Hey, boss, 12 percent will watch March Madness in meetings

We have come to that time of year when a group of possibly inebriated, supposed experts decides which colleges will send their teams to the NCAA Basketball Tournament.

This cultural beauty pageant is branded on American hearts like few other events. You may not know where Butler University actually is, but you wrap your arms around it, as if your own child was on the team.

This causes problems for industrial productivity and personal gadgetry.

Sports have always been more important than work. Therefore, workers are more likely to watch sporting events that happen to occur during working hours.

Indeed, … Read more

Sprint revamps prepaid with cheaper plans, new phones

Sprint is triple-downing on prepaid.

On Friday, Sprint introduced Sprint Prepaid, a revamped take on an existing program that includes less expensive plans -- with caveats -- and new options for smartphones, including a "Spark" device able to access higher LTE speeds.

Sprint Prepaid represents yet another push by the carrier to reinforce its position in the prepaid market, complementing its two other brands, Virgin Mobile and Boost Mobile, both of which attack slightly different demographics of consumers. The launch comes at a time when its business is under siege by T-Mobile, which offers its own expanding prepaid … Read more

Samsung launches ultrasonic Galaxy Core Advance cover, optical stand

Samsung on Friday announced a few new accessories for its Galaxy Core Advance.

First up is an ultrasonic cover that fits atop the smartphone and detects objects to help users navigate around an area or unfamiliar places. When heading towards an obstacle, the cover vibrates. The cover can target objects up to 2 meters away, said Samsung, and it could be especially useful for the visually impaired.

In addition to the ultrasound cover, Samsung announced an Optical Scan Stand. The accessory is essentially a stand that positions the Galaxy Core Advance to point directly at printed material. That then activates … Read more

T-Mobile's tech chief: I want to decimate Verizon's map ad campaign

T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless have an increasingly complicated relationship.

The two companies are in the middle of closing a deal in which T-Mobile would get valuable wireless spectrum for $3.3 billion, a move that would aid its ability to offer coverage in rural and less populated regions of the country. Yet that isn't stopping T-Mobile from directing its sights at Verizon.

The latest attack: questioning the validity of Verizon's long-running campaign featuring coverage maps of all four carriers (of which Verizon, unsurprisingly, comes out looking far better than its competitors).

"I want to decimate that ad … Read more

Starbucks test will let mobile users order items ahead of time

Some Starbucks customers will be able to order their favorite venti mocha double-shot no-whip before they even reach the counter.

In an interview with Bloomberg published late Wednesday, Starbucks Chief Digital Officer Adam Brotman said that the coffee chain is "actively working" on mobile ordering. As such, a trial set for this year will see some Starbucks cafes in the US offer customers a type of preordering. Specifically, people will be able use their smartphones to order coffee, food, and other items while still in line or outside the cafe.

Brotman also noted that Starbucks will refresh its iPhone app on March 19Read more

T-Mobile to upgrade 2G network to 4G LTE, takes on Verizon

T-Mobile isn't slowing down when it comes to its network upgrade.

The upstart wireless carrier said on Thursday that it plans to add 4G LTE to its slower 2G network, adding coverage and speed to additional customers. The company also reiterated its intent to use the wireless spectrum it is acquiring from Verizon to further expand its coverage later this year.

Oddly enough, T-Mobile also said it was taking legal action against Verizon in an effort to get it to stop using its network coverage map in its advertising, which T-Mobile argues is "cherry-picking" a single technology (… Read more

Analysts on Apple: Looking to iPhone 6 upside

Wedge Partners and Pacific Crest weighed in on the rumored iPhone 6 this week, with Wedge also offering speculation on other possible products like the iWatch and a bigger iPad as well as strategies for services at Apple.

Overall, the research note from Wedge Partners' Brian Blair, as posted by Barron's, was upbeat, stating that "Apple's next array of products" provide an "opportunity" for investors. Apple shares have an upside this year of more than 20 percent, he said.

Andy Hargreaves at Pacific Crest was also optimistic, citing the iPhone 6.

"Apple is … Read more

AT&T throws cold water on European acquisitions

AT&T appears to be shifting its focus back to the US rather than expand into Europe.

That's according to AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens, who was speaking at an investor conference on Wednesday. The event was Webcast.

"We're seeing the window of opportunity in owning assets is closing," Stephens said.

AT&T was reportedly interested in Vodafone, but in January said it didn't intend to make an offer. Still, the company opened the door to it, saying it reserved the right to make an offer at another time. As … Read more

Starbucks to allow for digital tips from iPhone

Coffee conglomerate Starbucks will push forward with its popular mobile payment program, which accounts for more than 11 percent of in-store transactions, by allowing customers in the US to add digital tips to their purchases.

The digital tipping feature will be included in the company's brand new Starbucks for iPhone application, arriving in Apple's App Store on March 19. A redesigned Android version with the tipping option is slated for release later this year.

The pending version of Starbucks for iPhone, though tailored for iOS 7, represents a modernized template for all of the company's digital services … Read more

Dong Nguyen on the return of Flappy Bird: 'I'm considering it'

The creator of Flappy Bird is doing quite well since he decided to pull the smartphone game from the iOS App and Google Play Stores last month. Dong Nguyen, the 28-year-old Hanoi, Vietnam-based game designer, is still making tens of thousands of dollars off the addictive mobile hit that pushed smartphone users to a game-playing fever pitch, as well as his other titles, Shuriken Block and Super Ball Juggling, that earned success by association.

The clones are countless; a new one was sprouting up on the App Store an average of every 24 minutes in the immediate wake of Flappy … Read more