December 24, 2009 |
On this glorious day before Christmas, I have a message for all you sales tax scofflaws out there: Pay up. This means you. You, who bought your big-screen TV online from Amazon.com instead of at Best Buy and your fleece-lined parka from L.L. Bean instead of Eddie Bauer because Amazon and Bean don't charge you sales tax and the others do. Guess what. You owe it anyway. Skipping out on the sales tax due on online purchases is the single biggest category of "noncompliance" with California sales tax law, according to the state Board of Equalization, accounting for nearly 30% of all unpaid tax. The board estimated lost revenue at $1.1 billion annually.
December 3, 2009 |
Twitter was just the beginning. After dreaming up the innovative social-networking medium, Jack Dorsey is looking to revolutionize another core aspect of society: money. Dorsey, the founder of Twitter, has announced that his new start-up, Square, has developed a way for anyone with a cellphone or iPod to become a merchant and accept credit card payments. Square is a small plastic device that plugs into a gadget's headphone jack. Buyers swipe their credit cards through the device, which then transmits the payment data to an application running on a connected iPhone or iPod Touch.
December 2, 2009 |
Monday brought a bit of early holiday cheer for online retailers as shoppers spent less time but more money with Web merchants than last year. Total online sales were up 13.7% on so-called Cyber Monday from the same day last year, with clothing and jewelry retailers leading the way, according to Coremetrics, which tracks sales for 500 member retailers. The average shopper spent $180.03 this year, up 38% from $130.04 a year earlier, said the San Mateo, Calif., online research firm.
November 26, 2009 |
As long as there has been online shopping, there has been Cyber Monday. But is that now more virtual than real? Online retailers for the last decade have counted on the Monday after Thanksgiving to deliver for them what Black Friday does for bricks-and-mortar stores: a turbo boost into the holiday shopping season. Online sales surged on that Monday as many people hopped on to their employers' fast Internet connections to do some holiday shopping when they returned to work after Thanksgiving.
October 29, 2009 |
Google Inc. started out 13 years ago as a simple search engine, but it has grown into a behemoth that has shaken up dozens of industries, including computers and cellphones. On Wednesday, it jumped into the music industry. The Mountain View, Calif., Internet giant unveiled a music search feature that lets users play millions of songs for free with an option to buy or rent them from several online music stores. Although not a direct threat to Apple Inc.'s hugely popular iTunes store, the new feature is expected to bolster the music services that compete with iTunes.
October 27, 2009 |
Do you miss the monkey? Once the Internet vines were full of monkeys in banner ads that, if you "punched" them with your cursor, would bring you a free Xbox or iPod or maybe $25,000 in cash -- which would be excellent simian-pummeling wages, to be sure. But the monkey -- indeed, a whole class of flashy, shaky, maddening advertising collectively known as "punch the monkey" ads -- is going away, or at least slinking off to some forgotten cavern of the Internet where few will ever see it. Like MySpace.