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Amazon Plans On Opening Up To 400 Bookstores

February 4, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc will open up to 400 physical bookstores, according to a major U.S. mall operator with knowledge of the proposal.

Amazon recently experimented with brick-and-mortar stores with the opening of a bookstore in its home city of Seattle in November. An expansion of bookstores, which the company has not confirmed, would be a surprise reversal from the online retailer credited with driving physical booksellers out of business.

“You’ve got Amazon opening brick-and-mortar bookstores and their goal is to open, as I understand, 300 to 400 bookstores,” Sandeep Mathrani, chief executive of General Growth Properties Inc, said on Tuesday, responding to an analyst’s question after it reported earnings.

On the call, Mathrani compared Amazon’s plans to similar moves by eyeware company Warby Parker or men’s clothing retailer Bonobos, both of which opened physical stores after finding success online.

An Amazon spokeswoman said the company does not comment on “rumors and speculation.”

Before branching out to offer everything from fresh groceries to original TV programming, Amazon got its start as a bookseller 20 years ago. It has since revolutionized the publishing industry by introducing its popular e-reader, the Kindle.

Amazon’s bookstore in Seattle carries books selected based on customer ratings and popularity on Amazon.com. The storefront also provides a space for visitors to test-drive Amazon’s Kindle, Fire TV and other devices.

Any move by Amazon to expand stores would further antagonize long-time rivals like Barnes & Noble Inc, the largest U.S. bookstore chain, which operated 640 bookstores across the United States as of January. Shares of Barnes & Noble fell more than 5 percent on Tuesday.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Mathrani’s comments on Tuesday.

Kevin Berry, vice president of investor relations at General Growth Properties, declined to comment beyond what was said during the conference call.

 

Is Samsung Going To Starting A Rental Phone Service?

February 2, 2016 by Michael  
Filed under Mobile

Samsung  is rolling out a rental phone service which will replace a phone that is been used for a year with the latest model.

The system is similar to the rental model which was introduced by Apple in September of last year. Samsung will bring the service out in March in South Korea but it is also in talks with  Bright Star, which is a business that specializes in distribution of mobile in the US so it is pretty likely to be tried over the pond too.  We have not heard about it talking to any EU distributor but it is also fairly likely.

Under the deal you replace your old phone with a new phone every year if you make a two year contract and pa a year worth of instalments. The company then makes a bit of dosh flogging the used phones.

The first phone to be rented will be the Galaxy S7 that happens to be being released in March. It will also have a higher resale value as a used model.

Officially Samsung is saying nothing as the Galaxy S7 is not even in the shops yet.

Mobile telecommunication businesses such as SK Telecom, LG Uplus and others are also preparing to release similar services. This is not the first time they have had a crack at programs likes this there were operations like Zero Club, Free Club and others in the past which operated in a similar way. It should make the introduction of the rental phone service using Apple’s model a doddle.

If it takes off it could be a change in distribution model for phones. As mobile markets are saturated and as subsidies for mobiles disappear, rental phones are seen as an alternatives that will create new demand.  Much of the success however depends on the resale value of the older phones.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Samsung Profits Hit By Weak Demand For Smartphones

January 29, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Weak demand for smartphones and display panels weighed down Samsung’s profits last quarter, and the company doesn’t expect much improvement this year.

Revenue for the fourth quarter was 53.3 trillion won (US$45.5 billion), up just 1 percent from a year earlier, Samsung announced Thursday in Seoul. Net profit plummeted 40 percent to 3.2 trillion won.

A day earlier, Samsung’s biggest rival, Apple, said it too was seeing weaker than expected demand for handsets. The Cupertino company reported iPhone sales that were almost flat and forecast its first quarterly revenue drop since 2003.

Samsung isn’t expecting much better. It sees a difficult environment in 2016 characterized by slowing IT demand.

“It would be a challenge to maintain 2016 operating profit levels,” said Kim Sang Hyo, Samsung’s vice president of investor relations, in a conference call with analysts.

A weak macro economy around the world will hurt business in the first half, but things should get better in the second half, the company said.

Sales in Samsung’s key mobile division fell 10 percent in the quarter to 24 trillion won. That was the result of an earlier pile up of unsold phones at retailers, and the fact that Samsung sold fewer high-end phones and more that were lower priced.

Samsung doesn’t divulge the number of smartphones it sells, preferring to announce total sales of all phone types. That figure was 97 million last quarter, with smartphones accounting for around 85 percent.

For 2016, it expects the mobile business will see single-digit growth due to tepid demand for new smartphones and tablet PCs.

Samsung’s semiconductor and display panel operations — it’s second-biggest business area — was the only good performer last quarter. Sales rose 11 percent year-on-year to 19.7 trillion won thanks to healthy demand for flash memory chips and continued demand for mobile and server DRAM.

 

 

 

 

 

Amazon’s E-mail ‘Share’ Runs Afoul Of German Law

January 27, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A German court has ruled as unlawful a feature that encourages Amazon customers to share links to products of the online shop with their contacts, confirming the ruling of a lower court.

The Amazon “share” feature invites customers to share a product via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter or Pintrest.

The court said on Monday that sharing by e-mail without approval of the recipient was illegal. It is “unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment,” the regional court in Hamm said, confirming the ruling of a lower court in Arnsberg.

The case was brought against one of Amazon’s resellers by a competitor.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The ruling comes after Germany’s highest court ruled earlier this month that a similar feature that encourages Facebook users to market the social media network to their contacts as unlawful.

At the time, the Federation of German Consumer Organisations (VZBV), which brought the Facebook case to court, had said the ruling would have implications for other services in Germany which use similar forms of advertising.

 

There Are Now Nearly 300,000 Drones According To FAA Database

January 25, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Almost 300,000 recreational drone owners have registered their unmanned aircraft in a new federal database created to help address a surge of rogue drone flights near airports and public venues, U.S. regulators said on Friday.

The Federal Aviation Administration said 295,306 owners registered in the 30-day period after the registry was launched on Dec. 21 and obtained an FAA identification number that must be displayed on their aircraft.

It was not clear how many drones had been registered. The registration applies to drones that weigh between 0.55 pound (250 grams) and 55 pounds (25 kgs).

Experts have said 700,000 to 1 million unmanned aircraft were expected to be given as gifts in the United States last Christmas alone. People who operated their small unmanned aircraft before Dec. 21 must register by Feb. 19.

Owners who registered during the first month had the $5 fee reimbursed.

“The registration numbers we’re seeing so far are very encouraging,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said in a statement.

Federal officials see online registration as a way to address the safety concerns that have arisen as a result of unauthorized drone flights near airports and crowded public venues across the country.

The current system is available only to owners who intend to use drones exclusively for recreational or hobby purposes. The FAA is also working to make the system available for non-model aircraft users including commercial operators by March 21.

Officials say the agency is also working with the private sector to streamline registration including through the use of new smart phone apps that could allow a manufacturer or retailer to register a drone automatically by scanning an identification code on the aircraft.

 

AT&T Facing Pressure, Offers Aggressive Smartphone Discounts

January 22, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

AT&T has announced aggressive discounts on new smartphones and devices, including a 2-for-1 smartphone offer for business customers.

A big focus of the AT&T discounts is special deals on Samsung’s Galaxy smartphones and Gear S2 smartwatches. Analysts interpreted that focus on Samsung devices as a way to clear out inventory prior to expected upgrade announcements coming in late February at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

AT&T is also facing pressure to add more subscribers, as analysts — including Evercore ISI this week– have predicted AT&T’s fourth-quarter postpaid subscriber loss will be more than 300,000. That comes amid reports that T-Mobile added 4.5 million net subscribers for the fourth quarter and Verizon Wireless added 525,000.

All the major carriers, including AT&T, hit the December holidays with special device deals, but AT&T apparently didn’t feel enough impact on its inventory from those offers, analysts said.

AT&T and Samsung are motivated to get rid of all the old inventory before new models arrive, said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy. “Retailers won’t run such an aggressive promotion unless they have a lot of stock.”

An AT&T spokeswoman provided a different explanation: “Due to popular demand, AT&T is bringing back some of its holiday promos.”

Those promos — available to both consumers and business customers at AT&T retail stores — include a free Samsung Gear S2 smartwatch for a limited time to any customer buying a Samsung Galaxy smartphone, or a free Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 for buying a Galaxy smartphone on an AT&T Next wireless plan. AT&T is also offering an iPad mini 2 for $99 when a customer buys a new iPhone on the Next plan.

For business customers, the 2-for-1 smartphone deal is new. It allows business customers to buy a new smartphone and then get another smartphone, valued at up to $650, for free.

 

 

Mobile Shopping Scores Big During Holiday Season

January 11, 2016 by mphillips  
Filed under Uncategorized

Shopping from mobile devices increased by a whopping 59 percent during the U.S. holiday shopping season, data from analytics firm Comscore Inc showed, as consumers were lured by attractive deals and shipping options.

Shoppers spent a total of $12.7 billion through smartphones and tablets beating Comscore’s forecast of $11.7 billion, the company said.

“If there is an underlying takeaway from this holiday season, I think it will be remembered as the one where ‘mobile ate brick-and-mortar,” said Gian Fulgoni ComScore chairman emeritus.

U.S. shoppers are increasingly shifting their holiday shopping online, particularly on mobile devices, as they seek to avoid crowds at brick-and-mortar stores and take advantage of online-only offers.

Mobile commerce is estimated to have accounted for 18 percent of total digital commerce during the shopping season, an increase from 13 percent in 2014.

Consumers spent a total of $56.4 billion through desktop, lower than the $58.3 billion Comscore had expected.

“Fairly early on it became clear that desktop e-commerce would likely underperform our expectations while mobile commerce was poised to over perform,” Fulgoni said.

 

Target Developing Mobile Wallet Service

December 21, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Target Corp is in the beginning stages of creating its own mobile wallet, three people familiar with the matter said, joining Wal-Mart Stores Inc in posing a threat to recent entrants like Apple Pay.

The fourth-largest U.S. retailer has not committed to launch the product, which would allow customers to pay for goods using an app on their mobile phones. The mobile wallet could launch as early as next year, but it is too early to predict, said two of the sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Target’s team has made some decisions, including to partner with credit card companies, and they are in favor of processing transactions using scanning technology to communicate with payment terminals, the two sources said.

However, Target has not tested the wallet in its stores so far, said the third source, who was not authorized to disclose the details.

Target’s entry would create a powerful new competitor in a small, crowded market, challenging Apple Inc’s Apple Pay, Alphabet Inc’s Android Pay and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s Samsung Pay.

Target’s move also would raise new questions about the viability of a plan by a number of retailers, including Target and Wal-Mart, to create a joint mobile wallet, called CurrentC.

Target spokesman Eddie Baeb said on Friday the retailer is testing CurrentC, which is being developed by the Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), in a few stores but it is also exploring additional mobile wallet solutions. He declined to comment on whether Target was developing its own mobile payment service.

“Target is a participant of the MCX and we are testing its CurrentC mobile wallet with guests as part of a pilot in Columbus, Ohio,” Baeb said.

Mobile wallets have struggled to find favor with merchants and customers, with many shoppers not finding the new systems worth the trouble to activate for every purchase.

Still, wallet companies are cramming into the space in the expectation that consumers eventually will choose to pay with phones and that winning vendors will forge deep, profitable links with customers.

CurrentC’s aim was to become competitive with credit cards while reducing the fees retailers pay to card companies.

Last week, Wal-Mart became the first member of the group to announce its own mobile payment service, Wal-Mart Pay.

 

Walmart Joins World Of Mobile Payments

December 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Wal-Mart Stores Inc announced that it will launch ‘Walmart Pay,’ to become the first U.S. retailer to offer its own payment feature to expand consumer payment options and increase the speed of checkouts.

Walmart Pay will be introduced in select U.S. stores on Thursday and in additional stores after the holiday season, Wal-Mart executives said on a video call with reporters on Wednesday.

The free service, integrated into the retailer’s app, will be available nationwide by the first half of 2016, the executives said.

Walmart Pay will be available on devices using Apple’s  iOS or Alphabet Inc’s Android operating system and allows payments with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift cards, the company said.

It will also allow for the integration of other payment options such as mobile wallets in the future.

The feature requires customers to choose Walmart Pay within the retailer’s mobile app at a checkout counter, activate their phone camera and scan the code displayed at the register after which an e-receipt will be sent to the app.

The company is in talks with mobile wallet developers, Daniel Eckert, senior vice president of services for Walmart U.S., said on the call, but did not specify who the companies were.

Wal-Mart has been working with a consortium of retailers to develop a mobile wallet, called CurrentC, which was beta-launched in August, in a bid to rival Apple Inc’s  Apple Pay.

Wal-Mart said Walmart Pay was developed independently, but it continues to remain associated with CurrentC as a possible mobile wallet addition to Walmart Pay.

 

Are People Dumping The Apple Watch?

December 3, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

More than half of unsatisfied Apple users dump the Apple Watch within two weeks of buying it, according to a shocking survey.

According to beancounters at Apple friendly independent research outfit Wristly, the more people knew about technology the less happy they were with the god-awful product. The findings confirm what we have been saying all along, you have to be a rabid Apple fanboy to think that the iWatch is any good. This survey seems to hint that even if you buy one you are going to be incredibly disappointed.

To be fair Wristly thinks the Apple Watch has legs and was a bit surprised to see all the negative opinions on “this revolutionary new product.” So it talked to 330 people who stated that they owned an Apple Watch and were not satisfied with it.

Slightly under half the respondents made up their mind about the Apple Watch within two weeks. Apparently the first to lose interest in the gadget were those who know anything about technology.

What surprised Wristly was that the majority of rejecters had kept it “in a drawer”. Few owners (?18 percent) of the Apple Watch and 24 (percent) of the Apple Watch Sport owners had sold it and only 12 per cent  and 17 per cent  respectively had returned it to Apple.

Wristly thinks that this is because users had a “reluctance to completely reject it.” Personally we think this argument is silly. You could equally say that the person and deeply rejected the product and wanted to have nothing more to do with it, or was too embarrassed to take it back .

The top reason the owner gave it up was “not enough value” which could be said for any Apple product. But the key performance areas were most frequently cited with 80 per cent blaming limited feature-set, 66 per cent rating it as too slow and 59 per cent unhappy with the battery life.

“Fifth of the top five reasons was a bit more insightful with 53 per cent of the respondents reported being annoyed that the time is not always displayed and having to “tilt” to wake-up Apple Watch to see the time.”

Trying not to embarrass Apple too much, Wristly pointed out that 30 per cent of dissatisfied owners still wear Apple Watch more or less regularly. The belief was that this figure actually “meant something” other than the fact that they had wasted so much dosh on the shiny toy they might as well still use it.

What strikes us as more disturbing is that roughly half the dissatisfied owners who responded think they might still buy the next one. This really does mean that Apple users are masochists who never learn from their mistakes.

However fortunately for the rest of humanity there are few more statistics which count against the Apple Watch masochism continuing. Firstly Jobs’ Mob sold less than nine million out of the 42 million expected. There will be a hard core of those nine million who will never buy another iWatch and another percentage that will think twice about it. On that basis the numbers for iWatch 2 will be much less than the first iWatch.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Cyber Monday Drew Record Number Of Shoppers

December 3, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Cyber Monday racked up record sales, with numbers surging by 17.8 percent over the same day last year, according to IBM Watson analytics.

IBM’s Watson supercomputer, which uses artificial intelligence to compile data. One area where IBM is using it is to track online traffic, like online shopping data.

Black Friday, the name retail marketers gave to the day after Thanksgiving, is historically one of the biggest shopping days of the year. This year, Cyber Monday eclipsed its Black Friday counterpart.

While there were more people shopping online than in previous years, they were spending a little less.

According to IBM, the average order for online shoppers yesterday totaled $123.43. That’s down 0.6% from 2014 when the average shopper spent $124.21.

What were people buying? Watson found that shoppers most often ordered Nike shoes, toy Star Wars droids, hoverboards, the Apple Watch and flat-screen TVs.

To find and order what they wanted, shoppers more frequently used their mobile devices.

IBM reported that mobile traffic nearly matched that of people checking out online sales from their desktops. Mobile traffic accounted for 47.9 percent of all online traffic, an increase of 16.3% over 2014.

People aren’t totally ditching their desktops, though.

While many shoppers use their mobile devices to check out products and prices while they’re on the road, they’re also using their devices to buy gifts.

This year, 27.6% of all Cyber Monday sales came from mobile devices, an increase of 25.7% over the same day in 2014.

And, according to Watson, more people are shopping with their smartphones than with their tablets.

Smartphones made up 36.8% of all online traffic, more than three times that of tablets, which came in at 11.1%. Smartphones also edged out tablets in purchases, driving 15.2% of online sales, which is up nearly 70% over 2014. Tablets came in at 12.4% of sales.

 

 

 

Amazon Shows Off New Delivery Drone

December 1, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com provided a preview of a new drone design that takes off and lands vertically like a helicopter but flies like an airplane.

The video was released nearly two years after Amazon announced that it intended to use drones to deliver parcels through a new service called Prime Air.

But the drone showcased in the video posted is quite different from the one it showed previously. The new drone, for example, carries the parcel in its fuselage rather than below the drone.

The new hybrid drone rises vertically to nearly 400 feet and then takes a horizontal orientation to become a streamlined and fast airplane, according to the Amazon video. The device lands vertically, drops the package at the destination, and then again rises up vertically. The user in the video is alerted on a tablet about the delivery.

The previous drone design will also probably continue. In time, there will be a whole variety of designs, with different designs for different environments, said the narrator, automotive journalist Jeremy Clarkson.

The new drone can fly up to 15 miles (24 kilometers) and is able to “sense and avoid” obstacles both on air and on land. Amazon said in its FAQ that it has more than a dozen prototypes that it has developed in its research and development labs. The online retailer has Prime Air development centers in the U.S., the U.K. and Israel, and is testing the vehicles in multiple international locations.

The commercial rollout of the retailer’s program in the U.S. is likely to depend on when the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration finalizes rules for the commercial use of drones.

The FAA proposed rules earlier this year that could allow programs like those of Amazon.com for the commercial delivery of packages by drones to take off. The drones would still have to operate under restrictions such as a maximum weight of 55 pounds and follow rules that limit flights to daylight and visual line-of-sight operations.

 

 

 

Amazon Finally Goes Two-Factor

November 25, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Technology

Amazon is making it a little, or a lot, harder for miscreants to make off with user accounts by adding two-factor authentication.

It has taken Amazon some time to fall into line on this. Two-factor authentication has become increasingly popular and common in the past couple of years, and it is perhaps overdue for a firm that deals so heavily in trade.

Amazon is treating it like it’s new, and is offering to hold punters’ hands as they embrace the security provision.

“Amazon Two-Step Verification adds an additional layer of security to your account. Instead of simply entering your password, Two-Step Verification requires you to enter a unique security code in addition to your password during sign in,” the firm said.

The way that the code is served depends on the user, who can choose to get the extra prompt in one of three ways. They may not appeal to those who do not like to over-share, but they will require a personal phone number.

As is frequently the case, Amazon will offer to send supplementary log-in information to a phone via text message or voice call, and even through a special authenticating app.

It’s an option, and you do not have to enable it. Amazon said that users could select trusted sign-on computers that spare them from the mobile phone contact.

“Afterward, that computer or device will only ask for your password when you sign in,” explained the Amazon introduction, helpfully.

There are a number of other outfits that offer the two-factor system and you might be advised to take their trade and do your business through them. Apple, Microsoft, Google, Twitter, Dropbox, Facebook and many others offer the feature.

A website called TwoFactorAuth will let you check your standing and the position of your providers.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Samsung Boots Two-Thirds Of It’s R&D Staff

November 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Computing

Samsung Electronics is about to decrease personnel at its Samsung Seoul R&D Campus by as many as two-thirds in order to restructure its business model and operations

A new report from ChosunBiz said that Samsung originally aimed to house around 10,000 personnel on the site. However the majority of the decreases will be applied to Samsung’s Digital Media & Communication (DMC) and Media Solutions Centre (MSC).

The campus will instead house about 3,500 staff who have master and PhD degrees and specialise in software, design and digital media development.

The move is odd as it is coming at a time when Samsung is really desperate for killer innovation to steal the march on the competition. However reading between the lines it looks like it is reducing work in its content creation side.

We are surprised that it is doing anything with its Media Solutions centre. Originally, it was established to operate as a Korean version of the App Store. But the company announced on December 10 last year that it was dissolves the organisation.

At the time it was admitted that the content business has not been as successful as the hardware business. Moreover, the worsening performance of the smartphone business arising from the increasingly saturated market forced the company to speed up the break-up process.

Courtesy-Fud

 

Survey Says Amazon Is Top Destination For Online Holiday Shopping

November 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

A majority of U.S. consumers plan to go to Amazon.com for most of their online holiday shopping, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll, even after traditional retailers have collectively spent billions of dollars to try to capture Web demand.

The survey of 3,426 adults conducted from November 12 to 18 found that 51 percent plan to do most of their online shopping at Amazon this holiday season, compared to 16 percent at Walmart, 3 percent at Target and 2 percent at Macy’s.

A little more than a quarter of respondents said they would use another retailer not listed in the poll.

The poll underscored the hurdles that traditional retailers faced in expanding online. Their own sales data this week showed that such efforts were falling short.

Target Corp said on Wednesday its digital sales grew 20 percent in the latest quarter, missing its expectations for a 30 percent gain. The discount retailer cited weakness in electronics demand.

A day earlier, Wal-Mart Stores Inc reported quarterly online sales growth of 10 percent, slower than its target growth in the mid-to-high-teens this fiscal year. Wal-Mart pointed to sluggish market conditions in China, Britain and Brazil, and said it fared better in the United States.

In contrast, Amazon.com Inc had posted a 28 percent jump in North American sales in its quarterly report last month.

“The Big Kahuna that continues to grab market share is Amazon,” said Craig Johnson, head of retail consultancy Customer Growth Partners. “Both Wal-Mart and to some extent Target have simply not kept pace enough.”

Johnson added that sluggish spending overall contributed to the weaker-than-expected online sales at Target and Wal-Mart, which also faced increased competition from other online retailers, such as Wayfair Inc.

According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 8 percent of adults said they plan to shop only online this year, compared to 6 percent a year earlier. The proportion of respondents who said they would shop mostly online remained steady at 17 percent.

All major retailers are investing in e-commerce.