in UK tax on sales of £800 millionThe Sunday Times newspaper said that its tax bill in 2010 comes despite eBay’s UK subsidiaries generating sales of £800 million.

The auction site – which also owns the PayPal payments system – responded that it “complies fully with all applicable tax laws”.

The report comes after coffee giant Starbucks was also accused of paying just £8.6 million in corporation tax in the UK over 14 years.

According to the Sunday Times, eBay had sales of £789 million during 2010 in the UK at its four British subsidiaries.

Using its worldwide profit margin of 23%, it would have made a profit in the UK of £181 million, leading to corporation tax owed of £51 million. Instead, it paid just £1.2m, the report said.

Accounts for one of its units, eBay (UK) Ltd, show that for 2010 – the last year available – it owed tax of £766,000 on profits of £4.4 million.

Other large online international companies have also been accused of avoiding tax in the UK.

Facebook UK paid £238,000 in tax last year, according to its accounts. Its sales were £20.4 million.

Most of the company’s income is believed to be legally going through its European base in Dublin, where corporation tax is lower than in the UK.

And a report in the Guardian in April said that online retailer Amazon had generated sales of more than £7.6 billion in the UK over the past three years but had not paid any corporation tax on the profits from those sales.

Amazon claims Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite sales are profitless

October 15, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Customer Service, EReaders, Google, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Amazon has claimed that it will not make a profit from sales of its latest Kindle tablet and e-reader devices.Amazon claims Kindle Fire HD and Paperwhite sales are profitlessThis is in strong contrast to the strategy of the best selling tablet maker Apple.

The comments as Amazon launches its new Paperwhite e-reader and an associated book lending scheme in the UK, Germany and France.

The latest e-ink powered device features a built in light that will help the firm compete against Barnes & Noble’s Nook Glowlight and Kobo’s Glo, which offer a similar feature.

Amazon is seeking to distinguish its line-up by offering a subscription package that includes access to the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library.

The service offers users the ability to borrow up to one book a month from a selection of titles including well known authors – such as JK Rowling – and writers who have published their works through Amazon’s own publishing system.

The UK service will include more than 200,000 ebooks at launch.

While other e-readers lack a matching facility, if they support the ePub format their owners can still borrow ebooks from their local library if it supports the OverDrive system.

Deliveries of Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite will begin in Europe on 25 October, coinciding with the release of its 7 inch Kindle Fire HD tablets.

Android tablet makers also rely on hardware sales. While Google provides their system software for free, the search company keeps a cut of app and digital media sales made via its Google Play marketplace.

Amazon is also attempting to use its hardware to stimulate sales of other physical products sold via its store.

Access to its Lending Library facility will be tied to a £49 annual subscription to its Amazon Prime service.  The offer includes rapid delivery, at no additional cost, of products from its warehouses.

Although this adds to the firm’s shipping costs, evidence from the US suggests that subscribers end up spending more on its site and are less likely to compare prices with rival retailers.

USA sues Apple and publishers over ebook prices collusion

May 11, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Apple and four other major book publishers are being sued by the US Department of Justice over the pricing of ebooks.USA sues Apple and publishers over ebook prices collusionThe USA accuses Apple and Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon and Schuster and Penguin of colluding over the prices of ebooks they sell.

This lawsuit is over the firms’ move to the agency model where publishers rather than sellers set prices.

Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon and Schuster have already settled.

The case will proceed against Apple, Macmillan and Penguin “for conspiring to end ebook retailers’ freedom to compete on price”, the Justice Department said.

“As a result of this alleged conspiracy, we believe that consumers paid millions of dollars more for some of the most popular titles,” Attorney General Eric Holder said.

“To effectuate their conspiracy, the publisher defendants teamed up with defendant Apple, which shared the same goal of restraining retail price competition in the sale of ebooks,” according to papers filed in New York’s Southern District court.

“Apple facilitated the publisher defendants’ collective effort to end retail price competition by coordinating their transition to an agency model across all retailers.”

In addition, the European Commission has also been probing e-book price fixing.

Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan and Simon and Schuster have now made proposals to settle that probe.

“The European Commission has received proposals of possible commitments from Apple and four international publishers,” said the EU’s competition commissioner Joaquin Almunia.

Electronic books are sold according to a different formula from that governing the sales of physical books.

For most physical books publishers set a wholesale price, often about half the cover price, and then let a retailer decide how much they actually want to charge for the title.

This model was initially adopted for ebooks but has since been changed for what is known as an agency model.

Under this scheme, publishers set the price of a book and the agent selling it gets a 30% cut. The agency model was adopted by publishers largely at the prompting of the late Steve Jobs.

The shift to agency pricing was also seen as a protective measure to head off attempts by Amazon to corner the market in ebooks. It had been aggressively cutting prices to win customers over to its Kindle ebook reader.

Black Friday and Cyber Monday US internet sales surge

December 02, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Customer Service, eBay, Ecommerce, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Online Marketing, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Online sales rose faster than expected in the US on Black Friday, according to surveys- with more expected next week.Black Friday and Cyber Monday US internet sales surgeInternet sales totalled £524 million ($816 million), a 26% gain on last year, said Comscore. IBM Coremetrics put the rise at 24%.

Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, is treated by many retailers as the start of the Christmas shopping season. They offer one-off discounts to mark the occasion.

Analysts said heavy promotional activity helped drive demand.

By comparison, a report by Shoppertrak suggested that in-store Black Friday sales were up by 7% on last year, at £7.12 billion ($11.4 billion).

Around 50 million Americans visited online retail sites on Friday, according to Comscore.

It said Amazon was the most popular destination, with 50% more visitors than any other retailer.

Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Apple were next in line, said the analytics company.

“Despite some analysts’ predictions that the flurry of brick-and-mortar retailers opening their doors early for Black Friday would pull dollars from online retail, we still saw a banner day for e-commerce,” said Comscore’s chairman, Gian Fulgoni.

IBM Coremetrics also noted a trend towards shopping on smartphones and tablet computers.

It said Black Friday purchases made on mobile devices had accounted for 9.8% of all online sales, compared with 3.2% last year.

IBM described mobile shoppers as having had a “laser focus” since they had been more likely to view a single page on a retailer’s site rather than browse what else was for sale.

IBM said Apple’s iPhone and iPad had generated the most mobile internet visits to online stores, accounting for more than double the traffic originating from devices running Google’s Android system.

The company also noted a jump in Black Friday related chatter on social networks. It recorded a 110% rise in discussion volumes after consumers had shared tips on how to secure products before they sold out and the best places to park.

Friday’s internet sales are expected to be eclipsed today on what is referred to as Cyber Monday – which many experts believe will be the US’s busiest online shopping day of the year.

Close to 123 million Americans plan to make an online purchase according to a survey commissioned by the US National Retail Federation, an industry lobby group. That would be a 15% increase on last year.

NRF said nearly eight in ten online retailers would run special promotions including “flash sales that last an hour” and “free shipping offers”.

The federation also highlighted the shift to mobile devices, saying it expected 17.8 million Americans to use them to shop today, nearly five times the number in 2009.

“Retailers have invested heavily in mobile apps and related content as the appetite for Cyber Monday shopping through smartphones and tablets continues to rise,” said Vicki Cantrell, executive director of the NRF’s website

UK internet retailers said it was less clear which day will be the UK’s busiest online shopping day this year.

“Over the last couple of years we have seen a fortnight of peak activity over the period corresponding to both this and next week,” said Andy Mulcahy, a spokesman for the industry body Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG).

“We expect £3.72bn will be spent online over the two week period.”

Mr Mulcahy said that although some retailers are trying to generate interest in the idea of a cyber event in the UK, but they are split over which day to mark.

Visa Europe said it believed today will be the UK’s busiest internet shopping day, with £303m spent online.

eBay has forecast that it would experience its peak in activity this Sunday with more than 5.5 million people expected to log onto the UK version of its auction website.

Amazon said it expected to experience more demand the following day.

“In recent years, the first Monday in December has been’s busiest day with orders for over 2.3 million items being placed on Monday 6th December last year,” said Christopher North, the website’s managing director.

Amazon profits dive after heavy Kindle investment

November 10, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Profits at Amazon have dropped 73% after the company invested heavily in it’s Kindle tablet computer.Amazon profits dive after heavy Kindle investmentThe company, the world’s largest online internet retailer, said third quarter net income was £40 million ($63 million).

During the period it launched the Kindle “Fire” model, which runs apps and streams films and other non text content.

The results left Amazon shares down 12%.

The company said that sales had grown by 44% and that in September, it had its “biggest order day ever for Kindle, even bigger than previous holiday peak days”.

It now offers four Kindle devices, including a 3G model.

Jeff Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, said: “In the three weeks since launch, orders for electronic ink Kindles are double the previous launch. And based on what we’re seeing with Kindle Fire pre-orders, we’re increasing capacity and building millions more than we’d already planned.”

Amazon also forecast lower than expected sales for the next quarter, which includes the crucial Christmas period, and said it could even see an operating loss as it continues to invest in the Kindle Fire.

Amazon’s profit margins have generally been lower than other technology firms, a situation that analysts say is now catching up with them.

The Amazon strategic business development plan has always been about selling the technology delivery box at close to cost price and then making future profits from selling the software that runs on the box. Whereas Apple has been more about making a profit from the box and any extra profits from the software is a bonus.

Personal security concern as Amazon’s Kindle Fire tracks every webpage you view

October 03, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Cyber Security, data security, Google, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Online Marketing, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The new web browser designed by Amazon for its Kindle Fire tablet has sparked security concerns that the firm will be able to track users’ every online webpage.Personal security concern as Amazon's Kindle Fire tracks every webpage you viewThe new browser, Amazon Silk, uses the firm’s network of giant data centres to pre-load web pages before they are delivered to the device.

According to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder and CEO, this “split browser” approach will offer “ultra-fast” mobile web access. It will reduce the computation required from the Kindle Fire’s processor, which is lower performance than that of Apple’s iPad 2.

But it also means that Amazon’s systems will keep a record of every single web page that Kindle Fire users visit, which could be used to profile their interests for advertising and other commercial purposes. The records will also be subject to data requests from police and intelligence agencies, as the relatively limited data held by broadband providers.

The browser will even aim to predict your next move in its effort to shave milliseconds off loading times, by learning how users tend to browse individual websites.

“All of your web surfing habits will transit to Amazon’s cloud,” said Chester Wisniewski, of the British computer security firm Sophos.

“If you think that Google AdWords and Facebook may be watching you, this Amazon service is guaranteed to have a record of everything you do on the web.”

Amazon’s approach is similar to that of Opera Mini, a mobile browser available on Android, iOS, Symbian and Windows Mobile smartphones. Its Norwegian developer, Opera, also pre-loads and compresses web pages to speed up browsing and cut the amount of 3G bandwidth that smartphones consume.

Unlike Amazon, however, Opera has undertaken not to keep records of the web pages Opera Mini users access or profile their individual browsing habits.

“The system brings with it a need to reassure people that their privacy is being protected,” said Pål Unanue-Zahl, Opera’s communication manager.

The terms and conditions announced for Amazon Silk provide no such reassurance.

“Amazon Silk also temporarily logs web addresses for the web pages it serves and certain identifiers, such as IP or MAC addresses, to troubleshoot and diagnose Amazon Silk technical issues,” they say, adding that users are also subject to Amazon’s broad privacy policy. It allows users’ personal information to be exploited for a host of commercial purposes.

“We generally do not keep this information for longer than 30 days,” the Amazon Silk terms and conditions say.

The new browser will also pose a challenge to website owners, including some of Amazon’s major rivals.

When a user directly accesses a website from a normal browser, the website typically logs their IP address. These unique numbers are used by firms to track where their visitors come from, and for other commercially-useful traffic analyses.

But when a Kindle Fire user accesses a website, all the website will be able to log is an IP address for one of Amazon’s network of giant data centres.

The users’ IP address will go no further than the dominant online retailer.

Given the rapid growth in mobile browsing, and Mr Bezos’ plan to sell “many millions” of Kindle Fires this year alone, rivals such as Google, whose advertising business relies heavily on being able to target individuals, will miss out on valuable data.

“If you buy a Fire device, think carefully as to whether your privacy is worth trading for a few milliseconds faster web surfing experience,” said Mr Wisniewski.

Amazon Fires tablet market with new computer

September 29, 2011 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Amazon, Apple, Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, Online Marketing, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Amazon has launched a new tablet computer called the Kindle Fire- which will undercut Apple’s iPad2.Amazon Fires tablet market with new computerThe £130 device will run a modified version of Google’s Android operating system.

As well as targeting Apple’s iPad, Amazon is likely to have its sights on rival bookseller US Barnes & Noble, which already has a colour tablet.

The Kindle Fire will enter a hugely competitive market, dominated by Apple’s iPad who currently have 80% of the tablet market.

Amazon will be hoping to leverage both the strength of the Kindle brand, built up over three generations of its popular e-book reader, and its ability to serve up content such as music and video.

In recent years, the company has begun offering downloadable music for sale, and also has a streaming video-on-demand service in the United States. Those, combined with its mobile application store, give it a more sophisticated content “ecosystem” than most of its rivals.

Amazon Kindle Fire Facts

7″ IPS (in-plane switching) display
1024 x 600 resolution
Customised Google Android operating system
$199 (£130)
Weighs 413 grammes
Dual core processor
8GB internal storage

Amazon sees the hardware almost as a loss leader who can make their money by selling content whereas Apple profit from hardware sales and software sales are a “nice to have”.

Digital content has already proved itself to be a money-spinner for Amazon.

Although the company has never released official sales figures for the Kindle, it did state – in December 2010 – that it was now selling more electronic copies of books than paper copies.

Its US rival, Barnes & Noble, has also enjoyed success with its Nook devices.

In October 2010, the company unveiled the Nook Color, which also runs a version of Android, albeit with lower hardware specs than many fully featured tablets.

While the Nook Color is largely focused on book and magazine reading, some users have managed to unlock its wider functionality and install third-party apps.
Kindle Touch Amazon has dropped the keyboard from some of its Kindles in favour of touch

The Kindle Fire’s £130 price tag undercuts the Nook Color by £30 and is significantly cheaper than more powerful tablets from Apple, Samsung, Motorola and others.

It is due to go on sale on 15 November in the US, although global release dates are currently unavailable.

“These are premium products at non premium prices,” said Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos. “We are going to sell millions of these.”