The Edmond Sun

Business

April 3, 2014

Amazon introduces Fire TV to challenge Apple in living rooms

SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon.com Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bezos is stepping up efforts to win over customers in their living rooms with a $99 TV box for watching digitally delivered shows and movies, challenging Apple's TV device.

The world's largest Internet retailer unveiled Fire TV, a small black device that starts shipping Wednesday. The machine also puts Amazon in closer competition with Google and Roku, which offer their own Internet-connected TV gadgets.

All of the companies are striving to reach into consumers' homes and to tie customers to a package of services. Amazon has been using free video-streaming to lure more people to its two- day shipping subscription, called Prime. Fire TV includes , Netflix Inc. and Hulu Inc. applications for viewing, part of Amazon's effort to include as much content as possible, according to Peter Larsen, vice president of Amazon's Kindle division.

"Fire TV is definitely a better experience if you have Prime," Larsen said in a brief interview after presenting the device at an event in New York.

Fire TV also features viewing apps from Walt Disney Co.'s ESPN and CBS Corp.'s Showtime, available to anyone who already pays for television through their cable or satellite provider. Bloomberg TV, part of Bloomberg LP, is also featured on Fire TV.

Amazon, which had already offered streaming-video services via its Kindle tablets and Web browsers, also competes with Netflix and Hulu for content rights from major television and film studios.

Amazon's TV strategy isn't designed to compete with traditional TV services and is aimed instead at helping the Web retailer sell more products. Fire TV should help drive more Prime subscriptions, Larsen said. The service, which costs $99 a year, offers free 2-day shipping and includes with a wealth of streaming video content from major TV studios.

"This is about selling Prime," said Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles. "It really does open up their ability to deliver a lot of stuff."

Prime members are typically among the company's most active online shoppers, said Pachter, who has the equivalent of a hold rating on the stock.

Amazon said it has at least 20 million Prime subscribers worldwide and is working to add more video content onto Fire TV, including those from cable companies.

Comcast Corp., for example, has its own viewing app that's available on Apple tablets and smartphones. The cable company also has embarked upon its own a digital TV strategy, releasing a cloud-based set-top box called X-1 to millions of its customers. Discussions with cable companies aren't happening yet, Larsen said.

With its own box, Amazon can feature its library of video instead of depending on other TV manufacturers. Like Netflix, which produces shows such as "House of Cards," Amazon has been developing programming to attract customers with exclusive content.

"Nobody else has a critical mass of content outside of Netflix," Pachter said. Amazon's library includes exclusive rights to shows such as "Downton Abbey" and "Jersey Shore."

Amazon gave Fire TV some features to set it apart from the competition. The device has thousands of games from top developers such as Electronic Arts Inc. It also includes an interface with Amazon's Internet Movie Database site so viewers can get more information about the shows they're watching.

Bezos is pushing Amazon further into the manufacturing of hardware, including tablet computers, e-readers and package- delivering drones. A TV device provides a new platform for software developers to build games and other applications for the various digital devices.

The television products from Amazon and others have largely served as a supplement to cable-television services instead of replacing them. The services don't offer much live programming such as sports and are mainly an entry point for accessing catalogs of movies and TV shows for viewing on demand.

While Apple's TV product provides access to videos from iTunes, Hulu, YouTube and others, Amazon video isn't available. Google's TV product, called Chromecast, was introduced last year and costs $35. Others competing in the market include Microsoft, with its Xbox game system, and Roku.

"This is their attack on Roku and Apple TV," said Brian Blair, an analyst at Wedge Partners.

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Business
  • A Q&A on ‘Obamacare’ Court Rulings

    On Tuesday, two federal appeals courts issued conflicting rulings on the legality of tax subsidies being provided to people who bought “Obamacare” health insurance policies in Oklahoma and 35 other states.
    Here’s a look at the rulings’ potential impact in Oklahoma.

    Q: I’m confused. What did the courts rule today?
    A: A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Washington, D.C., decided that the government can’t provide tax subsidies for Affordable Care Act plans purchased in 36 states where the federal government is operating the health insurance exchange. Oklahoma is one of the 36 states. A few hours later, the U.S. Court of Appeals circuit in Richmond, Va., issued a conflicting ruling that upheld the legality of the health-care law’s tax subsidies.

    July 22, 2014

  • June healthy month for Oklahoma jobs

    Nearly 10,000 new jobs in Oklahoma were created in June, according to the U.S. Labor Department.
    Gov. Mary Fallin said Tuesday the state experienced one of the largest increases in employment in the nation in June. More than 9,600 additional people joined the state’s workforce in June.
    The unemployment rate in June dropped to 4.5 percent, its lowest ratio in six years. June’s rate was down a percentage point from 4.6 percent in May and April, according to the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission.

    July 22, 2014

  • UCO campus 3.jpg University of Central Oklahoma recognized as having friendly work environment

    The Chronicle of Higher Education named the University of Central Oklahoma as one of the “2014 Great Colleges to Work For.” Central is the only higher education institution in the state recognized on the list and one of only a handful of institutions in the nation given the distinction of being named to the Honor Roll for being cited most often among all the recognition categories.          
    Central joins Duke, Baylor and Notre Dame on the list of the 10 universities named to the large institution honor roll.

    July 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Council approves funds toward ADA update

    City Council members have approved a $398,800 professional services contract with Accessology, a McKinney, Texas, firm, to establish an Americans With Disabilities Act transition plan for the city.
    Title II of the ADA requires state and local governments to make their programs and services accessible to persons with disabilities. It includes access to government facilities, programs and events and relevant policy changes.
    Accessology was selected out of a pool of five finalists by a five-member committee to create Edmond’s plan. The firm will partner with Kimley-Horn and Associates, a design consulting firm located in North Carolina.
    Edmond’s last ADA transition plan was created in 1992.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel approves jail services agreement

    City Council members have approved renewal of the city’s jail services agreement with Oklahoma County for prisoners incarcerated at the county jail on city charges.
    The current annual agreement expired June 30. It provides the feeding, care, housing and upkeep of said prisoners. Edmond uses the county jail when the city jail is at capacity.
    The sheriff’s office proposed a slight increase from $46.25 to a $46.50 daily rate per prisoner. City staff said the current agreement is working satisfactorily and believe the proposed rate is reasonable. The new agreement took effect July 1. The city can hold prisoners in its current jail  up to 10 days; a new jail with 10 male and five female cells will be available inside the new Public Safety Center next year when the facility opens.

    July 21, 2014

  • Panel establishes 911 phone rate

    City Council members have established the rate for the 911 emergency phone service fee for calendar year 2015
    Council members set the rate at 3 percent of the recurring charges as designated by the tariff for exchange telephone service or its equivalent within Edmond beginning Jan. 1, 2015.
    Fees collected by wireless and voice over Internet protocol companies are established under a separate statute. To continue collection of the locally authorized service fee on landline phone bills, local governments must approve a resolution on an annual basis to set the actual fee.
    Governments must also through the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments notify the appropriate incumbent local exchange carrier and competitive local exchange carrier phone companies by Sept. 1, 2015.
    ACOG recommended for calendar year 2015 to maintain service fees at their current level of 3 percent.

    July 21, 2014

  • Council approves $2.5M extra for utility

    City Council members have approved the transfer of a $2.5 million appropriation for Edmond Electric.
    The action was needed due to higher natural gas prices. Those increased prices caused wholesale electric purchase costs to exceed the department’s budget estimates for Fiscal Year 2013-14. To cover the increased costs, a transfer of funds from the “Transfers” category to the “Other Services and Charges” category was necessary.
    It will maintain state law requirements and not increase Edmond Electric’s budget.
    The action occurred during Monday’s meeting and was approved unanimously.

    July 21, 2014

  • The Escape Edmond entrepreneurs sleuth their way to success

    Tripadvisor.com led Andrew Gipson to an industrial complex outside of Dublin, Ireland, about a year ago. The recent University of Central Oklahoma graduate was in the midst of an extended stay in Australia and the United Kingdom when he walked through the doors of XIT Live Escape Adventure Game. According to Tripdadvisor, it was the top attraction in Ireland. He had to go.
    An hour later, Gipson, 24, exited the facility inspired.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • McAlister’s Deli sets ‘Free Tea Day’ for July 24

    McAlister’s Deli, a leading fast casual restaurant, will celebrate its sixth annual Free Tea Day on July 24.

    July 19, 2014

  • Steffen and Farrow Steffen and Farrow celebrates 40th anniversary

    Steffen and Farrow Orthodontics recently had a ribbon cutting at its Edmond location, 1601 S. Boulevard, to celebrate its 40th anniversary.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

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