Review: Shine laser light Bluetooth headphones

Shine laser light Bluetooth headphonesIEC Technology — which has offices in Shenzhen, China and London, UK — has recently launched its laser-light based Bluetooth stereophonic headsets, called Shine, on Kickstarter. We had a chance to try them out before the general public, and this article is all about our experience with the product. But first, let’s look at Shine’s…

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Red Stag Fulfillment Offers Handy Guide to E-Commerce Platforms

rsfRed Stag Fulfillment, a successful and well-regarded company that acts as a third party shipping servicer for e-commerce firms, doesn’t sell anything online. But it sure has a bead on the platforms that serve those who do.

RSF ships for a growing number of e-commerce companies and it has learned a great deal about the pros and cons of each.

When it comes to eCommerce order fulfillment, RSF says that the technology used is vitally important. Having seamless operations that can, for instance, sync automatically with the real-time purchases in a company’s online store will go a long way in preventing an eCommerce store from joining the vast graveyard of similar businesses that failed in large part because of inadequate or inadequately used technology.  To learn more about the eCommerce technology used by RSF, click here).

Now, the Red Stag Fulfillment crew is offering a handy guide to the major platforms serving the customers that it also serves. The guide gives basic information about the platforms that work with both small to medium and medium to large e-commerce companies.

For small to medium outfits, RSF reviews Woo, Shopify, OpenCart, and PrestaShop. For medium to large e-commerce companies, it reviews Magento, BigCommerce, and ShopifyPlus.

Included in each shopping platform review is an overview, cost information, features description, benefits details, customer support info, and details on any drawbacks Red Stag believes its audience needs to know.

For instance, its overview of Woo notes that “Woo Commerce is a free WordPress plugin which allows you to sell through your WordPress website. It also offers additional paid features you can add on. This option is known to be affordable and allows you to make sales, process secure payments, manage inventory and shipping, and manage taxes automatically. It is recommended for retailers earning revenues that range from $ 0-$ 500,000.”

It’s a very informative guide for the customers that RSF was created to serve.

“There are pros and cons to every platform – but ultimately, the right choice will depend on your company’s size and unique needs,” notes the company. “In our business at Red Stag Fulfillment as a third party fulfillment provider, we know our customers need an e-commerce solution they can rely on, and we regularly hear feedback on the good and bad of various platforms. Hopefully this guide (can help) you in your decision process.”

To review the guide in full, click here. And for more information on what RSF can do for the reliability and growth of your eCommerce business, check out the company here.

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Jabra Storm review

Jabra StormLet me start by saying this – the Jabra Storm is by far the best Bluetooth headset I’ve ever used. Period. I know there are (arguably) better models, but I haven’t been able to play with one of those. The Storm offers a great sound quality, it’s easy to carry around (you can forget you…

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Pandora Changes Its Tune: Music Platform Makes Some Major Changes

musicPandora is definitely facing the music. The innovative and creative music platform has decided it will give its advertising clients new options — like letting brands sponsor playbacks and skips, as well as allowing offline listening by dedicated subscribers.

The changes affect both Pandora’s subscription-based and ad-supported platforms.

“The company announced it’s rebranding the classic Pandora One subscription model as Pandora Plus, an improved $ 4.99 option that will allow listeners to have as many as four music channels available offline, when users might want to listen without having internet access,” reports AdWeek’s Marty Swant.

This announcement follows news from Pandora that the music streaming service has inked direct licensing deals with several major music labels, including Merlin Network, Sony Music, and Universal Music Group.

“You’ll be able to go on a run, or a cross-country commute on a plane or a train commute in a tunnel and never lose Pandora,” said Lizzie Widhelm, Pandora’s SVP of ad product strategy.

It’s a pretty cool set-up.

“The “predictive offline mode” notices when internet connection is cut and automatically caches three of the stations a user listens to the most,” explained Swant. “The offline mode will also cache a user’s Thumbprint station, which is based on songs they’ve given a thumbs up.”

As for the free, ad-supported version of Pandora, the company will now allow brands to sponsor playbacks and additional skips: in exchange for watching a 15-second ad, users will be able to listen to a song again or skip more of those they don’t like.

The ultimate benefit to advertisers? More happy customers of the platform — and ultimately more of the kind of flexibility that takes the sting out of advertising breaks.

“The updates to allow for offline could also be a big boost for gaining ground in the mobile space,” notes Swant. “More than 85 percent of users’ total listening hours come from mobile devices.”

Pandora now boasts 78 million total active monthly listeners in the U.S. About 3.9 million are paying subscribers.

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Why Should Schools, Colleges and Universities Invest in Mobile Apps?

opinionThe following is a guest contributed post from Paul Swaddle, Pocket App Chairman.

As we start a new academic year and term, now more than ever college and university dropout rates are a concern for many education establishments. A high dropout rate not only damages reputation, but also reduces the amount of funding awarded to the organization.

Previous figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency revealed that over 32,000 students dropped out of university after a year of study in 2013. Of those who dropped out, 7,420 transferred to another university, while 24,745 were no longer in higher education. Three years on and dropout rates are still a concern and institutions are constantly looking for new, innovative ways to attract students and keep them engaged.

An increased amount of colleges and universities are working closely with industry experts in order to integrate technology into the classroom and into their own practices with real-word hands-on projects providing new and innovative ways for both students and teachers to keep up-to-date with technology advancements.

There are many examples showing how educational organizations have changed their approach to student communication by integrating technology in the classroom, appealing to the younger demographic. Indeed there are now a wide variety of apps that have real appeal and below are the ones that I think are really being exploited:

  1. The SAMR model: This app helps teachers integrate technology into their teaching and a student’s learning. It was created with the explicit aim of helping teachers design, develop and integrate digital media to increase students’ academic achievements. This is the perfect example of an app that has been designed to move colleges and universities into the digital age.
  1. Class Dojo: Teachers are able to store students’ information and can easily provide negative or positive feedback around their behavior in class. The information is sent straight to the parent and student separately. The app records and tracks all behavior data so it can then be viewed in a graph and analyzed by both teacher and parent. This app helps to tackle dropout rates as the parent and teacher are alerted to erratic behavior or attendance and then they can act quickly on that information.
  1. Socrative Teacher: Educators can initiate formative assessments through quizzes, quick question polls, exit tickets and space races through this app, which is sent straight to the student’s tablet or phone. The app will instantly grade, aggregate and provide visuals of results to help teachers identify opportunities for further instructions, with the aim of saving time and visualizing student understanding. This app tackles issues straightaway, as lecturers can be alerted to areas of the topic that need more explaining.
  1. Educade: This app allows you to easily search by grade-level or subject area to find any lesson lecturers and teachers need. The app comes with the resources that will be needed, a step-by-step lesson plan, and even reviews from other teachers who have tried it out. Therefore, teachers are able to keep lessons and lectures exciting so that more students will be willing to attend throughout the course.
  1. Schoology: This app enables teachers to manage their classroom, to create and submit assignments, participate in interactive discussions, and to collaborate with their peers to make the communications in colleges and universities quicker and easier. Not all students have the confidence to interact with a large amount of people often found in lectures, this app effectively deals with that issue, as well as enabling students to ask for help via a discussion room, rather than doing it in-person.

All of these apps aid the development of the students, so that they feel more connected with their college or university. For the organization, this means that they are able to attract a younger demographic to their institution as well as adapt their communication systems to ensure all students’ needs are met.

Going forward, some of the more innovative colleges are starting to evolve their own apps as more and more organizations realize this is the way forward for communication and success.  For example apps can be used as a key indicator of trends to show the performance of the college or university. Equally apps can be used as a way of tracking admissions and understanding where students are in their development, ensuring any students that are struggling are given all the extra help needed for them to continue with their education.

Here at Pocket App, we can assist in any stage of the development of your app from workshopping the idea to design and build. We have an extensive team who can help at every step of the way. We understand that students’ success is key for any college or university and key to this is making sure that the students stay engaged and that the organization doesn’t end up with a high dropout rate post admissions.

It is time for all educational organizations to become more competitive in the world of technology and apps are one way to make the organization stickier as you can monitor key indicators for students across the board and become more pre-emptive and responsive.

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Two Companies Apple Should Acquire: Evernote and VMware

Apple StoreWith Apple’s cash pile growing with the day, we are wondering when (or whether) will they start making big moves, as in – big acquisitions. The iPhone maker typically acquires smaller firms, but with more than $ 200 billion sitting at their offshore accounts, one wonders how on earth will they spend/invest all the cash. There…

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Nielsen Nugget: Technological Changes Drive Changes in Media Usage

nielsenThere’s an interesting graphic this week from respected media measurement company Nielsen.

The graphic tells the story of the “current state of the media universe,” a universe now full of choices for consumers of media, scanning the spectrum from TV to radio to mobile and social media platforms.

“Like the cosmos, which is contemplated much in current times, the proliferation of devices and the abundance of media choices is presenting endless options for the consumer and endless challenges and opportunities for the marketer,” notes Nielsen.

Nielsen no longer just tracks home viewers of television, as it once did. The company’s mission is — as the company notes — to total up “audiences across devices and burgeoning viewing platforms.”

One notable find from Nielsen? Consumer engagement is definitely growing.

Check out the graphic here to see what’s happening in a variety of market segments.

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Consolidation is Rampant in 2016 Marketing Technology Industry

mobvistaWhile the years 2014 and 2015 were each once heralded as “the year of ad tech consolidation,” 2016 may easily blow away anything previously witnessed in this sector. Those years, it appears, were just the warm-up.

Merger and acquisition (M&A) moves in the marketing technology, advertising technology, and digital content sectors have mushroomed in 2016 as visionary firms seek to offer a panoply of complimentary services.

In the first quarter of this year, there were 72 M&A events — reportedly the second-highest quarter for such activity since early 2015. Digital content sector transactions alone spawned 34 of them, with seven pegged at valuations of more than $ 100 million.

What’s the incentive for all of these consolidations? Basically, it streamlines things for marketers when they can get most of or all of the services they need from one provider. In tandem, companies that offer everything from a platform to ad serving technology, targeting technology, data analysis, and/or other services are better positioned to grow and prosper.

Mobile, of course, is the driving force. In fact, researchers forecast that by 2019, mobile ad spending will rise to $ 65.87 billion and will constitute 72.2 percent of total digital ad spend. It will result in substantial demand for digital marketing and advertising services. That’s a huge incentive to companies that want to serve digital marketers.

While decreased competition can be a common drawback of consolidations (more than a few watch acquisition moves by giants like Facebook and Google with some trepidation), there are also benefits: increased standardization, better ad quality, clarity and consistency for marketers, and more a more efficient menu of tools for digital advertisers.

What company is among the best of the digital firms pursuing an M&A strategy? One notable contender is Mobvista. Earlier this year, this shrewd and forward-thinking Asian mobile ad platform — a leader in its market space —  purchased Denmark-based GameAnalytics, a behavioral analytics platform for game developers.

“The acquisition will help China’s Mobvista extend its international reach and help game developers simplify their businesses by providing an ad-tech platform that helps drive revenue and lifetime value,” noted a report from Venture Beat that heralded the acquisition. “Mobvista said it chose GameAnalytics for its rich player insights, which complement Mobvista’s proprietary ad tech and unique native ad mediation service.”

Today, Mobvista is well positioned because of its resources and talent to capitalize on rich market opportunities made possible by the company’s far-sighted steps in recent years. The Chinese ad platform is now in rapid expansion mode after its success in user acquisition and app monetization.

It has been a short but very busy journey for Mobvista. When the firm first started in 2013, it specialized in helping app companies achieve user acquisition in key regional markets such as Southeast Asia, the United States, and India.

According to Mobvista’s VP for business development Yuan Xi, the company was “privileged” to benefit from the growing mobile market and globalization trend in China.

“Advertising beyond the China market was a major trend within the Internet industry in China during that time,” explained Xi. “Some big names in the industry, like Baidu, Alibaba, and Tencent were our initial clients. Through the campaign solutions (we) provided, these clients saw our capabilities in app marketing.”

In recent months, the company has diversified its clientele (it now serves a global roster of companies) and now offers them more comprehensive and innovative marketing solutions. Currently, Mobvista has established 11 offices globally (FYI:Hong Kong / Guangzhou / Beijing / San Francisco / New Delhi / Singapore / Minneapolis / SartellJarkata / London / Copenhagen), with local teams based in every major market. Some of its clients include Uber, Paytm, VNG, Lazada, etc.

We’re told that overseas business accounts for 40% of total revenue.

“We’ve evolved from a business-driven company to a technology-driven company, offering our clients top-notch advertising solutions in the industry, through ensuring higher efficiency and precision, and introducing automated solutions in our marketing process,” Xi said.

One move Mobvista made right away was to purchase NativeX, a U.S.-based mobile advertising platform that offers native ad technology for mobile apps and games.

“End-consumers prefer native advertising to banner popups within the app, as the experience is less intrusive and follows the form of the app or even the news feeds,” Xi explained. “We’ve received feedback from our clients that the consumer experience has been positive with native advertising, and we believe that native advertising will reign in Asia for some time.”

In a mobile marketing universe dominated by internet giants, Mobvista has gained a firm foothold in industry rankings. One reason is that Mobvista’s traffic currently takes in more than 240 countries and regions. Its robust development —backed by its business model and strategy — is rarely seen in the competitive mobile marketing industry. In fact, in the AppsFlyer Performance Index released in February, 2016, Mobvista ranked Number 3 in the Android Ranking (non-gaming) following Facebook and Google AdWords and Number 1 in Asia. As for its iOS strength, Mobvista was the only Chinese advertising network included in this ranking for two consecutive quarters.

Now finalizing a funding round of U.S. $ 100 million in order to pursue further digital tech prowess, Mobvista already offers a variety of performance-based SSP ad formats, including Native Feed Ads, App Wall, Rewarded Video, and Interstitial. Working with 10,000 publishers, the company handles 15,000 apps and boasts a 97 to 99 percent fill rate. Ads requested top 5 billion.

In addition, Mobvista’s precise targeting pipeline is powered by three terabytes of data. Its user-based targeting is ideal for marketing campaigns based on location. Workflow is automated and optimized via an advanced algorithm.

Mobvista’s technologically advanced mobile ad platform — which benefits from user targeting based on customer objectives — helps a variety of clients.

“As a critical component of our full stack product strategy, our self-developed native ad mediation platform enables advertisers to target users more precisely and thus lower the cost of user acquisition. For publishers, this product substantially increases their yielding. What we are offering is a one-stop solution for app developers: from user acquisition, data analysis to app monetization, uderpinning this whole process is a SaaS model,” said Xi.

Mobvista is one of a roster of firms focused on smart acquisitions designed to create value for clients, as Snapchat did when it acquired Bitstrips (for an estimated $ 100 million) and Microsoft as it scooped up mobile keyboard firm Swiftkey (for an estimated $ 250 million).

And the beat will go on. Analysts tracking merger and acquisition activity suggest that marketing technology firms associated with activity like data analytics are likely targets for future deals we may see in 2016.

There’s no way to perfectly foretell the future, but two things are certain: there will be amazing new digital technologies and consolidations will bring them together for marketers. And one more thing: Mobvista will remain at the center of this whirlwind.

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