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  • Netbot, One Of The Great Apps For iOS, Is Now Free

    By Rubel → Friday, December 13, 2013
    A Microsoft representative shows a smartphone with Windows 10 operating system at the CeBIT trade fair in Hanover in this file photo from March, 2015. REUTERS

    Microsoft's plan to make its new version of Windows a mobile hit by letting it accept tweaked Apple and Android apps has met an obstacle: some of the software developers the company needs to woo just aren't interested.

    Windows phones accounted for just 3 percent of global smartphone sales last year, compared with about 81 percent for devices with Google's Android system and 15 percent for Apple and its iOS system, according to research firm IDC. One reason is that Windows doesn't run as many or as attractive apps as its rivals.

    "Windows phone will have to gain a significant share of the market before this becomes something that saves us time and/or money," said Sean Orelli, a director at app development firm Fuzz Productions in New York, which makes apps related to Citibank, the New York Post, and Conde Nast, among others.

    For Microsoft, the world's biggest software company, there's a lot at stake this summer as it rolls out Windows 10, the first operating system designed to run on PCs, tablets and phones. If developers don't embrace the new platform, it will seriously damage the prospects of the new operating system, which Microsoft hopes will power one billion devices in two or three years.

    Candy crush

    Interviews with more than a dozen developers found just one planning to move an app from Apple or Android to Microsoft. That's, which ported its popular Candy Crush Saga game from iOS to Windows 10 "with very few code modifications" and will be installed automatically with upgrades to Windows 10, according to Microsoft. confirmed the move but declined to comment further.

    Eight developers said they aren't planning to develop for Windows 10 at all. Four who already have Windows apps said they would continue to do so.

    Because Microsoft hasn't actually unveiled its new set of tools to turn apps into a Windows format, developers did not rule out any move, and a Microsoft spokesman said that "it is still early" and many software companies want to explore the tools over the coming months.

    Because of that trend, "it's going to be hard for developers to prioritize building for Microsoft," said John Milinovich, Chief Executive of URX, a mobile ad service that creates links between apps.

    Static business

    Windows, closely tied to the stagnant PC market, is a big but static business for Microsoft. It's likely worth $20 billion in revenue this fiscal year, analysts say, compared with almost $30 billion for its Office business, out of total expected annual revenue of $93 billion. The company's server software and cloud-computing businesses are growing much faster, with cloud-computing revenue forecast to triple to $20 billion by 2018.

    Erik Rucker, head of mobile at Smartsheet, which makes an online tool to manage projects, said he doesn't plan a Windows app version. He doubts tweaking an iPad or iPhone app for Windows would be simple.

    "We'd end up writing a whole bunch more code," to move over an Apple app that was tightly integrated with the device, he said.

    For Jason Thane, general manager at General UI, a mobile app developer based in Seattle, the cost of developing a Windows app from another system would need to fall to about 10 percent to 20 percent of the cost of building it.

    "I'd like to at some point, but we're not working on it yet," he said. "It's a function of resources."

    The best experience was always going to be achieved with tools made for a given software system, said Christopher Kamsler, manager of mobile development at Gannett, and even with those his team had to tweak the app to work for different sized devices.

    It's an uphill battle for Microsoft, said Frank Gillett, an analyst at tech research firm Forrester.

    "Android and iOS are in the zone, the Windows guys just aren't there yet," he said.
  • Yahoo Killing Message Boards Site and Other Products

    By Rubel →
    The board of Yahoo Inc is weighing a sale of its core Internet business when it meets this week, a source familiar with the matter told Reuters.

    The board's meeting comes amid a broader debate about the future of the company and that of high-profile Chief Executive Marissa Mayer.

    The Wall Street Journal first reported the possible sale of the Internet business late on Tuesday.

    People familiar with the matter told the newspaper the board was expected to also discuss during meetings from Wednesdaythrough Friday whether to proceed with a plan to spin off more than $30 billion in shares of Alibaba Holding Group Ltd.

    The company could also pursue both options, the paper said.

    The company's shares were up more than 7 percent in extended trading.

    Yahoo's core business, which includes popular services like Yahoo Mail and its news and sports sites, could attract private equity firms, media and telecom companies or firms like Softbank Group Corp, analysts have said in the past.

    Yahoo declined to comment on the report.

    The news comes as Mayer faces growing pressure over the company's performance. Mayer came to Yahoo after a long stint at Google.

    Her arrival kicked off heightened expectations of a quick turnaround at Yahoo, which had struggled to grow its advertising business to compete with market leaders Google and Facebook.

    Hopes of a comeback crumbled as Yahoo's plan to push mobile, video, native and social media ads - a strategy Mayer introduced in 2014 under the acronym Mavens - failed to increase revenues as desktop search ads continued to decline.

    A $1.1 billion deal in 2013 to acquire social blogging site Tumblr also hit snags, with investors arguing that Mayer overpaid for an unprofitable product.

    The deal lifted Yahoo's user base to about 1 billion but did not bring in advertisers.

    In September, Yahoo's plans for the spinoff of its stake in Alibaba hit a roadblock when the US Internal Revenue Service denied a request to bless the transaction as a tax-free deal.

    Yahoo said it planned to proceed with the spinoff despite the IRS announcement, but has not yet done so.

    In November, activist investor Starboard Value LP asked Yahoo to drop plans to spin off its stake in Alibaba and urged the company to sell its core search and display advertising businesses instead.

    During Mayer's 13-year tenure at Google, she led the Google Earth, Gmail and Google News teams and is credited with helping create the company's celebrated search page.
  • Twitter Outages = Snow Day On The Internet

    By Rubel →
    Colombia has found the wreck of a Spanish galleon that sank off the coast of Cartagena and is thought to be laden with emeralds and gold and silver coins, President Juan Manuel Santos said on Friday.

    More details will be provided at a news conference on Saturday, Santos said from his Twitter account.

    The San Jose sank in 1708 in the Caribbean Sea close to the walled port city of Cartagena. It was part of the fleet of King Philip V as he fought the English during the War of Spanish Succession.

    "Great news! We have found the San Jose galleon. Tomorrow we will provide details at a press conference from Cartagena," Santos tweeted.

    The government's claim on Friday did not shed light on a legal wrangle with Sea Search Armada, a US-based salvage company which had a long-standing suit against Bogota over ownership of the wreck. SSA said in 1981 it had located the area in which the ship sank.

    SSA and the government were partners back then and following international custom, they agreed to split any proceeds. The government later said any treasure would belong to Colombia.

    In 2011 a US court declared the galleon property of the Colombian state.
  • Haters As A Leading Indicator Of Success

    By Rubel →

    President Md Abdul Hamid, saying the government alone cannot ensure all-round progress, has called for local initiative to hasten development.

    “The government has certain constraints, since ours is a developing country. It is not possible for the government to ensure overall development,” he said at the inauguration of the ‘Noakhali Utsab 2015’ at Dhaka’s Suhrawardy Udyan on Friday.

    “Groups of local residents or professionals and other social organisations can play an important role in regional development and social reforms,” he said in his speech.

    The Noakhali Zilla Samity was the programme organiser.

    Road Transport Minister Obaidul Quader, Dhaka North City Corporation Mayor Annisul Huq, Noakhali Sadar MP Ekramul Karim Chowdhury, also spoke on the occasion.

    The president urged the Noakhali businessmen to set up industries in their own areas.

    “You can combine your efforts to set up a specialised economic zone. I believe the government will back the endeavour,” he added.

    He said the district could also take advantage of its topography to promote tourism.

    “I urge everyone to do something for their own localities... With our contribution, the country will surely develop,” the president added.
  • The Taj Mahal is a best Nice Place in India

    By Rubel →
    The Taj Mahal is the India's most famous monument, which is in the running to be voted as one of the seven new Wonders of the World, flanks a stinking, garbage-infested river and is almost always enveloped by dust and smog from belching smokestacks and vehicles.

    India's most famous monument, which is in the running to be voted as one of the seven new Wonders of the World, flanks a stinking, garbage-infested river and is almost always enveloped by dust and smog from belching smokestacks and vehicles.

    Millions of Indians hope the majestic white marble mausoleum, which took 17 years and 20,000 workers to build, will feature on the Wonders list, but conservationists and environmentalists are urging people to pay attention to its darker side.

    "If things continue like this, the Taj Mahal's age will decrease, like that of a diseased man," said K.S. Rana, a leading campaigner for saving the Taj, located in Agra, a four-hour drive from New Delhi.

    "Because of the pollution, there will be a corrosion effect, a deterioration of sorts in the stones."

    Earlier this year, a parliamentary committee said airborne particles were being deposited on the poignant 17th century monument's white marble, giving it a yellow tinge.

    But the committee said while air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide and nitrous oxide gases were generally within permissible limits, "suspended particulate matter" had been recorded at high levels except during the rainy season.

    Environmentalists and historians worry the soot and fumes would eventually dull the gleaming white monument.
  • The New York City Busy Street in USA

    By Rubel →
    When Seema Shrikhande goes to work, she drives. When she takes her son to school, they drive. And when she goes shopping, to the bank or to visit friends, she gets into her car, buckles up and hits the road.

    Driving is a way of life for Americans but researchers say the national habit of driving everywhere is bad for health.

    The more you drive, the less you walk. Walking provides exercise without really trying.

    Ideally, people should take 10,000 steps a day to maintain wellness, according to James Hill, professor of pediatrics at the University of Colorado.

    But for those who only walk from their home to the car and from their car to an office and back again, that figure can sink to only 1,000 steps.

    A car culture forces people to make time to exercise and driving long distances reduces the time available to work out.

    "If it (Atlanta) was a city where I walked more I would automatically get a lot of the exercise I need. Now I have to ... schedule it into my life. Sometimes it's very difficult because I'm busy," said Shrikhande, a professor of communications at Oglethorpe University in Atlanta.

    Obesity and heart disease are two of many problems associated with a sedentary lifestyle.

    Car dependence makes it harder to get the 75 minutes of intense weekly exercise or the 150 minutes of moderate exercise the government recommends, said Dr. Dianna Densmore of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

    Lawrence Frank of the University of British Columbia has even quantified the link between the distance people drive each day and their body weight.

    "Every additional 30 minutes spent in a car each day translates into a 3 percent greater chance of being obese," he said. "People who live in neighborhoods with a mix of shops and businesses within easy walking distance are 7 percent less likely to be obese."
  • Mobile Apps In The Enterprise: 7 Essentials For The New Ecosystem

    By Rubel →
    At some Macy's outlets this holiday season, shoppers who download the retailer’s app will be able to use their smart phones to guide them through the store to products they’re seeking.

    At JCPenney, customers will be able to take a snapshot of, for example, boots worn by a person passing by and quickly find out if the store has similar ones in stock.

    And Staples is testing an app that will allow sales clerks to let customers know how the store’s prices match up against Amazon and other rivals.

    Hoping to claw back market share from online rivals - and tired of watching customers use their phones to find better deals than those offered in stores - brick and mortar retailers are trying to give shoppers different reasons to use their phones while doing holiday shopping.

    The new apps will allow customers to easily order out-of-stock items for home delivery, to check store prices and even to summon a clerk.

    But the retailers’ efforts will face two significant challenges in the looming holiday season: getting customers to embrace the new technology, which is still sometimes glitchy and dependent on in-store systems, and getting them to trust that stores can match the Web’s prices and convenience.

    Retail purchases by mobile phone have increased by 34 percent in the last year, according to IBM, which estimates that more than 40 percent of the online traffic and about 20 percent of sales this Thanksgiving weekend will come from smart phones.

    A Reuters/Ipsos poll of more than 3,000 respondents this month found that about half of those surveyed said they would use their mobile phones while shopping in stores this holiday season, for such things as making price comparisons, taking photos or researching products.

    Last year, only about 42% of respondents said they would use their phones while shopping.

    Companies that don’t make mobile work are playing a "very dangerous" game, said Jay Henderson, head of IBM’s cloud-based marketing platform.

    "Retailers that can’t deliver a more personalized experience on mobile devices will start losing customers to businesses that can," he said.

    In addition to its pilot programme guiding customers to products within stores, and a photo programme similar to JCPenney's, Macy's has taken inspiration from dating app Tinder, recommending products to customers online who swipe one way to like an item and the other to reject it.

    JCPenney's app can be used to scan barcodes to pull up product information or order out of stock items, and it saves digital coupons - two increasingly common offerings in retailer apps.

    “We look at using phones in stores as an enhancement to shopping,” said Kate Coultas, a representative with JCPenney which is heavily focused on mobile this year.

    Service with a tap

    Stores are trying to make customer service easier, too.

    Best Buy's app now lets shoppers call, text or email a representative while in stores.

    Target Corp is testing an in-store "digital service ambassador" in 25 Los Angeles stores to help customers use Target apps.

    Ulta Beauty is testing an app that will allow clerks to access customer information and point them to products they might like.

    Faisal Masud, executive vice president of global e-commerce at Staples, said his company knows that it must satisfy the desires of its customers to find low prices.

    The company, like many others, will match online and in-store prices of competitors, including Amazon, Best Buy and Office Depot.

    Customers “have a phone that is basically a super computer, and they will find it somewhere else” for less if they can, he said.

    Companies offering web apps and in-store technologies will also have to grapple with keeping the new apps and systems working and up to date. That means ensuring that WiFi in stores works, and that terminals function.

    Recent visits to a Staples store in New York City found that a kiosk set up to allow people to order online wasn’t functioning, and at a JCPenney store in the city, the Wifi didn’t work.

    Both companies said the problems encountered were unusual and that they have backup systems in place.

    "Poorly executed plans can be worse than no mobile strategy at all," said Perry Kramer, vice president at Boston Retail Partners. "The dangers are losing those customers for the rest of the year or for a long time."