Here’s an achievement certain to be trotted out at Apple’s next big media event. Harris Interactive on Thursday declared the company the top U.S. brand across a trio of consumer electronics categories – the only three in which it’s rated.
According to Harris Interactive’s 2013 EquiTrend survey, which polls some 38,000 U.S. consumers about their brand preferences, Apple dominated not only the tablet segment, but the mobile phone and computer segments, as well.
Quite the hat trick, and one Apple has pulled off for two years running now, beating out some serious competition. In the computer category, Apple bested Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Sony; in the tablet category, it surpassed Amazon, Google and Samsung; and in the mobile phone segment, it beat HTC, Samsung and LG.
Said Harris Interactive senior VP Manny Flores, “… What really stands out is that in all three of the categories Apple brands are measured – Computer, Tablet and Mobile Phone – its Brand Momentum scores are in the top 30 of all 1,500 brands evaluated in the study.”
And that’s worth noting. Harris Interactive’s Brand Momentum category measures – among other things – ubiquity, future outlook, leadership and popularity. In the eyes of U.S. consumers, Apple clearly meets its brand promise.
What’s that? You say you’re intrigued by the notion of a Web TV box, but $35 for a Google Chromecast is too rich for your blood?
Here you go – if you live in the U.K.: Satellite TV service BSkyB has rolled out a Web TV box for 9.99.
That works out to about $15, and what that gets you is essentially a rebranded Roku HD box – BSkyB invested in Roku last year, and once again this spring – tailored to support BSkyB’s Now TV streaming subscription service. That also means that the box won’t support BSkyB rivals Netflix and Amazon/Lovefilm.
You can see more specs and details here, but the big picture is that this shows yet another approach to distributing Web-to-TV hardware: Rather than have consumers buy the gadgets directly from the manufacturer, a programmer/distributor sells the box and subsidizes the cost.
Expect to see more of this in the future. For starters, note that Roku’s other investors include 21st Century Fox, Dish Network and Hearst, which owns both TV stations and stakes in TV networks including ESPN.
Meanwhile, Apple is in talks with Time Warner Cable about an Apple TV tie-up; for now, that deal doesn’t call for the cable operator to sell Apple’s boxes, but you could certainly imagine a pact where it does.
And remember that Amazon, which tried to buy Roku last year, has its own TV box in the works, which will be optimized for Amazon’s own video offerings.
T-Mobile is continuing to shake things up.
The No. 4 U.S. carrier on Friday announced a promotion that will offer its entire lineup of phones for no upfront payment. It isn’t really dropping the price of phones, just spreading the entire cost of the phone over 24 months instead of using a mix of an initial down payment and monthly payments.
Still, the move shows the flexibility T-Mobile has since moving to a model in which it separates the cost of the phone from its monthly service.
“The number of reasons not to switch to T-Mobile this summer is ZERO,” T-Mobile CEO John Legere said in a statement. “This is a fantastic offer and we’re making it easier than ever for customers to get the latest amazing devices.”
Under the new promotion, which starts on Saturday, customers can get a 16 gigabyte iPhone 5, for example, for no upfront fee and 24 monthly payments of $27 per month. The Samsung Galaxy S4, BlackBerry Q10 and HTC One are all $25 per month, while the entry-level Nokia Lumia 521 is just $5 per month.
The device fee is then added to T-Mobile’s monthly service fees. Options range from a $50-per-month plan that includes unlimited talk, text and 500 megabytes of high-speed data to an option for $70 per month that includes unlimited high-speed data. Additional lines for family members cost $30 for the first extra line and $10 per additional line after that.
Though not cutting device prices, the move could nonetheless be attractive to those looking to get a new phone without a big initial cost.
Update: In a telephone interview, T-Mobile Chief Marketing Officer Mike Sievert said that the new option came in response to a move by AT&T to offer some devices for no money down.
“This is really about being fast and highly competitive,” Sievert said. “We aren’t going to cede one inch of the territory and of the momentum” it has gained from its “un-carrier” approach.
As part of its Next early-upgrade program, AT&T is offering a number of phones for no money down, with installment payments of $15 to $50 per month for 20 months. A Samsung Galaxy S4, for example, would cost $32 a month for 20 months under that program. (Customers would also pay AT&T’s standard monthly rates in addition to the device financing payment.)
Sievert did not give an end date for T-Mobile’s new offer, but said promotions such as these tend to run days or weeks, and not for months.
He also said this move was not the next step that Legere had hinted will come in the fall.
“Un-carrier 3.0 is still to come,” Sievert said.
If it seems, over the course of the next few weeks, that weather predictions are a little more accurate, then it’s probably not your imagination. It’s just that the computers that the U.S. Federal Government uses to predict the weather have gotten a lot smarter.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the parent agency of the National Weather Service, switched over to using two new IBM-made supercomputers, according to an interesting story from IDG’s Computerworld.
The new machines are capable of 213 teraflops, or 213 trillion floating point operations per second. That’s almost three times the power of the prior systems, which were capable of 74 teraflops. One will be in Reston, Va., and one will be in Orlando, Fla. The systems were “turned on” during a press event in College Park, Md..
While that’s definitely some serious computing horsepower, it’s well shy of the world’s current supercomputing champ, China’s Tianhe-2, which boasts a scorching 33.86 petaflops, or 33.86 quadrillion floating point operations per second.
How will you notice the difference? Since these computers will be the source of pretty much every weather forecast you’re likely to see, including those found on all the weather apps on your smartphone, you may start noticing temperature predictions that are more accurate, especially in the extended forecasts.
Another – and probably more important – change should come in the accuracy of hurricane modeling. Last year, during Hurricane Sandy (pictured), there were criticisms that European forecasters used more accurate computer models to predict where the storm was heading.
As it turns out, there is a bit of a friendly competition going on between NOAA and the European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts, which had those better computer models. It’s not sitting still, either. It just purchased a set of new Cray supercomputers, but hasn’t yet disclosed their performance.
Todays tell-all is curious about what exactly was in that sauce
People do strange things when under stress. They make erratic decisions about their health, relationships, work and finance. They start acting irrationally. Things that might ordinarily have come naturally to them no longer do. They are out of sorts, tired, grumpy and generally not themselves. Rafa Benitez is under such pressures, as the start of this season has not exactly gone to plan at Napoli. They won only one of their first four games and were knocked out of the Champions League before it actually became the Champions League, and while things have shown signs of picking up in recent weeks, there is still a sense that Something Needs To Be Done. With that in mind, Rafa is apparently keen on buying Glen Johnson and James Milner to help right this listing ship. Well, more than one way to skin a cat, we guess. Rafa would also like Carlos Vela to come on down and join him, a rumour about which the Mill is desperately struggling to conjure up an opinion, but we simply cant.
Another day, another Juan Mata rumour. Most people probably get really irritated if theyre constantly being talked about, the constant back-biting and half-truths proving damaging and wearisome, but not Juan. He probably takes it all in his stride with a handsome smile and will offer you a nice cup of coffee, or perhaps a green tea if hes worried that youre taking in too much caffeine. Which he almost certainly will, but not in a preachy way. Perhaps its this sort of charming hospitality that has encouraged both Juventus and his former club Valencia to declare themselves well up for spending 20million on him, with the former said to be closing in on a deal for the Spanish shifter. Juve might as well sort themselves out a residency at the Ibis budget hotel at Salford Quays (reasonable prices, a short walk to Old Trafford and also with easy access to the Lowry Outlet Mall, should they require some of the tremendous fashion bargains on offer), because it looks like they will be spending quite a bit of their time in high-level discussions with Manchester United they want Javier Hernandez as well, the striker who is currently on loan at Real Madrid but is of course owned by Louis and the boys. And hey, if neither of those deals come off, at least Max Allegri will be able to get a discounted sweater from Gap.
Rolling coverage of the third day of the hearing to decide whether Pistorius should be jailed for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp
Vergeer confirms she has not actually been inside the Pretoria prison, but only the visiting areas. There are single cells and baths for disabled prisoners, Nel tells her: yesterday, she told the court that Pistorius should not be jailed because there were no baths and he would be vulnerable without prostheses in the showers.
Vergeer says she saw no baths in a visit she made to a different prison two years ago.
Nel, like teacher chiding student for copying essay from internet, scolds Vergeer for condemning SA prisons without proper research.
Nel says he finds Vergeer so, so irresponsible to come to court to testify without being fully informed about the prison system she is talking about. There are people in wheelchairs in prisons, he says. And he intends to call a witness who will vouch that there is not the slightest possibility that Pistoriuss prostheses will be confiscated.
Vergeer is facing intense pressure from Nel, and admits she cannot verify the position of the person she spoke to on the phone from Pretoria prison:
Nel: You come to the high court, you say I picked up the phone, somebody answered and this is what they said? You can’t say their position.
Nel establishes that Vergeer is not familiar with the Correctional Services Act. He is surprised that she would come to testify without being aware of its details:
#OscarTrial Nel: a sentenced prisoner can apply for a single cel? Vergeer cant say. (They can) BB
Nel: You should know everything about prisons because youve been commenting on prisons and you dont.
You dont know the Department of Correctional Services have a policy on disability? You never thought of just asking them?
Nel is probing Vergeers research on the conditions in South African prisons which yesterday she said were violent and overcrowded, with drugs, gangs, sodomy and Aids an everyday reality. The prosecutor queries whether any of her facts date from more recently than 2008. His implication is that conditions have improved since that time.
#OscarTrial The prosecutor is querying why Vergeer used the internet for her research rather than go direct to correctional services dpt
This is the website Vergeer cited yesterday, about the management of South African jail.
Nel asks Vergeer if she is employed as a state official; she confirms she is, but has permission to work privately for the defence team.
As a state official, she could have requested additional information from other state departments, Nel says. Vergeer agrees, adding that she did so: a welfare officer at Pretoria prison.
Probation officer Annette Vergeer is still on the stand and prosecutor Gerrie Nel is straight back into his cross-examination.
Oscar Pistorius is already in the court room, along with his brother and sister, Carl and Aimee. Reeva Steenkamps parents, June and Barry, are also there.
The judge is expected to arrive very shortly.
Carl & Aimee Pistorius arrive at court #OscarPistorius pic.twitter.com/XJ28bYo5gS
There was surprise in court on Tuesday as Vergeer disclosed that Pistorius has been making monthly payments to Steenkamps parents, June and Barry Steenkamp. Nel said: Those monies will be paid back to the accused in full, every cent.
My colleague David Smith reports:
After the hearing, the Steenkamps lawyer, Dup de Bruyn, explained that the payments had begun in March 2013, a month after the law graduate and models death.
When Reeva passed away, they [the Steenkamp family] were in financial straits, he said. I conveyed this to Mr Pistoriuss lawyer. He came back with an offer of 6,000 [rand; approximately 340/US$540] a month for 18 months. When he started paying, we only thought it fair to make that public, but the request was from Oscar through his lawyers to keep it confidential. We honoured that request.
Nel not accurate re payment to Steenkamps. Defense will give statement to court tomorrow says #OscarPistorius spokesperson @OscarTrial199
Certain disclosures in court yesterday have made it necessary to issue this statement We have advised the parents to remain neutral in regard to sentence in the sense that they should not be seen to attempt to influence the sentence in any way.
After Miss Steenkamp (the deceased) was killed on 13 February 2013, the parents were in financial difficulties. This was mentioned to Mr Pistoriuss lawyers We were contacted soon afterwards by Mr Pistoriuss lawyers with an offer that Mr Pistorius would contribute an amount of R6000 per month towards the parents rental and living expenses.
When the parents were made aware of this offer, they considered it carefully but decided, for various reasons, that they did not want any payment from Mr Pistorius. This is also why we were instructed to advise that no civil claim would be instituted.
We place this on record to make it clear that a request for an offer emanated from our side, and not from Mr Pistoriuss side. He was responding to our request as to whether the civil claim could not be settled.
The high court in Pretoria is due to resume shortly to begin the third day of hearings to determine the sentence Oscar Pistorius will receive for the culpable homicide of Reeva Steenkamp.
So far this week, the court has heard testimony from four defence witnesses: