2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

tech in the spotlight

Move Over Smartphones, Wearables Are the "Need to be Seen" at MWC '14

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 26, 2014 05:47 PM

If one thing is evident in the consumer electronics industry, it's that wearable tech is here to stay. Long gone are the fanciful ideas of James Bond-like gadgets and virtual experiences, as consumers now can hold these very devices in their own hands—and where them on their wrist. 

Continuing the major theme seen at this year's Consumer Electronics Show, mobile brands took to the booths at Mobile World Congress to tout their latest entries in the wearable space, from Samsung's second try with the Gear 2 to Sony's attempt at a Google Glass competitor. 

But with most of the consumer and analyst world still waiting on an entry from Apple, brands are using their time in the spotlight to the best of their abilities.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

WhatsApp is Set to Shake-Up the Telecom Industry with Free Voice Calls

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 24, 2014 06:49 PM

With the ink not yet dry on last week’s acquisition of mobile messaging service WhatsApp by Facebook for $19 billion, Jan Koum, co-founder and CEO of WhatsApp took to the stage in Barcelona at Mobile World Congress to announce the expansion of voice communications on WhatsApp in the second quarter.

"We want to make sure people always have the ability to stay in touch with their friends and loved ones really affordably," Koum said, according to CNET. "We think we have the best voice product out there. We use the least amount of bandwidth and optimize the hell out of it."

WhatsApp voice service will be available on Android and iPhone this spring, followed by Blackberry, Microsoft and Nokia phones later. The announcement jives with what Facebook and WhatsApp have been saying since they decided to join teams and in Koum's words, "make the world more connected." But what's more interesting is that Facebook already has its own voice calling feature that lives on its Messenger app.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

MWC 2014: Samsung Unpacks S5, Hopes Second Time's the Charm with Smartwatch

Posted by Mark J. Miller on February 24, 2014 05:34 PM

One of the biggest brands to take the stage at Mobile World Congress this week in Barcelona, Samsung wasted no time revealing several new products in the hottest mobile categories.

The brand officially "#unpacked" its Galaxy S5 smartphone during a live-streamed event today, showing off a water-resistant, fingerprint-scanning smartphone that will undoubtedly shake Apple to the core in the ongoing fight for mobile market share. The S5, which comes in black, blue and gold—which was the most-popular color of the new Apple iPhone 5S—has a 5.1 inch screen and a 16 megapixel camera, further challenging Apple on the innovation front. 

Samsung CEO JK Shin said the new smartphone hits the four main points that consumers want in a mobile device: strong design, an excellent camera, fast and stable connectivity, and a phone that can help them stay fit. The phone will do just that with the addition of a heart rate monitor built in to the camera's flash, as well as the S5 being able to connect to Samsung's three other big MWC reveals.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

Disney's New Startup Accelerator Includes Jewels of Wisdom From Yoda

Posted by Sheila Shayon on February 13, 2014 02:54 PM

Mickey Mouse, Buzz Lightyear, Iron Man and Yoda are about to learn the ways of smart tech startups in exchange for their pop-culture muscle as beloved intellectual property.

The Walt Disney Company is launching the Disney Accelerator in a partnership with Techstars, choosing 10 early-stage startups and investing $120,000 in each. 

The new accelerator will draw on talent from Disney and its subsidiaries including Pixar, Marvel, Lucasfilm, ESPN and Walt Disney Imagineering in a three-month program where first-time entrepreneurs will have access to entertainment industry leaders and venture capitalists, not to mention Disney CEO Bob Iger.

The Disney Accelerator “offers a unique collaboration between some of the best creative minds in the entertainment industry and the modern-day visionaries who are starting businesses on the strength of exciting new ideas,” said Kevin Mayer, Disney’s EVP corporate strategy and business development.

Disney looked to Techstars for help in implementing the program as they’ve run similar programs with Microsoft, Nike, Barclays and Kaplan.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

30 Years After Mac, Apple Cranks Up Innovation for Eager Consumer Market

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 24, 2014 05:02 PM

While today marks the 30th anniversary of Apple's iconic and game-changing Macintosh computer, the Best Global Brand isn't spending much time on nostalgia. Instead, it's pressing forward into new product realms and perfecting the ones it currently rules after a period of static development, to the dismay of competitors like Samsung.

With new ventures in wearable technology on the horizon, expansion of its iPhone line to suit bigger tastes, and budding partnerships in TV and autos, Apple has never been better. As for the competition, well, they've seen better days. 

Samsung, the world’s largest smartphone maker and Apple arch rival saw its growth "slow sharply" in the fourth quarter—the first time the company has recorded a decrease between quarters since 2011. While prospects for the first-half of 2014 are weak for Samsung, Apple can expect a marked boost now that it has officially sealed a deal with China Mobile, the world's largest carrier, as well as one with Japan's largest carrier, according to the New York Times.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

In Davos—and Everywhere Else—Tech is the Common Thread for Growth

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 23, 2014 11:12 AM

Tech and business titans took center-stage at the 44th World Economic Forum in Switzerland this week to discuss a hot topic that has seemingly taken over every industry: connectivity.  

In addition to an uptick in the global economy, the proliferation of digital technologies has dissolved existing industry boundaries promoting growth and collaboration among different sectors like never before. 

With top executives from AT&T, Yahoo, Salesforce, Cisco and BT taking the stage on day one to discuss the digital landscape, dialogue focused on a connected ecosystem of products and businesses—a theme backed by a new report from Accenture on digital, which revealed that 60 percent of C- level executives in 10 countries plan to pursue growth or collaboration outside of their industries in the next five years. 

The report examines six "digitally contestable markets": healthcare, education, financial services, manufacturing, retail and transportation. “Digital technology has been with us for years but is now dramatically disrupting and reshaping traditional industry sectors,” said Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive for Accenture Digital.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

CES 2014 Recap: Tech Connects to Get Up Close and Personal with Consumers

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 10, 2014 07:16 PM

As the International Consumer Electronics Show wraps up its annual spectacle in Las Vegas, it's difficult to make the call on who or what exactly 'won' CES 2014. With brands (and marketers) big and small from nearly every sector presenting impressive tech, it's hard not to call everyone a winner—especially consumers. 

Still, this year's show presented some key themes, the most apparent being "connectivity." As consumers adopt more technology into their lives, the task at hand is to now connect those technologies—create an ecosystem of sorts that allows for seamless control and enjoyment. 

On that front, the automotive and mobile industries made a strong showing at CES, where Google's Android unveiled the Open Automotive Alliance and connected-car platform with nearly 10 major automakers signed on, including GM, Honda, Audi and Hyundai. The Alliance, meant to develop connected-car innovations with the same standards, plans to see the first vehicle with Android integration by the end of this year. 

Similarly, AT&T announced its own connected-car platform and new AT&T Drive Studio in Atlanta, where the company will partner with developers to create specialized apps for automakers like Audi and Tesla. 

But the car wasn't the only environment to get the connected treatment.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

CES 2014: Small Gadgets Make Big Impacts on Day 3

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 9, 2014 08:17 PM

CES 2014's biggest trends, from Samsung and LG's curved TVs to Sony's 4K, wearables from Pebble and Razer Nabu, and high-tech cars and the connected home have already made their mark. On the next to last day in Las Vegas, the patina is fading, the crowds are thinning, but what’s left are the smaller, eye-catching and inventive products that could have profound impacts. 

Intel's broad CES presentation saw the chip company present a plan for wearables and devices, including a Smart Bowl wireless charger that pairs with Intel's new smart headset, Jarvis, and automatically charges devices when you drop them in. But the company didn't stray too far from its roots with the introduction of Edison, a PC shrunk down to the size of an SD card for digital cameras. Each Edison contains an Intel Quark dual-core processor, integrated WiFi and a Bluetooth radio, can run apps, and is small enough to be embedded in a coffee cup or Mimo’s wearable baby monitor.Continue reading...

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