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Feb 01
The Northern Spy: Bugs and Bouquets

By Rick Sutcliffe

Some trivial things that bug the Spy begin with the way the name of this month, and for that matter the name of the fourth day of the week are usually pronounced--as if in the one case there were no "r" and in the other there were no "d."

And there's the way the typical recycled Social Studies or English teacher handles the grade eight math courses he's been assigned while he awaits retirement from a job long redundant. No, a prime number is not "one that is divisible by itself and one" for that definition includes one itself. Second, anyone who uses the term "cross multiply" in a classroom ought to be put out to pasture before they do any more damage. Does "Law of Proportions" really have too many syllables to be properly taught? Third, an exponent on a number does not mean "a number multiplied by itself n times." It counts the number of factors, NOT the number of multiplications. Fourth, the sum of money put to work to earn...

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Feb 01
Home networking jumps to Gigabit speeds

The first significant shipments of the HomePlug AV2 and MoCA 2.0 standards will be seen in 2013, offering higher speeds as well as more robustness under different line conditions. Not all devices shipped using the new standards will support the full set of features, so many will not offer gigabit speeds.

ABI Research expects North American MoCA households to exceed 25 million by 2014 with similar numbers in Western Europe for Homeplug. While no new wires home networking solutions have gained significant traction from pay-TV operators, the pathway to stronger consumer mindshare will come through hybrid networking solutions, consumer education, and the retail market -- which is increasingly becoming the focus of many companies operating in the market, according to the research group.

"Entropic leads the market share in unit shipments within the Home Networking market, with a portfolio currently extending from MoCA only solutions to SoCs for client devices based on its...

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Jan 31
Biggest threat of data loss for mobile users is...

Billions of people have purchased iPhones, iPads, and iPods to store their digital photos, videos and other important, personal data. Unexpected mishaps that lead to physical damage and/or software or hardware issues are the main causes of data loss on any mobile device.

With Apple devices being more entrenched in many people’s daily lives, it’s no surprise that when a data loss occurs there is a need to recover personal data quickly and securely. DriveSavers Data Recovery (www.drivesavers.com) has seen a 150% increase in inquiries for data recovery services from Apple mobile users over the past two years.

With Apple devices becoming faster, lighter, thinner and more secure, people are taking them everywhere to do everything. However, it is estimated that less than 10 percent of smartphone users actually back up their content on a regular basis -- therefore if data hasn’t been backed up or synched...

| Read more »
Jan 30
RIM will get a boost but not salvation from BB10

With the imminent launch of BlackBerry 10 (BB10), Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum (www.ovum.com) believes "the new software platform will provide a temporary boost in performance but no salvation for RIM."

"RIM continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers. There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control," he says. "We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end."

Two major factors have worked against RIM in the past two years: companies are no longer buying the majority of...

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Jan 30
Mobility, cloud, big data drive innovation in social...

Social collaboration is expected to gather momentum over the next few years in Australia, and this trend is complementary to a more collaboration-focused business climate. This was the finding from the newly released "Frost & Sullivan Australian Social Collaboration Market 2012" (www.frost.com).

According to Audrey William, head of research, ICT Practice, Frost & Sullivan ANZ, one of the main factors accelerating the adoption of social collaboration solutions is the growing importance of smart devices in an enterprise environment.

"The proliferation of smart devices is driving a significant change in the way employees access corporate applications," she says. "Additionally we will start seeing more of the Unified Communications solutions incorporate social media and collaboration as part of its solution" she said. The consumerization of IT has brought about a new aspect of communicating in the...

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Jan 29
Trend Micro reports confirm arrival of the 'post-...

With the release of its 2012 "Annual Roundup and Mobile Security" reports, Trend Micro (www.trendmicro.com) documents how cybercriminals have moved beyond the PC, targeting Android, social media and even the Mac OS X with new attacks.

"2012 Annual Security Roundup - Evolved Threats in a Post-PC World
Trend Micro's Annual Security Roundup' shows that most of Trend Micro's predictions for 2012 came true, and the company encapsulated 2012 as the year where threats launched the beginning of the "Post-PC" Era. Threats have now escalated past the desktop environment.

2012 ended with 350,000 threats for Android as detected by Trend Micro. Malware growth reached 14-3 for Android versus PC, and it only took Android three years to achieve the PC volume of malware threats achieved within fourteen years.

2012 is also the year that Java supplanted pure Windows-based threats in the attackers' cross-hairs...

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Jan 28
Ovum finds Big Data vendor market perception remains...

Sentiment surrounding Big Data vendors remained positive last year, despite sceptics’ suggestions that the subject had been ‘over-hyped’, according to Ovum (www.ovum.com). The Big Data buzz word even managed to transcend from the enterprise IT world to become a hot topic for business publications and journals in 2012, with MongoDB claiming considerable mindshare among web developers who traditionally relied on MySQL, according to the research group.

In a research note, Ovum analyses data gathered by DataSift, which ranked Twitter mentions and sentiment of vendors (and open source organizations) associated with the Big Data market in 2012.  The global analysts were surprised to find that while Hadoop garners much of the spotlight as a Big Data platform, the vendor 10gen, which develops MongoDB, came in second in mentions to Apache, which hosts the Hadoop project.

"Given the level of build-up and suggested hype, it...

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Jan 24
Tips small businesses can use to be more efficient in...

A new year brings new opportunities for small businesses to be successful. Offers.com, a coupon and deal website, has announced its top five services and tips small business can use to be more efficient in 2013. They are:


° Save on travel costs -- Travel can be expensive, especially on a small business budget. Businesses can save by buying items for their company with business rewards cards like Gold Delta SkyMiles, where companies can earn miles on every purchase. GoToMeeting is also a great solution that allows for virtual collaboration for up to 25 participants to screenshare and video conference.

° Use online services instead of professionals -- To run a smart business, companies can reduce expenses associated with specialized skilled jobs by taking advantage of the right low cost tools and services. Using LegalZoom for straightforward legal services is far cheaper than hiring an attorney. And just about anyone can master dynamic accounting software like...

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Jan 23
Americans could save lots of money with energy...

Americans could save considerable money by incorporating energy efficient producs into their daily lives.

The global energy efficiency (EE) market encompasses product and service markets that enable residential, commercial and industrial energy consumers to use less energy and save money. EE products include EE building goods, EE appliances, EE consumer electronics, smart meters, EE lighting, motor efficiency controllers, power management software and EE vehicles. EE services encompass smart grid, demand response, cloud computing and consulting and auditing services and also include energy service companies (ESCOs).

A number of driving and inhibitory factors are affecting growth in this many-faceted market, some impacting the market as a whole and others only specific market segments. One of the most noteworthy factors influencing the total EE market is an increase in the number and stringency of regulations and other EE requirements around the world. This movement...

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Jan 23
Ovum: data will be the new cloud computing oil in 2013

Ovum Software (www.ovum.com) has published three "Trends to watch reports" on cloud computing and reveals that 2013 will see cloud computing continue to grow rapidly. 

In the report, Laurent Lachal, senior analyst, Ovum Software notes that  "Cloud computing promises to tackles two hitherto irreconcilable IT challenges: the need to reduce costs and the need to boost innovation."

"It takes a lot of effort from vendors and enterprises to actually make it work, and they will succeed in making it work in 2013, both on their own and as part of increasingly complex ecosystems," he says.

Indeed, cloud computing in all its guises (public, private, and hybrid) is building momentum, evolving fast and becoming increasingly "enterprise-grade." But it's in its early days for vendors and enterprises.

"Cloud computing has barely reached the adolescence phase and it will take at least another five years for cloud...

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Jan 22
What Amazon needs to make the Kindle Fire experiment a...

The Kindle Fire, which Amazon is widely reported to be sold at cost or below the margin, has been one of the most intensely followed technology product stories over the past year.

A new study from ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) concludes that the cross-subsidized device model that Amazon uses is a viable strategy. According to senior analyst Aapo Markkanen’s calculations, the firm would need, on average, an incremental profit of about $3 in each month of a tablet’s lifespan to achieve an overall profit margin of 20%.

"Considering the probable margins of app and content sales, our research shows that Kindle Fire is a credible proposition," Markkanen comments. "We expect that there will be a certain level of ‘innovation plateauing’ in mobile hardware taking place over the next five years, and that would certainly work in Amazon’s favor. Its future devices are likely to require less cross-subsidy...

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Jan 21
Many likely to swap traditional tech for tablets

Thirty-nine percent of U.S. adults between the ages of 18 and 34 would consider replacing their television cable/satellite provider with a streaming media subscription service in 2013, according to the results of a new survey released today by Belkin (www.belkin.com), a provider of technology products for today’s connected home.

Comparatively, 31% of those ages 35 to 54 and 20% of those over 55 would consider replacing their television cable/satellite provider with a streaming media subscription service, such as Netflix or Hulu Plus, this year. Additionally, Americans who have children under 18 in their households (37%) are more likely to consider replacing their cable/satellite subscription than Americans with no children in their households (27%).

The survey, conducted online by Harris Interactive on behalf of Belkin among more than 2,100 U.S. adults, also revealed that 38% of U.S. adults between the ages of...

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Jan 18
Public offerings decrease innovation at technology...

For many entrepreneurs, it is a dream on par with finding the Holy Grail: an initial public stock offering that can turn a startup into the next Google and a 20-something founder into the next mega-millionaire.

Yet, for all that money and drama, do initial public offerings (IPOs) speed up technological innovation?

Not necessarily. An eye-popping new study by Shai Bernstein, an assistant professor of finance at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, finds that innovation slowed down by about 40 percent at tech companies after they went public.

In a meticulous analysis of patent data from nearly 2,000 companies, Bernstein found that newly public companies became noticeably more incremental and less ambitious with their in-house research than comparable firms that stayed private.
And that’s not all.

Top inventors were much more likely to leave if their companies went public, and the ones who stayed behind showed a steep decline in "innovation...

| Read more »
Jan 17
Six New Year’s resolutions for software companies

Perforce Software (www.perforce.com) has released six resolutions for software companies to consider when managing their development environments. The resolutions encourage companies to maintain well organized codebases and development processes to foster their growth.

"The new year is an ideal time for every organization to take an inventory of what is working well and find ways to improve -- and there’s no better place to start than at the very foundation of the code," says Randy DeFauw, technical marketing manager at Perforce. "In my experience with our customers, employing these software practices not only results in fewer issues down the road, but a more manageable codebase."

Perforce’s six recommendations for 2013:

° Deliver like Facebook: Facebook leads its industry because it delivers improvements to its site daily. Replicating this strategy is recommended, and easier to do now that the...

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Jan 16
Over 650 million households worldwide will have...

Broadband penetration will exceed 650 million households worldwide and nearly 430 million households worldwide will have a data network this year, according to new data from Park Associates (www.parkassociates.com).

"In our research, we are seeing consumers demand a clear value proposition on core functions before they start adding additional features," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "For example, connected cars represent a key area of growth and a hot topic at CES. Approximately one-third of U.S. car owners have in-vehicle connectivity, but our research shows the most popular apps relate to navigation and vehicle performance. To remain competitive, service providers and CE manufacturers must ensure their core offerings remain relevant to the connected consumer."

The research group's data shows that:

° U.S. revenues from IP connected home service bundles will reach US$...

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Jan 15
Lack of mobile access seen as a barrier to selling

MicroStrategy, a worldwide provider of enterprise software, has announced the results of a recent survey of over 500 U.S. organizations on the use of tablet computers to support sales activities across many industries. Results of the survey reveal that:

° Nearly one in two salespeople cite limited mobile access to key sales systems -- i.e. Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Content Management, Order Management -- as a challenge.

° C-level executives point to their respective salesforces' lack of understanding of customer needs as a major barrier to selling (75%), along with failure to keep product knowledge current (50%).

° The top five desired activities to perform on a mobile device include: create or update opportunities, view sales collateral, view CRM records, view sales analytics, and collaborate and share ideas with other sales team members.

° Most sales organizations (72%) grade themselves at a B-level or below on sales meeting quality....

| Read more »
Jan 14
Americans fear the Internet is getting more risky for...

The Internet is becoming more important to our daily lives, but many Americans believe it has also become more risky over the last five years, especially for seniors.

Having felt the pain of an online scam, they want the nation's top Internet companies to take a bigger role in making the Internet safer, according to a new survey by the Digital Citizens (digitalcitizensaction.org), a coalition "focused on educating the public and policy makers about the threats that consumers face on the Internet, and the importance for government and Internet companies to make the Web a safer place."

The survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, found that 77% of Americans think the Internet has become more risky for seniors. Trend Micro statistics show that there are now over 10 million virus infected Web links and dozens of scams used by cyber criminals attempting to steal information and money from unsuspecting shoppers. These statistics point out that as the Internet becomes...

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Jan 11
Companies not communicating BYOD policies to employees

GLOBO (www.globopic.com --- which specializes in mobile, telecom and e-business software products and services -- has released survey results that found IT departments are not making employees aware of their BYOD [bring your own device] policies.

In the survey, 68% of respondents said they use their personal devices for work, while only 29% said that their company actually has a BYOD policy in place. Furthermore, 42% of respondents don't know if their company's BYOD policy allows IT to have full access to their personal devices.

These findings show a significant lack of communication between companies and their employees with respect to BYOD, an issue that must be addressed. Other key findings include:
° Fourteen percent reported that they don't know if their company currently has a BYOD policy.

° Ninety-one percent responded that they don't know if their company plans to implement a BYOD...

| Read more »
Jan 10
Clean tech claims confusing consumers?

 Americans are deferring action on energy savings because of confusion about the benefits according to Soluxe Energy Solutions, a Connecticut-based marketing company says.

"Most energy efficiency upgrades produce immediate savings," says Gil Kernan , vice president of contractor relations. "But homeowners continue to believe it will be years before they realize a return on their investment in home improvements," he added.

Kernan cited brochures and web sites that refer to "payback times" of two to 15 years for products such as wall and attic insulation, duct sealing, and rooftop solar panels.

"The whole notion of 'payback time' leads customers to think that it will be years before they see any benefits from investing in energy savings," Kernan says. "Nothing could be further from the truth."

Kernan said that most energy efficiency and renewable energy products yield immediate savings, even if the consumer borrows 100% of the cost of the upgrades. If a...

| Read more »
Jan 09
Consumer technology trends to drive enterprise CEM in...

Medallia, which specializes in Customer Experience Management (CEM) software, has issued a call "for industry-leading enterprises to prepare for the impact of fast-changing consumer technology trends on their CEM programs and purchasing decisions."

In a series of 2013 predictions unveiled on the Medallia blog, Michelle de Haaff , the company's newly appointed vice president of marketing, outlines how forward-thinking companies are leveraging social media and mobile devices to interact with their customers and to empower their frontlines. de Haaff predicts that the following trends, driven by consumer behaviors, will have the greatest impact on enterprise CEM program success in 2013:

° Solicited and social feedback merge: To share their experiences, consumers are increasingly turning to social media. This has companies struggling to capture and understand the consumer experience.

° Mobile feedback and action adoption soar: Tech-savvy companies already solicit...

| Read more »
Jan 07
30.5% of small business advertisers plan to spend more...

Small business owners and decision makers are fairly optimistic about revenue projections, with 92.5% expecting their revenue to be flat or up in 2013, according to the latest "Small Business Marketing Forecast" by Ad-ology Research (MarketingForecast.com).

This annual study, now in its fifth year, also reveals that small business decision makers are investing their revenue back into advertising and marketing. 30.5% of SMBs who spend more than $1,000 on advertising plan to spend more in 2013 than they did in 2012.

"For the third consecutive year, more than half of all small businesses are confident that their sales will increase," says C. Lee Smith, president and CEO of Ad-ology Research. "It’s also the third year in a row where more than 90% of small businesses say their advertising budget will remain flat or increase."

Approximately 20.5% of small businesses plan to increase their ad spend on social media networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Most...

| Read more »
Jan 07
E-book reading on the rise

This could be good news for Apple's iBookstore: a recent Pew Internet Research Center survey found that the percentage of Americans aged 16 and older who read an e-book grew from 16% in 2011 to 23% in 2012.

Readers of traditional books dropped from 72% to 67%. Overall, those reading books of any kind dropped from 78% to 75%. eBook device owners jumped from 18% to 33%. Awareness that libraries offer digital texts grew from 24 percent to 31 percent.

The telephone survey of 2,252 people aged 16 and older was conducted from Oct. 15 to Nov. 10. It has a sampling error margin of plus or minus 2.3 percentage points.

| Read more »
Jan 04
McAfee predicts rapid evolution of cyberthreats in 2013

McAfee has released its annual "2013 Threat Predictions" report, highlighting the top threats McAfee Labs foresees for 2013.

Using its proprietary Global Threat Intelligence (GTI), the McAfee Labs team analyzed data on malware, vulnerabilities and online threats in 2012 to predict which trends will increase in 2013. In the coming year, McAfee Labs expects that threats to mobile devices will become even more of a focus of cybercriminals, the influence of the hacktivist group "Anonymous" will decline, and large-scale attacks that attempt to destroy infrastructure will increase.

"Cybercriminals and hacktivists will strengthen and evolve the techniques and tools they use to assault our privacy, bank accounts, mobile devices, businesses, organizations and homes," says said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. "Our 2013 Threat Predictions provides the general public, governments and businesses not only with the top risks in the year to come to be aware of...

| Read more »
Jan 03
Talking cars? They're coming

Within the next 10 years, retiring Baby Boomers over the age of 65 will constitute more than one-third of the registered drivers on U.S. roads, according to new research. A majority of those individuals behind the wheel will be driving vehicles increasingly loaded with digital connectivity and content designed to lure a generation of buyers accustomed to smartphones and tablets.

With mounting concern in recent years about driver distraction resulting from the increased use of in-vehicle technology, will the risk of driver distraction only escalate as these newly-retired drivers, faced with changing sensory perceptions, adapt to their digital environments?

Not to worry. Senior citizens on average may not be as technology savvy as their Gen Y counterparts, but a recent study measuring driver distraction finds that interactive speech technology can help them interface with navigation systems while driving just as safely as younger drivers.

Agero Connected Services...

| Read more »
Jan 02
The Northern Spy: Unintended consequences

By Rick Sutcliffe

The great shift in the computing devices market is well under way, with sales of desktop units tanking, even of laptops flattening out (sic), while those of iPads (there is no tablet market) boom. In this milieu, there are some interesting byplays.

First, sales of Windows machines have been hit far harder than those of Macs, and Windows 8 has not helped either Microsoft or the generic box assemblers. Indeed, uptake appears worse than that of Vista, when it first came out. From a technology market point of view, we are still in the 2008 downturn, and the Spy's predictions on that market when the recovery comes (2014-2015?) remain valid. The large installed base of computers is aging, but corporate replacement decisions have been repeatedly postponed pending economic clarity.

Those decisions will now be made in a vastly different technological and economic landscape than were the original purchases. Then,...

| Read more »
 
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