All Articles Tagged "smartphones"

Everything Will be Alright: BlackBerry Pens Open Letter Reassuring Customers

October 17th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Don’t worry, says BlackBerry. The struggling Canadian company has written an open letter to customers saying it will not go out of business, reports The Los Angeles Times.

BlackBerry published an open letter as part of an all-out media campaign designed to ease nervous customers’ worries that the company will go under.

“These are no doubt challenging times for us and we don’t underestimate the situation or ignore the challenges,” the company wrote in the letter, which it posted on its website Monday. “We are making the difficult changes necessary to strengthen BlackBerry.”

The letter was also published in 30 newspapers around the world. In it,  BlackBerry says users have “no doubt seen the headlines” about the company. “And speaking of those dramatic headlines, it’s important that we set the record straight on a few things,” it said.

Customers have reason to wonder about the state of the company. There was recent news that BlackBerry had struck a tentative deal to be bought by a Canadian insurance company for $4.7 billion. “That led to a separate filing by BlackBerry’s co-founders, Mike Lazaridis and Douglas Fregin, that said the duo might finance their own takeover,” reports The Times.

And last month BlackBerry disclosed it planned to lay off about 4,500 employees, or about 40 percent of its workforce. It has been reeling over the loss of nearly $1 billion in its most recent quarter.

On top of this, Apple reportedly has been recruiting BlackBerry’s employees.

“Despite all that bad news, BlackBerry said in its letter that it has substantial cash on hand and a balance sheet that is debt free. It plans to restructure, with a goal to cut expenses 50%,” reports The Times. (Bit of a sidebar: See how important it is to be debt free! When the going gets tough, having no debt will keep you going.)

BlackBerry added that customers “can continue to trust us to keep your communication safe and private” and noted that it recognized iOS and Android devices have become more popular in the workplace. The company announced it was working on a solution to help businesses manage all the different platforms “seamlessly and securely.”

But the company knows it can’t please everybody.

“Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone,” the letter said. “That’s OK.”

14 Ways Your Smartphone Just Got Smarter

October 7th, 2013 - By Michelle Alerte
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Shutterstock

In this day and age we should only be surprised that our phones can’t beam us from one physical location to another. Our phones can do just about anything which accounts for why so many of us would be lost without them. Below you’ll find 13 cool new reasons to live and die by your electronic device. Long live the smartphone!

Forget 40 Hours. The New Normal Is A 72-Hour Work Week

September 29th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Did you realize your smartphone may be making you work longer hours?

According to a new study, “Always On Never Done” by the Center for Creative Leadership, workers who use a smartphone for work are connected to the office an average 13.5 to 18.5 hours per day. On the other hand, those who don’t use a smartphone for work are connected to the office an average eight to 10 hours per day. Smartphone-equipped workers interact with their office work 72 hours per week (including weekends), reports Business Insider.

Since you are using a smartphone for work, your clients, co-workers and boss assume you are always available. “In today’s world, the expectation is that when a question comes up, you’ll answer it within 30 minutes, whether it’s 8:00 at night, or 6 a.m.,” organizational consultant Ed Muzio, author of Make Work Great, tells Business Insider.

Globalization also plays a role, as more workers are interacting with colleagues across the world on what has become a 24-hour business cycle, notes Business Insider.

According to experts, since it is rare to find a good-paying, full-time job that only requires a 40-hour workweek, workers tend to accept 24/7 connectivity as the norm in today’s workplace. Still, they point out that companies that take advantage of such policies usually have more turnover and lower job satisfaction rates.

“In addition to the stress and burnout from work, they feel like they don’t have any down time with their friends or family, and they start to resent their employer,” Peggy Klaus, author of Soft Skills: Workplace Lessons Smart People Wish They’d Learned Sooner, tells the website.

According to a separate study by the American Psychological Association, more than a third of workers said communication technology increases their workload, and makes it more difficult to stop thinking about work or take a break from work.

And when people find themselves connected around the clock, it can lessen returns in worker output. “After a certain point, you’re just not as effective,” Muzio says.

Connected workers generally had just three hours per day in which they weren’t sleeping, working, or checking in with the office found the CCL report.  And more than half of consumers say they check their phone while lying in bed, before they go to sleep, after they wake up, and even in the middle of the night.

All of this leads to higher stress at home and less family time, 12 percent of executives regularly step away from dinner and other family gatherings to deal with business calls and other work issues, and 41 percent of executives do so occasionally, according to a study released last year by Forbes Insights.

Believe it or not, always checking a smartphone causes neurological changes. Once your brain is in the habit of looking at a small screen for updates every few minutes, when it’s unable to do so, it begins to activate neurotransmitters associated with anxiety and stress, Larry Rosen, author of iDisorder: Understanding our Obsession with Technology and Overcoming its Hold on Us, tells Business Insider.

“For your own health, you need to set up boundaries and limits,” Rosen says. “You’re modeling the behavior up to your boss and down to your kids, and setting yourself up for a lifetime of anxiety.”

How often are you checking your smartphone?

Let Apple Upgrade You: Tech Giant To Offer iPhone Trade-In Program

June 12th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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IPhone owners should be happy about this latest move by Apple. The tech giant will reportedly to launch an iPhone trade-in program later this month.

Not only will this help boost sales of the smartphone as people will trade in for newer models, but also give consumers more bang for their buck.

It is rumored Apple will team with Brightstar Corp., which runs other companies phone trade-in programs. Under the new plan, iPhone owners can bring in their old devices and upgrade to the iPhone 5, Bloomberg reports (via The Los Angeles Times). The traded-in devices will be resold refurbished in emerging markets, where Apple has been struggling to get a foothold, the article says.

This would be the first time Apple has ever offered a trade-in program for the iPhone, which was launched in 2007. With increased competition for other smartphone companies such as Samsung, which offers its own trade-in program, Apple’s sales growth has slowed. Observers say an iPhone trade-in program could increase sales.

Apple stores will offer the trade-in program where users will be able to easily exchange their old iPhones for new ones.

Although Apple did not comment on the news, it may soon make an official announcement.

The Wait Is Over! iPad Minis Are Available to Ship Now

February 21st, 2013 - By Tonya Garcia
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AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File

If you’ve tried to buy an iPad Mini in the past few months, you know the wait can be long. Well, actually only a few days. But you know. When you want your new gadget, you want it now!

According to Mashable, the Apple site is now showing that iPad Minis in all colors, with WiFi and with cellular, are now ready to ship for anyone interested.

The tablet starts at $329 and can go up to $659 before you add your cover and other extras.

There’s been lots of talk lately about Apple losing its luster after a 34 percent drop in its stock price and the announcement today that the company has been replaced by the once-reviled insurance company AIG as the top choice for hedge funds. There’s also been a surge in sales of Samsung smartphones, putting the dominant Apple devices on the defensive. London’s The Daily Mail notes that there’s been a spike in sales of the iPhone 4 and iPhone 5, with both phones outselling the Samsung in the fourth quarter of last year.

“With the Galaxy due for an update, it perhaps does not seem surprising that the latest Apple device outsold it, but what did surprise observers was that the older 4S model also outsold the more highly specced Samsung phone,” the newspaper reports.

With more iPad Minis available, we could also see an increase in sales of these tablets, which have been facing stiff competition from the more modestly priced Amazon Kindle.

Are you in the market for a new device? Which one are you thinking of getting?

Will Alicia Keys Be Blackberry’s Savior? The Company Forecast Is Not Promising

February 20th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Alicia Keys performing during halftime at this weekend's All-Star Game. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Alicia Keys performing during halftime at this weekend’s All-Star Game. AP Photo/Eric Gay

Just earlier this month, the tech industry was all abuzz with the news that Alicia Keys had been tapped by BlackBerry to serve as the company’s global creative director. But it seems the partnership hasn’t yielded the boost or excitement the company was hoping for.

On the surface it seems like it was looking up for the sagging BlackBerry. Besides the flurry of activity surrounding Keys’ appointment, the company debuted its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are due in the U.S. in mid-March.

But reports Forbes, “sales have dramatically underperformed previous estimates, mainly because of supply constraints and limited support from carriers.” It appears the company is having trouble competing with a host of new Android and Window phones, and possibly a new iPhone expected in the first half of 2013, according to Canaccord’s analysts.”

The BlackBerry 10 phones are so bad that, as Forbes reveals, RIM has revised its sales estimates for the new Z10s downward. They’re now expected to move only 300,000 in the February quarter, down from a previous estimate of 1.75 million units.

Limited supply is one of a few problems BlackBerry is facing, capping the company’s capacity to sell BlackBerry 10 products, reports Forbes. But it isn’t alone in this problem. Apple faced this problem with several of their iPhone models, being unable to make enough phones to meet the demand.

While this has been a problem for BlackBerry in the past, with the new the Z10s and Q10s the demand is low, due in part to pricing. “BlackBerry’s new smartphones cost about the same as their major competitors Apple and Samsung’s competing models after taking into account carrier subsidies,” says Forbes.

Not only are consumers lukewarm to the new models, carriers also are unenthusiastic. According to the magazine, Sprint will only be launching the Q10, while T-Mobile will only commercialize the touch screen-only Z10. Verizon Wireless and AT&T, the two largest U.S. providers, will carry both models.

So what role is Alicia Keys meant to play in all of this? Marketing had better get on this fast in order to leverage Keys’ popularity to generate some sort of something for the brand.

Twitter Is King With African Americans, And Instagram Is a Close Second

February 18th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Shutterstock

There are some social media platforms that African Americans just prefer. In fact, according to a study by Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project, more African Americans rush to Twitter and Instagram than other digital offerings. Minorities also purchase smartphones more than other demographics. The study found that the popularity of Twitter and Instagram among blacks is surging, while white women under age 50 are drawn to Pinterest, reports USA Today.

The survey was conducted via phone interviews with 1,800 respondents (Asian Americans weren’t included because there were not enough respondents to draw statistically reliable conclusions).

Among black Internet users, 26 percent use Twitter; compare this with whites (14 percent) and Hispanics (19 percent). This is an increase from 18 percent of black Internet users were using Twitter in 2011.

According to social media consultant and blogger Wayne Sutton, there is a reason why Twitter is attracting more blacks. He told the newspaper that Twitter enables “a level playing field in getting (black Americans’) voices heard… With the history of our culture, we now have an equal channel like anyone else,” he says. “We are also some of the largest consumers of entertainment and sports. And that’s a lot of what is said on social media by us.”

As for Instagram, blacks, at 23 percent, also outnumbered Hispanics’ (18 percent) and whites (11 percent).

“African Americans and Hispanics are leading the way in terms of buying smartphones or tablets,” Sutton added. According to a March 2012 Nielsen study, 54.4 percent of black phone owners and 57.3 percent of Hispanic phone owners own smartphones vs. 44.7 percent for whites.

Smartphones On Lockdown! Soon It Will Be Illegal To Unlock Cells

January 30th, 2013 - By Ann Brown
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Shutterstock

Have you ever unlocked a smartphone without permission? Well, soon it will be illegal to do so without carrier permission.

There as been a change to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that makes it illegal for consumers to unlock their mobile devices, starting February 2. “Carriers lock smartphones — which they typically subsidize in the U.S. – as a way to prevent their customers from getting a cellular plan with a different company,” according to The Los Angeles Times.

Users unlock phones when they want to switch carriers, after the phone’s original contract has run out, or to use it when they travel abroad. But the Library of Congress determined that consumers have a number of alternatives to unlocking devices, including buying devices that come already unlocked, so a change was made to the act.

“In its latest ruling, the Library of Congress decided the software on a phone is only licensed to the end user, meaning they don’t own it, so therefore the software is not covered by fair-use rules,” writes CNN.

So if you want to unlock, do so by Saturday. Check out iFixit, which opposes the change and has a variety of links on how to unlock phones, reports The L.A. Times. IFixit posted on its blog the following statement: “For many users, unlocking a phone is a necessary fix, opening up a feature and freedom that people need to effectively use their devices. The Copyright Office’s decision to outlaw this right of ownership hurts users and further empowers carriers to trap consumers.”

Do you feel this new change is unfair to smartphone users?

 

Tech Talk: Android and iPhone Both Win During the Holidays

January 22nd, 2013 - By Kimberly Maul
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The Google Android exhibit at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

The Google Android exhibit at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

Research firm Kantar Worldpanel Comtech released data around holiday season smartphone sales, and while Android was tops worldwide, the iPhone still rules in the U.S.

For the 12 weeks ending December 25, 2012, Android phones accounted for 54.4 percent of sales, while iOS devices accounted for 32.4 percent. Android grew 10.5 percent compared to 2011, while iOS dropped 1.7 percent.

However, in the U.S., iOS devices made up 51.2 percent of sales, with Android at 44.2 percent. Here, that meant a 6.3 percent increase for iPhones and a 0.6 percent drop for Androids.

In its coverage of the data, TechCrunch noted that the success of Samsung around the world contributed to the rise and lead of Android in all markets except the US and Japan.

According to 2012 data from Nielsen, 54 percent of African-Americans own a smartphone. The last time Nielsen broke out data based on operating system and race and ethnicity was Q4 2010, when 31 percent of African-American smartphone owners had a Blackberry, 27 percent had an Android operating system, and only 15 percent had an iPhone.

And not to be forgotten: there’s a new BlackBerry coming also. Which type of phone do you have?

The New Contract-Free iPhone 5 Debuts, But the Phone Will Cost You

December 4th, 2012 - By Ann Brown
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Pablo Calvog/shutterstock

Apple has debuted a contract-free iPhone 5, releasing users from the constraints of a contract, but getting you with the full cost of the phone. The 16GB phone will run you $649; once you get to the 64GB model, the price is $849.

“By selling the smartphone unlocked, it means that users can insert nano-SIM cards from any supported carrier for use on the network, as opposed to the locked phones, which are tied to the carrier they purchased the phone from,” CNET reports.

With a contract, the carrier subsidizes “a substantial portion of the phone’s cost… which they reclaim by locking you into a monthly contract,” reports Mac World.

Apple has sold a total of 85 million iPhones in the U.S. since the 2007 launch, reports the Washington Post. We can only imagine  how many more iPhones Apple will sell now that users don’t need to be tied to a contract. Even at the highest price for the phone, the cost per month breaks down to $70.75. But there are rules. It will still only work on “certain networks,” says NBC News. But, there are rumors that T-Mobile customers will now be able to get their iPhone on. And being carrier-free means you take your phone international.

Maybe they will attract more African American users as well. According to Pew Research, 44 percent of blacks and Latinos are smartphone users. But  Android phones are more common among young adults and African Americans. And Blackberry — not iPhone — is preferred by blacks. According to Nielsen,  RIM Blackberry is preferred by 31 percent of African-American smartphone owners.

Will you buy an iPhone 5 now that they are contract-free?

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