Amazonia for June 17, 2019

June 17, 2019

With travel and a crazy eye doctor appointment, Amazonia snagged a handful of highlights. Enjoy the bulldozer’s path from 30,000 feet.

Amazon Is Okay with a Break Up

DarkCyber noted an interesting report from CNBC. One DarkCyber research professional thought this announcement was a green light for regulators to create one or more additional Fortune 100 companies by dismantling some of the Bezos bulldozer’s accessories. CNBC reported as “real” news:

Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon’s cloud business, said Monday that, although he doesn’t see clear benefits for Amazon Web Services spinning off from the rest of the company, if the U.S. government were to force that move, then Amazon would have to comply.

The information flowed from an interview with talk overs from Kara Swisher, who has become the “voice” of Silicon Valley deep thinkers. The story also included these statements:

Jassy has often been asked if Amazon could be planning to separate AWS and turn it into its own business. Historically, Jassy has said no. On Monday he said he still felt there were no major obvious advantages to such a move. He added that customers should not want it to happen because having to do things like hold earnings calls could distract from more important tasks such as keeping cloud services functioning at a high level.

Does Amazon Record Children via Alexa?

An interesting write up appeared in Gizmodo. Online news, of course, may not be “real,” but you can decide for yourself. Just read “Lawsuits Claim Amazon’s Alexa Voice Assistant Illegally Records Children Without Consent.” The write up states:

the complaint argues that Amazon saves “a permanent recording of the user’s voice” as well as records and transmits clips of anything said after Alexa’s “wake word” is uttered. It also claims that Alexa neither informs users that these permanent recordings will be created nor bothers to ask for their consent beforehand…

DarkCyber will monitor this allegation.

Amazon Is Fine with Regulating Facial Recognition reported:

Amazon has joined the ranks of other technology companies, including Microsoft and Google, in acknowledging the risks of facial-recognition software and calling on the federal government to impose national regulations on the technology.

Amazon Financial Shifts into Low Gear

In my Amazon Policeware lectures, I talk about the way in which financial information “snaps in” to services for government authorities. Think in terms of IRS investigations, credit and background checks, and similar services delivered from GovCloud. Against this background, consider Amazon’s new credit card. The Amazon bulldozer’s push is for people with poor credit who want and need an Amazon credit card. Once the territory of the Vanilla pre-paid bank card and similar “financial” services, the Amazon offering is significant. Marketwatch stated:

Like many other retail cards, however, the Amazon Credit Build card can only be used for Amazon purchases, making it a “closed-loop” card.

Seems like a drawback, right? Maybe not. Individuals with poor credit are often difficult to profile like a high net worth Silicon Valley one percenter. The card has hooks to Amazon Prime, a useful way to obtain information about certain card users’ video viewing preferences.

The article points out:

“Secured credit cards are my favorite cards for folks who are getting started with credit or rebuilding it,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at “They’re a great training-wheels card because there’s so little risk involved. After all, with typical credit lines of $200 or $250, there’s only so wild you can go with your spending.”

DarkCyber sees this one more interesting option bolted to the Bezos bulldozer. Unlike some of Amazon’s efforts in food delivery and operating in a “green” manner, this credit card play will be a useful probe for Amazon. If successful, perhaps after the bulldozer blazes a new trail, additional financial services will take root?

Amazon’s Blink XT2 Goes Dark

The Verge reported that the Amazon phone’s demons haunt the XT2. The XT2 is a video camera which garnered “mixed reviews.” Amazon wants love, gentle reader. As a result:

Amazon has temporarily stopped taking orders for the Blink XT2 smart camera that it launched last month. The XT2, which is Blink’s first new camera since Amazon acquired the company, is listed as “currently unavailable” for purchase. That applies to all configurations, including the single camera and multicamera kits. The Verge has reached out to Amazon for comment. Best Buy, which also carries the new camera, simply lists it as “coming soon”online, but some people have been able to buy it at their local stores.

The Blink XT2 may return. Amazon is still selling the Amazon Cloud Cam to Ring’s smart camera lineup. And DeepLens? Not mentioned in the write up.

Amazon’s Food Home Delivery Choked Out

Geekwire reported that Amazon has shut down its food delivery business. DarkCyber has never used Amazon’s or another other food delivery service. The fact that Amazon has offered the service since 2015 was “real” news for us. The service started in Seattle and then became available in more than 20 US cities and London, according to Geekwire. The write up points out:

The closure of Amazon Restaurants after investing serious time and money in the service is a rare retreat from the e-commerce behemoth.

As Amazon “dabbled,” Geekwire notes:

Uber Eats, which launched more than three years ago and is live in 500 cities globally, generated $1.46 billion in revenue last year, up from $587 million in 2017, and brought in $536 million during the first quarter of 2019…. Grubhub, meanwhile, saw revenues reach $324 million for the first quarter, up 39 percent year-over-year, though its operating margin dipped by more than 10 percent, The Motley Fool noted.

For Amazon’s competitors failure may be a delightful Amazon take away.

Amazon Personalize for Everyone

ClickZ likes Amazon’s personalize service. The article “Amazon’s Famed Recommendation Service Personalize Now Available to Every Application” uses the adjective “famed.” Famed? The write up states:

To utilize this personalization-as-a-service, a publisher provides an activity stream from an application, which can include such data as clicks, page views, signups or purchase history – along with info on the products to be recommended, such as products, videos, songs or articles. Additional user info, including demographic or geographic data, can also be included. AWS said the supplied data is kept private and secure, and only used for that application’s recommendations. The service selects the most appropriate algorithms, trains a personalized machine learning model that is designed for the data, and then hosts and manages the model as it provides the recommendations via an API call. Application owners can control the service through the AWS console, and billing is only for the amount of the service used, with no minimums or upfront fees.

If you want to read Amazon’s own explanation of its announcement, navigate to this link.

But “famed”?

Amazon and Blockchain

The UK insurance outfit Legal and General will use Amazon’s blockchain system for its bulk annuities business. Bulk annuities are what makes some UK pensions tick. “UK Insurer Legal & General Picks Amazon for First Pensions Blockchain Deal” reported:

L&G is only launching the blockchain platform for bulk annuity business outside its core markets of Britain and the United States, although an L&G spokesman said the platform could be extended to those two markets in future.

Amazon’s unique selling proposition is that the insurance company can focus on building new business, not keeping a blockchain up and running.

Another brick in the Amazon bulldozer policeware parking garage? Maybe?

George Mason, Yep, George Mason’s Cloud Degree

DarkCyber thinks this news story, overlooked by “real” media,” is important. The Business Journals reported on June 11, 2019, that the Bezos bulldozer dropped off some Amazon professionals at George Mason University. After talk and pizzas, the university favored by some government types, and Amazon had a deal. Student can enroll in George Mason (for example, some Department of Defense professionals, and after four years of study emerge with a four year cloud computing degree. Some of these cloud savvy professionals will return to the US government and others will join the consulting firms which serve the US government. DarkCyber believes that the cloud service the graduates will be able to make work is AWS. “Amazon Web Services Partners with George Mason on 4 Year Degree Program” states:

The announcement comes a year after AWS rolled out a cloud curriculum-based associate degree program at Northern Virginia Community College.

Amazon is also pumping in $3 million for housing.

Amazon explained it this way:

NOVA and Mason faculty worked with AWS Educate curriculum designers to create a BAS degree path that will equip students with technical skills and hands-on experiences to help prepare them for careers in cloud architecture, cybersecurity, software development, and DevOps. The degree pathway will be launched in fall 2020 as part of the ADVANCE program, the NOVA/Mason partnership that streamlines the path to a four-year degree and entry into the workforce by eliminating traditional transfer obstacles, providing students with additional coaching and financial incentives, and highlighting pathways to high-demand careers. The degree program will be backwards-mapped to in-demand skills along with competency-based credentials required by AWS and other cloud employers. All students will receive membership in the AWS Educate program and gain hands-on, real-world experience with leading cloud technology and tools.

As Yoda may have said, “Plan ahead, young JEDI. Cyber warriors need we soon.”

DarkCyber expects similar deals with NOVA and other nearby universities. We also want to point out that the bulldozer is pushing AWS cloud into community colleges and pre-college education. Computer Weekly reports:

Amazon Web Services joins forces with Career College Trust to create cloud course that will prepare students for entry-level tech jobs or further education at university

And if the money and support are insufficient, Amazon rolled out new badges for student who learn AWS RoboMaker, AWS Sumerian, and AWS Deep Racer. The RoboMaker badge is for creating robots to replace inefficient humanoids. the Sumerian badge is a virtual reality play. The DeepRacer badge is for racing virtual cars on virtual tracks. The game angle is a good way to interest young, hungry minds.

Amazon AWS Fees: Know Before You Sign

DarkCyber wants to point out that the complexity of Amazon’s services are equaled and perhaps outdone by Amazon’s pricing structures. “AWS Costs Every Programmer Should Know” is a useful write up. The article includes information for compute and storage, which often comprise the bulk of the customer attention. DarkCyber believes that similar analyses would be useful for the numerous other services Amazon makes available. Amazon’s pricing complexity and its different approaches to assigning fees to services is a bit of digital left overs. Like the company’s “two pizza teams,” the pricing appears and becomes part of the system. It is possible for a customer to sign up for a service and then forget to disable or simply forget that it was a for fee deal. The Amazon billing system keeps on chugging along. Thus, scope out the costs and think about the bumps in fees when thresholds for data, transaction, or some other operation are crossed. Like the AT&T of old, certain thresholds can add significant amounts to a monthly invoice. And like Ma Bell, the time machine approach to bill adjustments is not 100 percent efficient.

Partners and Resellers

The companies may not be household names, but Amazon is signing up partners and resellers. Selected deals this week:

Information Builders will create and deliver health care data management from the AWS cloud. Source: Yahoo

Pulumi has set up shop to selling “how to” services to future AWS customers. Source: Geekwire

SAIC is now a premier consulting partner for Amazon AWS.

VMware and AWS continue their UK push. The NHS deal is one facet of the plan. The article said: “Last year, VMware extended its public sector commitment by announcing VMware Cloud on AWS GovCloud, a hybrid cloud service designed to enable public sector agencies in the U.S. to leverage a common cloud infrastructure.” Source: Silicon Angle

Stephen E Arnold, June 17, 2019


3 Responses to “Amazonia for June 17, 2019”

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