With the imminent opening of the International CES 2015 exhibition in Las Vegas on Jan. 6, it's time to ask, "What year is it?"

CES years always have a title, bestowed by vendors, analysts, bloggers, journalists, and anyone with an opinion. 2010 was Year of the E-Reader or Year of the Connected Living Room, depending on whom you asked. It was Year of the Tablet in 2011, or Year of the 3D TV That No One Wanted. The following year, 2012, was either Year of the Ultrabook or the Year of Wishful Thinking, because few ultrabooks actually sold.

In 2013, we saw the Year of the Connected Home, Year of the Phablet, Year of the Hybrid PC, and Year of the Gadget Startup. And last year, we survived the Year of the Sensor, Year of the Wearable, Year of the Connected Car, and Year of the Connected Home.

CES 2015 could be the Year of the 8K TV, for the 1% who can afford them. LG is expected to unveil a 55-inch 8K display with a resolution of 7,680 by 4,320 pixels. This extremely vivid TV doesn't have a name yet. (Its 4K ancestors are sometimes referred to as "4K Ultra HD TVs" by those who lack the confidence to use "4K Ultra Super Mega Hyper Uber Very Extreme HD TV.")

With robotics exhibits up 25% from last year, it might be fair to call 2015 the Year of the Robot. The only problem is that real robots are rudimentary compared to the way they're depicted in the media. Short of some unforeseen breakthrough, it will be a Year of Disappointing Robots. 

2015 will be Year of the Wearable again, by virtue of the soon-to-be-released Apple Watch, which won't be at CES but will shape the work of other smartwatch vendors. And it will be Year of the Connected Car and Year of the Connected Home.

Jordan Edelson, founder and CEO of Appetizer Mobile, an app design agency, said in a phone interview that he expected it would be the Year of Home Automation. A lot of the electronics coming out, he said, will be designed to connect to smartphones, through frameworks such as HomeKit, CarPlay, and Android Auto.

"Your mobile phone knows everything about you," said Edelson. "Everything you do goes through that phone now."

Edelson expects plenty of VR-related announcements from the likes of Sony and Facebook's Oculus VR. In mid-December, Google created a section in Google Play for apps that support Cardboard VR, the company's phone-powered cardboard VR mask. And in September, Samsung introduced its own VR headset, Gear VR.

Edelson argues that TV advances are overhyped. Pointing to LG's rumored 8K TV, he said, it risks becoming ridiculous because your eye can't tell the difference after a certain point. Also, there is not enough 4K, let alone 8K, content available to watch.

Automotive technology certainly will be featured at CES, though Edelson believes the industry needs to improve the user experience and to teach people how to give verbal commands to vehicles. "I still see people shouting at their car to call a friend and the vehicle not responding," he said, noting that automated systems in cars have to prove themselves before people will trust them.

Ultimately, 2015 will be the Year of Incremental Improvements in Technology, just like every year before it. But as CES approaches, it also will be the Year of Great Expectations, in which anything is possible. Keep hoping for that flying car. You never know.  

View the entire article at : http://www.informationweek.com/it-life/ces-2015-year-of-the-what/a/d-id/1318132

As Thanksgiving comes and goes on our calendar, many brick and mortar stores, online retailers, manufacturers and more look for ways to connect with audiences and capitalize on all that goes into holiday shopping. From Black Friday to Cyber Monday, deals flood our peripheral on nearly every level as retailers work hard to get in front of the audience that is eager to spend disposable income on gifts and gadgets for their loved ones. Predictably, the holidays are a time when people can be bombarded with sales, advertisements, and emails asking for engagement or customer acquisition. So what does this mean for us as app developers?

With the promotional push in full swing, it can be a great time to connect with an audience that is already engaging with their target market in new ways. Consumers are more receptive to cyber sales, promotional pushes, and hopeful holiday helping hands, ultimately giving businesses the best opportunity all year to build relationships with their brand. Take a good look at your app and your user base, and look at using the season to throw a line to customers and reconnect with your app.

While we’ve already talked about characteristics that make a good gift-giving app, let’s look at what it might look like when the app itself might be a worthy gift. For games and features, reach out to current customers and build your user base by offering them the chance to give friends the game itself or add-ons as free gifts. This is a great way to show users that you recognize their loyalty to the app, and crucially, build your user base. In addition to showing appreciation to users for using the game or app, it’s also a good time to incentivize users who may have failed to open the app in some time. Send an email to your user base and offer them the opportunity to share the app for free, and you may just remind them of the value that attracted them to your app or game in the first place!

With the onslaught of holiday sales, it’s a great time to try to remind users of the total value of your app. For small add-ons or freemium features that usually incur an extra fee, try incentivizing users by offering all features free of charge for a limited time. This is a great way for users to experience features that they normally wouldn’t even try, and potentially win additional paying customers once your promotion runs off. Again, the spirit of the holidays is one where people are more apt to be open to sales and promotions--by leveraging something like freemium features on an app, you’re giving users the ability to form a deeper connection with something they already value, and build on an already positive brand sentiment.

You don’t always have to give something away to make a holiday connection! Instead of looking for ways to give your app away, build your audience, or lower your price, look at ways to build a connection with your audience that won’t impact your bottom line. Summarizing the year for your app users, by showing them their activity throughout the year in a nice report can be a great way to build affinity with the app and remind users of the place it holds in their lives. Similarly, this can also grow your user base. By adding this type of personal touch, users are likely to share their summary with other users of the app on social media, helping naturally spread the word about your app!

For more tips on how to get the best performance out of your app this holiday season, get in touch


How Online Retailers Are Making Your Holiday Shopping Decisions For You


If you think your choices are independent of the online retailers you frequent, think again.

While consumers across the country prepare their holiday shopping lists, online retailers have already spent quite some time monitoring their digital activity to manipulate those decisions for them. According to holiday shopping statistics collected by CMO.com, “84 percent of shoppers use digital tools before and during trips to a store, and those shoppers convert at a 40 percent higher rate than those who don’t use web-connected devices.” In other words, by tracking consumer’s digital behaviors, including their emails, social media posts, photos and search engine prompts, online retailers have an excellent opportunity to strongly make holiday gift-giving suggestions without the consumer ever realizing.

If you’ve ever spent a few hours online shopping for a couch or a new kitchen table, the influx of furniture-related ads that appear in your inbox and on your social media pages afterward don’t often come as a surprise.  These tailored ads demonstrate, in the most basic form, the power of tracking online shopping habits. Most interesting, however, is the less-than-obvious ways that retailers are accessing information about potential consumers in order to orchestrate their purchases this holiday season.

5 Ways You’re Letting Marketers Manipulate You

This year, online shoppers are expected to spend $72.4 billion, $10 billion more than last year, according to the aforementioned data. One of the reasons behind this year’s record-breaking spending is that retailers are acquiring limitless data about their consumers, and with this information they have developed a tactical algorithm that can do more than suggest or prompt decisions. In effect, they can determine exactly what they want the customer to purchase.

For the consumers who may believe that they are exempt or uninfluenced by advertisements, consider all of the information made public and accessible for retailers, marketers, advertisers and almost anyone else to utilize.

  1. Social media posts. Social media has given retailers significant insight into how their target consumers behave. On a daily basis, millions of consumers expose details about their friends, families, habits, schedules, emotions, likes, dislikes, hobbies and pet peeves.
  2. Photos. Through the images posted on social media platforms, retailers can also determine what a person already has, what their friends have and what they are most likely or unlikely to consume. Photos also reveal a lot about a person’s lifestyle and emotions, which is a substantial indicator of purchasing habits.
  3. What you digitally and physically browse. Retailers have never tried to hide that they are monitoring what you type in a search engine, but what’s less than obvious is that they can also track what you physically browse in the store and how much time you spend in that particular section.
  4. Geographic location. This helps retailers refine their promotions and tailor them directly to potential customers who are geographically likely to visit the store.
  5. Emails. Perhaps one of the most revealing platforms, online retailers can determine spending habits, occupation, personality and relationships through email conversations. If you receive e-copies of your statement or credit card bills, that also provides insight to almost every purchase made as well as current financial standing.

Combine all of this personal information and add the information of friends, family, co-workers and everyone you communicate with, and retailers have all the data they need to make purchasing decisions for you. It may be time to reconsider if it is really the “thought” that counts.

Read the entire article at: http://startupcollective.com/online-retailers-making-holiday-shopping-decisions/?inf_contact_key=7e048682a49cae532242c2f125e51e72e2f9dd97f460df303d2720b645d54f09


Smartwatches are high on the list of high-tech holiday gadgets, but as Jordan Edelson of Appetizer Mobile points out, smartwatches are in their infancy and are limited in their features and functionality.

Watch the video at: http://news.yahoo.com/video/gift-guides-watching-best-smartwatch-061504168.html