British Airways: Your iPhone IS Your Boarding Pass

Mobile Ticketing

There’s a grocery store queue, a cafe queue, and then there’s…well, the airport hassle. And for business executives, to whom waiting lounges and boarding lines have become a usual occurrence, it would be deliverance of almost Israelite proportions to have a “back door” strategy to boarding the flight. Seems like now there is, thanks to mobile ticketing systems deployed by leading airlines such as British Airways.

Mobile Phones Replacing Paper Tickets

British Airways Executive Club iPhone users can use new “Mobile Boarding Passes” on their smartphone, which can be scanned at check-in before they board. A detectable barcode appears on the iPhone’s screen, which can be read by a scanner at the departure gate. The app’s interface will also give customers instant access to their updates on flights, check-in times, and keep tabs on their frequent flyer points.

Other established airlines across the planet, such as Delta & Continental, are also deploying such systems to facilitate passenger ease. According to Juniper Research, 1 in 7 boarding passes will be mobile in 2013, equating to almost 480 million mobile boarding passes, a motivating figure for the revolution. Using mobile from booking, to security, to check-in and boarding spells a huge win-win for airlines, passengers, as well as airports.

Transport Industry Boosted by Smartphones & Mobile Ticketing

And it’s not just the airline industry that is taking advantage of mobile technology. Orange UK has partnered with rail and bus operator Stagecoach to provide mobile ticketing services through handsets that run Orange’s Quick Tap NFC service. If the UK Department for Transport determines satisfactory levels of technological effectiveness and consumer satisfaction, the system could be rolled out across the UK by next year.

The economic impact of this technology trend is going to be of mammoth proportions, keeping in mind how travel websites fueled fare competition and passenger increase after the dot-com boom of the 90s. One thing is for sure, it’s not just the passenger that benefits, but all stakeholders involved, something that percolates from how passenger-centric apps are boosting the implementation of Europe’s Intelligent Transport System (ITS); something that is poised to put public transport at par with private.

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Mobile Ad Spend Balloons During First Half of 2012

Mobile Advertising

Seems like busy fingers sliding across smartphone and tablet screens are making an impact far beyond the devices they tap on; somewhere it really counts, the advertising world. During the first half of this year, internet advertising revenues climbed to an all-time high, fueled by dramatic growth in mobile ad spending according to a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and consulting powerhouse PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Tablets Leading Smartphones In Fueling Ads

As compared to the $636 million generated in the first half of 2011, mobile ad spending almost doubled year-over-year, increasing 95 percent to $1.2 billion during 2012’s first six months. The report adds that mobile advertising contributed 7 percent of total internet ad revenues during the first half of this year, up from 4 percent in the year-ago period. The largest contributing sector to the whopping figure was retail advertisers, who generated 20 percent of the total revenues at $3.4 billion, while the automotive sector followed with $2.2 billion.

Additionally, a complementing survey found that 47% of tablet users engage with mobile ads on their device more than once a week, while one in four smartphone users interact with ads at the same frequency. Moreover, 89 percent of tablet users and 80 percent of smartphone users are extremely likely to take action after engaging with a mobile promotion.

Apple iOS Leading in Mobile Ads As Well

On a similar note, Opera’s “State of Mobile Advertising” report reveals that Apple’s iOS leads all smartphone operating systems on mobile advertising monetization performance, with an average eCPM (effective cost per thousand impressions) of $2.85. Android follows iOS with an average eCPM of $2.10, while rest of the platforms take the graph quite downwards. BlackBerry generates an average eCPM of just $0.64, followed by Symbian at $0.59 and Microsoft’s Windows Phone at just $0.20. Apple’s lead on this turf is well complemented by successive back-to-back device launches, something that will only add to the whopping $117 billion it has in cash reserves!

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Starbucks Coffee: Pay Mochas and Lattes Out of Your Smartphone

Square Mobile Commerce in Starbucks

Caffè Vanilla Frappuccino, Espresso Con Pana and… Smartphone. Seems like an odd mix, doesn’t it? But thanks to a new mobile payment system implemented by global coffee powerhouse Starbucks, you can now order all the indulging delicacies you want, sit in the cozy corner of your choice, whip out your smartphone and pay for whatever’s on your table. No counter, no queue, no hassle.

Square Mobile Commerce Technology: An Emerging Leader

Beginning this fall, Starbucks will swap out their existing POS terminals in favor of Square, which enables businesses to accept credit and debit purchases by swiping cards through the mobile commerce startup’s innovative card reader, a small dongle that plugs into a smartphone or tablet audio jack. The move will allow Starbucks to slash operational costs across the coffeehouse’s 7,000 company-owned U.S. locations. It’s a lot similar to what Walmart is trying to achieve with the iPhone’s retail checkout app.

Unlike other payment options, Square charges a flat fee of 2.75 percent on all transactions and promises users no contracts, monthly fees or hidden costs. As of mid of this year, more than 2 million businesses and individuals are using the Square service, with users processing close to a whopping $6 billion in payments on an annualized basis.

Mobile Commerce Becoming Next Big Thing

At MIT’s “What Technology Will Dominate Retail?” conference this year, hotshots from all sectors, focused on driving growth and trends across the globe, concluded that mobile commerce is the next decisive factor in a company’s competitiveness. EBay, alone, did a staggering $5 billion in mobile commerce last year, with vibes of doubling that amount this year. A recent Deloitte report, for example, found that a visit to a retailer’s mobile website during a shopping trip increased the chances of making a purchase from 66% to 74%.

And the growth-and-action factor is not restricted to top tier only. As a matter of fact, it’s the startups that provide the real incentive for this revolution. Take MoBeam for example. The company enables mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to beam content directly from those devices into existing red laser POS devices, using light to transmit a barcode directly into the scanner, simplifying the process of checkout. With such technology at the helm, life seriously could become a lot easier, using our gadgets anywhere in the world.

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RIM Finally Beats Analyst Forecasts

It might have still been a loss, but a “better than expected” loss, something definitely on the road to recovery. For the first time since the management shake-ups, the share
drop-downs, the product portfolio revamps, the Blackberry maker finally has
something to say “phew” about and wipe sweat off the forehead.

Smartphone Sales Leading the Change

The company sold 7.4 million smartphones, about 500,000 more than analysts had projected, and posted a narrower loss for the period than estimated, whilst increasing its cash holdings. In this previous quarter, RIM posted its third consecutive loss, but the fact that it was a much smaller loss than analysts had been fretting over was an indicator that something has started to click about it in the lucrative smartphone segment. The results percolate that RIM can gain customers in lower- income markets such as Asia and Africa, even as it struggles to compete in the U.S. with the Apple iPhone and devices running
Android. However, the key lies in a successful release of the BlackBerry 10, something
that was also discussed by CEO Thorsten Heins at the Blackberry World Conference in Orlando.

Meanwhile…In the Mobile World

After our last coverage of the highly-successful iPhone 5 event, and almost bizarre buying patterns associated thereof (2 million orders in the first 24 hours!), today’s launch extends to 28 countries, including Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Italy and a host of other key markets. The device is expected to sell 58 million units and generate a sweet $36 billion. Something to rave about on the Android front includes the AMD Appzone. The processor manufacturer’s new platform enables users to download Android apps right to their PCs, which were previously only for mobile devices. The move is bound to spur app sales on the Android platform, something that could the platform users a distant sense of satisfaction after the iPhone 5 hammering.

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Apple iPhone 5: Most “Desirable” Smartphone of 2012

iPhone 5

Gleaming and glittering its way onstage in San Francisco, on Wednesday, was probably the most anticipated and hyped iPhone to date. As the features, software services and pricing plans rolled out, the spectators couldn’t help but play host to the realization that this device will be the most desirable smartphone in the world for this year.

Star-Studded Smartphone

The actual launch event obviously lacked the flair and tenacity of Steve Jobs, delivering the speech so inspirational, that people would place orders without even paying attention to the gadget itself! The iPhone 5 sports a 4-inch “retina” display and is 20 percent lighter than the previous iPhone 4S. The new System on a Chip (SoC)technology in the iPhone 5 definitely gives a boost to the mobile games and apps segment. The CPU in the A6 is twice as fast as the processor in the iPhone 4S and graphics are also twice as fast.

One of the most touted aspects of the device is the diverse arsenal of communication platforms that it supports such as GSM, CDMA, LTE, as well as 4G. The 8MP iSight camera has upgraded sensors to go along and shoots 1080p HD video recording at up to 30 frames per second with audio.

Mobile Taking New Forays

First things first. The mobile industry is obviously set to shakeup thanks to the recent outcomes of long-standing litigation between Apple and Samsung. However, barring that for a second, the latest iPhone has become a loyalty-switcher for a lot of Android enthusiasts. A recent survey by Techbargains found out that a chunky 22% of Android users showed intentions to switch to the new iPhone.

Furthermore, a lot of industry analysts, thanks to the processing power and functionality that it provides, have touted the iPhone 5 as a barrier to growth in the PC segment, since everything will be condensed into the palm of your hand. It’s not just the sales that will interest people as they roll out, but the industry ripples of this new device, being felt by everyone from game-producers to mobile retailers.

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Retail Innovation: Be Your Own Boss At WalMart with iPhone

Scan & Go Mobile Retail Shopping Experience

Whilst everything else seems to be redefining itself to suit the mobile age, from restaurants to filling stations, some sectors offer to go the extra mile. The retail sector has its share of exciting stories to tell about how consumers can make greater purchasing decisions through their gadgets…and then actually make the purchase using their phone, all without bothering anyone at the store!

Walmart Implementing “Scan & Go” System Self-Checkout Lanes

For a retail enterprise that spends a whopping $12 million on cashier wages, every second, it’s a great move forward towards strengthening the bottom-line. Walmart is trialing the new Scan & Go program at its Rogers, Arkansas, superstore, and last week invited iPhone-equipped employees to test the service. Customers will be able to scan products they wish to purchase using iPhones, and place each item in bags while they shop. Scan & Go transfers pricing information on each scanned item to the store’s self-checkout kiosks, where shoppers can complete the transaction using cash or cards.

This latest initiative follows weeks after the global giant said it will partner with key retailers such as Target, Best Buy, Sears and 7-Eleven to create the Merchant Customer Exchange, a nationwide mobile commerce network designed to rival efforts like Isis, the POS initiative spearheaded by Verizon Wireless, AT&T and T-Mobile USA.

Mobile Retail Reshaping Shopping Across the World

According to the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) in the UK, 92% of shoppers research products while on the move. Of these, nearly half go into a store to buy, 37% make their purchase on a desktop PC and 28% on their mobile. American retailer Walgreens recently announced that it has become the first national retailer to maps its stores in a mobile app.

The greatest edge that mobile provides in a retail environment is an extremely personalized shopping experience. The need to have an in-store resource talk to the customer has been transformed into an app doing the talking and product introduction. In a recessionary economy, the cost-savings resulting to retailers with such technology will eventually become a huge plus for budget-conscious customers. A win-win situation for all.

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Market Disruption: The Apple & Samsung Saga In a Nutshell

Apple Inc. vs Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd.

What if you woke up one morning, and heard that Coca Cola could no longer be sold on a significant continental chunk of this planet? The first thing to come to mind would be Pepsi’s domination in that region. Likewise, the recent ruling by a California jury that bars Samsung from its selling mainstream, cash-cow smartphones has severely shaken up the market mix, the ripples of which have been felt by anyone from average mobile sellers to white-collared, eagle-eyed industry analysts.

Smartphone wars….not. Actually, patent wars.

The gist of it all is that Apple sued Samsung for $2.5 billion for infringing on seven of its patents. Saving face, Samsung countersued for approximately $400 million. However, it took the jury less than three days to find in favor of Apple for just over $1 billion in damages and reject the countersuit. Reminds you of the closing years of the 19th century, when Thomas Edison, the innovator of his time, became entangled in lengthy patent battles over a couple of inventions. Apple, in this case, presented arsenal such as “pinch to zoom” and “slide to unlock”, whilst presenting evidence that the company had patented it before anyone else did.

Now, the moment the legal foundation was set for Apple’s battle, the next step was to convert the legal ruling into commercial benefit and, hence, the company has sought speedy bans on the sale of eight Samsung phones which can be deemed mission-critical as far as the company’s revenue streams are concerned; the list includes names such as Galaxy S 4G, Galaxy S2 and Droid Charge. However, many are billing this as “just the first round”, because Samsung is most likely to file an appeal and drag the process for long.

The Market Impact for Apple

If Steve Jobs were alive, we’d see a reaction that would parallel a “hooray!”, when the first Mac came out. First, the iPhone 5 is on its way, and secondly, the holiday season shopping ramp is not too far away. However, Samsung is smart enough to have a plan B in place, with the launch of the Galaxy Note “phablet” at Europe’s biggest electronics show in Berlin, this past Wednesday. Albeit, with a market like North America at stake, it could well take a dent in last quarter earnings, percolating through the $12 billion in market cap that was wiped off this week following the ruling. Was this battle just one in a bigger war, or was this the decisive fort? Time will tell.

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Sony Mobile Hits Japanese Shores, Cuts 1000 Swedish Jobs

Sony Mobile Job Cuts in Sweden

The expected, becomes, the occurred. At first when the two giants merged, it was only a waiting period to see where the strategy lay. Now that it’s clear, Sony Mobile is laying off 1,000 employees and will also move its global HQ to Tokyo from Lund, Sweden, as the company tries to turn around its fortunes in the smartphone space.

Restructuring the Mobile Market Competitor

The restructuring comes about six months after the company became a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony, following Sony’s acquisition of Ericsson’s 50 percent stake in their joint venture, Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications. The relatively small Swedish town will be the hardest hit by the changes as close to 600 employees will be affected by the job cuts.

However, it will not be completely closed, as about 2,000 people will continue to work on software and application development, a Sony Mobile statement explained. The remaining headcount reductions will primarily consist of consultants in Sweden. Globally, the redundancies represent about 15 percent of Sony Mobile’s workforce, and the restructuring is set to finish by the end of March 2014.

Smartphone Branding Playing Critical Role

The ultimate goal being to making the company profitable, however, in addition to the business reengineering efforts, Sony Mobile will have to convince more consumers to buy its devices. It is now accelerating its integration and convergence with the wider Sony portfolio to help make its products more desirable.

The company has struggled to keep up with smartphone market leaders Apple and Samsung, as well as smaller Android competitors like HTC and Motorola. And according to Gartner’s data for the second quarter, it is no longer one of the ten biggest phone makers in the world by volumes. Its technology might not be the weaker link, but the branding definitely needs to be revamped to match the likes of the industry juggernauts that dominate the space.

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Latest Contender for Android Tablet Crown: Acer Iconia

Acer Tablet

At about the same time last year, couple of hotshot names such as Amazon chose to release its Kindlefire tablet to decent acclaim and has seen its share shoot up to 22% since last winter. Acer plays onto similar tactics right here in twenty12 and with a good price tag, the latest tablet to enter the Android dimension, the Acer Iconia A700, could be a decent sell itself.

Souped Up But No Android Jelly Bean

Featuring Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich and a quad-core processor, the A700′s claim to fame is its new 1920 x 1200 pixel, full HD display. However, in that case, it should look familiar to anyone who has seen or used a 10-inch Android tablet before. The standard slate design measures 10.2in x 6.9in x 0.43in and weighs 1.47lbs.

The A700 is equipped with two cameras: a 5 megapixel unit on the rear and a 1 megapixel camera on the front. The camera interface is the stock Android 4.0 camera app, which offers quick access to zoom controls and a handful of settings. As a Wi-Fi-only device, the A700 lacks cellular connectivity options. In terms of processing, the A700 is powered by Nvidia’s quad-core Tegra 3 processor paired with 1GB of RAM.

Android Tablet Market Heating Up

It’s a fact that won’t be replaced by another one anytime soon; the iPad dominates. Albeit, research consultancy Frank N. Magid Associates, which recently surveyed 4,734 cell phone and smartphone owners, roughly 50% of people currently own an iPad, down significantly from 72% at last count. The sheer fact that there is at least one new Android tablet coming in each quarter, fitting a plethora of budget and wallet-sizes, contributes to the share count ticking upwards. Moreover, with the Nexus 7 tablet coming in, it could add to the weight the Android market is heaving in to assert a growing dominance.

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The $8 Million Dollar iPhone: Bling Bling…Anyone?!

Expensive iPhone 4

So, it’s one thing hearing a celebrity buying an exorbitant $6 million mansion nestled cozily atop the Beverly Hills in sunny California. But how often would you hear of the “fashionista” genre brandishing headlines about an iPhone 4 that surpasses the price of that celebrity mansion? We seriously mean, whoa! Well-known British luxury goods designer Stuart Hughes showcases the planet’s most expensive smartphone, the “iPhone 4 Diamond  Rose.”

iPhone, iLuxury, iEnjoy

So what exactly revs up the price tag that far? The bezel, alone, is handmade with approximately 500 “individual flawless diamonds” which total over 100 carat. The rear Apple logo itself comprises a good 53 diamonds that have been formed using rose gold. The main navigation is made from platinum which holds a single cut 7.4 carat pink diamond.

Moreover, the chest which houses the unique handset is made from a single block of granite, colored imperial pink, the inners lined with Nubuck top grain leather, altogether weighing is a massive 7kg. Here’s the glitch (if you can afford one), there were only 2 limited edition ones made.

Creativity & Innovation

The man has been creating luxury goods for a while now, and it’s not just the “technology meets luxury” theme that intrigues him. Stuart Hughes is also known for creating the world’s most expensive aquarium, with 68kg of pure 24 carat gold. The price tag is close to $4 million and requires only 15 minutes of care per month, with all the systems automated. At Vopium, we value all endeavors that require man to venture into expanding horizons for the greater good of everyone. A key ethos we incorporate into our own product development.

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