Category Archives: Business


Samsung takes over Israel-based Boxee

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South Korean electronics giant Samsung has announced that it bought Boxee, an Israeli firm which makes media streaming devices. The company said that it has acquired key talent and assets from the Israel-based company.

Samsung said, “This will help us continue to improve the overall user experience across our connected devices”. The latest product from Boxee allows subscribers to record TV shows onto its servers and then stream them to computers, TVs and smart devices ‘from the cloud’.

Earlier, the company raised $26.5 million in funds from a number of US and Israeli investors. Samsung is considered to be one of the best companies in the world, offering best smart TVs which offer access to apps, video-on-demand, and all other Internet content and do not need any separate set-top box. Informa Telecoms and Media says that in 2012, about 54 million smart TVs were sold across the globe and it is expected that the number will grow to 221 million in 2017.

Reports have said that the recent takeover might result in a good match, as despite its success, the company is still struggling to convince customers to use its services instead of the services of its competitors. In the TV industry there is a lot of optimism that consumers will want to use these kind of services in the future.


Southwest Airlines offers free in-flight TV for passengers

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US-based Southwest Airlines has introduced a brand new service in its Wi-Fi enabled planes. From now on, the company will allow its passengers to watch TV for free on their personal devices while they fly on the carrier’s planes. The new service is a part of the ‘TV Flies Free’ offer which started on Monday, July 1, 2012.

For the new service, satellite TV provider Dish network will be offering customers 14 live TV channels and up to 75 on-demand shows on the 425 Wi-Fi equipped planes of the airline. The service was previously priced at $5. However, as of now, passengers will be able to stream the content on iPhones, iPods, iPads and other Internet-ready devices.

The chief marketing officer of the airline, Kevin Krone said, “Southwest Airlines continues to innovate and evolve our on-board customer experience. We started with Wi-Fi and now have expanded to television. This new offer puts free television in the hands of our customers.” The new service will be powered by Row 44, which is a provider of satellite-based in-flight Wi-Fi.

The provider first launched LiveTV on Southwest in summer 2012. For years, other airlines like Virgin America and JetBlue Airways have been offering free live TV to their passengers, except they have offered this on the back of the seats.


Pay proposals of Royal Mail rejected

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A pay rise of 8.6 percent over three years for 125,000 employees of Royal Mail has been rejected by the postal unions. The proposal from the organization was rejected by the Communication Workers Union (CWU) for several reasons.

One of the reasons for rejection includes that the pay element in isolation does not met the terms of the CWU policy for an above inflation. Another reason includes that the pay element does not address the CWU’s claim for significantly improved overtime rates and new bonus arrangements. Moreover, the linkage to the earlier rejected pension proposals was not acceptable.

The proposal from Royal Mail includes a non-consolidated lump-sum payment of £300 for the part-time employees in December 2013. The deputy general secretary at the CWU, Dave Ward said, “The pay rise is only there as a sweetener to swallow some very bitter pills on damaging changes to pensions, and a raft of workplace uncertainty.”

Ward went on to say that, as far as the industrial stability is concerned, there is no real strategy for growth. Royal Mail consistently claims that is has a plan for growth, but cannot explain it to the workforce. A statement released on July 1, 2013 by the chief executive at Royal Mail said that the offer represents the Royal Mail’s commitment to a long-term engagement strategy with the CWU and their employees.


Manufacturing growth in China deteriorating

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The country of China has reported a slowdown in the growth of its manufacturing sector. The recent situation is raising some concerns that the economic recovery continues to be very fragile.

Reports state that the official Purchasing Manager’s Index – also known as the PMI – which is the key measure of manufacturing activity went down to a four-month low of 50.1 in June of this year. Even the sub-index of new orders went down and, as a result, indicated a weak demand on the market.

The economic growth of China is mainly influenced by the manufacturing and export sectors in recent years. Zhang Liqun, an economist with the Development Research Center said, “The June PMI fall, across the board on major sub-indexes, indicates downward pressure in the economy”. Another report from HSBC stated that the manufacturing activity in the country fell to a nine-month low.

HSBC – which surveys smaller firms – said that the PMI in China fell to 48.2 in June 2013, which is down from 49.2 in May of this year. The manufacturing and export sectors in China have been majorly hurt by a slowdown in the important markets such as the US and eurozone. This has a direct impact on the economic growth in general.


Zapp mobile payments to be launched by Vocalink

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More shoppers are now able to make payments with the help of their mobile phones, as Direct Debit scheme has unveiled an initiative to link banks and retailers. Vocalink runs the payment infrastructure in the UK.

On June 24, 2013, the company said that customers will be able to pay at the counter without a credit or debit card, by simply loading a mobile app. They will then need to scan a barcode or tap a reader with their phones. The service is known as the Zapp and is scheduled to launch sometime in mid-2014 at a development cost of £100 million.

Peter Keenan, chief executive of Zapp said, “This is one of those once-in-a-generation propositions – bringing on board acquirers, retailers, banks and customers”. The high-street banks, Vocalink’s owners, have also invested £16 million into Zapp and the organization is now looking for an outside investment in order to fund all the additional costs.

So far, mobile payments have mostly remained a technology of future with banks, start-ups launching rival initiatives and telecom companies. It is still not clear if any banks have committed to Zapp, while some seem to be surprised by the announcement of Vocalink. Zapp is not seeking to cut out acquirers such as Mastercard and Visa.