Consumer and business shoppers can pay for products directly via bitcoins or through Coinbase, a third-party payment processing company, Dell said.
Buyers can pay for products through Bitcoin wallets or by scanning a QR code with a smartphone.
The volatile Bitcoin has had its share of controversies and exchange shutdowns as the currency matures. Companies like Overstock.com, Newegg, Expedia and some Amazon storefronts accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. But major retailers like Walmart and eBay have not warmed up to the idea. The value of one bitcoin was around $630 as of Friday, according to multiple cryptocurrency website.
There are some advantages to paying via Bitcoin. The form of currency is accepted around the world, and for Dell, the payment-processing cost is less than with credit cards.
But the form of payment has its quirks.
“Due to the nature of the Bitcoin network, once you initiate a Bitcoin transaction you cannot change or cancel it,” Dell said on a terms and conditions page.
Customers could seek refunds in the case of canceled transactions or product returns.
“For a qualifying return of product paid for in Bitcoin, any refund due will be remitted to the purchaser via check in U.S. Dollars for the full amount of the purchase price paid at the time of the original transaction, less any applicable restocking fees,” Dell said.
Google Inc is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.
At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.
The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.
Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.
Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.
Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.
Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.
The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.
However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.
“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.
Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.
Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.
But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.
Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.
The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”
The as-yet-unreleased service would offer unlimited access to more than 600,000 book titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device, according to a test page that was briefly online. The test page was cached before it was taken down.
The test page was apparently first spotted by gigaom.com.
Amazon.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The test page notes that popular titles in Kindle Unlimited include books likeWater for Elephants and Life of Pi. It also includes the Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter series.
Book categories include science fiction, romance and mystery/thriller and suspense.
If Amazon does release this subscription service, it could be a big deal – not just for the company but for the e-books business.
“This could be a huge game changer in the publishing field, changing the economic model of the entire industry,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “There are going to be some sticky problems, like how to work out compensation between the myriad of large and small publishers, plus those who publish for themselves using Amazon as their sole distribution platform. But I think this could be wildly popular with readers.”
For avid readers, it would likely be popular.
“Amazon’s all-you-can-read Kindle buffet would reduce costs for a large number of readers, and at the same time, probably increase Amazon’s Kindle revenue,” said Olds. “While other e-book publishers will see the need to respond with plans of their own, Amazon’s sheer scale will make it difficult for them to come up with a competitive plan. Amazon already has a massive number of publishers and authors on their platform.”
Apple Inc has agreed to pay $450 million to settle U.S. state and consumer claims the iPad manufacturer conspired with five major publishers to fix e-book prices, according to court records filed Wednesday.
The settlement, which would provide $400 million for consumers, is conditioned on the outcome of a pending appeal of a New York federal judge’s ruling last year that Apple was liable for violating antitrust laws.
A ruling by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New York reversing the judge could, under the settlement, either reduce the amount Apple pays to $70 million, with $50 million for consumers, or eliminate payments altogether.
“While we cannot predict the outcome of the appeal with certainty, we are confident in the case we made against Apple at trial,” Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen said in a statement.
Apple in a statement denied that it had conspired to fix e-book prices and said it would continue pressing its case on appeal.
“We did nothing wrong and we believe a fair assessment of the facts will show it,” Kristin Huguet, an Apple spokeswoman, said.
The settlement, which requires approval of U.S. District Judge Denise Cote, had been announced in June. Terms were not disclosed at the time.
It came ahead of an Aug. 25 damages trial, in which attorneys general in 33 states and territories and lawyers for a class of consumers were expected to seek up to $840 million.
The deal follows earlier settlements with five publishers that provided $166 million for e-book purchasers.
Combined with the $400 million from Apple, the recovery is “among the exceedingly rare cases that provide consumers nationwide with double the amount of their estimated damages,” lawyers for the plaintiffs wrote in a motion.
The U.S. Department of Justice and the state attorneys general sued Apple and five publishers in April 2012, accusing them of working together illegally to increase e-book prices.
In July 2013, Cote found Apple liable for colluding with the publishers to impede e-book competitors such as Amazon.com Inc after a non-jury trial.
The publishers include Lagardere SCA’s Hachette Book Group Inc, News Corp’s HarperCollins Publishers LLC, Penguin Group (USA) Inc, CBS Corp’s Simon & Schuster Inc and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH’s Macmillan.
Since its introduction, Google’s social network has required that people use their real names in Google+ profiles, as part of an effort to help other people find them through the service.
“You need to provide both your first and last name for your Google+ profile,” the guidelines said. One could be an initial, but not both.
While that may have been a good idea for some, Google conceded Tuesday that it has also excluded people who don’t want to use their real name.
Google’s policy of trying to tie YouTube users’ accounts to their Google+ accounts has also sparked criticism among people who want to leave YouTube comments, or otherwise use the service, more anonymously.
For those reasons and others, Google said Tuesday that on Google+ there were no longer restrictions on the names people could use.
“We know you’ve been calling for this change for a while,” the company said in a blog post. The names policy has led to “unnecessarily difficult experiences” for some users, Google said, adding, “for this we apologize.”
In online comments on the Google+ page, people applauded the change. Others said it was too little, too late, or questioned whether it would lead to more spamming or cyberbullying behind the cloak of a fake name.
“Translation: It’s safe to come out and play again comment trolls,” one person wrote.
To clean up YouTube comments, Google overhauled the commenting system last year, to push “better quality” comments higher up. But shortly after making the changes, Google reported an increase in spam.
Started by a group of Google security researchers with the mission of ridding the world of security dangers such as zero-day attacks, Project Zero will hire “the best practically-minded security researchers”, Google said, promising to contribute all of their time “toward improving security across the internet”.
The group was put together after certain Googlers started spending “some of their time on research that makes the internet safer, leading to the discovery of bugs like Heartbleed,” said Google researcher Chris Evans in a blog post.
“We’re not placing any particular bounds on this project and will work to improve the security of any software depended upon by large numbers of people, paying careful attention to the techniques, targets and motivations of attackers,” Evans explained. “We’ll use standard approaches such as locating and reporting large numbers of vulnerabilities.”
Evans said that Project Zero will also conduct new research into mitigations, exploitation, program analysis, and anything else that the researchers decide is a worthwhile investment.
The Googlers at Project Zero will commit to doing their work transparently, with every bug discovered being filed in an external database. They will also report bugs only to the software’s vendor and no third parties.
“Once the bug report becomes public, typically once a patch is available, you’ll be able to monitor vendor time-to-fix performance, see any discussion about exploitability, and view historical exploits and crash traces,” Evans said. “We also commit to sending bug reports to vendors in as close to real-time as possible, and to working with them to get fixes to users in a reasonable time.”
Not to long before the announcement of Project Zero on Tuesday, Google came under fire from European Union courts, which have forced the firm to forget certain people’s irrelevant or outdated online histories. Within days of the court order going into effect, EU citizens were begging Google to have their pasts expunged, at the rate of 10,000 requests per day.
However, it has since emerged that the buried webpages haven’t been technically disabled, nor have they been erased, security Firm Sophos reports.
“Regardless of what the directive is being called, courts technically didn’t grant Europeans the right to be forgotten. Rather, it gave them the right to be relatively obscured, by having eligible pages flagged so they don’t show up in search results,” said Sophos in a blog post.
“The data is still out there. And now, a newly launched site is archiving the forcibly de-indexed pages, in the name of opening up to the internet as a whole the discussion regarding what should or should not be ‘forgotten’.”
There is a spat brewing between Apple and its long term supplier Sharp. Sharp has been making Apple displays for ages and has an entire plant dedicated to this purpose. The manufacturing gear now belongs to Apple and Sharp wants to buy the equipment back for $293 million.
Apparently, Sharp wants to diversify its production and shift away from supplying only to Apple. Jobs’ Mob is amenable to the idea of selling the facilities but only if Sharp never sells anything to Samsung. Samsung mostly utilizes OLED screens in most of its products, so there is little for Apple to worry about. However some devices still use LCD screens and might have Sharp gear under the bonnet.
An agreement has not yet been reached and it seems unlikely as the manufacturer is not keen on accepting the blatant anti-competitive behaviour or as Apple would say “shrewed negotiation ability.”
Sharp does not want to piss off Apple. It is busy producing iPhone 6 screens for Apple and the Kameyama Plant No. 1 which is the one that Sharp wants to buy back, flat out.
Apple’s application to trademark the name ‘Touch ID’ for its fingerprint scanning technology has been rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Apparently the name already belongs to an outfit called Kronos, a US-based company that makes workforce management software.
The USPTO pointed out that granting Apple the patent for Touch ID may create confusion among potential users. Kronos’s Touch ID technology is also related to fingerprint recognition and has been doing rather well. It has had the trademark since 2001, while Apple’s application was submitted in January this year only.
The iPhone maker has six months to respond to the letter and provide an alternative. If Apple fails to do so, its application will be considered abandoned by the US patent office and the company will have to rename the feature. The Tame Apple Press gets all moist about the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which was billed as the “killer ap” on the iPhone 5S. It is going on the iPad range in October.
The fact Apple could not be bothered to check the name was trademarked before it stuck it in the iPhone5S is probably going to cause it some problems. After all it had a few difficulties with the iPad name.
Facing rising commercial demand for the devices, Dell has not been able to keep up with orders.
The Chromebook 11, which shipped in December, is listed as unavailable on Dell’s Chromebook website, and the company is asking potential buyers to call in orders.
“Due to strong demand, the Dell Chromebook 11 is currently not available for order on Dell.com. It continues to be available for our education customers and can be ordered through their sales representative,” said Ellen Murphy, a Dell spokeswoman, in an e-mail.
The laptop will eventually come online again, though the company did not provide a specific date.
With Dell keeping Chromebook purchases open mainly to commercial customers, individual buyers may have to turn to competitive products from Samsung, Toshiba, Lenovo and Hewlett-Packard, which are available online starting at under $200.
The Chromebook is a lightweight, low-cost computer for those who do most of their computing online. It has Google’s Chrome OS, and most applications needs wireless connectivity. However, more offline applications are becoming available.
Dell’s decision comes as Chromebook shipments rise and competitors launch new models. Chromebooks accounted for 35 percent of all U.S. commercial laptop shipments to date in 2014, jumping more than 250 percent compared to the same period last year. Chromebooks accounted for 5 percent to 6 percent of overall consumer laptop sales in the period, and that number will continue to rise, said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD.
More than 20 Chromebook models are expected to be available by the end of the year. Acer last week shipped two C720 Chromebook models with Intel’s Core i3 chips. Dell spokeswoman Murphy said the company is committed to Chromebooks and will launch a new model with the Core i3 processor later this year.
Dell could be choosing commercial customers over individual shipments with Chromebook demand rising during the back-to-school season, Baker said.
“In a period when the product grows, you have to make some decisions,” Baker said.
Chinese e-commerce juggernaut Alibaba Group Holding and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp, the studio behind the ‘Hunger Games’ films, plans on offering a subscription streaming service in China, the firms said in a statement on Tuesday.
The service, to be known as Lionsgate Entertainment World, will be exclusive to Alibaba’s Internet television set-top boxes and is expected to launch in August.
It will give users access to Lions Gate content, including several titles from the ‘Twilight Saga’ and ‘The Hunger Games’ series, as well as television series ‘Mad Men’.
Alibaba and its affiliates have aggressively pushed into the entertainment industry since the beginning of the year, with more than $3 billion invested since March. The Hangzhou-based firm is looking to move beyond traditional e-commerce, offering more digital products like films, games and television.
“This cooperation signals our ongoing commitment to advance our vision of making digital media entertainment available to our customers anywhere, anytime,” Patrick Liu, Alibaba’s president of digital entertainment, said in Tuesday’s statement.
Alibaba is preparing for its U.S. listing later this year, potentially the biggest ever tech offering, even as it maintains a steady stream of investments that has seen the firm and its affiliates invest more than $7.5 billion since the beginning of the year.
In March, Alibaba bought a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group, a film and television content producer, for $804 million.
It followed this up in April by buying an 18.5 percent stake in Chinese online video streaming site Youku Tudou Inc in partnership with affiliated private equity company Yunfeng Capital. Among Yunfeng Capital’s founders is Jack Ma, co-founder of Alibaba.
Also in April, Ma and other partners paid $1.05 billion for a 20 percent stake in Wasu Media Holding Co, mostly funded with a loan from Alibaba. At the same time, Alibaba and Wasu Digital TV Media Group signed a cooperation agreement for online content and Internet TV.
Lionsgate Entertainment World will also offer premium content and subscriber benefits such as invitations to screenings, Tuesday’s statement said.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, the country’s Federal Cartel Office would be given powers to curtail Google’s influence, were it decided that it had got too big for its boots.
A document obtained by the newspaper says that under the new rules, technology companies would be treated and regulated like utilities such as electricity and water and subject to the same anti-competitive pricing laws governing their advertising.
Proposals to legislate the internet as a utility are at the heart of the debate that’s under way in the US right now, where the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is coming under increasing pressure to classify ISPs as “Title II” utilities in order to protect net neutrality.
In Europe, a commitment to net neutrality is already in place, and any German legislation would only serve to further solidify the country’s commitment to avoiding technology strangleholds.
Full details of the 30-page document are yet to be released, with varying reports of its potential impact, ranging from “last resort” to “all out regulation”.
The German government has always been militant in matters of data protection. In 2013, it warned consumers against using Microsoft’s Windows 8 operating system due to perceived security risks, suggesting that it provided a back door for the US National Security Agency (NSA).
Of course, this might have had something to do with the fact that German chancellor Angela Merkel was one of the first high-profile victims of NSA surveillance, with some reports saying that the NSA hacked her mobile phone for over a decade.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has committed to spend $2 billion over the next two years on upgrading Wi-Fi networks at schools and libraries, despite questions from Republican commissioners about the source of those funds.
The FCC, in a 3-2 party-line vote last Friday, approved a plan to revamp the 17-year-old E-Rate program, which pays for telecom services for schools and libraries, by phasing out funding for voice service, Web hosting and paging services, and redirecting money to Wi-Fi. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler had proposed a $5 billion budget for Wi-Fi, but Republican commissioners and some lawmakers had questioned where the money would come from.
Still, the E-Rate revamp approved Friday contemplates a $1 billion-a-year target for Wi-Fi projects “year after year,” Wheeler said. The commitment of $1 billion for Wi-Fi in 2015 means that “10 million students are going to experience new and better opportunities,” he added.
In past years, the money available for E-Rate Wi-Fi projects varied from year to year, with no money available in the past year, FCC officials have said. The new approach would give schools and libraries a better idea of what money will be available, they said.
But the budget doesn’t make sense, with only about $600 million in reserves in the E-Rate program, said Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai. “The numbers for the Wi-Fi didn’t add up,” he said. “Where will that money come from?”
The phaseout of obsolete telecom services in the E-Rate program will pay for the Wi-Fi program, said Jon Wilkins, the FCC’s acting managing director. The cost savings from phasing out voice and other old services will amount to $350 million in 2015 and will rise to $950 million in the fifth year of the program, he said.
Pai and fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’Rielly also criticized the E-Rate revamp as missing an opportunity to streamline the $2.4-billion-a-year program and take away some of the complexity for schools and libraries applying for funds. The program’s 17-page application scares off small schools and libraries that can’t afford to hire outside consultants to fill out paperwork, Pai said.
The FCC promised schools, teachers and students “E-Rate modernization,” Pai said. “They need real reform. What does the FCC give them today? The status quo.”
O’Rielly called on the FCC to develop a long-term plan for the E-Rate budget, paid for with fees on consumer telephone bills. He predicted the plan would lead to higher phone taxes.
RayV, founded in 2005, is focused on efficiently distributing HD-quality video to a global audience, with a focus on mobile.
Terms of the deal were not disclosed. “Yahoo is focused on growing video users and monthly streams, and while we’re only getting started, we’re very focused on this in 2014,” Yahoo said in its announcement of the deal.
RayV’s service will improve Yahoo’s underlying technology infrastructure, and most of RayV’s employees will join Yahoo’s R&D center in Tel Aviv, Israel.
A deal between Yahoo and RayV was in the works for at least a couple months, according to The Wall Street Journal. The acquisition comes as Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer is focused on giving people more of a reason to visit Yahoo’s site, partly through original online shows.
Yahoo’s Screen portal includes a range of videos including original news, as well as content from partners like Comedy Central, BuzzFeed and Saturday Night Live.
Yahoo recently announced that it would be airing the television show “Community” on Screen, after it was canceled by NBC earlier this year.
High profile cases of hackers seizing sensitive customer data from companies, such as U.S. retailer Target Corp or e-commerce company eBay Inc, have executives checking their insurance policies.
Increasingly, corporate risk managers are seeing insurance against cyber crime as necessary budget spending rather than just nice to have.
The insurance broking arm of Marsh & McLennan Companies estimates the U.S cyber insurance market was worth $1 billion last year in gross written premiums and could reach as much as $2 billion this year. The European market is currently a fraction of that, at around $150 million, but is growing by 50 to 100 percent annually, according to Marsh.
Those numbers represent a sliver of the overall insurance market, which is growing at a far more sluggish rate. Premiums are set to grow only 2.8 percent this year in inflation-adjusted terms, according to Munich Re, the world’s biggest reinsurer.
The European cyber coverage market could get a big boost from draft EU data protection rules in the works that would force companies to disclose breaches of customer data to them.
“Companies have become aware that the risk of being hacked is unavoidable,” said Andreas Schlayer, responsible for cyber risk insurance at Munich Re. “People are now more aware that hackers can attack and do great damage to central infrastructure, for example in the energy sector.”
Insurers, which have more experience handling risks like hurricanes and fires, are now rushing to gain expertise in cyber technology.
“It is a difficult risk to price by traditional insurance methods as there currently is not statistically significant actuarial data available,” said Robert Parisi, head of cyber products at insurance brokers Marsh.
Andrew Braunbergon, research director at U.S. cybersecurity advisory company NSS Labs, said that some energy companies have trouble persuading insurers to provide them with cyber coverage as the industry is vulnerable to hacking attacks that could trigger disasters like an explosion in a worst-case scenario.
Pricing on policies for retailers has climbed in the wake of recent high-profile breaches at Target, Neiman Marcus, and other merchants, he added.
The IdeaPad Y50 UHD laptop starts at $1,299.99 and is targeted at gamers. The 4K screen can display images at 3840 x 2160 pixels, which is the highest resolution available in laptops today.
The Y50 is cheaper than Toshiba’s Satellite P50T, which starts at $1,499.99. The P50T started shipping in April, but was temporarily pulled from Toshiba’s website, and is now available again.
Laptop screens have so far topped out at 3200 x 1800 pixels in Samsung’s Ativ Book 9 Plus, Lenovo’s Yoga 2 Pro and Razer’s Blade gaming laptop. TVs, monitors and cameras with support for 4K are already available.
Lenovo in January announced two 4K laptops — the Y50 and the 14-inch Y40 — but the initial units that shipped in May were missing 4K screens and instead came with HD screens. The Y40 model is not yet available with a 4K screen. Lenovo was having issues acquiring 4K displays, which delayed some laptops and monitors.
The Y50 has some of the latest PC technologies, pushing it into the class of a true gaming laptop. The $1,299.99 model has a Core i7 i7-4710HQ processor, an Nvidia GeForce GTX 860M graphics chip with 2GB of video memory, 8GB of DRAM and 1TB of hard-drive storage. The $1,599.99 model has the same Core i7 CPU, the GeForce GTX 860M with 4GB of video memory, 16GB of DRAM and 512GB solid-state drive storage.
The laptops have Windows 8, 802.11ac Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0, an HDMI connector and two USB 3.0 ports.