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Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps

April 18, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has accused Google of pushing Android handset makers to use its apps like YouTube and Maps.
Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps
Along with Oracle, Nokia and 14 other tech firms, Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission.

The group, known as FairSearch, argues that Google is abusing its dominance of the mobile market.

“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system,” he added.

Android is now the dominant mobile operating system, accounting for 70% of the market, according to research firm Gartner.

The complaint describes Google’s Android operating system as a “trojan horse”, offered to device makers for free. In return they are “required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone,” the complaint reads.

Google is also under fire for its common user privacy policy which groups 60 sets of rules into one and allows the company to track users more closely.

Last week six European data protection agencies, including the UK and France, threatened legal action if Google did not make changes to its policy.

In October a European Commission working party said its privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection.

It gave Google four months to comply with its recommendation. Google maintains that the new policy “respects European law”.

Microsoft itself is no stranger to EC criticism- in March it was fined £484 million for failing to promote a range of web browsers in its Windows 7 operating system.

Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profits

November 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apple, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Google, internet, mobile phones, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

As more people around the world are using smartphones and downloading apps, bank, and conduct business, there’s more and more of an incentive for criminals to attack phones- as they used to attack PCs in the past.Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profitsCrimeware kits, which let novice cyber thieves create their own viruses with a few mouse clicks, have been behind the huge rise in the number of malicious programs that plague PCs.

Now, such kits are starting to be made for mobile malware.

What criminals like about mobiles is their intrinsic connection to a payment plan. This made it far easier to siphon off cash than with PC viruses.

All phones that have access to SMS are able to charge money to their phone bill via premium rate SMS processes.

Almost 70% of the millions of scams try to steal cash by surreptitiously racking up premium-rate charges.

Malicious apps made it hard for people to realise they were being scammed, because they could work surreptitiously while phone owners used a different application.

Alongside the growth in mobile malware is a rise in junk or spam text messages being sent to phones – many involving fake offers in an attempt to sucker the recipient into revealing their credit card number.

The ways to keep your mobile phone safe are:

  • Stick to official marketplaces and app stores
  • Be suspicious of offers that look too good to be true
  • Check your bill for rogue charges
  • Be wary of sites offering for free apps that cost money elsewhere
  • Be extra wary of Android apps as Google’s vetting is not as strict as Apple’s.

eBay thirdquarter sales and profits increase

October 22, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, eBay, Ecommerce, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Advertising, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The auction site eBay has reported a rise in third quarter sales and profits- as more consumers used the website.eBay thirdquarter sales and profits increaseNet profit for the three months to the end of September rose 14% from a year earlier, to £445 million ($718 million), eBay said.  Net revenues rose 15% to £2.125 billion.

The company has also been looking to take advantage of the increasing number of people who use mobile smartphones to shop and pay for things.

“We had a great third quarter across our company, with Marketplaces and PayPal accelerating customer growth,” chief executive John Donahoe said in a statement.

“Mobile continues to be a game changer for us, and we continue to be a clear leader in mobile commerce and payments.”

The group forecast sales of between £2.46 billion and £2.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Whilst the results were impressive, EBay shares fell nearly 1% in extended trading in New York after its results came out as analyists had been hoping for even better results.

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AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8

October 08, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Further to our last post on the ongoing Microsoft and Google battles– here comes another twist as Microsoft is working hard to convince developers to make apps for it’s Windows 8 operating system.AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8What this means is that some Windows 8 laptops and PCs could end up running more Android apps than those written specifically for Microsoft’s software.

Machines built around chips made by AMD will come optimised to run the Android apps.

A collaboration between AMD and software firm Bluestacks lets the devices run the 500,000 apps more usually found on Android phones.

By contrast, Microsoft reportedly only has a few thousand apps written specifically for Windows 8 at launch.

The Android apps will be available on Windows 8 devices via AMD’s AppZone player.

Inside this is code from Bluestacks that acts as a wrapper around the mobile phone programs so they can run on desktops, laptops and tablets.

AMD has made changes to the core code that runs its processors and graphics cards to ensure apps built for the small screens on mobile phones look good and run well on larger displays.

The player also lets users synchronise their apps across both a PC and an Android phone or tablet.

AMD has about a 25% share of the market for desktops computers with the UK’s ARM chasing them rapidly.

As Windows 8 has been developed to work well with portable devices such as tablets, Microsoft has been working to create an ecosystem of apps for the operating system.

Bluestacks’ Android-running software also works on Intel-powered devices, including Macs, but typically has to be installed after a gadget has been bought and booted up.

Bluestacks is also talking to other PC makers to get its software installed as PCs are put together in a factory.

Google ends old Office file formats app

October 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Google, Microsoft, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google has warned it’s app users that they will be unable to download documents to their computers in Microsoft Office 1997-2003 formats from the start of the month.Google ends old Office file formats appThe decision continues Google’s continuing battle against Microsoft.

However Google Apps runs in the cloud- which provides an alternative to Microsoft’s Office productivity suite.

Users of versions of Office bought before 2007 may be unable to open documents modified using Google Apps.

The formats which are no longer supported are .doc, .xls and .ppt.

Google issued the warning on its Google Apps update blog earlier this week.

Google Apps users will still be able to open and edit documents that were created in the older formats once the change comes into effect, but they will be unable to save them on their computer or pass them on to others in their original format.

For people who use Office 2003 or earlier, the move creates an obstacle to sharing documents with Google Apps users.

That is because once modified in Google Apps, a document created in Microsoft’s suite may no longer be usable by the document’s original author.

Google now supports saving documents in Microsoft’s newer .docx, .xlsx and .pptx formats used in Office 2007 and Office 2010, as well as other formats including Open Document Format (.odf and .ods), a freely available standard used as the default format by free office suites including OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

Smartphone games apps won’t kill gaming consoles

October 03, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Gaming, smart phones, Social Media, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, Video Marketing

The organiser of the UK’s biggest video games show- the Eurogamer Expo, is confident smartphone gaming won’t kill off traditional gaming.Smartphone games apps won't kill gaming consolesRupert Loman thinks that people will always want the experience of playing a game on a big screen with friends or taking on other players online.

The Eurogamer Expo was held last week at London’s Earls Court.

It gives fans first hand gaming experience of about 50 upcoming titles, such as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 and Assassin’s Creed 3.

“I just think it’s testament to how far the games industry has come, that there’s so many different ways you can play,” says Rupert.

He believes that the “huge” popularity of console gaming, and the massive numbers shifted by the likes of the Call of Duty series, means it’s as strong as ever.

” Gaming now offers something for everyone. There’s all sorts of ways of playing – online games, massively multi-player universes, social games.”

“With the Wii U you’ve got games that are great for kids and families. Anyone can game these days – there are so many ways of doing it.”

However he does admit that, while console gaming will always be around, mobile gaming could eventually overtake it in terms of popularity.

“It could well end up being a bigger industry,” he says.

“But I don’t think it will replace that situation where you want to play Fifa or something like that in your front room with your friends. That’s one experience.  You’re on the train and you want to play a game on your 3DS or your Vita or on your mobile – that’s another”.

Rupert Loman says he expects Microsoft and Sony to start making moves very soon: “As far as I’m aware, their plans for next generation consoles are pretty far advanced.

“I’d expect them to be revealed mid-next year and be in the shops next Christmas, or soon after that.”

Barnes & Noble’s UK launches new Nook

October 01, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

US book chain Barnes & Noble plans to launch new Nook tablets alongside its e-readers in the UK later this year.
Barnes & Noble's UK launches new NookThey will compete against products from Amazon, Kobo, Sony and others.

B&N boasts that its smaller tablet – which features a 7 inch screen – is the lightest such device to offer a “high definition” experience.

The firm has secured distribution deals with some of the country’s leading retailers, but may suffer because its brand is less well known.

While B&N and Amazon have decided to enter the UK’s tablet market at the same time, they are pursuing different strategies: the former has decided to offer its full line-up from the start, while the latter is selling a more limited range.

So, while B&N will offer a 9 inch tablet called the Nook HD+ in the UK from mid-November, Amazon has opted to limit sales of its 8.9 inch Kindle Fire HD to the US for the time being.

This may help B&N make inroads into the larger-screened tablet market – the Nook HD+ is £100 cheaper than Apple’s 9.7 inch iPad 2, and £70 below Samsung’s 10.1 inch Galaxy Tab2.

Competition is likely to be more fierce in the 7 inch category where the basic £159 Nook HD, featuring 8GB of storage, will compete against similarly priced offerings from Amazon, Kobo and Elonex as well as Asus’s £199 Google-branded Nexus 7 tablet.

The Nook tablets run on an adapted version of Android 4.0, giving them access to an existing wide range of third-party software.

B&N is also offering its own magazine, newspaper, book and app stores – and plans to add a video service offering movies and television shows by early 2013.

These facilities can also be used on other devices allowing users to share material from the tablets to smartphones and PCs.

The decision to restrict which apps can be sold provides the firm with an opportunity to limit malware. However, some owners might be frustrated by the fact they are not offered an opportunity to install material from either the Google Play or Amazon Appstore marketplaces unless they hack the machines.

The Nook tablets do not display adverts, unlike the Kindle Fire which shows “special offers” when put into lock mode.

The tablets build on B&N’s earlier announcement that it would sell its full range of black-and-white-screened e-book readers in the UK from early-October.

These will include a Simple Touch model featuring a built-in light, allowing it to be used in the dark.

While Amazon has announced a device with a similar feature for US shoppers – the Kindle Paperwhite – it has not put the model on sale in the UK. However, Kobo does offer the facility with its new e-reader, the Kobo Glo.

With a flood of new devices coming onto the market, the various companies’ fortunes may be determined by their High Street distribution deals.

While B&N does not operate its own stores in the UK, it will sell its products through Sainsbury’s and the bookstore Blackwell’s.

Kobo’s partners include WH Smith and Asda, while Amazon has teamed up with Waterstones, Comet, Ryman, Carphone Warehouse and Tesco.

John Lewis, Currys, PC World and Argos will sell all three devices as well as other similar products made by Sony, Archos, Delium and others.

Apple drops Google Maps software in new iOS

June 13, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, internet, smart phones, Smart TV, Tablets, Technology Companies, Televisions, Uncategorized

Apple has unveiled its latest mobile operating system, iOS6, which runs on its iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices- but will no longer include Google Maps software.Apple drops Google Maps software in new iOSApple will instead run its own mapping app, which has a high-quality 3D mode on the platform.

Google announced its own 3D mapping software last week on its competing mobile platform, Android.

Both companies have used fleets of planes to capture the imagery, drawing concerns from some privacy campaigners.

Apple’s updated iOS software will be available for general consumers by the autumn, chief executive Tim Cook said.

It will be a free update for owners of  the iPhone 4S, iPhone 4 or iPhone 3GS – as well as users of the latest iPad, the iPad 2 and fourth generation iPod touch.

Additional features include “eyes free”, a feature on which Apple said it had worked with car manufacturers to integrate a “Siri button” to activate the iPhone’s voice-operated assistant.

For the first time on Apple’s devices, video calls will be able to be made over a cellular connection, rather than relying on wi-fi.

The company also announced revamped models in its Macbook Pro and Macbook Air ranges.

It’s new Macbook Pro is 0.71 inches thick, with a high-resolution Retina display. It utilises Intel’s Ivy Bridge processor.

Its slimline Macbook Air range has also been upgraded with enhanced graphics and processing capabilities.

Both will offer a free upgrade to OS X Mountain Lion, the latest version of the Mac operating system which is set for release in July.

Among its features is enhanced synchronisation between desktop, laptop and mobile, thanks to iCloud, the company’s cloud-based storage service.

Once again, overhyped predictions that Apple was set to announce a long rumoured television were wrong. September is a more likely date.

Facebook shares- good value or over hyped tech floatation?

May 18, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Customer Service, Ecommerce, Facebook, internet, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

On the day that Facebook is to be floated I have been asked whether they represent good value or are they another over hyped technology company.Facebook shares- good value or over hyped tech floatation? One of the best ways to calculate the potential value of a company- and it’s shares, is to look at it’s pe- which is it’s price/ earnings ratio.

This measures a company’s capitalisation as a percentage of the number of years current profits.

In Facebook’s case they made roughly a billion dollars of profits last year.

According to the Financial Times today the approximate value of it’s total capitalisation may be just above one hundred billion dollars.

So dividing capitalisation by profits derives a pe of around 100.

The principal usage of the pe calculation is to compare stock investors’ valuation of one company against the hype of another company.

So for example another possibly overhyped company- the world largest company by capitalisation,  is Apple Inc.

Apple’s current pe ratio is only 16. So they are less than 6 times underhyped.

“Value is in the pocket of the purchaser” is one of the Guaranteed Sales favourite phrases.

To answer the question of hype or value- please consider whether you would prefer to invest your hard earned cash in a company which is already sitting on $100 billion in cash with products flying out of the door all around the world- or where the other company is supposed to be theoretically growing it’s profits at six times even faster.

Given the choice my money is with Apple.

Apple posts record £8.36 billion quarterly profits- up 118%

January 25, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apple, Apps, Computers, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Apple reported record breaking profits for the three months to 31 December 2011 of £8.36 billion ($13.06 billion)- more than doubling  up 118% from the same period in 2010.Apple posts record £8.36 billion quarterly profits- up 118%The company also sold 37 million iPhones- more than twice as many as they sold in the last quarter of 2010.

“Apple’s momentum is incredibly strong, and we have some amazing new products in the pipeline,” said chief executive Tim Cook.

The firm is expected to release its iPad 3 in March this year.

“We are very happy to have generated over $17.5bn in cash flow from operations during the December quarter,” said Peter Oppenheimer, Apple’s CFO.

“Looking ahead to the second fiscal quarter of 2012, we expect revenue of about £20.96 billion and we expect diluted earnings per share of about £5.48 ($8.50).”

Apple saw strong sales for both its iPads and its Mac range of computers, rising 111% and 26% respectively compared to the same period in 2010.