Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

Four years after launching its program to allow outside developers to write apps for Alexa, Amazon’s voice system has some 80,000 “skills” — but no huge hit. In fact, most people with Alexa-enabled smart speakers still use them only to listen to music or make simple requests. That compares to Apple’s App Store and the Google Play Store, each of which are home to over 550,000 apps, many of which have been huge successes for developers. But voice-centric apps are challenging to build and don’t appear to attract consumers. Continue reading Developers Are Struggling to Create Alexa-Centric Killer App

MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

MasterCard just added its digital wallet MasterPass to Facebook Messenger, which will let consumers easily place online orders on the service. MasterPass is already available with FreshDirect and Subway, but is in its early stages of rollout. In related news, PayPal Holdings, which last year said would unveil its payment services on Facebook Messenger, will now unveil it on Alphabet’s Android Pay. Visa and MasterCard are also focused on expanding the consumer and merchant use of their digital wallets. Continue reading MasterCard Introduces Digital Wallet to Facebook Messenger

Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

At SXSW in Austin, Google and Levi’s debuted the Commuter, a $350 “smart” jean jacket targeting those who bicycle to work. The Commuter also signals a potential direction for wearables; unlike clunky wristbands and watches, the denim jacket gets its smarts from technology woven into the cloth’s fibers. The joint project enables bicycle commuters to tap or swipe the jacket’s sleeves to make phone calls, get directions and check the time through headphones. The jacket will be available for sale in the fall. Continue reading Google, Levi’s Debut Smart Jacket, Sign of Wearables’ Future

Apple Claims Early Lead in the Emerging Smartwatch Market

The Apple Watch is leading the pack in smartwatch sales. Last year, it captured 52 percent of market share in the 8 months since its April debut. Android Wear, the smartwatch platform behind wearables from Huawei, Motorola, Fossil, Asus and Sony, followed with less than 10 percent of market share. Apple’s domination is making investors reluctant to believe that other companies like Fitbit can compete. While Juniper Research data places Apple on top, the market is still relatively new and a lot could change in the next couple of years. Continue reading Apple Claims Early Lead in the Emerging Smartwatch Market

SeatGeek Turns Reselling Tickets Into a Mobile Experience

SeatGeek, a ticket aggregator that allows people to compare listings for concerts and sports tickets, has revamped its app and shifted its business toward resale. Their mobile app now lets people transfer tickets to their friends for free. SeatGeek takes a 15 percent cut when users list and sell their tickets. Users can both buy and transfer tickets on SeatGeek’s mobile app, unlike competitors StubHub and LiveNation, which do not offer transferring services on mobile. Continue reading SeatGeek Turns Reselling Tickets Into a Mobile Experience

Execs Discuss the Future of SVOD in Netflix Q3 Earnings Call

North American pay TV providers recently experienced their worst quarter ever, losing nearly a half million subscribers. But where are these subs going for video services? Recent figures point to Internet TV. Juniper Research, for example, projects that subscriber numbers to over-the-top TV services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime will increase from 92.1 million in 2014, to 332.2 million globally by 2019. Netflix alone will generate $31.6 billion by 2019, up from just under $8 billion in 2014. The recent Netflix Earnings Call provides a revealing portrait that points out challenges and opportunities that reflect the state of the industry. Continue reading Execs Discuss the Future of SVOD in Netflix Q3 Earnings Call

Report Predicts Surge in Subscriber Numbers for OTT Services

According to Juniper Research, global subscriber numbers for streaming video services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video are expected to climb from 92.1 million in 2014 to 333.2 million by 2019. Juniper predicts that adoption will be driven by connected TVs, streaming devices like Google’s Chromecast and Amazon’s Fire TV Stick, as well as connected game consoles and set-top boxes. Newer streaming devices like affordable media sticks will continue to make watching OTT services easily accessible on living room screens. Continue reading Report Predicts Surge in Subscriber Numbers for OTT Services

2015 CES: Wearables to Take Many Forms at the Sands Expo

Wearables made a surprisingly robust showing at the 2014 International CES. At the next Consumer Electronics Show in January, a Wearables Marketplace (Sands, Level 2) will gather companies providing products from “high-tech fashion and smart jewelry to wearables that track your mood, activity and even your pets, as well as the newest augmented reality devices.” Other wearable providers will be found in the Smart Watches, Health & Wellness and Sports Tech Marketplaces, all located in the Sands Expo. Continue reading 2015 CES: Wearables to Take Many Forms at the Sands Expo