Posts tagged wants

Yahoo Wants Google’s Spot as the Default iOS Search Engine

Will we see Apple switch its default search engine from Google to Yahoo? That’s the scenario Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is looking to make a reality. Google currently pays Apple about $1 billion a year to be the default iOS search engine.

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

Audi Wants Tablets In The Car—As Part Of The Car


ReadWriteDrive is an ongoing series covering the future of transportation.

Silicon Valley companies grab headlines for their incursions into the auto industry, crossing industry lines to gain control of dashboards and drivetrains. In response, tech-savvy car companies will try to defend their turf—even when the development of their own hardware and software might raise a few eyebrows.

Audi is taking a bleeding edge approach, or at least what counts for one in the auto industry. Earlier this year, it announced intentions to develop its very own Audi-branded tablet. The device, a concept when announced at CES in January, is now green-lighted for production.

“It will be a full-blown Android tablet,” Brad Stertz, corporate communications manager for Audi of America, told me. The Audi Smart Display docks into the back of headrests for use by backseat passengers—a passenger-oriented extension of the “infotainment” systems automakers have been pushing into central consoles for the past few years. “This is not just theory,” said Stertz. “It’s headed to a future model. We haven’t said what year, but it will be coming.”  

Stertz says the tablet’s arrival is four to five years away at the latest—essentially one product-planning cycle for the auto industry. The only problem: That’s more like four or five product cycles for the tech industry.

Cars and the Tablet Revolution

Why would a car company want to create a tablet that lives in the car, rather than just pairing with mobile devices carried by passengers? Audi says it’s about deeper integration.

Audi’s car-specific, high-resolution 10.2-inch tablet essentially functions like a detachable part of the vehicle’s controls. The driver doesn’t need to be bothered or distracted with some functions currently embedded into the dashboard. For example, with a car-based tablet, passengers can search for points of interest and then have the navigation system spit out turn-by-turn directions.

Similar features are already available in some versions of the top-of-the-line flagship Audi A8 sedan. In those models, the rear seat infotainment package has two permanently fixed 10-inch screens embedded in seat backs. The proposed dockable tablet, powered by Nvidia’s fast new Tegra 4 processor, simply adds more connectivity and portability.

Pace of Innovation

At first blush, the introduction of a vehicle-branded tablet has a wow effect. There’s no doubt that cars are becoming increasingly connected devices—an extension of our digital lives. However, once a car company jumps into the fast-paced high-stakes game of hardware development, there’s no turning back. What’s going to keep people from sneering at the museum pieces in Audi vehicles four years from now, particularly since they’ll be compared with mobile devices currently beyond our imagination?

“The company in Germany is looking into how to provide an upgrade, or a rebate, to turn in an old tablet to get a newer one,” said Audi’s Stertz. “That’s definitely something that’s on the horizon. We’re working to reduce the gap between consumer and automotive electronics and not stick people with old equipment.”

That’s critical, because the auto industry operates on three to five year product cycles. Audi, a luxury brand of Volkswagen, is keeping up better than most other companies. It announced in late 2013 that its 2015 A3 line of compact cars would be among the first to offer 4G LTE service. Those cars will become hotspots, allowing up to eight mobile devices to work with the car’s 4G LTE connection. But keep in mind that, by the time 4G is in the A3, the high-speed communication standard will have been generally available for about five years in the United States.

Future-proofing will be no easy task. Audi argues that the ability of its own car-based tablet to migrate back and forth from garage to living room has compelling advantages. You can plan a trip from the comfort of home—setting up destinations, RSS feeds, music playlists, and streaming movies. Then you can carry the tablet back to the car, dock it, and presto! Your commute or road trip is set.

But I can’t see how that’s fundamentally different from deploying those plans directly to the car’s connected system via the Web, or a paired phone or tablet, instead of physically walking the Audi tablet into the vehicle.

Stertz defends the tablet approach by saying that infotainment touch-screen functionality will be available to passengers via the car’s fixed hardware. The creation of dockable units is really no different, except that it adds portability.

Automotive Grade

Maybe the motivation to create a tablet is about control.  Audi’s existing suite of connected services, called Audi Connect, already enables navigation, real-time traffic, fuel price and parking information. The proposed car-based tablet, as an Android device, will allow passengers to integrate nearly the million apps (Skype, calendars, and messaging, as well as games) available on Google Play into the Audi system, which serves as the broader platform.

Meanwhile, Audi has not ruled out out collaboration with Apple in order to allows iPhone and iPads to integrate with the dashboard. “But our system is further down the pipeline,” said Stertz. “We already have strong mapping with Google Earth. Nobody else has that. We have strong voice command, like Siri, but ours is run through Google Local Voice Search.”

Unlike conventional tablets, the Audi Smart Display is built to automotive standards for durability and reliability—much tougher guidelines than those governing common consumer electronics. The screen’s glass surface is crash-worthy. The dockable car tablet can safely remain in the car when it’s parked all day on the hottest day in Arizona, and stay docked all night in the car on the coldest Minnesota night.

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Amazon Fire TV Wants To Ignite The Streaming Experience—And It Just Might

Amazon took on the big boys of streaming television at its press event in New York City Wednesday morning. On a stage decked out like a living room, the company took the wraps off its top-secret project: the much-rumored—and now very real—Amazon Fire TV.

This little box comes with a big-ticket price: $99. No matter what the presentation slides say about “Premium Products, Non Premium Prices,” a c-note is nothing to sneeze at—especially when some competitors charge half to a third of that amount.

I previously championed a lower price, but strangely enough, the company didn’t take my advice. Well, maybe that’s not a bad thing. If it cost less, it could have disappeared into a sea of increasingly cheap competition. And that would be a shame, because maybe—just maybe—this device could be a contender. 

Feature Ho! 

The Fire TV comes loaded with some creative features, including voice search (through the remote control), ASAP predictive streaming (which guesses what you’ll watch next and automatically starts buffering it), and what appears to be robust—dare I say nearly console-worthy?—gaming from the likes of Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Gameloft, Disney and others. The presentation even trotted out Minecraft, which will be coming to the device later this year. (Sorry, Oculus Rift.) 

Granted, some of these features could use a little work. Voice search definitely needs to cover more apps—like Netflix, for example—before it can really be handy. But I like where all this is going. At the very least, anything that gets the major streaming TV players to stop and think about attacking everyday frustrations is a good thing. Chief among them, at least for me, is searching via a directional remote control. (That’s just no one’s idea of fun.) 

Chromecast made a name for itself by stripping down the streaming experience and making it dirt cheap, just $35. That seemed to inspire the trend to strip down parts and features, and charge as little as possible. And that strategy succeeded. But if everyone moves in this direction, none of streaming’s bigger issues will ever get solved. 

Amazon threw hardware at the scenario. And features. It doesn’t want to offer a minimal, stripped-down experience. It dares to do something different—like be a premium product. Unlike many of its competitors. 

Chromecast Who?

Amazon had a front row seat for Chromecast’s success, having watched the Google gadget dominate Amazon’s own list of electronics best sellers since it launched. Had Amazon wanted to play copycat, it would have released a dongle—as many pundits predicted—and practically given it away. 

Amazon clearly didn’t do that. And now, it’s pretty clear the name of the game isn’t “copycat.” It’s “chicken.”

“We’re selling millions of streaming media devices on Amazon.com,” Amazon VP Peter Larsen said at Wednesday’s media event in New York City—an oblique reference, of course, to Chromecast, Roku and Apple TV. “We hear what’s working, we hear what’s not working.”

So what does a company do with all that user feedback, which is mostly culled from its own user reviews? It goes in a different direction—head on, straight at the competition. And it’s going at high speed.

That was a recurring theme at Amazon’s event, and the audience of tech bloggers, journalists and analysts seemed genuinely wowed by the device’s demo performance. Of course, all tech demos make the hardware look amazing. That’s what they’re designed to do. But what’s more interesting is that Fire TV seems to have fans among the developer community that can attest to its responsiveness. 

Plex, one of the early partners for Fire TV, vouched for the Fire TV’s speed. Plex Chief Product Officer Scott Olechowski, who has been working with the pre-release device since last September, told me he was impressed by his test unit for Fire TV, which performed for him faster than the Apple TV. 

Much of that quickness comes courtesy of the hardware packed inside. “Everyone’s trying to figure out how low they can get on the hardware,” Olechowski told me. “This box feels like they put the experience first, then figured out the hardware.”

Getting developers on board is crucial for Amazon. Simply put, you need to hook the people who will be making the apps, games and streaming sources, otherwise all you have is a fancy paperweight tied to a television. And that quad-core processor, dedicated GPU, 2 GB of memory, 1080p video support, and dual-band Wi-Fi goes to waste. 

In other words, those specs won’t matter if there aren’t enough streaming sources to keep customers happy.

Ready. Apps. Fire.

Amazon didn’t just pay attention to consumer experience. It courted developers. Hard.

Amazon released the developer tools for Fire TV on the same day of its release. The press announcement emphasizes particular areas, like gaming and casting features using the DIAL protocol (which allows mobile devices to interact with set-top boxes and TVs). It also underscored how easy it is for developers to bring their existing Android apps (presumably for Kindle Fire tablets) to the TV box.  

Olechowski, who put Plex on sale for a limited time (from $4.99 to $0.99 now), says new Plex users can download the Android app from the Amazon Appstore to their Fire TVs, just like they do for their Kindle Fire tablets. And, he added, “if you’ve already got it on your Kindle Fire, you’ll already be entitled to this big screen version.” 

Plex and others, like RealPlayer Cloud, enable users to stream their own media files to the television, and both of these are available on Fire TV at launch. So is game developer Frogmind.

“Porting to Fire TV from our existing Android version was quick and the support from Amazon was excellent,” CEO Johannes Vuorinen said in the press statement. “Combined with how good BADLAND looks from a large HDTV made the decision to port to the Fire TV platform an easy one.” 

These companies join other brand-name apps that are available at launch, including Netflix, Prime Instant Video, Hulu Plus, YouTube, WatchESPN, Showtime, VEVO, Bloomberg TV, Amazon MP3 and Pandora, among others. And Amazon’s pushing for even more to join the Fire TV’s bandwagon, with initiatives like the Appstore Developer Select Program. The plan offers help to app makers with ads, incentive programs and other revenue-generating approaches. 

All this means customers could have a slew of their favorite apps ready to usher them into the TV fold—that is, if they’re Kindle Fire apps. Once again, this doesn’t extend to those other Android apps, i.e. those from the Google Play store. The reason seems obvious. The Kindle Fire HDX and Fire TV run Google’s mobile operating system at their cores, so naturally, Amazon would want to urge Android lovers to their own devices. (Sorry Samsung, HTC and Motorola. You seem to be Android non grata here.) 

Another exclusion, at least at launch, is one particular big-name app: HBO GO. Its omission seems pretty glaring. (And no, Showtime just isn’t the same.) It’s likely that Amazon is working hard on this deal, and we may very well see an announcement before long. But for now, there’s no peep about the Game of Thrones’ purveyor.

Time To Stream Up Or Shut Up

Fire TV clearly has a few omissions. (It’s a bummer that there are no special perks for Prime subscribers like me.) But a quick look around the Web reveals that early impressions are generally positive—partly due to the box’s fast performance, and partly because, on Day One, it already has more streaming options than some of its other competitors. (Ahem, Apple TV and Chromecast.) 

Those omissions may also be something else—perhaps a show of confidence. The company didn’t try every trick in the book or bend over backwards to beg for business. Instead, it got busy focusing on what it sees as the fundamentals. The company laid important groundwork that speak to the device’s potential, which—like anything Amazonian—is big. 

Amazon will, of course, nail distribution for Fire TV. That’s what it is good at. (The device is available on Amazon online, and it will head to Staples on April 5.) The company also got developers in early, charmed them, and made sure the device was powerful enough to handle whatever they wanted to throw at it.

Meanwhile, Amazon also took a hard look at the consumer experience and vowed to solve everyday issues—like slow buffering, clunky interfaces, irritating search functions and pointless second-screen mobile experiences. And it promises to make them better with fresh thinking and creative approaches. If nothing else, that would be a welcome change. 

But the Fire TV is no longer in development. It’s crossing the threshold and becoming a real product now with real customers. And it must deliver on everything it promises. Many people pardoned Chromecast for its limitations. But if they’re shelling out a hundred bucks, Fire TV consumers may not be as forgiving. 

Feature image courtesy of Amazon; all others by Dave Smith for ReadWrite

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Bitcoin Miners: The Taxman Wants A Cut

Are you a bitcoin miner in the United States? Congratulations! You are making self-employment income.

The Internal Revenue Service ruled Tuesday that Bitcoin is not a currency, but actually a taxable property. The ruling takes effect immediately and covers all past and future bitcoins mined as well as any capital gains realized by spending coins or converting them to real-world currencies.

For Bitcoin miners, this means any of your “self-employment income” is now taxable. So if you have mined Bitcoins in the past or plan to in the future, be prepared to report your Bitcoin earnings during the tax season—and don’t forget about Social Security and Medicare withholding. 

Bitcoin was chosen by the IRS, among other digital currencies during Tuesday’s ruling, as a property asset for U.S. federal tax purposes. Concurrently, the organization released a Q&A for taxpayers. 

Here is the relevant section regarding Bitcoin mining:

Q-9:  Is an individual who “mines” virtual currency as a trade or business subject to self-employment tax on the income derived from those activities?

A-9: If a taxpayer’s “mining” of virtual currency constitutes a trade or business, and the “mining” activity is not undertaken by the taxpayer as an employee, the net earnings from self-employment (generally, gross income derived from carrying on a trade or business less allowable deductions) resulting from those activities constitute self-employment income and are subject to the self-employment tax.  See Chapter 10 of Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information on self-employment tax and Publication 535, Business Expenses, for more information on determining whether expenses are from a business activity carried on to make a profit.

At least some members of the Bitcoin community saw the writing on the wall a while ago. In December 2013, an unknown individual or group launched Bitcoin Taxes launched to help users calculate their bitcoin capital gains. (Despite which Bitcoin Taxes features a disclaimer noting that its site is for “informational purposes only” and that it doesn’t constitute “financial, tax or legal advice.”)

As a result, members of the /r/bitcoin subreddit are mostly taking the IRS requirement in stride. Paying taxes on your mining gains should be just like paying any other type of capital gains tax. For heavy users, the real news isn’t that Bitcoin is taxable. It’s that the IRS finally recognized its existence.

However, for casual users, the changes could be more significant. As it stands, the IRS ruling requests users to report every single Bitcoin gain. However, according to Steve Brecher, a senior adviser at accounting firm WeiserMazars, the IRS may relax that ruling over time. 

“When we’re talking about property, we’re talking about [how the IRS already handles] barter,” he said. “If you have acquired a piece of property, theoretically you have a gain. Are you going to report it? Does everyone report $5 gains? The answer is no. But with $5,000 gains you can see the answer a little more clearly.”

Now that Bitcoin is taxable just like stocks and bonds, Tuesday’s ruling means Bitcoin may never have the chance to become a black market outside the lines of the law. Perhaps now, alarmists can stop worrying about the future of Bitcoin and help it grow up.

View full post on ReadWrite

Hey, Bitcoin Miners! The Taxman Wants A Cut

Are you a bitcoin miner in the United States? Congratulations! You are making self-employment income.

The Internal Revenue Service ruled Tuesday that Bitcoin is not a currency, but actually a taxable property. The ruling takes effect immediately and covers all past and future bitcoins mined as well as any capital gains realized by spending coins or converting them to real-world currencies.

For Bitcoin miners, this means any of your “self-employment income” is now taxable. So if you have mined Bitcoins in the past or plan to in the future, be prepared to report your Bitcoin earnings during the tax season—and don’t forget about Social Security and Medicare withholding. 

Bitcoin was chosen by the IRS, among other digital currencies during Tuesday’s ruling, as a property asset for U.S. federal tax purposes. Concurrently, the organization released a Q&A for taxpayers. 

Here is the relevant section regarding Bitcoin mining:

Q-9:  Is an individual who “mines” virtual currency as a trade or business subject to self-employment tax on the income derived from those activities?

A-9: If a taxpayer’s “mining” of virtual currency constitutes a trade or business, and the “mining” activity is not undertaken by the taxpayer as an employee, the net earnings from self-employment (generally, gross income derived from carrying on a trade or business less allowable deductions) resulting from those activities constitute self-employment income and are subject to the self-employment tax.  See Chapter 10 of Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business, for more information on self-employment tax and Publication 535, Business Expenses, for more information on determining whether expenses are from a business activity carried on to make a profit.

At least some members of the Bitcoin community saw the writing on the wall a while ago. In December 2013, an unknown individual or group launched Bitcoin Taxes launched to help users calculate their bitcoin capital gains. (Despite which Bitcoin Taxes features a disclaimer noting that its site is for “informational purposes only” and that it doesn’t constitute “financial, tax or legal advice.”)

As a result, members of the /r/bitcoin subreddit are mostly taking the IRS requirement in stride. Paying taxes on your mining gains should be just like paying any other type of capital gains tax. For heavy users, the real news isn’t that Bitcoin is taxable. It’s that the IRS finally recognized its existence. 

However, for casual users, the changes could be more significant. As it stands, the IRS ruling requests users to report every single Bitcoin gain. However, according to Steve Brecher, a senior adviser at accounting firm WeiserMazars, the IRS may relax that ruling over time. 

“When we’re talking about property, we’re talking about [how the IRS already handles] barter,” he said. “If you have acquired a piece of property, theoretically you have a gain. Are you going to report it? Does everyone report $5 gains? The answer is no. But with $5,000 gains you can see the answer a little more clearly.”

Now that Bitcoin is taxable just like stocks and bonds, Tuesday’s ruling means Bitcoin may never have the chance to become a black market outside the lines of the law. Perhaps now, alarmists can stop worrying about the future of Bitcoin and help it grow up.

View full post on ReadWrite

Google Maps Gallery Wants To Be The Internet’s Digital Atlas

Last December, Google introduced its Google Maps Engine public-data program as a way for organizations to easily publish their map data online using its tools. On Thursday, the search giant expanded that program, launching a an interactive digital atlas called “Google Maps Gallery” intended to help those outfits make their maps easier to find online.

Google’s program looks like a response to mapping vendor Esri, which earlier this month announced that its thousands of government customers in the U.S. could make their geographic information system data open to the public.

“Governments, nonprofits and businesses have some of the most valuable mapping data in the world, but it’s often locked away and not accessible to the public,” Jordan Breckenridge, product manager of Google Maps, wrote on the Google Enterprise blog.

Powered by Google’s cloud infrastructure, Google Maps Gallery makes it easy to access all kinds of mapping data, from population statistics to municipal projects to emergency evacuation routes. Businesses, nonprofits and governments can also manage their own maps with styling and branding, as well as synchronize them with maps from legacy systems.

To start, Google Maps Gallery has opened up mapping data from the World Bank Group, National Geographic Society, U.S. Geological Survey, Florida Emergency Management and City of Edmonton.

Images by Google Maps Engine

View full post on ReadWrite

Why Yahoo Wants to Move Into Contextual Search and How it Might Work For Them

Marissa Mayer, CEO of Yahoo, has been commenting a lot recently about how she wants to get Yahoo back into the search game, with contextual search being one of the focuses. Will Yahoo be able to topple Google when it comes to contextual search?

View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest

Google Wants Content: How To Adjust Your SEO Strategy – Business 2 Community


Business 2 Community
Google Wants Content: How To Adjust Your SEO Strategy
Business 2 Community
Google Wants Content: How To Adjust Your SEO Strategy image cookie SEO strategies have to be at the heart of any business that wants to succeed in the online world in 2014. But SEO strategy means something different than it did one decade ago, five 
13 things we learnt from our content marketing strategies live chatThe Guardian (blog)
What Every Piece of Content Should Have for Maximum SharingSearch Engine People (blog)

all 6 news articles »

View full post on SEO – Google News

With Time Warner, Comcast Wants Total Control Of The Internet Pipes

You’ll be forgiven if the first thing you said when you heard that Comcast is buying Time Warner Cable was, “Is this legal?”

Comcast will certainly want you to think this deal is legal, good, just, beneficial, charitable, divine, logical, reasonable—any term its lobbyists can think of to get this acquisition through federal regulators. But when the biggest cable operator in the United States buys the second biggest one for $45.2 billion in stock, plenty of questions need to be answered.

Control The Pipes, Control The Content

What the merger between Time Warner and Comcast really means is that the two companies will control nearly one-third of all broadband subscribers in the U.S. and an inordinate amount of the fiber that the Internet runs on. Neither of these companies has a good track record of playing nice with their infrastructures and want to control (and get paid handsomely) for all the data that runs on their tubes. The Time/Comcast partnership is about control and power over the Web. 

Cable content will also get caught in the crossfires. Time Warner has long played hardball with content companies like CBS, which was blocked in 2013 in New York by the cable company. Have a serious addiction to the NFL and How I Met Your Mother? Yeah, Time Warner doesn’t really care about you.

Comcast and Time Warner will have a ton of leverage over content companies both on the Web and TV. It will be a monopoly power with wide-ranging effects over consumers, Wi-Fi and hotspot operators, Internet speeds, content companies like CBS and AMC, and over the top content providers like Netflix and YouTube.

Everybody Pays

What do these groups have in common? Everybody pays. And if they don’t, Time/Comcast will have the power and leverage to push them out of the ecosystem or make their lives very difficult. For instance, Time Warner does not put a cap on broadband data. Comcast does (at about 250 GB per month). Expect Time Warner customers to get that cap as soon as the deal is finalized. 

The fact of the matter is that Comcast wants control of your broadband. It wants to control the last mile of the pipe that runs from the rivers of broadband into your home. Once it has that, it has all the leverage it needs to start throwing its weight around and making gobs of money in the process.

Regulators will take a hard look at the merger and approval is no sure thing. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission have not been kind to infrastructure mergers and acquisitions under the Obama administration. AT&T’s $39 billion bid to take over T-Mobile was shot down and just last week. Sprint/Softbank said it was seriously reconsidering its takeover bid of T-Mobile after talking to DOJ and FCC regulators. 

Regulators: Infrastructure Vs. Media 

The key will be how the DOJ and FCC view Comcast and Time Warner. The mergers in the cellular space are very clear-cut in that they are infrastructure, communications companies. Will the FCC/DOJ see Time/Comcast more as a critical infrastructure provider (which it is) or a media empire? If it is the former, getting through regulatory hurdles may be more difficult as the FCC and DOJ have shown a proclivity to promote competition (to the benefit of consumers) in the telecommunications space. If it is the latter, the FCC may strike a similar deal with Comcast that it did when it approved its NBCUniversal acquisition several years ago.

The difference between merger like Comcast and Time Warner and that of AT&T and T-Mobile though is that, for the most part, Comcast and Time Warner are not really competitors. Maybe they are in their respective realms of content (HBO vs. NBC, for instance), but even that is not a good comparison. Cable operators tend to be regional monopolies anyway, with few competitors to their crowns. For instance, if you live in New England, you are probably a Comcast subscriber. You might have the option to use RCN or Verizon FiOS (in a very select locations), but Comcast is the king. Regulators may determine that there is no threat to consumers from a Comcast/Time Warner merger because competition isn’t stifled among two infrastructure companies that don’t compete for subscribers.

It is that NBCUniversal deal that creates a silver lining for consumers and competitors. The FCC forced Comcast to make significant concessions to regulators in that deal and those concessions have been a boon to consumers. The FCC made Comcast make it programming available online to TV and online competitors, expand the scale and speed of its broadband networks and abide by Open Internet rules to preserve the concept of net neutrality. The FCC lost its ability to regulate the Open Internet rules by an appeals court last month, but the FCC can still use the policy in negotiations with Comcast and Time Warner to ensure a competitive landscape.

Lead image by Reuters

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Baybrook Remodelers’ cack-handed SEO genius wants our unflattering … – Boing Boing

Baybrook Remodelers' cack-handed SEO genius wants our unflattering
Boing Boing
Remember Baybrook Remodelers, Ken Carney's Connecticut-based construction company who bully and sue disgruntled customers who leave negative reviews on Yelp and other sites? Well, now they've hired an SEO creep called Todd Ramos, who is 

and more »

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