Monday, September 1, 2014

Mobile payments — not that big sapphire screen — will be the iPhone 6’s killer app

Mobile payments — not that big sapphire screen — will be the iPhone 6’s killer app
Image Credit: Feng forum

Mobile payments is an idea that sounds much better than it is in practice. At least for right now.

The despite the efforts of PayPal, Square, and even Google Wallet, few people have actually replaced their wallets with their smartphones, which was the original idea behind mobile payments: Since most financial transactions are electronic these days (sorry cash), we should be able to make our wallets and our phones into one single product.

Apple’s alleged mobile payments system, which was actually patented years ago as the “iWallet,” describes how users could control their financial accounts and transactions on their phones, but also be able to pay for goods directly with those devices as well, thanks to a near-field communications (NFC) chip.

READ: Apple iPhone 6 will feature NFC, more

Services like Google Wallet use NFC, though barcodes and QR codes are still more popular among mobile payments users at the moment.

Compared to other services, Apple’s mobile payments platform, made secure by its proven Touch ID fingerprint scanner, could be extremely convenient. iPhone users could see their credit card profiles, messages from their banks, and even schedule payments directly from their phones.

Apple already stores a great deal of financial data in iTunes, but by giving users control over their finances in a simple app, it can learn more about their spending habits, ore even set spending limits on their children’s’ devices, which would disallow kids from charging millions of dollars worth of in-app purchases.

Apple must have found a great solution, because it’s finally convinced all of the major credit card companies to work together on the service, according to Re/code.

While the iPhone would reportedly anchor Apple’s forthcoming mobile payments service, the company’s unannounced wearable device is also expected to play a role in this service, since the wrist device will have tight integration with the iPhone. This could allow “iWatch” customers to leave their iPhones in their pockets as they pay with their wrists.

It’s unclear if and how this service will become an extra revenue stream for Apple, but if people can actually — finally — substitute all of the items in their wallets with valid digital substitutes, it should give consumers one more reason to buy an Apple device this season.

People might be happier about having a bit more visual real estate to use their apps, but killing the credit/debit card once and for all with a simple and more efficient solution — if that’s what actually happens on Sept. 9 — would be a much bigger deal.

This story originally appeared on Business Insider.

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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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Here’s the top 10 reasons that Apple rejects apps

Here’s the top 10 reasons that Apple rejects apps

Above: The app store

Image Credit: Fiksu

In the name of transparency, Apple has revealed the top reasons why it rejects apps from its App Store.

The most common mistake that developers make when submitting their apps for approval isn’t censorship, as some folks might believe. About 14 percent of apps rejected during the seven-day period ending Aug. 28 were rejected because more information was needed.

Apple’s decisions are often shrouded in mystery, but the post shows the company is making efforts to communicate better to the millions of developers who are submitting apps by the thousands. Still, there are experts who are specialzing in helping people understand this kind of information. Michael Ehrenberg, a former Apple marketing manager, will give a talk at our upcoming GamesBeat University section of GamesBeat 2014 on what you can do to improve your changes of getting your app featured in the Apple App Store.

The second most popular reason, coming in at 8 percent, is that the apps have bugs or cause crashes. The third one is pretty vague. About 6 percent of apps are rejected because they do not comply with the terms in the Developer Program License Agreement.

In its post, Apple said, “You should submit your app for review only when it is complete and ready to be published. Make sure to thoroughly test your app on devices and fix all bugs before submitting.”

It noted that all links in an app must be functional. The app must include a link to a privacy policy (especially for kids titles), as well as a link for user support. Apps can’t have placeholder images. Descriptions have to be accurate, and your app can’t be misleading. The user interface has to be clean. The app has to display ads properly if it uses them, and the app should be “engaging and useful.” You’re also not allowed to resubmit similar apps that have already been rejected.

Why Apple rejects apps

Above: Why Apple rejects apps

Image Credit: Apple

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Apple designs and markets consumer electronics, computer software, and personal computers. The company's best-known hardware products include the Macintosh line of computers, the iPod, the iPhone and the iPad. Apple software includes t... read more »

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Google plans an accelerator in Seoul — while Samsung stands on the sidelines

Google plans an accelerator in Seoul — while Samsung stands on the sidelines

Above: Skyline of downtown Seoul, South Korea from Bongeunsa temple.

Google, on an international mission to rapidly connect with the global startup community, has recently announced that it will open a startup campus in Seoul, Korea next year.

This comes at a time when Korean entrepreneurs are beginning to show that they have what it takes to make an impact, as exemplified by a statement from Google’s Bridgette Beam: “Korean innovators and entrepreneurs are some of the best in Asia, and Korean startups are making headlines around the world, especially in the mobile space. We want to support this booming community of entrepreneurs.”

As part of Google’s Campus network of entrepreneur spaces, Campus Seoul will be home to a variety of resources, including mentorship and training from local professionals and Google teams. It will also house programs such as Campus for MomsCampusEDU, and office hours with Google mentors. It will also provide international opportunities, including exchange programs with other Google Campus locations.

Campus Seoul is not only joining the London, Tel Aviv, and newly announced Warsaw and Sao Paolo locations as part of the Campus network, but also Google for Entrepreneurs, a larger Google-sponsored network of programs and organizations around the world.

The planned Seoul campus is not Google’s first attempt to engage with Korea’s entrepreneurs. Google for Entrepreneurs has previously partnered with Global K-Startup, KStartup, Startup Weekend, and Startup Grind to put on various programs for the local startup community.

Google’s announcement comes at a time when overses interest in the local Korean statup scene is building. Altos Ventures, a Silicon Valley-based VC firm, recently closed a large Korea-focused fund. It is beginning to bet big on Korean founders’ ability to beat out foreign firms in their local market and achieve billion dollar valuations. Sequoia Capital recently invested $100M in an Altos portfolio company that recently hit a billion dollar valuation: Coupang, a local ecommerce player that has effectively beat Groupon in the Korean market and is now eyeing up even larger global opportunities.

In another example of Korean startup success, TapJoy recently snapped up Korea game analytics statup 5Rocks.

500 Startups is also aware of emerging opporunities in Korea and aims to set up a permanant base in the country in the next few months. And Y Combinator recently accelerated its first Korean comapny, Memebox, which has seen breakaway success in Korea and is now looking to replicate this in overseas markets, starting with the US.

What is interesting to note is that Korea’s largest tech conglomerate, Samsung, has been noticably absent from involvement with Korea’s startups. While the company has recently formed a small team to investigate if, how, and when Samsung should engage local startups, there are serious questions about the conglomerate’s dedication to the local scene and to innovation at all.

Tied up in conservatism and tradition, Samsung may find itself left behind as global forces beat it to the punch on its home turf.

This story originally appeared on beSUCCESS.

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Why Burning Man courts the tech elite

Why Burning Man courts the tech elite
Image Credit: Flickr user Tydence

Dusty tech billionaires may be the only thing that can help Burning Man, which came to its annual fiery conclusion this weekend, overcome a pleasant problem: Even after capping attendance at around 70,000 people, the interactive arts and music festival is having trouble handling its own overwhelming popularity.

It’s hard to overstate how surprising this is. Despite the fact that the festival is held in a frustratingly inconvenient corner of the Nevada desert with some of the harshest weather in the country, curiosity still compels burners from every imaginable industry to trek in from all over the world.

But, recently, Burning Man has taken a lot of guff for the presence for expensive campsites that cater tech elites with a luxury services during a festival that was traditionally known for harsh camping. For somewhere between $10,000 to $25,000, wealthy burners get picked up at the local airport, driven to air conditioned tents, and served steak tartare.

Burning Man founder Larry Harvey doesn’t seem to mind, however. He knows that he has to make some compromises to bring in CEOs who have neither the time or money to build their own campsites.

“I’d like them to have a soulful experience. I’d like them to feel connected to the great human experience in ways that will constructively influence the course of world affairs,” he told me.

Harvey has global ambitions and recognizes the inherent difficulties of becoming mainstream from a remote desert weekend event. “You can apply the ethos to nearly anything,” he explained to me.

The courting has slowly paying off. At Google’s 2013 I/O event, CEO Larry Page expressed an interest in developing Burning Man-type zones of loosely regulated experimentation:

“I think as technologists we should have some safe places where we can try out some new things and figure out what is the effect on society, what’s the effect on people, without having to deploy kind of into the normal world. And people like those kind of things can go there and experience that and we don’t have mechanisms for that.”

Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh has brought Burning Man art and events to his $300 million makeover of downtown Las Vegas. His organization, which aims to make the rundown downtown into a tech hub, supported a giant art sculpture, the Life Cube (pictured above), which was covered in art from the local community — then burned in a giant rave celebration.

“The hive switch got turned on by raves. It was a feeling of unity with the other people in the space, unity with the music and with one another,” Hsieh recently told Playboy Magazine. “That’s why I go to Burning Man. The art, especially at night, just puts you in a state of awe.”

Hsieh’s Downtown Project is built on Harvard Professor Edward Glaeser’s economic theory that innovative cities thrive in environments of densely packed populations that share ideas and resources. The more people fly in and attend events, the more ideas they exchange and the more businesses they create.

Harvey imagines more of these happenings all over the world. He wants more interactive art sculptures that bring strangers together on the street. He wants events that bring like-minded creatives to dance and mull disruptive ideas under the moonlight of their respective cities.

This will require a lot of money to fund grants to artists all over the world. In truth, most major artistic movements have always had patrons. In Greece, wealthy Athenians helped build one of humanity’s first great artistic communities. During the Renaissance, patrons funded the arts that would inspire the growth of Western democracy and individualism.

Burning Man is no different in this regard. It has ambitions make the world a bit more crazy and creative. Only the Silicon Valley elite have both the optimism and wealth can help make this happen.

And, if the tech elite’s reach is any indication, Burning Man will continue to spread quickly. It may even be coming to your backyard very soon.

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Tesla has ‘proved’ electric cars are better, analysts say

Tesla has ‘proved’ electric cars are better, analysts say

Above: Somewhere over the rainbow, there's a Tesla Model S.

Image Credit: photo credit: jurvetson via photopin cc

When industry analysts, financial analysts and the motoring press have all lavished praise on a car, there’s a fair chance it’s a pretty good car.

That’s the case for the Tesla Model S electric car, particularly as two market analysts from Credit Suisse have seen fit to provide a point-by-point breakdown on just why the car is so good.

They even go as far as to say that Tesla has proven electric vehicles are “inherently better,” even if the general public doesn’t know it yet.

That raises an interesting point. Tesla might well have an excellent product, but if the public doesn’t know that, has it really been proven?

According to Business Insider (via Charged EVs), Credit Suisse’s Dan Galves and Shreyas Patil say the fight between combustion cars and electric vehicles will “not be a fair” one.

The analysts cite everything from the Model S’s high performance, through its low center of gravity-aided handling, to the room of an interior not encumbered by packaging typical drivetrain components as its successes.

In addition, the cost of running a car with comparatively few moving parts will be low, and that upcoming regulations will really begin to hurt regular combustion-engined cars that Tesla will be unaffected by.

And of course, ‘fuel’ costs are low, as electricity costs less than gasoline. Battery prices should come down once Tesla’s gigafactory opens, bringing down the up-front cost, too.

All this has led the pair to award Tesla an “outperform” rating, meaning it will outperform a benchmark indicator for market return.

“If Tesla can get to cost parity with an inherently better product, they will maintain the pricing power they currently enjoy,” the pair adds.

But that does rely on the wider industry and the wider public knowing that Tesla, and electric cars in general can be better.

Relatively few people read car magazines and automotive news websites. Many that do aren’t in a position to buy a Model S. And while Tesla has a high profile for such a small company, it’s comparative minnow in terms of global reach.

In other words, Telsa might well have a vehicle out there that can hold its own and even beat combustion-engined equivalents.

But if the public is unaware of the benefits, Tesla is a long way from proving it.

This story originally appeared on Green Car Reports.

Tesla's goal is to accelerate the world's transition to electric mobility with a full range of increasingly affordable electric cars. Palo Alto, California-based Tesla designs and manufactures EVs and EV powertrain components. Tesla ha... read more »

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