10/2/2006

Amazon.com drops search engine features

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Amazon.com Inc.’s A9 search engine has dropped some of its most widely touted features, including the ability to remember everything a user has ever searched for and a service that showed detailed, street-level images of major cities.

The Internet retailer removed the functions, along with several others, late Friday. Amazon.com spokesman Drew Herdener said the company is “shifting its priorities to areas where it can provide the greatest benefit for customers.”

Source: AP

New phone will scream if it’s stolen

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Now if your mobile telephone is stolen, you can scream — and your phone can, too. A new service launched Monday is designed to deter mobile phone theft by equipping telephones with an ear-piercing scream.

The screaming won’t stop unless the battery is removed. Even if the thief replaces the phone’s SIM card, the handset will not work.

All customers’ information is centrally stored, so contacts, ringtones, pictures, texts and other data can be retrieved when a new handset is purchased. The service costs about $18 a month.

Source: AP

Online gaming in crisis over U.S. ban

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Online gambling firms faced their biggest-ever crisis on Monday after U.S. Congress passed legislation to end Internet gaming there, threatening jobs and wiping 3.5 billion pounds ($6.5 billion) off company values.

Britain’s PartyGaming Plc, operator of leading Internet poker site PartyPoker.com, and rivals Sportingbet and 888 Plc said they would likely pull out of the United States, their biggest source of revenue.

Source: Reuters

Google Buys Garage Where Empire Began

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

nternet search leader Google Inc. has added a landmark to its rapidly expanding empire - the Silicon Valley home where co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin rented a garage eight years ago as they set out to change the world.

The Mountain View-based company bought the 1,900-square-foot home in nearby Menlo Park from one of its own employees, Susan Wojcicki, who had agreed to lease her garage for $1,700 per month because she wanted some help paying the mortgage.

Wojcicki, now Google’s vice president of product management, didn’t work for the company at the time and only knew the Stanford University graduate students because one of her friends had dated Brin.

Source: AP

Netflix Offers $1M for Better Picks

Filed under: — Aviran Mordo

Online DVD rental pioneer Netflix Inc. wants recommendations on how to improve its movie recommendation system, and is dangling a $1 million reward as an incentive.

The prize, offered in a contest beginning Monday, is part of Netflix’s effort to sharpen its competitive edge as it continues a bitter duel with Blockbuster Inc. and prepares for an anticipated onslaught of services that make it easier to download movies onto computer hard drives.

By spurring engineers to develop a better way to decipher consumer tastes, Netflix is betting its market-leading DVD service will become more useful to its 5.2 million subscribers and attract new customers.

To win the prize, a software program must improve the accuracy of Netflix’s current movie recommendation system by at least 10 percent. The differences will be tracked by a program that quantifies how well the recommendation systems predict which movies will be liked or disliked by a profiled consumer.

Source: AP

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