Posts tagged Reportedly

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 […]

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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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Microsoft Is Also Reportedly Piling Into The Smartwatch Race

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said his company would forget past blunders—like missing the boat on smartphones—and focus on the future, he wasn’t kidding. The Surface maker is planning on entering the rapidly growing smartwatch market with its very own wristworn contender, Forbes reports.

According to sources “with knowledge of the company’s plans,” the device will be festooned with sensors and will incorporate technology and expertise from Microsoft’s Kinect motion-detecting controller, specifically in optical engineering, to continuously track heart rate. The gadget will supposedly feature a color display oriented on the underside of the wrist, presumably for privacy protection, with an overall appearance similar to Samsung’s Gear Fit.

Unlike Samsung’s device, however, Microsoft’s version will work with Androids, iPhones and Windows Phones when it debuts, possibly this summer.

Image collage by Adriana Lee for ReadWrite

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Samsung Reportedly Has A New Smartwatch Communicator Up Its Sleeve

Samsung's Gear 2

Samsung's Gear 2

Samsung has decided to augment its recently announced lineup of wearables—the Gear 2, Gear 2 Neo, and Gear Fit—with another new smartwatch due out this summer, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Unlike the previous models, the South Korean tech maker is reportedly working on a standalone smartwatch that can make calls, send messages, track heartrate and take photos without being paired to a smartphone. Details on Samsung’s unnamed device could be announced as soon as next week, during a press event Wednesday about giving health a voice.

The company has also been rumored to be working on a virtual reality gaming headset for use with its Galaxy phones and tablets. If true, Samsung’s “pray and spray” approach to mobiles has clearly expanded, with an ambitious, overarching bid to rule people’s heads, wrists and pockets.

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Twitter Is Reportedly Considering A Deal To Acquire SoundCloud by @mattsouthern

According to re/code, Twitter may be making another move into the music industry as they are reportedly considering a deal to buy SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a music and audio-sharing company that offers a free service where users can upload and share audio across the Internet. SoundCloud touts itself as the ‘YouTube for audio’. As of October 2013, SoundCloud had a user based of 250 million, according to TechCrunch. Earlier this year, SoundCloud was valued at $700 million, which means that if this deal does indeed go forward it would be Twitter’s most expensive acquisition to date. The appeal of this […]

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Facebook Reportedly Building A Snapchat Competitor Called ‘Slingshot’ by @mattsouthern

News broke over the weekend that Facebook is working on video messaging app that will be a direct competitor to the wildly popular app Snapchat. The Financial Times reports that Facebook’s app is known internally as ‘Slingshot’ and could launch as early as this month. However, another source states that Facebook may still decide not to move forward with Slingshot. Facebook themselves declined to comment on the reports. Slingshot will allow users to send short video messages to each other. Where Slingshot and Snapchat differ is that Snapchat recently introduced video chatting, while Slingshot will reportedly not offer not offer […]

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