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Amazon Gets All Fired Up
September 18, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday introduced a slew of new Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. It also unveiled a new OS based on Android KitKat. The top-of-the-line product is the company's Fire HDX 8.9, which sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, with each core running at up to 2.5 GHz, and a GPU that's 75 percent faster than that of the previous Fire HDX.
Apple Pay Could Slam Door on Data Thieves
September 11, 2014
Despite the efforts of some big name tech players, consumers have been reluctant to turn their smartphones into wallets. That could be about to change with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the new mobile payment system Apple introduced with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus earlier this week. "Apple being Apple is going to change the game," said Christopher Budd, threat communications manager at Trend Micro.
Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
Apple's Cook Hits It Out of the Park
September 11, 2014
Apple made its annual iPhone announcement Tuesday, and there were several surprises, including one of those Steve Jobs "one more thing" moments. Now the question is, will the two new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch be a home run? Generally speaking, yes -- but with some caveats. The iPhone is coming in two new sizes. One is larger, meaning longer. The other is even larger, meaning even longer.
Amazon's Hot Sale Stokes Fire Phone Interest
September 09, 2014
Amazon on Monday dropped the price of its 32-gigabyte Fire Phone to a mere 99 cents from its original $199, with a two-year contract. The 64-gigabyte version now sells for $99, down from its launch price of $299. The offer is available exclusively for AT&T's network and includes a free year of Prime. The news raised more than a few eyebrows. Was the price cut in response to sluggish sales?
Apple Brings It
September 09, 2014
Apple on Tuesday rebuilt its iPhone foundation by introducing two new models with Retina HD displays: the iPhone 6 at 4.5 inches, and the iPhone 6 Plus at 5.5 inches. It launched Apple Pay, which promises to become the catalyst NFC mobile payment technology needs to become mainstream. Plus, it introduced the drool-worthy Apple Watch in two sizes, three style collections, and six choices of straps.
Twitter Cautiously Experiments With Buy Button
September 09, 2014
Twitter on Monday began testing a new Buy button with a small percentage of its users in the U.S. -- one of the first steps in a larger initiative to build purchase functionality into the service. A small group of brands, including Burberry, Home Depot, Keith Urban, the Nature Conservatory and Soundgarden, are participating by sending offers that are unique for Twitter users.
Can Cook Stir Up That Old Black Magic?
September 08, 2014
Excitement is mounting as the countdown to Apple's mysterious Tuesday event ticks away. Apple is widely expected to unveil two new iPhones -- one in the usual smartphone form factor and the other a phablet. There's also a good deal of anticipation for an iWatch or other stylish wearable that will kick the sector into high gear. Some expect Apple to go full blast into the healthcare industry.
Alibaba's IPO Will Blast Mobile Retail Into Hyperdrive
September 03, 2014
It seems the long-awaited, much anticipated IPO of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding is imminent. Granted, similar rumors this spring turned out to be groundless, but this time the drumbeats for the IPO are louder and more insistent. Whenever the IPO launches, it is clear that it will have a huge impact on the U.S. e-commerce space -- and the mobile retail subsector.
Uber Hustles to Buff Up Its Image
August 29, 2014
Uber is attempting to polish its image with a defense of its driver recruitment tactics following publication this week of accounts of sabotage, dirty tricks and generally ruthless behavior toward Lyft and other competitors in the ride-sharing space. "We want to make sure everyone has access to Uber's unmatched economic opportunity," Uber's "Craig" innocently said in a blog post.
Apple's About to Kick Mobile Payments Into High Gear
August 29, 2014
Rumor has it that when Apple reveals its much-hyped iPhone 6 on Sept. 9, one of the features it will be trumpeting -- finally -- is near field communication. The NFC tech will enable mobile payments, Wired reported, citing sources "familiar with the matter." Wow. If this is true, it could be the catalyst that propels mobile payments into the mainstream.
Gadget Ogling: A New Nook, a Good (M8), a Lock With No Key - and Music, Music, Music
August 26, 2014
The Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 Nook conflates lots of different things: It's an Android tablet designed for reading, made by Samsung for Barnes & Noble. That might seem confusing, and I'd agree. It's essentially a branded version of the Galaxy Tab 4 with an e-commerce focus. Specifically, there's a Barnes & Noble Newsstand app, with games, movies and books on offer.
Amazon Flows Into Mobile Payments Territory
August 13, 2014
Amazon has introduced Amazon Local Register to the mobile payment market, taking on such companies as Square and Paypal Here. The product is a combination of a secure card reader, which sells for $10, and a free mobile app. Together, they offer a platform that allows businesses to accept credit and debit card payments using smartphones or tablets. The product comes with customer support.
Target Adds a Ripple to Image-Recognition Pool
July 31, 2014
Target last week introduced In a Snap, a new image-recognition app that lets users buy products from the pages of select magazine and printed ads. It is unlike earlier variations of such apps in that consumers don't have to scan codes or follow a link to buy a product. It is similar to -- although far more limited than -- the Firefly functionality in Amazon's recently released Fire Phone.
The Retail Channel Is Dead - Long Live the Omnichannel
July 29, 2014
As Amazon's Fire Phone finds its way into consumers' hands, brick-and-mortar retailers are on guard. Amazon's new device is equipped with technology that seems to have been designed to take showrooming to new heights -- or depths, depending on one's perspective. The Fire Phone, in brief, has functionality that lets users scan an item they see in front of them or in a magazine.
Bringing Retail Into the 21st Century
July 29, 2014
Let's get one thing straight: E-commerce will not kill the physical retail store. Hold on, I hear you object, the digital world has utterly disrupted our shopping habits. We rarely enter a store without having researched the big-ticket items we want to buy. Much of our holiday shopping is done with a mouse click. When we do venture into a store, we rarely do so without clutching a smartphone.
Amazon Fire Phone Wins Respect, if Not Raves
July 23, 2014
Early reviews for Amazon's first foray into the smartphone market are mixed, with a general sense that the device is a good phone overlaid with some flashy features. Amazon announced the Fire Phone last month, trumpeting its 3D display, which uses facial recognition and front-facing cameras to shift perspective, depending on where the user's head is.
EU Rides Apple Over Weak In-App Purchase Policies
July 23, 2014
The EU last year adopted a "common position" on how purchases made within mobile and online applications should be treated by operators of app stores. Now Google is drawing praise for striving to comply with EU guidance, while Apple is being rebuked for dragging its feet. Google announced specific steps it's taking, including removal of the word "free" from any app that enables in-app purchases.
China's Internet: It's Not Personal, It's Business
July 21, 2014
The Internet adoption rate in China appears to be slowing, based on a report that shows the lowest six-month increase in the number of Internet users in eight years. The total number of Internet users in the country reached 632 million by the end of June. That includes the 14.4 million people who joined Internet user ranks in the first half of the year, according to the CNNIC's biannual report.
'Buy' Button Could Turn Facebook Into Impulse-Shopping-Ville
July 18, 2014
Facebook is testing a function that would allow users to buy products without leaving the site or app. Small and medium-sized businesses in the U.S. that are taking part in the trial can add the Buy button to ads displayed in users' News Feeds or in posts on their pages. Users will see the Buy button in relevant ads whether they're on the Facebook website or using their mobile device.
Amazon Unlocks Vast E-Book Library for $10 a Month
July 18, 2014
Amazon on Friday introduced Kindle Unlimited, a new subscription service for e-books. It allows customers to download and read as many books as they want from a list of 600,000-plus Kindle books for a monthly fee of $9.99. Amazon is making a number of popular titles available under the program, including The Hunger Games, Diary of a Wimpy Kid and The Lord of the Rings.
Amazon Risks Customer Loyalty in Fight Over Kids' In-App Purchases
July 11, 2014
Amazon's reputation for stellar customer service could become tarnished if its current flap with the FTC gets out of hand. The FTC is suing Amazon for permitting children to make millions of dollars in unauthorized purchases through its Appstore. Similar accusations have been circulating for years. Other companies, including Apple, have been targeted, said Strategic Vision CEO David Johnson.
FTC Goes After Amazon for Fleecing Kids
July 11, 2014
The FTC has filed suit against Amazon over billing kids for unauthorized in-app purchases that in many cases they did not know they had made. The suit accuses Amazon of violating Section 5(a) of the FTC Act, which prohibits unfair or deceptive acts or practices in or affecting commerce. The FTC is seeking a court order requiring Amazon to refund victims for the unauthorized charges.
What's in a Name? Ask the Other Isis
July 09, 2014
Mobile payment app Isis is focusing on rebranding following the emergence of the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. ISIS has gained notoriety in recent weeks for its links to violent strikes in Iraq. Not wanting its company to be associated with that group, Isis announced Monday that it will be working on a rebranding strategy over the coming months.

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