The portable antenna connects to a smartphone via a Bluetooth Low Energy link. Once connected, users with either an iOS or Android app can then send text messages through the antenna. (The recipient must also have a goTenna, and consequently the product is sold in pairs.)
The device uses the 151MHz-154MHz frequencies, with range depending on location. In a densely populated place like Manhattan, that range could be less than a mile. In more open spaces, up to 50 miles is possible. The antenna, which takes a USB-delivered charge, will store messages and hold them until a connection can be made.
Businesses employ a range of backup communications technologies, including long-range satellite phones and ham radios, as well as shorter range walkie-talkies. The goTenna could serve as an alternative to a walkie-talkie — and even offers some advantages over other options. For example, its messages are encrypted and private, a separate device isn’t needed, and people can use the goTenna system with their smartphone interface.
The goTenna also has the ability to “shout” a message by delivering it to all goTenna users who have opted in to receive a broadcast.
“That fact that we are totally decentralized means that in many ways it can be a backup to your backup,” said goTenna CEO Daniela Perdomo, who co-founded the company with her brother, Jorge Perdomo, goTenna’s CTO.
In addition to using goTenna as an emergency tool, Perdomo said people could use the technology as a means of communicating while they’re traveling, when they’re taking part in outdoor recreation activities, or when they’re involved in any type of situation that requires private communication. The antenna uses a Lithium-ion battery and is estimated to last two to three days with normal use, or as long as 30 hours if it’s on continuously.
Perdomo said the outages created by Hurricane Sandy in 2012 prompted her to imagine ways smartphones could be made to directly communicate with other phones.
The goTenna will ship in late fall, but a pair of the devices can be preordered for $149.99.
The announcement comes as wireless carriers attempt to shift data-hungry subscribers onto tiered plans, which charge customers for individual data packages.
Verizon will slow services for the top 5 percent of data users who are on unlimited plans in places where the network is experiencing high demand, the company announced on its website.
The policy will impact customers who consume more than 4.7 gigabytes in a single billing period who are on unlimited plans and who have fulfilled their minimum contract terms and are subscribing to service on a month-to-month basis.
Users might experience slower speeds when streaming high-definition video or during real-time online gaming, the company said.
Customers on the company’s tiered data plans will not be affected.
The policy is currently in effect for unlimited subscribers on the 3G network, but will be expanded to its 4G, higher speed network in October.
Verizon stopped offering unlimited data plans in 2012.
Top executives at Dell and BlackBerry Ltd scoffed at the threat posed by the alliance, arguing the tie-up is unlikely to derail the efforts of their own companies to re-invent themselves.
“I do not think that we take the Apple-IBM tie-up terribly seriously. I think it just made a good press release,” John Swainson, who heads Dell’s global software business, said in an interview with Reuters in Toronto last week.
PC maker Dell and smartphone maker BlackBerry are in the midst of reshaping their companies around software and services, as the needs of their big corporate clients morph.
Swainson, who spent over two decades in senior roles at IBM, said, “I have some trouble understanding how IBM reps are going to really help Apple very much in terms of introducing devices into their accounts. I mean candidly, they weren’t very good at doing it when it was IBM-logoed products, so I do not get how introducing Apple-logoed stuff is going to be much better.”
While conceding that Apple products hold more allure, Swainson said they lack the depth of security features that many large business clients like banks covet.
IBM and Apple could not immediately be reached for comment.
BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen similarly downplayed the threat of the alliance in an interview with the Financial Times, likening the tie-up to when “two elephants start dancing.”
The partnership helps move Sprint well beyond it’s role as a basic wireless carrier for businesses to one that will bolster basic Google cloud service and access to Google apps with Sprint’s own hands-on professional consulting, much of it free.
The announcement comes amid widespread reports that Sprint is in discussions to buy T-Mobile and just weeks after a six-month study of wireless carrier network performance found Sprint didn’t finish first among national carriers in any of 125 U.S. cities.
Sprint’s resale of Google Apps for Business kicks off officially on Aug. 18. Sprint will charge businesses the same rate that Google does — with pricing starting at $5 per month per worker for access to a variety of apps such as Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs, or $10 a month per user per month for Google Apps access with unlimited cloud storage, and other services.
In addition, Sprint will offer its new Google Apps for Business customers a number of free services, including consulting on mobile deployment strategy, project management and cloud help-desk support (with all cloud servers under the ownership of Google). Sprint will charge for certain professional services, such as creating single sign-on capability or domain services. Pricing for those services, in addition to the standard Google Apps for Business costs, will be announced closer to launch.
Sprint’s John Tudhope, director of marketing for enterprise services, said Sprint’s Google Apps for Business customers won’t need to be Sprint wireless customers to get the new service.
Faced with mounting pressure from competitors, AT&T has unbundled service and device charges, and cut its family data plan and shared value plan prices as it tries to attract customers in a nearly saturated market.
“What we saw happen throughout the second quarter were very aggressive promotions by our competitors but all the while our churn decreased,” Ralph de la Vega, chief executive of AT&T mobility, told Reuters.
“We are confident that what we saw in Q2 was part of the transition we had to make to go from service to equipment revenue in NEXT,” he said, referring to a pricing plan that allows customers to pay directly for their devices in exchange for lower service pricing.
The plan has resulted in a lower average revenue per user, but higher equipment revenue, as customers take on the majority of the burden of paying for their devices.
Wireless service revenue decreased 1.4 percent in the second quarter, while equipment revenue grew 44.8 percent.
AT&T expects two-thirds of its customers to be on the plan by the end of the year.
“AT&T has quite aggressively moved its existing base of customers in contract to the new plan. It is a fairly predictable shift and over time it should be a positive one for AT&T, but it has an unpleasant short-term impact on results, said Jan Dawson, chief analyst at Jackdaw Research.”
Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said on a conference call with analysts that Brazil’s antitrust regulator has approved the company’s $48.5 billion bid for DirecTV, which has a significant foothold in Latin America. The deal has been reviewed by state regulators but is under review by the U.S. Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission.
The company maintained its free cash flow guidance of around $11 billion for 2014, exceeding the $9.6 billion it needs to meet its dividend target, which some investors have worried could be unsustainable.
The No. 2 U.S. mobile provider said on Wednesday that excluding items it earned 62 cents per share, one penny less than Wall Street expectations, according to Thomson Reuters .
Finland, Australia, Japan, Sweden, Denmark, South Korea and the U.S. had wireless broadband penetration of more than 100 percent as of December 2013, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said Tuesday. That means there was more than one wireless broadband subscription per person, usually because consumers have more than one mobile device that can go online. The U.S. just barely crossed the bar, while Finland led the group with more than 123 percent penetration.
Across all 37 OECD countries, wireless broadband penetration rose to 72.4 percent as total subscriptions grew 14.6 percent. The group spans North America, Australia, New Zealand, and much of Europe, as well as Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Israel, Mexico and Chile. It’s sometimes treated as a barometer of the developed world.
Wired broadband subscriptions also grew in 2013, reaching an average of 27 percent penetration. That means there was just over one wired subscription per four people: Wired broadband services, such as cable and DSL (digital subscriber line), typically are shared. Switzerland led in that category with 44.9 percent penetration, followed by the Netherlands and Denmark. The U.S. had just under 30 wired subscriptions per 100 people, while Turkey came in last with just over 11.
DSL still makes up a majority of wired broadband subscriptions, at 51.5 percent, followed by cable with 31.2 percent. Fiber-optic grew to a 16.7 percent share, gradually replacing DSL services. Fiber more than doubled its share of the market in the U.K. and also gained strongly in Spain, Turkey and France. While those countries still have relatively low fiber penetration, Japan and Korea continued to lead the OECD for that technology. Nearly 70 percent of all wired broadband in Japan goes over fiber, and almost 65 percent in Korea.
The OECD has compiled some of its broadband statistics on a portal page. For all the technologies it tracks, the group uses a generous definition of broadband as a service capable of at least 256K bits per second downstream.
Six-year-old Flurry uses analytics to help target ads at consumers by monitoring activity on more than half a million apps on some 1.4 billion mobile devices around the world, Yahoo said in a statement.
The startup provides information to help marketers and brands more easily reach their desired audiences, Yahoo said.
Yahoo did not cite a price tag, but a source familiar with the matter said the Internet company is paying several hundred million dollars. Tech blog re/code earlier reported that rough amount.
Flurry will operate much as before after the acquisition closes, and its team will remain in their current locations, Yahoo added.
Yahoo is trying to revitalize a stagnant online advertising business as Chief Executive Marissa Mayer marks her second anniversary at the Internet company.
The former Google executive has revamped many of Yahoo’s Web products but its ad sales are still weak while rivals such as Google and Facebook continue to post strong, double-digit revenue growth.
Like its rivals, it has been investing in its mobile advertising platform, as users increasingly access the Internet from smartphones and tablets. Its mobile advertising revenue more than doubled in the second quarter.
But mobile advertising typically commands lower rates than online. Revenue in Yahoo’s display advertising business decreased 8 percent to $436 million in the second quarter.
There were 632 million Internet users in China in June, according to the government-linked China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC).
Although China has long reigned as the country with the world’s largest Internet population, the services are still struggling to take off in the rural areas, where about 450 million people never go online, said the CNNIC in its bi-annual report.
Total Internet penetration in China is at 46.9 percent. This is far lower than the U.S, which has a penetration rate of 87 percent, according to Internet World Stats.
Many of these non-Internet users in China have low education levels, and have little need to surf the Web, the research group added. To increase adoption, the CNNIC recommended that the country focus on teaching rural elementary students Internet skills.
The slowing growth in Internet usage in China follows a rapid rise in the Internet population there, from just 94 million over a decade ago. Most of the growth has taken place in the country’s urban areas, where the Internet market has begun to mature.
In June, China had 527 million users who went online with mobile phones, which have now overtaken PCs, including both notebooks and desktops, as the most popular way to reach the Internet, the CNNIC said.
Online messaging, search engines, and news are the country’s top Internet services. But social networking sites are facing a decline in popularity, with their user numbers falling by 7.4 percent to 257 million in the last six months. The sites are struggling to innovate, and meet the demands of users, CNNIC said in its report.
The UK Government isn’t doing enough to warn about the risks of cybercrime on a mass level, security firm Kaspersky has claimed.
Speaking at a company roundtable event at the firm’s European hub in London on Thursday, Kaspersky security researcher David Emm said isn’t doing as much as it could be to educate people about cyber security.
“I’d like to see the government doing more to get the message out to mainstream citizens and individuals because that’s the bone in which the industry is growing; the individuals with ideas,” Emm said
“If you look at it, the recent Cyber Street Wise campaign aside, I don’t think the government is doing very much in terms of mainstream messaging and I would certainly like to see it do more.”
Emm used the example of major UK marketing campaigns promoting the dangers of drink driving as an ideal model because they have been drilled into us over the years.
“As parents, we’ve this body of common sense, such as drinks driving, and it’s drip, drip, drip, over the years that has achieved that and I think we need to get to a point where we have some body of online common sense in which business people can draw upon; there’s definitely a role for education.”
Barclay’s bank, which was also present at the roundtable, agreed with Emm.
“The government really needs to recognise this is a serious issue – if you’re bright enough to set up your own business, you’re bright enough to protect yourself,” added the firm’s MD of fraud prevention Alex Grant.
Emm concluded by saying that the government’s Cyber Street Wise campaign that was launched in January was good enough to make people aware of the risks of cybercrime in the metropolitan areas. However, he said he’d like to see the government focus more on regional areas as people in sparsely populated areas weren’t as aware of it.
Kaspersky’s roundtable took place as part of the firm’s launch of a report that found small businesses in the UK are “woefully unprepared” for an IT security breach, despite relying increasingly on mobile devices and storing critical information on computers.
The study found that nearly a third, or 31 percent, of small businesses would not know what to do if they had an IT security breach tomorrow, with four in ten saying that they would struggle to recover all data lost and a quarter admitting they would be unable to recover any.
The electronics giant’s FeliCa Networks subsidiary is modifying its FeliCa contactless card technology, widely used in Japan for public transit and e-money payments, for wearables.
The company is designing a low-power chip that could be used in wearables such as smartwatches and smart bands, giving them contactless e-money or transit functions or access to restricted areas.
That would allow users to board a train or bus simply by waving a smartwatch near a chip reader, eliminating the need for a separate smart card.
“The wearables field is just beginning so we’re considering what users will want with this functionality as well as what degree of compactness and power savings it will have,” a spokeswoman for FeliCa Networks said.
The company is also developing FeliCa smartcards with small LCD screens and a touch interface that can display information when users swipe their fingers across the cards.
This “interactive FeliCa card,” still in the prototype stage, can show the remaining balance of money stored in the card, for instance, or payment history.
While about 45 million Android smartphones in Japan have had the FeliCa chip since 2012, iPhones do not support it. The LCD smart card could link with iPhones via Bluetooth so users could check their balances on their phones.
FeliCa Networks hopes to introduce the LCD smartcards in the year to April 2016.
One in two people in Japan has a mobile phone with NFC FeliCa phone functions, according to FeliCa Networks.
The company has shipped more than 236 million of its Mobile FeliCa chips as of December 2013, while Suica, a FeliCa-based smartcard for railways in the Tokyo area, can be used in 230,000 stores.
Consumer and business shoppers can pay for products directly via bitcoins or through Coinbase, a third-party payment processing company, Dell said.
Buyers can pay for products through Bitcoin wallets or by scanning a QR code with a smartphone.
The volatile Bitcoin has had its share of controversies and exchange shutdowns as the currency matures. Companies like Overstock.com, Newegg, Expedia and some Amazon storefronts accept Bitcoin as a form of payment. But major retailers like Walmart and eBay have not warmed up to the idea. The value of one bitcoin was around $630 as of Friday, according to multiple cryptocurrency website.
There are some advantages to paying via Bitcoin. The form of currency is accepted around the world, and for Dell, the payment-processing cost is less than with credit cards.
But the form of payment has its quirks.
“Due to the nature of the Bitcoin network, once you initiate a Bitcoin transaction you cannot change or cancel it,” Dell said on a terms and conditions page.
Customers could seek refunds in the case of canceled transactions or product returns.
“For a qualifying return of product paid for in Bitcoin, any refund due will be remitted to the purchaser via check in U.S. Dollars for the full amount of the purchase price paid at the time of the original transaction, less any applicable restocking fees,” Dell said.
Google Inc is the more properly positioned than any company to benefit from the shift to mobile, increased local advertising and wearables, analysts said after the search giant posted its 18th straight quarter of 20 percent-plus revenue growth.
At least eight brokerages raised their price targets on the stock on Friday by as much as $75, to a high of $745.
The company, which is also set to benefit from the so-called “internet of things”, said that second-quarter revenue rose 22 percent to $15.96 billion, beating the average analyst estimate of $15.61 billion.
Growth was driven by the company’s core search business, YouTube and product-listing ads, which combined to drive three times as much mobile traffic for merchants compared with last year, Jefferies analysts wrote in a note.
Brokerage Jefferies maintained its “buy” rating and $700 price target on the stock.
Of the 46 analysts covering Google, 36 have a “buy” or a higher rating on the stock and 10 have a “hold”. There are no “sell” ratings, according to StarMine data.
Google earns most of its revenue from advertising.
The number of “paid clicks” by consumers on ads serviced by Google increased 25 percent year-on-year in the quarter.
However, the average price of the ads declined 6 percent as ad rates on mobile phones are typically cheaper than traditional online ads because of their smaller screens.
“Google is successfully transitioning its business from PC to mobile, and is arguably in a more favorable position in mobile than it was in PC, which should eventually be reflected in a higher multiple,” Deutsche Bank analyst Ross Sandler wrote in a client note.
Google also owns Android, the world’s most-used mobile software, and YouTube, the most popular video-streaming service.
Other online companies such as Facebook Inc and Twitter Inc are also revamping their advertising businesses to take advantage of the shift to mobile devices.
But Google has established unusually deep competitive “moats” around its business through scale, aggressive product innovation and substantial investment, RBC Capital Markets analysts wrote in a research note.
Google’s capital investment budget has topped $17 billion over the past five years, and the company has spent about $13 billion on research, according to analysts.
The company is also spending big to push into new markets with innovations such as wearable computers, ultra high-speed internet access and home automation – the “internet of things.”
Mobile GPU designer Imagination Technologies has announced the world’s smallest mobile GPU.
The PowerVR GX5300 takes up just 0.55mm2 on a 28nm die, which means it’s as small as a grain of salt. It operates at 250MHz and the company says it can handle everyday tasks with ease.
The GPU features full OpenGL ES 2.0 compatibility PVRTC texture compression technology and of course the emphasis is on ultra-low power consumption. The company is not saying anything about the actual consumption, but the tiny die size sounds very encouraging.
Imagination Technologies says the GX5300 sets the standard for efficient mobile GPUs, making it an ideal choice for entry level smartphones, but more importantly for wearables and IoT gadgets.
Tony King-Smith, EVP marketing, Imagination, said the new GPU demonstrates the company’s leadership in the entry-level market.
“We see many compelling opportunities such as low-cost smartphones and tablets, wearables and IoT devices,” said King-Smith.
He added that Imagination IP will end up in many wearables.
The as-yet-unreleased service would offer unlimited access to more than 600,000 book titles and thousands of audiobooks on any device, according to a test page that was briefly online. The test page was cached before it was taken down.
The test page was apparently first spotted by gigaom.com.
Amazon.com did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The test page notes that popular titles in Kindle Unlimited include books likeWater for Elephants and Life of Pi. It also includes the Hunger Games series and the Harry Potter series.
Book categories include science fiction, romance and mystery/thriller and suspense.
If Amazon does release this subscription service, it could be a big deal – not just for the company but for the e-books business.
“This could be a huge game changer in the publishing field, changing the economic model of the entire industry,” said Dan Olds, an analyst with The Gabriel Consulting Group. “There are going to be some sticky problems, like how to work out compensation between the myriad of large and small publishers, plus those who publish for themselves using Amazon as their sole distribution platform. But I think this could be wildly popular with readers.”
For avid readers, it would likely be popular.
“Amazon’s all-you-can-read Kindle buffet would reduce costs for a large number of readers, and at the same time, probably increase Amazon’s Kindle revenue,” said Olds. “While other e-book publishers will see the need to respond with plans of their own, Amazon’s sheer scale will make it difficult for them to come up with a competitive plan. Amazon already has a massive number of publishers and authors on their platform.”
To hear the likes of Electronic Arts and Gameloft tell it, premium apps are all but a relic of the past, the obsolete progenitor to mobile’s free-to-play future. But some smaller developers have found that future isn’t all it’s made out to be, and have been finding more success back on the premium side of the fence.
Kitfox Games and Double Stallion, two Montreal studios from Jason Della Rocca’s Execution Labs incubator, launched Shattered Planet and Big Action Mega Fight, respectively, on mobile in the last year. However, both titles struggled to rake in revenue, and the studios have since released more successful premium versions of the two. Kitfox’s Tanya X. Short and Double Stallion’s Nicolas Barrière-Kucharski spoke with GamesIndustry International this week to discuss their forays into free-to-play, and why more traditional business models worked better for them.
In Double Stallion’s case, part of the problem was that Big Action Mega Fight proved an awkward fit for the free-to-play format.
“We picked a genre, fighting, that was very content-driven,” Barrière-Kucharski said. “It was really very arduous to keep up and engage the audience with new levels, new enemies, and new types of content. We couldn’t compete at our size and budget with other, more established free-to-play studios and games.”
Beyond that, the genre may have been a poor fit for the audience. Barrière-Kucharski said that the people who would appreciate Big Action Mega Fight’s skill-based gameplay and faithful take on the beat-’em-up genre simply weren’t the same people interested in free-to-play games.
“I think the overlap between audiences was just too small to sustain a thriving community around the game,” Barrière-Kucharski said.
With Shattered Planet, Short said genre wasn’t a problem. She thinks the games-as-a-service model is actually a perfect fit for roguelikes like Shattered Planet, where a few new items and systems can exponentially increase the potential content for players to experience. However, Shattered Planet still didn’t fit the free-to-play mold for a few reasons.
“Free-to-play is not always suitable to single-player games,” Short said. “I think it’s best suited to multiplayer games in which it being free is actually of value to players because they can have more people to play with. That’s one philosophy we’ve developed, that if we ever do free-to-play again, we would only do it for multiplayer.”
On top of that, Shattered Planet was designed to be a tough game for players. But Short said in the free-to-play business model, difficulty can be “a dangerous thing.”
“We made a difficult game, and the fact that it was free made people suspicious, and rightfully so,” Short said. “I think they had every right to be a little bit paranoid about why the game was difficult. And in a business model where difficulty generally does often make people spend more, I think a designer’s hands are tied as to how and when a game can be difficult and when it’s ethical. So we felt a lot more comfortable about making a premium game, and me as the designer, I was happier because we could say sincerely that it’s exactly as difficult as we wanted it to be and you can’t say it was greedy or whatever.
Both games have found more success since they were released as premium versions. Big Action Mega Fight was re-launched last month as a $3 app ($2 during a first-week sale); those who downloaded the free-to-play version received the upgrade to the premium version as a free title update. Even though the free version of the game was downloaded about 400,000 times, Barrière-Kucharski said the revenues from Big Action Mega Fight’s first week as a paid app topped the total lifetime income from the free-to-play version since its November debut. To date the company has sold about 3,600 copies of Big Action Mega Fight on iOS, Android, Amazon Fire, and Ouya.
Kitfox took a different approach to premium the switch, continuing to run the free-to-play Shattered Planet mobile app alone, but also releasing a premium PC version on Steam with a $15 price tag and no monetization beyond that. The results were similarly positive, as Short said the studio made as much on Steam in one day as it had on mobile in two months. In its first week, Shattered Planet sold 2,500 copies on Steam. Short is happy to see the game bringing in more money, but she confessed to being a little bit torn on the trade-off it required.
“It really was great seeing that we had 300,000 downloads on mobile,” Short said. “We had 300,000 people play Shattered Planet on iOS and Android, and that’s amazing. Sure, it looks like we’re going to make two to five to 10 times more money on Steam, but it’s only going to be 1 percent of the amount of people that could see it if we tried to release it free, in theory… It’s a little bit sad that you monetize better with fewer people. When you’re trying to get your brand and your name out there, it is sad we couldn’t have another few hundred thousand people.”
Beyond the trade-off of settling for a smaller but more supportive audience, Kitfox has encountered some negative effects of releasing Shattered Planet as a free-to-play mobile title and then as a PC premium game.
“For us, a lot of people remained skeptical of the quality of the game if they knew the mobile version existed,” Short said. “I don’t think that really has that much to do with free-to-play and more to do with platform snobbery. It’s just kind of a general feeling of console and PC gamers that if a game was ever on mobile, it couldn’t possibly be as feature-rich or as deep, as strategic or anything like that.”
On top of that, there was some customer confusion over the game and its business model. Short said the game’s forums on Steam had some angry users saying they wouldn’t buy the game because it had in-app purchases (which it didn’t). Although the developers were able to post in the threads and clear things up, that sort of inconsistency has convinced them that if they ever do return to mobile platforms, they will stick to a free demo or companion app rather than something monetized.
“It’s just so dominated by giant players,” Short said of the mobile scene. “It’s such a completely different market that I think you really have to focus on it, and that’s not my team’s expertise. For us, we’re definitely going to be focus on PC and console; I think that’s where our talents are.”
Barrière-Kucharski agreed, saying that even if a niche audience is willing to pay for a certain experience, there just aren’t good ways for developers to connect to that audience.
“It’s really hard to be found or be discovered by players,” Barrière-Kucharski said. “I’m really looking forward to all the curation issues that are going to be tackled in the next year or so on iOS 8 and the Steam Greenlight update.”
But even if those initiatives follow through on their promises of improving discoverability, Barrière-Kucharski worries that the problem could still get worse as the gains made won’t be enough to offset the flood of new developers entering the field. Short also saw discoverability as a key problem facing developers right now, but stressed that finding a solution is in the best interests of the platform holders.
“Whatever platform figures out discoverability first will have a huge advantage because there are these thousands of developers that as soon as they hear there is any discoverability, that’s where they’re going to flood for sure,” Short said. “So it is almost a race at the moment between Steam and Apple and Google.”