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Dec 12
Freemium is new trend for smartphone apps

Nothing is impossible when it comes to setting app prices. Freemium models are on the rise in the US, UK and Germany. Staggered prices combined with cleverly communicated value boost customer loyalty.

The international App Store Study 2012 conducted by the global strategy and marketing consultancy Simon-Kucher & Partners in the US, UK and Germany analyzed the prices of 2,400 apps by price and category. Looking at the top 100 downloads and top 100 purchases in the Apple AppStore, the study shows consensus concerning price models and ranges across the countries.

Although upfront payment is the most common price model for apps (40%), freemium models are on the rise. Almost one-third of all apps use a freemium model already: a new trend in the industry. Looking at the price levels and the differences between upfront and in-app prices, prices strongly vary.

App developers have created two different freemium price models. They offer apps for an upfront payment...

| Read more »
Dec 12
Smart TV sales will exceed 220 million annually by...

If Apple is indeed planning its own HDTV (the rumored "iTV") the time may be ripe. Over 220 million Smart TV sets will be sold worldwide in 2017, up from the 54 million that will be sold in 2012, according to Informa Telecoms & Media’s (www.informatandm.com) latest Smart TV device forecasts.

The research group says that 31% of households worldwide will own at least one Smart TV in five years time, according to Informa, with household penetration much higher in North America (63%) and Western Europe (64%). However, while Smart TV connection rates are rising, they will continue to lag the connection rates of games consoles and media streaming devices (such as Apple TV and Roku).  
 
With their long lifecycles, TVs are simply not the right device to be the hub of the digital home. Instead devices that are regularly replaced, including smartphones, tablets, set-top boxes, media streamers and...

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Dec 11
IEEE Computer Society: 13 technology trends for 2013

In the coming year, the "Internet of Things" will change how consumers and enterprises use technology, interactive displays will become common in public spaces, robots will be used to rehabilitate patients, and visualization will help solve the big data problem.

Those are just some of the technological advances that experts from the IEEE Computer Society, a membership organization for technology leaders, foresee in 2013.

"The promise for the coming years is not just technology," says incoming IEEE Computer Society President David Alan Grier. "But technology and data–how we get data from the right sources and get it to the right people in the right forms. That is the big issue that engages many of our members."   

Among the major advances that IEEE Computer Society experts forecast for 2013:

°  The Internet of Things will change how consumers and enterprises use technology. Promising to be the most disruptive technology since the World Wide Web, the...

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Dec 10
Image traffic growth surpasses video traffic growth

Flash Networks (www.flashnetworks.com), a global provider of intelligent mobile Internet solutions, says image traffic growth has surpassed video traffic growth for those markets with a high level of smart phone penetration. Image traffic grew 33% as compared with 5% growth for video traffic in the Americas and Europe for the last six months.

Where smart phone penetration is lower, primarily in Asia, video traffic is still growing faster than image traffic. Flash Networks has collected this data over the last six months from several Tier One Operator networks located in Europe, Asia and the Americas, collectively servicing over 200 million subscribers. Approximately 85% percent of the overall traffic was running on smart phones in saturated markets.

Mobile social networks such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Facebook are increasing the sharing of images, which is greatly contributing to the...

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Dec 07
Cumulative mobile app revenues set to exceed $30...

To-date revenues accumulated by the global mobile application market will pass the US$30 billion milestone by the end of this year, according to new Market Data from ABI Research (http://macte.ch/WrzYm).

The cumulative revenue base includes the money made from pay-per-downloads, in-app purchases, subscriptions, and in-app advertisements, and it is nearly double the amount that had been reached by end-2011.

"Consumers’ high interest in apps has for long time been obvious from download volumes, but it’s 2012 that will go down in history as the year when the economic side of the business finally took off," Senior analyst Aapo Markkanen says. "We’re no longer talking only about a short-term gold rush. Apps have become a major digital industry."

The catalyst behind the quest of turning apps into money has been Apple, which not only came up with a compelling OS, but also with well-executed...

| Read more »
Dec 06
Global display market worth US$164.24 billion by 2017

According to a new market research report, "Global Display Market (2012 - 2017)" from MarketsandMarkets (www.marketsandmarkets.com) the total global display market is expected to reach US$164.24 billion by 2017, at a CAGR [compound average growth rate] of 3.1% from 2012 to 2017.

The global display market comprises the one by technology and the other by type. The display technology is differentiated as follows: e-ink display, OLED display, TFT-LCD display, LED-LCD display, LED display, DLP, LCoS display and Plasma display. The e-ink display is basically deployed in e-reader product applications while LCD and LED types are primarily involved in televisions products. LCoS displays have a high market share in projector equipment.

The OLED display has a huge market share in smartphone and related applications and is set to be the major display technology in future with more demand for...

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Dec 05
Tablets overtaking laptops as must-have holiday item

New research from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) indicates U.S. consumers plan to spend over 33% more on CE [consumer electronic] devices this holiday season compared to last year, with the total amount increasing from US$793 per household in 2011 to $1,058 in 2012.

The survey of 2,500 U.S. broadband households, fielded in October/November 2012, found 63% of households plan to make a CE purchase, a 37% increase over last year. Tablets and smartphones are the hottest items, and consumers express the greatest preferences for the Apple iPad and iPhone.

"Twenty-six percent of U.S. consumers intend to spend more on CE, the best rate since 2008," says John Barrett, director, Consumer Analytics, Parks Associates.  "For the first time, more U.S. households plan to purchase a tablet than a laptop, netbook, or Ultrabook computer."

Parks Associates finds consumers want a device that...

| Read more »
Dec 04
Tablets, HD televisions top consumer's holiday...

The holiday shopping season is off to a strong start for the consumer electronics industry thanks to a variety of new tablet and television offerings. Individuals are shelling out in a big way when it comes to the hottest, portable electronics, according to Abt Electronics (www.abt.com), one of the nation’s largest independent retailers.

The retailer experienced an increased amount of foot-traffic in store and online during Black Friday with consumers looking for the latest tablets, high-definition televisions and the always practical digital cameras.

"Consumers have a strong desire to get their hands on the newest technology and their spending habits will likely reflect this trend all season," says ABT Co-President Jon Abt. "In a multitasking world, consumers are looking for the fastest and latest way to connect to the internet while on-the-go. It’s not surprising to see consumers’ holiday spending leaning towards...

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Dec 03
The Northern Spy: Looking at global finances and Apple...

Some analysts are upbeat about RIM but the Spy doesn't understand why. The new Blackberry and OS are too little and too late to make any difference. Colour this one more or less DOA, along with the readers' choice of Sony, Sharp, and Panasonic. Both the smartphone and large appliance electronic markets are over-saturated with brands that are no longer viable.

Others have become downbeat about Apple. Well, the Spy can understand that the stock may have entered a more "mature" category, and might henceforth trade less as a speculative and more in accord with its P/E ratio, which is slightly higher than that of IBM. Assuming that as a rough benchmark, future stock price increases (smoothed) should be in accord with earnings growth, which might be in the 20-30% range, barring accidents. 'Course, what is an appropriate P/E ratio also depends on the larger stock market, and that's another story.

Then there are those who think that solving the Excited States...

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Dec 03
Greg's Bite: More Windows 8 misery

By Greg Mills

My PC friend, Shawn, who manages the electronics department at my local Sam's Club Warehouse, filled me in yesterday on the latest issues in the epic saga of his attempt to load Windows 8 on his PC.  Getting everything working turns out to be quite a trick.  

After installing Windows 8 last week, the "operating system" worked okay (just okay, more about that later), but Shawn noticed his optical drive wasn't working any more and that the user interface "sucked"." So he reloaded Windows 8. Then the PC wouldn't boot. Restart, restart, restart ... nothing. Shake the PC really hard, tap it with a rubber mallet, slap the screen just so, yet no luck. Dead meat. Pull the hard drive, remove your files with another computer, completely wipe the hard drive. Replace the clean hard drive into the old PC and reload Windows 8 for the third time.  

Shawn is by this time sort of perplexed. With all the work and cost of upgrading his PC, he really...

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Dec 03
Apple breaks new ground with iPhone 5, iPad mini

With the advent of new touch sensor structures driven by consumer demand for lighter and thinner devices, NPD DisplaySearch (www.displaysearchblog.com/) finds that in-cell touch technology and DITO (dual ITO) film are the wave of the future.

The research group reports that more than 7.5% of the mobile phone marketplacewill be using in-cell touch in 2012, a number that is estimated to grow to 16.7% by 2018. In addition, tablet computers, which primarily utilize projected capacitive touch technology, will see a5% shipment share of DITO film structure technology in 2012.

Apple’s, newest iPad and iPhone models incorporate these new touch sensor structures. The iPhone 5 uses in-cell touch technology, which is a major change to the touch structure since the first iPhone model in 2007. Meanwhile, the iPad mini features a DITOfilm structure.  

"These two new projected capacitive touch...

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Nov 30
Greg's Bite: Scott Forstall, CEO of Microsoft

By Greg Mills

A few columns ago, I mused that Scott Forstall could likely fix the Windows Mobile operating system and make it play nice with Windows for the PC. There aren't that many people in the world with the skill set to design and manage the development of an entire mobile platform.  

Scott is one of those people. With his abrasive personality (at least it's abrasive when it suits him) he could get rid of the dead wood hanging around Redmond simply drawing large pay checks and could actually make innovation happen there again. However, he ought to be CEO, not just a vice president.

It is clear that current CEO, Steve Ballmer, is just riding Microsoft's momentum down hill and needs to "retire" with a cheap commemorative Timex watch warmly presented by Bill Gates.  He should also get a get nice ceremonial plaque for his 10 years of cunning guidance of what used to be the world's largest company. Then he should then get 10 minutes to clean...

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Nov 30
Fewer than 2-in-5 PC owners plan to upgrade to Windows...

More bad news for Windows 8: while the vast majority of consumers (96%) own a Windows PC, only two in five (39%) of these are likely to upgrade to Windows 8. The findings were part of a study undertaken by Toluna QuickSurveys (www.quicksurveys.com) to assess consumer reactions to the announcement by Microsoft last month to upgrade to Windows 8.

The survey also revealed that when it comes to Windows operating systems, Windows 7 is a clear favorite, with over a quarter of consumers (28%) selecting this version as their preferred choice. This represents double the proportion who chose the newly launched Windows 8 (14%).

Part of the rationale behind the development of the new Windows technology was to improve the user experience on mobile devices such as tablets, but initial consumer reactions illustrate that Microsoft has not captured the interest of this market. The proportion of respondents planning...

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Nov 29
Apple works on ID'ing, locating users on a mobile...

An Apple patent (number 20120302256 at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that the company is working on ways to identify and locate users on a mobile network.

A system and method of locating "friends" having mobile devices connected to a network and associated with a user account is disclosed. The method includes sending a request to a mobile device, the mobile device determining its present geographic location and responding to the requestor with this information. This information may be in the form of a coordinate location such as a GPS location or it may be in the form of a name that the mobile device owner assigned to a particular area (e.g., "home"). Having this location information, a user is able to view the location of the friend that is associated with the mobile device.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Mobile devices have been adapted to a wide variety of applications, including computing, communication, and entertainment. Through...

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Nov 29
Apple patent is for carbon composite mold design

An Apple patent (number 20120302670) for a carbon composite mold design has appeared at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Per the patent a mold assembly or system includes a moldbase that holds mold inserts and has embedded fluid lines to facilitate cooling during part formation. Mold inserts combine to form mold cavities that receive carbon fiber and resin components to form a carbon composite based part. A permanent release coating along a mold component surface that contacts the carbon fiber and resin components facilitates the release of the finished part from the mold component.

Guide pins and guide pin receiving holes facilitate accurate alignment of mold components. Ejector pins within respective ejector pin shafts help eject a finished part from a respective mold component. An ejector pin shaft cover transfers force from an ejector pin to eject a finished part and also prevents substantial passage of resin into the ejector pin shaft. A fluid actuated...

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Nov 29
Greg's Bite: Facebook a democracy? LOL

By Greg Mills

I sort of equate the notion of Facebook as a democracy in the same way I view Egypt's current "democratic" political struggle. Facebook's stab at user democracy flies in the face of a history of self-serving policies thrust upon its"community."  

The FTC has had to slap Facebook down over unauthorized changes to user agreement terms that were in the way of doing exactly what the supreme emperor, Mark Zuckerberg, wanted to do. It is all about making money, rather than user comfort, that consistently rules the day.   

Where was Facebook democracy when facial recognition was rolled out without Facebook even bothering to notify users? Zuckerberg has bowed in form alone to the notion of democracy, but I wager his heart isn't in it. Consent decrees tend to bend companies to at least appear to comply. 

As we have seen in totalitarian countries around the world, the notion of democracy sounds great in theory, but it sure gets in...

| Read more »
Nov 29
The iPad helps Cyber Monday online shopping hit all-...

Holiday shoppers turned Cyber Monday into the biggest spending day ever with online sales growing 30.3% over the same period last year, according to cloud-based analytics findings by IBM. And you can thank, in part, the iPad.

With an increase in online sales across multiple channels, the digital consumer took center stage. Retailers, marketing departments and chief marketing officers (CMO) delivered a consistent customer experience across multiple channels from mobile devices, to online and to the show floor leading to the record shopping day.

On Cyber Monday more than 18% of consumers used a mobile device to visit a retailer's site, an increase of more than 70% over 2011. Mobile sales reached close to 13%, an increase of more than 96 percent over 2011.

According to IBM, the iPad continued to generate more traffic than any other tablet or smartphone, driving more than 7% of online shopping. This was followed by iPhone at 6.9% and Android at 4.5%. The iPad also...

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Nov 29
Apple looking into wireless charging technology

A new patent (2012303980) at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office shows that Appel is looking into "realistic and practical" wireless charging. The patent is for "wireless power utilization in a local computing environment."

Various embodiments of a wirelessly powered local computing environment are described. The wireless powered local computing environment includes at least a near field magnetic resonance (NFMR) power supply arranged to wirelessly provide power to any of a number of suitably configured devices.

In the described embodiments, the devices arranged to receive power wirelessly from the NFMR power supply must be located in a region known as the near field that extends no further than a distance D of a few times a characteristic size of the NFMR power supply transmission device. Typically, the distance D can be on the order of one meter or so.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Historically, transferring power wirelessly has been...

| Read more »
Nov 28
Greg's Bite: Apple's nuclear winter

By Greg Mills

I carefully read the almost-daily Foss Patents emails when they come. Florian Mueller, the well known German patent attorney has excellent insight and carefully follows the Apple nuclear war against the Android gang. Check out his web site at fosspatents.com .  

Apple and HTC recently settled their differences out of court with a 10-year cross-licensing deal. Courts generally like out-of-court settlements as they are taken out of the loop and are not responsible for  appeals and the like. Far better for the parties to come to a conclusion they both are willing to settle for, than have a judgment against them they hate.  

Ironically, Apple settling with HTC for a financial deal might come back to bite Apple in the hind quarters. Samsung convinced a Federal judge that since Apple settled with HTC and made a patent licensing deal for each HTC phone sold, the sale of Samsung Android phones couldn't be worthy of an injunction...

| Read more »
Nov 28
Global online video market will be worth US$37 billion...

According to the latest forecasts from Informa Telecoms & Media (www.informatandm.com), the global online-video market will be worth US$37 billion in 2017, driven by the popularity of services like Netflix and YouTube.  

This figure is made up of the three key video-revenue streams of advertising, subscriptions and transactions. Despite the market maturing, advertising will continue to be a larger revenue generator than subscriptions in 2017, as it is in 2012.
 
Online video remains a small, but growing, proportion of total TV and video revenues. Informa estimates that it will account for 8% of such revenues by 2017. By the end of the decade, if current growth rates continue, it will account for over 10% of revenues. However, its value in the market today is concentrated among only a few players.
 
"It’s clear that online video, today, is worth much more than the digital cents...

| Read more »
Nov 27
Apple eyeing enhanced Mac keyboard illumination

Apple has plans for enhanced keyboard illumination in its Mac line -- or so a new patent (number 831928) indicates. Per the patent, a keyboard may be generally illuminated while also providing for key-specific illumination of one or more particular keys.

The keyboard may be generally illuminated using any configuration of any number of suitable illumination sources. The keyboard may selectively illuminate any key or keys together with or apart from the general illumination of other keys. The keyboard may also variably illuminate certain keys to aid the user in navigating the keyboard.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Currently, there are a wide variety of known electronic devices that include a keyboard as a user interface component (e.g., cellular telephones and personal computers). The keyboard of many of these devices can be illuminated such that a user may be able to see and use the keyboard when provided with little or no ambient light. For example,...

| Read more »
Nov 27
Apple working on better portable device-sports...

A new Apple patent (number 8317658) shows that the company is working on even better ways of interfacing portable media devices and sports equipment. The patent involves circuits, methods, and apparatus that allow sports or other equipment, such as gym or other cardio equipment, to write data to a media player.

Examples further provide the uploading of this data to a computer and third-party website. To monitor progress, the third-party website can be used to track workout data over time. The third party-website can also collect data from other users, which is particularly useful for providing a competitive environment. This data can then be graphically displayed in various ways to provide encouragement.

Here's Apple's background on the invention: "Portable media players have become very popular the past few years and their market penetration shows no signs of abating. People use them when walking, driving, and commuting by bus or train. They are also particularly...

| Read more »
Nov 27
Apple wins patents for desktop widgets, more

Apple has been granted a patent (number 8,321,801) for desktop widgets for presentation in a layer has popped up at the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The invention relates generally to graphical user interfaces, and more particularly to a user-activatable, configurable, unified layer containing items of interest to a user.

Per the patent, an user-activatable dashboard (also referred to as a unified interest layer) contains any number of user interface elements -- or "widgets" -- for quick access by a user. In response to a command from a user, the dashboard is invoked and the widgets are shown on the screen. The user can activate the dashboard at any time, causing the dashboard to temporarily replace the existing user interface display on the user's screen.

Once the dashboard has been activated, the user can interact with any or all of the widgets, and can configure the dashboard by adding, deleting, moving, or configuring individual widgets as desired. When...

| Read more »
Nov 27
Apple, show us love, we'll love you in return

Supposedly, one of the reasons John Browett was dismissed as Apple's head of retail operations was because he spearheaded a new staffing formula for its retail stores, leading some employees to see their hourly shifts cut and retail locations to be understaffed.

True or not, the last thing Apple needs to do is make its customers feel under-appreciated. The more love you show, us, Apple, the more love we show you.

In fact, according to a survey by the polling firm IBOPE/Zogby International for rbb Public Relations, companies have to show consumers the love in order to attract -- and keep them -- in today’s dynamic marketplace. Of the 2,000 adults surveyed, 83% are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. One fifth of respondents said they would pay 50% or more if they felt the company put the customer first.

The survey found that to stay competitive, companies are adopting marketing strategies that align...

| Read more »
Nov 26
IEEE says 'supercomputers' may save us all

Members of the IEEE Computer Society (http://www.ieee.org.) -- the world's largest technical professional organization "dedicated to advancing technology for the benefit of humanity" -- think that "supercomputing" is a key technology driving future innovations including the development of perfect weather forecasting, limitless clean energy and smartphones that are 20 times faster than those used today. 

These potential advancements, and others, including advancements in medicine and deep space exploration, are part of IEEE's ideas on what "Civilization 2040" will look like. As supercomputing reaches new levels of advancement, it will play an increasingly critical role in driving innovation and impacting the well-being of society over the next 20 years, according to IEEE.

For example, supercomputing is at the heart of intensive research that will allow for near perfect weather forecasts. With such a...

| Read more »
 
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