Links: tablet woes, Samsung <3 BlackBerry, YouTube's advantage, US gov's iOS Masque warning, and more


The HTC-made Nexus 9 tablet: could be in for an interesting time this Christmas

A selection of 8 links (and one picture explanation) for you. Do not use in unventilated space. I’m @charlesarthur on Twitter. Send links, thoughts, etc.

BlackBerry and Samsung team up to beef up security on Samsung devices >> CNET

At an enterprise event in San Francisco on Thursday, Samsung and BlackBerry announced a partnership that couples Samsung’s Knox platform with BlackBerry’s enterprise know-how. It’s all built on BlackBerry’s upcoming BlackBerry Enterprise Services 12 platform, and aims to bolster Android security by leveraging BlackBerry’s end-to-end encryption expertise.

This seems like a strange move for BlackBerry, as executives were keen to point out: BlackBerry CEO John Chen went so far as to joke that he was torn on whether or not to wish Samsung well in the future. But the partnership makes a lot of sense: while BlackBerry’s smartphone market share has declined, the company’s reputation as an enterprise-and-security powerhouse remains strong.

Very strange – though fits into Chen’s strategy of making money from software. But selling off your USP, as this seems to be?


You can make a living from a thousand true fans — Ben Thompson is proof >> Gigaom

Mathew Ingram:

Those 1,000-plus members are paying $10 a month or $100 a year for access to what Thompson calls the Daily Update, which is a collection of several posts with his take on or analysis of topical events — such as singer Taylor Swift removing her songs from Spotify and the implications for the music industry, or the future of the Uber car service. Members can access the content online, or via email, or through a private RSS feed.

So Thompson will soon be bringing in over $100,000 from membership-based subscriptions, and has managed to get recommendations from fans like Gruber and Box CEO Aaron Levie along the way.

Well now. Ben’s extremely smart (and a friend). The former is why his subscribers stay with him. This does call into question the limits for larger publishing systems: how big do they have to be, if one can piggyback on them so effectively?


10 thoughts on YouTube Music Key >> Music Industry Blog

Mark Mulligan:

Google just announced its long anticipated YouTube Music Key. You can find out all you need to know about its potential impact on the wider market in MIDiA’s report ‘Unlocking YouTube: How YouTube Will Change Music Subscriptions’. Here are 10 further thoughts..

Ah, but you’ll have to read them. (Basically: a game-changer, but not without problems, though certainly a dramatic rival to Spotify.


Google to retire Wallet for digital purchases API, affecting third-party merchants >> Android Central

Google quietly announced today that it would shut down Google Wallet API for third-party digital goods purchases on March 2, 2015, citing a changing landscape in digital payments. Wallet will continue to function, however, for Google Play purchases. While the service for digital purchases made over the web for third-party merchants will shut down, Google Wallet will still exist and consumers will be able to make purchases for goods in physical retail stores using NFC for payments.

In a note to Internet merchants, Google stated that Google Wallet will continue to work for Google Play after the shut off date, but not for other web-based transactions.

Odd, just as Apple is expanding Apple Pay into web payments. What’s Google going to replace this with? (Especially as the number of in-store Google Wallet purchases is, well, small.)


US government warns on bug in Apple’s iOS software >> Reuters

The US government warned iPhone and iPad users on Thursday to be on the alert for hackers who may exploit a vulnerability in Apple Inc’s iOS operating system that would enable them to steal sensitive data.

There was the potential for hacks using a newly identified technique known as the “Masque Attack,” the government said in an online bulletin from the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center and the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Teams…

…Such attacks could be avoided if iPad and iPhone users only installed apps from Apple’s App Store or from their own organizations, it said.

So, basically, don’t do what you weren’t already doing. But this attack is surely going to be used via social engineering quite soon – links that appear to be from within an enterprise, etc.


‘Masque attack’: Don’t panic but do pay attention >> iMore

Nick Arnott:

Apple has a lot of safeguards built into iOS. A Masque attack tries to get you to circumvent those safeguards and install malicious apps anyway. In order to make a Masque attack work, an attacker has to:

• Have an iOS Developer Enterprise Program account or the universal device identifier (UDID) for the device they want to target.
• Make a malicious app that looks like a popular, existing app. (A fake Gmail app that simply loads the Gmail website in FireEye’s example.)
• Get you to download their fake app from outside the App Store. (For example, by sending you an email with a link in it.)
• Get you to agree to the iOS popup that warns you the app you’re trying to install is from an untrusted source.

Getting a device’s UDID is non-trivial and this approach would limit how many devices could be targeted. For this reason, attackers try to get iOS Developer Enterprise Program accounts instead.


Outlook grim for US consumer tablet market as holidays draw near >> LA Times

The US tablet market posted an 8% decline in revenue during the back-to-school season, leaving the once-thriving product category in a tough spot as the holidays draw near. 

The number of tablets sold during that period rose 3.5% compared to last year, suggesting shoppers were more interested in cheaper tablets, according to market research company The NPD Group.  

The bad news has continued into the fall. Over the last eight weeks, tablet unit sales declined 16% and revenue dropped 18%.

Tablet unit sales declined across operating systems – both Android and iOS unit sales sank 16%. While Windows’ unit sales dropped 23%, revenue increased 11% compared to this period in 2013, due to the success of the $799 Surface Pro 3, one of the most expensive tablets on the market. 

“The slowdown has been pervasive, and even the launch of the new iPads at the end of this period has not served to reignite sales growth,” said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at The NPD Group. “With the holidays fast approaching, the potential for a positive tablet sales season appears grim.”

Android tablet sales took the hardest hit during the last eight weeks as the market for small-screen products waned. Android’s 7in tablet saw unit sales decline 40%. The figures reflect what analysts have expected as the number of large smartphones, such as the iPhone 6 Plus, increases.

iPad sales in total (worldwide) fell 13%, and revenue by 15% (ie, the average selling price declined slightly). The drop in Windows tablet sales won’t please those who reckon the Surface Pro 3 is setting the world alight; the problem is that last year, tehre was a fire sale on Surface RTs.


Xiaomi: just a hardware company? >> Tech.pinions

Ben Bajarin:

Ultimately however, I believe Xiaomi is still laying the critical groundwork to be the internet services company they desire to be. Being in the hardware business alone is not a sustainable business for many global OEMs. I have spoken with several high-up execs at Xiaomi and was told that, as of late 2014, they are generating around $21m in revenue from their app stores (game app store, mobile app store, and books app store). Which means it is likely 2014 profits should have quite a bit more balance between hardware and services. Xiaomi is on pace to again increase handset shipments ~200% — yet the WSJ report only estimated a 75% increase in profits this year. The curious variable of why profits are not more closely matching explosive YoY handset shipments is a concerning element of the overall Xiaomi story.

Xiaomi is definitely the most intriguing of the Chinese companies because it manages its supply chain so differently. But on the services side, if it installs Google Play outside China, how does it preserve the profit margin extra that services yield?


Thanks to Duncan Sinclair who pointed out that the artist of yesterday’s picture is Karl Jilg, commissioned by Vägverket.

Here it is again…

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