Amazon has a plan to get into the mobile payments game

Posted by:
Date: Friday, February 7th, 2014, 09:32
Category: Amazon, Finance, Mobile, retail, Services

amazon-logo-150x150It looks like Amazon is determined to expand out of the “virtual” retail space to get its foot in the door of brick-and-mortar stores. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon’s CEO, Jeff Bezos, has plans to0 equip retailers with Kindle tablets with credit card readers for accepting payments, possibly in exchange for web site development and data analysis. Trying to push its way into traditional retail spaces means Amazon will be pitting itself against much larger companies that provide checkout and POS (Point Of Sale) systems to large retailers, which may require Amazon to turn to smaller businesses. Even there, they are competing with companies like Square Inc., who have a big head start in that space. Amazon does have the benefit of allowing retailers that partner with them to offer promotions or discounts through Amazon.com or its Amazon Local daily deals offers. Amazon has a steep hill to climb, but Richard Crone who is chief executive of Crone Consulting, a payments advisory firm, makes a good point;

“At the end of the day, a merchant wants to make a sale, to drive up business. And if Amazon or anyone else can help them do that, that’s tough to turn away,”

Amazon will also be in a race with Apple, who is reportedly preparing its own blitz into the mobile payments game, offering the convenience of millions of customers with iPhones with the advantages of the iBeacon system. Even Amazon knows it’s not a sure thing. The WSJ mentions that, “Amazon’s plans remain fluid and the project might be delayed, altered or canceled, they said.”.

Will subscribers of Amazon Prime still think it’s a good value at $119?

Posted by:
Date: Tuesday, February 4th, 2014, 08:46
Category: Amazon, Business, Finance, Opinion, Services

amazon-money1Last Thursday, Amazon reported their holiday quarter earnings and things didn’t look good. Their overall revenue was up 20% at $25.59 billion but analysts expected sales to come in at  just over $26 billion. This sounds very similar to the report of Apple’s earnings, which were good, but given the thumbs down for not meeting analysts’ expectations?  Unfortunately, Amazon’s net income of $239 million missed estimates by a huge margin. During the call, Amazon cited the rising cost of fuel and transportation for the increase, as well as the high frequency of orders from Prime members. As a result, Chief Financial Officer Tom Szkutak suggested that it may raise the price of Amazon Prime memberships between $20 and $40 per year (currently $79), bringing the total annual cost of the service up to as much as $119.

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Acquisitions and the annoyance of abandoned apps

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Date: Friday, January 31st, 2014, 13:00
Category: App Store, Apple, Apps, Business, Developer, Google, iPhone, Opinion, Services, Software

pirate_skull_crossbones_square_sticker-r77418cb09c3345e7b8854da982e2526a_v9wf3_8byvr_512Yahoo! has just acquired Incredible Labs, which developed the Donna personal assistant app for iPhone. The latest update on the Donna blog makes it clear what the fate of the app and service will be;

“The transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions, is expected to close shortly. Following closing, Donna will be removed from the app store and discontinued as a service.”

No date has been given, but they are likely to follow the model where users will be given a window of a few months in order migrate their data and find a new solution. I’m not personally a user of Donna, however if I was I’d be pretty upset.

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Will the next NSA satellite have an Apple logo?

Posted by:
Date: Wednesday, January 1st, 2014, 08:24
Category: Apple, Consumer Electronics, iOS, iPhone, Legal, Mobile, Mobile Phone, News, privacy, security, Services, Software

geoeye-1-satellite-apple-460Well, perhaps that is a stretch, but Apple’s possible connection with the NSA was revealed in a report dating back to 2008. Reuters explains that the report outlined a system that the NSA was developing, called DROPOUTJEEP, which would be software implanted into an iPhone that allows infiltrators to push and pull and retrieve data from iPhones such as contact lists. The report didn’t actually specify any involvement by or with Apple, although the iPhone is referenced in the report.

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iBeacon rollout in Apple Stores

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Date: Thursday, December 12th, 2013, 08:28
Category: Apple, iOS, iPhone, Mobile, News, privacy, retail, Retail Store, Services, Software

apple-store-ibeaconLast week Apple started rolling out iBeacon, Apple’s location based technology that offers a “better user experience”. What they mean is that when you are in a store with an iPhone, they can track your location to the foot, allowing iBeacon to send you notifications with info on the product you are standing in front of, coupons, sales, or general info on the store. It has been pointed out that Apple use coupons and rarely has sales (except Black Friday), but since the iBeacon technology will be sold outside of Apple, it is sure to be used by the likes of Target and Walmart.

 

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Apple grabs another piece of the pie with China Mobile deal

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Date: Friday, December 6th, 2013, 08:11
Category: 3G Wireless, Announcement, Apple, Mobile, Mobile Phone, Services

china-mobileApple has been after the China market for some time, and it’s no wonder. China represents 1.3 billion of potential customers, which would be Apple’s largest market outside the United States. China Mobile is the world’s largest carrier by subscribers, servicing somewhere in the neighborhood of 700 million users. That number is more than twice the population of the United States. It doesn’t take a sales expert to realize that this would be huge for Apple. A Wall Street Journal report, with information provided by anonymous sources, said that China Mobile will start offering iPhones later this month. The announcement of the deal may happen at a China Mobile conference on De. 18th which will be held in the city of Guangzhou.

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Apple in a buying mood, acquires social analytics firm Topsy

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Date: Tuesday, December 3rd, 2013, 08:24
Category: Announcement, Apple, iTunes Music Store, iTunes Radio, News, Services

topsyApple seems to be pretty busy this quarter buying up companies. Apple reportedly bought social-media analytics firm Topsy Labs Inc. for more than $200 million. According to The Wall Street Journal, Topsy’s tools can decipher how often a term is tweeted, find an influential person on a specific subject, or measure the exposure of an event or campaign. Describing Topsy’s process, WSJ noted;

“The company is one of a handful of Twitter Inc. partners with access to the so-called “fire hose”—the full stream of tweets since 2006, which now average roughly 500 million a day. Topsy then analyzes this information and resells it to customers.”

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Apple retail to use iBeacon location technology

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Date: Monday, November 18th, 2013, 09:08
Category: Apple, Developer, iOS, Mobile, News, privacy, Retail Store, security, Services, WWDC

ibeacon2Earlier this year at WWDC, Apple introduced iBeacon, a technology that would be introduced as part of iOS 7 and new Apple hardware. iBeacon utilizes BlueTooth LE (Low Energy) to provide very precise location data to your device, which can either provide detailed directions inside a building, like a mall, or give you information about a particular item on a shelf that you are standing in front of. Yes, it’s that precise. Since it has to take a location measurement very frequently to provide that level of precision, it uses the BlueTooth LE radio (separate from the regular one generally used), in order to prevent excessive battery drain on your device. This opens up a lot of opportunities for all retailers, not just Apple.

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State Law Kills Amazon Associates Program

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, June 30th, 2011, 08:28
Category: Announcement, Legal, News, Services

As the result of a new bill passed by Governor Jerry Brown in California, Amazon will be terminating its service contracts for all Amazon Associates members residing in California. The new bill, which requires that taxes be collected on all sales by online retailers, extends its reach to “California-based marketing affiliates” which includes the referral status from residents participating in the Amazon Associates program. All current participants should have received an email covering the details from Amazon.com in the last few days, as the termination went into effect as of June 29, 2011. Here are some excerpts from the emails that were sent out:

Unfortunately, Governor Brown has signed into law the bill that we emailed you about earlier today. As a result of this, contracts with all California residents participating in the Amazon Associates Program are terminated effective today, June 29, 2011. Those California residents will no longer receive advertising fees for sales referred to Amazon.com, Endless.com, MYHABIT.COM or SmallParts.com. Please be assured that all qualifying advertising fees earned before today will be processed and paid in full in accordance with the regular payment schedule.

We oppose this bill because it is unconstitutional and counterproductive. It is supported by big-box retailers, most of which are based outside California, that seek to harm the affiliate advertising programs of their competitors. Similar legislation in other states has led to job and income losses, and little, if any, new tax revenue. We deeply regret that we must take this action.

[...] we are continuing to work on alternative ways to help California residents monetize their websites and we will be sure to contact you when these become available.

The change does not affect any participants who reside outside of California, and those services will continue as normal. If a participant has or is planning to move to another state, they can contact Amazon to be reinstated into the program here.

Apple posts job listing focused on improving cloud services

Posted by:
Date: Thursday, April 14th, 2011, 03:07
Category: Mobile, Rumor, Software

applelogo_silver

When the job listings go up, things become interesting.

Per AppleInsider, Apple is building a small team to write software which will lay the groundwork for the company’s future Web services, which it has advertised as “the future” of its cloud-based offerings.

This week the company posted a new job listing for the position of “Cloud Systems Software Engineer.” The full-time role at the company’s Cupertino, Calif., campus will join a “small team” that is said to be building “the future of cloud services at Apple.”

That small team writes “software which forms the foundation” for some of Apple’s “most exciting new products and services,” the job listing reads. In keeping with Apple’s legendary secrecy, the listing does not reveal what services the company’s cloud-driven future will include.

The company is apparently looking to hire an engineer with experiencing in scalable and extensible systems. The ideal candidate will collaborate with other engineering teams at Apple to build the platform frameworks and systems that will power Apple’s next-generation Web services.

Apple has offered cloud-based services for some time with its US$99-per-year MobileMe service. According to unconfirmed rumors, Apple is expected to unveil an enhanced version of MobileMe this year, featuring a digital “locker” that would store personal files such as photos, music and videos. That content could be streamed to Internet-connected devices like iPhones, eliminating the need for a large amount of local memory on devices.

In particular, Apple is believed to be working on a cloud-based music service that would allow users to stream their music from anywhere. Such a product could be powered by Apple’s new massive data center in North Carolina, expected to go online this spring.

This week’s latest job listing from Apple comes only months after the company sought to add software engineers to its iOS development team with an emphasis on remote storage for data access. Cloud support is rumored to be a major component of iOS 5, the next major version of Apple’s mobile operating system for the iPhone and iPad. One report from March said Apple plans to release iOS 5 this fall.

Stay tuned for additional details as they become available.