Services from specialists and hospitals outside our health plan's network were covered too, albeit at higher out-of-pocket costs, but those costs were still manageable for our employee and insignificant when measured against a child's life. Armstrong cited these costs, along with generally rising medical expenses and cost increases specifically associated with the Affordable Care Act, for his decision to defer and reduce AOL's matching contributions to employee 401(k) retirement accounts.
In short order, Armstrong not only apologized, but reversed his decision to cut the 401(k) benefit. My share, at that time, was the full cost of a single employee's coverage. This kept my health insurance spending consistent between employees who had families and those who did not or whose families were covered elsewhere. AOL has around 5,000 employees today.
Why did two AOL employees' family health crises affect their company's cash flow, while my worker's did not affect mine? It collected "premiums" from employees for their share of health care coverage, and it hired an insurance company to administer benefits, but the actual cost of medical care remained with AOL. My employee freely shared information about his son's progress. "I take issue with how [Armstrong] reduced my daughter to a 'distressed baby' who cost the company too much money," Fei wrote. "How he blamed the saving of her life for his decision to scale back employee benefits. I think Armstrong is as pleased as I was that his company's benefits could make such a difference.
Every employee benefits specialist and corporate human resources manager knows this. As health insurance costs keep rising, companies often maximize worker satisfaction by maintaining those benefits or by paying cash, rather than by tilting toward retirement benefits. It will come from elsewhere in AOL's compensation budget, via lower wages, reduced benefits or smaller employee head count. As for me, I stopped paying for employee health insurance several years ago. A wide array of factors contributed to the global growth of the mobile applications (apps) adoption in 2011. Among them are advancement of network technologies, reduction of mobile data usage costs, increased usage of smartphones, restructuring of the revenue-sharing patterns and a significantly increased full or partial subsidy of apps via mobile advertising options.
According to the Mobile Stats and Facts 2011, of the world's 4 billion mobile phones in use, around 1.1 billion were smartphones. In Q1 2011 the global mobile phone market ballooned with a 19.8% growth rate year-over-year due to a significant rise of smartphone shipments. Apple maintained its spot #4 on IDC's List of Top 5 Mobile Vendors.
Symbian is being currently transformed into a "franchise platform", while "MeeGo will place increased emphasis on longer-term market exploration of next-generation devices," according to the company statement. Regarding the overall mobile usage patterns of 2011, 61% of people reported using their mobile devices to play games, 50% - to do a web search, 49% - to access social media, 36% - to read news and 33% - for general entertainment purposes. In 2011, over one third of the Facebook's 600 million user base used Facebook mobile apps, 50% of the Twitter's 165 million user base used Twitter Mobile and over 200 million YouTube views occurred on mobile devices every day. Overall, 30% of all smartphone owners accessed their social media accounts via mobile browsers in 2011.
In 2011, many large brands started blending mobile technologies with their business goals in order to increase their presence in at least one of the top app stores. This has opened up new horizons for already booming mobile apps markets and creating new venues for the further market development. Last year, the Apple App Store remained the overall leader and the "store of choice" for both brands and users. The world mobile app market was estimated at $6.8 billion in 2011, according to Markets & Markets, a US-based research firm. According to iSuppli, an IHS-owned market research firm, the collective revenues from Apple, Google, Nokia and Blackberry app stores grew around 78% in 2011 from 2009 and are anticipated to reach $8.3 billion in 2014.
In 2011, Apple held the major mobile apps market share in terms of the revenue generated.
However, in terms of mobile app downloads, Android outpaced Apple, according to the data from ABI research.
Eight Trends That Ruled The Global Mobile Market In 2011
1. Near Field Communications (NFC) Technology
The Google NFC-enabled services allowed consumers with specially equipped phones running on Google's Android OS to pay for goods and redeem coupons with their handsets at NFC-equipped cash registers.
2. iPhone 4S
3. QR Codes
When a code image is captured by a mobile device or a tablet, the user gets immediate access to an abundance of brand's / product's information. 4. Increased mobile gaming
Google launched a similar music Cloud service allowing users to upload their music libraries and stream them from both mobile devices and PCs.
Additionally, in 2011 some providers of mobile solutions offered integrated mobile browsers to allow direct access to apps from the publisher's website and elimination of visiting app stores. 6. 4G Technologies
7. Augmented reality
8. Mobile advertising
The global mobile ads market generated around $3.3 billion in 2011, more than double the $1.6 billion generated in 2010.
Mobile Market Expectations For 2012
- Increased investments in NFC technology across handset makers and carriers
- Improved in-app billing security
- Apple iPad 3 and long-awaited iPhone 5 with enhanced functionalities accommodating the high-speed LTE network and NFC technology
- Extended mobile search to allow consumers to interact with results such as placing an order directly from the mobile phone, booking a ticket or making a hotel reservation
- More powerful mobile email solutions through a series of technology enhancements enabling low-cost mobile extensions to existing e-mail services (Gartner expects mobile e-mail users to account for 10.6% of the global mobile user base by 2014)
- More organizations developing a strategic approach towards their mobile service delivery and differentiation (smartphones vs tablets)
- Strategic partnerships between mobile carriers and popular video providers like YouTube or Vimeo to allow users to replicate their online behaviors on their mobile devices
For the reasons explained below, the potential negative impact on small business is probably greatly exaggerated.
We know that the lack of reasonably priced healthcare to individuals and the exorbitant cost of providing decent healthcare plans to their employees has hurt small businesses for years. Many would-be entrepreneurs have been tied to their existing job with a large company because they could not afford to lose the insurance benefits for themselves or their family members with expensive medical conditions. Small businesses should also be in a better position to provide insurance to their workers because under the community rating rules, insurance companies will no longer be allowed to discriminate against small businesses with less healthy workers by charging them more than larger companies or by raising their rates when one of their workers gets sick.
Today, small businesses pay on average eighteen percent more for the same healthcare coverage large businesses provide for their employees. The new law will give a tax credit of up to 35% of the premiums small businesses pay to cover their workers in the first year. The new law does not place additional insurance "requirements" on small businesses with fewer than fifty workers. But businesses with more than fifty employees will face a penalty if they do not provide insurance for their workers.
The three biggest barriers preventing a full-blown economic recovery are high unemployment, excess inventory, and people's negative perception of the real estate market, in general. From a real estate perspective, the more people that are unemployed or on limited work schedules (furloughs), the fewer people there are that can actually qualify for a home loan. Furthermore, 2011 will be the year of the short sale. On average, the bank will make 10-15% more by doing a short sale as opposed to foreclosing on a home. A short sale makes sense for a bank because the seller in a short sale works with their agent to find a buyer and all the bank needs to do is "push the button" and approve the deal. With a foreclosure, there are mounting holding costs, property taxes, eviction costs, repair costs and lawyer's fees that the bank is responsible for, and when compared side by side, the short sale is the win-win for the bank and borrower alike. People's perceptions were that prices were going to continuously go higher.