Oh yes, we may have just seen the first nail in the coffin of AOL. The company was fined $1.25 million by the State of New York due to complaints from users about how absurdly difficult it is to cancel the service after signing up. While the $1.25 million looks like a large amount, this is really chump change for the very large America Online. What will hurt them though, is the fact that they will be refining their procedures for handling customer cancellations. Up until now, service agents received bonuses if they had a 50% or better retention rate - some agents made tens of thousands of dollars on this program alone. The new program will no longer have a minimum quota. You can probably say goodbye to the “if you stay, I will give you another free three months” spiel.
Read More | ZDNet
Great news today for the TiVo folks. Despite the drastic increase in both open-source and commercial PC DVR software, today TiVo was able to announce their very first profit. They walked away with a second-quarter net income of $240,000. Compared to the same period last year, it’s a sharp increase. In second the second quarter of 2004 TiVo has a net loss of $10.8 million. What a comeback. Maybe they can spend some of that money whipping up a Tiger-compatible version of TiVo Desktop?
In this amazing promotion to rebrand itself, EchoStar Communications Corporation, owners of DISH Network satellite TV has started a contest that could provide millions of dollars in DISH Network services and products. The campaign invites cities in the US to officially change their name to “Dish”. In return, DISH Network will provide them with free programming for 10 years in every household. The deal states that you must change everything in the town, from the town sign to municipal buildings to schools in order to comply with the contest. They must even file state and federal documentation to make it official. Want to enter you town? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org before November 1st, 2005 to qualify. Click below for more details.
Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini promised today that his company would be producing chips for the market by 2010 that would enable a user to run Windows Vista on a handheld. With 2gz+ systems recommended for advanced features and Intel’s focus on performance per watt things are looking positive. Part of this announcement states that Intel will be combining their chip lines into a single series of performance chips aimed at both mobiles and desktops. With news like this reaching the public, it’s no wonder Apple has decided to make the switch to Intel - imagine in 4 years when we can run OS 10.6 (and Vista service pack 2) on a slate form factor handheld.
Jason Smathers, a 25-year-old ex-AOL employee, will spend 15 months in prison for stealing 92 million screen names and email addresses of AOL users and selling them to spammers. The spammers reportedly used the information to send up to 7 billion unsolicited advertisements for online gambling. Smathers got a lighter sentence than first expected due to his willingness to hand over all the spamming information he had to the government. AOL is claiming that Smathers caused over $300,000 of damage to the company.
Read More | Baltimore Sun
Four schools in the UK will play host to a £300,000 joint research venture between gaming company EA and an IT research firm NESTA Futurelab. The study will investigate the viability of video games as an educational tool. While the project is still in the phase of choosing which games will be used, the team has already made it clear that it hopes to see students improve in skills such as “problem-solving, resilience, persistence and collaboration.” They should add to that list “turtle-bouncing, princess-rescuing, and leveling-up.”
Read More | Computing
Google continues its acquisitions of interesting, forward-thinking companies as they have just purchased Android. Little is known about the startup other than that they are 22 months old and have been working on software for mobile phones. If you check out the Android website, all you will see is a logo along with three Google Maps images of Seattle, Palo Alto, and Boston. Interesting. Google has been working hard on trying to build up their mobile resources. They also bought mobile social software company Dodgeball a few months ago.
Read More | BusinessWeek
I’m sure by now most of you are aware that the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) had approved a .xxx suffix back in June. Now the Bush Administration wants to delay registration on domain names until its impact on the internet can be studied. ICANN was expected to give final approval on the domain name Tuesday, but says it would agree to a one month delay allowing some of the concerns that have recently been raised to be explored. While this creation was supposed to “help protect children from exposure to online pornography and also have a positive impact on online adult entertainment through voluntary efforts of the industry” it seems some are concerned that it will encourage more pornography on the internet. Many net privacy campaigners also believe that it could cause many censorship problems for years to come. What do you make of the situation? Do you see a potential problem arising out of the .xxx suffix, or is this just a bump in the road for the creation of a virtual red light district?
Read More | BBC News
Citing “market chatter,” TheStreet.com is reporting that a deal is in the works between Google and Apple to provide the iTunes Music Store through Google’s webpage. However, the details of how this might change the way users access the iTunes Music Store – which has traditionally been a standalone piece of software - have yet to be announced. Guesses ranging from a complete web-based overhaul of the iTunes system to a simple, yet prominent, link to Apple’s iTunes download site on Google.com have been circulated, but with no official announcement coming from either company at this point, we’ll all just have to wait and see what happens. Check back for more details as they emerge.
Read More | TheStreet
For everyone holding their breath for a Rhapsody-type subscription service from Apple: stop before you pass out. According to information from two music executives received by BusinessWeek Online, Apple has no plans to enter the subscription-based service arena any time soon. The major factor in Apple sticking to its by-the-song download system in iTunes is its market dominance – iTunes is making huge profits from its 500 million+ song downloads, comparatively crushing the 2 or 3 million subscribers to Real’s Rhapsody or Napster’s services. The only thing that looks like it could change Apple’s mind would be true financial competition from one of these services, a factor that is still far off.
Read More | BusinessWeek Online