Apple Will Start Phasing Out Plastic Bags This Month

Buying an Apple product is almost as symbolic as the illuminated apple located on the back of your device, with the whole experience of walking out the store reminding you of that new gadget feel before you’ve even opened the box. Part of this experience is the bag you get the new product in, a plastic bag emblazoned with the Apple logo. This part of your experience may be changing with Apple looking to phase out plastic bags later this month.

Revealed by 9to5Mac, a note sent to employees reveals plans for the bags to be replaced by paper bags. The new paper bags will be made with 80 percent recycled materials, a move intended to further Apple’s goal of leaving the world “better than we found it”.

The change will start on the 15th April, with stores looking to use up their plastic bags as soon as they can. Much like when you go shopping customers are now also going to be asked if they want a bag and being given the choice between medium and large sizes, both of these actions look to help reduce the number of bags used and the amount of material given away in the form of bags.

If this wasn’t enough, people who are looking to recycle their iOS devices will get a new “Apple Renew” card, a gift card made out of recycled paper.

With Apple already running their facilities on renewable energy and now using recyclable materials for their stores, leaving the world better than we found it is a step closer to being a reality.

Cake AR Lets You Try Make Up Before You Buy

We’ve all seen that wonderful thing you are interested in online. From the holiday sales offering you everything from the perfect night out dress to that new makeup, the worst part of any online purchase is when you open it and find that it doesn’t quite look like you thought it would; Cake AR is looking to change just that.

They’ve already released the tool on their lipstick and eye shadow pages and don’t worry no downloads involved. The tool forgoes uploading an image like conventional try before you buy systems and uses your webcam to map the new you in real time (with a bit of lag for good measure). If you move slowly the product’s changes will even follow you around, meaning that you can see the new lipstick and eyeshadows from different angles without having to send it back because it was a “bad purchase”.

With tools like this coming out more and more regularly, it may be sooner rather than later that you can buy clothes and accessories online without worrying about the money you could have wasted. With the ability to design your own cars, build your own house tools and now viewing your makeup before you buy don’t you just love online shopping.

If Elected President Donald Trump Vows to Cause Amazon Problems

Donald Trump seems to thrive on controversy and has rapidly become the favourite candidate for the Republican nomination. Initially, political commentators dismissed Trump and believed it was only a matter of time before he exited the presidential race. However, whenever Trump makes shocking remarks no other politician would dream of, his popularity skyrockets. Please note as a technology website, we endeavour to leave any political inklings aside and report in a fair manner. During a recent speech, Trump discussed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and his acquisition of The Washington Post.

Trump proclaimed:

“I have respect for Jeff Bezos, but he bought The Washington Post to have political influence, and I gotta tell you, we have a different country than we used to have,”

“He owns Amazon. He wants political influence so that Amazon will benefit from it. That’s not right. And believe me, if I become president, oh, do they have problems. They’re going to have such problems.”

This is a fairly worrying statement and suggests Trump wants to impose penalties on Amazon for his bitter dispute with founder Jeff Bezos. Perhaps this is just posturing and Trump’s attempt to publicly embarrass Jeff Bezos. Some of you might remember, Jeff Bezos posted a tweet offering Trump a reserved seat on the Blue Origin rocket. This is quite a rare occurrence and Bezos only has 15 total tweets to his account. Clearly, Trump believes Jeff Bezos purchased The Washington Post sorely for political gain to enhance Amazon’s influential position as a retail giant. Of course, this will only matter if Trump wins the Republican nomination and then ends up victorious during the presidential campaign. It’s not beyond the realms of fantasy though and Trump has already made warnings against Apple’s use of non-American workers.

Amazon isn’t the most reputable of companies because of tax avoidance behaviour and evidence of poor working conditions. Employees work under extreme stress and every packaged item is monitored. This can be devastating for morale, and applies so much pressure. It’s even been argued that Amazon’s working conditions can exacerbate underlying mental health problems.

Image courtesy of Forbes.

The GOG Christmas Gaming Sale is Here!

Another season, another sale. Every holiday we are greeted by an onslaught of sales with Steam’s beginning on the 23rd, but it is no way the first with GOG already starting their Christmas sale.

First up is their free game, Bio Menace. Featuring a CIA agent he battles mutants and monsters in a 2D scrolling shooter with clear influence from Duke Nukem, what with big guns and over the top violence, or is that just a few signs of a good game?

In case that isn’t enough for you then why not have a look at the 75% off the entire Bethesda catalog? Relieve some of the classics such as Quake or the original Fallout for as little as £1.69, of course, these are all DRM free as is everything from the GOG store. Feel like something a tiny bit more modern? Why not try the precursor to Oblivion and Skyrim, with the Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind for only £5.09 for the game of the year edition.

Feel like something a little less fantasy, why not try Return to Castle Wolfenstein for £1.69. If this isn’t enough, get a free copy of The Elder Scrolls: Arena and The Elder Scrolls Chapter II: Daggerfall with any purchase from the Bethesda catalog.

Time for that early Christmas treat, but hurry the sale ends on December 29th!

Overclockers UK Black Friday Deals Revealed!

Black Friday deals are already cropping up on a lot of retail websites, most likely to avoid the one-day carnage that we’ve come to expect. Overclockers UK are the latest to join the party, launching what they’re calling their best Black Friday yet!

“This Weekly Only offers will be running tomorrow morning (Wednesday) as per normal. Any deals that are on This Week Only will NOT be further discounted for Black Friday, so customers can order in confidence and do not need to wait.”

Basically, if the deal looks great, snap it up while you can, but be on the lookout as there are plenty of deals to be found and it’s the perfect time of year to upgrade your system with discounts on all these great products.

“Black Friday will be starting early, the offers will start Thursday morning around 9AM so customers can receive and enjoy the hardware on Black Friday. Black Friday will end on Tuesday morning, or when stock runs out, whichever comes sooner. – Cyber Monday is the Black Friday deals, however on Monday we will be running a great Today Only deal.”

Expect demand on these products to be high, when they’re gone they are gone, so it may be worth sitting down with your credit card in hand and think of how to say sorry to your SO when they see your bank statement.

For the Black Friday deals click here, or for the This Week Only deals click here.

Get Yourself Prepared for Black Friday 2015 with Amazon Prime

It’s that time of year again where retailers will stop at nothing to clinch that early Holiday season sale. In years gone by, Black Friday has been in the forefront of the news over the absolutely bonkers deals on or immediately after the last payday before December 25th; typically the last Friday in November.

This year we have heard that some UK retailers are actually pulling out of any Black Friday association due to the chaos it brought upon the outlets last year. This probably won’t stop them joining in with another event, retailer Argos has recently entered “Blue Friday“, with the tagline “It’s Black Friday Every Weekend”.

If you don’t fancy rambling out to the shops, Amazon has announced another repetitive, but outstanding £20 off Amazon Prime until Wednesday 18th November. This means you can enjoy that glass of wine while browsing the sales and knowing you will likely get the item the next day. As an added benefit, you will also have access Prime Video, Prime Music and Amazon Cloud drive meaning after you have bought your last gift you can settle down and watch the latest TV series or decorate that tree to uninterrupted Christmas songs.

For the fans of Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond, buying this now means you will have full access to the Amazon Exclusive show which will be streamed in 2016.

What are you waiting for? Some motivational music? Well, we’ve got you covered.

Asda Avoiding Black Friday Sales Chaos Due to ‘Shopper Fatigue’

Black Friday is a US tradition which involves heavily discounted items and has slowly become an integral shopping event around the world. Two years ago, UK supermarket Asda decided to launch their own Black Friday event which ended in absolute anarchy. When the doors opened, shoppers began scuffling, and desperately trying to pick up items at a discounted price. The nation’s behavior was appalling and went against the civilized British stereotype.

With Black Friday once again approaching, Asda’s chief executive, Andy Clarke told the BBC that the company will not offer any discount events:

“The decision to step away from Black Friday is not about the event itself,”

“Over the last two years we’ve developed an organised, well-executed plan, but this year customers have told us loud and clear that they don’t want to be held hostage to a day or two of sales.”

This seems like a PR way of saying they don’t want to deal with customers fighting between themselves, and tearing the store apart. It’s important to remember, staff had to call the police during Asda’s original Black Friday promotion. I applaud Asda for doing this and setting an example, but I highly doubt other stores will follow suit. Clearly, Black Friday is a massive earner for supermarkets, and retail chains.

eBay Seller Faces $19K Legal Bill After Suing Buyer Who Left Negative Feedback

Ohio-based company, Med Express, is facing a hefty legal bill amounting to $19,250, after attempting to sue an eBay customer for leaving negative feedback. Amy Nicholls purchased a microscope light via eBay for $175, and was charged an additional $12 shipping fee. Unfortunately, she was forced to pay an extra $1.44 in postage costs and became quite dissatisfied with the company’s lack of customer service. Subsequently, she voiced her concerns and left negative feedback regarding the transaction. Unbelievably, Med Express suddenly acted in an audacious manner and claimed that they offered a $1.44 partial refund before demanding the feedback to be withdrawn.

Med Express massively misjudged the situation and Amy refused to alter her original feedback rating. Med Express’ founder, Richard Radey, decided to file a lawsuit thinking Amy would be scared into removing the feedback in an act of complete arrogance. Thankfully, Amy is a strong-willed individual and acquired the help of Paul Levy, an infamous lawyer who campaigns against big-business bullying tactics.

After this information was disclosed to Richard Radey, he suddenly had a change of heart and dropped the case. However, he had a notorious reputation and was involved in a number of similar lawsuits. Levy described Radey’s apology to Ars Technica in 2013 and said:

 “Problem is, I don’t believe a word of what he says,”

Given the chain of events, Levy sought to recoup the legal costs of two lawyers representing Amy Nicholls and another undisclosed individual. After a long dispute, a Medina County, Ohio judge ruled that Med Express and Radey must pay $19,250 to Tom Haren and Jeffrey Nye who were the laywers in question.

This is a fantastic day for consumer rights and most-of-all justice. Med Express underestimated Amy Nicholls’ tenacity and learn’t a very expensive lesson about consumer freedom. Far too many companies take their customers for granted and behave in a disgraceful way. Finally, one of these companies employing bullying tactics has got their comeuppance. If you ever feel the need to leave negative feedback for an unsatisfactory service, do so!

What is the worst experience you’ve had on eBay?

Thank You Ars Technica for providing us with this information.

Amazon Promises Huge Sale to Prime Members on July 15th

Amazon has launched its latest incentive to lure customers into the Prime service and now offering the subscription at a reduced cost of £59 for a limited period. Current member benefits include unlimited One-Day Delivery, instant access to movies and TV shows and secure unrestricted photo storage. While this seems like excellent value, please remember the Prime Instant Video service is fairly weak in comparison to Netflix.

To make this offer more appetizing, Amazon will be slashing prices on July 15th with more discounts than 2014’s Black Friday extravaganza. Prime members are able to take advantage of lower prices across a wide array of categories including electronics, toys, video games, movies, clothing, patio, lawn and garden, sports and outdoor items and more!

Additionally, Amazon is holding a photograph competition and rewarding the winner a $10,000 gift card. The process is extremely simple and all you have to do is take a photo of your happiest moment. One winner will be selected from Austria, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Japan, the United Kingdom and the USA. Entrants can only use one photo per Prime account and no additional entries are acquired through social media sharing.

New deals commence at midnight BST and continue throughout the day as often as every ten minutes. Luckily, if you don’t want the pay the Prime fee, just create a new account and set up a 30 day trial. Make sure you disable the auto-renew function or you will be charged the full £79 after 30 days. Hopefully, the deals in the UK will be more substantial than they were during Black Friday and have a larger stock allocation. In the past, Lightning deals could sell their entire stock within 60 seconds and I hope this doesn’t leave people disappointed.

Are you an Amazon Prime member? Do you feel it’s worth the yearly cost?

Mastercard Trials New Scheme to Replace Passwords with Selfies

The convenience of online shopping has applied severe pressure on traditional retail stores and many companies went into administration due to large overheads. In the past, consumers were rightfully concerned about fraud and a lack of protection when purchasing from unfamiliar websites. Thankfully, there are now security certificates and enhanced checks before a transaction can be completed. For example, MasterCard utilizes a SecureCode system which requires you to input a password before the payment is processed. This adds another layer of protection and failing to enter the right code on 3 occasions will enforce a card block. To remove this, you must contact MasterCard and provide a wide range of security details.

MasterCard’s SecureCode is a fantastic way to protect yourself online and eliminates the hassle of being contacted via a card company when a large transaction is made. However, any security expert will advise you to create different passwords for various credentials. If you currently only use one password across banking, entertainment mediums and other accounts, please change it immediately. Storing a different password for every purpose can be a difficult task and most users do not trust password management software. MasterCard believes the answer could be via photo recognition.

So how does this work? Firstly, an image corresponding to your account is recorded on file and compared to a snapshot you take to confirm your identity. The data from the image is converted into binary form and users must have the MasterCard app installed on their smart device to proceed. This piece of software also supports fingerprint recognition which many modern phones are beginning to accommodate. MasterCard has selected a small sample of 500 people and awaiting feedback to see if this is the future of internet banking. In a CNN Money interview, a MasterCard executive explained,

“We want to identify people for who they are, not what they remember.”

“We have too many passwords to remember and this creates extra problems for consumers and businesses.”

“The new generation, which is into selfies … I think they’ll find it cool. They’ll embrace it.”

I’m not entirely convinced though that customers are so willing to share their personal data even if an algorithm is used to analyse the picture. One’s privacy seems to be diminishing rather fast in the modern world and there might be a backlash from consumers who feel this new system is too personal and overly intrusive.

Let us know what you think of this new security system. Would you have a problem taking a photo of yourself to buy online items?

Thank You Sky News for providing us with this information.

Why Use Online Stores When You Can Buy Directly Through Google!

Earlier this month I wrote about a new project Google is going to try testing out in which you will be able to quickly order food through Google and a list of authorised fast food retailers near where you are. Seems that food isn’t all Google wants to sink their teeth into, with them looking to help you buy things quicker without even leaving the google search page.

The “buy buttons” will live inside the ads that are placed at the top of your search results, you know the ones which are sponsored and are paid for by companies?  When clicked, unlike the Google Store Pages, you’ll be taken to yet another page within Google from which you can order the product, all while still being on the Google website. You could even save your card details to make this an easy purchase with one touch buying (similar to what the Android store and Amazon store offer).

Apparently due to the success of the mobile site the new feature will start with testing on their mobile site and not on their desktop site. With an initial launch area of a “small percentage”, the chances are that unless you are looking for it, you might not even notice the new feature being tested out.

With the ability to search for products from a variety of online retailers with Google Shopping, and now potentially allowing direct access to the shops with easy buying, is Google looking to move its name onto online retailing as a distributor, similar to how amazon helps small time retailers by letting them list their wares on their site?

With “google it” already synonymous with ‘search for it online’, how long before it comes to mean ‘to order online’ as well?

Thanks to The Verge for providing us with this information.

Redecorate Your Home Using Augmented Reality

Israeli startup Cimagine Media, has developed a markerless augmented reality (AR) which, in partnership with Shop Direct, owners of online retailers Littlewoods.com and Very.co.uk, will be implemented to show potential customers how thousands of products – from sofas, to lamps, to televisions – would look in their home.

http://youtu.be/j0_IoPNAHLo

Cimagine’s AR system, using the camera on a smartphone or tablet, scans a room and them places a 3D model of an item of interest within the room on-screen. The 3D model has static positioning, so you can walk around it with your phone or tablet to see how it looks from other angles.

Littlewoods is using the system now, available to residents of the UK and Ireland, but for the moment, the AR system only works in conjunction with Apple devices: once the iOS app is installed on an iPhone or iPad, curious users can visit the Littlewoods.co.uk site, click on the “view at home” button below and item, and it is then displayed in the app as 3D, AR model.

Those outside the UK and Ireland who are curious about Cimagine’s AR technology can check out Cimagine’s standalone app, available for download here.

Source: The Next Web

Microsoft Want Kinect Used to Recognise Shoppers, Minority Report-Style

Microsoft has proposed using its Kinect hardware in stores to recognise customers and track their shopping habits. The idea was put forward in a Microsoft blog post on Monday, entitled 2015: The Year of On-demand, Personalized Shopping.

Kinect, the motion controller for Xbox 360 and Xbox One, is able to identify faces, discern facial expressions, track body and limb movements, and recognise voice commands. Microsoft believes the technology could revolutionise how retailers engage with their customers. From Microsoft’s blog:

The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera system provides demographic and face recognition services to a Kinect enabled application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer. This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.

The small matter of whether customers will stand for being tracked, catalogued, and spied on, however, isn’t broached in the blog entry.

Source: Business Insider

Amazon Centers in Germany Disrupted by Union’s Call For 3-Day Strike

The ver.di union has called for a three-day strike at Amazon Germany distribution centers, which could have a major impact on business operations.

It’s unknown how many employees will participate at five distribution centers – located in Bad Hersfeld, Graben, Rheinberg, Werne and Leipzig – while Amazon has 9,000 employees working in Germany.

The union wants Amazon employees to receive a higher salary, arguing they receive less than retail and mail-order positions in the country. Amazon countered by saying the German facilities are logistics centers and employees are paid accordingly.

This is absolutely terrible timing for Amazon, as its orders in Germany topped out on Dec. 15 in 2014, with customers making a purchase every 53 seconds.

However, Amazon officials reportedly assured German customers they can still expect swift shipments of their orders. The company prides itself in fulfilling orders quickly, even during an extremely busy holiday shopping season, and will continue to work through the strike.

Thank you to Tech Week Europe for providing us with this image

Google Search Updated for Phones and Tablets

Google search on phones and tablets has received some major updates to its shopping feature.

Searches for products can now deliver 360 degree images and much more detailed information, along with handy customer reviews.

By tapping on a an image of a product, Google search will now bring up a Street View-style view of the item (if the seller has posted such an image) that allows you to see it in all its glory.

Reviews now come with helpful charts that allow you to get a good idea of whether something is worth buying, as well as access to customer feedback and tips.

Source: VentureBeat

Barcode Symbology – 1D Barcode Symbology

Barcode technology roots its genesis in symbology. In simple terms, symbology is the equivalent of a language. The language is encoded using single digits or single characters into language message. However, the message is only complete once you also encode the start and stop marker characters in the bars and spaces. In other words, symbology can also be defined as the mapping between messages and specific codes. Symbology has over the years existed on a very controversial basis. The majority of symbologies that have existed are around for political reasons. While others types of symbologies, like the barcode 1D symbology, have survived owing to technology.

Looking closely at barcodes, one will notice that they are not the same. Some barcodes will have different widths of the black and white bars, while others will have two narrow strips of white and others simply just one wide white bar. Some will appear compressed while others will be longer than the rest. In essence, the 1D barcode symbology has more than 100 different symbologies. Keeping in mind that organizations will normally have their own systems of symbologies to use in place. The choice of the kind of symbology one is to conform to will never be at the discretion of the employees. “We believe that our new combined package of products — WaspLabeler and Barcode Maker for Office — will help businesses eliminate data entry errors, provide easy access to information and collect data quickly and accurately,” said Brian Sutter, director of marketing.

However, if you must choose which symbology to use, you might want to consider the following factors.

The Available and Set Standards.

Many barcodes, be they from different vendors, Shopify  being one of barcodes vendors, will most definitely share similar barcode applications. The 1D barcode symbology also has a standardization code that will govern the use of these types of codes. Such are the set standards eliminating any fear of duplication one may have. Therefore, one should make sure that they clearly understand the limitations an industry has to the use of barcodes symbology. This is to avoid any would be unfortunate befalling.

The Symbol Set

It is important to note that 1D barcode symbologies have limitations especially on the number of characters that can be encoded.

The Density

Each symbology uses a different kind of given space per character. The 1D barcode technology also has its specific width lengths for which anyone printing the barcode will have to conform to.

Readability

Always choose a code that is friendly to read. The perfect vantage is that 1D barcode symbologies are simple. They always maintain a very simple approach to labeling; therefore, they will not force the consumer to strain with reading the digits and any other information that could be encrypted into the barcodes.

Compatibility and Acceptance of the Symbology

The barcode you choose should also be compatible to the industry or company at play. It will be true to say that the 1D barcode symbology is one that is universally accepted by almost every industry.

1D Barcode Formats.

1D barcode symbology takes the form of many formats from AimGlobal. These symbols are part of the codes 39, EAN, code28, UPC (the Universal Product Code) or interleaved 2 of 5. First is the Coda bar, which is very famous with the US Blood Banks. The Coda bar is an alphanumeric code. Though it only has the letters A, B, C, D, E, *, N or T. Second is the Code II barcode which has been primarily used in the telecommunication industry. Third we have the nationwide barcode symbology, a 1D barcode symbology of very high density, the code is particularly common to the shipping and packaging industries. Other 1D barcode symbologies include CODE 2 of 5 Interleaved which is an all numeric code used for packaging and it also has no limitations to the length of the symbol. Code 39 is a highly discreet code; interestingly enough is that it’s a code that was pioneered by the automotive and the defense industries. It is an alphanumeric barcode whose symbols tend to be as long as deemed necessary. This is to store intended encoded data. Other examples of 1D barcode symbologies will include the Telepen. They provide the very many forms of 1D barcode symbologies available and the industries to which they are specifically used and famous for. This is evident at LeadTools.com.

Why Should One Choose 1D Barcode Symbology

The popularity 1D barcode symbologies have gained is very high compared to their counterparts, the 2D barcode Symbologies. About 99% of applications are conversant and very friendly to 1D barcode symbology. This will imply that the support systems in place for 1D barcode symbology are very reliable and available.

Amazon.com Now Selling Customisable 3D Printed Items

3D printing continues to shake up the world of manufacturing and has begun offering innovative and creative solutions for consumers. The latest to jump on the 3D printing trend is Amazon.com as they begin to offer customisable and pre-designed products that are 3D printed for you after you order them.

Amazon have set up a dedicated store front on their US site, which will allow you to browse over 200 products such as jewellery, homeware, toys and more. With the ability to customise the items so easily thanks to a simple user interface, it means you can create one of a kind items that would make great little gifts, or even just something for fun.

The site comes with a 3D mockup of what you’re creating too, so you can check every detail of what you are about to order before it is sent off to the printers and with a company as big as Amazon behind it, it’s got a great chance of being a big success.

Check out the official store front here and let us know what you think in the comments section below.

High-Tech Vending Machines To Support Wi-Fi and Bitcoin Payments

Vending machines have always been as a good friend to some people. Whether at work, in train station platforms or just passing by one in the most unexpected places, they are a sight for sore eyes when in need of a drink or just something to eat.

While time passes by, improvements are likely to be made. It seems that the old vending machine is next in line will be upgraded, at least in the United States. The news reports say that vending machines will not only be upgraded, but their product offerings will diversify. This means that instead of selling cheap candy and soda, customers should expect to buy everything from beauty products to electronics or even higher quality food from these new and improved vending machines.

A good example of such a high-tech machine comes from Denis Koci, having to roll out his Burritobox vending machines via his Box Brands companies. The vending machines are said to offer hand-rolled burritos which can be customized with sour cream, guacamole and other options. The company is also said to be interested in rolling out Pizzaboxes and other niche food vending machines, having them placed in shopping malls, near parks, or other locations where people are likely to buy something to eat.

From a techy point of view, some machines are said to also include Wi-Fi, touchscreens and even accept a variety of payments spanning from cash, credit cards and all the way to bitcoins. Some companies are said to even show some interest into releasing models with built-in webcams, allowing customers to take a picture and share it on their social media websites.

Thank you TweakTown for providing us with this information
Image courtesy of TweakTown

BitCoin Price Tags That Update In Real Time Depending On Market Value

Bitcoin is being accepted in more and more locations almost every day now, with many major retailers getting on boards with the crypto-currency that has been taking the computer world by storm in recent years. Now it looks like it may start even being accepted in the world of high-street retailers with the creation of the Bitcoin price tag.

The tag shows the items price in local currency, this is the fixed price and let’s say for example it is $40, the value of Bitcoin fluctuates constantly, so the amount of Bitcoins needed to meet that price at that time would be displayed in realtime. You can literally stand there and watch you’re clothes get cheaper, or panic as you see the number of coins required go up! Which is actually rather cool.

The new system looks like the perfect solution for retailers as it avoids the issues with Bitcoin’s fluctuating value, or at least some of the issues because BitCoin could still crash after the retailer has taken the payment, unless of course its automated to sell the coins for cash value as the sale goes through.

“[The] Bitcoin transaction can be activated by a simple ‘shake’ of the BitTag,” the product’s website explains. “Enabling a Bitcoin QR code to be displayed on the display and scanned by the user’s smartphone.”

It’s an interesting project, the only downside is that each price tag currently costs around £40/$60. Of course if the idea takes off, the production price will come down pretty quickly.

Thank you BBC for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of BBC.

New Google Ad Patent Would Offer Free Taxi Service

Google is always looking for new innovations, and new ways to push the boundaries of the common way of advertising. It looks like Google has a new patent out that encompasses both new innovations and a new way of advertising. The new patent is for an ad service that would offer a free taxi to the store from which the retailers advertisement you just clicked on online. An abstract of the patent logged by Google is;

“The invention involves automatically comparing the cost of transportation and the potential profit form a completed transaction using a number of real-time calculations.”

This new patent heavily relies on expensive purchases, for someone say looking for a new car or an expensive tech item such as a new TV or computer this service would be great for. However I don’t think it’s viable for say someone looking for a toothbrush or another low-cost product. Google has always been interested in real-time calculations and with this new patent Google has gone onto explain the depth involved in the real-time calculations that would take place;

“The calculation may consider various factors including a consumer’s current location, the consumer’s most likely route and form of transportation (such as train, personal car, taxi, rental car, or shared vehicle), the consumer’s daily agenda, the price competing advertisers are willing to pay for the customer to be delivered to alternate locations, and other costs. In this regard, the customer’s obstacles to entering a business location are reduced while routing and cost calculations are automatically handled based on the demand for the advertiser’s goods and potential profit margins.”

While this new patent seems to be focusing on giving psychical store owners a fighting chance against online stores that offer discounts over the common brick and mortar stores. It will be interesting to see if customers would rather save a certain percentage by shopping online or have the feeling of importance by having a car sent out to you by the store who is competing with the online market and therefore signalling each customer out rather than just appealing to the masses like an online store would. Would you rather shop online and save a little off the recommended retail price, or feel important having a car sent out to your location to go shopping?

Thank you CNET for the information provided

Image courtesy of Digital Spy

Amazon.co.uk Turns 15! Biggest Selling Products Since Launch Revealed

Wow was that 15 years already! I remember purchasing Limp Bizkits – Significant Other 14 years ago from the then fairly new Amazon site, in fact, it was my first ever online purchase! Now we see that Amazon is still growing like crazy as online shopping become more and more dominant in our increasingly digital loving world.

So lets take a quick look at the record breakers shall we;

  • One Direction claim the fastest selling album of all time based on pre-orders for Midnight Memories.
  • Adele earns best selling artist of all time with Lady Gaga and Rihanna also in the top five.
  • Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 tops the games chart, but GTA V beats it as the fastest selling game title of all time.
  • Mamma Mai! Beats Harry Potter for the title of best selling DVD of all time.
  • Despicable me is the most streamed LOVEFiLM title.
  • Deathly Hallows is the fastest selling Amazon.co.uk product ever.
  • Fifty Shades Trilogy are the best selling books.

Amazon are obviously eager to share their success stories, so below we have their full press release that runs through their biggest hits of the last 15 years. Although we would love to hear what the first thing was you ever bought on Amazon, more importantly how long ago was it? Can anyone here beat my Limp Bizkit CD from 14 years ago?

Overall Fastest Selling Products

  • Fastest selling product of all time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (physical book)
  • Fastest selling album of all time One Direction – Midnight Memories
  • Fastest selling book of all time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
  • Fastest selling DVD of all time Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • Fastest selling video game of all time Grand Theft Auto V

*Fastest selling based on first day of pre-order sales

“The past 15 years have seen Amazon.co.uk broaden its range of products each year, but entertainment products have always played an integral role in our business,” said Xavier Garambois, Vice-President of EU Retail at Amazon EU S.à.r.l. “It’s fascinating to look back at our biggest sellers – it gives a wonderful picture of the icons of entertainment culture which have defined the UK since 1998.”

Music

The best-selling music artist of all-time on Amazon.co.uk, based on combined CD, vinyl, cassette and MP3 digital download sales, is Adele, with Coldplay in second place and The Beatles in third. Lady Gaga and Rihanna complete the top five, coming in at fourth and fifth respectively, although they sit at first and second place in terms of digital downloads from the Amazon.co.uk MP3 store.

Best-selling Artists (all formats)

  • 1 Adele
  • 2 Coldplay
  • 3 The Beatles
  • 4 Lady Gaga
  • 5 Rihanna
  • 6 Michael Bublé
  • 7 Kings of Leon
  • 8 Snow Patrol
  • 9 Muse
  • 10 Michael Jackson

Best-selling Artists (physical vs digital)

# CD, Vinyl & Cassette MP3

  • 1 Adele Lady Gaga
  • 2 The Beatles Rihanna
  • 3 Coldplay Glee Cast
  • 4 Michael Bublé Adele
  • 5 Snow Patrol Katy Perry
  • 6 Pink Floyd The Black Eyed Peas
  • 7 Kings of Leon Take That
  • 8 Amy Winehouse Coldplay
  • 9 Susan Boyle Florence + The Machine
  • 10 Bob Dylan Jessie J
  • 11 U2 Kings of Leon
  • 12 Queen Bruno Mars
  • 13 Muse Michael Jackson
  • 14 Robbie Williams Eminem
  • 15 Elbow Pixie Lott
  • 16 Oasis Rage Against The Machine
  • 17 Michael Jackson Michael Bublé
  • 18 Rihanna Beyoncé
  • 19 Foo Fighters Flo Rida
  • 20 The Killers Maroon 5

The best-selling albums list is dominated by Adele, with the North London chanteuse taking the top two spots in the all-time list with 21 and 19.

Best-selling Albums (all formats)

# Artist & Title

  • 1 Adele – 21
  • 2 Adele – 19
  • 3 Take That – Progress
  • 4 Susan Boyle – I Dreamed A Dream
  • 5 Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music! 83
  • 6 Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night
  • 7 Amy Winehouse – Back To Black
  • 8 Mumford & Sons – Sigh No More
  • 9 Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music! 80
  • 10 Various Artists – Now That’s What I Call Music! 77

When it comes to singles, Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of is the best-selling song of the past fifteen years, helped by the campaign which saw it secure the Christmas number one spot in 2009 through sales of the MP3 download track. Other titles in the top ten show the recent resurgence of the single, with Adele, Psy, Robin Thicke, GOTYE and Daft Punk’s hits from the past two years all featuring. Last year’s X Factor winner James Arthur claims the final top-ten place with Impossible.

Best-selling Singles (MP3)

# Artist & Song Title

  • 1 Rage Against The Machine – Killing In The Name [Explicit]
  • 2 Adele – Skyfall
  • 3 Psy – Gangnam Style
  • 4 Adele – Someone Like You
  • 5 Black Eyed Peas – I Gotta Feeling (Album Version)
  • 6 Robin Thicke – Blurred Lines [feat. T.I., Pharrell]
  • 7 Carly Rae Jepson – Call Me Maybe
  • 8 Gotye – Somebody That I Used To Know [feat. Kimbra]
  • 9 Daft Punk – Get Lucky (Radio Edit)
  • 10 James Arthur – Impossible

“Adele’s achievement in securing both the best-selling artist title and the top two best-selling albums of the past 15 years on Amazon.co.uk is remarkable”, said Paul Firth, Head of Music at Amazon.co.uk Ltd. “The fact that Rage Against The Machine’s Killing In The Name Of has pushed Adele into second place in the best-selling singles chart is indicative of how much the UK loves a good campaign and how the public love the underdog. “

”The appearance of Gangnam Style at number three in the all-time singles chart perhaps shows a future in which the internet makes music tastes more international than ever before.”

Books

When it comes to top-selling titles combining physical books and Kindle purchases, the top ten is dominated by two trilogies, EL James’ 50 Shades Trilogy and Stieg Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy. A title from the Harry Potter also makes the top ten, with the final instalment in the epic saga, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sneaking in at number 10.

Best-selling Books by Title (physical books / Kindle books combined)

  • 1 Fifty Shades of Grey – EL James
  • 2 Fifty Shades Darker – EL James
  • 3 Fifty Shades Freed – EL James
  • 4 The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (Millennium Trilogy Book 1) – Stieg Larsson
  • 5 The Girl Who Played with Fire (Millennium Trilogy Book 2) – Stieg Larsson
  • 6 The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (Millennium Trilogy Book 3) – Stieg Larsson
  • 7 The Hunger Games – Suzanne Collins
  • 8 Life Of Pi – Yann Martel
  • 9 The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared – Jonas Jonasson
  • 10 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) – JK Rowling

Elsewhere in the top ten, Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is at number six, doubtless assisted by last year’s blockbuster film adaptation. Yann Martel’s The Life of Pi also benefited from a recent film tie-in, and Europe-wide word-of-mouth hit The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared features in the Top 10.

In the battle of the heavyweight series, it’s EL James who once again comes out on top – her 50 Shades Trilogy outsold the entire Harry Potter series and Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy, to make it the best-selling book series in Amazon’s history.

“Of all the millions of books customers have purchased in the past 15 years, it’s fascinating to see which have proved most popular with the British public,” said Darren Hardy, Books Manager at Amazon.co.uk Ltd. “Sales of Kindle books have been hugely influential in determining these rankings, with EL James’ sales on Kindle for the 50 Shades Trilogy cementing her place as our most successful author ever.”

Video Games

One franchise clearly dominates the video games chart, with Activision’s blockbuster Call of Duty series taking the top three spots in the all-time video games chart. This year’s Grand Theft Auto V may well overtake Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 at the top of the list as it already takes fourth place after just one month on sale. EA’s FIFA football series is the other big franchise, taking the sixth, seventh and eighth places. Fantasy epic The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim takes ninth place, and Wii title Zumba Fitness takes the number ten spot, impressive considering it’s the only title in the list which isn’t multiplatform.

Best-selling Video Games (cross platform)

  • 1 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  • 2 Call of Duty: Black Ops
  • 3 Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3
  • 4 Grand Theft Auto 5
  • 5 Call of Duty: Black Ops II
  • 6 FIFA 10
  • 7 FIFA 13
  • 8 FIFA 12
  • 9 The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
  • 10 Zumba Fitness

“Call of Duty, Grand Theft Auto and FIFA are three of the largest entertainment franchises in the world, so it’s no surprise to see them dominating the top ten best-selling games chart,” said Ketu Patel, Video Games & Software Category Leader at Amazon.co.uk Ltd. “The success of Skyrim suggests that there is a real appetite for epic fantasy games, whilst Zumba Fitness’s appearance in tenth place shows just how big Nintendo Wii’s fanbase is in the UK.”

Film & TV

ABBA musical Mamma Mia! takes the accolade of Amazon.co.uk’s top-selling DVD of the past fifteen years, with the final film in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, taking second place. The complete eight-film Potter collection also sneaks into the final place in the top ten list. The Inbetweeners Movie takes the third spot, one of five home-grown productions in the top ten, alongside Sir David Attenborough’s Planet Earth, Downton Abbey – Series 1 and The King’s Speech. Michael McIntyre remains the nation’s favourite comedian, with his 2009 live DVD the only stand-up title in the top ten.

Best-selling DVDs

  • 1 Mamma Mia!
  • 2 Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2
  • 3 The Inbetweeners Movie
  • 4 Toy Story 3
  • 5 Planet Earth : Complete BBC Series (5 Disc Box Set)
  • 6 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
  • 7 Downton Abbey – Series 1
  • 8 The King’s Speech
  • 9 Michael McIntyre Live 2009: Hello Wembley!
  • 10 Harry Potter – The Complete 8-Film Collection

Looking at streaming on LOVEFiLM, Despicable Me is the most popular film of all, with the most streams since 2009. When it comes to TV shows, epic drama Lost takes the crown. Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s Roswell-themed comedy Paul pulled in the highest number of streams in one 24 hour period.

LOVEFiLM Facts & Stats – 2009-2013

  • Most streamed film Despicable Me
  • Most streamed TV show Lost
  • Highest number of streams in one day Paul

“The singing may not always have been of the highest quality, but Mamma Mia! really captured the hearts of the UK’s film enthusiasts,” said Zak Watts, DVD Category Leader at Amazon.co.uk Ltd. “It’s no small feat to beat the long-awaited final instalment of the Harry Potter series into second place. It’s also great to see the long-lasting legacy which Sir David Attenborough’s Planet Earth will have on this and future generations of families, with so many UK households having a copy.”

Thank you Amazon for providing us with this information.

GTA V Gamers In UK Paid 30% Less For Pre-Orders Than Rest Of Europe

Grand Theft Auto 5 has just launched, but there was one bit of information that didn’t make the headlines. Did you know that people here in the UK were paying around 30% less for their pre-order copies than their European counterparts?

A new report from price comparison website idealo.co.uk discovered this fact pretty quickly thanks to the way the site operates. Using the pre-release prices across its UK and European sister websites in Austria, France, Germany, Italy and Poland, it found that there were substantial differences in the retail prices that were being charged in the UK relative to those on the continent.

While there has often been debate around the world regarding the price of computer games, the evidence shows that some areas have it better or worse than others. For example, German gamers looking to purchase Grand Theft Auto V will have to pay around 34% more for the Xbox 360 edition and 37% more for the PlayStation 3 edition when compared to the UK prices. Even stranger is that some countries charge more for one format than the other, with only France, Poland and the United Kingdom offering identical pricing for both formats (PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360). It is not uncommon for the English language release to be cheaper due to costs associated with translating games, but there were still differences to be found within the Eurozone, although it’s not clear why.

% difference relative to the UK idealo pre-release price:

German and French prices show a near 20% difference, regardless of the fact that both countries use the same currency and have near identical V.A.T. rates (19% vs 19.6% respectively). Yet while the games were cheaper here in the UK we have the highest V.A.T. rate at 20%, if only by a small margin. Some of this pricing between the UK and the rest of Europe could be attributed to currency exchange values, but it still only makes up for a small percentage of the wide price gap.

Prices in GBP (converted via XE.com)

Do you compare your prices before purchase? If you don’t use services like idealo.co.uk you can clearly see that there are some benefits to shopping around, both locally and even in other countries. Leave a comment below and let us know how much you paid for Grand Theft Auto V.

Thank you idealo for providing us with this information.

Images courtesy of idealo.