TIME

Definitive Proof the Apple vs. Samsung Case Is Really About Google

Google
Justin Lane—EPA

Apple’s on-going patent lawsuit against Samsung has long been cast as a proxy war against Google, the maker of the Android operating system that powers the Samsung devices competing with the iPhone. New evidence revealed during the Samsung-Apple trial illustrate that Google is in fact a direct player in the conflict.

On Tuesday Apple brought forth a deposition by a Google employee confirming that Google had sent emails to Samsung offering to help pay some of the cell phone manufacturer’s legal costs in the case. Google even offered to help pay for some of the damages if Samsung loses. Google said it would provide financial aid regarding two of the five patents that Apple has brought to trial. Apple is seeking a total of $2.2 billion in damages in the infringement case.

Earlier in the trial, Google employees testified on Samsung’s behalf, saying that Google had independently created some of the technology Apple is litigating over for its own Android platform before the iPhone launched.

The patent trial has led to the airing of much dirty laundry among some of the world’s largest tech giants. Samsung acknowledged that Steve Jobs’ death would provide Apple an “unintended benefit,” for example, and Apple fretted over the effectiveness of Samsung ads mocking the iPhone.

TIME

Creepy New Website Shows Just How Much Facebook Knows About You

Images of WhatsApp As Facebook Inc. Makes Acquisition For $19 Billion
Getty Images

How much can someone learn about you by accessing your Facebook data? Not just your friends and interests, but also who stalks you, where you spend your time and even how much money you make

How much can someone learn about you by accessing your Facebook data? Not just your friends and interests, but also who stalks you, where you spend your time and even how much money you make.

That’s the setup for a new website called Digital Shadow promoting the upcoming spy video game Watch Dogs by Ubisoft. Give the site authorization to scrape your Facebook profile for data, and it will list your “pawns” (your closest friends that can be used against you), “obsessions” (the people you Facebook-creep on the most) and “scapegoats” (people you don’t interact with and would willingly sacrifice if necessary). The sleek dossier also includes photos of places you hang out, data on when you post most often, and a series of guesses at your password based on the things you write about most often.

Of course, all this “creepy” insight is based on information you willingly gave to Facebook at some time or another. Letting Watch Dogs scour your profile can act as a sobering reminder that the information you put on the Internet can potentially be used against you.

TIME facebook

This Is the Absolute Best Day to Post on Facebook

Facebook
Jason Alden— Bloomberg/Getty Images

Businesses on Facebook are being forced to reevaluate their social media marketing strategies as their posts continue to reach fewer and fewer users. For a brand that’s looking to ensure that its posts get the most engagement possible, new data shows that Friday is the day when users are most likely to Like, comment or share posts that come from brand Pages.

Adobe tracked more than 226 billion post impressions by 300 brands on Facebook in the first quarter of 2014 for its Social Intelligence Report. Fridays earn about 15.7 percent of each week’s total posts impressions, with Thursday being the next most active day with a 14.5 percent share. Users also engage with brands more actively on Fridays by a small amount. Posts from the Pages tracked had a 3.3. percent engagement rate on Friday (meaning that 3.3 percent of the users that saw a given post interacted with it in some way), compared to 3.2 percent on Thursdays and less on other days. Combined, these figures show that Fridays are a competitive time to post but also a time when users are more active on the social network.

ADI 6_Earned Social_Impressions_Rates_Plays

“Maybe it’s just that Friday afternoon is just not a time when anyone wants to start a new work project, so they just get on social media,” says Tamara Gaffney, principal analyst on Adobe’s Digital Index team. “You’re starting to think about your weekend and communicate with your friends and family.”

Whether the data reported by Adobe applies to all types of pages is unclear. The company mostly tracks social activity for extremely large businesses, including two-thirds of the top 50 companies in the Fortune 500. But Gaffney thinks the findings are likely relevant to a broad swath of the marketing community. “This is not a census of all things Facebook,” she says, “but we believe it’s still representative of what the reality for marketers is.”

There are more dramatic day-to-day trends when it comes to video. About one-fourth of all video plays for Pages occur on Fridays, according to Adobe’s data. Video plays are rapidly increasing on Facebook because of the introduction of new auto-play videos at the end of 2013. The auto-play feature has helped the engagement rate for videos rise from 2.4 percent to 3 percent over the last year. Text posts, meanwhile, have continued to decline in effectiveness, with only 0.6 percent of users that see them interacting with those posts in some way. Images are currently the most effective posts, with a 4.4 percent engagement rate (though that’s down from five percent a year ago).

ADI 4_Earned Social_Engagement Rate

Adobe data also show that posts perform the worst on Sundays. 13.4 percent of post impressions occur on that day and the engagement rate is 3 percent. Just 6.4 percent of video plays occur on Sunday.

This data doesn’t necessarily mean that brands should start spamming users’ feeds on Fridays. A glut of posts leads to greater competition to earn a spot in users’ News Feeds and a decline in organic reach. However, the data do show that users are on Facebook in big numbers on Fridays and they’re a bit more receptive to brand messages then. Smart content, particularly tailored toward weekend activities, can have an opportunity to score big.

TIME Media

AT&T’s $500 Million Plan to Crush Netflix and Hulu

New AT&T Store Aims to Outshine Apple on Chicago's Magnificent Mile
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

AT&T is forming a new online video business with the entertainment company The Chernin Group that will use both subscription-based and ad-supported monetization models, placing it in competition with YouTube and Amazon Prime as well

AT&T announced Tuesday that it is forming a new online video business with the entertainment company The Chernin Group. The new initiative will place AT&T in direct competition with premium online video services such as Netflix and Hulu.

The venture will include multiple video services that use both subscription-based and ad-supported monetization models, according to a company release. The Chernin Group, started by longtime News Corp. executive Peter Chernin, will contribute its majority stake in anime streaming website Crunchyroll to the new venture. (News Corp. is one of Hulu’s owners.)

AT&T will enter a crowded market that includes not only Hulu and Netflix, but also Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service and Google’s YouTube platform. Yahoo is also reportedly prepping a Netflix rival, and Microsoft is developing several original shows for its Xbox console. The new AT&T venture will be more similar to Netflix and other online video services than the Internet-based cable competitors being developed by Verizon and Sony, an AT&T representative told Variety.

Further financial details and release timing for specific video services were not disclosed; The release pegged the companies’ investment in the venture at $500 million.

[Variety]

TIME Retail

This Is Amazon’s Real Achilles Heel

Amazon
Bloomberg / Getty Images

Online sales taxes are discouraging people from shopping on Amazon, according to a new study by researchers at Ohio State University. Regular online shoppers living in states that implemented a tax on Amazon decreased their spending on the website by 10 percent compared to states without the tax. The drop was even steeper for big-ticket purchases above $300, for which Amazon sales in taxed states were down 24 percent.

The lack of sales tax for online purchases has been a big advantage for Amazon over brick-and-mortar retailers for more than a decade. But an increasing number of cash-strapped states, which lose a reported $23 billion from uncollected sales taxes on online goods, are now making consumers pay taxes for Amazon purchases. In total 20 states now levy an Amazon tax, according to Bloomberg.

Online retailers can be compelled to collect taxes in states where they have a physical presence, like an Amazon warehouse, or in states where the retailer pays marketers to send traffic to their sites. Unsurprisingly, Amazon has been battling these tax laws for years. It lobbied the Supreme Court to rule on the legality of a New York online sales tax law, but the Court declined to hear the case in December. Amazon has said that it is in favor of a federal law allowing states to collect taxes from online shops in a more uniform manner. But the company also knows the tax issue is a significant threat to its future business. In Amazon’s latest annual report, the company noted the rise of online sales taxes as potential risk factor. “A successful assertion by one or more states or foreign countries requiring us to collect taxes where we do not do so could result in substantial tax liabilities, including for past sales, as well as penalties and interest,” Amazon wrote.

The researchers behind the study followed the purchasing habits of 245,000 households nationwide that spent $100 on Amazon in the first six months of 2012, then tracked the shift in spending when a third of those consumers were hit with the Amazon tax during 2012 or 2013. Though Amazon purchases slumped, the additional taxes didn’t actually help brick-and-mortar stores, which saw a mild two percent bump in sales. The bigger winners were competing online retailers, whose sales jumped 20 percent.

 

TIME technology

Get Ready for a Netflix Price Hike

Streaming service Netflix announced plans to increase its price after a quarterly earnings report showed that profits edged out analyst estimates. The news of a price hike comes as Netflix continues to add new subscribers at a rapid pace

Netflix is planning to raise its prices, the company revealed in a quarterly earnings report today. The price hike, which the company says will amount to $1 or $2 per month, will take place sometime from April to June. The increase will only affect new members for now. Netflix says current members will be able to keep their current plans for one to two years.

The company is being rightly cautious in increasing subscription rates. Its 2011 attempt to generate more revenue by separating its DVD-by-mail and streaming services into separate businesses was disastrous for Netflix’s brand and its stock price. Since then the company has earned back credibility with customers by bankrolling a growing stable of original shows and inking licensing deals with big entertainment companies like Disney. But this content comes at a great cost — Netflix will spend almost $3 billion licensing shows and movies this year. The company needs both more subscribers and more revenue per subscriber to keep its business profitable as acquisition costs soar.

“If we want to continue to expand to do more great original content, more series, more movies, we have to eventually increase prices a little bit,” CEO Reed Hastings said in a video conference with analysts. “You’re talking about a dollar or two difference per month, so I don’t think that it’s a huge difference.”

The news of a price hike comes as Netflix continues to add new subscribers at a rapid pace. The company added 4 million new members in the first quarter of 2014, bringing its total subscriber base to more than 48 million globally. The additions were above Netflix’s guidance of 3.85 million new members for the quarter thanks to a surge in international subscriptions. Netflix generated $1.27 billion in revenue for the quarter, in line with analyst estimates. Net income was $53 million, topping $3 million in the first quarter of 2013. Earnings were 86¢ per share, beating analyst targets by 3¢.

Netflix also used its earnings report to formally oppose the planned merger between Time Warner Cable and Comcast that is currently under scrutiny from federal regulators. The online video service recently reached a deal to pay Comcast for a direct connection to its broadband network in order to ensure faster streaming speeds for its users. But the company has publicly complained that this type of paid-peering agreement is unfair and violates the principles of net neutrality (broadband providers feel different). Netflix fears a combined Comcast and Time Warner Cable, which would serve about 60% of U.S. broadband households, would be able to charge even more for such fees. “Comcast is already dominant enough to be able to capture unprecedented fees from transit providers and services such as Netflix,” the company wrote in a letter to shareholders. “The combined company would possess even more anti-competitive leverage to charge arbitrary interconnection tolls for access to their customers.”

The company continues to be coy in revealing precise viewership numbers for its expensive original shows, allowing only that Season 2 of House of Cards attracted “a huge audience that would make any cable or broadcast network happy,” according to Netflix’s shareholder letter. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos also confirmed that Orange Is the New Black remains the most popular original show on the streaming service.

Netflix stock jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading. It’s still down significantly from its all-time high of $458 in early March as part of an overall decline in the tech sector over the past month.

TIME Advertising

HBO Just Created the Most Supremely Uncomfortable Ads of All Time

It’s a teenager’s nightmare: You’re watching a movie or TV show with your parents when, horrifically, the characters on screen start having sex. The only choice is to white-knuckle your way through the action and hope you don’t suffer any lasting trauma. HBO has smartly captured this painfully awkward experience in a series of new ads promoting its HBO Go streaming service.

In the ads, a pair of Millennials and their out-of-touch parents have a variety of cringeworthy conversations as they watch HBO shows in the living room. During a scene of adultery in True Detective, Dad reminisces on the other women he could have bedded over the years. Mom uses a make-out scene between two women on Girls to discuss her daughter’s sexual preferences with her. Perhaps most upsettingly, the mother shows no outward uncomfortableness watching an intense True Blood sex scene with her son in a spot titled “Appreciation.”

The solution to this ongoing crisis? Get HBO Go so you can stream shows from the privacy of your own tablet, laptop or smartphone. The ads’ narrator notes that the streaming service allows users to enjoy TV “far, far away from your parents.” HBO has made several moves to target HBO Go at Millennials. A previous series of deadpan ads argued that the service was more important than moms, and CEO Richard Plepler has said he doesn’t care if young people share passwords to use the service. HBO hasn’t released usage figures for Go, but the service has crashed multiple times this spring due to high demand for shows like True Detective and Game of Thrones.

Check out more of the awkward parent commercials below:

TIME Careers & Workplace

This Is Google’s Dead-Simple Formula for a Perfect Resume

Google
Justin Lane—EPA

For soon-to-be college graduates or anyone else currently on the job hunt, Google’s head of human resources has some advice for impressing potential employers. Laszlo Bock, who oversees the hiring of 100 new Google employees each week, offered some more morsels of wisdom to the New York Times’ Thomas Friedman this weekend (a conversation earlier this year between Bock and Friedman touched on the same topic). Here’s a quick breakdown of his key insights.

Be specific on resumes: Bock points out that many people’s resumes are overly vague. Instead a resume should offer specific details about a worker’s job experience that help contextualize his accomplishments. Bock explains: “Most people would write a résumé like this: ‘Wrote editorials for The New York Times.’ Better would be to say: ‘Had 50 op-eds published compared to average of 6 by most op-ed [writers] as a result of providing deep insight into the following area for three years.’”

Choose hard courses over straight A’s: Bock says a lower grade in a more challenging course can be more impressive to employers than a stellar performance in an easier class. He said a B in computer science could be more significant than an A+ in English “because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load.”

Explain your thought process in job interviews: Much like resumes, Bock says that specificity here is important. Employers want to know how a potential worker thinks to see whether they will be good at solving problems on the job. He recommends using this structure to explain your experiences to an employer: “What you want to do is say: ‘Here’s the attribute I’m going to demonstrate; here’s the story demonstrating it; here’s how that story demonstrated that attribute.’ ” Using this method shows a worker’s ability to think logically and evaluate their own performance in a critical way.

Read the full interview over at The Times.

TIME technology

Now You Can Explore the Star Trek: Voyager Deck With the Oculus Rift

The virtual reality headset Oculus Rift already allows users to enter far-flung lands such as Tuscany, Game of ThronesWesteros and Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. Now Oculus owners can beam up to the famous spaceship from Star Trek: Voyager as well.

The new demo, created by independent developer Thomas Kadlec, features an incredibly detailed recreation of the Voyager’s bridge, complete with computer monitors lit up with buttons and windows that offer a view out to the stars. The demo was made using Unreal Engine 4, a new game development engine that should allow more complex worlds to be built for the Rift.

Oculus VR, the company behind the Rift, has released multiple iterations of its headset to developers, who have tinkered with the technology in fascinating ways. The company, which was bought for $2 billion by Facebook in March, has yet to announce when the Rift will see a release as a consumer product.

[The Verge]

TIME technology

Weibo Chief: We’ll Be Watching Facebook and Twitter

Weibo And Sabre Beginning Trading On NASDAQ
China's Weibo CEO Charles Chao (center) stands with Robert Greifeld, Nasdaq CEO, moments after Weibo began trading on the Nasdaq exchange under the ticker symbol WB on April 17, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

During its first day on the market in the U.S, the social network known as the "Twitter of China" saw its shares leap 19 percent Thursday. Weibo will now compete directly with social giants like Facebook and Twitter for the attention of U.S. investors

The social network commonly referred to as the “Twitter of China” saw huge gains during its first day on the market in the U.S amid a particularly rough month for both IPOs and tech stocks. Shares of Weibo, a subsidiary of the Chinese Internet company Sina, leapt 19 percent Thursday, from an IPO price of $17 to $20.24 when markets closed.

Weibo quickly earned back some of the market valuation it had lost by pricing at the very low-end of its IPO range of $17 to $19. The company raised about $285 million Wednesday night in its IPO, less than the $380 million originally anticipated. But caution seemed to pay off with an offering that saw an impressive first-day pop. “The IPO market is kind of soft in the last couple of weeks and the [tech] sector was also hit hard,” Charles Chao, chairman of Weibo, told TIME just before Weibo shares began trading on the Nasdaq. “It’s not perfect in terms of timing, but relatively speaking, we’re pretty happy about this pricing actually.”

Weibo, like Twitter, is a mostly public social network through which celebrities and ordinary Chinese people discuss news and personal happenings in their lives. The platform boasts 144 million monthly active users, 70 percent of whom use the company’s mobile app. Also like Twitter, Weibo has debuted on the public markets as an unprofitable business. The company lost $47.4 million in the first quarter of 2014, though it posted a small profit in the previous quarter.

Weibo will now compete directly with social giants like Facebook and Twitter for the attention of American investors. For now, they operate in different markets, with Facebook and Twitter banned in China and Weibo’s English-language site having only a small presence in foreign countries. But Facebook has expressed interest in China in the past, and Chao wouldn’t rule out a potential expansion of Weibo to appeal beyond Chinese users in the future. “These are great companies with a lot of innovations and powerful user bases,” he said of Twitter and Facebook. “We from time to time will look into their innovations to see whether some of these can be applied to the Chinese market.”

Excitement surrounding Weibo’s IPO had deflated in recent weeks partially due to censorship policies in China that could ultimately stem user growth. Chao dismissed such concerns, noting that Internet companies have to regulate themselves to some extent in every country, not just China. “We always want to be compliant with the laws and regulations in China,” he said. “I don’t see too much problem there.”

More broadly, Weibo was just a victim of bad timing, arriving on the market during an overall downturn in tech stocks that has seen the tech-heavy Nasdaq slide 6.5 percent from its March peak. Earlier Chinese IPOs this year, like the IT training company Tarena, have underperformed.

Weibo, though, managed to fight past these headwinds and achieve a successful offering. The strong IPO may ratchet up the fervor for Alibaba, the Chinese e-commerce giant that is prepping a huge offering in the U.S. later this year. It could also provide some stability to the tech sector, which has yet to have a hugely successful IPO since Twitter’s runaway success last November.

 

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