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Apple’s IBM Deal Marks the Real Beginning of the Post-PC Era

Mashable

When you look at the landscape of powerful players in the enterprise, a few names tend to stand out: IBM, Oracle, SAP, Microsoft, Apple.

Wait, Apple? A decade ago, it was rare to see Apple products in the enterprise. Sure, an executive here and there might have had a MacBook — maybe the graphics or marketing division used OS X — but everyone else worked on Windows and carried a BlackBerry.

Fast forward to today. Consumers have shifted away from the desktop-and-laptop world and more to the cloud, streaming media and mobile devices, and business and enterprise have, too. Today, iOS is in 98% of the Fortune 500.

Seemingly overnight, Apple — the consummate consumer company — is a big player in the enterprise.

That reality became crystalized on Tuesday when Apple announced that it would be partnering with IBM to focus on “transforming enterprise.” The deal will pair Apple’s mobile and tablet hardware with IBM’s services, which include its Big Data, cloud and security infrastructure.

How exactly did this happen?

Falling into enterprise

The original iPhone wasn’t designed for business users. You could use a custom email setup, but there was no Exchange support, no VPN and no built-in productivity apps. With the iPhone 3G and iOS 2.0, Apple started adding more enterprise-friendly features, largely at the behest of businesses. Executives bought iPhones and wanted to use them in the office.

But it was the iPad, first released in 2010, that really changed the game. The portable nature of the tablet, coupled with a growing library of custom or publicly available third-party apps made the devices an instant hit in the office and in schools.

The iPad came along at the perfect time. Big enterprise customers were already starting to shift to cloud-based solutions for CRM and document management, which made it easy for an iPad to step in for a laptop on sales calls or in meetings.

Phil Buckellew, IBM’s vice president of enterprise mobile, says enterprise customers are constantly asking — demanding, really — more mobile solutions that are easy to use.

Why? It’s simple. People use an iPad at home and want to have that same experience at work. Users are accustomed to solutions “just working.”

Historical enterprise companies such as Microsoft and BlackBerry have struggled to adapt their technologies for the modern consumer, but by virtue of its consumer-friendly user experience, Apple seems to have almost accidentally fallen into enterprise.

Post-PC for the office is coming

Back in 2010, Steve Jobs famously discussed the emergence of a Post-PC world. Much hand-wringing and rationalizations about how the PC is still relevant has followed, but the reality is, Jobs was right. For most users, the PC is no longer the center of their digital lives, that center is now a smartphone (or even a tablet).

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Technology journalists are facing extinction

Medium

One of the first ever online journalists for the BBC is a close colleague of mine. These days, you’d say he was the most experienced member of the team.

But back in the 90s, when the BBC was still finding itself online, it was decided that his job would be “internet correspondent”.

Internet correspondent! The very notion that one such role could encapsulate all that was going on in this brave new world now seems hideously naive — but I’m told at the time it was met with the odd scoff in the newsroom.

“Can you believe it?” they’d chatter, “they’ve got someone who’s just looking at the internet!”

Fast forward a few more years, to 2005, and another colleague of mine found himself in a similar situation. Tasked with chipping in with the BBC’s live election coverage, his role was to give a run-down on what chatter was taking place online.

It was given a fairly short shrift — it really was all meaningless waffle, back then. The hardened hacks shared the same opinion — who cared about what some idiots on the internet had to say?

Of course, the next general election had no such role (Edit 16/07/14: see update at the foot of this post). This time, diligent political hacks— spearheaded by the likes of Laura Kuenssberg —were all across the internet themselves.

Tweeting, blogging, Facebooking… politics wasn’t just talked about on the internet, it happened there.

Most of my day-to-day work is for the BBC News website, but in the past 12 months I’ve been lucky enough to get my shot at TV and radio.

Yet while my personal capacity to tell technology stories in the past year has diversified, I’ve noticed something: my beat is rapidly disappearing.

We don’t need someone “watching the internet” during elections anymore, that’s clear. But we’re also now approaching a point where the most pressing — and let’s face it, interesting — technology stories shouldn’t be thought of as technology stories at all.

Case in point: the Edward Snowden revelations. A story broken, not by a technology writer, but by a civil rights specialist with a background in law.

Which makes a lot of sense. Snowden is a story about democracy, a political crisis, a threat to our human rights. It’s a debate about civil liberties, what it means to be “safe” from terrorism, and the ethics of whistleblowing.

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Chrome gets sharp after dumping 30-year-old Windows technology

IDG News Service

Google last week said that it was finally ditching a 30-year-old technology to display fonts on Web pages in its Chrome browser for Windows.

In an announcement Thursday about some of the notable changes in Chrome for version 37, which reached Google’s Beta build channel earlier that day, a software engineer said the preview relied on Microsoft’s DirectWrite technology.

“Chrome 37 adds support for DirectWrite, an API on Windows for clear, high-quality text rendering even on high-DPI displays,” said Emil Eklund in a July 17 blog post.

Microsoft introduced the DirectWrite API with Windows 7, which shipped in the fall of 2009, and back-ported the technology to Windows Vista Service Pack 2 (SP2) at the same time with what it called a Platform Update. Windows XP, the now-retired operating system — but one that still powers one-in-four personal computers worldwide — does not support DirectWrite.

Prior to the switch to DisplayWrite, Chrome used Microsoft’s Graphics Device Interface (GDI), which was a core component of Windows since the graphical user interface’s (GUI) debut in late 1985. Microsoft had been working on GDI for at least two years before that.

Chrome 36, the current version out of Google’s Stable build channel, continues to use GDI to render text on Windows.

Eklund said that DirectWrite had been a top user request for years: An entry in Chromium’s bug tracker — Chromium is the open-source project that feeds code to Chrome proper — about adding DirectWrite support to the browser was penned Oct. 22, 2009, the same day Windows 7 launched.

As far as a reason for the long stretch between that entry and DirectWrite support making it into Chrome, Eklund said, “The switch to DirectWrite … required extensive re-architecting and streamlining of Chrome’s font rendering engine.”

Much of that difficulty stemmed from the sandboxing — an anti-exploit and anti-crash technology — of Chrome’s rendering engine; it wasn’t until February of this year that developers reported on the bug tracker that they’d managed to get DirectWrite to work inside the sandbox.

Other browsers have long since adopted DirectWrite. Mozilla’s Firefox, for example, switched from GDI to DirectWrite with version 4, which debuted in March 2011. Microsoft’s own Internet Explorer (IE9) began using DirectWrite with IE9, which also shipped in March 2011.

DirectWrite was one of the reasons why Microsoft declined to add the then-powerhouse Windows XP to the list of supported editions for IE9, a move that made the company the first major browser developer to drop support for XP.

If all goes according to plan, DirectWrite support will reach the Stable edition of Chrome with version 37. Google does not hew to a set timetable to browser upgrades, as does Mozilla, but it typically rolls out a new version every six to eight weeks.

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Twitter and Facebook see a bright future for in-the-moment spending

IDG News Service

If you’re an impulse buyer trying to reform your ways, Facebook and Twitter are not on your side.

Both companies said Thursday they were working on new services to let their users either make purchases directly from their feeds or gain instant access to deals and promotions that can be redeemed in stores. It’s the latest display of competition heating up between the companies as they seek to add digital storefront real estate to their sites.

Why waste clicks getting to Amazon or eBay when you can have all your fun in between retweets or “likes”? Naturally, you might also retweet the advertiser’s promotion, which would make Twitter happy.

With Twitter, the technology comes courtesy of CardSpring, which Twittersaid it had acquired.

CardSpring lets software developers create offers inside their apps that users can add to their debit or credit cards. When the person makes a purchase in the store, the offer or discount is automatically applied.

The idea is that on Twitter, similar types of offers from businesses might appear in the stream. Twitter users could access the offers by providing their payment information to Twitter or some other processor. “We’re confident the CardSpring team and the technology they’ve built are a great fit with our philosophy regarding the best ways to bring in-the-moment commerce experiences to our users,” Twitter said in its announcement.

Twitter has already integrated some e-commerce functions to its site, such as by letting people add items to their Amazon carts by replying“#AmazonCart” to certain tweets. Twitter also has partnered with American Express to let card holders buy items by tweeting in a certain way. Those only work for users who synchronize their Twitter accounts with their Amazon or American Express accounts.

CardSpring’s technology could make for a more streamlined buying experience, maybe even one with a dedicated “buy” button. Previous reports have indicated Twitter might be looking in that direction.

Twitter did not say Thursday that such a button was coming. “We’ll have more information on our commerce direction in the future,” the company said.

A “buy” button for Facebook is definitely on the horizon. The company isnow testing a service to let users buy retail items directly from their news feeds or from a business’ page. There are only a few small and medium-sized businesses participating now. Facebook identified only one: Modify Watches, which makes interchangeable watches that the company says are “dope.”

Naturally, these e-commerce services could help Facebook and Twitter’s bottom lines by attracting vendors that want to connect with potential customers.

One barrier to their success could be people’s willingness to share their payment information with Facebook or Twitter. Facebook, in its announcement, said it built its feature with privacy in mind and that no payment information would be shared with other advertisers. People can also select whether they want to save their payment information for future purchases, Facebook said.

World Tech Update- July 24, 2014

IDG News Service

Coming up on WTU Facebook reports huge sales, Apple patents a smart watch and a space robot gets some updates.

 

What businesses need to know about Touch ID and iOS 8

CITEworld

Apple introduced Touch ID along with the iPhone 5s and iOS 7 last fall. At launch, the technology was limited to two purposes – acting as a shortcut for a user’s passcode to unlock the device, and acting as an alternative to a user’s Apple ID and password when making purchases from Apple’s iTunes Store, App Store, and iBookstore.

With iOS 8, Apple is expanding the capabilities of Touch ID significantly by giving developers the APIs needed to use Touch ID as an authentication/authorization method in third-party apps. This is a powerful expansion of the technology, and one that could be applied to a wide range of different types of apps.

It’s easy to see the value of Touch ID in mobile commerce apps, as well as in mobile banking apps - PayPal was one of the first companies to express an interest in integrating Touch ID into its app and services. Password managers like 1Password from Agilebits are also prime uses for the technology. Apps that store confidential or sensitive information — like health and medical apps — can also benefit from integrating Touch ID.

Business and productivity apps, especially those designed to provide secure access to a company’s corporate resources and cloud services, are also areas where Touch ID could be implemented. That raises questions for IT leaders in many organizations to ask themselves:

  • Is it a good idea to build Touch ID into our internal apps?
  • Should we allow, encourage, or support Touch ID in apps from cloud storage and collaboration vendors?
  • Are there reasons to avoid Touch ID, either in enterprise or third-party apps?

Given that it seems almost certain that Apple will expand the well-received TouchID to any additional iOS devices launching later this year, these aren’t hypothetical questions. They’re questions that organizations will likely face as soon as Apple releases iOS 8 this fall.

Touch ID and the Secure Enclave

At a hardware level, Touch ID includes two primary components: Touch ID Sensor, the fingerprint scanner built into the device’s home button, and the Secure Enclave, a coprocessor that is integrated into Apple’s A7 chip. The Secure Enclave is connected to the Touch ID Sensor and is responsible for processing fingerprint scans. Each Secure Enclave has a unique identity (UID) provisioned during the A7′s fabrication process that cannot be accessed by other iOS components, and that is unknown even to Apple.

Touch ID is actually just one function of the Secure Enclave. Additional functions like cryptographic protection for data protection key management were identified in the iOS Security Guide that Apple released in February. Additional details were discussed during the Keychain and Authentication with Touch ID session at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference last month, which can be streamedfrom Apple’s developer site (and a PDF of the presentation slides from the session is also available). Going forward, it seems clear that the Secure Enclave will be a key part of iOS security functions, beyond merely handling fingerprint identification.

It’s also worth mentioning that although the Touch ID Sensor is currently only available on the iPhone 5s, the additional functionality of the Secure Enclave is built into any iOS device with an A7 chip, which currently includes the iPad Air, iPad mini with Retina Display in addition to the iPhone 5c, opening the door for more security features down the line.

Touch ID and a user’s passcode

Apple hasn’t envisioned Touch ID as a standalone biometric authentication system (or part of a multi-factor authentication solution). That means that it isn’t a replacement for a passcode. An iPhone 5s user must supply a passcode to enable Touch ID and once enabled, Touch ID is effectively a shortcut or pointer to a passcode.

The value that Touch ID offers is that it boasts the benefits of a complex passcode without the hassle of typing it dozens or hundreds of times a day – it makes a complex passcode easier to use.

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Combining the Flexibility of Public-Cloud Apps with the Security of Private-Cloud Data White Paper

CITEworld

Cloud applications are a priority for every business – the technology is flexible, easy-to-use, and offers compelling economic benefits to the enterprise. The challenge is that cloud applications increase the potential for corporate data to leak, raising compliance and security concerns for IT. A primary security concern facing organizations moving to the cloud is how to secure and control access to data saved in cloud applications.

This white paper explores technologies that combine the flexibility of public cloud apps like Salesforce and Box, with the security and compliance of a private cloud. When deployed as part of an end-to-end data protection program, such an approach can provide the same security and assurances as can be achieved with premises-based applications.

Comprehensive Data Protection in the Cloud

In today’s business, IT may no longer own or manage the apps, the devices, or the underlying network infrastructure, yet is still responsible for securing sensitive corporate data. While cloud application vendors secure their infrastructure, the security of the data remains the responsibility of the customer using the application. A comprehensive approach to data security in cloud environments covers the full lifecycle of data in an organization—in the cloud, on the device, and at the point of access.

•In the Cloud—Most cloud apps don’t encrypt data-at-rest, and those that do encrypt manage the keys themselves. For organizations in regulated industries and/or with sensitive data stored in these apps, the ability to maintain confidentiality of corporate data remains unsolved.

•At Access—Cloud apps provide limited access control, data leakage prevention, and visibility when compared with applications hosted on premises. This makes it difficult to control who, what, where, and when employees access cloud applications.

•On the Device—Since cloud applications can be accessed from any device, anywhere, a comprehensive security solution should include protection for cloud application data on client devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones.

Click here to view the full white paper

 

Wall Street Beat: Transition to mobile, cloud hits tech earnings

IDG News Service

With Google, IBM, SAP, Intel and other tech titans reporting earnings this week, the focus is again on mobile and cloud technology. The general trend appears to be that the further a tech vendor has moved away from its legacy desktop-oriented products, the better its earnings are.

IBM has launched ambitious cloud and mobile initiatives—but the resulting products are not quite fully baked. IBM officials themselves acknowledge as much, with IBM CEO Ginni Rometty talking about “positioning ourselves for growth over the long term” in the company’s earnings release Thursday.

Earlier this year, IBM announced a global competition to encourage developers to create mobile consumer and business apps powered by its Watson supercomputer platform. Just this week, IBM and Apple said they are teaming up to create business apps for Apple’s mobile phones and tablets.

But such projects have a ways to go before they reach fruition. Meanwhile, IBM revenue growth is flagging. Its second-quarter revenue was US$24.4 billion, down 2 percent year over year. Profit jumped 28 percent year over year, to $4.1 billion, but that was mainly because it compares to a quarter when net earnings were unusually low due to a billion-dollar charge the company took for workforce rebalancing.

Though both revenue and profit beat analyst forecasts, at first blush investors appeared disappointed, driving down IBM’s share price overnight. IBM shares gained back ground Friday but in early afternoon trading were still down by $0.60 at $191.89.

SAP seems to be riding the transition to cloud while incrementally boosting revenue. The company Thursday reported that, though software revenue continued to decline, cloud-based sales rose.

The maker of ERP (enterprise-resource-planning) software reported that revenue rose by 2 percent year over year to €4.2 billion (US$5.7 billion) in the quarter. SAP’s cloud subscription and support revenue was €241 million in the quarter, up 52 percent. Due to provisions for its patent dispute with software maker Versata, however, its net profit dropped year on year by 23 percent to €556 million.

As usual, Google was the earnings star of the week, reporting Thursday that its core advertising business fueled a 22 percent year-over-year increase in sales, to $15.96 billion. Profit was $3.42 billion, up almost 6 percent year over year.

It’s hard to say how much of this is due to mobile, since Google does not break out numbers for mobile and desktop ads. However, Google has been working on a range of projects designed to get its software on mobile devices. Many of those projects are years away from contributing significantly to the company’s bottom line, so for now the company essentially runs on its tremendous ad business.

One issue is that ads on mobile devices cost less than ads for other platforms and as a result, even as the company successfully makes the transition to mobile, the average cost-per-click of its ads went down by about 7 percent last quarter. Google officials say that as mobile computing becomes more imbued with work and recreation, ads on mobile platforms will become more remunerative.

Investors seem to agree, as Google shares rose Friday by $21.09 to hit $601.90 in afternoon trading.

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Report: Samsung and Google Butt Heads Over Smartwatches

Mashable

Are Google and Samsung fighting over Tizen’s role in wearables? According to a new report, the answer is yes.

According to The Information, Google CEO Larry Page met with Samsung Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee at the Allen & Co. conference in Sun Valley. The purpose of the meeting? To discuss Samsung’s plans for wearables.

Evidently, the meeting wasn’t a success. The report reveals Page was unhappy to hear that Samsung still plans to focus most of its wearable efforts on its own Tizen operating system rather than giving more support to Android Wear.

Although Samsung has made a smartwatch that runs Android Wear — the Gear Live — the bulk of its smartwatch efforts are focused on Tizen.

Google and Samsung have a decidedly complicated relationship. Samsung is the most successful Android OEM by a large margin. As a result, Samsung wants to be able to differentiate and customize its experience. Sometimes, however, things go too far. In January, Samsung agreed totone down the extent to which it customizes Android’s user interface. Still, that hasn’t stopped Samsung from creating its own app store and doing its part to maintain the Galaxy branding.

With wearables, the situation becomes even more complex, because Samsung is essentially selling two competing devices. The Gear 2 smartwatch runs Samsung’s own software and works only with Galaxy smartphones. The Gear Live, on the other hand, has to follow Google’s rules and will work with any Android 4.3 or higher device — even if it’s made by someone other than Samsung.

The wearable market — especially the smartwatch part of it — is still new enough to allow Samsung to support both platforms. Assuming the smartwatch truly does go mainstream, however, Samsung may have to choose a platform and commit to it. For Google, the question then becomes, what does it need to do to keep its most important partner committed, without ceding control of its platform.

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One in ten digital ads is fake

Warc

More than one in ten ad impressions is fraudulent, but fraud rates vary widely between verticals and reflect their media buying preferences, according to a new report.

The Q2 2014 Media Quality Report from Integral Ad Science, the digital advertising intelligence business, was based on information from the ad tech companies, exchanges and agencies it works with. It found that, overall, 11.5% of ad impressions were fraudulent.

Technology and retail companies suffered from the largest amount of fraud, 17% and 14% respectively, while consumer packaged goods (6%) and telecoms (6%) were least affected. The report suggested the difference was attributable to the ways in which the various verticals bought media.

Those with lower fraud rates were more likely to buy directly from publishers, where just 3.5% of impressions were fake. Higher fraud rates were evident on exchanges (16.5%) and ad networks (10.5%).

“Certainly the direct-response-type advertisers or verticals will look to leverage as much scale as they can,” David Hahn, Integral’s SVP of product, told Ad Exchanger. “That introduces some of the additional risks you might not find if you’re doing smaller scale campaigns purely on publisher direct.”

Other verticals afflicted with higher rates of fraud included automotive (12%), fashion (12%) and education (11.5%).

A mid-range group was comprised of entertainment (8%), pharmaceuticals (9%), insurance (10%), travel 11% and finance (11%). Others at the lower end included quick-service restaurants (6.5%) and energy (7.5%).

As well as fraud, Integral looked at related issues such as viewability and brand safety. Once again buying direct from publishers yielded the best results: more than half (55.5%) of inventory purchased this way was regarded as viewable, while ad networks (45.9%) and exchanges (45.3%) performed less well.

Similarly, buying direct was more likely to produce brand-safe inventory. Just 6.2% of inventory here was classified with a moderate to very high risk, far less than exchanges (9.6%) and ad networks (10.1%).

The report had found no significant change in brand safety levels, but said risky impressions most often landed on adult content (41.8%), reflecting the sheer volume of such material on the web and the traffic it receives.

Sites about drugs (17%), hate speech (13.9%) and illegal downloads (13.4%) were also flagged as high-risk locations.