Amazon has acquired Evi, a voice recognition software company specializing in technology similar to Apple’s Siri, for $26 million. This buy has fueled rumors of Amazon’s effort to create a smartphone, but is likely to also find a home on the Kindle Fire. It will be interesting to see how the technology is applied and how it will affect Amazon’s market share in the mobile sphere.
Many online business models make timely customer service problematic. When something goes wrong, often the only person reacting to it is the customer. Amazon is advancing this model in its video streaming service by enabling automated refunds to customers who have received less than ideal service due to a problem on Amazon’s end. The systems developed by the distribution giant automatically detect situations sub-par service instances affecting user experience, and issue refunds. This model is more expensive, but CEO Jeff Bezos notices that it “surprises, delights, and earns trust,” which may be more valuable in the long run than the small amount the company may refund.
Recognizing competition from digital competitors Amazon and Apple, bookseller Barnes & Noble has announced it will close 1/3 of its stores at a rate of 20 stores a year for the next decade. This hardly comes as a surprise as tablets and e-readers like the Apple iPad and Amazon’s Kindle Fire become increasingly ubiquitous, and digital continues to encroach on print markets. The strategy is expected to increase demand for Barnes & Noble’s Nook e-readers, which saw shrinking sales last quarter.