Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy New Year!!

We’d like to wish all of our readers a Happy Solar New Year!!

See you next year!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Super Apps

2016: The year we start living our digital lives from inside souped-up messaging apps on our smartphones?

It's starting to look that way.

Many U.S. consumers have heard about how the Chinese use the wildly popular WeChat for everything: ordering food, shopping, booking vacations, checking credit card bills and, yes, even messaging.

Likewise, in Japan, the Line app is so popular, it introduced its own payment service as well as an Uber-like service for its users to use from within the app.

Tech firms in the U.S. are trying to quickly ramp up messaging features and services to match Asian rivals.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Phablets Are Coming on Strong

More consumers were unwrapping new “phablet” devices this holiday season, according to a report out this afternoon from Flurry. The big-screened form factor, whose name is a mashup of “phone” and “tablet,” accounted for 27 percent of a new device activations in the week leading up to Christmas – a doubling of its share from the year prior, and up from just 4 percent in 2013.

Apple’s current “phablet” – the iPhone 6s Plus – had a big impact on these figures, Flurry also notes, accounting for 12 percent of all Apple devices activated during Christmas week.

The data for this year-end report come from Flurry’s analytics platform, and is based on the 780,000 apps it tracks across a range of devices. Because so many consumers receive new phones and tablets during the holiday season, taking a snapshot of this data can point to trends in terms of which devices and form factors are growing in popularity, as well as which manufacturers are growing or losing market share.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Amazon Christmas Sales

More than 3 million people joined Amazon Prime in the third week of December alone, 200 million items were shipped for free to Prime subscribers, and more than two times as many Amazon devices were sold than last year as part of Amazon's 2015 holiday season, the online retail giant said today.

Christmas Eve became the biggest ever day for Prime Now deliveries, and Prime Video also saw an uptick in usage, doubling the amount of hours streamed during the holiday period in 2014. A record number of movies were watched on the service, with the most viewed — The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 — appearing to be a victory over major rival Netflix, which lost the US streaming rights to the wildly popular movie series in August. As Netflix has found success with original shows like Orange is the New Black and Jessica Jones, Amazon has followed its path — its original series The Man in the High Castle became the most watched TV season ever on Prime Video.

In addition to showing the growing market penetration of Prime, Amazon's sales data also shows a shift toward mobile. Almost 70 percent of customers shopped on a mobile device during the period, with the number of US-based Prime members using a smartphone to buy items more than doubling from last year's total. The number of customers using Amazon's mobile app also doubled from 2014's total, and on Cyber Monday, the retailer said it was processing 33 electronics orders per second from a mobile device.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to all!! See you on the flip side, as they say.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

MSFTs Big Year

With major product announcements and a number of big bets on the future, 2015 is in the running to be one of Microsoft's most important years on record.

Topping it was the launch of Windows 10. First previewed a year earlier, 2015 was the year we finally got to see the new operating system in full. Microsoft unveiled key features, including its virtual assistant Cortana reaching beyond Windows Phone and onto the desktop, and its new Edge web browser.

Windows 10 also brought a new Windows Universal App Platform that lets developers build one app that works across Windows 10 Phones, tablets and computers. It’s part of Microsoft’s play to try and raise the number of apps available for Windows 10 tablets and smartphones by tempting developers with a build once, deploy everywhere strategy.

Since it launched in July, Windows 10 has seen massive adoption. Not everybody likes everything about it and Microsoft has made its share of missteps, like keeping details about what personal information was sent from the OS to its servers under wraps until well after users raised privacy concerns about it. But overall, it has been very positively received.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Google Lightsaber

Google has released its latest Chrome Experiment, ’Lightsaber Escape.’ Inspired by Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the mini-game connects a user’s phone to their desktop browser, turning the phone into a lightsaber which can be used to defeat enemies as they attempt to escape the First Order.

To play, users can visit in their phone’s browser or on their desktop, and follow the instructions to connect their device to the Web game. The experience works across browsers, without plug-ins.

Once users connect their device, they can deflect oncoming attacks by moving their phone left and right to see the lightsaber move within the Web game. Players can also move their device forward in a slashing motion during the game’s melee combat sequence.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Juniper Spy Code Problem

Juniper, a major manufacturer of networking equipment, said on Thursday it found spying code planted in certain models of its firewalls, an alarming discovery that echoes of state-sponsored tampering.
The affected products are those running ScreenOS, one of Juniper's operating systems that runs on a range of appliances that act as firewalls and enable VPNs. ScreenOS versions 6.2.0r15 through 6.2.0r18 and 6.3.0r12 through 6.3.0r20 are vulnerable, according to an advisory.

The unauthorized code was found during a recent internal review, wrote Bob Worrall, Juniper's chief information officer. He did not indicate where Juniper thinks the code originated.

Juniper has released critical patches to fix the problems.

Friday, December 18, 2015

MSFT Reneges, Again

Microsoft reneged on its promise of unlimited OneDrive for Business storage for all organizations, announcing Wednesday that only premium Office 365 subscribers will get access to limitless cloud storage.

While the company never officially said that every paying organization using OneDrive for Business would get unlimited storage, a blog post announcing unlimited storage for consumers said that it would be on the Office 365 roadmap. Removing that option for budget customers is a move that’s sure to be unpopular among those businesses who thought that they would get more bang for their buck storage-wise.

It’s a decision that’s similar to one that Microsoft made regarding its consumer Office 365 product. According to Seth Patton, a senior director of product marketing for Office 365, Microsoft decided to go that way in order to focus OneDrive on helping users be productive—and avoid acting as an online backup service.

“But it’s a take back for some customers who we promised unlimited for, and we recognize, again, that’s disappointing some customers,” Patton said in an interview. “And it’s a tough business decision and I just want to make sure that my empathy is clear on that.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Use of TVE Services

According to a new report from GfK, 53 percent of homes with a pay-TV subscription say they use TVE services to get content on PCs, TVs and mobile devices. That’s up 10 percentage points since 2012.

Not surprisingly, mobile devices are mostly driving the growth. The percentage of respondents accessing network and service provider content via mobile websites or mobile applications has effectively doubled since 2012, while the use of smart TV apps has claimed a big chunk of the action since being pretty much non-existent in 2012.

Younger age groups (13-35 and 36-49) were two to four times more likely to use mobile and smart TV apps for watching than respondents in the 50-64 age group.

But as usage of TVE services grows, awareness of the term “TV Everywhere” has not. According to GfK, only 25 percent of the people it surveyed said they were familiar with the term.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Streaming Video Players

A survey of consumers planning to buy streaming video players finds no clear leader among Alphabet (owned by Google),, Apple and Roku.

Management consulting firm CG42 surveyed more than 21,000 U.S. consumers and found that 18% might purchase a streaming device this holiday season. And almost half of those (47%) plan to use it as a replacement for their pay-TV subscription.

The online survey revealed that 5% of respondents plan to get a streaming device during the holiday shopping season and an additional 13% are considering buying one.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A Head's Up for Our Readers

Our offices are already closed and we will be on the road until CES in January. Yes, we will still get our next ePub out in a couple of weeks but don't look for a prompt response from us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!!!!!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

MSFT Relents

Microsoft has grudgingly agreed to let current OneDrive users keep their 15GB of free cloud storage and 15GB of free Camera Roll “bonus” storage, rather than dropping you to 5GB as previously stated, but only if you’re aware of the offer and don’t mind a bit of spam.

To take advantage of the offer, visit this Microsoft page. Microsoft representatives said the company does not have a supplementary explanatory blog post or statement to add at the present, but they did supply the webpage address, whose URL lists it as a  “preview” at the moment.

You’ve already navigated the first hurdle: since users have to manually opt in to the offer, OneDrive users who are unaware of the deal won’t be able to take advantage of it. And there’s a small catch: by selecting the offer, you agree “to receive promotional emails from OneDrive,” although Microsoft immediately says that you can unsubscribe as well—how to do that, however, isn’t exactly clear.

It appears that unchecking the “promotional email” box, then clicking the “Keep your free storage” button also appears to work. In response to a question from PCWorld, a Microsoft representative said that the wording is being changed to “make it more clear”.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Death of Fitness Trackers

So long, fitness trackers, we hardly knew thee.

Well, not exactly, but more consumers plan on buying smartwatches than fitness apps, fitness trackers, smart clothing or sleep monitors in the next 12 months, according to a new survey.

The Consumer Technology Association, formerly the Consumer Electronics Association — you know, the people who put on International CES in Las Vegas every January — found that 35 percent of adults who regularly use the Internet intend to purchase a smartwatch next year. That compares to 30 percent who said they would buy a fitness-related app, and lower numbers for other categories.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Google Tablet

Google’s Pixel C, promoted as the first Android tablet “built end-to-end” by the Internet giant, debuted on the Google Store at $499 plus $149 for an optional magnetically attached full-size keyboard.

The 10.2-inch tablet, announced in September, is also promoted as the first tablet designed expressly to run on the new Android 6.0 Marshmallow OS, which offers new security features, a longer battery life, and Now On Tap.

Battery life is more than 10 hours. Now On Tap lets users access Google Now information from whatever app they’re in. If a message contains the name of a restaurant, for example, the user doesn’t have to leave the messaging app to launch Google Now to get a review of the restaurant, its menu, and directions.

The full-size 10-inch keyboard attaches with magnets and automatically connects to the tablet via Bluetooth. When the tablet and keyboard are closed together, the keyboard gets charged from the tablet battery. When the keyboard isn’t needed, it tucks behind the tablet with magnets so it’s close by when needed. When the keyboard is attached, the tablet needs no kickstand to be placed at an adjustable angle on a desk.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Apple TV Status Update

Apple Inc. has suspended plans to offer a live Internet-based television service and is instead focusing on being a platform for media companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store, according to a person with knowledge of the matter.

While Apple isn’t giving up entirely on releasing a live-TV service, its plan to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 to $40 a month has run into resistance from media companies that want more money for their programming, said the person, who asked not to be named discussing a prospective product.

CBS Corp. Chief Executive Officer Les Moonves said at a conference earlier Tuesday that Apple had put its live TV plans “on hold.”

The struggle highlights the difficulty new entrants face in trying to persuade media companies to overhaul the conventional pay-TV bundle, which costs about $85 a month. To break the logjam, Apple would either have to charge more, or the media companies would have to accept less.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Apple Finally Admits the Battery in the iPhone is Inadequate

Sure, it's just an iPhone battery case, but what marks this one out from the many others is the manufacturer: Apple.

The US$99 iPhone 6s Smart Battery Case is the first sign that Apple is ready to acknowledge that its phones are too thin to contain adequate batteries. The case adds 80 percent to the battery life -- and about 100 percent to the thickness -- of an iPhone 6 or 6s.

Unlike most third-party battery add-ons, the back of the case isn't flat, but has a bulge in the middle housing the battery.

Apple claims the iPhone 6s allows you to surf the Internet on LTE for "up to" 10 hours, a figure that could reach up to 18 hours with the external battery. The battery could also boost talk time from up to 14 hours to around 25, while video could play for up to 20 hours rather than 11.

The catch is in the words "up to" -- and Apple is by no means unique in using them: Pretty much every electronic device manufacturer does the same.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Mario Changed the (Gaming) World

The face of an industry, and the moustachioed mascot for millions of childhoods -- Mario is gaming. But as the hyper-competitive world of videogames grows ever more mature, how has Nintendo's cartoonish mascot endured as an emblem for the very best the medium has to offer? Hit play to see CNET go in search of the secret to Mario's success.

Originally dubbed "Jumpman", Mario made his first appearance in Nintendo's 1981 Donkey Kong arcade game, but it was his starring role in the groundbreaking Super Mario Bros. for the Nintendo Entertainment System -- which this year celebrated its 30th anniversary -- that made Mario a star.
The game proved to be a quite literal blockbuster, going on to sell over 40 million units, and rescuing the gaming industry from a catastrophic crash that had occurred just a few years earlier.

Friday, December 4, 2015

4K Television Sales

The data found that the Korean CE giant accounted for 28% of 4KTV purchases made within the last 12 months to US broadband households. Of the remaining brands, 17% of consumers who purchased a 4KTV in the past 12 months bought an LG, 13% bought a Sony, and 11% purchased a Vizio.

The firm also found that Best Buy was the leading retailer, capturing more than 40% of 4KTV purchases.

"For both flat-panel purchasers and the sub-group of 4KTV purchasers, 44% made the purchase after seeing the product for a good price, so the major purchase motivator for flat-panel and 4KTVs was not substantially different," said Barbara Kraus, director of research, Parks Associates.

"However, 11% of 4KTV purchasers were motivated to buy after learning about the TV's features, compared to 3% of flat-panel TV purchasers."

Parks reported that 19% of US broadband households intend to purchase a flat-panel TV set by the end of 2015. Roughly 40% of those households are looking for a 4K TV set, which is approximately 7.5% of US broadband households, while 42% of US broadband households indicate they are not familiar with 4K technology. Parks Associates reported that low familiarity, low willingness to pay premium prices, content concerns and a cooling market for flat panels in general all present challenges to 4K.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Record Black Friday Sales

Following record Thanksgiving and Black Friday online sales, Cyber Monday also set a new record in 2015: $3.07 billion, up 16 percent over last year. Furthermore, 26 percent of sales ($799 million) were made on mobile devices.

The latest numbers come from Adobe, which today released the final totals for Cyber Monday (Adobe says $3.07 billion is 3.2 percent higher than it predicted). The company’s figures are based on visits to 4,500 retail websites, including 80 percent of all online transactions from the top 100 U.S. retailers, through its Adobe Marketing Cloud.

As is always the case in the U.S., iOS beat out Android in mobile shopping this holiday season: $575 million of sales came via iOS, while $219 million came via Android devices. More specifically, the breakdown was as follows: $343 million spent via iPhone, $179 million via Android phones, $233 million spent via iPads, and $41 million via Android tablets.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

VTech Cyberattack

Educational toy maker VTech has said 11.6 million accounts were compromised in a cyberattack last month, including those of 6.4 million children.

The total number of accounts affected is nearly double that reported last week by the security news site Motherboard, which interviewed a hacker who claimed credit for the breach.

Most of the account holders were in the U.S., including 2.2 million parents and 2.8 million children, VTech said Wednesday in Hong Kong, where the company is based. France, the U.K., Germany and Canada round out the top five countries hit, VTech said in an updated FAQ.

Data breaches have been become a top worry as cybercriminals and hackers probe online systems for weaknesses, resulting in massive breaches of payment card systems, health care data and U.S. government personnel records.

VTech's breach stands out because it affected millions of children. The profile data leaked included their names, genders and birth dates.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Samsung Believes in Drones

Samsung Electronics will reportedly make a big push into drones and IoT in 2016.

Samsung last year bought IoT company Smart Things and plans to use Smart Things technology to introduce an open IoT platform called Artik, said ETnews. The company also plans to equip 70 percent of its household appliances with iOT technology by 2017 and include it in all products by 2020, the report said.

In drones, Samsung is poised to make a major market impact because it already makes the sensors, semiconductors, software, and communication technologies needed for drone use, the report said. Samsung is also positioned to connect drones to its smartphones, VR gear, and other products that it offers.