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The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) today said it would treat bitcoin and all cryptocurrencies as property, instead of monetary currency, so bitcoin supporters can expect to see the government try and cash in with taxes.
Unlike US currency, which is issued and regulated by the US Federal Reserve Bank and printed by the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing, bitcoins are not backed by gold or any commodities - and only exists in the digital world.
"Virtual currency that has an equivalent value in real currency, or that acts as a substitute for real currency, is referred to as 'convertible' virtual currency," the IRS notes. "Bitcoin is one example of a convertible virtual currency. Bitcoin can be digitally traded between users and can be purchased for, or exchanged into, U.S. dollars, Euros, and other real or virtual currencies."
The IRS was expected to weigh in for quite some time, as the federal government wants to avoid an electronic black market from being created - and adds clarity for investors.
Nokia has been operating its own music streaming service and trying to compete against the big dogs in the market like iTunes and Spotify. Nokia's service is called MixRadio and it has now launched in China.
With the Chinese launch, Nokia has become the first global music streaming company to launch in the country. The launch gives Nokia access to half a billion internet users that access the web via a mobile device.
With the new launch, MixRadio is available in 31 countries around the world. To localize the service for Chinese users a bit, Nokia has teamed with Chinese musicians to create curated playlists. The artists include Khalil Fong, Tia Ray, and DJ Wordy.
Security is a big deal for users of all sorts of services and applications online. When those services are blogging and photo platforms like Facebook, tumblr, and others, security is even more important since a hacker could gain access to information and images that could be harmful to the user. Tumblr has announced that it is introducing a new form of authentication.
Users of Tumblr can now choose to activate two-factor authentication for their accounts. With the two-factor authentication activated, before you can access your account you need a password you type in and a code sent to your mobile device. If a hacker learns your password somehow, they will not be able to access your account without the ability to get the cell phone auth code.
If you aren't worried about hackers getting into your account and writing embarrassing things or stealing your photos, you can leave the new authentication method off. The downside is if you lose your mobile or leave it somewhere, you won't be able to get into your Tumblr account.
Electronic Arts was in the running to win The Consumerist's Worst Company of America award for the third year in a row, but the company has been voted out of the running.
Time Warner Cable is now in EA's position, with the company winning out the race bracket with 51.2% versus EA's 48.8%. The Consumerist explains: "Despite its cock-up of the Battlefield 4 and Titanfall releases, EA just didn't have the all-out support that it had received in the previous two tournaments. And while Time Warner Cable has always merited a spot in the WCIA brackets, the company's pending merger with former WCIA champ Comcast undoubtedly played into readers' voting decisions."
The Consumerist continues: "Judging by the absolute crushing that Comcast brought down on Yahoo in its first round match, there is a lot of hatred out there for the nation's largest cable/Internet provider, and today's TWC result confirms that voters are more than happy to spread that hate around."
Cloud-storage service Box plans to go public and has reportedly filed an initial public offering, aiming to raise $250 million, with company CEO Aaron Levie warning Box won't be profitable for the "foreseeable future."
Box has 25 million registered users and more than 34,000 paying companies as clients - and while revenue increased 111 percent year-over-year, up to $124.2 million, losses increased from $112.6 million to $168.6 million.
"We are moving toward an information economy, where every worker will be an information worker, and every business, regardless of industry, will be in the information business," Levie wrote in an open letter to investors. "Our role at Box is to help enable this transition for every organization in the world."
Box is a popular Silicon Valley storage startup, but with Dropbox, Google, Microsoft, Barracuda Networks, and scores of other companies offering online storage, it's going to be extremely difficult to compete long-term.
Digital currency bitcoin has endured ups and downs over the past 12 months, and clearly is shaking up the financial industry. More consumers are becoming familiar with bitcoins, while businesses are embracing the payment, and governments remain unsure how to utilize the online currency.
An upcoming meeting in Paris led by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) should involve an active bitcoin discussion, in which companies such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, US Federal Reserve, and other major organizations listen and share experiences - as bitcoin legality and legislation still remains a difficult battle.
"The rise of bitcoin has changed everyone's idea of what a good payment system should be," said Manu Sporny, Digital Bazaar CEO, in a statement. "bitcoin raised the bar, so everyone's got to come in and match that in some way."
The fall of Mt. Gox and other bitcoin exchanges, however, have made foreign government officials hesitant to throw support behind digital currency. Meanwhile, the launch of SpainCoin hopes to offer stability for a digital currency, with SpainCoins offered to Spanish citizens - and will prove to be an important guinea pig for regulation.
Microsoft announced that it was dropping over $7 billion to purchase the Devices and Services arm of Nokia back in September of last year. The deal required the approval of regulators in the US, Europe and Asia before it could close.
Nokia originally expected the deal to close in Q1 2014. If you are paying attention this is the last month of Q1 and now Nokia is saying that the deal won't close until next month. Nokia is predicting that the final approvals will come and the deal will close in April.
Nokia and Microsoft are both committed to the deal despite the delays. The required regulatory approvals in the US and Europe have been received. The delay is because the Asian approvals haven't come in.
Revenues on music sales on iTunes continue to slide, but is Apple looking at releasing iTunes on Android? Billboard is reporting just that, looking to fill in some of its financial holes by expanding iTunes to Android, and launching a paid music subscription service.
It's not like the competition hasn't done this, as Google has its Google Play Music service on iOS, but for Apple to do it, it is almost unthinkable. The iPhone maker makes up around 40% of the US digital music market, but the market itself is seeing double-digit declines in revenue over the last couple of years. Apple currently has a free, ad-supported radio service with its iTunes Radio, but it secures most of its profits in media from the standard single and album sales through the iTunes Store.
If the company moves toward a flat rate subscription music service, it could create a new revenue stream for itself, but it wouldn't exactly stem the losses it is experiencing through iTunes. Expanding the service to Android on the other hand, could open the company up to hundreds of millions of new devices and consumers who wouldn't be buying content through the iTunes Store.
Yesterday I mentioned that an ex-Microsoft employee had been arrested for leaking secrets to a French blogger having to do with windows 8. I thought it was stupid that the man who was arrested used Microsoft platforms like SkyDrive to leak the details. A smart criminal would have taken his illegal activities to another platform.
Microsoft has now admitted that to catch the source of the leak, it had read messages in the bloggers hotmail account. Microsoft still hasn't said who the blogger is, but it has said it read his emails to catch the leaker.
Microsoft says that its search is technically legal, but that in the future it will consult outside consul before reading private emails. As you might know, Hotmail is owned by Microsoft and is now called Outlook.com.
A former Microsoft employee was arrested this week for allegedly leaking details of Windows 8 and other software to an unnamed technology blogger. The former workers is Alex Kibkalo, who was previously a senior architect at the software giant.
The man was arrested this week and according to the complaint filed on March 17, he passed trade secrets having to do with Windows 8 to a French blogger. Microsoft says that its investigation found that Kibkalo had uploaded software that includes pre-release versions of updates for Windows 8 RT tablets and the Microsoft Activation Server Software Development Kit.
The former Microsoft worker had uploaded the files to a computer located in Redmond, Washington. He later uploaded that software to his personal Windows Live SkyDrive account where he provided the blogger links to the software and a password.