Amazon Video: ‘Electric Dreams’ Needs Voltage Regulator
Prime Cut: Amazon’s new sci-fi anthology series "Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams," produced by U.K. television partner Channel 4 and released last week on Prime Video, is both an homage to "The Twilight Zone" and a rejoinder to Netflix’s acclaimed "Black Mirror." But according to the consensus, the stories can be wildly uneven, as is the case with most compilations.
TWICE Take: Based on the short stories of late sci-fi author Philip K. Dick, whose tales have been turned into such films as "Blade Runner," "Total Recall" and "Minority Report," the 10-episode "Electric Dreams" fails to deliver the “cruelly ironic twists or gasp-inducing revelations” of "The Twilight Zone," The Verge argues, while still offering “remarkably strong performances” from an all-star cast that variously includes Steve Buscemi, Greg Kinnear, Janelle Monáe, Anna Paquin, Terrence Howard and co-producer Bryan Cranston.
If CES Had A Homecoming Queen, It Woulda Been Alexa
Prime Cut: Despite a valiant attempt at attention-getting by Google, and aided by a critical no-show from Apple, Amazon and its pervasive virtual assistant utterly dominated last week’s CES tech extravaganza, with vendors lining up by the score to announce new Alexa integrations.
TWICE Take: With some 70 percent of the smart-speaker market and hundreds of other product embeds on the way, we wonder if Alexa hasn’t already won the voice interface race. Lending further credence is this CES recap of integration announcements from top names in tech like Acer, Asus, D-Link, Garmin, Samsung-owned Harman Kardon, Hisense, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Sony, Toshiba and Whirlpool.
Head In The Cloud
Prime Cut: Amid the focus on Amazon’s winning holiday season and absolute ascendancy at last week’s CES, it’s easy to forget that its AWS (Amazon Web Services) business may be the brightest jewel in Jeff Bezos’s crown, with about two-thirds of the world’s Cloud computing market now under its belt.
TWICE Take: While e-commerce may be the consumer-touching face of Amazon that generates all the headlines and cash flow, the price-driven e-tail operation rarely turns a profit. That leaves it up to the high-margin AWS division to pay the rent and keep the company’s high-flying share price aloft. Projected Q4 results for the unit: $1.5 billion in operating income on $6 billion in sales.
Happy Wife, Happy Life
Prime Cut: Jeff and MacKenzie Bezos will celebrate their 25th anniversary this year, and by all accounts their marriage is as solid as Amazon’s market share lead. Quite an accomplishment, given that half of all U.S. nuptials end in divorce, and that this union is further tested by a mercurial mate and the world’s largest personal fortune.
TWICE Take: So how do they do it? CheatSheet has compiled nine rules the Bezos’s appear to live by for assuring wedded bliss, including spending time with family and, for Jeff, doing the dishes nightly. But a separate piece by The New York Times suggests that Bezos’ homey new persona may be part of a concerted effort to pre-empt a coming popular and governmental backlash against the retail leviathan.
Prime Cut: CE accessory manufacturer Fuse Chicken is suing Amazon, alleging that the e-tailer is buying and selling counterfeit — and faulty — versions of its products.
TWICE Take: This is hardly the first go-round for Amazon in this ring. In addition to being sued by multiple other manufacturers for similar claims, an Apple suit against Mobile Star in 2016 alleged that nearly 90 percent of Apple chargers sold on Amazon were fake.
Amazon Quote Of The Week
“I think in many ways when Amazon bought Whole Foods, that was almost a Pearl Harbor moment for the retail industry.” — PayPal CEO Dan Schulman on the ascendancy of omni-channel retail