The development and adoption stage of mobile payments is still relatively new, and it's anyone's game for companies putting effort into the market, according to a new Harris Poll.
At least four in five smartphone owners in the US are familiar with some type of mobile payment offering - and one in three have embraced a solution. Apple Pay has driven interest, nurturing a booming ecosystem being utilized by banks, retailers, and a growing number of iPhone owners.
"Consumers are clearly ready for mobile payments," said Kathryn Koegel, chief of insights and communications at Steampunkt Collaborative, in a statement published by USA Today. "People are using their phones to conduct research, get discounts and deals, compare prices, find elusive items and navigate around stores. We are only a short step away from completing that circle by finishing the actual transaction with a mobile wallet."
Phablet sales are outperforming sales of smaller smartphones, as phablets with a screen size of 5.5 inches captured 12.8 percent of mobile electronics sales during Q4 2014, according to GfK. Phablet sales are booming in Europe, the Middle East and in Asia, with modest sales growth in Latin America and Africa.
Consumers are embracing phablets so they are able to more comfortably watch online videos, movies, and play mobile games. In the emerging market, dropping phablet prices have helped consumers change their mobile preference, so they won't need to have a smartphone and tablet.
"This means emerging markets will have a crucial role to play in their rise, and we expect to see sales increase in Africa and Latin American in 2015 and beyond," said Arndt Polifke, global director of telecoms at GFK, in a statement published by ZDNet.
Earlier in the week, the US Secret Service said it will conduct drone exercises near the White House and throughout the Washington, D.C. area. The tests are expected over the next few weeks, but times, dates and locations for the exercises weren't made available.
Ironically, it's a decision that comes weeks after a drunk federal employee crashed his drone on White House property. Although it was ultimately a harmless incident, it revealed a potential threat with more drones taking to the skies.
The Secret Service didn't offer very many details and only offered this statement:
"The United States Secret Service, in conjunction with other inter-agency partners, will conduct a series of exercises involving unmanned aircraft systems, in the coming days and weeks.
Apple CEO Tim Cook hopes to see the Apple Watch become integrated into the daily lifestyles of iPhone owners, including even replacing car keys and large fobs. Cook didn't offer additional details while speaking with The Telegraph in a recent interview.
Apple Pay, the leading mobile payments service, will also be utilized to support the Apple Watch - and Cook promised that Apple won't track consumer payments, product purchases, or where they are shopping.
The wearables market was already growing, but the expected April launch of the Apple Watch will help accelerate interest. Cook said the Apple Watch's battery life will last an entire day, and will charge faster than an iPhone - still a shorter time than other smartwatches, though Apple believes consumers will recharge in a similar fashion as daily smartphone recharging.
The inevitable consequence of getting older means loosing your heroes. Today we lost one of the biggest. Legendary actor, writer and director Leonard Nimoy, who for nearly five decades portrayed the popular character Spock from 'Star Trek', has passed away aged 83.
Nimoy portrayed the character in all three seasons of the original 'Star Trek' TV show, in eight feature films, the animated TV show and also as a guest appearance on 'The Next Generation', and directed 'Star Trek III: The Search for Spock' and 'Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home', (often referred to as "the one with the whales") the most accessible of all the original 'Star Trek' films. Younger audiences will recognise his voice from 'Transformers: Dark of the Moon' and the original 'Transformers' animated film.
Undoubtedly Hollywood royalty, Nimoy will be sorely missed.
Cyberattacks from foreign states and rogue hacker groups have become the top threat to the United States, according to US intelligence experts. Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is especially concerned of potential attacks from Russia, China, Iran and North Korea - saying low-to-moderate level cyberattacks pose a long-term threat against critical infrastructure.
In addition to cyberespionage from foreign governments, there is rising concern of hacker groups able to infiltrate government agencies and companies - sometimes with support from foreign governments - with the goal of interrupting business operations, stealing money, and compromising employee and customer personal data.
Unfortunately, the US government has focused more on its cyber surveillance programs while largely neglecting cybersecurity. Even though it's effective to have offensive weapons, the United States has a lot more to lose than other countries if a major data breach occurs - and there is growing focus on being able to identify and defend against attacks.
Lenovo was busted preloading the Superfish adware software on consumer notebooks, and its customers were clearly not happy. Following its Superfish headache, Lenovo wants to become "the leader in providing cleaner, safer PCs" to its customers.
The company continues trying to repair its public relations nightmare, recently promising a reduction in preloaded applications. In the future, pre-loaded software will include Microsoft Windows, security software, Lenovo applications and programs that must be installed so built-in hardware can function - but Lenovo will list what is installed.
Cybersecurity experts and US government officials said customers should remove Superfish because it leaves users vulnerable to SSL spoofing techniques that can compromise security. Lenovo will also offer a free six-month subscription for the McAfee LiveSafe service, with additional information expected in the next week.
Augmented and virtual reality devices will drastically increase in popularity, rising from 3 million units in 2015 up to 55 million in 2020, according to ABI Research. Head-mounted displays (HMDs) will lead the way, but mobile-reliant devices will see early success, with tethered solutions needing a bit more time to mature.
"There is a lot of excitement and hype focused on getting consumers to try out virtual reality, including the LG G3 shipping with an HMD in some markets, and Mattel's View-Master AR toy," said Michael Inouye, senior analyst at ABI Research. "These early experiences will be like any new toy-novel for a while and then fall off in use, with new content potentially driving periodic re-engagement."
It's unknown if gaming and movies will help drive VR, even though hardware developments are being made. Meanwhile with AR, which is increasingly popular in the enterprise, consumers find a lack of apps difficult to help embrace the technology - and ABI Research thinks it may be a matter of time:
Demis Hassabis is an artificial intelligence expert and founder of the now Google-owned DeepMind Technologies - so he has a unique insight into AI research.
Hassabis and his team have developed a custom algorithm giving AI the ability to learn in a similar fashion to humans - a groundbreaking notion that will give some people greater fear of AI one day taking over. Even so, Hassabis believes it will be quite some time before humans have to worry about their own wellbeing due to AI:
"We're many, many decades away from anything, any kind of technology that we need to worry about," said Hassabis, speaking during a recent news conference. "But it's good to start the conversation now and be aware of as with any new powerful technology it can be used for good or bad."
US investigators are monitoring a resident in Michigan suspected of using social media to recruit - and inspire - Islamic extremism. Ahmad Musa Jibril, encouraging followers to "spread Islam by the sword," is a Palestinian-American living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is on probation after being released in 2012 for an insurance fraud conviction.
A federal judge restricted Jibril's Internet usage in 2014, but his following on social media has continued to grow. Investigators are searching through his Twitter followers and those who have "liked" his Facebook page, looking for digital fingerprints into possible extremist activity.
"There is nothing to suggest he has changed his views," said Peter Neumann, a British researcher, in a statement published by CBS News. "He has toned them down because he realizes that if he doesn't tone them down they will come after him."