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MasterCard Launches Developer’s Platform For App Creation

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

mastercard-logo-150x150Mastercard has unveiled an ambitious open Mastercard Developers platform to help third-party developers easily create commerce-related apps and services.

Developers will be able to use six different coding languages to work with 25 different Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) in payment, data, security and experimental areas. The experimental category includes APIs for bot commerce such as chatbots and virtual reality and augmented reality devices.

In one example of how a bot commerce API could be rolled out in an actual setting, Mastercard and Pizza Hut Asia are piloting a commerce application with Pepper the humanoid robot, who acts as a restaurant waiter capable of taking orders, serving food and collecting payment at the table.

Pepper is a humanoid robot developed by a subsidiary of Softbank Group of Japan.

Mastercard’s role in the Pepper pilot is the commerce element through MasterPass, a service that allows secure payments across various devices. Restaurants could soon deploy the waiter robots in Japan because of a serious labor shortage in restaurants there, said Oran Cummins, senior vice president for APIs at MasterCard.

MasterCard is also experimenting with blockchain, a distributed database first implemented in 2009 as the underpinning of bitcoin. Blockchain can be used as a public ledger to automatically maintain a continuously-growing list of records.

“It’s very much exploratory,” Cummins said in an interview. “We’ve done a lot of work in blockchain and we’ve been experimenting with a number of things in exposing APIs and blockchain functionality.”

It isn’t clear when blockchain will be part of the Mastercard Developers platform, however.

The platform is made up of Software Developer Kits (SDKs), developer tools and sample code for each of the 25 APIs. The code provided is in Java, Javascript, C#, Ruby, Python and Node.js.

Mastercard first started offering third-party developer APIs six years ago, and has seen a 400% increase in API usage in 2016. With the growing interest from tens of thousands of individual developers and those inside large companies globally, Mastercard decided to expand the program to provide open APIs for all of its products.

 

Sears Teams Up With Uber To Enhance Rewards Program

September 29, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

sears-auto-center-150x150Sears Holdings Corp is joining forces with ride-services company Uber Technologies Inc as the struggling retailer tries to make its rewards program more attractive to shoppers.

Sears is betting on its Shop Your Way loyalty plan, which offers points and tailored deals to members, as the company looks to revive sales. The program accounted for 75 percent of the company’s sales through the first half of 2016.

Riders who link their Uber account to Sears’ loyalty plan will receive up to $2 in loyalty points for every trip. The program, Rider Rewards, is currently available in Chicago and New York City, and will be rolled out nationally soon, the companies said.

While new drivers who sign up to drive with Uber through Shop Your Way will get up to $1,000 in points, existing Uber drivers in some cities including Chicago, New York City and San Francisco can also earn points by enrolling in the program.

Sears, which has not reported a profit in five years, has made the Shop Your Way program the focus of its revival strategy, even as it shrinks its store base to reduce costs.

“We are looking at more and more ways where we can reach out to top-tier brands and find more opportunities where our members can earn points,” Leena Munjal, senior vice president of customer experience and integrated retail at Sears, told Reuters.

The company declined to disclose Shop Your Way’s membership count, but said it is in “tens of millions”.

Other Shop Your Way partners include Starbucks Corp, daily deals website Groupon Inc, florist 1-800-FLOWERS.COM Inc and identity theft protection services provider LifeLock Inc.

Sears’ 638 Auto Centers will also serve as one of Uber’s preferred maintenance providers, offering exclusive discounts and points to Uber drivers, the companies said.

New Orders For Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 Resume In U.S.

September 22, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

galaxy-note-7-150x150U.S. mobile carrier Verizon Communications Inc has resumed taking orders for Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s new Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, after having stopped sales of the device earlier due to fire-prone batteries.

Samsung has recalled about 1 million Note 7 smartphones in the United States, offering to replace or refund the flagship phones. Their susceptibility to catching fire – with more than 100 cases reported across the globe – has damaged the image of the South Korean company.

Globally, the world’s top smartphone maker has recalled at least 2.5 million handsets, in a major setback for the company that is looking to claw back market share from rivals, including Apple Inc  that recently released its latest iPhones.

Samsung halted new sales ahead of the recall as it prepared replacement Note 7 devices with safe batteries.

The new Note 7 phones have been approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission for all purchases and exchanges, Verizon said on its website, adding it has the Samsung device available for sale starting Wednesday.

The largest U.S. wireless carrier warned that initial quantities could be limited.

Samsung said in a statement on Tuesday that it had shipped more than 500,000 new Note 7s to U.S. carriers and retailers and that affected users will be able to exchange their recalled phones starting by Wednesday at the latest. The statement did not specify when new sales would start.

Rival carrier Sprint Corp’s website also showed the Note 7 available for order, providing a list of stores where customers can pick up a new handset by appointment.

Samsung did not immediately comment on the U.S. sales plans.

The firm previously said it will resume new sales in South Korea starting Sept. 28 and that sales in Australia and Singapore would resume sometime in October.

 

iPhone 7 Plus Outselling Smaller Version

September 20, 2016 by  
Filed under Mobile

iphone-7-plus-150x150Early data from U.S. sales of Apple’s latest iPhones suggested that the larger 7 Plus was outselling the smaller 7, according to market research data.

Of the iPhone 7 online pre-orders during the initial 48 hours of availability, 55% were for the 5.5-in. iPhone 7 Plus; the remaining 45% were for the 4.7-in. iPhone 7. That was the first-ever flip to the Plus size in the three annual cycles since Apple offered a big-screen iPhone in 2014.

According to Palo Alto, Calif.-based Slice Intelligence, U.S. buyers of the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus two years ago leaned toward the former in a split of 65% to 35%. The gap narrowed last year with the 6S and 6S Plus, when the smaller iPhone 6S accounted for 59% of the total, and the 6S Plus with 41%.

Slice based its data on a sampling of approximately 4 million U.S. consumers. Those people have opted in to Slice’s services or apps — including the same-named shopper’s assistant app for iOS and Android — or those of partners which license the firm’s technology, and so give Slice access to their email inboxes. Slice sniffs through the inboxes, then spots and copies emailed receipts for online orders.

Apple does not disclose the sales splits between iPhone models — or the various versions of its other hardware for that matter — but instead tallies all iPhones into a single number for each quarter.

Slice’s data hinted at a larger gross revenue number for Apple in the U.S. this launch cycle: The iPhone 7 Plus sells for $120 more than the iPhone 7.

Not surprisingly, Slice’s email receipts also showed that the iPhone’s new Black and Jet Black colors were the two most popular for pre-order customers, replacing the now-extinct Space Gray, which had been the top choice for the last two years. Nearly half of all iPhone 7 and 7 Plus orders (46% to be exact) were for the Black, said Slice, with another 23% were for the Jet Black.

Jet Black, a new highly polished finish, has been in short supply, high demand, or both: Apple ran out of that color almost as soon as pre-orders opened on Sept. 9. Currently, a Jet Black iPhone 7 Plus will ship to U.S. buyers sometime in November, according to Apple’s e-mart, while a Jet Black iPhone 7 will ship three to five weeks after ordering.

 

Da Vinci Mini 3D Printer Will Cost Less Than $300

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Consumer Electronics

da-vinci-mini-3d-printer-150x150XZY Printing has announced its least expensive 3D printer for students, educators and small businesses at a cost of $290.

The new da Vinci Mini is available at XYZ Printing’s online store, as well as at other online retailers such as Amazon, Overstock.com and Sam’s Club, which has priced it at $270.

The machine is 5.9-in x 5.9-in x 5.9-in in size, and comes with free use of the company’s XYZmaker 3D modeling software.

XYZ Printing, which has built a reputation around affordable consumer-grade machines, previously boasted its entry-level — the da Vinci Junior 1.0 — as the lowest-priced product at just $349.

Computerworld reviewed the da Vinci Junior 1.0 and noted that while it had some standout features, it was still a machine squarely targeted at beginners and didn’t offer a lot of sophisticated features.

Only the company’s da Vinci Minimaker, a 3D printer for children, is a less expensive machine — at $250.

“XYZ Printing’s new da Vinci Mini 3D printer… addresses the needs of 3D printing enthusiasts without sacrificing quality and ease-of-use,” Simon Chen, CEO of XYZ Printing, said in a statement. “No matter your level of 3D printing experience, the da Vinci Mini is the perfect tool to create high-quality products at an affordable price.”

The new da Vinci Mini comes with several features that are often associated with much more expensive 3D printers, such as embedded Wi-Fi, allowing users to transmit object files from their computers to the machine over their home networks.

The machine also self-calibrates its print bed, alleviating the need for users to level the bed by hand. The printer also comes with an auto-loading filament system, meaning users aren’t required to feed the PLA filament — the plastic material that’s used to create the printed object — into the heated print head by hand.

The da Vinci Mini has an aluminum print bed, which the company claims increases durability and is better at diffusing heat so that printed objects can more easily be removed without burning the user’s hands.

 

PC Market Showing Signs Of Life

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Computing

pcs-150x150The PC market is showing some signs of growth, with Intel boosting its revenue guidance based on improved chip shipments.

The chip maker has raised its revenue guidance for the third quarter to $15.6 billion, plus or minus $300 million, an improvement from $14.9 million, plus or minus $500 million.

That’s due to PC makers replenishing laptop and desktop inventory, which means Intel is shipping out more chips. It’s likely in anticipation of the holiday season, when PC shipments rocket.

“The company is also seeing some signs of improving PC demand,” Intel said in a statement.

In the second quarter of the year, PC makers slowed down chip orders and were clearing out existing stock of laptops and desktops. PC shipments declined by 4.5 percent during that period, according to IDC.

Shipments of gaming PCs, 2-in-1s and Chromebooks are driving PC shipments. Microsoft’s free upgrade offer to Windows 10 has also ended, which means users are more likely to buy new PCs to get Windows 10.

Meanwhile, new laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips are now available. All the top PC makers have announced new 2-in-1s and laptops with Intel’s new chips. New Kaby Lake chips for gaming PCs will be announced in January.

Intel also has started shipping Pentium and Celeron chips, both aimed at low-cost laptops, based on the same architecture and code-named Apollo Lake. Many Chromebooks are based on Apollo Lake chips.

 

UPS Plans To Expand 3D Printing Operations

September 19, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

ups-logo-150x150United Parcel Service plans to grow its 3D printing service by expanding to Asia and Europe, the U.S. shipping company has told Reuters, in a bid to fully embrace and get ahead of a trend that threatens to eat away a small but lucrative part of its business.

Aside from its main package delivery service, UPS gets an undisclosed portion of its revenue from storing and shipping parts for manufacturers. If those customers were to switch to 3D printing their own parts, that business would face a drastic reduction.

To counter that threat, UPS has chosen to get on board the 3D revolution, and is now looking to offer a service in which UPS will print out plastic parts – anything from nozzles to brackets to prototype soap dispensers or multi-faceted moving parts – around the world and deliver them.

“3D printing is a great opportunity for us, but it’s also a threat,” Alan Amling, UPS vice president for corporate strategy, told Reuters.

The dynamic – welcoming rather than fighting a threatening new technology – is not unlike automakers such as Toyota Motor Corp and Volkswagen AG teaming up with ride-hailing services Uber and Gett, respectively.

Amling said UPS is looking at either Singapore or Japan for an Asian 3D printing factory. He did not say where the company might open a European facility, though UPS’s operational hub in Europe is in Cologne, Germany.

UPS has already got into the business in its home market. In May, it launched a U.S.-based 3D printing service with Fast Radius, a 3D printing company based outside Atlanta, where UPS is headquartered. UPS bought an unspecified stake in Fast Radius, which has a 3D printing factory at UPS’s Louisville, Kentucky, hub.

There are also now 3D printers at 60 UPS stores in the United States that print parts using industrial grade thermoplastics. Customers can upload images for printing at the Fast Radius factory or at one of those UPS stores and have the printed products shipped to any location.

MasterCard, PayPal Expand Payment Services Agreement

September 8, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

Mastercard-logo-150x150MasterCard Inc has announced that it had expanded its deal with payment processor PayPal Holdings Inc, which would allow customers to use PayPal’s payment services in stores.

PayPal’s partnership follows a similar deal with MasterCard’s larger rival Visa Inc in July as the company looks to expand its payments network.

PayPal will allow users to select a credit or debit card as the default payment method and share data on transactions made through MasterCard’s tap-and-pay feature, which allows the shopper to wave a card or mobile phone over a reader to pay, the companies said in a statement.

As part of the deal, MasterCard will allow PayPal users to withdraw cash from their accounts using a debit card and also waive the digital wallet fee it currently charges PayPal.

The two companies have an existing partnership for co-branded consumer credit cards in the United States and Puerto Rico.

PayPal, spun off from e-commerce company eBay Inc last year, has focused on aggressive growth.

The company’s revenue in the second quarter rose more than 15 percent to $2.65 billion from a year earlier and the volume of payments it processes jumped 28 percent to $86.21 billion.

The partnership with MasterCard was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

PayPal is also in discussions with banks that issue cards, to explore new products and partnerships, the Journal report said, citing people familiar with the matter.

 

Russian Hacker Convicted Of Selling More Than 2M Credit Card Numbers

August 30, 2016 by  
Filed under Around The Net

credit-card-theft-150x150Jurors in a U.S. federal court have handed down a guilty verdict for a Russian hacker accused of stealing and selling more than two million credit card numbers.

A jury in Seattle found Roman Valerevich Seleznev guilty of charges related to his hacking of point-of-sale systems.

Seleznev was arrested in 2014 after U.S. authorities accused him of installing malicious software on point-of-sale systems in U.S. restaurants .

From 2009 to 2013, Seleznev used this scheme to steal credit card data from businesses and send it back to his servers in Ukraine and McLean, Virginia. The stolen data was then sold on the black market, with Seleznev promising that buyers could make fraudulent purchases with them.

Testimony at his trial revealed that Seleznev’s scheme defrauded $169 million from 3,700 financial institutions, the U.S. Secret Service said in a statement.

The U.S. Secret Service began tracking Seleznev in 2005. At the time of his arrest in the Maldives, he was found carrying 1.7 million stolen credit card numbers on his laptop. Seleznev reportedly is the son of a Russian lawmaker, Valery Seleznev, and also a senior member of several organized online crime networks..

Seleznev was convicted on 38 counts, including wire fraud, intentional damage to a computer and identify theft. He will be sentenced in December and could face decades in prison and millions of dollars in fines.

Seleznev has also been charged in separate cases in Nevada and Georgia involving racketeering and bank fraud.

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

 

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