The amount of time consumers spent in apps did not grow as much in 2017 as it did in 2016, per Flurry's "State of Mobile 2017" report, indicating that the category is starting to mature. Mobile shopping app use was up 54% in 2017 from 2016, while use of lifestyle apps was down 40%, the report states.
Holiday sales in the US reached $108 billion among the top 100 US web retailers, resulting in a 14.7% increase over last year's sales, Adobe Analytics reports. Mobile apps accounted for 52% of retail website visits in November and December, per Adobe.
Amazon on Tuesday announced the UK release of the Echo Spot, a smaller version of the Echo Show. The Spot has both a camera and a microphone for making video calls, and it uses Alexa for voice control.
Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., sent a letter to the CEOs of Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and Arm Holdings, requesting a briefing on the cybersecurity risks posed by the Meltdown and Spectre vulnerabilities in microchips. "I am looking to better understand the nature of these critical vulnerabilities, the danger they pose to consumers, and what steps your companies plan to take to protect consumers," he wrote in the letter.
To compete with WhatsApp, popular messaging app Hike is offering a service announced as "Total, built by Hike" in India. One of the key features of Total is its ability to run without a data connection, as it uses USSD technology to connect to basic internet services.
Technology has put consumers in control, and retailers are working hard to create new personalized products and experiences, said Laurence Haziot, a global managing director at IBM, during a panel at the National Retail Federation's yearly trade show. Tech took center stage at the show, from robots and artificial intelligence to inventory-tracking smart shelves and fitting rooms.
Amazon's advertising business and smart speakers should prove considerable boons for the company in 2018, with one analysis predicting the company's stock will gain 23% over the course of the year. But the big question, Paul Frampton writes, is whether the pivot to voice will elevate Amazon to a worthy ad competitor for Google.
Unprecedented features including the ability to record surrounding sounds are among the capabilities of "one of the most powerful" Android spyware tools to date. That's according to its discoverer Kaspersky, which says the Skygofree tool has "multiple, exceptional capabilities: usage of multiple exploits for gaining root privileges, a complex payload structure [and] never-before-seen surveillance features."
Those concerned about the many powerful distractions posed by smartphones now have a tool to help keep device obsessions in check. Arianna Huffington's Thrive Global is working with Samsung to offer the new Thrive app, which helps users monitor and curb their mobile usage.
The Kiehl's cosmetics brand is looking to keep customers in the fold by using artificial intelligence and text messaging to engage customers and generate return business at its physical stores and online. It's part of the brand's strategy in opposition to Amazon with a "focus on customers that are maintaining loyalty to us," said Kiehl's digital marketing chief Julia Mavrodin.
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