by Sarah Mahoney
Retailers are planning to spend big on more stores, digital technology and marketing initiatives in the year ahead, according to a new report from KPMG. And for many, the impact of social media on their business has increased sharply. …Read the whole story
MercuryNews.com
Thrifty Car Rental has apologized for sending a free one-day car rental to its entire list of customers. The company had meant to send the email to members of Thrifty’s Blue Chip frequent-renter program who had completed 16 days of paid rentals. The company will not honor the offer for anyone else. “We’re very sorry for any confusion our eagerness may have caused,” the company told customers by email. …Read the whole story
LifeHacker
There are lots of email inbox organizing tools available for iOS users, but Dispatch is different. The app is integrated with other popular apps so that users can send notes from their email organizer to Evernote or OmniFocus to help manage their notes and to-do lists. The address also lets users send addresses and dates to other apps. In addition, Dispatch users can save links to Pocket or Instapaper without leaving the app. …Read the whole story
Buzzfeed
President Barack Obama defended the National Security Agency‘s PRISM program to PBS’ Charlie Rose, calling the program “transparent.” Buzzfeed published a transcript of the interview, in which the president says, “…if you’re a U.S. person, then NSA is not listening to your phone calls and it’s not targeting your emails unless it’s getting an individualized court order. That’s the existing rule.” …Read the whole story

 

heroFor the ninth time in a row, iPhone ranks “Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Consumer Smartphones” by J.D. Power and Associates. iPhone ranked highest in a study that looked at the following categories: performance, physical design, features, and ease of operation. In fact, iPhone has ranked highest in each of these studies since the first iPhone was introduced.

David Perry, head of Sony’s recent acquisition Gaikai, showed off the PlayStation 4’s new cloud technology this week.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney)

The new Sony PlayStation 4 is a beast of a gaming console, but its most amazing feature has nothing to do with with raw power.

That shows just how much Sony’s priorities have changed over the past seven years since the PlayStation 3 was released.

Oh, sure, Sony (SNE) talked about its eight-core AMD (AMD, Fortune 500) Jaguar CPU, PC-style graphics processor, and eight gigabytes of RAM during the new console’s unveiling on Wednesday. The company had developers talk about how many more polygons they can now cram into character models. And Sony showed off eye candy in the form of new games like “Killzone: Shadow Fall” and “Infamous: Second Son.”

Yes, Sony is still interested in hardcore gaming.

But what Sony really gushed about during its PS4 event had nothing to do with pixels. More than anything else, Sony’s presenters were at their giddiest when they discussed streaming content and the cloud.

The PlayStation 4 features built-in support for users to stream select PS4 games to their handheld PS Vitas. That effectively gives the Vita more power than its diminutive form factor could house on its own.

Another fun feature for fans of retro games: The PS4 will also be able to stream legacy PlayStation titles from a remote server. No downloading and no legacy hardware required. That’s a big deal for people who have an extensive library of PS3 games but don’t want to keep around multiple video game consoles.

Related story: PlayStation 4: More than just a pixel powerhouse

Sony’s ambitious vision is to make every single existing PlayStation game — all the way back to the original PlayStation — available via the cloud

To facilitate this, Sony acquired a company in 2012 called Gaikai, which specializes in deploying cloud infrastructure to support online gaming. Sony’s announcement put Gaikai boss David Perry front and center during the big reveal to talk about the company’s new plans.

Still think this is just a casual area of interest for Sony? It may be life or death.

Sony is very conscious of the fact that it has lost mind share and market share to smartphone and tablet makers. Games available on your iPhone and Android are very close to what’s available on the PS Vita, and mobile gaming has been gradually nibbling away at console sales over the past couple years.

Yet what phones and tablets can’t offer is a console-like experience with the top-of-the-line games that come out exclusively for the PlayStation, Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) Xbox or Nintendo Wii. It’s a rare case when we can play the same game in multiple settings.

Related story: With PlayStation 4, Sony reboots its games business

That’s what Sony is hoping to accomplish with its new cloud offering.

With games that can span more than a hundred hours of playing time, having them no longer tethered to a single device is a tantalizing idea. It may not be cutting edge in the traditional sense, but it very well might be the future of gaming.

Sony’s not the only console maker thinking about this.

Nintendo gave the Wii U the ability to stream games to its controller. And Nvidia is building out its GRID cloud gaming solution, which will allow users to play the same game on a phone, tablet, computer, or television.

But Sony could really differentiate itself by going all-in with the cloud, leveraging online gaming to make the PlayStation something bigger than just a console. Simply making a self-contained gaming machine isn’t enough anymore. To top of page

 

First Published: February 22, 2013: 12:06 PM ET

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Fashion Week, which wrapped up last week in New York and moved on to London and to Milan this week, used to be an insular industry event. Buyers and editors attended and made calls as to what their customers would want months from now.

But that has changed. Fashion houses in recent years started to sidestep the middleman by giving the public a front-row seat via webcam video. While that was more of a marketing tool at first, live streaming — and other ways to give consumers digital access to runway fashion — is now being seen as a research opportunity, reports Stephanie Clifford of The New York Times.

As more brands offer live videos of the shows, regular viewers see exactly what the buyers and editors are seeing, and influence what will be made by pausing on an outfit or posting Twitter messages about a particular style.

On retail fashion Web sites like Lyst and Moda Operandi, designers are allowed to track consumers’ early orders to gauge demand before they make clothes. And a handful of brands, like Burberry, are allowing regular customers to order runway clothes as the shows are live streamed.

Increasingly, the public is weighing in on fashion — and designers are listening. “It’s creating a commercial opportunity around an event that was previously an industry event,” said Aslaug Magnusdottir, the chief executive of Moda Operandi.