On Tuesday, Verizon, Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile USA joined the “It Can Wait” campaign that AT&T began last year. Next Monday, the campaign will kick off TV, radio and online ads warning consumers about the dangers of texting and driving, and a driving simulator will tour the country to demonstrate how dangerous the practice can be.
Recent studies have raised concerns over the growth of texting while driving and its dangers, especially for teenagers. Almost 43 percent of high school students of driving age had texted while driving in the past month, according to a recent survey by the Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York.
The co-branded summer campaign, scheduled to run through Labor Day on Sept. 3, was timed for what the carriers called the most dangerous season for teen driving. It will also include messages in Wal-Mart, Best Buy and Radio Shack stores as well as the carriers’ retail shops.
More than 200 organizations are also joining in the campaign. On Sept. 19, just as they did last year, backers of the program will ask consumers to take a pledge not to text while driving.
“They are doing the right thing,” said mobile analyst Jack Gold of J. Gold Associates. “I don’t think anybody, including the carriers, wants people texting while they’re driving.”
At the same time, the carriers may also be trying to head off further regulation of mobile use in cars. Texting while driving is illegal in many states, as is talking on a phone without a hands-free system. However, regulation might someday go further to outlaw mobile use even with hands-free systems, he said. Carriers may also fear being named in lawsuits over texting-related accidents, so they’re taking strong steps to warn against it, Gold said.
Samsung is making an aggressive sales play in the U.S. market by moving into thousands of third-party retail outlets where dedicated staff will sell and provide advice on the company’s smartphones,tablets and entertainment products.
Samsung has established “pop-up” stores in the past and had a full-scale outlet in New York that was ultimately shut down. A part of the new expansion plan includes retailer Best Buy, which on Monday announced that it would establish a special zone in its 1,400 U.S. retail stores to sell Samsung products.
The company already has authorized resellers, and the Best Buy partnership is an effort to give users a hands-on experience with its products, said Tim Baxter, CEO of Samsung Electronics America, during an event in New York on Wednesday to announce the Samsung and Best Buy partnership.
Providing a hands-on experience is a “vital” part of getting users to buy Samsung products, Baxter said.
Also, mobile computing is headed in a direction where tablets, smartphones and other devices such as TVs are able to easily interact with each other. A larger in-store presence will educate users on how these products work together, Baxter said.
Baxter declined to say if Samsung would open its own stores in key locations, but said that the company would partner with more retailers. Samsung spends $8 billion to $9 billion on product research every year, and a larger retail presence will also help understand product trends in the U.S., Baxter said.
The U.S. is a key market for Samsung, and the company believes it can grab a larger share in smartphones, tablets and PCs through a larger in-store presence. Samsung’s smartphone rival Apple already has a large retail presence where customers can buy products and get support.
Tim McDonough, Vice President, Marketing at Qualcomm, was Qualcomm´s commitment to Windows RT. Ever since Microsoft announced Windows RT, ARM supporters had high hopes and Windows RT has yet to live up to some.
Tim confirmed Qualcomm´s commitment to Windows RT and future releases, saying “we are here for the long run”. He describes the partnership as the beginning of a long journey and of course Qualcomm is going to continue rolling out chips that will run great with Windows RT.
Qualcomm mentioned that Samsung ATIV and Dell XPS 10, both of which use Qualcomm’s S4 dual-core APQ8060A chips, run really nice. Tim told us that he is a real fan of both devices and that he is currently using one of them.
We also learned that Snapdragon 600, the one used in the HTC One and some versions of Samsung’s Galaxy S4, is 40 per cent faster than the S4 Pro, adding that Adreno 320 graphics core is significantly faster than the Adreno 225 used in the S4 APQ8060A chip. Another number we got is that the Adreno 330 is up to four times faster than the 225, which is a huge leap forward. Let’s not forget that Snapdragon 800, which is up to 75 per cent faster than Snapdragon S4 Pro, is also coming in mid-year, second half of 2013. The 800 will be Qualcomm’s first chip with Adreno 330 graphics.
One can easily conclude that there should be some Snapdragon 600 and 800 Windows RT convertible tablets at some point in the future. To stay on the safe side, Qualcomm just confirmed that new and exciting things are coming in the next months and quarter and they are Windows based.
We have to notice that most people in the tablet world get really excited talking about convertible tablets in all shapes and sizes, as the physical keyboard is definitely an accessory you want to have.
AT&T will be the first U.S. carrier out of the gate with the next generation Galaxy S 4. On its S4 web page Tuesday, AT&T announced it would start shipping the units on April 30.
The company began taking pre-orders for the handset today.
AT&T is offering the S4 two 16GB models of the handset –one in white frost, the other in black mist.
The company’s unsubsidized price for the phone is $639.99. With a two-year contract, the phone sells for $199. Shipping is free if the phone is purchased online.
T-Mobile’s and Verizon’s release plans were tipped off Monday when Engadget posted a document from Staples listing the dates the retailer expects Galaxy S4 inventory to start arriving in its big box stores.
Tentative launch dates for the S4 in select Staple stores were May 1 for T-Mobile and May 30 for Verizon, according to the document.
The document also indicates that Staples expects the Galaxy S4 to be a hot item and will start taking reservations for the handsets. Those reservations–as many Windows Surface Pro shoppers already know all too well–are not a guarantee that you’ll get a handset on launch day, only that you’ll get a phone call when a phone is available.
Samsung, too, reportedly has big retail plans for the Galaxy S4. It’s setting up a number of ”mini” stores at select Best Buy outlets to hawk the company’s mobile products. The stores-within-a-store will be manned with Best Buy employees specially trained to explain the unique features of Samsung’s products.
The Galaxy S4 is expected to be another best seller for Samsung. One analyst has predicted the company will ship 10 million units during its first month on the market and 70 million by the end of the year.
Shipments aren’t sales, though, and it remains to be seen how many of those S4′s will wind up in the hands of users. Judging from the buzz surrounding the phone, however, it’s likely to be lots of them.
Windows RT hasn’t really been a great success, to put it mildly. Despite the fact that tablets such as the Lenovo Yoga and Surface RT came with the Office package out of the box, they haven’t really been selling all that well and now vendors are cutting prices in an effort to boost sales.
Business people liked Excel, Word and now it seems Outlook is coming to Windows RT as well. However, it wasn’t enough. The problem is that you could not install legacy Windows applications on anything that doesn’t come through the Windows Store. What’s more, RT is rather bloated and quite pricey, so in order to keep the price low tablet maker are forced to use antiquated hardware.
Microsoft has learned from its mistakes and now we hear that Windows RT becomes a part of Windows Blue update that should come by the end of the year. This means that RT gets integrated in this new Microsoft OS update. This was confirmed by multiple high ranked industry contacts that preferred to remain anonymous and avoid the rage of Ballmer.
There are some indications that Microsoft will be able to make some applications run on ARM cores, despite the fact that they were programmed for the x86 architecture. This sounds like some sort of emulation but despite that, it sounds like a step in right direction.
End users don’t really care about ARM or x86 instruction set, they just want their applications to work.
Microsoft released Windows RT for ARM-based devices and Windows 8 for Intel-based devices in October last year. The price drop is an acknowledgement that Windows RT has failed, analysts said.
Prices of popular products usually don’t fall, but Windows RT devices were not in demand, and prices fell, analysts said.
The starting price for Dell’s XPS 10 is now US$449 for a 32GB model, scalping $50 off the original launch price. The 64GB model is $499, which is a drop from the original $599 price. By comparison, the price of the Latitude 10 tablet with Intel processors and Microsoft’s Windows 8 OS remained stable at $499.
Asus’ VivoTab RT, which is largely sold through retailers, is being offered by Amazon.com for $382 with 32GB of storage, which is a heavy discount from the $599 launch price. Retailers like Best Buy, Staples and Office Depot have also dropped the price of the tablet by $50, now selling it for $549.
Newegg is listing VivoTab RT as having been discontinued. Asus did not respond to a request to comment on whether the company was still offering the tablet.
Lenovo is offering the IdeaPad Yoga 11 for $599 as part of a seven-day deal, which is a drop from the original $799 price. However, TigerDirect is offering an IdeaPad Yoga 11 model for $599 on its website, while Amazon is selling a model for $499.99.
Samsung did not ship its Windows RT tablet, Ativ Tab, to the U.S. market.
However, the starting price of Microsoft’s Surface RT remained consistent at $499 on its online store. Microsoft also offers Lenovo’s IdeaPad Yoga 11 through its store, but has stopped offering tablets like the VivoTab RT on its website. The company last month said it stocks its store with RT devices based on availability and demand.
While the less expensive 64GB device was also listed as out of stock Saturday on Microsoft’s online store, by Sunday it was again available.
The company acknowledged the outages.
“We’re working with our retail partners who are currently out of stock of the 128GB Surface Pro to replenish supplies as quickly as possible,” said Panos Panay, general manager for Microsoft’s Surface line, in a Saturday blog post. “Our priority is to ensure that every customer gets their new Surface Pro as soon as possible.”
Numerous online reports noted the shortages, saying that some Microsoft retail stores sported Apple-esque lines on Saturday and that many Best Buy and Staples locations — Microsoft’s retail partners for the Surface in the U.S. — had single-digit supplies that in some cases were claimed earlier in the week.
Microsoft is selling the Surface Pro in the U.S. through its online e-mart, its approximately 70 retail outlets, and the Best Buy and Staples chains.
The device, which runs Windows 8 and is powered by an Intel processor, sells for $899 in a 64GB storage configuration, and for $999 with 128GB. Keyboard-cover accessories — the Touch Cover and Type Cover — sell separately for $120 and $130, respectively.
Microsoft did not release sales numbers for opening day, keeping with its practice of remaining mum on the progress of the Surface line. The Surface RT, a tablet that runs the limited operating system Windows RT, launched last October, but Microsoft thus far has declined to comment on sales.
“There is no question that Microsoft is in this tablet race to compete for the long haul,” said Ryan Reith, analyst and program manager of IDC’s mobile device tracking, in a statement. “However, devices based upon its new Windows 8 and Windows RT operating systems failed to gain much ground during their launch quarter, and reaction to the company’s Surface with Windows RT tablet was muted at best.”
Microsoft has not disclosed sales numbers for the Surface RT, and has generally shied away from even general statements of its progress.
DC’s Surface RT estimate was based on the firm’s ongoing tracking of Asian component suppliers, said Tom Mainelli, IDC’s research director for tablets, in an interview today. Its number was in the same ballpark as earlier estimates that had pegged Surface RT sales at around 1 million.
Microsoft launched the Surface RT in October, and until late in the quarter sold it exclusively through its online mart and its several-dozen retail stores. Only in December did the company expand distribution to other retailers, such as Best Buy and Staples in the U.S.
The move will expand the company’s ability to sell its own hardware, notably the Surface RT tablet launched two months ago, and the upcoming Surface Pro.
Geekwire first reported the new outlets. Microsoft also blogged about the 2013 store locations.
According to Microsoft, the new brick-and-mortar sites will be in Beachwood, a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio (at Beachwood Place); Miami (Dadeland Mall); St. Louis (St. Louis Galleria); Salt Lake City (City Creek Center); San Antonio (The Shops at La Cantera); and San Francisco (Westfield San Francisco Centre).
Four of the six — those in Beachwood, Miami, St. Louis and San Francisco — will be former pop-ups turned into permanent locales.
Earlier this month, Microsoft announced it was extending the lifespan of most of its 34 holiday pop-ups into 2013 — originally, they were to exist only during the October-Decemeber 2012 sales season — and turn an unspecified number into 12-month stores.
Microsoft has declined to say how long the pop-ups will remain open, but the logical move would be to keep them running well into 2013: The company plans to start selling the Surface Pro, a more expensive tablet that runs Windows 8 Pro, in late January.
Two weeks ago, Microsoft also expanded its retail footprint to a pair of U.S. chains, Staples and Best Buy, to sell its Surface tablets, and announced it would add retail partners in several other countries in the near future.
Amazon has issued its first bonds in nearly 15 years as it looks to borrow money while interest rates are low.
Amazon’s position as the undisputed king of online retail has put the company in a good position to take advantage of cheap borrowing rates. Amazon issued three, five and 10-year bonds at 0.38, 0.63 and 0.93 percent above US Treasury rates with investors clamouring to get a ride on the firm’s coattails.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Amazon’s $3bn bond issue has attracted more than $10bn in investor interest. According to ratings agency Moody’s, the firm will use the cash generated in the bond sale to make investments such as buying its corporate headquarters.
Standard and Poor’s rated Amazon’s debt as AA- and said there was minimal financial risk with Amazon. While Moody’s rated the bonds at Baa1, the agency also forecast strong growth in sales for Amazon in the coming years. It seems that Amazon, given that it hasn’t got any other bonds, is proving popular with bond investors despite reporting low profits and recently having been grilled in the UK Parliament over allegations of tax avoidance.
Amazon has been diversifying the ways it generates cash, and while it long ago moved away from simply selling books, the firm is a big player in cloud services through its Amazon Web Services division and is aggressively marketing its own brand of electronics devices in the Kindle range of ebook readers and tablets.
The low-power laptop has an 11.6-inch screen, and is for those who do most of their computing on the web, Acer said Monday. the C7 Chromebook is mainly designed to be a secondary mobile device for those who want to browse the Web, check email or access social networks.
The C7 Chromebook will face competition from Samsung’s Chromebook, which starts at $249 and also runs on Chrome OS. Samsung’s Chromebook, which was announced last month, has the Exynos 5 Dual chip, which is based on ARM’s Cortex-A15 processor design. ARM, which dominates tablets and smartphones, is now trying to enter the laptop market, which is dominated by x86 chips from Intel and Advanced Micro Devices.
Acer and Samsung announced the first wave of Chromebooks in June last year. Google has coined the term “Chromebook” for netbooks with the Chrome OS.
The C7 will come with Wi-Fi connectivity. Samsung’s Chromebook by comparison comes with Wi-Fi and 3G connectivity, with prices for 3G netbooks starting at $329. Acer did not respond to requests for comment on whether it will introduce 3G or LTE connectivity in C7.
The C7 has Intel’s Celeron 847 processor, which is based on the Sandy Bridge microarchitecture and has a clock speed of 1.10GHz. The laptop has a 1.3-megapixel webcam and 320GB of storage, and Acer is offering 100GB of free Google Drive cloud storage for two years.
The C7 Chromebook is available from the Google Play online store or Best Buy’s retail and online stores. Acer did not respond to a request for information about C7 Chromebook’s worldwide availability.
PayPal unveiled a price-matching offer on Thursday, following similar moves by retailers including Target Corp, as the payments giant attempts to encourage more shoppers to use its service this holiday season.
If consumers purchase products with PayPal and the items are advertised for lower prices by any merchant within 30 days, PayPal said it will reimburse users the difference.
The price-matching offer includes PayPal purchases made online and in physical stores and runs through December 31, the company, owned by eBay Inc, added.
Price matching has emerged as a tool some retailers are using to head off competition from Amazon.com Inc this holiday season.
Target and Best Buy Co plan to match online prices with Amazon and other big online merchants this season to combat showrooming – where in-store prices are compared with online prices using smartphones.
PayPal’s goal is different. It wants to encourage PayPal account holders to use its service more, both online and in physical stores. The company is making a big push offline and its payment service is now accepted in thousands of stores run by retailers including Home Depot, Office Depot and American Eagle Outfitters.
PayPal unveiled another incentive to use its service on Thursday. The company said products bought with PayPal can be returned free of charge within 30 days if the merchant accepts returns but does not cover the cost of shipping the item back.
PayPal plans to send shoppers a pre-paid shipping label within five days after they file a return claim. PayPal will also refund return shipping costs if shoppers have already paid for that service. The refunds will be sent to consumers’ PayPal accounts, it added.
Models of Research in Motion’s PlayBook tablet have been yanked from online stores of some top retailers in the U.S. and Canada, a move one analyst said could mean that the company is gearing up for a successor tablet.
The PlayBook tablet is no longer listed on the online stores of consumer electronics retailers including Wal-Mart, Best Buy, RadioShack and Staples. The products are listed as being out of stock in Office Depot’s online store.
In the BlackBerry maker’s home country of Canada, only the 32GB model is available on the websites of retailers Futureshop and Best Buy Canada, at a discounted rate of C$149.99 ($153). The 16GB and 64GB PlayBook models are out of stock.
However, the tablets remain available on RIM’s own online store.
RIM did not respond to requests for comment.
The first PlayBook shipped in April 19, starting at $500 for a 16GB model, but has sold poorly since. PlayBook sales dropped to about 130,000 in RIM’s most recent fiscal quarter, which ended on Sept. 1.
RIM has said nothing recently about a new PlayBook, but if one were to come, it could be running the upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system, O’Donnell said. RIM is aggressively pushing the new OS, which will be on new BlackBerry smartphones later this year.
More that a dozen retailers including Best Buy, Walmart, Target and 7-Eleven have joined forces to create the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), a mobile-payments network that will go head-to-head with Google and Isis.
The retailers claim that they are better suited than mobile operators and OS developers to develop a successful mobile-payment system.
No launch date was given for the exchange, which was announced Wednesday, but development of MCX’s mobile application is underway. It will be available through virtually any smartphone, according to a statement from the merchants. MCX is not yet saying which payment technologies it will use, but that information will be provided in the near future, according to a spokesman.
Like their competitors, the retailers plan to combine their mobile wallet with targeted offers and promotions that will be available through smartphones.
MCX will enter an increasingly crowded U.S. market for mobile payments using Near-Field Communications (NFC) and other methods. The two main competitors for MCX are Google Wallet and Isis, which is backed by AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless.
Even more contenders are expected to enter the space, including Apple, according to Windsor Holden, research director with Juniper Research.
“There is no question that Apple will come out with some form of contactless payment technology,” Holden said.
It remains to be seen whether the company will opt for NFC or something else, he said.
Google’s Nexus 7 tablet can now be purchased on more retail websites worldwide, but so far the less expensive US$199 model remains exclusive to Google’s Play online store, according to current listings.
Retailers such as Staples, B&H Photo and Video, and Best Buy Canada have listed only the pricier Nexus 7 model with 16GB of storage, which starts at $249 depending on the region. The stores have not listed the cheaper 8GB model, which is available on the Google Play online store for $199.
Google late last month at its developer conference announced the Nexus 7 with 8GB and 16GB of storage. The tablet, made with Asus, has Google’s latest Android 4.1 operating system code-named Jelly Bean and a quad-core Nvidia Tegra 3 processor. The 16GB model is priced at $249 on the Google Play store, with shipping beginning in mid-July. The same tablet is also listed for on Staples’ website for $249, with shipping scheduled to start Thursday to next Tuesday.
The tablet has attracted publicity partly for its features, but the $199 price also attracted many buyers who wanted to check out Android. The 8GB tablet is the most feature-packed in the sub-$200 price range, but at $249 the Nexus 7 starts competing on price and features with tablets like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 2 with a 7.0 inch screen.
The $199 price point is critical to attract buyers to Nexus 7 and Google, which is looking to catch up with Apple, said Bob O’Donnell, program vice president for client and displays research at IDC. A $199 price boosted the sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire, which is based on a customized version of Android.
The sales of Google’s $199 tablet may not be hurt by exclusivity to the Google Play store, but wider availability could certainly expand the tablet’s market presence, O’Donnell said.