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Everyone's favorite online shopping destination is considering a price hike for everybody's favorite two-day shipping club. That's right, Amazon is considering increasing the price of US Prime memberships by $20-$40. This piece of information was given out yesterday during Amazon's earnings call, during which it detailed its earnings.
It's not exactly clear why Amazon would want to increase the price for US Prime memberships, especially considering they reported record membership numbers. One reason provided was higher shipping costs, though I'm not completely convinced this is the real reason. Since its inception, Amazon Prime has expanded beyond two-day shipping by adding free Kindle rentals and instant streaming of over 40,000 videos. I would venture to guess that the cost of adding content to the streaming service is the real reason for the contemplated price hike.
It's possible that Prime memberships could end up having different tiers, though Amazon's CFO dodged a similar question during the earnings call yesterday. One thing is clear, don't be surprised if you start having to pay more for your Amazon Prime subscription.
Facebook is still popular, especially among younger demographics, and won't suddenly spiral out of popularity anytime soon, according to the Forrester Research group. Following a recent Princeton University study predicting Facebook will no longer exist by 2021, which the No. 1 social media site immediately argued against.
In the Princeton study, two PhD students also predicted Facebook would lose 80 percent of its users by 2017 - which Forrester also disputed.
"In fact, from a user perspective, Facebook is in rude health," according to a recent Forrester blog. "Its number of monthly users is still growing - up to 1.19 billion in Q3 2013. More importantly, more and more of those users are coming every single day: in Q3 2013, its daily user count was 61% of its monthly user count, up from 55% in Q2 2012."
It's no surprise Facebook didn't take kindly to the Princeton study, as Facebook is a publicly traded company and wanted to dispel the study - and all rumors - and Forrester's blog should help temporarily quash those worries.
Many users worldwide are experiencing outages worldwide outage of several Google services including GMail, Google+, Google Hangouts and more over the last several hours. GMail service seems to largely be fully restored but it appears that service has yet to be restored to Google Hangouts on the east coast of the US.
With the Google+ outage YouTube comments are not working, and I have been unable to reach any of my Google Drive space all day long. GMail is back up on the east coast, but a friend in Oregon is reporting that its still down for him. Google has not stated a reason as to why the outage is occurring or what the cause is, but they are saying that it is temporary and service should be back to normal soon.
The proclaimed "king of revenge porn," Hunter Moore, and one other person were arrested and charged based on activities related to the once-popular website, isanyoneup.com.
"The moral of the story is that his revenge porn site wasn't a good enough business model, and that he had to engage in illegal activity to populate the site with pictures," noted Wes Hsu, assistant U.S. attorney for the Central District of California/leader of the Cyber and Intellectual Property Crime Section.
Both Moore and Charles Evens were charged with conspiracy, seven counts of aggravated identity theft and seven counts of unauthorized access to a protected computer to obtain information, including efforts to hack e-mail accounts to steal personal information. Moore previously stated on numerous occasions that everyone on the site were anonymously submitted to isanyoneup.com, which the federal government claims isn't true.
Evens was reportedly paid $200 per week for his criminal activity, with the working relationship first starting sometime in 2011. Hearing that both men could face up to five years in federal prison is little solace for the people that had their pictures and personal information published on the website.
British government officials are currently debating the Intellectual Property Bill, with the Prime Minister's staff looking to crack down severely on repeat file sharers. The government wants to begin removing Internet access privileges to repeat offenders that are determined to be 'persistent offenders.' In fact, increasing the maximum penalty for copyright infringement up to 10 years is a current topic of discussion during the meeting.
"The discrepancy I mentioned is a source of great frustration," said Mike Weatherly, the Prime Minister's intellectual property MP, in a statement. "For example, the private prosecution by the Federation Against Copyright Theft of Anton Vickerman, who was making £50,000 a month from running a website (SurfTheChannel) that facilitated mass-scale copyright infringement, saw him convicted of conspiracy to defraud and sentenced to four years in prison."
A counter argument issued by Helen Goodman, UK MP, noted that it seems ignorant to distinguish between the teenager downloading music for a mobile device and organized copyright piracy groups.
National governments in North America and much of Europe are trying to combat online piracy and copyright infringement - with varying levels of success - and will continue to be a major issue in 2014.
With many parts of the world still waiting for 4G or even 3G coverage, the South Korean government is looking forward and beginning to invest into the infrastructure needed to bring 5G to the country by 2020. South Korea will invest $1.5 billion in the infrastructure build-out and will work with local firms to accomplish the task.
5G is expected to become much faster than most of the wired broadbad service in most of the world with speeds hitting limits up to 1000 times the current fastest 4G LTE bandwidth. This means that 5G users will be able to download a 1GB file in less than two seconds, or an entire Blu-ray ISO in less than a single minute. South Korea expects the network roll out to be completed by the end of the decade, and it expects handset technology to have caught up by then.
In the last few years, YouTube traffic has exploded thanks to faster internet connections and mobile device speeds increasing, and one of the biggest complaints is that YouTube seems to perform better on some ISPs than others. Today Google announced that it has released a performance report that outlines which ISPs perform better with YouTube.
At the moment, Google's video quality report only shows a series of slides that aim to educate the public on how YouTube videos are delivered to you via CDN servers, but ultimately will feature a list of ISPs and will rate them on how they perform with YouTube traffic. If viewers on a specific ISP are able to watch 90-percent of YouTube Videos at 720p resolution at consistent quality without buffering, then that ISP will be branded as "YouTube HD Certified."
"We wanted to give users a measure of performance that they can truly understand," Google's Shiva Rajaraman said in an interview. "The other side is we felt this would be beneficial for ISPs too, because now they can describe their service and the various product offerings and price points they might have to their customers in a way that they can truly understand: You can access YouTube in HD on my ISP, or not."
2013 was a big year for Netflix, and the service is expected to announce that its number of subscribers has risen to 33.1 million for the third quarter of 2013. That means that analyst expect that Netflix managed to pick up an additional 2.1 million subscribers in the past three months of the year.
With Netflix's stock more than tripping in 2013, investors will be happy to hear that subscriptions are continuing to grow and its expected to see the stock rise after the opening bell tomorrow morning. Even with stiff competition from Hulu, Amazon Prime, and even Google Play, Netflix continues to be somewhat of an unstoppable powerhouse in the media streaming world.
The Sacramento Kings from the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced it will become the first professional sports team to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. Until March 1, basketball fans can purchase game tickets and merchandise in a "faster and more" secure manner, according to the team.
"We are maniacally focused on creating the most seamless experience for our fans in all facets,"said Vivek Ranadive, majority team owner of the Kings, in a press statement. "With BitPay, we are able to implement a technology that allows our fans to make Kings-related purchases without physically reaching into their wallets. A major tenet of the NBA 3.0 philosophy is about utilizing technology for the betterment of the fan experience, and this is yet another step in that process."
While the Kings became the first major pro sports team to accept bitcoin payments, expect others to jump onboard as well. If nothing else, other organizations will patiently observe and learn from any technology growing pains that the Kings - and any major business - face when trying to accept bitcoin.
BitPay is processing bitcoin payments for the Kings Team Store. The company now supports bitcoin payments for 20,000 merchants, with an average of 1,000 new partner signing up each week.
We saw Spotify unleash free music streaming on the Internet yesterday, with today seeing Rdio do the same thing. Rdio has announced that customers can now listen to all of its music for nothing, as long as they don't mind ads.
These ads will include "new feature announcements, messages from partner brands, notifications about exclusive content and other helpful tips." If you don't want to sit through the ads, you can wipe them all away for $9.99 per month by opting into Rdio's Unlimited service.