Facebook Warned About Russia in 2014; Shopping on Phones Explodes, Top 5 Amazon Items; 10% iPhone Tariff Threat

Things just keep looking worse for Facebook when it comes to protecting user data. Businessinsider.com says a Facebook engineer warned the company in 2014 about a potential giant data issue involving Russia. This info is coming out after the British Parliament got hold of a cache of sealed Facebook documents. UK politician Damian Collins, who reviewed the documents, made the disclosure today at a hearing in front of the International Grand Committee. Mark Zuckerberg refused to show for the hearing, sending policy chief Richard Allen. Allen if this information had been given to an external body (like an agency of the US government) at the time. Allen refused to answer. The documents are sealed under court order in California, but they were published in the United Kingdom under UK parliamentary privilege.

A couple months back, a panicked friend told me ‘My phone is my life,’ as it was temporarily missing. That is more true that ever now. Cnet.com reports that total sales on smartphones through Cyber Monday was $2.2 billion, up from $1.4 billion last year! On Cyber Monday, phones accounted for 47% of traffic to online stores and 36% of actual sales. Overall Cyber Monday sales were $7.9 million, so the mobile component was substantial. Since the 1st of November $50.6 billion has been spent online, up 20% from last year!

Amazon has announced its 5 best sellers on Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Topping the list, according to bgr.com, the Amazon Echo Dot at $29.99 instead of $50 In the #2 spot, AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing Ethnicity (still on sale at $59 btw). The third place seller was the adored Instant Pot DUO60 6 Qt 7-in-1 Multi-Programmable Pressure Cooker…still at $30 bucks off. Bose Quiet Comfort 25 Acoustic Noise Cancelling Headphones bagged the 4th place spot…and those are now sold out. #5 was Michelle Obama’s new book Becoming, which is still available at a $20 discount.

Yesterday, Donald Trump threatened to slap a 10% tariff on iPhones and MacBooks imported from China, and the stock acted accordingly. Today, Tim Cook is visiting an Idaho school district with Ivanka Trump to talk tech. Coincidence? I doubt it. So far, Cook has gotten Trump to lay off Apple products. Macrumors.com says in 2016 Apple donated an iPad to every student, a Mac and iPad to every teacher, and an Apple TV to each classroom via its ConnectED initiative. Will a ‘charm trip’ with Ivanka keep tariffs off Apple products again? Stay tuned.

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Alibaba Singles’ Day-Biggest Online Shopping Day; French Will Look at Facebook Moderation Processes, Samsung Folder Could Cost…Gulp… $1790; CLEAR Tech Moves From Airports to Stadiums

This year on Singles’ Day, a huge day in China, Alibaba absolutely blew up online shopping. They took in $30.8 billion in sales in 24 hours Sunday, according to businessinsider.com. As a point of reference, total online sales last year on Black Friday were $5 billion, and Cyber Monday hit $6.6 billion! Alibaba sold as much in 5 minutes Sunday as Amazon does on an entire Prime Day (which was 36 hours long last year, and it’s estimated to have taken in $4.2 billion.) Singles’ Day sales for Alibaba were across its main Alibaba site as well as Taobao.com and Tmall.com, two other sites it owns and operates.

Facebook continues to get heat for doing too little with regards to protecting user rights and policing fake news and other political manipulation. Now, techcrunch.com reports that the company will cooperate with the French government as they look into FB’s moderation…including Facebook giving ‘unprecedented access’ to their internal processes. France is looking for a third way to regulate tech…not the hands off of the US nor the locked down, repressed system China has in place.

We’ve now seen a glimpse of the Samsung folding phone at their developers’ conference, and now hear it should be hitting the streets by next March. 9to5google also notes that the phone/phablet with the Infinity Flex display will retail for $1790!! It will be known as the Samsung Galaxy F, as predicted. Folded, you have a 4.6 inch outside display, but unfolded, you get a nice, phablet-sized 7.4 inches. A cool tech that has taken a long time to come into being, but at nearly $1800, it may remain a boutique gadget, and not a top seller.

CLEAR…the folks that charge $179 a year to get you more quickly through airport lines using biometrics…is now up and running in stadiums. Geekwire.com says the service is free for sports events…besides handing over your fingerprints and taking about 5 minutes to make an account. Both CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field have implemented the service, which gets you in via a shorter line AND it enables you to both age verify and pay with your prints when buying a beer at concession stands! There are currently 4 stands at Seahawks games with the CLEAR scanners, so you can grab that brewski a little faster and get back to the game!


Apple-10 Prototypes for iPhone 8; Google Should Sell 3 Million Pixel Phones; Premium Amazon Alexa Coming; Cyber Monday Sets Record

There’s lots of buzz about what next year’s iPhone 8 will be like. Some may be true…but Apple is testing more than 10 prototypes of the anniversary handset right now, according to businessinsider.com. A curved screen is a consistent rumor, as is an OLED display with darker blacks and less power hogging. Of course, there’s the glass back and possible wireless charging. Apple was supposed to get OLED screens this year, but dropped them due to supply problems, so stay tuned.

Preorders for Google’s Pixel phone have blown the doors off what was expected. 9to5google.com reports that, based on preorders and Verizon activations, they should sell 3 million phones by the end of this year. The Pixel is already 10% of the premium market in India…benefitting from Samsung’s collapse over the fiery Note 7. Apple has also benefitted there, grabbing 66% of the premium phone market!

Amazon apparently has a premium Echo speaker with Alexa in the works with a large touch screen and higher grade speakers. Bloomberg.com says it may be out first quarter of 2017. The speaker and screen with be angled and on top, so a person standing can use it when it’s sitting on a counter or table. The present Echo sells for $180 when not discounted, so expect the higher line one to be over $200.

Cyber Monday was the biggest online shopping day, ever. According to zdnet.com, analysts say US online spending topped $3.39 billion, and that’s a 10.2% increase over last year. It’s also slightly more than Black Friday, which notched $3.34 billion. Interestingly, mobile revenue was a little lower than Black Friday, but it was still up 48% over last year’s Cyber Monday. The five best-selling toys in terms of quantity sold on Cyber Monday were Lego, Shopkins, Nerf, Barbie, and Little Live Pets. The five best-selling electronic products were Sony PlayStation 4, Microsoft Xbox, Samsung 4K TVs, Apple iPads, and Amazon Fire tablets.


Panned MacBook Pro Best Selling MacBook Ever; Amazon Black Friday Pre Sales; China’s Alibaba Dwarfs Black Friday and Cyber Monday

Despite all the complaints about the new MacBook Pro models losing ports, and all the rest, macrumors.com says Apple has gotten more online pre-orders for the new generation than any previous MacBook Pros. Marketing chief Phil Schiller said the volume even surprised him. He underscored that Macs and iOS devices are fundamentally different…saying they tried touch screens, but that the ‘L’ shape with a screen facing you, keyboard & trackpad or mouse just work better for productivity. Schiller says they experimented with touch screens on Macs, and decided it wasn’t a great experience.

Black Friday 2016 is almost here, but Amazon has again kicked off the savings a little early, with deals every day until the big day. It looks like the biggest deals on large electronics like TVs will wait ‘till actual Black Friday. Meanwhile, in China, Alibaba is expected to generate $20 billion in sales on Singles’ Day this year, according to the research firm Fung Global Retail and Technology. By comparison, Americans spent $5.8 billion online last year on Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined, the largest sales days in the US!


Shop ‘Till Your Fingers Drop; Uber Moves into Mobile Health Care

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are rapidly turning into a week to 10 day long orgy of deals from both online and brick and mortar retailers. Bgr.com notes that Amazon.com’s ‘Black Friday’ sale went live a full week before Black Friday. Target’s Black Friday ’10 days of deals’ is already live, with Target Redcard members getting an automatic 5% additional off on deals, and 25% off on toys through the day before Thanksgiving. Walmart will light off Cyber Monday deals the Sunday evening before…the 29th, starting at 8 P.M., with online only bargain prices on over 2000 products. Wanna buy a car? Chevrolet is saying it’s Black Friday ALL MONTH LONG! When it comes to retail, times and days have a very elastic meaning. Happy shopping!

Uber is experimenting with something bordering on mobile health care. For 4 hours last week, they offered customers a flu shot for 10 bucks across 36 cities. You summoned a nurse to show up and administer the shot, according to buzzfeed.com. This week, the company announced they’ve hired their first health advisor, who is director of the Computational Epidemiology Group at Boston Children’s Hospital. He is John Brownstein, and he says Uber’s drivers may someday shuttle patients to clinical trials or doctor’s offices…or, as with the flu shots, bring a medical professional by for a ‘house call!’