Samsung Accounted for a Third of Smartphone Sales Last Quarter, While Apple’s Share Fell

Samsung’s second-quarter smartphone shipments hit 76 million last quarter – up 56 percent from the prior year, and giving the company a 33 percent share of the global market.

china_smartphones

iStockphoto | aluxum

Apple, meanwhile, shipped 31.2 million iPhones, a 20 percent year-over-year rise, and good for second place worldwide. However, that trailed the overall smartphone industry, and meant that Apple’s market share fell to 14 percent – its lowest level since the second quarter of 2010, according to market research firm Strategy Analytics.

“The current iPhone portfolio is under-performing and Apple is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between rival 3-inch Android models at the low-end and 5-inch Android models at the high-end,” Strategy Analytics’ Neil Mawston said in a statement.

Overall, smartphone shipments hit 230 million for the second quarter, up 47 percent from a year earlier, and representing 59 percent of all mobile phones sold.

“The smartphone industry’s shipment growth rate, which is higher today than a year ago, is being driven by surging demand for 4G models in developed regions like the US and 3G models in emerging markets such as India,” Neil Shah, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Korea’s LG doubled shipments from a year earlier to 12.1 million units, enough to give it five percent global market share and the No. 3 spot, just ahead of China’s ZTE and Huawei, each of which shipped more than 11 million smartphones.

Activision to Buy Back Most of Vivendi’s Controlling Stake

Activision Blizzard Inc. said it has reached an agreement to buy back nearly $6 billion worth of Vivendi SA’s holding in the company, ending months of negotiations over the fate of the videogame giant.

Santa Monica, Calif.-based Activision said Thursday it will buy 429 million shares for about $13.60 per share, reducing Paris-based conglomerate Vivendi from being majority shareholder. Activision said it would fund the purchase with $1.2 billion in cash on hand from its domestic accounts and approximately $4.6 billion in debt financing from banks including J.P. Morgan and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

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MH17 investigators reach crash site two weeks after plane brought down

Convoy arrives in east Ukraine, with officials cordoning off zone as they search for bodies still believed to be missing

A large team of international investigators reached the crash site of Malaysian Airlines MH17 for the first time on Friday, more than two weeks after the plane was brought down over eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people on board.

A column of 101 people, including 21 observers from the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), 51 Dutch and 21 Australian police and investigators arrived at the site in more than a dozen vehicles and began trawling the fields around the crash site for human remains, debris and evidence.

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Securus’ eZoom GPS Helps Parents Keep Tabs on Their Teen Drivers

eZoom by Securus

July has the highest fatal car crash rate of any month in the year. Now that school’s out for the summer, it’s no surprise parents want to keep track of where their teen driver is and whether they got where they’re going safely – especially considering the teen accident rate is 2.7 times higher than all drivers.

If you want to help keep tabs on your teen driver, a new product called eZoom from Securus can help. eZoom is a small, portable GPS device that lets parents quickly locate their teens and monitor curfews.

eZoom offers real-time tracking 24/7 through the web, a mobile app or text message. It also lets you set up SafeSpots and receive alerts when your teen arrives at (or leaves) different places throughout the day. It even features an “SOS button” that sends you your teen’s location by email and text.

To learn more about eZoom, head over to Securus’ website today.

How Technology is Changing American Business Practices

The Technology of Business

Businesses that once relied exclusively on face-to-face, physical communication are turning to digital technology to make their services more accessible to customers. From small retail storefronts to medical professionals to technology firms that host client operations in the cloud, it’s difficult to find any business not using digital technology to communicate with their audiences.

The interactivity of mobile applications, websites and other technology holds too much potential for businesses to ignore.

Business in the Cloud

The cloud is a virtual space to share and store information. A host of companies provide cloud infrastructure and management services for businesses, and customer interaction management services like Zipwire are becoming more popular for small- and medium-sized companies. Using the cloud to hold and secure company communications is a major benefit, considering that many companies either lack the information technology acumen or staff to handle it themselves. Using the cloud helps reduce the stress on internal IT systems and saves from overspending on IT maintenance.

Doctors See the Benefit of Online

Anyone who’s struggled to find a doctor or book an appointment needs to know about ZocDoc. The free online healthcare-booking company developed mobile applications that let patients search for doctors and book appointments from the palm of their hand.

ZocDoc also lets patients register ahead of time to save time filling out a half-hour’s worth of forms at the office. The app aggregates available appointments from thousands of doctor’s offices, identifying slots that become available due to cancellations. Some users say they’ve been able to book an appointment, map themselves to the office and walk right into their appointment.

ZocDoc claims its objective is to provide easier access to qualified doctors, reviews of medical practices, wellness advice, and information about how people can maximize their healthcare benefits. Not sure if the doctor accepts your insurance? ZocDoc solves that problem, too.

Drones for Delivery

A bag of fresh socks. A couple of paperback books. A chew toy for the dog. In the era of online shopping, not everything needs lengthy shipping schedules or visits to the post office. Why bother, when a robot can deliver it for you?

Amazon, Google and UPS are among the companies that have announced plans to develop door-to-door drone delivery services. The idea is to use small unmanned aircrafts, about the size of a toy helicopter, to deliver small items from shipping centers directly to customers’ homes or businesses.

In some metro areas, it’s completely possible, especially with America’s appetite for instant online shopping gratification. Amazon unveiled its plans for AmazonAir in December, though it hasn’t yet been launched. It will soon.

It’s not “A Brave New World.” This is the business world we live in today.

PriceBlink Ensures You Score the Lowest Prices When Shopping Online

PriceBlink

Did you know that where you live – and what sites you visit – can affect the price you pay when shopping online? Retail sites are tailored to swap out prices, modify wording and change up products based on your history, without you knowing.

PriceBlink, a free browser add-on, can help. PriceBlink acts like a online personal shopping assistant that automatically helps you find the lowest possible price for whatever you want to buy. It offers three main functions:

  1. Price Comparison: If you can purchase that very same product on another site for less, PriceBlink lets you know.
  2. Coupon alerts: If the site you’re on offers any coupon codes, free shipping, or any other deals, PriceBlink lets you know.
  3. User Reviews: If the site you’re on doesn’t have any user ratings/reviews for the product you’re looking for, but the same product is reviewed on other sites, PriceBlink lets you know.

PriceBlink is a free download that, on average, saves users 15-20 percent every time they shop at one of the more than 6,000 compatible websites. See how it works in the video below, then download it today.

A Facebook (iPad) Update Turns the App Into an Entertainment Hub

Facebook iPad Update

Over 70 percent of people who use Facebook for iPad played a Facebook-connected game in the past 90 days, so the company is helping them discover or re-engage with games through a new home page sidebar it starts testing today on its iPad app. It includes social notifications for native mobile and Facebook web games you already play, video trailers for games you don’t, plus Trending news articles and Trending videos popular with your demographic. The growth opportunities could entice more developers to integrate Facebook into their games, and Facebook plans to eventually sell ads for games in this space. By filling the extra screen space with what tablet users love, Facebook hopes its home on iPad can become a more essential part of people’s live…even if that means bouncing them into other apps or showing them YouTube videos.

Read the full story at TechCrunch.

Apple Takes Home Three Brand of the Year Awards

apple_crown

Here’s an achievement certain to be trotted out at Apple’s next big media event. Harris Interactive on Thursday declared the company the top U.S. brand across a trio of consumer electronics categories – the only three in which it’s rated.

According to Harris Interactive’s 2013 EquiTrend survey, which polls some 38,000 U.S. consumers about their brand preferences, Apple dominated not only the tablet segment, but the mobile phone and computer segments, as well.

Quite the hat trick, and one Apple has pulled off for two years running now, beating out some serious competition. In the computer category, Apple bested Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sony; in the tablet category, it surpassed Amazon, Google and Samsung; and in the mobile phone segment, it beat HTC, Samsung and LG.

Said Harris Interactive senior VP Manny Flores, “… What really stands out is that in all three of the categories Apple brands are measured – Computer, Tablet and Mobile Phone – its Brand Momentum scores are in the top 30 of all 1,500 brands evaluated in the study.”

And that’s worth noting. Harris Interactive’s Brand Momentum category measures – among other things – ubiquity, future outlook, leadership and popularity. In the eyes of U.S. consumers, Apple clearly meets its brand promise.

Yet Another Way to Get a Super-Cheap Web TV Box

now tv

What’s that? You say you’re intrigued by the notion of a Web TV box, but $35 for a Google Chromecast is too rich for your blood?

Here you go – if you live in the U.K.: Satellite TV service BSkyB has rolled out a Web TV box for 9.99.

That works out to about $15, and what that gets you is essentially a rebranded Roku HD box – BSkyB invested in Roku last year, and once again this spring – tailored to support BSkyB’s Now TV streaming subscription service. That also means that the box won’t support BSkyB rivals Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.

You can see more specs and details here, but the big picture is that this shows yet another approach to distributing Web-to-TV hardware: Rather than have consumers buy the gadgets directly from the manufacturer, a programmer/distributor sells the box and subsidizes the cost.

Expect to see more of this in the future. For starters, note that Roku’s other investors include 21st Century Fox, Dish Network and Hearst, which owns both TV stations and stakes in TV networks including ESPN.

Meanwhile, Apple is in talks with Time Warner Cable about an Apple TV tie-up; for now, that deal doesn’t call for the cable operator to sell Apple’s boxes, but you could certainly imagine a pact where it does.

And remember that Amazon, which tried to buy Roku last year, has its own TV box in the works, which will be optimized for Amazon’s own video offerings.