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StartCanada Blog

The StartCanada Blog provides insights about some of the work that we’re doing; including web design / development, design thinking, social media marketing, small business information, trends, tips, ideas and inspiration for start-ups, professionals, non-profits and small businesses.

Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in the Automotive Industry

Aaron Lewis, a design intern at Uber, ended an article he wrote with... "Owning a car will one day be like owning a horse - fun for the wealthy, but financially foolish for everyone else." It makes sense to me. However, the road towards that idea continues to inspire a lot of design ideas and opportunities. Here is FastCompany's Most Innovative list for the Automotive Sector in 2016:

  1. Hyundai - For augmenting autos with gesture-controlled heads-up displays
  2. Ford - For embracing e-bikes and ride sharing
  3. Tesla Motors - For adding autopilot features overnight and making your car come to you
  4. Quanergy - For developing software that makes driverless cars cheaper for the rest of us
  5. Sober Steering - For breathing a better breathalyzer into being
  6. Local Motors - For 3D printing a car we can actually drive
  7. Harman - For giving each passenger a "sound zone," paving the way for peaceful road trips
  8. Hudway - For creating the only app that keep's drivers' eyes on the road
  9. Getaround - For turning car owners into car loaners
  10. Evenflo - For building a car seat that alerts parents if a baby gets too hot or her seat belt unbuckles

Source/s: FastCompany Magazine, March 2016
Photo: Charging the Tesla Model S at Tesla, Robson Street, Vancouver by Angelo Narciso

10 Breakthrough Technologies for 2016

The MIT Technology Review picks 10 emerging technologies that have a chance of solving big problems and opening up new opportunities. The 10 technologies that you need to know about are as follows:

  1. Immune Engineering: Genetically engineered immune cells are saving the lives of cancer patients. That may be just the start.
  2. Precise Gene Editing in Plants: CRISPR offers an easy, exact way to alter genes to create traits such as disease resistance and drought tolerance.
  3. Conversational Interfaces: Powerful speech technology from China’s leading Internet company makes it much easier to use a smartphone.
  4. Reusable Rockets: Rockets typically are destroyed on their maiden voyage. But now they can make an upright landing and be refueled for another trip, setting the stage for a new era in spaceflight.
  5. Robots That Teach Each Other: What if robots could figure out more things on their own and share that knowledge among themselves?
  6. DNA App Store: An online store for information about your genes will make it cheap and easy to learn more about your health risks and predispositions.
  7. SolarCity’s Gigafactory: A $750 million solar facility in Buffalo will produce a gigawatt of high-efficiency solar panels per year and make the technology far more attractive to homeowners.
  8. Slack: A service built for the era of mobile phones and short text messages is changing the workplace.
  9. Tesla Autopilot: The electric-vehicle maker sent its cars a software update that suddenly made autonomous driving a reality.
  10. Power from the Air: Internet devices powered by Wi-Fi and other telecommunications signals will make small computers and sensors more pervasive.

Source: MIT Technology Review
Photo: Angelo Narciso, Presto Lumo at the Art Gallery of Alberta.

Microsoft's Internet Explorer Is Dead

  • Starting today, Microsoft will stop supporting Internet Explorer versions 7, 8, 9 and 10 on most operating systems
  • Microsoft has been distancing itself from the Internet Explorer brand since March, when it launched the Microsoft Edge browser, but it isn’t quite dead. Edge runs only on Windows 10.
  • Internet Explorer 11 is the last version of Internet Explorer, and will continue to receive security updates, compatibility fixes, and technical support on Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.
  • Microsoft will not create new security patches for the older versions, leaving anyone who doesn’t upgrade vulnerable to new hacks or attacks.

Source/s: Wired, Microsoft

Risk Is Everything

As with the Nike campaign above and the following words of Petra Moser, assistant professor of economics at Stanford and its Europe Center, is risk, or that fearless culture, the key ingredient that drives US tech giants?

Mosler compares Europe and the US:

  • They’re trying to recreate Silicon Valley in places like Munich, so far with little success. The institutional and cultural differences are still too great.
  • In Europe, failure is regarded as a personal tragedy. Here it’s something of a badge of honor. An environment like that doesn’t encourage as much risk-taking and entrepreneurship.
  • If you don’t do well at age 18, you’re out. That cuts out a lot of people who could do better but never get the chance. The person who does best at a test of rote memorization at age 17 may not be innovative at 23. The American education system is much more forgiving. Students can catch up and go on to excel. European children may be better behaved, but American children may end up being more free to explore new things.
  • American companies allow their employees to leave and try something else. Then, if it works, great, the mother company acquires the start-up. If it doesn’t, they hire them back. It’s a great system. It allows people to experiment and try things. In Germany, you can’t do that. People would hold it against you. They’d see it as disloyal. It’s a very different ethic.
  • In Europe, stability is prized. Inequality is much less tolerated. There’s a culture of sharing. People aren’t so cutthroat. Money isn’t the only thing that matters. These may be good things.

Source: A Fearless Culture Fuels U.S. Tech Giants, New York Times

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly?

Last April 21, Google announced the implementation of its mobile-friendly update. The update:

  • Affects only search rankings on mobile devices,
  • Affects search results in all languages globally, and
  • Applies to individual pages, not entire websites.

How does that affect your website? Your website has to represent you well on mobile devices. Here are a couple of reasons you should care...

  • Today, about half of the adult population owns a smartphone; by 2020, 80% will, and
  • 89% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 88% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.

Test your website if it is mobile friendly through Google's Mobile Friendly Test.

In seconds, the test reveals if your website is awesome and mobile-friendly. It even gives a phone screen shot of how the Googlebot sees your website!

Google recognizes three different configurations for building mobile sites.

  • Responsive Web Design,
  • Dynamic Serving, and
  • Separate URLs.

Responsive web design is Google's recommended design configuration for building websites.

Source: The Economist, Google Think Insights, Google Developers

Google Adds Mobile Friendly to Search Today

Today, Google will add "mobile friendliness" to the 200 or so factors it uses to rank websites on its search results. The two important changes are as follows:

  • Google will be expanding the use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal which will have a significant impact on search results. Consequently, users will find it easier to get relevant, high quality search results that are optimized for their devices.
  • Google will begin to use information from indexed apps as a factor in ranking for signed-in users who have the app installed. As a result, we may now surface content from indexed apps more prominently in search.

Google will start to reward sites that provide a good mobile experience for users. As a result, websites that do not meet Google's criteria will tumble in its all-important rankings.

While the mobile-friendly change is important, the ranking update will not make a non-mobile-friendly page with high-quality content rank below lower-quality pages that are mobile-friendly.

Source: Google, New York Times, Econsultancy
Photo: © Angelo Narciso, Casablanca, Morocco

75% Of Tablet Owners Surf The Web

According to Experian Marketing Services, three quarters of tablet owners surf the web in a typical week.

Visit Websites 74.5%
Email 63.3%
Social Network / Blog 50.2%
Download App 46.5%
Play Games 46.1%
Watch/Download/Stream Video 35.0%
Messaging 14.7%
GPS 13.7%
Camera 12.5%
I.M./Chat 11.3%

Source: Popular Demand, New York Times
Photo: © Angelo Narciso, Apple iPad Version 1.0

Planet of the Phones

  • Today, about half of the adult population owns a smartphone; by 2020, 80% will
  • The average American is buried in one for over two hours every day
  • Nearly 80% of smartphone-owners check messages, news or other services within 15 minutes of getting up
  • The boring old PC sitting on your desk know nothing about you. But phones travel around with you - they know where you are, what websites you visit, whom you talk to, even how healthy you are

Cisco Predictions of Mobile Data Traffic

  • By 2019, 69% of the world, or 5.2 billion people, are expected to be mobile users
  • 72% of mobile traffic will be video
  • 54% of mobile traffic will be from Wi-Fi and small cell networks, instead of conventional cellular systems
  • Cisco forecasts 24.3 exabytes as month on global cellular and 29 exabytes a month on Wi-Fi. One exabyte is a billion gigabytes
  • By 2018, the number of minutes of voice over WiFi systems could surpass LTE

Source: Quentin Hardy, New York Times

Our Mobile Planet: Canada

Google partnered with Ipsos OTX Media CT to understand smartphone usage in the Canada. We found that smartphones have become an indispensible part of daily life with a 56% household penetration and 79% of those users never leaving home without their device. These devices have also changed our buying behaviour with 77% of Canadian users having used their device to research a purchase and 1 in 2 users having done so after seeing a mobile ad.

  • Smartphone penetration has risen to 56% of the population and these smartphone owners are becoming increasingly reliant on their devices.
    • Businesses that make mobile a central part of their strategy will benefit from the opportunity to engage the new constantly connected consumer.
  • Smartphone users are multi-tasking their media with 80% using their phone while doing other things such as watching TV (47%).
    • Place of Use: 96% at home; 86% on the go; 86% in a store
    • Extending advertising strategies to include mobile and developing integrated cross-media campaigns can reach today’s consumers more effectively.
  • Appearing on smartphones is critical for local businesses. 89% of smartphone users look for local information on their phone and 88% take action as a result, such as making a purchase or contacting the business.
    • 55% search on their smartphones everyday
    • Smartphone owners search: 68% Product info; 59% Restaurants, Pubs & Bars; 44% Travel
    • 89% of smartphone users have looked for local information; 88% have taken action as a result
    • Ensuring that clickable phone numbers appear in local results and leveraging location based services on mobile make it easy for consumers to connect directly with businesses.
  • Smartphones are critical shopping tools with 77% of users having researched a product or service on their device. 27% of smartphone users have made a purchase on their phone.
    • Place of Search: 54% Home; 29% On the go; 29% In a store
    • Having a mobile-optimised site is critical and a cross-channel strategy is needed to engage consumers across the multiple paths to purchase.
  • Smartphones are also a critical component of traditional advertising as 51% have performed a search on their smartphone after seeing an offline ad.
    • Making mobile ads a part of an integrated marketing stately can drive greater consumer engagement

Source: Google

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StartCanada Business Development Corporation

Big dreams. Start here.

StartCanada is a Canadian company that designs, develops and manages elegant and effective websites for start-ups, professionals, non-profits and small businesses. StartCanada also provides social media marketing services for its clients.

Angelo Narciso leads StartCanada and is involved with business development, the design thinking process of web design / development, website management and social media marketing.