Connect with us

Technology

Amazon’s deal to sell new Apple devices under US trade commission scanner

Published

on




The Federal Trade Commission is scrutinizing a deal Amazon.com Inc. made with Apple Inc. to sell iPhones directly on its e-commerce site, signaling the agency has increased oversight of the tech giant.


John Bumstead, who sells refurbished Apple products, said in a Facebook post last month that about seven lawyers and an economist from the FTC interviewed him about the deal. He made the posting in a group of Apple resellers that complained about being forced to stop selling their refurbished products on Amazon.



The FTC and the Justice Department are ramping up scrutiny of Silicon Valley’s biggest companies. Facebook Inc. disclosed last week that the FTC is probing its businesses, the same week the Justice Department announced a broad review into whether tech companies are using their power to thwart competition.


The FTC and Amazon declined to comment. Apple didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment. The FTC inquiry was reported earlier by the Verge.


Amazon announced last November that it would sell the most-recent iPhone, iPad, Mac computer, Apple Watch and Apple TV models on its website, along with branded accessories and headphones from Apple’s Beats subsidiary. Previously, Amazon sold only older model iPhones.


Amazon in 2015 stopped selling the Apple TV media-streaming device that wasn’t easily compatible with the e-commerce giant’s video service, an example of Amazon using its clout as the world’s biggest online retailer to promote products that helped push its own streaming content.


In 2016, Apple filed a lawsuit against Amazon alleging that the online retailer was selling counterfeit Apple products on its web store.


Bumstead has been complaining to the media that Amazon removed listings of refurbished Apple products from its site, pushing out small independent dealers of recycled devices.


“Wouldn’t it be awesome if the FTC sued Apple/Amazon and actually SOLVED this problem for us?,” he posted on a Facebook page for Apple sellers.


Marketplace Scrutiny


Last week, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin backed the Justice Department’s scrutiny of the technology sector and singled out the Seattle-based retailer. Amazon “destroyed the retail industry across the United States, so there’s no question they’ve limited competition,” Mnuchin said in a July 24 interview on CNBC. “There’s areas where they’ve really hurt small businesses.”


Fears that Amazon may be shortchanging smaller merchants that sell on its marketplace have already drawn scrutiny from European antitrust officials and Congress.


The European Commission opened a formal investigation earlier last month into Amazon’s dual role as retailer and online platform, focusing on the potential misuse of merchants’ data.


Amazon’s agreements with marketplace sellers allow the company to collect “competitively sensitive information” on what’s selling and how much of a product merchants might have in stock, the EU said. The EU suspects that Amazon can spot best-selling products and start stocking the same items itself, promoting the most profitable or high-volume goods without having to take the risks that the other sellers did to find out what people buy.


How Amazon treats its third-party sellers is also being scrutinized by the House Judiciary Committee as part of its separate probe into the technology industry. After a July 16 hearing before the House antitrust panel, Representative David Cicilline sent a letter to Amazon seeking information on its relationship with third parties that sell on its platform.


The Rhode Island Democrat focused on testimony by Amazon lawyer Nate Sutton, who said that the company doesn’t use data it collects on sales to favor its own products over third-party sellers.


The Justice Department is also investigating Alphabet Inc.’s Google and overseeing antitrust scrutiny of Apple, Bloomberg has reported. A group of states have said they’re considering a “range” of antitrust actions against big technology firms after meeting with Attorney General William Barr.




Click to comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Technology

What does Facebook’s plan to hire scribes mean for media industry?

Published

on




Facebook’s plan to hire professional journalists instead of relying solely on algorithms to deliver news is a positive step but is unlikely to shake up an embattled media industry, analysts say.


The social media giant said Tuesday it would build a small team of journalists to select the top national news of the day “to ensure we’re highlighting the right stories.”

It comes as the US media landscape is plagued by job losses and newspaper closures, with organizations trying to figure out how to record profits in the age of free news.



Stories will appear in a section called the “news tab,” which will be separate from the traditional news feed that displays updates and content from users’ friends and relatives.


“In theory I see this as a really positive development. It is something quite promising,” Danna Young, a communications professor at the University of Delaware, told AFP.


Facebook’s journalists will be curating stories from news sites and won’t be editing headlines or writing content.


The California-based company has consistently said it does not want to be considered a media organization that makes major editorial decisions, and this announcement does little to change that, experts add.


“It’s not transformative because it’s not going to change necessarily the behavior of individuals who are referencing stories on their feeds,” said Young.


“That’s where the power comes from — individuals you know and trust putting their tacit stamp of approval on stories by sharing them,” she added.


The tab will be the site’s first news feature using human moderators since it shut down its ill-fated “trending topics” section last year after a scandal over allegations workers had suppressed stories about conservative issues.


Articles not deemed top news stories will still be collated using algorithms based on the user’s history, such as pages they follow, publications they subscribe to and news they have already interacted with.


“Our goal with the news tab is to provide a personalized, highly relevant experience for people,” Facebook head of news partnerships Campbell Brown told AFP in San Francisco Tuesday.


The news tab feature comes as Facebook embarks on a series of initiatives to boost journalism, with traditional media organizations accusing it of benefitting financially from their hard work.


Internet platforms are dominating the internet advertising space making it difficult for established news organizations to transition what were very profitable print advertisements online.


Facebook announced in January that it will invest USD 300 million over three years to support journalism, particularly local news organisations.


It has also funded fact-checking projects around the world, including one in partnership with AFP.


Facebook will reportedly pay some publishers to license news content for the tab but Mathew Ingram, who writes about digital media for the Columbia Journalism Review, doesn’t expect that to trickle down to hard-up organizations that need it the most.


“The companies they are going to choose are ones already doing well I assume. It might give them a little extra cash but I don’t see it driving a huge amount of traffic,” he told AFP.


Print journalism in the US is in free-fall as social media overtakes newspapers as the main news source for Americans.


Around 2,000 American newspapers closed in the past 15 years, according to the University of North Carolina, leaving millions of residents without reporters keeping track of what their local authorities are up to.


“The death of local news has such destructive effects for democracy. It’s a complex issue that Facebook alone cannot fix,” said Young.


The number of journalists working at US newspapers slumped by 47 per cent from 2008 to 2018, according to a Pew Research Center survey released last year.


The total number of journalists in newsrooms fell by 25 per cent, the group found, while consultancy firm Challenger Gray & Christmas says this is going to be the worst year for layoffs since 2009.


It’s a difficult time for Stephen Groves, who recently earned a master’s in journalism at New York University, to be looking for work. When he heard about Facebook’s plans, he was skeptical.


“Facebook is not a journalism company and so before working for Facebook I would want to see their commitment to ethical, robust journalism,” the 30-year-old told AFP.


The digital sector is also in trouble.


When Buzzfeed cut 200 jobs in January, 29-year-old Emily Tamkin was let go from a position she had held for just a few months.


“I’m personally not cheered by the fact that Facebook is swooping in and hiring journalists. If that’s the silver lining then we have a very big cloud here,” she told AFP.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




Continue Reading

Technology

Google ditches its desserts! Android Q’s official name is Android 10

Published

on




Breaking the 10-year history of naming Android releases after desserts, Google on Thursday announced it had officially named the next version as just Android 10.


“First, we’re changing the way we name our releases. Our engineering team has always used internal code names for each version, based of tasty treats, or desserts, in alphabetical order,” said Sameer Samat, VP of Product Management, Android, in a statement.



The naming tradition has become a fun part of the release each year externally too, like Android Lollipop or Marshmallows.


“As a global operating system, it’s important that these names are clear and relatable for everyone in the world. So, this next release of Android will simply use the version number and be called Android 10,” Samat explained.


“While there were many tempting ‘Q’ desserts out there, we think that at version 10 and 2.5 billion active devices, it was time to make this change,” he added.


Now, this year is Android 10 and next year will be Android 11, and so on.


Google also changed the logo from green to black.


It’s a small change but Google found the green was hard to read, especially for people with visual impairments.


Google will officially start using the updated logo in the coming weeks with the final release of Android 10.

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




Continue Reading

Technology

Bose adds Google Assistant, Apple AirPlay 2 to its smart speakers

Published

on




Google on Thursday announced an automatic software update that would bring the Google Assistant to all existing Bose smart speakers and soundbars.


The Google Assistant joins Amazon Alexa for voice control of smart home devices, and instant access to millions of songs and podcasts, help, information, and more.



Bose smart speaker owners can now also use Apple AirPlay 2 for simple streaming from Apple devices.


In addition, there is a small Bose smart speaker on the way. The Bose Home Speaker 300 can be pre-ordered on Amazon.in starting Thursday and would available from August 29.


Weighing a mere two pounds and measuring just over six-inch, the Bose Home Speaker 300’s acoustic package delivers powerful bass along with 360-degree sound – unlike conventional smart speakers that deliver a narrow beam of audio, the company said in a statement.


It would be sold directly from Bose stores, wholesale trade partners and online through Amazon.in for Rs 26,900.


 

(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)




Continue Reading

Trending