Friday, October 2, 2015

Amazon To Stop Selling Apple and Google Video Products Inc. will stop selling media-streaming devices from Google Inc. and Apple Inc. that aren’t easily compatible with its video service, the latest example of the company using its clout to promote products that fit with its own retailing strategy.

The Seattle-based Web retailer sent an e-mail to its marketplace sellers that it will stop selling the Apple TV and Google’s Chromecast since those devices don’t "interact well" with Prime Video. No new listings for the products will be allowed and posting of existing inventory will be removed Oct. 29, Amazon said. Prime Video doesn’t run easily on its rival’s hardware.

Roku Inc.’s set-top device, Microsoft Corp.’s Xbox and Sony Corp.’s PlayStation, which work with Amazon’s video service, aren’t affected, it said. Amazon’s Fire TV stick, which plugs into an HDMI port to connect televisions with streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video, is the company’s best-selling electronic device.

The move, coming just before the year-end holiday shopping season, shows how Amazon is willing to sacrifice sales of popular brand name products -- Apple and Google have the best-selling media streaming devices generally -- to bolster its own video-streaming service. Amazon has invested heavily in online content, including producing its own exclusive shows such as the award-winning transgender comedy "Transparent", as a way to attract new Prime subscribers, who pay $99 a year for speedy shipping and access to video and other services.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Google and MSFT Come to Agreement

Peace has broken out between Google and Microsoft, which agreed to dismiss all of their pending patent lawsuits against each other.

The agreement, the terms of which were not disclosed, mean that about 20 different lawsuits in Germany and the United States involving issues as varied as mobile phones, wireless networking, video decoding and other technologies will go away. In a joint statement, the companies said the cases included those related to Motorola Mobility, the smartphone maker that Google sold last year to Lenovo.

The companies also said they agreed to “collaborate on certain patent matters and anticipate working together in other areas in the future to benefit our customers.”

Although Microsoft has struggled to compete in the marketplace against smartphones based on Google’s Android operating system, it has struck patent licensing agreements with many of the biggest makers of Android smartphones, including Samsung. (Microsoft settled a lawsuit this year involving a contract with Samsung over patent royalty payments. Analysts estimate that it earns billions of dollars a year in such royalty payments.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

MSFT App Store

Microsoft boasts that its Windows Store now has 669,000 apps for phones, tablets and PCs, and hundreds more join the party each day.

The app ecosystem can make or break a platform, as it plays a tremendous role in users' choice to stick with one operating system or flee to another. Android and iOS have huge app ecosystems and are the top two mobile platforms. Others such as Windows Phone and BlackBerry, for instance, saw many users switch to Android or iOS because they wanted more apps available. Android offers 1.6 million apps, while Apple offers 1.5 million.

Microsoft promised a big change with its latest Windows 10 OS and its universal apps, pledging to significantly widen the app ecosystem and allow apps to run on phones, tablets and PCs alike.

The company has now updated its Microsoft by the Numbers site, revealing that it currently has 669,000 apps in the Windows Store and it's adding "hundreds more each day."

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Samsung Pay is Here

Stateside Samsung phone users can now leave their wallets at home.
Samsung Pay, the company's mobile payments service, went live in the US on Monday. The service lets users pay for items using their phones or upcoming Gear S2 smartwatch, and it even works at older retail terminals that don't accept Apple Pay.
Samsung Pay works with Galaxy S6, S6 Edge, Note 5 and S6 Edge+ smartphones running on wireless networks from AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint and US Cellular. Verizon doesn't yet support Samsung Pay, but Samsung said it's still working with the wireless carrier on preloading the service on Verizon phones. Verizon had backed a mobile payments service of its own -- initially called Isis but rebranded Softcard -- but the service was absorbed by Google Wallet/Android Pay earlier this year.

Monday, September 28, 2015

YouTube Changes

YouTube, which spent the first 10 years of its life as a free service, is getting ready to start selling tickets.

Google’s video site appears to be finalizing launch plans for its long-in-the-making subscription service, and industry sources say they’ve been told to expect a launch near the end of October.
A blast email from YouTube to content owners, telling them they have to agree to new terms by Oct. 22 or their “videos will no longer be available for public display or monetization in the United States,” helps support that timeline.

But YouTube, which floated the idea of a new subscription service nearly a year ago, has never publicly committed to a timeline. Last spring, YouTube executives were telling content owners they were aiming for a mid-summer launch. It’s possible the launch could keep slipping, even beyond 2015.

Note that we’re referring to a single service, not multiple ones. Sources say that’s because YouTube intends to bundle two different services into one offering: An update of its music service, which it launched in beta as YouTube Music Key last fall, and another service, yet to launch, that will give users the ability to watch anything on YouTube without seeing ads.

Friday, September 25, 2015

eBook Sales

Five years ago, the book world was seized by collective panic over the uncertain future of print.

As readers migrated to new digital devices, e-book sales soared, up 1,260 percent between 2008 and 2010, alarming booksellers that watched consumers use their stores to find titles they would later buy online. Print sales dwindled, bookstores struggled to stay open, and publishers and authors feared that cheaper e-books would cannibalize their business.

Then in 2011, the industry’s fears were realized when Borders declared bankruptcy.

“E-books were this rocket ship going straight up,” said Len Vlahos, a former executive director of the Book Industry Study Group, a nonprofit research group that tracks the publishing industry. “Just about everybody you talked to thought we were going the way of digital music.”

But the digital apocalypse never arrived, or at least not on schedule. While analysts once predicted that e-books would overtake print by 2015, digital sales have instead slowed sharply.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Samsung Pay

Just in time for its U.S. launch next week, Samsung Electronics Co. said that its new mobile payment service has processed more than $30 million worth of transactions in its first month in South Korea, a level of market adoption that the company said was “beyond our expectations.”

The service, Samsung Pay, competes directly with Apple Inc.’s Apple Pay and offerings from Google Inc. and a group of major U.S. retailers. Unlike those rivals, however, Samsung’s technology is designed to work even with credit card readers that haven’t yet adopted next-generation near-field communication, or NFC, technology.

That is to say, Samsung Pay can, in theory, work in far more situations than Apple Pay or any of its rivals — especially since American retailers have been slow to adopt the next-generation technology that Apple Pay relies on. The question, then, for Samsung, was whether or not it could convince consumers to use its service.

Mobile payment solutions have been long anticipated by technology watchers, but haven’t yet been adopted en masse by U.S. consumers, who have stuck largely to swiping their traditional credit and debit cards at legacy magnetic stripe card readers.

Samsung said in its statement that it has processed more than 1.5 million total transactions so far, with about 10% of consumers who have used Samsung Pay using it every day.