Square Blowing Up Worldwide
No matter what line of business you’re in, being able to accept payments via credit card is a major convenience. What’s inconvenient is the costs and hassles associated with accepting credit cards. There’s bulky equipment to buy and pipers to pay for each transaction. This is where Square comes in. We have covered Square a number of times before. Basically, they send you a free thingy that plugs into the headphone jack on your smartphone, you install the Square app, set up an account, and you are off and running. This entire setup is awesome because it changes the ways you can do business. Anyone from a brick and mortar business looking to cut costs or a freelance “landscaper” mowing lawns on the weekends can now accept credit cards on the spot using a device that fits in your front pocket. According to The Atlantic, word is getting out and Square is really going mainstream. Just ask Cincinnati cabbie, Aziz Mabyae (above).
He said that his entire cab fleet converted to Square at the request of the company’s owner. After four months of use, he loves the device. “It’s a lot quicker and easier,” Mabyae said. He also noted that relative to their old way of accepting credit cards, it seems more secure for passengers. They also found the technology exciting when it was their first time using it.
Google Offers Free Calls Home for U.S. Service Members
Google is now allowing our troops abroad to call home for free via Gmail. Currently, you can make free calls via Gmail within the U.S., but this new feature will allow service members in other countries to call their families and friends in the U.S. for free. All they have to do is add their valid .mil email address to the Google account. Just as free calling within the U.S., this service will be available at least until the end of 2011
We recognize and appreciate the sacrifices U.S. troops make when they serve abroad, and we’re proud to help make it a little bit easier for them to stay connected and hear a familiar voice.
iCloud is Not Streaming
I think it’s worth clarifying that Apple’s Cloud is much different from those offered by other services like Google Music and Amazon Cloud Player. The primary difference being that you cannot stream your library from the cloud. If you want to listen, you have to download the music. A neat walk-through video done my Insanely Great Mac seems to imply that you can stream content, but Apple tells All Things D that this is not true streaming.
Basically, you can play the content while it downloads to your machine. Apple won’t go into full detail on how this works, but it seems clear that they are not interested in streaming in the same way as Google and Amazon, presumably because they’ve been burned by an unreliable wireless carrier before. Regardless of the tech details, the primary take-away is that you won’t be able to download or “stream” anything from your library that won’t actually fit onto your computer or mobile device. So, even though you can ditch the USB cord, the syncing process is still pretty much the same. It will be interesting to see if Apple changes their stance on this.
Facebook to Launch Music Platform at f8
Well, not really. While many have conjectured that Facebook would launch their own music service to compete with the likes of Apple, Google, and Amazon, it appears Facebook isn’t looking to put in that much work. Partnering with Spotify, MOG, and Rdio, Facebook will become a conduit for streaming media rather than actually storing or streaming that media. There is also rumor that Facebook will take things beyond music, possibly integrating with services like Netflix and Hulu. A Facebook spokesperson has responded to these rumors, saying:
“There’s nothing new to announce. Many of the most popular music services around the world are integrated with Facebook and we’re constantly talking to our partners about ways to improve these integrations.”
I’m sure most users hadn’t a clue about these integrations as they are mostly provided through Facebook apps. My guess is that Facebook may be thinking of moving the media controls to the forefront, allowing users to play music and video while browsing the site. Much like the ever-present chat feature.
U.S. Justic Department Rejects AT&T+T-Mobile Deal
Remember that merger between T-Mobile and AT&T? The one that would unite the second and fourth largest wireless carriers? Before AT&T could say “I’ll form the head,” the U.S. Justice Department formed blazing sword and cut the deal right down the middle. Saying the deal would violate antitrust laws and “substantially lessen competition,” they asked U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle to block the deal. While many T-Mobile customers dreaded the upcoming merger, this twist in events could be a huge benefit for T-Mobile as their was a hefty cancellation fee built into the deal. How ironic for a wireless carrier to have to pay huge in order to get out of an agreement:
Rejection by regulators would leave AT&T liable to pay Deutsche Telekom $3 billion in cash, to give T-Mobile USA wireless spectrum, and to reduce charges for calls into AT&T’s network, a package valued at as much as $7 billion, Deutsche Telekom has said.
Of course, AT&T plans to fight this decision. It’s also not clear if the Justice Department really wants to kill this deal or is merely using the block as a negotiation strategy. AT&T has previously stated they would bring 5,000 call center jobs back to the U.S. if the deal was allowed to go through. It seems they will need to do much more than this if they really want to swallow T-Mobile and take Verizon’s number one spot.
via BloombergCategory: Tech Week In Review | Tags: Amazon Cloud Player, AT&T, facebook, free calls, gmail, google, Google Music, google voice, iCloud, Merger, military, mobile payments, MOG, Rdio, spotify, Square, T-mobile