36 Million Smart Homes Coming to U.S. and Europe by 2017

Analyst firm Berg Insights forecasts that the number of smart homes in the U.S. and Europe will reach 36 million by 2017, with sales of $9.4 billion per year. The second edition “Smart Homes and Home Automation” report indicates the U.S. had 3.5 million smart homes at the end of 2012. Berg defines smart homes as those with connected products that work in conjunction with apps or a Web portal. However, most of today’s smart homes simply include products such as a Nest thermostat. Continue reading 36 Million Smart Homes Coming to U.S. and Europe by 2017

Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

It’s that time of year again. Mary Meeker, partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, presented her annual report on Internet trends at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California on Wednesday. Meeker noted that growth in Internet usage was slowing, but overall mobile data consumption (pushed by video) is up 81 percent, due to the growing popularity of tablets and smartphones. While mobile accounted for 14 percent of Web usage last year, it is up to 25 percent today. Continue reading Internet Trends Report: Overall Growth Slows, Mobile on Rise

Google Tablet Prototype Touts Advanced Vision Capabilities

The team behind Google’s Project Tango research initiative has reportedly developed a tablet with advanced vision capabilities. The tablet is said to have a 7-inch screen, two back cameras, infrared depth sensors, and advanced software that can capture precise 3D images. Google expects to produce 4,000 prototype tablets beginning next month. Similar to its recent introduction of a smartphone with advanced vision capabilities, Google plans to initially offer the prototype to developers. Continue reading Google Tablet Prototype Touts Advanced Vision Capabilities

Users Lose Interest in Facebook and Google Login Services

Facebook and Google have benefited from the social login button, which allows consumers to log in to other websites and apps using their social media accounts. While app makers have found the tactic useful as users are spared the hassle of signing up, Facebook and Google+ use the information to track what their users do on the Internet. In reaction to users’ decreasing interest in social logins, both companies are shifting tactics to allow for more anonymity.  Continue reading Users Lose Interest in Facebook and Google Login Services

Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts released positive financial results and showed optimism about the holiday shopping season. EA said sales of new video game consoles from Microsoft and Sony exceeded their goals, as well as the sales of games for those devices. EA also announced a repurchase plan for $750 million shares, and a lofty profit forecast for the rest of the year. Activision reported that presales for the newest version of “World of Warcraft” are the strongest in the game’s history. Continue reading Optimistic Financial Reports from Electronic Arts and Activision

Gartner Report Forecasts Increase in Global Device Shipments

A new report from Gartner forecasts that combined global shipments of PCs, tablets, ultramobiles and mobile phones will reach 2.5 billion units in 2014, a 6.9 percent jump from the previous year (device shipments increased 4.8 percent in 2013). Gartner also predicts that the drop in sales of traditional PCs will continue to impact overall growth of devices, and the trend of substituting tablets for PCs will decline. As device saturation reaches a new high, pressure on margins is expected to lead to declining prices and emphasis on new features. Continue reading Gartner Report Forecasts Increase in Global Device Shipments

HDTV Survey: Most U.S. Consumers Are Not Familiar with 4K TV

Leichtman Research Group conducted its 11th annual HDTV-focused consumer survey and learned that the majority of respondents have not heard of 4K/Ultra HD, suggesting the industry may need to educate consumers in order to foster adoption of the technology. According to LRG, only 30 percent of adults have heard of 4K, while only about one-third of that group has actually seen a 4K TV. Additionally, strong interest in purchasing a 4K set was not evident in the findings. Continue reading HDTV Survey: Most U.S. Consumers Are Not Familiar with 4K TV

Worldwide Tablet Sales Up 68 Percent, Android Takes the Lead

Global tablet sales reached 195.4 million units last year, a 68 percent increase compared to 2012, according to Gartner. While sales of iOS tablets declined to 36 percent of the market in 2013, Android tablets captured the number 1 spot with with 62 percent of the market, thanks to the growth of low-end smaller screen tablets and first time buyers. However, when looking at sales by vendor, Apple still holds the lead, followed by Samsung, Asus, Amazon and Lenovo. Continue reading Worldwide Tablet Sales Up 68 Percent, Android Takes the Lead

Samsung Expands Retail Presence in Europe and North America

Samsung has become the largest smartphone maker worldwide without having many of its own retail stores. Since its growth has slowed while faced with a variety of cheaper models from rivals, Samsung is looking to expand its retail presence in North America and Europe. In the next few months Samsung is planning to open around 60 stores in Europe, and 90 kiosks in Canada. The company has no independent retail stores in the U.S., but teamed up with Best Buy last year to create 1,400 “store-in-store” kiosks. Continue reading Samsung Expands Retail Presence in Europe and North America

Sony Sells More Than 5 Million PS4 Game Consoles Worldwide

Sony’s goal was to sell over 5 million PlayStation 4 game consoles by March, but sales had already reached 5.3 million units by February 8. PS4 was first released in November in North America, then Europe, Latin America, parts of Asia, and lastly Japan. PS4 sales have dramatically exceeded analysts’ predictions. Sony is also preparing to release PlayStation Now, an online service that will allow PS3 games to be played on PS4 and the Vita handheld this summer. Continue reading Sony Sells More Than 5 Million PS4 Game Consoles Worldwide

Amazon Says It May Increase Shipping Fees of Prime Service

Amazon announced in a fourth-quarter earnings conference call that it might be raising prices on shipping fees through its Amazon Prime program. The $79-a-year shipping service could go up in price by as much as 50 percent, increasing the company’s bottom line by close to $500 million. The announcement came as a pleasant surprise to investors following a slow holiday season for Amazon and its lowest growth rate in several years. Continue reading Amazon Says It May Increase Shipping Fees of Prime Service

Amazon to Launch Android Device for Games and Entertainment

Amazon is expected to launch a new sub-$300 games and entertainment device this year that runs Android. To compete with the likes of Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo, the product — the name of which has yet to be announced — is said to stream and download games, music, movies and television content. Key to the device’s success is its price point, on par with Amazon’s Kindle and Kindle Fire HD, which are priced comparatively lower than Apple’s iPad. Continue reading Amazon to Launch Android Device for Games and Entertainment

Phablets Poised to Become Multibillion Dollar Market by 2018

Phablets — smartphones with screens larger than 5.5 inches — could grow to become a multibillion dollar market in the coming years. Initially ridiculed by some analysts, the ‘phone-tablets’ are experiencing unexpected success with consumers in global regions such as East Asia. Juniper Research forecasts phablet shipments will increase by 100 million units over the next four years (20 million shipped last year). By 2018, Juniper expects manufacturers to ship 120 million units per year. Continue reading Phablets Poised to Become Multibillion Dollar Market by 2018

FCC Scheduled to Begin Wireless Airwaves Auctions This Week

The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to conduct its first major auction of wireless airwaves in six years today. Telecom analysts at New Street Research estimate that national wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon Wireless, Sprint and T-Mobile — along with satellite TV operator Dish Network — will spend at least $46 billion on spectrum over the next two years in a series of auctions. Next year, the government plans to sell coveted spectrum in the 600 megahertz band, used by TV stations, to be resold for wireless use. Continue reading FCC Scheduled to Begin Wireless Airwaves Auctions This Week

Netflix Tests Subscription Model Based on Number of Users

Netflix is testing a new pricing model with some of its new customers that provides streaming access to as many as four screens simultaneously, allowing household members to view different shows at the same time. Pricing ranges from $6.99 to $11.99 per month. The approach offers more ways to watch content, similar to how cable providers rent multiple set-top boxes. Netflix may also be looking for ways to curb account sharing. If successful, the new pricing could be expanded to additional customers. Continue reading Netflix Tests Subscription Model Based on Number of Users

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