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5 Apps for Entrepreneurs

It‘s here. The iPhone 6 (and bendable iPhone 6 Plus!) are taking the world by storm. Now that you have the hardware upgrade, it’s time to bring your apps up to date. Here are our top 5 apps for entrepreneurs.

1. TrackMaven

TrackMaven lets you monitor your competition. TrackMaven analyzes the data from your marketing content. It also lets you analyze your competitors marketing efforts. This helps you identify what you customers (or competitors customers) are looking for. You can this use the data to better target your audience.

2. Free Wi-fi Finder

That’s right. And app that finds free wi-fi. You never know when you’re going to need a strong, fast, reliable connection, so be prepared.

3. Uber

Sure, there’s been a lot of talk about Uber lately. Will the government shut them down? Well, we’re not sure yet, but while it’s still legal, you should make use of it. Whether you’re visiting a city or you live in one, Uber is a reliable way to get around. Don’t ever hail a cab again.

4. Mint

Where’s the money going? Mint helps you keep track of your personal finances. As an entrepreneur, you want to keep an eye on your cash flow. Mint can pull in all your data from bank statements to auto insurance and mortgage costs. You can also monitor your investments.

5. Unroll.me

Unroll.me is an app for your email. It lets you target all the junk and get rid of it in one click. Not only does it delete the emails, it also gives you the option of unsubscribing without having to go through all the rigamarole that unsubscribing requires. So, if you’re tired of hearing about every sale that Yankee Candle has, Unroll.me is for you.

Bonus!

There’s a bonus! It’s not really an app, but here it is:

An external phone charger.

While cell phone battery life is improving with each new phone, as an entrepreneur, you probably spend more time on the phone than most people. An external phone charger, when charged, should hold at least another 50% of battery life for your cell. Some hold even more than that. Plus, they’re usually around $20, so it won’t break the bank.

What are your essential apps for entrepreneurs? Share in the comments!

Square and Payment Methods for Entrepreneurs

As smartphones and tablets become more and more prevalent in the market place, mobile payment methods are a more viable solution for small businesses and entrepreneurs to manage their money.

Square, a dongle based credit card swiper for the iPhone, was an advancement in technology that demonstrated the potential the smartphone had for small businesses and entrepreneurs. Since it’s introduction, some businesses have been able to get rid of cash registers entirely and shift their entire platform to tablets and mobile phones. Square is trying to remain on the cutting edge by getting rid of the hardware and enabling geofencing, making payment possible by proximity over rather than actual card swiping.

While security issues are still being sorted out, Square has remained on the cutting edge of mobile payment technology. Behind them, PayPal is attempting to pick up the slack and offer new ways to pay by phone, as well. PayPal here again offers a physical device to swipe the card with, but doesn’t have a dedicated app for iPhone or iPad.

Intuit GoPayment offers a similar device as Square. It plugs into your phone and requires swiping the card. One major benefit of using the Intuit method is that the transaction syncs automatically with your Quickbooks software.

Many different companies are offering ways to turn your mobile device into a cash register. Is the mobile wallet going to be the new trend? Several credit cards, banks, and cellular carriers got together to form Isis, a place where standards could be set for mobile payments.

The biggest concern that remains is security. All the information is flying through the air. How can we be sure no one will pick it up? Some researchers are even devoting their time to punching holes in any wall that Square builds.

While mobile payments are a great way to take your business with you anywhere, you need to make sure you are up to date on security issues. You need to protect yourself and your customers before going mobile.

What are some of your concerns? What would keep you from or encourage you into using mobile payment?

Slogan Week: Think Different

This week, Biz Television takes a look at its favorite slogans.

A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in a political, commercial, religious and other context as a repetitive expression of an idea or purpose.

Slogans play an important role in advertising. They linger in one’s mind even when the advertisement is long gone. A slogan needs to stick in your head even when the ad is gone.

Today’s slogan: Think different (Apple)

A play on the IBM “Think” slogan, “Think different” was created for Apple Computer in 1997 by the Los Angeles office of advertising agency TBWA\Chiat\Day. It was used in a famous commercial, several print advertisements and a number of TV promos for Apple products. Apple’s use of the slogan was discontinued with the start of the Apple Switch ad campaign in 2002.

What makes it such a great slogan? While Apple seems to be the definition of trendy, in 1997 it wasn’t. Before the iPhone, before the iPod, Apple was the other guy. PC’s and Microsoft dominated the market. The “Think different” slogan was a layered message.

First, explore your originality, don’t submit to conformity. The Apple posters showed great thinkers and unique personalities to portray their message.

Second, and most important, think of a different kind of computer.

Two words make an amazing slogan and “Think different” is the shortest slogan on our list.

Apple eases app restrictions

The court system recently decided that jailbreaking your smartphone is legal. While Apple stood the most to lose in such a case, the iPhone producer never brought tried to prosecute anyone who had jailbroken their phone. Jailbreaking voids the warranty, but a quick restore factory settings tends to erase the damage.

This week, Apple Inc announced easing restrictions for building iPhone and iPad applications, a move that should allow for the use of third-party tools such as Adobe Systems’ Flash software.

Shares of Adobe surged over 12 percent at mid-afternoon on Nasdaq on Thursday, after Apple announced the changes.

Apple’s about-face follows a high-profile spat with Adobe last spring that saw Steve Jobs sharply criticize Flash technology.

Apple had been criticized by developers for what they called onerous restrictions on building apps. Apple had effectively banned developers from using the popular Flash software and other technology to build apps for iOS, the operating system that powers the iPhone and iPad.

Gleacher & Co analyst Brian Marshall said Apple was feeling huge pressure from app developers.

“What spurred this on was the uproar from the growing iOS developer base,” Marshall said. “People liked using Flash, and now they’ll be able to use a bunch of different technologies.”

Blackberry touch is official!

Blackberry lovers finally get their touch screen.

Research In Motion unveiled a new BlackBerry smartphone with a touchscreen and slideout keyboard, hoping to raise its consumer appeal and fend off competition from Apple’s iPhone.

The BlackBerry Torch will go on sale in the United States on August 12 for $199.99 with a two-year contract with AT&T Inc. in a move similar to AT&T’s exclusive contract with the iPhone. Analysts said the consumer-friendly features could help the BlackBerry catch up with the iPhone, as well as smartphones that use Google’s Android operating system such as Motorola’s Droid.

The Torch features a touch screen, but also has a slide down keyboard.

While some sites argue that consumers should wait for the iPhone to come to Verizon, other sources argue that Apple has little reason to go to other networks.

Blackberry did not try to reinvent the wheel. The Torch does not change the name of the game for touch smartphones. Blackberry seems to be the standard for business, and now, there’s just one more option out there.

Recall of the Week: New Mobile App tracks recalls

While I didn’t start off wanting to have a recall of the week, there has been a recall on some product or other over the past few months.

Having trouble keeping track?

Now, the FDA has teamed up with the Department of Agriculture, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to create a mobile app that lets users track product recalls.

Find the app on the US government website. You get a press release and  a picture of the tainted product. Right now, the app is limited to Android users, but they are developing one for iPhone and Blackberry smartphones.

Microsoft cancels Kin

After only two months on the shelf, Microsoft has pulled the plug on the Kin smartphone. Rumors are circulating that the company only sold about 500 units.

Initially, Microsoft wanted a cloud-centric phone that could cost less than a Blackberry. The phone would target teens and young adults who didn’t need a high-priced smartphone. In the end, though, Kin’s service cost just as much as any other extended service.

The Kin team will be refocused on developing Windows Phone 7. Verizon will continue selling the Kin units it has in stock. Microsoft has a tablet in the works that will compete with the iPad.

The bottom line: the Kin was not able to compete with the iPhone or Blackberry. The Kin seemed destined to fail. Better sooner than later.

iPhone hits stores

Apple was wrong.

But, in a good way.

When Gizmodo leaked Apple’s iPhone 4, Apple said they would lose money from the leak. Well, looking at Apple stores around the world today, that’s probably not true.

Crowds in Asia and Europe were the first to hit stores on Thursday. Some customers waited in line for three days. The same is true in the US, as hundreds line up for the release of Apple’s newest product. The iPhone is a complete redesign with a better display, glass front and back, and a steel frame that doubles as an antenna.

The iPhone is traditionally black, but a white version will be available for iPhone 4 in mid-July.

The new 4.0 operating system is now available for download. This works on iPhone 3, as well, and addresses at least 65 bugs that emerged in the last OS.

A day in the life of Microsoft

Microsoft has been busy. Just off finding out Apple beat them as the top computer company, Microsoft releases Office 2010. Unfortunately, people seem to be too distracted pre-ordering their iPhone 4 to take notice of the product.

Microsoft intends to spend $80 million on marketing Office 2010. They have quite a mountain to climb. Google Docs is free, and Microsoft offers a free web version of Office. Will $80 million convince people to buy a $280 software product? Or, will they go order an iPhone instead?

Also, Microsoft is drawing attention away from itself with Kinect.

Kinect is Microsoft’s competition with Nintendo’s Wii. It allows you to play a game on your Xbox 360 without controllers. It’s a system that allows for full body play. A gamer stands in front of their Kinect and uses their hands, legs, arms, what have you, to control that action on the screen. Games are a sparse right now, but, with the promise of more to come, Kinect may open up a world that gamers thought only the Wii could offer.

Apple overtakes Microsoft

The apocalypse must be near. Apple has reached a total value of $222 billion.

Microsoft is at $219 billion.

Okay, maybe it’s not the sign of the first seal being broken, but it is pretty momentous. Remember how Apple almost went out of business in the 90’s? What saved the company was the iPod in 2001. It worked with Microsoft-running computers, but really made people take a second look at Apple computers.

In 2007, the iPhone changed the way people looked at touchscreen smart phones.

Now, if I could only figure out what to use an iPad for, I’d be all set.

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