Архив метки: PR

Best Buy cancels Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders

Samsung is taking its time bringing the Galaxy Fold back to market. And frankly, that’s probably for the best. The Note debacle from a few years back was an important lesson about what happens when you rush a product back to market. That one resulted in a second recall — PR nightmare upon PR nightmare.
With a release date still very much in limbo, Best Buy has sent notes to those who pre-ordered the Fold. Spotted by The Verge, the letter has since been posted to Best Buy’s support forum. It cites “a plethora of unforeseen hiccups,” (fair enough) adding, “Because we put our customers first and want to ensure they are taken care of in the best possible manner, Best Buy has decided to cancel all current pre-orders for the Samsung Galaxy Fold.
The letter goes on to assure customers that the big-box retailer is “working closely with Samsung” to help deliver the product to customers. At the moment, however, their guess on the time frame is as good as ours.
Recent reports have suggested that an announcement was imminent, with the company having solved design flaws that had reviewers peeling off screens and getting debris jammed in the holes of the folding mechanism. More recent reports gave the product a June 13 release date, but that, too, appears to have been scrubbed for the time being.

Best Buy cancels Samsung Galaxy Fold pre-orders

Qualcomm patent dispute forces Apple to pull iPhone 7 and 8 from its stores in Germany

In more bad news for Apple, the company’s iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models are not currently on sale in its own retail stores in Germany.
This follows an injunction issued by a Munich court last month related to patent litigation brought by chipmaker Qualcomm that’s being enforced from today. The patent dispute concerns smartphone power management technology that’s used to extend battery life.
In December, the Munich court sided with Qualcomm, finding that Apple is infringing its patented power savings technology in the two models — granting a permanent injunction.
The court ordered Apple to cease the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale in Germany of infringing iPhones.
Apple has said it will appeal.
The Apple Germany website currently offers the newest models of the iPhone (the XS, XS Max and XR); and older models from 2014 (iPhone 6 and 6 Plus); 2015 (iPhone 6S and 6S Plus); and 2016 (iPhone SE). But buyers looking for 2016’s iPhone 7 or 2017’s iPhone 8 will be disappointed.
Yesterday Qualcomm announced it had posted security bonds totalling €1.34BN required by the court, enabling the injunction issued by the District Court of Munich on December 20 to be enforced.
The bonds are required to cover potential damages incurred by Apple should the judgment be overturned or amended on appeal. Qualcomm had said on December 20 that it would post the bonds “within a few days.”
In a statement yesterday the chipmaker also claimed the court had ordered Apple to recall infringing iPhones from third-party resellers in the market.
But at the time of writing, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models are still being offered by Apple resellers in Germany.
Amazon.de currently offers both handsets, for instance. Gravis, Germany’s biggest reseller of Apple products, also told Reuters it was still selling all Apple products, including the two models.
Qualcomm has also been pursing patent litigation against Apple in China and the U.S., and last month Apple appealed against a preliminary injunction banning the import and sales of old iPhone models in China.
In that case, the patents relate to editing photos and managing apps on smartphone touchscreens.
In the U.S., Qualcomm has most recently accused Intel engineers working with Apple of stealing trade secrets.
The feud dates back further, though. Two years ago the FTC filed charges against Qualcomm accusing it of anticompetitive tactics in an attempt to maintain a monopoly in its chip business — with Apple officially cited in the complaint.
Cupertino also filed a billion-dollar royalty lawsuit against the chipmaker at the same time, accusing it of charging for patents “they have nothing to do with.”
The legal battle between the pair shows no signs of fizzling out, and has led Apple to reduce its reliance on Qualcomm chips — with Intel the short-term beneficiary.
An Apple spokesperson declined to comment on the latest litigious development in Germany, but pointed to its statement from December 20 in which it takes a broad swipe at Qualcomm’s “tactics.”
In the statement, Apple also said resellers in the market would continue to stock all models.
It writes:

Qualcomm’s campaign is a desperate attempt to distract from the real issues between our companies. Their tactics, in the courts and in their everyday business, are harming innovation and harming consumers. Qualcomm insists on charging exorbitant fees based on work they didn’t do and they are being investigated by governments all around the world for their behavior.

We are of course disappointed by this verdict and we plan to appeal. All iPhone models remain available to customers through carriers and resellers in 4,300 locations across Germany. During the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be available at Apple’s 15 retail stores in Germany. iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR will remain available in all our stores.

The sideswipe at Qualcomm’s “tactics” is perhaps also a reference to the use of a controversial PR firm, Definers, which — as we reported in November — sent pitches slinging mud at Apple seemingly on Qualcomm’s behalf.
Late last year Facebook confirmed it had severed its own business relationship with the PR firm after it was revealed to have used anti-Semitic smear tactics to try to discredit Facebook critics.
We’ve asked Qualcomm for comment on its use of the PR firm.

Qualcomm patent dispute forces Apple to pull iPhone 7 and 8 from its stores in Germany

Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

Snapcash ended up as a way to pay adult performers for private content over Snapchat, not just a way to split bills with friends. But Snapchat will abandon the peer-to-peer payment space on August 30th. Code buried in Snapchat’s Android app includes a “Snapcash deprecation message” that displays “Snapcash will no longer be available after %s [date]”. Shutting down the feature will bring an end to Snapchat’s four-year partnership with Square to power the feature for sending people money.
Snapcash may have become more of a liability than a utility. With apps like Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, and Square Cash itself, there were plenty of other ways to pay back friends for drinks or Ubers, so Snapcash may have seen low legitimate usage. Meanwhile, a quick Twitter search for “Snapcash” surfaced plenty of offers of erotic content in exchange for payments through the feature. It may have been safer for Snapchat to ditch Snapcash than risk PR problems over its misuse.

TechCrunch tipster Ishan Agarwal provided the below screenshot of Snapchat’s code to TechCrunch. When presented with the code and asked if Snapcash would shut down, a Snapchat spokesperson confirmed to TechCrunch that it would, explaining: “Yes, we’re discontinuing the Snapcash feature as of August 30, 2018. Snapcash was our first product created in partnership with another company – Square. We’re thankful for all the Snapchatters who used Snapcash for the last four years and for Square’s partnership!” The spokesperson noted that users would be notified in-app and through the support site soon.

Snapcash gave Snapchat a way to get users to connect payment methods to the app. That’s increasingly important as the company aims to become a commerce platforms where you can shop without leaving the app. Having payment info on file is what makes buying things through Snapchat easier than the web and draws brands to use Snapchat storefronts.
We’ll see how Snapchat plans evolve its commerce strategy without this driver. Earlier this month, TechCrunch revealed that Snapchat’s code contained mentions of a project codenamed “eagle” that’s a camera search feature. It was designed to allow users to scan an object or barcode with their Snapchat camera and see product results in Amazon. But since our report, mentions of Amazon have disappeared from the code. It’s unclear what will happen in the future, but camera search could give Snapchat new utility and monetization options.
Snapcash won’t be a part of that future, though. Given Snapchat’s cost-cutting efforts including layoffs, its desperate need to attract and retain advertisers to hit revenue estimates its missed, and its persistent bad rap as a sexting app, it couldn’t afford to support unnecessary features or another scandal.

Snapchat will shut down Snapcash, forfeiting to Venmo

CallApp Uses Social Data To Build A Smarter Smartphone Contact Book

callapp logo

One of my least favorite moments of the day comes when my iPhone rings and the number isn’t in my contact book. Is it an important call from an entrepreneur? A random PR person pitching me? Or just a telemarketer? I won’t know until I pick up.

CallApp, a startup launching today at Disrupt, wants to eliminate those awkward moments, for starters. It’s creating what CEO and co-founder Oded Volovitz calls a “universal social contact book.” It’s drawing data from social networks and other data sources to give users more context about phone calls and other communication. The data also comes from CallApp users — users can edit CallApp listings, and if they choose, they can add their contact book into the company’s general database.

So when you get a phone call, even if it’s from someone who isn’t in your contact list, you should be able to see information about them — say a photo, their most recent update on Facebook, and your most recent email exchange if you’ve corresponded with them.

Of course, if your phone is already ringing, you’ve only got a few seconds before you need to pick up, but at least you can glance at your screen and go into the call with some basic context. CallApp should be even more useful when you’re about to make a call. Then, the social network updates can give you a way to start off the conversation, or tell you when someone has traveled out of the country, so maybe now isn’t the best time to reach them. You can also attach personal reminders to CallApp contacts, share your location with them, or set up a meeting.

In some ways, the concept is pretty similar to an email plugin like Rapportive (recently acquired by LinkedIn) or Xobni. However, Volovitz says that bringing this information to the smartphone puts it in a different context. After all, when he gets a phone call, “I cannot wait until I can go to the Internet to see who is calling me. This is about giving you real-time, immediate, the most relevant information you can get, and the tools to execute on that information.”

Volovitz also says CallApp, despite the name, isn’t just about phone calls — he estimates that he only uses it for phone calls 50 percent of the time. The app also lists and connects to other ways for reaching people, like WhatsApp Messenger and Viber. The core of the experience isn’t the phone call but the contact itself, Volovitz says.

Nor is CallApp limited to personal contact listings. It includes businesses too, showing you things like Yelp reviews, Google Street View, or a menu for a restaurant where you’re thinking about making reservations.

Moving forward, Volovitz says the company will be adding features that are more about encouraging “serendipity.”

The app is available on Android phones (you can download it from Google Play here). CallApp is developing a version for iPhones too, though Volovitz estimates that it will have 80 percent of the functionality of the Android version, due to “some technical issues.”

Volovitz says the company isn’t monetizing the app (which is free) yet, but there are a number of possible business models, including affiliate fees. The company has raised $1 million in funding from undisclosed venture capital firms and angel investors.

Disrupt Q&A

Q: How does the iOS app differ?

A: There are more limitations than in Android, like you have to use the built-in dialer rather than any dialer you want.

Q: What are the viral hooks?

A: If you use CallApp to share information with someone, they get an SMS message linking to the content and asking them to download the app.

Q: Tell us about the technology.

A: What we do is artificial intelligence, big data. The system knows how to link the right person to the right number, for example using location to narrow the search.

Q: Why do other improved contact books fail, and why will you succeed?

A: It’s all about the execution and the ambition. If you build an app on the client side, you only get a limited amount of information about contacts on your phone, versus CallApp’s crowdsourced, cloud-based approach.


CallApp Uses Social Data To Build A Smarter Smartphone Contact Book

The Future Of RIM: “BlackBerry Isn’t For Everyone”

rim-not4every1

Today is BlackBerry Jam, RIM’s developer conference or WWDC equivalent. It’s RIM’s moment to redefine, rejuvenate, and re-establish itself in the world. Whether or not the company can pull it off, however, is an entirely different matter.

BlackBerry 10, RIM’s brand new platform, has been delayed, run into naming issues, and seen the transfer of power go from the company’s co-founders, Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, to long-time employee Thorsten Heins. The conference will prove whether or not RIM is now adaptable — something for which the company has been publicly flogged for the past year.

We took a trip up to Waterloo to speak with some of the employees ahead of the event, namely Vivek Bhardwaj, Head of Software Portfolio EMEA for RIM, and as I walked away I felt less sure of who RIM is and what the company is about than I ever have before.

See, one of the first things we heard walking in the door was that RIM has changed with Heins at the top. When I mentioned the past year and described the company as “lacking flexibility,” Victoria Berry, senior manager of PR and social media went ahead and threw out the word “arrogant.”

“Yes,” I said. “Exactly.”

They recalled Thorsten’s first earnings call, during which he admitted he would consider licensing the new BB10 platform and/or selling off the company if the options proved viable. They said partners were optimistic, and that the company was generally undergoing a major change in the way they looked at both themselves and the landscape.

But then we started talking about where RIM is headed.

Bhardwaj admitted that RIM, up until this point, has lacked a clear vision and identity. “We’ve never had a clear vision as to who we are, what we’re for, or the purpose of our strategy,” said Bhardwaj. “The conference is all about setting the stage for that.”

I was pleased at his conviction on behalf of the company, and he hit the nail right on the head. In today’s competitive landscape, the BlackBerry is no longer a hot, new device. It’s a BlackBerry. It’s almost a joke.

But then he went on:

We’ve identified in this world that there is an audience that not only appreciates what we build today but has this desire to really connect to the certain things in their life that they place value on, the things they value in their smartphones, and the things they value on their tablets. We’ve found that it’s different to what an iOS or Android user would put value on.

We’re going to set the stage for how important relationships are to BlackBerry users, as well as how important communities, networking, and messaging are to them. We have this legacy of email and we’ll continue to expand, but we haven’t taken the time to explain to people why messaging is important to our audience.

That sounded diplomatic enough, albeit vague with a touch of Lazaridis-style ego. (Remember this: “We’ve been singled out because we’re so successful around the world. It’s an iconic product. It’s used by business, leaders, celebrities, teenagers. We’ve just been singled out… because of our success.”)

I asked him to continue:

We want to make sure people understand who we are as a company. It’s important to know that BlackBerry isn’t for everyone. I don’t mean that in an egotistical or selfish manner, but there’s an audience that appreciates and desires what we deliver as an experience.

We need to make sure we’re messaging to them first and foremost.

That was the moment he lost me.

See, RBC released a report just yesterday saying that RIM may drop below the 5 percent mark in terms of market share, while Samsung and Apple gobble it up. Of course, this is an issue greater than numbers. Developers are far less likely to put money, time, and energy into a platform that comprises so little of the market, and thus consumers are less likely to buy hardware that stands so far behind its competition in terms of app selection.

Yet, from what Mr. Bhardwaj was telling me, it sounded like RIM is reverting back to its core competency: messaging. It was impossible for me to be sure of that of course — he had been speaking very generally. So I asked for specifics.

I pushed him about what that strategy and vision is really all about, specifically, who exactly the RIM audience is, and why they value BlackBerry messaging in particular?

We’ve done a lot of research on BlackBerry people, and we’ve seen some patterns. The research shows us that these people are hyper-connected, social networking is important to them, organizing their time is a priority, and relationships are really valuable to them. We also see that they want to be able to act and message in the moment, spread things instantly, and share things instantly. It’s very important to these people.

You see now why I’m frustrated by the whole “BlackBerry isn’t for everyone” thing now, right?

Essentially, RIM wants to be the king of messaging again. iMessage does basically the same exact thing as BBM now, but on an iPhone, and there are dozens of SMS-substitute apps (like WhatsApp) on both the App Store and Google Play. Granted, RIM still dominates in terms of secure corporate email and enterprise familiarity/reliability, but that consumer market has wandered elsewhere, searching for a little magic instead of a trackpad.

Messaging isn’t really a focus at all in today’s competitive landscape. Just because people are hyper-connected, socially active online, cognizant of their schedule, and constantly in communication, it doesn’t mean that they’re “BlackBerry people”. Hell, we buy phones to communicate, and text messaging has outweighed voice calls for a while now.

Duh! Messaging (and better yet, seamless quick messaging) is important. But what about everything else?

Well, apparently everything else isn’t really important to “BlackBerry people.”

There’s this market full of people who care first and foremost about messaging and social networking. Yes, apps are important, browsing is important, and games are important, but those aren’t what they value when they first use a smartphone.

They desire living technology — things they connect to and live and breathe by. BlackBerry is something people are always connected to. It’s an extension of their arm. That’s the type of audience we’re going for. What we’re trying to do is take the user interface and the design, and map it to the things they value like conversations and community, while making sure there’s no lag.

I shouldn’t have to say this, but clearly both iOS and Android were built around the idea that apps, browsing and games are highly important. You don’t need me to tell you how those stories have progressed.

“To my point earlier,” Bhardwaj continued, “it’s not for everyone. It’s not meant to be a platform that encompasses the world.”

Part of me, a very small part, understands what RIM is trying to do. They want to reshape the argument to say: maybe an Android or iPhone can do anything and everything, but a BlackBerry does the most important things really really well. He mentioned that RIM will move into the automotive space, leveraging the fact that QNX is baked into 300 million+ cars. “We want to be the platform that connects and simplifies the relationships, services and content, and intelligent things,” he explained.

In fact, he used a somewhat weird example to further describe what he was getting at, which involved the forthcoming, and much talked-about, intelligent fridge. He explained that the BlackBerry owner would walk by the grocery store, and immediately be notified that they’re out of milk. Meanwhile, an iPhone user would be sent directly to iTunes to buy a song about milk, whereas an Android owner would be sent to a Wikipedia page to learn the history of milk.

While Apple wants to sell you content and Google wants your browsing history, BlackBerry simply wants to connect you in a practical way. It sounds glorious, but that’s the vision, not the reality.

The reality is a brand new virtual keyboard, a desire to connect to developers with simplified SDK tools and device seeding programs, and an entirely new operating system (not a refresh — they’re really serious about that).

Yet, RIM isn’t ready to stray from their physical keyboards. Ms. Berry in PR mentioned that “of the 80 million users, I’m not sure how many but it’s a high percentage that say they like the keyboard.”

Oh. OK.

Well, the keyboard is quite nice. It’s intuitive, quick, and takes the soft keyboard to a new level. And the notion that RIM will make life a little easier on developers is a really pleasant thought. I can see it now — devs coding away and porting over Android apps to their brand new PlayBook, handed to them free of charge by a BlackBerry evangelist living out in the field.

But will developers really want to invest time, energy and most importantly, cash into this platform? Will a new keyboard be enough to save RIM?

Hells no.

A magic moment, one that changes the entire ecosystem (much like the iPad, iPod, and iPhone) will save RIM. A moment that takes the company out of the past, and even out of the present, and proves that they are the future. Seamless and easy car integration a la QNX, or something like the fridge example Mr. Bhardwaj offered, would do that. But again, those are just a vision, not the reality.

The reality is that “BlackBerry isn’t for everyone.”


The Future Of RIM: “BlackBerry Isn’t For Everyone”