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Best Buy To Sell Apple Watch In All Stores By September

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Best Buy will offer the Apple Watch in all of its 1,050 retail locations by the end of September, responding to strong consumer demand for the wearable.

By Sept. 4, the Apple Watch will be available in 900 Best Buy stores, and it will appear in the retailer’s remaining locations by the end of the month, CEO Hubert Joly said.

Best Buy began selling the wearable in 100 stores as well as online on Aug. 7. The company had planned to expand availability to 200 additional stores by the Christmas shopping season.

However, “early momentum” from the Apple Watch “triggered” Best Buy to expand and accelerate the rollout, Joly said during a conference call to discuss the company’s second-quarter earnings.

Joly didn’t say how many Apple Watches the chain has sold so far. Apple hasn’t shared watch sales data either.

During Apple’s third-quarter earnings conference call, CEO Tim Cook said customers would have more ways to purchase the smartwatch because the company expects it to be a popular Christmas gift. A few days later, Best Buy said it would carry the wearable.

Best Buy is the only major retailer to stock the Apple Watch. The device can also be purchased from Apple’s retail and online stores and from a few high-end clothing and department stores.

Joly also discussed plans to expand Best Buy’s relationship with Apple.

The Apple shop-in-a-shop sections of 740 Best Buy stores are getting a makeover, with new fixtures and larger display tables to show Apple hardware, he said. So far, Best Buy has remodeled 350 of those departments and will revamp another 170 by the holiday shopping season.

 

 

 

 

Amazon Expands Prime Now, Adds Alcohol Delivery

August 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that it will begin delivering wine, beer and spirits to U.S. customers for the first time as part of its speedy delivery service, Prime Now.

The online retailer is expanding Prime Now, its one- and two-hour service, to Seattle, where the company is headquartered, and offering alcohol deliveries there.

Amazon Prime, the company’s $99 per year shopping membership program, offers free two-day delivery on millions of items. It is a key testing ground for the retailer’s new services, ranging from TV and on-demand video to fast delivery.

Amazon has said it has “tens of millions” of Prime subscribers. Analysts estimate the program to have around 40 million users worldwide.

The company has steadily expanded Prime Now since it launched the service in New York City last year. It facilitates integration of the retailer’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, which has been slower to expand to new markets.

On-demand grocery delivery is a growing and competitive market in the United States. Instacart, a grocery delivery company, announced on Tuesday that it had expanded to Indianapolis, its 17th city. Other startups, like Postmates, which focuses on meal delivery, also deliver personal care goods and alcohol for customers using a network of couriers.

Prime Now customers can order using an app available on both iOS and Android devices. Orders are shipped from smaller warehouses, or hubs. An Amazon spokeswoman said the company opened two facilities in Seattle and Kirkland, Washington, to handle Prime Now deliveries.

 

Alibaba Ads Artificial Intelligence To Its Cloud Service

August 26, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Alibaba’s cloud computing business is attempting to gain enterprise customers with a new artificial intelligence service designed for data mining and analysis.

The Chinese e-commerce giant has announced DT PAI, a platform designed to comb through a client’s data and analyze it for useful information.

The service could help companies find key trends within their customer data, or even recommend goods to users, according to Alibaba. For example, online shoppers could take a picture of an item they like, upload the image and then receive the e-commerce listing about where they can buy the product.

Alibaba had been experimenting with this concept back in 2011 through its own e-commerce search engine.

Alibaba’s DT PAI platform now aims to streamline AI development for the enterprise market, reducing the time and expertise needed. Interested customers can simply “drag-and-drop” what functions they want, before proceeding to application development, the company said.

“What used to take days can be completed in minutes,” said Xiao Wei, senior product expert with Alibaba’s cloud business, in a press release.

Alibaba isn’t exactly known for AI development, but there are other factors to consider. In China, the company dominates as the country’s leading e-commerce player, and its initial public offering in the U.S. was the world’s largest at US$25 billion.

In addition, the company has a fast-growing cloud computing business, which is expanding globally. It has already opened a data center in Silicon Valley, and more are slated for other markets such as Europe and Japan.

In expanding, however, Alibaba will have to contend with better-known cloud providers such as Amazon Web Services and Microsoft, according to analysts.

 

 

 

 

Google Unveils New Wi-Fi Router For Home

August 20, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Google Inc has unveiled a Wi-Fi router, the latest move in the company’s efforts to get ready for the connected home and draw more users to its services.

The cylinder-shaped router, named OnHub, can be pre-ordered for $199.99 at online retailers including the Google Store, Amazon.com Incand Walmart.com.

The router comes with in-built antennas that will scan the airwaves to spot the fastest connection, Google said in a blog post.

With the router, users will be able to prioritize a device so that they can get the fastest Internet speeds for data-heavy activities such as downloading content or streaming a movie.

The router can be hooked up with Google’s On app, available on Android and iOS, to run network checks and keep track of bandwidth use among other things.

Google said OnHub automatically updates with new features and the latest security upgrades, just like the company’s Android OS and Chrome browser.

The router is being manufactured by network company TP-LINK, Google said, hinting that ASUS could be the second manufacturing partner for the product.

The product launch comes days after Google restructured itself by creating Alphabet Inc, a holding company to pool its many subsidiaries and separate the core web advertising business from newer ventures like driverless cars.

Making products for the smart home is one such venture.

Google last year bought Nest, a smart thermostat maker, for $3.2 billion, aiming to lead the way on how household devices link to each other and to electricity grids.

The global market for “Internet of Things”, the concept of connecting household devices to the Internet, will nearly triple to $1.7 trillion by 2020, research firm International Data Corp said in June.

 

 

Are Smartwatches A Security Risk?

August 17, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

That smartphone you might be using may not be as secure as you thought, according to security research.

The doomsday prophet here is Trend Micro, which said that big name providers are not taking your arm armory seriously. We’ve heard HP wax lyrical on this as well.

Trend Micro apparently took its study seriously, and measured the preventative efforts on hardware including the Apple Watch, Motorola 360, LG G Watch, Sony Smartwatch, Samsung Gear Live, Asus Zen Watch and the Pebble.

Devices were all upgraded to the latest OS versions for the study, and each was paired with its related device: an iPhone 5, Motorola X or Nexus 5.

Physical protection has something like a wet paper bag ranking, and Trend Micro said that the obvious weaknesses will become apparent should a wearable be pinched. Apple seems to do the best work here, and is credited with using a timeout function to prevent easy bad man activation.

However, the Apple device contains the biggest chunks of user data, the firm said, which could cause problems if someone managed to break their way into the Watch and a partnered iPhone.

“Across all of the smartwatches that were tested, it is clear that manufacturers have opted for convenience at the expense of security,” Bharat Mistry, cyber security consultant at Trend Micro, commented.

“On the surface, a lack of authentication features can make devices appear easier to operate, but the risk of having personal and corporate data compromised is much too big an issue to forget about.”

The security company has some top-line, high-concept advice for hardware firms, including the suggestion that “simple security features” should be adopted.

“Manufacturers must ensure that simple security features, such as limited password attempts, are enabled on devices by default,” said Mistry.

“This considerably reduces the likelihood of data breaches. Smartwatch manufacturers must be cognizant of the fact they can slash data breaches by employing this best practice.”

It is estimated that wearables, and the security losses associated with them, will contribute to a criminal cost to the industry of a whopping $2tn by 2019.

Courtesy-TheInq

Alibaba Moves Forward With ‘Internet Plus’ Strategy In Latest Deal

August 11, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd will invest $4.6 billion in Chinese electronics giant Suning Commerce Group Co Ltd, its biggest step yet towards integrating online and store-based shopping.

Alibaba is paying 28.3 billion yuan ($4.56 billion) for newly issued Suning shares and will ultimately hold a 19.99 percent stake. Suning will in turn invest 14 billion yuan to acquire 1.1 percent of Alibaba through the purchase of new shares, the two said in a joint statement.

The deal comes when Chinese companies, as well as the country’s top policymakers, have espoused combining offline and online sectors as a lucrative new business model.

Baidu Inc, China’s dominant Internet search provider, has said it would invest $3.2 billion over the next three years in such services, while property conglomerate Dalian Wanda Group said last month its entertainment arm would lead a $1 billion investment in a travel website.

Alibaba’s latest alliance would, in practical terms, allow its online customers to go into one of Suning’s 1,600 outlets in China to try out a product before purchasing it on Alibaba’s website using their smartphone.

Suning, which has long boasted a formidable logistics operation, would join forces with Alibaba’s distribution network to deliver goods in as little as two hours, the companies said.

China’s leaders have been fleshing out a broad Internet sector strategy known as “Internet Plus” to combine online and offline industries and encourage more technology-driven, high-value economic output as the world’s second-largest economy wrestles with slowing growth.

Speaking to reporters on Monday, Alibaba Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said he would consider striking more deals with brick-and-mortar stores beyond electronics, as long as those retail chains “can bring us additional customers.”

 

 

Workhorse Wants In On The Drone Delivery Business

July 30, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Workhorse, a truck maker based in Loveland, Ohio apparently wants in on the drone package delivery business.

Workhorse isn’t as high profile as Amazon or Google, but it demonstrated an eight-rotor delivery drone designed to work with its electric trucks and use some of the same battery technology.

“Our concept is, you have a package-delivery drone that rides on top of a truck as the driver goes about his day, and helps to pick off outliers on his route to help cut down on the cost of delivery per package,” said Elliot Bokeno, a mechanical engineer with Workhorse, who demonstrated the drone at a conference at NASA’s Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley.

If a driver had four deliveries in one part of town but only one in another, the drone might be able to handle that single, less convenient delivery.

The technology combines autonomous and manual control.

GPS is used to determine the delivery location, and the drone flies there without any human input, Bokeno said. But when it gets to the address, a downward-pointing camera switches on and an operator at a remote center takes over.

The operator guides the drone down, making sure to avoid people and obstacles, and releases the package. The drone then resumes autonomous flight and makes its way back to the truck.

In tests, the drone has flown as fast at 55 mph and has a maximum flight time of 30 minutes. The company is working with Panasonic, which provides batteries for Workhorse’s electric vehicles, on more advanced battery technology that will increase flight times to 45 minutes.

Bokeno said his company has already talked to several package delivery companies about using its technology.

For now, tests of the technology over relatively short distances continue. Workhorse is collaborating with the University of Cincinnati and hopes to begin multi-mile delivery tests soon.

 

 

 

 

 

Samsung To Sell Monitor That Can Wirelessly Charge Smartphones

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Samsung Electronics wants to unclutter your home with a monitor that can wirelessly charge smartphones and other mobile devices.

The SE370 monitor will come in 23.6-inch and 27-inch formats and is the industry’s first to have an integrated wireless charging station, the South Korean manufacturer said Monday.

But your phone will have to support the Qi wireless charging standard, which was developed by the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) and is supported by makers such as Samsung, Sony, LG, HTC and Huawei.

The charging area is on the stand for the monitor, and an LED lights up when it’s in use. The monitor has a 1920 x 1080 resolution and is optimized for video games, with richer black hues when it’s in game mode. The screen will not distort graphics with stutter and lag and has a response time of 4 milliseconds, Samsung said.

Compatible with Mac OS X and Windows 10, the SE370 also has an eye-saver mode that reduces blue light, which is believed to cause eye strain and sleep problems.

Samsung did not provide information about pricing or availability for the SE370 monitor and did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

The company’s Galaxy S6 and GS6 edge flagship smartphones support the Qi and rival Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards for wireless charging. Earlier this year, Samsung released its own branded charging pad to juice them up.

The latest Qi specification, announced last month, will allow manufacturers to provide much faster wireless power charging options than earlier versions.

The platform has also caught on with makers such as Ikea, which launched a collection of furniture in April with built-in Qi-enabled wireless chargers.

Qi had been competing with PMA and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Following a decision earlier this year, however, the two organizations announced their merger in June, with a new name yet to be decided.

 

 

Best Buy To Begin Selling Apple Watch In August

July 28, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

The Apple Watch will go on sale at stores of Best Buy Co Inc, the largest U.S.consumer electronics chain, starting Aug. 7.

The Apple Watch and Apple Watch Sport models will be sold at more than 300 Best Buy stores in time for the holiday shopping season, a spokeswoman for Apple Inc  said.

“Customers love Apple Watch, and we are thrilled to begin offering it at Best Buy,” she said in an email.

Best Buy is the first retailer to sell the watch outside of the Apple retail store.

“The Apple Watch is an important addition to an emerging product category, and we know our customers want it,” Jason Bonfig, senior category officer, said on the Best Buy website.

The company said the product will also be available on its online store BestBuy.com.

The Wall Street Journal first reported that the Apple watch was coming to Best Buy.

Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri told Reuters earlier this month that sales of the Apple Watch had beat the company’s expectations. He said in the nine weeks since its launch in late April, the device had sold better than either iPhones or iPads over a similar period after their launch.

 

 

Cloud Services Behind Amazon’s Rising Revenue

July 27, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc’s shares surged more than 20 percent last Friday, adding more than $46 billion to the company’s market value, after strong growth in the e-commerce giant’s cloud business drove a surprise quarterly profit.

The company’s market capitalization soared to more than $270 billion, overtaking that of Wal-Mart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer.

Revenue from Amazon’s cloud operations – Amazon Web Services (AWS) – nearly doubled in the second quarter, indicating that the business was poised to drive sustainable earnings for the online retailer, Wall Street analysts said.

Operating margins at the unit jumped to 21.4 pct from 7.7 percent.

“Product sales are Amazon’s bread, but AWS is its butter,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in a note, raising his price target on the stock by 21 percent to $700.

“They delivered a pretty large profit, we expected a loss … they exercised discipline and did not invest in new consumer electronic product launches.”

Investors have raised concerns that the company’s aggressive spending may not pay off. But strong growth in AWS and positive commentary on the Amazon Prime service allayed some worries.

Amazon Prime members, who pay $99 a year for speedier delivery and exclusive access to certain movies, music and Kindle books, tend to spend more than regular users of Amazon’s services.

“The scale of their distribution network is starting to generate better incremental margins,” Barclays analyst Paul Vogel said.

“That, coupled with the continued strong growth in both revenue and margins at AWS, moves us from cautious to optimistic on the next year of growth for Amazon.”

Amazon, which last reported a profit in the fourth quarter of 2014, considers AWS its main engine of growth, along with Amazon Prime and Marketplace, where the company acts as a middleman for third-party vendors.

 

 

 

HP Goes After Security In Smartwatches

July 24, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

HP has released a study suggesting that anyone who uses a smartwatch is offering their wrist to vagabonds, criminals and privacy probers.

Blam! HP ain’t messing. “You got a smartwatch?” it says. “Then damn, son, you are in trouble!”*

A report apparently straight outta HP finds that the smartwatch lets us all down by not doing encryption right, not considering privacy and using second rate authentication.

In the current threat market, this would be a pretty much a full house of problems and pretty bad form on the part of providers like Apple.

Security firm Bitdefender has wrapped itself around the study, and describes the threat as “extreme” in its reporting of the HP smartwatch horror story.

The INQUIRER has not been able to find the report, but it has found mention of it. We shall turn to what we can while our inquiries hang in PR purgatory.

ESET has its own report on the study and offers advice on securing wearable technology, including smartwatches, on its website.

The security firm quotes from the report, saying that HP security personnel are fretting about increased adoption and the rising tide of threats.

“Smartwatches have only started to become a part of our lives, but they deliver a new level of functionality and we will increasingly use them for sensitive tasks,” Jyoti Prakash, country director for India and south Asia at HP Enterprise Security Products, is quoted as saying.

“As this activity accelerates, the watch platform will become vastly more attractive to those who would abuse that access, and it’s critical that we take precautions when transmitting personal sensitive data or bringing smartwatches into the workplace.”

The best practice if a zombie has bitten your arm and infected you with a virus, for example, would be to chop it off. Your arm, that is.

Here, we suggest that perhaps you consider what you share, where you share it and what you share it on as your best response.

Courtesy-TheInq

 

Walmart Buys Out Chinese E-commerce Yihaodian

July 24, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Wal-Mart Stores Inc acquired full ownership of Chinese e-commerce firm Yihaodian.com, buying out the 49 percent stake that it did not already own to accelerate its push online, the U.S. retail giant announced.

The investment will help Wal-Mart target China’s fast-growing online market at a time when largely brick and mortar retailers are feeling the pinch of competition from online rivals and a slowing of the world’s second-largest economy.

Wal-Mart’s move also comes after China said last month it will allow full foreign ownership of some e-commerce businesses, with the goal of encouraging foreign investment and the development and competitiveness of the sector.

“[Yihaodian's] local experience, combined with Walmart’s global sourcing and our strong local retail presence and supply chain will allow us to deliver low prices on the products customers need in new and exciting ways,” Neil Ashe, head of Wal-Mart’s e-commerce division, said in a statement.

Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, added the purchase of the stake would help accelerate its e-commerce business in China and boost coordination between its physical and online stores. It did not disclose the price paid for the stake, which was bought from former executives and financial services group Ping An.

Wal-Mart’s Asia head Scott Price told Reuters earlier this year that online retail was important to help tap China’s younger generations and that the firm would increasingly look to weave together its online and offline presence in the market.

Wal-Mart, France’s Carrefour SA and Britain’s Tesco PLC have all seen sales growth slip over the last five years in China, losing market share to local rivals, according to consumer analytics firm Kantar Worldpanel.

The U.S. retailer also announced on Thursday that company insider Wang Lu will take the helm at Yihaodian. The e-commerce firm’s CEO and Chairman had quit earlier this month “to pursue their next venture”.

 

 

 

Big Retailers Halt Online Photos After Potential Data Breach

July 22, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Around The Net

Costco Wholesale Corp , Sam’s Club and several other large retailers have disabled their online photo printing stores in recent days, over concerns about a possible data breach at PNI Digital Media, which manages and/or hosts photo services sites.

Last week CVS Health Corp disabled its CVSphoto.com site, and the week before Walmart Canada’s walmartphotocentre.ca took a similar action after it was informed that customer credit card data had been potentially compromised.

Other photo printing sites that might have been recently affected included Rite Aid Corp and British supermarket chain Tesco’s.

“We take the protection of information very seriously. PNI is investigating a potential credit card data issue, and outside security experts are assisting in the investigation,” said Kirk Saville, vice president, global communications at Staples Inc, which bought Vancouver-based PNI last year.

Some websites said they had been advised by PNI of a potential breach, while others said they acted because of recent reports.

Costco Canada and Rite Aid noted that PNI has limited access to customer information since it does not process credit cards, but the photo service sites were temporarily taken down as a precaution.

CVS and Walmart Canada asked customers to monitor their credit card transactions closely for unauthorized charges.

Tesco’s page simply said it was it was unavailable for routine maintenance.

The retailers’ main websites and other services were not affected by the potential breach.

 

 

Will Wearable Devices Ever Take Off?

July 16, 2015 by Michael  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

While Intel and Apple are touting the Internet of Things as the next big thing, it is starting to look like the numbers will be too small to attract the necessary economies of scale.

Normally what happens when there is “new thing” in the tech market enough people buy a product to stimulate the supply chain. This encourages suppliers to mass produce and push costs lower. This maintains the momentum as a waves of others buy because the price drops on components.

But word on the street is that while vendors have launched wearable products, orders for wearable devices may not be sufficient to drive growth for related component suppliers.

The vendors have many different devices and each of them needs only a small amount of components support.

Component makers look at what they need to supply such devices and realize that they are not going to make their money back anytime soon and are giving it a miss.

The same applies to the upstream suppliers need to specifically establish a team as big as a smartphone team to help clients develop new wearable devices.
Already there is a lot of competition in the wearable devices market particularly as 90 per cent of wearable devices shipments are two types of products – smartwatches and bracelets.

Punters have shown that they are not interested in these and demand is really weak.

The Apple Watch was touted to be the leader of the wearable industry, mostly by Apple and its chums, only achieved sales less than three million units prior to mid-June, much weaker than originally expected.

The problem appears to be that while everyone is saying “wearables” no one has really come up with a good product yet, or one that attracts anyone’s attention. If Apple could not market up a storm, then chances are there will never be one.

This could put Intel in a bind. Much of its efforts have been going to providing products to support a boost in mobile wearables. If this never happens then it could be in trouble.

Courtesy-Fud

Apple Pay Launch In Britain Not Without Problems

July 15, 2015 by mphillips  
Filed under Mobile

Apple rolled out mobile payments in Britain on Tuesday, hoping to make a splash with consumers familiar with using cards for tap-and-go purchases, as resistance from hold-out banks and stores appeared to evaporate.

Starting Tuesday, Apple Pay became available in 250,000 sites, from Tube stations to coffee shops, supermarkets and travel services, making it more widely available than when it was first introduced in the United States nine months ago.

Users first load their credit and debit card details into an app on their Apple phones or watches. To pay, customers hold the device near a contactless terminal with the user’s fingerprints confirming their identity.

The service is one of Apple’s biggest bets, a way of binding customers more tightly to its phones and new smart watches, as well as taking a small slice of every retail transaction.

Apple Pay will eventually be supported by all major British banks. The last hold-out, Barclays, confirmed on Tuesday its debit card users and Barclaycard credit card customers will be able to use Apple Pay in the future.

However, there also were some first-day teething problems. Another major bank, HSBC Holdings said it was having technical problems that will lead to a two-week delay before its clients in the United Kingdom can sign up to the service.

Morning subway commuters in the capital were greeted by advertisements from several major banks encouraging the fraction of their customers with the latest-model Apple phones, tablets and smartwatches to link their payment cards to Apple Pay.

Tube-operator Transport for London and big retailers Boots, the British pharmacy business of Walgreens Boots Alliance; Costa Coffee, a part of Whitbread; supermarkets Marks and Spencer and Waitrose all lined up to support Apple Pay.

So far, Apple has been reported to be working to introduce its mobile payments service in China, South Korea and Canada.