Amazon

David Gelles

Ebay and General Motors might seem unlikely bedfellows, but America’s largest carmaker and the world’s largest online auction site looked poised for an unusual partnership on Friday.

As General Motors emerged from bankruptcy protection and unveiled its new corporate identity, chief executive Fritz Henderson announced an unusual piece of news. He said that GM and Ebay would be working together to sell new cars through Ebay Motors. Read more

Richard Waters

FT media editor Andrew Edgecliffe-Johnson reports from the Wired design conference in New York:

Amazon lined up with those arguing that Google needs to be reined in earlier this week, as Jeff Bezos argued that the search juggernaut’s settlement with publishers should not simply be waved through by the authorities.

“We have strong opinions about that issue which I’m not going to share,” he said, before going on to share at least some of them. “Clearly that settlement in our opinion needs to be revisited and [in reference to the DoJ's recent requests for information] is being revisited.” Read more

  • Bing made an early debut, but Microsoft‘s new search service is about to test new social and legal limits in its presentation of video clips. On Bing, “thumbnail”-sized video clips play automatically when a cursor hovers over them. That might be as far as any major company has gone to test the limits of the “fair use” defence to copyright infringement when it comes to video content.
  • Prime View International, the Taiwanese maker of screens for Amazon’s Kindle e-book readers, aims to consolidate its hold on the nascent “electronic paper” industry by acquiring E Ink, the US company that owns key technology for making the screens.

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New York media correspondent Kenneth Li reports:

Not all subscribers are born equal.

Imagine my surprise when I, a faithful subscriber to The New Yorker on Amazon’s Kindle, was denied full access to the NewYorker.com.

That’s what happened yesterday after I tried to pull up a copy of the much-discussed Carlos Slim profile in the latest edition of The New Yorker from its website, but was denied access. It is restricted to print subscribers.

Like other periodicals eyeing a bleak print advertising future, The New Yorker has begun restricting full website access to those who pay for the print copy or pay specifically for the right to access the site. Read more

  • Look out Amazon. Scribd, a digital document sharing service, is launching an online retail market for books and documents, betting that a surge in interest in reading online will help it transform into an Ebay or an Amazon.com of text. The two-year-old Silicon Valley start-up, whose doubling of audience size every six months has been compared to YouTube’s explosive growth, will let some 60m readers of its service begin charging each other for the rights to access just about anything uploaded to the service.
  • Facebook became a relying party for OpenID, the universal web login standard that is trying to gain traction. That means, for example, that Facebook users with an associated Gmail account will be able to browse Facebook without having to login if they are coming from Gmail. But Google, an issuing party, is not likely to become a relying party anytime soon. Doing so would mean surrendering some control of access to their proprietary accounts.

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The FT’s Lex column examines why the Kindle is no panacea for newspapers.

Newspaper executives increasingly believe gadgets such as the Kindle, Amazon’s sleek e-book reader, might fix their industry’s malfunctioning business model. This week, the New York Times, Boston Globe and Washington Post announced plans to subsidise the cost of new Kindles to win electronic subscribers in certain markets. Even Rupert Murdoch, chief executive of News Corp, is making noises about handheld gadgets. If enough people bought them, the NYT, for example, could theoretically save up to 35 per cent of its flagship paper’s operating costs if it sold only paperless subscriptions. Read more

Gadget Guru Paul Taylor has been covering the launch of Amazon.com’s new Kindle DX. Today he takes a historical view of the product, arguing that Amazon is in fact a latecomer to the e-book game.

Based on the buzz around Amazon’s latest Kindle wireless electronic book reader – the big screen Kindle DX, which will cost $489 – it would be easy to think that the US online book and electronics retailer invented the e-book reader category. Read more

  • Amazon launched the Kindle DX, expanding its dominance in the e-reader market while offering a more attractive platform for publishers of textbooks and newspapers. The Kindle DX received complimentary reviews from many critics, who appreciated its large display and enhanced capabilities. Others however, were unconvinced that the DX was a big breakthrough.
  • Microsoft has stirred up fresh complaints of anti-competitive behaviour with its release this week of a late-stage trial version of the next Windows PC operating system. The complaints, from some of the leading makers of web browsers, look set to intensify the software company’s regulatory headaches just as it is seeking to head off swingeing anti-trust action from the European Commission over a related issue.

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Chris Nuttall

Amazon is claiming to offer newspapers a new lease of life with the larger-screen Kindle DX, which transforms reading the printed versions of publications into an easier-to-carry internet-delivered digital experience.

The trend is towards a more literal and fixed digital representation of newspapers, likely to appeal to older audiences. However, in many ways, the more interesting experiments in new media are happening elsewhere, and have more to do with changing the fundamental reading (and writing) experience. Read more

  • The US Federal Trade Commission is looking into the close ties between the boards of Apple and Google, according to the New York Times. The regulators are looking at whether the fact that Apple and Google share two directors, Google chief executive Eric Schmidt and former Genentech chief executive Arthur Levinson, while also competing in several areas, falls foul of anti-trust laws, the New York Times said.
  • Amazon is on Wednesday expected to announce a large-format device similar to the Kindle that is optimised for reading textbooks, newspapers and magazines. Amazon has taken the lead in the rapidly emerging market for e-book readers with its Kindle and Kindle 2.

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  • Verizon Communications has held talks with Apple about selling versions of either the iPhone or other Apple devices in the US. Currently AT&T is the exclusive distributor of the iPhone in the US, and the company was reportedly trying to extend that deal for another year. A lucrative deal with Apple would be a coup for Verizon, which reported strong quarterly profits from its growing mobile business.
  • Qualcomm, the world’s biggest maker of chips for mobile phones, put an end to legal wrangling by settling a four-year patent dispute with rival Broadcom. Qualcomm has agreed to pay Broadcom $891m over four years in exchange for the dismissal of all court cases and Broadcom withdrawing its complaints about Qualcomm’s business practices.

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  • Tech Mahindra won the auction for a controlling stake in Satyam Computer Services, the disgraced Indian outsourcing group. Tech Mahindra, which is partly owned by British telecommunications group BT, will pay $353m for a 31 per cent state in Satyam, which is still reeling from an accounting scandal that has made its former chairman the target of criminal investigations.
  • Seagate scrapped its dividend payments and raised $430m in a secured bond issue as it tried to weather the steep downturn in the diskdrive business. The latest evidence of collapsing profit margins wiped nearly 5 per cent off its share price, even as the company gained market share.

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Chris Nuttall

Visiting the local GameStop on San Francisco’s Powell Street has aspects of going to a pawn shop and an under-the-counter porn store rather than the expected video-game retail experience.

Every wall of the store seems covered in second-hand titles traded in by gamers, new shrink-wrapped ones are hard to spot. Anyone wanting a brand new game generally needs to go and ask for it at the counter. Staff then look underneath or go in the back to try to locate the rare item. Read more

  • Steve Ballmer is still hopeful. The Microsoft CEO said he had not talked to Yahoo‘s Carol Bartz since a preliminary conversation when she took over, but that he still believed an internet search deal between the two companies would come. Meanwhile, despite news of acquisition talks between IBM and Sun, he predicted that the slumping stock market would make large deals harder to do.
  • Trying to escape from the shadow of Amazon‘s Kindle, Sony announced an arrangement with Google to bring 500,000 out-of-copyright books to its own electronic reader. That makes Sony’s virtual book store more than twice as big as Amazon’s – at least for now.

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  • IBM is said to be in talks to acquire rival Sun Microsystems for about $6.5bn, potentially marking a major consolidation in the computer hardware manufacturing industry. The move would boost IBM’s hardware offerings, but the deal could face major regulatory hurdles.
  • Oracle reported lower sales and profit for the quarter, but the results beat analyst estimates, sending shares higher. Some watchers were predicting a much worse decline. Oracle announced it would pay its first dividend – 5 cents a share – since the company went public in 1986.

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Chris Nuttall

Amazon has found itself another route to the television and Roku another use for its set-top box under a partnership announced today.

The internet retailer has been exploring ways to widen access to its Video on Demand service beyond the computer and has already made it available through Tivo digital video recorders and Sony Bravia TVs. Read more

Richard Waters

google-book-search.jpgThe timing is surely not coincidental. Next Monday, Amazon looks set to unveil the second version of the Kindle. So today, Google came up with a version of its Book Search that works on mobile handsets.

“Book Search” is a bit of a misnomer: it’s actually shaping up to be more of a “Book Read”. With the mobile service, Google says you can access the full text of 1.5m out-of-copyright books on your handset . And lest there be any doubt, it had this to say about its long-term ambition: Read more