Has the Note 7 hurt the Samsung brand?


Explosions, lawsuits, recalls, and finally discontinuing production; the Galaxy Note 7 has given Samsung a lot of trouble. On top of all that, the reputation Samsung gained over its combustible smartphone might hurt future business as well. According to an article from BGR, a survey indicated that 40 percent of users said they would never buy another Samsung phone.

Covered extensively in the news, Samsung’s Note 7 had a nasty habit of spontaneously catching fire. When Samsung replaced users’ phones with a “safe” unit, those too began to combust. Now, Samsung has completely cancelled production. No one doubted this would hurt sales, but could it have a larger impact than expected?

The survey was conducted by BrandingBrand on October 11 and 12 following the Note 7 discontinuation. Of 1,020 U.S-based consumers, 40 percent said they would not buy another Samsung phone because of this fiasco. 54 percent of respondents had even been loyal Samsung phone owners for three or more years.

Where is the business going? Eight percent of the 40 said they intend to purchase Google’s new Pixel phone. Seventy percent are sticking with Androids from a different manufacturer, and the rest will be switching to an iPhone.

Comcast pays $2.3 million to settle erroneous billing charge

comcast complaintsAccording to an article from Surghar Daily, Comcast has agreed to pay $2.3 million to settle an investigation by The Federal Communications Commission for allegedly wrongfully charging customers for cable subscriptions and equipment they never ordered.

The FCC has said “Comcast asserts that erroneous charges, including those occasioned by employee error, which do not involve deceit or the company’s intentionally ‘duping’ customers, can not constitute prohibited negative option billing within the meaning of relevant authority or Commission precedent.”

From now on, Comcast is required to ask more clearly what customers want before charging them for new services or equipment, as well as to make it easier for customers to fight false charges. Comcast must also create a five-year compliance plan to work on obtaining informed consent from customers before adding any new charges to their bill.

“We have been working very hard on improving the experience of our customers in all respects and are laser-focused on this,” a representative from Comcast said on the issue. The goal is to not only save customers from potentially paying false charges, but from wasting their own time contacting the cable company to dispute said charges or obtain refunds.

Duolingo chat bots help you text in another language

duolingo-bannerNeed to catch up on another language before your next business trip? Or are you just looking for some practice to keep you fresh? According to an article by CNET, Duolingo hopes to help hone your conversational skills with its new chat bots.

The free online app teaches users the basics of almost any language you can think of, and now it is introducing the chat bot feature to help with continued communication. Instead of back and forth translation and word memorization, the chat bots are aimed at improving conversational skills and practicing phrases and scenarios you might use in real life. For example, following directions or talking to a doctor.

“One of the main reasons people learn languages is to have conversations,” Duolingo CEO Luis von Ahn said in a statement. “Students master vocabulary and comprehension skills with Duolingo, but coming up with things to say in real life situations remains daunting. Bots offer a sophisticated and effective answer to that need.”

The chat bots, which are programmed to respond to thousands of user responses, are currently only available for the iOS Duolingo app and only support French, German, and Spanish. Duolingo promises more languages and platforms are coming soon.

Lenovo to potentially acquire Fujitsu computer business

lenovoAccording to Reuters, Lenovo Group is currently in talks to acquire Japan-based Fujitsu’s personal computer business. Along with expanding Lenovo’s computer business, this deal would allow Fujitsu to focus on its IT services.

If the acquisition goes through, around 2,000 Fujitsu employees would likely move to Lenovo from Fujitsu’s design, development, and manufacturing operations. Another alternative would be for Lenovo to buy a majority stake in the company’s PC unit. Financial terms have not been disclosed in either case.

Fujitsu has been struggling lately as the global demand for PCs has fallen, due in part from the sale of smartphones and tablets. Being a small manufacturer, Fujitsu can’t hope to compete without improvements to its production.

Fujitsu isn’t the first Japanese PC manufacturer to go to Lenovo for help. NEC Corp set up a joint PC venture with Lenovo in 2011.

Would you leave your kids alone with this robot?

avatarmind-aiThe world of artificial intelligence is rapidly expanding, but are there some things we simply shouldn’t leave up to robots? It’s a hotly debated subject, but it’s safe to assume that one currently human-exclusive job is nurturing our children.

According to an article from Entrepreneur, China and California based company Avatarmind, the creators of iPal, disagree. iPal is a 3-foot-tall, talking robot babysitter, equipped with a surveillance camera, a touch screen tablet, and apps to keep your child occupied.

Avatarmind has described iPal as a “friendly companion to play with and talk to naturally” and claims that it can do things like “dance, tell stories and play games.” iPal also allows kids to connect in real time with their friends via video chat and social media. Additionally, the robot constantly searches the cloud to “increase its knowledge on subjects of interest to your child.”  It even plays rock, paper, scissors.

Essentially the nanny you always dreamed of, iPal has apps to help with daily parental duties such as bedtime routine and hygiene. It’s also programmed to come up with emotional, empathetic responses to your child’s comments, feelings and concerns.

Even if it is a good companion, can iPal be a suitable replacement for a real, human babysitter? Is leaving your child alone with a robot as a caretaker even legal? Only time will tell how artificial intelligence fits into childcare.

Are we all going to get Text Neck?

Lit cell phoneAccording to an article from Mobile Syrup, some Ontario chiropractors have started to warn patients about a new condition they’re calling “text neck.” They believe it is caused when smartphone users repeatedly tilt their necks to look at their devices.

“It can lead to pain and chronic tissue tightness,” chiropractor Krista Revenberg said to CBC. “The biggest thing is that a lot of people don’t even notice it’s happening.”

We live in the age of smartphones, and as usage across Canada skyrockets, chiropractors like Revenberg have seen the condition increase as well. She says it can be found across all age groups, and that she saw an all-time high this July during the Pokémon Go craze.

Each time you tilt your head to look at your smartphone, you’re actually applying 30 kilograms of pressure to your spinal cord. A solution to this problem is taking frequent usage breaks, and follow the 20-20-20 rule: look 20 feet ahead for 20 seconds for every 20 minutes of usage.

Facebook rolls out Marketplace

facebookeBay, Craigslist, Kijiji – look out! The world’s biggest social media site is coming after your business. According to Business Insider, Facebook recently introduced a new tab to its mobile app called Marketplace, allowing users to buy and sell goods to other users in their area. Marketplace will replace the Messenger tab now that Messenger has its own exclusive app.

Facebook’s reasoning for introducing Marketplaces makes sense. The company says that 450 million people already buy and sell things through Facebook every month using organized group pages. Why not make it easier?

This isn’t Facebook’s first attempt at pushing classified listings. In 2007 it released an early version of Marketplace, which never took off. Nine years later, Facebook is hoping interest has expanded with increased mobile usage worldwide.

Marketplace will automatically create a thread in Messenger with a seller when you express interest in buying their product. It will be organized into categories, and each user will have a dedicated “Your Items” section where they will be able to see the status of items they’ve posted.

It is also important to note that Facebook won’t handle payment or shipping in Marketplace. However, if you use Messenger in the U.S you can opt to pay through the app’s mobile payment feature.

Is removing the headphone jack from your smartphone catching on?

SamsungApple caused outrage and intrigue when it removed the headphone jack from its iPhone 7. If you were thinking of making the switch to Samsung to escape Apple’s decision, you may be out of luck. According to an article from The Jakarta Post, the South Korean manufacturer looks to be interested in making the same move.

People were primarily upset with Apple’s decision because they didn’t see an equal or better alternative to the traditional headphone jack – and no one likes to downgrade. The recommended Air Buds did not meet satisfaction for either price or quality. However, new technology is being designed to play audio through the USB Type-C, or the standard USB connection that comes on most smartphones, with the exception of iPhones and a few others.

If Samsung were to implement this new design, called USB Audio Device Class 3.0, it would mean its phones could be both slimmer and more waterproof. Reports also suggest that using USB-C will also noticeably improve audio quality for less battery power.

So maybe it makes sense to get rid of the headphone jack? Apple and perhaps Samsung are not alone in this decision – the latest devices from Motorola and LeEco also come jack-less. Although the traditional headphone jack has been a common and trusted aspect of our digital lives for many years now, a new alternative might prove just as enjoyable.

Disney makes a move for Twitter

Twitter_logo_png-5No one can deny Disney’s veritable dominance of the media industry – but what about social media? According to TechCrunch, the entertainment mogul is in talks about the logistics of acquiring Twitter.

Of course nothing is settled, and Disney is still consulting with its bankers to see if the decision makes sense, but rumors have circulated suggesting Twitter will sell for anywhere from $13 to $20 billion. Disney of course owns such media outlets as ESPN and ABC, and joining with Twitter will open it to the powerful world of social media. Disney would enjoy not only Twitter’s large share of users, but streaming partnerships with companies like the NFL and Twitter’s subsidiary, Periscope.

What could prevent this deal from happening? Well, Twitter has long been an advocate for free speech. Disney, on the other hand, has a less then clean record in that area – for example it has refused to distribute the 1997 film Kundun, which is critical of China’s policy towards Tibet. Likewise, being bought out by a major company like Disney might hurt Twitter’s reputation for hosting free debate, new ideas, and alternative media sources.

Facebook at Work makes social media professional too

facebook_2015_logo_detailEver get the twitches to check your news feed during the work day? Well, Facebook has the answer to your cravings. The immensely popular social media site has made a version specifically for the workplace. Facebook at Work is due to be released this month.

According to an article from USA Today, Facebook at Work has been in development for two years. The new service looks like it could become a big source of revenue for Facebook by charging users a monthly fee. More than 450 companies, including big names like Heineken and the Royal Bank of Scotland, are currently testing it for free.

“Facebook at Work lets our staff communicate, discuss and solve problems faster and more efficiently in a way that tools, such as email, simply can’t,” said Kevin Hanley, director of design at the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The service is part of a broader mission by Facebook to connect the world. Its slogan is: “A connected workplace is a more productive workplace.”