business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From The Information:

"Amazon will start showing commercials to Prime Video viewers in the U.S. beginning on Jan. 29, the company started telling customers this week. It will also start showing ads to customers in the U.K., Germany and Canada on Feb. 5, a spokesperson said.

"Viewers who don’t want to see commercials on the service will have the option of paying an extra 2.99 in their local currency on top of the standard Prime fee, a spokesperson said. Amazon is hoping that ads on Prime Video will help diversify its ad business, which took in more than $30 billion during the first nine months of 2023 primarily from search ads on its e-commerce site."

I'm beginning to wonder if there will be some sort of legal challenge to this price hike - the structure of the policy shift essentially changes the rules for the Prime Video contracts that we all signed.  The unilateral nature of the policy change certainly makes the point that Amazon thinks it can do whatever it wants, which is something that the FTC almost certainly is noting.

•  From The Information:

"Online flash-sale retailer Zulily, which struggled amid intense competition from other online sellers, said it is shuttering its business and selling off assets to repay creditors.

"Zulily, which once had a market cap of more than $7 billion, laid off the majority of its employees and held a going out of business sale earlier this month. It also filed a lawsuit against e-commerce giant Amazon, alleging that Amazon used anti-competitive tactics to undercut Zulily’s prices and lure away Zulily merchants."

•  From The Verge:

"The FDA is warning Amazon to do something about 'bootleg Viagra' found on its platform, misleadingly disguised as men’s energy or health supplements. In a letter to Amazon dated December 20th, the agency threatened legal action and listed seven different products available on the e-commerce platform with ingredients found in Viagra and Cialis. With outlandish names and brightly colored, cartoonish labels, it would be hard to confuse them with real-deal prescription drugs.

"But a recent investigation by the FDA found several supplements or powders sold on the e-commerce platform contained either sildenafil or tadalafil (the active ingredients in Cialis and Viagra) and failed to disclose it: MANNERS Energy Boost, Round 2, WeFun, Genergy, Big Guys Male Energy Supplement, Men’s Maximum Energy Supplement, and X Max Triple Shot Energy Honey."

Amazon says that "the products were removed from the site before the December letter."