James Dennin, Kapitall: Amazon has new TV shows, maybe free smartphones – what else is in store for the least popular book seller in France?
Just recently Amazon (AMZN) boss Jeff Bezos was making headlines by purchasing the ailing Washington Post – yet another investment which suggests Bezos might have more on his mind than pure profits.
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Amazon announced this morning the new roster of TV pilots that it will introduce this year, part of the company's efforts to become a content channel in its own right. It's not skimping on talent either. Roman Polanski is slated to direct one pilot, and the Emmy award winning author of Six Feet Under, Jill Soloway, is set to write another.Amazon is also rumored to be developing its own console, akin to the Chromecast and the Apple TV, although this is mostly speculation about a trademark of the name "Firetube." And of course there's the nascent e-book market, of which Amazon holds a dominant 60% and is expected to almost triple by 2017. And yet plans to start selling groceries and publishing newspapers aren't even the most ambitious or curious among all the rumors swirling around the vast online marketplace. For one, Amazon still locked in a highly contentious battle to develop internet infrastructure for the Central Intelligence Agency. It's not a particularly huge contract, at about $600 million over four years. However, as a contract it's particularly important for a few other reasons. Everyone from Google (GOOG) to Facebook (FB) is trying to get into the business of selling internet – whether by sending hot-air balloons over developing nations or partnering with vendors to provide free wi-fi. In an age when cyber security is becoming increasingly paramount, building an internet cloud secure enough for the CIA would be a pretty impressive calling card. And while International Business Machines (IBM) is still appealing the agency's decision to go with Amazon – it seems possible that Bezos will come out on top. Even if the final contract isn't that large, it could also open the door to more relationships with the federal government. With so many projects in the pipeline, you'd think Bezos would be content with the course ahead. But you'd be very wrong, because there's another rumor going around that Amazon is developing a low-cost smart phone – which the company would give away for free. Even the most devoted Apple aficionados will find that discount hard to ignore. So can Amazon emerge from the tech jungle and stay on top? We gathered a list of some of the company's competitors, across a variety of industries.
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