HP announces phones, tablet to ship this summer

HP unveiled a trio of new products running its widely-praised new mobile operating system.

First up is the “powerfully small” Veer smartphone, with which, the company says, customers “really can have it all without sacrificing the size they want.” HP says the phone is “the size of a credit card and no thicker than a deck of cards.” (Wouldn’t that be the size of, well, a deck of cards?) It measures 2.1 by 3.3 by .6 inches. Why so thick? While most smartphone have screen-based keys, the Veer has a slide-out keyboard as well as a 2.57-inch touchscreen.
The phone has an 800 MHz processor, 8 gigabytes of storage, GPS, geotagging, and a 5-megapixel camera. No other photography features were described,

The Pre3 provides video calling functions.

For those who want a bigger phone HP debuted the Pre3, calling it “our premier phone, designed for the speed of business.”
The Pre3 has a 3.58-inch touchscreen, 1.4-GHz processor, slide-out keyboard, GPS, a 5-megapixel autofocus camera with LED flash, and a front-facing VGA fixed-focus camera, that, with its speaker and noise cancellation, provides a “state-of-the-art video calling experience,” HP says. The Pre3 measures 4.37 by 2.52 by .63 inches.

HP also demonstrated its new TouchPad. The tablet computer has a 9.7-inch touchscreen with a 1,024 by 768 resolution. The TouchPad has a 1.3-megapixel front-facing webcam for video calling. It measures 7.48 by 9.53 by .54 inches.

All three devices run HP’s revamped webOS, the operating system it acquired from Palm.
They are scheduled for later this summer, with exact pricing and availability to announced.

Ritz & Wolf announce Facebook photo print button

Facebook, the largest photo sharing site on the Web with more than 2.5 billion photos uploaded every month, recently announced an updated photo sharing platform, which includes the ability to upload high resolution images – large enough for print quality photos. On the heels of that announcement, Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, unveils its new Facebook capabilities, including the ‘RitzPix Order Prints’ application, which allows users to order their uploaded and tagged images directly from Facebook with one hour pick up in-store or one day delivery using their RitzPix.com account.

Customers may also visit any of the nearly 300 stores nationwide and access their Facebook photos at in-store Print Bar kiosks with the ability to upload and share photos on Facebook, free for the month of February. Starting in March, the service will cost a $.99 flat-fee. The company received more than 100,000 impressions from customer uploads during a trial period of the new Facebook capabilities that was conducted in select stores over the past month.

comScore releases “The 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review” report

comScore Inc., Reston, Va., released The comScore 2010 U.S. Digital Year in Review. This annual report recaps key trends in the U.S. digital media landscape, including e-commerce, social networking, online video, search, online advertising and mobile, with an emphasis on how digital marketers can capitalize on these trends in 2011.

“2010 was a very positive year for the digital media industry, highlighted by a strong rebound in e-commerce spending , significant innovation and increased demand for online advertising, and an explosion in digital content consumption across multiple platforms,” said comScore chairman Gian Fulgoni. “As we embark on a promising 2011, marketers must have a sound understanding of the digital media landscape and how it is changing if they hope to capitalize on key trends that can drive their business into the future.”

As the economic environment showed signs of improvement in 2010, the digital media industry responded with significant growth across various media platforms. Industry innovations brought an unprecedented number of options to consumers as digital media continued to weave itself even tighter into the fabric of Americans’ daily lives.

Key findings highlighted in the report include:

  • Following 2 years of depressed consumer discretionary spending, the economy showed signs of improvement, leading to positive growth for the e-commerce market. Total U.S. e-commerce spending reached $227.6 billion in 2010, up 9 percent versus the previous year. Travel e-commerce spending grew 6 percent to $85.2 billion, while retail (non-travel) e-commerce spending jumped 10 percent to $142.5 billion for the year.
  • Social networking continued to gain momentum throughout 2010, with 9 out of every 10 U.S. Internet users now visiting a social networking site in a month, and the average Internet user spending more than 4 hours on these sites each month. Nearly 1 out of every 8 minutes online is spent on Facebook.
  • The U.S. core search market grew 12 percent overall in 2010, driven by a 4-percent increase in unique searchers and an 8-percent increase in the number of search queries per searcher.
  • U.S. Internet users received a total of 4.9 trillion display ads in 2010 with display ad impressions growing 23 percent in December 2010 versus December 2009. Social networking sites, which now account for more than one-third of all display ad impressions, were a significant driver of growth in the display ad market in 2010.
  • In December 2010, the average American spent more than 14 hours watching online video, a 12-percent increase from the prior year, and streamed a record 201 videos, an 8-percent increase.
  • Major milestones in mobile were crossed during the year as smartphones reached 1 in 4 mobile subscribers and 3G penetration crossed the 50 percent threshold. Approximately 47 percent of mobile subscribers are now connected Internet media users (via browsers, applications or downloaded content), up 8 percentage points from the previous year.

hhgregg announces third quarter increase

hhgregg Inc., Indianapolis, Ind., reported net income of $26.9 million for the three months ended Dec. 31, 2010, compared with net income of $22.7 million for the comparable prior year period. For the nine month period ended Dec. 31, 2010, net income was $33.6 million, compared with net income of $29.2 million for the comparable prior year period. The 18.4 percent and 15.2 percent increase in net income for the three and nine month periods ended Dec. 31, 2010, respectively, as compared to the same periods in the prior year, was the result of an increase in net sales due to the net addition of 46 stores during the past 12 months, offset by a decrease in gross margin rate, increased advertising as a percentage of net sales and comparable store sales decreases of 6.2 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.

Net sales for the three and nine months ended December 31, 2010 increased 30.6 percent and 40.6 percent, to $653.7 million and $1.6 billion, respectively.

Silicon Image expands low-power camera processor IP to support 3D

Silicon Image, Sunnyvale, Calif., introduced the camerIC-3D/64MP, the newest member of its camerIC family of camera processor IP cores capable of supporting 3D and up to 64 megapixel still images and video. camerIC-3D/64MP is optimized for integration into low-power video system-on-chip (SoC) application processors for mobile devices such as cell phones, tablets, netbooks, digital still cameras (DSCs) and camcorders as well as video surveillance systems.

In addition to its DSC capabilities supporting up to 64MP resolution, the camerIC camera pipeline has the imaging bandwidth to support 3D 1080p resolution at up to 120 frames per second. 8MP resolution at 30 frames per second to implement in hardware, while consuming as little as 125mW of power and needing only 30MIPS of CPU bandwidth, makes the camerIC-3D/64MP one of the industry’s highest performing, lowest cost and lowest power camera processors.

New eLayaway 2.0 beta release enhances merchant and consumer experiences

eLayaway Inc., Tallahassee, Fla.,  announced the latest version of the Internet’s first and only patent pending layaway payment processor, eLayaway 2.0 Private Beta. eLayaway is an online payment system that allows consumers to pay for products and services using manageable periodic payments, thereby making purchases affordable and easy to budget. Payments are automatically drafted from the consumer’s designated bank account via Automated Clearing House (ACH) on the modifiable schedule set by the consumer at the time of purchase. A flat transaction fee as low as 1.9 percent is charged to the consumer and all payments are held in an account in trust at HSBC Bank and transferred to the merchant once full payment has been made. Like traditional layaway programs of the past, delivery of the product or service occurs once payment is complete. Payment processing and supporting services are handled by eLayaway while merchants provide order fulfillment.

To select merchants and members, this latest release offers a host of new features and functionality, including, additional and expansive payment options beyond ACH (Automated Clearing House), an enhanced payment flexibility solution as well as an updated account management interface. For merchants, the upgrade includes an improved and scalable reporting system, a fully robust user interface with an enhanced inventory management and control functionalities. The initial release will roll out in a Private Beta version with a full release that offers additional features and benefits, scheduled before the end of the first quarter.

In addition to improving the user experience, the new release will also provide the foundation for systematic upgrades that will provide merchants and ecommerce payment solutions with an open-source layaway payment platform from which to develop complimentary applications and solutions. Beyond increasing the Company’s footprint in the payment industry, such flexibility will provide eLayaway with access to markets and currencies abroad.

Digital coupons represent fastest growing coupon segment in 2010

Following recent research demonstrating coupon distribution in the United States increased 6.8 percent in 2010 and that more coupons were distributed during the year than ever before, Coupons.com Inc., Mountain View, Calif., issued its Digital Coupons Trends Report for 2010, releasing data about consumer use of digital coupons aggregated from the Coupons.com digital coupon network. As the largest digital coupon network on the Web, comprised of Coupons.com as well as thousands of independent partners, the Coupons.com network is representative of the digital coupon industry overall.

The Trend Report indicates that more than $1.2 billion in digital coupons savings was issued in 2010, representing a 41 percent growth over the year before. Compared to growth metrics for coupons distributed in newspapers of 7 percent, digital coupons dramatically outpaced the growth of their newspaper counterparts, approximately 6 to 1.

Recent data shows that users of digital coupons have higher household incomes and are better educated than users of newspaper coupons and the general population overall, dispelling the perceived low-brow stigma of couponing.

The consumer who prints digital coupons has an average household income of $105,000, a 26 percent higher income level than the U.S. average. Thirty-six percent of those who use digital coupons have a college degree, compared to 28 percent of those who use newspaper coupons and 26 percent of the general populace.

Interestingly, adults with household income of over $100,000 are twice as likely to have redeemed coupons printed from an online source than adults with household income less than $35,000. Also, adults with college degrees are almost twice as likely to have used coupons in the prior six months as those who didn’t graduate from high school.

The Imaging Executive podcast: Build an “Army of Entrepreneurs” in your company

Just about everyone in business today understands the value of embracing an entrepreneurial spirit — but making an entrepreneurial spirit an everyday, company-wide business practice, however, is something different— and something extraordinary. In the new episode of the AIE Imaging Executive podcast, Jennifer Prosek, CEO of CJP Communications and author of the new book, “Army of Entrepreneurs,” explains how to accomplish that remarkable feat.

Sony adds app to play AVCHD video on PS3

Sony Computer Entertainment America (SCEA) announced “Filmy,” by Sony Corp., a new movie viewer application that enables AVCHD video recorded with Sony cameras to be played and viewed on the PlayStation3 (PS3) computer entertainment system. Exclusive to PlayStationNetwork, the “Filmy” application allows users to conveniently enjoy AVCHD videos on the PS3 system. In addition, the “Filmy” application also includes specialty features such as “Earth View,” which uses the GPS exit data in Sony video cameras for location-based video tagging. In the media category of PlayStation Store, PS3 users can access a free 15-minute trial of “Filmy” or unlock all content functionality for $5.

The “Filmy” application is available for download under the media category of PlayStation Store. Once downloaded, the application will be accessible under the Video icon in the XMB (XrossMediaBar).

Olympus unveils anniversary Zuiko concept lens

Concept M. Zuiko lens

The Zuiko brand is 75 years old. Olympus Imaging America, Center Valley, Pa., notes the first Zuiko lens was introduced with the “Semi-Olympus I” camera in 1936. Zuiko, a Japanese word, means “light of the gods.”

The Semi-Olympus I had a Zuiko lens mounted on a Semi-Proud body (made by Proud). In 1938, Olympus developed its own camera body, in addition to its own lens and shutter mechanism – the Semi-Olympus II.

To mark the anniversary, Olympus has unveiled a mock-up of a new M.Zuiko lens concept, a high-end Micro Four Thirds lens currently being developed for launch later this year. The company has released no details of the lens’ focal length or other specs.