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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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
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...

| Read more »
Apr 20
IDC: cloud environments will drive IT infrastructure...

According to the International Data Corp. (www.idc.com) total spending on IT infrastructure products (server, storage, and Ethernet switch) for deployment in cloud environments will increase by 18.9% in 2016 to reach $38.2 billion.

This amount excludes double counting between storage and server, adds the research group. In comparison, spending on enterprise IT infrastructure deployed in traditional, non-cloud, environments will decline by 4% in 2016, but will still account for the largest share, 62.8%, of end user spending. Spending on private cloud IT infrastructure will grow by 11.1% year over year to $13.9 billion geared toward on-premises private cloud deployments. Spending on public cloud IT infrastructure will increase by 14.1% in 2016 to $24.4 billion.

From a geographic perspective, investments in cloud IT infrastructure will grow across all regions. As cloud service providers continue to expand their...

| Read more »
Apr 19
Tech companies creating strategic platforms to support...

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a technology concept that is currently transforming and redefining virtually all markets and industries in fundamental ways. In fact, IHS forecasts that the IoT market will grow from an installed base of 15.4 billion devices in 2015 to 30.7 billion devices in 2020 and 75.4 billion in 2025, according to “IoT Platforms: Enabling the Internet of Things” a new white paper available as a free download from IHS Inc. (www.ihs.com), a global source of critical information and insight.

An important sign of the fundamental significance of the IoT concept is that most major information and communication technology vendors are now strategically developing IoT offerings, adds IHS. Companies that sit at the heart of the telecom, networking, industrial infrastructure, enterprise system, and cloud computing sectors are now offering platforms to facilitate the broader economy’s transformation to pervasive...

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Apr 18
Consumers seeking higher value for home IoT

Network entertainment applications are the stepping stone to a broader home Internet of Things (IoT) experience, even as consumers remain skeptical of the value proposition behind the home Internet of Things, wary of their cost and uncertain of their utility, according to a recent survey of U.S. consumers by International Data Corporation (www.idc.com).

About 28% of people who own a home network stream online videos to their televisions, and they are much more likely to express high interest in and adoption of home IoT applications than other home network owners, notes the research group. What’s more, one out of five people who use home automation, monitoring and control devices say their home IoT applications solved a problem they didn't know they had. The majority of consumers, however, remain skeptical of the value proposition behind the home Internet of Things and are holding back for a higher overall value proposition...

| Read more »
Apr 15
Most broadband households with a security system will...

New data from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) shows that 65% of U.S. broadband households with a security system plan to buy a smart home device in the next 12 months.

"Nearly 20% of U.S. broadband households own at least one smart home device, and over one-half of these device owners also have a security system," said Stuart Sikes, president, Parks Associates. "Security households, rather than being content with their current system, have a proclivity to add more smart features to their home. Companies need to use this insight to capitalize on the growing demand for connected devices in the home.”

Smart home solutions are available to consumers through multiple sales channels. Parks Associates' data shows 70% of U.S. security dealers currently install some type of interactive smart home device or system within their residential offerings or plan to do so within the next 12 months...

| Read more »
Apr 14
Gartner: worldwide IT spending will decline 0.5% this...

Worldwide IT spending is forecast to total $3.49 trillion in 2016, a decline of 0.5% over 2015 spending of $3.5 trillion, according to Gartner, Inc (www.gartner.com). This is down from last quarter's forecast of 0.5%. The change in the forecast is mainly due to currency fluctuations, says the research group.

"There is an undercurrent of economic uncertainty that is driving organizations to tighten their belts, and IT spending is one of the casualties," said John-David Lovelock, research vice president at Gartner. "Concurrently, the need to invest in IT to support digital business is more urgent than ever. Business leaders know that they need to become digital businesses or face irrelevance in a digital world. To make that happen, leaders are engaging in tough cost optimization efforts in some areas to fund digital business in others.”

As an example, the savings from legacy system optimization and...

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Apr 13
Worldwide semiconductor revenue declined 2.3% in 2015

Worldwide semiconductor revenue totaled $334.8 billion in 2015, a 2.3% decline from 2014, according to final results by Gartner, Inc. (www.gartner.com). The combined revenue of the top 25 semiconductor vendors fell by 0.5% during 2015, according to the research group.

This was a better performance than the rest of the market, however, which saw a 6.9% revenue decline. The top 25 vendors accounted for 73.5% of the market, down slightly from 74% in 2014.

"The worldwide semiconductor market declined in 2015 as slowing demand for key applications combined with strong currency fluctuations to subdue the market," said Andrew Norwood, research vice president at Gartner. "2015 saw a mixed performance by the different device categories, unlike 2014 when all categories posted positive growth. Nonoptical sensors performed best due to increased usage of fingerprint sensors in smartphones, while discretes saw the...

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Apr 12
High-growth wireless charging market matures in 2016

The wireless charging receiver market grew more than 160% in 2015 over the previous year, as annual global shipments reached 144 million units.

Integrated receivers hit mainstream devices, and refinements to system design and diversification for various applications and power ratings is now driving the development of the technology. Annual shipment volume is expected to top one billion units by 2020 and two billion by 2025, according to IHS (www.ihs.com), a source of critical information and insight.

The mobile phone market remains the dominant force in overall shipments, led by the Samsung Galaxy smartphone series, which comes equipped with dual-mode Qi and Power-Matters-Alliance- (PMA-) certified low-frequency charging retained for this year’s S7 model.  IHS forecasts that 10% of smartphones shipped this year will be capable of wireless charging. 

Meanwhile wearables are already the second largest...

| Read more »
Apr 11
52% of millennial smartphone owners use their device...

As consumer preferences and habits for smartphone usage continue to shift, millennials are driving the increased usage of video calling as a preferred application among smartphone users.

In fact, according to The NPD Group’s (www.npdgroup.com) “Connected Intelligence Application and Convergence Report,” more than half (52%) of smartphone users age 18-34 say they now use their smartphones to conduct video calls, representing an increase of 10 points year-over-year. In addition to video calling, smartphone users in the 18-34 age range also cited using their device for music and shopping as well as posting and viewing videos. In fact, many of these behaviors increased in prevalence among this user segment during the prior year, too.  

“Video calling, posting and watching video are more common among Millennial smartphone users than among any other age group,” noted John Buffone, executive director, Industry...

| Read more »
Apr 08
Consumers happier with their wearable hardware than...

Wearable technology is evolving beyond wrist-worn devices to include shirts, tattoos, hats, shoes and more but what makes these devices useful is the actionable collected data.

A new report from Argus Insights (www.argusinsights.com) shows that consumers are much happier with their wearable devices than the apps they use to interpret the data they collect. Jawbone Up is leading delight as a great “all in one app,” but at the same time users express discontent with the Jawbone bands. Based on an analysis of over 136,000 consumer reviews of Wearables devices and applications from November 2015-February 2016, Argus Insights finds that users report higher delight for devices than brands’ associated apps.

“Clearly the app experience is affecting the long term efficacy of the wearables market,” said John Feland, CEO, Argus Insights. “Without interpretation of the data to inspire action and promote...

| Read more »
Apr 07
Adoption of solid state drives to drive global 3D NAND...

Technavio (www.technavio.com) analysts predict the the global 3D NAND flash market will reach 8.78 billion units by 2019, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 91.82%.

To calculate the market size, the research group considered unit shipments of smartphones, tablet personal computers (PCs), notebooks, smartcards, universal serial bus (USB), MP3s, and solid-state drives (SSDs) made to manufacturers.
3D NAND flash market at a glance

Technavio analysts predict the global 3D NAND flash market to grow at a fast pace during the projected period. The high market growth rate is attributed to increasing demand for high non-volatile memory in mobile devices and enterprise servers because of the following advantages: large memory storage, low power consumption, less space, and high speed.

Technavio hardware and semiconductor analysts highlight the following four factors that are...

| Read more »
Apr 06
Now is the time for banks to make a play in the mobile...

As consumer awareness of mobile wallets has risen dramatically, financial institutions have a perfect opportunity to stake a claim in this market. As the barriers to wallet adoption drop, and issues with merchant adoption and consumer hesitation lessen, FI-branded wallets stand ready to reap the benefits.

The JAVELIN (www.javelinstrategy.com) research group has released a report and introduced JAVELIN’s S.C.O.R.E. wallet analysis model for assessing and comparing competing wallet providers. For the past two years, the consumer’s primary bank has topped the charts, as the wallet consumers would be most likely to adopt. However, as the vast majority of FIs sat on the sidelines, consumer preference has shifted. Now, PayPal (63%) and Visa (56%) have both surpassed the primary bank (51%) as the mobile wallet providers of choice.

“The customer relationship is the trump card that issuers have to...

| Read more »
Apr 05
Usage of TV Everywhere reaches 40% of pay-TV consumers

New research from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) shows that usage of authenticated video viewing, or TV Everywhere, reached 40% of U.S. pay-TV consumers in 2015, up from 22% in 2013. The data shows the percentage of respondents watching authenticated video at least once a month is 23%, which both broadens and deepens the online video audience for pay-TV providers.

"Content providers have been extremely aggressive in promoting their authenticated catch-up services, which is helping create traction for authenticated TV Everywhere services in the digital entertainment household," said Glenn Hower, research analyst, Parks Associates. "As usage increases, service providers and content companies alike will need to expand their big data capabilities, allowing them to create even more personalized services for their subscribers and viewers.”

Streaming and multiscreen usage have altered...

| Read more »
Apr 04
70% of U.S. households with smart energy devices...

New data from Parks Associates (www.parksassociates.com) shows that 70% of U.S. households with smart energy devices report saving money due to reduced energy consumption. However, the report also notes the difficulty of selling smart energy devices based on cost savings as 83% of U.S. broadband households do not know the price they are paying for electricity.

"Residential customers today see energy as a necessary expense, and while 62% of U.S. broadband households strongly believe that saving energy and lowering utility bills are important, getting them to pay for these benefits has proven difficult," said Eddie Accomando, research analyst, Parks Associates. "Electricity does not currently drive customer action, but as the process of energy production changes through DR, solar, and storage innovations, energy management will become a much more significant value-added service within the connected...

| Read more »
Apr 01
The Northern Spy: Sweet Sorrow

Parting can be tough when you've had a faithful machine for so many years. But the old model 180 was getting long in tooth and was no longer reliable. True, some of the problems were mere cosmetic scuffs, but others ranged from annoyances that had to be worked around to serious impairment of functionality.

So, when the Spy's local dealer announced an introductory (and deeply discounted) sale on a brand new (to the frozen north; they'd already been selling in the land to our south) model X380, he decided to put the suction hose on his bank account and make it "out with the old, in with the new".

On short acquaintance, the new machine is wicked fast. The combination of wider bandwidth and some 22% more horsepower appears on first blush to increase throughput by nearly fifty percent, which has always got to be an important goal of so major a technology upgrade. Moreover, operating speed adjustments are automatic; the manufacturer no longer makes the old...

| Read more »
 
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