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The Smart Watch Is (Almost) Ready For Its Spotlight

Smart-watch adoption rates are increasing, according to Parks Associates, with adoption reaching 14 percent in the second quarter of this year. “Although smart watches have not become mainstream yet, purchase interest is on the rise,” said Kristen Hanich, Parks research analyst, noting that the proportion of consumers who said they’re “very likely” to purchase a smart watch rose from 3 percent in Q1 2016 to 9 percent in Q2 2017. The new Apple Watch 3 and Fitbit Ionic are expected to drive increases in this consumer demand.

Our Take: After a bit of a lackluster start, the category is primed for takeoff as battery lives increase and built-in cellular becomes mainstream.

DigitalUndivided Puts Wheels In Motion For #ProjectDiane 2018

DigitalUndivided, a company formed to identify and develop high-growth entrepreneurs who are women of color, announced it’s readying an update to its groundbreaking #ProjectDiane data initiative. The first #ProjectDiane report, published in 2016, studied more than 60,000 start-ups, determining that although 80 percent of new women-led businesses are founded by black and Latinx women, they are receiving just 0.2 percent of venture funding.

Our Take: The inaugural #ProjectDiane report — and DigitalUndivided’ s subsequent Big Innovation Center in Atlanta and accompanying Big Accelerator program — illuminated a yawning gap in the tech industry. We hope the subsequent report will receive just as much industry buzz as the first.

RadioShack Alive, If Not Quite Kicking

RadioShack, which entered bankruptcy protection last March for the second time in as many years, is proceeding with plans to emerge from Chapter 11 by year’s end as a radically leaner and digitally focused business. The latest installment in the CE chain’s saga comes from the hometown Fort Worth Star-Telegram, which reports that the company will go before the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware on Oct. 25 to seek approval of its reorganization plan. According to COO Steve Moroneso, who assumed day-to-day duties after CEO Dene Rogers left in July, the strategy calls for shifting the crux of the business online, and supplementing it with some 400 independently owned RadioShack dealerships and 27 corporate stores scattered throughout Colorado, Texas and New York.

Our Take: While the chain is touting the eight new RadioShack stores independents have opened within the past three months — and the additional 18 locations under consideration — it’s still a far cry from the more than 7,000 company-owned storefronts that saturated the nation during RadioShack’s heyday, putting all manner of arcane batteries, connectors and proprietary gizmos within 10 minutes of most Americans.

YouTube Takes On Twitch With Sponsorship Program

YouTube has launched a sponsorship program for gamers, giving them the chance to earn money by selling “digital goods” that they create — such as custom badges and emoji — directly from their individual channels. E-sports fans will pay a $4.99 monthly fee to sponsor their favorite channels, giving them access to these custom goods and a series of additional perks.

Our Take: Content is king, and the e-sports industry is notoriously platform loyal. YouTube is sweetening the pot to lure gamers before they’re fully enmeshed in the Amazon-owned Twitch streaming platform.

Samsung Looking At Record Profits In Q4

Analysts expect Samsung Electronics to reach a record $13.6 billion in operating profits in the fourth quarter. With margins on consumer electronics nearing razor-thin levels, Samsung has pivoted toward the IoT, artificial intelligence (AI) and automotive markets, which are driving the company’s bottom-line growth. But while high-memory chipsets and flexible OLED display panels for the smartphone market are currently the bread and butter of the company’s financial performance, Samsung isn’t ignoring the consumer device market. An emphasis on IoT products, such as smart appliances and smart TVs, dovetails efficiently with the company’s vision of a connected future. Samsung is looking to expand that vision to an AI-based open ecosystem to unite its product portfolio.

Our Take: The company’s strategy shift toward B-to-B component sales, in retrospect, looks like a prudent course of action.

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