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  • Mar 6, 2012
    10:52 AM ET

    How to Get TV (Nearly) Everywhere

    Bad news for couch potatoes: finding a one-stop service or device to handle all one’s streaming television needs isn’t getting any easier. Which means the cost to watch TV over several devices isn’t getting any cheaper.

    Cable companies wanted to give customers “TV everywhere,” the option to watch every show online and on mobile devices. But as the Wall Street Journal reported, the idea stalled. as the companies struggled to make deals with individual channels and advertisers that would allow them to offer shows on demand for subscribers. In the meantime, experts say, more low-cost services popped up offering access to narrow bands of select content.

  • Mar 2, 2012
    1:22 PM ET

    How to Invest in Twitter Now

    Those itching to invest in Twitter don’t need to wait for the company’s IPO.

    The social-media site likely won’t go public for at least a year or more, because management wants to wait until they have steady earnings growth, the Wall Street Journal reports today.

    But there are a few ways for individual investors to get a stake in companies like Twitter before they go public.

  • Mar 2, 2012
    12:30 PM ET

    Will Mobile Wallets Lead to Bigger Spending?

    Wal-Mart, Target and a slew of other retailers want customers to pay at the register with their smartphones. The reason, experts say, is simple: people will likely spend more.

    Some two dozen major retailers are working with wireless companies on mobile payment systems, which allow phones to be used in lieu of credit or debit cards, according to a report in today’s Wall Street Journal. One industry-sponsored study says more than $600 billion will be spent using mobile payments by 2016. As reported, many of these devices are already in development: Google Wallet and Isis — a mobile-wallet venture from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile — to name two. Mobile payments combine self-service and instant gratification to encourage people to shop faster and with less thought to how much their spending, says chief growth officer at marketing consultancy Prophet: “For retailers, it’s a no-brainer.”  (Wal-Mart and Target did not respond to requests for comment.)

  • Feb 23, 2012
    2:55 PM ET

    Should Users Click Do-Not-Track Button?

    There are big advantages to being tracked for law-abiding citizens: consumers get advertisements and daily deals tailor-made for them. The do-not-track button will block relevant ads that reflect users’ web surfing habits or interests, says Dallas-based blogger Brian Hall. For example, by not pressing a do-not-track button users may receive a restaurant or clothing store recommendation when traveling based on their previous eating/shopping habits. “Is getting less-customized ads really that helpful? Probably not,” says Matt Wallaert, a behavioral psychologist and entrepreneur. He says the button is more about making people feel comfortable using the web, but he doesn’t see it as a game-changer.

    Worse, a do-no-track button could make the Internet a more unpleasant experience by heralding the return to old staples like pop-up Viagra ads and X-rated commercials, tech-pros say. “I would encourage users to not click this button if you have children online,” says Wayne Irving, an app developer based in Laguna Niguel, Ca. “Please let kids get ads that are appropriate. The ads are not going to stop coming if you click this. You are just going to get the biggest online advertisers.” Irving has developed an app that relies on tracking to help parents keep abreast of where their children go and how fast they drive, but says he doesn’t share the GPS data with third parties.

  • Feb 14, 2012
    11:57 AM ET

    Rise of the Smartphone/Tablet Hybrid

    Smartphones are getting bigger while tablet computers are getting smaller. In the future, analysts say consumers may end up buying a hybrid of the two.

    Apple is testing a shrunken-down iPad, offering an 8-inch screen compared to the popular tablet’s 9.7-inch display, The Wall Street Journal reports. A move to create tablet devices of varying sizes would make sense for Apple, particularly with the increasingly diverse army of tablets on offer from other manufacturers, experts say. Scott Sutherland, a senior analyst with Wedbush Securities, says Apple rivals like Samsung provide one of the best range of devices from a small screen feature phone to large TVs. The Galaxy Nexus has a bigger screen than the iPhone.

  • Feb 7, 2012
    9:48 AM ET

    Will Verizon, Redbox Speed Movie Releases?

    As part of its deals with several major studios, Netflix agreed to delay the release of many new films – much to the frustration of some subscribers. But analysts say the online video streaming deal between Verizon and Redbox announced Monday may change that by introducing fresh competition into the market.

    Verizon and Redbox – owned by Coinstar – said they will form a service to stream TV shows and movies over the Internet. Verizon will have a 65% stake in the business and Redbox, known primarily for renting movies through  kiosks, will hold the other 35%. There is plenty of room for competition: Currently, Netflix has about 20% of the 2011 box office films available to watch, according to Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey, butthe movies are generally released on Netflix “some months” after the regular DVD release.

  • Jan 23, 2012
    10:49 AM ET

    Can RIM Win Back Consumers?

    Research In Motion bowed to pressure from investors by appointing Thorsten Heins, the company’s former co-chief operating officer, as CEO. But analysts say the company needs a superior tablet to rival the iPad, a game-changing BlackBerry 10 and a more charismatic leader to inspire customers.

    Stock analysts who follow RIM say consumers will be harder to win over than investors, given recent events. Last year was something of a perfect storm for the embattled company: the Blackberry – regarded for years as the quintessential phone for American executives – lost further ground to Apple’s iPhone 4S, and the Playbook, its stab at a tablet computer, didn’t sellwell. Another blow to the company’s reputation came in October when an outage of its network cut the service of millions of people around the globe.

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