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Starbucks Is Charging $450 for a Specially Etched Metal Gift Card to Buy Coffee Flavored Water

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5966108/starbucks-is-charging-450-for-a-specially-etched-metal-gift-card-to-buy-coffee-flavored-water

Starbucks Is Charging $450 for a Specially Etched Metal Gift Card to Buy Coffee Flavored WaterStarbucks, purveyor of coffee flavored water, builder of coffee scented corner stores and shelter for no coffee drinking Wi-Fi leeches, has a new shtick: a premium gift card. It’s made of steel! It’s ‘specially etched’! And it’s a super, limited edition that inanely costs 450 bucks.

The gift card itself costs $50 to make, the other $400 will be loaded as Starbucks credit and can only be bought on Gilt. I guess Starbucks people go to Starbucks enough that the $400 will manifest destiny itself in the caffeinated brown liquid but damn if this isn’t some elitist craziness. The card, which will surely make its owners feel good about themselves, comes with “with gold-level Starbucks card membership benefits, such as gifts and freebie refills on brewed coffee and tea.”

Jason Goldberger, executive vice president at Gilt.com, told the USA Today it’s all about exclusivity:

“When you’re waiting in line at Starbucks, the next person in line won’t have it.”

Ugh. [USA Today]

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Wednesday, December 5th, 2012 news No Comments

Remember When Facebook Wanted Your Phone Number For ‘Security’? It’s Using It To Sell Ads (FB)

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/facebook-phone-number-security-being-sold-to-advertisers-2012-11

Mark Zuckerberg

Since about September, Facebook has offered its advertisers a powerful new way to track its users as they surf the web: It’s called “phone number retargeting.” The move came after Facebook made a big effort to collect its users’ mobile phone numbers to prevent security breaches.

More recently, according to AdExchanger, Facebook has combined phone retargeting with a new “conversion pixel” — a type of tracking  device, basically — within ads displayed on Facebook.

The combination of phone retargeting and conversion pixels allows advertisers to target you directly with ads and then measure exactly how you respond to them, whether by clicking, ignoring or buying something from the advertiser’s site.

Some advertisers have been doing this kind of thing on other web sites for years.

But most Facebook users don’t know it’s going on within Facebook. Instead, they believe the primary reason Facebook prompts them for a mobile phone number is to prevent account hacking, and to allow users to upload photos and make status updates from their phones.

In fact, earlier this year, Facebook began asking every user for a phone number for “security” purposes. Here’s what Facebook says about that:

facebook phone

But Facebook has since made those phone numbers available t! o advert isers as part of its new Custom Audience targeting product. “Audiences can be defined by either user email address, Facebook UIDs, or user phone numbers,” the product states.

Here’s how it works: Let’s say you are a member of your local gym. You probably gave the gym your phone number. But then you let your membership lapse, and now the gym wants to persuade you to come back. The gym can cross-reference its list of members’ phone numbers with users’ phone numbers on Facebook, and serve an ad on the page of any user with a matching number. Suddenly, you’re seeing ads that say, “Get 10% off if you rejoin your local gym!”

If you click on that ad, a conversion pixel will enable a “cookie” to track what you do so that the gym can see how successful its campaign was.

There’s a level of privacy built in to the system: Although your phone number will be targeted by ads, the number will be “hashed,” meaning that the system disguises it by replacing it with random code, making you anonymous. So the gym might target 100 phone numbers, but it won’t know which of those specific people actually responded to the ad (until they pay for a membership online, of course). All the gym will know is that a certain number responded to the ad, and that those users must have been on the original phone list.

Facebook launched the system to make its ads more effective for advertisers. The company believes they lower cost-per-acquisition (of users) for advertisers by 40 percent.

Disclosure: The author owns Facebook stock.

Related: Here Are The Sealed Court Papers On ‘Invalid Clicks’ Facebook Doesn’t Want You To See

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Tuesday, November 20th, 2012 news No Comments

7 Short-Term Car Rental Agencies Everyone Should Bookmark

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/save-cash-with-short-term-car-rentals-2012-11

ZipCar

Owning a car costs an average of $8,776 annually, according to the American Automobile Association. That is based on 15,000 miles of driving and includes fuel, insurance, maintenance and depreciation.

Car rental companies will rent wheels by the month for as little as $589, according to Orbitz, which amounts to $7,068 per year — not including fuel, which is a major cost.

If you want to skip the bus, but still save on transportation costs, you could consider using a short-term vehicle rental service.

These vehicles are rented by the hour (or sometimes by the minute) and the rental company picks up all the usual costs of car ownership.

Short-term vehicle rental is an emerging trend that is currently only available in select big cities, but it is expanding. Here are the major operators:

Car2Go

This subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz parent Daimler, rents tiny Smartcars for 38 cents per minute or $13.99 per hour. You also pay a one-time $35 membership fee.

Renters can book one of the two-seaters online, or use a membership card to open and drive off in any of the blue-and-white painted cars they find parked around town.

Car2go pays for gas and when renters are done using the car, they simply park in any designated space, usually located downtown or in heavily trafficked areas, and walk away.

Car2go currently operates in six North American cities and a dozen European cities.

Zipcar

This company operates like car2Go, except it rents more than 30 different types of vehicles.

Rates vary by location and plan, but in San Francisco, for instance, the occasional driver plan requires a $60 annual fee, $25 application fee and hourly rates of about $8.50.

Zipcar operates in 20 major U.S. cities as well as Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain and Austria.

DriveNow

This is a joint venture led by BMW that features the German automaker’s all-electric ActiveE sedan.

Renters pay a one-time membership fee of $39 and, after picking up the car at a DriveNow station, $12 for the first 30 minutes and 32 cents for additional minutes for a one-hour rate of $21.60.

DriveNow is available in four German cities and San Francisco.

Modo

Modo is a car-sharing co-op that requires a $20 initial registration, fee plus $50 per year and $7.50 per hour for rentals.

Renters pre-book vehicles in half-hour increments and pay penalties for late returns, cancellations and no-shows.

Modo rents a variety of vehicles, but only in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Hertz on Demand

This service is an hourly offering of the world’s largest car rental company. It requires no annual fees and charges hourly rates ranging from $5 in Boston to $8 in San Antonio.

Renters pick up and drop off vehicles, which include Nissan’s Sentra, as well as Chevy Cruze and Malibu models, at designated Hertz On Demand locations.

Hertz On Demand is in a dozen U.S. cities as well as the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Germany.

Scoot

This startup charges $10 to join and $5 per month, plus $5 per hour to rent two-wheeled electric scooters, complete with helmets.

The service is available only in San Francisco and environs, and the scooters are only suitable for single passengers traveling at less than highway speed.

Breaking Down the Cost

The average adult spends just under an hour driving daily, according to the U.S. Bureau of Transportation Statistics.

Based on average short-term rates of about $12 hourly, the typical adult driver could spend $4,380 per year on short-term rentals, which is less than half ! the cost of owning a car, while still driving the same amount.

Hourly car renters sacrifice some convenience and still must pay for parking tickets, lost membership cards and other incidentals.

But, for people who live where short-term rentals are available, drive the average amount or less, and don’t need a car at their beck and call, short-term rentals appear to offer an inexpensive way to get around.

DON’T MISS: The 10 most dangerous states for drivers >

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Tuesday, November 13th, 2012 news No Comments

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5930773/amazon-instant-video-lands-on-ipad-as-prime-members-weep-with-joy

Amazon Instant Video Lands on iPad As Prime Members Weep With JoyThe fact that Amazon’s Instant Video service—which, while no Netflix, is starting to catch up—is just thrown in as an add-on to the already wonderful Amazon Prime is a little astonishing, when you think about it. And now, with iPad compatibility that some of us thought would never get here, it’s gotten dangerously close to being the best streaming deal around.

There are still problems with Instant Video; the selection struggles at times, and even if it were quality it’s a nightmare to navigate. But that’s just the Prime streaming side. Amazon’s selection of movies and TV shows for purchase matches anyone’s, and its prices are always competitive with—and very often lower than—Apple’s.

A quick run-through of both a movie that I own through Instant Video and one that I streamed through my Prime membership showed that the service works quickly, smoothly, and crisply. You can also download movies that you own to your device for offline viewing. It’s a little bit magical.

The only additional downside is that because of Apple takes 30% of any in-app purchase, you can’t buy movies directly through the Instant Video iPad app. Instead, you’ll have to head to Amazon in a browser, complete your purchase, then head back to your app. Which is silly! But worth the inconvenience, especially given Amazon’s daily video sales.

If you’re a Prime member, you need to download this app immediately. If you’re not Prime but are tired of paying iTunes prices, you need to download this app immediately. If you’re a Fringe or West Wing fan—both Amazon Prime Instant Video exclusives—you need to sign up for Prime. And then download this app immediately. [iTunes via 9to5Mac]

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Wednesday, August 1st, 2012 Uncategorized No Comments

Boutique Fashion Brokers Make Virtual Trade Show Platform

Source: http://gizmodo.com/5923780/boutique-fashion-brokers-pioneers-the-virtual-trade+show-platform

 

In the age of e-commerce and business meetings held over Skype, the travel and lodging expenses of attending a trade show are increasingly difficult to justify. And If you’re an emerging independent designer or the owner of a fashion boutique anywhere other than LA or NYC, scouting for new items and securing the right connections to get your product seen by the right people can be cost prohibitive.

Kassondra Dyebo, CEO and managing director of Boutique Fashion Brokers, believes there’s a better way.

BFB is a “B2B membership-only community, created for up-and-coming fashion brands and boutiques to discover and do business with one another through their own private virtual showrooms.”

Dyebo first conceived of the idea for BFB while working as a buyer in Montreal and attending trade shows herself. They’re huge, tiring, overwhelming conventions that require much schlepping and stamina. And BFB, which launched in February of this year, is the trade show’s efficient opposite.

With a low-fee membership, boutique buyers are able to browse BFB’s online inventory, which is navigable by all manner of categories and sub-categories, and can be added to a multi-branded line-sheet, from which to request samples. While designers can use the platform to host their own virtual showroom, where they can showcase their collection(s), look-book(s), and press.

Two things that Dyebo believes make BFB a valuable resource are the premium placed on member privacy (buyers have no way of knowing with whom they are in direct competition, and designers only know who browses their wares once an item has been placed on a “Watch” list or a sample has been requested), and the user-friendly features in place to meet all their members’ needs (BFB’s system allows them to keep track of sales, orders, and shipments, as well as all pending and completed transactions).

Dyebo doesn’t believe the day of the old-school trade show is over, only that—at least in some industries—there is an opportunity online to improve the entire experience. “What inspired me,” she says, “was the fact that I couldn’t travel to all the tradeshows and scout out all the talent around the world.” Problem, solved.

Thanks, Kassondra!

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Friday, July 6th, 2012 digital No Comments

Facebook updates S-1, adds Q1 earnings, revenue up 45% over last year

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/04/23/facebook-updates-s-1-adds-q1-earnings-revenue-up-45-over-last/

Facebook updates S-1, adds Q1 earnings

Facebook just filed an amended S-1 (that all important document that officially announces its public offering plans) with some new financial info. Now included in the charts and graphs is everything you wanted to know about Q1 of 2012 at Facebook (but were afraid to ask). The new SEC filing reveals that revenues are way up at the social network over last year (a whopping 45 percent higher than Q1 of 2011), but down slightly from last quarter (six percent), settling at a more than respectable $1.058 billion. Of the cash it took in, $872 million of it was ad revenue, which is down from Q4 of 2011 ($943 million) but up significantly from Q1 of last year ($731 million). Facebook was even able to slap a per-user amount on its 900 million active monthly members — $1.21 — that’s the average revenue for each person with an account at the site. Of course, membership has continued to grow, with 532 million stopping by daily, up from 372 million just a year ago. As for that Instagram purchase, it looks like the widely reported $1 billion figure wasn’t entirely accurate — at least not when talking cold, hard cash. Only $300 million was turned over in immediately spendable currency, the rest of the deal involved 23 million shares of common stock. If you’re a sucker for financials hit up the source link.

Facebook updates S-1, adds Q1 earnings, revenue up 45% over last year originally appeared on Engadget on Mon, 23 Apr 2012 15:46:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Monday, April 23rd, 2012 news No Comments

SanDisk makes 128-gigabit flash chip, crams three bits per cell, takes afternoon off

Source: http://www.engadget.com/2012/02/22/sandisk-makes-128-gigabit-flash-chip-crams-three-bits-per-cell/

SanDisk has developed a chip that earns it membership in the exclusive 128-gigabit club. Not content with simply matching the Micron / Intel effort, SanDisk and its partner Toshiba claim their new memory uses 19- rather than 20-nanometer cells in the production process. Shrinking the size is one thing, but SanDisk’s new chips also use its X3 / three-bit technology. Most memory stores just two bits per cell; cramming in another means fewer cells, less silicon, more savings, cheaper memory, happier geeks. Analyst Jim Handy estimates that the price per gigabyte for the tri-bit breed of flash could be as low as 28 cents, compared to 35 for the Micron / Intel equivalent. Full details in the not-so-compact press release after the break.

Continue reading SanDisk makes 128-gigabit flash chip, crams three bits per cell, takes afternoon off

SanDisk makes 128-gigabit flash chip, crams three bits per cell, takes afternoon off originally appeared on Engadget on Wed, 22 Feb 2012 19:37:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012 news No Comments

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