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A roundup of the latest high-tech news “Hot Off the Wire” from The Associated Press and Local Tech Wire:

Ticketfly a pest to Live Nation?

LOS ANGELES, Calf. – If Live Nation Entertainment Inc. is now the elephant of ticket-selling after merging with Ticketmaster, Ticketfly is one of its pesky new competitors.

The startup is run by one of the co-founders of TicketWeb, an online seller of independent music concert tickets that was sold to Ticketmaster in 2000.

Ticketfly boasts that its add-on fees are on average 40 percent lower than those charged by Ticketmaster, and that it has no charge for printing tickets at home. It also offers an easy way for venue owners and promoters to tout shows on Facebook and Twitter and via e-mail.

On Wednesday, it planned to announce $3 million in funding, including from venture capitalists such as High Peaks Venture Partners and Contour Venture Partners.

The fly analogy is apt.

The company says it is on target to sell 1 million tickets in its first 12 months of operation since last June. The newly-merged Live Nation sold 140 million tickets last year.

Ticketfly’s 50 clients are a mix of venue owners and concert promoters. A little more than half are former clients of Ticketmaster or TicketWeb. Clients are as large as the 19,000-capacity Merriweather Post Pavilion amphitheater in Columbia, Md., and as small as the 600-capacity Troubadour nightclub in Los Angeles.

Andrew Dreskin, the co-founder and co-chief executive, said one of his company’s advantages is that it just handles ticketing and isn’t in the business of booking acts into venues the way Live Nation is.

As a condition of Live Nation’s merger with Ticketmaster, the Justice Department mandated that Live Nation could not access Ticketmaster sales data to better compete for concert promotion work. Dreskin said some concert promoters doubt that condition can be policed. In contrast, Dreskin said, "we don’t compete with our clients."

Next Firefox promises more privacy control

NEW YORK, N.Y. – The next version of the Firefox browser, set for release by the end of the year, will pare down the software’s menus and certain user options while giving Web surfers more control over privacy.

Firefox 4 promises to let users better control relationships with websites by describing more simply what information is gathered by cookies, which are files that store data on website visits.

In Firefox’s current version, determining which websites are peering into users’ Internet habits is a complex process involving many menus and submenus. With the change, users will be able to see from a single menu what information websites are gathering. Users will then have the option of deciding which cookies to allow and which to disable.

But Mozilla, the browser’s creator, will also take away some user controls to make Firefox sleeker. That means taking out buttons and menus that Mozilla says few people use anyway. Mozilla says the change won’t just make websites load faster, it will make them feel faster.

"The simpler an interface looks, the faster it will seem," Mike Beltzner, Firefox director of development, said in a video presentation posted to its website this week.

Firefox said the browser will be made more stable, by requiring fewer add-on programs for additional functionality. The program will use the new Web programming language, HTML5, which will allow videos and other multimedia content to play in the browser without needing companion software such as Adobe System Inc.’s Flash.

Firefox is second to Microsoft Corp.’s market-dominant Internet Explorer browser in usage. Microsoft is also working on an update. Internet Explorer 9, Microsoft’s latest browser offering, will also support HTML5. An early version is already out for testing.

EBay CEO envisions PayPal in more offline settings

BOSTON, Mass. – The waiter comes to your table and asks: "Will you be paying by cash, credit or PayPal?"

Don’t be surprised to hear that question six months or a year from now, says John Donahoe, the CEO of PayPal’s parent company, eBay Inc. Although PayPal is best known as a way to pay people or buy things online, the service is eyeing more opportunities offline.

To get there, PayPal is letting others do some of the hard work. Last fall, PayPal opened its system to make it easier for outside software developers to create Web services or mobile applications that use PayPal as a payment engine. Since then nearly 30,000 developers have signed up to create PayPal-based applications.

Among the third-party apps in the works are services that would let restaurants or retailers collect payments over PayPal on a customer’s mobile phone, Donahoe told The Associated Press in an interview.

Accepting PayPal isn’t necessarily cheaper for a merchant than taking plastic. But it could be very quick for customers who are frequent PayPal users and possibly safer for them as well, because PayPal does not require a user to share a credit card number or other financial information with merchants.

So it’s not hard to imagine a restaurant with a PayPal-enabled mobile app letting customers book reservations on an iPhone and then asking after the meal, as Donahoe put it, "Would you like the bill or would you like us to send it to your phone?"

Donahoe is confident that PayPal’s huge customer base, with 84 million active accounts worldwide, will be an advantage in the still-early mobile payments market. But he knows other companies are racing to provide similar services. Several iPhone applications let people carry out quick mobile transactions. Payment-services companies and startups such as Square, founded by one of the people behind Twitter, are vying for some of the action, too.

"There’s more innovation on the Web going on right now than I think at any time in history," Donahoe said.


DirectTV wants to be ‘king’ of 3-D

NEW YORK, N.Y. – In the race for supremacy in 3-D television, DirecTV Inc. wants to be king.

DirecTV’s exclusive NFL Sunday Ticket package of out-of-market football games has been a hit. Now the company has eyes on creating what it hopes to be its next competitive edge: extensive 3-D programming including movies, documentaries and events. In June, DirecTV will debut four 3-D channels: ESPN 3D and three of its own channels.

But DirecTV has to snag exclusive 3-D content to stand apart from cable TV rivals that also want to ramp up 3-D TV. DirecTV CEO Michael White also acknowledged that wide adoption of 3-D TV requires that more content be produced in 3-D. More consumers also must buy 3-D TV sets and be comfortable with 3-D glasses.

"How many consumers will buy a 3-D TV set? Time will tell," White said in an interview Friday.

Not all shows are suitable for 3-D. White said the best 3-D programming are in the areas of children’s animation and sports.
"Is someone going to watch the evening news in 3-D? Probably not," he said.

Still, 3-D seems to be the next technology trend in TV. Samsung and Panasonic have started selling 3-D TV sets as 3-D movies such as "Alice in Wonderland" and "Avatar" packed theaters. Hollywood hopes to bring the 3-D experience to the living room. But whether 3-D sticks is another matter.

White said DirecTV is not planning to buy another company to get more 3-D or other content. Its rival, Comcast Corp., made the opposite bet with its proposal to buy a 51 percent stake in NBC Universal from General Electric Co.; federal regulators are reviewing that deal.

Separately, White dismissed talk that DirecTV might be interested in purchasing Sirius XM Radio Inc. They both use satellites, and DirecTV could add a radio service to its bundle of TV plans. But White indicated that DirecTV wants to stay focused on providing the best TV entertainment to retain its highest-spending customers.

"We want to be the best, not necessarily the cheapest," White said.