The European Union’s digital chief wants search engines such as Alphabet Inc’s Google and Microsoft’s Bing to be more transparent about paid ads in web search results but ruled out a separate law for web platforms.
European Commission Vice-President Andrus Ansip, who is overseeing a wide-ranging inquiry into how web platforms conduct their business, said on Friday the EU executive would not take a horizontal approach to regulating online services.
“We will take a problem-driven approach,” Ansip said. “It’s practically impossible to regulate all the platforms with one really good single solution.”
That will come as a relief to the web industry, dominated mainly by big U.S. tech firms such as Facebook, Google and Amazon, who lobbied hard against new rules for online platforms and what they saw as an anti-American protectionist backlash.
“We praise the Commission for understanding that a horizontal measure for all platforms is practically impossible,” said Jakob Kucharczyk, director of the Computer & Communications Industry Association which represents the likes of Facebook, Google and Amazon.
“While a lot of online platforms enable economic growth, their business models differ widely.”
However Ansip said he was worried about how transparent some search engines are when displaying ads in search results.
The Commission is also looking into the transparency of paid-for reviews as well as the conditions of use of services such as Google Maps, Apple Inc’s IoS mobile operating system and Google’s Android.
“Maybe it’s not too much to ask for more transparency talking about search engines,” Ansip said.
The EU executive is looking into making rules on taking down illegal content clearer and more effective without making hosting websites such as YouTube directly liable.
“Now musicians ask, please, take it down and keep it down,” Ansip said. “We want to make those rules more clear.”
But the Commission will not change a provision where websites such as Amazon, eBay and Google’s YouTube are not held liable for illegal content that is uploaded on to their systems. They do, however, have a responsibility to take it down once they are notified of it.
The Commission will publish a communication detailing its plans on web platforms in June.
On paper, the Pine 64 is as powerful as the $35 Raspberry Pi 3. It can be a PC replacement, and the most expensive model, with Wi-Fi, is priced at $29.
The initial shipments are going to backers that poured a total of $1.7 million into a Kickstarter campaign to develop the computer. Pine64, the computer’s maker, is shipping out small batches after delays and slowly ramping up production, according to posts in the company’s forums and on its Kickstarter page.
Some backers have started receiving boards. However, many on the Kickstarter page have grumbled over delays and about receiving notices that the board was ready to ship but not receiving tracking numbers for packages.
here are three models of Pine 64 listed on the company’s Web site. The cheapest, $15 model is out-of-stock, but the $19 and $29 models, which can be pre-ordered, will ship no later than May, according to the site.
The Pine 64 is similar to Raspberry Pi 3 (Amazon price) in many respects. It has a 64-bit ARM-based Cortex A53 CPU, MicroSD slot, Ethernet and HDMI ports. But Pine 64 has better graphics, with an ARM Mali 400 MP2 graphics processor capable of rendering 4K video — the Pi 3 is capable of 1080p video at 60 frames per second. The Pine 64 has two USB ports, while the Raspberry Pi 3 has four USB ports.
The base $15 Pine 64 model has 512MB DDR3 RAM, while the $19 model has 1GB of DDR3 RAM, a 5-megapixel camera port and MIPI video port. The $29 model has 2GB of RAM and also Wi-Fi, which is also a key selling point for Raspberry Pi.
Pine 64 is able to run Android and Remix OS, a version of Android for PCs.
Amazon.com Inc announced it plans to add back an encryption feature on its Fire tablets after customers and privacy advocates criticized the company for quietly removing the security option when it released its latest operating system.
“We will return the option for full-disk encryption with a Fire OS update coming this spring,” company spokeswoman Robin Handaly told Reuters via email on Saturday.
Amazon’s decision to drop encryption from the Fire operating system came to light late this week. The company said it had removed the feature in a version of its Fire OS that began shipping in the fall because few customers used it.
On-device encryption scrambles data so that the device can be accessed only if the user enters the correct password. Well-known cryptologist Bruce Schneier called Amazon’s removal of the feature “stupid” and was among many who publicly urged the company to restore it.
Apple Inc’s APPL.O legal battle over U.S. government demands that the iPhone maker help unlock an encrypted phone used by San Bernardino shooter Rizwan Farook has created unprecedented attention on encryption.
Amazon.com this week signed on to a court brief urging a federal judge to side with Apple.
Amazon recently experimented with brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November. An expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.
“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc, said on Tuesday, responding to an analyst’s question after it reported earnings.
On the call, Mathrani compared Amazon’s plans to similar moves by eyeware company Warby Parker or men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, both of which opened physical stores after finding success online.
An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.”
Before branching out to offer everything from fresh groceries to original TV programming, Amazon got its start as a bookseller 20 years ago. It has since revolutionized the publishing industry by introducing its popular e-reader, the Kindle.
Amazon’s bookstore in Seattle carries books selected based on customer ratings and popularity on Amazon.com. The storefront also provides a space for visitors to test-drive Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.
Any move by Amazon to expand stores would further antagonize long-time rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, which operated 640 bookstores across the United States as of January. Shares of Barnes & Noble fell more than 5 percent on Tuesday.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Mathrani’s comments on Tuesday.
Kevin Berry, vice president of investor relations at General Growth Properties, declined to comment beyond what was said during the conference call.
In a sweeping change of course directed at a tightly controlled television industry, cable and satellite operators in the United States will now be obligated to let their customers freely choose which set-top boxes they can use, according to a proposal announced by the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday.
The move is expected to have wide-ranging implications for large technology companies looking to get their brand names into every consumer’s living room. For example, under the new rules, Google, Amazon and Apple would now be allowed to create entertainment room devices that blend Internet and cable programming in a way the television industry has until now resisted. Next-generation media players, including the Chromecast, Fire TV and Apple TV, would now be granted permission to line the backs of their devices with coaxial inputs and internal “smart access card” equivalents integrated right into device firmware with a simple subscription activation process.
As the Wall Street Journal notes, Senators Edward Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut investigated the cable set-top box market last summer and found that the cable industry generates roughly $19.1 billion in annual revenue from cable box rentals alone.
Meanwhile, the cost of cable set-top boxes has risen 185 percent since 1995, while the cost of PCs, televisions and smartphones has dropped by 90 percent. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler admits that these economies of scale don’t need to remain so unbalanced any longer.
The FCC says its focus will be primarily on improving day-to-day television experience. In the past, the burdensome requirements of long-term contracts tethered to clunky, unsightly cable and satellite boxes has been a major source of customer complaints.
Wheeler has also said that access to specific video content shouldn’t be frustrating to the average consumer in an age where we are constantly surrounded by a breadth of information to sift through. “Improved search functions [can] lead consumers to a variety of video content that is buried behind guides or available on video services you can’t access with your set-top box today,” Wheeler says.
The FCC is expected to vote on the proposal on Thursday, February 18th. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s full statement on the commission’s new proposal can be found here.
The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.
The court said on Monday that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.
The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.
At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.
Online book seller Amazon is selling its own brand of ARM-based computer chips.
In a move which is a side step from its normal expansion into its own brand of groceries and clothing, Amazon is flogging its own chips which are being made by Annapurna Labs.
Annapurna is an Israeli subsidiary that Amazon acquired a year ago and the chips are called Alpine. They are ARM-based processors are designed to drive home gateways, Wi-Fi routers, and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.
They’re meant for things like data centers and cheap smart home devices rather than smartphones and tablet which makes the concept of Amazon selling them seem rather odd. After all if you are a datacenter you usually go to a supplier and buy shedloads of expensive gear. You don’t normally pop into Amazon and do a quick search, even if you are a Prime Member.
Intel currently has the data center sewn up and ARM chip use is still thin on the ground however Amazon has done well in the cloud so peddling chips as part of a product package makes a bit of sense.
It won’t initially be targeting the kind of high-end servers which are powering the Internet of Stuff which is supposed to be the next big thing. Asus, Netgear, and Synology are already producing devices that use Amazon’s Alpine .
Epic Games said it is investigating issue with Unreal Engine 4 and AMD CPUs.
The problem appears in Squad which is the first big, publicly available game using Epic Games’ Unreal Engine 4. The game was just stuck up on Steam so complaints about the AMD have been somewhat vocal.
The engine appears to create a poor performance on AMD CPUs due to an audio component of the engine. The issue has been reported before but no one took it that seriously. In fact some of theissues here seem to be a communication problem between Squad and Epic.
Squad developer Offworld Industries told Tweaktown that there was little it could do about this besides wait for Epic to fix it and release the fix in an engine patch.
However Epic’s senior marketing manager Dana Cowley said she didn’t even know about the problem until she was contacted by the media.
She said he was getting on the blower with the Squad team to investigate, and see how it could help.
There is a work around being suggested on the blogs which might help. If you navigate to C:UsersAppDataLocalSquadSavedConfigWindowsNoEditor, back up the Engine.ini file then open it with Notepad, find the [Audio] section, change MaxChannels from 128 to 96, 64, or 32, and save.
HP is exiting the low-end tablet market amid declining prices and slowing demand. Instead, the company will focus on detachables, hybrids and business tablets at the higher end of the market.
“We are going to focus where there is profitability and growth and will not chase the low-end tablet market. We are focusing on business mobility to deliver tablets built for field service, education, retail and healthcare,” said Ron Coughlin, president for personal systems at HP.
HP has already stopped listing many low-end Android tablets on its website. The remaining lower-end products — the US$99 HP 7 G2 tablet and $149 HP 8 G2 tablet — have been out of stock for months, and it’s likely they won’t be available again. They are however still available through some online retailers at cut-rate prices.
The least expensive tablet on HP’s site is now the $329.99 HP Envy 8 Note tablet with Windows 10. HP has Windows on most tablets now, with only a handful running Android.
There’s no shortage of low-cost tablets from other companies, though. It’s easy to find a low-cost Android tablet from little-known device makers for under $100, and big names also remain in the market. Amazon’s 7-inch Fire tablet is selling for $49.99. Lenovo, Acer and Asus also offer low-cost tablets.
HP’s change in tablet strategy came after the the original Hewlett-Packard split into two companies: HP Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Enterprise. Cutting ties with low-end tablets is among the first decisions of the new HP Inc. to generate more cash flow.
The video was released nearly two years after Amazon announced that it intended to use drones to deliver parcels through a new service called Prime Air.
But the drone showcased in the video posted is quite different from the one it showed previously. The new drone, for example, carries the parcel in its fuselage rather than below the drone.
The new hybrid drone rises vertically to nearly 400 feet and then takes a horizontal orientation to become a streamlined and fast airplane, according to the Amazon video. The device lands vertically, drops the package at the destination, and then again rises up vertically. The user in the video is alerted on a tablet about the delivery.
The previous drone design will also probably continue. In time, there will be a whole variety of designs, with different designs for different environments, said the narrator, automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson.
The new drone can fly up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) and is able to “sense and avoid” obstacles both on air and on land. Amazon said in its FAQ that it has more than a dozen prototypes that it has developed in its research and development labs. The online retailer has Prime Air development centers in the U.S., the U.K. and Israel, and is testing the vehicles in multiple international locations.
The commercial rollout of the retailer’s program in the U.S. is likely to depend on when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules for the commercial use of drones.
The FAA proposed rules earlier this year that could allow programs like those of Amazon.com for the commercial delivery of packages by drones to take off. The drones would still have to operate under restrictions such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds and follow rules that limit flights to daylight and visual line-of-sight operations.
Amazon is making it a little, or a lot, harder for miscreants to make off with user accounts by adding two-factor authentication.
It has taken Amazon some time to fall into line on this. Two-factor authentication has become increasingly popular and common in the past couple of years, and it is perhaps overdue for a firm that deals so heavily in trade.
Amazon is treating it like it’s new, and is offering to hold punters’ hands as they embrace the security provision.
“Amazon Two-Step Verification adds an additional layer of security to your account. Instead of simply entering your password, Two-Step Verification requires you to enter a unique security code in addition to your password during sign in,” the firm said.
The way that the code is served depends on the user, who can choose to get the extra prompt in one of three ways. They may not appeal to those who do not like to over-share, but they will require a personal phone number.
As is frequently the case, Amazon will offer to send supplementary log-in information to a phone via text message or voice call, and even through a special authenticating app.
It’s an option, and you do not have to enable it. Amazon said that users could select trusted sign-on computers that spare them from the mobile phone contact.
“Afterward, that computer or device will only ask for your password when you sign in,” explained the Amazon introduction, helpfully.
There are a number of other outfits that offer the two-factor system and you might be advised to take their trade and do your business through them. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook and many others offer the feature.
A website called TwoFactorAuth will let you check your standing and the position of your providers.
The project, called the Amazon Wind Farm US Central, is expected to generate about 320,000 megawatt hours (MWh) of wind power per year beginning in May 2017; that’s enough electricity to power more than 29,000 U.S. homes a year.
While AWS’s latest wind farm is dwarfed by previously announced projects, it is still large compared to those typically built by non-utility businesses.
For example, one of the largest wind farms to be completed this year was the 300MW Jumbo Road wind project located about 50 miles southwest of Amarillo, Texas. The project was commissioned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy subsidiary BHE Renewables, an electricity utility that sells power to Austin Energy. That wind farm cost more than $1 billion to build.
Amazon has launched a handful of wind farm projects and other renewable energy initiatives over the past two years as it moves toward a goal of 100% renewable energy use.
In April 2015, AWS announced that it was getting about 25% of its power from renewable energy sources; it plans to increase that level to 40% by the end of 2016.
In January 2015, Amazon announced a renewable project with the Amazon Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) in Benton County, Indiana, which is expected to generate 500,000MWh of wind power annually.
Along with the new Amazon Wind Farm US Central, Amazon said its renewable projects will deliver more than 1.6 million MWh of renewable energy into electric grids across the central and eastern U.S., or roughly the equivalent amount of energy required to power 150,000 homes.
A Federal Aviation Administration task force submitted recommendations for registering drone operators on Saturday, setting the stage for regulators next month to propose regulations intended to help reverse a surge in rogue drone flights.
A final version of the panel’s recommendations was expected to receive approval from 25 task force members on Friday. It would signal broad agreement among stakeholders, including drone makers, pilots, hobbyists and regulators, on a free and user-friendly registration process for recreational users of unmanned aerial systems, or UAS.
Registration is one of several steps the FAA and other government agencies are considering to address a disturbing rise in reckless drone use this year, including near-misses with commercial airliners near airports.
Officials are concerned that safety and security risks could rise in coming years as drone sales continue to soar, with more than 1 million drones expected to be sold in the United States this year.
The task force report was not expected to be released to the public until next week, according to people familiar with the matter. But they said the recommendations would require drone operators to register on a website or via a phone app, if they own UAS weighing as little as 8.8 ounces (250 grams), and attach their registration number to their drones.
“On Saturday, the task force will deliver its report to the Federal Aviation Administration,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a blog posted to a federal website on Friday.
“We will consider their recommendations and the public comments as we develop an interim final rule on registration, which will likely be released next month and go into effect shortly thereafter.”
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, who announced the registration initiative last month, had charged the task force with completing its work by Friday.
A majority of U.S. consumers plan to go to Amazon.com for most of their online holiday shopping, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, even after traditional retailers have collectively spent billions of dollars to try to capture Web demand.
The survey of 3,426 adults conducted from November 12 to 18 found that 51 percent plan to do most of their online shopping at Amazon this holiday season, compared to 16 percent at Walmart, 3 percent at Target and 2 percent at Macy’s.
A little more than a quarter of respondents said they would use another retailer not listed in the poll.
The poll underscored the hurdles that traditional retailers faced in expanding online. Their own sales data this week showed that such efforts were falling short.
Target Corp said on Wednesday its digital sales grew 20 percent in the latest quarter, missing its expectations for a 30 percent gain. The discount retailer cited weakness in electronics demand.
A day earlier, Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported quarterly online sales growth of 10 percent, slower than its target growth in the mid-to-high-teens this fiscal year. Wal-Mart pointed to sluggish market conditions in China, Britain and Brazil, and said it fared better in the United States.
In contrast, Amazon.com Inc had posted a 28 percent jump in North American sales in its quarterly report last month.
“The Big Kahuna that continues to grab market share is Amazon,” said Craig Johnson, head of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. “Both Wal-Mart and to some extent Target have simply not kept pace enough.”
Johnson added that sluggish spending overall contributed to the weaker-than-expected online sales at Target and Wal-Mart, which also faced increased competition from other online retailers, such as Wayfair Inc.
According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 8 percent of adults said they plan to shop only online this year, compared to 6 percent a year earlier. The proportion of respondents who said they would shop mostly online remained steady at 17 percent.
All major retailers are investing in e-commerce.
The brick-and-mortar store, Amazon Books, is a physical extension of Amazon.com with books being selected based on customer ratings and pre-orders on Amazon.com.
Popularity on Goodreads and curators’ assessments are also considered for short listing the books. The in-store and online prices of the books would be same, Amazon said on Monday.
The store will also have an option to test drive Amazon’s devices such as Kindle, Echo, Fire TV and Fire Tablet.
Amazon Books, which is located in Seattle’s University Village, will be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day, the company said.