Amazon

Amazon Tracker: Souq Talks Go South

Amazon stock got a little boost after last week’s tracker was written, moving from trading between the 790s and the 800s in the second week of January to break through the 800 ceiling last Friday (Jan. 13), peaking at $821.02 in the afternoon. But those levels didn’t last. Trading starting Tuesday (Jan. 17) saw prices dip back down into the low-800 range.

At the time of writing, the day’s trading saw Amazon down 0.37 percent from Wednesday’s (Jan. 18) close of $809.72. Even so, this week’s trading marks the first time Amazon broke over $800 since the end of October last year, when prices fell from $838.09 to $776.32 in just four days.

A wider view shows that, despite relatively small fluctuations, Amazon’s stock has remained relatively flat since September after some major growth through the first half of 2016 into August. Analysts remain a bit mixed on the immediate future of Amazon’s value, though the company’s propensity toward long-term growth and innovation tend to keep shouts of “Sell!” at bay for the most part.

Amazon did hit a bump or two this week, though, and they weren’t just related to fluxing stock prices.

First, there was the double-whammy sandal/doormat controversy in India, which managed to draw some intense criticism on social media, though Amazon responded quickly in both cases and removed the offending products from their digital shelves. The real bump came in the form of dropped acquisition talks between Amazon and Dubai-based online retailer Souq.com, reportedly after a disagreement over the price.

Souq.com became one of the highest-valued internet companies in the Middle East after a $275 million round of funding in March of last year. Amazon had been in talks with the company since November of last year, with Amazon reportedly looking to pay somewhere around $1 billion to gain access to the high growth eCommerce market in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

Amazon was mulling making an offer for all of Souq.com, which originally was looking to sell around 30 percent of the company. Souq.com is currently reported to sell well over 1.5 million products online to customers in the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. The Dubai-based eCommerce company is looking elsewhere for other potential investors and may be negotiating with Emirati mall operator Majid Al Futtaim, said Bloomberg.

Souq.com cofounder and CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar explained in a past interview with PYMNTS that the eCommerce site’s growth would continue thanks to technological infrastructure improvements across the Middle East.

“Further growth is inherent from being in a market with the highest mobile penetration in the world and continued adoption of mobile commerce by our customers,” Mouchawar said. “Capitalizing on the step change in consumer behavior and business benefit toward mobile commerce, Souq.com will continue to lead the eCommerce industry in the region.”

Unless the online retail giant does a 180 on the deal, Amazon will have to work on its own to gain entry into the Middle Eastern market. While Amazon offers international shipping pretty much everywhere, it doesn’t yet have designated commerce sites in the markets that Souq already serves.

But it wasn’t all tepid this week for Amazon. For one, Amazon continues to branch out its media streaming capabilities — this time by launching a new $5 anime streaming service for Prime members in the U.S. called AnimeStrike, which now features thousands of anime series and films.

Amazon also made another step toward its goal of becoming a trucking and logistics magnate or might even be thinking of diving further into self-driving technology.

Amazon was recently approved on a patent for a network that manages how autonomous vehicles navigate reversible lanes. A reversible lane is one in which traffic can travel in either direction depending on the circumstance, often located in tunnels and bridges. They can be used to improve traffic during rush hours, construction and accidents.

It’s easy to see why these lanes could prove hazardous to self-driving vehicles. Amazon’s patent is for a centralized roadway management network that notifies self-driving vehicles of lane changes so they can adjust their trajectories.

The exact business scenarios in which Amazon will use this technology is still up in the air. Whether the patent will be put to use in Amazon’s logistics and trucking dreams or it signifies a greater push into the self-driving car technology and production space proper is yet to be seen.

Last up for this week, a startup called 60dB — which looks to be the Spotify or Netflix of radio — is launching an integration with Amazon’s Alexa platform to allow users to use voice commands to listen to 60dB’s audio content, podcasts and news bytes from their Echo or Dot devices. So watch out, because Amazon’s smart speaker devices are about to get a lot more talkative.

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