Smartphone Thefts Have Doubled in the Last Year

iPhone

If you could have software to activate a “kill switch” if someone steals your phone, would you?

As of January 2014, 90% of American adults own a cell phone, and 58% of adults own a smartphone – that’s a pretty large percentage of the population.

Unfortunately, that just means more and more smartphones are being stolen. According to a survey by Consumer Reports, the number of smartphone thefts almost doubled last year.

More than 3 million Americans were victims of smartphone theft in 2013, compared with 1.6 million the year before. Another 1.4 million smartphones were lost and never recovered last year, according to the survey, which projected these numbers using a poll of 3,000 adults.

Law enforcement and officials have been trying to decide the best way to prevent this from getting worse. Earlier this week, smartphone makers and wireless companies announced they would introduce new anti-theft technology next year that would make it so the user could not use a stolen phone. This feature that would allow victims to disable stolen devices could  reduce phone thefts because criminals would no longer have an incentive to steal them. However, I’m sure there would be ways for some criminals to get around this, but it would make it harder for the common person to steal a smartphone and actually be able to use it.

“Our survey revealed that the number of lost and stolen smart phones is on the rise, and too many smartphone users are needlessly imperiling their personal data by not taking basic security measures,” said Glenn Derene, the electronics editor at Consumer Reports.

A Consumer Reports survey found that only one-third of people lock their phones with a four-digit pin, and only 22 percent have installed a software that can find their phone if it is lost or stolen. If this kind of device was installed on all smartphones, would people actually use it?

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Uber Sticks By New Year’s Pricing Increase

Uber

Getting a cab isn’t always the easiest thing. You have to find the number, and then hope they are able to find you and your apartment. Uber makes it a lot easier. You can call for a ride via a smartphone app (much easier) and they can find your location from your phone. Prices are normally pretty reasonable, but when they jacked up their prices for New Year’s Eve – people got mad.

“If you absolutely need a ride between 1 and 3 a.m., Uber will be very reliable,” Kalanick said in a YouTube video. “But it will be a pricey ride, and you just have to accept that.” The company’s pricing policies can sometimes result in fares that are eight times higher than usual.

While this may be an annoying price spike – people have to realize that the company is paying their drivers time and a half for working on a holiday, and they are taken away from their families.

Uber is available in over 60 markets, from their hometown of San Francisco, to Tokyo.  Revenue is about $200 million a year.

While Uber was launched about 3 1/2 years ago, competitors such as Hailo, Sidecar and Lyft are catching up. Uber has done promotions such as delivering of kittens, ice cream and Christmas trees.

Delivery “can become an extremely complex thing,” said Kerry Rice, a digital media analyst at Needham. “It’s about the scheduling and the software and the ability to manage a fleet.”

What do you think of Uber? Have you used it before?

LG to Create a Curved Smartphone

LG Logo

IMG: LG

LG Electronics has announced that they are creating a curved smartphone that will be released in November this year, and showcased later this month.

According to the report, the phone will be called the “G Flex,” and have a 6-inch, curved screen that uses organic light-emitting-diode technology.

OLED screens are thinner and lighter, however they are more susceptible to moisture. Display experts have said that it will be awhile before both Samsung and LG are able to create fully flexible screens. I’m pretty sure anyone would love to buy that phone.

This is not the first time LG has come out with a curved screen. Earlier this year, LG launched 55-inch curved TV sets. Samsung, LG’s big competitor, also plans to launch a curved smartphone sometime in October.

“We do not think transparent and rollable phones will remain confined to concept products forever,” Jae H. Lee, an analyst with Daiwa Securities, wrote in a research note. But, the analyst added, “the challenge of launching flexible displays has been its extremely low production yield due to difficulties in encapsulating OLED displays, since organic materials need to be protected from air and moisture.”

Do you think the curved screen will make any difference, or just feel awkward?

Does BlackBerry Mobile Need to Revamp it’s Game?

Blackberry phone

Adriano Castelli / Shutterstock.com

There was one point when having a BlackBerry phone was like having an iPhone. The keyboard and sleek look was something everyone wanted. While that look was ideal for the time, with internet and screens getting bigger, no one wanted to buy a phone where the keyboard took up half the phone. They did finally come out with a touch screen, but probably not soon enough.

BlackBerry did admit that sales of its new BlackBerry 10 smartphones were worse than expected, but now actual numbers have been released. In an SEC filing, it was revealed that Blackberry sold only 5.9 million smartphones in the second quarter, about about 4.2 million of those phones were running the old operating system, BlackBerry 7. This means that the new phone ended up selling less than 2 million units. This comes as a blow to BlackBerry since this was the phone that was suppose to bring the company back in the game.

This is a big change from their sales just a year ago. About 9 million smartphones were sold in their second quarter. For comparison, Apple sold 9.5 million iPhone 5s and 5c devices just in their first weekend.

In more disappointing news, BlackBerry has a 965 million loss in their second quarter. “The intense competition impacting the company’s financial and operational results that previously affected demand in the United States market is now being experienced globally, including in international markets where the company has historically experienced rapid growth,” BlackBerry said, referring mainly to Android phones.

BlackBerry stock declined by 5% in morning trading following the filing.

Women Allegedly Died from Answering her iPhone

iPhone

IMG: Shutterstock

Ma Ailun is a 23-year-old women from China’s western Xinjiang who worked as a flight attendant for China Southern Airlines. She was killed in an electric shock when she answered her iPhone while it was charging, the official Xinhua news agency quoted police as saying on Sunday. Apple Inc is currently investigating the accident.

“We are deeply saddened to learn of this tragic incident and offer our condolences to the Ma family. We will fully investigate and cooperate with authorities in this matter,” Apple said in an e-mail. Apple has declined to comment on the details.

Ma’s sister tweeted on Sina’s microblog telling her story and to warn others to be careful, the post went viral.

Apple apologized in April to Chinese consumers and altered iPhone warranty policies.

About 200 Million Snapchats are Sent Every Day

Snapchat

IMG: via Snapchat

If you haven’t already heard of the app Snapchat, then you may want to check it out. Currently people are using this service to send about 200 million snaps a day.

snapchat

IMG: via Business Insider

Snapchat was created in 2011 by Stanford University students and is very popular among teenagers and young adults. This app allows users to send pictures or videos that erase after 4-10 seconds of viewing it.

This doesn’t mean the picture is gone forever, though. People have been known to receive “private” pictures, screenshot them, and then post them online. While some IOS users were able to be alerted if their picture was saved, that has now been disabled for iPhone users in the new iOS 7 update.

The app recently raised $60 million in funding, the IVP firm said on Monday. They also attracted a very high-profile board member, the Chief Executive of Sony Corp., Michael Lynton.

This app is continuing to attract a lot of attention, what are your thoughts on Snapchat? Do you personally use it yourself?

AT&T to Set Up Free Solar-Power Phone Chargers in NYC

ATT street-chargers

IMG: via Goal Zero

Everyone has days where they seem to use their phone for just about everything, resulting in their battery being at 20 percent by noon. AT&T just announced that it will be installing 25 solar-powered charging stations for mobile phones throughout New York City. AT&T partnered with the solar power company Goal Zero and is calling the project is called “Street Charge.” 

“Nearly half of all Americans own a smartphone, and the amount of time we spend on handheld devices has increased dramatically,” said Joe Atkin, president and CEO of Goal Zero. “All too often, we hear the dreaded low-battery beep and it happens at the most inconvenient times. Street Charge will fix that.”

These chargers are being installed today in Fort Green Park in Brooklyn. They will then be installed in Brooklyn Bridge Park, Coney Island, Riverside Park, Union square and Hudson River Park.

Each charger will have 6 USB connectors, and will allow charging for iPhone, Android and Windows phones. The chargers are a “test,” and will stay in place until October. If successful, AT&T may install them in more cities.

Popularity Contest: Android Wins

android

Img: Saad Irfan via Flickr

As much as it’s true that Androids and iPhones are the two major brands of smartphones sold in the United States, there is one clear winner between the two—and it’s not iOS. Android phones accounted over half of the phones sold in February through April 2013, or 51.7%. iPhones, on the other hand, were just 41.4% of smartphone sales, followed by the Windows Phone 8 with 5.6%.

The report comes from research firm Kantar, and shows an increase in sales for all three operating systems since the same period in 2012—with a sharp drop in RIM smartphones (Blackberry) from 5.3% to 0.7%.

Android phones increased their share of the smartphone market by about 1.4%, but both Windows and iOS phones were growing at a faster rate. iOS had a 2.3% increase over last year, while Windows phones are up 1.8%.

In the phone carrier world, Verizon is leading the charge with a total of 36.3% of total smartphone sales. AT&T is the second largest seller, with 26.3% of smartphone sales. Sprint Nextel and T-Mobile come in close to each other, with 13.1% and 11.4% of sales, respectively. Verizon and Sprint saw an increase in percentage shares of the market, while AT&T remained stable and T-Mobile declined by more than three percentage points.

When looking at carriers, the iOS and Android smartphone war looks much different. At Verizon, the top seller, 47.4% of sales were Android, while 45.4% were iOS—a much closer race than overall percentages reveal. And at AT&T, the second-place carrier, iOS beat out Android phones by a whopping 25%, with 58.8% of total sales being iOS (as compared to 33.7% for Android).

For now, Android is winning the smartphone market, though iOS phones still dominate the remainder of the market. But both operating systems should be on the lookout for Windows phones, which are increasingly gaining users from featurephones (42%) as well as from Android phones (23%).

Only 1 in 10 Americans Say They Would Wear Google Glasses

google glasses

Img: Giuseppe Costantino via Flickr

Google Glasses are being talked about on all forms of news sites, but who is actually going to wear them? According to a new study conducted by BiTE interactive, only one in ten American smartphone users would wear these glasses regularly. While they may be very beneficial and innovative, no one really wants to walk around wearing them.

Social awkwardness and the device seeming irritating were the top reasons why people said they would not wear them out in public. Even if the glasses lowered in price from their current $1,500 sticker, about 38% of respondents said they still wouldn’t wear them. About 44% of those who stated they would wear the glasses are most excited about being able to take pictures, and 39% were excited to make phone calls.

“Google Glass represents a profound social barrier for the average consumer,” Joseph Farrell, EVP of operations at BiTE interactive, told Mashable. “At best, they see a Glass user as someone who prioritizes information access over a personal connection with others. At worst, they fear social sleights of hand: researching topics, recording video or Googling a person in mid-conversation,” he continued. “Overall, what Glass offers is combination of high social rejection with features the average person simply doesn’t value over their current smartphone.”

To read more about Google’s CEO Larry Page, click here.

Target Plans to Lure You In Stores With Facebook Deals

target

Img: storm2k via Flickr

Online shopping dominates the market. While I personally hate paying shipping for something I can run down the street and grab, at times it can be significantly cheaper and provide more options. Target just came out with a new marketing plan to compete with the online retailers; cartwheel. This service combines social networking and discounts which helps to bring more shoppers into their physical store. These discounts do not apply online.

This new program has users use their Facebook accounts to redeem these deals. In order to redeem the discounts and promotions, the shopper has to either print out a barcode or present it on their smartphone. Users can see other deals that their friends have used, and can earn more offers by having their Facebook friends sign up.

This program officially launched today, May 8th. Once you have signed up, you can view your offers on Facebook. Target said that it worked in partnership with Facebook to create this app. The great thing about it is that you can share the deals you chose with their Facebook friends, but offers on more discreet items, such as bras or medicine, will not be visible to others.

“Linking offers through Facebook will let the retailer know exactly what Facebook can or cannot accomplish for it. While Twitter can be useful to promote timely, limited offers, Facebook is ‘the dominant platform’ for connecting with shoppers and, in turn, with their connections.” said Carol Spieckerman, president of newmarketbuilders, a retail strategy firm.

 

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