Ewan Spence

I talk about tech n' stuff

PayPal Becoming a Liability?

In a tech world full of the next big things, it’s not unusual to see even established concepts and brands disappear virtually overnight.  While PayPal has been virtually a household name for years now, concerns both new and old are begging questions regarding its continued longevity.  It’s cornered the online payment market virtually since it launched, but it has been getting new competition and has suffered in customer satisfaction.

 

paypal liabilityThe Competition

It’s not surprising, given the success of PayPal that other companies are seeking to emulate it or get in on the market of online payments.  Over the last several years, companies like Google Wallet, Apple Wallet and Square (to name a few) have begun to command increasing shares of the market.

These newer companies are doing what only new companies (like a digital marketing company) can do with such finesse; they are reinventing the field in such a way that established and often complacent companies seldom can.  They are giving consumers newer, safer, more convenient ways to handle their online and mobile payment needs.

 

The Problems

The biggest issue that utilizing PayPal has cause online consumers is dealing with a third-party financial system.  When you require a refund or process a return, you may have dotted your “I’s” and crossed your “T’s” with the retailer in question, been promised a refund, and yet because the finances are processed through PayPal, you may not see your refund for a month or more.

Your avenues for relief are limited, because once the online retailer releases funds back to PayPal, their contractual obligation is over.  You have to deal with PayPal’s customer service, which can be time-consuming and often a waste of effort.  PayPal has their own timeframes for processing payments and refunds, timeframes which may not remotely jive with the promises of a particular online business.

If customers have no alternative to processing their payments through PayPal, they may opt to shop elsewhere in order to avoid the potential hassle altogether.

online marketing payment

 

The Solutions

One of the most obvious solutions to dealing with PayPal fallout at the online retailer level is to give your consumers options when it comes to payment.  Eliminating PayPal altogether isn’t a good idea, with the company having control of such a large share of the market you will likely alienate more business than you’ll save.  However, giving your customers the option to choose other payments systems will give both you and them the option to deal with a more consumer-friendly company and avoid some of the pitfalls of dealing with an online payment system that’s alienating more users daily.

The bottom line is that business owners are only protecting themselves by diversifying their payment methods.  Customers are demanding alternatives to PayPal, and not providing them will hit you in the bottom line.

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Patch Tuesday Being Eliminated

patch tuesday supportIf you’re a Windows user, you’re probably already well familiar with “patch Tuesday.”  If not, a refresher: the second Tuesday of every month, Microsoft releases all of the programming patches released over the last month.  This has allowed users to fix security issues on a regular basis and to (almost) keep up with security breaches and hacker innovation if you didn’t already have managed IT services.  With the release of the new Windows 10 OS, users will no longer have to wait a full month between updates.

 

The Details

First and foremost, the new technology applies only to Windows 10.  This means that users who opt out of upgrading to the new OS won’t get the same perks.  Fortunately, at least for a while, they will be able to continue to use the old system.  No one’s really sure how long the back-up will be available.  Microsoft tends to phase out obsolete tech pretty quickly, so no new patches may be one way they steer reluctant users toward the new Windows 10 version.

Those with Windows 10 will be able to update and patch as soon as they’re available, which can save users from weeks of vulnerability.

 

The Downsides

While this may seem like a universally beneficial plan, experts believe there could be some drawbacks as well.   One of the biggest is that enterprises will choose when to apply patches.  This could mean that if someone’s not paying attention, vital updates may get missed.  Windows Update is striving to prevent this from becoming an issue, but at this point it could result in uneven application of patches.

Why not just patch entire enterprises at once?  In a word: compatibility.  When you have an intricate back office system, it’s always possible that a patch is going to be incompatible or otherwise cause you functionality issues.  If a patch is applied to the entirety of an enterprise and something goes wrong, you can find yourself suddenly and totally out of commission.  This is why the standard operating procedure is to start small and work out bugs before changing the entire system.

 

The Resistance

Despite Microsoft’s concerted efforts to keep their programs safe and efficient for users, hackers have long-exploited any known vulnerabilities.  Every month, as new patches were released, hackers spent the next few days exploiting the now-known discrepancies and trying to stay one step ahead of users.

Concerned consumers worry that with this new delay in updating and patching security issues, hackers will have an even better opportunity to get in the back door, so to speak.

Consumers will likely find themselves dealing with a learning curve, particularly business consumers.  Of course, internet security is never 100%.  For this reason, it is always advisable to keep your internet firewall and antivirus software up to date.

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Amazon publishes government request list

Online giant Amazon has finally made public the list of government requests for data. The lack of transparency from the company has been a source of criticism from the American Civil Liberties union, and citizen watchdog groups that claim they have a right to know how companies disclose their information to governments. Amazon is notoriously secretive about its data, and the move has surprised insiders with its timing. Nothing that Amazon does in public is without a reason, and the question many have is whether or not the release is part of a push to boost its new gaming arm.

amazon web services

 

What the reports show

While Facebook has been subject to 10s of thousands of request for personal user data by governments, Amazon has had less than a thousand requests in a six month period. Of those request, barely 40 involved warrants. Of those with warrants, only 13 were responded to. In all, this is a strikingly different picture than is presented by the transparency reports from other social media networks. Facebook’s rate of request and fulfillment is much higher when you place the numbers on a scale. Not only does Amazon look like it is not a hot bed of governmental concern, but that they have been very successful in protecting their member information against disclosure. That they have only answered less than half of the warrants speaks volumes about the legal machine that powers Amazon.

 

Why now?

amazon gamingThe real question is why Amazon chose to release the transparency report now. Insiders believe it is part of a push to appeal to the demographic they are courting with their new gaming service. The fact that they can show themselves as more strident protectors of demands for information – even from public sources – may play well in the gaming community. Amazon is known for being to take on other tech giants and carve out a niche for their products, if not a leading edge. Just look to the Kindle for evidence of that. Google may be teaming up with YouTube to take on their gaming arm, but nothing Google has a good reputation for looking out for member privacy.

 

Does the recent transparency signal a shift in culture at Amazon?

Don’t get excited thinking that the release of the report is a signal that the company is going to become more open and friendly. Amazon’s business culture remains markedly closed, and that won’t change anytime soon. It shouldn’t, as it has proven to work successfully for them. As the released report shows, the close-lipped approach seems to also be benefiting the protection of its customers too. Business will probably continue as always, although the door is now open for regular transparency accounting too.

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Apple’s UDID deadline looms for 3rd party App Developers

apple udidThird party app developers are under the gun to meet the fast approaching deadline for UDID compliance that Apple set out earlier in the year. Miss the deadline and they face a ban from the iTunes App store. There is big business at stake for both sides, and many independent developers feel like they have been caught in between the two giants.

 

On one hand, Apple owes respect to their customers

The revelation that the PATH app was tracking UDIDs and using the information to lift contact books off Apple products shook consumers. With a rise in mobile hacking and issues of privacy still at the fore of the news – the knowledge that their friendly and free apps were tracking the equivalent of their social security numbers did not sit well with consumers. Apple responded swiftly issuing a moratorium on app acceptance that actively tracks UDID, and issuing a deadline for removal from the store of any apps that currently track the number.

 

Why do apps need your UDID?

Your UDID is the unique signifier on your iPhone that is often referred to as its social security number. It allows developers to see where you go and what you do. It can also allow them access to your private data that may be stored on the phone which can contain identifying information and financial information. On one hand it is easy to say they have no need for this information, but from a developing and marketing standpoint that information is vital to understanding consumer behavior. Poor PATH got caught in the middle because they were doing something that everyone was doing for reputable reasons, but got caught in the storm of customer awareness of just how their information can be used of illegal purposes.

 

What happens next?

apple marketingApple knows that tracking consumer behavior is essential to apps so they have offered up a compromise. App developers can no longer track UDIDs, but they can track the CFDID. That number is not as unique to the specific phones, but it also does not allow access to any of the user’s information. That sounds like a decent compromise until you figure the cost of converting apps to track this number. For many small developers, there is no budget for creating an update so their app can meet these standards. Consumers may also get the unpleasant surprise of seeing more apps start to charge fees in order to cover these revised development costs.

 

Still an issue is left standing

The real issue has been missed in this event. The issue isn’t that apps were tracking UDIDs, but that some apps exist for the sole purposes of capturing unique identifying information for sale to the highest bidder. Apple may have made a wiser choice to placate the consumer while investigating more stringent application processes to weed our malapps from their store, but that would have cost the company money. Better for them to push the cost on the consumer and 3rd part developer while getting the press that they did good by all.

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Can a Square make a good home for a little bird? Dorsey takes over Twitter from Costolo

twitter marketer jackJack Dorsey has been tapped to be the interim CEO of the troubled Twitter replacing outgoing CEO Dick Costolo. Costolo is resigning after only a brief time at the helm of Twitter. Months of disappointment to investors have prompted the change. Dorsey is coming in from Square, which he leaves with a solid track record of success. The question for everyone is whether Twitter faces realistic expectations from its investors, and can it play catch-up with the giants?

 

The little bird that keeps refusing to leave the nest

Twitter hasn’t been a disappointment to just investors, during its first heady years it captured the imagination of just about everyone. It promised a fast and easy way to send mass communications across global networks that could revolutionize how we do business like this company for SEO in Winnipeg, experience world events and socialize. News reporting has caught on to a degree, but not in the high monied markets of the West. Socialization on Twitter still remains the realm of hipsters, and it is mostly a communication forum for links to longer articles on better networks – such as its once rival, Facebook. With one billion users, Facebook has stepped far beyond Twitter’s reach.

 

What can Dorsey do?

With Twitter stock having plummeted another 35 percent in recent months it looks like it may take a miracle to make the company a contender again. Then again, with Dorsey at the helm, the solution may prove to be easier. As all of the industry experts point out the main failing of Twitter is it failed to integrate user experience. It tried through a failed adoption of video and multimedia, but that could be revisited. Dorsey’s experience with Square has shown that he can combine several aspects under one social network media and retain a viable business structure. The Square market has grown greatly under his lead and it now considered to be a merchant option for anchor stores as well as food market vendors and SEO providers.

 

twitter logoWhat is the demographic for Twitter?

One of the issues that Dorsey faces is that the potential demographic for Twitter has muddied greatly under Costolo. While it is strong with the hipster crowd, the millennials and baby boomers have drifted away. It remains a go-to with a broad appeal when there is breaking news events, and that can be capitalized. One thing for certain, the worst thing he could do is keep everything has it is. Twitter has started to fall so fast it won’t take much change to create an upswing. Whether or not that upswing can translate into a long term rise is the challenge for Dorsey.

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YouTube’s Gaming Channel announcement has players twitching

youtube gaming

The successful acquisition of the game channel Twitch by YouTube is about to enable the giant to take on a whole new dimension in live streaming entertainment. Owned by Google, YouTube’s move into live gaming comes from two different sources. The first is the stellar performance of Twitch as an independent company, the second is the success of the gaming videos on YouTube. High rates of viewers have been showing up to watch live video broadcast of players playing games, while on Twitch they are showing up to do that and play the games themselves.

 

Over 25,000 portals leading to one dedicated page

The size of the gaming channel is going to be stunning. YouTube currently lists that there will be near 25,000 gaming access portals that will funnel gamers to one central channel. This radically increases the size of the live community. It also increases the potential for independent producers of games and game videos to make more money.

 

tip jarBringing the tip jars together

If you have ever seen a gamer video you may be impressed at the amount of planning and production that goes into one. You should be, as these videos of gamers playing games are moneymakers. Both YouTube and Twitch use “tip jars” that allow viewers to give money to the producer to encourage them to make more videos. Add in some pay for play options and member only features and you have the potential to make a richly successful online channel.

 

Is it a direct challenge to Amazon?

Amazon is in the midst of announcing their own dedicated game channel that could rival Twitch. Once again, Amazon seems to play the role of the quiet cousin with surprising strength. The only thing that threatens all of these parties is Facebook’s move to return gaming to the living room. The announcement that Oculus is going to partner with Xbox for a 2016 release has a lot of people wondering which style of gaming is really going to take hold.

 

Either way, it’s the independent producers that win for once

With the YouTube channel and Amazon getting into dedicated gaming channels it is going to be the independent producer that wins in the end. This is what leads many people to assume that the RIFT will get a share, but there is no going back to one home game system being the dominant part. Too many people make videos about games, and want to watch them for that type of community to be broken. Both Amazon and YouTube offer ways for independent producers to get their voices heard – and that’s what consumers want.

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