Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Huawei is now Number 1

Huawei has seen considerable growth in its smartphone business over the past year so much so that a new report suggests that the company has now dethroned Samsung as the most profitable Android brand. However, one has to take into account the fact that Samsung was stung by the failure of the Galaxy Note 7 which would have otherwise brought in a lot of money for the company.

The report from research firm Strategy Analytics claims that Huawei was the second most profitable smartphone vendor overall for the quarter ended September 30th. Vivo and Oppo, its Chinese rivals, came in third and fourth place. Apple leads the pack in first place.

Huawei is said to have generated more than $200 million in smartphone operating profit before interest and tax worldwide during the third quarter of 2016. That accounts for 2.4 percent of the global smartphone operating profits for this period. It also makes Huawei the most profitable Android smartphone vendor, a position once held firmly by Samsung.

Huawei’s rise was attributed to “an efficient supply chain, sleek products, and effective marketing” but didn’t expand on why Samsung lost its position. It’s not hard to figure that out, the Galaxy Note 7 certainly played its part, but it does give Samsung something to prove as well as intense motivation to make a strong comeback with the Galaxy S8 early next year.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Black Friday Sales

Deep discounts on 4K TVs, special bundles on gaming consoles, and heavy promotions for new virtual reality headsets helped all three tech categories perform well over the Black Friday shopping weekend, according to multiple industry sources.

The Consumer Technology Association (CTA) late Nov. 27 reported that TVs ran away with the No. 1 slot for tech purchases for the four-day weekend, followed by tablets, smartphones and gaming consoles. While specific numbers have yet to be released, retailer Target alone reported more than 3,200 TVs were sold each minute during its first hour of Black Friday sales. The CTA had previously predicted that as many as 4.5 million 4K Ultra High-Def (UHD) TVs would ship this holiday season.

Walmart—the nation’s No. 1 retailer—listed TVs as its No. 1 selling product in the electronics category as well.

“While perennial Black Friday tech strongholds such as televisions, videogame consoles and laptops dominated shoppers’ baskets, it was also a breakout year for emerging tech,” said Shawn DuBravac, chief economist for CTA, in a statement. “These nascent devices, including digital assistant devices, virtual reality and drones, landed on the front page of retailer’s Black Friday ads… for the first time this year.”

Monday, November 28, 2016

Vinyl Lives!!

When the digital age hit, turntables took a back seat to compact disc players. Later, MP3 players and smartphones hit the scene.  But the comeback of vinyl records has led to a renaissance for record players.
Mat Weisfeld runs VPI, a high-end turntable business his father started in 1978.  Sales were sagging a few years ago, Weisfeld told CBS News’ Kenneth Craig, but today things have turned around -- and sales are booming. “I’d say it’s easily doubled if not more,” Weisfeld said.
The Consumer Technology Association predicts turntable sales will hit $194 million in 2016, up from just $19 million 11 years ago.
Weisfeld recently doubled his staff to meet demand and major corporations are doing the same. Panasonic is resurrecting its legendary Technics record player after taking it off shelves in 2010.
Leading the resurgence are digital age millennials like 24-year-old Alex Reynolds, who bought his first turntable a few months ago.  “I think it was the cool factor and nostalgia,” Reynolds said.
Weisfeld’s high-end turntables can sell for $4,000 and even higher. “I don’t think it’ll ever go away again like it did in the early ’90s with digital,” Weisfeld said. He counting on people to keep spinning vinyl for generations to come.

Friday, November 25, 2016

4K Content

Operators have been paying more attention to their 4K content delivery strategies this year, and if recent predictions of consumer behavior prove out, providers may need to pick up their UHD pace yet again. This holiday season could mark a bellwether moment for 4K TV sales as CED has reported here and here, and additional findings were released this week indicating that current interest in the technology is going well beyond early adopters. The new research also says that operators offering beefier speeds to their subscribers are primed for growth as attention to 4K streaming devices rises in addition to the TVs themselves.

The NPD Group’s “Connected Intelligence Home Entertainment Report, 2016” indicates steadily growing consumer interest in 4K with 38 percent of those surveyed for the research saying they are very or somewhat likely to use a 4K TV in the future. That marks an increase of five percentage points from just the first quarter of this year, according to NPD.

The research firm also notes that as of Q3 2016, 87 percent of installed 4K TVs had active internet connections, which tends to imply that these consumers are among those who’d lean toward streaming media player ownership. NPD says a limited number of streaming media player owners have used a 4K streamer, but its findings show growth in awareness, interest, and usage − driven by Millennials. More than a third of consumers surveyed for the report are aware of 4K streaming media player availability, and this goes up to 52 percent of Millennials surveyed. Around 39 percent of respondents in the Millennial demographic also stated they have interest in future usage.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

In honor of Thanksgiving Day in the USA we will not be publishing a blog post tomorrow.

Go Stateliners!!

Brand Loyalty

Everyone has a price. It would take more than $220,000 to bribe customers away from their favorite product, according to a study by Rbb Communications.
The fourth annual Breakout Brands survey found for 43% of American consumers surveyed, no amount of money is enough, and 93% of this group would actually pay more for a brand they feel an emotional connection with (a 10% increase from 2012 survey results).
The report offers insights on the benefit of reward programs and details what consumers expect from brands in the next five years. It also lists consumer picks of the top ten Breakout Brands in the U.S. This year, Apple bumped last year’s winner, Amazon, to take the number one spot.
The survey reinforces the importance of creating emotional connections between buyers and brands, says Christine Barney, CEO, Rbb Communications.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016


If you've spent any time on Twitter lately, you've probably noticed people going on about Spectacles, Snapchat's just-released camera sunglasses. But much of the conversation hasn't even focused on the launch -- it's been about the bizarre and delightful game Snapchat has made out of getting them. Rather than letting anyone buy them online, it's been dropping adorable Snap Bot vending machines around the country, providing a countdown and map on its website so fans can breathlessly await the next appearance.

This (potentially) artificial scarcity is all part of Snapchat's strategy. When Spectacles were first announced, CEO Evan Spiegel referred to them as "a toy," and the quest to get a pair has become a big game for ardent fans. Every few days, a new Bot machine drops; two have been in LA while the other two have been in more far-flung corners of the country. One showed up in Big Sur, on the California coast, and the other in Oklahoma at the Blue Whale of Catoosa -- one of the more famous attractions on Route 66.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Samsung Keeps Harman Brands

Don't expect Samsung to rock the boat at Harman.

When the Korean giant announced its planned $8 billion acquisition of Harman earlier this week, it was said to be all about the audio conglomerate's automotive technology. "Approximately 65 percent of Harman's $7.0 billion of reported sales during the 12 months ended September 30, 2016 are automotive-related," crowed the press release announcing the deal.

But owning Harman will give Samsung a wide range of brands that are also widely identified as leaders in home and portable audio, too. Barring an unlikely snag in the planned deal, Samsung will soon own such stalwart audio brands as JBL, Infinity, AKG, Mark Levinson, Revel and -- of course -- Harman Kardon, to name just a few. It will also get Harman's professional audio brands, too -- everything from guitar pedals (DigiTech) to microphones (AKG) to mixing desks (Soundcraft) to sound reinforcement (JBL Professional).

Friday, November 18, 2016

Zorin OS Version 12

The latest version of Zorin OS is now available for download at As always the Core version is available for free. 

MSFT and Linux

Microsoft made a splash in the tech industry on Wednesday when it announced that it had joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member. While the move felt like a welcome extension of the tech giant's open source strategy to some, others saw it as a threat to Linux.

Microsoft's addition to the foundation was a positive step for the open-source community overall, Jim Zemlin, the executive director of the Linux Foundation, said in an interview. In his view, adding Microsoft as a foundation member is an important move to further the Linux Foundation's mission, "which is to create the greatest shared technology asset in history."

"I think there is a burden on the broader open-source community — again, I think that there's a healthy anti-establishment sensibility — but there's the act of being the anti-movement, the rebel movement, and there's the act of being the mainstream movement. And to be in the mainstream does require broadening your tent and bringing as many people into that tent as possible."

The two organizations have been working together for a while. The first public partnership between the foundation and Microsoft appeared last year, when they announced a certification for running Linux on Azure.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Facebook Acquisition

Facebook today acquired face recognition technology provider FacioMetrics to beef up the social network giant’s photo and video capabilities. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

FacioMetrics spun out of Carnegie Mellon University in 2015 as a response to market demand surrounding use of facial image analysis. The company produced facial behavior and demographic tools for developers, using video. These tools aid facial detection and understanding, and even let you swap faces. In response to the acquisition, it appears that all of the startup’s apps have been removed from both the App Store and the Google Play store.

Users of FacioMetrics’ technology span the academic and tech industry worlds and include Lightricks, Anki, Meograph, University of Kentucky, Carnegie Mellon University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a “leading social networking company” — perhaps Facebook?

“How people share and communicate is changing, and things like masks and other effects allow people to express themselves in fun and creative ways,” said a Facebook spokesperson in a statement. “We’re excited to welcome the FacioMetrics team, who will help bring more fun effects to photos and videos and build even more engaging sharing experiences on Facebook.”

Wednesday, November 16, 2016


Apple Inc. is weighing an expansion into digital glasses, a risky but potentially lucrative area of wearable computing, according to people familiar with the matter.

While still in an exploration phase, the device would connect wirelessly to iPhones, show images and other information in the wearer’s field of vision, and may use augmented reality, the people said. They asked not to be identified speaking about a secret project.

Apple has talked about its glasses project with potential suppliers, according to people familiar with those discussions. The company has ordered small quantities of near-eye displays from one supplier for testing, the people said. Apple hasn’t ordered enough components so far to indicate imminent mass-production, one of the people added.

Should Apple ultimately decide to proceed with the device, it would be introduced in 2018 at the earliest, another person said. The Cupertino, California-based company tests many different products and is known to pivot, pause, or cancel projects without disclosing them. Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller declined to comment.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Facebook Stops Ethnic Marketng

Facebook Inc. will no longer allow marketers to target ads by ethnic affinity for certain types of housing, employment or credit, responding to concerns that its practices were discriminatory.

The company said it had been meeting with congressional leaders and organizations including the American Civil Liberties Union after a ProPublica report that explained how Facebook’s ads could be targeted to exclude minorities from seeing certain opportunities. The company’s ad system will automatically disable the use of ethnic marketing, Facebook said Friday in a statement.

“There are many non-discriminatory uses of our ethnic affinity solution in these areas, but we have decided that we can best guard against discrimination by suspending these types of ads,” Facebook said.

After the original report in October, the company pointed out that its tools weren’t necessarily discriminatory. Facebook’s advertising business has succeeded in part because of the wealth of information it has about its 1.79 billion users, allowing businesses to target their promotions very specifically. But users and anti-discrimination leaders continued to push back against the policies.

Monday, November 14, 2016

Samsung Buys Harman

Samsung Electronics has agreed to buy Harman International Industries in an $8 billion deal, marking a major push into the auto electronics market and the biggest overseas acquisition ever by a South Korean company.
The transaction highlights Samsung's efforts to break into the high-barrier automotive industry where it has little track record and also marks a strategic shift for the electronics company, which has previously shunned big acquisitions.
"An M&A deal this big is a first for us. But it shows that under Jay Y. Lee, the company is changing and open to new ways to grow," a source familiar with the deal told Reuters, referring to Samsung Electronics' vice chairman.
The purchase of the Stamford, Connecticut-based maker of connected car and audio systems is part of Samsung's search for new growth areas as its smartphone business - scarred by the withdrawal of the fire-prone Galaxy Note 7 - slows.

Friday, November 11, 2016

Android Phone Compatibility

Google wants to smooth out a number of different parts of the Android experience that right now are pretty fragmented.
The company recently pushed out the latest version of the Android compatibility definition document, which outlines the rules Android manufacturers are supposed to play by. It reveals a lot about the many different ways Google is going to nudge everyone who makes hardware to play by the same set of rules.
This Android document gives a lot of clues to the future of Android. It reveals that Google is making a number of steps to try and rein in an ecosystem that can sometimes go rogue given how different manufacturers fiddle with Android.

USB-C was supposed to usher in an era of easy and compatible charging. Instead it’s been kind of a mess, particularly with fast charging. To fix this, it’s now “strongly recommended” that device makers don’t push proprietary standards, such as Qualcomm’s Quick Charge 3.0. Additionally, the document says that eventually Android may require interoperability with standard chargers. Notice served that Google wants to push a future of better charging compatibility.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

New OWC Drives

OWC just announced its newest external storage solution -- the OWC miniStack. Stacking perfectly with a Mac mini, the powerful and convenient hard drive boasts exceptional performance and capacities without sacrificing space.
It is an ideal solution for Mac mini users to expand storage for documents, movies, photos, music and backups, such as:

  • Store and stream a personal collection of HD videos, music, and photos
  • Utilize as an extension of media libraries for home entertainment systems
  • Manage large volume of RAW images for maximized photography workflows
  • Accelerate pro-audio workstations for music production

Black Friday Shopping

Thanksgiving Day shopping — a delight to some, an anathema to others — isn't going away, but some stores are rethinking their strategies on whether it makes sense to be open on the holiday itself.
Many of the nation's major mall operators and the big retailers that anchor them, such as Toys R Us, J.C. Penney, and Macy's, are sticking with what they want to be a new tradition, kicking off the holiday shopping season on Thanksgiving Day.
Others, including the Mall of America, the nation's largest shopping mall, are closing for Thanksgiving this year after being open for the past several years. Some retailers that are closing cite respect for the holiday, but in truth the cost of being open may be more than the return.
"Once you let the genie out of the bottle, it's hard," said Stephen D. Lebovitz, president and CEO of CBL & Associates Properties, a mall operator that is closing 72 of its malls for the day. "More retailers are coming to their senses and realizing it is a family holiday and from a business point of view, it's not making much business sense."

Stores being open on Thanksgiving started in earnest in 2011 and took a punch out of sales on Black Friday, which had usually launched the shopping season. Many places like Macy's, Target and J.C. Penney have been opening earlier and earlier on Thanksgiving as they try to outdo others to get first dibs on customers who could easily buy online. But the move has been controversial, as many workers have voiced complaints that stores are putting profits over workers' time to be with their families.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

CES Turns 50

The 2017 CES—the 50th installment of the trade show—may be two months away, but the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) hasn’t wasted any time gearing up.

Several CES Unveiled events are already in the bag, with the CTA previewing the show in Prague, Paris and Los Angeles, with another set for New York Nov. 10 at the Metropolitan Pavilion. That half-day event has more than two dozen exhibitors—covering virtual reality, wearables, and smart home products—set to preview what they’ll have on hand in January in Las Vegas.

Speaking at the recent CES Unveiled event in Los Angeles, Karen Chupka, senior VP of CES and corporate business strategy for CTA, said more than 3,800 exhibitors and a record number of attendees are expected Jan. 5-8 in Las Vegas and shared that due to the sheer number of announcements expected from major consumer electronics companies, this year will see two media days, Jan. 3-4, instead of just one.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

WiFi Tracking

For a long time, law enforcement agencies and hackers have been able to track the identity and location of mobile users by setting up fake cellular network towers and tricking their devices to connect to them. Researchers have now found that the same thing can be done much more cheaply with a simple Wi-Fi hotspot.

The devices that pose as cell towers are known in the industry as IMSI catchers, with the IMSI (international mobile subscriber identity) being a unique number tied to a mobile subscriber and stored on a SIM card. IMSI catchers can be used for tracking and in some cases, for intercepting calls, but commercial solutions, such as the Stingray used by the FBI, are expensive.
Researchers Piers O'Hanlon and Ravishankar Borgaonkar from the University of Oxford's Department of Computer Science found that, for the purpose of tracking only, Wi-Fi networks can also be used to trick mobile devices into exposing their IMSI numbers.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Play Store Changes

Alphabet Inc's Google is redoubling efforts to help developers of Android mobile apps build their businesses as concerns mount that the app economy has reached saturation.
Under the leadership of Sameer Samat, who rejoined Google earlier this year after a spell as president of wearable tech firm Jawbone, the company is sharpening Google Play store recommendations with artificial intelligence and expanding support for various payment platforms, among other initiatives.
Google's efforts in some way mirror those of arch-rival Apple Inc, which revamped its App Store this year with quicker review times for new apps and an increase in the cut of revenue that goes to developers.
Both companies face a chorus of complaints from developers who say they are struggling to stand out in a jam-packed field.
Many smartphone users, meanwhile, appear to have tired of downloading apps altogether, especially as messaging services like Snapchat perform more of the functions that once required a separate app.
Games remain a focus of the Google Play store, and Nintendo Co Ltd is building a version of its popular Super Mario Run game for Android, said Samat, who leads product management for the Google Play store.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Environmental Impact

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd said on Thursday it was reviewing options to limit the potential environmental impact from the firm's discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones.
The remarks come after environmental group Greenpeace issued a statement earlier this week demanding the world's top smartphone maker find a way to reuse rare materials such as cobalt, gold, palladium and tungsten in the discontinued smartphones that Samsung is taking back.
"We recognize the concerns around the discontinuation of the Galaxy Note 7 and are currently reviewing possible options that can minimize the environmental impact of the recall in full compliance with relevant local environmental regulations," Samsung said in a statement

Thursday, November 3, 2016


By Bayle Emlein

I’m sure that, even as a virtual entity, you’ve noticed recent increases in traffic and crowd congestion. Looking at the positive side, the implications are that the economy has made significant improvements.

For example, look at Pepcom’s Holiday Spectacular in San Francisco at the end of October. Full of people, full of vendors showing off stuff to buy and gift (as they say in the New Economy) to others or Self. Fifty (51?) vendors, many of whom had multiple items that needed my attention, which did not get distributed evenly over the mere three hours allotted. Looking over my experience, the most impressive is that nothing I looked at or asked about was “about to be announced” or coming out next quarter or maybe second quarter next year. Everything was available right now. When else would anyone want anything? Some items had been announced earlier in the day, some had been around for a while, as-is or in continual upgrade mode.

Details follow, in abundance. Just when the Patent Office thought it could close up shop because everything that could be invented had been invented, along came the Holiday Spectacular to prove government prognostications wrong once again. The Internet is full of things we didn’t know we needed until we saw them. And new needs created when those needs get met. I think I’ve found the definition of infinity.


In mid-October, not long after Donald Trump drew attention for his 3 a.m. tweets, I received an email from Hillary Clinton’s campaign inviting me to help canvass voters in Iowa, a short drive from my home in Chicago. The message noted that “1,500 of Hillary’s best supporters” had headed to neighboring states the weekend before, and now they wanted me to do the same.
While that email may not have earned as much notice in the media as those early-morning tweets, it was arguably more strategic. The real innovations in digital communication in political campaigns are happening behind the scenes and on the ground.

As the former digital director of Organizing for Action (OFA), the political advocacy group that built on the digital-engagement model Barack Obama pioneered in 2008 and 2012, I’m often asked if companies can learn from the way political organizations use technology.  I believe they can. Political campaigns, by definition, have shorter time horizons than companies. But the intense, results-oriented focus of campaigns offers some lessons on how companies can create effective digital engagement at scale.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The "Maturing" Tablet Market

Apple's share of the tablet market has been sliding for a while, but it's making a comeback... if not for the reasons the company might prefer. Strategy Analytics estimates that the iPad climbed from 19.1 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2015 to 19.9 percent a year later. However, that's mainly because the market as a whole shrank 10 percent. The analysts believe that many tablet manufacturers' shipments dropped year-to-year, and that Apple simply experienced a smaller decline than most. The one major exception is Amazon, whose $49 Fire tablet helped its shipments more than double.

This doesn't necessarily mean that Apple is on the wrong track. Strategy Analytics argues that the iPad Pro line puts Apple "on the path to recovery" by giving the company a laptop-like tablet that wasn't an option before. However, it does show that Apple is consciously veering away from the strategies of its peers. Many of its Android rivals are shifting attention to 2-in-1 Windows tablets, like Lenovo's Yoga series or Samsung's TabPro S. Researchers say that Windows hybrid and tablet shipments jumped 25 percent year-over-year in the third quarter -- some of those are bound to be from companies no longer convinced they can sell Android tablets as full-on computer substitutes.
The data suggests that the tablet market isn't so much dying as maturing. Basic mobile tablets will still have an audience among those who just want to read books or watch video, but higher-end slates are taking hold. People want "everyday computing devices" that really can fill in for a conventional PC, according to analysts, and they're willing to pay more for these devices.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Selfie Phones in Demand

Competition is intensifying in South Korea's market for smartphones equipped with high-quality front cameras to meet the booming trend of selfies, company officials said Monday.
A smartphone's high-quality front camera, mainly used to take selfies, is increasingly appealing to plenty of young consumers, they said.
Earlier this month, SK Telecom Co., the nation's top mobile carrier, began selling its Luna S smartphone, fitted with a 13-megapixel front camera.
Also this month, Sony Corp. unveiled its Xperia XZ smartphone with a 13-megapixel front camera for selfies.
Samsung Electronics Co.'s mid-range Galaxy A8 featured an 8-megapixel front shooter, while LG Electronics launched the U smartphone with an 8-megapixel front camera Monday.
"For young people who take a lot of selfies, they put their priority on camera capabilities when choosing a smartphone," said an official at a mobile carrier.