Monthly Archives May 2016

Canadians Following the Cord-Cutting Trend

telemarketersThe last few years have seen a lot of people engage in cord-cutting behavior, retiring their landline phones to rely only on their mobile devices. Canada is no exception to this trend. New data from Bell, Rogers, Telus, Shaw, and MTS shows that carriers have lost a combined 540,000 landline subscribers in 2015 and 2016.

This number only accounts for the major carriers. Convergence Consulting Group estimated, when taking into account smaller regional carriers, about 636,000 Canadians ditched their landlines in 2015.

By the end of 2016, it’s expected that 37 percent of Canadians will be wireless-only households. This actually poses a bit of an issue for telecom companies, who made $5.2 billion from home phone services in 2014, according to the Canadian Radio-televivision and Telecommunications Commission. Most users do not replace their landline with a designated home wireless phone, but continue to use the cell phones they already own.

So what will the telecoms do? Focus their attention elsewhere.

“Know at the end of the day, broadband is the only product they’ll most likely survive with,” Macquarie analyst Greg MacDonald was quoted as saying.

*Source: Mobile Syrup

Mobile Carrier to Shut Off Ads

adsIt’s an interesting experiment that is bound to be popular with users, but not with advertisers. In mid-June, for 24 hours, UK wireless carrier Three will shut off ads at the network level. This won’t impact all subscribers – only those who have signed up to be part of the trial will go ad-free.

Three has identified three main reasons why the mobile experience should be free of advertising: data usage, security and relevance.

“Something needs to change and we believe that by working with the advertising industry, brands and publishers, that we can create more relevant, less intrusive adverts that increase consumer satisfaction,” stated the company, in a press release.

“The trial will test the ability of the technology to filter out advertising that damages our customers’ mobile browsing experience without impacting their network experience.”

Three hopes the move will force advertisers to improve their strategies and fix the “broken” advertising model.

Telstra Withdraws $2M from Man’s Bank Account

BYOD costWe’ve heard of big phone bills before, but an Australian man may have made the biggest payment we can recall in recent times. Last week, Calum Mawson went online to pay his $225 Telstra bill. Instead, $2.25 million was taken out of his bank account.

When Mawson received payment confirmation, he immediately called the telco to get to the bottom of the matter. He believed the rep who told him the transaction wouldn’t process through his account and not to worry about it. However, he soon realized he was in trouble when another transaction was denied for insufficient funds. A quick check of his account revealed a full $2,250,623 had been withdrawn.

He must have had some serious overdraft protection on the account.

“I was completely gobsmacked at the amount, I have never seen so much money in my life,” Mawson was quoted as saying.

The 22-year-old said his bank was very co-operative in the aftermath, eventually restoring his account balance after a few days. Telstra wasn’t quite as friendly.

“Telstra has been so unhelpful throughout the whole experience and customer service just kept trying to push the blame,” he said. “I think Telstra are the ones to blame in this scenario and what makes things worse is the fact they haven’t even reached out to offer any sort of compensation.”

PayPal Cutting Support for Microsoft, BlackBerry

paypalOnline payment processor PayPal has recently announced it will stop supporting Amazon Kindle, BlackBerry, and Microsoft Windows’ mobile apps in order to dedicate more effort to Apple iOS and Android devices. As of June 30, these platforms will no longer be affiliated with PayPal.

For many, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Microsoft’s recent news that it is getting out of the mobile game gives PayPal little reason to stay, and likewise BlackBerry has been declining in popularity for years now. The only question is why PayPal would choose to abandon Amazon Kindle, which is still widely used by consumers. Unfortunately, PayPal didn’t give many answers.

“It was a difficult decision to no longer support the PayPal app on these mobile platforms,” explained Joanna Lambert, PayPal’s vice president of consumer product, in a blog post. “But we believe it’s the right thing to ensure we are investing our resources in creating the very best experiences for our customers.”

If you are a Windows, BlackBerry, or Kindle mobile user, you will now have to access PayPal via its website.

*Source: CNET

Do Smartphones Need a Consumer Warning?

smartphoneOur smartphones are on us constantly; we hardly every have them off our person. The age-old argument over whether or not these devices are safe continues, with some calling for proper consumer warning labels outlining the potential danger.

The link between radio-frequency waves and illnesses like cancer is still entirely ambiguous, which leads to varying levels of suspicion where mobile phones are concerned. Advocates who believe there are health risks say that, like any other potentially harmful product, our smartphones should have a clearly visible label on the back of the device. People on the other side of this debate believe consumers will be unnecessarily scared away by unproven concerns.

Joel M. Moskowitz, a researcher and director of the Center for Family and Community Health in the School of Public Health at the University of California, believes manufacturers need to be more transparent about the possible risk associated with RF emissions.

“Manufacturers have a legal duty to provide warnings that are clear and conspicuous when products raise health and safety concerns. But, typically, RF safety instructions are buried in user manuals with tiny print, hidden within smartphones, or made available on the Internet,” Moskowitz wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

He also points out that, “Even before we had scientific consensus about the public health threat from tobacco, Congress mandated warning labels on cigarettes in 1965.”

University of Michigan’s professor of neurology Larry Junck is on the other side of the debate. He believes there is not enough risk to warrant labels. He also says that labels would not prevent brain tumor deaths.

“Consider that brain tumors have not increased in incidence in correlation with cellphone use. If cellphones were an important cause of brain tumors, we would have seen an increase perhaps starting in the 1990s, when cellphones came into widespread use, or starting several years later, if it took several years of cellphone use to cause a brain tumor,” wrote Junck. “While the number of people diagnosed with brain tumors has risen, the increase has been mainly among the elderly, who use cellphones less than others.”

Learn more about both sides of the debate in this Wall Street Journal article.

Facebook Overhauling Trending Topic Feature

facebook_2015_logo_detailThe trending topic feature on Facebook is an easy and entertaining way to keep up on the news. But a recent controversy has erupted over whether the social media giant is using the platform as a way to block conservative news. In response, Facebook promises to stop relying on news outlets to determine what content is added to the feature.

This means that Facebook will stop looking to websites like the Wall Street Journal and Huffington Post to determine what is popular with users. Instead it will automatically choose topics based on a spike in users posts.

A Facebook review found members of the team working on the feature have the ability to temporarily suppress topics that aren’t being reported on by popular news outlets. However, no evidence was found to indicate staff has been blocking news based on political bias.

“It is impossible to fully exclude the possibility that, over the years of the feature’s existence, a specific reviewer took isolated actions with an improper motive,” Facebook explained in a statement.

*Source: CTV News

One Percent of Developers Make All the Money on App Store

Available_on_the_App_Store_(black)It’s a statistic that may crush your app developing dreams – the top one percent of U.S. publishers account for 94 percent of the total App Store revenue. That means $1.34 billion of the $1.43 billion in net revenue created by iOS apps went to only 623 companies, while the remaining $85.8 million was spread amongst 61,677 publishers.

This statistic comes on behalf of Sensor Tower – also an App Store vendor – which specializes in sales tracking software. Sensor Tower monitored App Store data from January 1 to March 31 to cumulate these numbers.

So who is making all that money? Companies that rely heavily on in-app purchases like Supercell, of Clash of Clans fame, and Machine Zone, which created Mobile Strike. Other notable companies include Spotify, Netflix, and HBO.

Even where money isn’t concerned, downloads are also ruled by an elite class. Of the 127,000 publishers with at least one top ranking app on the App Store during Sensor Tower’s monitoring, only one percent – or 1,270 – accounted for 70 percent of all downloads. In other words, out of 1.38 billion app downloads in the first quarter of 2016, 966 million were from that one percent.

*Source: Network World

Did Microsoft Just Give Up on Smartphones?

microsoft logoMicrosoft announced this week it intends to sell its entire feature phone business FIH Mobile – the Foxconn subsidiary – as well as Finnish company HMD Global Oy for only $350 million.

Microsoft has a rocky history with the mobile phone industry. In 2013, retiring CEO Steve Ballmer purchased Nokia’s weak mobile phone business, mostly because Nokia is one of the only brands that used the Windows 10 Mobile OS. And while Nokia is great at pumping out inexpensive handsets worldwide, its products didn’t fit into Microsoft’s software-based business model. This was evident when current CEO Satya Nadella laid off 18,000 employees from the Nokia sector in 2014 and cut 7,800 from the smartphone hardware business last year.

This purchase gives FIH Mobil all of Microsoft’s feature phone assets, including brands, software, customer contracts, and a Vietnam-based factory. In addition, 4,500 Microsoft employees will be transferred.

Although this is a huge move, Microsoft isn’t completely willing to part with the smartphone. The company will continue to develop Windows 10 Mobile for Lumia. However, it may be all for naught as Lumia and Windows 10 have not been able to compete with Apple or Android in the past and do not seem poised to take any major market share now.

*Source: CNN

AT&T Roaming Better Than Canadian Plans

AT&TIf you cross the U.S.-Canada border often for work, family, or whatever the reason, having a second phone to save on roaming fees may not be your best option. AT&T is now offering free roaming in Canada and Mexico to subscribers on a share plan of 15GB or higher. Considering how expensive roaming can get, this is a big deal for frequent travelers.

To break it down, it would be $100 a month for the 15GB plan plus $15 for the phone line, adding up to $115 a month, or $150 CAD. This is less expensive than any of Canada’s Big Three carriers’ 15GB plans. Bell and Rogers charge $155 CAD for the same, while Telus doesn’t offer a 15GB plan, but passes the $150 mark at 10GB.

“Around 20 percent of our postpaid base travels to Mexico or Canada once per year,” AT&T chief marketing officer, David Christopher, was quoted as saying in a press release. “This is a fantastic benefit for customers that will only get better.”

AT&T’s new roaming rates will begin May 20.

*Source: Mobile Syrup

YouTube to Add Chat Feature

youtubeThere just aren’t enough ways to instantly message your friends on the internet these days. Well, there might be, but YouTube wants to add one more. The Google subsidiary is rolling out a “native sharing” feature to a small percentage of users on the mobile app.

If you’re one of those users, you’ll be able to use the YouTube app to chat and share videos within message threads.

This seems like a natural move for YouTube, which competeswith other social media services like Snapchat and Facebook, platforms with improved in-app messaging. Before now, if you wanted to share a video with friends, you might have done it over Facebook. YouTube is just hoping to eliminate the middle man.

The feature is still only days old, but hopefully there will be information soon on how users feel about the new chat platform.

*Source: Mashable