Tim Bajarin Details Top Six Tech Trends Expected in 2013

Industry analyst Tim Bajarin offers his perspective on the leading tech trends we can expect in the coming year. Bajarin, who has been writing an end-of-the-year prediction column for 23 years (and says he has been “reasonably successful”), predicts some interesting developments, including: Augmented Reality going mainstream, increased consumer attention for Google’s Chromebook, a new interest in hybrids and convertibles from IT managers, a dramatic increase in mobile malware, and more. Continue reading Tim Bajarin Details Top Six Tech Trends Expected in 2013

Children and Tablets: Nickelodeon and PBS to Launch Preschool Apps

Nick Jr.’s newest television project “Wallykazam” will first be introduced to the public as a mobile product. The show doesn’t come out until 2014, but educational apps based on the show’s characters and concepts will appear in app stores late next year. According to The New York Times, it is parents who are steering this industry shift. “Driving the change, at Nickelodeon and other preschool television brands, are parents who are increasingly putting mobile devices into preschoolers’ hands and laps,” notes the article.

As TV set ownership declines, tablet ownership is on the rise. “Eighty-eight percent of the parents surveyed said they owned a television, down from 95 percent in 2010,” according to new research commissioned by Sesame Workshop.

The research also shows just how striking educational app growth has been recently. “In October, 27 percent of United States households with children ages 3 to 5 had an iPad, up from 22 percent in April. In those households, 40 percent of preschoolers used the iPad for educational apps, up from 27 percent in April,” writes NYT.

The thinking at PBS is different now, a combination of digital and television. As the article notes, the network has “‘sent away’ a number of producers who came to PBS with ideas for television shows with no thought-out mobile component, telling them, ‘Come back when you have a plan.’”

For the Cost of a Bicycle, Parents Can Purchase Kid-Friendly Tablets

For around $200, parents can buy their kids child-appropriate tablet computers. According to The New York Times, children “understand that this single device is a million-channel TV, music collection, game machine, camera and e-book library, and a way to socialize with friends.” The article reviews 21 different kid-friendly tablets, including the $150 Android-powered Kurio 7, MEEP and Tabeo tablets. “The Nabi 2 costs a bit more ($200) but has a noticeably better screen,” suggests the article. “The Nabi Jr. ($100) is smaller and can double as a baby monitor.” Continue reading For the Cost of a Bicycle, Parents Can Purchase Kid-Friendly Tablets

Kajeet Strikes Deal with Clearwire to Launch 4G Mobile for Children

Mobile virtual network operator Kajeet is partnering with WiMAX carrier Clearwire in a move that could sell 4G modems and hotspots to families with children, reports GigaOM. The deal will officially allow Kajeet and Clearwire to resell 4G connections. Kajeet currently sells mobile broadband dongles and hotspots to schools, but may be looking to expand into a broader consumer base. Continue reading Kajeet Strikes Deal with Clearwire to Launch 4G Mobile for Children

IAB Study Determines Mobile Video is Not All About Being Mobile

Most consumers who watch television programs or movies on their wireless devices are not actually doing so while on-the-go, suggests a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau. The IAB report found that 63 percent of viewing takes place at home, while 36 percent takes place in a room that already has an existing device available to watch the content.

The report notes that two-thirds of respondents watch more than one hour of video a week on their smartphones or tablets. However, 85 percent of it is consumed in short bites of less than 10 minutes, according to VentureBeat.

“We need to see mobile as a primary screen for on-demand consumption, not as an afterthought,” says David Levin, president of digital agency 360i.

The report also points out that entertainment content is the most consumed, with music in the lead, followed by movie trailers, tutorials and funny short video clips. Perhaps most interesting to advertisers, the IAB study learned that 53 percent of respondents indicated they’re okay with mobile video advertising and 48 percent said the ads should relate to the video content being watched.

Xiaomi Takes a Slice of the Smartphone Pie

  • Just three years into its existence, Chinese smartphone manufacturer Xiaomi Technology has a $4 billion valuation and has garnered “Apple-like adoration” from loyal fans, reports Reuters.
  • Founder Lei Jun, 42, helped shape China’s Internet revolution when he co-founded and sold Joyo.cn to Amazon before moving on to Xiaomi Technology. At Xiaomi, Lei has become a Steve Jobs-like figure, as he has marketed his product simply, but in a way that generates “an aura of exclusivity around its products,” notes the article.
  • When addressing comparisons to Jobs, Lei says, “I will take this as a compliment but such kind of comparison brings us huge pressure.”
  • “Xiaomi and Apple are two totally different companies,” he continues. “Xiaomi’s based on the Internet. We are not doing the same thing as Apple.”
  • The company released its second phone in October and has sold 300,000 units. The phone is comparable to Samsung’s Galaxy S3 and Apple’s iPhone 5, but sells for only $370.
  • “Unlike the big domestic smartphone players, such as Lenovo Group, ZTE Corp and Huawei Technologies, which work with telecom carriers to sell a large volume of smartphones, Xiaomi sells most of its phones online and in small batches,” writes Reuters. By limiting quantity and selling in small batches, Xiaomi creates buzz. This demand led to Xiaomi selling its entire batch of 50,000 smartphones in less than two minutes in October.
  • China is expected to pass the United States as the number one smartphone market within the year, but some people still believe the market will be controlled by market leaders ZTE and Huawei, and that Xiaomi’s small scale strategy will hurt its long term outlook.

TIME Lists Top 10 Gadgets of the Year: iPhone 5 Takes Top Spot

  • Although Apple may have to cede the top spot on smartphone sales, its iPhone 5 still sits at No. 1 in terms of overall device and operation system quality, earning the coveted TIME Magazine ‘gadget of the year’ award.
  • TIME’s Harry McCracken calls the iPhone 5 ‘one of the most artfully polished gadgets anyone’s ever built,’ adding that ‘when it comes to melding hardware, software and services so tightly that the seams fade away, Apple still has no peer,'” VentureBeat reports.
  • “Despite 5 million units sold in its opening weekend, and stellar sales results that catapulted iOS back into the mobile operating system lead in November, the iPhone 5 probably can’t catch the Samsung Galaxy S III, which launched in the summer and reached 18 million units by early November,” the article continues.
  • Apple did not, however, gain recognition from TIME for its iPads, even though the new iPad mini earned a warm welcome by many in October.
  • TIME‘s top 10 gadgets are as follows: 1) iPhone 5, 2) Nintendo Wii U, 3) Sony Cyber-shot RX100, 4) Raspberry Pi Model B, 5) Lytro, 6) Apple 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina Display, 7) Microsoft Surface with Windows RT, 8) Samsung Galaxy Note II, 9) Nest, and 10) Simple.TV.

Mobile Trends: Should Laptop Makers Shift Their Focus to Tablets?

  • Tablets are set to outsell laptops by 2015, according to a new report from IDC, underscoring the necessity for PC makers to focus on designing attractive slates.
  • “This forecast further emphasizes the massive shift toward mobile, which has been underway for several years: Smartphones began outselling PCs last year and will easily continue to do so as consumers and enterprises do more computing on the go,” reports GigaOM.
  • “Many PC makers were either late to the mobile device game, or not part of it at all, and have watched sales dollars filter to those making smartphones at first, and now tablets,” the article continues.
  • While the IDC report suggests that laptops won’t entirely go away — just as desktop PCs have remained — GigaOM suggests the model of computing that relied heavily on these PCs is changing, and IDC’s predictions could be “too conservative.”
  • The report also notes the decline in unit revenue for mobile devices, compared with the revenue of desktops or laptops. “That means computer makers will have to make up the difference in volume and the best chance to do that is by seizing momentum early, much as Apple did with its iPad,” the article states.
  • “Additionally, tablet hardware is improving quickly, and perhaps more importantly, so are the applications that run on tablets,” GigaOM continues. “Activities that once sounded absurd on a tablet just two or three years ago are now possible on an iPad, Android slate or Windows RT device. Instead of looking back at ‘old-school computing,’ laptop makers should be looking ahead at potential software and cloud services that tablets will benefit from.”

FTC Mobile Apps for Kids Report Finds Little Progress in Privacy

  • The Federal Trade Commission’s staff report, “Mobile Apps for Kids: Disclosures Still Not Making the Grade,” analyzes mobile applications aimed at children, and finds that little progress has been made since last year in terms of warning, or even informing, parents about the data collection in applications.
  • The report notes that the applications have interactive features and social media sharing that can send information on the children to advertising companies or analytics companies without seeking parental consent. Some applications do not even disclose the actions to parents, according to the report.
  • “While we think most companies have the best intentions when it comes to protecting kids’ privacy, we haven’t seen any progress when it comes to making sure parents have the information they need to make informed choices about apps for their kids,” said FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz. “In fact, our study shows that kids’ apps siphon an alarming amount of information from mobile devices without disclosing this fact to parents.”
  • “All of the companies in the mobile app space, especially the gatekeepers of the app stores, need to do a better job,” he added. “We’ll do another survey in the future and we will expect to see improvement.”
  • The report, which examined disclosures within the app, disclosures on the promotion page in the app store, and at the app developer’s website, found “most apps failed to provide any information about the data collected through the app, let alone the type of data collected, the purpose of the collection, and who would obtain access to the data.”
  • “Even more troubling, the results showed that many of the apps shared certain information with third parties — such as device ID, geolocation, or phone number — without disclosing that fact to parents,” according to the report.

Silicon Image UltraGig 6400: WirelessHD for Next-Gen Mobile

  • Silicon Image’s UltraGig 6400 is a new WirelessHD transmitter that may be small enough and strong enough to break the WirelessHD smartphone barrier, writes Engadget.
  • According to the press release, the UltraGig 6400 is “a complete WirelessHD transmitter for mobile devices that integrates a 60GHz RF transceiver, baseband processor, and embedded antenna array into a single IC package.”
  • The device has full gaming and 1080p video capabilities, but is also small enough for both tablets and smartphones.
  • Previously, people who wanted video output from small, battery powered devices like tablets and smartphones would either “be looking at a WiFi-based option like AirPlay, DLNA or Miracast, which can sacrifice bandwidth and latency, or at a wired connection like MHL, which effectively means tethering ourselves to the TV,” notes the post.
  • The transmitter is one-fifth the size of the older WirelessHD Gen3. It also consumes less power than smartphone’s local displays and “has a mere 5ms latency to allow for interactivity, and shouldn’t add more than $10 to the cost of manufacture,” reports Engadget.

Tech Industry Calls on Congress to Allocate More Mobile Spectrum

  • A team of tech companies including Apple, Samsung, and Nokia has submitted a letter to Congress requesting that it allocate more spectrum for mobile data, reports The Verge.
  • The letter argues the spectrum addition “is timely and relevant” to discuss alongside fiscal cliff debates.
  • “Now is the time to ensure the incentive auctions are as robust and successful as possible at liberating spectrum,” reads the letter. “We should also turn our collective attention on ways to reap the economic benefits of underutilized federal spectrum assets.”
  • “Other signatories include Intel, RIM, Qualcomm, Alcatel-Lucent, Cisco, and Ericsson, all of which are members of the High Tech Spectrum Coalition,” notes the post. “The group believes that upcoming spectrum auctions won’t meet the demand for wireless broadband, nor will it be possible to ‘engineer our way out of this problem’ with more efficient technology.”
  • The letter asks Congress to urge spectrum holders to “become more efficient, to share with one another, to vacate, or to lease their spectrum.”
  • An earlier report this year also recommended the government consider sharing spectrum with commercial partners, since it’s “increasingly difficult to find desirable spectrum that can be vacated by federal users.”

Mobile Video Calling Creates New Frontier as Technologies Improve

  • “As the cameras and screens of smartphones and tablets improve, and as wireless networks offer higher bandwidth, more companies are getting into the business of enabling mobile video calls,” reports The New York Times, noting that the rise has been so quick that analysts have yet to compile numbers.
  • In 2011, Microsoft acquired video calling service Skype. Similarly, Apple developed its own FaceTime feature to sell the iPad and in September expanded the service beyond just Wi-Fi to cellular networks.
  • Google’s free video calling service Hangouts on its social network Google Plus allows up to ten people to video conference, and it features more than 200 apps. Just last week, Yahoo purchased its own video chat service OnTheAir. Tango Mobile is yet another video calling service, which has attracted 80 million active users and sees 200,000 join daily, according to CTO and co-founder Eric Setton.
  • Microsoft has incorporated Skype into its Windows 8 mobile phones, allowing people to receive calls even when the app isn’t running. Google is interested in “making money on the applications, but in learning more about them so it can sell more ads by getting people to use [Hangouts],” notes the article.
  • “Don’t expect video calling to improve productivity. Tango uses the same technology that enables video calls to sell games that people can play simultaneously,” the article states. “Google says some jokey applications on Hangouts, like a feature that can put a mustache over each caller, seem to encourage people to talk longer.”
  • “Tango’s average video call used to last six minutes, Mr. Setton said, but when the company started adding other applications to go with the videos, like games and designs that float over people, the average call length rose to 12 minutes.”

Malware Shift: Android Overtakes Windows as Top Security Threat

  • In the 2013 Security Threat Report from security firm Sophos, it’s been revealed that Android is now the top market for hackers, beating out previous frontrunner Microsoft’s Windows OS.
  • “The security firm found that during a three-month period this year, 10 percent of Android-based devices experienced some form of malware attack. Just 6 percent of Windows PCs, meanwhile, were hit by an attack,” according to Technology Review.
  • Cybercriminals understand more than ever that the technological future is in mobile, making this an issue of high concern considering over 100 million Android devices shipped worldwide in the second quarter of 2012, notes the report.
  • Because Android is fairly new, especially when compared to Windows OS, users are not yet conditioned to security concerns and will click on links or open unknown apps.
  • “To make matters worse, the anti-malware tools available in the Android ecosystem just aren’t as strong as they could be,” explains the article. “Security firms are behind the times a bit. And until they catch up, we’re all at risk.”
  • According to the Saphos report, in order to stay safe, users should only surf the Web to known sites and should not download anything that could be dangerous.

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