Tech Watch: Ebay Bans Ivory Sales; Hulu Now on Boxee; Motorola Takes on Nokia

In a move to protect elephants, Ebay bans selling items containing ivory on its site; Hulu comes to Boxee; and Motorola launches luxury phone Aura to take on Nokia’s Vertu.


Ebay to Ban Ivory Sales


According to the Associated Press, eBay plans to ban the sale of ivory products in an effort to protect elephants in Africa and Asia that are being illegally poached. Starting in December, listings containing ivory items will be illegal to list, and eBay says it plans to begin to police its listing to enforce the restriction starting in January 2009.

The problem: eBay can’t ensure that the ivory products that its users list are in compliance with the extensive regulations that superintend ivory sales. What about items that contain ivory as a constituent part, like pianos? There will be a concession for items like these, but only if they were manufactured before 1900. Jewelry, chess sets and other bric-a-brac will not be exempt from the new regulation, and will not be allowed for auction or sale on eBay.

Ebay has said that it will work with governmental organizations like the US Fish and Wildlife Service to enforce and investigate regulations and cases. The decision to ban ivory items comes six years after an investigation by the Humane Society of the United States which discovered thousands of items made of ivory, the source of which could not be verified as legal.

Teresa Telecky, Humane Society International’s policy director, said in a statement, “EBay’s decision to wash its hands of the uncontrollable, bloody ivory trade is commendable and should set an example for others.”

Boxee Now Streams Hulu

If you’re a fan of watching TV without a TV, then you’ll like Boxee, which takes the television-via-PC to the next level and even eliminates using a Web browser. The software, which acts as a free media center on your Mac or PC, can be installed on most PCs and Macs, as well as on an Apple TV via a USB patch stick.


Boxee, which has been in very limited alpha for a short while now, just became a lot more attractive: it now supports streaming Hulu videos. Hulu is a joint effort between NBC and Fox to put their shows and movies, past and present, online and ad-supported with no charge to users. Most shows go up on the site within 24 hours of their broadcast debut, and the site also features shows from Comedy Central and CBS, like hits The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.

You can sign up for the alpha at Boxee’s site, but it looks like the list for actual accounts will require a long wait. This, of course, beats any TV-watching software that either Apple or any OEM PC maker has baked into their machines since broadband became ubiquitous.

Motorola Takes On Nokia’s Vertu

It’s a safe bet that Nokia doesn’t earn most of its revenue from its luxury line of Vertu phones, but that’s not stopping Motorola from investing in a luxury phone of its own. The ailing Motorola, which has laid off workers recently and stands on the brink of bankruptcy, may be hoping that this phone, dubbed the Aura, will join with the company’s incipient Android phone and spark the sales needed to bring Motorola back from extinction.

Motorola boasts that the Aura is comprised of 700+ individual parts, including a housing made of stainless steel and a front plate that reportedly takes two weeks to manufacture. It boasts a gorgeous 26 million color display, and pivots open on a Swiss-made bearing to reveal its delicate keypad.

The Aura also comes packed with a 62-carat sapphire crystal lens over its measly 2MP camera, as well as stereo Bluetooth 2.0, a microUSB port for charging and connectivity, quad-band GSM wireless, 7.3 hours of talk time, and a microSD card slot. The battery will last for 400 hours in standby.


The 4.97-ounce device will be available only from the Moto Store online, for a price of $2,000. The company has some gall to release a phone like this in current economic times, but for those that can still afford the Aura, the phone will begin shipping in early December.

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I've written about innovation, design, and technology for Fast Company since 2007. I was the co-founding editor of FastCoLabs