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    With Amazon Alexa’s future in peril, Fire TVs offer a glimmer of hope / ArsTechnica · 3 days ago - 11:00

Amazon Fire TV mounted in a living room

Enlarge / Fire TVs give Alexa hope, but the future still feels grim. (credit: Amazon )

Alexa, how can you continue to be relevant and stop sucking money from Amazon?

That's not an easy question to answer, and the future of Amazon Alexa has never felt so uncertain. In November, Business Insider reported that Alexa “and other devices” were expected to lose Amazon $10 billion in 2022. Such large losses spotlight an enduring question: How are voice assistants supposed to make money? It’s a dilemma other voice assistants are struggling with, too.

In the case of Alexa, which has been integrated into various Amazon-branded products, from speakers and smart displays to a home robot and microwave, its best shot at survival has been under our noses—or in our living rooms—all along.

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    Amazon layoffs will shut down camera review site after 25 years / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 21 March - 18:47 · 1 minute

Amazon layoffs will shut down camera review site after 25 years

Enlarge (credit: Nikon)

Amazon has plans to lay off at least 27,000 workers this year, including 9,000 that were announced in an internal email yesterday morning. One unexpected casualty: Digital Photography Review, also known as DPReview, is losing its entire editorial staff, and the site will stop publishing on April 10 .

The announcement post, written by DPReview General Manager Scott Everett, says that new pieces will continue to be posted through April 10, and "the site will be locked" afterward. It's unclear what will happen to the site's content afterward—the post promises only that the site's articles "will be available in read-only mode for a limited period afterwards." Any photos and text that readers have uploaded to their accounts can be requested and downloaded until April 6 , "after which we will not be able to complete the request."

Former site editor Gannon Burgett said on Twitter that the decision to lay off the staff was announced in January and that " Amazon hasn't yet come up with an archival plan " for the site. Cameras, even digital ones, tend to have a pretty long shelf life, and there's an active used market for lenses and camera bodies—if goes offline entirely, that would be a huge blow to anyone trying to research older products.

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    Amazon is firing another 9,000 workers / ArsTechnica · Monday, 20 March - 19:14

The Amazon logo is displayed outside the Amazon UK Services Ltd Warehouse on December 07, 2022 in Warrington, England

Enlarge / Amazon has announced 27,000 layoffs since November 2022. (credit: Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Amazon will fire another 9,000 workers in the coming weeks. The news was delivered in an email from company CEO Andy Jassy to employees this morning and follows large cuts in November and again in January .

In his email to staff, Jassy wrote that most of the job cuts will come in four parts of the company: Amazon Web Services or AWS; "People Experience and Technology Solutions"; advertising; and the game-streaming platform Twitch, which has been owned by the Internet behemoth since 2014 . Those areas of the company were also heavily affected by the earlier layoffs, which involved 18,000 workers.

"This was a difficult decision, but one that we think is best for the company long term," Jassy wrote.

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    Amazon unveils three satellite user terminals, plans broadband service in 2024 / ArsTechnica · Tuesday, 14 March - 19:10

Three satellite broadband user terminals designed by Amazon.

Enlarge / Satellite broadband user terminals designed by Amazon's Project Kuiper. (credit: Amazon)

Amazon has designed three satellite broadband user terminals and will start offering Internet service in 2024, the company announced today . The standard terminal, designed for residential and small business customers, is expected to cost Amazon less than $400 to make; Amazon did not say what it will charge customers for the terminals or for monthly service plans.

The "standard customer terminal measures less than 11 inches square and 1 inch thick," Amazon said. "It weighs less than five pounds without its mounting bracket. Despite this modest footprint, the device will be one of the most powerful commercially available customer terminals of its size, delivering speeds up to 400 megabits per second (Mbps). Amazon expects to produce these terminals for less than $400 each."

Whether customers actually get those speeds in practice will depend on the satellites and how congested the network is in each region, as the experience of SpaceX Starlink customers shows. Amazon didn't differentiate between download and upload speeds in its announcement, but upload speeds are likely to be slower than downloads.

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    Amazon’s big dreams for Alexa fall short / ArsTechnica · Monday, 6 March - 16:04

Alexa with Amazon logo

Enlarge (credit: Anadolu via Getty Images )

It has been more than a decade since Jeff Bezos excitedly sketched out his vision for Alexa on a whiteboard at Amazon’s headquarters. His voice assistant would help do all manner of tasks, such as shop online, control gadgets, or even read kids a bedtime story.

But the Amazon founder’s grand vision of a new computing platform controlled by voice has fallen short. As hype in the tech world turns feverishly to generative AI as the “next big thing,” the moment has caused many to ask hard questions of the previous “next big thing”—the much-lauded voice assistants from Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others.

A “grow grow grow” culture described by one former Amazon Alexa marketing executive has now shifted to a more intense focus on how the device can help the e-commerce giant make money.

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    Sources say prominent US rocket-maker United Launch Alliance is up for sale / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 1 March - 16:50

Two men in business suits stand next to a model spaceship.

Enlarge / Tory Bruno (L), CEO of United Launch Alliance, with Amazon founder Jeff Bezos at a news conference in 2014. (credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images)

One of the world's most important rocket companies, United Launch Alliance, may be sold later this year.

The potential sale has not been disclosed publicly, but three sources confirmed to Ars that potential buyers have been contacted about the opportunity. These sources said a deal is expected to be closed before the end of this year and that investment firm Morgan Stanley and consulting firm Bain & Company are managing the transaction.

The sale of United Launch Alliance, or ULA as it is known within the industry, would mark the end of an era that has lasted for nearly two decades. The company was officially formed in 2005 as part of a deal brokered by the US government, ensuring the military had access to both Atlas and Delta rockets to put national security satellites into space. To form ULA, Lockheed Martin and Boeing merged their launch businesses into a single company, each taking a 50 percent stake.

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    Amazon studio plans lighthearted show of Ring surveillance footage / ArsTechnica · Thursday, 11 August, 2022 - 22:13

Amazon's combining its endless reach with its constant surveillance—but for laughs.

Enlarge / Amazon's combining its endless reach with its constant surveillance—but for laughs. (credit: Getty Images)

For some people, the term "Ring Nation" might evoke a warrantless surveillance dystopia overseen by an omnipotent megacorp. To Amazon-owned MGM , Ring Nation is a clip show hosted by comedian Wanda Sykes, featuring dancing delivery people and adorable pets.

Deadline reports that the show, due to debut on September 26, is "the latest example of corporate synergy at Amazon." Amazon owns household video security brand Ring, Hollywood studio MGM, and Big Fish, the producer of Ring Nation

Viral videos captured by doorbell cameras have been hot for a while now. You can catch them on late-night talk shows, the r/CaughtOnRing subreddit, and on millions of TikTok users' For You page. Amazon's media properties, perhaps sensing an opportunity to capitalize and soften Ring's image, are sallying forth with an officially branded offering.

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    Amazon begins large-scale rollout of palm print-based payments / ArsTechnica · Wednesday, 10 August, 2022 - 20:14

A customer uses a palm print reader in this promotional image for Amazon One.

Enlarge / A customer uses a palm print reader in this promotional image for Amazon One. (credit: Amazon )

Amazon will expand its Amazon One palm print checkout system to dozens of Whole Foods locations, marking the most significant expansion of the technology that was introduced in 2020.

Amazon One allows customers to speedily check out at retail locations using only their palm prints after storing a scan of their hand via an interface at Amazon's kiosks. The palm print data is encrypted and stored on Amazon's servers. And before you worry too much about COVID-19 transmission or future pandemics, Amazon One works when you hover your palm over the scanner—unlike some handprint tech.

Amazon initially added the technology in its Amazon Go stores and the now-shuttered Amazon Books retail locations. It then made its way to several Whole Foods locations in the Seattle area. (Amazon has owned the Whole Foods grocery chain since 2017.)

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