Amazon has just announced that the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch ships today, ahead of its previously planned schedule of a November 20 ship date. The larger-screened version of Amazon’s Android-powered tablet starts at $ 299 and will also be available to purchase in stores at Best Buy locations beginning tomorrow, with additional units making their way to Staples and Radio Shack later on.
It’s rare to see a consumer electronics company ship a device earlier than expected, and in fact even delivering things on time. But the Kindle Fire HD 8.9″ is already backordered on Amazon’s site until at least December 3, so those of you who want to pick one up but haven’t already ordered online will need to brave Best Buy tomorrow to try to find one.
Amazon’s stated reasoning for going a little bit early with the Kindle Fire HD 8.9-inch is to get a jump on holiday sales, according to a statement from Kindle VP Dave Limp in an Amazon press release. The 4G version of the larger Kindle tablet still goes on sale on November 20 as planned, for $ 499. Amazon’s undercutting Apple’s prices across the board here, so it’ll be interesting to see how competition for holiday shopper attention between the two companies shakes out this year.Related Posts:
AT&T announced earlier this week that it start pushing its spate of Windows Phones starting this Friday, and now rival carrier Verizon Wireless has come out with an announcement of its own.
Apparently, VZW plans to begin taking pre-orders for the HTC Windows Phone 8X and the slightly chubby Nokia Lumia 822 starting at 1AM Eastern tomorrow, but the carrier has chosen to leave out a few key details like, say, when the devices will actually launch.
Oh sure, Verizon has teased some vague timeframes in the past: it previously announced that both handsets would be in stores by Thanksgiving, but there’s never been any official word on a firm release date. Thanks to a few leaks though, we can make some educated guesses — WPCentral cited an internal roadmap and reported in late October that Verizon planned to push both devices into its sales channels starting on November 12. Also on that roadmap were purported prices for the two handsets ($ 99 for the 822 on a two-year contract, $ 199 for the 16GB 8X) as well as color choices for each device, all of which Verizon ended up confirming a few days later in an official statement.
Then again, things may have been shuffled around a bit since then — if you’ll recall, HTC and Verizon are holding a press event in New York City on the 13th where the two intend to show off their latest “collaboration.” HTC and VZW are widely expected to pull back the curtains on the oft-leaked, Android-powered Droid DNA smartphone, which seems like a curious choice of timing if the Lumia 822 and the HTC 8X are really slated to launch the day before. Stolen thunder, anyone?
Of course, that’s not to say it won’t happen, but I’d hope to see Verizon Wireless give its customers a little more time to digest the Windows Phone announcement before springing a top-tier Android device on the masses. For the time being though, we’ll just have to wait and see how Verizon’s plan unfolds, but here’s hoping they ship sooner rather than later. After all, Windows Phone devotees on Verizon are probably getting sick and tired of the single WP device in the carrier’s arsenal.Related Posts:
We know tomorrow’s Windows Phone 8 event will finally answer all of those burning mysteries that we’ve been yearning to hear more about since Microsoft first announced the new OS in June. After all, the company has kept its upcoming platform under tight wraps, preventing its hardware partners from showing it off to the press. So what else will the folks from Redmond have up their sleeves? Stay tuned here as we bring you all of the revelations live in San Francisco, tomorrow at 1PM ET!October 29, 2012 1:00 PM EDT
Amazon’s just announced that it’s bringing the entire Kindle family to Japan. The basic Paperwhite is now available to pre-order for 8,480 yen (around $ 106) from the online retailer, with the 3G version arriving at a slightly pricier 12,980 yen (approximately $ 162) — both will start shipping November 19th. Obviously you’re going to need stuff to read, so the Kindle Store is opening its doors tomorrow and shelves are stocked with over 50,000 Japanese language books (including 10,000 for free) and more than 15,000 manga titles. Amazon’s tablet range is heading to Japan as well, with the Fire costing 12,800 yen (approximately $ 160) and the 7-inch Fire HD setting wallets back 15,800 yen (almost $ 200). You’ll have to wait a bit longer for these two, however, as shipping is slated to begin December 19th — hopefully arriving in time to fill those stockings.
LG revealed Japan’s NTT DoCoMo would be the first carrier to offer its Optimus G (which it’s been proud enough to announce more than once) and now we have an exact date. Pre-orders for the L-01E start tomorrow ahead of it going on sale October 19th, bringing its quad-core 1.5GHz Snapdragon CPU, 4.7-inch True HD IPS LCD, 13MP camera, Android 4.0 packaged with the waterproofing, DMB tuning and FeLiCa wallet support local buyers will expect. It’s available in black and red, while we wait for release details in the US on AT&T and Sprint (or another leak of that supposed LG Nexus phone) you can check out the red and black variants rolling out across the Pacific.
We knew the Sharp AQUOS SH-10D was due to hit NTT DoCoMo at some point this summer, and now we’ve got the full details. You can reserve yours through the carrier from tomorrow, and the proper launch will take place the following week on August 30th. The device will be available in the three colors you see above, and as it recently passed through the FCC, a trip to the US could also be in the cards. But unfortunately, that orange wallpaper is all too harsh a reminder of one that never ventured outside Japan.
Filed under: Cellphones
The retail world of consumer electronics is a tough game, with a lot of the traditional bricks-and-mortar trade continually pushing online to compete against the likes of Amazon and eBay for consumers that prefer to get a wider selection for cheaper prices to seeing the products in action before purchasing. A startup called YBUY is trying to turn that ecommerce model on its head, by offering a kind of extended lease service to online buyers, giving them the chance to try out gadgets at home before closing the deal. With daily new sign-ups registering around 2,000 at the moment, today YBUY is announcing it’s picked up $ 1 million in Series A funding from Google Chairman Eric Schmidt’s investment firm Tomorrow Ventures. YBUY says that the money will be used mainly to help it continue growing its business, which has had a strong response since launching at the end of 2011. Currently it has a waiting list of nearly 50,000 people to use the service — so most immediately it is gradually opening up the service to them.
The concept behind YBUY is fairly straightforward: for a flat fee of $ 24.95 per month, it offers a selection of consumer electronics and kitchen gadgets — both new and refurbished — giving users the option of getting them for 30-day testing periods before actually agreeing to buy them. YBUY pays for all the postage and packaging to send you the product and get it back if you don’t want to keep it.
Stephen Svajian, the founder and CEO, tells me that the product selection is pretty varied: it ranges from iPad tablets to Jawbone and Breville kitchen products. But it also features products from Kickstarter campaigns. The idea is curating and aggregating the best and becoming an alternative to, say, a Google product search. “We only represent what we think is the best product in a particular category,” he tells me. “We do a lot of the work [looking for them] the online shopper would typically do.”
YBUY is not yet disclosing its total number of customers or tunrover but says that it’s been growing 25 percent month-on-month, and as an example created 2,000 accounts yesterday. Svajian says that in customer interviews, the main reasons for going for YBUY over something like Amazon are multiple. For one, there is the issue of financial commitment. Even if sites today have good return policies, “They don’t like to see the $ 600 leave their bank account on something they’re not sure about.” Then there is the issue of returns: these can be a hassle, but YBUY encloses return packaging with each product. The third reason is a bit of a surprise: “They feel bad,” he says. Apparently there is a kind of stigma or guilt around returning products that keeps people from doing it, whereas here it’s built into the business model, almost being encouraged. There is also the issue of trust: online there is a bit of a worry that people will never get all their money back in return situation.
Although YBUY bills monthly, Svajian says he doesn’t put itself into the category of “subscription e-commerce.” That’s because they are getting ready to introduce another model as well:
“We felt it would be useful to have a subscription early on to drive engagement and to be able to run experiments to track against different months,” he says. But in the next few months, the company will be rolling out a different option for customers. “They’ll be able to choose whether to bill monthly or just get billed when they receive a product. We’re big believers in one, single experience for customers and our customer interviews have told us they want this model, but we’d like to see the data before we commit to just one option.”
If there is a comparison between YBUY and another business, it might be Costco, where YBUY appeals to the discover/demand driver, and Costco to discounts. “We’re both a membership club with a disruptive distribution channel that delivers long-term value to customers,” he notes, but adds: “It’s strange thinking about us like Costco, because we just give you cool stuff and Costco gives you cheap stuff, but I think our manner of disruption will be similar and we’re focused on the long-term.”
What’s perhaps most compelling is that as the service continues to grow, it’s actually making better and better margins on the service. In December, he says, they were losing $ 50 per customer. Now they are making around $ 35 per customer, with the value per customer at $ 450, with the profitability per customer ranging between 25% and 50%.
In terms of partnerships, YBUY currently has no plans to do any white-label agreements with brands to offer this kind of leasing service on their behalf, or for any other e-commerce sites that want to introduce this kind of service into the purchasing mix. And Svajian says that he is reluctant to make direct deals with manufacturers full stop, even for promoting on their own site: “We’ve done a deal with a manufacturer and we’re reluctant to do that again. We think its more important to have integrity around the process. If we are paid by the manufacturers to slot their products, then that detracts from our value prop to customers – to get them the best stuff. We need to be rabid about the value we deliver to customers and we don’t want anything to get in the way of that.”
The whole try-before-you-buy space is pretty nascent at this stage but we are seeing others moving here, too. Warby Parker is doing it with eyewear; and Trunk Club’s applying it to fashion, among others. On that trend, Svajian is adamant that it’s not just a fad but something that speaks to what customers are actually needing today: “This isn’t disruption for disruption’s sake. Rather, it’s important to note that this disruption is being driven by the customer. Customers want to try before they buy. The consumer will drive the push into this model.” For now that will keep YBUY in the U.S. with international growth somewhere down the line.
Svajian is a lawyer by training but has been a serial entrepreneur, with YBUY being his fourth company. Jim Patterson, the Yammer chief product officer, has been a partner in two of them — in addition to being an angel investor in YBUY. One of them, AudioCaseFiles, targeting the legal market, sold for a 10x return for its investors when it was sold to Courtroom Connect.
Other angel investors, in addition to Patterson, in this Series A round include David Hanna, Chairman and CEO of CompuCredit Corporation.Related Posts:
Microsoft has invited us to Los Angeles for for a “major announcement,” and we’re going to be there live. We have a few guesses of our own on what we might be seeing — a Microsoft reader tablet from the company’s partnership with Barnes & Noble may be in the works — but no matter what it is, you’ll be able to catch it as it happens. You’ll find the best live blog in the business right here at 6:30PM EDT on Monday, June 18th, and it will feature our very own Joshua Topolsky bringing you the play-by-play with Dieter Bohn on photo duty. We’ve provided a selection of time zones below, but if you don’t see your area, don’t fret — you can convert it to whatever time you like at this handy link. See you then!
12:30PM – Hawaii02:30PM -…
Apple’s Worldwide Developer Conference opens up tomorrow, with Tim Cook taking the stage at 10AM PT to deliver what’ll have to be… well, some fairly important company news. He asked us back in March to look forward to more in 2012, and if the deluge of rumors is indication of what’s to come, this could very well be the most monumental WWDC in recent memory. Or, you know, maybe we’ll just hear that iOS 6 is indeed coming after iOS 5. Our own Tim Stevens and Darren Murph will be on hand at Moscone West in San Francisco to bring you second-by-second coverage, and if you’re looking for a bookmark, you can return here tomorrow to catch the liveblog. We’ll also be broadcasting live outside of the venue (sorry, Apple won’t allow video streaming from within!) before and after the fireworks, so be sure to keep it locked for a full day’s worth of mayhem.
P.S. – Toss your best guesses on what’s coming in comments below!