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Netflix's Subscriber Growth Stalls
Posted by News Fetcher on July 17 '18 at 12:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's commence-panic department:
Netflix shares plunged by more than 14% on Monday, after the firm reported disappointing subscriber growth. While the entertainment service added 5.2 million subscribers last quarter, it forecasted a growth of 6.2 million. BBC reports: Investors are worried about Netflix's growth potential in the face of increased competition from tech giants such as Apple, YouTube and Amazon, as well as traditional firms, which have started to invest more in online streaming. Disney, for example, plans to launch its own streaming service and stop licensing some of its material to Netflix.

In a letter to investors, Netflix called it a "strong but not stellar quarter," ending with about 130 million subscribers globally. The firm added just 670,000 subscribers in the U.S. -- far short of the more than one million it added in the second quarter of 2017. It added 4.5 million subscribers internationally, fewer than the two most recent quarters but up 8% year-on-year. However, it said its finances were strong. The company reported $3.9 billion in quarterly revenue, up 40% compared to the second quarter of 2017. Profits totaled $384.3 million, almost six times the figure during the same period a year ago.

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D-Wave's Quantum Computer Successfully Models a Quantum System
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 08:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's materials-physics department:
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from Ars Technica: D-Wave's hardware has always occupied a unique space on the computing landscape. It's a general-purpose computer that relies on quantum mechanical effects to perform calculations. And, while other quantum-computer makers have struggled to put more than a few dozen qubits together, D-Wave's systems have already scaled to more than 2,000 addressable bits. But the D-Wave systems don't perform calculations in the same way and, despite all those bits, haven't clearly demonstrated performance that can outpace even traditional computing hardware. But D-Wave has come out with a research paper in Science that suggests that the system can do interesting things even in its current state. The company's researchers have set it loose modeling a quantum system that closely resembles the bits used in the hardware itself, allowing them to examine quantum phase transitions. While this still isn't cutting-edge performance, it does allow researchers full control over the physical parameters of a relevant quantum system as it undergoes phase changes.

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Samsung's Galaxy S10 To Come In Three Sizes, With An In-Display Fingerprint Sensor
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 06:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's different-strokes-for-different-folks department:
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Samsung will launch the Galaxy S10 in three different sizes: 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches, and 6.4 inches. They are nearly the same sizes that Kuo expects Apple's next series of iPhones to come in. The Verge reports: The larger two S10 models will include in-display fingerprint sensors, Kuo says, while the smaller model will include a fingerprint sensor on the side. That suggests the smaller model will be Samsung's entry-level offering, while the larger two will potentially have higher-end specs and features. Another recent rumor says the S10 might include five cameras, adding an additional wide angle option to the back and another lens to the front for capturing portrait effects. It's very likely plans will change between now and when the Galaxy S10 launches, which should be early next year. The next flagship smartphone to come from the South Korean company will be the Galaxy Note 9. It's expected to make its appearance at an event on August 9th.

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Hacking Campaign Targets iPhone Users With Data-Stealing, Location-Tracking Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's target-acquired department:
ZDNet reports of a new mobile malware campaign that is "gaining access to iPhones by tricking users to download an open-source mobile device management (MDM) software package." From the report: Once in control, the unidentified hackers can steal various forms of sensitive information from infected devices, including the phone number, serial number, location, contact details, user's photos, SMS, and Telegram and WhatsApp chat messages. Thirteen users -- all in India -- have been been compromised in the attacks, which have been detailed by Cisco Talos. Those infected use a range of iPhone models and are running iOS versions ranging from 10.2.1 to 11.2.6. The campaign has been active since August 2015. The attackers take control by using the MDM package, which can give attackers complete control of the device and the ability to install fake versions of real apps.

Two different MDM services are used in the campaign, enabling system-level control of multiple devices from one location and the ability to install, remove and exfiltrate data from apps. One method of stealing data comes via malicious versions of messaging services like Telegram and WhatsApp being pushed onto the compromised device via fake updates. The apps look legitimate to the user, but malicious code sends information -- including messages, photos and contacts -- to a central command and control server. Deploying these apps requires a side-loading injection technique, which allows for the ability to ask for additional permissions, execute code and steal information from the original application.

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Roku's New Wireless Speakers Automatically Turn Loud Commercials Down, Turn Show Audio Up
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's greatest-human-achievements department:
Roku announced today that it's getting into the audio business with the launch of its in-house Roku TV Wireless Speakers. The two HomePod-esque speakers work exclusively (and wirelessly) with Roku TVs, and feature software that will optimize audio from anything connected to the pair Roku TV, including cable boxes, antennas, and Bluetooth devices. The company also announced a new Roku Touch tabletop remote that's similar to Amazon's Alexa. Ars Technica reports: "Optimized" in this sense refers to the software-improved audio quality: automatic volume leveling will boost lower audio in quiet scenes and lower audio in loud scenes (and in booming commercials), and dialogue enhancement will improve speech intelligibility. Accompanying the Wireless Speakers is the Roku Touch remote, a unique addition to Roku's remote family. The company has a standard remote that controls its set-top boxes and smart TVs, and it also has a voice remote that processes voice commands to search for and play specific types of content. The Touch remote is most like the voice remote, but it can be used almost anywhere in your home because it's wireless and runs on batteries. It has a number of buttons on its top that can play, pause, and skip content playing from your Roku TV, and some of those buttons are customizable so you can program your favorite presets to them. There's also a press-and-hold talk button that lets you speak commands to your TV, even if you're not in front of it. Roku's Wireless Speakers and Touch remote will begin shipping this October, and the company is running a deal leading up to the release. For the first week of presales (July 16 through July 23), a bundle consisting of two Wireless Speakers, a Touch remote, and a Roku voice remote will be available for $149. From the end of that week until October, the price will be $179. When the new devices finally come out, the bundle price will be $199.

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Things Are Going From Bad To Worse For Apple In India
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's terrible-horrible-no-good-very-bad-day department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Despite its increased focus on India, Apple is all set to see a slower year-on-year growth in iPhone sales in the country in 2018. "iPhone India sales were weak in the first half of 2018, and even if they show a big jump in the traditionally strong second half, Apple will still fall short of last year," Neil Shah, research director at market analytics firm Counterpoint Research, told Bloomberg. Apple has been struggling in India for some time now. In the year ended March 2017, its revenue growth fell to 17%, compared to 53% a year ago. This six-year-low growth was mainly due to a high base and a drop in the average selling price of each phone. Apple's biggest struggle in India has been its high price points. iPhones cost between Rs35,000 ($500) and Rs80,000 ($1,100) in India, compared to the average smartphone price of $157 in the country.

Amid all this, the company is seeing a massive churn in its India leadership. Last December, India head Sanjay Kaul quit after a six-year stint. The company has now reportedly lost three more of its top executives, Bloomberg reported on July 15: national sales and distribution chief, Rahul Jain; head of commercial channels Jayant Gupta, and head of telecom carrier sales, Manish Sharma. The company is also overhauling its India sales team, Bloomberg said, quoting unidentified sources.

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Apple Won't Replace Faulty MacBook Pro Keyboards With Third-Gen Components
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
After determining that a "small percentage" of 2015-2017 MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards may experience sticky keys, Apple initiated a Keyboard Service Program. The company has been servicing affected keyboards for free, but the fix doesn't guarantee the problem won't emerge again. The new 2018 MacBook Pros feature third-generation keyboards that are intended to prevent the keys from getting stuck. "For this reason, some customers have been hoping that Apple will start swapping out second-generation keyboards with third-generation keyboards, as part of its service program, but MacRumors has learned that isn't the plan." From the report: When asked if Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers will be permitted to replace second-generation keyboards on 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models with the new third-generation keyboards, if necessary, Apple said, no, the third-generation keyboards are exclusive to the 2018 MacBook Pro. Hopefully, in that case, it means that Apple has quietly tweaked the second-generation keyboard to be more reliable. It wouldn't really make sense for Apple to replace keyboards with ones that are just as prone to break again, especially if the third-generation keyboards offer a fix.

One possibility is that the third-generation keyboards aren't backwards compatible with 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro models to begin with. The keyboard is actually one part of a larger component called the "top case," which also has a glued-in battery, and the internal design could be tweaked in 2018 models.

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Microsoft and National Geographic Team Up on AI Research Grant
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Microsoft and National Geographic are partnering on a new grant program that will put $1 million towards projects using AI to address environmental challenges. From a report: Between five and 15 projects will be selected as recipients of the AI for Earth Innovation Grant program and winning researchers will receive funding, access to Microsoft cloud and AI tools, inclusion in the National Geographic Explorer Community and affiliation with National Geographic Labs. "Microsoft is constantly exploring the boundaries of what technology can do, and what it can do for people and the world," Lucas Joppa, chief environmental scientist at Microsoft, said in a statement. "We believe that humans and computers, working together through AI, can change the way that society monitors, models and manages Earth's natural systems." In a similar vein, Google just announced a partnership with UN Environment that will provide real-time data to organizations and governments about the impact of human activity on ecosystems.

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Uber Faces Federal Investigation Over Alleged Gender Discrimination
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
According to The Wall Street Journal, Uber is being investigated by U.S. authorities over a complaint about gender discrimination (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is leading the investigation, which began last August but hasn't been previously reported. From the report: EEOC investigators have been interviewing former and current Uber employees as well as seeking documents from Uber officials, these people said. The investigators have been seeking information related to hiring practices, pay disparity and other matters as they relate to gender, one person said. Uber, which hopes to debut on the public markets sometime in the second half of next year, is already is facing at least five other federal investigations by multiple agencies into its pricing practices, accusations of bribery by Uber executives abroad, and its use of software designed to evade local officials tracking its operations, among other matters.

The EEOC, tasked with enforcing federal laws against discrimination, generally responds to confidential complaints filed by workers against employers, and can file suit or seek private arbitration. Of roughly 90,000 complaints filed annually, a fraction result in a settlement or EEOC-led lawsuit. It is unclear whether the EEOC intends to take any action against Uber, which would be one of the agency's most prominent recent cases.

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Amazon's Curious Case of the $2,630.52 Used Paperback
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 01:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Many booksellers on Amazon strive to sell their wares as cheaply as possible. That, after all, is usually how you make a sale in a competitive marketplace. Other merchants favor a counterintuitive approach: Mark the price up to the moon. From a report: "Zowie," the romance author Deborah Macgillivray wrote on Twitter last month after she discovered copies of her 2009 novel, "One Snowy Knight," being offered for four figures. One was going for "$2,630.52 & FREE Shipping," she noted. Since other copies of the paperback were being sold elsewhere on Amazon for as little as 99 cents, she was perplexed. "How many really sell at that price? Are they just hoping to snooker some poor soul?" Ms. Macgillivray wrote in an email. She noted that her blog had gotten an explosion in traffic from Russia. "Maybe Russian hackers do this in their spare time, making money on the side," she said. Amazon is by far the largest marketplace for both new and used books the world has ever seen, and is also one of the most inscrutable. The retailer directly sells some books, while others are sold by third parties. The wild pricing happens with the latter. [...] Third-party sellers, Guru Hariharan, chief executive of Boomerang Commerce, said, come in all shapes and sizes -- from well-respected national brands that are trying to maintain some independence from Amazon to entrepreneurial individuals who use Amazon's marketplace as an arbitrage opportunity. These sellers list products they have access to, adjusting price and inventory to drive profits. Then there are the wild pricing specialists, who sell both new and secondhand copies. "By making these books appear scarce, they are trying to justify the exorbitant price that they have set," said Mr. Hariharan, who led a team responsible for 15,000 online sellers when he worked at Amazon a decade ago. [...] A decade ago, Elisabeth Petry wrote a tribute to her mother, the renowned novelist Ann Petry. "At Home Inside," published by the University of Mississippi Press, is now out of print, but late last week secondhand copies were for sale on Amazon. A discarded library copy was $1,900. One seller offered two copies, each for $1,967, although only one was described as "Nice!" All these were a bargain compared with the copy that cost $2,464.

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Jeff Bezos Becomes the Richest Man In Modern History, Topping $150 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 01:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's inconceivable-riches department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Jeff Bezos is the richest person in modern history. The Amazon founder's net worth broke $150 billion in New York on Monday morning, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. That's about $55 billion more than Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, the world's second-richest person. Bezos, 54, has now topped Gates in inflation-adjusted terms. The $100 billion mark that Gates hit briefly in 1999 at the height of the dot-com boom would be worth about $149 billion in today's dollars. That makes the Amazon chief executive officer richer than anyone else on earth since at least 1982, when Forbes published its inaugural wealth ranking. Bezos crossed the threshold just as Amazon prepares to kick off its 36-hour summer sales event, Prime Day. The company's share price was $1,825.73 at 11:10 a.m. in New York, extending its 2018 gain to 56 percent and giving Bezos a $150.8 billion fortune. A little more than a week ago, Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg overtook Warren Buffett to become the world's third-richest person.

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Amazon Suffers Glitches at the Start of Prime Day
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's call-IT-asap department:
It's not just you. Amazon Prime Day started 15 minutes ago, and so far, it's not going well for Amazon. From a report: The landing page for Prime Day does not work. When most links are clicked, readers are sent to an error page or to a landing page that sends readers back to the main landing page. Direct links to the product pages, either from outside links or the single product placement on the landing page, seem to work fine. This is a huge blow to Amazon and its faux holiday Prime Day. The retailer has been pushing this event for weeks and there are some great deals to be had. It's not a good look for the world's largest retailer. Both the desktop website and mobile app are facing glitches, users said. CNBC reports: Some users saw an error page featuring the "dogs of Amazon" and were never able to enter the site. Some got caught in a loop of pages urging them to "Shop all deals." Clicking the entry link for a specific category returned the user to the first page urging them to "Shop all deals." Some users successfully added items to their cart, only to receive an error message when trying to checkout and complete the purchase. Business Insider reports that several customers are threatening Amazon that they would cancel their Prime membership if the company is unable to resolve the glitches soon.

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Study Suggests Buried Internet Infrastructure at Risk as Sea Levels Rise
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 12:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Thousands of miles of buried fiber optic cable in densely populated coastal regions of the United States may soon be inundated by rising seas, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the University of Oregon. From a report: The study, presented Monday at a meeting of internet network researchers, portrays critical communications infrastructure that could be submerged by rising seas in as soon as 15 years, according to the study's senior author, Paul Barford, a UW-Madison professor of computer science. "Most of the damage that's going to be done in the next 100 years will be done sooner than later," says Barford, an authority on the "physical internet" -- the buried fiber optic cables, data centers, traffic exchanges and termination points that are the nerve centers, arteries and hubs of the vast global information network. "That surprised us. The expectation was that we'd have 50 years to plan for it. We don't have 50 years." The study, conducted with Barford's former student Ramakrishnan Durairajan, now of the University of Oregon, and Carol Barford, who directs UW-Madison's Center for Sustainability and the Global Environment, is the first assessment of risk of climate change to the internet. It suggests that by the year 2033 more than 4,000 miles of buried fiber optic conduit will be underwater and more than 1,100 traffic hubs will be surrounded by water. The most susceptible U.S. cities, according to the report, are New York, Miami and Seattle, but the effects would not be confined to those areas and would ripple across the internet, says Barford, potentially disrupting global communications.

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Skype 8.0 Launches on Desktop With Full-HD Video; To Soon Get Encryption and Call Recording Features
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's never-gonna-give-you-up department:
Skype's redesign launched last year was met with mixed reviews, but the company is forging ahead by rolling out a number of its new features to other platforms, including the desktop. From a report: Microsoft today is launching Skype version 8.0 that will replace version 7.0 (aka Skype classic), the latter which will no longer function after September 1, 2018. The new release introduces a variety of features, including HD video and screen-sharing in calls, support for @mentions in chats, a chat media gallery, file and media sharing up to 300 MB, and more. It will also add several more features this summer, including most notably, supported for encrypted audio calls, texts, and file sharing as well as built-in call recording. The 8.0 release follows on the update to Skype desktop that rolled out last fall, largely focusing on upgrading the visual elements of new design, like the color-coding in chat messages and "reaction" emojis. This release also included the chat media gallery and file sharing support, which are touted as new today, but may have already hit your desktop.

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Microsoft's Panos Panay Says Company is Exploring Several New Form Factors in Surface Category, But a Phone Isn't One of Them
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-surface-phone-for-you department:
Speaking on the sidelines of the Surface Go launch, Microsoft's Panos Panay, who heads the Surface division, once again very much reiterated that the company has moved past its smartphone ambitions. From a report: In an interview with Wired, Microsoft's Surface head Panos Panay confirmed that the company is working on new form factors. When questioned about whether this would include a new Surface Phone, Panay stated that the Surface Phone was not one that they are thinking about at this time. "I wouldn't say that it includes a Surface Phone," Panos answered in the interview. "I think you have to think about where is that unmet need when you're thinking about your product road-map," he replied. "Of course, we're always inventing, of course, we're thinking about new form factors," Panos added. "The way people will communicate in the future will change. The form factors will wrap around that. And so when you say the phone form factor changes, I would flip it a little bit and say that communication changes."

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Instapaper is Going Independent
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's in-some-other-news department:
Popular bookmarking and read-it-later app, Instapaper made the following announcement in a blog post: Today, we're announcing that Pinterest has entered into an agreement to transfer ownership of Instapaper to Instant Paper, Inc., a new company owned and operated by the same people who've been working on Instapaper since it was sold to betaworks by Marco Arment in 2013. The ownership transfer will occur after a 21 day waiting period designed to give our users fair notice about the change of control with respect to their personal information. We want to emphasize that not much is changing for the Instapaper product outside the new ownership. The product will continue to be built and maintained by the same people who've been working on Instapaper for the past five years. We plan to continue offering a robust service that focuses on readers and the reading experience for the foreseeable future.

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Lights Slowly Come On for Puerto Ricans in Rural Areas
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Almost a year after two hurricanes ravaged the US territory, repair crews are working to energize the more than 950 homes and businesses that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Puerto Ricans remain fearful that their newly returned normality could be short lived. An anonymous reader shares a report: Lights are slowly coming on for the more than 950 homes and businesses across Puerto Rico that remain without power in hard-to-reach areas. Repair crews sometimes have to dig holes by hand and scale down steep mountainsides to reach damaged light posts. Electrical poles have to be ferried in one-by-one via helicopter. It is slow work, and it has stretched nearly two months past the date when officials had promised that everyone in Puerto Rico would be energized. And even as TVs glow into the night and people like delivery man Steven Vilella once again savor favorite foods like shrimp and Rocky Road ice cream, many fear their newly returned normality could be short-lived. Turmoil at the island's power company and recent winds and rains that knocked out electricity to tens of thousands of people at the start of the new hurricane season have them worried.

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A Student Was Rejected By A College Because Of China's 'Social Credit System'
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: A prestigious college in Beijing that reportedly tried to bar a student because his father was on a government blacklist is causing huge controversy in China. According to state media reports, a high school student with the surname Rao in the eastern city of Wenzhou, in Zhejiang province, was accepted on the back of his score in China's fiendishly difficult and incredibly competitive national college entrance exam. But before his family could enjoy Rao's accomplishments, the college notified them he may not be able to attend because of his father's poor credit standing -- the father owed 200,000 RMB (about $30,000) to a local bank, and had been put on a blacklist dubbed the "lost trust list" for individuals with bad social standing, state media reported. Blacklists are a key feature of China's controversial "social credit system" -- a set of government programs that sets up both incentives and disincentives to encourage people to behave in socially desirable ways. Social credit in today's China involves government programs that collect and analyze data from different parts of people's lives, including their education history, compliance with traffic rules, criminal history and debt. It has raised serious concerns over individual privacy rights.

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The EU Would Very Much Like Airbnb To Know That the Rules Are Different in Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's when-in-rome department:
Airbnb is facing fresh regulatory pressure in Europe. But this time it's not about the short-term home rental platform's core business model -- it's about its terms and conditions, and the way the company presents pricing to consumers. From a report: On Monday, the European Commission and a number of EU consumer watchdogs accused Airbnb of breaking consumer law. If the company does not change the way it operates by the end of August, then it could face legal action. Specifically, the regulators said Airbnb must show people total prices up-front that include all charges and fees, and it must clearly tell customers whether a property is being offered by a private host or a professional. The American company's terms and conditions are illegal under EU law for a variety of reasons, the regulators added. For example, the company tells people in the EU that they cannot sue a host in cases of personal harm or other damages, and it claims it can unilaterally change its terms and conditions without giving customers a warning and the option of cancelling their contracts. These sorts of terms might fly in the U.S., but they're banned in Europe.

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Amazon Admits Prime Day Deals Not Necessarily the Cheapest
Posted by News Fetcher on July 16 '18 at 06:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Shoppers taking part in internet giant Amazon's Prime Day are being told that the deals on offer may not be the cheapest available. From a report: Amazon said it has never claimed that Prime Day is necessarily the cheapest time to shop on its site. It comes after consumer group Which? warned customers that apparent bargains are not always as good as they seem. It said some goods can actually be cheaper at other times of the year, and advised shoppers to do their research. The 36 hour sale -- aimed at subscribers to the Prime shopping service -- offers discounts on a range of goods. The deals are time-limited, with shoppers being told that some items are only available while stocks last.

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