That’s one of the tools the world’s largest retailer plans to use to improve the in-store shopping experience as it looks to mobile-influenced purchases outpacing e-commerce sales, said Gibu Thomas, Wal-Mart’s global head of mobile, in a CTIA Wireless keynote speech on Wednesday.
“The future of retailing is the history of retailing, of a personalized interactive experience for every customer delivered through a smartphone,” Thomas said. Citing independent studies of the U.S. market, Thomas said in-store buying influenced by mobile use was on track to be about twice as big as e-commerce sales by 2016.
Mobile already drives about one-third of the traffic to Walmart.com, spiking to more than 40 percent during the holiday season late last year, Thomas said. The store’s smartphone app also boosts buying: Customers who have the app make more trips to Wal-Mart and spend as much as 40 percent more there, he said. A majority of Wal-Mart’s customers have smartphones.
The app already includes a shopping-list function, which can tell customers where to find their products in the store and give them relevant digital coupons they can redeem through the phone. Wal-Mart is testing a system called “Scan and Go” with which shoppers can scan each their purchases with the Wal-Mart app and then scan their phone once at a self-checkout register to pay, Thomas said.
But through analyzing what customers usually buy, the company now thinks it can automatically compile a list that will come up whenever the shopper opens up the app. It’s designed to anticipate what the customer will need.
“The best shopping list is the one you don’t have to create, so that’s the one we’re working on,” Thomas said.
“Many teens expressed waning enthusiasm for Facebook,” the Pew Research Center said in a study released Tuesday, based on interviews with 800 teens conducted between July and September last year.
They complained of too many adults on the site, the inane details shared by friends and the “drama” on Facebook, which they find draining, according to the study, conducted by the Pew Internet Project.
“The stress of needing to manage their reputation on Facebook also contributes to the lack of enthusiasm,” the researchers said. On Twitter and Instagram, however, teens felt free from the social expectations and constraints of Facebook, according to the study.
Most teens remain active on Facebook, because it’s “an important part of overall teen socializing,” the study said. But almost a quarter of online teens now use Twitter, up from 16 percent in 2011.
Their disillusionment with Facebook may have something to do with the way they’re using it. Some 70 percent said they are friends with their parents on the site, and only 5 percent restrict what their parents can see, according to the study. So Facebook is probably not a haven for illicit discussion.
But teenagers are keeping things open on Twitter, too. Just under 65 percent who have Twitter accounts make their tweets public, the study said.
Parents, meanwhile, are concerned about the amount of information advertisers can learn about their children. More than 80 percent of parents said they were “very” or “somewhat” concerned about that, according to the study
Teens were less concerned about third parties accessing their data. But almost one in three said they had seen ads that were “clearly inappropriate” for their age, though the study didn’t say what type of ads they were.
A day that SEGA fans thought would never come has arrived: SEGA has entered into a deal with Nintendo where Nintendo consoles will get the next three Sonic the Hedgehog titles as platform exclusives. The once bitter rivals are calling this a “worldwide partnership,” which despite being a bit short on details apparently leads us to believe that SEGA will be developing additional new software for the Wii U and 3DS consoles going forward.
The next three Sonic titles will include Sonic: Lost World, Mario & Sonic at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and a third unannounced title that the company is expected to officially announce at E3. The reason for the Sonic exclusive deal has to do with the past performance of Sonic titles on Nintendo consoles, and since they have proven to be good sellers, the deal does seem to make a lot of sense for both companies.
What is more interesting, however, is the other aspects of the partnership that will see additional titles developed for the Wii U. Nintendo needs all of the software support it can get for the Wii U, and just getting SEGA to continue to release new titles for the Wii U is a good thing. Sources tell us that SEGA has some new Wii U titles planned for announcement at E3, but it isn’t known exactly what SEGA might be cooking up.
While a big deal with Activision or Take-Two is really what Wii U owners might want, at least getting SEGA to continue producing Wii U titles is a positive news thing. It does remain to be seen, however, if SEGA can deliver the kinds of titles that will be successful sellers on the Wii U when so many owners are looking for the big titles from some of the other publishers.
Although the iPhone remained the top smartphone by customer satisfaction, with a score of 81 in the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) published Tuesday, Apple’s lead largely evaporated. Not only did Apple’s score fall two points from the year before, satisfaction in competitors’ devices jumped.
Samsung’s satisfaction score grew the most, increasing by five points to 76, a 7% gain. Motorola’s score climbed 5.5% to 77 points, while Nokia’s gained a point to close at 76, a 1.3% increase. Other smartphone manufacturers’ scores slumped: Those of HTC and LG slid 4% and 5.3%, respectively.
2012′s eight-point gap between Apple and the best of the rest was halved in 2013, as Apple now leads the next-closest, Motorola, by just four points.
ACSI’s director, David VanAmburg, attempted to explain Apple’s shrinking lead.
“While the iPhone 5 had strong sales, it has not bolstered Apple’s overall customer satisfaction,” said VanAmburg in a report accompanying the survey results. “[And Samsung's] improvement is the largest yet for any cell phone manufacturer.”
VanAmburg credited the 2012 launch of the Galaxy S3 for the boost to Samsung’s score, and noted that the 81 scored by the iPhone lagged behind the 86 garnered by Apple’s Mac personal computers and iPad tablets last September.
ACSI’s results generally conformed with media coverage and customer reactions to the iPhone 5 — which was seen as a minor upgrade, even though it sported a slightly larger screen — and Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and S4, which have been applauded. Most analysts, for instance, have portrayed Samsung as Apple’s only real competitor.
According to IDC, Samsung shipped 71 million smartphones in the first quarter, while Apple shipped 37 million iPhones, or just over half as many. Apple’s share shrunk to 17.3% for the quarter, down from 23% the same period in 2012; meanwhile, Samsung’s share climbed from 28.8% to 32.7%.
The Internet company nabbed the 92nd spot in the annual list of global companies from multiple industries including technology, retail and service, released Tuesday by BrandZ, a brand equity database. The ranking gave Yahoo a “brand value” of US$9.83 billion, which is based on the opinions of current and potential users as well as actual financial data.
Apple occupied the number-one position on the list, with a brand value of $185 billion. Google was number two, with a value of roughly $114 billion.
The BrandZ ranking, commissioned by the advertising and marketing services group WPP, incorporates interviews with more than 2 million consumers globally about thousands of brands along with financial performance analysis to compile the list. Yahoo last appeared on the list in 2009 at number 81.
Yahoo’s inclusion on the 2013 list comes as the Internet company works to reinvent itself and win back users. Previously a formidable player in Silicon Valley, the company has struggled in recent years to compete against the likes of Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Improving its product offerings on mobile has been a focus. New mobile apps for email and weather have been unveiled, along with a new version of the main Yahoo app, featuring news summaries generated with technology the company acquired when it bought Summly.
Most notably, Monday the company announced it is acquiring the blogging site Tumblr for $1.1 billion in cash. Big changes to its Flickr photo sharing service were also announced.
Yahoo’s rebuilding efforts have picked up steam only during the last several months, but the 2013 BrandZ study was completed by March 1.
However, last July’s appointment of Marissa Mayer as CEO likely played a significant role in the company’s inclusion in the ranking, said Altimeter analyst Charlene Li. “Consumer perception has gone up since then,” she said.
“Yahoo’s leadership has a strong sense of what they want to do with the brand,” she added.
Yahoo’s 2012 total revenue was flat at $4.99 billion. However, after subtracting advertising fees and commissions paid to partners, net revenue was up 2 percent year-on-year.
Three months after hackers working for a cyberunit of China’s People’s Liberation Army went silent they appear to have resumed their attacks using different techniques.
The Obama administration had bet that “naming and shaming” the groups, first in industry reports and then in the Pentagon’s own detailed survey of Chinese military capabilities, might prompt China’s new leadership to crack down on the military’s team of hackers. But it appears that Unit 6139 is back in business, according to American officials and security companies.
Mandiant, a private security company that helps companies and government agencies defend themselves from hackers, said the attacks had resumed but would not identify the targets. The victims were many of the same ones the unit had attacked before. Mandiant said that the Chinese hackers had stopped their attacks after they were exposed in February and removed their spying tools from the organisations they had infiltrated.
But in the last two months, they have begun attacking the same victims from new servers and have reinserted many of the tools that enable them to seek out data without detection. The subject of Chinese attacks is expected to be a central issue in an upcoming visit to China by President Obama’s national security adviser, Thomas Donilon. However little is expected to come of it, the Chinese have always denied that they have a hacked anyone, ever.
The new bid marks a significant boost from its earlier offer of $2.97 per share and beats Dish’s $3.30 bid. Clearwire shareholders had been scheduled to vote on Sprint’s offer at a special meeting Tuesday, but that meeting has now been postponed until May 30.
Sprint already owns roughly half of Clearwire, which has been its partner for 4G WiMax service since 2008. After Softbank agreed to invest $20 billion in Sprint and take a 70 percent share in the company, Sprint moved to complete its ownership. It plans to use Clearwire’s spectrum to beef up its new LTE network.
But Dish, a satellite TV and broadband provider, has made offers for both Sprint and Clearwire in an attempt to get into the relatively fast-growing mobile business. On Monday, Sprint announced it had received permission from Softbank to negotiate with Dish on its $25.5 billion offer, though Sprint said it still favored the Softbank deal.
Clearwire’s board of directors agreed to Sprint’s offer in December, but some minority shareholders in Clearwire had vowed to reject the deal, saying it undervalued the company and its significant spectrum holdings. Sprint had already increased its offer once, in December, from $2.90 per share to $2.97.
Dell’s public cloud service was the firm’s offering that was meant to tempt customers that buy kit from the firm not to run off to Amazon. Now it seems that Dell doesn’t want to run its own cloud datacentre operations but resell services through its Cloud Partner Program.
Dell’s Cloud Partner Program presently has three providers signed up, with Joyent arguably being the biggest name so far. Dell also announced that it will resell services for Scalematrix and Zerolag, adding that its customers can use Dell as a cloud service broker rather than as a cloud provider.
Dell’s public cloud had been using Openstack, an open source suite of software that promotes software interoperability between cloud service providers. The firm’s decision to dump its public cloud service is not only a blow for Openstack, but an admission that the Texas based PC vendor does not want to compete with Amazon Web Services.
Dell Cloud VP Nnamdi Orakwue said, “The partner approach offers increased value to Dell’s customers, channel partners and shareholders, as part of our comprehensive cloud strategy to deliver market-leading, end-to-end cloud solutions.”
Orakwue spun Dell’s announcement as giving customers the choice they apparently want in cloud service providers, though given the almost ubiquitous availability of Amazon Web Services, one has to question whether customers really care about having a choice of cloud providers, no matter how important it might be for competition.
Dell said it will continue to provide private cloud services and claimed it is still committed to the Openstack project. The firm added that customers can buy services through its Cloud Partner Program immediately.
GrubHub and Seamless, which allow consumers to easily order online from various restaurants, are part of a group of fast-growing businesses that standardize local services under a national umbrella. Think restaurant reservations, where OpenTable dominates, or car services, where privately held startups such as Uber are making significant inroads.
“Internet sites are able to aggregate local merchants, and we’re right in the sweet spot,” said Matt Maloney, GrubHub chief executive, in a phone interview.
The services did not disclose financial terms of the deal, which is subject to regulatory approval. It is expected to close by August, the services’ executives said.
Online takeout services allow consumers to browse hundreds of menus online, along with reviews by fellow diners, and then order from the service, which notifies the restaurant. The services store payment information, cutting back on the time it takes to order food.Restaurants like the services because they cut back on phone calls at peak times.
Last year, GrubHub and Seamless coordinated $875 million in takeout sales, resulting in more than $100 million in combined revenue, they said in a statement.
But the overall U.S. takeout business is worth around $69 billion annually, with most of those sales coming from diners picking up the phone and calling the restaurant. “Our number one competitor is the paper menu,” Maloney said.
Both companies have attracted significant backing, including more than $84 million for Chicago-based GrubHub from investors such as Benchmark Capital and Lightspeed Venture Partners.
New York-based Seamless’s backers include private-equity firm Spectrum Equity, which paid $50 million two years ago for a minority stake in the business.
GrubHub is the larger of the two services, covering 20,000 restaurants in 500 cities. Maloney, its founder and chief executive, will become CEO of the combined company, while Seamless CEO Jonathan Zabusky will serve as president.
Seamless currently works with 12,000 restaurants in 40 cities, including in London.
The combined company will have 600 employees.
Finnish startup Jolla has announced its first smartphone, which debuts its Sailfish OS on a 4.5-inch screen. The device integrates the company’s unique back covers with the software, allowing the look to change and new features to be added.
Jolla, which was founded by former Nokia employees who wanted to continue the development work the Finnish phone maker had done on the MeeGo OS, is with the introduction one big step closer to entering the ultra-competitive smartphone market.
“The earliest memories I have of things really crystalizing is from the summer of 2011. I was on holiday and there was a conference call I took on the beach, and the people that became Jolla, the founders and many of the early contributors were on that call. But to me the hard work really started in January 2012,” said Marc Dillon, who recently stepped down as the company’s CEO to focus on developing the first phone.
The LTE-smartphone — which is just called Jolla, for now — is powered by a dual-core processor and has an 8-megapixel camera. It also has 16GB of integrated storage which can be expanded using an SD card.
The smartphone has been designed to look like two thin slabs that have been bonded together, and users can change the color of the back one with different snap-on covers. The back cover isn’t just about the hardware design. It is integrated with the OS and can be used to add features and change the look, a concept Jolla calls “the other half.”
“This is one of the most powerful things we have … a very simple example could be that you have covers with different colors,” Dillon said. “So you change the back of the device to a red one in the evening and a black one for the office and that would also change the user interface because there is a connection there.”
The cover could also have more memory for extra content that could be used by artists to put out limited edition phones, according to Dillon.
The company’s core offering is the Sailfish operating system, which Jolla hopes will lure users away from competing platforms. To help boost the availability of apps, the OS will be able to run Android applications.
The heart of the OS consists of thumbnails of opened applications on the homescreen from which users also can access multiple features directly by scrolling from side-to-side or just clicking on them to access the main feature.
“The true multitasking is working in lots of different applications. You can have a video running in a thumbnail while you are doing something else on the device,” Dillon said.
The Jolla will start shipping during the fourth quarter and cost a!399 (US$510) including taxes in the EU. It can be preordered on Jolla’s website.
DAS (distributed antenna systems) using coaxial cable have been the main solution to the problem, but they now face some limitations. To address them, Corning will introduce a DAS at this week’s CTIA Wireless trade show in Las Vegas that uses fiber instead of coax all the way from the remote cell antennas to the base station in the heart of a building.
Cable-based DAS hasn’t kept up with the new world, according to the optical networking vendor. Though Corning is associated more often with clear glass than with thin air, it entered the indoor wireless business in 2011 by buying DAS maker MobileAccess. That’s because Corning thinks optical fiber is the key to bringing more mobile capacity and coverage inside.
The system, called Corning Optical Network Evolution (ONE) Wireless Platform, can take the place of a DAS based fully or partly on coaxial cable, according to Bill Cune, vice president of strategy for Corning MobileAccess. Corning ONE will let mobile carriers, enterprises or building owners set up a neutral-host DAS for multiple carriers using many different frequencies.
Though small cells are starting to take its place in some buildings, DAS still has advantages over the newer technology, according to analyst Peter Jarich of Current Analysis. It can be easier to upgrade because only the antennas are distributed, so more of the changes can be carried out on centralized gear. Also, small cells are typically deployed by one mobile operator, and serving customers of other carriers has to be done through roaming agreements, he said.
Corning ONE links each antenna to the base station over optical fiber, converting the radio signals to optical wavelengths until they reach the base station. Fiber has more capacity than coax, can handle higher frequencies, and requires just one cable from a MIMO antenna, Cune said. Because of fiber’s high capacity, it’s relatively easy to bring other mobile operators onto the DAS.
The system is based on optical fiber, but it can be extended over standard Ethernet wiring to provide backhaul for Wi-Fi access points. Each Corning ONE remote antenna unit that’s deployed around a building will have two Ethernet ports to hook up nearby Wi-Fi access points, which can use the fiber infrastructure for data transport to wired LAN equipment, Cune said.
Electronic Arts may be through with the Wii U. According to a Kotaku report, EA has confirmed that it is no longer working on Nintendo’s new console.
“We have no games in development for the Wii U currently,” EA’s Jeff Brown is quoted as saying. Brown did not indicate if EA would resume development on the system in the future
Earlier this month, EA confirmed it would not be bringing this year’s Madden NFL 25 to the Wii U. At the time, a representative said, “We have a strong partnership with Nintendo and will continue to evaluate opportunities for delivering additional Madden NFL products for Nintendo fans in the future.”
EA has released four games for the Wii U to date. The first three (Mass Effect 3, Madden NFL 13, and FIFA Soccer 13) were system-launch-day ports of titles that had shipped earlier on other platforms. The fourth game, Need for Speed Most Wanted, hit stores in March, months after that game debuted for Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC.
The brief duration of support for the Wii U is surprising given EA’s vocal endorsement of the system at Nintendo’s 2011 Electronic Entertainment Expo media briefing. To cap off the event, then-EA CEO John Riccitiello promised the publisher’s support for the system. Brown told Kotaku that the quartet of titles already released represented EA making good on that promise.
Nintendo representatives did not immediately return requests for comment.
The Android-based device will plug into a display’s HDMI port so that it can run applications or access files stored remotely. It will have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities and is aimed at users who do most of their computing on the Web.
Ophelia can turn any screen or display into a PC, gaming machine or a TV set-top box, said Jeff McNaught, executive director of cloud client computing at Dell. Users will be able to download apps, movies and TV shows from the Google Play store, McNaught said. Users will also be able to run Android games or stream movies from Hulu or Netflix.
It is meant to be an inexpensive alternative to tablets and PCs, McNaught said. However, users need to be close to a TV screen, display or projector with an HDMI port to use it.
The company is working on a keyboard-like technology for users to type when Ophelia is docked to a screen, he said.
Dell will demonstrate Ophelia on 19-inch and 55-inch screens at next week’s Citrix Synergy conference in Los Angeles. It was introduced in January at the International CES show.
The person acknowledged that other parties were involved, adding that DirecTV was “one of many” suitors. Media reports have previously identified Time Warner Cable Inc as another company weighing a potential stake in the company.
Representatives of DirecTV and Time Warner Cable declined to comment on Friday.
Reuters reported in April that former News Corp president Peter Chernin had bid around $500 million for Hulu, the service he helped create in 2007. Reuters also reported that Guggenheim had been hired to advise Hulu and was also contemplating a bid.
DirecTV had circled Hulu once before, when the video company put itself on the block in 2011. Other suitors at the time included Google Inc,Amazon.com Inc and Dish Network Corp. Talks collapsed over the price of that deal.
Hulu has more than 3 million subscribers paying $7.99 a month for its premium service, and generated revenue of around $700 million last year. It sells advertising for its free service.
The Wall Street Journal was the first to report DirecTV’s interest late last Friday.
Tumblr, a place for posting cat memes and duck faces, is apparently in Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer’s sights, with Allthingsd reporting that she is the main driver of a possible acquisition. Yahoo and Tumblr are in “had been in serious talks,” with Mayer having had her eye on the company ever since she worked for Yahoo rival Google.
The report also claims that Tumblr has been “stepping up its efforts” recently to raise funding that could value the company at $1bn, seemingly interested in a potential buyout by Yahoo as long as the price is right.
Yahoo CFO Ken Goldman quoted said that the firm is looking to attract more 18-24 year olds, which is the demographic of the blogging service.
“One of our challenges is we have had an aging demographic,” Goldman said. “Part of it is going to be just visibility again in making ourselves cool, which we got away from for a couple of years.”
One of Allthingsd’s closely guarded sources said that Yahoo acquiring Tumblr fits in nicely with Mayer’s plans.
“If you could pick a company that fits in with what Marissa Mayer has demonstrated in her career – aesthetics, software technology and fast-growing – you could not land on a better choice,” the unnamed source said.
The merger will come as no surprise, as Tumblr boasts 117 million visitors each month, the majority of which are in the 18-24 demographic. However, it still remains unclear what Yahoo would do with Tumblr.
Yahoo will reportedly announce this afternoon.