Up until this point, the whole NFC/Mobile payments craze have largely been focused on smartphones, since, well, you’re more likely to have a cellphone than a notebook on you when you’re shopping. But hey, what about e-shopping? Intel and MasterCard just announced that they’ve teamed up to make Ultrabook a little more “Ultra” by adding mobile payments to the support list for the ultraportable laptops. You’ll still need your cellphone, though.
Back in 2010, Google made Groupon an offer it was able to refuse. The sultan of search reportedly was willing to pay $5 billion for the online coupon site, and all Groupon's founders had to do was sign the paperwork, cash out, and laugh all the way to the bank. Imagine the audacity of rejecting a multi-billion dollar offer, because that's exactly what Groupon did and you know what? It may have been the right move.
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.
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.
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.
In a note to investors this week, Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter said it's going to be increasingly difficult for Best Buy to compete with online retailers, CNet reports.
"We expect continued market share losses in consumer electronics to online retailers and lower-priced big-box competitors, and entertainment software to Gamestop, Amazon, and Wal-Mart," Pachter wrote.
Best Buy recently posted weaker-than-expected sales in a number of categories, including TVs, PCs, and videogames. Sales were down 3 percent from a year ago, though the brick-and-mortar electronics chain still made a profit of $217 million on almost $12 billion in revenue.
That means Best Buy doesn't have to go into panic mode just yet, but it should look to alter its strategy. According to Pachter, lower prices online undermine Best Buy's "widest selection of goods at premium price points."
The Internet Innovation Alliance put together an interesting graphic detailing just how much money broadband subscribers potentially save every year by having "access to education, job opportunities, social networking, and on-demand information." Did you know, for example, that the average amount saved on entertainment (restaurant dining, sporting/concert tickets, and leisure activities in five U.S. cities) works out to $2,747?
Broadband subscribers can expect to pocket $1,532 in savings on travel costs, $974 on housing, and $965 on food.
"Congress and the FCC should focus their efforts on policies that encourage investment in more robust networks and policies that expand digital literacy to those offline, rather than aggressive regulatory detours that discourage investment," said Bruce Mehlman, IAA co-chairman.
Based on an average U.S. household income before taxes of $62,857, IAA reckons broadband subscribers save as much as $7,707 each year on various goods and services thanks to having a fast Internet connection.
We like to think of ourselves as vendor agnostic, so far be it for us to pimp any particularly e-tailer over another. To be clear, that's not what we're doing here, but because we're big into online shopping, and we imagine you are too, we felt it newsworthy to let you know what Walmart's up to.
From now until December 20th, 2010, Walmart is offering free ground shipping on nearly 60,000 eligible items, including all electronics (our favorite items), with no minimum purchase requirement, subscription fees, or other hidden fees of any sort, the mega chain announced.
"Customers are doing all they can to save money this holiday, so we’re excited to offer free shipping to home, with no minimum purchase requirement as an early Christmas present to them," said Steve Nave, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart.com. "This limited-time free shipping to home offer on nearly 60,000 select items, including all electronics, is just one of the ways Walmart.com is helping families save money so they can bring home more for less this holiday season."
Decide for yourself if Walmart is the Mecca of savings or the ultimate evil organization. Either way, we wonder if this will put pressure on other vendors to offer the same or similar shipping deals through the holidays.
Online auction site eBay is looking to entice users to spend a little more heavily by working with PayPal on a new cash back program. Any eBay shopper that lives in the US, and makes a purchase with PayPal will earn 2% cash back. The service is (cunningly) called eBay Bucks.
Purchases made on the website, as well as on mobile apps will count toward the program. However, come areas of the eBay site will not figure into a user's eBay Bucks balance. These include Classifieds, Business & Industrial Capital Equipment, eBay Motors, and Real Estate categories. At the end of each three month period, users will be issued a voucher as a payout. The eBay Bucks have to be spent within 30 days, and users will have to use PayPal as the payment processor.
Ebay claims that in a trial period, users in the Bucks program spent five times more than regular users. Only time will tell if the wider eBay user base will respond in kind.