Posts tagged Aims
Nokia is trending up, even if it is still treading water.
The first quarter of 2013 saw Nokia ship more Lumia smartphones than any other quarter since it launched smartphones using Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform. Nokia shipped 5.6 million Lumia devices, up from 4.4 million in the final quarter of 2012. The Lumia growth is impressive considering the majority of the Windows Phone ecosystem has been dismal in comparison to its Apple and Android counterparts.
Overall, Nokia posted a small loss on the quarter of about $196 million on revenue of $7.65 billion across all of its properties. Mobile devices make up about 49.3% of Nokia’s revenue, with smart devices (such as the Lumia) about 20%. Nokia is still hemorrhaging sales in its non-smartphone division, with shipments down to 55.8 million, nearly 30 million units less than in Q4 2012 and 15 million less from Q1 2012. In terms of revenue, non-smartphones still make more money for Nokia than do Lumia devices, with 27% of the company’s overall revenue.
Nokia In Perspective
We tend to position the battle for number 3 as a clash between Nokia and BlackBerry. This, of course, is not necessarily true as Asian Android manufacturers like Huawei, ZTE and LG all ship more smartphones than either BlackBerry or Nokia. The notion is that one non-Android manufacturer will eventually rise above the heap to stake claim to the No. 3 spot behind Apple and Samsung.
Both Nokia and BlackBerry had decent first quarters. Not spectacular, but decent. In limited availability, BlackBerry shipped one million BlackBerry 10 devices and six million smartphones total. Nokia shipped 6.1 million smartphones, with about 500,000 coming from its non-Windows Phone lines including the dying Symbian.
On the surface, the fight is even. But if we try to predict the near future, we see that BlackBerry is still relying on its long tail of BlackBerry 7 (and before) smartphones for much of its device sales while Nokia has seemingly turned the corner with Windows Phone, which account for the vast majority of its smartphone shipments.
Neither company is going bankrupt any time soon. Both BlackBerry and Nokia reorganized their corporate structures (read: layoffs) over the last year to cut down on costs and both are basically breaking even at this point.
In a recent ReadWrite poll with about 700 respondents, 36.23% of our readers thought that BlackBerry would take the No. 3 slot while 55.63% thought Windows Phone would stake claim to the spot.
Both BlackBerry and Nokia are sitting on cash. Not an Apple-like horde of cash, but not an amount to dismiss either. Nokia’s net cash at the end of the quarter was $5.87 billion while BlackBerry is just short of $3 billion. With both companies running leaner coming out of 2012, those cash reserves should give both companies runway to create new products and marketing campaigns to push their devices and effectively compete in the global smartphone market.
View full post on ReadWrite
Learning to program can sound like a daunting task even for well-educated adults, much less a kid. But the makers of Hopscotch think it’s easy enough for an eight-year-old, given the right interface.
Hopscotch is the first iPad app designed to teach kids how to code. The free app lets budding programmers plan and code their own projects. The beta version of the app launched in Apple’s App Store Tuesday.
Hopscotch Uses Blocks For The Basics
“It teaches kids the fundamental components of programming languages, like branching logic, if/then statements, and variables,” said cofounder Jocelyn Leavitt. “The ideas kids are going to learn using Hopscotch can be used later in other languages like Ruby or Python.”
Hopscotch takes complex programming concepts and converts them into colorful blocks, which kids can string into sentences in order to write programs. It’s an open sandbox that’s up to the user’s imagination. Kid testers have come up with games, animations, greeting cards and even a random art generator.
“It’s very empowering,” said Leavitt. “One of the things that gets lost in the conversation about learning to code is that it’s actually very satisfying. Kids get to think of anything they want to make, have a plan and actually make it happen.”
A Serious Programming Tool?
Don’t let the kid-friendly colors and shapes fool you. Eventually, said Leavitt, Hopscotch will be “Turing complete.” That is, it’ll be a full-scale programming language that could, given enough time and storage space, execute any computational routine that any other language would be able to handle.
Leavitt said a major inspiration for Hopscotch is Scratch, a browser-based programming language dreamed up by the MIT Media Lab. Hopscotch takes the block system Scratch started with and converts it to a touch-screen format.
“Kids really love the iPad,” said Leavitt. “It was the most requested holiday gift in 2012. I feel like in some ways it’s really alluring to have a product that fits on a mobile device.”
You Go (Program), Girl
For Leavitt and her cofounder, Samantha John, another mission of Hopscotch is to get girls into programming early. Though they both work in the tech industry now, Leavitt and John didn’t consider programming as a career until after college.
“In the tech world we’re constantly getting asked, ‘Why aren’t there more women in tech?’ I think it’s because women don’t get exposed to tech early on,” Leavitt said.
“When I went to my family’s Hannukah party and the kids unwrapped their presents, the boys got mainly engineering toys and the girls got pink stuff. It tore my heart. I remember saying to Sam, ‘I wish there were some kind of awesome toy the parents could’ve gotten for the girls that would have exposed them to engineering just as much.’”
Ideally, said Leavitt, Hopscotch will fill that void. They’ve worked hard to make Hopscotch unisex, scrapping its original graphics for being too “boyish.”
“My favorite story about Hopscotch is when I took it to a classroom, showed it to boys and girls, and asked if they thought it was designed for boys, girls, or both. A boy said, ‘I think it’s universal,’ and a girl said ‘I think it’s for girls.’ That’s exactly what we’re going for.”
View full post on ReadWrite
The hype around mobile payments sometimes obscures the fact that not only aren’t there yet any clear winners – there’s not even a clear market for services that have a lot of potential, but which most ordinary consumers seem reluctant to embrace.
On the corporate side, everybody wants a slice of the potential multi-billion dollar pie. That’s cluttered the mobile payments landscape with so many products and solutions – and no real infrastructure and platforms – that it has actually slowed down the potential acceptance of paying for goods with your smartphone.
Too Many Options
Think about it. Google has its contender in its NFC-based Google Wallet. The mobile carriers their own NFC option called Isis. Square and a variety of competitors have the dongle-based solutions covered. (PayPal has its own copycat dongle – yes, the one that’s triangular instead of square.) Visa, MasterCard and American Express all have their own technologies and digital wallets.
Major retailers basically got fed up, said, “screw you” to the rest of the mobile payments industry and started building their own, though so far incredibly vague, mobile wallet. A variety of startups are also trying to sidestep the established players. If you’re a retailer, how are you ever going to figure out what to use for the supposed mobile payments revolution?
MasterCard Takes The Platform
MasterCard wants to separate itself from all that. Today, at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, it has announced a new “platform” in the mobile payments race it calls MasterPass.
The effort is an evolution of the PayPass system MasterCard released in the spring of 2012. The goal of MasterPass is to bring together all the different forms of payments that people use to pay for things – cards, digital wallets and the like – and to give retailers one multi-tool option for how to integrate mobile payments.
“We tried to think about the lessons learned at an industry level of what’s worked and not worked in the past. We tried to take a hard look at what has been working, where have we seen mobile payment apps really take off,” said Ed Olebe, MasterCard’s group head of MasterPass Services in an interview with ReadWrite. “The way we can envision this working at the greatest scale, and for us this is really about moving into digital. So our ultimate vision with all of this stuff, this is going beyond plastic cards into fully digital payments.”
Offering A MasterPass
MasterPass will have three primary elements:
- Checkout Services: For in-store or online purchases, MasterPass will support NFC, QR Codes or mobile devices at the point-of-sale (the register).
- Connected Wallets: The digital wallet is no longer just a MasterCard PayPass option. MasterPass instead creates a platform where individual banks, retailers and partners can create mobile wallets. In addition to MasterCard, consumers will be able to pair other branded credit and debit cards to the wallet.
- Value Added Services: The kicker in any mobile payments. Users and merchants can get data about the transaction, balances, loyalty programs and real-time alerts.
“Really what we’re doing is we’re offering merchants a whole suite of services that allow them to execute checkouts in all manner of different ways to enable them to have what they would call a sort of omni-channel consumer experience,” Olebe said.
MasterCard envisions MasterPass as a hub-and-spoke type of environment. At the center is MasterPass and its ability to digitize payments and offer application programming interfaces (APIs) and standard structures (such as cryptography and security) for transacting payments. The spokes are MasterCard’s technology partners that build apps and transactional elements such as digital wallets and point-of-sale software for retailers.
For instance, MasterCard is partnering with mFoundry to create digital wallet apps for banks and Verifone that makes point-of-sale hardware and software. These partners can then integrate straight to retailers and services. For instance, if you take a cab in London, the credit card reader is likely made by Verifone. Through these partnerships, MasterCard can extend the platform from the relatively closed solution that was the PayPass wallet project into a platform that connects a variety of retailers, payment methods and technologies.
“We’re saying, you choose who you want to work with, you decide what experience you want and we’ll plug in to it,” Olebe said.
Hurdling Traditional Obstacles
Two basic problems have hindered mobile payments adoption: standards and infrastructure. With all the players jostling for position, there are too many standards for merchants and consumers to consider. That, in turn, hinders the development of payment infrastructure, since retailers don’t know what equipment to install or what software to deploy.
MasterCard says its discussions with merchants led it to realize that top-down solutions from technology or financial companies won’t work. The way forward has to originate within the retailer, after which a company like MasterCard can enable it.
“Our job is to provide services and APIs that even if they make different design choices, they could go forward in a consistent way for that customer,” Olebe said. “We’re not telling merchants you have to do it one way. What we’re saying is, ‘We recognize that two very rational merchants even in the same category can come up with different perspectives on the right kind of tech they want to invest in and the right kind of experience.’”
Which all sounds great. Now to see whether merchants are ready to dance with MasterPass, even if it lets them lead.
View full post on ReadWrite
SEO Consult® aims to dispel myth that short content cannot rank well
SEO Consult®, a leading search engine optimisation agency based in the North West of England, is in agreement with Google's recent comments that outline how short content can still rank effectively on the search engine website. In a recent Google …
Ask An SEO Expert – Rich Snippets & CTR
The Top Six Digital Trends for 2013
Leading SEO Services Company Comments on Google's Market Dominance
View full post on SEO – Google News
As Microsoft rolled out Windows 8 in Dubai, the Middle East’s commerce hub, the company focused on showing corporations how to use the new operating system to create their own line-of-business applications.
Key examples inlcuded an in-flight customer management application used by Emirates Airlines, as well as an education initiative that will be broadly rolled out to thousands of schools across the United Arab Emirates, if all goes as planned. Microsoft also had a representative of British Telecom show off how its field engineers are using new Panasonic Toughbooks to collaborate and respond to service requests.
One Loooooong Junket
Although Windows 8 may already be old hat in the United States, Microsoft’s latest operating system and its associated hardware is relatively new in developing markets.
(Disclosure: As part of its promotional efforts, Emirates Airlines flew me halfway around the world to Dubai to show off its in-flight app. Airfare, hotel and some meals were covered by the airline, and in some cases split with Microsoft. It’s by far the longest-distance promotional toot I’ve ever been on. More on the trip coming soon.)
“If you ask what Windows 8 brings to corporate customers and enterprise customers, it’s that brings device experiences that people will love, complete with a new generation of devices for business,” said Erwin Visser, the senior director of Windows Commercial Product Marketing for Microsoft. “At the same time we are making no compromises” for enterprise IT departments, he added.
Other customers said that the new Windows 8 hardware was as attractive as the software. Peter Scott, director of end-user technology at British Telecom, said that older ToughBooks took on the order of ten to twelve minutes to boot up. Now, the company has deployed about 5,000 of the newer Windows 8 models out with field engineers, who will use Microsoft’s Lync software to communicate and collaborate in the field.
Both the Emirates and UAE applications shared some common design elements: both took advantage of the large, visually striking design elements within the new Windows 8 interface, and used the horizontal swipe interface to extend the display.
Emirates Gives A KIS To Windows 8 Tablets
On the long flight over from the U.S., Emirates Airlines showed off the first use of its Knowledge-Driven Inflight Service, or KIS, which will eventually roll out to all of its aircraft. KIS is basically a passenger-management application for crew members that’s now being delivered to pursers on a Windows 8 tablet. When the rollout is complete, some 1,000 devices will be in use.
Emirates has used a version of KIS for several years, although previous versions were tied to a laptop that the the company brought on board, and asked its pursers, the crew managers, to tote around.
The problem was that each flight doesn’t use the same crew; staff shuttles about depending upon their flight readiness as well as the languages each crew member speaks. Years ago, a flight to Japan may have had only one Japanese-language speaker aboard. Now, with the knowledge of the passengers’ nationalities, Emirates can place a French-language speaker as a crew member near a block of passengers flying from Paris to the Middle East. Emirates’ staff represents 130 nationalities.
And it’s even more complicated: according to Sarah Boyd, the purser aboard our flight, she often doesn’t know which crew members will be joining her until a few hours before takes off. In some cases, crew members may not have worked with each other before. Matching names to faces is the first step in building a cohesive team.
Putting the app on a tablet given to pursers makes it much easier to use. “So when I attend my briefing, I can see the nationalities of all the crew, and the postions they work in… and then see all the customers, and where they’re from,” Boyd said. “And then I can use this information to assign the crews. Sometimes it’s challenging to remmeber all the faces with the names, so this is a really nice feature.”
“It’s much more convenient than carrying a laptop around, and it looks more elegant, too. It definitely makes our life easier,” Boyd concluded.“
To date, the Emirates KIS versions have used Windows XP, said Patrick Brannelly, vice president of corporate communications, product, publishing, and events. Brannelly described the app and the Windows 8 OS as much more intuitive than previous versions. “You have to imagine that many of the crew, when they join Emirates, are not particularly computer-literate,” he said.
So is the new app running on a Microsoft Surface?
Emirates will be the first global customer of the HP ElitePad 900, a new, 1.5-pound, Windows 8 business tablet that can be fitted with several “jackets,” or docking cases, that will maintain the tablet form factor but also add capabilities such as additional battery life, to a total of 18 hours; additional I/O ports; or audio connectivity. (See HP’s New ElitePad Business Tablet Is All About The Accessories.)
Although Emirates has signed on with the ElitePad 900 for now, that doesn’t preclude Emirates from using a smaller tablet in the future, or even a Windows Phone. “The beauty of this is that we’re launching with a tablet, and it’s launching on a sort of bring your own device sort of platform,” Brannelly said.
UAE Hopes Windows 8 Tablets Will Close The Digital Gap
In January, the UAE will roll out a combination of laptops and tablets to 50 schools, with the goal of launching the program in the fall of 2013. The idea, according to Khalid Ahmed, development director for the UAE, is to engage parents, students and educators. ‘We need to close this digital gap environment within the school,” Ahmed said.
And that gap is is in flux. For example, students who may be more interested in technology as a hobby typically step in and solve technology problems for the teacher – not necessarily the best outcome in a country when student discipline is important, Ahmed said in an interview. At the same time, another UAE official described teachers as “semi-pros” in Microsoft Office, from their frequent use of the technology.
In a private demonstration, the app served both as an icon-driven tool to provide information on classmates and teachers and also as a repository to share information, such as coursework, supplemental classroom material and eventually things like quizzes.
Khalid said that although the app was designed with a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) mentality in mind, that both tablets and laptops would be used. For now, the UAE is using a mixture of Windows 7 and the Windows 8 Customer Preview editions, but plans to upgrade all the devices to the full version of Windows 8 over the holiday break.
The UAE rollout will even include “gamification” aspects, assigning trophies to students to show extra acheivement, such as devoting extra time to watching a calculus video, Ahmed said.
“We would like this device to be [the student’s] own teacher, his own academic guide, so that the application is capable of giving him extra materials, video, even interactive games if it feels that he is weak,” Ahmed added.
The total cost will be about 250 million UAE dirhams, officials said, about $68 million U.S. dollars.
More Windows 8 Business Apps In Dubai
Microsoft also showed off other Windows 8 apps including ones from Bank of America and furniture store RoomstoGo, as well as a health app created by Idea.
Brad McCabe, a product marketing manager in the Windows Commercial business, said that the new Windows 8 was “business ready by design,” but not everything went perfectly. Fox Entertainment debuted an internal partner app, but distributed it on the Microsoft store, where general consumers will be able to download it. (Since it requires a password, they won’t be able to use it.)
Deploying line-of-business apps is a critical accomplishment for Microsoft, however. Consumers buy Windows 8 in ones and twos. But if Microsofot can convince enterprises to develop their own applications for Windows 8, high-volume corporate sales are likely to follow.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock. Other images by Mark Hachman.
View full post on ReadWrite
Gigya aims to centralize company’s user data into one cloud-based storage system to allow marketers to put the data to use instantly. Their aim is to take IT departments out of the equation and give marketers direct access to the treasure-trove.
View full post on Search Engine Watch – Latest
Myspace is dead: Long live Myspace. The late social network known for garish user-generated designs is back in a bid to become what its leaders say it should have been from the beginning: a home for artist discovery and development. But after years of fumbling, can this Internet punchline become relevant again? I put that question to Roger Mincheff, president of Myspace Entertainment.
In February, Mincheff left his post running 20th Century Fox’s digital strategy for branded entertainment to join Myspace. Before that, he ran his own digital marketing agency, Spacedog Media, where he worked with Citibank, Panasonic, Qantas and independent comic book publisher Top Cow (orginator of Spawn), introducing product placement into comic books and - surprise – writing original graphic novels, many of which he sold to major film studios.
In early 2012, Mincheff was tapped for Myspace by new owners Tim and Chris Vanderhook, who setup a meeting with minority owner Justin Timberlake in a Manhattan restaurant that was emptied for the occasino. The meeting sealed the deal.
I met Mincheff several months ago for breakfast in Beverly Hills, far from pesky PR staffers and associates. We didn’t have the whole restaurant to ourselves, but by the way he talked and lit up when he told his story, it almost felt that way.
RWW: What led you to take the Myspace position?
Roger Mincheff: I could not have been more excited or doing better at Fox, building this new business for them. But in talking about Myspace and content, Justin looked at me and said, “You’re not cool because you say you’re cool, you’re cool because you do something cool.”
And when you’re sitting there and you have an opportunity to literally write history – whatever happens with Myspace it will either flame out, which I don’t believe, or it will come back. No matter which one, it will be epic, and history will write that story. So to be part of a story like Myspace, with someone like Justin, where content is central, it was an epic opportnuity. I drink the Kool-Aid.
RWW: Were you onboard before Timberlake came on?
RM: It was a possibility, but when Justin said that, I said, “that’s my calling.”
RWW: What’s the biggest challenge in rebuilding MySpace?
RM: The biggest issue is perception, because from a audience and consumer standpoint, Myspace is a phenomenal value. From a function standpoint, it is probably the best music/creative experience out there. But none of that matters if people don’t know that. From the audience standpoint, it actually became cool to think Myspace was dead. But having the indie spirit of Justin and the Vanderhook brothers, I think when the audience tries the new Myspace, that will happen.
The harder obstacle in my mind is [convincing] the brands and the agencies. Because if you covered the name Myspace and just showed brands our numbers, we would be a “must.” But what we have to overcome is the perception that Myspace isn’t relevant.
The reality is we have a massive, young, active audience already; forget anything new. Part of it is just reeducating the brands about how relevant we really are and the impact we’re capable of having. And I think when all of the new Myspace starts rolling out and getting exposed to that, I really do think on a lot of levels, it’s manifest destiny. It has to happen.
RWW: What is the new Myspace?
RM: We’re bringing Myspace back to what it should have been. Meaning the legacy of Myspace, the mission statement of Myspace hasn’t changed at all. It’s about empowering discovery. If you’re an artist looking to be discovered or if you’re a fan looking to discover, that’s where Myspace will win. That is still at the core. The new Myspace is simply superior tools, technologies, community and support.
RWW: Who do you look up to in business?
RM: Lee Iacocca and Steve Jobs. They were going to fail or succeed, but the credit or blame would lay nowhere else but on them.
RWW: Is that what you would say is going on right now in your current role at Myspace?
RM: I’m the president of Myspace Entertainment, I head up the component of the company that makes content. So if you’re going to see a concert, if you’re going to see a series, if you’re going to see any content that’s from Myspace, distributed, I will own that. I can’t be too pompous because a lot of other things have to go right. The technology has to work, the platform, the music, which is the driver, so a lot of things have to happen. But the content piece of it, which is mine, absolutely. That’s why I look up to those guys and how you have to live your life. Own what you do and be ready to take the accolades or the blame.
RWW: You said earlier you have several unreleased comic-book properties ready for publication. How does that tie into the original content you’re planning for Myspace?
RM: Myspace once had an incredible comic-book community. This is a platform for creators: How am I going to use my own platform to promote what it is I’m doing? I also have Arcana and Top Cow (comic book publishers), either one, I have an open invitation [to publish].
RWW: Could you do both? Could those be released via Myspace and in conjunction with a comic-book publisher?
RM: Absolutely. That’s an interesting call. Do you actually show you’re multimedia and you’re paper and you’re digital? Or is it even bolder to say: ‘We’re in the digital age, it’s about digital, let’s just do this digitally?’ What I haven’t decided is, with all of the things I have lined up, which one do I want to go with first?
RWW: With all these commitments going on, how do you stay sane and balanced?
RM: I’ve played softball with the same core group of guys every Monday night since 1993. It’s a slice of sanity I can rely on every week. The second part of my answer is that I have 8-year-old twins, and while both are athletes, neither have ever played on a team that wasn’t coached by Dad. It’s been a scheduling nightmare at times, but definitely worth it. I don’t think anything builds character like sports, and watching them develop their personalities has been one of life’s best treats to date. The task at hand is so overwhelming that even if it’s a couple minutes before I go to bed, or even if it’s coaching my kids on a baseball team, those slivers of time I take for myself are my sanity. Softball, my kids and comics books, those really are my passions.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
Having fallen far behind its mobile competitors, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion desperately needs its next-generation mobile operating system to be a hit. RIM pulled back the curtain on BB 10 today at its BlackBerry Jam developers conference in San Jose, showing off features the company hopes will pull it back from the brink of oblivion.
BlackBerry 10 has been in development for 18 months and the finish line is finally in sight. For years, the knock against BlackBerry has been that it was badly outmaneuvered and its aging OS has not kept pace with smartphone innovation. These points are pretty much beyond dispute. BB 10, then, is RIM’s valiant, if fraught, effort to claw its way back into the market.
A Sweeter BlackBerry
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins showed off several new aspects of BlackBerry 10 intended to drum up excitement for the platform among mobile developers, consumers and enterprises.
The first is a unified messaging interface called BlackBerry Hub, an always-on inbox that stores emails, texts, calendar, events and BlackBerry Messenger. Users will be able access Hub on BlackBerry devices from any app or the home screen by swiping up and over from the edges of the device.
RIM is also focused on maintaining its traditional strength in the enterprise. The BlackBerry Balance feature customizes the user experience between personal and work interfaces while providing security and data protection. RIM will also unveil a new version of its app store, BlackBerry App World, that is optimized for enterprise applications. Employees using BB 10 will be able to toggle their phone between work and personal use, with work settings controlled directly by their employer’s IT department.
At RIM’s BlackBerry World conference in May, Heins unveiled BB 10’s predictive text feature, which the company hopes will revolutionize typing on mobile devices. Initial reviews of BlackBerry hardware’s new keyboard were tepid. At today’s keynote, Heins showed off another new user interface feature called BlackBerry Flow, a contextual touchscreen feature that knows where a finger is touching on the screen and can be integrated across all BB 10 apps.
BB 10 will also integrate a feature called “active frames” that are essentially small, developer-customizable widgets that can live on the device’s home screen. Imagine a cross between Windows Phone 8 Live Tiles and Android widgets.
Heins said that BB 10 is on schedule. It will go into beta test in October through RIM’s carrier partners and will be released with new devices in the first quarter of 2013.
Making Sense Of RIM’s New Approach
Seeing the interface of BB 10 during the keynote, several things come immediately to mind. First, BB 10 looks eerily similar to Android. The active frames are small apps on the home screen, just like widgets, and the app icons could be younger brothers of Android’s primary interface. Android critics initially charged that Google’s mobile OS was a copy of Apple’s iOS (which may have been true at one point, but no longer). Can RIM win by copying Android? At least the BlackBerry interface will feel familiar to many users.
BlackBerry Flow and Hub are interesting, somewhat unique, features. These are not apps, per se, but part of the platform’s architecture. That means they can be integrated into just about any experience that runs on BB 10, always present, always available to be configured to a developer’s application. These persistent user experience features will give BB 10 a feeling of differentiation from Android, iOS and Windows Phone – but they may not be enough to win users back to BlackBerry’s platform.
The goal is clear: RIM needs to turn BB 10 into a modern operating system that is close enough to the competitors that it will not alienate users while adding distinctive functions that differentiate it from Android and iOS. Once that base is in place, BlackBerry can push its strengths: communication and security. It was no coincidence that Heins’s primary messages at the BlackBerry Jam keynote were Hub and Balance. Traditional strengths integrated into an entirely new user experience should excite the BlackBerry faithful, but it might be too little, too late to turn the heads of consumers and enterprises that have long since abandoned RIM.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb
Microsoft AdCenter advertisers have longed for some way to verify that their ads were running, and a solution is coming, promises a blog post from Microsoft Advertising. The fix will come in the form of an updated ad preview tool, which will let advertisers see whether their ads are showing…
Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.
PayPal is recognized as the dominant player in the online payments sector, but upstart WePay is attempting to beat PayPal on two key fronts that make a big difference to small businesses.
WePay is counting on ease-of-use and lower costs to draw the interest of smaller merchants who may be strapped for cash and Web expertise.
Part one of the new strategy is the launch of embeddable payment buttons for retailers’ websites. The code for the buttons is generated by WePay after the retailer enters all the pertinent information about the product to be sold. The WePay service then generates an embed code that can then be cut and pasted directly into the merchant’s website.
Simplicity is what WePay is going for here, according to COO and co-founder Rich Aberman. “If you can embed YouTube videos, you can embed these buttons,” Aberman quipped.
PayPal, for instance, offers a similar service with its Buy Now and Donate buttons, but the instruction manual for incorporating these tools and other PayPal services into a website is 464 pages long – 92 pages of which cover just the Buy Now and Donate button steps.
Don’t Leave Me!
Another key difference – according to Aberman – is that PayPal redirects ecommerce customers to the PayPal site to complete the transaction before returning them to the merchant’s site.
The WePay code will also enable “add-to-cart” and “shopping cart” functionality within the on-site pop-up, so users won’t have to purchase individual items one at a time, as some early payment systems forced buyers to do.
Keeping customers on the merchant’s site is an important feature in Aberman’s view. “You don’t want them to leave your site. It looks unprofessional, and you run the risk of abandonment [of shopping carts],” he said.
WePay’s 1% Solution
PayPal does this redirect not because it isn’t technically incapable of creating an easier-to-use system, Aberman believes, but because the redirect is an important part of its revenue model.
PayPal, Aberman explained, makes profit on the arbitrage between what it charges merchants for every transaction (currently 2.9% plus $0.30) and what it costs for PayPal to debit money from PayPal user’s bank accounts – which is cheaper than paying credit card interchange rates.
Merchants who use PayPal will pay the 2.9%-plus fee no matter how the customer pays. But in the redirect screen, PayPal can encourage online buyers to sign up for a PayPal account. Once signed on, PayPal users are encouraged to connect their bank accounts to PayPal for direct transactions. If the customer uses the bank account, PayPal’s transaction expense is lower, and it pockets the difference.
WePay’s other piece of ammo against PayPal announced today: variable pricing for transactions, based on how the customer pays. Merchant fees for credit-card transactions will match PayPal’s fees, but if a WePay customer uses their bank account to pay, the merchant fee drops to 1% plus $0.30.
Aberman hopes these features will make WePay compelling for small businesses who need online payments but don’t have the technical expertise to manage a complicated system or are willing to pay more. Thus far, that’s a sector of the market that PayPal has not given much attention, and WePay’s new tools may make that glaringly apparent.
Lead image courtesy of Shutterstock.
View full post on ReadWriteWeb