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Amazon shares tank after big Q2 loss

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LOS ANGELES -- Amazon.com shares tumbled Thursday after the e-commerce giant Amazon.com posted a wider-than-expected $126 million loss for its second quarter despite revenue of $19.34 billion.

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos didn't address the loss in the earnings release, but mentioned new ventures. "We continue working hard on making the Amazon customer experience better and better," he said in a statement.

Shares of Amazon plunged 10%, to $322.50, in after-hours trading. The company announced its results after markets closed.

Amazon's expansionist spending spree is taking its toll. Beyond the $126 million-loss, it said it expects to lose up to $810 million in the upcoming quarter -- compared to a $25 million loss in the third quarter last year.

Review: Amazon's new phone, the Fire

Forrester analyst Sucharita Mulpuru blamed the loss solely on Amazon's Prime program, which offers two-day free shipments to customers for $99 a year.

"Google, Apple and Facebook invest all the time in innovation, and don't have losses like this," she says. "The big difference is Amazon is spending all this money on shipping those orders."

The costs of free shipping are larger than Amazon expected when it started the program. Amazon, she says, has "created a beast they now have to feed."

Friday, the online retail giant will expand into the cutthroat world of smartphones with its first attempt Fire, joining a crowded market that includes Apple, Samsung Electronics and Microsoft.

Last week, it also launched an e-book subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, offering access to 600,000 e-books and audiobooks for $9.99 a month.

Critics were not kind, noting that most current fare is not included with the service. Reviews for the new Fire haven't been raves, either.

The mobile market is huge and continues to grow. This year the total mobile user base of smartphone users will reach 1.76 billion, according to researcher eMarketer. Some 50% of smartphone users will be on Android phones, the Google-owned operating system that Amazon uses for its smartphone and Kindle tablets.

Why Amazon looked to expand to the smartphone: Retail sales on smartphones this year in the United States will top $18.4 billion, up 25.4% from 2012, says researcher eMarketer.

The online retail market will surpass $304 billion in 2014, up from $262.3 billion in 2013, eMarketer says.

Tuna Amobi, an analyst at S&P Capital IQ, says Amazon is willing to sacrifice profits for market share. "At some point, investors will want to pin them down and make a good case why this needs to continue," he says. "Sooner or later, they have to return some capital."

According to online finance tracker Trefis, Amazon has 20 million subscribers to its Prime two-day free shipping, and movie/TV and music listening and viewing service.

Amazon charges $99 yearly for the service, and revenues earned from Prime are just 2% of sales, with "much higher," margins, according toTrefis.

Additionally, Prime customers tend to buy twice as much as regular customers, which is why Amazon pushes Prime -- and has the new phone geared to Prime members.

The Fire phone sells for $199 with a two-year contract with AT&T, but purchasers get a free year of Prime with it.

Richard Doherty, an analyst with the Envisioneering Group market research firm, doesn't see Amazon discounting the Fire phone -- yet. "They will discount if it is not low in Inventory perhaps," he says. "As they did multiple times with the Fire tablet over many seasons."

Follow Jefferson Graham on Twitter

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Missing Airliner Search Focused on Mali Area, Minister Says

Editor's Note: An earlier report cited the Facebook page of the Ouagadougou airport identifying one of the passengers as Mariela Castro, the niece of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro. ABC News has confirmed that she was not on that flight.

French jets are scouring a vast desert area searching for an Algerian airliner that disappeared from radar and has "probably crashed," the French foreign minister said today.

The Air Algerie jetliner was 110 passengers and six crew members when it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, en route to Algiers, the airline said.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane, an MD-83 model, about 50 minutes after it took off.

French forces, which are stationed in Mali to help combat al Qaeda and tribal separatists, sent two planes searching for the airliner.

"Despite an intensive search, no traces of the aircraft have been found yet. It has probably crashed," French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said.

"The search is at this stage focused on a vast area in the Gao region of Mali," he said.

Much of the region is desert with few roads and an average high temperature of 101 degrees Farenheit (38.5 C) at this time of the year.

"The French Ministry of Defense has deployed resources in the region to find the plane," Fabius said. "Algeria and U.N. forces have done the same. Two French Mirage 2000 based in Niamey have been carrying out reconnaissance flights since this morning."

The airline said that among the passengers were 51 French nationals along with 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian. The six crew members were Spanish.

Malaysia Airlines Plane Brought Down by Missile in Ukraine

Taiwan Airline Suspects Bad Weather Caused Crash

Plane Carrying Teen on Round-the-World Trip Goes Down Near American Samoa

News of the plane's disappearance came when Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.

Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday), asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

AP Graphics Bank

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

The flight path of Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali. Northern Mali has been the scene of firefights between the alliance of al-Qaeda affiliated fighters and Tuareg separatists against French troops supporting the Mali government.

A senior French official told the Associated Press that it seems unlikely that fighters in Mali had the kind of weaponry that could shoot down a plane, and that they armed primarily with shoulder-fired weapons — not enough to hit a passenger plane flying at cruising altitude.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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Apple moving toward mobile payments

Eli Blumenthal, Special for USA TODAY 11:40 a.m. EDT July 24, 2014

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Using your iPhone as a credit card? It could happen soon.

With rumors, patents and reports pointing to Apple releasing their long awaited smartwatch alongside a larger iPhone 6 this fall, there is new speculation that Apple will also venture into mobile payments. According to The Information, Apple is currently in talks with Visa and other credit card companies about a mobile payments partnership.

The new service would allow users to pay for physical goods on the web, in apps and in retail stores, turning the iPhone into a credit card. By allowing the iPhone to act as direct line of payment for credit card companies, the move would potentially allow for both retailers and their customers to save money by skipping fees normally paid to third-party payment processors. The Information also reports the company plans to run the system without giving up control to wireless carriers, many of who have been working on their own mobile payment solutions.

As for security, Apple has reportedly told some partners that its system would involve a "so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner's financial credentials can be stored." It's unknown if this hardware will be similar to the NFC (near-field communication) technology utilized by other mobile payment options such as Google Wallet or if it will be something Apple develops on its own.

Apple currently incorporates a "secure enclave" as part of the A7 processor to safely store fingerprints from the Touch ID sensor used on the iPhone 5s. It is possible the company could do something similar for securely storing financial data. The company is expected to incorporate the Touch ID sensor on future iPhones and iPads.

It has been rumored that the new mobile payments system would utilize Touch ID to authorize payments with Apple's Passbook app acting as a virtual "wallet" to hold the credit cards. The company is also expected to leverage the over 800 million iTunes accounts it currently has, a large number of which are attached to credit cards.

With the buzz around mobile payments, it's no surprise that Apple would be exploring entering the field. Forrester Research estimates that Americans will spend $90 billion through mobile payments by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012.

(Hat tips to MacRumors and Apple Insider).

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Report: Apple moving toward mobile payments this fall

Eli Blumenthal, Special for USA TODAY 11:40 a.m. EDT July 24, 2014

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Using your iPhone as a credit card? It could happen soon.

With rumors, patents and reports pointing to Apple releasing their long awaited smartwatch alongside a larger iPhone 6 this fall, there is new speculation that Apple will also venture into mobile payments. According to The Information, Apple is currently in talks with Visa and other credit card companies about a mobile payments partnership.

The new service would allow users to pay for physical goods on the web, in apps and in retail stores, turning the iPhone into a credit card. By allowing the iPhone to act as direct line of payment for credit card companies, the move would potentially allow for both retailers and their customers to save money by skipping fees normally paid to third-party payment processors. The Information also reports the company plans to run the system without giving up control to wireless carriers, many of who have been working on their own mobile payment solutions.

As for security, Apple has reportedly told some partners that its system would involve a "so-called secured element in the phones—a piece of hardware where sensitive information such as a phone owner's financial credentials can be stored." It's unknown if this hardware will be similar to the NFC (near-field communication) technology utilized by other mobile payment options such as Google Wallet or if it will be something Apple develops on its own.

Apple currently incorporates a "secure enclave" as part of the A7 processor to safely store fingerprints from the Touch ID sensor used on the iPhone 5s. It is possible the company could do something similar for securely storing financial data. The company is expected to incorporate the Touch ID sensor on future iPhones and iPads.

It has been rumored that the new mobile payments system would utilize Touch ID to authorize payments with Apple's Passbook app acting as a virtual "wallet" to hold the credit cards. The company is also expected to leverage the over 800 million iTunes accounts it currently has, a large number of which are attached to credit cards.

With the buzz around mobile payments, it's no surprise that Apple would be exploring entering the field. Forrester Research estimates that Americans will spend $90 billion through mobile payments by 2017, up from $12.8 billion in 2012.

(Hat tips to MacRumors and Apple Insider).

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Fidel Castro’s Niece Aboard Missing Air Algerie Plane

An Air Algerie jetliner carrying 116 people, including Fidel Castro's niece, has vanished from the radar in a desert area of Mali, the airline said today.

Air navigation services lost track of the plane, an MD-83 model, about 50 minutes after it took off from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, en route to Algiers.

The airline said that there were 110 passengers on board as well as six crew members. The airport's Facebook page identified one of the passengers as Mariela Castro, a niece of the former Cuban strongman. Mariela Castro is a prominent gay rights advocate.

Burkina Faso's transport minister said 50 French nationals were among those onboard, along with 24 Burkina Faso nationals, six Lebanese, five Canadians, four Algerians, two Luxemburg nationals, one Swiss, one Nigerian, one Cameroonian and one Malian.

Malaysia Airlines Plane Brought Down by Missile in Ukraine

Taiwan Airline Suspects Bad Weather Caused Crash

Plane Carrying Teen on Round-the-World Trip Goes Down Near American Samoa

News of the plane's disappearance came with Swiftair, the Spanish company that operated the plane, released a statement saying the plane had not arrived at its destination.

Transport Minister Jean Bertin Ouedraogo said the plane sent its last message around 0130 GMT (9:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday), asking Niger air control to change its route because of heavy rains in the area.

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

AP Graphics Bank

PHOTO: An Air Algerie plane disappeared from radar following takeoff in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, July 24, 2014.

The flight path of Flight AH5017 from Ouagadougou, the capital of the west African nation of Burkina Faso, to Algiers was not immediately clear.

Ouagadougou is in a nearly straight line south of Algiers, passing over Mali. Northern Mali has been the scene of firefights between the alliance of al-Qaeda affiliated fighters and Tuareg separatists against French troops supporting the Mali government.

A senior French official told the Associated Press that it seems unlikely that fighters in Mali had the kind of weaponry that could shoot down a plane, and that they armed primarily with shoulder-fired weapons — not enough to hit a passenger plane flying at cruising altitude.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Get real-time updates as this story unfolds. To start, just "star" this story in ABC News' phone app. Download ABC News for iPhone here or ABC News for Android here.

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Get paid for posts? Social networking’s new twist

AP 10:25 a.m. EDT July 24, 2014

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Facebook and most other social networks are built on the premise that just about everything should be shared - except the money those posts produce.

At least two services are trying to change that. Bubblews, a social network that came out of out of an extended test phase last week, pays users for posts that attract traffic and advertisers. Another company, Bonzo Me, has been doing something similar since early July.

"I just feel like everyone on social networks has been taken advantage of for long enough," says Michael Nusbaum, a Morristown, New Jersey surgeon who created Bonzo Me. "Facebook has been making a ton of money, and the people providing the content aren't getting anything."

Bonzo Me is paying its users up to 80 percent of its ad revenue for the most popular posts.

Bubblews' compensation formula is more complex. It's based on the number of times that each post is clicked on or provokes some other kind of networking activity. To start, the payments are expected to translate into just a penny per view, comment or like. Bubblews plans to pay its users in $50 increments, meaning it could take a while for most users to qualify for their first paycheck unless they post material that that goes viral.

"No one should come to our site in anticipation of being able to quit their day job," Bubblews CEO Arvind Dixit says. "But we are trying to be fair with our users. Social networks don't have to be places where you feel like you're being exploited."

Bubblews is also trying to make its service worthwhile for users by encouraging deeper, thoughtful posts instead of musings about trifling subjects. To do that, it requires each post to span at least 400 characters, or roughly the opening two paragraphs of this story.

Technology analyst Rob Enderle believes Bubblews, or something like it, eventually will catch on.

"I don't think this free-content model is sustainable," Enderle says. "You can't sustain the quality of the product if you aren't paying people for the content that they are creating. And you can't pay your bills if all you are getting are `likes.'"

Gerry Kelly of San Francisco has already earned nearly $100 from Bubblews since he began using a test version in January. His Bubblews feed serves as a journal about the lessons he has learned in life, as well as a forum for his clothing brand, Sonas Denim.

Though Facebook is by far the largest social network, it has a history of irking users. People have complained when Facebook changed privacy settings in ways that exposed posts to a wider audience. They have criticized Facebook for circulating ads containing endorsements from users who didn't authorize the marketing messages.

More recently, people were upset over a 2012 experiment in which Facebook manipulated the accounts of about 700,000 users to analyze how their moods were affected by the emotional tenor of the posts flowing through their pages. Facebook apologized.

Kelly still regularly posts on his Facebook page to stay in touch with friends and family, but says he is more leery of the service.

"They just take all your information and make all the money for themselves. It's insane," Kelly says.

Despite the occasional uproar, Facebook Inc. has been thriving while feeding off the free content of its 1.3 billion users. The Menlo Park, California, company now has a market value of about $180 billion, and CEO Mark Zuckerberg ranks among the world's wealthiest people with a fortune of about $30 billion, based on the latest estimates from Forbes magazine.

Advertisers, meanwhile, are pouring more money into social networks because that is where people are spending more time, particularly on smartphones. Facebook's share of the $140 billion worldwide market for digital ads this year is expected to climb to nearly 8 percent, or $11 billion, up from a market share of roughly 6 percent, or $7 billion last year, according to the research firm eMarketer.

Although it still isn't profitable, short-messaging service Twitter is also becoming a bigger advertising magnet, thanks largely to its 255 million users who also provide a steady flow of free content. Twitter's digital ad revenue this year is expected to rise to $1.1 billion, nearly doubling from $600 million last year, according to eMarketer.

Facebook and Twitter have become such important marketing tools that celebrities and other users with large social-media followings are being paid by advertisers to mention and promote products on their accounts.

Bubblews wants to make money, too, but it also wants to ensure that everyone using it gets at least a small slice of the advertising pie.

Dixit, 26, who started Bubblews with his college buddy Jason Zuccari, says the service got about 200,000 users during a "beta" test phase that began in September 2012. The service unveiled a redesigned website last week as it finally moved out of testing.

Bonzo Me is even smaller, with just a few thousand users since the release of apps for the Web, iPhones and Android devices in early July. The service has paid about $30,000 in ad revenue to users so far, according to Nusbaum.

Sandy Youssef of New Brunswick, New Jersey, likes being on Facebook, but she also intends to start posting video on Bonzo Me just in case she shares something that becomes a big hit.

"We are living in an age when the things you post on the Internet can go viral, so you may as well get paid for it," she says. "It's time to spread the wealth."

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A watch from Apple is the talk of the town

Apple hasn't announced it yet, but folks all over seem to know that it's planning to release a new digital watch that would interact with your iPhone and iPad. USATODAY's Jefferson Graham has the latest with his Talking Tech report.

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VENICE BEACH, Calif. -- The product isn't available, but people can't stop talking about Apple's rumored new smart watch.

"I want it," says Ellen Rydell of Las Vegas.

Apple on Tuesday got patent approval for what it referred to as iTime, describing it as a digital watch that would interact with the iPhone, iPad and computers to receive texts and e-mail.

Analysts expect the watch to be introduced in October, following a September launch of a new iPhone.

It would be the first major product launch from Apple since the death of co-founder Steve Jobs in 2011. Others since have been updates on older products.

"I like wearing watches," Rydell says. "Being able to text on it would be cool."

The device wouldn't be the first of its kind. Samsung Electronics and LG introduced smart watches this month which interact with Android phones for texting and e-mail. Pebble and Martian introduced theirs in 2013. But none have caught on in a big way with the public.

To have a smart watch from Apple would make a huge difference, consumers say.

"It's Apple," says Nick Davis of Los Angeles. "They're awesome, and we're loyal to them. If there's something coming from Apple, we'd get it."

Apple this week said its iPhone continues to break records. The company sold 35 million iPhones in the recent quarter, up from 31 million in the year-ago quarter. Apple has an advantage over other companies in that it speaks directly to consumers with high-trafficked retail stores where it can show off new products.

The name Apple listed on the patent, iTime, may be a ruse. It was filed in 2011, and the company could release the product with that name; iWatch, the name analysts had given the device; or something entirely new. Apple could surprise folks with a name they hadn't thought of, as was the case when Apple unveiled the iPad in 2010.

It was known at the time that Apple had a tablet under its sleeve, but analysts and pundits were wrong on the name and pricing for the device.

A smart watch from Apple "sounds amazing," said Anthony Rezekalla of Los Angeles Wednesday. "It sounds like Google Glass (the computerized eye wear Google has yet to sell to the general public.) High tech stuff. That's cool. I want it."

Readers: Would you buy a smart watch from Apple? Let's chat about it on Twitter, where I'm @jeffersongraham.

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Shares of AT&T fall nearly 1.5% following earnings report – @EarningsCentral

Shares of AT&T fall nearly 1.5% following earnings report - @EarningsCentral Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Chernin and AT&T to buy majority stake in Fullscreen YouTube network – @recode

Chernin and AT&T to buy majority stake in Fullscreen YouTube network - @recode Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

FCC serves notice to ISPs on speeds

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Worried that you are not getting the broadband speed that you Internet service provider promised? The FCC has an app for that.

The agency issued an advisory today reminding ISPs that they must disclose accurate information about connectivity speeds and services for home and mobile broadband. The Federal Communications Commission has received hundreds of complaints on the issue over the last several months.

The FCC adopted ISP transparency provisions in 2011 as part of the Open Internet rules. That Open Internet Transparency Rule remains active even though a federal court struck down some of the agency's Open Internet rules as part of the ongoing legal battle over net neutrality.

The agency would not comment on whether it had any ongoing investigations into ISP speed issues. Its transparency rule requires that ISPs make available information about expected and actual broadband speeds, pricing and fees, as well as network management practices, "such as congestion management practices and the types of traffic subject to those practices," the advisory reads.

"Consumers deserve to get the broadband service they pay for. After today, no broadband provider can claim they didn't know we were watching to see that they disclose accurate information about the services they provide," said FCC chairman Tom Wheeler in a statement. "The FCC's transparency rule requires that consumers get the information they need to make informed choices about the broadband services they purchase. We expect providers to be fully transparent about the details of their services, and we will hold them accountable if they fall down on this obligation to consumers."

Consumers should test their home broadband speeds using online tests and notify the FCC if their Net service doesn't meet its advertised speed. And to test mobile broadband speeds, the FCC has a Mobile Broadband Speed Test App for Android and iOS devices. Complaints can be filed on the FCC's site.

Follow Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider

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