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.
Not long ago, a story ran around the blogosphere pitching the idea that Apple should take the piles of cash it’s sitting on and use it to revolutionize the banking industry. Sure, “iBank” is an interesting concept but there’s one major rub: Apple knows nothing about banking. Apple is a computer company, a digital service company, a hardware manufacturer, a software company and many other things, but it is by no means a bank. The time, new hires, training and investment it would take to prep Cupertino for a banking entrance negates much of the potential benefit and as such, it won’t happen. The same can be said for an online auction house entering the telco industry – the only problem is the latter example actually happened. When eBay purchased Skype four years ago for $2.6 billion, many wondered what it was thinking. Now, four years later, eBay finally seems to be wondering the same thing… What were we thinking? As a result of some comments made by eBay CEO John Donahoe regarding its recent earnings call, the internet is ablaze once again with rumors that the company is finally looking to offload Skype. Donahoe:
[Skype would make a] great stand-alone busines… The synergies between Skype and the other parts of our portfolio are minimal. We’re going to continue to run and operate the business. It’s not a distraction currently. And at such time when we have further announcements on that, we’ll let you know.
Of course as is always the case with any story citing analyst sources and inference, this is all speculation for the time being. We consider this a feeler from Donahoe; I’ll be taking calls from interested parties, if you will. Bottom line? eBay is an auction house. Paypal – awesome, logical buy. Skype – not so much.
Remember the Nokia E71x we scooped like soft serve back in November? You know, the AT&T-branded version of what is arguably the sexiest Finnish handset to ever have been assembled. Well guess what folks, the E71x can now be yours! That’s the good news, unfortunately the bad news is that AT&T has nothing to do with it – oh, and only one person will be able to get his or her grubby little mitts on this rare specimen. That’s right people, the E71x is getting a healthy dose of eBay treatment and now is your chance to get this slim QWERTY before anyone else does. Actually, the fact that it’s up on eBay right now most likely means that we’re very close to an official release, or the handset was scrapped and testers no longer have any use for it. We’re hoping the former is the case of course as the E71x would be an awesome addition to any carrier lineup and S60 needs all of the US carrier love it can get. The seller’s location is listed as Grand Prairie, TX which is just a stone’s throw from Nokia’s offices in Irving. We’ll give you three guesses as to where the seller got it. The auction ends in just over three and a half hours and the current bid is $275… Who’s up for a swoop-fest?
Remember when we teased you all with this sexy new PMP from COWON and how disappointing it was to find out it was hitting Korea with no US release date? Well stop your crying already – COWON has just announced today that it will be releasing this gadget in the US a lot sooner than we all thought. With its very own GUI lovingly shown off by an AMOLED screen, this PMP most definitely a stunner with specs to match. This thing is just jam packed with tons more features than your average PMP:
- 3.3″ AMOLED touch screen, 16 million colors, 480 x 272 pixels
- 500MHz dual-core processor
- DVD-quality MPEG4 and TV output (supports AVI and WMV)
- Bluetooth 2.0 with stereo headset support
- G-sensor accelerometer
- Extended battery (11 hours video and 55 hours audio, not bad!)
- JetEffect 2.0 audio technology
- EQ Filter and stereo enhancement including BBE+, Mach3Bass, 3D Surround and MP enhance audio processing
Wondering how much this thing will cost you? For an 8GB model it’s $199.99 and a 16GB will run for $239.99 and it will be available on December 19, not January like we previously thought. We’re not sure if it will be in stores, but we know it will be available through JetMall, Newegg, Amazon, eBay and a few other online retailers. Anyone going to pick one of these up as a stocking stuffer?
James Bond couldn’t have been this careless, could he? Nah, it was probably a rookie; you know, an agent who hadn’t, and probably won’t, make it to Double-0 status. Anyhoo, a Nikon Coolpix camera sold on eBay for $30 turned out to be well worth the money, assuming the benefits outweigh the risks. In this case, it doesn’t. The camera was once owned by an MI6 agent and he or she forgot to delete a few items here and there. It’s just the typical shots of rocket launchers, terrorist network diagrams, leaked images of the new Blackberry 9600… wait, scratch that last one. This could have been a complete hoax done by some 28-year-old seeking attention, but apparently it has been confirmed by MI6 when agents found the man missing from his treehouse with the bark engraved, “MI6 wuz here, lolz!”
Having a little bit of buyer’s remorse there, eBay? According to TechCrunch, eBay may be looking to sell off StumbleUpon after acquiring the company a mere 18 months ago for $75 million. An anonymous source claims that eBay has hired Deutsche bank to help them find the right buyer. No asking price has been mentioned but eBay may take a loss as StumbleUpon’s popularity (based upon traffic data) has been steadily declining. It appears as if eBay may be streamlining and finally selling off some of these superfluous acquisitions that contributed little, if any, to their core auction and classified services. A little hint to the prospective buyer: if you really want to help boost StumbleUpon, get rid of that annoying toolbar and focus on delivering the content through your website instead.
Now is most definitely not a good time to run a US (or any) airline. People are traveling less, the economy is basically in the toilet and fuel is incredibly expensive which means that everything else is more expensive. On top of everything else we just entered a historically slow time of the year in terms of air travel as summer draws to a close and kids return to school. We’re not sure how far this tactic will go, but JetBlue is trying to ease the pain a bit by auctioning off a handful of flights on eBay. This doesn’t mark the first time an airline has turned to eBay but in the past, official eBay ticket auctions have been used to raise money for charity. JetBlue apparently isn’t quite concerned with humanitarianism at the moment as the airline has listed over 300 round-trip packages including single tickets, two-ticket packages and even a few mystery auctions that include hotel stays. All auctions were listed last night with varying durations and with opening prices of between 5¢ and 10¢. The auctions are expected to close between 85% and 90% of retail value, which means that travelers will indeed get a nice discount. To those interested, all flights depart on a Thursday or Friday and return on a Sunday or Monday. Travel resulting from the auctioned tickets must be completed by October 6th.
As more and more devices become equipped with capable web browsers, it becomes increasingly interesting to learn where mobile mobile web users are spending their time. Companies spend massive amounts of time and money mobilizing websites and ensuring that their content is accessible from any device. So who’s getting a solid return? According to a recent study conducted by M:Metrics, smartphone web browsers spend the majority of time each month browsing through the pages of cragslist.org. You dirty, dirty heathens. We’d like to think that the jobs, community and other such sections are well traveled but we know better. Of the 4 hours and 38 minutes smartphone users spend each month browsing the web on average, craigslist.org sees an average of 1 hour and 39 minutes. The second most popular mobile web destination is eBay.com with an average of 1 hour and 29 minutes. Basically, smartphone users like looking at old junk – in more ways than one. Behind the two leaders are popular social networks MySpace and Facebook with 1:25 and 1:24 respectively. What all this says to us: Smartphone owners use the mobile web to check out local transvestites, buy tattered old couches and hand-sewn tea cozies, and then tell all of their friends on MySpace and Facebook about it. Are we oversimplifying?