TIME Companies

Redbox to End Instant Streaming Service

Redbox Canada
Carlos Osorio—Toronto Star /Getty Images Redbox in Toronto, Canada on Aug. 26, 2014.

Was billed as Netflix competitor

The streaming service of the popular video kiosk Redbox is shutting down on Tuesday, the company said, a disappointing end for a service backers hoped would compete with Netflix.

In a online message to Redbox Instant customers, the company said it will only allow streaming until 11:59 p.m. P.T. on Tuesday. Information on refunds will be available by Oct. 10.

Redbox Instant was launched in 2013, powered by Verizon and the company behind Redbox, Outerwall Inc. The service was billed as a direct competitor to Netflix, offering access to thousands of titles for $6 a month, with an extra $2 charge if users wanted to rent up to 4 DVDs. But Redbox had a disappointing second quarter, Tech Times reports, which executives said in July was due to weak movie releases over the summer.

Redbox and Outerwall Inc said Saturday that the streaming service “had not been as successful as either partner hoped it would be.”

TIME remembrance

Remembering Steve Jobs, the Man Who Did Almost Everything Right

Steve Jobs Cover
TIME The Feb. 15, 1982, cover of TIME

The Apple CEO died on Oct. 5, 2011

Steven Paul Jobs, the legendary Apple boss who set the company on its course to becoming the world’s most cash-rich company before passing away three years ago Sunday, is often lauded as a technology visionary. But really, it was Jobs’ business acumen that made him not only a genius, but also a legend. As TIME put it in 1982, in the first cover story about Jobs:

To [Apple Computer co-founder Steve] Wozniak, the new machine was simply a gadget to show his fellow computer buffs. Jobs, in contrast, saw the commercial potential of the machine that could help families do their personal finance or small businesses control inventories, and he urged that they form a company to market the computer. The two raised $1,300 to open a makeshift production line by selling Jobs’ Volkswagen Micro Bus and Wozniak’s Hewlett-Packard scientific calculator. Jobs, recalling a pleasant summer that he spent working in the orchards of Oregon, christened the new computer Apple.

Indeed, Jobs’ drive to “sell a few,” as Woz put it in a 1983 TIME story, resulted in products that utterly changed the world into which they were introduced: The Macintosh, the iMac, the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad. But that drive also made him a pretty tough guy to work for — or work with. “As an executive,” the earlier article explained, “Jobs has sometimes been petulant and harsh on subordinates. Admits he: ‘I’ve got to learn to keep my feelings private'”

Still, if you were able to put up with Jobs’ demanding ways of doing business, Apple wasn’t a bad place to be, even back in ’82. “From the start,” as TIME said, “the Apple team did almost everything right.”

Read TIME’s first cover story about Steve Jobs, free of charge, here in the archives: The Seeds of Success

TIME Innovation

See Steve Jobs’ Legacy in 16 Photos

Three years after the tech luminary's death, here is a look back at the most influential products he played an instrumental role in creating

TIME Companies

Tim Cook Sent This Email to Apple Employees Ahead of Anniversary of Steve Jobs’ Death

Apple Unveils Updated iPad
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images In this combination photo, Steve Jobs, former chief executive officer of Apple Inc., left, unveils the iCloud storage system at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference 2011 in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Monday, June 6, 2011, while Tim Cook, chief executive officer of Apple Inc., right, speaks during an event at the company's headquarters in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Oct. 4, 2011.

Jobs "made our world better," said Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook emailed employees Saturday in anticipation of the upcoming third anniversary of Steve Jobs’ death, according to several people who work at Apple.

In the internal memo, obtained by 9to5Mac.com, Cook asks Apple employees to reflect on Jobs’ life and the way he “made our world better” ahead of Jobs’ death anniversary on Sunday. Jobs, Apple’s longtime CEO, died Oct. 5, 2011.

Team,

Sunday will mark the third anniversary of Steve’s passing. I’m sure that many of you will be thinking of him on that day, as I know I will.

I hope you’ll take a moment to appreciate the many ways Steve made our world better. Children learn in new ways thanks to the products he dreamed up. The most creative people on earth use them to compose symphonies and pop songs, and write everything from novels to poetry to text messages. Steve’s life’s work produced the canvas on which artists now create masterpieces.

Steve’s vision extended far beyond the years he was alive, and the values on which he built Apple will always be with us. Many of the ideas and projects we’re working on today got started after he died, but his influence on them — and on all of us — is unmistakeable.

Enjoy your weekend, and thanks for helping carry Steve’s legacy into the future.

– Tim

Jobs passed away three years ago of complications related to pancreatic cancer after serving as Apple’s CEO for nearly 14 years guiding the design of the iPod, iPhone, iPad and numerous Mac computer models.

 

TIME apps

This iPhone App is Tinder for Deleting Unwanted Photos

Finally, there’s an app that makes it as easy to dismiss photos from your iPhone picture library as it is to dismiss human beings who you could potentially meet in real life.

Flic is an app that allows users to delete photos with a Tinder-like flick of the finger, and it’s particularly useful for trigger-happy photographers who tend to have multiple shots of the same scene. Users swipe left to delete a photo and swipe right to keep it.

Flic
Flic/iTunes

From Lifehack Labs, Flic is currently available on the iOS App Store for Apple iPhones.

TIME Security

Report: Hackers Attacked 9 Other Financial Firms Besides JPMorgan

Officials say hackers with ties to the Russian government were involved in the JPMorgan attack

JPMorgan Chase, which was hit by a massive hack disclosed in August, was just one of 10 financial institutions infiltrated by a group of overseas hackers that may have connections to officials in the Russian government, according to a new report.

Unnamed sources told the New York Times that the hackers who stole addresses, names, email addresses and phone numbers from 76 million households and 7 million small businesses by attacking JPMorgan’s systems appeared to have at least loose connections with officials of the Russian government.

Officials said it was unclear whether the hackers were politically motivated. “It could be in retaliation for the sanctions” placed on Russia, one senior official briefed on the intelligence told the Times. “But it could be mixed motives — to steal if they can, or to sell whatever information they could glean.”

Besides attacking JPMorgan, the group of hackers also hacked nine other financial institutions whose identities have yet to be disclosed.

The security team at JPMorgan, the country’s largest bank by assets, was able to block hackers from compromising the most sensitive information about tens of millions of customers, security experts told the Times.

The bank was only able to halt the attack by the middle of August, and in recent days discovered the full extent of the attack.

[NYT]

TIME Companies

Meet the Woman Heading Facebook’s Huge International Growth

Key Speakers At The Dublin Web Summit
Aidan Crawley—Bloomberg/Getty Images Nicola Mendelsohn, vice president for EMEA at Facebook Inc., gestures as she addresses delegates during the Dublin Web Summit in Dublin on Oct. 30, 2013.

Like many of the U.S. tech giants, Facebook is increasingly betting its financial future overseas. The company, whose social network has already achieved widespread adoption in North America and Western Europe, is focusing more of its resources on fast-developing markets like Africa, the Middle East and India. In April Facebook announced that it had 100 million users in India, and it reached the same milestone in Africa in September.

The company is trying to get more people in these regions online through its Internet.org initiative, which aims to beam Internet connectivity to remote areas. At the same time Facebook is courting marketers by offering up region-specific advertising units that are tailored to the different ways people communicate around the world.

During New York’s Advertising Week, TIME sat down with Nicola Mendelsohn, Facebook’s Vice President for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, to discuss the growth of Facebook’s business abroad, how privacy concerns differ across cultures and whether Yo isn’t such a crazy app idea after all.

TIME: Obviously Facebook’s mobile transition has been a big story the past couple of years. But here when people think about it, they think of smartphones. Was Facebook’s feature phone business one that happened after smartphones or was it happening concurrently?

Mendelsohn: Two thirds of the world are accessing Facebook through feature phones, so it’s a hugely important part of how people access the platform. What we’re trying to do is make the world more open and connected so people can share more. Mobile means many different things depending on where on the planet you are and how you access Facebook and the Internet.

We’ve made a change in how we go to market in terms of our advertising products. It used to be that we had exactly the same advertising product all around the world. We’ve now started to place more and more resources in the developing markets, like Africa, like India, like Indonesia, to really understand how people are using Facebook, how they’re using mobile and come up with different products that work better there.

One is an insight borne out of what we saw in India. Data is expensive, and for a lot of people it can be prohibitive in terms of how they access Facebook or the Internet. What we saw was a whole “missed calls” phenomenon that was going on. Between us we’d create our own language—one missed call means go pick the kids up, two means let’s meet for a drink, three means I’ll meet you for lunch or whatever it is. We set up the missed call product so that advertisers could have the opportunity to tap into this meme and deliver information to people, some of whom are coming onto the Internet and to Facebook for the very first time and who are actually really excited to get messaging from advertisers. That’s the first place that we’ve done this, and the results are such that we’re going to look to do this in South Africa as well.

TIME: You just mentioned that a lot of people in these markets might be excited about seeing advertising because they haven’t been exposed to the Internet as much. Is the appetite for ads there higher than in America, where people are exposed to ads all the time?

Mendelsohn: People like advertising if it’s relevant and entertaining and useful to them. What we see in some of the high-growth markets is that brands are talking to them for the very first time, and there is an excitement about that because it’s new and it has not happened before. We see behaviors where people actually share the adverts that they see with other people because it’s of interest and it’s new information.

TIME: Out of that 100 million users in Africa, which are the countries you are most focused on?

A: That’s Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa.

TIME: Do you expect, going forward, that the feature phone market is going to increase, or do you see with Android One and these cheaper smartphones that people are going to transition to those devices really quickly?

I think there will be an acceleration of these cheaper smartphones, driven in particular by the price. But I think they’re not going to have all the same features that the ones we have in the U.S. and the U.K. have. There will still be challenges on things like data costs. Actually the challenge becomes greater when you have the smartphone because it has access to so many more bells, gadgets, widgets. If you want to connect the planet, data and cost is something that is prohibitive to that. It’s one of the reasons that Mark Zuckerberg launched Internet.org.

TIME: Facebook’s average revenue generated per user is much lower in these emerging markets than it is in the U.S. What is Facebook’s plan to boost that number in the future?

What is the primary concern in this part of the world is how we connect everyone to the Internet. That’s the primary focus. In terms of the ARPU, that will emerge in different ways.

TIME: You’re dealing with a lot of different types of cultures across a vast number of countries. Do you see different privacy concerns in different areas? How do you deal with that on an individual basis?

For us, privacy is the most important issue and making sure that people know and are in control of the data they share and who they share it with. I think that’s important for people wherever you are the world. One of the nuanced differences that we see in some of these countries is the fact that people like to be friends with lots more people than perhaps they might in mainland Europe. We see people want to have lots of friends, including people that they’ve never never before, and share information with those people. That is a difference that might sit uncomfortably with other people in different parts of the world.

TIME: Are you familiar with the app Yo?

No, I’m not. Tell me about Yo.

TIME: All it does is send the word Yo to other people. It was actually pretty heavily mocked when it came out over the summer. But it sounds like from what you’re saying that’s a logical use case that actually exists, where people would want to send a single word that can provide context about what they’re doing.

I can’t talk to [Yo], but I think people communicate in different ways. The uptake in stickers—people sending emoticons just to express their feelings—is a different way of showing how people communicate. Not necessarily in Africa but in some of the more developed markets. People are becoming much more visual.

We’ve always seen with any new technology that’s come on since the printing press, that it causes people to think about how they communicate in different ways. One of the things that’s been surprising about this technology revolution is that it’s shortened some of the ways that we communicate with each other rather than increasing it. If the printing press meant that we could write canon of books, the mobile phone means I can write “LOL” and we both understand what that means.

TIME Tesla

Tesla CEO Elon Musk Builds Buzz Before Big Reveal

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has something big up his sleeve.

The electric car company is making an announcement October 9th, and cryptic tweets from the company’s founder have sparked debate among tech lovers everywhere about what may be revealed.

Musk tweeted that he would be releasing the ‘D’ as well as “something else”. Some are speculating that the ‘D’ may be a driverless version of Tesla’s Model S.

The mystery boosted Tesla’s stock by more than 4% in one day.

Here’s the tweet that ignited the frenzy:

We’ll find out exactly what Musk has in mind in just a few days.

TIME Security

Why the JPMorgan Chase Bank Hack Isn’t As Bad As it Sounds

U.S. Banks Post Near-Record Profits In Second Quarter Of 2014
Andrew Burton—Getty Images A man walks past JP Morgan Chase's corporate headquarters on August 12, 2014 in New York City.

Take these steps to protect yourself

JPMorgan Chase said late Thursday that a cyberattack against the bank exposed personal data from 76 million households. Sounds pretty bad for the bank’s customers, right? Well, it is — and it’s awful for the company — but it could’ve been a lot worse.

According to JPMorgan, the hackers responsible for the heist made off with only customers’ names, addresses, phone numbers and email addresses. That’s a lot of personal data — but it isn’t on the same “uh-oh” level as credit card numbers, bank account numbers or passwords, as it’s all pretty easily found online anyway, no hacking required.

However, there’s still a threat here — albeit one that existed beforehand, too. The information the hacker(s) managed to grab can be used to get that other highly sensitive data and, potentially, access to your accounts. How? It’s a process called “social engineering,” which I promise has a lot less to do with Nazis than it sounds. Through social engineering, hackers use easy-to-get data about you, like a name, a phone number and maybe the name of the obedience school your maternal great-grandmother took her second dog, to work their way through your bank or other account’s security verification questions posing as you. If they do a good enough job, the security folks think that yeah, that’s you, and they can get access to your accounts. Scary stuff!

But if you’re worried about the JPMorgan Chase hack and how it might affect you, here are some practical tips:

1. Change your passwords. You should be doing this regularly even without massive hacks happening.

2. Closely monitor your bank and credit card statements and credit score. Immediately report any irregularities to your bank or other relevant company.

3. You can try locking down your credit score, but this can be expensive and it has drawbacks.

4. Here’s a favorite tip of mine: Memorize and use fake answers to those terrible security authentication questions. Anybody can figure out your mother’s maiden name with some simple Google searching, but it’s much harder to figure out the name you told your bank was actually “Jingleheimer-Smith-Hamburger” rather than “Johnson.”

5. Don’t click any suspicious links in any suspicious emails. Always good advice.

6. Finally, wherever available, turn on Two-Step Authentication. This turns your mobile phone into a sort of secondary password that you carry with you at all times, far away from any nefarious hackers.

TIME Video Games

Twitch Takes a Step Toward Greater Broadcast Transparency

The popular player-driven video game streaming service says it'll take a proactive stance on increasing transparency for sponsored content.

Transparency is one of these noble words you hear a lot these days, but it’s rarely paired with practical definitions — and least of all with tangible action.

What does it mean to be transparent if you’re a company paying a celebrity to endorse your product? How do you divulge an ethically sufficient amount of information to stave off allegations of shilling?

Gaming channel Twitch is taking an interesting, proactive stance. The just-bought-by-Amazon company announced on its blog that it will immediately put into practice new policies designed to make clear what is or isn’t a sponsored broadcast.

“While we have always encouraged our broadcasters to acknowledge if they are playing games as part of a promotional campaign, we are now establishing a much more transparent approach to all paid programs on our platform and hope that it sets a precedent for the broader industry,” writes marketing VP Matthew DiPietro. “Simply put: We want complete transparency and unwavering authenticity with all content and promotions that have a sponsor relationship.”

What will “complete transparency” look like, specifically, on Twitch?

The company says “all copy and graphics” related to sponsored content will be identified clearly, including “sponsored” tags that’ll appear on streams and newsletters, letting viewers know that the content is sponsored by a brand. All Twitch front-page, social and email promotions will also be clearly identified, says DiPietro. Twitter dispatches, for instance, will include language like “brought to you by” or “^SP” to indicate a “sponsored tweet.”

Twitch

Furthermore, Twitch says it never has, and pledges that it never will, demand that “influencers”–the people paid by the brands to do whatever they do in the videos–express positive or negative sentiments.

Note that these are explicitly for “Twitch driven” campaigns. It’s not a service-wide mandate, in other words. In an update to the post, Twitch addresses sponsor relationships that occur outside the purview of Twitch’s campaigns, writing “we encourage all broadcasters to follow FTC guidelines.” The FTC guidelines are here, but they’re still only guidelines, not regulatory rules.

(In a response to a comment, a Twitch spokesperson says the company requires all broadcasters to follow the FTC’s Guidelines Concerning the Use of Testimonials and Endorsements, but that appears to conflict with the note at the blog’s top, which stipulates that Twitch only “encourages” this.)

Short of locking the whole outfit down, Twitch is probably hoping its “lead by example” approach will influence all of its broadcasters to be FTC guidelines-compliant. It’s an interesting experiment, and speaking from a viewer standpoint, essential. Now we wait, and watch, and see how well it works.

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