Amazon

Amazon, Facebook and Apple thriving in lockdown

Amazon sales soared 40% in the three months ending June, while Apple saw a surge in purchases of its iPhones and other hardware.

At Facebook, the number of people on its platforms, which include WhatsApp and Instagram, jumped by 15%.

The gains come as the firms face scrutiny over their size and power.

At a hearing in Washington on Wednesday, lawmakers grilled the companies about whether they were abusing their dominance to quash rivals, noting the sharp contrast between their fortunes and many other firms.

Amazon faces backlash over COVID-19 safety measures

The retail giant has faced lawsuits in both Europe and the US claiming it is not doing enough to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in its warehouses.

One US union accused the firm of profiting from the pandemic while leaving its workers unprotected.

Amazon said it had invested billions in COVID-19 initiatives.

The firm is now testing a wearable device that alerts workers when they are violating social distancing rules, according to CNBC, which obtained a memo about the technology.

NHS uses tech giants to plan crisis response

The goal is to help health chiefs model the consequences of moving resources to best tackle the coronavirus pandemic.

Three US tech firms are aiding the effort - Amazon, Microsoft and Palantir - as well as London-based Faculty AI.

The plan is expected to be signed off by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

"Every hospital is going to be thinking: Have we got enough ventilators? Well we need to keep ours because who knows what's going to happen - and that might not be the optimal allocation of ventilators," explained a source in one of the tech companies involved.

Amazon removes overpriced coronavirus goods and fake cures

The online retailer told Reuters it had also removed "tens of thousands" of overpriced health products from unscrupulous sellers.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) expressed concern about some misleading Amazon listings earlier this month, including fake treatments.

The virus, which causes Covid-19, has killed about 2,800 people worldwide.

The WHO said fake coronavirus claims online were causing mass confusion, and urged tech giants to combat the spread of misinformation.

Amazon error as second Game of Thrones episode is uploaded early

The second instalment of the eighth and final series was not supposed to be broadcast until Sunday evening.

But some Amazon Prime members were able to watch it several hours before that.

"We regret that for a short time Amazon customers in Germany were able to access episode two of season eight of Game of Thrones," an Amazon spokesman said.

"This was an error and has been rectified."

It may have been taken down soon after it was uploaded, but it was long enough for many fans to view the whole episode.

Big net firms invest in trans-Pacific cable project

Once completed in 2020, the Jupiter cable will stretch for more than 14,000km and will be able to carry more than 60 terabits of data a second.

The two firms have joined Jupiter as part of plans to build their own global networks and cut data transport costs.

The cable is one of many in which the net's biggest firms, including Google and Microsoft, have recently invested.

Network edges

Amazon and Alphabet report sales surge

Shares in Alphabet jumped above $1,000 in after-hours trading after the company reported sales up 24% to $27.8bn.

Amazon, the world's biggest e-commerce site, saw sales rise 34% to $43.7bn - nearly the size of Slovenia's economy last year.

Meanwhile, Microsoft's profit beat estimates on gains from cloud services.

Alphabet's profits for the three months to 30 September rose to $7.8bn, from $5.6bn for the same quarter last year.

The company's chief financial officer Ruth Porat said the firm was delighted with the way it was performing.

Amazon and Google clash over YouTube access

On Tuesday, YouTube stopped working on Amazon's Echo Show, a voice-controlled assistant with a screen that can display information and videos.

Both companies issued statements criticising one another. Amazon said Google had blocked YouTube on Echo Show "without explanation".

Google said the Echo Show delivered a "broken user experience".

While the Echo Show could play videos from YouTube, it did not provide all of YouTube's functions such as the ability to subscribe to channels or serve up video recommendations.

Brazil court blocks Amazon mining decree

The area covers 46,000 sq km (17,800 sq miles) and is thought to be rich in gold, manganese and other minerals.

On Monday, following widespread criticism, the government revised the decree, prohibiting mining in conservation or indigenous areas.

The latest decision follows an outcry from activists and celebrities.

The federal court in the capital Brasilia said in a statement it was suspending "possible administrative acts based on the decree" signed by President Michel Temer.

Amazon adds live TV channels to Prime Video

People will be able to subscribe to popular channels such as Discovery and Eurosport individually, without paying for a bundle of channels.

Until now, Prime Video has offered only on-demand films and TV shows in the UK.

But one analyst said the launch line-up of channels was "not immediately desirable" and would struggle to attract satellite TV customers.

"Amazon launched a similar thing in the US, and the big selling point was that you could get HBO and Showtime programmes, all under one umbrella," said Tom Harrington, an analyst at Enders.