Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Shopping in store: How do you like the Kindle Voyage?

Amazon Store in Downtown San Francisco

I was pleasantly surprised to see an Amazon brick-and-mortar store in the downtown San Francisco’s Westfield shopping center this weekend. The brand new store displays all types of Amazon Kindles and gives consumers an opportunity to try them out. I am excited about Amazon’s new store, and suspect that consumers will be more likely to buy Kindles after trying them out.

I used to read on a Kindle Paperwhite. It is small and light, very comfortable to hold in one hand. Reading in the dark is no problem with the lighting display. I love the original Kindle Paperwhite, but after viewing Kindles in the store, I decided to upgrade to the Voyage.

Compared to the Paperwhite, the Voyage is even lighter and slightly smaller to hold. One of the most significant new features on the Voyage is the pressure-sensitive page turn sensor, which located on the edge of the screen. With its touchscreen and page sensor, the Voyage makes page-turning easier for readers.

In addition, the Voyage has an improved X-Ray feature. It helps readers track and research the characters in an e-book. For example, if you select one of the characters in an e-book, Voyage would show this character’s background information and role in the book. It is a convenient feature which allows readers to follow the story easily without getting confused.

There are many reviews about Voyage on Amazon and other web pages. Some readers like the Kindle Voyage, others don’t see the value of the new one. Is it worth for $199? I think it depends on how you like the new features. If you are happy with the Paperwhite, there is no compelling reason to upgrade at this time. However, if you are a heavy e-book reader and insist on having the latest e-ink product, Voyage does have some impressive features. You can visit Kindle Voyage page on Amazon to know more details. 

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Specialization: A Smart Way to Maintain Growth

While Amazon and Apple were integrating more payment services into their operations, eBay decided to spin off PayPal by the end 2015. EBay CEO John Donahoe said that splitting up would put eBay and PayPal in better competitive positions.

Some analysts applaud eBay’s decision and remain optimistic about eBay’s potential. Others, in contrast, think separating will slow down eBay’s growth. They are questioning eBay’s strategy and warn of serious implications for shareholders. EBay is facing increasing competition from Amazon, Google and Alibaba, and its spin off plan is a smart move for eBay and PayPal to expand their online shopping and payment services. 

With independent financials, eBay, as an e-commerce company, can focus on growing online business to either compete or co-operate with other e-commerce giants. PayPal would no longer be beholden to eBay, and would be free to negotiate their own terms. PayPal, which brought in $6.6 billion dollars for eBay last year, will likely attract multiple buyers after the spin off. 

Conglomerate companies have long struggled to balance increasingly diverse offerings in a rapidly changing market. Specialization seems a smart way for large enterprises to maintain growth. Recently, Hewlett-Packard Company took a cue from eBay and planned to separate its personal computer and printer business from its hardware and service solutions operations. If the division goes off as anticipated, it would give rise to two publicly traded companies, each with more than $50 billion in annual revenue, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tips to keep personal data secure

From 2005 to 2014, six large enterprises, including TJX Cos, Sony, Target and Home Depot, were attacked by Hackers, according to Wall Street Journal. The most recent cyber-attack targeted on millions of Home Depot customer and put 56 million payment cards in risk, which is significantly larger than the Target breach that occurred three weeks leading up to Christmas last year.  

The Home Depot data breach has started to trigger fraudulent transactions. Financial institutions are stepping up efforts to block the fraudulent transactions by rejecting them if they appear unusual. Some large financial institutions, such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Capital One have proactively started reissuing cards to customers whose data were exposed. While banks dealing with cyber-attack, IT companies attempt to provide advanced solution to better secure data. For example, Cisco launched a new firewall security solutions that automatically assess threats, optimize defense to protect the network of the enterprise. Other companies such as VMWare, McAfee, HP also launched or updated their data protection softwares this month. 

An increasing number of credit card enrollment in online payment and mobile payment services creates new security challenges to our society. While data volume continue to expand, cyber-attacks appear more often and make more broader impact. Once hacking into the computer systems, hackers can steal millions of users’ private information, including credit card number, name, address, and sometimes social security numbers. This has raised big public concerns.

As consumers, there are few things we can do to protect our information. Here are some tips about how to keep your personal data secure.

  • Secure your social security number. Keep your SSN in a safe place. Hold it closely and ask questions before sharing it with others. Ask if you can use a different kind of identification.

  • Safely disclose your personal information. When you change mobile phone or computer, make sure you overwrite hard drive, clear personal information that stored on your device.

  • Be alert to impersonators. Make sure who is getting your information, don’t give your personal information on the phone, through mail or over the internet unless you know who you are dealing with.

  • Don’t share too much information on social platforms. Consider to set up limited accessing to social network page, never post your SSN, phone number, address, account numbers to publicly accessible sites.
  • Make strong passwords and keep them privately. Be creative to the passwords. Think of some special phrase and use the first letter to each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Jack Ma: we are young, we will make it, and we will never give up!

Two years ago, by a chance, I attended a screening at Stanford to watch a film called Crocodile in the Yangtze. Don't get confused by this name. The movie has nothing to do with crocodiles. It is a documentary that captured the emotional ups and downs of a Chinese startup company named-Alibaba.

The movie draws on 200 hours of archival footage filmed by over 35 sources between 1995 and 2009. It recorded Alibaba's growth. The movie shows how Jack Ma, the founder of Alibaba, leads his team to achieve their big dream. 

It has been a while since I watched the movie, but I still remember the entire story about how Alibaba gets stronger and bigger, and how it became a successful company from nothing. 

One thing I learned from the movie is never judge people by their appearance. Jack Ma is not tall, standing a little over 5'4. He is neither handsome nor athletic. Actually many people laughed at, even discriminated against him because of his gollum-like appearance. However, if you did so, you must fully regret now. Facts prove that Ma is a passionate, creative, and spiritual leader- brave enough to think differently, bold enough to believe he can change the world, and talented enough to do it. Ma is indeed the richest person in China now with net worth more than 25 billion US dollars.

Stay passionate, dream big and work hard. It sounds a hackneyed saying, but that is what Jack Ma has followed. Crocodile in the Yangtze filmed the time when Jack Ma just founded Alibaba. He gathered a team in his small apartment in Hangzhou China, working day and night on this seemingly unrealistic e-commence idea. In 1999, He knew that his competitors were not in China, but in the US: specifically, in Silicon Valley. He believed his team members have the intelligence to develop an e-commence platform to compete with US companies. At that time, Internet access was limited in China, so people were not heavily exposed to the IT industry. They had a hard time understanding Ma’s idea, and doubted his potential to lead the firm to success. Some Chinese people are still challenging his ability today, though the general public regards him as highly successful.

Crocodile in the Yangtze tells us some unknown stories of Alibaba and Jack Ma. It is both entertaining and inspiring. The audiences will get motivated to do or achieve something after watching it. I was deeply impressed by Ma's words, "We are young,we will make it, and we will never give up!"

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Chinese Mobile Consumers Remain Divided

Since Apple launched its bigger screen phone, smart watch, and new digital-payment service, Apple lovers around the world, especially those in China, are interested in discovering more details about the three bold bets. 

Recently, an article in EnfoDesk posted the second quarterly mobile phone sales in China for 2014. The data shows that 1.12 million phones were sold in the 2nd quarter, including 1.09 million smartphones, up by 24.4% from last year. Samsung commands 15.4% of the market, followed by Chinese local brands Xiaomi and Lenovo, with 13.5%, and 10.8% market share, respectively. Apple is ranked No.6 with 6.9% market share. 

Apple's high price has hindered expansion in China, but enthusiastic fans are still willing to pay more for new iPhones. Some are offering $3600 to $4000 to foreign buyers for the new iPhone 6. 

Big screen smartphones are the primary computer device in China, and demand had never been higher. Samsung Galaxy used to enjoy a significant advantage over competitors. However, the advantage is vanishing as other competitors launch their new big screen phones. Beside Apple, Huawei Technology released Mate 7, a mix between a tablet and a smart phone with a 6-inch screen. 

Now, Chinese customers have many technological options. Consumers remain divided: some opting to support Chinese brands, while others value quality above loyalty. The latter believe Apple has higher quality products, customer services, and user-friendly interface than competitors. 

This is a decisive moment for Apple. The company needs to collaborate with the Chinese government and network provider to design regional marketing strategy to drive iPhone sales. According to Wall Street Journal, Apple made a deal with China Union Pay to bring US Tech Company’s smartphone payment option to China. Apple competitors include payment service companies, will have a difficult time once Apple pay is ready in China.