Amazon Introduces New Shopping Social Network

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Amazon.com Inc has launched a social feature called Spark, an Instagram-style shoppable feed that appears inside the Amazon app that allows members to showcase and purchase products on its platforms, marking the retail giant’s first clear move into the world of social media.

Amazon’s “Spark”

Spark encourages users to share stories, ideas, photos and videos of products they love, which others can react to with comments and “smiles”- Amazon’s own version of Loke or Favorite button, just like popular social media platforms Instagram and Pinterest.

The new feature publicly launched on Tuesday for use on mobile devices that use Apple’s iOS operating system.

The experience is similar to scrolling through your Instagram feed, except in this case everything is set up so you can click on an image and buy the items in it.

The retailer has been quietly testing Amazon Spark in beta for a few months before today’s launch to consumers in the U.S. The goal with the new program is to shift some of the social activities around products taking place off-site back to Amazon, where product inspiration can translate directly into purchases with a click of a button.

It’s only available to Prime members, who pay $99 a year for free shipping, streaming videos and other perks. An Android version is planned.

“We created Spark to allow customers to discover – and shop – stories and ideas from a community that likes what they like,” said an Amazon spokeswoman.

“When customers first visit Spark, they select at least five interests they’d like to follow and we’ll create a feed of relevant content contributed by others. Customers shop their feed by tapping on product links or photos with the shopping bag icon.”

Amazon has also invited publishers, including paid influencers and bloggers to post on Spark. Their posts are identified with a sponsored hashtag.

Amazon Stock Performance

Shares of Amazon were up 1.45% on Wednesday session, to $1,026.87. It opened at $1,025.00, with a session high of $1,031.59 and a session low of $1,022.50. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $497.82 billion, with a price earnings ratio of 192.40.

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Apple Appoints New Leader In China Amid Sales Downturn

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Apple Inc. announced on Tuesday evening that it has appointed Isabel Ge Mahe, currently Vice President of wireless technologies at the company, as new Vice President and Managing Director of Greater China, taking on a new role as leader of the company’s efforts in China, amid a sales downturn for the iPhone maker in the world’s most populous country.

New China Head

Isabel Ge Mahe, who worked in wireless technology at Apple for over nine years, will coordinate and lead teams across Apple’s China-based team in the newly created role, the tech giant said in a statement.

Apple Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook also grabbed the opportunity of the announcement to emphasize its commitment to the China market.

“Apple is strongly committed to invest and grow in China, and we are thrilled that Isabel will be bringing her experience and leadership to our China team,” Cook said in the statement. “She has dedicated a great deal of her time in recent years to delivering innovation for the benefit of Apple customers in China, and we look forward to making even greater contributions under her leadership.”

Ge Mahe, who was born in Liaoning province, previously led Apple’s wireless technology and software engineering team for nine years. She said she was looking forward to digging out the team’s connections with customers, government and businesses in China to advance innovation and sustainability.

Mahe has worked closely with Apple’s R&D team and carrier partners to develop new China-specific features for iPhone and iPad, including recently announced iOS 11 features.

“I’m honored to have this opportunity to represent Apple in China and work more closely with our incredibly talented team,” said Ge Mahe.

Apple’s China Sales Downturn

Apple sales in China have declined for five consecutive quarters after a 14% drop in the most recent earnings report, as Asian smartphone manufacturers have become more competitive in the region, putting out ever-cheaper, high-performing smartphones.

Apple’s huge successes in China have also left it more vulnerable to new rules that Beijing has set up to push back against foreign companies. Apple said this month that it would cooperate with a local company to build its own data center in the country, in part to satisfy the requirements of a new cybersecurity law. And experts say the law is just the beginning of further restrictions on foreign companies like Apple.

Apple Stock Performance

Apple shares were up 0.35% to $150.08 during its last session. The firm opened at $149.20 with a session high of $150.13 and a session low of $148.67. The stock has a market capitalization of $785.22 billion, a P/E ratio of 17.55, and a dividend yield of 1.68%.

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Qualcomm Faces Daily Fine Threat After Losing In EU Probe

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Qualcomm Inc. faces the threat of being fined daily of 580,000 euros ($665,000) after the U.S. chipmaker a court bid to block a European Union order requiring it to provide information for an antitrust probe into the chip company’s sales tactics, losing an appeal against the penalty in an EU court on Monday.

The U.S. chipmaker, which was charged by the European Commission of using anti-competitive methods to freeze out British phone software maker Icera, asked the Luxembourg-based General Court to suspend the order last month.

EU Probe

Qualcomm can’t keep not responding to regulators’ questions because it didn’t show that the EU demand put its business or financial health at risk, EU General Court President Marc Jaeger said in an order on the tribunal’s website.

While San Diego-based Qualcomm can keep up the fight over the issue, it must comply and hand over information to officials.

Qualcomm could be on the hook for penalties “in the range of several millions of euros” for resisting the call for the data, needed in the final stages of an EU investigation into predatory pricing of chipsets that aimed to crush a smaller rival, according to the court order.

The company said the EU competition authority’s demand involved enormous work and significant financial costs estimated at no less than 3 million euros as it involved more than 50 employees and 16 external advisers, according to its court filing. Court President Marc Jaeger dismissed the appeal in a July 12 ruling.

The risk of new fines adds another front to Qualcomm’s battles with regulators over its sales tactics as Apple Inc. ramps up a global dispute with the company, withholding billions of dollars in payments that’s forced Qualcomm to cut forecasts. Qualcomm has fought back by asking the International Trade Commission in Washington to stop versions of the iPhone that aren’t built with its chips from entering the U.S.

Qualcomm Stock Performance

Currently, Qualcomm shares are down 0.19% to $56.70 in today’s session. The firm opened at $56.73 with a current session high of $56.92 and a session low of $56.60. The stock has a market capitalization of $84.75 billion, a P/E ratio of 18.89, and a dividend yield of 4.02%.

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Intel Unveils New Server Chips In Battle For Data Center Business

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Intel announced on Tuesday a new line of microprocessor chips for corporate servers and cloud data centers, with a larger claimed boost in performance than expected as the firm sets up  a battle with Advanced Micro Devices and others in the lucrative business of supplying the chips that powers cloud computing.

Intel officially launched its much-anticipated Xeon Scalable server CPU line, formerly code-named Purley. The chips are based on Intel’s Skylake CPU architecture, which first appeared on the PC market in 2015, and are meant to replace two CPU lines, respectively code-named Brickland and Grantley, based on the older Broadwell architecture.

Intel’s Xeon Scalable Processor

The new Xeon Scalable Processor chips provide far better support for next-generation computing applications such as artificial intelligence and driverless cars, said Naveen Rao, vice president of Intel’s artificial intelligence products group, in an interview.

Under restriction on all sides of its lucrative server chip business, Intel said its new Xeon Scalable processors are 1.65 times as fast on average as its prior generation at common tasks run by servers. The huge jump included tweaks to software specially designed to accelerate tasks with Intel’s chips and will have to be confirmed by outside experts.

“This represents the best of our 20-year history of data center innovation,” said  Lisa Spelman, vice president of Intel’s data center group ahead of Tuesday’s presentation, noting that the prior chip generation just came out in March last year.

“That’s huge. That’s a lot to continue to deliver on the performance beat rate to our customers.”

The chips are aimed at companies including Alphabet’s Google, Microsoft Corp, Amazon.com Inc and others that operate data centers with thousands of computers, both to power their own services and to provide computing horsepower for customers who don’t want to own and maintain their own computer systems.

However, Intel will face tough competition from historic rival AMD, which recently launched its own next-generation data center processor. The big Internet companies are also doing more of their own hardware design and experimenting with chips based on technology from ARM Holdings and others, somewhat as a way of pushing Intel to keep prices in line.

Intel Stock Performance

Shares of Intel were up 0.80% to $33.92 in its last session. It opened at $33.64, with a session high of $33.93 and a session low of $33.43. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $158.64 billion, a price earnings ratio of 14.73, and a dividend yield of 3.21%.

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Microsoft 365 Bundles Windows 10 And Office For Business

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Microsoft announced on Monday Microsoft 365, their new product which is a new way for businesses to purchase Office and Windows together, combining its best software products into one.

While the software giant has sold Office 365 and Windows 10 to businesses in many different ways, Microsoft 365 Enterprise combines Office 365 Enterprise, Windows 10 Enterprise, and Microsoft’s Enterprise Mobility and Security features into a single subscription.

The business technology giant debuted its Microsoft 365 software package on Monday that includes the Windows 10 operating system, Office 365 workplace software, and security software for mobile devices.

The new software bundle is intended to make it easier for companies to buy Microsoft’s flagship enterprise software products in one subscription as opposed to paying for them individually.

Microsoft will sell two versions of Microsoft 365, with one version, Microsoft 365 Business, tailored for small-to-medium-sized companies and the other, Microsoft 365 Enterprise, for larger organizations.

Microsoft 365 Enterprise will be available for purchase on August 1st, with pricing dependent on the specific plan and “other factors.” Microsoft 365 Business will be available in public preview on August 2nd, with a full release set for later this fall. Microsoft 365 Business will cost $20 per user, per month.

The move to sell its various enterprise software into easier-to-buy packages underscores Microsoft seeks to streamline its products under CEO Satya Nadella as he has been pushing Microsoft to sell more software through subscriptions while also concentrating on its Azure cloud computing business.

Microsoft To Launch Azure Stack

Microsoft Corp  revealed on Monday a new service that allows customers to use its cloud technology on their own servers, which is part of the company’s efforts to refocus its product line to compete more effectively with rivals Amazon.com Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google.

Julia White, corporate vice president of Azure, said that the new service, called Azure Stack, is aimed at businesses that want to use Azure but have specific needs for a localized version of the software.

“Azure Stack is an extension of Azure,” White said. “It’s not a replacement for your legacy private cloud.”

Azure Stack allows businesses to host their own hybrid cloud. Dell, HP, and Lenovo are all creating integrated systems to run Azure Stack and host apps and services on hardware that’s located alongside a business’ current infrastructure. The first systems will start shipping in September.

“One of the key differentiations we have with Azure versus our two biggest competitors in the cloud platform space is our ability to support true hybrid solutions,” Judson Althoff, Microsoft’s executive vice president of worldwide commercial business.

Microsoft Stock Performance

Microsoft shares were up 0.75% to $69.98 in its last session. The firm opened at $69.46 with a session high of $70.25 and a session low of $69.20. The stock has a market capitalization of $547.29 billion, a P/E ratio of 30.86, and a dividend yield of 2.23%.

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Twitter Wins In Lawsuit Against U.S. Government

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A U.S. judge from Northern California ruled on Thursday that Twitter could move forward with a lawsuit that seeks to free technology companies to speak more openly about surveillance requests they receive from the U.S. government.

Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers of the Northern California, US district ruled in favor of Twitter’s motion against a Department of Justice request for summary judgement and to put an end to the three-year-old lawsuit.

The U.S. government had failed to show the kind of “clear and present danger” that could possibly justify restraints Twitter’s constitutional right to talk about surveillance requests, U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers in Oakland, California, said in a written order. Now, the social network’s lawsuit over their constitutionality now moves ahead.

“The government’s restrictions on Twitter’s speech are content-based prior restraints subject to the highest level of scrutiny under the First Amendment,” Rogers wrote.

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Twitter says the inability to write the precise number of government requests violates its First Amendment rights, which has certain rights including freedom of speech. On the other hand, the DOJ and the FBI argue that allowing companies to reveal them would harm national security.

However, Rogers wrote Thursday that “the Government has not met its high burden to overcome the strong presumption of unconstitutionality on the record before the Court.

Also, Rogers wrote in the court order that “the Government has not presented evidence, beyond a generalized explanation, to demonstrate that disclosure of the information in the Draft Transparency Report would present such a grave and serious threat of damage to national security as to meet the applicable strict scrutiny standard.”

Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey retweeted a company statement: “Twitter is continuing its fight for more transparency under the First Amendment.”

Lawsuit on tech companies

Twitter filed the lawsuit in 2014 after revelations by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about the extent of U.S. spying.

The lawsuit is aimed at ending legal limits on details that tech companies can provide about U.S. national security requests. Currently, companies can reveal the number of requests they have received, but only within a range, such as 0-499 in a six-month period.

Twitter Stock Perfomance

Twitter’s shares was up 0.59% to $17.92 on Thursday session after the firm won the lawsuit. The shares opened at $17.65, with a session high of $18.58 and a session low of $17.63. The stock has a market capitalization of $13.17 billion.

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Intel Settles Trademark Clash With McAfee

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Intel Corp. has settle a lawsuit against John McAfee, the creator of eponymous antivirus computer software, over his right to use his name on other projects after the chipmaker bought his former company.

U.S. District Judge Paul Oetken sacked McAfee’s September 2016 lawsuit and Intel’s countersuit in Manhattan on Wednesday, five days after a settlement agreement was signed.

Under the settlement, McAfee agreed not to use his name, trademark his name or the phrase “John McAfee Privacy Phone,” or use “John McAfee Global Technologies” in connection with cybersecurity- and security-related products and services.

He retained the right in other contexts to use his name in advertising, promotions and presentations, including with regard to his role at McAfee Associates, which he sold to Intel for $7.7 billion in 2010.

Neither McAfee nor Intel admitted wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement, which was cordial, according to court papers.

Intel acquired McAfee in 2010 and renamed its security products Intel Security in 2014. The firm also owns a trademark for the term ‘McAfee Security’, which was registered at the US Patent and Trademark Office in June 2004.

McAfee’s lawyers apparently declined to comment after not immediately responding to requests for comments. A spokesman for Intel said the Santa Clara, California-based company was satisfied to settle.

Intel spun off its cybersecurity division, now called McAfee LLC, in April, after agreeing to sell a 51% stake to private investment firm TPG Capital.

Trademark Dispute

The case arose in September 2016 when McAfee brought a trademark non-infringement against Intel. McAfee said he sued after Intel warned him that using his name, including by renaming his digital gaming and cybersecurity company MGT Capital Investments Inc. as “John McAfee Global Technologies Inc,” would infringe its trademarks.

Intel countered by accusing McAfee of trademark infringement and unfair competition, and sought unspecified damages.

John McAfee joined technology firm MGT in May 2016 as chairman and CEO. Plans were announced that the company was looking to change the firm’s name to John McAfee Global Technologies.

Intel argued that McAfee and MGT had weakened its trademarks, infringed its common law trademarks and had violated competition law through unauthorized use of its trademarks without the company’s permission.

Intel added that the use of the term ‘McAfee’ in a business name and trademark in connection with anti-spyware solutions “will infringe on and dilute Intel’s famous McAfee trademark”.

Shares of Intel rose 2.63% to $34.34 in its last session. It opened at $33.52, with a session high of $34.43 and a session low of $33.49. The stock currently has a market capitalization of $165.96 billion, a price earnings ratio of 14.91, and a dividend yield of 3.17%.

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