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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Sales Exceed Supply Chain’s Expectations

August 25, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Galaxy-Note-7-150x150Better-than-expected demand for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 is creating supply problems worldwide, the South Korean tech giant said, suggesting strong initial sales for the new premium smartphone.

While robust demand could help deliver another solid quarter of earnings, Samsung also risks missing out on potential sales if it cannot boost supply quickly. Rivals such as Apple Inc are poised to launch new phones which could pull customers away from Samsung if a shortage persists.

“As pre-order results for the Galaxy Note 7 have far exceeded our estimates, its release date in some markets has been adjusted,” Samsung told Reuters in a statement without commenting on where launch delays could occur.

Production problems for the curved displays for the Galaxy S6 edge phone resulted in disappointing sales last year, and some investors fear a repeat if the world’s top smartphone maker does not move quickly to meet Note 7 demand.

Samsung said it was trying to boost production at the secret locations where the Notes are made, and aimed to meet demand “as early as possible”. It gave no further details.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters there was no production issue for the curved screens used on the Galaxy Note 7 and that the shortage would not be a long-term problem.

“The party got more visitors than Samsung expected, so they just need to put more food out,” said Nomura analyst C.W. Chung, who said the supply situation was not a major risk given that Samsung made key parts such as displays and chips in-house.

Samsung could sell as many as 15 million Galaxy Note 7 phones this year, Chung said, compared with an estimated 9 million Galaxy Note 5 phones sold last year.

The phone went on sale on Aug. 19 in countries including the United States and South Korea, where it retails for 988,900 won ($882).

 

Target To Focus More On Digital Efforts To Enhance Customer Experience

August 24, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Target-Stores-150x150U.S. retailer Target Corp plans to put more emphasis on technologies that enhance customers’ store experience and on other digital efforts, Chief Information Officer Mike McNamara said.

Target will focus on its website, Target.com, and offline-online experiences such as order pickup and digital marketing, McNamara said in a blog post on the company’s website.

“Technology and supply chain are the new battlegrounds for retail,” he said. “The retailers with the strongest technology and supply chain will have the best chance of winning.”

Target will also focus on efforts such as store replenishment and merchandising systems to keep its stores well stocked, he said.

The retailer is in the middle of a hiring boom, McNamara said, adding that the company had hired about 700 engineers since he joined as CIO in February 2015.

Target had 341,000 employees as of Jan. 30, according to a regulatory filing.

 

CVS Debuts CVS Pay

August 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

CVS has rolled out its CVS Pay program that exists inside its mobile app. It allows customers to pay in store for prescriptions by scanning a barcode at the register.

Payments will be backed by a customer’s credit or debit card, the company said.

CVS Pay is currently available in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware; a nationwide rollout at all 9,600 stores is expected to kick off later this year.

CVS doesn’t support Apple Pay or other NFC-based payment technologies, and its use of barcodes for payments is reminiscent of the way Starbucks customers pay for coffee. Working with the barcode technology was a faster way for CVS to bring forward technology for more convenient in-store payments, analysts said.

Other retailers have created in-store payments through their own apps. Walmart created Walmart Pay in December to allow payments through mobile device QR codes that can be read at checkout registers.

“There’s nothing really innovative here with CVS Pay,” said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan on Friday. “They are pretty much following the trend. It’s just mobile commerce with a credit card attached. It’s no big deal to put a credit card in a wallet.”

At one point, CVS was working with Walmart and dozens of other major retailers in the Merchant Customer Exchange, which was designed to process mobile payments electronically through bank accounts and not credit cards to cut out the card processing cost that merchants paid to banks. But MCX ended its pilot of its mobile app, CurrentC, in June. Analysts have predicted the concept will not continue.

 

Alibaba’s Revenue Surge By 59%

August 12, 2016 by  
Filed under Uncategorized

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd reported a better-than-expected 59 percent jump in quarterly revenue on Thursday, making it a shining start in a slowing Chinese economy.

Alibaba’s total revenue rose to 32.15 billion yuan, or $4.84 billion, in the quarter ended June 30 from 20.25 billion yuan a year earlier.

Mobile revenue increased 119.3 percent to 17.51 billion yuan, while monthly mobile active users increased 39 percent.

Net income attributable to shareholders fell to 7.14 billion yuan, or 2.94 yuan per share, from 30.82 billion yuan, or 11.92 yuan per share, in the year-earlier quarter.

Alibaba’s gross merchandise volume (GMV), the value of transactions carried out by third-party sellers on the company’s platforms, rose 24.4 percent to 837 billion yuan.

 

 

 

 

U.K. Regulators Give Amazon Permission To Explore Drone Deliveries

July 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon.com Inc announced that it has entered into a partnership with the British government to hasten the process for allowing small drones to makes deliveries.

The world’s biggest online retailer, which has laid out plans to start using drones for deliveries by 2017, said a cross-government team supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority had provided it with the permissions necessary to explore the process.

Amazon unveiled a video last year showcasing how an unmanned drone could deliver packages, narrated by former Top Gear TV host Jeremy Clarkson.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said last month the use of drones for deliveries will require separate regulation from their general use.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc said last month it was six to nine months from beginning to use drones to check warehouse inventories in the United States.

 

 

Is The Apple Watch Dragging The Smartwatch Industry Down?

July 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

After dragging up the smart watch industry thanks to its legions of fanboys who will buy any old rubbish provided it has an Apply logo, Jobs’ Mob is causing it all to crash again.

For those who came in late, after Apple invented the smartwatch two years later than its rivals, it was supposed to sell millions of them. To be fair it did reasonably well considering its product was out-of-date and pretty much useless. It sold about six million of them to the loyal fanboys base who would buy a dog turd if it had an Apple logo. Smartwatches were a small market and six million was rather a lot.

But this figure was well below the 40 million that some analysts claimed it would sell. The smartwatch got bad reviews and lacked most of the functionality that its rivals had. It was also expensive.

Apple appears to have lost interest in the devices It fails to mention them in polite company and rumours of “innovations” of the tech are few and far between. This has resulted in the smartwatch industry which was propped by Apple’s interest taking a battering.

Vendors shipped a total of 3.5 million smartwatches worldwide last quarter. This Q2 2016 figure is down 32 percent from the 5.1 million units shipped in Q2 2016, marking the first decline on record.

The figures don’t count basic bands sold by companies like Fitbit so Apple is the undisputed leader. The latest quarterly figures come from IDC, which said that Apple’s market share decreased 25 percentage points (from 72 percent to 47 percent) and it shipped less than half the smartwatches (1.6 million). But the company still holds almost half the market, with every other vendor shipping fewer than a million units.

Samsung gained 9 percentage points (from 7 percent to 16 percent), thanks to shipping 200,000 more units compared to the same quarter last year. IDC attributes the gain to solid distribution though American carriers. The Gear S2 lineup is Samsung’s biggest success and doesn’t appear to depend on the company’s smartphones.

Lenovo gained 6 percentage points (from 3 percent to 9 percent), shipping 100,000 more units and jumping into third place. IDC believes this is thanks to the company’s Motorola brand moving quickly into smartwatches and becoming the de facto Android Wear choice for round form factors.

LG gained 4 percentage points (from 4 percent to 8 percent), also shipping 100,000 more units but slipping to fourth place.

Garmin gained 2 percentage points (from 2 percent to 4 percent), despite flat shipments. Its Connect IQ-enabled devices remain niche, as they mainly only target athletes.

Of course the Tame Apple press claims all that will change when Apple releases its refresh of the watch which has all the features that were missing when the Smart Watch launched before. However even if it does happen this time, the technology is still two years too late and fanboys are going to find it hard justifying an upgrade to their parents. They might have to take on another paper rounded to pay for it.

All this indicates that after a period of Apple bloat, some sanity is being restored to the smartwatch industry which is, and will always be, niche.

Courtesy-Fud

 

SoftBank To Acquire ARM For $32 Billion

July 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Japan’s SoftBank will acquire UK chip design company ARM Holdings to take advantage of growing demand for processors and other technologies for the internet of things and mobile markets.

SoftBank is paying £24.3 billion ($32 billion) in cash for the chip company that licenses its designs to a large number of chip suppliers to smartphone makers and to the emerging IoT market.

The Japanese company will retain ARM’s headquarters in Cambridge and plans to double the number of employees in the U.K. over the next five years, when it will also increase the company’s headcount outside the U.K.

ARM, with 4,064 employees,  will be an independent business within SoftBank, which will pay for the acquisition from existing cash resources and a loan. SoftBank said it intends to retain the current ARM organization including the existing senior management team, brand, and partnership-based business model and culture.

SoftBank has invested in a number of media and technology companies, including Internet retailer Snapdeal in India and ride-hailing app company Didi Chuxing in China. It also acquired Sprint Nextel in 2013.

The acquisition of ARM would place the company in a market where it would be an upstream supplier to some of the biggest names in the tech industry as licensees of ARM’s designs like Qualcomm gear up to supply chips to the connected devices market.

“ARM will be an excellent strategic fit within the SoftBank group as we invest to capture the very significant opportunities provided by the ‘Internet of Things,'” said SoftBank chairman and CEO Masayoshi Son in a statement Monday.

 

 

 

Amazon Announces Prime Day Sale Was Best Ever

July 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Amazon reported that it’s Prime Day was the biggest sales day ever for the online retail giant.

The company’s second annual sales event, which was held Tuesday, saw customer orders surpass Prime Day 2015 by more than 60% worldwide and more than 50% in the U.S., the company reported.

“It was a huge success,” said Sucharita Mulpuru-Kodali, an analyst with Forrester Research. “It was a big day, by all accounts, with enormous growth. It reinforces that e-commerce continues to grow and that Amazon is a significant part of that growth.”

Amazon’s Prime Day is a one-day sales event for members of Prime, the company’s membership program. Products in nearly all of Amazon’s copious shopping categories were put on sale.

Despite some reports of customers’ having problems checking out after making their purchases, more than 90,000 TVs were sold, along with more than 2 million toys, 1 million pairs of shoes and hundreds of thousands of Kindle e-readers.

Amazon also received twice as many orders via its mobile app than it did during Prime Day last year. More than 1 million customers used the Amazon app for the first time during the sale, the company said.

For U.S. sales alone, Amazon reported that device sales were three times higher compared to Prime Day 2015. It was also the biggest sales day for Amazon’s Echo personal assistant and the company’s e-readers.

When it came to techie purchases, Amazon sold U.S. members more than 14,000 Lenovo laptops and more than 23,000 iRobot Roomba 614 Vacuum cleaning robots.

While it was a big day for the online retailer, one day does not outshine the rest of the year, especially with back-to-school sales, and then holiday sales, coming up.

“No single day is going to change the fortunes of any retailer,” said Mulpuru-Kodali. “It’s one day of 365 or 366 days in any given year.

 

 

Google Acquires Machine-learning Company Moodstocks

July 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Google has acquired machine-learning company Moodstocks.

Paris-based Moodstocks builds image and object recognition software using deep learning techniques, and offered an Android app and visual search API that could recognize certain kinds of objects. By analyzing video from a smartphone camera, and correlating it with accelerometer readings to determine how the camera is moving around, the software is able to infer information about the three-dimensional shape of objects in the video, facilitating their recognition.

In February 2015 the company demonstrated its ability to identify sneakers through its app. Three months later, after training the software using 15,000 photos of shoes from an online retailer’s website, Moodstocks claimed to be able to shop online for all the sneakers on sale in a Macy’s store.

Google has been introducing elements of machine learning into its existing online services, including Google Translate and Inbox, a next-generation interface for Gmail.

Its online photo archival service, Google Photos, uses machine learning to identify categories of photo, such as parties or beach scenes, to make it easier to search.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done in this field, according to Google’s blog post (in French) announcing the acquisition of Moodstocks.

Google said the Moodstocks team will join its existing research and development operation in Paris.

There, they will develop image-recognition tools for use in Google services, the Moodstocks team wrote on their own site.

Meanwhile, Moodstocks will discontinue its own image recognition services, although paying subscribers will have access until their subscriptions run out, the post said.

Google didn’t put a price on the Moodstocks acquisition, but it’s unlikely to be as high as the $500 million it reportedly paid in 2014 for the much larger DeepMind, the London-based developer of the Go program that beat top player Lee Se-dol in March.

 

 

 

Walmart Announces Mobile Payment Service Rollout Complete

July 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Walmart Stores Inc announced that it has completed the rollout of its Walmart Pay mobile payment service across the United States and that 88 percent of transactions on the payment app are from repeat users.

Overall transactions on the app, which the world’s largest retailer launched in December, jumped 45 percent in the last week, Daniel Eckert, senior vice-president of services at Walmart US, said on a conference call with the media.

Walmart declined to disclose the increase in transactions since the launch, or the number of the mobile app’s users in its stores.

U.S. retailers have launched many mobile payment apps in the last two years, but customers and merchants have been slow to adopt them.

U.S. mobile payments accounted for an estimated $67 billion of purchases in 2015, and are expected to grow this year to $83 billion, or 24 percent of all purchases made via smartphones, according to the latest Forrester Research data.

Eckert said Walmart Pay users have not been spending more as a result of using the app. The company is monitoring shopping patterns to see if purchases would increase.

The retailer will start advertising the app to push customer usage, he said.

Walmart Pay is available on Apple and Android devices and allows payments with any major credit, debit, pre-paid or Walmart gift cards.

Customers at a checkout counter must choose the payment option within the app and use their smartphone camera to scan the code displayed at the register. An e-receipt would be sent to the app. Apple Inc’s Apple Pay and Alphabet Inc’s Android Pay require retailers to install compatible new equipment, which has hindered wider acceptance.

Walmart does not accept external mobile wallets like Apple Pay in its stores. Discussions about accepting third party wallets are ongoing, but Walmart has no immediate plans to do so, Eckert said.

 

 

Apple Pulls The Plug On Thunderbolt Display

June 27, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Apple announced that is will discontinue its Thunderbolt Display, the high-resolution external display that users of the MacBook and other Macs could use to get a better picture and work with more apps.

The company said Thursday that the 27-inch widescreen display with LED backlight technology will be available on Apple’s online store, in Apple retail stores and from authorized resellers while supplies last.

The Thunderbolt Display currently retails on the Apple online store at $999. It has a 2560 x 1440 resolution.

It isn’t clear whether Apple plans to follow with newer versions that use 5K resolution displays at 5120 by 2880 pixels, which is the display technology Apple uses on its high-end iMac. There was speculation earlier that a new version would be announced at the company’s Worldwide Developers Conference this month.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Apple planned to offer a refresh to the display.

Apple said in an emailed statement that “there are a number of great third-party options available for Mac users.”

 

 

Napster Brand Making A Comeback

June 17, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

The Napster name, once widely known for illegal music sharing, is now respectable enough to carry the flag for one of the oldest names in paid music streaming.

Rhapsody will soon change its name worldwide to Napster, the listening service has announced. It already uses the Napster brand in Europe.

“Napster is coming,” the post said. “No changes to your playlists, favorites, albums, and artists. Same music. Same service. Same price. 100% the music you love. Stay tuned!”

The name change in the U.S. could be another attempt to catch up to Spotify, which recently passed 30 million subscribers. Rhapsody said late last year it had about 3.5 million.

Napster began in the late 1990s as a service for sharing and downloading mp3 music files and quickly attracted a large following, especially among college students. The Recording Industry Association of America sued the company for copyright infringement in late 1999 and won an injunction that shut down Napster in 2001.

A series of acquisitions by companies including music publisher Bertelsmann and retailer Best Buy put Napster on a path to respectability, but it also faded amid the growth of legal music stores like iTunes and then streaming services like Spotify.

Rhapsody, which has been around since 2001, bought Napster in 2011 and set out to replace Napster’s brand with its own in the U.S. Later it bought Napster International to expand into Germany and the U.K., where it decided to keep the Napster brand.

With the latest change, that moniker has won out. A formerly infamous brand now seems to carry more clout than one that once was almost famous.

 

 

Apple Pay Being Updated To Allow Online Purchases

June 15, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Consumers will soon be able to make purchses with Apple Pay over the web from a Mac desktop or laptop, with the transaction being authenticated via a buyer’s fingerprint scan on their iPhone or a touch on their Apple Watch.

The new Apple Pay capability will be released as part of the free, rebranded (from OS X) macOS Sierra upgrade coming sometime this fall, Craig Federighi, Apple senior vice president of software engineering, announced at the Worldwide Developer Conference held in San Francisco on Monday.

Currently, shoppers can pay for merchandise using Apple Pay via an app on an iPhone or Apple Watch at hundreds of thousands of point-of-sale merchants in the U.S. and five other countries — Canada, the UK, Australia, China and Singapore. Hong Kong, France, Spain and Switzerland are getting the service soon, Apple said recently.

Although a leader in mobile payments, Apple Pay, as well as other other mobile payment technologies, have not caught on as well as expected.

Putting Apple Pay on Mac computers will greatly expand the number of purchases made with the service, analysts said. It will also put Apple in competition for web payments with companies like PayPal.

“Extending Apple Pay to the web is a really big deal because up to this point, there have been no secure methods to buy over the web that used biometric technology without sending your credit card information to the e-tailer,” said Patrick Moorhead, an analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy.

To use the service, an Apple Pay on-screen button will be available at a participating online retailer when a person shops via a Safari browser, Apple said in a statement. Apple showed dozens of participating retailers on a slide during the WWDC presentation.

 

 

Amazon To Get Join The Already Crowded Music Streaming Business

June 13, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

Amazon.com Inc is gearing up to launch a standalone music streaming subscription service, placing it squarely in competition with rival offerings from Apple Inc and Spotify, according to sources familiar with the matter.

The service will be offered at $9.99 per month, in line with major rivals, and it will offer a competitive catalog of songs, the sources said. Amazon is finalizing licenses with labels for the service, which likely will be launched in late summer or early fall, the sources said.

Amazon, which offers a free streaming music service with a limited catalog to subscribers of its Prime shipping and video service, did not respond to a request for comment about the new, full-fledged music plan.

Although it will be a late entrant to the crowded streaming space, Amazon believes a comprehensive music service is important to its bid to be a one-stop shop for content and goods, the sources said.

The new music offering also is intended to increase the appeal of the Amazon Echo, its home speaker, which searches the Internet and orders products from the retailer with voice commands.

“A music service will further increase the daily interactions between Amazon and its customer base,” said former music executive Jay Samit when told about the company’s plan.

The new Amazon effort will compete directly with Apple Music and Spotify, which boast more than 30 million songs. Apple launched its service last year in one of the highest profile signs that listeners wanted subscription services, rather than paying for individual songs or albums.

The service also will diversify Amazon’s subscription offerings and be another step away from a single, annual subscription. Amazon recently began allowing subscribers to Prime to pay monthly, for instance.

Silicon Valley titans such as Apple and Alphabet Inc’s Google have muscled into music streaming in recent years, aiming to weave themselves more tightly into their customers’ daily routines and drive device sales.

Amazon similarly hopes its new service’s tight integration with the Echo will help it stand out and reinforce the speaker’s appeal, the sources said.

Released broadly last year, the Echo has become a surprise hit that rival Google is now seeking to emulate with a speaker of its own.

The move suggests that Amazon will increasingly offer basic media options through Prime while selling additional subscriptions for consumers who want to go deeper. The company recently launched a standalone video service.

The new music service is unlikely to steal many customers from Spotify, but it could pose a threat to other players, said David Pakman, a partner at Venrock who headed early Apple music efforts, when informed of the move.

 

 

CurrentC Mobile Payment Pilot Ends, Future Uncertain

June 10, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) has ended a Columbus, Ohio, pilot of its CurrentC mobile payment service this week.

The company said on its website that it has “not determined the future timing of CurrentC” although some analysts have said for a while they doubted the service would continue due to pressure from Apple Pay, Samsung Pay and others.

In an emailed statement, an MCX spokesman said, “We removed CurrentC from the app stores to coincide with the scheduled end of our Columbus, Ohio beta at the end of June. We’ve not announced future timelines or plans around the app but we’re looking forward to analyzing and learning from the data we gleaned throughout the beta.”

On its website, CurrentC added: “We want to say a special thank you to everyone who participated in our CurrentC Beta test” in Columbus, Ohio. “We will be concluding our Beta on June 28. Please stay tuned for new information on CurrentC as our future plans evolve.”

On a separate website, MCX still lists 63 companies including Target and Walmart as merchants that accepted CurrentC, which relied on the free CurrentC smartphone app. The idea was to centralize merchant loyalty rewards and payment accounts, and automatically apply coupons and promotions to use at checkout with the various merchants.

But CurrentC in its latest form in the pilot was not seen as a full competitor to Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or others that pair a virtual credit or debit card with an NFC or magnetic technology payment to a payment terminal in a store. Late last year, Walmart set up its own related service with Walmart Pay.

While there has been growth in mobile payments since 2014, it has been slower than first expected.

 

 

 

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