Microsoft’s SmartGlass – a second screen that interacts with Xbox 360 from your mobile devices — has now been ported to iOS and Android. The SmartGlass app for iOS acts as a supplement to your Xbox experience. In addition to allowing users to interact with various media and games, the app also tracks user achievements, connects to Xbox friends and lets users change their avatar.

The SmartGlass app is free with no in-app purchases. This is all part of Microsoft’s strategy to gain wider adoption across their entertainment and productivity offerings. Next up will be Office apps for iOS early in 2013.

I was wondering why it took them so long, but San Francisco’s cabbies are now shouting out against Uber, the upstart private taxi service, by claiming it’s engaging in “unfair competition”. TNW is reporting on a class-action complaint filed by SF cabbies claiming Uber is practicing “unfair business competition and for violating California Statutory and city regulatory mandates.” Uber, which is facing similar lawsuits wherever it rolls out service (esp. in New York and Chicago), responded with this statement, “Uber complies with all laws and regulations applicable to its business. Any claim to the contrary is baseless and motivated by those who seek to deprive the public of this safe and convenient transportation option. Uber would rather compete for business on the streets of San Francisco than in the courtroom, but Uber will defend these claims in court and is confident of the outcome.”

Uber is not having a hard time capturing funding, with over $50 million so far coming its way from Tech’s most prominent VCs. We’ll see how this plays out in the courts. Looks like Uber will need to stash some of that venture cash for lawyering up — fighting cabbies won’t be pretty.

Usually Mary Meeker only publishes her Internet Trends report once a year, but she had a mini-report for the end of 2012 that she gave on Monday. In that report there were a few insightful data points. The biggest one is the surge in market share for Android: it’s increasing adoption 5x faster than iPhone. I’ve often predicted that Android would take the global smartphone market share — but these numbers are huge. If this trend continues, it puts Apple in a precarious situation. Other data points of interest include the still huge numbers of feature phones: over 5 billion. The smartphone market is growing at 1 billion — but these numbers show that the world’s people still like having cheap phones for just calling and texting.

Meeker also noted that iPad adoption is increasing five times faster than iPhone adoption. There comes a time when iPhone saturation will occur — when most of those interested in having one, actually do. Smartphone makers may have to reconsider their “planned obsolescence” designs because consumers may lose interest in replacing their smartphones yearly.

Meeker also confirms the “post-PC” era statements we keep hearing by stating “that the global smartphone plus tablet install base will surpass the install base of the PC by the end of 2013.”

According to reports in today’s WSJ, social networks are beginning to show important return on investments. For example:

Hospital network Texas Health Resources has reduced the incidence of hospital-acquired urinary tract infections by 30% thanks to the use of collaboration software.

Tyco was able to win a huge contract thanks to information gleaned through its social network that had previously taken an employee six months to search for without any luck.

The Red Robin restaurant chain was able to share customer feedback on a new product vital to the success of its new strategy among managers and assistant managers at its 465 locations.

Companies continue to find creative and innovative ways to connect their employees and customers using social technology. The days of CEOs and CIOs being wary of social utilities in the workplace are quickly fading in light of metrics that show real business results.

Mobile payment systems are about to become real as companies introduce their offerings and technology to the world. Buying goods or services with your smartphone is almost second nature. We’re all getting used to searching and tapping or scanning to pay.

Scan and pay will be the paradigm shift that transforms mobile commerce. Combine scan and pay with intelligent apps and you have a powerhouse waiting to be unleashed: If you’re paying for something at the register with your smartphone, the retailer may offer you 25% off if you immediately sign up for their credit card, or offer you a heavily discounted scarf to go with your new fall coat. Impulsive shoppers better destroy their smartphones now and pull out the old flip-phone from 2001. The key to merchant success is instant analysis of what you’re buying so they can offer you a complementary or similar item to “buy now”.

Visa, PayPal, Square and Google have been tinkering in this space for quite some time and it looks like their offerings are about to show some fruition. Mobile transactions are already totaling $240 billion annually, but a recent study by Juniper Research reports that by 2015, the transaction totals may reach over $670 billion.

Smartphones, with their built-in carrier service and vast library of available apps, are perfect “wallets” — you always have it with you, and it can securely store your financial information. Some carriers in the US are beginning to test systems that will allow consumers with smartphones that have NFC (near field communication) chips to make purchases by touching the device to a merchant payment terminal. You may be wondering: what is NFC? NFC works like this:

  1. A simple connection between two devices is initiated with a physical touch
  2. There must be an “initiator” and a “target”. Your smartphone would be the initiator when making a purchase
  3. The initiator generates a radio frequency (RF) field with a range of about 4 centimeters
  4. The target picks up the RF field and receives the data completing the payment request

But your smartphone is not simply a payment mechanism. Remember the word “smart” connected to the word “phone”. Retailers will be able to offer you loyalty points, coupons, and redeemable items via your smartphone directly before or after your purchase. Starbucks is already doing this with their updated app: buying a latte earns you points that add up to free items.

As is typical in the tech industry, the different players are fighting it out for dominance. Verizon Wireless won’t allow Google’s Wallet on any of their devices, and AT&T was disabling NFC on phones to stop them from using Google Wallet. T-Mobile is piloting its own Isis payment system in Salt Lake City and Austin.

The tech wars will ultimately provide a winner — more than likely multiple systems for quite awhile. Once there is convergence, however, you’ll be the actual winner — and from then on you can leave your over-stuffed wallet with all that old-school paper money at home.