Archive for Technology
Amazon.com today announced Amazon Local Register, a secure card reader and mobile app that provides local businesses with the tools they need to quickly and easily accept credit and debit cards from a smartphone or tablet and keep track of their growing business. Amazon Local Register customers will have access to the Amazon.com award-winning, fully dedicated customer support team, as well as in-app tracking tools. Customers who sign up for Amazon Local Register before October 31 will also receive a low promotional rate of 1.75 percent per card swipe on all major credit and debit cards until January 1, 2016. Additional details are available at localregister.amazon.com.
“From clothing stores to contractors, food trucks to accountants, businesses and organizations using Amazon Local Register will enjoy industry-leading low rates, trusted and secure payment processing, and access to award-winning customer support,” said Matt Swann, Vice President of Amazon Local Commerce. “We understand that every penny and every minute counts, so we want to make accepting payments so easy and inexpensive that it no longer gets in the way of a business owner doing what they love – serving their customers and growing their business.”
Customers can get started with Amazon Local Register in three simple steps: create an account on localregister.amazon.com, purchase a $10 card reader, and download the free mobile app from Amazon Appstore, Apple App Store or Google Play. Starting today, the card reader is available with Free Two-Day Shipping on Amazon.com. Beginning August 19, customers can also purchase a card reader at Staples retail locations nationwide. The Amazon Local Register card reader and free mobile app are compatible with a variety of smartphones and tablets, including Apple devices running iOS7, Kindle Fire tablets, select Android smartphones, and coming soon to the new Fire phone. Each customer’s first $10 in transaction fees will be credited back to the customer’s account once Amazon Local Register is in use – allowing customers to fully recoup the cost of the card reader. Money from transactions can be deposited directly into a bank account within one business day, or spent on Amazon.com within minutes – see the website for more details. Amazon Local Register also provides:
Exceptional value: Amazon Local Register accepts all major credit and debit cards for a low, flat rate with no hidden fees. Plus, there are no long-term contracts. Customers who register before October 31 will receive a low promotional rate of 1.75 percent per card swipe until January 1, 2016. Customers who sign up after this promotional period will pay a flat rate of 2.5 percent on all swiped transactions.
Amazon customer support: Access the award-winning, fully dedicated customer support team, available by phone and email. Plus, Kindle Fire HDX owners can take advantage of the Mayday button to connect to an Amazon tech advisor 24 hours a day, 365 days per year – for free.
Secure and stabilized card reader: A stabilized card reader limits swivel, making it easier to swipe once and go. Plus, each transaction is backed by the same services that securely power Amazon.com purchases.
Business tracking tools: In-app reporting enables a business to quickly check bottom line performance, sales trends, peak sales times and more. All reporting is easily accessible from a smartphone or tablet and is password-protected.
Compatible accessories: Shop for compatible accessories including cash drawers, receipt printers, smartphone cases and stands. Find everything needed to build a point-of-sale system including massive selection, available at the best price, all on Amazon.com.
Early users of Amazon Local Register share their experiences:
“Amazon Local Register has simplified, organized and improved efficiency for my business. The feature I am most impressed with is the outstanding customer support I receive any time I have a question or for whatever help I need. The reports are easy to understand and help me figure out how my business is performing.” Erin H, hair & makeup artist
“I’m always looking for ways to reduce my business expenses. Amazon Local Register’s low price means that I can invest more in my business, while still ensuring that I’m accepting customer payments safely and securely.” – Kevin L, gallery and event venue owner
“My customers used to always ask if they could pay with a credit card and I always said no, as it always seemed too complicated to set up. It was easy to get started with Amazon Local Register, and taking payments is a breeze. My customers are VERY happy and prefer to pay with their card. Another benefit is that I don’t have to deal with going to the bank to deposit cash and checks.” Jannine H, massage therapist
Amazon has officially unveiled Prime Music, which is exclusively available to members who pay the annual $99 Prime subscription fee. The service is competing against a number of established players in the market, such as Spotify and Beats Music.
Prime Music has a catalog of over one million tracks, contributed from Warner Music Group and Sony Music – as well as from large independent labels.The largest label in the world, Universal has not contributed any material.
Amazon has their work cut out for them competing against Spotify, Deezer and soon to be acquired by Apple, Beats Audio. These two companies have over 20 million tracks, and have highly developed curated playlists.
With millions of music tracks to choose from, it can get overwhelming when you try and discover new music. Amazon Prime Music is launching with hundreds of “Prime Playlists” created by Amazon’s editorial team, grouped by genre (Pop, Alternative & Indie Rock) as well as context (Happy & Upbeat, Party Time & Entertaining, Work, Study & Reading and more) Most of the playlists have older tracks on them and new ones will take six months from their release to become available on the new Amazon service.
Amazon Prime Music will be available to listen offline and doesn’t need an internet connection once the content is downloaded. You will also be able to scintillate your ears on any of the Kindle Fire tablets, and iOS. I was told an Android app is incomming, but is not available yet.
Todd Humphrey the EVP of Business Development at Kobo Books has left the company. He worked for Kobo from 2010 to 2014, where was responsible for all worldwide business development activities for Kobo, including OEM’s, retailer’s and wireless providers.
Todd has joined former Kobo CEO Michael Serbinis in a new stealth startup called The Everlong Project. Not much is known about the company, but they seem to be involved in wearable technology in the health sector. On the companies official blog page they do illuminate a bit on what they are doing with the statement “IOT is going to revolutionize how we manage our health, but the real trick is not in all of the various data-emitting, wearable devices. As someone who once saw 100′s of eReaders at CES (what we affectionately called the eReader ghetto) and then saw that turn to dozens, then 3-4 and eventually…you know the drill. It’s not about the hardware, ultimately. It’s not even in the data. The data on its own will be almost useless. It’s in the services that use that data, and engage consumers, and keep them coming back. If there are any people out there who actually, regularly, use their FitBit dashboard, and find it indispensable….please let me know…”
Former CEO Michael Serbinis confirmed that Todd is actually the Co-Founder of the Everlong project by stating “Todd has joined as co-founder at the Everlong Project where we plan on building another great company. As we are just rounding out Month 2, doubling our space, growing the team, and working toward launch – it’s great timing.”
We should be hearing more about the Everlong project when they formally announce their first product in early 2015.
Borders Bookstores were the first national chain that went bankrupt due to the rock bottom prices that Amazon provided. Whether customers bought eBooks or physical books bookstore chains felt like they were basically a showroom showroom. Customers would often say “I can get this exact same book for 40% off and you guys only sell it for 30 percent off.” In order to combat the showroom mentality EX-Border employees have formed a new company called PriceLocal.
Local companies can now opt into the PriceLocal program to match prices found on Amazon. Users install a browser based extension and can browse Amazon deals the way they have always have. If they find something they like, they can access a drop down menu listing local companies that sell the same product. With a simple button click the companies are notified via email or text message. That’s when the owner chooses one of the four options of matching, denying the match, substituting for a similar product or ordering the product.
Former Borders attorney Matt Chosid is based near the former corporate headquarters in Ann Arbor Michigan. Twelve local companies have signed on to PriceLocal in a pilot test. A number of clothing, shoes, jewelry, pet supplies, homewares, hardware, sporting goods, and electronics and appliance stores have opted in.
One of the benefits of PriceLocal is the ability to have the product in your hand that very day. This saves on having to wait on something being delivered and have immediate gratification. “People are already doing their research online, and we could basically turn the idea of showrooming on its head where people do their browsing and research online and instead of researching in the store and buying online, they could research online and buy in local stores.”
There is a stigma in American culture where you can’t bargain for items at your local Best Buy or Macy’s. This gives Amazon an advantage where users can use a bar scanning app to find the best online deal. PriceLocal puts the power back into the hands of local businesses to be able to match specific prices for customers using this service. Giving the odd big deal really isn’t that bad for an indie business, certainly a better bet than giving lots of deals via Groupon.
The Blackberry Playbook and Blackberry 10 smartphones all have the Android Runtime built into the OS that gives developers an easy avenue to port their apps over for inclusion into Blackberry World. The most recent 10.2 update for all current generation phones can now load in APK files directly, which simplifies the entire process. Today, Blackberry has confirmed the Android runtime will soon be updated to Jellybean 4.3, which will allow more apps to be able to run effectively.
The new Blackberry SDK is out today for developers to incorporate it into their apps. The runtime has been upgraded from Jelly Bean 4.2.2 and with it users can log in to Android apps that require authentication right from the BB10 accounts settings page. Users can also manage which apps have access to which accounts. The SDK also has support for NFC and Bluetooth LE.
To get started, developers will have to grab the BlackBerry 10.3 Beta SDK OS for BlackBerry 10 devices. The company’s Android Tooling page has updated command-line tools and plugins for Android Studio or Eclipse to develop Android apps for BB 10.
All Blackberry phones should receive the 10.3 update in the coming months. The big rumor from CES 2014 was that Blackberry was creating a dedicated Android section in Blackberry World, to have control over app distribution. Right now the vast majority of phone users are using alternative markets such as Amazon or Good e-Reader.
The Amazon Fire TV box received a tremendous amount of hype when it was first released last month. It is painfully obvious that this is one segment that Amazon has yet to really crack, like they have eBooks. In order to push out more Fire TV sales Amazon has been sending emails and snail mail letters to Prime members telling them they can trial it for free, for one month.
You can get a Free Fire TV now for one month and Amazon will pay the shipping to you. If you want to send it back, you can do so and not incur any extra charges, at the end of the month your credit card will be automatically billed.
Amazon Fire TV was originally launched in April and the Seattle based company has not divulged hardware sales. Currently it sits in the 1st position for the popular Electronics category with Google Chromecast and the Kindle e-reader rounding out the top three. If you really think about it the Fire TV has been in the Top 10 for 52 days, while Apple TV has been there for the last 792, quite telling.
You have to be a current Prime member to be eligible for the offer and reside in the US. Try clicking on THIS link to see if you are eligible for the offer.
Amazon Prime has just inked a deal with HBO to bring all of their television shows, limited series and movies over. The first installment of content is now available for residents of the US who want to watch The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Wire, Deadwood, and Rome. There is also shows available via Prime that are currently on television such as True Blood, Boardwalk Empire, and Treme.
These shows reflect the first wave of HBO content that is crossing over to Amazon. Sadly, the super popular current shows such as Game of Thrones, Veep, the Newsroom and Girls will not be available for at least a year or two. Customers will have to rely on the HBO GO app that will be available in the Amazon App Store soon.
“We’re thrilled to deliver this collection of groundbreaking, beloved content from HBO to Amazon Prime members for unlimited streaming at no additional cost,” Brad Beale, Amazon’s director of Digital Video Content Acquisition, said in a statement. “Given the number of customers who purchase these titles from Amazon, we know how much customers love these shows.”
Apple has unveiled new functionality for all apps in their App Store. Developers now have the option to offer promo codes to unlock all fremnium content within their apps. This is a boon for game testers or the media to give an accurate review of all the ingame content.
Promotional codes have been available for quite awhile. In the past, they were only relevant to downloading a paid app for free. This prevented companies like Zinio or PressReader from giving away free digital magazines or newspapers as part of a promotion.
This new feature is not available yet to all developers and Apple has not updated their main portal yet with all of the latest information. The big app developers have been the first ones to get early access, as evident in the Electronic Arts game Real Racing 3. The company is currently offering a promotion to get 10 gold, worth $1.99, for free.
Games that offer microtransactions like Simpsons Tapped Out or Clash of Clans stand the most to gain. They constantly run television commercials that would allow them to give in-game currency away for free and evaluate if their campaign was successful. I think eBook, newspaper and magazine companies stand to gain the most. Being able to give a few things away for free is a compelling value proposition. For example, there is a ton of companies out there that do the whole Netflix for eBooks or Netflix for magazines, a good way to distinguish yourself is to give away free content. These new promotional codes are a boon for the publishing industry.
Apple is in talks to buy Beats Audio for $3.2 billion dollars and integrate their technology into future iPhone and iPad products. This will boost the overall sound performance and give the company new headphones, speakers, docking stations and ear buds to sell.
The acquisition of Beats Audio makes sense for Apple. Earlier in the year Beats launched the Beats Music service, which is a competitor of Spotify, Pandora and Apple’s own iTunes Radio. Beats Music is, however, a subscription-based on-demand service, which could bolster Apple’s free station-based iTunes Radio service.
Apple has been talking about revising their entire iTunes experience to address declining media sales. Billboard reports that sales of tracks declined 5.7 percent, to 1.34 billion units, while album sales fell 0.1 percent, to 117.6 million. The Beats infrastructure would allow Apple to revamp iTunes without building a new one from scratch.
There is a ton of synergy between Beats and Apples streaming music services. Beats Music, which is available to subscribers for $9.99 per month, focuses heavily on curation. The company has hired music experts from popular radio stations around the country to create stations and playlists from the service’s 20 million song catalog. Apple has their own editorial team, and it would make sense to combine forces to dominate customized playlists. The two sides would dominate streaming radio service and put other companies like Tunein on notice.
HTC Corp. used to own a 51 percent stake in Beats, a controlling stake that it purchased for about $300 million. The company sold back 25 percent of Beats in 2012. In September, Carlyle Group LP bought a minority stake in the company.
Publishers don’t have many avenues to promote their own videos other than Yahoo, AOL or Youtube to satisfy their advertisers. Most of these companies end up taking a cut of the revenue, but few have any choice. Conde Nast has been quietly been building their own video distribution platform spending close to $50 million in development costs.
Conde Nast will be launching The Scene this July and will showcase 100 new series across 14 channels from all of their publishing brands. There will be a wide array of videos from Allure, Bon Appétit, Epicurious, Glamour, Golf Digest, GQ, Self, Style.com, Teen Vogue, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Wired, Lucky and The New Yorker. Some of their original shows have received accolades from all over the industry. The Producers Guild of America gave an award for “Wired: What’s Inside,” an Emmy nomination for GQ’s docuseries “Casualties of the Gridiron” and 14 Webby nominations.
In order for The Scene to work, Conde Nast has to attract other top tier content providers to the platform. This will help offset the development costs from setting up the entire infrastructure, but also make it more financially appealing than Yahoo or AOL. As it stands, ABC News, Buzzfeed, Major League Soccer, Variety, Weather Channel Films have all committed themselves.
The Scene launches in a few months but already the executives are signing their praises. “In just one year, CNÉ has set the industry standard for award-winning original video content that millions of influential millennials are watching and sharing” said Dawn Ostroff, president of Condé Nast Entertainment, in a statement. “The addition of The Scene, which will feature content from all of our powerful branded channels and premium digital videos from leading traditional and digital media companies, will increase our reach to entirely new audiences.”
Want to see what content from The Scene is all about? The video below is a sample of what to expect out of the production values in the new video platform.
Microsoft Word, Excel, and Powerpoint were one of the most eagerly anticipated apps to hit the iPad in quite sometime. Today, the entire suite of apps have received a new update that allow them to print over the air.
According to a Microsoft Office Blog post “Your top request is here! You can now print Word documents, Excel spreadsheets, and PowerPoint presentations to an AirPrint printer. In Word for iPad, you can choose to print a document with or without markup. In Excel, print a selected range, a single worksheet or an entire spreadsheet. Of course, you can select the pages or slides you want to print.”
You can read Word documents, view Excel data, present with PowerPoint, and print your documents with the free iPad apps. With an optional Office 365 subscription1 starting at $6.99 per month, you can edit and create documents on the iPad.
Apple TV is expecting a major new hardware update in 2014 and the big rumor is that it will include iOS, which will allow companies to develop custom apps and games. Until then, we will have to settle for incremental additions whenever opportunity arises. Today, Apple unveiled three new channels with A&E, Lifetime and the History Channel.
Starting today you can get your fill of American Pickers, American Restoration, Pawn Stars, Storage Wars, and tons more! This is only available for American subscriptions and it is a bit of a pain to actually watch all of the shows on-demand. Instead of subscribing with iTunes you have to write down codes from the TV, visit the television providers website and make a new account. The whole process takes basically 15 minutes, which is quite daunting.
Yahoo is making a big play to be the default search engine to iOS 7 and above. The company currently powers the Weather and Stock apps on iPads and iPhones the world over.
A new report states that Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is preparing detailed presentations to present to high level Apple executives showing what its new mobile search product could look like. There are a pair of internal projects, code-named “Fast Break” and “Curveball”, that are part of Yahoo’s redesign of its mobile search engine for iOS.
Microsoft Bing currently integrated with Siri to be the search engine of choice when internet results are dispatched to users. Bing is also one of the user selectable options for Safari. The two companies are basically in the middle of a ten year deal and Yahoo wants to replace Microsoft.