Samsung is making an aggressive sales play in the U.S. market by moving into thousands of third-party retail outlets where dedicated staff will sell and provide advice on the company’s smartphones,tablets and entertainment products.
Samsung has established “pop-up” stores in the past and had a full-scale outlet in New York that was ultimately shut down. A part of the new expansion plan includes retailer Best Buy, which on Monday announced that it would establish a special zone in its 1,400 U.S. retail stores to sell Samsung products.
The company already has authorized resellers, and the Best Buy partnership is an effort to give users a hands-on experience with its products, said Tim Baxter, CEO of Samsung Electronics America, during an event in New York on Wednesday to announce the Samsung and Best Buy partnership.
Providing a hands-on experience is a “vital” part of getting users to buy Samsung products, Baxter said.
Also, mobile computing is headed in a direction where tablets, smartphones and other devices such as TVs are able to easily interact with each other. A larger in-store presence will educate users on how these products work together, Baxter said.
Baxter declined to say if Samsung would open its own stores in key locations, but said that the company would partner with more retailers. Samsung spends $8 billion to $9 billion on product research every year, and a larger retail presence will also help understand product trends in the U.S., Baxter said.
The U.S. is a key market for Samsung, and the company believes it can grab a larger share in smartphones, tablets and PCs through a larger in-store presence. Samsung’s smartphone rival Apple already has a large retail presence where customers can buy products and get support.
“These cuts are a continuation of the reductions we announced last summer,” said Motorola spokeswoman Katie Dove in an email. “It’s obviously very hard for the employees concerned, and we are committed to helping them through this difficult transition.”
Motorola’s mobile business has been pummeled in the smartphone market by larger players such as Samsung Electronics, Apple, Sony, Huawei Technologies and ZTE. Samsung, the largest smartphone maker in the fourth quarter, like Motorola makes phones using Google’s Android operating system.
The revenue of Motorola’s mobile business as a result of knocks in the market was $1.51 billion, or 11% of parent Google’s consolidated revenue in the fourth quarter of 2012. It also had an operating loss of $353 million in the quarter. Apple in contrast posted revenue of $54.5 billion and net profit of $13 billion in the quarter ended Dec. 29.
Motorola employees were informed by email that while the company is optimistic about new products in the pipeline, it still faces challenges, The Wall Street Journal reported last Friday. The company added that its costs are too high, and it is operating in markets where it is not competitive and is losing money. The layoffs will affect workers in the U.S., China and India, according to the newspaper.
Motorola was acquired by Google in May, and it was thought that the Internet giant was mainly acquiring the company for its patents, and may not be interested in its mobile hardware business in a cut-throat market.
Google said in December that it planned to sell Motorola’s TV set-top box business to Arris Group, a broadband device vendor, for $2.35 billion.
Motorola had 11,113 staff in its mobile business and 5,204 in its home business at the end of December. The new cuts will hence reduce the staff in its mobility business by over 10%.
“It will happen near the end of 2013, Sam Yu, general manager of Polytron said Wednesday, as he showed off a prototype device. “Trust me.”
The prototype phone was, however, not functional. Since not all the components used in the phone can be concealed, the company’s glass technology may at least allow for a portion of the smartphone to remain see-through, with the rest covered behind casing, according to Polytron staff.
Unlike today’s smartphones, which are often encased in plastic or metal and filled with opaque circuitry, Polytron is proposing handset makers build their products with its specially designed glass that can contain near invisible electrical wiring using patented technology. The result can create a transparent effect, making the phone see-through, the company said. (Videos can be found here and here).
Yu, general manager for Polytron, has been showing off a prototype device, built from a light piece of glass. Certain components such as the battery, camera, and memory card are still visible, but the remainder of the phone, including the screen, is transparent, he said.
“I like things that are novel and look beautiful,” he said, adding that the patent for the technology was developed four years ago. “Current mobile phones are heavier, but with this glass you can make it much lighter.”
Polytron is a subsidiary of U.S.-based Polytronix and focuses on glass technology. One of the company’s main products is its “Polyvision Privacy Glass”, which can flip between transparency and a near-opaque cloudy white with a flick of a switch.
The deal had been tipped previously by several sources, including a Microsoft HUP marketing portal, which yesterday noted that promotional materials would be available to volume licensees on Jan. 17. Vanderbilt University had also told its faculty and staff that Office 2013 would be hit HUP no later than the middle of this month.
Enterprises and organizations with Software Assurance (SA) plans can enable HUP for employees, who register for the discounted copy of Office 2013 using their work email address and a program code obtained from their IT department. SA is an annuity-like program where firms pay Microsoft set fees per license over a multi-year span for the right to upgrade to any new versions of a particular product.
For $9.95, employees can download Office Professional Plus 2013, a volume license-only edition that includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, OneNote, Access, Publisher, InfoPath and Lync.
Alternately, workers can purchase Office for Mac Home & Business 2011 for $9.95. That edition includes Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook.
Software obtained through HUP is intended for use on workers’ home PCs or Macs, and its use is tied to the company’s or organization’s continued SA payments.
Those who had previously purchased an older copy of Office through HUP — say, Office Professional Plus 2010 — must again pay the $9.95 fee to buy Office 2013 as an upgrade.
Motorola Solutions has announced a pair of quasi-cloud services that make it easier for IT groups to set up secure connections for guest Wi-Fi users, including those with personally-owned devices, on corporate or retail wireless LANs.
Under the company’s WiNG 5 Secure Access program, the two services automate registering devices and granting them digital certificates. Both can use social networking accounts, such as those on Facebook, Google and LinkedIn, as the basis for issuing visitors digital certificates for 802.1X authentication.
The services provide a way for visitors or employees with personal devices to access wireless LANs encrypted via Wi-Fi Protected Access (WPA) 2 Enterprise. Enterprise IT staff use a cloud-based console, and a secure account, to set up both services, and define configuration rules and policies.
Secure Access Wizard is configured by the network administrator and then deployed to a web server. Users can connect to an open Wi-Fi SSID with their personally-owned smartphone or tablet and open their browser to access the Wizard, which automatically sets up the device, and shifts the user to a secure Wi-Fi connection encrypted by WPA2-Enterprise. Users can set up the initial authentication through one of their social networking accounts.
Secure Access Wizard is intended to let end users quickly set up a secure connection to a guest access network that might be in a retail store, thus protecting their retail account information or transactions.
Once authorized, devices can be granted access for a set period of time or indefinitely. A range of additional policies can be applied including dynamic VLAN assignments, access control lists, and bandwidth assignments. It supports the following client operating systems: Windows XP SP2 and greater, Mac OS X 10.5 and greater, Ubuntu 9.04 and greater, Android 2.1 and greater, and iOS 2.0 and greater.
The decision to go all-digital underscores the problems faced by newsweeklies, as more consumers favor tablets and mobile devices over print in an increasingly commoditized, 24-hour news cycle.
The final print edition of the weekly current affairs magazine will hit newsstands on December 31.
The move was not unexpected given both the macro changes affecting the magazine industry and, more specifically, the comments made in July by Newsweek’s owner Barry Diller, head of IAC/Interactive Corp, about the expense of producing a print magazine.
Immediately after Diller’s comments, Tina Brown, editor-in-chief of Newsweek and The Daily Beast, wrote a post on the magazine’s Tumblr page titled, “Scaremongering,” that sought to downplay speculation that it would go all-digital.
But in an interview with Reuters, Brown said of the decision to shelve print, “We started discussing it very fiercely and intensely in June. It’s been in the works a long time, in a sense. And today, we felt ready and absolutely committed to going the course we charted.
“When I returned to print with Newsweek, it did very quickly begin to feel to me (like) an outmoded medium,” Brown continued. “While I still had a great romance for it, nonetheless I feel this is not the right medium anymore to produce journalism.”
Brown held a town hall-style meeting on Thursday at 11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT) to break the news to the company’s business and editorial staff, according to sources. These sources said she treated the staff to breakfast, lunch, and dessert.
Plans calls for the magazine to become a subscription-based digital publication re-branded as Newsweek Global. Its current 1.5 million subscriber base – a decrease of 50 percent from its one-time peak of 3 million – will be given access to the digital edition.
IBM has designed the service, an IBM Smarter Commerce offering, for organizations to outsource their online marketing efforts, eliminating the need to purchase and cobble together new marketing software and hire an IT team to manage it. The service provides the ability to select target customers for a product campaign, to design an email solicitation or Web page, as well as analyze the results of how many people responded to these marketing efforts.
“Customers can do all this today, but they have to wire together a whole disparate set of systems,” said Craig Hayman, IBM general manager of industry solutions. The marketing center combines two operations that are usually run by different sets of software, the software that manages email and Web-based promotional offers, and the software that analyzes the results. Combining these operations allows managers to test new marketing campaigns and quickly assess their success. “We have pulled that together into one service that runs in the cloud,” Hayman said.
The service uses a number of different technologies from companies that IBM has recently acquired. In 2010, IBM acquired Coremetrics, a firm that provided a commerce-focused Web analytics service. Also that year, IBM purchased online marketing software provider Unica.
Organizations are charged on the basis of how many campaigns they run and how many users they reach. “Users just pay for what they consume. There are no upfront capital costs,” Hayman said.
IBM announced this new service at its Smarter Commerce Global Summit conference, being held this week in Orlando.
Groupon Inc’s Lee Brown, who manages the daily deal company’s national sales, has decided to leave, following other senior executives who also departed the company this year, according to an internal memo written last week.
Brown, who was senior vice president of national sales and joined in 2010 from Yahoo Inc, will be replaced by Raj Ruparell, the memo from Groupon’s operations chief Kal Raman said. A Groupon spokesman confirmed the changes and the accuracy of the memo.
Groupon has lost about three quarters of its market value since the company’s IPO last year on concern that the growth of its main daily deal business is slowing.
There have also been reports of staff departures in recent weeks. The Wall Street Journal reported this week that Jayna Cooke, another top salesperson at Groupon, had left the company.
Brown was credited with the creation of Groupon’s National Sales team, which arranges nationwide deals, rather than local offers.
“Under Lee’s management, the team has secured a number of key customers, and I’d like to personally thank Lee for his contributions and wish him the best in his next opportunity,” Raman wrote in the memo.
Ruparell, who is taking over the National Sales team, previously headed Groupon Goods, the company’s fast-growing consumer products business, Raman added.
“Raj will report to Chris Muhr, SVP of Sales, and will be immediately focused on getting to know the team and delivering on our Q3 forecast,” Raman added.
The number of new IT and business process outsourcing contracts worldwide dropped by 20% to 411 in the second quarter from 516 in the same quarter a year ago, with average contract values also declining, a research firm said.
“The market is growing, but the pace of growth is slowing down,” said Salil Dani, practice director for global sourcing at Everest Group.
The reduction in the number of outsourcing contracts can be partly attributed to the debt crisis in Europe and other economic factors. The discretionary spending on IT in Europe is largely on hold, Dani said.
But buyers in the U.S., particularly from the public sector, are also shying away from outsourcing because of the anti-offshoring debate in the run-up to the presidential elections, according to Dani.
Although some u.S. customers have started outsourcing to smaller cities within the country, these contracts are few in number because they cannot get the cost advantage and the large number of staff that locations like India or the Philippines can offer, he said.
Everest said its estimate of outsourcing contracts is based on publicly disclosed data, and included entirely new transactions as well as some renewals of earlier deals.
The annualized value of the new reported contracts in the second quarter was $2.3 billion in contrast to $2.6 billion in the same period last year, according to research released by Everest. Annualized value is the value of a contract divided by its duration. The number of contracts have been sliding for some quarters now, Dani said.
Mexico’s top cement maker Cemex is outsourcing jobs worldwide to IBM in a deal that will result in a savings of $1 billion over 10 years, the latest bid by the company to cut costs and stregthen its financial health.
Cemex, which was swamped by the collapse of the U.S. housing market after paying out some $16 billion to buy Australian peer Rinker, has been working its way out of a deep debt hole for the past three years.
Cemex Chief Financial Officer Fernando Gonzalez told Reuters that the deal with International Business Machines Corp would likely affect between 1,500 and 2,000 staff, but he said that was a preliminary estimate. The company did not give specifics about the types of jobs that would be outsourced.
Some jobs may be absorbed by IBM, Gonzalez said. Cemex will start passing jobs to IBM from September, and the entire transition should be complete by December 2013.
The contract is IBM’s largest outsourcing deal with a Mexican company and ranks among the biggest IBM has agreed in Latin America, said Bob Hoey, general manager for IBM’s integrated technology services business.
Monterrey-based Cemex employs about 42,000 people worldwide and has operations in over 50 countries.
IBM will provide Cemex with business process and information technology services. It will also include finance and accounting, and human resources back-office services.
In fact, the Craigslist website of 10 or 12 years ago looks,for the most part, just like it does today. The online classified ad site hasn’t seen the major redesigns, feature adds and makeovers like those that have riled up Facebook’s users time and again in recent years.
But that all might be about to change very soon.
Craigslist posted an ad on its own site late last week, looking to hire a “hands-on” senior user interface engineer, along with a front-end and usability engineers.
According to the ad, Craigslist is looking for the new hires to make a host of site improvements by upgrading the user experience and making it “faster, friendlier and easier” to use.
The engineers will also be tasked with developing new products and features “that will have users [of the site] swooning,” while integrating new front-end technologies.
While salaries for the engineer jobs weren’t included in the advertisement, the ad did say that job candidates could expect “love from users and staff.”
The fake account with the handle @Wendi_Deng first appeared on Sunday soon after a real Twitter account was started by the media mogul on New Year’s eve. News Corp communications staff confirmed that the Murdoch account was genuine. Like Murdoch’s own Twitter account, the Wendi account was initially verified by Twitter, featuring the well-known blue tick which shows Twitter has confirmed the account belongs to the named person.
But by early Tuesday New York time, Twitter was forced to remove its famous blue tick from the Wendi account after it said it confirmed the account did not belong to her.
“We can confirm that the @wendi_deng account was mistakenly verified for a short period of time and apologize for the confusion this caused,” Twitter said in a statement.
Twitter spokesman Matt Graves declined to comment on the matter beyond the earlier statement to explain how the error was made.
Twitter, which allows anyone to create an account under any name for free, uses the blue tick verification to help its users to differentiate real accounts of well-known personalities from parody pages made by other users.
The @Wendi_Deng profile, seen by Reuters on Monday, said she was joining her husband on an “adventure” on Twitter and began tweeting regularly about Murdoch and with public messages to celebrities like Piers Morgan and British entrepreneur Alan Sugar.
Within 48 hours of opening the page and getting the Twitter stamp of approval, the @Wendi_Deng account – registered under the name Wendi Deng Murdoch – had racked up more than 10,000 followers eager for some insight into Murdoch’s personal life as well as his business life. Murdoch himself had amassed nearly 95,000 followers at the time of publication.