MediaFile

Tech wrap: Android continues world conquest

Google’s Android platform has taken almost 50 percent of the global smartphone market, dominating in the Asia-Pacific region, research firm Canalys said. It was the number one platform in 35 of the 56 countries Canalys tracks, resulting in a market share of 48 percent, the research firm said. By comparison, Apple, which shipped 20.3 million iPhones, is a distant second with a market share of 19 percent but it overtook ailing handset maker Nokia as the world’s largest individual smartphone vendor.

Apple’s next generation iPhone will be unveiled in October, not September, according to a source, writes John Paczkowski at All Things Digital. Other sources said it will be later in the month, rather than earlier, Paczkowski added.

Samsung has agreed to halt sales of the newest version of its Galaxy tablet in Australia until a patent lawsuit brought by Apple in the country is resolved, Bloomberg reported. Samsung will also provide Apple three samples of a new Australian version of Galaxy at least seven days before it plans to start distributing it so the U.S. company can review it, Bloomberg said, citing Australian court documents.

A British teenager charged with hacking offenses and believed to be a leading member of the Anonymous and LulzSec online activist groups was released on bail in a London court on Monday on condition he did not use the Internet. Jake Davis, 18, who goes by the online nickname of “Topiary,” was charged with computer attacks on Sony, UK crime and health authorities and Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm News International. Davis, who has no previous criminal convictions, is due to appear for his first trial hearing on August 30 in London.

Google bought The Dealmap, expanding further into a potentially lucrative daily deals market now dominated by the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial. Terms of the acquisition weren’t disclosed. The daily deals sector has exploded in recent years. There are more than 400 providers now and the industry may generate as much as $6.1 billion in annual gross revenue by 2015, according to BIA/Kelsey, which tracks local advertising.

In a twist, Zynga brings mobile game to Facebook

On Monday, Zynga said it would be bringing its most popular mobile game, “Words with Friends,” to Facebook. The social games maker said the game would be coming soon.

Players on Apple- or Android-powered devices will be able to carry over games from their phones or tablets onto Facebook. Zynga, in an attempt at bathroom humor, said this would allow “a seamless transition from your work computer to the bathroom… don’t lie, you know you do it.”

While it’s no surprise that Zynga would want to tap Facebook to attract more users to “Words with Friends” — a game you have to play with at least one other person — it’s a curious move for a company whose biggest IPO risk is its dependence on Facebook. Future investors are more likely to welcome an announcement in which Zynga distances itself from Facebook, like the recent one about Zynga entering mainland China through its partner Tencent.

Apple’s store of the future, just across the street from Store No. 1

By Mary Slosson

To the legions of Apple fans, any new store from the consumer electronics giant is cause for celebration. But the company’s latest, in Glendale California, is special for two reasons: it’s being touted as Apple Store 2.0, a model for others to come … and it happens to be just across the street from the very first outlet to carry the corporate logo.

Already inviting comparisons to Starbucks — notorious for opening outlets within a stone’s throw of each other — the latest addition the now-331-strong network drew hundreds of devotees to the Americana at Brand mall just north of downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. 

Apple obliged with a DJ, dancing, and free gifts to the first 1,000 visitors (a t-shirt specific to the new mall location).

A Chinese consumer’s unfortunate encounter with a fake Apple store

On a recent reporting trip to the Chinese city of Kunming to scout out fake Apple stores, I met Wang, a 23-year-old woman who was furious at one particular retailer. As I interviewed her, Wang was nearly in tears as she recounted how she had spent a few months salary at a fake Apple store buying products she now doubts are real.

Wang’s experience is part of a bigger problem foreign brands face in the city, which are racing to reach the millions of potential customers in China’s burgeoning middle class.

On my visit to Kunming, I saw Nike and Adidas stores everywhere and it was hard to determine which stores were legitimate. On one particular road, there are two Nike stores that stood almost directly opposite each other. Both stores, incidentally, displayed the big trademarked “Swoosh.” I doubt that Nike would allow their resellers to be located so closely together for fear of market cannibalization. But, of course, these stories might not have been real Nike resellers.

Tech wrap: Apple ousts Nokia as top smartphone vendor

Apple jumped to the top of the global smartphone sales rankings in the second quarter, ending Nokia’s 15-year run as the lead smartphone vendor, according to new research from Strategy Analytics. Apple sold a record 20.3 million iPhones during the quarter, which amounts to about a fifth of the global smartphone market. Impressive considering its iPhone 4 model was released more than a year ago. Samsung also surpassed Nokia to claim second spot, with 17.5 percent of market share. Nokia fell to third place as its market share tumbled to 15.2 from 38.1 percent a year ago.

As if Apple’s new royalty status isn’t enough, the gadget maker can also lay claim to being the most profitable in the smartphone business. According to a chart on Business Insider, Apple pulled in two-thirds of all profits in the mobile phone sector last quarter. That’s twice as much as Samsung, RIM and HTC combined.

Did Yahoo get a raw deal when it signed a pact with Alibaba and SofBank to resovle a dispute over online payment service Alipay? That’s the case being made by some analysts. The trio announced it had struck an agreement after months of wrangling over the lucrative asset, under which Alibaba gets up to $6 billion if the mobile payments firm goes public or gets sold. But investors are bothered by the deal, saying it reaffirms perceptions on Wall Street that Yahoo has little say in Alibaba, the e-commerce company founded by Jack Ma and which is 43 percent-owned by Yahoo.

Tech wrap: Now in your Twitter stream – ads

Your Twitter stream could be about to get even more cluttered. Twitter announced in a blog post on Thursday that it will now be placing ads from certain brands and companies directly into the message timelines of users who follow those organizations on the microblogging service. The company said it is testing out the new program with a select group of partners – including Dell, Starbucks and HBO among others – for a few weeks before rolling it out to a wider stable of clients. The new initiative is an expansion of the company’s so-called “Promoted Tweets” program, in which ads show up in search results on the Twitter.com website.

What does the new program mean for users? AllThingsD’s Peter Kafka has this take: “”Depends. Marketers will only be able to deliver the ads — which will use the “Promoted Tweet” format the company rolled out more than a year ago — to users who already follow them on the service. And they’ll only appear on Twitter’s main Twitter.com site. So, if you don’t follow any brands/marketers/companies on Twitter, you won’t see the ads. And if you’re checking Twitter on your iPhone, or via clients like TweetDeck, you won’t see them there, either.”

EA received a thumbs up from antitrust regulators for its deal to buy social gaming startup PopCap Games. EA struck the deal, which is estimated to be worth up to $1.3 billion, to step up its competition with Zynga, the social gaming company behind Facebook games such as FarmVille and Mafia Wars.

Tech wrap: Hackers target PayPal, again

PayPal is once again caught in the crosshairs of prominent hacker collectives Anonymous and LulzSec. The two groups released a joint statement on document-sharing website Pastebin on Wednesday urging their supporters who use the eBay-owned online payment service to close down their accounts in protest at the site’s continued refusal to process donations to whistleblower site WikiLeaks.

The message also criticized PayPal for helping police track down hackers suspected of taking part in an earlier attack on the company’s website in December that was allegedly coordinated by Anonymous. A spokesman for PayPal told Reuters that the company had observed no changes in “normal operations,” including the number of accounts that had been closed overnight.

Separately, a British teenager was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of being a leader of the LulzSec collective, which has boasted of breaking into the networks of the CIA, Sony and many other private and public bodies. The teenager is thought to be a spokesman for both LulzSec and Anonymous and uses the hacker nickname “Topiary,” London’s Metropolitan Police Service said in a statement.

A new-found app-etite for the web

A funny thing happened on the way to the Apple Store … Apps were supposed to be the salvation for publishers when the iPad morphed from unicorn status to the real thing last April. Plenty of publishers — newspapers, magazines and books — have built apps. Apple’s newest rules on subscriptions are placating many more.

But there is already a bit of a backlash, and a new awareness that the world wide (open) web may compare favorably to the walled gardens available on the iPad and other tablets.

Why are publishers already starting to re-think the future of media again? For one thing, there is that kickback to Apple —30% off the top — for selling through the iTunes store. Then there are those rules that seem to favor the functionality of Apple apps, like in-app purchasing. And, most ironically, there is the “Aha!” moment that the iPad itself has provided by highlighting what the optimized, mobile web can really be like.

The Financial Times blazed the back-to-the-web movement, abandoning the iTunes store in lieu of an HTML5 site that is still behind their paywall. Apple primed the pump by forbidding in-app sales. Amazon, Kobo and Barnes & Noble moved their stores from their iOS apps to the web.

Tech wrap: Fake Apple Store defiant

Customers at an apparent Apple Store in the Chinese city of Kunming berated staff and demanded refunds after the shop was revealed to be an elaborate fake, sparking a media and Internet frenzy. Staff were also angry at the unwanted attention after more than 1,000 media outlets picked up the story and pictures of the store from the BirdAbroad blog. Apple declined to comment on the fake store or others like it dotted around China.

Apple was in early talks to join the bidding for Hulu, the online video site that Walt Disney Co, News Corp and its other owners have put up for sale, Bloomberg cited two unidentified sources as saying.

Verizon Wireless signed up 1.3 million fewer iPhone customers than AT&T and Verizon Wireless customers spent less per month than expected in the second quarter, disappointing Wall Street. While Verizon Wireless added three times more net subscribers in the quarter than AT&T, it only activated 2.3 million Apple iPhones compared with 3.6 million activations at AT&T.

Tech wrap: Microsoft’s Office shines, Windows lacks luster

Microsoft reported a greater-than-expected 30 percent increase in fiscal fourth-quarter profit, helped by sales of its Office software, but profit from its core Windows product fell on soft PC sales. Microsoft posted net profit of $5.87 billion, or 69 cents per share, compared with $4.52 billion, or 51 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. That easily beat Wall Street’s average estimate of 58 cents, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

“These are great results given a slower PC environment and it highlights how the company has multiple revenue streams. The $17 billion unearned revenue, which is a forward indicator of business, shows they signed a lot of deals this quarter,” said BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis.

AT&T posted better-than-expected subscriber growth for the second quarter, pushing its profits and sales past Wall Street estimates despite the loss of exclusive U.S. rights to sell the Apple iPhone.