It will be up to California residents to decide whether or not Amazon and other online retailers will have to collect sales tax in their state. According to the Associated Press, the California Attorney General's Office approved Amazon's petition for a referendum that will give voters the chance to overturn a new controversial law that altered what it means to have a physical presence in the state.
Every time a state draws up a new bill to force Amazon's hand at ponying up sales tax for products sold and shipped to its residents, the online retailer responds by killing off its associate program in that state and ending any business deals. It's akin to Amazon taking it's ball and going home, or at least going elsewhere, the only problem with that approach is Amazon is running out of places to, well, run. California is the most recent casualty to Amazon's associates program, but the e-tailer is also trying a different tactic this go-round.
The United States has a long history of fighting against unfair taxes (Boston Tea Party, anyone?), and while Amazon's battle is of a different sort than when the country was founded, the e-tailer feels as though it's the victim of greed by state officials who have the audacity to seek sales tax. Rather than comply with new laws that keep popping up around the country, Amazon has chosen to take its ball and run to different playgrounds, most recently turning its back on Connecticut.
You might already be familiar with Facebook's Check-In Deals, a service the social networking site launched a few months back and designed to help users take advantage of special offers when checking in at a local business from a mobile device. Deals on Facebook is different. This newly launched service is more akin to what Groupon is doing, in that it serves up discounts to select establishments that you purchase online and redeem offline.
Don't throw away your Sharper Image gift card just yet. In the coming weeks, you may be able to use it. Not for merchandise, mind you, but in exchange for cold, hard cash. Sharper Image, which is now called TSIC, wants to reimburse gift card holders almost three years after the company closed up shop. It's now up to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware whether or not the company formerly known as Sharper Image will be allowed to pay that money back.
The muddy waters surrounding ecommerce and state sales taxes has prompted Amazon to end its affiliate program in Illinois. The move is in response to Illinois passing a new law requiring ecommerce companies to collect sales tax in the state, even if there isn't a physical presence there, like a shipping warehouse or headquarters.
Amazon is at odds with the state of Texas over what the state claims is $269 million in unpaid taxes, which ultimately prompted the online mega e-tailer to close a distribution center in Dallas and cancel plans to build additional facilities in the state, according to a report in the Associated Press. The AP got its paws on an email sent to Amazon employees by Dave Clark, the e-tailer's VP of operations. In it, Clark announced the closing due to the state's "unfavorable regulatory climate."
A forum user over at Reddit claims to have discovered a pretty startling security flaw that could potentially make it easier for hackers to guess your Amazon password. By adding extra characters to a valid password with eight characters, some Amazon customers are still able to log in.
Let's say your password is "ILoveJan," which is a terrible password to begin with. If someone up to no good guesses "ILoveJan1932," Amazon may accept it. Wired, which says it confirmed the flaw, says the security SNAFU likely only affects older accounts. Newer passwords don't appear to be affected.
So what can you do? Wired says simply logging in and changing your password sidesteps the flaw, even if you end up changing it back to your original password.
Amazon's third-generation Kindle proved to be the catalyst pushing the e-tailer to its first $10 billion quarter ($12.95 billion, to be exact) in Q4, while noting that sales were up a healthy 36 percent, the company announced on Thursday.
"Thanks to our customers, we achieved two big milestones," said Jeff Bezos, found and CEO of Amazon.com. "We had our first $10 billion quarter, and after selling millions of third-generation Kindles with the new Pearl e-ink display during the quarter, Kindle books have now overtaken paperback books as the most popular format on Amazon.com."
Overall it was a killer year for Amazon, which reported a net sales increase of 40 percent to $34.20 billion, compared with $24.51 billion in 2009. The Kindle platform is the big reason why, and the U.S. Kindle Store now has more than 810,000 books to choose from. Over 670,000 of them are $10 or less, Amazon says.
Oracle hasn't been one to shy away from pricey acquisitions, and lest anyone forget that, the firm just announced plans to spend $1 billion in cash acquiring Art Technology Group, a provider of eCommerce software and on-demand commerce optimization applications.
"Driven by the convergence of online and traditional commerce and the need to increase revenue and improve customer loyalty, organizations across many industries are looking for a unified commerce and CRM platform to provide a seamless experience across all commerce channels," said Thomas Kurian, Executive Vice President Oracle Development. "Bringing together the complementary technologies and products from Oracle and ATG will enable the delivery of next-generation, unified cross-channel commerce and CRM."
This is Oracle's 10th acquisition so far in 2010, which will bring with it a customer-base of more than 1,000 global enterprises.