Mobile payments are slowly but surely going mainstream. Mass adoption of smartphones and tablets is making the dream of fully digital wallets a reality and it is opening new possibilities for traditional banks, credit card companies and net-based payment services.
Google’s Nexus 4 has been on sale for three months, although one could argue that it has been on sale for a couple of weeks, since it wasn’t really available anywhere. For some reason, Google grossly underestimated demand for its latest vanilla Android phone, resulting in ridiculous shortages in every single market.
Google is continuously trying to improve its e-commerce business and its latest acquisition should give it a nudge in the right direction. The search giant bought e-commerce solution provider Channel Intelligence for $125 million in an all-cash deal.
Channel Intelligence is active in 31 countries and it offers a wide range of e-commerce services.
The company has been a partner of Google Shopping for years and the two outfits worked together on Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) and Product Listing Ads (PLA) products. In addition, Channel Intelligence offers a range of free services, including Facebook integration and product search widgets and an e-commerce back end, dubbed Shopping Engine.
Channel Intelligence announced the deal on its website, adding that all of its services will be available for years to come. The company has been around since 1999 and it tracks about 15 percent of all online transactions in the US. It is behind $2 billion in sales through referrals every year.
ICG group announced Wednesday that the transaction should be finalized in the first quarter of 2013. ICG is expected to realize $60.5 million in connection with the transaction.
“Building upon the perseverance and strong foundation laid by CI’s founder Rob Wight, I am extremely proud of the work we accomplished at CI,” said Doug Alexander, CEO of CI and President of ICG. “With the talent and hard work of the entire CI team, we successfully navigated a very complex marketplace, ending a record year that culminated in this very exciting acquisition.”
Wright said he is thrilled to see the recognition of CI’s value. He said the company’s vision was to simplify the online shopping experience and that he is very proud to see the vision executed to such a “great outcome.”
The comments follow a survey of 320 graduates from CWJobs, which found that those who had completed a placement year had been better prepared to enter the world of work when they had finished their degree.
A quarter of those asked said they had completed a placement while studying for their degrees. Of these, 81 percent said they felt the experience had helped them when it came to their IT career.
Just under half of students who had not completed a placement year admitted that they did not feel that just having a degree better placed them for the world of work.
According to recruitment firm Experis, and IT jobs site CWJobs.com, which jointly conducted the research, employers often look for students who had completed relevant work experience.
However, they pointed out that of the 2,048 computing courses offered in the UK, only 470 offer a placement year.
According to a work experience expert, many students who don’t have the option of a sandwich course will fail to find a placement during their time at university.
“At university level things change slightly from school age where it is down to each borough to place a 16 year old in a work experience placement”, she told ChannelEye. “At degree level, it’s no longer down to the government to place students, which in some ways, considering the tuition fee hike is unfair.
“It means that on top of their workload students are put under pressure- with probably minimal help from their tutors, to find placements to accompany their course. There may be companies who are signed up with the course but the competition is rife.”
There are financial costs involved too.
An article in the Guardian last year suggested that some universities can charge up to around £4,500 for sandwich years, while businesses are also reluctant to become a part of this scheme as they don’t have the time to supervise these students.
“Placements are very important, but for some, the time and effort associated with these put students off and, as we’ve seen from this research could prove detrimental in the future,” the work experience expert added.
Meanwhile, the Chartered Institute for IT announced that it is launching a teacher training scholarship aimed at creating the next generation of computer science teachers.
The organisation wants secondary schools to “have outstanding computer science teachers” and it hopes the scholarships will help towards achieving this.
The scheme also aims to help students receive a good grounding in computer science education so they are suitably equipped for progression into further education and a professional career.
A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We need to bring computational thinking into our schools. Having Computer Science in the EBacc (English Baccalaureate) will have a big impact on schools over the next decade.
“It will mean millions of children learning to write computer code so they are active creators and controllers of technology instead of just being passive users. It will be great for education, great for the economy, and will help restore the spirit of Alan Turing and make Britain a world leader again.”
Fifty scholarships per year, each worth £20,000, will be awarded for those engaged in an initial teacher training course, with the funding supplied by the Department for Education.
The scheme will also be backed by the likes of Microsoft, Google, IBM, BT, Facebook, Meta Switch Networks and Ocado.
Consumer behemoth Apple reported its first quarter financial results yesterday and while it posted revenues of $54.5 billion and a net profit of $13.1 billion, compared to revenues of $46.3 billion and profits of $13.1 billion in the same financial quarter last year, profits were flat.
Gross margin fell to 38.6 percent compared to 44.7 percent in the same quarter last year. Apple is forecasting gross margins between 37.5 percent and 38.5 percent for its second quarter, with estimated revenues between $41 billion and $43 billion.
So, what’s the problem? CEO Tim Cook said that supply problems were a matter to be concerned about, despite media reports. And Apple has got a stash of cash in its corporate coffers – not far short of $137 billion in both liquid ashes and in cash. That gives it a pot of gold that would let it buy other companies to make a splash in new or other developing markets.
A bigger problem is its existing slew of products, including the wildly successful iPad and the solidly popular iPhone. It does face a challenge on the tablet front – particularly so from Google and Amazon devices. Microsoft Windows 8 using Intel chips may not be so much of a challenge. Intel cannot necessarily lower the price of its microprocessors, given its business model and Microsoft appears to believe that tablet devices running the touch version of Windows 8 should command the same prices as Apple iPads, or be even more expensive.
Apple’s share price (AAPL: Nasdaq), stood at $460.15 at press time.