Google (GOOG) Introduces New Product Ratings on Google Shopping Jul 29, 2014 01:58PM

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) Shopping Product Manager, Mike Capsambelis, posted the following to Google's e-commerce blog today:

Product reviews provide critical information to shoppers making purchase decisions. To help shoppers easily find this information when searching for products, we’re introducing product ratings on Product Listing Ads.

Shoppers in the United States will see product ratings appear in the form of stars and review counts on Product Listing Ads across google.com and google.com/shopping. This 5-star rating system represents aggregated rating and review data for the product, compiled from multiple sources including merchants, third party aggregators, editorial sites and users.

Product ratings for juicers as indicated by stars and a count of total reviews below Product Listing Ads

We believe these ratings will help differentiate products across google.com and google.com/shopping and will help merchants drive more qualified traffic through Product Listing Ads. In initial tests, product ratings also helped increase click-through-rates of Product Listing Ads.

How to enable product ratings on your Product Listing Ads

Product ratings are available to merchants targeting the United States who choose to share all of their product review content with Google, either directly or through an approved third party aggregator.

In order to give merchants time to share their review content, we’re offering a grace period from late July through October, 2014. During this grace period, we’ll allow product ratings to be shown across all Product Listing Ads where we have product review data available. After the grace period, we’ll only show ratings for products from merchants who choose to share their reviews with us.

Product ratings are one of several extensions we may show with Product Listing Ads, so please note that just because a product has reviews does not mean that we’ll always show ratings.

How to share your review content

If you would like to enable product ratings on your Product Listing Ads, please begin the process of submitting your review content to us by completing our product ratings form. During the initial launch, we expect high inquiry volumes and appreciate your patience as we work to address all inquiries.

We also plan to open up product ratings to merchants targeting countries outside of the United States in the coming months, so please stay tuned.


Electronic Arts (EA) Debuts 'EA Access' Subscription Service for Xbox One (MSFT) Jul 29, 2014 01:54PM

Electronic Arts (NASDAQ: EA) made the following announcement on its News page today:

Today we’re revealing a new way for gamers to play more EA games. This is something we’ve never done before and we’re excited to share it with you.

We have partnered with Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) to deliver EA Access, an all-new monthly (or annual) membership for gamers exclusively on Xbox One that starts at just $4.99 a month. The service is being rolled out in beta to a limited number of players today, but it will launch for everyone on Xbox One soon. At EA, we are always looking for new ways to make it easier for gamers to play more EA games across all platforms, and we are excited about what EA Access will offer to players on Xbox One.

EA Access membership unlocks The Vault, a collection of EA’s biggest games on Xbox One ready for you to download and play. During the beta, gamers will have unlimited access to four great EA games: FIFA 14, Madden NFL 25, Peggle 2 and Battlefield 4, with more titles being added soon. That’s over $100 worth of games for $4.99 a month. You can play these EA favorites as much as you want with the click of a button.

EA Access is a totally new way for you to play more of the games you love, for less. Here’s a rundown of the additional benefits EA Access members will get:

  • Awesome Value– Besides the great games in The Vault, EA Access members will save 10% on purchases of EA digital content for Xbox One offered through the Xbox Games Store. From full digital-download titles like the upcoming Dragon Age™ Inquisition or NHL®15, to additional membership services such as Battlefield 4 Premium or even FIFA Ultimate Team points, it’s all 10% off for members.*
  • Play First – Membership in EA Access lets you experience trials of new EA games up to five days before the release date.* It starts with Madden NFL 15, NHL 15, FIFA 15, NBA LIVE 15, and Dragon Age: Inquisition, but more are on the way. If you decide to buy the game, your progress will carry over so you can pick up right where you left off.

You can join EA Access for just $4.99 per month, or you can purchase an annual membership for $29.99 per year on Xbox LIVE®.

Soon, fans of GameStop will be able to purchase their EA Access membership in local retail stores. GameStop and Amazon will also carry EA Access memberships for Xbox One gamers across Europe, as well as EB Games in Canada.

Excited to check it out? EA Access will launch on Xbox One soon. You will find more information on the program at the EA Access website. Be sure to follow EA Access on Facebook and Twitter as well.

Stay tuned!

*Conditions, limitations and exclusions apply. See www.ea.com/eaaccess for details.


CenturyLink (CTL) Has Reviewed Windstream-Like Options, No Decision Yet - Spokesperson Jul 29, 2014 01:13PM

Amid news today that Windstream (NYSE: WIN) will spin off a portion of its fiber and copper plant assets, along with its consumer CLEC business, into a REIT, speculation has been rampant that CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL) and other peers could soon follow suit.

Today, in response to a question from StreetInsider.com, CenturyLink has indicated they have reviewed options similar to Windstream but have made no decisions at this time.

"CenturyLink has reviewed restructuring options similar to Windstream’s announcement, but has made no decisions at this time," CenturyLink spokesperson Debra Peterson said in an e-mail to StreetInsider.com.


Microsoft (MSFT) Gets Another High-Profile App for Windows Phone Jul 28, 2014 03:23PM

Fitbit is the first fitness device that will be compatible with the Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) Windows Phone 8.1 operating system.

While Android and iOS users have had compatibility with Fitbit for quite some time now, improvements with Bluetooth connectivity in WP8.1 helped the transition over.

Fitbit's app is expected to land in the Windows Phone store today, though it wasn't there the last time we checked.

While Windows Phone has something near 200,000 apps, that's nowhere near the number that Android and iOS have. Recent high-profile additions and the pickup in Windows Phone sales should give developers more reason to continue development for the platform.

Shares of Microsoft are down 0.7 percent on Monday.


Zillow (Z) Stock Goes Green Jul 28, 2014 01:11PM

Zillow (NASDAQ: Z) stock turned green Monday afternoon, topping $160 per share after declining earlier following news it plans to acquire Trulia (NYSE: TRLA). The original decline may have been tied in part to merger arbitrage, given the stock-for-stock nature of the deal. Going forward, investors will be focused on the fundamentals of the transaction, and the stock's valuation.


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