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The Tech Bet

  Tuesday, 23 Dec 2014 | 10:47 AM ET

Apple releases first automated Mac security update

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Apple has pushed out its first automated security update to Macintosh computers without requiring a Mac user's approval.

"The update is seamless. It doesn't even require a restart," company spokesman Bill Evans told Reuters.

Apple's technology to send out automatic security updates, which was developed two years ago but was never previously used, is to fix critical security vulnerabilities in a component of its OS X operating system known as NTP , he added. NTP is used for synchronizing clocks on computer systems.

»Read more
  Monday, 22 Dec 2014 | 11:08 AM ET

Google expands low-cost Android One smartphones

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Google's low-cost smartphone, the Android One, is coming to three more countries—Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Internet giant, which launched the Android One in India in September, announced the expansion on Monday, saying the move will add 200 million potential users in coming weeks.

The program is "an initiative to make high-quality smartphones accessible to as many people as possible," Caesar Sengupta, the company's vice president for product management, wrote in a blog post. "All these devices will give people a high-quality mobile experience for an affordable price, running stock-Android with updates from Google."

Google's move to add a few more countries to its Android One program is one way to help it expand the Google Play store. The company wants to tie users to its own ecosystem, Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, told CNBC.

"They are banking on their customers getting hooked on their stores," he said.

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  Tuesday, 16 Dec 2014 | 11:16 AM ET

Apple just got reinforcements in mobile pay battle

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Dozens more companies—including big banks, retailers and start-ups—have begun to adopt Apple's mobile payments platform, the tech giant told The New York Times on Tuesday.

SunTrust, Barclaycard, USAA, TD Bank and Commerce Bank are among the financial companies that have signed up for Apple Pay, the Times reported. Retail companies that accept the service now include Staples and chain grocers such as Winn-Dixie and Albertsons.

The dozens of new clients give Apple Pay some reinforcements in the mobile payments fight brewing between a collection of big companies such as Google, Verizon and AT&T. A consortium of retailers, including Wal-Mart, Rite-Aid and CVS, are also working on their own mobile payments platform.

Read MoreWal-Mart and allies face off with Apple Pay over mobile payments

"Apple doesn't release actual numbers in terms of how many people are using the the Apple Pay service, but Apple's CEO, Tim Cook, has said that about 1 million people had registered their card in the first 72 hours of being available but whether people are using it on a day-to-day basis remains to be seen," Dan Costa, editor-in-chief of PCMag.com, told CNBC.

According to the Times, Whole Foods said it had processed more than 150,000 Apple Pay transactions since adopting the service in October. McDonald's said that Apple Pay accounted for 50 percent of its tap-to-pay transactions in November, the newspaper reported.

"Retailers and payment companies see Apple Pay as the implementation that has the best chance at mass consumer adoption, which has eluded prior attempts," Patrick Moorhead, president of Moor Insights & Strategy, told the Times. "They believe it will solve many of the problems they had before with electronic payments."

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  Monday, 15 Dec 2014 | 10:38 AM ET

Unlimited data plans cost telecoms $45B in losses

Increased competition in the telecom space is causing a tectonic shift in how investors feel about the entire sector.

How big a shift? In the past month alone, telecom giants such as AT&T, Verizon, Sprint Corp. and T-Mobile US have shed a combined $45 billion in market value, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Investors' bearish outlook on telecom companies appears to stem from the heavy costs of ever-increasing data traffic on cellular networks, the Journal reported. What's more, the big cell phone service providers seem to be losing pricing power over the same networks because of increased competition on data plan prices, the paper added.

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  Friday, 5 Dec 2014 | 10:33 AM ET

Sony hack reveals celebs' really personal data

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Things are getting worse for Sony Pictures as the recent security breach has apparently compromised more information than first thought.

The Social Security numbers of more than 47,000 celebrities, freelancers and Sony employees were leaked online, The Wall Street Journal reported. The leaked files also included other personal data of Sony employees and freelancers, such as salaries and home addresses.

According to the Journal, some of the Hollywood celebrities affected in the hack included Sylvester Stallone, Rebel Wilson and "Anchorman" director Judd Apatow. The Journal said representatives for the three declined to comment.

»Read more
  Thursday, 4 Dec 2014 | 10:32 AM ET

It's Google versus Microsoft for this hot space

Posted By: Jeff Morganteen

Google wants to take over your office.

The tech giant is offering influential outside firms a higher commission to push its workplace software to businesses, according to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources. Google wants to offer the firms, also called resellers, more than the 20 percent of the revenue they already keep from selling Google's Apps for Work software.

"They're trying to get in there with a younger generation of an audience, the folks who have grown up with ... and have been using [Gmail and Google Docs] on a personal manner," Allison+Partners' head of digital, Jeremy Rosenberg, told CNBC. "It creates an opportunity for them to get in there a little bit more aggressively."

What's standing in Google's way? Microsoft. The tech stalwart has an overwhelming lock on workplace software with Outlook and its Office suite, especially at larger companies, the Journal reported.

Read MoreSnapchat for CEOs? Anonymous app OneOne launched

The move from Google comes as Apple makes a push into the enterprise space with its IBM partnership, and Microsoft released its mobile Office suite for free last month.

Research firm Gartner forecasts spending on enterprise software to hit $344 billion in 2015, a 7.3 percent increase from 2014. That makes the sector a fertile growth area for the tech industry's biggest names.

In a blog post on Thursday, Google announced a new plan designed to streamline its partner programs. Google did not directly respond to requests from CNBC for comment about the higher commissions.

Read the full Wall Street Journal story here.

»Read more
  Wednesday, 26 Nov 2014 | 10:10 AM ET

Report: Sony making a watch out of e-paper

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Sony is said to be developing a watch made out of electronic paper that will emphasize style over technology, according to a report.

Sony Corp. told CNBC that it declined to comment on the content of the report but could "confirm that a project team named Fashion Entertainments located in the New Business Creation Department of Sony Corporation is working on prototypes that use electronic paper including a wrist watch."

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  Friday, 21 Nov 2014 | 10:14 AM ET

Want to get rid of ads? Pay Google a fee

Posted By: Erika Santoro

Google is now letting Web users pay a monthly fee to remove ads from sites.

The subscription service, called Google Contributor, asks users to pay $1 to $3 a month to remove advertising from partner sites on both desktop and mobile. Users who sign up for the service will see a "thank you" message from Google in the spot that the ad lived on the publishing site.

According to Tech Times, the ads and the thank you notes disappear altogether sometimes on mobile.

Right now, Google is testing the idea with 10 online publishers, including The Onion, ScienceDaily, Urban Dictionary and Mashable.

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  Friday, 14 Nov 2014 | 10:28 AM ET

Lock box! BlackBerry tag teams with Samsung

Posted By: Erika Santoro

BlackBerry and Samsung announced on Thursday that they are joining forces to improve Android security with the BlackBerry Enterprise Service 12 server, which manages enterprise mobile devices running on Android, iOS, Windows Phone and BlackBerry's own mobile operating system.

The partnership with Samsung aims to win over even more enterprise customers. Beginning in early 2015, Samsung will integrate BlackBerry's BES12 end-to-end encryption service into its own KNOX software, which adds another security layer to Android devices.

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  Wednesday, 12 Nov 2014 | 2:20 PM ET

Obama plan launches battle of the Internet 2.0

It's up to the FCC to decide who wins the battle over "net neutrality."

On Monday, President Barack Obama asked the Federal Communications Commission to set the "strongest possible rules" to protect net neutrality as the agency writes new Internet access regulations.

The proposal pits liberal advocates of tougher regulation of Internet service providers—to treat them as public utilities—against conservatives who say it's an unnecessary government intrusion on the Web.

On Wednesday, Republican lawmakers railed against Obama's plan.

In a letter FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler, they said proposals were "beyond the scope of the FCC's authority and would defy the plain reading of the statute.''

Read MoreFCC urged not to reclassify Internet

In a tweet earlier this week, tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, likened net neutrality to Obamacare for the Internet. "The Internet should not operate at the speed of government," he said.

Read MoreCruz compares net neutrality to Obamacare

The issue will be decided by Wheeler's five-member commission. Three of the commissioners, including Wheeler, are Democrats. the others are Republicans. The commission, which next meets in December, will not vote on the issue until next year, press secretary Kim Hart told the BBC.

Wheeler appears to want a more nuanced solution, according to The Washington Post. During a meeting Monday with officials of major Internet companies, Wheeler reportedly said: "What you want is what everyone wants: an open Internet that doesn't affect your business. ... What I've got to figure out is how to split the baby."

»Read more

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