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This Week In Amazon: Why The HQ2 Cities Suck, 1st Look At Amazon Go

Also: The real reason Amazon Prime got pricier

Why Chicago Will Win Amazon’s Second HQ Race

Prime Cut: Amazon has whittled down the list of bergs vying for its second headquarters from 238 to just 20 finalists. But according to Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke, the Windy City has the inside track on HQ2, not because it’s especially deserving mind you, but because the other 19 contenders are “hot garbage.”

TWICE Take: With tongue firmly planted in cheek, Huppke took on, among towns, Atlanta (“A fetid swamp”); Boston (“A bar fight turned into a city”); Nashville (“The birthplace of nausea”); and Montgomery County, Md. (“inhabited largely by cannibals and mole people”). And what makes Chi-Town so special? Says Huppke: “In 2017, Chicagoans were ranked ‘Most Amenable To Having Heavy Objects Dropped On Them By Swarms of Delivery Drones’ by Drone Delivery Magazine.”

See the full story at TWICE and the Chicago Tribune.

The Real Reason Amazon Prime Got Pricier

Prime Cut: Last week, right after rattling off all of Amazon Prime’s accomplishments in 2017, the e-tailer announced a $2 price hike for monthly subscribers to its loyalty program, from $10.99 to $12.99 (and a buck more, to $6.49, for students). But the annual fee of $99 remains unchanged, which may explain a lot.

TWICE Take: Aside from offsetting the rising cost of Amazon Prime services, the increase, speculates author, investor and former businessman Gary Bourgeault, is designed to migrate customers to the annual plan – which provides more predictable results and reduces churn from less committed customers. As he notes, “If customers were to cancel their subscriptions over $2 a month … they aren’t the type of customer Amazon is trying to reach with the service in the first place.”

See the full story at Seeking Alpha.

Amazon Video: Company Cancels 3 Eccentric Shows In Pursuit Of The Next ‘Game Of Thrones’

Prime Cut: A new day has dawned at Amazon Studios, following the resignation last fall of president Roy Price amid sexual harassment charges. Gone as well are three of his original series: “I Love Dick,” “One Mississippi” and “Jean-Claude Van Johnson,” all quirky, niche shows that failed to find a broad audience.

TWICE Take: Now that he’s established a toehold in the entertainment industry, CEO Jeff Bezos’s marching orders call for big-budget films and TV productions that can draw a wide audience, in order to drive Amazon Prime memberships and higher retail sales. To that end, Bezos himself was involved in negotiations to secure the rights to a “The Lord of the Rings” prequel series, while indie filmmakers will likely walk away empty handed from this week’s Sundance festival.

See the full story at Broadcasting & Cable and Reuters.

Check Out Amazon’s Checkout-Free Convenience Store

Prime Cut: It’s been a little over a year since the Bezos Bunch opened a small, prototype convenience store in their hometown of Seattle. The employees-only shop, called Amazon Go, has nearly everything you’d expect to find in a 7-Eleven – sandwiches, snacks, beverages – everything that is, except for checkout counters and the public. Well, effective yesterday, you can add the latter.

TWICE Take: Amazon says its store uses “computer vision, sensor fusion and deep learning” to create the ultimate grab-and-go experience. Customers merely need a smartphone, an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app to waltz in, fill their pockets and leave, with the digital bill arriving soon thereafter. For a quick exclusive gander, check out the undercover clip from our friends at Field Agent, below.

See the first-look video at Field Agent.

Amazon Musical Instruments: Customers Made It A Karaoke Christmas

Prime Cut: Amazon has declared Holiday 2017 its biggest yuletide yet, with associates at 10 fulfillment centers in North America and Europe shipping more than a million packages in a single day; more than 1,400 tech products ordered every second on a mobile device; and small businesses and entrepreneurs ordering more than 1 billion items worldwide.

TWICE Take: While much of the glad tidings came from deeply discounted Echo Dots, musical instruments also had their share of holiday hits. Among the season’s best sellers: the Snark SN5X clip-on tuner for guitar; the Singing Machine top-loading CDG karaoke system with Bluetooth, sound and disco light show; and the Singing Machine SMM-205 unidirectional dynamic microphone. (That’s one Christmas party we’re glad we missed.)

See the full story at BGR.

Amazon Quote Of The Week

“Our inland location puts us well out of range of any North Korean missiles, and as rising sea levels consume the East and West coasts, Chicago will likely be the last major city to be submerged.” — Chicago Tribune columnist Rex Huppke, on why Amazon should choose The Windy City for its second headquarters