By Kate Lunau - Wednesday, January 16, 2013 - 0 Comments
Meanwhile, Amazon expands pickup locations
More people than ever are shopping on the Internet: Canadians placed nearly 114 million orders online in 2010, worth $15 billion, says Statistics Canada, in its most recent tally. To target those who might still be wary of online shopping, eBay is turning its attention to face-to-face contact. The online marketplace is trying out new services in the U.S., according to All Things D, including a pickup service that sends eBay employees into people’s homes to collect items, which are then sold by “expert sellers” for a cut. Another encourages people to drop off clothes and electronics at mall kiosks, where they’re offered a set price for their goods. eBay is also testing a same-day delivery service so buyers can get the same kind of instant gratification as in-store shopping. Meanwhile, Amazon is expanding its locker service, which allows customers to pick up packages at stores like 7-Eleven. For online giants, future growth seems to be in the offline world.
By Michelle Tarnopolsky - Thursday, August 9, 2012 at 3:42 PM - 0 Comments
An entire 800-year-old town is looking for buyers on eBay
For years, the owners of Pratariccia, a medieval Italian village perched atop the hills above Tuscany’s Casentino valley, have been trying to sell their abandoned town. Now the religious order that reportedly owns the remote town has turned to eBay, where the 25 crumbling stone cottages and thousands of acres of farmland is on offer for US$3 million.
Hundreds of such abandoned and semi-abandoned villages are for sale up and down the Italian peninsula. “These were farming towns and woodsmen’s towns and nobody does that anymore,” says Richard Ingersoll, an urban studies professor at Florence’s Syracuse University. “Less than two per cent of Italians are involved in agriculture.”
Carlo Magni, whose real estate agency is handling the sale of Pratariccia, says the listing has drawn interest from buyers around the world. “The tourism industry in Italy is hotter than ever right now,” he says. “The best use would be as a resort,” he adds—the fate that met another 800-year-old hilltop village in Tuscany, Castelfalfi, which was bought by German travel group TUI in 2007 and transformed into a massive boutique-style holiday destination.
By Jesse Brown - Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 10:20 AM - 0 Comments
Google and Facebook are not pals. Amazon has never played nicely with eBay. Yet all four, and undisclosed others, have gotten together to form a bickering supergroup more unlikely than the Avengers. It’s called the Internet Association–a Washington lobby group created to sway U.S. legislators as efforts to regulate and control the Internet ramp up.
Here’s what they’ll be fighting about:
- Net Neutrality: The Internet Association doesn’t want Internet Service Providers like ComCast to play favourites with customer’s data. Without Net Neutrality, ComCast could slow down Skype calls or Youtube videos to make their own phone and video services more attractive. The Internet Association will likely argue that ISPs have no right to discriminate between different types of data.
- Sales tax: Lawmakers have been confounded by the explosion of Internet sales and how to tax them. Amazon (and its customers) have benefitted from some antiquated tax code language requiring a business to have a “physical presence” in a state in order for that state to demand the collection of sales tax. This loophole will be closed. What legislation will replace it, and what will it mean for businesses like Amazon and eBay? Billions are tied to the answer to these questions, and the Internet Association will likely do whatever they can to keep a competitive advantage over brick and mortar retail.
- Privacy: Facebook and Google are data-hungry advertising businesses hell-bent on collecting personal information about their users. Both have fallen afoul of privacy laws around the world. The Internet Association will likely fight to “modernize” privacy legislation. Expect “modernization” to mean “less privacy.”
- Copyright: Hollywood has a massive Washington lobbying presence that steers U.S. copyright law and enforcement, as well as America’s foreign trade policy. Hollywood, along with the video game, publishing and software industries, have been fighting tooth and nail against the open Internet through copyright. The Internet Association can be expected to fight back and send politicians the message that dot-coms are major industries worth protecting too, with big coffers for campaign donations to boot.
Follow Jesse Brown on Twitter @JesseBrown
By Colin Campbell - Wednesday, March 30, 2011 at 11:13 AM - 0 Comments
PayPal, the online payment-processing system made popular by eBay, its corporate parent, is betting…
PayPal, the online payment-processing system made popular by eBay, its corporate parent, is betting that its future may not be online, but in the real world. PayPal is planning a push into retail stores with a system that would involve swiping cellphones at registers to make payments, rather than using credit or debit cards. The company, which has 95 million users online, estimates expanding into physical stores could double its revenues to $7 billion within two years.
PayPal isn’t the only firm anxiously eyeing this market. Google and Apple are now reportedly working on cellphone payment systems—using a technology called near-field communications—as are cellphone makers like Research In Motion and Nokia. The systems could be useful for consumers who always have a smartphone in hand. But for cellphone companies looking to be the next Visa, it’s a market potentially worth tens of billions of dollars.
By Aaron Wherry - Thursday, January 21, 2010 at 2:24 PM - 7 Comments
How American Idol has turned hollow celebrity into a worthwhile achievement
Behold the power of living without embarrassment.
Some months ago, a 63-year-old civil rights activist named Larry Platt went to an American Idol open call in Atlanta. Aside from not possessing the necessary vocal talent, he far exceeded the show’s age limit. Still, he was allowed to audition for the show’s judges and proceeded to sing a self-penned song entitled Pants On The Ground, an infectious jingle meant to warn against the peril of wearing ill-fitting jeans.
Last Wednesday, that audition aired on Fox. By Thursday night, Late Night host Jimmy Fallon, impersonating Neil Young, was signing his own rendition of Pants On The Ground. Saturday afternoon, after leading his team to victory over the Dallas Cowboys, Minnesota Vikings quarterback Brett Favre sang the chorus during the team’s locker room celebration. On Monday, Platt, who marched in Selma alongside Martin Luther King Jr., was a guest on The View. A small record label is offering him a chance to record Pants On The Ground. In the meantime, he has achieved the triple crown of Internet fame: YouTube tributes, a million-member Facebook group and homemade t-shirts for sale on eBay.
By Colin Campbell - Monday, June 30, 2008 at 11:10 AM - 0 Comments
In the money…: Google’s stock price may not have hit anywhere near the
In the money: Google’s stock price may not have hit anywhere near the $1,000 a share many analysts were predicting last year. (In fact, it’s been slogging along in the $550 range). But the company is still dreaming up ways to try and boost its online ad revenue. The latest is a deal with Seth MacFarlane, creator of the television cartoon The Family Guy. MacFarlane, the New York Times reports, is working on an Internet animation series (called “Seth MacFarlane’s Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy”) that will appear on thousands of web sites using Google’s advertising system, AdSense. The short, two-minute episodes will appear with ads, facilitated by Google, attached to the beginning, or somehow worked into the videos. Google seems intent on setting up its own little online television network, not just selling ads but distributing the content. “We feel that we have recreated the mass media,” Google tells the Times. Unlikely. But Google, to its credit, continues to defy its critics by luring ad dollars that once would have gone to television over to the Internet.
Trading down: Don’t mess with French fashion. A French court ruled that the online auction site eBay, must pay $61 million to LVMH, a company that makes perfumes and luxury fashion goods. LVMH argued that eBay hasn’t done enough to stamp out the sale of cheap, designer knock-off goods (90 percent of Louis Vuitton bags and Dior perfumes sold on the site are fakes, it argued). This isn’t the beginning or end of eBay’s legal troubles. Hermes International successfully sued the company in June. Tiffany & Co has also sued. eBay is appealing the LVMH decision.
Number cruncher: The $35-billion BCE takeover fracas continues. And it may not be resolved until the end of the year, the Globe and Mail reports today. With the legal issues seemingly put to bed, the issue now is the $42.75 a share purchase price. The banks that are financing the deal think the number should be as low as $35 a share, according to the Globe. That’s a big difference from the number the BCE board has settled on.
Boom or gloom: Surprise, surprise. Statistics Canada reports today that the nation’s GDP actually grew slightly in April, following declines in February and March. So, that was a short lived recession. But with an increase of just 0.4 per cent, we’re inclined to say this is still a bit more gloom than it is boom.
Ticker tape: We’re transfixed with the price of oil, which moved past $143 a barrel this morning. Where will it stop; nobody knows! Also on the rise: demand for the new Apple iPhone. An RBC report says it’s unprecedented.