Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Beginning January 2020, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) will allow that state’s residents to find out exactly what personal data companies hold about them — and ask them to delete such information. Consumers will also have the option of opting out of allowing their personal information to be sold. The legislation — which was designed to make Amazon, Facebook, Google and others more transparent — will impact a wide range of companies, large and small, including airlines, banks, retailers and restaurants. Continue reading Companies Prep for Brunt of California Consumer Privacy Act

Microsoft Azure Grows to the No. 2 Spot in Cloud Computing

Amazon has thus far dominated the cloud computing business, but Microsoft is now a strong No. 2. The latter, in a quarterly financial report, indicated that its Azure cloud computing unit grew 89 percent over the same period a year ago and demonstrated growth in other cloud offerings. Synergy Research Group reports that the overall “core cloud business” is valued at $60 billion a year, having grown by 50 percent in Q1 2018. Amazon is responsible for a 33 percent share, which had held steady since the end of 2015. Continue reading Microsoft Azure Grows to the No. 2 Spot in Cloud Computing

Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

Amazon is making a big push to be everywhere in the smart home, which is why its devices are relatively inexpensive: the new Amazon Echo is $99.99, Echo Plus is $149.99, Echo Spot is $129.99 and the new Fire TV stick is $69.99. The company is betting on being ubiquitous enough in homes to become the de facto standard for smart home devices — in essence, a new operating system. Proof that Amazon is playing a long game is the Echo Plus, which with a single command could turn off the lights, lock the door and turn off the TV. Continue reading Amazon Intends to Rule the Smart Home With Alexa Devices

As Threats to Cybersecurity Grow, So Does Cyberinsurance

Increasingly pervasive threats to cybersecurity have jumpstarted the cyberinsurance business to reach beyond technology companies, its core customers. Covering financial loss, including theft of data and ransomware, cyberinsurance is reportedly the fastest-growing coverage among U.S. companies; cyberinsurance firms provide competing tools to distinguish their offerings in the marketplace. Insurance is not in lieu of good security practices, but the idea of cyberinsurance is appealing even though it is largely untested. Continue reading As Threats to Cybersecurity Grow, So Does Cyberinsurance

Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Fitbit will debut its first true smartwatch, the $300 Ionic, in October. This new gadget, however, is focused on the company’s core competency — fitness — although it still offers typical smartwatch functionalities, including music, mobile payments and push notifications. Since Fitbit views health and fitness as the killer app, the Ionic offers an expanded range of health-oriented functions. Fitbit co-founder/chief executive James Park said the decision to take this tack was because he saw that consumers have been confused about the purpose of smartwatches. Continue reading Fitbit to Launch First Real Smartwatch With Focus on Fitness

Taco Bell Is Experimenting With New Marketing Vehicle: Lyft

Fast-food chain Taco Bell is teaming with ride-sharing firm Lyft to offer passengers a “Taco Mode” in the Lyft app for requesting rides between 9:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. that include a stop at a Taco Bell drive-through. The option will be tested around Newport Beach, California the next few weeks, and will likely expand nationally in 2018. “I kind of think of this like inverse delivery — like we’re delivering you to Taco Bell,” said Marisa Thalberg, Taco Bell’s chief marketing officer. “You’re being delivered to the food as opposed to having to get in your own car and drive.” Continue reading Taco Bell Is Experimenting With New Marketing Vehicle: Lyft

Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

To succeed in countries where large percentages of the population do not have bank accounts, Amazon is launching Amazon Cash, a new service that allows users to add cash to their Amazon accounts without incurring fees. Otherwise, to make cash purchases, such customers would have to buy an Amazon Gift Card or purchase a prepaid card. To access Amazon Cash between $15 and $500, the user requests a barcode, accessed through Amazon’s website mobile app or via text message, which is presented to a participating retailer. Continue reading Amazon Cash for Those Without Credit Cards, Bank Accounts

AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

Until “Pokémon Go” burst onto the scene last summer, augmented reality was developing quietly in the shadow of virtual reality. With the spike of awareness around the success of “Pokémon Go,” we are rapidly redefining and evolving our ideas of what an AR experience can be. The AR landscape includes developers, storytellers, world builders, platforms and SDKs, apps and browsers, glasses and lenses, image recognition, spatial audio and spatial awareness tech, haptic feedback and other sensory input/output tools, agencies, research institutions, and more. We expect AR to be a major topic at next month’s CES 2017. Continue reading AR Experiences a Breakout Year, More to Come at CES 2017

Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Although Nielsen already offers tools to help track when consumers buy products in-store after seeing online ads, the measurements company has inked an agreement with Foursquare to create an improved product. Location data company Foursquare will offer information which, combined with Nielsen’s marketing tools, will offer a more complete picture of consumer activity. The new capabilities will come at a price. Nielsen digital measurement clients will be required to buy into the version with Foursquare data included. Continue reading Nielsen and Foursquare Ink Partnership for In-Store Visit Info

Starbucks Unveils ‘Upstanders’ Original Video, Podcast Series

Starbucks launched “Upstanders,” an original multi-platform 10-episode series that tells “stories of compassion, citizenship and civility” through video, podcasts, and text. The content will be distributed in the company’s in-store digital network, online and via its mobile app. Starbucks chairman/chief executive Howard Schultz wrote and produced the series with Starbucks executive producer Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who left his post as senior editor at The Washington Post to establish the production company in Seattle. Continue reading Starbucks Unveils ‘Upstanders’ Original Video, Podcast Series

Uber Adjusts its Employment Policies and Calls for New Apps

Uber Technologies is tweaking how it does business. In California, the ride-sharing company will no longer reject potential drivers due to a nonviolent or nonsexual offense, such as petty theft or check fraud. It will also tell those rejected why and describe steps they can take to reduce their felony conviction to a misdemeanor. Uber is also now promising drivers more money to work during heavy demand periods, and is inviting smartphone app developers to create customized “trip experiences” for riders. Continue reading Uber Adjusts its Employment Policies and Calls for New Apps

Sponsored Geofilters on Snapchat Draw in Advertising Dollars

Mobile video and messaging app Snapchat has become increasingly appealing to advertisers, who are using sponsored geofilters to turn their users into brand ambassadors. Although Snapchat still hasn’t built out its basic advertising infrastructure, advertisers are signing up to run fledgling campaigns in which people can add geofilters only when they are in specific locations. Among the brands that have launched such campaigns are Nike, GE, Target and McDonald’s. Some videos generate between 30 and 50 million views. Continue reading Sponsored Geofilters on Snapchat Draw in Advertising Dollars

FreedomPop Targets Affordable Alternative to Cellular Plans

Los Angeles-based FreedomPop wants to make Wi-Fi hotspots more accessible to mobile phone users by eliminating the process by which users typically have to accept terms and conditions or enter a password in order to connect. Users of the new service would pay $5 monthly in exchange for automatic and seamless access to about 9 million hotspots (and growing). With its new Wi-Fi service, FreedomPop hopes to provide customers with an alternative to costly service plans from cellular carriers. Continue reading FreedomPop Targets Affordable Alternative to Cellular Plans

CES: The Quantified Self – Is There a Model for Making Money?

Is there a practical business model for wearables? A CES panel on “What’s New in the Quantified Self” did a deep dive on that question, with panelists drawing from their own early experiences. Engaging consumers with wearables is proving to be much more difficult than anticipated, say the panelists, who report that 85 percent of wearables are abandoned after one month. Success may rely on the industry identifying models that address interaction with data and long-term consumer engagement. Continue reading CES: The Quantified Self – Is There a Model for Making Money?

Starbucks Order & Pay Service Links Mobile to In-Store Retail

Starbucks is introducing a new app for iPhones that allows customers to order and pay without having to visit the checkout counter. The beta service launched this week in Portland, Oregon. Starbucks plans to follow up by launching “Mobile Order & Pay” city-by-city throughout 2015, and introducing an Android version. The massive reach of a company like Starbucks places it in a position to successfully link mobile devices to in-store retail, an issue Silicon Valley has been trying to address for years. Continue reading Starbucks Order & Pay Service Links Mobile to In-Store Retail

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