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CES 2015 Coverage: The Latest Tech Stories

The International CES is a global consumer electronics and consumer technology tradeshow. It’s the largest of its kind in North America and takes place in Las Vegas January 6-9th. If you can’t attend make sure to follow our page with the latest updates on the innovative technology being featured.

Another year, and another CES is over. This year’s event featured every kind of gadget you could think of: Mini-PCs of varying shapes & sizes, personal Clouds and over-elaborate hard drives, questionable crowdfunded health gadgets and brain scanning things, expensive music players,microchips for smartcars, Bitcoin, weird hats and all sorts of 3D printers. There was also wearable tech for fitness freaks, fashionistas, animals and people who like modularity, as well as a whole range of VR/AR-based headsets on show: the Avegant Glyph, the Razer OSVR and the Seer fromCaputer Labs.

Announcements from the show included Intel’s promise to spend a hefty $300 million to increase diversity of its workforce, while BlackBerry is looking to muscle in on the Internet of Things andWearables. Also Iron Maiden’s mascot Eddie – the only guy bigger than Shaq – was in attendance.

Outside of CES, BlackBerry has teamed up with Boeing to create a “self-destructing” smartphone for spies. It probably won’t explode Mission Impossible-style, more likely just to wipe the device if need be.

View a slideshow of the 10 best business gadgets

ces smart board CES 2015 Coverage: The Latest Tech Stories

Smart home trends that took CES by storm

Front-facing Oculus Ocular Projection

Witricity’s wireless charging beams power through wood, stone, and even your head

OfficeIQ adds sensor intelligence to your standing desk

HomeKit Compatible iDevices Switch lets you control your house with Siri

For more videos and written reviews of CES exhibits, click here
Check out photos from IDG’s client appreciation party at the Stratosphere Hotel, Las Vegas: http://on.fb.me/1FQYdoj
For videos of volunteers jumping 108 stories off the Stratosphere Hotel in Las Vegas while being GoPro-ed, click here

The Mobile Web Isn’t Dead, IAB Says

Wall Street Journal

Recent reports have suggested the Web is dying. That’s largely because data from analytics firms including comScore and Flurry say mobile device users now spend more than 85% of their time in apps instead of Web browsers.

But according to the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade group for Web publishers, the relationship between mobile apps and the mobile Web isn’t that straightforward. It’s easy to look at comScore data and to reach the assumption the mobile Web is in decline, but what looks like app time may actually be mobile Web use in disguise, the online ad trade body said.

Many apps, including news aggregation and social media apps, include browser capabilities within them. If a user opens the Facebook FB -2.46% application and taps on a link, for example, they are technically operating within an application, but are actually consuming content from the mobile Web, too.

To understand users’ mobile Web habits better, the IAB commissioned Harris Poll to survey 2,030 adults in the U.S. in December, and found 52% of smartphone owners in that group said they click links within apps that take them to content on mobile websites. The research also found users actually value apps in part because they enable the discovery of webpages.

The IAB said it believes this type of mobile Web browsing inside non-browser applications represents a significant volume of traffic. In other words, mobile app use isn’t replacing mobile Web usage, it’s driving it.

Continue reading… 

Best of CES 2015: In pictures

CITEworld

The best and most noteworthy products and technologies found at CES 2015.

View them here

For videos of CES coverage, click here

Screen Shot 2015 01 08 at 12.55.28 PM Best of CES 2015: In pictures

The rise of China’s smartphone makers

CITEworld

After Apple and Samsung, which companies are selling the most smartphones around the globe?

If you guessed a growing group of Chinese smartphone manufacturers, you would be correct.

Most Americans know little about the emerging Chinese smartphone makers, let alone how to pronounce some of their names. Most of these handsets are unlikely to be seen in use by U.S. customers, at least for now.

Yet, these Chinese companies, with names like Huawei, Xiaomi, Coolpad, Lenovo, ZTE, and even Alcatel (which is now part of TCL Corp., a Chinese electronics company) are having a big impact both inside China and in emerging economies.

These companies mostly sell unlocked smartphones that run the Android mobile operating system. They usually charge much lower off-contract prices than Apple and Samsung, and they’re beginning to challenge some of the world’s traditional smartphone makers.

Globally, Huawei of Shenzhen, China, was the No. 3 smartphone maker in terms of revenue in the third quarter of 2014. Huawei was well behind Apple and Samsung, but in a virtual tie with LG Electronics of Seoul, South Korea, according to Infonetics Research.

2014 infonetics 3q14 smartphone vendor 100535906 large.idge The rise of Chinas smartphone makersInfonetics
While Apple and Samsung are still the smartphone sales leaders, Chinese vendors such as Huawei and Lenovo are growing in influence.

Meanwhile, market research firm IDC reported that newcomer Xiaomi, which is based in Beijing, shipped the third-most smartphones to retailers in the third quarter. Xiaomi was just ahead of Lenovo, also based in Beijing, which was in fourth place but virtually tied with LG. Xiaomi’s smartphone shipments jumped an amazing 211% year over year, reaching 17.3 million units, according to IDC.

Out of the top 17 smartphone makers globally in the third quarter, 10 were based in China, according to Strategy Analytics. Xiaomi ranked third in total production, and Huawei ranked fifth. The rest of the Chinese group in Strategy Analytics’ top 17 included Lenovo, ZTE, TCL Alcatel, Lenovo (formerly Motorola under Google), Coolpad, Oppo, Vivo, Micromax and Tionee.

“The Chinese vendors are absolutely having an impact on many smartphone brands that have to compete with low-cost Chinese smartphones,” said Ken Hyers, an analyst at Strategy Analytics.

“People in the U.S. don’t even know who these Chinese companies are,” added John Byrne, an analyst at Infonetics.

“I was just in China recently, and you see phones in use with labels I’m not even familiar with,” Byrne said. “It was an eye-opener. Especially in Asia, there’s a much larger variety of phones in use and not the duopoly of Samsung and Apple that we have in the U.S.”

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The state of native ads on mobile in 5 charts

Digiday

Mobile monetization is causing a big headache for publishers. While consumers spend more of their time on their devices, the platform isn’t getting a proportionate share of ad revenue:ad rates are nearly one-fifth what they are on desktop.

And while banner ads perform badly on small screens, native ads are showing promise as a way to get consumers’ attention on mobile devices. Consider Facebook’s experience with mobile: according to a study by Marin Software, click-through rates of Facebook’s mobile-only newsfeed ads are 187 percent higher on mobile than on desktop.

There are catches, of course. Native ads’ performance is driven by a lot of factors. Ads do better when they appear on article pages and blend in with the host publisher’s editorial style, but if they look too much like the surrounding editorial, they could turn readers off. Their formats aren’t standardized like banners are, which makes them harder to scale.

Here, then, are five things to know about the current state of native ads on mobile.

Polar, whose native ad platform is used by The Huffington Post, Condé Nast, Bloomberg and others, packaged up a set of benchmarks that show how the format is performing on mobile, tablet and desktop. Polar found that native ads do better on mobile than on desktop, where native ads have to compete with so many other elements for attention. However, mobile devices aren’t all created equal when it comes to native’s performance. Click-through rates are higher on smartphones than on the desktop and tablets, which is closer to the desktop experience than the smartphone.

That trend carries through to engagement. On average, time spent on native ads also is higher on smartphones than on tablets and desktop.

Polar also compared performance of mobile native ads in the content categories of finance, lifestyle and news. The click-through rate was highest in the news category, but time spent was lowest. Finance, meanwhile, had the lowest click-through rate but the longest time spent per ad. (Numbers are averages.)

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In 2015, Technology Shifts Accelerate and China Rules, IDC Predicts

NYT

In the year-end predictions game, most technology forecasts tend to be either blue sky or boring, flights of imagination or a firm grasp of the obvious.

For the last several years, IDC has published prediction reports that generally avoid the pitfalls of the genre, and offer a useful framework for thinking about the trajectory of trends in technology. The technology research firm’s predictions for 2015, published on Tuesday, come in a 17-page report that is rich in numbers and analysis.

Beyond the detail, a couple of larger themes stand out. First is China. Most of the reporting and commentary recently on the Chinese economy has been about its slowing growth and challenges.

“In information technology, it’s just the opposite,” Frank Gens, IDC’s chief analyst, said in an interview. “China has a roaring domestic market in technology.”

In 2015, IDC estimates that nearly 500 million smartphones will be sold in China, three times the number sold in the United States and about one third of global sales. Roughly 85 percent of the smartphones sold in China will be made by its domestic producers like Lenovo, Xiaomi, Huawei, ZTE and Coolpad.

The rising prowess of China’s homegrown smartphone makers will make it tougher on outsiders, as Samsung’s slowing growth and profits recently reflect.

More than 680 million people in China will be online next year, or 2.5 times the number in the United States. And the China numbers are poised to grow further, helped by its national initiative, the Broadband China Project, intended to give 95 percent of the country’s urban population access to high-speed broadband networks.

In all, China’s spending on information and communications technology will be more than $465 billion in 2015, a growth rate of 11 percent. The expansion of the China tech market will account for 43 percent of tech-sector growth worldwide.

Another theme in the IDC report is the quickening pace of the move from older technologies to new ones. Overall spending on technology and telecommunications, IDC estimates, will rise by a modest 3.8 percent in 2015. Yet the top-line numbers mask the trends beneath. IDC predicts there will be growth of 13 percent in what the research firm calls “3rd platform” technologies (cloud, mobile, social and big data). By contrast, older technologies will face a no-growth “near recession,” according to IDC, and “will shift fully into recession” by the second half of next year.

IDC’s 3rd platform is similar to what Gartner, another big research firm, has called a “nexus of forces” sweeping through the industry. (Gartner’s ingredients are virtually the same as IDC’s with slightly different labels — social interaction, mobility, cloud and information.) The 1st platform, in IDC’s taxonomy, was the mainframe era, running from the 1960s into the 1980s. The 2nd platform included personal computers and the Internet, and began in the 1980s and ran through the middle of the first decade of this century.

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What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy-Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out

Nieman Journalism Lab

Few weeks ago, we wrote about BuzzFeed’s hiring of Stacy-Marie Ishmael, formerly of the Financial Times, as the editorial lead for their forthcoming news app. Product leadNoah Chestnut, formerly of The New Republic, has been working on building a product that will serve news in a mobile context to core BuzzFeed News readers for a few months now.

stacy marie ishmael1 300x177 What’s the right news experience on a phone? Stacy Marie Ishmael and BuzzFeed are trying to figure it out

Ishmael helped start one of the FT’s first blogs, Alphaville, which allowed the paper to experiment with tone for the first time. Connecting with digital financial communities eventually inspired Ishmael to look into how the paper could build a deeper relationship with its readership offline. As vice president of communities, Ishmael worked closely with teams including FT Live, the events business of the FT which hosts some 200 conferences a year.

But BuzzFeed offers Ishmael the opportunity to explore an area she’s never taken on directly — general news. She’s been thinking a lot about ways to reach BuzzFeed’s audience on mobile, like push notifications, email newsletters, and Twitter cards. Both she and Chestnut want to find a way to predict users’ information needs without asking them to commit time to establishing preferences and to provide an overall delightful experience on par with Instagram or Tinder.

As Ishmael has been preparing to leave the FT, Chestnut has been busy building up a staff of developers and researching competitors. During that transition, I had the chance to talk with Ishmael about her plans for the app, including her own mobile media diet, management philosophy, and experience in audience development. Here’s a lightly edited version of our conversation.

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Video blogs, podcasts help marketers reach niche audiences on mobile

Mobile Marketer

NEW YORK – Video blogging and podcasting are experiencing rapid growth, with many consumers being reached via mobile, said a panel of podcasters and video bloggers at the ad:tech New York conference.

Because the mobile and Web video industry has seen a significant rise in the last several years, marketers and brands can effectively use those kinds of platforms to reach niche audiences. Videos and podcasts offer consumers control, which makes marketing appear more natural.

“Consumption has really gone mobile,” said Rob Walch, vice president of Podcaster Relations, Libsyn, Pittsburgh, PA. “More people are consuming now on mobile devices, and the media has become more aware of it.

“Podcasting is about consumers being able to consume the podcast when they want, how they want. Podcasting is the antithesis of streaming – you are in control.”

Tips for engagement
The way in which podcasts are being consumed has changed drastically in the past two years, with large numbers coming from mobile, said Mr. Walch. Video podcasts have decreased, with audio leading the way in building up listeners.

“Consumption has switched over to audio from the podcast side, and a lot of that has to do with people streaming from smartphones,” Mr. Walch said.

However, podcasters and video bloggers must be cognizant about which devices they are marketing towards. The iOS platform has over 500 million devices that have native-built podcast mobile applications, but Android does not.

“On the mobile side, it really is still an Apple world,” Mr. Walch said. “For podcasters, Apple is your friend. Google is not.”

Marketers seeking to use the podcast or video platforms should also make sure to keep the URLs simple, but unique for each show within the campaign.

Relevant marketing
Podcasters seeking to build a substantial fan base should ensure to focus on gaining listeners and followers rather than number of listens. Subscribers are also directly related to return on investment.

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The Davids are taking over the smartphone world

The Business Times

NEW data released by IDC on smartphone sales last week shows that there’s a new kid on the block. According to the research agency’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, in the third quarter of this year, Chinese phonemaker Xiaomi zoomed to the No 3 slot in the global list of top five smartphone makers in the world, behind Samsung (No 1) and Apple (No 2). The Chinese company sold 17.3 million units in the quarter for a 5.3 per cent market, pipping Lenovo (5.2 per cent) and LG (5.1 per cent) to the third spot.

It’s true that, as IDC notes, Xiaomi benefited from its focus on China and adjacent markets. This, coupled with innovative marketing, brought triple-digit year-on-year growth. But, as IDC notes again, it remains to be seen how quickly the company can move beyond its home territories to drive volumes higher.

Was this a fluke, one-off phenomenon?

No, expect more non-traditional brands in the Top 5. This is because the next billion smartphone users are not going to come from established and wealthy markets such as those in North America, Europe, Japan and pockets of Asia such as Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong. They will come from emerging markets such as India, China, Indonesia and Brazil. These markets are characterised by less brand loyalty and extreme price sensitivity.

Read on…

Jon Hook: Why Mobile Marketing Is Important

IDG GlobalSolutions Color Jon Hook: Why Mobile Marketing Is Important

We have asked the IDG Mobile Advisory Board why mobile marketing is crucial in the advertising mix. This is what John Hook, Head of Mobile at Mediacom International and Mediacom Beyond Advertising, said…

Mobile marketing offers us the ability to deliver data driven cross-screen advertising programmes like never before.  By 2018, 40% of all paid media in the UK will be on mobile, according to eMarketer, and it’s vital that we prepare ourselves for the opportunities this will bring.  In particular, how we are able to use data to ensure we build media programmes around user journeys. For example, as they seamlessly move between tablet to desktop, to mobile – do our media plans reflect this? How are we creating content that suits the screen they are on? And how we use this data to build attribution models that help us distribute our media channels that contribute and drive to purchase. Perhaps most importantly, mobile delivers brands’ accountability. We know (based on that person’s Device ID) not only who they are, but a lot of other personal information. Think about TV, OOH, print advertising – a lot of assumptions and unknowns with these channels. Where to start? Invest in your mobile infrastructure (ad serving/mobile sites/creative), plan effectively and embrace the mobile opportunity.

John Hook mobile quote short3 Jon Hook: Why Mobile Marketing Is Important

  • See what James Foulkes, Co-Founder of Kingpin Communications, says about mobile marketing…
  • See what Christopher Carmichael, Director of Media & Digital Marketing at HP, says about mobility for business…

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