TIME iPhone 6

See the World Await and Celebrate Apple’s iPhone 6

It is a big day for Apple and iPhone enthusiasts. Many waited in line for days before doors opened on Friday, allowing them to buy the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus.

TIME Companies

Alibaba Founder Jack Ma Loves Forrest Gump

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. Executives Attend IPO Ceremony At The NYSE
Billionaire Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., smiles while touring the floor of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) in New York, U.S., on Friday, Sept. 19, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Ma made the rounds before his company set off on what's set to be the biggest IPO in U.S. history

When Alibaba founder Jack Ma is feeling down, he looks to Forrest Gump for inspiration. The Chinese billionaire, whose online retail giant is going public Friday in what’s primed to be the biggest IPO in U.S. history, told CNBC that he’s watched the Tom Hanks movie at least 10 times.

“Every time I’m frustrated, I watch the movie,” he said from the New York Stock Exchange floor, where Alibaba is set to begin trading Friday morning, potentially at up to $90 a share. “I watched the movie again before I came here. It’s telling me, ‘no matter whatever changes, you are you.’”

Ma started Alibaba out of his Hengzhou apartment in 1999. Today, the company has its hands in a sprawling assortment of online retail marketplaces, cloud computing services, messaging apps, and video websites, and it generates $2 billion in profit per quarter. Ma said that the central focus of his company remains helping small businesses and that the company will use the $21.8 billion it’s raising in its IPO to further this goal.

“We want to make sure our ecosystem helps the small guys,” Ma told Bloomberg TV. “Anything that can help small business grow, we will consider.”

The Alibaba chairman also discussed his controversial decision to spin off Alipay, a fast-growing mobile payments platform similar to PayPal, from Alibaba’s main business in 2011. The move was performed without consulting major shareholders, such as Yahoo, which voiced anger over the decision. In SEC filings, Alibaba has argued the move was necessary to comply with Chinese government regulations, but Ma today alluded to there being more to the story. “The decision for Alipay was one of the most painful decisions I have ever made in my past 15-year business career, but this is the decision I feel most proud of,” he told CNBC.

He also discussed wrangling with the Chinese government, which imposes strict regulations on domestic businesses.

“Being a global company dealing with any government is difficult,” Ma said. “There’s an opportunity for communication. That’s how we survived the past 15 years. We always try to say, ‘We’re in love with the government, but we don’t marry them.'”

TIME Web

FTC Mandates Refunds for Online Backorders Over 30 Days

Online Shopping
Getty Images

By now, most everyone has an e-retail horror story.

Mine happened several years ago when I ordered a sale priced flat-screen TV from a major tech website. My credit card was charged immediately when I placed the order, but the television never shipped. It was still back ordered months later, and every time I checked back in with the unhelpful seller, there was no new delivery date in sight. Only after I challenged the charge on my credit card statement did the website finally relent and agree to refund my money and the interest charges that accumulated while waiting.

Thankfully, these kinds of horror stories will soon be a thing of the past. This week, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced new rules regarding the timeliness of fulfilling online orders. In short, if a website cannot put an item in your hands in 30 days, it needs to offer you a refund. The FTC writes (PDF):

The Rule prohibits sellers from soliciting mail, Internet, or telephone order sales unless they have a reasonable basis to expect that they can ship the ordered merchandise within the time stated on the solicitation or, if no time is stated, within 30 days. The Rule further requires a seller to seek the buyer’s consent to the delayed shipment when the seller learns that it cannot ship within the time stated or, if no time is stated, within 30 days. If the buyer does not consent, the seller must promptly refund all money paid for the unshipped merchandise.

The new rule is slated to go into effect on December 8, which is good news for those of us planning on doing our holiday shopping online this year. Similar rules have existed for mail orders since 1975 and for telephone orders since 1993. You can read the full details of the updated Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule by visiting www.ftc.gov.

This article was written by Fox Van Allen and originally appeared on Techlicious.

More from Techlicious:

TIME Video Games

All Three Final Fantasy XIII Games Are Coming to PC

Square Enix's Final Fantasy XIII trilogy is coming to Steam and the company's own digital storefront starting in October and concluding next spring.

The Final Fantasy XIII games are better than you’ve heard. They can be quirky, arcane and spasmodic, pacing-wise, and when it comes to storytelling and dialogue-writing, they’re cripplingly un-self-aware.

But they’re also exemplars of what Square Enix does best: obsessively upending the series’ (and JRPGs in general) gameplay formulae. Sometimes that culminates in messy, mechanical fiascos and tedious game segments, but would that most games tried as hard.

And now the trilogy’s coming to PC via Steam and Square Enix’s digital storefront, starting with Final Fantasy XIII on October 9. The first game’s price seems a steal compared to the original $60 for Xbox or PS3: just $16. If you buy the game through Steam (as opposed to Square Enix), you’ll get a slight 10% discount that knocks the price down to just over $14.

But it seems a strange move. I’m not sure Western PC gamers are going to care. How many JRPGs have you played on Steam? How many actually live there? Factor in all the Final Fantasy XIII sequence’s unorthodoxies and deceptively simplistic systems, and…well, maybe that’s exactly what’ll be appealing about them: PC gamers are some of the most idiosyncratic gamers, given the spectrum of game genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres they’re able to access.

On the other hand, these aren’t the first Final Fantasy games to grace Valve’s online store. The PC versions of Final Fantasy VII and VIII have been available on Steam for a year, and Square Enix’s massively multiplayer forays, Final Fantasy XI and XIV, live there as well. I had no idea the reimagined 3D version of Final Fantasy IV was on Steam, but when I checked this morning, there it was, released two days ago.

Another upside to playing on PC, assuming Square Enix supports it (and I don’t see why the company wouldn’t): playing at higher-than-720p resolutions. The Final Fantasy XIII series was visually unparalleled on the PS3 and Xbox 360 at 720p (or thereabouts). Square Enix hasn’t said whether it’ll update the game’s textures, but I’m not sure it’d have to. Just to see the game running at 1920 by 1080 or 2560 by 1600 as-is would be a wonder, and I’d like to think Square Enix supporting those higher resolutions might mean we’ll see the trilogy eventually reemerge on PS4 and Xbox One.

Square Enix says the remaining two games, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, should be out by next spring.

TIME iPhone 6

One of the First People to Get an iPhone 6 Immediately Dropped it on Live TV

Woops

If you think about how long this guy must have waited in line to be the first man in Perth, Australia, to get Apple’s new iPhone 6 released Friday, it’s hard not to grimace—and chuckle—a little at this clip.

Poor kid. Hope the phone is OK. Then again, if it’s not, maybe you’ve got your gear all set up to get in line all over again.

TIME iPhone 6

These People Have Been in Line for Today’s iPhone 6 Release for a Long, Long Time

US-IT-TELECOM-INTERNET-APPLE
Moon Ray (L) and her husband Jason Ray talk on Skype as they wait in line September 9, 2014 outside the Apple Store on 5th Avenue in New York. Don Emmert—AFP/Getty Images

Woe unto the people of Earth

From time to time, great swaths of humanity are united by one common purpose—to fritter away what time they have left on Earth standing or sitting or sleeping in a line to get Apple’s latest iPhone. Today, which marks the release of Apple’s iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, is one of those days.

The conventional wisdom in these modern times says we’re too busy, pulled in different directions, frantically running from task to task in our over-connected, over-digitized lives.

But today, from Kentucky to Kansas, from Canada to Germany and across the globe humans are taking a stand that says, “No! We are not slaves to the rat race. See? We’re waiting in line for ungodly spans of time to be first to get a marginally better tiny computer because we literally have nothing better to do.”

https://twitter.com/maggieKTVB7/status/512928757380681729

This is how you know the apocalypse is near:

Then, in the distance, a voice of sanity, a ray of hope for humankind:

MONEY mobile payments

Why the U.S. Lags the World in Mobile Payments

Octopus card
Hong Kong's Octopus card Horizons WWP—Alamy

Many American consumers are beyond excited by the prospect of Apple Pay, but overseas the iPhone's latest feature is old news.

When Apple announced its new payment service, Apple Pay, earlier this month, many in the tech world were blown away. The system allows iPhone users to pay at the checkout counter simply by holding their phone to a receiver for a few seconds. Dieter Bohn, writing for The Verge, called Apple Pay “this week’s most revolutionary product,” and eloquently summarized how most Americans already feel about the status quo: “mobile payments have sucked so far, and it’s high time somebody fixed it.”

Bohn is right, but what he likely meant to say was “mobile payments have sucked so far in the United States.” Across the globe in Japan, Hong Kong, and Taiwan, viewers of Apple’s announcement could be forgiven for falling asleep. Using your phone to buy stuff? We’ve been doing that for years.

In Hong Kong, residents regularly pay for goods, services, and public transit, all without swiping or signing. Instead, shoppers can simply wave their Octopus card, which uses a technology similar to Apple Pay, at checkout and go on their merry way. Octopus Holdings claims 95% of people in Hong Kong between ages 16 to 65 use its product, and Octopus is accepted at 14,000 retail outlets. Even more impressive, the card’s swipeless technology has been incorporated into phones, and yes, watches too. When did this magical future tech launch? Hong Kong has had Octopus since 1997.

Apple Pay-like services are also old news in Japan, a country where mobile payments are already ubiquitous. Afterall, it was Sony that invented the region’s major method of short-range data transfer. That technology eventually came to power Hong Kong’s Octopus card, as well as a slew of Japanese mobile wallets. Today, nearly every cell phone sold in Japan (other than the iPhone) comes with mobile payment technology built in by default.

Takeshi Natsuno, a former executive at one of Japan’s largest wireless carriers, once bragged, “When I leave my house in the morning all I take with me is my phone, which lets me do everything—pay, take public transport—simply by swiping a special reader in shops, stations or airports.” Sounds just like the promise of Apple Pay, except Natsuno said that in 2004.

But the world leader in mobile payments isn’t a glittering Eastern city. According to the Economist, that title belongs to Kenya and its revolutionary cell phone-based payment system, M-PESA. Launched in 2007, the service allows users to essentially text money back and forth while using telecom giant Safaricom, M-PESA’s creator, as a bank. Deposits and withdrawals are made through Safaricom’s network of 40,000 agents. Once money is in the system, it can be sent to any other M-PESA customer—even merchants—via a phone menu. Thanks to M-PESA, the Economist notes, “paying for a taxi in Nairobi is easier than it is in New York.”

Why is the U.S. so far behind other countries? There isn’t a single answer. At least in Asia-Pacific, major players may just be more willing to adopt the latest tech. “The thing hindering mobile payment development and contactless cards is that there’s an infrastructure set up in place and banks [and merchants] feel compatible with the current infrastructure,” said Theresa Jameson, senior analyst at Datamonitor Financial. “Certain markets are more willing to adopt new payment technologies.”

New contactless payments for public transport have also helped put Apple Pay-like technology in the hands of every consumer. Hong Kong’s Octopus card, as well as Japan and Taiwan’s mobile payment systems, each originated as a better way to pay subway fares. Over time, merchants gradually began to get on board with the new technology until swipeless payment became a norm. Ben Thompson, founder of the website Stratechery, describes how this exact process played out in Taiwan when a new Octopus-style transit card was introduced:

When I first arrived in 2003 almost everything was cash only. Just a year earlier, however, in 2002, the EasyCard Corporation née Smart Card Corporation had rolled out an RFID stored value card for use on Taipei’s new MRT (subway) system… Within a few years you could use the card everywhere: buses, trains, taxis, parking, government fees, and now, 10 years on, almost every retailer, and the RFID chip is no longer limited to cards, but is embedded in some phones, key fobs, and more.

As Thompson points out, another reason behind America’s stagnation in the mobile payment space is simply the inertia of the credit card system. Magnetic stripe cards are accepted by as many as 9 million U.S. businesses, and it will take an enormous investment to make Apple Pay even half as prolific. However, in countries like Taiwan and Kenya, where credit card penetration is low, or Japan, where there is a cultural aversion to debt, new alternatives were given an opportunity to flourish because credit cards had not already dominated the market.

But as America slowly prepares to move from magnetic strips to Near Field Communication (NFC) systems like Apple Pay, Asia may be held back by its own form of inertia. “Japan and Hong Kong are faced with a dilemma,” says Datamonitor’s Jameson. “If they wish to begin using Apple Pay or other NFC-based mobile payment services, they will need to start from the ground up in building their contactless/mobile payments ecosystem like the rest of the world – which would require considerable investment.” Their other option? “Stick with their existing system while the rest of the world moves in a different direction.”

TIME Security

Home Depot Breach Exposed 56 Million Credit Cards

US-ECONOMY-HOUSING
A Home Depot store is seen in Silver Spring, Maryland, on March 28. 2013. Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

Cyber thieves pulled off a massive attack

Hackers had access to 56 million credit and debit cards when they breached Home Depot’s security system this year, the company said Thursday. The breach was even larger than the attack on Target last year, when 40 million cards were compromised.

The company said that thieves had placed malware software on cash registers in Home Depots throughout the U.S. and Canada from April to September. The malware has since been eliminated. The breach will cost the company at least $62 million.

“We apologize to our customers for the inconvenience and anxiety this has caused and want to reassure them that they will not be liable for fraudulent charges,” Chief Executive Frank Blake said in a statement.

TIME Social Networking

Facebook Wants Your News Feed to Reflect What’s Happening Right Now

Facebook Expected To File For IPO
A sign with the "like" symbol stands in front of the Facebook headquarters on February 1, 2012 in Menlo Park, California. Justin Sullivan—Getty Images

In a move into Twitter's turf

“Facebook is for ice buckets, Twitter is for Ferguson.”

That was John McDermott over at DigiDay about a month ago, writing on something social media obsessives were noticing that week: While our Twitter feeds were covered with tweets and photos from and about the protests in Ferguson, Mo., our Facebook News Feeds were about 70% Ice Bucket Challenges, the viral sensation that successfully raised millions of dollars for ALS research.

Some people — mostly journalists — framed that observation as a complaint. Facebook’s news feed doesn’t really do a good job of showing us the latest posts, a function at which Twitter, with its mostly chronological feeds, excels.

The reason is that Facebook’s algorithm, the company’s complex magic soup that determines what shows up on your News Feed at any given time, has long been designed to show you the most relevant stuff, not the latest stuff. And in August, Facebook’s algorithm mostly determined that Ice Bucket Challenges were more relevant than Ferguson. That reinforced the idea that while Facebook’s great for staying in touch with classmates and sharing baby photos with grandma, Twitter’s the place to be for what’s happening right now.

Facebook must’ve picked up on these comments and criticisms, because the company announced on Thursday tweaks designed to make the News Feed more about The Now.

First, Facebook will do a better job of showing you “what your friends or favorite Pages are saying about the stories of the day,” which should help reverse the notion that Facebook isn’t a place for timeliness. And second, Facebook’s algorithm will start looking at “when people are choosing to like, comment and share” to determine which stories get moved from the depths of your News Feed to the very top, a change that should surface more immediate content.

Taken together, these changes could make Facebook a platform for breaking news — a big move into Twitter’s well-established turf.

“We’ve heard feedback that there are some instances where a post from a friend or a Page you are connected to is only interesting at a specific moment, for example when you are both watching the same sports game, or talking about the season premiere of a popular TV show,” reads Facebook’s blog post about the changes. “There are also times when a post that is a day or two old may not be relevant to you anymore. Our latest update to News Feed ranking looks at two new factors to determine if a story is more important in the moment than other types of updates.”

TIME Companies

Everything You Need to Know About Alibaba and its Mega-IPO

Chinese online retail giant Alibaba CEO Jack Ma (center) waves as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in New York City on Sept. 19, 2014.
Chinese online retail giant Alibaba's executive chairman and founder Jack Ma (center) waves as he arrives at the New York Stock Exchange in New York City on Sept. 19, 2014. Jewel Samad—AFP/Getty Images

What you need to know about the Chinese Internet firm's massive U.S. IPO

The Wall Street hype machine is in full swing for the Chinese online retail giant Alibaba’s initial public offering. The company, which operates a series of vast online marketplaces in China, raised $21.8 billion when it priced its IPO at $68 per share Thursday night, making it the largest offering in U.S. history. But that was just the beginning of the investor craze—shares began trading just before noon on the New York Stock Exchange Friday at $92.70, a 36% jump from the IPO price. That opening price puts Alibaba’s overall valuation at almost $230 billion, more than Amazon and eBay’s valuations combined.

Alibaba has already been called so many things–the Amazon of China, the biggest IPO of all time, the harbinger of a new Internet era—that it can be hard to pin down exactly what Alibaba does and how it makes money. TIME has assembled this helpful primer for the uninitiated to understand the hottest public offering of the year. Here’s what you need to know about Alibaba:

What is Alibaba?

Alibaba Group is a Chinese Internet corporation involved in a variety of Web businesses. Its most important elements are its online retail sites: Taobao Marketplace, a large eBay-like commerce site; Tmall, an online marketplace for name-brand retailers like Apple; and Juhuasuan, a daily deals site similar to Groupon.

The company is also affiliated with a PayPal-like mobile payments service called AliPay, and it has investments in online video, mobile messaging and cloud computing, among other businesses.

So is Alibaba the “Amazon of China” or not?

Not exactly. Unlike Amazon, Alibaba itself does not sell and ship items to customers. Instead, it acts as a kind of online bazaar where merchants as small as local vendors and as large as Nike can hawk their wares. Alibaba makes money mainly by convincing these sellers to place search ads on its website to reach more potential customers through keywords (like Google) or by charging a commission on some transactions (like eBay).

The company also makes money by selling premium memberships, cloud computing services and access to analytics data — so there are some comparisons to be made to Amazon.

Why is Wall Street so obsessed with Alibaba?

Two big reasons.

First, Alibaba processes a lot of sales and makes a ton of money doing it. Alibaba generated $248 billion in transactions on its three biggest marketplaces last year. By comparison, eBay generated $83 billion.

More staggering is the profit the Chinese giant reaps from these sales: Alibaba made about $2 billion in profit in the most recent quarter, tripling its earnings from a year ago. EBay, on the other hand, made $676 million and Amazon lost $126 million. Alibaba keeps costs low by hiring fewer employees than its closest American competitors and, unlike Amazon, avoiding the costly expense of operating fulfillment centers to ship products to customers.

Investors are also excited because Alibaba offers the most direct way to own a piece of China’s booming tech scene. The Internet population in the country is expected to reach 800 million by next year, according to government estimates, making it the largest market of online users by far. Tencent, another Chinese tech giant, offers many services that compete with Alibaba’s, but it’s traded on Hong Kong’s stock exchange. With Alibaba on the New York Stock Exchange, it will be easier for U.S. residents to invest in the company.

Who’s the mastermind behind Alibaba?

That would be Jack Ma, a former English teacher who founded Alibaba out of his Hangzhou apartment in 1999. Ma is not your average tech executive. He didn’t start using the Internet until 1995 and still doesn’t know how to code. He’s an eccentric character who once donned a blonde wig and black lipstick to sing “Can You Feel the Love Tonight?” at a 10th anniversary celebration for his company.

But he’s also a ruthless businessman who effectively ran eBay out of China in the early 2000s and maintains significant influence over Alibaba’s activities even though he’s no longer the CEO.

Who are the other key players at the company?

Yahoo, which owns about one-fifth of Alibaba, stands to make a windfall when it sells more than 120 million of its shares during the IPO, reaping as much as $8.3 billion before taxes. Yahoo will still have a 16.3% stake in Alibaba after the IPO and its stock price will likely continue to be buoyed by Alibaba’s rapid growth. However, Softbank, the Japanese tech firm that owns Sprint, is Alibaba’s biggest shareholder. Softbank will have a 32.4% stake following the IPO.

Despite their large stakes, these companies have relatively little say in the operational activities of Alibaba. They have ceded much of their shareholder influence to a group of executives called the Alibaba Partnership.

What is the Alibaba Partnership?

It’s a group of longtime of Alibaba employees, including Ma and his right-hand man Joe Tsai, who exert incredible control over the company’s activities. Alibaba also has a board of directors, but the Alibaba partnership reserves the right to nominate the majority of the board members, meaning the Partnership essentially controls the activities of the company by proxy without the need for input from other shareholders.

Should investors be concerned about this structure?

Well, it is highly unusual. The Partnership structure was rejected by the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, which is how Alibaba ended up on Wall Street in the first place. Though members of the Partnership must have a “meaningful” equity stake in Alibaba, according to the company prospectus, it’s not spelled out how large the stake must be. As Harvard Law School professor Lucian Bebchuk points out, partners could choose to later pare down their stakes in Alibaba and attempt to influence the company in ways that are not beneficial to other shareholders (remember, Yahoo and Softbank have basically handed their votes to the Partnership).

The ability of Alibaba’s executives to act unilaterally has already caused concerns before. Jack Ma spun off the fast-growing payments platform Alipay to another company he owns in 2011, which angered Yahoo.

Forget the risks! How do I get in on this IPO?

You don’t, unless you’re really rich. The banks underwriting Alibaba’s IPO will sell shares to mutual funds, hedge funds, and large-scale individual investors. The Average Joe’s first chance to get a piece of the company will likely be Friday morning, once the stock is publicly trading. But those shares could come at a significantly higher price than the IPO price range of $66 to $68. Twitter, for instance, started trading above $45 back in November even though its IPO price was just $26, due to extremely high demand for its stock. Unless you’re well-connected, it would be almost impossible to game the IPO to turn a quick buck. You should either plan to buy in as a long-term investor after carefully studying Alibaba’s prospectus or just relax and watch the chaos unfold without worrying about making or losing money.

What’s next for Alibaba?

The company’s breakneck growth in China shows no signs of abating, and Alibaba also has plans to compete on U.S. shores. Over the summer, the company launched 11 Main, an Etsy-like platform that connects shoppers with boutiques and other small vendors. And during Alibaba’s road show pitching the IPO to potential investors, Ma made his most direct statements yet about his already-massive company’s global ambitions.

“After we go public in the U.S., we will expand strongly in Europe and America,” Ma said. “Because after all we’re not a company from China, we are an Internet company that happens to be in China.”

Your browser, Internet Explorer 8 or below, is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites.

Learn how to update your browser