News Scan: Amazon to launch smartphone on June 18; GM develops mobile app that scans license plate; more

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>> Amazon to launch its long-awaited smartphone on June 18

Amazon is expected to launch its long-awaited smartphone at an event being held in Seattle on June 18, the Wall Street Journal reports. In a video inviting press and customers to the event, the company says it is unveiling a new device that many expect will be a smartphone. The Journal reported in April that the smartphone would have a screen that could track a user's eye movements and display images in 3D. Read more

[More on Amazon: Italy probes Apple, Google and Amazon over 'free' mobile games | Amazon phone coming this fall]

>> GM develops mobile app that scans license plate and sends driver text

General Motors in China has developed a mobile app that is able to scan a license plate and send the driver a text, according to a report by Computerworld. The prototype, called DiDi Plate, uses an Android phone's camera to scan the license plate and send the data to a cloud ID service. The person who scanned the plate can them text the driver, says John Du, director of GM's China research and development division. "Even if the other driver didn't register this app, you can still give them greetings and comments," Du said. Read more

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>> Wireless operators use MIMO Wi-Fi tech to offload mobile data crunch

Mobile data traffic is threatening to overwhelm cellular networks, prompting wireless carriers to offload traffic to Wi-Fi networks through the use of 802.11 2x2 Multiple-In Multiple-Out (MIMO) technology, according to IHS Technology. MIMO uses multiple antennas at the transmitter and receiver ends to improve range and performance between devices. "With shipments of its Galaxy S5 starting last month, Samsung became the first company to offer a smartphone that supports 802.11 2x2 MIMO. Other handset OEMs are expected to follow Samsung's lead, due to a growing need for better-performing Wi-Fi in smartphones, in order to supplement cellular networks," says Stephanie Gibbons, senior connectivity analyst for IHS. Read more

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>> CIBC is top Canadian bank when it comes to mobile banking, says Forrester

CIBC tops the list of Forrester Research's mobile banking benchmark report for Canada. Other top banks for mobility are BMO, Scotiabank, RBC Royal Bank and TD Canada Trust. Forrester judged the banks' mobile banking offerings based on 35 criteria, including range of touchpoints, enrollment and login, account and money management, transactional features, service features, cross-channel and marketing and sales. "All five banks reviewed in the benchmark are within 10 points of each other, and all earned a score of more than 50--meaning that they are meeting mobile bankers' basic needs and expectations," says Forrester senior analyst Peter Wannemacher. Read more

[More on mobile banking: Banks with many mobile apps should deploy banking app store, says Gartner | Ally Bank launches expanded banking apps]

>> NEC passes Huawei for second spot in microwave gear market

NEC passed Huawei for the second spot in the microwave equipment market, a market which Ericsson leads, according to first quarter data from Infonetics Research. Overall, the microwave gear market totaled $1 billion in the first quarter, down 17 percent sequentially and 7 percent year-over-year. "The proliferation of LTE-A upgrades and small cells deployments was not enough to stop the microwave equipment market from sliding downward in the first quarter of 2014, a casualty of continuing pricing pressures and inter-technology competition with wireline backhaul alternatives, particularly fiber-based solutions," says Richard Webb, directing analyst for mobile backhaul and small cells at Infonetics. Read more

[More on microwave gear: Huawei pushes past NEC for second place among microwave gear vendors | Huawei, Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent, NEC control 70 percent of microwave transmission market, says Dell'Oro]