Amazon announced an update to its retail, entertainment, and AWS businesses in Russia and Belarus. This was posted on its “About Amazon” site. From the announcement:
Given the ongoing situation in Russia and Ukraine, we’ve taken additional actions in the region. We’ve suspended shipment of retail products to customers based in Russia and Belarus, and we will no longer be accepting new Russian and Belarus-based AWS customers and Amazon third-party sellers. We are also suspending access to Prime Video for customers in Russia, and we will no longer be taking orders for New World, which is the only video game we sell directly in Russia.
In addition, Amazon provided some more details: “As a reminder, unlike some other U.S. technology providers, Amazon and AWS have no data centers, infrastructure, or offices in Russia and we have a long-standing policy of not doing business with the Russian government.”
New World launched in September of 2021. The game is only playable on a PC. The Wikipedia article for the game describes it as a massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG) developed by Amazon Games Orange County and published by Amazon Games. The game is set in the mid-seventeenth century, and players colonize a fictional land molded after the Americas.
Based on Amazon’s announcement, it appears that people who are in Russia or Belarus will soon lose access to Prime Video, and will be suspended from playing (or purchasing) New World. Amazon will also no longer accept new sign-ups for AWS from people who are based on Russia or Belarus.
Historically, it is not unheard of for various governments to choose to support, or to withhold support, from countries that are at war with each other. In today’s world, it appears that part of the way to isolate a country that appears to be the instigator of a war is to… take away access to video games (and Amazon Prime). It seems like a small thing, but might have an impact, considering that many gaming companies have blocked Russian access to games and consoles.
Amazon released Fire TV back in 2014, and it took off fairly quickly, becoming second behind only the Roku box. Since then, the television market has caught up to it, it’s no longer just Netflix and Hulu anymore. And now TV has mostly moved to the internet, with services like Sling, YouTube TV, Hulu TV and others.
Prior to Black Friday, Amazon put its Fire TV Sticks on sale, but Thanksgiving week is well over with now. Amazon is keeping the devices at the sale price, slightly more than it was over Thanksgiving, but still a considerable discount.
The base model, the Fire TV Stick with Alexa Voice Remote, regularly $39.99 is currently $24.99; the Fire TV 4K with Alexa Voice Remote, which retails for $49.99, is currently $29.99 and the high-end Fire TV 4K Max, Wi-Fi 6, regularly $54.99, now $34.99.
There is now word on how long the deal will last, so the sooner you grab it, the better off you are. After all, it can disappear any day now.
It’s been a bad day for folks who wanted to chill with music, holiday tunes or not. At least if you’re were relying on Amazon Music to provide the tunes. It could be downright scary if you’re relying on Ring services, also owned by Amazon. Ring handles security and one business we spoke with noted that only nine of its 16 cameras were operational, those are the wired ones. The wireless are useless for the time being.
Both services operate under AWS, a high-end cloud-computing system that runs some of the largest systems in the world. Generally, it’s considered reliable and consistent. As of now, Amazon’s latest status update reads:
[2:04 PM PST] We have executed a mitigation which is showing significant recovery in the US-EAST-1 Region. We are continuing to closely monitor the health of the network devices and we expect to continue to make progress towards full recovery. We still do not have an ETA for full recovery at this time
We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you informed.
Haul out the holly. Oh, wait. Are you also one of those people that decorates the house to music? Or just like to keep the holiday spirits up during the season? Well, if you use Amazon Music for that, then your home or office is a very quiet place this morning.
A short time ago the software and retail giant which provides one of the most popular music services available has gone down. Amazon has gained a large market share thanks to also being the creator of one of the most popular home listening devices, the Amazon Echo, or Alexa, as it prefers to be known.
This is proving a weird one. The outage is apparently not widespread. We’ve sent a question to Amazon and are awaiting responses, which we’ll pass along when received. We’re also receiving some reports of Ring, also an Amazon property, also being down.
In the meantime, a steady stream of people continue to complain about the outage of Twitter. Come on Amazon, don’t play Grinch to some customers today.
The Pentagon announced a limited request for bids for a new cloud initiative that replaces the cancelled $10 billion, decade-long JEDI contract initiative, TechCrunch reported.
As you may recall, the JEDI contract was contentiously fought over by Microsoft and Amazon, even after the Pentagon announced that they had selected Microsoft. Eventually, the JEDI cloud contract was cancelled.
CNBC reported that the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) said that the Defense Department has solicited bids on their new cloud initiative, called JWCC. It is known as Joint Warfighting Cloud Capability. The Defense Department has solicited bids from Amazon, Google, Microsoft, and Oracle for cloud contracts.
According to CNBC, the GSA announced the following: “The Government anticipates awarding two IDIQ contracts — one to Amazon Web Services, Inc. (AWS) and one to Microsoft Corporation (Microsoft) — but intends to award to all Cloud Service Providers (CSPs) that demonstrate the capability to meet DoD’s requirements.”
This is being handled differently than how things were handled with the JEDI contract. This new cloud initiative appears to have an interest in working with both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services – but also seems to want to award other CSPs that can demonstrate the capability that meets the Department of Defense’s requirements. The JEDI contract was “winner take all” and that led to some complaints when the DoD chose Microsoft over Amazon.
According to TechCrunch, Microsoft and Amazon went to court over the decision, and the Pentagon got tired of it and decided to scrap the JEDI project altogether. As such, there is now a new cloud infrastructure project that appears to be interested in accepting both Microsoft and Amazon Web Services at the same time.
I cannot help but wonder if teams from those two companies will be able to work together, or if one will insist they are not being treated fairly. There is also the possibility that smaller CSPs, who don’t meet the DoD’s requirements, will end up going to court over this.
If you’ve been dithering over the OnePlus 9 Pro, this might help make up your mind. On Saturday, there’s UK£150 off via Amazon’s Treasure Truck online, and in person at Westfield Stratford in London over this weekend (16th & 17th October). The Truck will also be at the Arndale Centre in Manchester the following weekend (23rd & 24th October).
The offer is for the OnePlus 9 Pro 8GB / 128GB version which brings the price down to UK£659.99 which is an absolute steal for a top-end phone powered by the Snapdragon 888 and a glorious 120 Hz Fluid Display screen. It’s one of the best phones of 2021, with camera sensors co-engineered by Sony and tuned by Hasselblad. Even I can take decent photos. There’s super-speedy charging with Warp Charge 65T both wireless and wirelessly.
OnePlus fans able to visit the Treasure Truck in person in Westfield Stratford can try out the OnePlus 9 Pro in person and take part in competitions to win prizes including OnePlus merchandise such as the Urban Traveller backpacks and the much sought after OnePlus Watch Cobalt Limited Edition.
To sign up for Amazon’s Treasure Truck, go here: http:/.www.amazon.co.uk/gp/TTOneplus . The online offer is good until 9pm (21:00) on Saturday and there’s only one per customer.
Amazon announced that they are extending their A-to-z Guarantee to protect customers in the unlikely event a defective product sold through Amazon causes property damage or personal injury – regardless of who sells it.
Amazon stated in a post on their website that the company will directly pay customers for claims under $1,000 – which Amazon says account for more than 80% of cases – at no cost to sellers. Amazon also says it may step in to pay claims in higher accounts if the seller is unresponsive or rejects a claim that Amazon believe’s to be valid.
Another interesting thing from Amazon’s post is mention of the Amazon Insurance Accelerator. According to Amazon, “sellers have long been required to obtain product liability insurance.” Amazon reported that it worked with an insurance broker to create Amazon Insurance Accelerator, and that sellers only pay for the cost of the insurance itself.
CNBC reported that Amazon’s third-party marketplace, “where counterfeits, unsafe products, and even expired goods have become a notorious problem” have attracted scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators.
Last month, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission sued Amazon to force it to recall dozens of defective products sold by merchants on its marketplace. Perhaps Amazon’s A-to-z Guarantee is a means by which to appease the Commission.
Financial Times reported that Amazon told the Texas Supreme Court that it was merely the middleman in a transaction where someone was injured by a product they purchased through Amazon. The Texas Supreme Court agreed with Amazon’s position. A California court said Amazon could be held potentially liable for third-party sales, in the same way a bricks-and- mortar retailer might be.
Overall, I think the result is that Amazon will take more effort to remove dangerous products from its platform. That’s good for everyone who makes a purchase on Amazon.