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Amazon (AMZN - Free Report) has launched Prime Music in the crowded Indian music streaming market and also picked up smart doorbell maker Ring for a billion dollars.

Amazon Music Streaming in India

Amazon has now added Music to its Prime bundle that still costs Rs 999 or around $15 for not just music and video but also free two-day shipping and first access to deals on the portal.

Amazon added video to the Prime bundle just a few months after launch but took its time with music as it reportedly partnered with 8 national and over 300 regional record labels. This was possibly because of the lingual diversity in India, which makes it trickier to cater to. As it is, the service is available in only 10 languages including English, Hindi, Tamil, Punjabi, Bengali, Kannada and Telegu.

Amazon has placed Alexa front and center of the service, so you can use voice controls to play songs that will be synced across devices. Based on your listening history, certain personalization is possible although music discovery is reportedly not too good yet. Downloading, storage and offline playback of tracks, albums and playlists is possible although you can’t upload your own stuff yet.

Music streaming in India is a crowded market with apps like Saavn, Gaana, Wynk, Jio Music, Alphabet’s (GOOGL - Free Report) Google Pay Music and Apple (AAPL - Free Report) Music already fighting for share. Apple Music is the most expensive at Rs 1,200 a year followed by Google Play Music at Rs 99 per month, Saavn at Rs 1,050 a year and Gaana at Rs 1,020 a year.

Since Amazon’s service is basically free for Prime users and non-Prime users get a host of other services as well if they choose to subscribe, it is likely to be successful. The fact that other bundled services like Wynk and Jio Music have limited catalogues and a less pleasing interface, makes Amazon’s offering all the more appealing.

Amazon Buys Smart Doorbell Maker Ring

Amazon is strengthening its Amazon Key concept (that combines a smart security camera and a smart lock for keyless entry, guest access and in-home deliveries) with the purchase of smart doorbell maker Ring.

The two companies have been working together for some time and Amazon has even invested in it through the Alexa Fund that is focused on getting Alexa into as many devices as possible.

Amazon is reportedly paying a billion dollars for the company that raised $443.9 million, and was last valued at $760 million, according to Pitchbook. Ring will not be integrated into Amazon, and will operate as a separate unit under current CEO Jamie Siminoff. The CEO has some other novel ideas with respect to keyless entry/delivery/etc that could be safer than what Amazon has today. That could be the reason for the acquisition.

Other acquisitions that support its home security interests of late include collaborations with lock manufacturers Kwikset and Yale and the $90 million acquisition of video doorbell maker Blink.


Other News-

Media reports indicate that Amazon is getting ready to launch a grocery business in France although it may not be immediate. Amazon’s growing interest in the area was apparent from its launch of Amazon Fresh as well as the $13.7 billion Whole Foods acquisition. Its interest in France was apparent from the recent settlement with French tax authorities and its promise to create 2,000 jobs in the country.

But now, privately held French supermarket operator Systeme U has said that it was in discussion with Amazon about a possible grocery supply deal that hasn’t been finalized yet. Also, Amazon’s general manager for France said in a newspaper interview last week, "(Food) is a strong development axis for Amazon since the launch of our Amazon Fresh offer in the U.S. in September 2016.” So a launch appears imminent.

Amazon continues its rivalry with Google. The ecommerce giant recently decided to stop selling new Nest devices including a new Nest thermostat and a home security system from its online store. In response, Nest reportedly decided to stop selling all Nest devices on Amazon. Since Amazon’s move is designed to protect sales of its Alexa-supported devices, it no doubt stifles competition, and so may be considered anti-competitive. But Amazon can then argue that Nest should also support Alexa, which may not be so cool for Google. So this bickering is unlikely to go away and we are likely to see many more iterations.  

Amazon has a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some technology stocks that carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) and are therefore worth buying include Facebook (FB - Free Report) , PetMed Express (PETS - Free Report) and (STMP - Free Report) . The complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks is here.

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