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brand roadmaps

Despite Gains, Apple Not "Innovative" Enough for Challenging Mobile Market

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 28, 2014 06:39 PM

If the reaction to Apple's latest earnings call says anything, it's that the personal-tech bar has been set astronomically high

After setting new quarterly sales records for iPhone and iPad in Q1 2014, and clocking sales figures of over $57.5 billion, Apple's stock proceded to fall almost 9 percent in after-hours trading on Monday. 

While the report was generally positive compared to 'normal' standards, it apparently wasn't positive enough for investors, who said sales of the company's flagship iPhones fell short of expectations, despite the fact that the company sold 51 million iPhone5S and 5C models in Q3, up from 47.8 million a year earlier. With the first-time, simultaneous launch of the smartphones in the US, Western Europe and China markets, analysts were hoping to see around 57 million handsets sold. 

And then there's that word again, "innovation." The charge to innovate, which has followed the brand around for nearly the last two years as it seemingly trudged through a product slump, has come up again, with anaylsts claiming that the reigning Best Global Brand must innovate again to get investors excited and to regain consumer mindshare.Continue reading...

let's make a deal

Google's Connected Home Ambitions Take Flight with Nest Acquisition

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 14, 2014 12:57 PM

On the heels of CES 2014, Google has effectively tapped into arguably one of the biggest trends in consumer tech—the smart home—by buying Nest Labs for $3.2 billion in cash, its second-largest acquisition to date. 

The company founded by former Apple executives Matt Rogers and Tony Fadell, who is credited as a key player in the invention of the iPod, is known for creating smart thermostats and smoke detectors. Nest told Forbes that it has sold about 1 million of its thermostats, placing them in nearly 1 percent of US households. 

And that's where excitement turns to concern, as consumers fear that Google may use Nest's technology to monitor them. Google has already addressed the concerns, saying its existing privacy policy "clearly limits the use of customer information to providing and improving Nest’s products and services," but that hasn't quieted the critics much. 

But Nest, a company started by and filled with ex-Apple employees, doesn't seem to be worried. Continue reading...

tech innovation

CES 2014: IBM Puts Watson to Work as Tech Consultant with $1B Investment

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 10, 2014 12:55 PM

IBM remains bullish on Watson, its supercomputer made famous on Jeopardy!, but it is having a hard time leveraging the super-smart artificial brain beyond trivia and into revenue-producing businesses.

IBM maintains that Watson has revolutionary real-world applications in a variety of verticals including health care and investing, with CEO Virginia Rometty projecting that Watson would generate $10 billion in annual revenue within 10 years. But according to Wall Street Journal, as of last October, Watson wasn't meeting revenue hopes, generating "only" $100 million. Setbacks include costs in “training” Watson “to master the particulars of various businesses.”

To better realize its potential, IBM announced at CES this week in Las Vegas that it is investing $1 billion into making Watson the centerpiece of a new business group based in New York—a group that will build out a productive and profitable ecosystem for the super-computer. Already employing 2,000 people, IBM projects the unit to create $20 billion in revenue by 2015.Continue reading...

tech in the spotlight

T-Mobile's John Legere Steals the Show—and AT&T's Mojo—On Day 2 at CES 2014

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 8, 2014 07:23 PM

T-Mobile President and CEO John Legere’s performance wins day three at CES 2014. He took to the stage, can of Red Bull in hand, and excoriated his competitors, attacking AT&T, Sprint, and Verizon for poor service, high prices, and for generally not being cool.

But his most vehement attack was on AT&T, whose CES party Legere infamously crashed earlier this week. "AT&T is a total source of amusement for me. They are the ones that take my bullshit. Dumb move. They take the bait."

Continuing on its 'Uncarrier' streak, T-Mobile announced it will pay customer’s up to $350 per line to cover early termination fees and release them from an existing plan on a competing carrier. "We're giving families a ‘Get Out of Jail Free Card," Legere said in the press release.

The announcement adds wood to the already smoldering fire between T-Mobile and AT&T, which last week announced it would pay $200 for every line T-Mobile customers switched over (requiring those customers buy a new AT&T phone.) Legere called AT&T's promotion a "desperate move," and countered, “Try the network, try what we're doing. And if it doesn't work, these pricks will pay you to come back!"Continue reading...

tech innovation

IBM Predicts Five Technologies That Will Change the World in the Next Five Years

Posted by Sheila Shayon on December 17, 2013 05:43 PM

As the year readies to close out, it's time for the annual onslaught of year-end lists of best ofs, worst ofs, and 2014 look-aheads. So in due course, IBM has released its annual 5 in 5 annual technology predictions, highlighting what the company thinks will come to the forefront in the next five years. 

“We try to get a sense of where the world is going because that focuses where we put our efforts,” Bernie Meyerson, VP Innovation at IBM, told VentureBeat. “The harder part is nailing down what you want to focus on. Unless you stick your neck out and say this is where the world is going, it’s hard to turn around and say you will get there first. These are seminal shifts. We want to be there, enabling them.”

Among the expected innovations in cloud computing and smarter cities, IBM expects there to be significant changes in the way the medical community treats illness, and how our digital lives are made more secure.

The new list of tech trends and innovations that IBM expects to impact our lives in the years ahead:Continue reading...

brand challenges

Musk's Other Rocket, SpaceX, Makes 1st Commercial-Satellite Launch Today

Posted by Dale Buss on December 2, 2013 11:22 AM

Elon Musk is going on a rocket ride this evening, and it has nothing to do with the price of Tesla's stock. The serial entrepreneur will be watching as his other high-profile startup, SpaceX, is scheduled to make a critical commercial-satellite launch at 5:41 p.m. ET from Cape Canaveral.

It'll mark entry by SpaceX into the commercial-satellite market with its Falcon 9 rocket after a series of test flights and launches for NASA and the Canadian Space Agency. It will be the second of three flights the upgraded Falcon 9 must make before it can qualify for US military-launch business. The launch also will mark a crucial update on the progress of a company that plans to put rank-and-file passengers into space sometime in 2014.

And, of course, the launch will mark another testament to the engineering and entrepreneurial skills of the much-lauded Musk. He's been busy lately with Tesla, the electric-vehicle startup that has rocketed to the national and investor forefront over the last several months.Continue reading...

design watch

Electrolux Innovates with Annual Design Lab Competition

Posted by Sheila Shayon on November 29, 2013 06:12 PM

Now in its 12th year, the Electrolux Design Lab charges design-oriented entrants to create sustainable solutions for the home and beyond. 

This year's competition, which opens March 1, focuses on creating healthy homes and offers a six-month paid internship and a 5,000 euro prize for winning design.

“Homes become more important as the challenges in the urban environment grow and as a result we want our homes to be the center of relaxation and peace of mind,” said Stefano Marzano, Chief Design Officer, Electrolux. “Design Lab is one way for Electrolux to build an innovation culture. In 2014 we are looking forward to receiving creative ideas on the theme Creating Healthy Homes, to help shape the future of people’s everyday lives into a positive direction and present propositions that envision healthy and sustainable lifestyles.”Continue reading...

green shoots

Coca-Cola, Ford Weave PlantBottles Into Car Seats for Fusion Energi Concept

Posted by Dale Buss on November 15, 2013 02:59 PM

Coca-Cola and Ford have come up with a unique approach to advance recyclable packaging: using Coke's PlantBottle technology to make car seat cushions, seat backs, head restraints, door-panel inserts and headliners in a new concept vehicle for the Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid.

Scheduled to be unveiled at the Los Angeles Auto Show later this month, the car will demonstrate the first use of PlantBottle technology, which utilizes plant-based materials, beyond consumer packaging and is the first step in what the two brands say is a joint commitment to develop innovative new products from renewable content.

"It's important to realize that PET resin is part of the broader polyester family, so this is clearly the most significant partnership we have so far as we look at the broader impact of the potential for the PlantBottle," Scott Vitters, GM of the PlantBottle packaging platform for Coke, told brandchannel.Continue reading...

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