Start up: dual-SIM nations, Korea v Apple (and Google), Galaxy S6 flat – or rounded?, and more


A dual-SIM Sony Xperia. Photo by hirotomo on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Keep moist. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Korea’s FTC has created a task force to determine whether Apple and Google are damaging the Korean market » Patently Apple

Today the South Korean press is reporting that he Korea Fair Trade Commission (FTC) will create a task force for ICT this year and closely monitor Social Networking Service providers (SNS) and operating system providers.

The country’s anti-trust regulator announced its plan for this year on Feb. 1. What is most noticeable is a task force for information, communication Technology (ICT).

The FTC is said to establish a task force and closely monitor whether or not monopolistic companies like Google and Apple inflict damage to the Korean market using their dominant position in the market.

The regulatory body is paying attention to the fact that the two companies comprise 99.5% of the local mobile operating system market.

Umm.. that percentage hasn’t changed. All that’s changed is Apple’s proportion of it, which went from about 10% to 33%.


Enough is ENOUGH: It’s time to flush Flash back to where it came from – Hell » The Register

Iain Thomson:

Even if Adobe put its top programmers working on Flash, a free piece of software, a lot of people around the world are very keen to find exploitable bugs in the plugin so they can break into victims’ computers.

Many netizens have recognized that Flash is too old and doddery to be worth the hassle. YouTube finally dumped the technology in favor of HTML5 video. Twitch doesn’t need it any more, neither does Netflix and others.

“The reality is there’s a market out there and people are going to exploit it,” Williams said. “Java has been a top vector, as has Flash, and now the attackers are moving to Silverlight as well.”

The fact is, Flash is just not fit for purpose. It will ruin your month. It will fill your hard drive with raw sewage seeping in from the grotesque underbelly of internet. It’s the Lego brick in your foot when you’re feeling your way through a dark kitchen at 3am.

It’s not even good for funny animations any more – we have HTML5 and a GIF resurgence for that. If you’re still using the plugin, you may as well hang a sign out for hackers reading: “Here’s my arse, please kick it. And then empty my back account.”


The global prevalence of dual-SIM Android devices » OpenSignal


Dual SIM devices are particularly popular in Asia

What we found

– The number of multi SIM devices is huge:
in the last month 26% of new users of the OpenSignal app had a device multi SIM support. This survey covers just over 1 million app users up to 18th January 2015.

– There is a very broad choice of multi SIM devices:
we identified over 10,000 different Android models with multi-SIM support.

– There are profound differences between markets:
in general developing economies have a higher proportion of dual-SIM users, in several countries dual (or multi) SIM users are the majority of Android users. The US, UK and Canada all have around 4% penetration, Australia is slightly higher at 5%. Several European countries have middle of the road values – Greece, Hungary, Spain, Albania, Croatia are all around 25%.

Ten thousand different Android models with multi-SIM support. Just amazing. Multiple SIMS are used for many purposes: having a business and personal number on a single phone, choosing between providers in different locations or data/voice plans, being.. er.. duplicitous.

India, Russia, Tanzania, Nigeria, and the Philippines lead the pack (greener means higher percentage).


Supply chain sees weak demand for Xiaomi’s Mi4 model in 4Q14 » Digitimes

Supply chain shipments for Xiaomi Technology’s Mi4 were weaker-than-expected in the fourth quarter of 2014, while those for the company’s previous Hongmi model remained steady.

Orders to supply chains for the Mi4 throughout the quarter until February 2015 have lagged, which coupled with an expected slowdown in the overall handset industry during the first quarter of 2015 has left supply chains rather pessimistic about orders for the device.

Supply chain sources commented that China’s handset market cooled down over the fourth quarter, which coupled with weak demand in emerging markets also influenced orders for the Mi4.

The cooling market in China really is going to have a lot of effects – principally, forcing a number of Chinese OEMs to look abroad or suffer badly in the slowdown.


Samsung pins hope on Galaxy S6 for rebound » Korea Times

“The Galaxy S6 is expected to have pretty much upgraded features compared to previous models. It will help the company post stable growth,” said Kim Young-chan, a technology analyst at Shinhan Investment. “If it successfully attracts users who have been reluctant to change their devices, Samsung can increase market share in the premium smartphone segment.”

On Tuesday, Samsung started giving out invitations for its Galaxy Unpacked Event 2015.

“The Galaxy S6 will make its debut in two versions ― flat and rounded screens,” said an executive at a local parts supplier, Tuesday. “It will have a metal build, which will make it look even more like Apple’s latest models.”

Galaxy S6 will use glass on the front and back, making it more appealing, he said.

Samsung dropped its earlier plan to adopt a dual-edge design on the new phone due to concerns over defect rates of curved glasses.

Also: 5.1in screen, embedded (ie non-changeable) lithium polymer battery. It’s hoping this will win back share in the premium phone market. Don’t see why any of those characteristics would do it, to be honest.


Senior Samsung executive resigns » WSJ

A senior Samsung Electronics Co. executive in charge of the technology giant’s rollout of its next flagship smartphone has abruptly resigned, people familiar with the matter said, in the latest management departure at the struggling mobile division.

Just a little over a month into the job, Kim Seok-pil, who was named head of strategic marketing for Samsung’s mobile business in December, will be replaced by another Samsung executive, Lee Sang-chul, who is currently in charge of Samsung’s Russia operations, one of the people said Tuesday.

This person said Mr. Kim was leaving due to health reasons and could return to the company at a later time.


Is Windows RT dead? Microsoft stops making Nokia Lumia 2520 » PCWorld

Microsoft could be close to pulling the plug on Windows RT with its decision to stop manufacturing the Nokia Lumia 2520 tablet.

The Lumia 2520 tablet was the last tablet remaining running Windows RT with Microsoft not making its Surface 2 tablet. Microsoft didn’t provide the specific date it stopped making the Lumia 2520 tablet to Dutch publication PCM, which broke the news.

Microsoft did not immediately respond to a request for comment. But Nokia Lumia 2520 tablets are still being sold through Verizon Wireless in the U.S. starting at $499.99 with a two-year commitment, and for $599.99 without a contract.

That could bring a quiet end to Microsoft’s experiment with Windows RT, which was built for tablets and PCs based on ARM processors. The first tablets with Windows RT shipped in 2012, but the response has been poor, with PC makers like Dell, Asus, Lenovo and Samsung abandoning devices with the OS. Microsoft last year cancelled plans to launch a small-screen tablet with Windows 8.1 RT.

The “Surface mini” just missed its window of opportunity by about six months. Now it would be impossible without gigantic corporate customer buy-in to sell them. But Apple and IBM look to be going after that business, if it exists.


Asustek facing challenges in 2015 » Digitimes

Monica Chen:

Asustek managed to ramp up its notebook shipments to 20.1m units in 2014, up from 18.8m shipped a year earlier. However, shipments of low-priced models to some designated markets contributed much of the growth in 2014.

Meanwhile, shipments of desktops totalled 2m units in 2014, doubling from those shipped in 2013.

Excluding shipments of Windows-based tablets and 2-in-1 models, Asustek’s notebook shipments lagged slightly behind the 20m units shipped by Apple in 2014, according to IDC…

Although Asustek boasts a number of notebook lines, including Gun-, KX- and T100- and Chi-series as well as EeeBook and Chromebook families, slack global demand for notebooks will cap Asustek’s efforts to ramp up its shipments, according to industry sources.

Asustek’s tablet shipments fell short of its target in 2014, reaching less than 10m units compared to 12m units shipped a year earlier. However, buoyed by its voice-calling Fonepad tablet series, the company still aims to ship 12m tablets in 2015.

The company shipped eight million smartphones in 2014, but saw a loss of NT$2bn (US$64m) for the handset business. Asustek plans to release its second generation ZenFone soon and aims to ship 16m units in 2015.

You can just about use those numbers to back out the number of 2-in-1s that Asus shipped, which looks like the low single-digit millions for the year. And that handset business is painful.


Start up: smartwatches are go!, tablets shrink, bitcoins all spent?, Yahoo keeps growing in search, and more


What’s Apple up to with its privacy drive? Photo by dmelchordiaz on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Pebble has now sold over 1 million smartwatches » The Verge

While Google and Apple have been getting the lion’s share of attention for smartwatches lately, indie darling Pebble has been quietly soldiering on, improving its product and selling watches. In an exclusive interview, CEO Eric Migicovsky revealed that the company shipped its one millionth Pebble on December 31st of last year. That’s more than double what Pebble reported in March, indicating that price cuts and new feature additions later in the year successfully boosted sales figures.

Pebble’s biggest and most visible competitor so far has been Google’s Android Wear, which launched in the middle of 2014 and is found on devices from Motorola, Samsung, LG, Sony, and Asus. Google has yet to reveal how many Android Wear watches have been sold in the six months or so it has been on the market, so it is difficult to determine if the platform is a success or not.

Google’s silence speaks volumes; it must know, surely? Also, how many of its employees are still wearing their LG smartwatch Christmas gift? A million is good going for Pebble. Seems like the smartwatch market will split three ways: Apple, Android, Pebble. (I have a Kickstarter Pebble, and recently rediscovered its usefulness through its step-and-sleep counting Misfit app.)


Worldwide tablet shipments experience first year-over-year decline in the fourth quarter while full year shipments show modest growth » IDC

Worldwide tablet shipments recorded a year-over-year decline for the first time since the market’s inception in 2010. Overall shipments for tablets and 2-in-1 devices reached 76.1 million in the fourth quarter of 2014 (4Q14) for -3.2% growth, according to preliminary data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Tablet Tracker. Although the fourth quarter witnessed a decline in the global market, shipments for the full year 2014 increased 4.4%, totaling 229.6m units.

“The tablet market is still very top heavy in the sense that it relies mostly on Apple and Samsung to carry the market forward each year,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst, worldwide quarterly tablet tracker.

Apple, Samsung, Asus, Amazon, all lost share and sales; only Lenovo, third-largest, grew (by 0.3m), which may have been mainly in 2-in-1s. Amazon’s dropoff is dramatic in both the Q4 and full year. But remember that tablets are principally going to consumers, have saturated their market, and have a replacement period of around four years. Compare that to PCs, which go to companies and consumers, and were at some times replaced as rapidly as every two years.


New findings suggest nearly 90% of all bitcoin holdings already spent » CoinSpeaker

Nearly 90% of those who have purchased or mined Bitcoin may have already cashed out their holdings, it emerged this weekend. Before now, it was thought that just 36% of bitcoins had currently been spent or sold, an argument often used by both advocates and their adversaries to support the fact that Bitcoin is both likely and unlikely to succeed as an asset class over the long term.

The findings were posted by Reddit user intmaxt64 and are being revealed in the Bitcoin press for the first time here at Coinspeaker…

…the findings may indicate that the Bitcoin price has suffered directly as a result of the major holders of Bitcoin liquidating their holdings while claiming the opposite. Many of the potential sellers appear to be the same individuals and organizations who got buyers to purchase during 2011-2013, since the large quantities of unit exchanges happened during this time.

Very deep implications to this, including the potential to corner the market.


Yahoo gains further US search share in January » StatCounter Global Stats

January saw Yahoo further increase the gain it made in US search share last month, according to the latest data from independent website analytics provider, StatCounter. Google fell below 75% in the US for the first time since StatCounter Global Stats began recording data [in June 2008].

StatCounter Global Stats reports that in January, Google took 74.8% of US search referrals followed by Bing on 12.4% and Yahoo on 10.9%, its highest US search share for over five years.

This is desktop-only, of course, and it’s not a giant change. But US users are surely the most valuable ones. Take Firefox out of the equation, and Google’s share remains where it was (despite Google’s attempts to win them back)

So what sort of people use Firefox and don’t change their search engine back to Google? Well, there’s Katharine Viner, editor-in-chief of the Guardian’s US operation. Did she notice the change?

So why’s she sticking with Yahoo?


How new versions of Android work » Rusty Rants

Russell Ivanovic of Shifty Jelly, which makes Android and iOS apps:

People are often quick to mis-interpret these numbers. “iOS 8 adoption is at 64%, but Android 4.4, a version that’s years old isn’t even at that!”. There’s two things wrong with these kinds of comments. Firstly there are roughly 6-8x more Android devices than iOS devices in the world, depending on which market share numbers you use. This means that if a version of Android achieves 39% adoption, that’s a huge deal, and you could develop just for that platform and address a larger user base than targeting iOS 8 with its 64%. Secondly people confuse overall numbers, with actual numbers of people who buy apps. Here for example are the version breakdowns of people who buy Pocket Casts on Android:

So while Android 5.0 has less than 1% adoption in the overall Android ecosystem, 23% of our customers already run it. This makes sense when you put a bit of thought into these numbers. People that have the money to buy apps, and are passionate about Android, have up to date phones.

I find Ivanovic a necessary counterpoint to a lot of what one reads about Android and iOS. He’s sincere, and expresses his views directly. (He’s Australian, so..) One point about Pocket Casts is that it’s a podcast player. There are paid-for podcast players on iOS (Marco Arment, obviously) but it seems to me the opportunity is much larger because there’s no OS-level podcast app on Android as there is for iOS.

That said, Ivanovic’s points are still valid. It’s install base x amount paid that really matters for developers (and, to some extent, users, as they benefit from the availability of apps, driven by the size of the ecosystem). Also, he wrote this piece before today’s data about Lollipop share – 1.6% of all Google Play installs as of 2 February.


Apple on privacy, security and identity » Benedict Evans

Evans tries to connect the dots that Apple has left around, on the basis that products it has now – such as Apple Pay – are obvious in retrospect (TouchID + Passbook). With that in mind, why Apple’s focus on “privacy”, he asks:

it may also be that as our phones go from sharing pictures to unlocking our front doors, privacy becomes a much more valuable selling point. This might be one reason why Nest is being kept semi-detached at Google. Worrying that Google knows what you search for has always seemed to me rather like worrying that your bank knows how much money you have, but Google knowing when you get out of bed or unlock your front door might be different (though of course it gets a fair bit of this through Android). So, perhaps Apple is talking about privacy not because of its current products, but because it thinks privacy will be a real competitive advantage for future ones. Not the iPhones, but the Watch, or other wearables, or the connected home. There’s an interesting question here – is the big data dividend worth the privacy implications? Is it better to let Google know when you flush the loo for what it can tell you about your bowels, or would people really rather not? 


Why I’ve found that online communities on media sites always seem doomed to fail » Martin Belam

I used to work with Martin at The Guardian (he’s now at the Daily Mirror); he’s got great insights into how communities fail or work. His key points – “The behaviour of the regular users becomes self-limiting for the community as a whole” and “The community believes they are representative of the primary audience” are, to me, the essence of the problem.

As a reminder, I did a pseudo-economic analysis of why comments on media sites just don’t work, which comes down to “the crap drive out the good”. I think that’s what Martin’s saying in his first point, only more nicely. Also, as he notes:

At the moment we don’t have comments on the Mirror site where I work, and I must confess it is a slight relief not to be immediately called a twat every time I press publish, but equally I find sites without comments don’t feel as alive. You know an article has had an impact when it has generated hundreds of comments.

I’d disagree on that latter point. You know an article has generated hundreds of comments when it generates hundreds of comments. But if you read them, you might find there’s no actual impact at all – as in, the comments haven’t added to the sum of human knowledge in the slightest.


Apple Watch sightings picking up ahead of official launch » Mac Rumors

Juli Clover:

Due to the large number of employees testing the device, Apple Watch sightings in the wild have become more common over the course of the last few weeks. On the MacRumors forums, readers are aggregating photos and stories of device sightings, giving us an in-use look at the device that will be attached to many of our wrists in just a few short months.

One of the first major Apple Watch sightings occurred several weeks ago, when Vogue Editor Suzy Menkes snapped a photo of someone wearing the device. Rumors and speculation have suggested the arm in the photo could belong to Marc Newson, the designer who now works at Apple part time alongside Jony Ive.

The forums aren’t that helpful (lots of vague discussion); James Cook at BusinessInsider has wrapped the (few) pics together.

Though the iPhone was announced before its public release, the only person I recall ever being seen in public using it ahead of that was Steve Jobs. This quiet seeding and testing is quite different.

Of course – and ponder this for a moment – everyone’s got an internet-connected camera now. Maybe there were tons more iPhones in public testing in 2007. We just didn’t hear about them.


Start up: Pono Pogued, Jawbone money hassles?, car hacking, Apple Watch ahoy!, and more


Apple Watch v the rest. Photo by Martin uit Utrecht on Flickr.

A selection of 9 links for you. Use them wisely. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Neil Young’s PonoPlayer: The emperor has no clothes » Yahoo News

David Pogue idly kicks a hornet’s nest:

The Pono Player, once just a Kickstarter prototype, is now a product that anyone can buy, for $400. To hear the magic, you’re supposed to buy all new music—high-resolution audio files—from Pono’s new music store (ponomusic.force.com), and load them onto your Pono using a new Mac or PC loading-dock program (Pono World). Albums cost about $25 each.

You’ve got to admit it: The argument for the Pono Player sure is appealing — that we don’t know what we’ve been missing in our music.

Unfortunately, it isn’t true.

I’m 51 and a former professional musician. I know how to listen. But when I bought Pono’s expensive remastered songs and compared them with the identical songs on my phone, I couldn’t hear any difference whatsoever.

He carried out an A/B test , but – DOOM! – used a Radioshack switch to do it. This has people saying that the switch is the reason why people couldn’t tell the difference. Uh, no. It’s electricity, not witchcraft.


BMW fixes security flaw in its in-car software » Reuters

Edward Taylor:

BMW said officials at German motorist association ADAC had identified the problem, which affected cars equipped with the company’s ConnectedDrive software using on-board SIM cards – the chips used to identify authorised users of mobile devices.

BMW drivers can use the software and SIM cards to activate door locking mechanisms, as well as a range of other services including real-time traffic information, online entertainment and air conditioning.…

…cybersecurity experts have criticized the automotive industry for failing to do more to secure internal communications of vehicles with network-connected features.

The danger, they say, is that once external security is breached, hackers can have free rein to access onboard vehicle computer systems which manage everything from engines and brakes to air conditioning.

They fear it is only a matter of time before hackers might break into wireless networks on cars to exploit software glitches and other vulnerabilities to try to harm drivers.

Charlie Miller, ex-NSA, is very interested in hacking cars – just to see what can be done. He was the person who showed publicly how to hack the iPhone back in 2009. So what he’s thinking, the NSA – and many others – probably are too.


Waze and the politics of public spaces » NYMag

Benjamin Wallace-Wells:

To let Waze pick your route is to feel a kind of surrender. The presence of all those other users in the system (50 million worldwide, dutifully flagging accidents and vehicles stopped on the side of the road and police cars up ahead) means that you never know whether you are being directed by the machine algorithm or the human ghost within it. You could imagine that my Dobbs Ferry detour was a kind of hiccup in the Waze mapping algorithm, or the consequence of someone driving up the Saw Mill ahead of me and mistakenly flagging an accident when they were trying to text. Or, if you are open to more devious possibilities, you might imagine an unscrupulous coffee-shop owner in downtown Dobbs Ferry continuously reporting phantom accidents on the Saw Mill, hoping to divert customers off the road and past his counter…

…The promise of Waze is that it occupies public spaces while subverting the public’s control of that space — the cops, whose speed traps are flagged by passing Wazers, and the arterial systems by which we funnel traffic away from residential neighborhoods. I think this explains that strange little feeling you get, both a bit anxious and a bit excited, when Waze starts sending your car on some manic sprint away from traffic

An odd feeling, and that’s just from traffic routing. Wait until it’s deciding what you do with your day all the time.


Let’s ignore each other together » Medium

Leigh Alexander:

Recently I was out to dinner with a big group of colleagues, chatting while we waited to be seated in a restaurant. I didn’t notice the sudden lull that had come over the group until someone commented, “So we’re all doing this, huh?”

Most of us were looking at our phones. And resigned in the act, too — no pretense of apology, no genuine sense that it was inappropriate or impolite. Once acknowledged, more people took phones out, and we all began concentrating on them in earnest rather than guiltily, enjoying the permission to indulge in the few minutes of relief we all knew we all wanted.

Despite the finger-wagging modern etiquette pieces, the obligation to provide your full attention to any one person or thing for a sustained period of time is becoming more difficult to meet.

Er.. is this a generational thing? If I’m out for dinner with people, then sure I’ll have put my phone away. It’s pretty easy really. But sure, you have to want to talk to people who are there.

The whole piece is an interesting take on Ringly, a ring that does notifications which I think is a novel approach to the topic.


One word sums up Google’s problem: Facebook » Seeking Alpha

Dana Blankenhorn (who owns Google stock) enunciating a view that is becoming increasingly widely held among industry analysts:

While Google Plus is a failure, Facebook is super-sticky, and acquisitions like Instagram and WhatsApp are designed to make it even stickier. While a 40-something Google user might be in-and-out in seconds, a 20-something Facebook user may spend hours on that site. Over the last year, Facebook is up 40% while Google stock is down 10%.

This doesn’t mean Google is dead. Google has an enormous global infrastructure, it has lots of smart people and it has enormous resources with which to address its problems. But YouTube isn’t Amazon.com or Netflix, as a studio it’s nowhere.

Google has always described its business as search, but what happens to customers when they find? This is something the company’s products have never answered. They’re the conduit, not the destination.

“Stickiness” matters; if people spend time on a service, that matters. Though you could ask “what about people looking at Facebook on Android phones?” But the ability to monetise mobile is where Facebook clearly shines – and outshines Google.


How ‘precarious’ are Jawbone’s finances? » Fortune

A lawsuit suggested the wearables company was a long way behind paying some debts, Adam Lashinsky explains:

One reason why Jawbone, a company with hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue, is having trouble paying its debts is that it isn’t profitable. What’s more, it has had trouble raising additional funding, despite having collected more than $400m in debt and equity over the course of its 16-year existence. As previously reported, Jawbone agreed with financial firm Rizvi Traverse early last year to an investment round of $250m. Yet over the course of 2014 not all the investment materialized. According to the Flextronics suit, in late June Jawbone agreed to a five-month payment plan with Flextronics. “Jawbone advised Flextronics that it would be receiving additional funding that would assure Jawbone’s ability to make the payments,” the suit says.

According to the suit, Jawbone again failed to make a payment deadline, prompting the suit, which was promptly settled. Jawbone, surprised the lawsuit documents were publicly available, issued the following statement: “The fact that the lawsuit was so quickly dismissed after it was filed shows that this business dispute was really more of a miscommunication between two partners.” According to multiple sources, Jawbone repeatedly has been late on payments to various vendors over the course of its corporate history.

Jawbone seems to pervasive to fail, and yet it’s the sort of thing that can happen. Who would buy it if it hits the rocks?


I spotted an Apple Watch on the train this morning, and now I’m a believer » VentureBeat

Mark Sullivan:

As the train stopped in a tunnel, the man apparently received a reminder on his wrist, and when he raised his wrist I got a clear view. No, it wasn’t one of the knockoffs they were selling at CES. This thing looked like a luxury item, and it had the now familiar “bubbles” Watch user interface.

I saw a text reminder on the screen, and then, briefly, a map. It appeared that the guy had been using the Watch for some time and was pretty used to it. The product is supposed to go on sale in April, but Apple gave Watches to a number of its employees to gather feedback and fix bugs.

On this guy, at least, the Watch looked proportionate to his wrist. The polished metal watch band looked very traditional, and, it seemed to me, made the Watch itself seem less out of the ordinary. It’s very much within the wristwatch paradigm, and doesn’t scream for attention.

One thing that disturbed me slightly about the device?

Like other blockbuster Apple products, when you see it, something somewhere in the corner of your mind clicks on, and then you realize:

You want one.

The commenters are enthralled. Well, that might be the wrong word. Obviously, they’ve all seen one and… no, hang on.


Cyanogen spurns Google acquisition interest, seeks $1bn valuation » The Information

Amir Efrati, in October 2014:

Billions of new customers will buy phones powered by Android before the end of the decade. Already there are hundreds of millions of Android phones that don’t run Google’s version of the software, but that group is highly fragmented. Cyanogen investors believe the company can consolidate a chunk of the non-Google-controlled Android market and build its own “ecosystem” of hardware and app partners.

As Google requires Android phone manufacturers to pre-install more Google-owned apps, much to the chagrin of Google’s rivals and some of those manufacturers, Cyanogen sees an opportunity to create an “open” platform that rewards the best services and applications based on what device owners choose. That’s closer to the original vision of Android co-founder Andy Rubin, who sold his startup to Google and developed the Android operating system there, before stepping aside for Mr. Pichai last year.

A Google spokesman did not have a comment. Kirt McMaster, Cyanogen’s CEO, acknowledged the startup is “talking to many potential partners including software makers and hardware manufacturers.” Existing investors include Andreessen Horowitz, Redpoint Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Chinese Web-services giant Tencent.

If Microsoft is investing, things become more interesting – and Cyanogen could be the route out of China for lots of software and services companies that otherwise can’t get onto Android handsets.


Why solar costs will fall another 40% in just two years » Renew Economy

Deutsche Bank notes that total module costs of leading Chinese solar companies have decreased from around $1.31 a watt in 2011 to around $0.50/W in 2014. It says this was primarily due to the reduction in processing costs, the fall in polysilicon costs and improvement in conversion efficiencies.

That represents a fall of around 60% in just three years. Deutsche Bank says total costs could fall another 30-40% over the next several years, with the greatest cost reductions are likely to come from the residential segments as scale and operating efficiencies improve.

It sees a precedent for this in the oldest major solar market in the world – Germany. “Costs today are well below costs in the United States and other less mature markets, and total installed costs have declined around 40% over the past three years in the country. The exact drivers behind cost declines may vary between countries, but we believe the German example continues to prove that overall system costs have yet to reach a bottom even in comparatively mature markets.”

Make a note: even with the plunging oil price, solar is going to be a sensible power source in the longer term.