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2014's Top Google Play Picks: Fitness, Netflix, Frozen and More
December 12, 2014
Health and fitness was the fastest-growing category of apps on Google Play this year, according to a report Google published on Thursday. MyFitnessPal was the most-downloaded app within that category, while Duolingo led the education category. Facebook was top among social apps named in the report, which listed the most popular apps, games, movies, music, news and books in 2014 on Google Play.
Apple Accused of Secretly Snuffing Non-iTunes Music Purchases
December 04, 2014
Apple for two years surreptitiously removed from iPods any music not purchased at its iTunes store, prosecutors charged Wednesday in federal court. The accusations surfaced during the trial of a 10-year-old class-action lawsuit claiming Apple violated federal and state laws when it issued iPod software updates that prevented the devices from playing songs not purchased on iTunes.
Customers Speak
December 03, 2014
Several news stories have provided interesting insights into the Black Friday phenomenon and into customer behavior. One indicates sales slipped by 0.5 percent from the same period last year, despite sharp discounting and stores opening on Thanksgiving. Another story shows how the Black Friday phenomenon is catching on in the UK. It looks like the mania is spreading even as it cools in the U.S.
Cyber Monday Reveals New Customer Spending Patterns
December 02, 2014
Despite a ho-hum level of sales volume over the past four days, online sales this Cyber Monday were up 8.7 percent over the same period in 2013 by late afternoon, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark. Continuing a trend that has been growing for the last few years, mobile sales accounted for 21.3 percent of all online sales on Cyber Monday, an increase of 29.3 percent year over year.
Cyber Monday Brings Sweet Deals for Video Gamers
December 01, 2014
A batch of great online deals on Cyber Monday, on the heels of strong Black Friday sales at traditional brick-and-mortar stores, could make Microsoft's Xbox One video game system the big winner in the run-up to the holidays. The video game console headed into its second holiday season in second place to Sony's PlayStation 4, but Microsoft has introduced a number of bundles to draw in gamers.
Black Friday Reports: Sunny Online, Gloomy Off
December 01, 2014
It was the best of times and the worst of times for retailers over the 4-day long Thanksgiving Day-Black Friday weekend. If you were an online retailer, it was the best of times. If you were strictly a brick-and-mortar store, it was perhaps not quite the worst, but certainly worse than expected. Survey firm after survey firm reported the same general conclusion: Online sales rocked.
Apple's 'Get' Puts Paid to Free-App Sham
November 24, 2014
Apple has removed the word "free" from download buttons in its iOS and OS X app stores, replacing it with "get." European regulators recommended the action to Apple and Google earlier this year. In July, Google removed the "free" label from games that could be downloaded without cost -- but required in-app purchases to access a full set of features.
SMS: It's Not Just for Marketing Any More
November 20, 2014
There appears to be a new trend emerging in the enterprise mobile engagement space, according to OpenMarket. Increasingly, its enterprise customers are adapting its platform to use SMS in new ways, said Tim Fujita Yuhas, the company's director of product management. Sometimes those uses are obvious CRM plays; sometimes they fall more under the rubric of Internet of Things.
Facebook Lubes PR Gears to Dampen Privacy Worries
November 14, 2014
Facebook on Thursday announced Privacy Basics, a set of interactive guides to answer the most commonly questions about how users can control their information on its site. It also aired proposed updates to its terms, data policy and cookies policy; improvements to ad targeting; and expansion of user control over ads. "This is mostly a messaging exercise," said tech analyst Rob Enderle.
Money Makes the World Go Round on Singles Day
November 11, 2014
Nov. 11 is Singles Day in China -- aka the "11.11 Shopping Festival" -- and the country's millions of unhitched celebrated the event by spending some quality time with online retail giant Alibaba. So far, the event has generated $9.3 billion in sales and 278 million orders shipped, the retailer reported. Slightly less than half, or 43 percent of those orders, were placed from mobile devices.
New Tool Alerts Etailers to Suspicious Characters
November 11, 2014
As thoughtful as mobile phone makers are when they design their products, there are always punters who want something that isn't there and are willing to hack a device to get it. In the Android world such a hack is called "rooting" a phone; in the iOS world, it's called "jailbreaking." Regardless of what it's called, it can turn a phone into a can of worms for retailers.
Webrooming Takes the Sting Out of Showrooming
November 07, 2014
Showrooming, the bane of retailers, is the consumer practice of visiting a brick-and-mortar store to test out merchandise and then buying the same model online at a cheaper price. Now there's "webrooming" -- a new buzzword for a trend that's been gaining momentum. Webrooming is the consumer practice of using the Internet to research a purchase and then going to a physical store to buy it.
Apple Pay vs. CurrentC: Prelude to the Beacon Wars
October 30, 2014
The current dustup between Apple Pay and CurrentC is a stark, bleak mess. That's not because Apple promises an easier, more secure way of making a smartphone-based retail transaction. Nor is it because CurrentC wants to harvest data on you and provide behavior-bending coupons, incentives and special deals, while cutting out the middleman credit card processing industry. It gets worse.
Apple Pay Aims to Make Plastic Passť
October 20, 2014
Apple on Monday launched its Apple Pay mobile payment system in the U.S., for use with Apple's latest iPhones and to a limited extent its new iPads, as well. Apple Pay allows purchasing transactions to be performed with a phone swipe -- as long as a retailer has the right hardware. Purchases within apps can be completed using only the Touch ID fingerprint reader.
Make Your List and Check It Twice: Preparing for the 2014 Holiday Season
October 08, 2014
With summer behind us, brands and retailers are busy finalizing their plans for the upcoming holiday rush. Like last year, this holiday season will be a short one, with just 26 days between Black Friday and Christmas. With this condensed shopping period and digital commerce on an aggressive upswing, the holiday season is no time for retailers to take chances.
PayPal, eBay Headed for Splitsville
October 01, 2014
eBay on Tuesday announced that its 12-year marriage to PayPal was coming to an end. The move comes mere months after eBay beat down an attempt by corporate raider Carl Icahn to peel PayPal from the online auction site. "For more than a decade, eBay and PayPal have mutually benefited from being part of one company, creating substantial shareholder value," said eBay President and CEO John Donahoe.
Amazon Cranks Up IoT Innovation Machine
September 30, 2014
Amazon is ramping up its innovative hardware product testing and beefing up marketing strategies to give its nearly quarter billion customers better ways to buy its wares using Internet-connected devices. Amazon will boost staffing at its Silicon Valley hardware unit, Lab126, by at least 27 percent over the next five years, according to reports that surfaced last week.
Facebook Launches Atlas to Shoulder the Whole Digital-Advertising World
September 29, 2014
Facebook on Monday announced Atlas, a rebuilt ad platform that gives marketers access to its vast troves of user data and helps them direct highly targeted ads across the Web. "Atlas delivers people-based marketing, helping marketers reach real people across devices, platforms and publishers," explained Erik Johnson, head of the new Facebook service.
The Growing Allure of E-Commerce Systems Integration
September 24, 2014
The power of e-commerce lies in the simplicity and ease of use delivered to customers. Giving customers the ability to quickly find a product, buy it and have it delivered -- without visiting a store or even speak with a salesperson -- lets companies sell on a massive scale with little overhead. However, behind the simple purchasing process that the customer sees is a very complex set of systems.
Gadget Ogling: Amazon on Fire, Virtual Reality, True Nature and Energy Relief
September 20, 2014
Apple might be the flavor of the minute as new iPhones hit stores, but Amazon isn't ready to let its rival hog all the limelight. Without a flashy presentation, it unveiled a half-dozen new Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. There's a 6-inch Fire HD tablet priced at $99 and a 7-inch version for $139. The Fire tablets are reliably solid machines, and those are fantastically enticing prices.
Amazon Gets All Fired Up
September 18, 2014
Amazon on Wednesday introduced a slew of new Kindle Fire tablets and Kindle e-readers. It also unveiled a new OS based on Android KitKat. The top-of-the-line product is the company's Fire HDX 8.9, which sports a Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 quad-core processor, with each core running at up to 2.5 GHz, and a GPU that's 75 percent faster than that of the previous Fire HDX.
Apple Pay Could Slam Door on Data Thieves
September 11, 2014
Despite the efforts of some big name tech players, consumers have been reluctant to turn their smartphones into wallets. That could be about to change with Apple Pay. Apple Pay is the new mobile payment system Apple introduced with its iPhone 6 and 6 Plus earlier this week. "Apple being Apple is going to change the game," said Christopher Budd, threat communications manager at Trend Micro.
Apple's New iPhones: Ho-Hum and Controversial Too
September 11, 2014
Apple's new iPhones didn't take center stage at this week's big event. "The fact that they are ho-hum is interesting in itself," said Nick Spencer, a senior practice director at ABI Research. "Apple is now a company that follows rather than leads." Apple is "at least 18 months late with a large screen device," he pointed out, and its Apple Pay mobile payment feature is "not exactly new."
Apple's Cook Hits It Out of the Park
September 11, 2014
Apple made its annual iPhone announcement Tuesday, and there were several surprises, including one of those Steve Jobs "one more thing" moments. Now the question is, will the two new iPhones, Apple Pay and Apple Watch be a home run? Generally speaking, yes -- but with some caveats. The iPhone is coming in two new sizes. One is larger, meaning longer. The other is even larger, meaning even longer.

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