Start up: goodbye Windows Phone, Panic get iCloudy, Google’s long deal, how the cyberwars started, and more


Stormy weather ahead for Windows Phone? Picture by MacBeales on Flickr.

A selection of 10 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Transmit iOS 1.1.1 [Updated] >> Panic Blog

UPDATE 12/11/14: After a considerate conversation with Apple, Transmit iOS 1.1.2 has been released with restored “Send To” functionality.

While the process feels less-than-perfect, this resolution is a nice reminder that, just as we thought, there are good people at Apple who will push hard to do the right thing. We hope you enjoy Transmit iOS 1.1.2.

I wrote about the strange back-and-forth that seems to be going on inside Apple over iOS 8 functionality for The Guardian. Developers are, to put it mildly, puzzled.


Apple contract loss could hit Google search revenue big time >> Investors.com

Google has potentially $9.4bn in gross revenue at risk if it’s unable to renew a contract with Apple for mobile Safari toolbar searches, says a Citigroup report, which says potential losses depend on how many Apple customers stick with Google’s search engine.

Google stock had fallen 3.5% as of Wednesday’s close since the Information reported on Nov. 24 that Google’s default search agreement with Apple might be in peril. Google stock, though, was up a small fraction in early trading Thursday.

That report said the Apple-Google deal is set to expire in 2015, possibly as soon as January. Apple’s iPhone 6 sales have been stronger than projected, increasing the potential impact.

Citigroup analyst Mark May estimates that 60% of Google’s 2014 mobile search revenue will come from its default search deal with Apple.

60% is a big number. I was previously wrong about what would happen in the Firefox search deal (Google was expected to renew; Yahoo got the deal in the US), so I’ll stand off this. But the intimation I’ve heard from Apple is that it still thinks Google offers the best search experience.


** A Letter to Indian Mi Fans ** >> Hugo Barra on Facebook

Dear Mi fans,

We have been committed to continue our sales of Redmi Note and Redmi 1S devices in India. In the last 2 days alone, we received about 150,000 registrations for Redmi Note on Flipkart and the momentum has been terrific.

However, we have been forced to suspend sales in India until further notice due to an order passed by the Delhi High Court. As a law abiding company, we are investigating the matter carefully and assessing our legal options.

One way or another, Xiaomi’s going to have to pay up, and that’s going to hit its bottom line unless it comes up with its own patents.


FRAND-ly injunctions from India: has ex parte become the “standard”? >> Spicy IP

Following up on the injunction given against Xiaomi in the Indian high court blocking further sales of the Chinese handsets over standards-essential patents owned by Ericsson:

given that Ericsson sued Indian telecom companies in the past, one needs to carefully reflect on the impact that these patent wars are likely to have on national interest and the growth of the Indian telecom industry. While there are plenty of writings in the pharma space (the various tussles between MNC’s on the one hand and the local generic industry and public health/affordable medication on the other), we haven’t focussed much on the telecom terrain. The time is now ripe to focus on this technology sector as well!

See this ET article from Soma Das and Anandita Singh, which speaks of the latest order in the Ericcson vs Micromax dispute (covered by Rupali on SpicyIP) and reflects a bit on this oft-neglected “national interest” dimension:

“The Delhi High Court has asked homegrown handset maker Micromax to pay a royalty that amounts up to 1% of the selling price of its devices to Ericsson for using the Swedish equipment maker’s patents on technologies that are essential to manufacture the products. The interim order holds until December 31, 2015, the deadline set by the court to conclude the trial…

Apparently China sets a ceiling of 0.017% of adjusted sale value of handsets for the total SEP payout. India might be closer to that, but other countries won’t be. Xiaomi is going to have a problem.


Mysterious 2008 Turkey pipeline blast opened new cyberwar era >> Bloomberg

Jordan Robertson and Michael Riley:

The pipeline was outfitted with sensors and cameras to monitor every step of its 1,099 miles from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean. The blast that blew it out of commission didn’t trigger a single distress signal.

That was bewildering, as was the cameras’ failure to capture the combustion in eastern Turkey. But investigators shared their findings within a tight circle. The Turkish government publicly blamed a malfunction, Kurdish separatists claimed credit and BP Plc (BP/) had the line running again in three weeks. The explosion that lit up the night sky over Refahiye, a town known for its honey farms, seemed to be forgotten.

It wasn’t. For western intelligence agencies, the blowout was a watershed event. Hackers had shut down alarms, cut off communications and super-pressurized the crude oil in the line, according to four people familiar with the incident who asked not to be identified because details of the investigation are confidential. The main weapon at valve station 30 on Aug. 5, 2008, was a keyboard.

Surprising. Stuxnet followed not long after.


Because reading is fundamental >> Coding Horror

Jeff Atwood:

Let’s say you’re interested in World War II. Who would you rather have a discussion with about that? The guy who just skimmed the Wikipedia article, or the gal who read the entirety of The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich?

This emphasis on talking and post count also unnecessarily penalizes lurkers. If you’ve posted five times in the last 10 years, but you’ve read every single thing your community has ever written, I can guarantee that you, Mr. or Mrs. Lurker, are a far more important part of that community’s culture and social norms than someone who posted 100 times in the last two weeks. Value to a community should be measured every bit by how much you’ve read as much as how much you talked.

So how do we encourage reading, exactly?

You could do crazy stuff like require commenters to enter some fact from the article, or pass a basic quiz about what the article contained, before allowing them to comment on that article. On some sites, I think this would result in a huge improvement in the quality of the comments.

Though he thinks that’s sub-optimal. See what he does suggest. This is such a terrific post. Read it all.


Benedict Evans on Twitter: “The end of SMS http://t.co/0n9hCi9uJJ”

Graph sourced from IHS/ industry data/ Ofcom showing that SMSs per head peaking in 2011 for a wide range of countries (except, strangely, France). Over-the-top services are taking over.


I’ve given up on Windows Phone >> The Verge

Tom Warren is The Verge’s Microsoft correspondent; he started Winrumors.com (which is part of how he got the job at The Verge). He’s been using Windows Phone since 2010, along with other platforms. Now he’s going to stick with an iPhone 6:

I’ve always been slightly frustrated at the lack of Windows Phone apps, but as the gaps have been gradually filled, a new frustration has emerged: dead apps. Developers might be creating more and more Windows Phone apps, but the top ones are often left untouched with few updates or new features. That’s a big problem for apps like Twitter that are regularly updated on iOS and Android with features that never make it to Windows Phone. My frustration boiled over during the World Cup this year, as Twitter lit up with people talking about the matches. I felt left out using the official Windows Phone Twitter app because it didn’t have a special World Cup section that curated great and entertaining tweets, or country flags for hashtags.

That same sense of missing out extends elsewhere with Windows Phone. I rely on apps like Dark Sky on iPhone to give me a weather warning when it’s about to rain, or Slack and Trello to communicate with colleagues at The Verge. All three aren’t available on Windows Phone, and Dark Sky is particularly useful when you’re at a bar and it pings you a notification to let you know it’s going to rain in your location for the next 30 minutes. It lets you decide whether to grab another beer (tip: always grab another beer) or risk getting wet. It’s an essential app to me personally, and it’s a good example of how apps are changing the world.


Sites certified as secure often more vulnerable to hacking, scientists find >> Ars Technica

The so-called trust marks are sold by almost a dozen companies, including Symantec, McAfee, Trust-Guard, and Qualys. In exchange for fees ranging from less than $100 to well over $2,000 per year, the services provide periodic security scans of the site. If it passes, it receives the Internet equivalent of a Good Housekeeping Seal of approval that’s prominently displayed on the homepage. Carrying images of padlocks and slogans such as “HackerProof,” the marks are designed to instill trust in users of the site by certifying it’s free of vulnerabilities that hackers prey on to steal credit card numbers and other valuable customer data.

A recently published academic paper discovered an almost universal lack of thoroughness among the 10 seal providers studied. For one thing, the scientists carried out two experiments showing that the scanners failed to detect a host of serious vulnerabilities. In one of the experiments, even the best-performing service missed more than half of the vulnerabilities known to afflict a site. In another, they uncovered flaws in certified sites that would take a typical criminal hacker less than one day to maliciously discover.

Well isn’t that so disappointing.


​Why have I given up on Windows Phone? Blame Verizon >> ZDNet

Ed Bott – Ed Bott – has finally given up on Windows Phone. Not because of any faults in the platform itself, but because of the lock that carriers have in the US:

I’d love to leave Verizon behind completely and switch to another carrier, but I don’t have that luxury: Where I live and work, Verizon is the only carrier with a reliable signal.

After waiting in vain for months, I’ve finally given up. I used the Nokia Software Recovery Tool to restore the factory software to my Lumia Icon and put it on the shelf until Microsoft and Verizon figure things out. In the meantime, I’ve switched to an iPhone 6 Plus.

I’m probably not the only one.

And as long as US-based carriers, including the biggest of them all, Verizon, are able to drag their feet and ignore Windows as a mobile platform, it’s unlikely that anything Microsoft can do will be able to make a dent in its market share in the United States.

This highlights the real problem in the mobile phone market: it is carriers which are the “customers”, while people like you and I are “users”. The same disconnect existed with PCs in business (and particularly enterprise apps). There’s no simple solution, though. (Don’t say “Wi-Fi networks!”)

The decision by both Warren and Bott may be seen by some as canaries in the coalmine. Their reasons are slightly different – but both blame Microsoft. That feels significant.


One thought on “Start up: goodbye Windows Phone, Panic get iCloudy, Google’s long deal, how the cyberwars started, and more

  1. The clock is ticking on Windows Phone. The Nokia acquisition was Ballmer’s baby. Nadella has made it clear that any product that isn’t making money won’t go forward. Microsoft is losing interest and even Microsoft fans are jumping ship. The end is near.

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