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TECHNOLOGY

The Cash Register Meets its App

The smartphone makes a significant lunge toward replacing your credit card. Plus, what if your product is too perfect, and the rest of the day's news.
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Each day, Inc.'s reporters scour the Web for the most important and interesting news to entrepreneurs. Here's what we found today:

Cash, credit, and finally, cell. It's about time. For years, tech-minded consumers have been clamoring for retailers to adopt technology that allows them to swipe their smartphones to purchase goods in-store. The New York Times is reporting that Starbucks is finally heeding that call, allowing customers to pay for drip, doppios, and frapps with smartphones, something that the Japanese have been doing for a while now. Customers must first download the Starbucks app onto their Blackberry, iPhone, or Droid, and hold their phone in front of a scanner at the cash register. Money is then deducted from a prepaid Starbucks account. Our question: Is this another sign mobile payments are moving toward the mainstream in America? Check out CNN's top five ways to pay with your phone, and let us know what you think.

A product that works too well. Adam and Ryan Goldston created a sneaker that claims to give a basketball player a huge competitive advantage: better ups. When they pitched the sneaker to the NBA, they had an inkling that their product was too good for its own good. They were right. The NBA banned the sneaker and with it, hopes of seven figure endorsement deals. But the Goldstons, 23-year-old twins, used the ban to their advantage. OPEN Forum reports on the press release they wrote which detailed their experience with the NBA, and how the sneakers were banned for performing too well. The result? "It took all of seven minutes after the release went out before the Goldstons were inundated with e-mails, texts, and phone calls from friends, media, and interested customers all asking about their new wonder shoes."

Will Facebook migrate? The social-networking giant is reportedly pondering a move out of Palo Alto. The new headquarters could be a one-million-square-foot campus in nearby Menlo Park, which would easily accommodate Facebook's 1,400 employees currently in Palo Alto, the trendy college town where Mark Zuckerberg and his early recruits lived and worked in a small rented house. Curious? The Wall Street Journal has the story.

What do you do with a bad board member? Steve Blank ponders that question today after mentoring a first-time CEO who lacked chemistry, empathy, and respect in his relationship with one of his board members. He felt he would be fired. "Astonishingly, there's no professional standards in the venture capital industry that acknowledges this problem even exists," Blank writes. As the ranks of VCs grow (from 20 or so four decades ago to more than 400 today), Blank comes down hard on them, writing he hopes they realize that "with that expansion comes a different set of responsibilities."

When everything's rosy, it's probably time to change. Business is good and sales have never been better. So why is the Harvard Business Review urging confident and successful business owners to take action and reinvent? Research from Accenture proves that most businesses tend to grow stagnant and eventually fail because they wait too long to fix problems within the company. "But there are tons of ways you can give your business a makeover if you execute the right strategies the report says.

Ain't nothin' but a number. Age doesn't not make the entrepreneur, as was proven by 14-year-old Robert Nay, a middle-school-age coder from Spanish Fork, Utah. His app, Bubble Ball, just beat out Angry Birds for the Biggest Time Waster at Work award, and last week became the most popular free app in the App Store, reports The New York Observer. The moral of this story? Just when you think you've got a leg up on the competition, there's always an underaged underdog that can come along and steal your glory. Eh, you might as well stop worrying and play more games.

Speaking of popular apps... What's the most popular app of all time? As Apple counts down to 10 billion total app downloads, the iTunes store is displaying a page of all-time top downloads. Who wins in the popular "free" category? Facebook, of course. Pandora pulls in second in the rankings, which TechCrunch assures are ordered by popularity. the most downloaded game? Paper Toss.

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Last updated: Jan 19, 2011




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