Start here: Firefox dumps Google, 50m Lumias?, Galaxy Note v iPhone 6+ screens, Uber accounting, and more


Search no further for Yahoo if you use Firefox. Well, maybe.

A selection of 11 links for you. Ventilate room thoroughly.

New search strategy for Firefox: promoting choice & innovation >> The Mozilla Blog

Today we are announcing a change to our strategy for Firefox search partnerships.  We are ending our practice of having a single global default search provider. We are adopting a more local and flexible approach to increase choice and innovation on the Web, with new and expanded search partnerships by country:

• United States

Under a new five-year strategic partnership announced today, Yahoo Search will become the default search experience for Firefox in the U.S.
Starting in December, Firefox users will be introduced to a new enhanced Yahoo Search experience that features a clean, modern interface that brings the best of the Web front and center.

Wow. A few days ago I wrote “I’m certain that no matter what price Mozilla demands (it presently gets about 90% of its revenue from Google kickbacks on searches), Google will pay it. Why? Because the cost of losing 20% of the desktop to Microsoft search at once is far greater than the odd millions it shovels Mozilla’s way.” So, that’s me wrong.

It’s not clear yet whether Google dumped Firefox, or Yahoo outbid Google; the latter seems unlikely, unless Google substantially cut its offer from the previous $300m three-year deal. Last time, Microsoft pushed up the bidding up to try to get Bing there; Google outbid it. No doubt the details will emerge in the coming days, or hours. Also unclear: what the default search will be in European countries. (Russia: Yandex; China: Baidu.) Quite a coup for Marissa Mayer, though.

Firefox does have a problem, though: it’s nowhere in mobile, and that’s increasingly where the search volume is. Update: Mozilla tells me that Google will remain the default for now in Europe.

Reaction on Twitter is that people will just switch the default back to Google. There’s sure to be some sort of search volume target in Yahoo’s deal; if too few searches come to Yahoo, Mozilla will lose out financially.


Passenger stuck with $1,171 Wi-Fi bill on Singapore Airlines flight >> WSJ Digits blog

Jeremy Gutsche, chief executive of Toronto-based innovation consultancy Trend Hunter, says he unwittingly accrued the charges on a flight last week from London to Singapore.

Gutsche says he signed up for a 30 megabyte Internet plan, which cost $28.99, and was aware that he would be responsible for data beyond that limit. But he was stunned when he learned upon landing that viewing some 155 pages — mostly checking email and uploading a PowerPoint document — had resulted in $1,142 of overage fees, he said in a blog post and on Twitter.

PowerPoint considered… expensive. (It was about 4MB, Gutsche says.)


Display color accuracy shootout >> Displaymate

Ray Soniera:

Some manufacturers and models provide better color accuracy than others. We have taken the six best mobile displays from our Display Technology Shoot-Out article series over the last year and compared their color accuracies all together side-by-side with detailed and very revealing measurement results. Since we only test the best performing displays to begin with, they were already known to have fairly good color accuracy, so we’ll learn which are the Best of the Best, and the reasons why…
 
But why is color accuracy important? Poor to mediocre color accuracy has been the rule since the dawn of color TVs in the 1950s, and people are also accustomed to seeing mediocre color prints from their film and now digital cameras. But the technology is already available that makes it possible for today’s consumer displays to be as color accurate as the best studio production monitors that cost $50,000 ten years ago. And once you get used to beautiful accurate colors on a display you won’t want to go back…

TL:DR: Samsung’s Galaxy Note 4 comes out top, Surface Pro 3 next, iPhone 6 Plus and iPad Air 2 are good on skin tones but score badly on others. Not clear who makes Apple’s screens.


Samsung preps new mobile video service >> The Information

Jessica Lessin:

Samsung Electronics is rebooting its mobile video strategy in a test of whether short-form video content can drive mobile revenues just as games have.

The South Korean company has earmarked several tens of millions of dollars to invest in short-form video for a new mobile product, according to people Samsung talked to about the effort. Internally, the product had gone by the code name Volt but will launch under another one.

The initiative is being overseen by John Pleasants, a gaming veteran who managed Disney’s mobile services and gaming business before joining Samsung as executive vice president of media solutions in June. While the initial business model for the service, which could also include music, isn’t clear, over time the company is looking to create media services for which it could charge a few dollars a month, said one of the people briefed.

Possibly might work in South Korea; can’t see it getting any traction in the US or Europe. Nokia used to think it could charge people a few dollars a month for mapping services, which is why it bought Navteq for $8.1bn in 2007, two years after Google Maps launched and a year before Android did. Nice timing, Nokia. Similarly, “short-form video” is already plentiful – and free.


What Uber drivers really make (according to their pay stubs) >> Buzzfeed

Johana Bhuiyan:

So we calculated Khalid’s new average of net income per hour over the five weeks I had access to by distributing his two largest expenses of being an Uber driver (rent and insurance) of approximately $641.67 over hours worked per week and subtracted that hourly expense from the net income per hour based on his pay stubs. His original average hourly net income without expenses was $32.90. Accounting for two weeks where he was technically in debt and could not cover both his rent AND insurance because he did not make enough, Khalid’s new average including expenses was a net income of $10.36.
Even drivers who own their vehicles and don’t have to worry about rental payments still come up against concerns.

Telling that NY general manager Josh Mohrer, who offered reporters the chance to verify his claims that Uber drivers make an average of $25 per hour (before expenses) is being investigated by Uber for allegedly tracking Bhuiyan.

I deleted the Uber app months ago over its tactics against Lyft. It seems that every day brings another reason to make its icon do the bee dance on your phone screen before you zap it.


GT Advanced creditors chafe at settlement deal with Apple >> Re/code

Holders of GT Advanced’s notes, including Aristeia Capital and an affiliate of Wolverine Asset Management, said in court papers that the “extraordinary allegations against Apple … call into question the adequacy of the settlement agreement.”

The noteholders cited allegations that Apple breached its contract and acted unfairly as GT Advanced’s lender. The noteholders also said Apple’s claims on GT Advanced’s equipment may be unsecured. This would put Apple among the last creditors to be paid, not the first as Apple’s deal anticipates.

Apple has denied GT Advanced’s allegations. In court filings, Apple has called the accusations “scandalous and defamatory” and “intended to vilify Apple and portray Apple as a coercive bully.”

Likely to run and run. (Reminder: I wrote about the travails at GTAT last week.)


Apple plans to push Beats to every iPhone >> FT.com

Matthew Garrahan and Tim Bradshaw:

Apple’s revamped Beats service will operate on a paid subscription model. The service, which is likely to be rebranded under the iTunes label, will form part of a three-pronged music strategy for Apple, alongside downloads and iTunes Radio, which it launched in 2013. The trio will challenge not only Spotify, whose paid streaming service has more than 10m subscribers, but also Pandora and Soundcloud.

Apple is preparing to put its new Watch on sale in early 2015, to which the new music push could be linked.

200m iTunes accounts, and many more iPhones than that in use. Obstacles: song/artist licensing (Beats and iTunes Radio are both only available in the US); price; getting those already on subscription services to switch.

Techcrunch’s Josh Constine originally reported this in late October, but the FT adds timing (March) and the app install.


More than 50 million Lumias activated, 320,000 apps in store and more interesting Windows Phone stats from Microsoft >> WM Power User

[Microsoft] also revealed [at a blogger conference] there were 320,000 apps in the store, up from 300,000 in August 2014.

Another very interesting item was that 50m Lumias have been activated to date [worldwide].  While this does not tell us how many Windows Phones are still in use, with Lumias being more than 90% of Windows Phones in use according to AdDuplex, it does set some kind of upper limit.

According to Nokia’s/Microsoft Mobile’s financials, 67m Lumias have been shipped since 3Q 2011. So this doesn’t quite square: where are the other 17m?

Meanwhile if AdDuplex’s 90% is right, then that’s an upper limit of 55m Windows Phone devices active – about as many as active BlackBerry subscribers (not BBM users), and a long way from the 350m or so iPhones (500m-odd iOS devices) and billion-plus Google Android devices. In fact, AOSP (non-Google Android, used in China) is about as big as iOS.

That makes Windows Phone the fourth ecosystem. Still, one of the slides in the presentation says it’s outsold the iPhone in 24 countries, so that’s OK.


Report: Android One facing stiff competition and low sales in India >> Android Authority

Android One was announced at Google I/O earlier this year, and with it, a promise that Mountain View would be handling all of the updates for these low-priced devices aimed at developing countries. Though some might not be aware, not one but three One devices launched in India mid-September, but the problem is not one of them has done well. Those trying to find out why need only look at Samsung’s plight: stiff competition.

Consumer sales is a game of numbers, and for the last two weeks of September, a total of 230,000 units running Android One were imported into India. But it gets worse: only 200,000 devices were imported for the entire month of October, according to data shared with The Economic Times by local marketing firm Cybex Exim Solutions. To put things into even better perspective, “for the month of October, roughly 8m smartphones were shipped into [India], of which Android One would be just about 2.5%,” a source told The Economic Times. Compare this with the extremely rosy expectations that were originally had.

The original extremely rosy expectations came from chipmaker MediaTek which expected 2m sales by the end of the year . Could be tough to meet. Small onboard storage, online-only sales and supply problems are listed as parts of the problem.


Helping users find mobile-friendly pages >> Official Google Webmaster Central Blog

Starting today, to make it easier for people to find the information that they’re looking for, we’re adding a “mobile-friendly” label to our mobile search results…

…We see these labels as a first step in helping mobile users to have a better mobile web experience. We are also experimenting with using the mobile-friendly criteria as a ranking signal.

“Ranking signal” means “we might demote you if you’re bad on mobile”. Questions: (1) how large or small does a screen have to be to count as “mobile”? Or is it dependent on access method, eg 3G = mobile, Wi-Fi = fixed? (2) how strong will the signal of being non-mobile be?

Also: Google first said it would do this “in the near future” 18 months ago. Clearly it wasn’t so near. What made it harder?


Rides of Glory >> Uber Blog

Cab service Uber thinks it has erased the “walk of shame” (ask your parents, kids) and replaced it with the “ride of glory”. Morning glory? Anyhow:

One of the neat things we can do with our data is discover rider patterns: are there weekend riders that only use Uber post-party? What about the workday commuters who use us every morning? It was while playing around with this idea of (blind!) rider segmentation that we came up with the Ride of Glory (RoG). A RoGer is anyone who took a ride between 10pm and 4am on a Friday or Saturday night, and then took a second ride from within 1/10th of a mile of the previous nights’ drop-off point 4-6 hours later (enough for a quick night’s sleep). (This time window may not be the best, but small changes don’t change the overall pattern.)

RoGer. Haha. Though it might just be people getting together for an all-night coding session starting their principled cab-offering rival, eh? (Anyhow, Boston comes out top, well ahead of New York, though this probably takes no account of the number of users, number of cabs, or any other relevant piece of statistical information.)


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