The gentle giant from Seattle has once again drawn attention. Here is what I found newsworthy over the past couple of days.

amazonWoody Allen used to be very good news for every cinema buff. Now he’s coming to a streaming device near you, through a new contract he just signed with Amazon. He’s supposed to write and direct a series fort he company’s Prime Instant Video service. The NYT quotes Mr Allen as saying: “I don’t know how I got into this … I have no ideas, and I’m not sure where to begin.” Sounds like a good start.

On an even happier note, the good people at Prime Instant Video must have had the champagne popping at the recent Golden Globe awards, when its original series Transparent won the prize for best TV comedy – the first time such an award was given to a streaming service. So, after disrupting the happy world of the old book industry, will Amazon work its magic on the TV people as well?

Talking about magic: some kind fairy must have had a word with Russ Grandinetti, Amazon’s head honcho for the Kindle e-book and publishing businesses. Because the audience at Digital Book World’s conference were assured that Amazon is now looking forward to an era of peace in its relations with publishers. The company will be “focusing on growing the business” and Amazon’s and the publishers‘ interests are now “highly aligned.”
Oh, and Amazon is “super focused on happy authors”. If that is true, Amazion has a rather original way of showing its appreciation, with Kindle Unlimited currently destroying authors‘ revenues big time…

Heading over to technology: In 2014, Amazon lit a fireworks of new devices, with the Fire Phone being one oft he heaviest duds of the season. We know that sales are bad, capital-letter BAD.  But it is always interesting to find out from an insider exactly how bad things really are. On the Fire Phone flop, your appetite is satiated by this piece on Fast Company. My favourite bit: “In essence, we were not building the phone for the customer — we were building it for Jeff.”
So, should Amazon get. out of hardware, as a commentator on Forbes suggested? Hold your horses: sales of Fire tablets were up three times over last year’s holiday season, and the Kindle e-readers increased almost fourfold. And I tend to agree with the argument, that these devices are critical for Amazon “because, much like Prime subscribers, people who own Amazon devices spend more with the retailer.” Even with fo blop products such as the Fire Phone, Amazon tends to be in ventures for the long haul, and if a report is true that the next generation Fire Phone is due only in 2016, this gives the company loads of time to get it right

This is probably why Amazon is working on a new platform for start-up companies and has been hiring staff for the new venture since autumn. Whether this comes from the good heart of Jeff Bezos or as a means to get into interesting tech companies early, is anybody’s guess. And when you read the story, you’ll find that guesswork is really what people are left with at the moment. But, to take a page out oft he John Lewis book of wisdom: You should nevery knowingly underestimate Jeff Bezos.

Which gets us to our final item for today: When it comes to customer service and pricing, Amazon gets the commentators drooling and the customers happily clicking to buy. But, as with most carefully crafted images in retail, the proof of pudding is in the eating, and Boomerang Commerce just had an interesting taste. In essence, Amazon focuses heavily on a very limited number of products, where it undersells its competitors. But for the majority of products, there is not much of a difference, and items in niche markets tend to be more expensive on Amazon than with its competitors.