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This Week In Amazon: Wait Mr. Postman

Also: Beware Of Geeks Bearing Gifts

Wait A Minute Mr. Postman

Amazon and its customers may be in for a rude awakening on Jan. 27. That’s when the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) would like to implement a price increase of as much as 12 percent on its parcel select service, which is used extensively by the e-tailer (as well as UPS and FedEx) as part of its “last mile” fulfillment network.

The price hike, which must be approved by regulators, follows President Trump’s executive order in April that authorized a task force to look into the USPS’s “unsustainable financial path.” He also called the post office Amazon’s “delivery boy,” and blamed the e-tailer for the service’s money woes. A USPS spokesperson denied that Trump’s criticisms had anything to do with the proposed new rates, which could take a 5 percent bite out of Amazon’s retail operating income, according to Barclays analyst estimates. 

See the full story at GeekWire and MarketWatch.

Fake Views

It’s been two years since Amazon banned companies from plying customers with free or discounted products in exchange for reviews. Since then only 1 percent of the customer assessments on Amazon are fake, the e-tailer said, but that still amounts to millions of questionable comments.

To help separate the wheat from the chaff come two online tools from Fakespot and ReviewMeta. Just paste the URL of the product in question into either site, which will then scan them for oft repeated phrases and other suspicious patterns, and flag any dubious entries. The suggestion come courtesy of Popular Science, which also lists some common BS markers for the DIY crowd.

See the full story at Popular Science.

Chump Change

This month’s 1,300-point nose dive by the Dow left Amazon founder Jeff Bezos somewhat lighter in the pocketbook — $9.1 billion lighter, to be exact — as shares of his company fell further than they have in more than two years.

Amazon stock has made Bezos the wealthiest person in the world, a title he retained during the market’s two-day slide, which affected the entire tech sector. But not to worry, the market’s end-of-the-week rebound saw Amazon shares gain 4 percent off their low of $1,697, not that Bezos would notice. “I never spend any time thinking about the daily stock price; I don’t,” he said last month during an interview at the Economic Club in Washington.

See the full story at CNBC and Bloomberg.

Beware Of Geeks Bearing Gifts

Tom Taylor, senior VP of Amazon Alexa, wasn’t kidding last month when he said, “We want you to have access to Alexa everywhere — in your kitchen, in your living room.” Following last year’s debut of new Alexa-integrated housing from home builder Lennar, Amazon’s $100 million venture capital Alexa Fund has invested in startup Plant Prefab.

The Southern California company plans to spit out affordable, single-family pre-fab homes, ostensibly pre-installed with guess who. “Voice has emerged as a delightful technology in the home, and there are now more than 20,000 Alexa-compatible smart-home devices from 3,500 different brands,” said Alexa Fund director Paul Bernard. “We’re thrilled to support [Plant Prefab] as they make sustainable, connected homes more accessible to customers and developers.” Did someone say Trojan House?

See the full story at Forbes.

Amazon vs. Microsoft, Round 2

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the company’s Cloud computing division, lost a big fish last summer — make that a whale — when Walmart chose Microsoft’s Azure Cloud program for what may be its own version of Amazon Go cashless stores.

But AWS got its payback last month. According to an internal memo obtained by Bloomberg, AWS beat out Azure for a contract with cyber-security giant Symantec, worth some $500 million over five years and representing more than 80 percent of the company’s Cloud spending. Neither partner would confirm the deal, although Symantec chief information officer Sheila Jordan acknowledged that “As our Cloud business has evolved, we have continuously evaluated our business relationships with our Cloud partners.”

See the full story at Bloomberg.

Amazon Quote of the Week

“When the stock is up 30 percent in a month, don’t feel 30 percent smarter. Because when the stock is down 30 percent in a month, it’s not going to feel so good to feel 30 percent dumber.” — Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos last month on the company’s share price fluctuations