Posts tagged less

How We Turned a Failed Product into a Six Figure Business in Less than a Month by @syedbalkhi

For some, OptinMonster seems like an overnight success. But it’s actually a failed project that was turned into a 6-figure business in less than a month.

The post How We Turned a Failed Product into a Six Figure Business in Less than a Month by @syedbalkhi appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Less than 90 Tickets Left for SMX Advanced – Register Now!

Time is running out to register for SMX Advanced. With less than 90 tickets left, we’re certain to sell out again this year… the 9th in a row. Why does SMX Advanced sell out? The program: You’ll participate in expert-level sessions that don’t stop to explain the basics. Advanced sessions on SEO,…



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Podcasting On A Budget: How To Record Great Audio For Less

High-quality audio recording was once the exclusive domain of professional studios, radio stations and other settings tricked out with top-notch equipment. But now, thanks to advances in technology and lower pricing, professional-level audio recording has moved within reach of practically anyone. 

So if you’ve ever wanted to reach a broad audience as a podcaster, there’s no time like the present. These days, the difference in quality produced by professional set-ups—with layers of soundproofing and pricey microphones—don’t sound all that different from recordings made on a smaller budget. 

But hardware and software alone don’t make for polished audio. Having worked in studio settings ranging from small town radio stations, to control rooms of nationally syndicated radio shows, I can tell you that good technique is just as important. 

For the best recordings on a budget, check out this list of tips and tools for the budding podcaster. 

Choosing a Good Microphone

Podcasting set-ups can vary, but in most cases, the two fundamental pieces of equipment are a microphone and a computer. The microphone captures sound, and the computer handles everything else, from recording and editing, to ultimately submission and syndication. Additional components—such as an audio interface, mixer, compressor and more—can be useful, but they’re not required. 

When it comes to microphones, good ones don’t have to cost a fortune. But wary of ones that are too cheap. You want to strike the right balance of cost vs. quality. Excellent mics that sound like they cost hundreds more can go for anywhere between $100 to just over $200. 

Bear in mind that, if you’re podcasting, you want a microphone that can focus on small areas, like the sounds coming out of your mouth or a guest’s. The built-in microphones on a laptop or smartphone aren’t suitable for professional recording, because they pick up noises coming from anywhere in the room. Unless you want to capture the squeaks of your chair or background conversations, you’ll need a dedicated mic. 

The two main types to look at are dynamic and condenser. A dynamic microphone doesn’t require external power, and it does a good job of picking up a limited range of audio through a compact design. Condenser microphones usually need power from an external source, but they provide richer, fuller tones. 

AT2020 


Photo by Audio-Technica

The AT2020 USB microphone by Audio Technica ($102 – 149) is an excellent starting point for podcasters on a budget. The small USB condenser mic can sit on any desktop, and comes with its own stand. 

There’s one downside, though: Its lack of integrated controls means that you’ll need to do some extra work setting up recording levels and/or touching up in post-production to get the exact sound you need. But even with this in mind, the audio quality of the AT2020 is exceptional for its price.

The Yeti 


Photo by Blue Microphones

The Yeti by Blue Microphones ($129 – 149) is another excellent choice. Since it can pick up sound along multiple directions and recording patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo), the device can come in handy during two-person interviews. The Yeti can record what is in front of and behind it, so you only need one microphone instead of two. 

That pro comes with a con, however: This product, in particular, captures a bit more background noise than you would normally find in a professional solution. To minimize that, you can tweak its volume settings and tweak the recording in post-production. 

The Yeti also offers gain (or amplitude) control, an integrated mute button and a zero-latency headphone output, for real-time audio monitoring over headphones. The primary connection is USB, though there’s also a pro version that features both USB and analog XLR option. 

XLR is a common three-pronged audio connector that provides power and carries a clean analog audio signal from the microphone to whatever it is plugged into. This isn’t a connection found on most PCs, but it may come in handy if you eventually add in a mixer or other audio equipment. 

Rode Podcaster


Photo by Rode

Fans of dynamic microphones should appreciate the Rode Podcaster ($220). The USB mic features broadcast-quality sound, capturing a crisp 18-bit, 8 to 48kHz audio. You need to stick pretty close to the microphone, if you want your voice picked up, but that can be a benefit. It means less background noise will make its way into your podcast. 

The Podcaster also offers an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack for live monitoring.

Zoom H2n and H4NSP


Photo by Zoom

There are some great stand-alone audio recording solutions out there that can record high-quality audio from anywhere for later editing. The Zoom H2n ($160 – 225) and H4NSP ($200 – 250) fit in this category. An all-in-one audio recording powerhouse, the 2015 edition of the Zoom H4n features built-in 90/120 degree XY stereo microphones, which point two integrated mics at the source, for truer, more accurate audio. Powered 3.5mm, dual XLR / Hi-Z input jacks give you the ability to connect a multitude of external microphone and audio input devices, so you’re not entirely dependent on the built-in microphone solutions. 

The devices also support multi-channel recording for stereo and 4-channel audio, so you can record multiple individuals in their own independent audio tracks. This makes editing and mastering audio for different voice types in an audio-editing program easier. 

By contrast, the H2n has five integrated microphones for mid-side and XY stereo recording, as well as a mic/line input jack for recording from an external audio source. With USB, you can connect the Zoom H2n and use it as a USB microphone or transfer audio files through an SD memory card.

Choosing Your Editing Software

Once you’re done recording, you’ll probably need to edit the files to eliminate mistakes, shorten the length or just improve the sound quality. With software, you can run a virtual compressor, limiter, and/or background noise reduction process over the audio. If you have a good ear, you can even tweak audio levels to give your voice more base or cut down on elements you’re not happy with. 

Even the best radio personalities in the world have a rack of effects between them and the audience. Modern audio editing software can do the same for you. 


Audacity

Audacity (free) is a powerful audio recording and editing program for OS X, Windows, and Linux. Because it’s open source, it has benefitted from a large community of users and code contributors over the years. Audacity offers multi-track mixing, numerous effects and additional audio elements, such as intro sounds, music and more. 

For a commercial solution for Windows or OS X, Adobe Audition ($49/month as part of Creative Cloud or $20/month individually) has long been a go-to software of choice in the audio world for its extensive capabilities. As part of the Creative Cloud suite, it can be used in conjunction with other Adobe products such as Adobe Premier. 

OS X users also have free access to GarageBand for audio editing and effects. The application used to be synonymous with podcasting, since it featured built-in support for exporting audio as podcasts. Too bad Apple removed that feature in version 10.0 a couple of years ago. You can still use the software, though it’s not quite as easy to make podcasts as it once was. (An iOS version of GarageBand is also available.) 

Audio Recording and Editing Tips


Once you have your microphone and editing software in place, you are ready to record the first episode of your podcast. Technique is every bit as important as the hardware and software that captures it, so bear the following in mind: 

Keep your microphone at an angle: If you are breathing directly into your mic, your audience will hear it. You’ll come off sounding more like Darth Vader and less like a professional broadcaster. Keep the microphone roughly 45-degrees to either side of your mouth to boost your sound quality of your voice. 

Record in quiet surroundings: Recording in a noisy room with kids in the background, pots and pans banging in the kitchen, or a fan blowing in your face will make your podcast’s quality suffer. Using a dynamic microphone might help beat back some of the ambient sounds, but it’s better to use a quiet space with minimal echo. Some podcasters even record in a closet amid their clothes to cut down on echo and air conditioner sounds.

Cut out the coughs: Audio is very forgiving when it comes to pauses, coughs and even meandering trains of thought. You can edit all of these out in post-production using software (see above). You’ll come off as a better speaker, and your audience will appreciate the pace and on-point presentation. 

Not naturally eloquent? Try a scripted dialogue: Some people have a knack for winging it. They can flow and speak without inserting ‘umm’ and ‘uhh’ or stumbling over their thoughts. If you are not one of those people, try writing down what you intend to say ahead of time. Even the best newscasters in the world have a teleprompter, and many popular podcasters use a pre-written set of bullet points to guide them through a show. 

Recording professional-sounding audio used to require deep investments and a lot of time. Those days are long gone. Now, you don’t have to drain your bank account or spend hours setting up an array of equipment. With a little practice and the right tools, you can get your message out there, loud and clear. 

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock; Audacity screen capture courtesy of Audacity; “podcast” graphic courtesy of Apple; product shots courtesy of respective companies

View full post on ReadWrite

Podcasting On A Budget: How To Record Great-Sounding Audio For Less

High-quality audio recording was once the exclusive domain of professional studios, radio stations and other settings tricked out with top-notch equipment. But now, thanks to advances in technology and lower pricing, professional-level audio recording has moved within reach of practically anyone. 

So if you’ve ever wanted to reach a broad audience as a podcaster, there’s no time like the present. These days, the difference in quality produced by professional set-ups—with layers of soundproofing and pricey microphones—don’t sound all that different from recordings made on a smaller budget. 

But hardware and software alone don’t make for polished audio. Having worked in studio settings ranging from small town radio stations, to control rooms of nationally syndicated radio shows, I can tell you that good technique is just as important. 

For the best recordings on a budget, check out this list of tips and tools for the budding podcaster. 

Choosing a Good Microphone

Podcasting set-ups can vary, but in most cases, the two fundamental pieces of equipment are a microphone and a computer. The microphone captures sound, and the computer handles everything else, from recording and editing, to ultimately submission and syndication. Additional components—such as an audio interface, mixer, compressor and more—can be useful, but they’re not required. 

When it comes to microphones, good ones don’t have to cost a fortune. But wary of ones that are too cheap. You want to strike the right balance of cost vs. quality. Excellent mics that sound like they cost hundreds more can go for anywhere between $100 to just over $200. 

Bear in mind that, if you’re podcasting, you want a microphone that can focus on small areas, like the sounds coming out of your mouth or a guest’s. The built-in microphones on a laptop or smartphone aren’t suitable for professional recording, because they pick up noises coming from anywhere in the room. Unless you want to capture the squeaks of your chair or background conversations, you’ll need a dedicated mic. 

The two main types to look at are dynamic and condenser. A dynamic microphone doesn’t require external power, and it does a good job of picking up a limited range of audio through a compact design. Condenser microphones usually need power from an external source, but they provide richer, fuller tones. 

AT2020 


Photo by Audio-Technica

The AT2020 USB microphone by Audio Technica ($102 – 149) is an excellent starting point for podcasters on a budget. The small USB condenser mic can sit on any desktop, and comes with its own stand. 

There’s one downside, though: Its lack of integrated controls means that you’ll need to do some extra work setting up recording levels and/or touching up in post-production to get the exact sound you need. But even with this in mind, the audio quality of the AT2020 is exceptional for its price.

The Yeti 


Photo by Blue Microphones

The Yeti by Blue Microphones ($129 – 149) is another excellent choice. Since it can pick up sound along multiple directions and recording patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional and stereo), the device can come in handy during two-person interviews. The Yeti can record what is in front of and behind it, so you only need one microphone instead of two. 

That pro comes with a con, however: This product, in particular, captures a bit more background noise than you would normally find in a professional solution. To minimize that, you can tweak its volume settings and tweak the recording in post-production. 

The Yeti also offers gain (or amplitude) control, an integrated mute button and a zero-latency headphone output, for real-time audio monitoring over headphones. The primary connection is USB, though there’s also a pro version that features both USB and analog XLR option. 

XLR is a common three-pronged audio connector that provides power and carries a clean analog audio signal from the microphone to whatever it is plugged into. This isn’t a connection found on most PCs, but it may come in handy if you eventually add in a mixer or other audio equipment. 

Rode Podcaster


Photo by Rode

Fans of dynamic microphones should appreciate the Rode Podcaster ($220). The USB mic features broadcast-quality sound, capturing a crisp 18-bit, 8 to 48kHz audio. You need to stick pretty close to the microphone, if you want your voice picked up, but that can be a benefit. It means less background noise will make its way into your podcast. 

The Podcaster also offers an integrated 3.5mm headphone jack for live monitoring.

Zoom H2n and H4NSP


Photo by Zoom

There are some great stand-alone audio recording solutions out there that can record high-quality audio from anywhere for later editing. The Zoom H2n ($160 – 225) and H4NSP ($200 – 250) fit in this category. An all-in-one audio recording powerhouse, the 2015 edition of the Zoom H4n features built-in 90/120 degree XY stereo microphones, which point two integrated mics at the source, for truer, more accurate audio. Powered 3.5mm, dual XLR / Hi-Z input jacks give you the ability to connect a multitude of external microphone and audio input devices, so you’re not entirely dependent on the built-in microphone solutions. 

The devices also support multi-channel recording for stereo and 4-channel audio, so you can record multiple individuals in their own independent audio tracks. This makes editing and mastering audio for different voice types in an audio-editing program easier. 

By contrast, the H2n has five integrated microphones for mid-side and XY stereo recording, as well as a mic/line input jack for recording from an external audio source. With USB, you can connect the Zoom H2n and use it as a USB microphone or transfer audio files through an SD memory card.

Choosing Your Editing Software

Once you’re done recording, you’ll probably need to edit the files to eliminate mistakes, shorten the length or just improve the sound quality. With software, you can run a virtual compressor, limiter, and/or background noise reduction process over the audio. If you have a good ear, you can even tweak audio levels to give your voice more base or cut down on elements you’re not happy with. 

Even the best radio personalities in the world have a rack of effects between them and the audience. Modern audio editing software can do the same for you. 


Audacity

Audacity (free) is a powerful audio recording and editing program for OS X, Windows, and Linux. Because it’s open source, it has benefitted from a large community of users and code contributors over the years. Audacity offers multi-track mixing, numerous effects and additional audio elements, such as intro sounds, music and more. 

For a commercial solution for Windows or OS X, Adobe Audition ($49/month as part of Creative Cloud or $20/month individually) has long been a go-to software of choice in the audio world for its extensive capabilities. As part of the Creative Cloud suite, it can be used in conjunction with other Adobe products such as Adobe Premier. 

OS X users also have free access to GarageBand for audio editing and effects. The application used to be synonymous with podcasting, since it featured built-in support for exporting audio as podcasts. Too bad Apple removed that feature in version 10.0 a couple of years ago. You can still use the software, though it’s not quite as easy to make podcasts as it once was. (An iOS version of GarageBand is also available.) 

Audio Recording and Editing Tips


Once you have your microphone and editing software in place, you are ready to record the first episode of your podcast. Technique is every bit as important as the hardware and software that captures it, so bear the following in mind: 

Keep your microphone at an angle: If you are breathing directly into your mic, your audience will hear it. You’ll come off sounding more like Darth Vader and less like a professional broadcaster. Keep the microphone roughly 45-degrees to either side of your mouth to boost your sound quality of your voice. 

Record in quiet surroundings: Recording in a noisy room with kids in the background, pots and pans banging in the kitchen, or a fan blowing in your face will make your podcast’s quality suffer. Using a dynamic microphone might help beat back some of the ambient sounds, but it’s better to use a quiet space with minimal echo. Some podcasters even record in a closet amid their clothes to cut down on echo and air conditioner sounds.

Cut out the coughs: Audio is very forgiving when it comes to pauses, coughs and even meandering trains of thought. You can edit all of these out in post-production using software (see above). You’ll come off as a better speaker, and your audience will appreciate the pace and on-point presentation. 

Not naturally eloquent? Try a scripted dialogue: Some people have a knack for winging it. They can flow and speak without inserting ‘umm’ and ‘uhh’ or stumbling over their thoughts. If you are not one of those people, try writing down what you intend to say ahead of time. Even the best newscasters in the world have a teleprompter, and many popular podcasters use a pre-written set of bullet points to guide them through a show. 

Recording professional-sounding audio used to require deep investments and a lot of time. Those days are long gone. Now, you don’t have to drain your bank account or spend hours setting up an array of equipment. With a little practice and the right tools, you can get your message out there, loud and clear. 

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock; Audacity screen capture courtesy of Audacity; “podcast” graphic courtesy of Apple; product shots courtesy of respective companies

View full post on ReadWrite

Bing Rehires Duane Forrester Less Than Two Months After Being Laid Off by @mattsouthern

Not even two months after being laid off, Duane Forrester has announced he’s back at his old position with Bing as the senior project manager in charge of webmaster outreach. Restructuring within Microsoft at the end of October this year led to several top Bing positions being eliminated, including Forrester’s. Judging by the outpouring of support for Forrester there was no doubt he’d land a new job before long, but who could have predicted he’d get his exact same job back in under two months’ time. Following the lay off, Forrester says he considered positions with companies like GoDaddy, eBay, […]

The post Bing Rehires Duane Forrester Less Than Two Months After Being Laid Off by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Open Source: Both Bigger And Less Relevant Than You Imagine


Every so often a study comes along that is so bad—so off the mark—that it’s impossible to ignore. Or, at least, so difficult to understand that different news organizations can walk away with wildly varying understandings of its findings.

Such is the case with the Ponemon Institute’s survey of 1,400 technology professionals, which according to some outlets found big companies “cautious” and “slow” to embrace open source. Others, looking at the exact same data, found respondents “generally positive” to open source. (The survey was sponsored by Zimbra, which provide of open-source messaging and collaboration software.)

The reality, of course, is that both are right, because open source is both hard and easy, depending on where large organizations try to use it.

Open Source For Me Or Thee? It Depends

Open source has climbed in popularity over the past decade. Today, as Cloudera’s Mike Olson posits, “No dominant platform-level software infrastructure has emerged in the last ten years in closed-source, proprietary form.” If it’s infrastructure, it’s open. From Hadoop to MongoDB, from MySQL to Spark, there are virtually no exceptions to this open source rule.

At the same time, Ponemon’s study finds that, on average, just 30% of business applications used by U.S. firms are open source, a number that drops to 25% in Europe. On one hand, it’s impressive that commercial open source applications have made that much progress in the past decade. It’s also impressive why they’ve turned to open source:

  • %74 of U.S. IT professionals believe that commercial open source software offers better continuity and control; 
  • 66% of IT practitioners in the U.S. feel that commercial open source software means fewer bugs, and 63% believe it will boost quality compared to proprietary software; 
  • The ability to lower costs is no longer the main point of differentiation for open source software, according to IT professionals in the U.S. and EMEA; business continuity, control and quality rank above cost concerns, but all outperform proprietary software in the minds of IT professionals.

All of which is great, but none of this really means open source will dominate business applications any time soon. After all, 65% of those surveyed declared “ease of use” to be their primary consideration in choosing a messaging and collaboration solution (the focus of the survey).

Ease of use is not generally open source’s strength.

Making Software Easy

Instead, open source offers other benefits that trump ease of use. Aspects like flexibility, cost and control drive open-source adoption within enterprise infrastructure. As Gartner analyst Alexander Linden finds, despite the best efforts of proprietary analytics companies, “A lot of innovative data scientists really favor open source components (especially Python and R) in their advanced analytics stack.” 

But these are the über geeks. As I wrote last week, roughly 70% of enterprises still haven’t been able to take off their Big Data training wheels due to the complexity of the technology. For those willing and able to invest in hard-core data scientists with the appropriate technology chops, Big Data is becoming a source of significant competitive differentiation.

For everyone else, however, it’s a bridge too far.

But that’s for cutting-edge Big Data technology. There is a host of other open-source technologies that is broadly used because it’s higher performance, easy (enough) to use and often is cheaper. Things like Linux, Drupal, Nginx and other open-source technologies power millions of enterprises.

Most, however, are embraced and deployed by engineers, not business users.

This is how it has always been, and this is almost certainly how it always will be. Small wonder, then, that “open source companies” no longer tout open source on their websites, preferring to focus on the commercial value they provide on top of open source (polish, packaging, etc.). 

In sum, open source is huge in the enterprise, and counting adoption of open-source applications is a really, truly terrible way to measure that adoption.

Lead photo courtesy of Shutterstock

View full post on ReadWrite

Understanding Auction Dynamics: Why More Traffic Can Mean Less Revenue

What’s the relationship between traffic and revenue in SEM? Columnist George Michie explains.

The post Understanding Auction Dynamics: Why More Traffic Can Mean Less Revenue appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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The Psychological Benefits of Simple Design: Why Less Really is More by @shanejones15

It’s a question that marketers and designers ask themselves every day: What is the key to a conversion-based design? And the answer: As little design as possible. According to a 2012 Google study, users consistently rate visually simple websites as more beautiful than their more complex counterparts. Further, highly prototypical sites (or sites with layouts that are commonly associated with sites of its category) with a simple design are considered the most beautiful sites of all. In other words? Simple is beautiful. And beautiful converts. But why? In this article, we’ll explore the concept of simple, prototypical design and examine its role […]

The post The Psychological Benefits of Simple Design: Why Less Really is More by @shanejones15 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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#Pubcon Las Vegas 2014 is Less Than 2 Weeks Away: What To Look Forward To [SPONSORED] by @mattsouthern

This post is Sponsored by Pubcon Las Vegas – October 6 – 9  in Las Vegas, Nevada. Pubcon Las Vegas is less than two weeks away! Proudly sponsored by Facebook, Pubcon’s 15th anniversary event will be the biggest gathering of search and social media professionals you can expect to see all year. Since 2000, Pubcon has been a must-attend conference according to Forbes, and a “top conference for growing your business” according to Inc. Pubcon has thrived on bringing together the very best in online marketing and SEO from over 130 different countries. This year’s conference will offer a week-long look at the future […]

The post #Pubcon Las Vegas 2014 is Less Than 2 Weeks Away: What To Look Forward To [SPONSORED] by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Apple Is Less Than Inviting To PayPal In Apple Pay


Apple and PayPal have been partners in payments for almost a decade, dating back to a 2004 deal in which Apple started accepting PayPal in the iTunes Music Store.

But Apple left PayPal, which reportedly lobbied to be included in its payment plans, out in the cold in the launch of Apple Pay.

See also: Apple Introduces Apple Pay To Simplify Payments

Apple is recommending that developers integrating Apple Pay into their apps or websites use SDKs, or software-development kits, from one of six payment processors. PayPal and its Braintree Payments subsidiary isn’t one of them—but Braintree archrival Stripe is.

It all but warns off developers from using other services:

Using one of these SDKs is highly recommended. Contact your payment provider for more information.The alternative is to provide your own server-side solution to receive payments from your app, decrypt payment tokens and interface with the payment provider.Handling credit and debit card payments can be complicated and unless you already have the expertise and systems in place, an SDK from a payment provider is the quickest and most reliable way to support Apple Pay in your app.

Stripe, naturally, is gloating about its inclusion, to the point of stretching the truth. An email from its PR agency falsely describes Apple Pay as being “built on Stripe.” That’s not true, of course, and one imagines prideful Apple executives might take offense at the claim. In any event, Stripe was clearly briefed on Apple Pay early and allowed to build interfaces and write documentation available on the day of launch.

PayPal: It’s No Big Deal

PayPal, which has launched its own system for one-touch payments, didn’t get similar treatment.

In an interview with ReadWrite, Bill Ready, CEO of Braintree Payments, did his best to spin PayPal’s omission. He noted that Braintree’s V.zero software, which developers include in apps and websites to accept credit and debit cards, can easily add new forms of payment—as it plans to do with Bitcoin, for example. 

“We can handle these transactions,” Ready told me. “Apple is very clear that you can use your existing payments provider.”

In fact, Braintree will accept Apple Pay payments from Braintree customers that build it into their apps. Uber, for example, is adopting Apple Pay to allow customers to pay for rides with a credit or debit card stores in their iTunes account. 

Here’s how it works: A token—in layman’s terms, a disguised, one-time-use account number—will get passed from Apple to Uber and then to Braintree, where it gets processed like any other card transaction. Braintree has done considerable technical work to handle these tokens.

The Inevitable Downside

The downside for PayPal is that it’s not getting Apple’s official imprimatur, and it hasn’t been allowed to prepare software that simplifies the inclusion of Apple Pay as a payment method in advance. Developers who want to use Apple Pay with Braintree have to figure the integration out on their own—and Apple is basically cautioning them against doing so. 

One other mystery: Apple customers can currently store PayPal as their payment method in their iTunes account to pay for music, videos, and apps. It’s not clear if Apple will let those customers use PayPal at retail stores that accept Apple Pay, or if it will make them use a credit or debit card.

It’s not surprising that Apple and PayPal, once partners, are jockeying for position in retail payments. Apple is focused on the phone, while PayPal wants your payments to be handled in the cloud.

Still, it’s confounding that these two companies, which both claim they want to simply payments for consumers and developers, can’t figure out a way to work together.

Screenshot by Stephanie Chan for ReadWrite

View full post on ReadWrite

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