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Amazon Makes Site Tablet-Friendly, Cuts Calif. Tax Deal


appears to be optimizing its
website for tablet computers.

The new streamlined design, which is being rolled out
gradually across the country, has a larger search bar,
fewer buttons, and positions digital content ahead of
physical merchandise on the home page, published reports

It is believed that the updated layout was developed
to improve the shopping experience for users of Apple’s
best-selling iPad, and in anticipation of Amazon’s own
long-rumored Kindle tablet, which is expected this fall.
Amazon founder/CEO Jeff Bezos has tacitly acknowledged
the device, telling industry observers to “stay
tuned,” while web accounts compare its physical design
to Research In Motion’s Playbook Tab and suggest that
a 6GB version will be released in November for $250.

Separately, Amazon could be exempt from collecting
sales tax in California for another year under a deal
reached this month with lawmakers.

The tax, which was enacted by Gov. Jerry Brown in
June and set to go into effect in July, targeted out-ofstate
e-tailers with offices, employees or affiliates in California.

Amazon has refused to pay the tax, dropped its approximately
10,000 third-party sellers within the state,
and has been collecting signatures for a ballot referendum
to overturn the law.

Under the compromise struck with legislators, Amazon
would delay collecting taxes until September 2012,
resume sales through California affiliates, and drop the
$5 million referendum effort.

It is unclear at press time whether Brown will support
the delay, which would give Amazon more time to lobby
Congress for a national e-tail sales tax. The latter would
have a positive impact on brick-and-mortar merchants,
particularly within the CE and home office channels
where e-commerce sales account for well over 20 percent
of revenue, observed Credit Suisse retail analyst
Gary Balter.

“While Amazon contends that their sales penetration
is the same in the states where they already collect
taxes, paraphrasing Shakespeare, ‘Me thinks [they] doth
protest too much,’ ” he wrote in a research note.

Asked to comment on the California tax agreement
during a second-quarter earnings call, Best Buy CEO
Brian Dunn called it “an accelerant” in “the march to the
inevitable leveling of what has been an atrociously unfair
playing field.”