Microsoft Builds Its Own iAd for Windows 8 Apps

Microsoft is creating its own new native ad formats for Windows 8, not unlike Apple’s iAd, which is designed to increase ad revenue in the iOS ecosystem.

The new ads — which will be unveiled Tuesday at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity — will revisit what a banner can be on Windows 8 devices, whether they’re desktop computers, tablets or mobile phones. One question: do advertisers Windows 8 enough to do custom creative for it?

The software giant is showing off the prototypes developed with brands and agencies, including All Saints, Dell, Universal McCann and VML.

One of the most sriking examples comes from clothing brand All Saints and London agency Beattie McGuinness Bungay. As a user horizontally scrolls through Vice’s Windows 8 app, they may overlook the tall rectangle featuring models garbed in All Saints. However those models don’t take their eyes off the user.

The ad uses what Microsoft’s VP-global agencies and accounts Stephen Kim described as “parallax view” so that its image adjusts to its position on the screen. Assuming the gimmick is eye-catching enough to get the user to click on the ad, the unit opens up into video mural that plays as you horizontally scroll through the posh dinner scene. Littered throughout the video — which builds on Microsoft’s new Ad Pano format that aims to be a digital version of the magazine fold-out — are hot spots tied to the items worn by the models that can be clicked on to navigate to a product page and buy the shirt or dress.

“The highest order challenge the creative industry has had for a long time…is how to create ads to get people to interact with a larger experience,” Mr. Kim said.

In another example, footwear brand Vans and New York agency Rooster Worldwide built an ad displayed in the Skype app plays as a user horizontally scrolls. If a user clicks on the ad, he or she is prompted to team up with a friend via a Skype video chat to build a virtual skatepark. After assembling the playground they can check out Vans shoes, watch branded videos and share their creation with other Skype contacts or to Facebook and Twitter.

The unspoken hope is that top-tier brand advertisers will flock to the new Windows 8 ads whenever they roll out of testing and that app developers will see the premium ad revenues to be had and create apps for Microsoft’s operating system. In other words, Microsoft is Kevin Costner trying to build in-app advertising’s Field of Dreams on its operating system; advertisers are the ghost ballplayers; and app developers are the line of cars that close the film.

Apple is trying to do the same with its iAds, having built its mobile operating system to enable ads that appear as generic mobile banners but, when clicked, open up to function more like an app than an ad. Price drops indicate those ads may not be worth their complexity, but a drive to attract brand dollars to digital may hinge on these types of more immersive, premium banners.

That makes it all the more puzzling that Google, a company far more dependent on advertising revenue than Microsoft or Apple, has yet to build any premium ad products unique to smartphones or tablets running its Android operating system.

Last year Microsoft had also worked with agencies to come up with ad units unique to Windows 8 devices. Those in-app prototypes also aimed to deliver more in-depth brand content but via nontraditional ad formats akin to a Yahoo or AOL home-page takeover.

Without the flexibility to run in various apps or sites, the prototypes are little more than the digital equivalent of a Times Square billboard. Mr. Kim acknowledged the looming scale question, saying the first step was to draft the concepts then figure out how to make them more accessible to advertisers. “Each [prototype] has an element that is designed to take on the challenge of how to work within a more standard ad unit,” Mr. Kim said of this year’s batch.

Reuters: Apple's Next 'iPhone 5S' Will Have A Fingerprint Sensor

Reuters has a big story out today on Apple’s future plans for the iPhone.

The story says that Apple’s next iPhone, which the tech press commonly refers to as the iPhone 5S, will have a fingerprint sensor:

For this year, Apple is expected to launch two new models, widely referred to as the iPhone 5S, with new fingerprint technology…

The fingerprint sensor has been one of the most consistent rumored features of the iPhone 5S. Last year, Apple bought a company called Authentec that makes fingerprint sensors for mobile devices. That caused many to speculate fingerprint technology would make it into a future iPhone model.

Presumably, such a sensor would let you unlock your phone with your fingerprint instead of a passcode, making it tougher for thieves to break into your device.

Apple Might Launch a Bigger iPhone, as Well as a Cheaper, Colorful One

Apple is looking into launching iPhones with a 4.7-inch and a 5.7-inch screen, Reuters reports, citing sources with knowledge of the matter.

The company is also considering launching a cheaper variant of the iPhone, that would cost around $99 and come in 5-6 colors.

The moves are described as being “under discussion,” meaning they may never actually happen. If they do, however, it would mean Apple has more or less abandoned its position as the standard-setter in the smartphone market and become just another trend-follower.

Long-known for its limited palette of products, Apple always focused on the premium segment of the market, claiming the form factors of its devices, as well as the prices, are just right. For example, Samsung currently offers smartphones and phablets with more than 10 different screen sizes, while Apple has only two: the 3.5-inch iPhone 4S and the 4-inch iPhone 5.

The iPhone 5 was launched last September, and Apple is widely expected to unveil a new iPhone around that time this year. One of Reuters’ sources claims the company “constantly changes product specifications almost to the final moment,” so — as usual — no one except Apple really knows whether we’ll also see a bigger or a cheaper iPhone in September as well.

Android up 13%, iOS down 7%, BlackBerry down 81% … and Windows Phone up a massive 52%

The mobile operating system market share numbers are in for Kantar Worldpanel’s last quarter, and the numbers are shocking.

Not the Android and iOS numbers: Steady but unspectacular growth for Android and gradual but not catastrophic drops for Apple are pretty much in line with expectations.
But the BlackBerry and Windows Phone numbers are dramatic changes from the same quarter a year ago. Windows Phone looks to be finally taking off, with 52 percent growth in December, January, and February of this year compared to the same three months in 2012. And BlackBerry is falling of a sales cliff, with an 81 percent plunge in sales.

The big kahuna, of course, is Android.

Google’s Android now owns more than half of U.S. smartphone sales, with 51.2 percent market share. That’s up from 45.4 percent in the quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, iOS is holding fairly steady at number two, with 43.5 percent, down slightly from last year’s 47 percent.
What’s interesting about the Windows numbers, even though they are on a much smaller installed base, is that Windows Phone is currently the fastest-growing mobile phone platform. At 4.1 percent of mobile operating system market share, Microsoft still has a very long ways to go, and growth rates could start to slow as it piles up share. But the numbers have to be encouraging for Redmond as it is finally gaining traction in a market that it once appeared to have completely lost.

And the international numbers contain pockets of even more good news, such as Italy, where Windows Phone now makes up 13.1 percent of new phone sales.
Apple’s mobile offerings are strongest with the two largest U.S. carriers, AT&T and Verizon. Both sell a majority of iOS smartphones, with AT&T selling 68.4 percent iOS versus 20.8 percent Android, and Verizon selling 55.1 percent iOS versus 43.4 percent Android.
Meanwhile, Samsung is continuing to expand its Android leadership, taking away market share
from competitors LG and HTC:

“Of those who changed their phone over the last year to a Samsung smartphone, 19 percent had previously owned a Samsung feature phone, 15 percent owned a HTC smartphone, 14 percent owned an LG feature phone, 10 percent owned a Samsung smartphone, and 9 percent owned a BlackBerry,” said Kantar Worldpanel analyst Mary-Ann Parlato. “It’s apparent that Samsung is successful at capturing users from across the competitor set and not just gaining from their own loyalists.”

Kantar Worldpanel is the largest continuous consumer research mobile phone panel in the world, and conducts more than 240,000 interviews per year in the U.S. alone to determine what consumers are buying and using.

One Billion Android Devices to Ship in 2017

In 2017, 1.5 billion smartphones are expected to ship worldwide. And one operating system will power two-thirds of these mobile devices.

According to the latest forecasts from Canalys, Android devices will account for one billion of the devices shipped in 2017.

In North America and Western Europe, virtually all phones shipped will be smartphones, the report projects.

In China, the spread of smartphones will even be particularly massive as they will represent 95% of all mobile phone shipments in 2017.

“The price of smart phones has fallen dramatically over the last few years and this has helped increase penetration,” says Chris Jones, Canalys Principal Analyst.

“But, so far, the problem with low-cost smart phones has been that the user experience has been compromised to hit lower price points,” Jones adds. “This is why Nokia has been so successful with its Asha portfolio. These handsets have been purpose-built and provide a great “pseudo-smart phone” experience. But the situation will change over the next few years. As component prices continue to fall, vendors will be able to deliver great experiences on smartphones at low price points, which means that in many markets, feature phones will become extinct.”

Windows Phone hits 145,000 apps, but progress slows

Microsoft’s efforts to build out the app ecosystem for Windows Phone 8 appear to be reaching a plateau. Buried in today’s announcement of the Nokia Lumia 928 for Verizon was the fact that the Windows Phone Store now has 145,000 apps, up only slightly from the 120,000 apps announced in October. The figures suggest momentum has slowed after the Windows Phone catalog doubled in size over the first half of last year. And it raises the question of whether developers are shying away from a platform that is still struggling to catch on in North America.

Microsoft has won over some high-profile developers this year, attracting new or redesigned apps from YouTube, Hulu, and Foursquare. The company says that the vast majority of the most popular apps on other platforms are available on Windows Phone. Microsoft has even developed Android software that will scan your phone, match the apps available on Windows Phone, and save them to your Microsoft ID to help you switch.

Some have made the case that Microsoft is smart to focus on quality apps over sheer numbers, even as iOS has passed 800,000 apps. Nokia recently resorted to a public campaign in an effort to get Facebook to build Instagram for Windows Phone. But so far, it hasn’t been successful — and the broader campaign to get developers to build for Windows Phone appears to be having similar results.

Apple And Samsung Are Best Poised For A Smartwatch, Says Wearable Tech Veteran

Almost every major tech company is making a bet on smartwatches.

We’ve heard rumors of an Apple iWatch for a while now. We have knowledge of Google working on a smartwatch. Executives at Microsoft’s suppliers in Asia told Bloomberg last month that the company asked them to ship displays for touch-enabled watch devices. LG is reportedly working on a smartwatch, and so is Samsung.

But if any company is going to succeed in the market, it sounds like it’s going to be Samsung or Apple, or maybe even both.

“Samsung and Apple are traditional hardware companies and have spent nearly the last decade combining powerful technologies into the smartphone,” Skooks Pong, VP of technology at Synapse, tells Business Insider.

Synapse is the engineering firm behind the Nike FuelBand. About a decade ago, Pong worked on early prototypes of Microsoft’s SPOT smartwatches.

“[Apple and Samsung have] been able to overcome challenges like extending battery power, while minimizing its size and they’ve combined multiple technologies like Bluetooth, GPS and NFC into a small piece of hardware,” Pong says.

Pong notes that the smartwatch will present similar challenges to smartphones because of its small size. In order for a smartwatch to truly appeal to the masses, it will also need to do more than just send notifications to your wrist.

“It’s about introducing a device that consumers never even knew they needed, like Apple did with the iPod,” Pong says. “Because of the need to combine sophisticated technologies into a body-worn device, based on their track record Apple or a Samsung would be better poised to create a transformative device. But with Google, you can’t ever count them out.”

The latest rumor about the Google smartwatch is that Motorola would manufacture it for them. That makes sense, given that Google acquired the company for $12.4 billion last year, though initially just for its patents. for its hardware expertise.

Google hasn’t had much luck with its hardware products. Its Nexus phones sales could not even compare to the iPhone. And then there was the Nexus Q, Google’s very short-lived media streaming device.

Motorola hasn’t fared much better. Since Google’s acquisition, Motorola has not had any “hit” products. By the end of last year, Motorola’s market share fell from 2.2% worldwide at the time of the purchase to 1.7%.

Amazon Web Services Launches CloudHSM, A Dedicated Hardware Security Appliance For Managing Cryptographic Keys

Amazon just announced the launch of CloudHSM, a new service that provides Amazon Web Services users who need to meet corporate, contractual and regulatory compliance requirements for data security a way to do so by using a dedicated Hardware Security Module (the ‘HSM’ in CloudHSM) within the Amazon cloud. Until now, Amazon argues, the only option for many companies that use its cloud services was to store their most sensitive data – or the encryption keys to it – in their own on-premise data centers. This, of course, made it hard for these companies to fully migrate their applications to the cloud.

The new service, Amazon writes, can be used to support “a variety of use cases and applications, such as database encryption, Digital Rights Management (DRM), and Public Key Infrastructure (PKI) including authentication and authorization, document signing, and transaction processing.” The actual appliances are Luna SA modules from SafeNet, Inc.

The new CloudHSM service uses Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC) and the appliances are provisioned inside the user’s VPC with an IP address the user specifies. The service, Amazon says, provides businesses with secure key storage and protects these keys with “tamper-resistant HSM appliances that are designed to comply with international (Common Criteria EAL4+) and U.S. Government (NIST FIPS 140-2) regulatory standards for cryptographic modules.

Because the HSMs are located close to the user’s EC2 cloud computing instances, network latency should be very low.

All of this, however, doesn’t come cheap. The upfront cost to provision a CloudHSM is $5,000 and the hourly cost are $1.88 per hour, which comes out to $1,373 on average per month. For businesses that need this kind of security, that’s probably a small price to pay, but this is clearly not a service that’s geared toward startups that just want to ensure their encryption keys and data are stored safely. The HSM client software can load balance requests across two or more CloudHSMs, though Amazon notes that it can take “several weeks” to provision more than two HSMs.

iPhone 5S and iPad 5: Release Date, Specs, Price and Rumors

Regarding the unveiling of iPhone 5S and iPad 5, the date of June 29th was first reported by Gizmorati, who claims to have an inside source, and the blog also mentions that Apple will launch the iPhone 5S and iPad 5 during a special event called ‘Original Passion, New Ideas’, with the purpose to “reconquer the public and reassure the investors”, after the things started to go wrong (Maps app,  lower sales, stock value dropping etc).

After the June 29th date was mentioned, many other rumors started to support it:

-CNET claims the iPhone 5S should start shipping by the end of June, according to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster.

-Digitimes reported that “Apple’s supply chain will start shipping the components for the iPhone 5S at the end of May, so the next generation smartphone will likely have a chance of showing up in the third quarter.”

-MacRumors cites KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Ku, who predicted a late June release.

Specifications:

It is believed that iPhone 5S will feature a Super HD display, higher-end processor, a 12-megapixels camera, a fingerprint sensor, near-field communications support (NFC) and maybe wireless charging.

Regarding the iPad 5, a 128GB version seems to be possible, as we know that Apple now has that capacity, thanks to the recent launch of a 128GB iPad 4. Also it could feature a new A6X processor system-on-a-chip, lightning connector and better LTE support.

Price:

The price of iPhone 5S is expected to be around $199 for the 16GB model, $299 for the 32GB model and $399 for 64GB. All with a new contract.

How mobiles engage with ads?

According to data out from eMarketer the mobile space could push more than $7.2 billion in revenues this year as mobile become even more engaged with their devices of choice. According to some experts smartphone users are checking their devices upwards of 150 times each day. Does that correlate with ad engagement?

Data from the Zumobi platform shows mobile and mobile applications users are highly engaged with advertising served. According to their Q1 numbers smartphone users engaged with ads on Zumobi’s platform for more than 6 minutes while tablet users spent just over 3 minutes with ads. You can see the full infographic here.

“In today’s digital world, consumers expect brands to deliver a relevant and personalized experience,” said Mike Baker, CEO and co-founder of DataXu. “Marketers know that a thorough understanding of their consumers can provide a significant competitive advantage in a noisy marketplace. The Consumer Index underscores that advertising is now research and digital behavioral data delivers valuable insights into the consumer lifestyle trends that can inform strategies, drive engagement, and ultimately improve marketing investment results.”

Meanwhile information out from DataXu examines how consumers are engaging across devices. Their research shows that automotive consumers, for example, are most likely to engage with Media/Entertainment or Health products online. Smartphone users, meanwhile are most likely to show interest in financial services than other categories. PC users are most likely to engage with or convert via retail channels than through automotive channels.

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