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Get Ready for Self-Driving Autos to Wreak Disruption
March 09, 2015
Autonomous vehicles are on a roll, suggests a new report from McKinsey & Co. Acceptance will increase substantially by 2050, accounting for as much of 20 percent of new car sales. The shift to self-driving technologies could reduce auto accidents by as much as 90 percent, the report suggests. In addition, self-driving vehicles could free up commuters' time in the car.
Mobile Wallets as Credit Card Killers
March 09, 2015
Years have spent trying to oust the credit card as the ultimate payment method. Publications and pundits have been quick to hail new technologies as "credit card-killers," and they're not without justification. The credit card has lost whatever futuristic luster it may have once had. Magnetic stripes wear out, plastic snaps in half, and the incessant manual inputting of 16-digit numbers becomes tiresome.
Nextdoor Snags $110M for Community-Building Efforts
March 05, 2015
Nextdoor on Wednesday announced it has received $110 million in venture capital to grow its neighborhood-based network of residents and vendors. Nextdoor plans to use the money to develop additional ways for members to benefit from the recommendations shared on the social network. "People don't know their neighbors -- but we are changing that," said spokesperson Jennifer Burke.
Just Showing Up Won't Capture Federal Cloud Business
March 03, 2015
The observation that "80 percent of life is just showing up," generally attributed to comedian Woody Allen, has morphed into the admonition that "80 percent of success is just showing up." However, it appears that vendors who just show up with a generalized approach to marketing cloud technology to federal government agencies likely won't attract much business.
FCC Comes Through on Net Neutrality
February 27, 2015
The FCC has adopted new open Internet rules by a 3-2 vote along party lines. The rules, which affect both wired and wireless access, prohibit broadband providers from unreasonably interfering with efforts of consumers and edge providers to reach each other. The Internet is "simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler.
Pebble Makes Big Ripples on Kickstarter
February 24, 2015
The money is pouring into Pebble's Kickstarter campaign for its new smartwatch, Pebble Time. Within hours, upwards of 27,000 supporters had pledged more than $5.6 million. The project's goal was to raise a mere $500,000. The strength of the response highlights the enthusiastic fan base Pebble has built. "Pebble Time appears to be yet another blockbuster," said tech analyst Ryan Martin.
How Apple Will Sell a Watch That No One Really Needs
February 24, 2015
There has been a lot of discussion lately of where and how Apple will sell the Apple Watch -- through high-end luxury department stores in Paris, for example, or through special new displays inside of Apple Stores, guided into existence by fashion genius Angela Ahrendts. Finding new ways to present the watch is important, but how will Apple actually trigger a buy decision?
YouTube Targets the Mother Goose Set
February 23, 2015
Google on Monday announced YouTube Kids, a new mobile app designed to deliver family-friendly video content. The YouTube Kids app provides streaming content curated for families -- everything from do-it-yourself arts and crafts and elementary geometry clips to rugrat favorites like the Mother Goose Club and Minecraft, as well as lots and lots of train videos.
AT&T Puts a Price on Privacy
February 23, 2015
Users who want to sign on to GigaPower by AT&T, the carrier's 1-gigabit-per-second Internet service that just become available in Kansas City, Missouri, have an interesting choice. They can pay $70 with the understanding that their online movements will be tracked for commercial purposes -- or they can pay an additional $29 a month to avoid the monitoring.
Lenovo Rapped for Preinstalling Spyware
February 19, 2015
Lenovo has come under fire for preinstalling spyware on some of its laptops. The software, Superfish, uses the same techniques cybercriminals often employ to crack encrypted traffic. "Superfish is purposely designed to bypass the security of HTTPS websites in a manner that would allow malware and attackers to also bypass the security provided by HTTPS," said Bluebox cofounder Adam Ely.
Retail Shoppers Get More Satisfaction Online
February 19, 2015
Customer satisfaction with retail has dropped for the first time in four years, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index -- except in the subcategory of e-commerce. All of the brick-and-mortar retail categories registered weak or flat customer satisfaction for the fourth quarter of 2014, while online retail posted a year-over-year gain.
Pivotal Punts Big Data Platform to Open Source
February 19, 2015
Pivotal on Wednesday announced its decision to open source all of the core components of its big data platform, becoming the first big data industry player to do so. The company also announced its participation in the Open Data Platform, which seeks to encourage more enterprise collaboration, along with the adoption of modern, scalable data architectures.
Xiaomi's One Shot at Success in the US
February 19, 2015
Xiaomi may soon take its first steps into the U.S. How will it do? I have some suggestions to offer. If it follows them, its chances of success will increase. If it doesn't, it may face the same problems that have dogged Microsoft, BlackBerry, Motorola, HTC and many others. Wireless in the U.S. is a booming business, but it's not easy to break into the space as a handset maker.
Azure Machine Learning Aims to Convert Data to Information
February 19, 2015
Microsoft has announced new data services running on its Azure cloud in a bid to bring big data to the mainstream. Those services include the HDInsight Apache Hadoop-based service; Storm on HDInsight, which lets users use Hadoop and Storm to create distributed, real-time data processing solutions in Azure; and Azure Machine Learning, a managed cloud service for advanced analytics.
Yandex Asks Russian Authorities to Drop the Hammer on Google
February 18, 2015
Yandex has asked Russia's antitrust authorities to look into whether Google is breaking the country's laws by not allowing preinstallation of third-party services on Android devices. Three smartphone vendors told Yandex last year that they couldn't install its search engine as the default, the company claimed. Yandex is seeking to have the Android OS unbundled from Google Search.
The Rhyme and Reason of Sales and Marketing Tech Adoption
February 18, 2015
For all the breakthroughs in technology and process, and for the vast amounts of money invested in making sales and marketing more productive and better aligned, we still face a staggering adoption problem. Sales and marketing pros answered a lot of questions in a recent survey. One of them was this simple query: How much of your sales team has adopted and regularly uses your current solution?
Is Paltrow More Qualified Than Mayer to Run Yahoo?
February 16, 2015
While working on a piece about bad decisions recently, I revisited Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer's decision not to hire Academy Award winner and successful lifestyle author and blogger Gwyneth Paltrow for a lifestyle editing position...because she didn't have a college degree. Let's explore the idea of Paltrow running Yahoo -- and we'll also take a look at my product of the week: an amazing new curved phone from LG.
Revived View-Master Is a Virtual Reality
February 13, 2015
Remember the View-Master? You slotted a disc of slides called a 'reel' into the top, clicked the lever on the right, and were thrilled by the scenes before your eyes. Google and Mattel now are teaming up to revive and modernize the View-Master. Mattel on Friday announced a new version that works with Google Cardboard and Android smartphones. Mattel will offer the new View-Master and a sample experience reel this fall, for US$30.
Samsung Smart TV Owners Fume Over Sneaky Pop-Up Ads
February 11, 2015
Samsung Smart TV owners, already shaken by news earlier this week that their TVs can transmit voice commands and other private data to third parties, have been hit by another revelation -- that the devices sneak ads into movies they're watching, without the owner's knowledge or consent. A user on the Plex forum complained that a Pepsi ad popped up every 10 to 15 minutes while he was watching his Samsung TV.
Is an Apple Maps Upgrade in the Works?
February 09, 2015
The ad on Apple's job site is innocuous enough, seeking an engineering project manager for Apple Search. However, that raises questions about whether Apple has plans to further improve its Maps app, possibly by strengthening local listings, which are increasingly important to businesses. "Apple may well revamp its street maps, as that application has far more value in an increasingly mobile world," noted Alan Pelz-Sharpe, a research director at the 451 Group.
Promoted Tweets Fly the Coop
February 04, 2015
With Wall Street breathing down its neck for growth, Twitter on Tuesday launched a new advertising initiative that aims to boost revenues and add to its more than 284 million members. The initiative aims to expand the reach of "Promoted Tweets" on Twitter. Promoted Tweets are ads that Twitter inserts into its members timelines. Now, the company wants them to be seen elsewhere, too.
YouTube Halftime Show Sets Stage for Cross-Channel Ads
February 03, 2015
On Sunday evening, as a record 114.4 million people watched Katy Perry, Lenny Kravitz and Missy Elliott rock out during the Super Bowl's halftime show, another show was under way, as well. For the first time, Google's YouTube hosted its own version of halftime on Super Bowl Sunday during roughly the same time slot.
Facebook's Place Tips May Lead Advertisers to Pot of Gold
February 02, 2015
Facebook last week announced Place Tips for iPhones, a feature that will give subscribers location-based recommendations at the top of their News Feeds. No mention was made of launching Place Tips for Android or Windows Phone devices. Tapping on Place Tips will call up the information, which will include posts and photos friends have shared about a particular place.
Tune Strikes a Chord With Investors
January 30, 2015
Mobile marketing company Tune has raised $27 million in funding, it announced Thursday. Icon Ventures partner Jeb Miller will join Tune's board. Icon led the funding round; Accel Partners and Performance Equity Management also participated. Tune will use the proceeds to grow its engineering team, introduce new products and generally invest in the services it offers.

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Are you looking forward to self-driving cars?
You bet -- I'd love to have a built-in chauffeur.
Yes -- self-driving cars will save lives.
Kind of -- I'd like some self-driving features, like parking.
No -- self-driving cars are too dangerous.
No -- I don't want to give up another freedom.
Absolutely not -- I saw Terminator and I'm not letting some robot take me for a ride!
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