MediaFile

Tech wrap: Android takes over

A T-Mobile G1 Google phone running Android is shown photographed in Encinitas, California January 20, 2010. REUTERS/Mike BlakeGrowing demand for phones running on Google’s Android platform will help the smartphone market grow in 2011, boosting companies like HTC and Samsung who are betting on the platform, analysts said.

The smartphone market will grow 58 percent this year and 35 percent the next, research firm Gartner said. Android, a distant No. 2 to Nokia’s Symbian platform just last year, will increase its market share to 39 percent in 2011, while Symbian’s share will roughly halve to 19 percent following Nokia’s decision to dump the platform. Apple’s iPhone platform will be slightly bigger than Symbian this year, while Research In Motion will control 13 percent of the market and Microsoft Windows Phone 6 percent.

Sales of cameraphones will grow to more than 1 billion handsets this year, helped by fast growth at the high end of the market, Strategy Analytics said.

Moody’s cut its credit rating on Nokia, citing the Finnish company’s weakening market position and uncertainty over its transition to Microsoft’s Windows Phone software. HTC overtook Nokia in market capitalization for the first time on Thursday. Nokia still has higher volumes, selling 19 phones for each HTC phone sold last year. But its average sale price was just $85 compared with HTC’s $360, according to Strategy Analytics.

The FCC adopted data roaming rules that would allow smartphones to access the Internet in areas across the country not covered by their wireless carrier, forcing carriers like AT&T and Verizon Wireless to offer “reasonable” roaming rates. Under the rules, wireless carriers would be free to negotiate the terms of the agreements, and could institute safeguards to prevent congestion or harm to their networks from roaming traffic.

Tech wrap: YouTube changing the channel?

A man looks at a YouTube page in a file photo. REUTERS/Peter JonesYouTube is working on a major site overhaul to organize its content around “channels” as it positions itself for the rise of Internet-connected TVs that allow people to watch online video in their living rooms, writes the WSJ’s Jessica Vascellaro and Amir Efrati. Changes to the homepage will highlight sets of channels around topics such as arts and sports and approximately 20 “premium channels” will feature 5 to 10 hours of professionally-produced original programming a week, according to a Vascellaro/Efrati source.

Dish Network won Blockbuster in a bankruptcy auction for $320 million, further broadening its business beyond satellite TV and setting up a possible showdown with Netflix. The deal covers “substantially all” of the rental chain’s business, and likely gives Dish the rights Blockbuster had to stream movies over the Internet, the Blockbuster brand name and customer lists.

A Deutsche Bank estimate that 100,000 Motorola XOOM units were sold over its first two months means the tablet was a flop, writes Business Insider’s Jay Yarow. For comparison, Apple sold 300,000 iPads on the first week weekend it was available. BetaNews’s Joe Wilcox calls the XOOM a surprising success, noting that the tablet came to market with “huge handicaps, all of which make comparisons to iPad 2 unrealistic”. Wilcox says higher pricing has been the main deterrent to buying a XOOM.

Data breach is the Exxon Valdez of privacy

Crews clean up the oil soaked beach on Naked Island in the Prince William Sound, on April 2, 1989, after the oil spill caused by the Exxon tanker Valdez.   REUTERS/Mike Blake- Michael Fertik is the founder and CEO of Reputation.com, an online privacy and reputation management company. He is a member of the World Economic Forum Agenda Council on Internet Security and recipient of the WEF Technology Pioneer 2011 Award. The opinions expressed are his own. -

Last week’s Epsilon data breach is the Exxon Valdez of privacy. It is a wake-up call that it is time to reform our privacy infrastructure from the ground up, much as the Exxon Valdez oil spill of 1989 should have served as the wake-up call to reform our energy delivery infrastructure to prevent disasters like last year’s BP Deepwater Horizon spill.

On Friday, the email marketing firm Epsilon revealed that tens of millions of private names and email addresses were stolen, putting millions of people at risk of fraud. Intruders were able to harvest names and email addresses that belong to customers of companies like Best Buy, Capital One, and J.P. Morgan. Banks and retailers gave this data to Epsilon to run email marketing campaigns. In turn, someone penetrated Epsilon’s security, and was able to download millions of names and addresses, which presumably are being sold on the black market at this very moment.

How video games have shifted the culture

By Harold Goldberg
The opinions expressed are his own.

Angry birdYou may not have deigned to touch a videogame since Pong and Space Invaders. But the culture, technology and business of games have filtered down into your living room, your mobile phones and your very lives.

Today, Angry Birds is being played in the home and on the commute to work, so much that there’s now an app that claims to help you stave off your addiction. There’s an undeniable, adorable cartoon cuteness to Angry Birds. You just can’t quit it. More, it’s a salient example of the grail for all game designers: Make a game that’s simple to play but difficult to master and there’s gold at the end of the rainbow. Such was Atari founder Nolan Bushnell’s golden rule when he mass-produced Pong at Atari in the 1970s. And it’s still true today.

But indulging in a popular game like Angry Birds, Red Dead Redemption or Super Mario Galaxy 2 means more than play. Selling these games is really about trickle-down technology and pop culture that has roots in the century-old Thorstein Veblen theory of conspicuous consumption. You’ll hear, “You haven’t played Angry Birds? Well, you should. Everyone else is.”

Tech wrap: Cisco ripe for activist assault?

John Chambers, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cisco, participates in a panel discussion titled ''Enhancing Access to Modern Technology,'' at the Clinton Global Initiative, in New York, September 23, 2010. Reuters/Chip EastIn a remarkably candid memo to employees, Cisco chief John Chambers admitted that the networking giant had been slow to make decisions, fallen down on execution, lacked discipline in an aggressive expansion and will need to change to restore its credibility. He warned staff to prepare for a number of unspecified changes in the next few weeks and coming fiscal year, starting in August.

Cisco’s poor performance, valuable assets, cash pile and years of capital misallocation provide the kindling to spark long-suffering shareholders into an uprising, writes Rob Cox.

Tens of millions of customers and employees of banks Citigroup and Capital One, retailers Walgreens, Best Buy and Target, and hotel chains Hilton and Marriott are at risk of “spear-phishing” attacks if they respond to camouflaged emails seeking their credit card numbers or other information, after hackers stole their email addresses in what may become one of the biggest data breaches ever, security experts warned. Using emails that appear to come from a trustworthy source to steal data — is sometimes known “spear-phishing” because such emails are more focused than traditional “phishing” emails.

Tech wrap: A page from Larry’s book

Google co-founder Larry Page is seen at the Sun Valley Inn in Sun Valley, Idaho in this July 8, 2010 file photograph. Reuters/Mario Anzuoni/FilesGoogle’s Larry Page took the reins after a decade of “adult supervision” for Google under Eric Schmidt, as the outgoing CEO called it. The switch comes as mobile gadgets are redefining the way people use the Internet and Google’s main ad business is under threat from fast-growing upstarts such as Facebook and Groupon. Page has yet to make his battle plan public, but industry insiders and analysts expect he will try to shore up Google’s strength in search and mobile while breaking into a red-hot social networking market that has eluded his company.

Google bid $900 million in a “stalking horse” auction for the acquisition of bankrupt Nortel Network’s patent portfolio, in an effort to fight a growing wireless patent war against well-armed mobile superpowers. The company has pushed its Android mobile phone software to the top of the wireless heap, attracting litigation in the process.

Hackers fully cracked Apple’s latest iPhone OS update, according to Redmond Pie. The iOS 4.3.1 jailbreak supports all iOS devices except the iPad 2. Jailbreaking allows users to run apps unsanctioned by Apple and tweak their iPhones, but voids the devices’ warranty.

Tech wrap: Print publisher bets the ranch on apps

Nicholas Callaway, (R) founder of Callaway Digital Arts poses with members of his staff as they hold Apple Ipads displaying Ipad apps that they helped created and publish at the company's headquarters in lower Manhattan during an interview with Reuters in New York, in this picture taken March 7, 2011.Successful childrens’ books publisher Nicholas Callaway believes paper is dead and that digital has come of age, writes Mark Egan. But Callaway isn’t worried that big publishing houses will eat his lunch. “They don’t understand the new medium, they don’t have the rights, they don’t know how to create the product and they don’t know how to get it out to the world,” Callaway told Egan. January e-book sales more than doubled from the same month a year earlier, rising 116 percent to $69.9 million, according to the Association of American Publishers. That topped sales of hardcover books, which fell 11 percent from January 2010 to $49.1 million.

Google will probably have to make some changes to how it does business as a result of antitrust scrutiny, in return for the ability to protect what it regards as its necessary freedom to innovate, writes Steve Lohr of The New York Times.

With all of the buzz around Google and privacy, is it any surprise that the company’s efforts to develop a mobile app that will identify people’s faces in order to access their personal information have stalled?  Experts say the novelty of a face recognition app may help attract early adopters. But policies would need to be uncomplicated and straightforward to keep users from abandoning it over privacy concerns, writes CNN’s Mark Milian.

Tech wrap: Microsoft cries foul

Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer addresses a news conference in the northern German town of Hanover March 3, 2008. REUTERS/Christian CharisiusThe hunted became the hunter when Microsoft filed its first-ever complaint to antitrust regulators, claiming that Google thwarts Internet search competition. Thomas Vinje, who led a coalition that won EU fines against Microsoft said the software maker “has learned from its own unpleasant experiences how to cause maximum disruption for its competitors via competition law”. Google controls over 90 percent of the Internet search advertising market in Europe, well ahead of Microsoft’s Bing. And browsers such as Firefox and Google’s Chrome have eaten away at the market lead by Microsoft’s Internet Explorer.

Google is tightening control over its “open” Android operating system to reduce fragmentation and restrict additional partnerships that it doesn’t understand, Bloomberg’s Ashlee Vance and Peter Burrows writes. Google says its procedures are about quality control, early bug fixes, and building toward a “common denominator” experience, Vance and Burows add.

Small-budget film producers have nearly perfected a slick, courtroom-based business strategy that’s targeted suspected movie downloaders, writes Wired’s David Kravets. One lawsuit alleged 5,865 illegal downloads of the film Nude Nuns With Big Guns, asking a federal judge to order ISPs to dig into customers’ records for names. It was the first step in a process that could lead to each defendant receiving a letter suggesting they settle the case, lest they wind up named in a public lawsuit having downloaded Nude Nuns With Big Guns, Kravets adds. 

Tech wrap: Google +1 = happier advertisers

An image detailing Google's new "+1" feature as screen grabbed from www.google.com/experimental.  REUTERS/Google/HandoutGoogle launched “+1″, its version of Facebook’s “like” button, enabling you to publicly share search results that you fancy with friends, the Web and advertisers. Google found that including +1 recommendations on ads boosted the rates at which people click on them. Eventually, Google plans to let third-party websites feature +1 buttons directly on their own pages, the company said. The ability to +1 ads and for that endorsment to appear on ads on websites other than Google’s is key, writes TechCrunch’s MG Siegler, and another volley fired in the war between Google and Facebook.

Google agreed to have independent privacy audits every two years for the next 20 years as part of a settlement with FTC officials investigating privacy problems that cropped up in its botched roll-out of social network Buzz. Buzz initially used its Gmail customers’ email contact lists to create social networks of Buzz contacts that the rest of the world could see, which led to an uproar.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson disputed the commonly held belief that consumer bills would rise if there were fewer competitors in the U.S. wireless market, referring to a government report that showed prices on average fell 50 percent over the last decade despite five wireless mergers over the period.

Tech wrap: Amazon’s storm cloud

People sit in Washington Square Park at New York University in New York, October 21, 2009.Amazon.com faced a backlash from the music industry after it introduced Cloud Drive, an online “music locker” that lets customers store music files on the company’s Web servers instead of their own hard drives and play them over an Internet connection directly from browsers and on phones running Google’s Android OS. Sony Music was upset by Amazon’s decision to launch the service without new licenses for music streaming.

Amazon’s Cloud Drive “is an amazing value and pretty easy to use”, but won’t kill rival Dropbox just yet, Business Insider’s Steve Kooch wrote. The Wall Street Journal’s Peter Kafka thinks Amazon’s cloud move isn’t earth shattering and “if you’re a music lover looking for a paradigm shift in the way you consume tunes, this won’t be it”.

Mozilla released its Firefox 4 Internet browser for Android phones, which allows desktop users to synchronize their history, bookmarks, tabs and passwords, according to Mozilla.