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Twitter Cards are meant to enhance a user's -- er, advertiser's -- tweets with relevant links and photo previews. Three such cards currently exist, but today the social network introduced a new one: the Lead Generation Card (marketing speak, much?), which essentially lets users accept discounts and provide the required personal information directly from a business' tweet. The feature is located within a brand's expanded tweet: you simply click a button, and your email address and handle are passed along. Essentially, it's autofill for Twitter, which you'll either love or hate. For its part, the site says this feature simplifies the user experience, and it promises your personal info is sent directly and securely to the company you've specified. Currently, a few brands are beta-testing the card, and Twitter says a global launch is soon to follow.
Filed under: Internet
Source: Twitter Advertising Blog
With Computex just around the corner, MSI has taken the wraps off what can truly be described as a next-gen gaming laptop. According to CNET, the 17.3-inch GT70 Dragon Edition 2 will pack a yet-to-be-announced Haswell chip alongside an equally mysterious NVIDIA GTX780M that is claimed to deliver a 3DMark Vantage score of 36,000 -- in other words, roughly equivalent to the benchmark stat you'd get from a desktop rig containing an Ivy Bridge Core-i5 and a full-size GTX670, if the boast happens to be true. A SteelSeries-branded keyboard is in attendance, alongside multiple SSDs in Raid 0 config and three video outputs, all contained within a package as thin as 21.8mm-thick and as light as 2.9kg (6.4 pounds) (Correction: this size and weight applies to the Stealth variant, which has a GTX765M GPU instead of the GTX780M.) Lesser variations will bring the weight down to 2kg (4.4 pounds) by reducing screen size to 14 inches and switching to a less frenetic GTX760M. Expect pricing and availability details once the big Taiwanese expo gets underway.
Amazon Takes Kindle Fire HD Tablets To 170 Countries As It Ramps Up Its Appstore To Nearly 200 Markets
No, we still don’t have any word from Amazon on where it stands with a smartphone, but it’s definitely making its mobile ambitions clear anyway. Today, the e-commerce giant took two more steps in its strategy to scale up its Kindle Fire tablet business. It announced that it will now sell the two higher-end versions of the device, the Kindle Fire HD and Kindle Fire HD 8.9″, in 170 countries. And it also said that its Amazon Appstore will now be available in 200 countries.
Pre-orders in 170 countries begins today with the first models shipping out June 13, priced at the local equivalents of $284 for the 8.9″ model and $214 for the 7″ model.
Up to now, the Android-based Appstore, which works both on Amazon’s Fire tablet range but also other Android devices, has only been live in the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, China and Japan, with Brazil next in line. It makes sense that Amazon will have opened it up at the same time as it’s ramping up its Fire tablet distribution.
“We are thrilled to be expanding the reach of our global app distribution to nearly 200 countries,” said Mike George, VP of Apps and Games at Amazon, in a statement. “By further expanding the distribution of apps to millions of customers around the world, we are continuing to make it easy for customers to enjoy their Amazon apps on Kindle Fire and any Android device.”
Amazon will be kicking off with a couple of free games — a tradition of Amazon’s when it opens up a new store front to focus on some bestsellers. In this case, it will be “Fruit Ninja” and “Cut the Rope: Experiments,” which will be free respectively on May 23 and May 24.
On a more long-tail note, it’s important for Amazon to make its Appstore as globally available as possible as a way of enticing more developers to the platform. In addition to giving them the promise of wide audiences, Amazon has also turned on features like in-app payments, subscriptions and even its own virtual currency, Amazon Coins, to give developers more flexibility in how they make money on its plaform (and, taking a page from Apple’s book, tie them and users further into the Amazon ecosystem in the process). It comes also on the heels of the company previewing the global Appstore availability in April, when it began to invite developers to start submitting their apps.
The company, as usual with Amazon, has remained tight-lipped on how many tablets it has sold since launching the Kindle Fire range in 2011. Today, however, Dave Limp, VP, Amazon Kindle, noted that the Kindle Fire HD (the 7″ model) has been the company’s “#1 best-selling item in the world” since being launched.
Although the HD is available with an optional LTE component in the U.S. it looks like this rollout is WiFi-only: to improve range and service, it comes with dual-band Wi-Fi capability for both 2.4 GHz network and 5 GHz network services. As with other Kindle Fire products, the two models going on sale today will work with Amazon’s existing and wide range of content, including apps, films, TV, games and 300+ books “exclusive to the Kindle Store.”
The move comes two months after Amazon dropped the price on the bigger two tablets, with an 8.9″ screen, to $269. At that time, it started selling it in Europe and Japan.
To date, Amazon has been selling the two HD tablets in the U.S., UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain and Japan. For a company like Amazon, which operates on a basis of competition-beating prices and low margins, it’s important for it to add as much scale as it can to its operation, so expanding Fire HD sales globally is an essential part of that strategy.
Square Starts Mobile Payments In Japan, Its First Country Outside Of North America, In Partnership With Visa's Ally
Mobile payment platform Square has announced that it is now publicly available in Japan, its first country outside of North America. The iPhone is very popular in Japan, making it a potentially strong crossover market for Square, which first launched on iOS before also becoming available on Android.
The move is a bold one for Square, considering that Japan is already a mature market for mobile payments, which were pioneered there by NTT docomo and KDDI. PayPal, Square’s main rival, already has a foothold in Japan, where its partners include mobile operator Softbank. Square’s advantage there may be CEO and founder Jack Dorsey’s emphasis on the platform’s aesthetics. In fact, Dorsey stated that Square’s priority on design influenced the company’s decision to make Japan its first stop in Asia.
“I am honored to introduce Square to a country with a rich history of design, innovation and tradition. Square shares the same values and attention to detail in our products,” said Dorsey.
Square’s association with the iPhone will also help it in Japan, where Apple’s smartphone is still beating out Android devices. According to data from Kantar, iPhones make up 66% of sales there, compared to Android’s 32% share.
The company has taken a slow-and-steady approach to its international expansion, stating that it has no “specific timeline” for Square’s deployment in other countries. Its first step outside the U.S. when it launched in Canada in October. At that time, there was much speculation that Asia would be the next target in Square’s international expansion strategy.
While it’s taken its time tackling global markets, Square has recently launched several new features that shows it is growing increasingly serious about positioning its payment services as a rival to PayPal’s dominance. Earlier this week, the beta version of Square Cash, which enables payments to be sent by email, surfaced. Square also recently hired the former Google SMB of global sales and operations, Francoise Brougher, to serve as their business lead. Brougher will help Square with customer support and partnerships, in addition to growing out the company internationally.
Square has partnered with Sumitomo Mitsui Card Corporation (SMCC), the company that introduced Visa to Japan.
The Square Reader allows businesses to accept credit card payments from mobile devices for a transaction fee of 3.25% per swipe.
Kindle Fire HD 7 and 8.9 now available for pre-order in 'over 170 countries' (update: Appstore open in 'nearly 200')
Amazon's Kindle Fire HD 7- and 8.9-inch slates have only seen limited shores since they were formally announced, but today the company said they're now available for pre-order in more than "170 countries and territories around the world." We could try and list all the new tablet markets, but it's easier to say that until now, they've only found spots in Amazon stores in the US, Europe and Japan. We're not surprised to see the hardware get a much wider release, given that the e-tailer revealed its plan to take the Appstore global last month. The only other nugget in the PR is an expected shipping date of June 13th. Head over to your local Amazon portal to confirm if your region is one of the lucky 170.
Update: Amazon's issued a second PR saying those international plans for the Appstore are no longer plans -- it's now up and running in "nearly 200 countries."
Google Ventures has a reputation for backing tech winners early on -- it gave a boost to this little startup called Nest, for example. It wants to exert influence every step of the way, however, and it's launching Google Capital to make this happen. The new fund is investing in firms that aren't quite so young, but are doing "amazing things" aligned with Google's interests, according to general partner Mike Pearson. While Google Capital won't make its formal debut until the summer, it has already invested in three unnamed companies; we wouldn't be surprised if we learn a lot more about the fund a few months' time.
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News of the acquisition comes one day after a lawsuit filed by OtterBox against LifeProof for patent infringement was dismissed. OtterBox told the North Carolina Business Report that the acquisition was not related to the lawsuit or any settlement. Headquartered in San Diego, LifeProof also makes protective cases and accessories for smartphones and tablets.
Over the next 30 days, OttberBox will beginning incorporating the LifeProof brand into OtterBox’s product lineup. More information about product availability and alignment will be available after that period. OtterBox currently has about 650 employees worldwide, while LifeProof, which was founded in 2009, employs about 250 people, who the companies say will remain in their San Diego location “for the foreseeable future.”
“Our strategy is to utilize our combined brand momentum, and world-class talent to create a great customer experience that generates OtterBox brand ambassadors for life,” Thomas said in the acquisition announcement.
In addition to its extremely durable smartphone cases, which are designed to withstand drops, water immersion and debris, OtterBox also makes protective coverings for other mobile devices such as tablets, as well as screen protectors and accessories. LifeProof’s cases are designed for people with very active lifestyles (or who are especially accident prone around mountains, concrete and bodies of water). Both companies’ cases performed well when they were subjected to abuse in the name of consumer research by TechCrunch during CES in January.
Lenovo's just announced its Q4 and full year 2012/13 financial results, and it's touched new highs on the two most important indices. It earned $127 million on $7.8 billion in revenue for the quarter and $34 billion for the full year, both records for the company, while netting $635 million in profit for the full year -- another all-time high. The only sore spot for Q4 was Lenovo's laptop business, which dropped two percent over last year to $4.2 billion, but that's a far milder plummet than many PC makers saw -- thanks to a 74 percent revenue growth in China. Otherwise, desktop PCs held flat for the company at $2.4 billion during an otherwise down period, and it held firm as China's number two smartphone manufacturer, seeing shipments grow at 206 percent year-over-year, double the average rate. It remains to be seen if Lenovo can continue to buck the downward PC trend that's continued unabated with the release of Windows 8 -- but if not, maybe we'd finally see some of its smartphones over here.
Source: Business Wire
HTC's Desire line of mid-range Android smartphones have typically used the alphabet to denote different models, but the company is now switching to numerals. At least according to a Taiwanese certification page, we can expect a Desire 200. Some leaked benchmark results also indicate that a Desire 600 will head to market.
We don't know much about the Desire 200 apart from its name. It's listed as the HTC 102e on the certification page, and there's plenty of speculation that this handset is the G2 we heard about earlier this year. It's a different story for the Desire 600: the benchmark results indicate this device sports a 960 x 540 (qHD) display with an unspecified 1.2GHz chip. The benchmark sheet also reveals this is a dual-SIM model destined for Europe. That's it for now, but more details are sure to follow shortly.
Samsung’s Galaxy S4 has hit 10 million channel sales one month after its release. The company announced its latest milestone today just eight days after confirming that it had shipped over 6 million units of the S4 since its international launch on April 26. According to Samsung, this is the fastest ever sell rate for any of its smartphones.
The latest entry in the Galaxy series–meant as Samsung’s iPhone challenger–has sold much more quickly than its predecessors. The Galaxy S4′s milestone beats the record set by the Galaxy S3, which reached 10 million channel sales 50 days after its launch in 2012. The Galaxy S2 took five months and the Galaxy S seven months to reach the same number.
(Channel sales are to wireless operators and not direct to consumers. In other words, the numbers are for units shipped.)
The Galaxy S4 had to overcome inventory issues that disrupted its U.S. rollout and were attributed by the company to unexpectedly high demand for the phone. Though the Galaxy S4 is indeed selling swiftly, reinforcing Samsung’s dominance of the worldwide smartphone market, Jordan Crook noted after it hit 6 million units shipped that the iPhone is still technically a faster selling phone than any of Samsung’s Galaxy models.
When the iPhone 5 launched, Apple took over 2 million pre-orders in the first 24 hours available. Furthermore, iPhone 5 pre-orders were two times the number of pre-orders seen for the iPhone 4S. Despite Apple’s recent earnings woes, consumers still love their iPhones, and Samsung VS Apple: Battle Smartphone is not over quite yet, especially as the Cupertino company prepares to launch new products this fall.
AMD isn't focusing all its attention on its entry-level mobile APUs today: it's also providing details for the faster Richland-based models. The new A6, A8, and A10 mobile variants fall under the Elite Performance badge, and theoretically beat Intel to the punch with up to 71 percent faster 3D graphics than the current Core i5 family. They also muster about 7.5 hours of battery life with web use, or about an hour longer than we saw in the previous generation. The roster includes both regular power (35W) and low-voltage (17W to 25W) APUs, in dual- and quad-core editions.
We're more interested in how well the chips play with other devices and software, however. Besides the face and motion gesture recognition that we've seen before, AMD touts a new take on Wireless Display with low enough latency for game sessions, support for 1080p60 video and native Miracast sharing. The Richland upgrade also introduces a new Dock Port standard that can feed both USB 3.0 and up to three external DisplayPort screens through one cable. If you like what AMD is pitching, you won't have to wait to try it -- Elite Performance APUs have already been shipping with MSI's GX60 and GX70, and other vendors shouldn't be far behind.
Gallery: AMD Richland presentation
Chevy just announced pricing for its 2014 Spark EV. The all-electric compact will retail for $27,495 before incentives, such as a $7,500 federal tax credit and up to $2,500 in state and local credits. All told, you could drive the car home for less than 18 grand, and California residents will net HOV (carpool lane) access to boot. The two-door vehicle ships with a 21kWh battery pack, giving you an estimated range of 82 miles on a full charge. You can also add on DC Fast Charging capability, letting you recharge up to 80 percent in about 20 minutes at select stations. Alternatively, you can charge up using a 240-volt system in about seven hours. The car also includes Chevy's MyLink infotainment platform, the RemoteLink smartphone app and three years of OnStar service. It'll be available at select dealers in California and Oregon by mid-June.
Filed under: Transportation
With back-to-school season upon us and Intel's Haswell launch just around the corner, now's a great time for PC makers to start unveiling their summer lineups. Two weeks ago we heard from Sony and today it's HP's turn: the company just refreshed everything from its mainstream notebooks to its high-performance machines. Heck, even the pint-sized dm1 got a makeover. With the exception of that machine (now called the Pavilion TouchSmart Notebook), everything here will be offered with Haswell. There's a little something for everybody, and it's all waiting for you in a neat summary after the break. Join us as we break it down.
Update: We've added one more model to the list, and we think you're going to like it: an Ultrabook with a 3,200 x 1,800 display. HP hadn't meant to announce it today, but you know the internet -- sometimes the cat gets out of the bag anyway. In any case, we've added a quick blurb, as well as hands-on photos. Enjoy!
If you think HP's new battery-powered all-in-one is a gimmick, fear not: the company's still churning out all manner of traditional desktop towers. In fact, the outfit just refreshed its lineup with five new models, ranging from a space-saving mini to a high-end gaming rig. There's a lot to digest in the way of specs and pricing, so to keep things simple we laid out a neat list just after the break. Read on for the full break-down.
It's official: battery-powered all-in-ones you can schlep around the house are now a thing. First Sony released the Tap 20, then Lenovo followed with the Horizon and now HP makes three, with its newly announced Envy Rove 20. As the name suggests, it's a 20-inch PC you can move from room to room -- if 11.86 pounds can really be considered portable. As with other systems in its class, that IPS, 1080p display can lie nearly flat allowing you to use it as more of a tablet / twenty-first century board game machine. The difference is that there's a button to release the hinge in the back, so you don't have to pull it out by hand. Keep in mind, though, that this sophisticated design makes the Rove 20 almost half a pound heavier than the Tap 20. Sorry, you can't have it all.
On the inside, it packs a Haswell chip, with up to 1TB of storage and an 8GB SSD for caching. The built-in battery is rated for close to four hours of battery life, according to an HP rep, which would be a significant improvement over the Tap 20. Incidentally, it has both WiDi and 802.11ac, neither of which have been included on an HP all-in-one before. There's Beats Audio too (this is an HP system after all), along with a subwoofer. On the software side, meanwhile, HP's pre-installing a few board games like EA Monopoly, and there's a physical key you can use to flip the screen orientation when it's another player's turn. It'll ship sometime in July, though HP hasn't announced the price yet.
Finishing up, HP also announced two lower-end all-in-ones, the Pavilion TouchSmart 20 and 23, each of which makes use of five-point optical touch instead of a 10-point capacitive screen. Both will be available next month with a mix of 2013 AMD processors and Intel Haswell chips. The TouchSmart 20 arrives June 23rd, specifically, with a starting price of $620, while the 23 ships June 5th for $749 and up.
AMD has been willing to tease its 2013 ultra-mobile APU (accelerated processing unit) strategy through PCs like the Acer Aspire V5, but today it's spilling the beans in earnest. The headliner for many is the company's just-shipping Elite Mobility line, or Temash: the A4 and A6 designs are built for tablets, like Hondo was, but their Jaguar-based system-on-chip designs should be faster in both CPU and graphics power without a hit to battery life. AMD estimates that the Radeon HD 8280G video core in an Elite Mobility A6 is about five times faster a Clover Trail-based Atom and twice as fast as Hondo, but lasts about 45 percent longer on battery than an Intel Core i3. And that's while untethered -- that Turbo Dock feature is still in place to boost speeds by over 30 percent when a dock is around for extra cooling.
The E1, E2, A4 and A6 mainstream APUs based on Kabini, meanwhile, are all about tackling the Pentium and Core i3 chips that go into entry-level laptops. AMD reckons that the dual-core (E-series) and quad-core (A-series) parts are up to 88 percent faster overall than their ancestors, and can even punch above their weight class: the E1's Radeon HD 8000-level graphics are up to 66 percent faster than those of a much thirstier, Trinity-era A4 chip. Battery life is a specialty as well, with up to 10 hours when idle and 9 hours of web use. That's typically 2 to 3 hours more than Kabini's Brazos ancestor could manage. AMD wasn't specific on when these mainstream APUs would first ship when we were briefed, but we had the opportunity to benchmark an A4-based reference laptop. Read on past the break for the scores and some early impressions.
Gallery: AMD Kabini reference laptop
Gallery: AMD Kabini and Temash presentations
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