Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Ant Financial Services Group, China’s largest online-payments company, has announced an $880 million deal to acquire Dallas-based money-transfer provider MoneyGram International. Ant Financial split off from Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. in 2011 and is controlled by Alibaba founder Jack Ma. “With the deal, Ant Financial would gain a large footprint and a brand name in the U.S. and expand its global money-transfer business, ultimately bringing it into closer competition with PayPal” and others, reports The Wall Street Journal. However, the deal could be scrutinized by the new presidential administration as global competition is being called into question, despite Donald Trump’s recent discussions with Ma to help create jobs. Continue reading Chinese Company Looks to Buy U.S. Money-Transfer Provider

Tablet War: Can Anyone Compete with the iPad?

  • You’re probably tired of reading about it, but as the tablet wars continue it seems little traction can be made against Apple’s market leader. The Wall Street Journal offers the latest look at the iPad’s impact.
  • HP announced it will lower its price on the TouchPad by 20 percent, only a month after the tablet hit the shelves. Motorola cut the price of its Xoom tablet following the February launch and offered a cheaper model, with little response.
  • Samsung has stopped reporting how many Galaxy Tabs they are shipping — and is now stuck in a patent dispute with Apple that threatens its European sales.
  • Motorola and RIM don’t say how many tablets they have sold and, as recently reported on ETCentric, RIM’s PlayBook is in carrier trouble since Sprint Nextel pulled its support.
  • Meanwhile, Apple has sold some 28.7 million iPads since April 2010. According to WSJ, Apple “says it is having difficulty keeping up with demand and selling every iPad it can manufacture. Five months after its release, its iPad 2 can be hard to find in retail stores. The company said it shipped 9.3 million iPads in the June-ended quarter.”
  • Despite price changes, many consumers seem to view the iPad as the tablet leader and others as imitators. As a result, the tablet market is essentially divided into two sectors at this point — Apple’s iPad…and everyone else.
  • Do any of our readers have a different take on this trend? Does anyone recommend using a tablet other than the iPad?

PlayBook Outsells Motorola Xoom in its First Month

Research In Motion has had an interesting month. ETCentric’s story submission stream has featured a number of PlayBook-related stories in recent weeks… from the tablet’s weak initial launch — to the unfortunate recall of 1,000 units due to faulty operating systems — to the news that it had surprisingly sold 250,000 units during its first month of availability. In fact, despite mixed reviews and April’s slow launch, RIM’s PlayBook managed to outsell the Motorola Xoom in its first month.

In April, initial reports indicated a disappointing launch, with many units reportedly remaining on shelves during the first days of availability. Many reports credited the ongoing success of Apple’s iPad and the current lack of apps made for the PlayBook. Reuters reported: “RIM, which has priced the PlayBook to match the iPad, has struggled to win consumer fans since Apple’s iPhone and a slew of devices running Google’s Android entered the smartphone fray.”

Less than one month later, reports circulated that RIM had recalled approximately 1,000 units that were shipped with what the Wall Street Journal described as, “faulty operating systems which may have prevented users from performing the initial setup of the device.” The recall fell on the heels of RIM issuing a first-quarter profit warning, after citing lower-than-expected BlackBerry sales.

Yet not all news was negative. By the third week of May, RBC Capital Markets reported that the PlayBook had sold 250,000 units in its first month (it took Motorola’s Xoom two months to reach the same numbers). If the pace of PlayBook sales remains consistent, RIM will sell over 2 million units this year (slightly less than most analysts’ sales estimates for the tablet).

Of course, these numbers don’t come close to iPad sales, so the question remains: Is there a current tablet that is ready to compete with Apple’s iPad (at least in the near term)?

Related Reuters article: “RIM launches PlayBook but fans don’t play along” (4/19/11)

Related Wall Street Journal article: “RIM Recalls 1,000 PlayBook Tablets” (5/16/11)

Related BGR Media post: “250,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets sold to date, RBC says” (5/18/11)

Related Wired review: “BlackBerry PlayBook Tablet Lacks All the Right Moves” (4/13/11)

Related CNET review: “BlackBerry PlayBook review: A great surprise” (4/13/11)

Related SmartBlog post: “Will PlayBook play nice in the cloud?” (5/23/11)

Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1: the iPad 2 of Honeycomb Tablets

CNET offers a “first look” video review of the new 32GB Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, a Honeycomb tablet recently demonstrated at the annual Google I/O event (the full production unit will be available June 8). The video notes that the “10.1” in the device’s name refers to the screen size and the UI is the same as that of the Motorola Xoom running Android. However, the review also notes that the Galaxy Tab has more in common with the iPad 2 than the Xoom.

The CNET review describes the new device: “As thin as the iPad 2 and even lighter, the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the sexiest Honeycomb tablet we’ve seen. Also, it has an 8-megapixel back camera and a 2-megapixel front camera, and powerful dual speakers.” On the negative side, the review points out that lack of ports may be problematic to some users — and that from a design perspective, the plastic back of the limited edition version feels less solid and looks like “cheap kitchen wallpaper” (the release this summer may not have this problem).

The CNET evaluation goes on to praise the clean design, screen size, 1280×800 resolution and overall performance.

The bottom line: “Apple still has superior support for games, apps, music, and movies. While Honeycomb 3.1 seeks to offer more features, it’s still not here yet. So, if it’s down to these two tablets, we still recommend the iPad 2; however, the Galaxy Tab 10.1 would be the Android tablet of choice.”

Related Xconomy article: “The iPad Finally Has a Worthy Rival: Samsung’s Galaxy Tab 10.1” (5/13/11)

Related Engadget post and video: “Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 Limited Edition (white) hands-on from Google I/O!” (5/10/11)

Related PC Magazine post and slideshow: “Unboxing the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1” (5/10/11)