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Code/red: Introducing the Amazon Misfire

Plus, Microsoft's piddling Surface sales, the problem with Apple's porn policy, The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made and "The Shining," Starring Willy Wonka.



Programming Note: Code/red will resume publication on November 6.

Add $83 Million in Unsold Fire Phone Inventory to Your Amazon Pantry Order?

Investors growing skeptical of Amazon’s post-profit business model are taking the company on a trip to the woodshed this morning following one of the biggest quarterly losses in its history. Amazon shares plummeted more than seven percent to $289.10 in early trading as the market came to terms with an ugly third-quarter earnings report, marred by a deeper loss than expected, lousy fourth-quarter guidance and a $170 million writedown “primarily related” to the company’s Fire Phone. Further aggravating investors: Amazon CFO Tom Szkutak’s admission that the company is sitting on $83 million in unsold Fire Phone inventory, delivered with a ludicrous rationalization that even he probably has difficulty believing: “It’s a good device in a very competitive market.” This is the seventh time in nine quarters that Amazon has missed expectations — this time with its largest loss in 14 years, and it’s clearly fueling concerns about the company’s ability to generate long-term profits.

Hydra’s Newest Agent: The Spoiler

Marvel Entertainment on the leak of “The Avengers: Age of Ultron” teaser: “Dammit, Hydra.”

Damn, Had My Fingers Crossed for the Microsoft Nokia Lumia Windows Phone 666

Its hand forced by a spate of leaks, Microsoft last night said that, yes, it is dumping the Nokia name from its Lumia smartphone line. Henceforth, the devices will be known as “Microsoft Lumia” rather than “Nokia Lumia.” Hardly a surprise. Can’t imagine Microsoft has much interest in preserving a declining Finnish cellphone brand.

Wait, Apple Sent You Porn?

nGen Works founder Carl Smith: “Apple thought the best way to tell us our app could be used to surf porn was to surf for porn using our app. Then send us some pictures and say take a look at these! … If an employee had sent porn, we would fire the employee. If a client had sent porn, we would fire the client. But when Apple sends porn, you can’t fire them without changing your entire business model. They are in a position of power.”

Judge Says Aereo Pretty Much Totally Screwed

Too bad Aereo doesn’t have a Plan B, because without one it’s up that proverbial creek with nary a paddle in sight. Late Thursday a U.S. district judge in New York issued a preliminary injunction barring the streaming video company from rebroadcasting live television online. After a devastating loss before the Supreme Court, Aereo attempted to argue that the high court’s ruling should allow it to operate like any other cable outfit provided it pay broadcasters a fee, but U.S. District Judge Alison Nathan disagreed. And she enjoined Aereo from “streaming, transmitting, retransmitting, or otherwise publicly performing any copyrighted program over the Internet or by means of any device or process throughout the United States of America, while the copyrighted programming is still being broadcast.” Which is pretty much what TV broadcasters were hoping for.

Microsoft Surface Sales a Little Better Than Crappy

Microsoft still has a long way to go if it hopes to carve off a relevant portion of the tablet market for itself. Reporting first-quarter earnings Thursday, Microsoft said sales of its Surface tablet rose to $900 million, from roughly $400 million in the year prior. That’s an increase of about 127 percent, which would be impressive were it not for the piddling number it started from. In the end, Surface continues to suffer from relatively slow adoption, despite the big talk and hyperbole with which it was launched. As former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in 2012, “I don’t think anybody has done a product that is the product that I see customers wanting. Not Apple. Not Google. Not Amazon. Nobody has a product that lets you work and play, that can be your tablet and your PC. Not at any price point. This is a first-class tablet that people can enjoy and appreciate. It’s a PC; it’s a tablet. It’s for play; it’s for work. It’s got a great price. That product doesn’t exist today.”

Medal of Honor Addict Totally Psyched for New Smart Tank

General Dynamics VP Kevin Connell on the company’s new smart tank: “With the capability in the Scout SV, we’re really looking for the type of people who play Xbox games — tech-savvy people who are able to take in a lot of information and process it in the proper way.”

And When It Quacked, the Forests Shook

The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History’s Matt Carrano on Deinocheirus mirificus: “It’s deeply weird — way weirder than we thought it was. It has a giant head with, like, a duck bill. It’s just a very strange thing.”

Off Topic

The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made and I ate roadkill raccoon. This is what it tasted like. Also, my new favorite animated GIF: “The Shining,” Starring Willy Wonka (Thanks, Beth!)

Thanks for reading. Send tips, comments, Off Topics and Guitar Doorbells to, @johnpaczkowski. Subscribe to the Code/red newsletter here.

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