Amazon.com finds new search partner
Microsoft has displaced Google as the source for Amazon's Web-search results. Plus: Digital cameras get a Wi-Fi upgrade.
SAN FRANCISCO (Business 2.0 Magazine) - Jeff Bezos hasn't had much luck finding a winning recipe for entering the Web-search market. His previous formula - pluck an algorithms guru from Yahoo (Research), add search results from Google (Research), and stir up the Web world -- didn't attract many users. Meanwhile, Udi Manber, CEO of Amazon's (Research) search subsidiary, has decamped for Google. Now Bezos is giving it another go by partnering with Microsoft (Research). While Amazon's move doesn't do much for Microsoft's paltry share of the search market, it's a symbolic victory for Microsoft, which failed in a bid late last year to power AOL's search results.
Give any digital camera a Wi-Fi upgrade
One of the coolest features of camera phones is their ability to post pictures immediately to the Web from wherever you are. Recently, a limited number of high-end digital cameras have begun to offer the same capability, shipping with built-in Wi-Fi. But that doesn't do much for the 100 million or so digital cameras already out there without Internet access. TechCrunch reports this morning, however, that start-up Eye-Fi is introducing Wi-Fi-enabled flash memory cards. Thus, for the not-insubstantial price of upgrading your camera's memory (about $100), you can start sending high-resolution images from your camera directly to your website. The reactions? Says one excited TechCrunch reader, "I will not only buy it, but also buy their stock!" (Eye-Fi, alas, is privately held.)
BellSouth nixes disaster proposal
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, with land-line telephone service cut off in New Orleans, evacuees relied heavily on voicemail to alert family and friends to their whereabouts. That is, the evacuees who actually had voicemail, or cell phones, or VOIP, all of which stayed active after local phone lines went out of service. But many low-income BellSouth (Research) customers had none of the above, and thus found themselves stranded in unfamiliar cities unable to establish contact with loved ones.
Hoping to remedy the problem, veteran tech bloggers Jeff Pulver and Tom Evslin filed a petition with the FCC in March calling for regional telcos to institute voicemail for all customers in the event of major, prolonged disasters. For a while, the FCC appeared to be stonewalling on the issue, but in early April the agency announced a period of public debate on it. Yesterday, Evslin reported that BellSouth's lawyers have come out against the petition, arguing that "it is nonsensical to impose additional requirements on communications providers following a disaster or other catastrophic event." No doubt BellSouth's opposition comes down to the expense of the proposal, but in comments on Evslin's post, readers agree that the technology required is not complex and the idea makes eminent sense.
Plaxo finds a new way to annoy Internet users
Plaxo, the automated online contacts manager, has acquired HipCal, a startup founded by five fraternity brothers at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. HipCal offers online calendars and to-do lists for groups, which raises an unpleasant question: Since Plaxo's best known for its recently curtailed practice of emailing everyone in your address book to encourage them to sign up for the service, does this mean we'll start getting Plaxoed with invitations to meetings and events, whether we want them or not?
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