New way to pay for Kindle
Amazon.com Inc., the world’s largest online retailer, plans to introduce virtual currency that can be used for purchases on the Kindle Fire tablet to entice more developers to create programs for the device.
Starting in May, consumers will be able to use Amazon Coins to buy applications and virtual merchandise sold within games, the Seattle company said. The company will give customers “tens of millions of dollars” worth of the currency, which will be accepted in the Amazon Appstore.
Amazon has been targeting developers to improve its app store, giving programmers the ability to make more engaging games and help it chase Apple Inc.’s lead in the tablet market. Apple’s share of the market slipped to 44 percent from 52 percent in the fourth quarter, from a year earlier, while Samsung’s share more than doubled to 15 percent, according to researcher IDC. Amazon’s market share slipped to 12 percent from 16 percent.
Amazon is playing catch-up with Apple and Google Inc.’s Android mobile operating platform. Amazon has more than 68,000 apps in its store, compared with 4,000 when the store debuted in March 2011, the company said. Google and Apple have about 700,000 apps apiece in their stores.
Record use of aluminum
Carmakers from Ford to Audi and Jaguar Land Rover are using record amounts of aluminum to replace heavier steel, providing relief to producers of the metal confronting excess supplies and depressed prices.
Aluminum content in vehicles is rising about 5 percent a year and growth will accelerate in the next decade as drivers seek improved fuel economy and lower emissions, according to Gayle Berry, a London-based analyst at Barclays.
“This is one of the reasons why aluminum has the most bullish long-term demand outlook of all the base metals,” Berry said, without disclosing forecasts. Morgan Stanley predicts a 29 percent gain in aluminum prices by 2018, compared with a 9.8 percent drop for copper.
At current aluminum prices, which are more than a third below 2008 highs, at least 30 percent of aluminum companies aren’t making money, according to Moscow-based United Co. Rusal, the biggest producer. Rio Tinto Group Chief Executive Officer Tom Albanese resigned Jan. 17 as the company unveiled $14 billion in writedowns, largely in aluminum.
Automakers such as Ford should help pull aluminum suppliers out of a slump, said Kirill Chuyko, an analyst for BC Financial Group in Moscow. Some 25 percent of demand is from the transport industry, with cars and light trucks using two-thirds of this.
— Beacon Journal wire reports