Best Global Green Brands 2014

brand revival

All Arrows Are Pointing Up for Microsoft as Ballmer Readies to Exit

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 27, 2014 04:52 PM

Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer is headed for an early retirement at 57, but he's getting out while he's on top. 

In the quarter that ended Dec. 31, Microsoft’s revenue went up 14 percent to a record $24.5 billion, Bloomberg reports. All this while personal computer sales continue to diminish and amid a vast company reorganization including its merger with Nokia's mobile unit. The quarter's boost was tied to the successful launch of its Xbox One gaming system as well as web-based software such as Azure and Office 365, which sold more than double the amount than that sold in the same quarter a year earlier.   

The cloud appears to be a major new battleground for Microsoft. According to Arstechnica, Amazon recently announced that it would cut the prices of its S3 and EBS cloud-based storage, to which Microsoft responded by announcing it would cut its cloud storage prices as well. Microsoft also benefitted from a sales boost of its Surface tablets, which saw sales double from the first quarter of the fiscal year.Continue reading...

retail watch

American Eagle Deploys iBeacon Technology in Expanded Shopkick Partnership

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 27, 2014 12:57 PM

American Eagle Outfitters has teamed up with Shopkick to deploy iBeacon technology in 100 AE and Aerie locations in what will be the largest rollout of the still-controversial tech across the apparel industry. 

Apple’s iBeacon technology uses Bluetooth LE to ping shoppers in-store and offer location-based deals, display location-specific rewards, discounts and product recommendations all without the customer even opening the ShopBeacon app.

"American Eagle Outfitters' shoppers are tech-savvy, social, and love their smartphones," said Shopkick CEO Cyriac Roeding, according to ClickZ. "ShopBeacon is able to connect to this new generation of shoppers as a trusted companion, by reminding opted-in users to open the Shopkick app at the entrance of the store, and further personalize their shopping experience with alerts and high-value rewards.”  

Additional Shopkick partners include Best Buy, Crate & Barrel, JCPenney, MasterCard, Old Navy, Simon Property Group, Sony, The Sports Authority, Target, Visa, Procter & Gamble, Kraft Foods, Revlon, Unilever, Pepsi, Levi's and HP.Continue reading...

hijacked brands

Target, Neiman Marcus May Only Be the Tip of the Credit Hack Iceberg

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 24, 2014 07:49 PM

It turns out the credit nightmare is far from over. Following Target's announcement that at least 40 million consumers had their credit information stolen and another 70 million that had personal information compromised between Black Friday and Christmas, high-end retailer Neiman Marcus has announced that at least 1.1 million credit and debit cards used in its stores were compromised.

Neiman Marcus' breach, though, reportedly went unnoticed from July 2013 through October 2013, heightening criticism of the company's delayed response. “We are notifying ALL customers for whom we have addresses or email who shopped with us between January 2013 and January 2014, and offering one free year of credit monitoring and identity-theft protection," CEO Karen Katz wrote

"During those months, approximately 1,100,000 customer payment cards could have been potentially visible to the malware. To date, Visa, MasterCard and Discover have notified us that approximately 2,400 unique customer payment cards used at Neiman Marcus and Last Call stores were subsequently used fraudulently.” 

While unconfirmed, some reports speculate that the hacks were set forth by the same loose group of cybercriminals based in Eastern Europe, the New York Times reports.Continue reading...

brand revival

BlackBerry Gets Big Push from Pentagon on Road to Recovery

Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 22, 2014 11:21 AM

BlackBerry’s eventual demise has been predicted for more than a year, particularly since its last batch of consumer phones made practically no impact on the mobile market. But it looks as if BlackBerry will live to die another day, as the brand has been on the up-and-up so far in 2014 and received a big vote of confidence this week from the US government. 

"The US Defense Department said its smartphones will be the primary device supported on a new network,” according to Bloomberg. By the end of January, around 80,000 of the company’s phones will be connected to the Department of Defense system. Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android will also be represented on the system but only with about 1,800 phones and tablets. According to Fox News, the phones are part of the Pentagon’s “new mobile program for unclassified work.”

The news of the order helped BlackBerry’s stock see a gain on Tuesday, while the stock has seen a 22 percent gain so far this year. That's a noticeable turnaround from 2013, in which the company's stock fell 37 percent to a 10-year low in December. The company, though, doesn't expect to turn a profit until 2016.Continue reading...

detroit auto show

Ford Execs' Contrasting Statements Underscore Rise of Data Privacy Issue

Posted by Dale Buss on January 15, 2014 02:57 PM

Ford's CMO said something Snowden-esque about privacy at CES last week. And at NAIAS this week, Ford's CEO clawed back what he said. It was one of the biggest illustrations yet of how connectivity and all that it implies has become one of the most important dimensions of the global auto—and greater tech—industries.

The controversy began last week when Ford CMO Jim Farley said at a panel that the company can use global-positioning technology to know when Ford drivers break laws.

"We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you're doing it," Farley said, according to Business Insider. "By the way, we don't supply that data to anyone."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...

social media

Facebook Aims to Build Back Trust with Drop of Sponsored Posts as Twitter Pats Users on the Back

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 10, 2014 05:33 PM

Twitter and Facebook are taking divergent paths—the former adding a feature and the latter subtracting one, but users won't likely be complaining about the changes.

Twitter is testing a new feature in which 'power users' will now be rewarded with direct messages when their tweets achieve major reach. Facebook, on the other hand, will officially kill-off controversial "Sponsored Stories" as of April 9. 

According to TechCrunch, Twitter’s new feature is based out of the handle @AchievementBird, which will send DMs of kudos and encouragement for tweets that see a lot of retweets, comments and favorites. “Sending alerts to users notifying them that people are actually reading and even using their tweets in articles seems to be a good way to encourage those users to tweet more. And converting users from lurkers to active tweeters is important for retention and growth," the site notes.

Previous Twitter experiments in this vein include @MagicRecs, which suggested who to follow and what tweets to read, and @eventparrot, which sent messages containing links to tweets on breaking news.Continue reading...

privacy alert

Apple Denies NSA Tie-Up in New Privacy Claim

Posted by Sheila Shayon on January 2, 2014 07:22 PM

Apple is under fire, refuting allegations it worked with the National Security Agency on back-door malware for spying on iPhone users called DROPOUTJEEP, with which it could, in theory, snoop on "any" Apple iPhone with "100 percent success."

A report in Der Spiegel on Sunday revealed a tailored Access Operations (TAO) unit within the NSA focused on penetration of foreign computer systems for data retrieval to protect national security, along with a separate division, ANT, created to compile data on hacking network systems and consumer electronics. 

Apple responded with the following statement:Continue reading...

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