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October 24, 2014
Fire With Firefly
Amazon disappointed investors -- again -- with the release of its latest quarterly earnings. The company lost $437 million and took a $170 million writeoff on its unsold Fire Phone inventory. Though reviewers found some of the phone's features fresh and appealing -- like its Firefly shopping tool -- others, like its dynamic perspective, were just head-scratchers. Consumers weren't intrigued. [More...]

October 24, 2014
Perhaps the most important thing you can do before buying business software is to understand what you really want. Software is different from buying a car -- a physical thing you can inspect and whose operation you understand. It's different from buying a commodity, whose characteristics are already clear and there's little variation from purchase to purchase. [More...]

October 24, 2014
mark-zuckerberg-facebook-mandarin-chinese-tsinghua-university
Mark Zuckerberg may have decided to learn Chinese even if it weren't good for business -- his wife and her family speak Mandarin. That said, it is decidedly good for business too. "Knowing some basic Chinese and Chinese culture will go a long way," said UC Berkeley business prof Chris Tang. "Showing respect and understanding can make your potential partners open up to discussions." [More...]

October 23, 2014
ello-ad-free
Ello wants to give its members the connection opportunities Facebook provides without the onslaught of ads or the invasions of privacy. It could be tricky getting people to switch from the social network everyone uses to one that's a virtual no-man's-land, but Ello seems to have struck a chord. It reportedly has more than 1 million members and 3 million pending requests for an invitation to join. [More...]

October 23, 2014
Bluewolf, the consultancy that was founded to assist customers implementing and deploying Salesforce.com, has released its annual State of Salesforce report. There is very little that's controversial. Salesforce is a juggernaut at this point, growing at an exceptional and exponential pace. My only quibble with the account is that it does not look very far beneath the surface of the statistics. [More...]

October 23, 2014
amazon-krugman-monopsonist
Jeff Bezos' Amazon empire has gotten too powerful, according to economist Paul Krugman, who likened it to robber barons of yore. The thing is, robber barons tended to unscrupulously accumulate wealth by doing things like creating monopolies and raising prices, while Amazon has been pushing prices down. Exactly how does leaning on a giant French corporation to keep e-book prices low hurt America? [More...]

October 23, 2014
The U.S. government is about to hold another wireless spectrum auction. Why is spectrum so important? If you owned a brand new car with brand new tires, you would still need air in those tires in order to drive, right? That's wireless spectrum. It's the air inside the tires that lets you drive. Without spectrum, you can't use mobile apps. The problem is, wireless spectrum is not unlimited. [More...]

October 22, 2014
ashkan-soltani-ftc-chief-technologist
To assume that naming Ashkan Soltani as the new FTC chief technologist indicates it's becoming more privacy-minded may be too obvious. "I don't think the appointment tells us much in terms of the FTC's direction, precisely because Soltani is such a superb choice," said EFF's Lee Tien. "He understands technology, privacy and security, and he is gifted at explaining technology to the nontechnical." [More...]

October 22, 2014
Toll fraud -- the hijacking of a phone system to dial out to premium numbers in distant countries at several dollars a minute -- costs companies more than $4.7 billion a year, up nearly $1 billion from 2011. Major carriers, such as the companies that make up the CFCA, have sophisticated fraud systems in place to catch hackers, and they can afford to credit customers for fraudulent charges. [More...]

October 22, 2014
Shortly after Apple Pay's Monday launch, some eager early users were unsettled to see duplicate charges on their accounts. Apple Pay lets iPhone 6 or iPhone 6 Plus users store credit card information on their devices and then pay for products using tap-to-pay terminals in stores, or via apps when shopping online. However, in some cases, it appears to be dinging consumers' accounts twice. [More...]

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