Posts tagged Reportedly

Google Reportedly In Talks To Invest In SpaceX

The Internet of outer space could get a fuel injection, as two technology giants reportedly prepare to join forces. The Information reported Monday that Google is about to sign off on an investment deal in SpaceX. If true, the arrangement will fund the use of satellites to deliver Internet access to parts of the world that currently do without.

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk recently called the project “a global communications system that would be larger than anything that has been talked about to date.” In this scenario, his company would build and launch thousands of low-flying satellites that would deliver connectivity to several disparate and disconnected regions. Satellites usually fly as high as 22,000 miles, but these compact units would ascend to an altitude of only 750 miles.

But, he said, the space network would cost $10 billion and take five years or more to pull off. The Wall Street Journal reports that Google is considering a $1 billion investment in Musk’s satellite project, which leaves a lot of money to be raised. Further out, Musk hopes to extend the system out as far as Mars, bringing Internet connectivity to a planet the CEO wants to colonize.

This wouldn’t be Google’s first push to make Internet access available from the skies. With Project Loon, the company imagined hot-air balloons delivering connectivity to remote areas; another project involves drones. Google also pursued its own satellite-based initiative last year, but the project fell apart after Greg Wyler, a crucial lead and satellite expert, left the company. 

Initially, Wyler was going to work with Musk on SpaceX’s efforts, but has since started his own competing effort, OneWeb, which is backed by Virgin and Qualcomm.

SpaceX’s effort won’t trifle with wireless spectrum, since it doesn’t rely on radio waves. Instead, it plans to use optical lasers to transmit the signals—which sounds like science fiction and, say skeptics, may not amount to much more in reality.

That may be par for the course for Musk, who has a reputation as king of the moon shots. Apart from the interstellar ambitions of SpaceX, the Tesla founder is also currently pursuing his slightly more grounded Hyperloop project, setting forth plans to build out a test site for the superhigh-speed transportation system in Texas.

Neither SpaceX nor Google immediately responded to a request for comment.

Satellite photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

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Samsung Reportedly Wants To Buy BlackBerry For $7.5B

The BlackBerry Classic announcement 

Samsung has supposedly approached BlackBerry in a $7.5 billion takeover bid, reports Reuters. Its sources say that executives from both companies were in talks as recently as last week—presumably during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 

If true, the deal could offer relief to the venerable but ailing smartphone maker. It would also presumably give the South Korean tech giant a slew of patents covering everything from enterprise technology, security and to Internet of Things initiatives, where BlackBerry has recently been making its push.

See also: BlackBerry Goes Back To The Future With Its “BlackBerry Classic”

Samsung’s mobile business also had a dismal earnings year. Now it appears to be pursuing mid-tier devices, including its just-announced Z1 smartphone in India, the company’s first handset powered by its own homegrown Tizen software. Samsung hopes to turn the open-source mobile operating system into a platform for its own take on the Internet of Things. A BlackBerry acquisition might help it strengthen its position.

BlackBerry has been struggling back to relevance in recent years, though its stock has jumped 29% on the heels of the Reuters report. 

Screen shot of BlackBerry press conference captured by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Google Is Reportedly Working On A Real-Time Translation App For Mobile Devices by @mattsouthern

One month after Microsoft announced its real-time translation service for Skype, reports are emerging that Google intends to announce plans to update it’s translation app with similar features. The Google Translate app, which already offers translation of text in 90 different languages, will soon be able to recognize which language a user is speaking and translate it into written text in another language of the user’s choice. It’s understandable if you’re going to take a wait-and-see approach rather than getting too excited about this announcement, as anyone who has used Skype’s real-time translation can tell you the experience leaves much […]

The post Google Is Reportedly Working On A Real-Time Translation App For Mobile Devices by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Verizon Reportedly Talking To AOL About Partnership Or Buyout

Telecom giant Verizon has reached out to AOL about a potential acquisition or joint venture, Bloomberg reports, citing anonymous sources.

See also: Why Verizon Is Tracking All Your Mobile Web Traffic

These individuals, who asked not to be named because the talks are supposed to be kept private, said that Big Red has yet to make a formal proposal to the shrunken media outfit. Spokespeople for Verizon and AOL declined to comment.

The sources noted that Verizon is primarily interested in AOL’s programmatic advertising technology, which automatically buys and sells ads online. Verizon could potentially pair that product with a future online video service, according to Bloomberg.

Photo by Daniel Oines

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Google Reportedly Working On A ‘Buy Now’ Button To Compete With Amazon by @mattsouthern

The latest in an ongoing battle between Amazon and Google sees the Wall Street Journal reporting that Google is preparing to take on Amazon with its own unique e-commerce solution. This solution would come in the form of a ‘buy now’ button that may be embedded right into the search engine results pages. The inclusion of a ‘buy now’ button next to product pages in search results would allow searchers to put the item in a shopping card and check out with a single click. To be sure, Google doesn’t intend to open its own warehouse filled with products. The sales […]

The post Google Reportedly Working On A ‘Buy Now’ Button To Compete With Amazon by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

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Seo Jisoo Reportedly Will Not Attend Lovelyz Debut Promotions Due To Shock – KpopStarz

Seo Jisoo Reportedly Will Not Attend Lovelyz Debut Promotions Due To Shock
Woollim Entertainment's new girl group Lovelyz held a showcase in Seoul on November 11, where Seo Jisoo did not appear. Immediately prior to debut, Seo Jisoo was embroiled in an Internet rumor scandal revolving around her sexual orientation and …
Stern action vowed against rumors about Lovelyz memberK-POP HERALD

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Amazon Reportedly Hitting The Bricks With A Store In New York, king of e-commerce, can’t seem to leave the physical realm alone—first e-readers, then tablets, TV boxes and smartphones. Now, Jeff Bezos wants a genuine brick-and-mortar shop to peddle them all, say the Wall Street Journal

Citing people familiar with the plans, the paper reported that the online retailer has its sights set on a New York City store, smack dab in the middle of a high-traffic Manhattan shopping district. If true, the new establishment would go up at 7 West 34th Street—just in time for the upcoming holiday shopping season. 

A first for the tech giant, an Amazon store would give consumers some hands-on time with products. And, because the company is an expert at delivering the goods, the store may also front a warehouse of sorts.

From this site, Amazon would be able to send out same-day deliveries within the city, and let people pick up or return items they’ve ordered from the Internet.  

Amazon has quietly offered same-day delivery in New York and other cities for years. But a physical store would give Amazon an on-the-ground presence—a key advantage that Apple has when selling gadgets. 

Photo of 7 West 34th Street via Google Maps Street View

Update: In response to the Journal’s report, Amazon has said it hasn’t announced any plans for a store in Manhattan. 

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Facebook Is Reportedly Working On A Secret Clone

Facebook may be sticking to its guns on its controversial “real names” policy that says people need to use their real identities when using the service, but it’s apparently not ruling out anonymity altogether. The company is creating a new app that will let people communicate anonymously with one another, according to a report from the New York Times

The social network prides itself on being central to identity on the Internet—outside applications even rely on it to confirm that users are who they say they are. Of course, not everyone abides by those rules; people regularly use fake or pseudonymous names on the service, and unless they’ve been reported, Facebook won’t necessarily know about them.

Facebook, however, is apparently experimenting with a new application that would mimic others like Secret and Whisper, which let people post anonymous words and photos to mobile apps for other people to see.

According to the Times:

[The point of the app] is to allow Facebook users to use multiple pseudonyms to openly discuss the different things they talk about on the Internet; topics of discussion which they may not be comfortable connecting to their real names.

Facebook recently announced Anonymous Login, a way for people to connect to apps without sharing their Facebook information with them. However, even though these apps can’t access a user’s Facebook data, Facebook will knows which apps people are using anonymously. It’s not yet clear how Facebook will connect with an anonymous app of its own, and whether it will collect data on users.

See also: Can Anyone Remember Facebook’s Last Original Idea?

With Facebook’s track record of controversial privacy policies, the real question is whether people trust their secrets and anonymous posts to Facebook, especially since the company has prided itself on being a place for people to share and communicate by using their true identities. 

There are some things people don’t want even their friends to know.

(Failed) Attack Of The Clones

Considering Facebook’s streak of failure when trying to emulate other applications, a Whisper clone might not be a huge success. But it does suggest the social network realizes people don’t always want to be tied to their real names online.

Facebook is quick to jump on trends that it doesn’t have its hands in yet. It’s copied numerous features from Twitter, tried multiple times to clone Snapchat, and duplicated newsreaders like Flipboard when it launched Paper earlier this year. None of these clones appear to have taken off.

While Facebook might want people to share their dirty little secrets on an application that supposedly isn’t tied to their identity, people probably don’t want to ditch the apps they’re already using in favor of Facebook’s, which arrived at the party a little too late.

Facebook’s Secret or Whisper copycat would effectively be the anti-Facebook—no names, no identity, and no way of knowing who posts what. That could make it a Facebook users might like, though maybe not trust, a little bit more.

Lead image by Amnesty International UK

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Apple Has Reportedly Forced Banks To Stop “Taxing” Mobile Payments

When Apple reportedly struck deals with Visa, MasterCard, and American Express, I pointed out that those alone weren’t enough to put the iPhone maker in the retail payments business.

Now Tom Noyes, a former Citi executive, says that Apple has struck deals with the five largest card-issuing banks—JPMorgan Chase, Citibank, Bank of America, Capital One, and American Express.

Remarkably, Apple has not only gotten these banks to agree to accept iPhone-linked payments, but it has gotten them to offer rebates of up to 0.25% of the amount of a transaction on the credit- and debit-card fees, known as “interchange,” that Apple must pay. (Those rates vary widely, but you can think of them as averaging 1.5–1.75% of a transaction.)

See also: Apple Is Walking Into Payments Naked

In return, Apple will assume some of the risk of fraudulent transactions, using its TouchID biometric sensors, NFC, and geolocation data to assure itself and its bank partners that a customer really is the one conducting a transaction.

Apple Makes The Banks Cry Uncle

Apple has done a remarkable thing here: It has overturned a longtime tax on e-commerce transactions laid by the banks and shouldered by online merchants (and thus, ultimately, consumers).

Visa, MasterCard, and the rest of the financial establishment have long treated online purchases as “card not present” transactions, just because consumers type in their credit-card numbers rather than swipe the magnetic stripe. And those transactions carry higher interchange fees than regular retail transactions, ostensibly to cover a higher risk of credit-card fraud.

That system has persisted, even as e-commerce and mobile payments are increasingly showing themselves to be more resilient against fraud than traditional retail payments, as the massive hacks of Target and Home Depot stores have shown.

See also: Home Depot’s Massive Card Breach Is An Opening For PayPal, Apple and Google

Bill Ready, the CEO of Braintree, has long made the argument to me that banks should treat mobile transactions as more secure, not less secure, than retail payments. That’s particularly true given all the information you can gather about a consumer from his or her device. But that hasn’t gotten his company, now a subsidiary of eBay’s PayPal, a break on rates.

“We have a strong argument for why our rates should be lower, and the card networks have been a bit intransigent on that,” Ready recently told me.

By negotiating rebates with the big banks, as Noyes claims it has, Apple has essentially bypassed Visa and MasterCard. Or, put another way, it has found a way for Visa and MasterCard to save face and maintain the integrity of their rate structure, while cutting a side deal with their largest card issuers. (American Express, as both a bank and a payments network, has more freedom to maneuver with partners like Apple—though it usually sets even higher interchange rates.)

By getting a break on interchange, Apple at the very least won’t lose money on its payments business. It may be able to attract merchants by passing on these lower rates.

Breaking The Digital-Payments Logjam

And Apple could pull off something even bigger. By setting a precedent that the banks are willing to cut deals with mobile payments players, it may pave the way for PayPal, Google, and Amazon to strike similar rebate agreements—provided they’re willing to shoulder some of the costs of fraud, as Apple reportedly is. That may test those companies’ confidence in their fraud-detection algorithms and their software and hardware protections.

Apple may want to reflect a bit more on whether it’s really ready to shoulder that risk. Events over the past week have revealed security holes in its iCloud backup service. It may also have to take on some of the burden of customer service in exchange for the rebates it’s getting.

See also: How Apple Made Its Users Vulnerable To iCloud Theft

Apple still has to persuade thousands of other banks to go along with its iPhone payments scheme. It must also sign up merchants—and sell lots of TouchID-enabled iPhones. On that last bit, at least, it has a proven track record of success.

Photo by The Consumerist

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Samsung Buys Smart-Home Outfit SmartThings, Reportedly For $200 Million

Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings

It’s official: Samsung’s long-rumored acquisition bid for smart-home company SmartThings is now a reality. Neither company announced terms of the deal, although Recode reports that the sale price was $200 million. If that’s true, Samsung got quite a steal, considering Google blew $3.2 billion on Nest, maker of smart thermostats and smoke detectors. 

Unlike those gadgets, SmartThings isn’t a standalone product, but a developer-friendly platform that’s compatible with many devices from other companies. That makes this deal a shortcut for Samsung, which now doesn’t have to grow its own smart home initiative from scratch. 

See also: Why Samsung Buying SmartThings Should Have Us Worried

On the SmartThings blog, founder and CEO Alex Hawkinson wrote, “We believe that there is an enormous opportunity to leverage Samsung’s global scale to help us realize our long-term vision.” Ideally, in other words, Samsung’s worldwide reach in product areas ranging from smart TVs to smartphones to kitchen appliances could rocket SmartThings devices into homes around the globe.

Perhaps. But the SmartThings crew may want to brace itself anyway. Samsung loves throwing things at the wall to see what sticks. Hopefully SmartThings’ carefully nurtured developer relationships and evolving ecosystem won’t be among them. Because no one ever wants to see a smart home loaded down with confusion and bloatware.

Hawkinson said that SmartThings, which will technically become part of the Samsung Open Innovation Center (OIC) in San Francisco, will continue to run as an independent operation under his leadership.

Lead image courtesy of SmartThings

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