The smartphone surge continues as Germany makes a push for EVs

The smartphone surge continues as Germany makes a push for EVs

A week after its launch, Beat the Traffic HD became the third most popular free app on the Apple iPad. Beat the Traffic HD is a real-time traffic service that allows commuters to see traffic as it is on roads around them, as well as how it will be in the coming hour based on historical traffic information.

Beat the Traffic is based in Santa Clara, California, and began as a San Francisco Bay Area traffic service before spreading throughout the US and Canada. Despite the recession, the company experienced 60 percent growth in 2009, largely due to popular new iPhone and Blackberry apps.

The growth of companies like Beat the Traffic has threatened portable navigation device manufacturers like Garmin and TomTom. A new study from market research firm iSuppli forecasts that the growth of portable navigation devices will cease by 2014, while free smartphone and iPad apps for traffic and navigation will continue to flourish.

Beat the Traffic’s CEO Andre Gueziec says the company’s intuitive presentation of traffic information and state-of-the-art software has attracted attention around the world, and that the company plans to venture overseas in the coming year. “There's nothing unique about the congestion in San Francisco or New York,” he says.

Germany acts on EVs

The German government forged an alliance with Germany’s largest industrial firms to bring electric vehicles to the German market. In 2009, Germany rolled out the Germany Development Plan for Electro-mobility, which set a target of 1 million electric vehicles on German roads by 2020. This week’s announcement—along with the establishment of several task forces and a shared platform among government and OEMs like Audi, BMW, and VW—mark the first concrete steps toward making that a reality.

Carpooling services come to France

The leader in European carpooling services, Envoiture, established a new site for the French market: Envoiture quickly links drivers and passengers to save on fuel costs and CO2 emissions. The site has a large presence on Facebook and Twitter and enjoys 1.2 million registered users in Germany, Austria, Greece, Italy, Poland and Switzerland. The company’s move into France will be followed by new sites in Spain and the UK.

Monetizing augmented reality

Layar, a Dutch augmented reality (AR) start-up, launched a new online store that allows companies to incorporate layers of AR into their services or sites. Augmented reality is the merger of digital information and real-life images. While some companies, like the Austrian navigation start-up Mobilizy, have proven the concept, AR has been difficult to monetize. Companies and publishers using AR content from Layar’s online store will receive 60 percent of the proceeds, while Layer nets the other 40 percent. Berlitz City Guides and Mouse Reality for Disney World are the first to jump on board.

Idle-reduction technology

Energy Xtreme unveiled a new idle-reduction technology that helps fleets save on fuel costs and reduce CO2 emissions. The technology, the Independence Package Utility Series, recharges while a vehicle is in operation and powers the vehicle’s electrical system when the gasoline engine is turned off. Energy Xtreme is headquartered in Austin, Texas. Fleets around Texas, including those of CenterPoint Energy, the Dallas Police Department, and the City of Austen, have adopted the technology.

3G continues to grow

3G handset shipments eclipsed those of 2G handsets in the first quarter of 2010, a new study from ABI Research found. The first quarter was kind to the whole mobile handset sector, with 19 percent growth compared to the first quarter of 2009. Total shipments reached 303 million. Nokia continued its dominance of market share, controlling 34 percent of the world market. Samsung came in at 21 percent, while the Apple iPhone, despite its regular headline grabbing, netted just 2.9 percent.

The smartphone surge

Roughly 55 million smartphones were sold worldwide in the first quarter of 2010, reveals a new report from market research firm Canalys. That marks 67 percent growth from the first quarter of 2009. Again, Nokia was the clear leader in the market, with 21.4 million units shipped. RIM came in second with 10.6 million units shipped, and Apple third with 8.8 million.

Google Street View gets a red light

Germany issued a warning to Google that it must address security issues before it can release Street View on the German market. Street View allows map users to virtually stand on streets thanks to panoramic photos that include details like mailboxes, road signs, and parked cars. Germany has requested that Google make faces on Street View unrecognizable and that if individuals complain about their residences being photographed, Google will comply by blacking that photo out. Street View was launched in 2007 and is available in the US, Australia, Japan, and parts of Europe.

Andrew Tolve is a regular contributor to TU.


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