By Bruce Watson
Forget eating at home or forgoing your daily Starbucks run: According to a recent survey, the biggest money saver in your life is in your pocket. In April, market research firm Harris Interactive, working with ClickSoftware, a mobile management firm, concluded that smartphone owners saved an average of $12,000 per year by using the handy little machines.
The key to these savings lies in apps: By enabling users to perform tasks like checking email and browsing the web from any location, smartphones can save people a fair bit of time. In fact, according to the survey, people who use their smartphone to check email save an average of 35 minutes per day. Those who use it for web browsing saves an average of 33 minutes, those who use weather apps save 17 minutes, those who use map programs save 24 minutes, and those who use calendar apps save 23 minutes.
By Matt Brownell
Earlier this month, federal prosecutors unsealed an indictment charging several men with bank theft on massive scale. According to prosecutors, the thieves loaded stolen account data onto magnetic stripe cards, which they then used to steal $45 million from ATMs around the world.
As financial institutions reconsider their security procedures in the wake of the breach, much of the attention will naturally fall on America's reliance on magnetic-stripe cards, instead of the more secure chip-and-PIN (also called EMV) cards used in other parts of the world.
While they're at it, though, the banks should also consider another big security black eye: The fact that it's easier to hack into your bank account than it is to crack your Facebook account.
While visionaries like the CEO of Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) give speeches about the tremendous opportunities that technology has in store for us, let us not forget about the innovations that might change our lives in not so rosy ways -- and innovations that may even pose significant threats.
Here's a brief round-up of some fresh breakthroughs.
In early 2010, Nish Bhalla sat down at his computer with one objective: steal a huge amount of money from a bank.
It wasn't a typical heist. Bhalla is the chief executive of Security Compass, a company that tests security systems at banks, retailers, energy companies and other organizations with sensitive data. His clients -- including the bank branch in the United States that he targeted in his 2010 attack -- pay him to break into their systems.
It can be easier than most people think. The alleged thieves who made headlines last week for their $45 million bank heist used a similar type of attack that "created" money out of nowhere.
Bhalla talked CNNMoney through his caper. Here, in four easy steps, is how he made himself into a millionaire.
By Adam Widerman
Although the economic potential of echo boomers may not be as promising as some are expecting, there are several ways investors can actually profit from their behavior.
Echo boomers are the demographic group comprised of baby boomers' progeny. They're slightly larger as a group than their parents (80 million compared to just 77 million baby boomers) and better educated. But this is a generation that's saddled with tens of thousands of dollars in debt -- something that will likely stunt their economic growth as they age.
However, while echo boomers work their way through these challenges, savvy investors stand to make hefty sums by investing in their consumer behaviors.
With more than 900 million users, Mark Zuckerberg's expanding social media empire has become a seemingly irreplaceable part of the online experience. Unfortunately, a byproduct of its success is that millions of Americans are far more at risk of falling victim to a number of cyber crimes.
To be sure, cyber crime is nothing new, but the social media revolution has made such crimes much easier to commit. People have "friends" they've never met; they make personal information widely available. And Facebook's hundreds of millions of users are a rich pool of targets.
According to an infographic published earlier this year by ZoneAlarm, a leading Internet security software provider, "roughly 4 million Facebook users experience spam on a daily basis, 20% of Facebook users have been exposed to malware," and Facebook receives 600,000 reports of hijacked log-ins every day.
Malware represents another growing threat for Facebook users, Dr. Kent Seamons, assistant professor in the computer science department at Brigham Young University said. "Hackers get malware on your machine and get tens if not hundreds of thousands of these machines under their control and then they rent them out to spammers and others," Seamons explains.
These rented accounts can then be used to advertise products illicitly or to request money from unsuspecting friends.
Ultimately, all social media sites make it easier for criminals to deceive their victims. According to a study published in Communications of ACM, a journal for computing professionals, the percentage of students that responded to a phishing email increased from 16% to 72% when the email included relevant social information about the target. Quite simple, scams that make it appear that a message comes from a friend make it more likely that the target will respond.These are nine of the ways criminals use Facebook:
It was fitting that Robert Downey Jr., otherwise known as Tony Stark, rang the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange yesterday morning.
Downey's new film, Iron Man 3, which unofficially kicks off the traditionally lucrative summer blockbuster season, is set to provide Disney (NYSE:DIS) with a substantial revenue boost. While not likely to be the astounding breakout hit domestically that last summer's The Avengers was, Iron Man 3 is projected by box office sites like BoxOfficeMojo.com to gross some $400 million, which would probably make it the top-grossing film of 2013.
Thanks to the popularity of the Marvel superhero, Disney is likely to be the top-performing movie studio of the six major players this summer. The company is also releasing another much-anticipated sequel, Monsters University, which is likely to earn close to $300 million.
UBS is also positive about Disney's Marvel investments, upgrading the stock to Buy from Neutral earlier this week and lifting its price target to $72 from $55.
The biggest risk of the Mouse House this summer is its re-imagination of The Lone Ranger, starring Johnny Depp. With little buzz so far and an estimated budget of $250 million, the Western will find it hard to match its price tag domestically. Disney will have to hope that Depp's star power can boost the movie's international take.
Way back in 2007 -- in what now feels like ancient history -- Steve Jobs gave what many consider his best product unveiling ever: the iPhone. The Apple co-founder started off by assessing the current state of the smartphone market and displayed a handful of current smartphones of the day.
Jobs showed the Motorola Q, BlackBerry Pearl, Palm Treo, and Nokia E62 as examples of not-so-smart smartphones.
The biggest flaw that they all shared was in what he called the "bottom 40%," referring to the lower 40% of their form factors being dedicated to hardware keyboards with fixed physical keys that couldn't accommodate new software features that may be subsequently released.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins is just sounding silly now. In a recent interview with Bloomberg, Heins expresses skepticism over the broader tablet movement.
"In five years I don't think there'll be a reason to have a tablet anymore," Heins is quoted as saying, "Maybe a big screen in your workspace, but not a tablet as such. Tablets themselves are not a good business model."
Oddly enough, Heins goes on to say, "In five years, I see BlackBerry to be the absolute leader in mobile computing -- that's what we're aiming for. I want to gain as much market share as I can, but not by being a copycat."
That's an oxymoron if I've ever heard one. Mobile computing includes a secular shift toward smartphones and tablets, but you could also arguably include shifting from desktops to laptops within the PC market. Of the three devices that embody mobile computing -- smartphones, tablets, and laptops -- BlackBerry only sells one.
It's certainly true that tablets have not been a good business for BlackBerry. Shortly after jumping into the market with the PlayBook, the company promptly recorded a pre-tax non-cash charge of $485 million related to a glut of unsold inventory. While PlayBook unit shipments haven't been consistent, to the company's credit they're holding up relatively well for a device that's two years old and only received minor upgrades. That may also be a function of the price dropping from $500 to under $200 over the past two years.
The tablet market is also much harder to crack competitively. Not only does BlackBerry have to compete with market leader Apple and its iPad and iPad Mini, but on the low end habitual disrupters Amazon.com and Google are perfectly content selling hardware at cost.
The e-tail and search giants have ensured that there really isn't much in the way of hardware margins down there, which is where the PlayBook is currently positioned. Of course, the tablet market is proving to be a good business model for Apple, Amazon, and Google. The iPad remains Apple's fastest-growing new product category, Amazon has expanded its content ecosystem, and Google has dramatically broadened the global reach of its ads and services.
Just because BlackBerry's tablet business isn't good doesn't mean others can't enjoy it. Sorry, Heins, but it's simply not possible to become the "absolute leader in mobile computing" without tablets.
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The article BlackBerry's Oxymoronic Opinion of Tablets originally appeared on Fool.com.Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. The Motley Fool owns shares of Amazon.com, Apple, and Google. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
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