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Pay Dirt
A daily look at what we buy, how we spend, and the companies that do right - and wrong - by their customers.

Cellphones - All posts in category Cellphones

  • Oct 2, 2012
    6:46 PM ET

    Are Big Thumbs Upping Ad Clicks?

    Facebook, Google and other tech companies have puzzled over how to make advertising work on mobile devices. But it turns out that tablet and smartphone users, when reading news sites, are more likely to click on ads than those using computers, a new survey suggests.

    Consumers don’t appear to be turned off by mobile ads, according to a survey of nearly 10,000 people by Pew Research Center and The Economist Group. Half of tablet and smartphone users notice ads when they’re getting news on their mobile device. Of that amount, roughly 15% click on ads. “People notice ads on mobile devices and may be even more likely to click on them than they are to click on other digital ads,” the report states. A recent Ad Age study, in stark contrast, found that less than 1% of people click on digital ads regardless of the viewing platform.

  • Sep 12, 2012
    2:57 PM ET

    Confessions of an Apple Sheep

    Today millions of seemingly rational people fished a fully functional iPhone from their pockets and contemplated hurling the device out the window. I know, because I am one of them.

    Like many, I committed to the iPhone 5 upgrade even before Apple CEO Tim Cook unveiled the new device with the usual burlesque slideshow presentation. It’s not that I have any major complaints with my iPhone 4S — sure, it occasionally freezes up and the battery doesn’t always make it through the day, but it’s probably the best piece of technology I’ve ever owned. Nor do I think the thinner, faster, bigger-screened and brushed aluminum iPhone 5 will do a substantially better job of delivering email, locating restaurants, playing music, or distracting my four-year-olds at restaurants with unusually slow service. But I want it anyway.

  • Aug 30, 2012
    12:56 PM ET

    Google Ups the Ante in Wallet Wars

    Consumers have been slow to cut up their credit cards and turn on their mobile wallets. But this week, Google Wallet announced a string of features that – to make the proposition more enticing – let mobile wallets do things plastic credit cards don’t.

    Google Wallet product managers say they will provide I.D. verification so people can check in for a flight, download virtual boarding passes, and even keep their driver’s license on their mobile phone. (Google declined to say when these features would become available or how many people have downloaded the app thus far.) Through its location-based GPS technology, it already sends shoppers coupons and real-time offers from nearby stores. Experts say these features should finally drive demand for the app. “It offers compelling convenience for consumers and retailers,” says Ben Woolsey, spokesman for credit-card comparison site CreditCards.com.

  • Feb 9, 2012
    11:38 AM ET

    Apple Fans Protest, Keep iPhones

    iStockphoto

    Protestors angered by the conditions at Apple’s factories in Asia will deliver a petition with 250,000 signatures to Apple stores around the world. Just don’t expect them to give up their iPhones.

    On Thursday, in a coordinated effort around the world, a group of Apple customers led by Change.org, a for-profit social change advocate that earns money from providing services to non-profits, says they won’t be burning their iPhones and iPads, or even recycling them. (A spokeswoman for Change.org says it doesn’t sell access to email addresses of those who subscribe or sign its petitions.) In fact, they say they love Apple and want to keep using their products. “I love them and I don’t want to stop using them,” says Sarah Ryan, a human rights organizer at Change.org. “They are the best products that are out there.”

  • Jan 12, 2012
    3:49 PM ET

    CES: No Gadget Left Behind

    Kelli B. Grant

    Travelers who get that sinking feeling that they have forgotten something often discover later that the something in question is the cable for charging their laptop, smartphone or other devices.

    The mountain of cable cords at Loss Prevention Systems’ booth speaks to the issue: several dozen chargers, all collected from a single Manhattan hotel over the course of several days. The company’s new $10 device, Perch, aims to eliminate the problem.

  • Jan 12, 2012
    10:37 AM ET

    CES: Smartphone Control Over Video Content

    Getty Images

    Watching movies on the comparably tiny screen of a smartphone doesn’t hold appeal for plenty of consumers, but soon, it may be the equivalent to a universal remote for much of their video content.

    Coming soon: A new app called Shodogg will let users use their smartphones to find their movies or TV show of choice, then send streamable content from their phone to any web-connected device, including computers and televisions. A spokesman says it won’t require any special equipment, and can be used with any product brand — so long as the phone in question is a smartphone and the various devices can connect to the Internet. The smartphone then effectively functions as a control, pulling content from those devices or pushing it to them, and letting users pause and fast-forward from the phone screen.

  • Jan 12, 2012
    9:32 AM ET

    CES: Virtual Credit Cards, Take 2

    iStockphoto

    Remember the craze of temporary credit card numbers? The service, which lets customers create virtual, one-time-use numbers to avoid having their real number stolen while shopping online, made waves a few years back when e-commerce more closely resembled the Wild West than a mall. But they waned in popularity to the point where Discover nixed its program in mid-2011.

    Now, MasterCard is bringing back virtual numbers and a linked app for peace of mind on mobile transactions. The globalVCard consumer offering, which will be out this spring, is a “sexier sister” to the brand’s business-focused offering of the same name, says a spokeswoman. The company also plans to launch a mobile payment option at that time.

  • Jan 11, 2012
    5:11 PM ET

    CES: A Pricey Personal Trainer on Your Wrist

    Kelli B. Grant

    Fitness buffs have been given plenty of options to track their activity in recent years, ranging from low-tech pedometers and free smartphone apps to sensor-laden clothing and body-monitor bands.

    One of the pricier new entrants, the $250 Motoactv from Motorola, uses a square device just slightly smaller than a business card to monitor athletes’ speed, distance, and calories burned while running, biking or other less notable exercise like dashing up and down the stairs with an armful of laundry. (The watch strap bike mount and arm strap each cost $30 extra.) Paired with accessories like a $90 chest band or $130 earbuds, it can also track heart rate.

  • Jan 11, 2012
    4:14 PM ET

    CES: Plugging a Mobile Security Leak

    Kelli B. Grant

    As consumers use their smartphones for a wider range of activities — including shopping and banking — it’s natural to wonder if such activities are really safe. The scary answer: maybe not.

    Experts say hackers are increasingly targeting cellphones, in a variety of ways, to get at the often-vital information stored there. The latest versions of security programs from NQ Mobile claim to protect against a variety of problems. It automatically scans for malicious apps when users are accessing a financial institution via their phone, and also checks for spyware from third-parties that could be eavesdropping on conversations.

  • Jan 11, 2012
    12:47 PM ET

    CES: How to (Not) Lose Friends & Alienate People

    iStockphoto

    An informal voicemail greeting like “you know who this is, and you know what to do at the beep” might work for friends, but it’s not exactly one you’d want the boss to hear.

    Enter ON voicefeed, a free iPhone and Android app that lets users customize greetings to specific groups or individuals in their contact list. The app also transcribes voicemails and has an instant messaging feature. Users can also see what a caller has been up to, with incorporated Facebook and Twitter data.

    “I’m really excited about this technology,” says Todd Day, an industry analyst for Frost & Sullivan. He expects the carriers themselves to introduce similar features in the coming year.

About Pay Dirt

  • Pay Dirt examines the millions of consumer decisions Americans make every day: What to buy, how much to pay, whether to rave or complain. Lead written by Quentin Fottrell, the blog examines these interactions, providing readers with news, insight and tips on shopping, spending, customer service, and companies that do right – and wrong – by their customers. Send items, questions and comments to quentin.fottrell@dowjones.com or tweet @SMPayDirt.

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