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Samsung, Apple gobble up 68 percent of smartphones used in the US

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Mobile Devices, Tablets & Phones | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 5:52 pm

The Apple iPhone and Samsung Google Android-powered smartphones both grew their respective market shares in the United States during Q4 2013, according to The NPD Group. iPhone ownership increased from 35 percent up to 42 percent year-over-year, while the Android smartphones jumped from 22 percent up to 26 percent during the same time frame.

 

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The top five music apps used on smartphones during the fourth quarter of 2013: Pandora, iHeart Radio, Spotify, TunIn Radio, and Slacker Radio. As more consumers use smartphones with unlimited data - and Wi-Fi-supported devices - there is a huge demand for streaming music and other connected services. Music streaming rose 11 percent up to 52 percent, and that number will likely increase even higher.

 

"Considering the increase in prominence of smartphone music apps, it's not surprising that hardware manufacturers such as Betas are leveraging partnerships with carriers, like AT&T to break into the streaming music market," said John Buffone, NPD Executive Director of Connected Intelligence, in a statement. "This allows AT&T to offer subscribers more of what they want in the way innovative music apps and provides Beats a partner capable of driving trial in a market where consumers already have an affinity for the music services they use."

 

As consumers look to upgrade their devices - and switch wireless carriers - there will be a fierce battle among handset manufacturers and carriers trying to provide cost-effective devices and subscription plans.

Target breach originated from Russia, led by organized crime group

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 11:52 am

The recent high-profile data theft that left more than 70 million Target shoppers affected could be part of a more organized cyber plot against major retailers, according to a recent U.S. government document. The credit card readers used in the Target data breach reportedly became available last spring, partially written in Russia, and it couldn't be detected by anti-virus software.

 

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A 17-year-old from St. Petersburg, Russia, is reportedly responsible for creating the BlackPOS malware which was later sold to the Russian organized crime group.

 

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is working with cyber intelligence company iSight Partners, though other retailers that were affected weren't disclosed by either group. Meanwhile, Target, Nieman Marcus, and other retailers have already suffered due to the cyber crime, with other retailers on the lookout of similar attacks.

Continue reading 'Target breach originated from Russia, led by organized crime group' (full post)

Cyber security threats growing against users, companies, Cisco says

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Hacking & Security | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 11:47 am

Cyber security threats continue to plague users and businesses trying to defend against increasingly sophisticated and well-executed attacks, according to the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report. Cyber security is a major business as Cisco and other companies develop cyber security efforts to protect end-users and businesses.

 

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Overall cyber attacks increased 14 percent in 2013, with select industries facing a staggering number of attacks designed to steal information and disrupt day-to-day operations. The pharmaceutical, agriculture, mining, chemicals and electronics industries all saw an increase in malware aimed at compromising systems - a whopping growth of 600 percent - while energy, oil and gas industries saw a 400 percent increase in malware and cyber attacks.

 

"Although the Cisco Annual Security Report paints a grim picture of the current state of cyber security, there is hope for restoring trust in people, institutions and technologies - that that starts with empowering defenders with real-world knowledge about expanding attack surfaces," said John Stewart, Cisco Chief Security Officer, noted in a press release. "To truly protect against all of these possible attacks, defenders must understand the attackers, their motivations and their methods - before, during and after an attack."

NBA Sacramento Kings become first pro sports team to accept Bitcoins

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Internet & Websites | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 11:18 am

The Sacramento Kings from the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced it will become the first professional sports team to accept bitcoin as a form of payment. Until March 1, basketball fans can purchase game tickets and merchandise in a "faster and more" secure manner, according to the team.

 

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"We are maniacally focused on creating the most seamless experience for our fans in all facets,"said Vivek Ranadive, majority team owner of the Kings, in a press statement. "With BitPay, we are able to implement a technology that allows our fans to make Kings-related purchases without physically reaching into their wallets. A major tenet of the NBA 3.0 philosophy is about utilizing technology for the betterment of the fan experience, and this is yet another step in that process."

 

While the Kings became the first major pro sports team to accept bitcoin payments, expect others to jump onboard as well. If nothing else, other organizations will patiently observe and learn from any technology growing pains that the Kings - and any major business - face when trying to accept bitcoin.

 

BitPay is processing bitcoin payments for the Kings Team Store. The company now supports bitcoin payments for 20,000 merchants, with an average of 1,000 new partner signing up each week.

Augmented reality to grow 30% per year over next four years

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 10:17 am

The United States market for augmented reality is expected to grow by 30 percent per year until 2018, as more users become familiar with AR products, according to TechSci Research. Moving forward, the video game industry will push AR forward and will usher in a new era of consumer AR product development.

 

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Although relatively new to the consumer market, government defense contractors have the largest market share - and continue to push forward with the demand of new head-mounted displays (HMD) HUDs. In 2012, California, Colorado, Oregon, Texas, Massachusetts, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois dominated the market by pushing demand.

 

In United States HMDs and HUDs market, Delphi Automotive, Denso Corp., Johnson and Controls, BAE Systems and Rockwell Collins are currently the leading market players,"said Karan Chechi, TechSci Research's Director, in a statement. Google, Vuzix, Ad-Dispatch and Layar are the major players in AR smart glasses and apps market, however, with the growing shipments of smartphones and tablet PCs, other players such as Sony, Microsoft and Oakley are expected to make significant contributions over the next five years."

 

Indeed, as more companies continue to jump on the AR bandwagon, there should be a lot of fun and innovative technologies demoed in the future.

Valve not currently interested in releasing its own VR headset

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Virtual & Augmented Reality | Posted: Jan 19, 2014 9:45 am

Video game company Valve might be testing its own virtual reality 3D glasses inside the office, but that doesn't mean consumers can expect to see Valve-branded VR anytime soon. Instead, the company seems dedicated to helping Oculus work on its own products with both companies sharing technologies.

 

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It's a good idea for Valve to work with Oculus, a leader in the blossoming VR market, as there will be a high demand for VR in the years to come. Valve also is helping Oculus test the Crystal Cove prototype and the working partnership will continue to move forward in 2014.

 

To further help aid the effort, Valve recently released the SteamVR API beta, providing a great tool for gamers testing the VR gaming experience.

 

The demand for VR and smart glasses should begin to explode in popularity before the end of the year, as consumers and business users alike find ways to implement the technologies.

Ubuntu Linux most secure end-user OS, according to researchers

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Software & OS | Posted: Jan 18, 2014 11:17 pm

The Ubuntu Linux operating system is the most secure end-user operating system currently available, according to research done by the Communications-Electronics Security Group (CESG). The CESG is part of the British Government Communication Headquarters (GCHQ), and while none of the OSes is completely secure, Ubuntu Linux 12.04 was rated the highest.

 

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Each OS was rated on criteria such as Virtual Private Network (VPN) support, disk encryption, authentication, malicious code detection and prevention, incident response, and device update policy, among other categories. Ubuntu's built-in VPN struggled to meet the strict criteria set by the CESG, though hopes its own VPN will be supported with Ubuntu 14.04, scheduled for an April launch date.

 

During the analysis, researchers took a look at the following operating systems - for both desktop and mobile devices - Android 4.2, Android 4.2 on Samsung devices, Apple iOS 6, Google Chrome OS 26, BlackBerry 10.1, Ubuntu 12.04, Windows 7 and 8, Windows 8 RT, and Windows Phone 8.

Connected technologies open up many different security problems

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Connectivity & Communications | Posted: Jan 18, 2014 7:26 pm

The emergence of connected technologies, with products ranging from high-definition TVs and refrigerators to newer cars, there is huge potential possible for innovative companies. However, a lag in security of connected devices will give cyber criminals a new platform to exploit moving forward, depending how they access the compromised unit.

 

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"Botnets are already a major security concern and the emergence of thingbots may make the situation much worse," said David Knight, Proofpoint Information Security division, in a statement. "Many of these devices are poorly protected at best and consumers have virtually no way to detect or fix infections when they do occur."

 

Manufacturers and security experts are working on next-generation security products aimed at helping keep connected technologies more secure. As more consumers embrace 'smart' goods at home and in the workplace, this will continue to be a struggle in the looming years.

Intel desperate to find mobile success, restore investor faith

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: Computer Systems | Posted: Jan 18, 2014 5:07 pm

Intel is in dire need of mobile success in 2014, as its Atom chips are slowly making their way to a wider variety of tablets. The mobile market continues to cannibalize the PC industry, with many consumers and businesses hanging onto computers that are a few years older.

 

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Intel has already made a shift to incorporate Google Android support along with Microsoft Windows, according to CEO Brian Krzanich, with a focus on smartphones and tablets. To entice OEMs to jump onboard, Intel has already offered to pay tablet manufacturers to choose Intel's Bay Trail architecture instead of ARM processors, including an offer to pay a portion of engineering costs.

 

The company has announced it will cut 5 percent of its workforce in 2014, so around 5,000 employees will be released. The announcement followed Intel's financial results, which indicated the company still is having trouble moving beyond the sluggish PC industry, as the Silicon Valley company struggles to go mobile.

Hershey's partners with 3D Systems to work on new 3D printer

By: Michael Hatamoto | More News: 3D | Posted: Jan 18, 2014 4:13 pm

Chocolate maker Hershey's and 3D Systems recently announced a multi-year partnership to use 3D printers to create edible foods in the future. Hershey's is the only major food manufacturer to jump into 3D printing, as the overall cost of printing 3D food is still extremely expensive and remains difficult.

 

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"We believe that innovation is key to delivering relevant, compelling consumer experiences with our iconic brands," said William Papa, Hershey's VP and Chief Research and Development Officer, in a statement. "Whether it's creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3D printing as a way to keep moving our timeless confectionery treats into the future."

 

3D printer technology is revolutionizing the industry at a rapid pace, and there is massive potential for 3D printed food and edibles down the road.

 

(Image courtesy: AFP/Getty Images)

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