Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in recent history

Jeff Bezos has been one of the world's wealthiest people for a while, but he's now set a new record: he's the wealthiest person in recent history. The Amazon founder's net worth has topped $151 billion according to Bloomberg's Billionaires Index, mak…

Amazon warehouse workers in Europe stage protest on Prime Day (update)

Amazon warehouse workers in Germany, Spain and Poland are hoping to call the e-commerce giant's attention to their plea for better working conditions by going on strike on Prime Day. The workers for the company's fulfillment centers are protesting th…

Prime Down: Amazon’s sale day turns into fail day

  • Update: Here’s how to get around Amazon’s error. Use smile.amazon.com. TechCrunch confirmed this workaround works.

It’s not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it’s not going well for Amazon. The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page.

Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. I just bought this tent two weeks ago for $120. Some users are reporting errors when completing a purchase, too.

This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It’s not a good look for the world’s largest retailer even though the retailer saw glitches last year, too.

Other retailers jumped on Amazon’s bandwagon and are running big sales around Prime Day. As of this post’s publication, both Walmart and Target are not suffering site outages and probably love Amazon’s outage.

Also, this.

Updating…

3:30pm EDT: It’s 30 minutes past the launch of Prime Day and the landing page and deal navigation page is still down.

Amazon Prime Day Live Blog: The Best Deals Worth Checking Out

Today kicks off Amazon’s annual Prime Day shopping event, offering customers with an Amazon Prime subscription the chance to save money on nearly countless items across the retailer’s storefront.

Since we routinely share great deals on Apple products and accessories being sold on Amazon, we’ve kicked off a live blog today that will track notable Prime Day discounts from Apple accessory makers like Anker and EasyAcc, as well as other interesting sales as they go live. Prime Day will officially begin this afternoon at 3 p.m. ET and continue for 36 hours afterwards.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with Amazon. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

Before that time, Amazon has kicked off early access Prime Day discounts on its own range of Alexa and Echo devices, with up to 50 percent off of products like the Echo Look, Fire TV Stick, Fire HD 10 tablet, and more, which are expected to last throughout Prime Day.

In contrast to deals that last for a majority of the event, there will also be limited-time lightning deals that appear at different times throughout the day and night, and only last for an hour or so.

In this live blog, we’ll be tracking lightning deals, longer-lasting discounts, and competitor sales as products get marked down throughout Prime Day, so be sure to bookmark this page and check back for new bargains as Amazon’s mid-year shopping event continues into Wednesday morning.

Continue reading “Amazon Prime Day Live Blog: The Best Deals Worth Checking Out”

ACLU calls for a moratorium on government use of facial recognition technologies

Technology executives are pleading with the government to give them guidance on how to use facial recognition technologies, and now the American Civil Liberties Union is weighing in.

On the heels of a Microsoft statement asking for the federal government to weigh in on the technology, the ACLU has called for a moratorium on the use of the technology by government agencies.

“Congress should take immediate action to put the brakes on this technology with a moratorium on its use, given that it has not been fully debated and its use has never been explicitly authorized,” said Neema Singh Guliani, ACLU legislative counsel, in a statement. “And companies like Microsoft, Amazon, and others should be heeding the calls from the public, employees, and shareholders to stop selling face surveillance technology to governments.”

In May the ACLU released a report on Amazon’s sale of facial recognition technology to different law enforcement agencies. And in June the civil liberties group pressed the company to stop selling the technology. One contract, with the Orlando Police Department, was suspended and then renewed after the uproar.

Meanwhile, Google employees revolted over their company’s work with the government on facial recognition tech… and Microsoft had problems of its own after reports surfaced of the work that the company was doing with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement service.

Some organizations are already working to regulate how facial recognition technologies are used. At MIT, Joy Buolamwini has created the Algorithmic Justice League, which is pushing a pledge that companies working with the technology can agree to as they work on the tech.

That pledge includes commitments to value human life and dignity, including the refusal to help develop lethal autonomous vehicles or equipping law enforcement with facial analysis products.

Amazon’s share of the US e-commerce market is now 49%, or 5% of all retail spend

Amazon has already been in the crosshairs of the White House when it comes to threats of antitrust investigations, and while some say this is simply Trumpian bluster that has a slim chance of going anywhere, some new numbers out from the researchers at eMarketer could prove to be a fan to the flames.

Amazon is set to clear $258.22 billion in US retail sales in 2018, according to eMarketer’s figures, which will work out to 49.1 percent of all online retail spend in the country, and 5 percent of all retail sales.

It started as an online bookstore, but today Amazon is a behemoth in all areas of e-commerce, fuelled by a strong Marketplace network of third-party sellers, an ever-expanding range of goods from groceries to fashion, and a very popular loyalty program in the form of Prime.

Now, it is fast approaching a tipping point where more people will be spending money online with Amazon, than with all other retailers — combined. Amazon’s next-closest competitor, eBay, a very, very distant second at 6.6 percent, and Apple in third at 3.9 percent. Walmart, the world’s biggest retailer when counting physical stores, has yet to really hit the right note in e-commerce and comes in behind Apple with 3.7 percent of online sales in the US.

The figures — which eMarketer says are estimates “based on an analysis of quantitative and qualitative data from research firms, government agencies, media firms and public companies, plus interviews with top executives at publishers, ad buyers and agencies” — are also remarkable not because of their size, but because of Amazon’s pace has not slowed down. Its sales are up 29.2 percent versus a year ago, when it commanded 43 percent of all e-commerce retail sales.

The rocket ship for Amazon’s growth at the moment is its Marketplace — the platform where Amazon allows third-party sellers to use its retail and (if they choose) logistics infrastructure to sell and deliver items to Amazon shoppers. It’s currently accounting for 68 percent of all retail sales, working out to nearly $176 billion, versus 32 percent for Amazon’s direct sales, and eMarketer projects that by the end of this year, Marketplace’s share will be more than double that of Amazon’s own sales (it’s already about double).

It’s no wonder that so many other online commerce businesses are chasing the marketplace model, which essentially creates transactions on two fronts for the platform operator, thereby improving margins that might be cut by not selling items directly.

“The continued growth of Amazon’s Marketplace makes sense on a number of levels,” eMarketer principal analyst Andrew Lipsman notes in the eMarketer report. “More buyers transacting more often on Amazon will naturally attract third-party sellers. But because third-party transactions are also more profitable, Amazon has every incentive to make the process as seamless as possible for those selling on the platform.”

In terms of popular categories, consumer electronics and tech continue to be the leading product category: eMarketer projects sales of $65.82 billion, around one-fourth of all turnover. Second will be apparel and accessories, which will pull in $39.88 billion of sales. Third in 2018 are health, personal care and beauty with $16 billion. Fourth is food and beverage at a distant $4.75 billion.

All of these are already up by 38 percent or more over a year ago (see the full table below), but what’s perhaps most notable is how Amazon has been investing in being a direct player in each of the categories as well.

In tech, it has its Kindles and Fire tablets, Fire TV, and of course its huge hit Alexa-powered Echo devices, among many other products. Apparel is being pushed heavily in the company’s private-label efforts. Amazon just the other week announced that it was acquiring online drug seller PillPack for $1 billion, which will be a major lever in its wider health products and services strategy. And lastly, there is Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods and its much wider play around meal kits and its server-free physical shops. The physical aspect, eMarketer believes, will play a strong role in Amazon’s growth in this category.

“Amazon’s strategy for food and beverage is no different, in some respects, than it was for books—dominate the category,” eMarketer senior analyst Patricia Orsini notes in the report. “However, e-commerce in the grocery sector is a challenge. Share of online sales in this category is low because most people, for a host of reasons, prefer to buy food in brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon has an advantage because its shopper base is comfortable with shopping online. Along with insights gathered about Whole Foods shoppers, Amazon probably has the best chance of converting in-store grocery buyers to online grocery buyers.”

All of these will not just boost Amazon’s own direct sales but help create an environment for people to come to Amazon to buy either these at price-busting rates, or other-brand alternatives.

So far, people think that it is unlikely that Amazon would stand an antitrust investigation because e-commerce is still a small part of all commerce (as evidenced by the five percent of all retail sales figure), and Amazon would argue that in the world of “omnicommerce” it’s still just a bit player. However, Amazon’s dominance is clear when considering e-commerce alone.

Acer adds a free Echo Dot to its Alexa-equipped laptops

If you've been eyeing Acer's Alexa-enabled laptops, you may want to check out the company's deals on Amazon for Prime subscribers. The manufacturer has slashed $50 off all available models' prices, which really isn't that much — good thing Acer is a…