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понеділок, 11 квітня 2011 р.

AT&T Empowers Retailers With Mobile Commerce Platform

DALLAS, April 11, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- AT&T* today announced a new service, Digby Mobile Commerce from AT&T, created specifically for retailers to help them design, deploy and manage mobile commerce web sites and rich applications optimized for smartphones.

AT&T already provides retail industry solutions across mobile channels, including AT&T Mobile Barcode Services, AT&T Global Messaging Suite, AT&T Digital Signage and ShopAlerts by AT&T. Adding Digby Mobile Commerce to the portfolio will give AT&T business customers another means to reach consumers and make mobile devices a virtual sales representative with access to product information, reviews and promotions.

Digby Mobile Commerce from AT&T helps to lift sales by delivering a user-friendly interface for consumers to search, browse and buy products on their mobile phones. The solution provides businesses with a single platform that works seamlessly across a variety of mobile operating systems. Further, integrating Digby Mobile Commerce with AT&T Mobile Barcode Services allows retailers to provide information, pictures of products, rich media and an enhanced shopping experience when potential customers scan barcodes.

In a recent Forrester Research Inc. report, "2011 U.S. Mobile Marketing Predictions"(1), it was noted "smartphones have fundamentally changed consumers' mobile behavior, exposing them to a broad range of media channels - like email, Internet browsing, and apps - to engage with right from their pockets. The brisk consumer adoption rates of these media devices have changed the mobile marketing ecosystem as well and will continue to do so by adding more marketing opportunities and greater reach year after year."

"By adding Digby Mobile Commerce Solutions to our portfolio of Mobile Marketing Solutions, we're able to offer retailers a comprehensive set of services for promoting, merchandising, and selling product through a mobile channel," said Chris Hill, Vice President, Advanced Mobility Solutions, AT&T Business Solutions. "Digby mobile and in-store application development and mobile commerce features, combined with AT&T's retail industry consulting practice and mobile marketing solutions, give retail companies exactly what they need to engage potential customers who are on-the-go and in the store."

Digby Mobile Commerce from AT&T leads businesses through the process of creating mobile websites that display rich product images and live catalogs, enhancing consumers' purchasing experiences and expanding the ways they can buy from merchants. Retailers using Digby can also offer apps to their customers that encourage loyal shoppers to connect regularly with their favorite brands and conveniently shop and make purchases from almost anywhere. Companies can automatically send exclusive promotions and new product information to app users when they walk into connected stores – bringing advertising closer to point of sale than ever before.

To protect consumers' online transactions, Digby Mobile Commerce from AT&T maintains high security standards, with Payment Card Industry (PCI) Level 1 certification that complements AT&T's commitment to providing enterprise-grade security to its customers. Personal data and credit card information remains confidential when using Digby Mobile Commerce websites and applications.

Additionally, Digby Mobile Commerce from AT&T allows retailers to gain visibility into their success by offering deep analytics on Return on Investment (ROI) benefits and consumer traffic.

"Digby is pleased to provide AT&T's business customers with a comprehensive platform to create rich and personal mobile experiences, so retailers can interact with mobile consumers – virtually anytime and anywhere," said David Sikora, President and CEO of Digby. "By joining forces with AT&T, we can help retailers take a strategic approach in enabling mobile commerce and mobile in-store customer engagement."

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EraPalm puts Windows 7 into a game console form factor

It may look like a PlayStation Portable wannabe, but the EraThink EraPalm is actually a full-fledged Windows 7 UMPC. Spotted at the China Consumer Electronics Fair in Shenzhen, the EraThink Technologies device comes with a 5-inch (800 x 480) display which slides up to reveal a keyboard.

We've not seen for a UMPC in this form factor for a while, since Sony discontinued its UX series. The EraThink EraPalm runs on an Atom Z processor and claims to be capable of playing 1080p videos. Other features include an HDMI, Ethernet, VGA and USB ports along with 3G and GPS radios. Its price and release date are currently unavailable.
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Microsoft to host developers for its coming Windows Phone 7

Microsoft is the mobile world's child with lots of unrealized potential.

Its smartphone software has only a sliver of the market, after the company redesigned it from the ground up and gave it a new name, Windows Phone 7. Still, many are watching and waiting after Nokia, the world's largest phone maker, said it plans to make Windows Phone 7 its primary smartphone platform.

This week, Microsoft will try to get developers off the fence to make more applications for Windows Phone 7.

At Mix 2011, a Web and Windows Phone app development conference in Las Vegas, Microsoft plans to hold workshops on building apps for Windows Phone 7. Boot-camp sessions begin Monday, and Joe Belfiore, corporate vice president with Microsoft's mobile business, is expected to give a keynote speech on Wednesday.

Microsoft frustrated users recently when it fumbled a software update to Windows Phones that was supposed to add copy-and-paste and other performance enhancing features to speed phone performance. Belfiore said on Microsoft's website, "We are sorry the process has been rocky."

"They need to show that they are emphasizing quality in the platform" at Mix after the update problems, said Rob Sanfilippo, research vice president at Directions on Microsoft, an independent analyst firm in Kirkland. "Then the secondary thing will be what are the new features coming this year?"

At Mobile World Congress in February in Barcelona, Spain, Microsoft Chief Executive Steve Ballmer announced several new features that will be coming to Windows Phone 7 this year: Twitter integration with the phone's address book, multi-tasking and Internet Explorer 9. He also showed an experimental project showing an Xbox Kinect game that a second player could control with a Windows Phone 7.

The company will likely give a progress report this week on when those features will be arriving and how developers can start building them into phone applications.

The Mix conference used to focus more narrowly on Web development, but it has grown to include Windows Phone 7 app development. The conference drew about 1,000 people in 2010. On Tuesday, Microsoft Corporate Vice President Dean Hachamovitch is scheduled to talk about progress with Microsoft's newly introduced Web browser, Internet Explorer 9.

Microsoft will hold workshops on designing websites in HTML5, cloud computing on Windows Azure, development of its video and animation software Silverlight and mobile software.

Microsoft said it now has 11,500 apps available for Windows Phone 7. The company also dropped hints in a blog post that its competitors double count apps published in different languages and "lite" apps such as wallpaper. Apple boasts 350,000 apps on iTunes. Google says the Android marketplace has more than 150,000 free and paid apps.

Phone sales have not added up to a blockbuster, but observers say progress has been decent for a new entrant. Microsoft said at the end of January that phone manufacturers bought 2 million software licenses for Windows Phone 7. Microsoft has not given numbers on how many customers have bought phones with the software installed on it.
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Fujitsu Tablet to Dual Boot Windows 7, Symbian

Fujitsu has already started working on Windows 7 based tablets which are to be unveiled at the COMPUTEX 2011. But that's not the only thing on Fujitsu's mind. The company is said to be working closely with NTT DoCoMo on a custom tablet F-07C that will dual-boot Windows 7 and Symbian operating system. The information looks fake and quite impossible at first instance.

At the Consumer Electronics Show 2011 in January, Microsoft had announced that it will bring ARM architecture support for Windows 7. Hence, it's quite plausible that Fujitsu tablet will run Windows 7 (Starter Edition). What is surprising is the dual-boot option and that too with Symbian OS.

Now we know that Nokia has joined hands with Microsoft for using Windows Phone 7 as its primary smartphone mobile operating system. But Fujitsu going for a dual-booting tablet with Windows 7 and Symbian is quite bizarre.

The upcoming Fujitsu Tablet F-07C has a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard. The image below shows it running Windows 7.

Take a look at its specifications:

- Windows 7/Symbian dual OS, one-touch switch
- 125mm (H) 61mm (W) 19.8mm (D)
- 4-inch WSVGA (1024 600) touchscreen
- Intel Atom, 32GB SSD
- USB & HDMI terminal for sale with an optional cradle

Dual-booting Fujitsu tablet does look interesting but it is too early to tell whether it would be released as a commercial product or is merely a prototype. Even if it releases, it would be restricted to South-Asia region only.

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Windows 7 share tops XP for first time in U.S.

Computerworld - Windows 7 has passed the 10-year-old Windows XP in U.S. usage share, according to data from an Irish Web analytics company.

In the first 10 days of April, Windows 7's average daily share was 32.2% as measured by StatCounter, besting XP's average of 30.7%.

It was the first time that Windows 7's U.S. usage share was higher than Windows XP's.

Microsoft has touted Windows 7's sales numerous times since its October 2009 debut, and has repeatedly said the operating system is its fastest-selling ever. Analysts have agreed that Windows 7 has been a success, especially compared to the lukewarm reception customers gave its predecessor, Vista.

Last January, Microsoft announced it had sold over 300 million Windows 7 licenses.

By StatCounter's tracking, other widely used operating systems in the U.S. include Windows Vista, with an April average of 19.5%, and Apple's Mac OS, with 14.8%.

Vista peaked in the U.S. at 35.6% in August 2009, two months before Windows 7's launch, while XP first fell under 50% at the same time.

StatCounter's global numbers are different, showing that U.S. users have flocked to Windows 7 faster than the average. Windows 7 accounts for 31.5% of all operating systems in use around the world so far this month, while XP remains the most-widely-used OS with a 46.8% share.

Data from rival metrics vendor Net Applications paints a less-impressive picture for Windows 7. Net Application's March numbers put Windows 7's global usage share at 24.2%, compared to XP's 54.4%.

Both Net Applications and StatCounter calculate operating system usage share by monitoring the machines that reach their clients' sites. The former, however, also weights its numbers by country.

Like most Web measurement firms, Net Applications has more data on some countries -- the U.S., for instance -- but relatively small samples from others, like China. So to produce what it believes are more accurate numbers, Net Applications weights its Chinese data proportionally higher because that country has a greater percentage of the world's Internet users than the U.S.

The result: Because China accounts for a major chunk of all computer users and because a higher percentage of Chinese users run Windows XP than those in virtually every other country, Net Applications' XP numbers are higher than StatCounter's.

Although Microsoft has not told users to dump Windows XP -- a recommendation it's made about the 10-year-old Internet Explorer 6 (IE6) -- the company has urged customers to leave the operating system behind. Microsoft executives, for example. have not been hesitant to call XP "the lowest common denominator" as they push IE9, the new browser that only runs on Vista and Windows 7.

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Tablet maker’s dilemma: cheap but different

It seems like we’ve been saying forever that the tablet space is about to heat up, for the simple reason we have. It is getting closer to happening though, as a handful of Android tablets are now hitting the market. Like commuters on a crowded subway jostling for a steady position for the trip, OEMs making tablets are looking to grab a good spot in this budding market, and it’s not going to be easy. They are faced with a big dilemma: make tablets very cheaply but different enough from the competition to capture attention. What they are about to discover is these two objectives are mutually exclusive.

Apple set the pricing bar for the iPad, and to the surprise of many set it extremely low. Tablet makers are scrambling to produce competing products at the iPad’s entry price point, and in some cases changing strategy to accomplish that. Tablets are viewed by consumers as extra devices and not something they must have, and that makes the price very important. Buying a tablet is much like an impulse purchase, so the price must be low.

The lower the price point the more effort OEMs spend producing tablets with load-outs similar to the iPad to have a chance in the market. This takes the effort away from adding features to new tablets that make them stand out from the crowd. Without special features, tablets are competing solely on price. That is good for consumers, not so much so for tablet makers.

A couple of tablets that add new features to the mix to stand out are the upcoming HTC Flyer and the Asus Transformer. HTC is adding pen input to the standard Android tablet feature set, and Asus is adding a keyboard dock that turns its tablet into a laptop. Both are interesting approaches that add value to the consumer, but also add price to the product. What remains to be seen is if this additional value is recognized by buyers and if they will be willing to pay the price, or if they will pass on the higher cost tablets and go with more traditional products.

We’ve seen this situation in the past with Tablet PCs that are full laptop computers that add swivel screens allowing operation as slates. These are still available in the market and are good laptops with outstanding pen input features, but they’ve never penetrated the consumer market in numbers because of the higher price they command due to these extra features. Manufacturers face an extra layer of marketing to convince prospective buyers they are worth a higher price, an effort that so far has failed. It’s a catch-22, extra marketing and the cost that goes with it to have a shot at selling the feature to the public, which in turn makes the product less price competitive in the market.

We are seeing the first of the Android tablets hitting the market with pricing that is competitive with the iPad, as companies know the score. So far these tablets all look much the same in the way of hardware and features. While the products appear to be good buys for the consumer, there’s not much making one stand out over the others. It’s going to turn into a real scramble, with pricing the only attraction to draw in buyers in significant numbers. The dilemma facing tablet makers is going to be evident very soon, and it will be interesting to see how they deal with it.
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Bootup: RIM bosses talk PlayBook with NYT

Today in technology: Canada’s major political parties unveil their digital economy strategies as the 41st general election heats up, Steve Jobs will have an official biography out by next year, Mike Lazaridis believes the PlayBook will save Research In Motion Ltd., and video footage of the new touch screen BlackBerry Bold is leaked online.

Lazaridis believes PlayBook will save RIM as new Bold is leaked online
Ian Austen of The New York Times recently had the opportunity to interview both RIM co-CEOs Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, about the launch of the upcoming RIM tablet, the PlayBook. Turns out Mr. Lazaridis believes what RIM watchers have been saying for some time: that the PlayBook will be able to fix the broken BlackBerry brand. In the interview, Mr. Lazaridis openly wonders why RIM watchers are so down on the company despite its growth over the past two years.

With the BlackBerry World Conference now just weeks away, many fans of the Waterloo, Ontario technology darling are starting to wonder what other new products RIM has up its sleeve besides the business-focused tablet the world has been waiting seven months to see. A touch screen version of the BlackBerry Bold — codenamed the “Montana”, footage of which having been posted to YouTube by BBLeaks over the weekend — might just be one of them.

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Google buys Toronto startup PushLife

Google has bought Toronto-based PushLife Inc., a company that makes apps that enable non-Apple mobile phones to play, organize, share and buy music easily.

On its website, PushLife said it was "pleased to announce" the acquisition at a time when it is focusing more on how its apps look and on making them easier to use.

"And as Google is driving innovation on the mobile web across a variety of areas, we thought joining the company would be a perfect fit," the statement said.

It added that employees will be joining Google's team in Canada. According to the technology website TechVibes, the company announced in September that it would be expanding to 30 people.
Google has long been rumoured to be on the verge of launching its own Android-compatible music streaming service. Google has long been rumoured to be on the verge of launching its own Android-compatible music streaming service. (Associated Press)

The purchase was first mentioned Friday afternoon on Twitter by Chango Inc., a technology startup that shares office space with PushLife and is backed by the same venture capital firm, Mantella Venture Partners. Chango congratulated PushLife on "their exit to the big G."

According to the website Startup North, Google paid $25 million for PushLife, which was founded in 2008 by CEO Ray Reddy. Reddy studied computer science and business at the University of Waterloo and worked in corporate development at Research in Motion before starting PushLife.

The company's software enables phones running BlackBerry or Android platforms to sync with iTunes and Windows Media Player libraries on a computer. That gives them iPhone-like abilities to organize, share and buy music.

The software launched as a free app in the U.K. in partnership with Virgin Media in December. According to PushLife's website, it had been scheduled to launch in the U.S. in January.

The app also recommends songs, brings together extras such as artist bios and images, and allows customers to share their music through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Google has long been rumoured to be on the verge of launching its own Android-compatible music streaming service. Technology news site cnet reported in late March that Google had begun testing Google Music internally, suggesting it would launch soon.

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Magid: Paying with mobile phones should soon be easier

Isis, a mobile payment joint venture between AT&T Mobility, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless, recently announced that next year it will allow transit riders in Salt Lake City to use their mobile phones to pay fares.

To do so, riders' mobile handsets will have to be equipped with Near Field Communication technology that will allow the phone to transmit a signal to a receiver in the transit vehicles. Very few of today's phones have NFC chips, but they are expected to be common on phones rolling out later this year. Research In Motion has already indicated that NFC chips will be available on new BlackBerrys and, though Apple (AAPL) hasn't confirmed anything, it is widely believed that the technology will also be supported by the next-generation iPhone expected this summer. Google's (GOOG) Nexus S Android phone is already equipped with NFC and there are reports that Google is working on an NFC-based mobile payment plan for Android phones.

But NFC isn't the only way to use mobile phones to transfer money. There are solutions that work with existing smartphones and even regular old "feature phones."

Obopay and M-Pesa
are two of the services that enable people with just about any cellphone to transfer funds or pay bills. Both services are able to use SMS (short message system), which is the same international system used to send text messages. M-Pesa, a service of Kenya's Safaricom mobile carrier, is used within Kenya and internationally through relationships with Vodafone and Western Union.

Obopay has a strong presence in India and parts of Africa, where, according to its founder Carol Realini, most people remain "unbanked." In many areas of the developing world, bank branches and even ATMs are few and far between. My son spent his junior year studying in Ghana and even though there was an automated teller machine on his campus, it didn't always work. When my wife visited him, the relatively posh hotel she was staying at wouldn't accept credit cards, so she had to take a bus across town to access an ATM and, literally, fill a bag with cash just to pay the equivalent of a few hundred dollars for her hotel bill.

Obopay is also available in the U.S., where it can be used to transfer funds between individuals and to send money to family living abroad. The company offers a prepaid Mastercard to enable users to more easily spend money sent to their account.

Realini, whose company's current product uses SMS and cellular signals rather than NFC, agrees that NFC makes a lot of sense for the Utah Transit Authority. "Transports are good applications because we're already using card-based stored wallets and in some cases we're using proximity transfer such as when you drive through the toll lanes."

But, she said, for the developing world, it still makes sense to use SMS or apps where the data is transported over the regular cellular network.

SMS, according to IE Market Research, accounted for 76 percent of all mobile payment transactions in 2009, but is expected to decline to about 59 percent by 2014 as other technologies, especially NFC, become more popular. The research firm expects the number of mobile payment users to rise to more than 1 billion in 2014, who will spend an estimated $1.13 trillion on transactions, up from $37.4 billion in 2009.

We're also starting to see phones being used to accept credit card payments. Square, which was co-founded by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey, offers users a free credit card reader that plugs into an iPhone or Android phone. For 2.75 percent of the transaction, the service lets anyone accept credit cards. It's ideal for really small businesses like street vendors at farmers markets or art fairs but can also be used by individuals. Intuit (INTU) offers a similar service called GoPayment that works with the company's QuickBooks small business management software.

Security is an obvious concern for all types of transactions. Although some NFC applications, such as getting on a bus, might simply involve waving the phone next to a receiver, others -- especially those with higher dollar amounts -- will require the user to enter a PIN number from the phone's keyboard. Like an ATM card, a phone offers two levels of security because it can be configured to require that you have the phone and a PIN code.

Also, according to Realini, people are far more likely to quickly report a lost or stolen phone. She said people generally realize their phone is missing within minutes compared with an average of 18 hours after a credit card goes missing.

If mobile payments become ubiquitous, that old excuse, "the check is in the mail" might be replaced with a "I paid you but I must have been in a dead spot."
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