Smartphone Sales Contract; Vicis Extends High Tech Helmet Expertise to Military; Comcast Mesh WiFi Extenders Launched; Starbucks-More Mobile Payments than Apple or Google

Smartphone sales dropped overall by 11% year over year first quarter according to counterpointresearch.com. There were 38.7 million sold, the first time in 3 years that number was under 40 million in a quarter. Prepaid phones dropped, most likely due to a ramp-down of government subsidized ‘lifeline’ programs. Apple was actually up 16% in the quarter. Apple seems to be selling less at introduction, but steadier through the year. Samsung was down 4% year over year. Google Pixel 2 sales were solid during the promo period on Verizon. Apple held the top 5 slots first quarter plus #7, with Samsung taking #6, #8, and #9. Motorola…remember them? They squeaked in with #10.

Vicis has made a deal with the US Army to bring their high tech helmet expertise honed in footballl helmets to military ones. According to geekwire.com, they will be working to improve the safety of both Army and Marine combat helmets. Vicis already sells to all 32 NFL teams, 90 NCAA teams, and over 500 high schools.

If you have a larger home, or one with multiple stories, good for you. Sometimes, not so good for WiFi reception. Now, theverge.com reports that Comcast has rolled out Xfinity xFi Pods…mesh WiFi pods to cover dead zones in houses. The little plug in pods were supposed to be out last year, but were delayed. Comcast has 3 packs for $119 and 6 packs for $199, plus shipping.

By the end of this year, almost a quarter of US smartphone users…some 55 million people…will make an in-store mobile payment. It might be a bit of a surprise…or not, but recode.net says Starbucks mobile payment app beats Apple Pay, Google Pay, and Samsung Pay! Starbucks notches some 30 million, with Apple Pay at just under 28 billion. Google Pay has about 13 million users so far, and Samsung Pay around 11 million, all according to eMarketer.


WWDC; SpaceX Broadband Sat Launch Delay; More Galaxy S9 Leaks; Starbucks Digital Guru to J. Crew

It looks like some folks have figured out the dates for Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference. Apparently, there are events all through June at San Jose’s McEnery Convention Center…….EXCEPT for Monday June 4th through Friday, June 8th. Macrumors.com says a reliable source has told them WWDC will again be in San Jose like last year. Previously, it was at Moscone Center in San Francisco from 2003 to 2016. With the exception of last year, Apple has released the date officially in April, so we won’t know until then. Usually, there around 5,000 developers and a thousand engineers for the event. Tickets go via a random lottery, and have been $1599 a pop.

There’s a lot of interest in SpaceX’s internet satellite launch. Now, the launch has been delayed for a few days. According to engadget.com, they want to run further final checkouts on the farings used to protect the Falcon 9’s payload. the Launch had been scheduled for February 17th…… now it will be on the 19th. The rocket will be taking up a Spanish radar imaging satellite, but most of us are interested in the Microsat-2a and 2b internet satellites. They would be the first of a number which would provide gigabit internet speeds around the globe.

Samsung will roll out its latest…the Galaxy S9 and S9 Plus… next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. Of course, there was a huge leak yesterday, so much of what we had heard about the handset was confirmed, plus more. German site WinFuture says both phones will have variable aperture cameras…which should make them better than ever for low light pictures. The Plus gets a dual lens cam, the S9 a single, but both are 12 megapixel. The selfie cam is 8 megapixel with autofocus. That all-important battery capacity….it will be 3000 mAh on the S9 and 3500 on the Plus. Both phones have iris and face recognition, as well as a fingerprint sensor for biometric unlocking, and the Samsung version of Apple’s Animoji. The screens are the same as on the S8,  all changes are ‘under the hood.’ They will be available in  Midnight Black, Titanium Gray, Lilac Purple, and Coral Blue.

The man who headed up Starbucks digital business,  including its Mobile Order and Pay features and in-store Wi-Fi efforts, is leaving the coffee retailer to work his magic in apparel business. Adam Brotman, has jumped to J. Crew to help lead the struggling retailer as president and chief experience officer.  Geekwire.com notes that Starbucks is perceived as one of the most forward-looking companies when it comes to the use of technology in its operations.  J. Crew needs the help… same store sales dropped nine percent during the third quarter of 2017, and its net loss jumped to $17.6 million for that period.  Before Brotman joined them, J. Crew had pitched selling themselves to Amazon.


Starbucks Order & Pay Mobile Ordering Now in 25 States

If you’re wide awake, there’s a good chance caffeine is involved. Good news for coffeeholics…Starbucks expects mobile ordering to be complete nationwide this year…and according to geekwire.com, has 4000 cafes live today. The Order & Pay service is available in 25 states…amazingly, California is not one of those! This amounts to about half of Starbucks stores. You should know they don’t have plans to include the ones in grocery stores and airports. Coffee drinkers are embracing the service…19% of all US Starbucks transactions are now done from the app. Order & Pay is iOS only right now, but they will add Android users later this year.

There’s a lot of activity moving us towards self-driving cars, but you might remember the James Bond movie where Bond drives a BMW with his smartphone. Techcrunch.com reports that Range Rover has a prototype Sport model that can actually be driven from an app! It’s not intended for fast getaways from foreign spies…the speed is limited to 4 mph, and the phone has to be within 10 feet of the vehicle. Rover sees it as a possible help for tight parking spaces or for treacherous terrain. No word on its availability to the public, but Rover is working on making it use voice commands, and also keeping it super secure…so crooks can’t just hack and drive away your SUV from a distance!