This new $24.99 product is exactly what the name suggests: it’s a plug that goes into an outlet and is compatible with Alexa. So you can tell Alexa to turn on or turn off whatever’s plugged into the Smart Plug from wherever you are. And it supports the automatic Wi-Fi setup mentioned above. Preorders kick off today, and the $24.99 Smart Plug will be available in October.
On that day, the residents of this downtown Washington building decided to tame the chaos. They voted that the lobby required a redesign. The boxes would get their own new package room, behind a password-activated door. This decision would reshape the building's first floor, but they bet it would raise the value of the property. At least the ungainly stacks would be safe in a separate room.
Two men on the cusp of utter meme-ification craft one last masterpiece together before they let go, fizzling into the dying light. An elegy, perhaps—for America, maybe, or for the concept of law and order within an America that’s long abandoned both concepts—Werner Herzog’s predictably singular vision for a loose sequel (reboot) to Abel Ferrara’s Bad Lieutenant hangs Nicolas Cage from an imaginary hook, the actor’s baggy suit and wincing, glazy visage seemingly draped uncomfortably over every crime scene, line of coke and hallucinated iguana he comes across. New Orleans lieutenant Terence McDonagh is in a lot of pain, due mostly to a back injury he suffered saving an inmate from a flooding jail cell in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, exacerbated by all the extra drugs he consumes, plus the long horrible hours he maintains navigating the surreal wasteland of a city that’s seemingly made no progress since the natural disaster. Herzog makes no apologies about the obvious ties between McDonagh’s degradation and that of New Orleans’, concerned less with his plot’s procedural aspects (McDonagh’s trying to solve the murders of a family involved with low level drug dealing) and more with the oneiric geography of a once-thriving city lost to time. McDonagh, then, is our addled Virgil, guiding us through the Hell that made him, the Hell from which he can’t escape, the Hell he’ll never save despite his best efforts. Suffused with absurdity, and hilariously bleak as fuck, The Bad Lieutenant – Port of Call: New Orleans serves as the last of Herzog’s fiction films able to withstand the director’s hardheaded anti-narrative inclinations, as well as the last of Cage’s films in which his unhinged weirdness isn’t so obviously performative. Together, the two men offer no hope for those whom America’s abandoned. Instead they offer a moving, odd bit of comfort: At least some of us are still trying. —Dom Sinacola
The biggest thing that Amazon has to offer in November is intriguing new series, Homecoming. Homecoming comes from Mr. Robot creator Sam Esmail, stars Julia Roberts, and is based on a podcast. That's quite the trifecta of Interesting Things (TM). Other new Amazon original series include the less hyped but equally interesting Mirzapur, Inside Joke, and Patriot Season 2.
The new feature illustrates the growing tension between Amazon and the many big and small brands that have become reliant on the site because of its dominance in e-commerce. Amazon is becoming a direct competitor for more sellers, raising questions around how the company's use of its marketplace sales data could potentially give it an unfair advantage over other brands and merchants.
A.: Prime Now is an app for iOS and Android devices and a website that promises free delivery of select items within 2 hours. At the outset, the service is only available in select cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Phoenix, but the program adds new cities on a regular basis. Just this month, Amazon expanded its Prime Now delivery to include Annapolis, Cleveland, Louisville, North/Central New Jersey, and Pittsburgh as well as additional locations in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Some 11% of the Amazon apparel shoppers we surveyed said that they had bought Amazon private-label goods in the past year, which is notable because those private-label lines are still relatively new. Our survey provided respondents with several examples of Amazon’s private labels, in order to minimize any confusion about the company’s own private labels versus other brands featured on Amazon that respondents may not have been familiar with.
Promising review: “I own a BBQ food truck and we sell brisket, pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked sausage, and burgers. I was looking for a faster way to pull pork. I looked at those shredders you attach to a drill, but they look like they would turn the product to mush. I brought these Bear Paws and went to pull 30 pounds of Boston Butt. What used to take 45 minutes was done in less than five. No waste. These paws do a great job of integrating the fat in with the meat. I could not be happier. As a BBQ man for 30 years, I would recommend these.” —Michael K. Powell
Amazon squeezes small publishers. For instance, Amazon cut off Swindle sales for an independent book distributor in order to press for bigger discounts. (The article ends by promoting ebooks for another platform, the Shnook from Barnes and Noble. While that company is not as nasty to small publishers, its ebooks do violate your freedom in most of the same ways.)
Carnival of Souls is a film in the vein of Night of the Hunter: artistically ambitious, from a first-time director, but largely overlooked in its initial release until its rediscovery years later. Granted, it’s not the masterpiece of Night of the Hunter, but it’s a chilling, effective, impressive tale of ghouls, guilt and restless spirits. The story follows a woman (Candace Hilligoss) on the run from her past who is haunted by visions of a pale-faced man, beautifully shot (and played) by director Herk Harvey. As she seemingly begins to fade in and out of existence, the nature of her reality itself is questioned. Carnival of Souls is vintage psychological horror on a miniscule budget, and has since been cited as an influence in the fever dream visions of directors such as David Lynch. To me, it’s always felt something like a movie-length episode of The Twilight Zone, and I mean that in the most complimentary way I can. Rod Serling would no doubt have been a fan. —Jim Vorel
Amazon’s expansion into apparel is one of the hottest topics in US retail—not least because many commentators link the ongoing woes of major department stores to shoppers shifting more of their apparel spending to Amazon Fashion. Yet hard data on Amazon’s share of the clothing and footwear markets is scarce, given the company’s limited disclosure on category sales.
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A subscription service designed expressly for ages 3 to 12, FreeTime Unlimited curates kid-friendly apps, e-books, games, movies, TV shows and other content. It's compatible with Kindles, Fire tablets and the Fire TV, and it includes parental controls for things like setting time limits, adjusting content filters, and reviewing any photos taken with the tablet.
But as Amazon uses its powerful platform to bolster its private-label business, there is also debate in legal circles whether some of its activities could be viewed as monopolistic in nature. Some say Amazon could face a legal challenge akin in size and scope to when the Department of Justice two decades ago filed antitrust charges against Microsoft for bundling its own browser into its software, making it difficult for consumers to install a browser from Microsoft’s top competitor, Netscape. Microsoft lost that court battle.
Prime Pantry: Prime Pantry gives members access to low-priced groceries as well as household and pet care items. Now a subscription service, Prime Pantry costs $4.99/month (in addition to your Prime membership). The service includes unlimited free shipping on Pantry orders of $40 or more. Orders under $40 incur a $7.99 shipping fee. Prime Pantry orders cannot be shipped to addresses in Alaska, Hawaii or Puerto Rico.
Your Prime membership comes with free unlimited photo storage through Prime Photos, which lets you securely save as many photos as you like and see them on your phone, computer, or tablet. You can share this Prime benefit and give free photo storage to up to five family members or friends. Collect photos together with your invited family and friends in the Family Vault and store memories from everyone in one safe place. New photo search technology makes it easy to find specific photos by searching for things like “sunset” or “Seattle,” and your photos are organized automatically so it’s easy to find and enjoy them.
Brian Sheehan, who teaches advertising at Syracuse University, said Amazon's tactics are "fair game," at least until the U.S. regulators determine otherwise. While it's common for big-box retailers to launch private-label brands based on what sells best in their stores, Amazon could be viewed differently because of its size and level of influence, he said.
Amazon probably isn’t the only reason Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) is spending $13 billion on content this year — but it’s one of the biggest reasons. The goal of Netflix’s content strategy is clear. Netflix wants to give subscribers everything they want — and more content they perhaps didn’t even know they wanted. That will drive subscriber growth and cement Netflix’s dominance in the space. From there, Amazon, Disney (NYSE:DIS), Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), and everyone else can play for second.
The main body of this report discusses our survey findings, question by question. We have also provided an appendix that aggregates various third-party research firms’ estimates of Amazon’s US apparel sales in order to give readers a more complete picture. First, though, we bring together data points from various questions in our survey as we discuss six major themes that emerged from our research.
Totally unique to our Music Store, Amazon.com offers a program called AutoRip that automatically makes the hard copy of AutoRip-eligible albums you’ve just purchased available on your Amazon.com Cloud Player. Now you can have the physical CDs or vinyl records for your own personal collection, and you can listen to your favorite songs wherever you can access your Cloud Player. Whether you’re ready to tune in to Coltrane or Sinatra, or indie bands like The Strokes, you can purchase AutoRip-ready vinyl and CDs so you don’t have to wait to listen to your favorite records.
They say, don't judge a book by its cover. Good tip for this one, because the cover promises this is a book about "Why we buy" and "the science of shopping" and that it has information about online shopping as well. The reality? This is more like "Feng Shui for Retail Stores" with basically all of the book being anecdotes about shops that had inappropriate arrangements of merchandise that kept people from buying as much as they might have. The lone chapter about the internet is a joke -- it's basically just the author complaining that he doesn't understand why anyone shops online, and offering a couple of very specific suggestions for how sites like Amazon and Apple Store can improve. No help at all if you are running anything but a physical retail shopping business.
Sports brands such as Nike, Under Armour and Adidas are among the most-bought brands bought on Amazon. These brands’ presence across both clothing and footwear likely supports their leading positions—and, as we discuss later, footwear is a very popular category on Amazon Fashion. Lower-cost casualwear also ranks highly, as do underwear brands such as Hanes and Fruit of the Loom, implying that Amazon is popular for basics.
"These are by far the cheapest blue-light-blocking glasses that I've found, and they work really well. I was having headaches nearly every day of my last semester of college from working full-time and taking night classes — both of which relied heavily upon screens. These were truly lifesavers, and I've rarely gotten so much use out of $9. I've written a review of them before, and I'm wearing them now." — Mara Leighton
On the surface, the move into the private label business (in which goods are sold under the retailer’s name rather than that of an outside vendor) appears to be a deft move by Amazon. Analysts predict that nearly half of all online shopping in the United States will be conducted on Amazon’s platform in the next couple of years. That creates a massive opportunity for Amazon to more than double revenue from its in-house brands to $25 billion in the next four years, according to analysts at SunTrust Robinson Humphrey. That’s the equivalent of all of Macy’s revenue last year.
Target has lost the most in terms of apparel shoppers who have switched some or all of their apparel spending to Amazon, with Walmart in second place. This is the reverse of these two retailers’ overall ranking in terms of apparel retail, as Walmart is a significantly bigger clothing and footwear retailer than Target, as measured by both sales and shopper numbers.
Amazon Prime lets you add premium video subscriptions -- Starz, Showtime and so on -- to your Prime Video viewing umbrella. (Alas, you don't get any discounts compared with purchasing those subscriptions separately.) As part of Amazon Family, you can score 20 percent off diaper purchases via Subscribe & Save and 15 percent off eligible products in your baby registry. And speaking of family, you're allowed to extend your membership to one additional adult living in your house.
Prime Now: In select cities, Amazon offers one-hour delivery on tens of thousands of products from local stores. For instance, in New York City you can get delivery of beer, wine and spirits from Westside Market, Union Square Wines, or Vintage Grape. Amazon recently expanded its Prime Now delivery to include Annapolis, Cleveland, Louisville, North/Central New Jersey, and Pittsburgh.
Around 2009, Amazon quietly entered the private label business by offering a handful of items under a new brand called AmazonBasics. Early offerings were the kinds of unglamorous products that consumers typically bought at their local hardware store: power cords and cables for electronics and, in particular, batteries — with prices roughly 30 percent lower than that of national brands like Energizer and Duracell.
Human Flow isn’t about its creator, Ai Weiwei, but one of its key moments, occurring about a half an hour before its end, is pure Ai. On their tour of hotspots in our burgeoning global refugee crisis, the director and his crew stop at the U.S./Mexico border to capture footage and talk with locals living on the line of delineation separating the two countries. As the crew films, they are at one point interrupted by the arrival of an American yokel riding a four-wheeler. Whether he’s official or just some self-styled border patrolling vigilante is unclear, though his intent to intimidate the filmmakers is crystalline. Ai Weiwei, having spent the better part of the film’s two-hour running time demonstrating his unfailing grace alongside his bottomless compassion, scarcely reacts. He doesn’t even budge.
Even considering that the teams launching private-label brands at Amazon have unrestricted access to programs like Vine reviews, they are still “paying” for these perks. The Vine review program is not a fully automated process that runs in the background. It requires technical and human resources to manage thousands of Vine reviewers and product review requests from vendors. Amazon is matching reviewers with samples and shipping the samples out, managing customer service, and maintaining the infrastructure of the program. You can bet that there are heated internal battles for Vine review program privileges on new product launches, even if the internal team is not personally dropping hundreds or thousands of dollars on the activity like brands have to do.
“I think, effectively, you have a company that has conspired with about a billion consumers and technology to destroy brands,” argued Scott Galloway, a founder of business research firm now called Gartner L2 and a professor of marketing at New York University Stern School of Business, in a presentation last year. “Their attitude is that brands have, for a long time, earned an unearned price premium that screws consumers.”
Investors should also know that the Amazon Prime-heavy subscription business surged 55% to reach $3.41 billion in Q2. Beyond shipping and delivery deals, users have access to Amazon Prime Video, which competes directly against Netflix (NFLX - Free Report) . The firm has reportedly committed to spend $5 billion a year on original and licensed content as the streaming war heats up.
"Sometimes it's fun to have a straw with something, and sometimes it's just practical. I bought these to use in smoothies specifically so I could cut down on the massive amount of waste we all create by using disposable straws (something that even inspired a campaign by the National Parks Service). Once you've made the change, it's not even noticeable in your daily life, and it makes a big difference in the grand scheme of things for the environment. Plus, they come with their own cleaner, so you never have to worry about not being able to properly sanitize them." — Mara Leighton
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Amazon may not be able to ship you the aforementioned rich-people stuff, but it is filled with impossibly clever products everyone needs to own. Never again will you wrestle with your fitted sheet or struggle to find the correct lid for your travel mug. Suddenly, under-eye circles, spoiled wine, and pancake batter drips become a thing of the past. You can even effectively pee in the dark without turning the overhead light on. Classy life, right?
In July 2010, Amazon announced that e-book sales for its Kindle reader outnumbered sales of hardcover books for the first time ever during the second quarter of 2010. Amazon claims that, during that period, 143 e-books were sold for every 100 hardcover books, including hardcovers for which there is no digital edition; and during late June and early July, sales rose to 180 digital books for every 100 hardcovers.