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Amazon.com: Doin' the Apple in the Big Apple?

It's not a dance craze; it's Amazon's more than passing resemblance to Apple as it's about to introduce its new iPad-killing tablet; or that's what we think they're doing.

Call it doin' The Apple. No, it’s not a Chop Suey dance club moment; it’s the kind of excitement-building event marketing of which Apple is acknowledged to be the Zen Master.  But, Amazon isn’t doing a bad job of it. 

By the time many of you have read this blog, the world will know what techno-witch’s brew Amazon has been cooking for the better part of this year.  At 7 a.m. local time today (Sept. 28), Amazon scheduled a New York press event for an announcement of some major new development. 

If it’s not the new 7-inch all-media Amazon tablet that all of us have been writing about for nearly a year, those piercing screams will be the sounds of tech bloggers jumping out of windows in some ritualistic act of regret.  Hopefully they’ll choose one-story buildings. Is it an Apple iPad killer? Is it an Android tablet but so tricked out with Amazon content — books, movies, music, Android apps — that it could be called a Kindle tablet on steroids?  Does it really have no webcam? Is it under-powered? Is it being rushed out in half-baked condition because of supplier problems, named — or misnamed — “Fire,” which some see as too closely related to the burning of books?

I mean, this product rollout has been as much fun to watch as, well, a barrel of bloggers.  And so very reminiscent of the introduction of any new Apple product.

Amazon, however, has been busy on other fronts. When it comes to video, Amazon has been playing second fiddle — or perhaps second triangle player — to Netflix’s video operation. But with Netflix’s disastrous splitting off of its DVD-by-mail service and a 60 percent price rise, Amazon is rumored to be looking at buying out Netflix.

Is that why Netflix has split its company into its DVD mailing and movie streaming components? To sell it to Amazon? Some analysts think as much.

Even if that doesn’t happen, Amazon is strengthening its video hand. Netflix announced on Monday it is acquiring the Dreamworks animation library for streaming; shortly thereafter, Amazon announced it will be streaming major Fox films (from “Mrs. Doubtfire” to “Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid”) and 2,000 TV episodes from 20th Century-Fox, including “24” and “Arrested Development.

Even though Amazon’s Kindle ebook digital readers have lost some ground to Barnes & Noble’s Nook and Nook Color, the company’s takeover of the book business still continues apace. A few weeks ago, multiple sources reported that Amazon was looking to start a Netflix-like monthly streaming book service that would allow people to pay a subscription and download as many books as they liked.  The service would be limited to older titles, however. Then a story came out Tuesday (Sept. 27) from CNN Money reporting that Amazon is tightening its grip on the entire book-publishing chain. The story also discussed “how deeply Amazon's tentacles reach into all parts of the industry, including its growing interest in inking deals with authors to publish some of the hit books Amazon sells.”

Let’s not forget Amazon and its frosty relations with the music industry.  Back in May, Amazon joined the “music locker in the cloud” fraternity — companies such as Apple and Google who have or are developing services to store people’s music collection on line.  So far, so good.  But Amazon didn’t exactly notify the music industry of this move, nor attempt to get streaming licensing — a move that as of late March looked to be producing lawsuits against our friends in South Lake Union. Look for that issue to heat up soon.

Now, if Jeff Bezos appears at the New York press conference today wearing a black T-shirt and looking gaunt, then doin’ the Apple has hit its apogee (or is it its stem?).

Oh wait . . . This couldn't be the subject of the press conference, could it? Todd Bishop of GeekWire reported Tuesday that Amazon has set up a package delivery locker in the student union of Bellevue College.  A few weeks ago, the tech blog discovered similar lockers set up at a Capitol Hill 7-11. Delivery lockers? What for? An alternative to the troubled U.S. Postal Service? Competition to FedEx? Could it have anything to do with the fleet of Amazon vehicles currently delivering groceries in the Amazon Fresh program? Could these vehicles be the basis for delivering much much more?


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