Four major Internet companies are giving America just what it needs: More federal lobbyists. The Washington Post reports that Google (GOOG), Amazon (AMZN), Facebook (FB) and eBay (EBAY) have all teamed up to form the Internet Association, a lobbying group that describes itself as “the unified voice of the Internet economy, representing the interests of America’s leading Internet companies and their global community of users.” The group is being headed by Michael Beckerman, who most recently worked as the deputy staff director for the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee and as an advisor to committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI). While the group has yet to post any official policy recommendations on its website, it’s a safe bet that special, industry-specific tax breaks will be among them. More →
PayPal on Thursday unveiled “PayPal Here,” a small accessory similar to the solution offered by Square, that can be used to accept credit card payments on an iPhone. The reader is a large blue triangle that connects to the top of an iPhone through the headphone jack. With the help of the “PayPal Here” iOS app, a merchant can input a sum and have a consumer swipe his or her credit or debit card to make payments. PayPal’s app also features a “Scan Card” feature, which uses the iPhone’s camera to record a credit card number or even a check. The app can track invoices and cash payments, and be used with checks, credit cards and debit cards. PayPal Here comes on the heels of the company’s unveiling of an upcoming digital wallet service that looks to compete with Google Wallet. More →
During the annual South by Southwest conference in Austin, Texas on Tuesday, PayPal finally showed off its upcoming digital wallet product that will compete with the likes of Google Wallet and other digital payment platforms. The EBay-run eBay Ink blog also posted a pair of videos on Tuesday in which PayPal vice president of global product and experience Sam Shrauger walks us through a number of the new eWallet product’s capabilities. PayPal’s digital wallet has a simple desktop interface and of course it features mobile compatibility and a number of now-common features, but there are also a few intriguing features that aren’t common among rival offerings. One such feature allows the user to pay for something with PayPal’s digital wallet while on the go, and then log in to his or her account at a later time and choose which credit card or bank account should supply the funds for the purchase. This feature and more are explained in a pair of videos from eBay and PayPal, which follow below. More →
HP may replace current CEO Leo Apotheker with former eBay CEO Meg Whitman, AllThingsD reported on Wednesday. Reportedly, HP board members are not pleased with “a series of management mishaps,” inside HP. It is unclear if those mishaps are related to HP’s recent decision to kill off its webOS devices and spin off its PC business, which resulted in recent job cuts from the former Palm team. The board may be more upset HP’s stock has tanked more than 40% since Apotheker took the reins in September, 2010. In any case, if Apotheker does get relieved of his duties as CEO, one analyst has suggested he will still have made $9.4 million for the year. Whitman, who is also on HP’s board, is reportedly interested in the job but the appointment is far from official, AllThingsD said. Whitman’s experience in the consumer market might help HP if ever does decide to revive the TouchPad and other webOS hardware efforts. Whitman served as eBay’s chief executive for 10 years until 2008 before trying her hand in politics. More →
Apple has yet to release a MacBook with an integrated 3G modem, but that doesn’t mean the company hasn’t toyed with the idea. A 2007 15-inch MacBook Pro has surfaced on eBay with a built-in 3G antenna and a SIM-card slot. The seller says he or she originally purchased the 3G-capable MacBook Pro “for parts,” from a former Apple engineer and said “it was immediately clear this was no normal MacBook Pro.” The machine’s SIM card slot is still recognized by OS X 10.6.8 Leopard but the seller has been unable to get the data connection working properly, and noted that “it’s entirely possible it never worked.” The high bid for the one-of-a-kind MacBook Pro was $11,211.11 at the time of this writing. Read on for a few more images. More →
Google on Thursday finally took the wraps off its Google Wallet and Google Offers services, which offer an NFC-based contactless payment system married with a location-based local coupon service. On the same day, eBay and its online payment arm PayPal filed a lawsuit against Google and two of its executives for stealing trade secrets relating to mobile payments. Osama Bedier and Stephanie Tilenius, both of whom were heavily involved in the development of the Google Wallet service, were named in the suit. Beider and Tilenius were formerly PayPal employees who left the company to join Google and help build Google Wallet. Both executives were with PayPal for the better part of a decade, and Bedier was most recently vice president of platform, mobile and new ventures. The suit accuses Bedier of having “misappropriated PayPal trade secrets by disclosing them within Google and to major retailers,” and it alleges that Tilenius broke a contractual agreement with eBay by recruiting Bedier once moving to Google. More →
Shazam and eBay have teamed up to offer Android users a nice freebie. From now until January 1, 2012, Android Shazam users can enjoy unlimited song tagging without having to buy Shazam Encore. “This is the first exclusive App sponsorship deal agreed by eBay anywhere in the world, and the first time Shazam has selected a partner to provide free services to their customers,” reads the press release. The company’s self-titled, free application gives users the ability to tag up to five songs each month, after which Shazam Encore must be purchased. “In addition, we’re pleased to offer Android Shazamers access to the Shazam Friends social feature, allowing them to share their music discoveries with their Facebook friends and family while discovering exciting new music and content themselves in a continuously updating feed.” The full press release is after the break.
eBay has revealed sales figures for the iPad 2 during its first two weeks on the market. The online auction house created a chart that shows just under 12,000 iPad 2 units were sold during the two week period that it was exclusively available in the United States. The graphic notes that 35% of iPad 2 units sold during that 2 week period were to international customers looking to get an early taste — that figure is down from the 65% of international customers who purchased the original iPad on eBay. Canada and Russia were the two largest importers, each purchasing about 500 iPad 2 tablets. Hong Kong, Japan, and the United Kingdom each bought about 350. Australia purchased 317 iPads last year, but only purchased 110 iPad 2 devices in 2010. The 16GB Wi-Fi version of the iPad 2 was the most popular, as it represented 30% of all iPad 2 sales. Apple has yet to release its official iPad 2 sales figures. More →
Still on the fence about whether to switch to an iPhone on Verizon’s largest 3G voice and data network? If you’re a current AT&T subscriber with an iPhone 4, Verizon is offering at least $200 for your iPhone if you trade it in, and you can instantly use that towards your iPhone 4 purchase on Big Red. Could you get $350-$475 on eBay or Craigslist? Why sure, but you don’t have to meet some sketchy computer hacker in a dark hallway this way… Anyone going to take Verizon up on this offer?
UPDATE: We have confirmed Verizon’s trade-in program applies not just to Verizon handsets but to handsets from other carriers including an AT&T iPhone.
We bet everyone out there is saying, “Finally.” And if so, we’re right along with you. Skype has just filed with the SEC for an IPO and will be listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange. In terms of revenue, Skype is reporting EBITDA of $115.8 million on $406.2 million in net revenue for the first six months of 2010. In 2009, however, the filed documents report a loss of $368.6 million on revenue of $718.9 million which is when Skype and eBay no longer shared sippy cups. More →
Remember all those rumors that surfaced last year and spoke of an upgraded iPod Twith an on-board camera? Now is your chance to get your hands on not one, but two iPod Touch prototypes with the aforementioned rear-facing camera. The iPod Touches are designated DVT-1 and DVT-2 and are thought to be units produced for testing by Apple’s development team. These pieces of iPod history fell into the hands of the seller when he purchased them at a flea market from another seller who originally purchased them at an auction. One iPod is completely non-functional while the other boots and reveals a partially complete SwitchBoard OS. Interesting, isn’t it? Hit the jump for a few more shots of the prototypes. More →
The implications of this deal are exciting. Google has purchased, in cash, the internet VoIP company Gizmo5 for a cool $30 million. The deal brings a true SIP/VoIP provider into the Google fold — the potential to merge the acquired technology with Google Voice and/or Google Talk is staring us right in the face. Last month there were rumors that perhaps Skype, due to legal issues with its own VoIP technology, might purchase Gizmo5 as a backup plan of sorts. However, that deal went south after Skype’s creators settled with eBay over future licensing of the core technology behind the popular service. So what do you think? Will Gizmo5 go the way of Orkut and fade into the internet oblivion? We’re hoping it will be more like GrandCentral…built into something we all love and the wireless service providers hate! More →
The Rockefeller Institute, a research group tied to SUNY, said that sales taxes took a 6.1 percent dive in Q4 of 2008 and Q1 of this year was even worse. Given the current state of the economy of course, this is hardly a surprise. Beyond the obvious reasoning behind the decline — people are losing jobs, making less money and spending less money — the drop may be bad news on another front as it could finally spell the end for the free rides afforded by online shopping. The idea of requiring online retailers to collect sales tax on out-of-state sales has been tossed around over and over again but according to the New York Post, this time around it might just stick. A bill is expected to go before congress as soon as this week that would require online retailers such as Amazon and Overstock, and even the online auction house eBay to collect sales tax on behalf of the state to which items are delivered. This spells certain aggravation for consumers who enjoy saving cash by ordering online and even more so for Internet retailers who will have to implement the new policy.
In New York State where an online sales tax bill was passed last Summer, Web retailers are already in the midst of fighting the new policy. New York’s law now requires any online retailer that advertises on New York-based web sites to collect sales tax when shipping to New York. Amazon and Overstock have both pulled all advertising from websites based in New York in protest.