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May 24
Gartner: smartphone sales grew 3.9% in first quarter

Global sales of smartphones to end users totaled 349 million units in the first quarter of 2016, a 3.9% increase over the same period in 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com). Smartphone sales represented 78% of total mobile phone sales in the first quarter of 2016, notes the research group.

Sales were driven by demand for low-cost smartphones in emerging markets and for affordable 4G smartphones, led by 4G connectivity promotion plans from communications service providers (CSPs) in many markets worldwide.

"In a slowing smartphone market where large vendors are experiencing growth saturation, emerging brands are disrupting existing brands' long-standing business models to increase their share," said Anshul Gupta, research director at Gartner. "With such changing smartphone market dynamics, Chinese brands are emerging as the new top global brands. Two Chinese brands ranked within the top five...

| Read more »
May 23
Organizations are experiencing a slow shift to public...

Transitioning to a public cloud is a slow-moving process for most businesses, according to a new study by Softchoice, a managed services provider. The study, The State of Cloud Readiness, found that while progress is at hand, 61%of organizations are still experimenting with or have limited use of public cloud and less than 14% consider public cloud to be an internal corporate standard.

"Today, moving to the cloud is no longer a question of if, but when," said David MacDonald, President and CEO at Softchoice (http://www.softchoice.com). "However, many organizations are stuck in endless pilots or are hesitant to migrate to the public cloud in a meaningful way because they lack the strategy, skillsets and governance structures to build and maintain a fully realized cloud solution.”

The State of Cloud Readiness surveyed 250 senior IT decision-makers and 250 line of business managers across the U.S....

| Read more »
May 20
Intel reveals security risks associated with unsafe...

Intel Security has released findings from its new study, “Online Security Diet: You Are What You Click,” which examines the online behaviors and attitudes of Americans ages 21 to 54 toward dieting clickbait. The research revealed that when it comes to the desire for the ideal body, people may be willing to sacrifice their online security if it takes them a step closer to achieving desired results.

With the summer season approaching, May is a popular month to start a new diet routine, and people are turning online for quick solutions. Thanks to better weather, more hours of sunlight and planned vacations, consumers have more opportunities to be active, which kick-starts a new wave of diets long after New Year’s resolutions come to an end.

“Cybercriminals are becoming increasingly savvy at understanding the seasonality of consumer search habits and exploiting that information to their full potential,” said Gary Davis, chief consumer security evangelist at Intel Security...

| Read more »
May 19
2.3 million households own a VR headset

New data from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) shows that 2% of U.S. broadband households, or 2.3 million households, own a virtual reality headset. The research firm’s survey of 10,000 U.S. broadband households reveals 5% of U.S. broadband households plan to buy a VR headset in 2016, an increase from only 1% who made a purchase the year prior.

"The big change in VR for 2016 has been the availability or pending availability of VR headsets from companies such as Facebook (Oculus Rift), Google (Google Cardboard), and HTC (Vive). Sony PlayStation VR is expected to be released in October.  We expect gamers to be the initial market for VR," said Barbara Kraus, Director of Research, Parks Associates. "VR is an immersive experience, and more is better for gamers - more immersion, better sound, better graphics, and more players. The mass market is more likely to adopt mobile VR, which will be less...

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May 18
China will account for 40% of VR headset shipments...

Canalys (www.canalys.com) predicts vendors will ship 6.3 million virtual reality (VR) headsets worldwide in 2016, of which 40% will be in China.

VR has the potential to thrive in the country and the research group believes competition will be fierce this year. Barriers to enter the VR market have been lowered. Local vendors are releasing VR headsets that overcome the quality and performance issues of simple viewers, such as Samsung’s Gear VR and Google’s Cardboard. 

“The competition is around the user experience, hardware quality and content,” says Canalys Analyst Jason Low. “Currently, there isn’t a clear leader for VR content in China. Local content providers, game publishers and service providers are racing to exercise their influence on the development of VR beyond hardware. Numerous Chinese vendors are exhibiting their VR headsets at CES Asia 2016 this week. Attendees are willing to suffer long queues...

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May 17
98% of British consumers happy with their mobile...

A consumer survey conducted by leading mobile commerce analyst firm Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) has found near universal satisfaction amongst UK mobile banking users, with 98% of those surveyed stating that they were “very happy” or “quite happy” with their service.

However, the survey also found that with mobile access now perceived as a key pillar of a bank’s offering, 31% of mobile banking users would consider changing banks if they had a bad experience with their service. In the US it was much less of a concern, where users display similar levels of satisfaction with the service, but only 16% of respondents would consider leaving their current bank – suggesting that the mobile platform is less critical to their banking experience.

According to the survey, while 70% of UK respondents now use mobile banking services, a lack of trust in online services remains a key barrier to...

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May 16
Online transaction fraud to double by 2020

New data from Juniper Research (www.juniperresearch.com) has found that the value of online fraudulent transactions is expected to reach $25.6 billion by 2020, up from $10.7 billion last year. This means that by the end of the decade, $4 in every $1,000 of online payments will be fraudulent.

The new study identified three hot areas for online fraud: eRetail (65% of fraud by value in 2020 - $16.6 billion); banking (27% - $6.9 billion); and airline ticketing (6% - $1.5 billion). The study also claimed that eRetail would be particularly susceptible to online fraud, with the value of fraud in this sector increasing at twice that of banking and seven times that of airline ticketing.

Juniper Research says that, although banks are able to counter online banking fraud by deploying new technologies such as 3D-Secure and device fingerprinting, these measures often only provide temporary respite as...

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May 13
23% of smartphone owners also own a smart home device

New Parks Associates research (www.parksassociates.com) hows that 23% of U.S. smartphone owners also own a smart home device and over three-fourths of those consumers use their smartphone, tablet, or PC to control their smart home devices at least once per month.

"Purchase intentions for smart home devices among U.S. broadband households more than doubled in less than two years, going from 21% in early 2014 to nearly 50% at the end of 2015," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "Safety and security are the main drivers for consumer interest, and we see, once smart home products are in the home, consumers quickly develop habits with these devices. Usage varies based on device, but among owners of most safety and security devices, 40-50% control or monitor these products on a daily basis.”

Age and income are key demographics in the current early adopter market, he added. Mass-market...

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May 13
AMOLED growth is a bright spot for the display industry

Active matrix organic light-emitting diode (AMOLED) displays are rising fast, thanks to lowering costs, wider use in end-market consumer electronics devices and the ramp-up of new manufacturing capacities.

While liquid crystal display (LCD) technology is still the dominant technology in the display industry, AMOLED display shipments will grow 40% year-over-year year, to reach 395 million units in 2016. AMOLED display revenue is expected to increase by 25 percent, to reach $15 billion in 2016, according to IHS (www.ihs.com).

“AMOLED is becoming the shiniest spot in the flat-panel display industry,” said David Hsieh, senior director, displays at the research group. “AMOLED has a simpler structure than LCD, as well as a thinner and lighter form factor, better color saturation, greater contrast ratio, faster response time and easier integration with touch functions. In addition, AMOLED is formed on a polymer base...

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May 12
Consumers who use digital health tools find them useful

Seventy-six percent (76%) of consumers who use digital health tools say their health apps/devices have made them healthier. And 59% of consumers who use digital health tools use them at least once per day.

Another 57% responded that using digital health tools has helped to lower their healthcare costs. The results are based on a March HealthMine (www.healthmine.com) survey of 500 insured consumers who use mobile/internet-connected health tools.

Consumers are taking more steps towards digital health. There are now nearly 165,000 health-related apps which run on Apple's iOS and Google's Android. PwC, a consulting firm, forecasts that by 2017 such apps will have been downloaded 1.7 billion times. Add to that 10 million activity trackers and 7 million smart watches shipped by the end of 2014 (ABI Research), as well as a growing crop of other internet-connected health devices. According to HealthMine's...

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May 11
Consumer awareness of Bluetooth is at an all-time high

A recent survey conducted by Lux Insights, Inc. puts consumer awareness of Bluetooth wireless technology at 92% globally, with 62% of respondents reporting a purchasing preference for Bluetooth enabled products, noting Bluetooth is reliable, easy to use, and makes life easier.

The proliferation and success of Bluetooth captured the imagination of the consumer, leading to increased demand for unique wireless applications, most notably home automation, location-based services, personal monitoring and tracking, and remote access control. Industry analyst ABI Research projects that over three billion Bluetooth enabled products will ship this year alone.

“Bluetooth delivers a connection that just works for consumers globally, whether they are listening to music or tracking their steps. This has led to a shift in expectations of what connectivity can be,” said Errett Kroeter, vice president of marketing for the Bluetooth SIG. “Consumers are looking to experience that same...

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May 10
Business leaders need to prepare for digital...

Business leaders looking to improve the quality of their customers’ digital experience agree they do not know where to start according to research published today by Actual Experience (www.actual-experience.com). Four out of five C-level executives know that digital experience quality is critical to business success, but more than half (55%) don’t know how to identify the issues that affect quality.

It’s vital that business leaders embrace the next phase of the digital transformation if they’re going to succeed, according to the research group. Actual Experience’s research shows that business leaders both in North America, UK and Ireland appreciate the value of consistent digital experience quality (89% agree it’s crucial to company success over the next two years). However, they claim their biggest barriers to improving digital experience quality are identifying the specific quality issues that...

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May 09
Nearly 50% of U.S. broadband households are concerned...

New data from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) finds 47% of U.S. broadband households are concerned their private information stored on connected devices could be made public.

Another 47% are worried companies will sell their personal information. Both findings present challenges for companies as they look to leverage connected product data to enhance the consumer experience and deepen engagement.

"Nearly 50% of U.S. broadband households plan to buy a smart home product in 2016, and two-thirds already have at least one Internet-connected entertainment device," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "The data generated by these devices can extend the product lifecycle and open many new value propositions to consumers. In this webcast, we will discuss the best ways to use data in the expanding consumer IoT environment and how to alleviate consumer concerns so that they...

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May 06
Worldwide IoT security spending to reach $348 million...

Worldwide spending on Internet of Things (IoT) security will reach $348 million in 2016, a 23.7% increase from 2015 spending of $281.5 million, according to Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com).

Spending on IoT security is expected to reach $547 million in 2018, adds the research group. Although overall spending will initially be moderate, Gartner predicts that IoT security market spending will increase at a faster rate after 2020, as improved skills, organizational change and more scalable service options improve execution.

"The market for IoT security products is currently small but it is growing as both consumers and businesses start using connected devices in ever greater numbers," said Ruggero Contu, research director at Gartner. "Gartner forecasts that 6.4 billion connected things will be in use worldwide in 2016, up 30 percent from 2015, and will reach 11.4 billion by 2018. However, considerable variation...

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May 05
Downturn in national customer satisfaction hits eight...

The steep downward trajectory in national customer satisfaction continues, as the free fall of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) reaches the two-year mark. The aggregate ACSI (theacsi.org) score for the fourth quarter of 2015 is down 0.5 percent to 73.4 on a 100-point scale, its lowest score in a decade after eight consecutive quarters of decline.

“Consumer spending and retail sales in the fourth quarter were disappointing but actually predictable, given the extended weakening of customer satisfaction and lack of wage growth,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI chairman and founder. “Unless both wages and customer satisfaction improve, consumer demand is not likely to pick up enough to lift the economy from its sluggish pace of growth.”

The cause of the sustained decline in customer satisfaction is unclear, though it does coincide with a weakening of corporate earnings and with a reduction in unemployment. When unemployment is high, the job market is more...

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May 04
IDC: VR hardware to soar past the $2 billion mark this...

Worldwide shipments of virtual reality (VR) hardware will skyrocket in 2016, with total volumes reaching 9.6 million units, according to IDC. Led by key products from Samsung, Sony, HTC, and Oculus, the category should generate hardware revenues of approximately $2.3 billion in 2016, adds the research group.

While VR will drive nearly all of the hardware volume in 2016, Augmented Reality (AR) hardware is forecast to ramp up over the next few years. According to the first worldwide AR/VR forecast from IDC, the combined device markets will see hardware shipments surge past 110 million units in 2020.

IDC has identified three major device categories across the augmented and virtual reality markets. They include: screenless viewers that use the screen of specific smartphones to drive an AR/VR experience (example: Samsung Gear VR); tethered head mounted displays (HMDs) that utilize an existing compute device such as a PC, game console, or even a smartphone to drive a head-...

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May 03
IHS: automotive touch screens on the rise

With consumers becoming increasingly comfortable using smartphones and tablet PCs, touch screens are now increasingly making their way into their vehicles, too. In fact, the automotive touch panel market is expected to expand from 28 million units shipped in 2013 to 86 million in 2021, according to IHS Inc. (www.ihs.com), the leading global source of critical information and insight.

“Projected capacitive touch technology is commonly found in consumer smartphones and tablets, which consumers have grown very comfortable using,” said Shoko Oi, senior display analyst at IHS Technology. “Although there are concerns about how direct touch operations could affect safety while driving, automotive touch panels are becoming a standard feature in new vehicles coming to market.”

The content shown on automotive displays now comes from a variety of sources, both inside and outside the car. Many of these applications require...

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May 02
The Northern Spy: Quo Vadis

By Rick Sutcliffe

The Apple haters and doomsayers will slither from beneath their rocks in force now that Apple has suffered its first quarterly year-over-year decline in revenue in 13 years. No company can grow its sales indefinitely, so this day had to come. Mind, the company still had revenues of over $50 billion, so it's not about to become a corporate food bank client. This does mark a watershed for the iPhone business, however, as it may indicate, if not market saturation, at least a flattening of the growth curve--not just for Apple but for the whole sector.

Is this "a cloud the size of a man's hand" on the horizon? Only if Apple abdicates its technology leadership role and fails to introduce yet another iconic game changing product. What of the second AppleTV and the Apple Watch? The Spy says "yawn". Both entered an already crowded market--one to which neither contributes significantly, much less redefines. Moreover, watches...

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Apr 29
Gartner: half of CEOs expect their industries to...

CEOs have underlined that growth will be their top business priority for 2016, according to a recent survey by Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com).

The 2016 Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey found that despite indications that the global economy is struggling in early 2016, CEOs don’t plan to significantly change their priorities. After growth (54%), the second and third business priorities are customers (31%) and workforce (27%). The Gartner CEO and senior business executive survey of 400 senior business leaders in user organizations worldwide was conducted in the fourth quarter of 2015, asking questions about 2016/2017.

Most responding organizations were those with annual revenue of $1 billion or more. The survey results show that while business conditions are challenging, CEOs remain confident enough to sanction strategic investments, particularly when it comes to digital business...

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Apr 28
U.S. carriers score poorly on ‘app experience’...

Apteligent (www.apteligent.com) and analyst firm, STL group, have put together a report quantifying the customer “app experience” on 27 mobile networks in 7 countries. The findings on U.S. carrier providers was especially surprising considering analysts and market observers often cite the U.S. as a mobile market that has achieved higher broadband prices owing to its operators’ network investment. 

So how do U.S. carriers Sprint, T-Mobile, Verizon and AT&T measure up?

° All four of the major US mobile operators are in the bottom half of the ranking table.

° The best-performing US operator, T-Mobile, only scores 45 – a full 31 points below Bouygues Telecom (France) and 4 points below the median operator. 

° Verizon and AT&T, the U.S. market leaders, score only 43 and 37 respectively and Sprint, as already noted, is in the bottom 5 with 33.

° All the U.S. operators perform...

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Apr 27
Organizations failing to harness benefits of agile...

Organizations are far less willing than their employees to adopt agile working methods and are missing out on the benefits such as earlier delivery of projects and return on investment, according to a new global survey published by AXELOS (www.axelos.com).
 
The survey of more than 2,400 professionals found that more than three-quarters (81%) of respondents – across all job roles and industry sectors surveyed – now see value in working in an agile way. In fact, the appetite to use agile methods among individual professionals is on average 37% greater than their employer’s.
 
The lack of appetite among organizations for agile working exists despite the finding that people in senior management roles were among the most enthusiastic for it, with 83% acknowledging its value. AXELOS’ research also showed how more professionals with a PRINCE2 certification than those without see the value of agile working...

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Apr 26
MWR research confirms risk of NFC enabled card theft

With contactless payments increasing in popularity, MWR InfoSecurity (www.mwrinfosecurity.com) has today warned consumers to be aware of the dangers from contactless cards. It also issued a reminder to retailers and banks that not all fraudulent card theft is the fault of the card owner and more needs to be done to thwart scammers.
 
MWR has developed an application that uses NFC (near field communication) to read the information stored in the contactless chip embedded in credit and debit cards. Google Play currently has a number of similar apps available via its store that claim to do the same thing, plus the source code isn’t too difficult to find.

Explaining the process MWR senior research consultant, Nick Walker explained: “Brushing past someone, the app sends a signal to the chip in the card to query the data stored. Depending on the card type will determine just what information is...

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Apr 25
Video banking reaches inflection point

More than 80% of banks surveyed recognize that online and mobile banking channels improve customer engagement, and 93% of banks expect customer satisfaction to improve if a high quality video banking service were to be implemented.
 
A newly released research report, co-sponsored by Efma (www.efma.com), a not-for-profit association of 3,300 retail financial services companies in more than 130 countries and Vidyo, Inc. (www.vidyo.com), which specializes in video collaboration, aims to bring clarity to the role that video banking plays in the digital transformation of banks. The research results uncovered massive support for video banking among financial organizations worldwide, with nearly 80% of all banks planning to offer video-enabled banking services. The research from Vidyo and Efma also found:

° Nearly 70% of banks prioritize video banking...

| Read more »
Apr 22
Mobile apps becoming more popular with small...

Will mobile apps that are cheaper and easier to develop convince more small businesses to have them? Not necessarily, according to a new survey by Clutch (https://clutch.co), an app development research firm.

While nearly 50% of small businesses indicate they plan to have a mobile app within the next few years, over 30% still have no intention to do so. Industry experts, however, say that attitude will likely change as more small businesses watch the trend of mobile app adoption grow and are forced to have an app in order to stay competitive.

"Many small businesses don't even consider building a mobile app, but this is changing fast, with more and more traffic coming from mobile devices," says Viktor Marohnic, CEO of the mobile app creator Shoutem. "Three years ago, a small business might see 10% of its total traffic coming from mobile, but right now it's closer to 70%. Within the next couple of years, a shift...

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Apr 21
Cost reduction driving the data center colocation...

According to the latest market research report by Technavio (www.technavio.com), the global data center colocation market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of over 12% until 2020. To calculate the market size, Technavio researchers have considered revenues garnered from sales of new units in leading geographies.

“Accessing information stored in a data center involves the use of many devices. A robust networking solution is required to offer high-availability services. During the forecast period, a growing need for digitalization will enable processing of application workloads on servers with cross-platform support,” said Rakesh Panda, one of Technavio’s lead industry analysts for data center research.

He adds: “The use of cloud-based services and big data analytics is growing rapidly. Also, increasing digitalization has resulted in a significant rise in the amount of enterprise...

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