Satnav battle heats up as drivers look for new gadgets

Reuters

Garmin Ltd (Olathe, USA) and TomTom NV (Amsterdam, Netherlands) are gearing up for battle as the world's two biggest navigation companies plan to lure customers back with new products offering extra features.

Satnav sales have been in decline since 2008 as rivals like Google (Mountain View, USA) and Nokia (Helsinki, Finland) gave away free navigation on smartphones.

Once the darlings of the stock market, TomTom and Garmin have seen the value of their shares drop by more than 90 percent since the end of 2007, when satnav's were the hottest Christmas gifts.

M2M member groups join forces, form one-stop shop

Europe’s premier vendor organization for machine-to-machine communications (M2M) and the world’s largest M2M event organizer have announced that their joint marketing agreement will expand into full-blown partnership. The M2M Alliance has been working with the M2M Zone in joint promotional activities since 2010, but now their cooperation will include the exchange of content, membership services, and strategic consultation for the first time, in addition to joint exhibition and conference activities.

Walmart tests iPhone "Scan & Go" feature

Reuters

Walmart Stores Inc (Bentonville, USA) is testing a "Scan & Go" system that would allow shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and then quickly pay at a self-checkout counter.

If the test by the world's largest retailer is successful, it has the potential to change the way people shop and pay, making the process more personal and potentially faster.

IBM and Vodafone team up on 'smarter home' initiative

IT giant IBM (New York, USA) and telecoms operator Vodafone (Newbury, UK) have announced plans to combine their expertise in cloud computing and mobile communications as part of a ‘smarter home’ initiative.

The companies hope to spur the development of ‘smart home’ appliances that can be managed remotely.

Telefonica and Arduino team up on M2M

Spanish telecoms operator Telefónica (Madrid, Spain) has teamed up with electronics specialist Arduino (London, UK) on the development of a new programmable electronic board with M2M capabilities.

Arduino boards are already used to connect sensors and control applications ranging from lighting to motors, but the new-look board developed with the Spanish operator incorporates remote monitoring capabilities, with a GPRS/GSM connection that links the hardware motherboard with Telefónica’s M2M service.

AT&T refarming to have little impact on M2M growth: analyst

A leading analyst company has called into question the claims that AT&T’s shutdown of its 2G network could leave M2M customers stranded.

The US operator recently announced plans to gradually phase out its 2G network, shifting customers and spectrum over to 3G and 4G technologies, and that a full transition would be finalized by 2017.

The news was met with a chorus of criticism that M2M customers would be left out in the cold, forced to change providers or pay AT&T higher rates for 3G or 4G connections.

TNS and Telstra form wireless payments partnership

Australian telecoms operator Telstra has formed a partnership with Transaction Network Services (TNS), a data communications company, aimed at providing services to Australian organizations that operate wireless payment devices.

Under the agreement, TNS is to use Telstra’s M2M Wireless Control Center to improve its managed wireless service. The partnership should allow TNS to expand its network reach in Australia as well as streamline its operations through the use of a single web-based interface for SIM card ordering, provisioning, activation and management.

RIM plans new contact management features on BB10 devices

Reuters

Research In Motion plans to provide BlackBerry users with an easy way to tap their contacts' public profiles -- including blog posts, tweets, emails and other details -- in its latest push to regain ground in the smartphone market.

The new contact management feature, which pulls in contact details from social media and other Internet sites into a single Blackberry page, will be available on RIM's next generation of smartphones that are set to launch early next year, the company said on Thursday.

HTC invests $34.4 million in US-based enterprise platform firm

Reuters

Taiwanese smartphone maker HTC Corp said it will buy a 17.1 percent stake in a U.S. next-generation enterprise platform company for $35.4 million in order to enhance service offerings to its mobile enterprise customers.

"The investment will bring social, mobile, and cloud capabilities to HTC's portfolio of service offerings to its mobile enterprise customers," HTC said in a statement on Monday.

Report: M2M cellular connections to hit 2.5 billion by 2020

The number of worldwide cellular M2M connections is forecast to soar from its current level of 277 million to a staggering 2.5 billion by 2020, according to a new report from Strategy Analytics.

A combination of factors, including global connectivity platforms, efforts at standardization, cloud computing and regulatory initiatives will help contribute to a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% between now and 2020, says the company.

Strategy Analytics reckons that most M2M activity will come in the areas of mHealth, smart metering, telematics and automation.

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