eComTechnology payment processing solutions Thu, 24 Jul 2014 23:14:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 U.S. consumer lawsuit accusing Google of monopolizing prime real estate on Android smartphones Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:33:56 +0000 A U.S. consumer lawsuit accusing Google of monopolizing prime real estate on Android smartphones will help mobile rivals like Microsoft make their antitrust case with European regulators should damaging secrets emerge in court.

The suit, filed in California federal court in May by two smartphone consumers, said Google requires handset manufacturers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd (005930.KS) to restrict competing apps like Microsoft’s Bing search on Android phones, partly by making Google’s own apps the default.

Google argued last week the proposed class action should be dismissed because consumers still are free to use the other apps. The plaintiffs counter that most consumers either don’t know how to switch default settings, or will not go to the trouble.

If a judge lets the lawsuit proceed, plaintiffs’ attorneys would be allowed to delve into internal Google emails and contracts with smartphone companies, and could interview Google executives under oath, said Steve Berman, who represents the consumers.

“I’m confident we will get into juicy stuff, and I think that will up the pressure on Google as some of the material we discover becomes public,” he said.

Google declined to comment. A hearing on Google’s bid to dismiss the case is scheduled for October.

Any damaging evidence from the class action would play into the hands of Google’s rivals. Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said the company “is not a party” to the consumer lawsuit, but last year a group of companies – including Microsoft (MSFT.O), Oracle (ORCL.N), Nokia (NOK1V.HE), Expedia (EXPE.O) and TripAdvisor (TRIP.O) – filed a complaint with European antitrust regulators over some of the same issues in the U.S. lawsuit.

Google apps “are widely used on Android by requiring default placement and other mechanisms for disadvantaging competing apps,” the companies said in a summary of their complaint.

Google last year said it was working cooperatively with European regulators, who have yet to decide whether to formally investigate.

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Contract the Martin Mars Waterbombers for 5 more years to protect BC Wed, 23 Jul 2014 08:38:00 +0000
Contract the Martin Mars Waterbombers for 5 more years to protect BC
  • Petitioning Christy Clark

Contract the Martin Mars Waterbombers for 5 more years to protect BC

    1. Chris Alemany
    2. Petition byChris Alemany

      Port Alberni, Canada

Our province is burning. The Martin Mars waterbombers have stood the test of time.  They are the best, most efficient and cheapest way to get the most water on a fire in the shortest amount of time.  Contract the Coulson Martin Mars Waterbombers for 5 more years to protect BC from wildfires.  Our province is burning and these are the best planes for the job!  It cost $750,000 for a season.  You are paying $3 million a day right now.  Do the right thing!  These planes are a bargain!

Christy Clark, Premier of British Columbia
Contract the Coulson Martin Mars Waterbombers for 5 more years to protect BC from wildfires. Our province is burning and these are the best planes for the job! It cost $700,000 for a season. You are paying $3 million a day right now. Do the right thing! These planes are a bargain!


Sign the petition.

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Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc said it offered to buy Time Warner Inc Sun, 20 Jul 2014 10:57:27 +0000 Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc said on Wednesday it had offered to buy Time Warner Inc, a move that would unite two of the world’s most powerful media conglomerates, but Time Warner rebuffed its offer.

Time Warner’s stock jumped 17.3 percent to $83.33 on the New York Stock Exchange after news that Murdoch had his sights on Time Warner, the owner of the Warner Bros. movie studio and cable channels such as HBO and CNN, among other media properties.

Murdoch’s cash-and-stock bid was worth about $80 billion, or $85 per share, people familiar with the matter told Reuters earlier on Wednesday. The offer, first reported by The New York Times, consisted of 60 percent in stock and the rest in cash.

Twenty-First Century Fox later confirmed it had made a formal takeover proposal in June but said there were no talks currently under way.

Even so, Murdoch and his advisers are unlikely to abandon his ambition to put Time Warner in his empire so easily, one of the people said, pointing out that he has the “disciplined determination” to get a deal done.

Fox’s overtures to Time Warner could accelerate a wave of consolidation that is already reshaping the U.S. media landscape.

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JPMorgan Chase & Co is backing away from making home loans Sat, 19 Jul 2014 20:10:57 +0000 JPMorgan Chase & Co, the second-largest U.S. mortgage lender, is backing away from making home loans to less creditworthy borrowers after losing faith in its ability to recover much money from foreclosing on homes, even with government guarantees.

The shift reflects a change in the way the bank views its mortgage business: where before it viewed collateral and U.S. government lending programs as key backstops to most loans it was making, now it is determined to never have to foreclose.

To avoid loans that default, it is doing more work on establishing the capacity and willingness of borrowers to pay their loans. The bank is losing market share in government-backed loans, but is doing so consciously, JPMorgan executives told analysts Tuesday on a conference call.

“We maintained discipline regarding pricing to our required returns,” Chief Financial Officer Marianne Lake said.

Lenders have broadly been paying more attention to borrowers’ credit quality since the financial crisis, but JPMorgan is going a step further in its reluctance to rely on government loan guarantees.

If other lenders choose the same path as JPMorgan, it could be more difficult for first-time U.S. home buyers to secure financing, even though government programs are designed to help credit flow to these borrowers.

For now, JPMorgan seems to be going a different path from its smaller competitors, many of which have lowered their underwriting standards. Such lenders, particularly those that aren’t banks, are increasingly willing to make subprime loans. Over the last 18 months lenders have been making loans to borrowers with lower and lower credit scores on average, according to mortgage data provider Ellie Mae, although the mean is still well within the “prime” category.

As JPMorgan pulls back from mortgage lending, non-banks are ramping up. The third biggest mortgage lender in the United States in the first quarter was Detroit’s Quicken Loans, according to industry newsletter Inside Mortgage Finance, after Wells Fargo & Co and JPMorgan. Quicken is a bigger mortgage lender now than Citigroup Inc or Bank of America Corp.

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Canada’s central bank decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at one per cent Fri, 18 Jul 2014 12:02:19 +0000 Canada

Canada (Photo credit: palindrome6996)

Canada‘s central bank decided to keep its benchmark interest rate at one per cent today, the same level it has been at for almost four years.

The Bank of Canada announced in its latest policy decision on Wednesday that it will keep its target for the overnight rate — the yardstick against which most consumer loans are based — steady at one per cent.

Although most economists were expecting no change in the rate, the choice of wording is often closely scrutinized to see if the central bank is leaning toward a rate hike or a cut, if and when it does decide to act.

Instead of suggesting rate hikes are in the offing, the bank softened its tone and suggested it’s in no hurry to hike rates if and when it chooses to act.

“The bank is neutral with respect to the timing and direction of the next change to the policy rate, which will depend on how new information influences the outlook and assessment of risks,” the bank said.

The bank’s use of the word “neutral” was a new and strategic addition to the rate decision, but in an accompanying document, called the monetary policy report, it is clear the bank thinks we’re in a brave new world where interest rates will be much lower than we’re used to, for much longer.

“We are still a long way from home,” Bank of Canada chief Stephen Poloz said. “Our economy has room
to grow. And, when we do get home, there is a growing consensus that interest rates will still be lower than we were accustomed to in the past.”

The Canadian dollar initially dropped on the news, but by the time the bank’s full 23-page accompanying report was fully digested by the market, the loonie was back where it was before — a little below 93 cents US.

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Amazon wants the ability to test drones Thu, 17 Jul 2014 19:54:09 +0000 Amazon wants the ability to test drone delivery outside so the retailer can launch its Amazon Prime Air service as soon as it’s legally allowed to.

Lead Photo Inc. doesn’t want to wait any longer for the Federal Aviation Administration to approve the commercial use of drones—small, unmanned aircraft.

The e-retailer, the perennial leader of the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, submitted a letter to the FAA Wednesday asking the FAA to grant Amazon “expedited operational authorization” to test the use of drones for commercial purposes. The letter was signed by Paul Misener, Amazon’s vice president of global public policy.

Amazon wants to be able to test its drones outside; it has been running tests with the small aircraft inside its  research and development lab in Seattle. Congress, in the FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012, told the FAA to integrate unmanned aircraft systems into the national airway by 2015 and gave them the right to authorize drone use.

Amazon says it has been able, over the past five months, to develop eighth- and ninth-generation drones that can travel more than 50 miles per hour and carry packages up to five pounds. Amazon says that weight limit covers more than 86% of products sold on Amazon’s testing has been limited to indoor locations and locations outside of the United States. “Of course, Amazon would prefer to keep the focus, jobs, and investment of this important research and development initiative in the United States by conducting private research and development operations outdoors near Seattle,” the company says in the letter.

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British bank Barclays is to replace branch cashiers Wed, 16 Jul 2014 07:26:01 +0000 British bank Barclays is to replace branch cashiers with floor-walking staff sporting tablet computers as personal banking becomes increasingly virtual.

From October staff will step out from behind their glass booths, armed with tablets to help them offer advice to customers and guide them on how to use self-service machines for basic transactions.

Banks are keen to automate more basic services within branches, such as withdrawing and depositing cash and paying bills, as customers become more comfortable with remote banking.

A report published last week by the British Bankers Association and accountancy firm EY found that Britons are now using mobile and internet banking for transactions worth nearly 1 billion pounds a day.

The change at Barclays will involve more than 6,500 employees dropping their cashier titles for the new role of “community banker”, with all in-branch staff receiving an average pay rise of 2.8 percent.

The bank, which has more than 1,500 branches in the UK, said that the new role will give staff the opportunity to use their skills and help customers with services they could not provide from behind a counter, such as setting up direct debits.

Barclays’ rivals Royal Bank of Scotland and Virgin Money have already started to transform their branch experience with state-of-the-art technology.


RBS has begun the installation of self-service machines in branches and Virgin Money recently opened its fourth “lounge”, where customers can eat and drink while using mobile devices and watching television.

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Microsoft is once again tweaking its Office 365 plans. Tue, 15 Jul 2014 09:22:04 +0000

Microsoft is once again tweaking its Office 365 plans.

The software giant on Wednesday announced plans to launch three new Office 365 plans tailored for small and midsized businesses, or those ranging from 1 to approximately 250 employees. Here’s a breakdown of the new plans, which will go into effect Oct. 1.

  • Office 365 Business ($8.25/user/month): Includes the full suite of Office apps (Outlook, Word, Excel, PowerPoint, OneNote, and Publisher) along with 1TB of OneDrive for Business cloud storage.
  • Office 365 Business Essentials ($5/user/month): Comes with just the “core cloud services for running your business” — email and calendaring, Office Online, online meetings, IM, video conferencing, cloud storage, and file sharing.
  • Office 365 Business Premium ($12.50 user/month): Includes everything from both of the above plans.

The new offerings will eventually replace Microsoft’s current plans for SMBs — Small Business, Small Business Premium, and Midsize Business. The current Enterprise plans will stay the same.

“This new lineup reflects the feedback we’ve received from SMB customers about how they want to get started and grow with Office 365,” Microsoft said.

The new Business Premium plan is the same price of the old Small Business Premium plan, but with all the features of the old Midsize Business plan, if that’s not too confusing. The new Business Essentials Plan is the same price as Small Business, but comes with additional services like Yammer and Active Directory support and a higher seat limit of 300.

“As you grow and your technology needs change, you can move your company (or just specific users) to an Enterprise plan, a different Business plan, or even add solutions like Project, Visio, Dynamics CRM Online and more,” Microsoft said.

Once the new plans go into effect, current Small Business and Small Business Premium customers will automatically see their seat cap raise from 25 to 300 while Midsize Business customers will get a price cut from $15/user/month to $12.50/user/month.

Existing customers don’t need to take any action until their first renewal after Oct. 1, 2015. After that date, you’ll need to select one of the new plans.


Meanwhile, Microsoft also recently launched Office 365 Personal, which is designed for individuals, and allows one PC or Mac and one tablet to be connected to the service for $6.99 a month or $69.99 a year.

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Google Inc services were once again being disrupted in China Sun, 13 Jul 2014 07:41:59 +0000 Google Inc services were once again being disrupted in China on Friday after a brief respite on Thursday, users and an anti-censorship group reported, continuing more than a month of severe disruption.

Features such as Google’s search, maps, online advertising services and e-mail client have been rendered almost inaccessible for users in China.

The Google disruption began in the run-up to the 25th anniversary of the government’s bloody crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

China maintains tight control over the Internet, nipping in the bud any signs of dissent or challenges to the ruling Communist Party’s leadership.

Google declined to comment.

China-based anti-censorship group reported that Google services appeared once again to be inaccessible within China.

The “Great Firewall”, the tool the Communist Party uses to block websites it deems undesirable, experienced a glitch that allowed Google services to work, said.

“It looks like merely a bug of the Great Firewall,” said a member of the group who used a pseudonym. “It’s blocked again.”

The brief restoration of access had occurred as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was visiting Beijing, where cyber-security was high on the list of topics he discussed.

Other online services are also experiencing disruption in China, which began last week. These include South Korean Naver Corp’s Line and KakaoTalk, owned by South Korea’s Kakao Corp, both of which are mobile messaging apps.

Disruptions have also been affecting Yahoo Inc’s photo-sharing site, Flickr, and Microsoft Corp’s OneDrive cloud storage platform.

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