Archive for July 3rd, 2012
Starting a new business can be an extremely exciting time. One of the biggest aspects of this is the opportunity to do things in a unique manner, which will allow your business to stand out from your competition as well as enable you to meet and exceed your projected profit targets.
There are many ways you can utilise modern technologies to keep your business a step ahead of the rest, we took a look at some of the best options.
Free POS is something that is relatively new, but has the power to potentially change the retail industry in the coming years. Huge companies will undoubtedly suffer due to their own vanity and need to boast that they have spent thousands on POS upgrades to “enhance the customer experience.” The truth is that you can give a market leading customer experience without spending anything on software development or research. Simply use a cloud based POS platform, and you will find you have all the necessary tools in order to fulfil customer needs and deliver outstanding levels of service from day one.
Using free POS instead of expensive alternatives from high end software developers will instantly add money to your bottom line, and allow you to offer early discounts so you add kudos with your customers.
Simply put, the business on the move cannot function in the modern era without using mobile applications. Whether it is for keeping track of where a group of field-based employees are at a given time, generating invoices, or fulfilling orders and service requests, a vast range of mobile applications should be used in order to get the most out of your business.
If you are technologically minded and cannot find a mobile application to suit the needs of your business, then why not commission a developer to produce one specific to your needs, and then sell it as a general business platform to other individuals like yourself? Solve a problem and generate incremental revenue with your own mobile application!
Search engine optimisation is evolving all the time, and as such so are the many versions of software that can do this job for you. Using quality SEO software will save you time and money in working on your website, and keep your leads coming through your site if you are working on other areas of your business. SEO software is an ideal tool for business owners who have a site performing how they wish, and would like those metrics maintained while they grow other areas of the business.
The list of free PlayStation Plus offerings continues to expand, with three new games being added for subscribers on July 3: Gotham City Impostors, Pac-Man Championship Edition DX, and Renegade Ops.
Additionally, the PSN is prepping its 2012 “Summer Sale,” with 30 percent off titles such as Shadows of the Colossus and Crysis for non-subscribers. Plus members get half off “or more.” A complete summer promotion list is available on the PlayStation website.
Previously offered games Virtua Fighter 5, Hard Corp: Uprising, and Zombie Apocalypse will be “rotated out” of the Plus catalog of free titles on July 3. If you want to grab them, drop whatever you’re holding and rush to your consoles before time runs out. Unless you’re holding your console, because dropping it probably isn’t covered by the warranty.
With the coming of Sony’s Walkman, music became an extremely personal experience. The iPod and the iPhone allowed listeners to store gigabytes of music on the go. Mobile phones caught on to the idea. Here we look at some of the best music phones in the market.
The iPhone 4S comes with solid music pedigree from the iPod. The speakers are excellent, the kind that you want to keep the volume a bit low and not max it out. Full volume on the iPhone is really an ear drum-tearing experience.
Music of all ranges can be explored at a comfortable level and the phone has excellent bass and treble. With 64GB of space, your playlist won’t end anytime soon.
With the app store you can explore a plethora of music apps like Spotify. Another nice feature is that you have a music player even on screen lock, allowing you to skip tracks, pause and play, and adjust the volume.
Samsung Galaxy S3
Samsung is really trying hard to catch up with Apple on the music front. The high-end phone does have excellent speakers and a good music player. A new addition to the phone is the Music Square.
The player analyses the intensity of and mood of a song. You can tap on the Music Square on what kind of music you want depending on your mood and the phone generates a playlist for you. Although it might not be too accurate if your playlist is dominated by a certain kind of music.
Even though the phone has 16GB of space it can be expanded with an external card. The notifications pane shows your music apps and options as soon as you plug in your earphones, which is a nice touch. Also worth a mention is Samsung’s new music store which is trying to take on the iTunes store.
Sony Ericsson W8 Walkman
Sony Ericsson sometime back had made their mark for music phones with their Walkman series. Here is the Android iteration of the same.
Although it runs on a slightly outdated Android 2.1, it is still a fully functioning smartphone. The phone does disappoint with storage space and can be expanded to only 16GB with a memory card.
The phone carries the Walkman tag but all it has is an updated UI and there aren’t even customizable equalizer controls in the default player. But it is a decent music player and is smaller than the giant smartphones coming out these days and fits in the palm of your hand, giving it a more MP3 player feel.
The phone comes with speakers with a 3.5 mm jack which is nice for your mobile parties.
HTC One X
If you’re interested in checking out new sound technology in phones, try the HTC. The phone comes with Beats Audio enhancements and a set of sweet earphones.
It should be a hip hop music aficionado’s delight, considering they were designed by Dr. Dre himself. The player is friendly and there are a myriad number of apps to be downloaded from the Google Play strore. A good music app for the Android is Winamp. But on the downside, the HTC has only 32GB of space and is not expandable.
Nokia Lumia 800
Nokia and Microsoft’s marriage comes alive with their often sidelined Zune player. True, it is a pain to sync with your PC to transfer songs, but you have to do the same with the iPhone and iTunes and no one complains when Apple does it.
Sound quality is crisp and clear. A nice music feature on the Lumia is the Mix Radio which one can explore if making a playlist is tedious.
But what sets apart the Lumia is again the really aesthetic UI of the Windows Phone 7.5 and it is a joy to see album art on the tiles. Music can be bought from the Marketplace.
Though a feature found lacking was audiobooks, but not too much of a loss (honestly just pick up a book and read will you?).
Gamers looking for a beast of a machine need not look further than the Alienware X51 desktop. Its power-innards are housed in a slim and compact profile letting you place it vertically or horizontally, depending on your space constraints.
Besides, you also get the Alienware Command Center, which features software to let you customize performance settings for each game, set lighting themes, and manage power consumption.
Of course, most of the components can be upgraded for a price.
3.3GHz Intel Core i3 dual-core processor
4GB DDR3 RAM
1TB hard disk drive
1GB GDDR5 Nvidia GeForce GT545
Slot-loading DVD writer
LAN, Wi-Fi connectivity
7.1 high-def audio output
Alienware keyboard and mouse
No monitor included
Windows 7 Home Premium
Price: Rs 48,900
HTC Desire C
This latest offering from HTC boasts of Beats Audio technology, which promises “rich, clear audio whether you’re listening to music or playing a game” at a mid-level pricing.
And to further differentiate itself from the pack, the Desire C is housed in a durable metal frame, and comes with deep integration of Dropbox (along with 25GB of free online space) to securely back up your documents, videos, music or photos to the cloud.
3.5-inch capacitive touchscreen (480×320 pixels resolution)
512MB RAM, 4GB internal memory, microSD slot up to 32GB
3G, Wi-Fi , Bluetooth, GPS
5-megapixel camera with autofocus and VGA video recording
Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, Optimus UI 3.0
Mercury mTab Rio
It’s rare to see a goodquality screen on a low-cost tablet, but Mercury is looking to fix that with its mTab Rio, which features an IPS panel. The main advantage of an IPS panel is that it offers consistent and accurate colour from all viewing angles when compared to traditional LCD screens which display ‘partial true colours’. The slate also rocks a dual-core processor, and claims to be ideal for reading e-books, watching movies, playing games and working on your documents.
9.7-inch IPS capacitive touchscreen (1024×768 pixels)
1.2GHz dual-core processor
1GB RAM, 4GB internal memory, expandable microSD slot up to 32GB
Wi-Fi, USB, HDMI ports
2-MP rear camera, VGA front camera
8000 mAh battery with up to 10 hours back-up
Google Android 4 Ice Cream Sandwich
Price: Rs 11,999
Beijing: China’s software industry grew slightly faster in the first five months of this year, boosted by government’s preferential tax policies.
The industry’s revenues rose 27.2 per cent year-on-year to 860.8 billion yuan (USD 136.4 billion) in the January-May period, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology said in a statement.
The growth was 1.2 percentage points higher than that in the January-April period, although it was still one percentage point slower than that of the same period of last year, the statement said.
In May, revenues increased 30.8 per cent year-on-year to 208.8 billion yuan, up 5.6 percentage points from April.
In the first five months, software exports rose 11.5 per cent to USD 13.4 billion, 1.3 percentage points faster than the growth in the first four months, Xinhua news agency reported.
Intensifying competition and weak external demand had dragged down the growth of China’s software industry before the government in May announced preferential tax policies for software and integrated circuit (IC) enterprises to spur technological innovation and industrial upgrades.
Backdated to Jan 1, 2011 and effective until Dec 31, 2017, enterprises that manufacture IC lines thinner than 0.8 microns will be approved for two-year corporate tax exemptions once they make a profit, according to a government statement issued in May.
Companies producing IC lines thinner than 0.25 microns or that have investment exceeding eight billion yuan will be taxed at a discounted rate of 15 per cent, the statement said.
China’s current corporate income tax rate is set at 25 per cent.
SAN FRANCISCO: When Google Inc decided to build its Nexus Q home entertainment device in Silicon Valley rather than in China, it was not fretting about the bottom line. It was fretting about speed. “We wanted to innovate fast. This is the first end-to-end hardware product that Google has ever put out,” said John Lagerling, Google’s senior director of Android global partnerships. The cost of building the orb-shaped Nexus Q, a cross between a streaming video box like Apple TV and a stereo amplifier, “was not the No. 1 priority,” Lagerling said. “We wanted to see if we could do fast (design iterations) rather than having our engineers fly across the world.” “This is not this big initiative that things had to be made in the USA,” he said. Google’s decision to go with a local manufacturer is a striking departure from the made-in-China model that Apple Inc and other consumer electronics manufacturers have long considered essential to their competitiveness. Google’s move reflects a nascent trend of “reshoring” manufacturing operations to the United States. While such actions are largely driven by soaring labor costs in China, other benefits of manufacturing locally are shorter lead times, more responsive partners and better protection of intellectual property. The Nexus Q will also likely sell in limited quantities, which made finding the cheapest possible manufacturer less important. BGC analyst Colin Gillis said Google would probably not sell more than 100,000 of the devices, which he said are pricey compared with products like Apple’s set-top box. MADE IN CHINA, REVISITED China has become the world’s factory floor over the past decade as incentives, low wages and entry into the World Trade Organization made it a highly efficient workshop for everything from shoes to electronics. An exodus of American manufacturing jobs has created political tension in the United States and put pressure on U.S. companies to at least acknowledge the issue. In May, Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said he would like to see more of the company’s products assembled in the United States instead of China, but he qualified that by saying there was a shortage of expertise in America in some areas. Economics and not politics are likely to drive any larger shift in manufacturing, and wages in China could be the biggest factor. Hourly Chinese factory wages, which averaged 52 cents an hour in 2000, are expected to rise to $4.51 an hour by 2015, according to the Boston Consulting Group. By 2015, the total labor-cost savings on manufacturing many types of goods in China will stand at around 10 to 15 percent. Hal Sirkin, a senior partner at Boston Consulting, said that once logistics, supply-chain management and transport costs were factored in, the benefit of making things in China will become marginal for more companies, especially those making bulkier or heavy products. A February survey by Boston Consulting of 106 U.S.-based manufacturing executives whose companies had annual sales greater than $1 billion showed that 37 percent of them were considering or planning on moving production back to the United States from China. Still, the complex web of component suppliers that are an integral part of the electronics manufacturing process will help keep vendors such as Apple glued to China. “The supply chain is so geared toward building that product in China that even with the labor rate up, it’s hard to reorient that big supply chain and say, ‘Oh yeah, we’re just going to build the entire thing here in the U.S.’,” said IHS iSuppli analyst Thomas Dinges. Companies facing high shipping costs from China or making goods in small quantities are more likely than major consumer electronics makers to see benefits in returning to the United States. BENEFITS OF BUILDING LOCALLY Lagerling declined to say what it was costing Google to make each Nexus Q, but IHS iSuppli analyst Andrew Rassweiler estimated the company was spending $150 on components per item. Rassweiler cautioned that he had not personally examined the product. Dinges estimated that a high-volume Asian manufacturer might have charged Google about $8 to assemble each device, while a smaller-lot U.S. contract manufacturer might charge double that amount. The device sells for $299. Lagerling declined to say which contract manufacturer was making the Nexus Q, citing security and confidentiality, but the New York Times reported last week that the manufacturer was near Google’s Mountain View, California, headquarters. Jeff Moss, co-owner of contract manufacturer Quality Circuit Assembly in San Jose, California, said many U.S. companies underestimate the sometimes fuzzy costs of moving their production abroad. “The problem was people initially just looked at unit cost and not the total cost,” Moss said. “You have to take into account your additional lead times, your freight costs, and then the extra hand-holding it takes to deal with a supplier in Asia.” LED lighting maker NeuTex is in the final stages of moving production of its core products to Houston, Texas. The family-owned company manufactured in China for more than four years. Among NeuTex’s considerations for making the switch were quality and goods damaged in transportation. NeuTex will operate the U.S. plant to which it is moving its manufacturing operations. Cofounder John Higgins said that taking into account increased automation at the plant, he now spends about 30 percent more on labor than he did in China. But factoring in shorter shipping time, fewer defects and increasing automation, he expects to bring the overall additional cost of manufacturing in the United States down to about 4 percent. He believes that demand created by “Made in the USA” on his products will more than offset additional manufacturing costs. Peerless-AV, which makes wall mounts for TVs, recently moved its manufacturing to Chicago from China because the company grew tired of its designs be illegally copied. “A lot of the increase in cost of wages has been offset by the money we’ve saved by having our design group here instead of going back and forth,” said Marketing Manager Mike Larmon.
WASHINGTON: The Google Android platform extended its lead in the US smartphone market while Apple increased its market share to nearly a third in March through May, a survey showed Monday.
Android accounted for 50.9 percent of all smartphones used in the US during the three-month average period, according to the comScore survey.
Apple’s iPhone scored 31.9 percent of the market, up from 30.2 percent in the prior three-month period.
The survey comes amid intense competition and legal fights over patents in the smartphone market.
A judge in California last week granted Apple’s request for an injunction blocking US sales of Samsung Galaxy Nexus smartphones made in collaboration with Google to challenge the iPhone. Additional patent cases are pending in other courts.
ComScore said nearly 110 million people in the US owned smartphones during the three months ending in May, up five percent from February.
The survey showed continued bad news for Research in Motion’s BlackBerry, which saw its platform share fall to 11.4 percent from 13.4 percent.
Microsoft’s share edged up slightly to 4.0 percent from 3.9 percent.
Among all mobile phones, Korean-based Samsung remained the top maker with 25.7 percent of the US market. Second was fellow Korean LG with 19.1 percent, while Apple was third with 15 percent.
Android and iPhone smartphones accounted for slightly more than 90 percent of US smartphone sales in the fourth quarter of 2011, industry-tracker NPD Group reported earlier this year.
A recent survey by ABI Research found that Samsung and Apple have captured more than half the global market for smartphones and over 90 percent of its profits.
ABI said Samsung delivered 43 million units in the quarter, to 35 million for Apple.
HELSINKI: A new operating system for mobile phones akin to the Mozilla Firefox internet browser has got the backing of several major telecom companies, turning up the heat on Google and Apple in the smartphone market.
Mozilla said on Monday that mobile network operators Deutsche Telekom, Sprint, Smart, Telecom Italia , Telenor and Etisalat are backing the Firefox platform.
The non-profit organisation which evolved from Netscape after the internet browser wars 14 years ago, said phone makers ZTE and TCL Communication Technology will roll out the first Firefox OS phones using Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processors in early 2013.
Mozilla, which fosters the collective development of open-source Web applications, currently generates most of its income from a contract which makes Google the default search provider for Firefox users.
Broad support from telecom companies and handset makers is crucial for any new smartphone platform to take off in a market increasingly dominated by Google’s Android software, which has a market share of around 60 percent, while Apple’s iPhones run on its proprietary iOS software.
In addition to market leaders Android and Apple, a number of smaller players like RIM, Microsoft and Samsung’s Bada are also competing for a share of the mobile software market.
But Gary Kovacs, chief executive of Mozilla Corp, said he was confident there was room on the market for a Firefox platform, being an open Web-based alternative to the for-profit offerings from Google and Apple.
“I think this will be very widely adopted,” Kovacs told Reuters in an interview.
After an initial launch with Telefonica’s Vivo brand in Brazil early next year Firfox-powered phones will be launched on other emerging markets and then elsewhere, Kovacs said.
Phone companies have tried before to create platforms to combat the growing dominance of Android, but have so far failed as they had to create from scratch the ecosystem around platform: developer tools, applications, developer community.
“Success for any platform is dependent on the virtuous circle of scale and momentum. Manufacturer and operator commitment is essential to driving developer support and consumer interest which in turn strengthens demand for the platform,” said Geoff Blaber, analyst at CCS Insight.
The new Firefox platform aims to overcome the problem by tapping into a community of 3 to 5 million web developers and most of the apps are already created on HTML5, the preferred standard for creating mobile browser content.
The sector has seen the demise of many rival platforms in the last few years, including operator-led initiatives like LiMo, and also Palm’s WebOS and Nokia’s Symbian operating systems which failed to win enough support from developers and device manufacturers.
The free Firefox platform could put pressure on Microsoft and Google, which themselves are trying to attract handset manufacturers. But Microsoft collects licensing fees of up to $20 per Windows phone and also collects royalties from makers of Android devices.
TCL, which uses Alcatel brand for its phones, and ZTE are both hoping the new Firefox platform will help make up for their late entrance to the booming smartphone market.
The growth in smartphone sales is slowing this year from the bumper years of 2010 and 2011 but is still expected to be running at some 40 percent from a year ago.
Mozilla, which has been working with Telefonica on creating the software, demonstrated the platform and its key features in February at the Mobile World Congress trade show in Barcelona.
The new platform combines HTML5 with some of the core elements of Linux technology, cutting the need for a separate operating system and enabling fast roll-out of new phone models.
In competition with Mozilla’s Firefox, Google has introduced its Chrome browser and browser-based operating system for personal computers.
“The line between browser and operating system is getting blurred,” Kovacs said.
Cutting some layers of a traditional operating system allows the new platform to be used on smartphones with lower processing power and with lower cost materials.
Telefonica has said the phone price will be significantly cheaper than the low-end Android models, meaning Firefox phones can be priced at levels around $50 excluding operator subsidies.
This compares with price of around $200 for a typical smartphone.
Ovum analyst Nick Dillon said pricing of the devices will be the key for their success, and questioned whether cutting out some layers of operating system would bring significant savings.
“It is hard to see how you could make them much cheaper than comparable Android handsets,” Dillon said.