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What's New With Amazon
by
Posted On May 1, 2018
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Hop on the Cloud

Amazon Web Services (AWS) is the world’s most widely adopted cloud platform of 125-plus features for computing, storage, databases, networking, security, and more. So far this year, AWS has announced expanded partnerships with four companies: Comcast Cable is using AWS as its preferred public cloud infrastructure provider (Jan. 16); GoDaddy migrated the majority of its infrastructure to AWS (March 28); Shutterfly moved its core production applications and massive image library to AWS (April 4); and Cox Automotive migrated its infrastructure to AWS to join the rest of its business-critical applications (April 4).

On April 4, AWS introduced a new Amazon S3 storage class, One Zone-Infrequent Access (Z-IA), that stores objects in a single Availability Zone (geographic location with infrastructure from which AWS deploys its services). This storage class is the lowest-cost option (1 cent per gigabyte per month), designed for copies of data, backups, off-site compliance, and other information that isn’t frequently accessed and is re-creatable.

Know That Content Is Still King

Amazon Studios produces TV series and movies (and sometimes acquires others’ movies to distribute) that are streamed to 200-plus countries and territories on Amazon’s Prime Video platform. Amazon Prime members can view the content for free on an unlimited streaming model. In April, Amazon did not announce via press release that it had canceled Mozart in the Jungle after four seasons; it left that to The Hollywood Reporter. And when Jeffrey Tambor was fired from Transparent in February, Deadline Hollywood broke the story. But Amazon did announce a lot of new deals and renewals.

On Jan. 3, Prime Video and ITV greenlit an eight-episode thriller, The Widow, starring Kate Beckinsale. Other new TV projects include a half-hour animated dramedy, Undone, from the creator and a producer of Netflix’s BoJack Horseman (March 6); a 4-hour historical miniseries, Cortes, starring Javier Bardem and executive-produced by Steven Spielberg, among others (March 26); a four-part documentary series about Lorena Bobbitt, Lorena, executive-produced by Jordan Peele (April 5); and a nine-episode thriller, Utopia, with author Gillian Flynn as showrunner (April 19).

On Jan. 17, it renewed its half-hour superhero series The Tick for a 10-episode second season (the press release is pretty clever). It also renewed detective drama Bosch, its longest-running 1-hour original series, for a fifth season (Feb. 13); supernatural anthology series Lore for a second season (Feb. 26); and Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan for an eight-episode second season before the first has even premiered (April 24).  

Give a Pat on the Back

Like most companies, Amazon is quick to trumpet its successes. On Jan. 2, it announced that Amazon Prime had shipped more than 5 billion items in 2017. On March 22, Amazon highlighted its third straight year of being voted the number one company by customers in Harris Poll’s annual corporate reputation survey. For the past 10 years, it has been in the top 10. AWS got kudos on April 4, with two press releases, “Amazon Aurora Continues its Torrid Growth, More than Doubling the Number of Active Customers in the Last Year” and “Tens of Thousands of Customers Flocking to AWS for Machine Learning Services.”

On Jan. 29, it shared information about the new buildings at its headquarters in Seattle. Called The Spheres, they don’t have enclosed offices, conference spaces, or desks, but they do have treehouses suspended under trees more than 40 feet tall, 40,000-plus plants from around the world, and sitting areas and walking paths surrounded by waterfalls. The space prioritizes the feeling of being in nature—sunlight, running water, the smell of flowering plants, trees, and soil, etc. It is part of Amazon’s more than $4 billion investment in the design, development, and construction of its headquarters, and this project created more than 600 full-time jobs. Additionally, it will serve as an educational space for the Seattle community, hosting tours and partnering with local schools and universities.

Prepare for World Domination

Google “Amazon world domination” and you’ll get think pieces from the last few years. Newsweek goes so far as to say, “Today, the question is not whether Amazon can survive but whether we can survive without Amazon.” It continues, “Entirely credible reasons exist to dislike Amazon: its treatment of workers, its alleged evasion of taxes, a tendency toward monopoly. But you can’t escape it. The company is lodged deep into our culture, a complex creature that engenders equally complex emotions, much like turkey bacon and the Kardashians.”

When Amazon announced in June 2017 that it would acquire Whole Foods Market, people began to speculate on what that would mean for the grocery chain. Here’s what we’ve found out so far in 2018:

  • Amazon’s Treasure Truck will appear at various Whole Foods locations to offer new, trending, or local food-related items and coupons (Jan. 30).
  • Amazon and Whole Foods discounted Whole Trade roses Feb. 7–14 to celebrate Valentine’s Day (Feb. 5).
  • For the areas of Austin (Texas), Cincinnati, Dallas, and Virginia Beach (Va.), Amazon introduced free 2-hour delivery for Prime Now orders from Whole Foods that are more than $35 (Feb. 8). Amazon expanded the 2-hour delivery service to Atlanta and San Francisco (March 6), greater Los Angeles and neighboring Orange County (April 10), and Denver, Sacramento (Calif.), and San Diego (April 24).
  • Prime members who pay using their Amazon Rewards Visa Card can now earn 5% back on their purchases from Whole Foods, and non-Prime members earn 3% back (Feb. 20).

Amazon opened new fulfillment centers in St. Peters, Mo. (March 7) and North Las Vegas, Nev. (April 4) and is planning to open a second headquarters in a to-be-determined U.S. city (from a list of 20 finalists). Google “Amazon HQ2” to read a variety of reactions—the competition is getting fierce.


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Brandi Scardilli is the editor of NewsBreaks and Information Today.

Email Brandi Scardilli

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