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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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Events can help media companies balance uneven revenue streams

INMA

When we discuss the direction of the news media industry revenue streams on either a macro or micro level, two predominant revenue streams head to the top of the charts. Traditional print still is king at most news media companies, with online/mobile building momentum in most corners of the globe.

While both of those are and will remain critical to our long-term survival, let me offer a potential third leg of that three-legged revenue stool we all seek: events.

News media companies have dabbled in the events arena for quite some time, but with limited success because they often focus on events not destined to create any significant financial windfall. Cooking shows, for example. Or community events such as runs, concerts, and so forth, which are great for local support and exposure, but offer little in the way of significant financial return.

The return on investment falls far short of what the industry has grown to expect from print and even online ventures. And so the full value and revenue potential of event sponsorship for media companies has become clouded and jaded.

But there is money to be made from events, when handled the right way.

Most event experts say two of the largest expenses are the cost of a venue, and event marketing — two areas media companies excel in. They are well-positioned to pull off their own events and eliminate much of the traditional cost associated with these events, due to their expertise in the above key areas.

Marathons and half-marathons as well as triathlons have been known to make tens of thousands of dollars in profits. Concerts and motivational speakers can do the same. Home shows, garden shows, outdoor shows, fishing or golf tournaments — all still can rake in dollars in a big way.

Bear in mind, every one of these events that enters your market without your involvement does, in fact, impact your bottom line. They can extract valuable dollars from potential advertisers, customers, etc. All of those dollars will no longer be circulating throughout your community.

Factor in the compounding value of a dollar either entering or leaving your community and the impact is significant. For every dollar that leaves your community, you can compound that into five or six dollars subtracted from the community.

You can bet some of those are out of your revenue streams.

Much like a stool that needs three or four legs upon which to stand in a balanced fashion, media companies need more than two revenue legs on which to balance their long-term survival.

Embracing events can add a third leg to the revenue mix (or stool) with little risk and a great upside. You don’t need to hire all new staff; you can dabble in the event arena with the employees you currently have and see how the operation goes.

The key with events, just as with print and/or online and mobile, is to have someone passionate about growing that segment of the balance sheet. It won’t happen by itself. It doesn’t take a whole team of passionate employees. All you need is one employee who is motivated financially and the magic begins.

You won’t be alone. Other media companies are starting to find the magic of events — and turning it into significant revenues in short order.

China has more people going online with a mobile device than a PC

Reuters

The number of China’s internet users going online with a mobile device – such as a smartphone or tablet – has overtaken those doing so with a personal computer (PC) for the first time, said the official China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) on Monday.

China’s total number of internet users crept up 2.3 percent to 632 million by the end of June, from 618 million at the end of 2013, said CNNIC’s internet development statistics report.

Of those, 527 million – or 83 percent – went online via mobile. Those doing so with a PC made up 81 percent the total.

China is the largest smartphone market in the world, and by 2018 is likely to account for nearly one-third of the expected 1.8 billion smartphones shipped that year, according to data firm IDC.

The increase in internet users was mainly driven by mobile, which grew 5.4 percent from the 500 million users at the end of 2013. The number of mobile shoppers surged 42 percent from December through June.

Chinese e-commerce is dominated by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd [IPO-BABA.N], which is preparing for a mammoth initial public offering widely expected to take place in September.

Alibaba’s biggest competitor is JD.com Inc, which specializes in business-to-customer e-commerce in a similar vein to Amazon.com Inc, and is 17.6 percent owned by Alibaba arch-rival Tencent Holdings Ltd.

Other online mobile services with rapid growth from the end of 2013 include music, video,gaming, search, and group-buying, all of which experienced double-digit increases.

The fastest growing services were mobile payment, where users shot up 63.4 percent, online banking, with a 56.4 percent rise, and mobile travel booking, which was up 65.4 percent.

But not all internet activity saw growth. Users of microblogs such as Tencent Weibo and that offered by Weibo Corp fell for the second six-month period in a row, by 1.9 percent to 275 million.

They numbered 331 million at the end of June last year before the government in September started clamping down on “online rumors” which it said threatened social stability.

Blockbuster mobile messaging apps such as Tencent’s WeChat have since become venues of choice for users who want to express views without fear of retribution.

Surface survives Microsoft cuts, but tablet strategy remains muddled

IDG News Service

As Microsoft announced its largest layoffs in its 39-year history — while saying it would press forward with its in-house Surface — analysts contended that the firm still hasn’t clearly stated its tablet strategy.

Earlier today, Microsoft said it would cut up to 18,000 jobs, or 14% of its work force, with the bulk of those layoffs coming from streamlining efforts after acquiring much of phone-maker Nokia.

The layoffs begin immediately, but as many as 5,000 will be left on tenterhooks for up to a year before knowing whether their jobs are safe.

Along with the layoffs, Microsoft also signaled an end to its experiment with Android, which powered the Nokia X series of smartphones. Nokia had kicked off the line prior to the deal’s completion.

“We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows,” CEO Satya Nadella said in a message to employees.

Surface, the tablet-one-moment-notebook-the-next hardware that Microsoft debuted two years ago, will survive, the company made clear.

“With a set of changes already implemented earlier this year in these teams, this means there will be limited change for the Surface, Xbox hardware, PPI/meetings or next generation teams,” wrote Stephen Elop, the head of Microsoft’s device division, in a separate, much longer email to workers.

Nor, apparently, has Microsoft’s Surface strategy changed.

“More broadly across the Devices team, we will continue our efforts to bring iconic tablets to market in ways that complement our OEM partners, power the next generation of meetings [and] devices, and thoughtfully expand Windows with new interaction models,” Elop said.

While some on Wall Street have urged Microsoft to dump the Surface — and the Xbox for that matter — to focus on more profitable services and software, industry analysts contacted by Computerworld today weren’t surprised that the tablet/notebook survived the cuts.

“I’m not surprised that Microsoft is keeping Surface,” said Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, in an email today. “While it doesn’t fit 100% with ‘mobility and cloud,’ it’s close enough to keep it as it supports them driving their expanded definition of productivity by tying hardware, software and services.”

Others agreed.

“No, I didn’t think that they’d dump it,” echoed Wes Miller of Directions on Microsoft, a Kirkland, Wash. research firm that focuses on the moves of nearby Microsoft. “Some people thought Microsoft would use this opportunity to ax the Surface, but it’s a big long-term bet for them. And the Surface Pro 3 sure seems to be a lot more popular than the earlier models.”

Microsoft started selling the third-generation Surface Pro 3 – an Intel processor-powered device that runs Windows 8.1 — last month, and will finish rolling out the line in two weeks. The Surface Pro 3 starts at $799, but costs $929 with a keyboard, a necessary add-on to fit the notebook replacement role that Microsoft markets.

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Coming soon to Facebook: Video ads that follow you from device to device

VentureBeat

Advertisers on Facebook see the emerging method of sequential mobile advertising as a way to better control their branding message with consumers on social media.

Sequential video advertising allows marketers to place targeted video ads in front of a user when they click an ad on their mobile device. Based on what the person clicks, and what the product or message is, marketers are then able to follow up with similar video ads as they hop from one device to another.

By creating a sequence of targeted ads, marketers can build up a pitch from one video to the next — starting with a “pitch” video and ending with a “sell” video intended to close the sale.

VentureBeat spoke to two sources who requested their names not be used because the information they were describing was based in conversations with Facebook executives.

“Video is where its going,” an advertising executive who works with Facebook told VentureBeat. “With unique profile IDs, you have the ability to better sequentially target content for users as they embark on their journey through the social media funnel.”

The same executive added: “Sequential video advertisers gives marketers the ability to place different messages that can build upon each other. This gives you greater control over the delivery of your message.”

Another mobile executive who works with Facebook told VentureBeat that advertisers want to better control, and deploy, product messages. But they are content, for now, in permitting Facebook and others obtain user data to target their ads.

For its part, Facebook uses a combination of its own in-house analytics and partners for the task of ad targeting.

Facebook is able to amass tremendous amounts of user data based on information contained in in its users’ profiles as well as their activity. That includes information on who you interact with and where you like to shop, for example. That data is gold to advertisers, keen to take advantage of Facebook’s 1.2 billion users.

“The writing is on the wall. Sequentially targeted ads are hugely efficient and ultimately cost effective. They have greater relevance for advertisers and better targeting,” said the second source, who has knowledge of Facebook’s mobile ad strategy.

“Anecdotally, it’s very promising. Facebook is putting a lot of effort into it,” the same source added.

Indeed, Facebook bought the video advertising outfit Liverail for an undisclosed sum earlier this month. Liverail’s technology optimizes video ad deliveries for mobile devices utilizing bidding and proprietary data. Liverail was considering an IPO this year but threw in its lot with Facebook instead, media reports said.

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Extra! Extra! Read All About It (via Mobile)!

eMarketer

When it comes to magazine ads, reader recall is the same for print and tablet versions (52%), according to data released earlier this month by GfK MRI Starch Advertising Research. And based on May 2014 polling by IDG Global Solutions, magazines better hope this is true across all mobile devices—and newspapers should cross their fingers even more.

176330 Extra! Extra! Read All About It (via Mobile)!

The research found that among smartphone and tablet users worldwide whose devices had replaced other media, print newspapers saw the most abandonment, with 50% of tablet owners switching over to mobile news, and 41% of smartphone users doing the same. Print magazines followed: 47% of tablet-toting respondents had replaced them with a digital screen, and 33% of smartphone owners had moved their magazine reading to their phones.

These patterns were the same no matter a user’s age, though replacing traditional media with mobile was slightly more common among younger respondents. Users were less likely to have replaced other digital devices and TVs with a tablet or smartphone, and as a result, the majority multi-screened. Around three in five respondents from both groups used their mobile devices as they used other screens, and again, age didn’t play a huge role.

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Digital marketing budgets will grow

Warc

More than three-quarters of senior marketers in Asia-Pacific think digital, mobile and analytics will change the face of the industry over the next five years, a recent survey has revealed.

According to the regional segment of Accenture’s global study of 600 CMOs in 11 countries, 39% of its 180 APAC participants also expect spending on digital to account for over 75% of their marketing budgets over the same period.

But even though another 42% forecast that their marketing spend on digital will increase by more than 5% next year, only 23% expect their company to be known as a digital business within five years, Campaign Asia reported.

This prompted Accenture to warn industry practitioners that they need to embrace digital in order to survive.

“To be part of the enterprise digital transformation that every business needs to undertake for survival, CMOs need to extend their vision of marketing and its scope,” the report said.

Patricio De Matteis, managing director of Accenture Interactive for APAC, urged marketers to make best use of digital opportunities while also taking account of the customer experience.

“Senior marketing executives are well positioned to assume this role because the opportunities, as well as the potential, lie in the customer, the brand, the interface with the customer and how the customer is empowered,” he said.

He noted that an increasing number of companies are now hiring staff specifically to manage the customer experience and said “the key to success” is in developing an effective omnichannel experience.

This would appear to be an area requiring improvement because nearly three-quarters (73%) of the survey respondents believe it’s “essential” to deliver an effective customer experience, yet only 61% think their company is doing this well.

US mobile e-commerce grows 19-fold

Warc

Mobile e-commerce sales in the US grew from $2.2bn in 2010 to $42.8bn in 2013 and are expected to increase to $50bn by the end of this year, new analysis has shown.

According to e-marketing services provider Custora, that represented growth of 1,875% from 2010 to 2013 while adding that the first quarter of 2014 alone generated $12.2bn in mobile e-commerce sales.

It found direct traffic was the primary driver of mobile phone e-commerce purchases (32.9%) while email marketing drove 26.7% compared to only 20.9% on desktop and 23.1% on tablet.

Organic search accounted for 16%, but social media accounted for less than 1% of mobile orders (0.6% via mobile phones and 0.2% via tablets).

Over a third (37%) of online store visits came via mobile devices by the end of Q1 2014, Custora said, up from 3.4% at the beginning of 2010.

Its analysis – based on over 70m consumers, 100 internet retailers and $10bn in transaction revenue – clearly outlined the growth of mobile, but also showed purchases via a desktop dominated conversation rates, Marketing Land reported.

From January 2013 to March 2014, desktops recorded an average e-commerce conversion rate of 4.3% compared to 2.8% for tablets and 1.4% for mobile phones.

Interestingly, Custora also found online consumers prefer to make their first purchase on a desktop, only moving to a mobile device for repeat purchases after establishing trust with the retailer.

Elsewhere, the study found only 12% of consumers used multiple devices to shop in Q1 2014, although the number doing so has tripled since 2012.

In order to reach these multi-device users, Custora CEO Corey Pierson advised brands to segment them according to the devices they use, Internet Retailer reported.

“The fastest-growing retail brands segment their customer bases and know that different customer segments have unique device preferences, which often translate to varied product category preferences and specific purchasing patterns,” he said.

Delay Of Large iPhone Is The Best Possible News For Samsung

Business Insider

Until yesterday, Samsung’s worst nightmare was coming true.

Sales are down 10%, in large part because cheap Chinese Android knockoffs are cannibalizing the low end of Samsung’s mobile-phone shares. Apple’s sales are accelerating while Samsung’s are faltering. And Samsung’s one advantage over Apple — the fact that it offers two large-screen phones in the high-end market where Apple has none — is about to be wiped out by Apple’s new iPhone 6 phablet, expected in September.

And some consumers are likely holding off on buying large-screen phones as they wait to see what Apple will unveil in its fall launch. Samsung has cut its orders for parts for its Galaxy line in Q3 2014.

In short, Apple had Samsung exactly where it wants it: Losing sales, poised to lose share, and with consumers hesitant about buying a new Samsung until they see what iPhone 6 looks like.

But then last night we learned that Apple may not, after all, have a 5.5 inch version of the iPhone 6 ready to go. The 4.7-inch version is still coming, but the super-size iPhone 6 looks like it’s on hold.

As the comparison chart above showing the iPhone lineup next to Samsung’s products tells, a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 (reportedly is ready for launch) is only a tad larger than the iPhone 5S. It’s significantly smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3. If Apple only launches a 4.7-inch iPhone 6 in September, then Samsung will remain as the premier phablet maker for people who want large screens.

Apple was poised to deliver a killer blow to Samsung. But now it seems Samsung has gotten a reprieve.

The 5.5-inch iPhone 6 is delayed because it is turning out to be harder to manufacture because of touch-sensitivity issues near the edge of the phone. The phablet iPhone 6 may not arrive until next year, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. That explains why, for months, we’ve been seeing leaked iPhone 6 parts for a 4.7-inch phone but not a 5.5-inch phone.

This, basically, is the best news Samsung could have hoped to hear. It now has an extended window to persuade people who need to upgrade their phones that in fact, for maybe as much as the next six months, if you want a big phone you gotta go to Samsung — because Apple doesn’t have a really big phone.

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The Four Most Surprisingly Useful Features In iOS 8

Fast Company

It’s tempting to think of iOS 8 as a more polished version of iOS 7; when you first install the update, there’s no visual cue that anything is different. But iOS 8 packs a long list of new features, some of which we’re still digging up weeks later. But what else is really new and worthwhile here? After thoroughly testing out the new OS, there were four such features that really stuck out.

1) Audio Messaging

I’m not fond of dictating my texts, yet I find the new quick audio feature in Messages to be addictive.

Activated by holding down the microphone icon, the feature immediately starts recording an audio message, which is then sent by sliding your finger up on the screen. If you misspoke (or are having second thoughts about drunk voice-texting your ex) you can use the familiar leftward swipe gesture to delete it before it sends. I suspect that once people try it, the tap, hold, and flick-to-send routine will become familiar.

Sending audio text messages isn’t for every situation–it’s still awkward to dictate messages while standing in line at Chipotle–but there are a lot of lazy situations in which it’s perfect. I found using it around the house, audio being a lot more convenient when doing chores. And because it doesn’t transcribe the note into text like Siri, there’s no need to correct spelling, which is especially nice when you’re behind the wheel.

2) Predictive Texting

Making texting even easier is the predictive text capabilities of the new keyboard. It’s one of the most noticeable new additions, thanks to the hard-to-miss row of words it appends right above the keyboard.

The QuickType feature–which lets you a few letters and tapping a word, typing a few more letters and selecting another–is a toss-up. Some might like it, while others might ignore it in favor of the way they’ve always typed on iOS. The place really comes in handy, however, is when replying to incoming messages.

For example, my wife sent me a few questions from the store and instead of having to type the answers, the choices were pre-populated. For the times messages are utilitarian in nature, the predictive text will be your best friend. Answering questions will be a delight, plus the predictive element learns how you speak to different contacts and tailors the responses accordingly. In this regard, messaging with iOS 7 will feel like a huge chore once you’ve used iOS 8.

3) Better App Store

After six years the App Store has seen its fair share of criticism. It’s also pretty clear the App Store is too big too do a good job and make everyone happy. The updates made to it in iOS 8, however, are pretty nice.

Visually, icons are bigger and items are spaced a little better, but overall it remains similar. The biggest complaint–which Apple is trying to address–is discoverability. Third-party apps make the iPhone experience. In iOS 8, surfacing new apps in the App Store feels a lot easier.

Google’s Play store has a similar problem: Once you highlight dozens of apps in different ways, the results can be overwhelming for users. One way the iOS 8 App Store tries to change this is by making it easier to drill down into specific interests.

There’s a new “explore” button now which combines previous efforts into one area. Front and center under explore is apps “Popular Near Me,” while the categories underneath help to separate the sub-division out more. Tapping “Music,” for example, produced a long list including “Apps For Learning Music,” “Lyrics,” and “Radio.” All very different types of apps that still fall under the broad music category.

Another subtle, but helpful addition is under the search button. Without typing anything, the first thing you see is a list of trending searches. This has already proved useful, not to mention interesting. Revision: Once you search for something, the store displays a list of items related to your query, further improving app discovery.

The tweaks might seem small, but they could be enough to help people find apps they might not have otherwise.

4) Spotlight

Spotlight finally feels like it’s reached the level of maturity it was destined for since its introduction. Integrating things like App Store searches, iTunes music, nearby places, and news rounds out thesearch box nicely.

In practice, it’s the first time I feel like I have a go-to place on iOS to quickly type things and at least get close enough to what I’m looking for. I was concerned Safari had too many desktop metaphors to be a useful mobile browser, but in combination with Spotlight’s new capabilities, the two work well together.

Spotlight in iOS 7 often came up short, focusing mostly onlocal search. Now in iOS 8, if I search for an app I need, it doesn’t matter if it’s on the phone or not because Spotlight will find it on the app store if it’s not local. Same for music, it doesn’t matter if a song is in my library or not because searching will still find it in iTunes.

The important improvement in Spotlight is that I don’t have to think about whether I need to search online or locally on my phone because the two are much more intertwined now.

I’d still love to see more refinement and work on Spotlight going forward, but in practice it’s much more useful than it’s ever been before.

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