Monthly Archives: August 2016

Great Tech For Your Business

unduhan-45In Minneapolis, more than 5 percent of people bike to work. The bike culture has spawned a winter bike expo, a bike-related art poster fair and supports a community of artisan bicycle makers, independent bike retailers and accessory makers.

Shops like A Train Cycles, Appleman and Peacock Groove (no relation to me) turn out a variety of bicycles, including some designed for riding in the Minnesota snow. Brake Bread will even deliver fresh-baked bread by bicycle right to your door.

Today’s consumers crave unique and personalized products and services, and businesses like these are part of a massive new opportunity for small businesses to take on the big guys.

The bulging beer cooler at your neighborhood market is another perfect example. Craft breweries quadrupled their share of the U.S. beer market from about 5 percent in 2008 to now more than 20 percent, according to the Craft Brewers Association.

Niche grocers also are grabbing share. Fueled by hyper-localization and specialization — think local honey and small batch hot sauce — natural/gourmet stores are projected to grow 6.8 percent annually over the next four years. That’s more than double the growth expected for discount stores, according to a recent Nielsen report.

The North American Handmade Bike Show has grown to 180 exhibitors and thousands of attendees from its beginnings in 2005, when 23 exhibitors showed off their wares for 700 biking enthusiasts.

No matter what the business, today’s consumers want something unique. That means the huge scale of big chains and corporations has turned from an advantage to an Achilles heel that small businesses can take advantage of. It might seem daunting, but the opportunity is real.

According to a new study from QuickBooks, this rising demand for niche products and services is one of the key trends small businesses can leverage to drive success and tap new markets.

Access to world-class business infrastructure, valuable data, a talented pool of on-demand employees and cost-effective online advertising are also leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs who take advantage of them, according to the QuickBooks Future of Small Business report.

What I love is that these technology-driven shifts complement what has always been the essence of small business success — passion, community (now either physical or digital via social networks) and the personal touch. Technology has just set them on fire.

Custom wheels: The rise of the artisan bike shop.

Today’s consumers are not just looking for a product or a service. They are looking for experiences and personalized service, and they expect to be given the opportunity to shape the products and services they use. All of those things are right up the power alley of small businesses. That’s part of what has driven the rise of the artisan bike maker.

Public WiFi That You Need To Know

unduhan-46Is public Wi-Fi safe? The short answer: Hell, no. But if you must use the free wireless at your hotel or the satellite office (i.e., Starbucks), here are some precautions you should take.

Keep it impersonal. Never online-bank via public wi-fi. Obvious, right? But you shouldn’t even check email — that can give hackersaccess to a trove of personal info. This applies even to secure websites, those with https (hypertext transfer protocol secure) in the URL. “Public hotspots are susceptible to man-in-the-middle attacks” — where the hacker intercepts communications — “which will strip out the ‘secure’ part of https,” warns David Lee, a product manager for mobile at security software company Norton.

Beware fake networks. Check the network name with the staff of wherever you’re working. “You might see ‘Free-Starbucks-wifi,’ but this could easily be a fake,” says Jérôme Segura, a lead malware intelligence analyst at internet security software maker Malwarebytes. You’d be able to get online like everything was normal, except all your traffic would be visible to prying eyes.

Turn off sharing. Your device’s sharing function is designed to be used in a collaborative work environment, making it easy to let other computers on the same network access your files — something you definitely do not want on public wi-fi. When you disable sharing, it makes your phone or laptop invisible to others, and thus a less likely target.

Get your own network. Install virtual personal network (VPN) software, which establishes an encrypted tunnel for your internet traffic. But VPNs aren’t invulnerable, so you should stick to using https websites (which, sigh, still won’t guarantee safety). Also, look for a VPN that offers an anti-malware scanner and a mobile app.

Use your phone. You can use your smartphone as a hotspot for your laptop (it’s called tethering), which offers a secure connection. It does have a couple of downsides, though: First, you’re at the mercy of your carrier’s performance and data rates. Second, the websites you’re looking at know who you are and what device you’re using, whereas a VPN will make you completely anonymous.

Apple in Smartphones

China’s Huawei Technologies wants to be the world’s second-largest maker of smartphones in two years, Richard Yu, chief executive of Huawei’s consumer business group, told Reuters on Thursday.

Having made its name as a builder of telecommunications networks, Huawei has been active in the consumer devices market for only a few years and is now the third-biggest smartphone maker after Apple Inc. and the world leader in the $400 billion market, Samsung Electronics.

“When we announced four years ago that we wanted to sell phones, people told us we were crazy. When we said we wanted to sell 100 million phones, they told us we were crazy,” Yu said at a launch event in Munich.

Huawei on Thursday launched a new premium phone, which will sell for about $777 apiece. A version developed with Porsche Design will cost about $1,550.

The phone has a new artificial intelligence feature: It can learn about its user’s habits and automatically put the most frequently used apps in easy reach.

Huawei was the world’s third-largest smartphone maker in the third quarter with 33.6 million shipped devices, giving it a 9 percent market share, according to research firm Strategy Analytics.

Apple was still well ahead with 45.5 million devices, or a 12 percent market share. Samsung was the world leader with 75.3 million shipped devices and a market share of 20.1 percent.

“We are going to take them (Apple) step-by-step, innovation-by-innovation,” Yu said, adding that he expected to improve Huawei’s position along with technology shifts.

“There will be more opportunities. Artificial intelligence, virtual reality, augmented reality,” he said. “It is like driving a car. At every curve or turn, there is an opportunity to overtake the competition.”

With the new phone, dubbed Mate 9, Yu expects to make a break in European markets such as Germany, France and Great Britain. “In Finland, we are already number one,” he said.

With Apple struggling to come up with surprise designs and Samsung reeling from having to scrap its flagship phone, Yu said Huawei was at a tipping point.