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With Echo Dot at Bat, Amazon Scores Prime Day Home Run
July 14, 2017
Amazon has hailed its third-annual Prime Day promotion as its single biggest global shopping event ever. Held earlier this week, it garnered an estimated $1 billion in sales, surpassing year-ago sales by 60 percent and beating the company's prior Black Friday and Cyber Monday records. More members joined Prime on this year's Prime Day than on any other single day in the company's history.
Microsoft Aims to Boost Internet Connectivity in US Heartland
July 11, 2017
Microsoft has unveiled an ambitious plan that would use technology found in the television white space spectrum to develop affordable broadband Internet access for at least 2 million consumers. The aim is to bridge the technology gap between urban and rural American communities. The spectrum is a currently unused portion in the 600 Mhz frequency range.
The United States of Amazon
June 26, 2017
Amazon's significant expansion into yet another market -- this time, grocery stores -- dominated many of my conversations last week. Clearly, Amazon warned us. I've been here before -- back in the 1990s, when Amazon was just books, I was running the company's e-commerce unit. I got into an argument with one of the analysts focused on Amazon, who believed the company wouldn't go beyond books.
The Best Wireless Service and Smartphone
June 8, 2017
During a recent grocery checkout conversation, the cashier asked me which was the best wireless service and best smartphone. This is a question I get frequently, and though it seems straightforward, it's difficult to answer. As I told the cashier, it depends. "On what?" she asked. That's when I realized that the industry's marketing doesn't answer the big question: "Which carrier is best for me?"
Apple's iOS 11 Makes Siri a More Natural Woman... and Man
June 6, 2017
New voices for Siri and peer-to-peer payments are among the new features in the next version of Apple's mobile device operating system iOS 11, previewed at the company's annual Worldwide Development Conference on Monday. "With the new operating system, Apple has doubled down on many of the applications it has developed for iOS," said Ross Rubin, the principal analyst at Reticle Research.
Plex Advances Cord-Cutting Case With Live OTA TV
June 2, 2017
Video streaming service Plex on Thursday announced the availability of a beta version of its Plex Live TV. The live-TV streaming launch follows last year's introduction of the Plex DVR, which provides users with free over-the-air access to 86 of Nielsen's 100 most watched shows in the United States. Plex Live TV currently is available only on Android TV and iOS devices.
Android Creator Launches a Phone of His Own
May 31, 2017
Essential, a company founded by Andy Rubin, the "father of Android," on Tuesday pulled off the wraps on a new high-end smartphone. The Essential Phone, priced at $699, includes radios for connecting to all major U.S. carriers. The unit has an almost edge-to-edge display -- there's a bit of bezel at the bottom of its screen -- that wraps around the 8-MP selfie camera at the front.
Google Brings Machine Learning to Online Marketing Assessment
May 26, 2017
Google earlier this week unveiled Google Attribution, a tool that uses machine learning to measure the effectiveness of online marketing campaigns across a variety of devices and channels. Part of a series of new measurement tools introduced at Google Marketing Next, Google Attribution aims to help marketers determine what is driving consumers to make their online purchasing decisions.
Main Surface Pro Improvements Are Beneath the Surface
May 24, 2017
Microsoft on Tuesday announced a refresh of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop computer. Although Microsoft said the fifth generation of the unit has been redesigned from the inside out with more than 800 new custom parts, the Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor. "If you were looking for a major redesign of Surface, this isn't it," said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.
Getting Serious About Teen Smartphone Addiction
May 24, 2017
Parents don't need a poll to tell them their teenagers are addicted to smartphones. After all, smartphones are a permanent fixture rather than accessories on the visages of kids of all ages these days. Even so, polls move these everyday observances from anecdotal to official problem when the numbers tilt in that direction -- and a Common Sense Media poll hit full tilt.
Snap Stock Snaps Back - for the Moment
May 23, 2017
Snap shares appear to have rebounded from the plunge they took earlier this month, after the newly public company released a massive $2.2 billion loss in the first quarter, but investors still are scratching their heads over the company's prospects. Trading just over $20 at mid-day Tuesday, Snap looks to some like it has regained its early bloom. Others suspect that darker days are yet to come.
Verizon Aims to Help Firms Get Up Close and Personal With Customers
May 22, 2017
Verizon Enterprise Solutions has released Visual Interactive Calling, an SDK and platform designed to enable banks, retailers, airlines, travel and hospitality companies, and other firms to communicate visually with their customers. "The sweet spot for this solution is enterprises that have deep mobile app penetration into their customer base," said Tom Smith, a CX manager at Verizon.
Walmart Delivers E-Commerce Stunner
May 19, 2017
Walmart on Thursday reported soaring e-commerce growth during its fiscal first quarter, along with strong organic sales figures -- results that suggest rival Amazon may have a fight on its hands. Online sales grew a stunning 63 percent during the quarter, perhaps in response to the company's newly introduced free two-day shipping and its upgraded mobile app.
Charter's Wireless Play
May 15, 2017
Charter Spectrum has announced it will resell Comcast's Xfinity Mobile wireless service to customers inside its region. The good news is that this deal lets Charter get quick access to wireless without competing with Comcast. Comcast and Charter Communications last week said they had reached an "operational agreement" about working together.
Consumer WiFi Use: No Letup in Sight
May 11, 2017
Consumers use lots of data on their mobile devices. While half of consumers use less than 7 GB per month, data consumption is heavily skewed toward the upper end, recent Parks Associates research indicates. Among U.S. broadband households, mean data consumption is roughly 20 GB per month, with 14 GB used on WiFi and 6 GB through 3G/4G/LTE networks. Consumers' monthly WiFi data consumption increased by 40 percent from 2015 to 2016.
BlackBerry KEYone's Success Hinges on Physical Keyboard Longing
May 6, 2017
The first reviews of the new KEYone BlackBerry handset appeared this week, and the early consensus is that this device will appeal to BlackBerry fans who want its familiar physical QWERTY keyboard coupled with the functionality of Google's Android OS. This handset technically is not a true BlackBerry -- it is the first device from TCL since it entered a licensing agreement with BlackBerry Limited.
Qualcomm May Seek iPhone Ban to Retaliate Against Apple
May 5, 2017
Qualcomm plans to ask the ITC to block imports of iPhones, according to a report. The move apparently was spurred by Apple's recent decision to stop making royalty payments owed under a licensing agreement between the two companies, which is the subject of a billion-dollar legal battle in federal court. "You can't pay something when there's a dispute about the amount," Apple CEO Tim Cook said.
Google Neutralizes Docs Phishing Scam
May 5, 2017
A phishing scam that surfaced earlier this week used Google Docs in an attack against at least 1 million Gmail users. However, that amounted to fewer than 0.1 percent of Gmail users were affected, according to the company. Google last year put the number of active monthly Gmail users at more than 1 billion. Google shut down the phishing scam within an hour, it said.
Microsoft Aims to School Google With Education Onslaught
May 3, 2017
Microsoft on Tuesday launched a major effort to bulldoze its way into the educational computing space carved out by Google, with the introduction of a streamlined operating system called "Windows 10 S," a range of new collaborative programs for K-12 schools, and two new Surface laptops aimed at the college student market. The Surface laptop runs on the Windows 10 S operating system.
Nintendo Drops New Portable on Market as Switch Sales Take Hold
May 2, 2017
Nintendo last week introduced a new contender in the increasingly hot portable gaming competition. The New Nintendo 2DS XL will make its debut on July 28 at a mid-range price of $149.99. It will slot in right between the entry-level 2DS and more robust 3DS XL. The 2DS XL has the same large screen as the 3DS XL and can play all the games made for the Nintendo 3DS, New Nintendo 3DS and Nintendo DS.
The Grim Upward Trajectory of Mobile Fraud Risks
May 1, 2017
More than 8,600 retail locations will shut down this year, following the 5,077 that closed last year, based on data from Credit Suisse. Moreover, 2017 could surpass 2008 -- the worst year for retail closures on record -- when 6,163 stores shut down operations. However, unlike 2008, when overall consumer spending declined with the onset of a global recession.
C Spire's Place Among Cable TV Challengers
April 27, 2017
Cable TV has been facing mounting attacks from new technologies and new competitors. C Spire recently joined the action, announcing plans to enter the pay-TV space. It's not yet clear what C Spire TV will be, or how it will impact the marketplace. What we know so far is that C Spire is a regional player in Mississippi, so the service won't be available throughout the U.S.
Apple Slashes App Store Affiliate Commissions
April 26, 2017
Apple stunned the wider development community on Monday with an emailed announcement that it has decided to slash commissions for App Store affiliates from 7 percent to 2.5 percent, starting May 1. The cuts apply to all apps and in-app content, Apple said. However, they do not apply to commissions for movies, music, books and TV, which will remain at 7 percent.
Uber Boss Practices Brinksmanship With Apple
April 24, 2017
Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a reputation of playing fast and loose with rules, but it appears that a maneuver his company performed on iPhones took his ride-hailing outfit to the brink of ruin a couple of years ago. When Apple discovered Uber was planting code on iPhones that persisted on the devices even after the ride-hailing app was removed, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave Kalanick a warning.
The iPhone Model's Impending Obsolescence
April 24, 2017
VCRs gave way to DVD players, which in turn have given way to streaming services. Brick cellphones evolved into flip phones, which were swapped out for two-way pager phones and then wiped out by the iPhone model. Tape players gave way to the Walkman CD player, which gave way to the iPod, which also ended up in the iPhone model. I think we soon will see another big industry shift.
Google Mulls Ways to Banish Bad Ads
April 22, 2017
Google reportedly has been working on a plan to install an ad blocker onto its Chrome browser. It also has been considering a collaboration with Microsoft, Facebook and other firms to develop a set of standards that would determine which types of advertising to block from websites. That effort presumably would aim at blocking abusive ads without jeopardizing ads from legitimate firms.
Apple May Be Getting Its Innovation Groove Back
April 20, 2017
Apple reportedly has begun testing a premium iPhone with a revamped display and body, which could be one of three new models the company is expected to launch this fall. The other two likely will be upgrades to the two existing iPhones. The new design will incorporate curved glass and stainless steel. It will increase the surface area of the display without increasing the size of the phone.
Will Amazon Go Reinvent Retail?
April 14, 2017
Every time I walk into a retail store, I grumble about the same pet peeve. After walking the aisles and filling the basket, you then must go through the most inefficient checkout process. First you unload everything in your basket, then it's rung up, then you put the items in bags that go back into your basket before you can walk out of the store. There must be a better way.
Bixby Will Be Seen but Not Heard When Galaxy S8 Launches
April 13, 2017
Samsung on Wednesday said that Bixby Voice will not be operational when its Galaxy S8 and S8+ smartphones hit the market. Some Bixby features -- Vision, Home and Reminder -- will be active when the phones become available on April 21, Samsung said, but the Bixby Voice capability won't show up until later this spring. The delay may be due to a weakness in Bixby's English language chops.
Qualcomm Answers Apple's $1B Lawsuit, Files Counterclaims
April 12, 2017
Qualcomm on Monday fired back with a response and counterclaim to Apple's $1 billion federal patent suit filed earlier this year. Apple breached agreements and encouraged regulatory attacks in a scheme to coerce unfair licensing terms, Qualcomm claimed. Apple's suit argues that Qualcomm used its dominant position in semiconductors to force it to pay billions in unfair additional royalty payments.
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What do you think of Apple's new iPhones?
I plan to buy an iPhone X.
I plan to buy an iPhone 8 or 8 Plus.
With the X, the iPhone 8 models already seem inferior.
Any of the new iPhones is better than any other phone.
No phone is worth $1K to me.
I'd never buy an iPhone, regardless of price.