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Facebook opens up social VR app Spaces to Groups

Facebook Spaces is no longer just a place for you to hang out with friends and family in your list: you can also use it to form bonds with people in the Groups you’re in. You can now host or join a VR Space with up to four people from a Group, so you can discuss shared interests in virtual reality. The social VR app allows you to connect with new people in a deeper way: you could, for instance, conduct practice sessions together using VR props if you’re all part of a music or a stand-up comedy group. You could perform in one Space as a band and livestream your performance to friends. You could also watch videos together or just chat and get to know one another at a deeper level in a VR environment.

 

By opening up Spaces to Groups, Facebook has amped up the social aspect of the app. Since that also means you could end up in a single VR environment with people you don’t know that well — or at all — Facebook has ensured you can report people and mute or pause the experience anytime. It’s an early experimental feature, though, so you’ll likely encounter bugs as you go along, meeting new friends through your Oculus Rift or HTC Vive headsets.

 

Facebook Groups VR
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The moment it clicks! Digital buy trends

The moment it clicks! Digital buy trends

Social ecommerce ecosystem is rapidly evolving, thanks to the willingness of merchants to accept most modes of payments.

Social commerce via smartphones is growing by leaps and bounds, and now the market is taking notice. Social ecommerce ecosystem is rapidly evolving, thanks to the willingness of merchants to accept most modes of payments.

‘New retail’ will also give brands unprecedented access to consumer data to personalize the path to purchase.

Virtual Reality VR for Sports

Black Box VR Brings Virtual Reality Fitness

It’s getting close to the end of January and no doubt many readers have already failed their ‘visit the gym more’ resolutions. The problem with regular exercise training is that it can get monotonous and repetitive, and lead to lack of results and inclination to go. Virtual reality exercise has always been a holy grail of workouts, offering an immersive world to keep you continuously engaged and burn off those calories. But the VR exercise experiences available have generally been available to a select few — people who can afford the systems and the peripherals in their own home. For example, my VirZoom bike fitness experience that I trialed last year.

 

What makes Black Box VR different is that it takes the fitness element and places it in a real gym setting. You’re not just DDR-ing it (Audioshield style) to work up a sweat, but you’re actually targeting specific muscles with weight and resistance exercises.

The first Black Box VR gym is set to open in San Francisco this year; think of it as a mix of SoulCycle and HTC Vive headsets. The demo was shown at CES 2018 featured participants standing inside an 8 x 8 feet black box (hence the name) and putting on a headset and motion tracking armbands. Let the games begin. Examples shown included facing off against enemies that ranged from x to magical creatures. To throw weapons (which include meteors!), you do standing chest presses — of which the tension can be increased to really feel the burn. That’s a lot of reps — but the concept is that it won’t feel like it. With the HTC Vive Tracker allowing for more motion sensitivity, it’s pretty likely leg straps and butt and legwork will be added to future iterations.

 

The history of Black Box VR gives it that extra dash if authority as well. Co-founded by  Ryan DeLuca and Preston Lewis, the former founder and creative director of Bodybuilding.com, this is their venture into the world of immersive workouts. “One key differentiator is our patent-pending dynamic resistance machine that is specifically designed to deliver real resistance in a virtual environment. Nobody in the market is delivering real resistance that corresponds to an immersive virtual sport like we are,” said Lewis in a press release. “The dynamic resistance machine is mapped in the virtual environment so when you reach out to grab a virtual handle, you are actually grabbing the handle in the real world. You can feel it.”

 

To be sure, this isn’t the first gym to incorporate virtual reality into their environment — since launch, the VirZOOM bike is now rolling out to YMCA and LIfe Fitness locations across America and Singapore,  and machines such as the Holodia bike and the Icaros flying machine are slowly infiltrating select gyms.

 

According to the San Francisco-based Virtual Reality Institute of Health and Exercise, games like Audioshield (referenced above) burn an average of 6.8 calories per minute during typical low-intensity gameplay. That’s at least 152,781,628 calories in this one game alone. The institute’s objectives are to  “help provide concrete, objective data for the discussion of video games as a source of healthy physical activity,” — and while Black Box VR has no rating, as of yet, when they make a decision, that will surely affect how people perceive the company.

 

I’m not the only person excited by this, as the startup won ‘Best Startup Award’ at CES 2018 this year as well. “It is a full-body workout that includes science-backed routines that combine resistance training and high-intensity cardio. The game can be a you vs. you experience or a competitive experience against another player, or both,” said Lewis. Fingers crossed the gameplay — and workout — will be as good as it sounds when location one opens in San Francisco this year.

 

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Global shipping, delivery and logistics strategy.

Big Business Strategy With Global Shipping

Huge companies like Amazon, Ebay and AliExpress are implementing their business strategy with shipping offers up to 100 countries, making the global market more appealing to buyers and sellers all over the internet.

 

Are you thinking about a drone made in Denmark or to buy a Javanese exotic jewel? Now you can buy it with the global shipping option from huge resellers over the web. And it doesn’t stop here – extreme competitive prices and products are being offered by stores like New Best Deal – giving the option to buy overseas a reality for everyone with offers from the most trusted sellers and companies worldwide.

 

“On the last Black Friday you could find a Play Station 4 for just U$199.00 – the average price is U$299.00”

 

Even having to deal with international handling and custom fees (some of them can reach 100% over the product price), the average prices are appealing since the goods are being sold always at lower prices. With efforts to make the list of shipping served regions bigger, customers and sellers can close excellent deals due to expanded shipping areas.

 

The virtual reality arena is also being implemented since the inconvenience of actually going into stores is eliminated. Virtual reality gives you the convenience of online shopping and the experience of being in a store. You can buy a VR headset from $10.00 Google cardboard to hundreds of dollars.

 

Looking at the big picture, economically speaking this is a question mark over the global market evolution where local stores now have to deal with international stores and sellers with competitive prices, the market share downsize of import and export agencies. Can we forget about the famous “Invisible Hand” from Adam Smith?

 

Till now, mega stores such as Walmart and Target are still competitive in prices.  In research, U.S. made products sold by a common local store will be relatively the same price than if you bought it online.

 

On the other hand, we see the rise of local industries selling directly from major web resellers, the demand for cargo services like UPS and Fedex increases.   Thus possibly creating a global market evolution. This is changing the way of how and where people buy goods and services.

How companies sell their products needs constant updating consequently expanding the horizon of small and large corporations.

By Arthur Wellten

Methark Press

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The iPhone X just extended Apple’s lead over Samsung

In the run-up to the iPhone X launch, all the analyst chatter revolved around one topic: How big of a success the iPhone X would be. It was always a given that Apple’s big upgrade would sell; the only question was whether it would sell a “normal” amount of iPhones, generating two swimming pools of money for Apple, or whether it would spark a “supercycle” of upgrades beyond the usual, giving Apple a mid-sized lake of profit.

Although we won’t have any conclusive answers until Apple releases its Q4 earnings data, a new set of insights from CIRP, which measures new device activations, suggests that the iPhone X has been a runaway success for Apple.

According to CIRP’s data, US iPhone activations were up 10 percent in the last quarter of the year, from 29% of all phone activations to 39%. That isn’t unusual — Apple released three new phones in that time period — but the change in new activations year-on-year is particularly significant. Over the same period in 2016, Apple’s market share was at 34%, meaning that it finished 2017 with a full 5% better market share. All of that can be attributed to the iPhone 8 and iPhone X launch.

It also means that Apple is pulling ahead of Samsung in new device activations. Samsung is currently sitting at 32% to Apple’s 39%, with LG in third place at 13%, and all other brands chipping in 15%. Since Apple’s average selling price for a phone (and profit!) is well above all comparable manufacturers, the combination of high profit and high market share means Apple captures the lion’s share of mobile profit in the US. That situation only seems to be getting better for the company.

“In the first full quarter after the launch of its three new models, Apple grew its share relative to Android brands,” CIRP partner Josh Lowitz said in a note seen by 9to5Mac. “If we compare change in share from the September quarter to the December quarter in this year and last year, Apple clearly improved its market position. It gained ten percentage points from the September to the December quarter both years, but as it had a better September quarter in 2017 than in 2016, this resulted in an overall stronger December quarter.”

 

0% Interest Until 2019

Pay 0 Interest Until 2019

Banks are now offering incredibly long periods of 0% Intro APR interest. If you’re carrying a balance on a high interest credit card or are looking to make a big purchase in the coming months, it’s time to switch cards and save money.

Our credit card experts have hand selected the below cards because of their long 0% intro APR interest offers. These offers range from 12 months 0% Intro APR all the way up to 21 months 0% Intro APR!

Compare these cards and discover which one is best for you.

BankAmericard® Credit Card
This is one of the best low interest cards available. Regain control over your financial life with three key benefits. Pay no annual fee and receive 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for balance transfers made in the first 60 days and 0% Introductory APR on purchases for 15 billing cycles as well. What really makes this card shine is that there’s a $0 Intro balance transfer fee for the first 60 days your account is open. After that, the fee for future balance transfers is 3% (min. $10). That means your payments can go entirely toward reducing your debt for over a year. Paying down your debt could improve your credit score. Track your progress and access your FICO® Score for free with this card. Unlike most cards, there is no penalty APR here. Put time on your side to trim or wipe out your debt, with no annual fee and no intro balance transfer fee.

Citi® Diamond Preferred® Card – 21 Month Intro Offer on BT and Purchases
This credit card comes with an intro APR of 0%* for 21 months on Purchases* and 0%* for 21 months on Balance Transfers*. With this 0% Intro APR you can pay off your balance interest free for the duration of the intro period. You’ll also gain access to Citi Private Pass for exclusive presale tickets and a Personal Concierge Service available to assist you 24/7. You’ll also earn City Easy Deal points with each card purchase redeemable for discounts on online merchandise, travel tickets, gift cards, and more. This card is perfect for people looking to get out of debt or making a large purchase who want to pay it off over time with no interest.

Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever
Imagine getting almost two years with 0% interest on purchases or a balance transfer. Reshape your financial picture with this industry-leading low-interest card from Citi. If you have major expenses on the horizon, like a wedding, a big trip, new furniture or appliances, this card delivers you an incredible 21 months to pay down that purchase with no interest. That’s right. Almost two years with no interest. For people who want to kick high-interest credit card debt to the curb once and for all, this is one of the best get-out-debt cards available. Transfer your high-interest debt to the Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever and for 21 months your payments will go directly to paying down your balance. That could save you hundreds of dollars in interest. This is the only card with no late fees, no penalty rate, and no annual fee… EVER! If you’re one to forget about a payment or two, this card is perfect for you. The Citi Simplicity® Card – No Late Fees Ever is best in class beating other 0% intro offers by six to nine months.

Capital One® VentureOne® Rewards Credit Card
This is a top no-annual fee travel credit card that also gives you 0% intro on purchases for 12 months. If you have a big trip or purchase on the horizon, this means you can pay it off over a year without having to worry about interest charges piling up. Earn travel rewards fast with this card in your wallet. Start out with a one-time bonus of 20,000 miles once you spend $1,000 on purchases within 3 months of account opening, equal to $200 in travel, while earning 1.25 miles per dollar on every purchase, every day. What’s best about this card? The miles you earn are good for any travel expense like airfare, hotel rooms, cruises and car rentals. Start earning unlimited miles on every purchase and enjoy 0% intro on purchases for 12 months now!

Discover it® – 18 Month Balance Transfer Offer
If you want to transfer high-interest debt, Discover designed this powerful card just for you. Get intro APR of 0% for 18 months on balance transfers. Rich cash-back rewards make this $0 annual fee card stand out among long 0% intro APR offers. Pay for your everyday essentials like gas and groceries with this card and get 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases. This card also comes with a valuable sign up bonus. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.* Use the cash-back rewards to pay down your balance faster. You will get a break on interest on new purchases with an intro APR of 0% for 6 months. However, the real value is long 0% intro APR on balance transfers and generous cash-back on category spending.

Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express
The Blue Cash Everyday® Card from American Express is one of the more unique cash back cards. It’s best for the average household. It provides a competitive cash back with 3% cash back at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $6,000 per year in purchases, then 1%). 2% cash back at U.S. gas stations and at select U.S. department stores. 1% cash back on other purchases. All with no annual fee! This card is great for anyone that spends a lot of money on gas and groceries. The cash back is received in the form of Reward Dollars that you can redeem for statement credits. The card also has an intro APR of 0% for 15 months on purchases and 0% for 15 months on balance transfers, so if you need to transfer your balance from another card you can put it on this with zero interest for a full year.

Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card
This credit card comes with an intro APR of 0% for 15 months on Purchases and 0% for 15 months on Balance Transfers. With this 0% Intro APR you can pay off your balance interest free for the duration of the intro period. This card also offers up to $600 protection on your cell phone (subject to $25 deductible) against covered damage or theft when you pay your monthly cellular telephone bill with your Wells Fargo Platinum Visa® Card. This card is perfect for people looking to get out of debt or making a large purchase who want to pay it off over time with no interest and no annual fee.

Discover it® Cashback Match™
Not all low interest cards offer rewards. This no-annual fee Discover card towers above the crowd with generous cash-back, plus long low interest periods on purchases and balance transfers. Earn 5% cash back at different places each quarter like gas stations, grocery stores, restaurants, Amazon.com, or wholesale clubs up to the quarterly maximum each time you activate. 1% cash back on all other purchases. Do you have a big purchase coming up that you’d like to finance without interest piling up for over a year? This card offers an intro APR of 0% for 14 months on new purchases. Take advantage of the generous 5% cash-back on rotating categories that includes home improvement stores, wholesale clubs, Amazon.com and Target in 2017. This top tier card delivers a blockbuster sign up bonus that turns your cash-back into 10% on category spending in the first year. Discover will automatically match all the cash back you earn at the end of your first year.* If you have high-interest credit card balance that you’d like to transfer this card gives you an intro APR of 0% for 14 months. Save on interest and make money with this card!

*Editorial Note: This content is not provided or commissioned by the credit card issuer. Any opinions, analyses, reviews or recommendations expressed in this article are those of the author’s alone, and may not have been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer. This site may be compensated through a credit card issuer partnership.

By Thomas Donaldson, Updated on Jan 02, 2018

Before Shopping Grocery

Take a Picture of Your Fridge Before You Go Grocery Shopping

 

My boyfriend and I are pretty horrible grocery shoppers. We always attempt to hit the grocery store to buy “meals for the week” but that meal planning quickly takes a complicated turn when we end up in discussions on what food might still have available in the house to contribute to that meal.

The end result is we often end up with too much of one thing and not enough of another. Yes, we could come up with a list and check our supplies ahead of time, but that while awesome in theory never quite works out for us in practice. We’ve learned that we’re not grocery list people, and even when we try to be we end up straying pretty far from what we “plan” on picking up.

Reddit user ashlessscythe has an interesting suggestion to fix the problem: Take a picture of the inside of your fridge before you head out.

It’s certainly not a perfect solution. Depending on how crowded your fridge is you might not be able to see everything that’s in there, and you won’t be able to see inside the packaging to know that you have 2 eggs left in that carton or a few drops of milk.

That said, it’s not a bad idea. A photo can give you a frame of reference for your house and help jog your memory about what you have and what you might be on the verge of running out of. While you might not be able to see that your container of coffee creamer is running low, seeing its picture might remind you that you almost used the last of it this morning.

The best part? Taking a pic only takes a few seconds. For the lazy man (or lady) who doesn’t want to make a list and a plan ahead of time, it can be a useful reference to determine if you should grab that item that’s on sale.

By Emily Price

Virtual Shopping

Virtual Reality Is the Future of Shopping

Online shopping is on the rise—it’s fast and ships directly to your doorstep, sometimes overnight. But with online shopping, you miss the experience of going into a store and picking up items. Enter virtual reality shopping, which tries to give you the convenience of online shopping and the experience of being in a store.

People are already shopping through virtual reality, but it’s still in its beginning stages. In late 2016, China’s Alibaba launched Buy+, a virtual reality experience that could be accessed with a virtual reality headset. With Buy+, people could wander around a store, look through items, and add things to a cart by staring at a product for long enough. According to Vice, 30,000 people had already tried Buy+ an hour after its launch.

To use virtual reality shopping, you’ll need a virtual reality headset, which could range from a $10 Google Cardboard to hundreds of dollars for an Oculus Rift. Like online shopping, there’s usually a virtual shopping cart and you can buy things by giving your credit card information upon checkout.

Big companies like Amazon are also working on adding virtual reality shopping in an attempt to increase sales. In May 2016, Ikea let users design their own kitchens with a HTC Vive. Audi also used the HTC Vive to present cars in showrooms. Later in 2016, eBay Australia teamed up with Myer to create the “first virtual reality department store,” but it simulated a web of floating objects rather than a physical store.

Earlier this month, Ikea started using virtual reality in Australia. You can see the experience for yourself on Android, iOS, and desktop (though the desktop version doesn’t have virtual reality).

The Ikea version of virtual reality shopping feels like a more immersive version of Google Street View. You can wander around the store and in between furniture. You can select objects marked with floating blue dots, revealing the item’s description and price. Most of the furniture isn’t marked, though, so you’ll have to zoom in on the tags and remind yourself to search for it later.

Smaller companies like Gatsby, a startup that creates virtual reality stores, are also looking to create virtual reality shopping experiences.

“We’re really trying to get close to what it’s like being there, and we want it to be very intimate,” said Anastasia Cifuentes, co-founder of Gatsby. “All the little details on how you move, we’re really focusing on how to have that just right.” Gatsby has been experimenting with virtual reality for less than 6 months but hopes to launch an app in the fall.

Using Gatsby’s shopping app to buy furniture feels like playing a game. You can look around a room from a fixed point (you can’t move around the space yet). There’s a button that let you click on objects and rotate them. Once you select an object, details about the object’s length, width, height, and price appear. If you want an item, you can add it to your cart.

The demo I tested was animated rather than based on real photos, which made the experience less realistic. The app is still in development, but Gatsby hopes to use real photos of objects and rooms once the app is finished. Gatsby will be free to everyone—you’ll only need something, like a Google Cardboard, to view it through.

“There’s an efficiency factor that being online satisfies, but we’ve lost something in traveling to that, which is just being able to hold the product,” said Cifuentes. “There are still things we need to see and touch that we have to go to the store for, like furniture.”

Virtual reality doesn’t completely replicate the in-person shopping experience, but it’s getting there. It’s also getting cheaper and more accessible: now you only need your smartphone and a $10 Google Cardboard set to experience it.

By Lily Lou

10 Items You Should Always Buy After the Holidays

10 Items You Should Always Buy After the Holidays

While upwards of 100 million Americans brave the crowds and winter chill each year to get the best Black Friday deals, it’s when the holiday season is over that prices really start to fall. When Christmas and New Year’s Day have come and gone, both brick-and-mortar stores and online retailers drop the prices on countless items.

So, before you rush out to spend that gift card or holiday bonus, make sure you’re getting the best deal possible by waiting until after the holiday season to purchase these sought-after items. And if you’ve got some post-holiday shopping for family or friends to get done, pick from one of the 100 Wow Gifts for the Person Who Has Everything.

 

Best After-Christmas Sales

Where to Find the Best After-Christmas Sales

Whether gift cards a are burning a hole in your pocket or you just want to browse the clearance racks, after-Christmas sales promise deep discounts. Whatever the reasons for a post-holiday spree, you won’t be alone: Stores may even be more crowded than they are on Black Friday. The hottest post-Christmas deals are spread among certain types of merchandise, from the expected (holiday decor and gift sets) to the surprising (cars and gift cards). Discounts may deepen farther out from Christmas, but selection will dwindle, so get the goods while you can.

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