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Apple's Big Blue Dilemma
August 05, 2014
Apple reportedly is gearing up to do what it does best -- introduce a new gadget or two. Word is the company will hold a spellbinding iPhone event come Sept. 9. With the dust not quite settled over Apple's recently announced liaison with IBM, it will be interesting to see whether there are any new corporate nuances in the upcoming presentation. Will Apple maintain its strong consumer focus?
Xiaomi Wins Key to China's Heart
August 05, 2014
Smartphone maker Xiaomi has been on a tear. It has risen from a lowly device maker to king of the Chinese market in just a year, according to a new report from Canalys. A year ago, Xiaomi held a 5 percent of China's second-quarter smartphone shipment rankings. By the first quarter of this year, it had achieved a 10.7 percent market share, behind Samsung's 18.3 percent and Lenovo's 11 percent.
Retailers Harassed by Backoff Malware
August 05, 2014
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security last week sounded an alarm warning retailers of a family of malicious programs aimed at compromising point-of-sale systems. Attackers used such software last year in massive data breaches that nicked millions of consumer records at Target and Nieman Marcus. Variants of the Backoff family have turned up in at least three forensic investigations.
'The Apple iTime Is Destined to Fail' - Seriously?
August 01, 2014
I try hard to ignore the really dumb things people say when they talk out their backsides about tech, and I personally know how hard it is to come up with excellent tech focused opinions -- as opposed to rehashing the day's latest news with an ironic or humorous spin. And here's the "but"... I was absolutely floored by John C. Dvorak's iTime post.
Internet.org Hands Out Free Samples in Zambia
July 31, 2014
The Internet.org collective's mission of bringing the entire planet online took a step forward Thursday with the release of an app affording limited free mobile Internet access to users in Zambia. While around 85 percent of the world's people are located in areas with cellular network connectivity, only 30 percent access the Internet. In Zambia, just 15 percent have online access.
LittleBits Leaps to the Cloud
July 31, 2014
LittleBits, the maker of what might best be thought of as electronic Legos, last week launched cloudBit, a module that provides users with access to the Internet. LittleBits offers modules that are used, like Legos, to build gizmos with electronic capabilities. The modules are held together by magnets, and no soldering or wiring is needed. "This is serious cool," said tech analyst Jim McGregor.
Target Adds a Ripple to Image-Recognition Pool
July 31, 2014
Target last week introduced In a Snap, a new image-recognition app that lets users buy products from the pages of select magazine and printed ads. It is unlike earlier variations of such apps in that consumers don't have to scan codes or follow a link to buy a product. It is similar to -- although far more limited than -- the Firefly functionality in Amazon's recently released Fire Phone.
Microsoft Sends Cortana to Far-Flung Corners of the Earth
July 31, 2014
Microsoft is preparing to debut an update to its Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, which includes expansion of its Cortana personal assistant availability to more regions. The update introduces Cortana to China and the UK in beta form, and Canada, India and Australia in alpha mode. Cortana is only just starting to make waves in the market, several years after Apple debuted Siri.
Samsung Z Delay Prompts Tizzy Over Tizen
July 30, 2014
Samsung has delayed the launch of its Samsung Z smartphone running the Tizen OS, which was scheduled for Q3 release in Russia. The move, just short of two months after the Samsung Z's launch at the Tizen Developers Conference, sparked a death watch for the device. However, Samsung said it needed to further enhance the Tizen ecosystem. Samsung has had several setbacks with the Tizen smartphone.
Android's Fake ID Could Put Millions in Jeopardy
July 30, 2014
An Android vulnerability that exists in every version from v2.1 Eclair to v. 4.3 Jelly Bean could expose millions of users, Bluebox Security has warned. The flaw lets attackers fake the certificates of specially privileged parties, such as Adobe and Google Wallet, and serve them up with malware that bypasses detection by Android. Attackers then can take over every app running on an Android device.
BlackBerry Picks Secusmart to Tighten Mobile Security
July 29, 2014
BlackBerry on Tuesday announced plans to acquire Secusmart, a developer of high-security voice and data encryption and anti-eavesdropping technologies. Mobile devices increasingly are being used for more critical tasks and to store more critical information, noted CEO John Chen. "The acquisition of Secusmart underscores our focus on addressing growing security costs and threats."
Stanford Researchers Build a Better Battery
July 29, 2014
A new way to extend battery life would allow smartphones to last three to four times longer on a single charge, Stanford University researchers have found. A team led by Yi Cui, professor of materials science and engineering, has developed pure metal anode prototypes, which differ from the lithium-ion batteries seen in most devices. "I think this is very promising," Cui said.
Swell Deal Could Give Apple Something to Talk About
July 29, 2014
It appears Apple is close to acquiring talk radio app Swell for $30 million. Much of Swell's development team reportedly will be joining Apple, and the app is expected to be shut down sometime this week. Although Swell managed to raise $7.2 million from the likes of DFJ, Google Ventures and InterWest Partners, it hasn't been able to get much traction in the crowded iTunes App Store.
Yahoo's in a Flurry Over Mobile Advertising
July 28, 2014
Another Yahoo acquisition hit the news last week -- Flurry Analytics, and it was widely seen as a bid to raise the company's profile in the hot mobile ad market. Mobile advertising will exceed $31 billion this year, eMarketer has predicted. The market currently is dominated by Facebook and Google, which together account for more than 75 percent of all mobile ads worldwide.
Global Tablet Sales Go From Surge to Shuffle
July 25, 2014
Tablet sales will show dramatically slower growth this year, according to IDC's Q2 worldwide quarterly tablet tracker. Worldwide tablet sales grew 11 percent year over year in Q2, with shipments totaling 49.3 million units. While sales will continue to grow, they will do so more slowly than in 2013, when they grew by 51.6 percent, according to IDC.
IBM Is a 'Kindred Spirit': Whoa, Tim Cook, Whoa
July 25, 2014
The Apple deal with IBM has shown us a whole new side of Tim Cook -- the gushing, hype-laden, excited-but-still-vague Tim Cook who says things like "kindred spirit," "fit together like a puzzle," "huge opportunity," and "radical step for enterprise." Who peppers his speech with words like "profound," "complementary," "landmark" and "thrilled." Holy macaroni.
Sprint Jumps Aboard Google's Apps for Business Bandwagon
July 24, 2014
Sprint will begin selling Google Apps for Business services to enterprise customers starting next month through a new partnership announced Wednesday. Included in Sprint's mobile-focused offering will be a full array of deployment and support services, along with value-added services such as single sign-on. Among the packages included in Google Apps are Gmail, Google Drive and Google Docs.
Patent Tips Apple's iWatch Hand
July 24, 2014
A patent awarded to Apple may be a tip-off of what it's planning for the smartwatch widely expected this fall. The patent for something Apple referenced in its application as "iTime" is for an electronic wristband that contains a recessed area for a device, such as a watch body. The iTime could feed and display information gathered from sensors in the band on a pop-in electronic device.
Microsoft's New Direction: One OS to Rule Them All
July 23, 2014
Microsoft will unify and streamline all its operating systems into one, and emphasize mobility and the cloud, CEO Satya Nadella told analysts in a call Tuesday after the company announced its earnings. In a nod to the growing bring-your-own-device trend, the company's devices and applications also will merge life and work. Microsoft will "consolidate overlapping efforts," Nadella said.
Amazon Fire Phone Wins Respect, if Not Raves
July 23, 2014
Early reviews for Amazon's first foray into the smartphone market are mixed, with a general sense that the device is a good phone overlaid with some flashy features. Amazon announced the Fire Phone last month, trumpeting its 3D display, which uses facial recognition and front-facing cameras to shift perspective, depending on where the user's head is.
Tim Cook Reveals Apple's Plan for World Domination
July 23, 2014
Strong iPhone and Mac sales droves Apple to achieve record revenue for the June quarter -- quarterly revenue of $37.4 billion and quarterly net profit of $7.7 billion, which is $1.28 per share and about a 12.3 percent rise in profits. Interestingly, Apple managed to bump up its profit margin, too: Gross margin was 39.4 percent compared to 36.9 percent in the year-ago quarter
EU Rides Apple Over Weak In-App Purchase Policies
July 23, 2014
The EU last year adopted a "common position" on how purchases made within mobile and online applications should be treated by operators of app stores. Now Google is drawing praise for striving to comply with EU guidance, while Apple is being rebuked for dragging its feet. Google announced specific steps it's taking, including removal of the word "free" from any app that enables in-app purchases.

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