Start up: tracking Android, the 1998 software warning, Google’s revenge porn move, VUT Swift?, and more


Another micropayment from Amazon! Photo by Amanda Emilio on Flickr.

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

Android Tracker » Fiksu

In contrast to the iOS industry statistics, the Android landscape is much more fragmented, with dozens of manufacturers and thousands of devices on the market. We’ve put together four charts to help illuminate the situation:

• Android Tablet vs. Phone Usage
• Android Version Monitor
• Top Android Manufacturers
• Top Android Phones
• Top Android Tablets

The one for phone manufacturers is eye-opening, to say the least. Worth bookmarking. (Via Daniel Tello.)


BlackBerry’s Classic moment, or not » WSJ

Spencer Jakab:

Two things could leave the market pleasantly surprised on Tuesday. One would be an announcement that BlackBerry is distancing itself from handsets, devoting more resources to software. The other would be if that latter business shows signs of meeting some ambitious revenue targets laid out by chief executive John Chen.

A hopeful sign on software sales would affect the share price far more than if BlackBerry’s loss for the period through May was better than the 5 cents a share projected by analysts. They see BlackBerry reporting software and support revenue of $83m for the quarter, up from $56m a year earlier. The company wants to more than double the annual figure in fiscal 2016 to $500m and to produce operating profits on a sustained basis. That would come as services revenue continues to shrivel, falling by about half this fiscal year.

I’ll post my own forecast for BlackBerry’s results an hour or two after this post goes live. (These days people write about BlackBerry almost as a curio; it’s the Crimea of the smartphone wars.)


Launch of the new Companies House public beta service » GOV.UK

In line with the government’s commitment to free data, Companies House is pleased to announce that all public digital data held on the UK register of companies is now accessible free of charge, on its new public beta search service.

This provides access to over 170 million digital records on companies and directors including financial accounts, company filings and details on directors and secretaries throughout the life of the company.

Free access to the data is available both through a web service and an application program interface (API), enabling both consumers and technology providers to access real time updates on companies.

Fabulous. Back in 2006, the pricing was opaque and redacted.


These hackers warned the Internet would become a security disaster. Nobody listened. » The Washington Post

Craig Timberg:

Your computers, they told the panel of senators in May 1998, are not safe — not the software, not the hardware, not the networks that link them together. The companies that build these things don’t care, the hackers continued, and they have no reason to care because failure costs them nothing. And the federal government has neither the skill nor the will to do anything about it.

“If you’re looking for computer security, then the Internet is not the place to be,” said Mudge, then 27 and looking like a biblical prophet with long brown hair flowing past his shoulders. The Internet itself, he added, could be taken down “by any of the seven individuals seated before you” with 30 minutes of well-choreographed keystrokes.

The senators — a bipartisan group including John Glenn, Joseph I. Lieberman and Fred D. Thompson — nodded gravely, making clear that they understood the gravity of the situation. “We’re going to have to do something about it,” Thompson said.

What happened instead was a tragedy of missed opportunity, and 17 years later the world is still paying the price in rampant insecurity.


“Revenge porn” and search » Google Public Policy Blog

Amit Singhal, Google Search SVP:

We’ve heard many troubling stories of “revenge porn”: an ex-partner seeking to publicly humiliate a person by posting private images of them, or hackers stealing and distributing images from victims’ accounts. Some images even end up on “sextortion” sites that force people to pay to have their images removed.

Our philosophy has always been that Search should reflect the whole web. But revenge porn images are intensely personal and emotionally damaging, and serve only to degrade the victims—predominantly women. So going forward, we’ll honor requests from people to remove nude or sexually explicit images shared without their consent from Google Search results. This is a narrow and limited policy, similar to how we treat removal requests for other highly sensitive personal information, such as bank account numbers and signatures, that may surface in our search results.

In the coming weeks we’ll put up a web form people can use to submit these requests to us, and we’ll update this blog post with the link.

You could almost call it a “right to be forgotten” or “right to be delinked”. Let’s see – person requests that information about them which is irrelevant asks to have those pages removed from search. Which are we talking about, Europe or revenge porn?


Amazon’s new plan to pay authors every time someone turns a page » The Atlantic

Peter Wayner:

Soon, the maker of the Kindle is going to flip the formula used for reimbursing some of the authors who depend on it for sales. Instead of paying these authors by the book, Amazon will soon start paying authors based on how many pages are read—not how many pages are downloaded, but how many pages are displayed on the screen long enough to be parsed. So much for the old publishing-industry cliche that it doesn’t matter how many people read your book, only how many buy it.

For the many authors who publish directly through Amazon, the new model could warp the priorities of writing: A system with per-page payouts is a system that rewards cliffhangers and mysteries across all genres. It rewards anything that keeps people hooked, even if that means putting less of an emphasis on nuance and complexity.

So, basically, book streaming? Is Taylor Swift going to come to their aid? Or is it just an encouragement to write books at a length that people want to read? I think every author would like to know where people gave up on their books, if they didn’t finish them. Though that might not be the point at which they stopped being interested.


An Open Letter To Apple » German Association of Independent Music Companies

From 18 June, ie two days before Taylor Swift’s similar open letter:

Your plan not to compensate independent labels during the three-month trial period leads to the assumption that you don´t respect the music of independent artists or the work their partners do. It is obvious that this will reduce the overall income for independent artists and labels significantly at a time when many depend on every cent for survival.

Clearly what VUT needed was to rename itself “Taylor Swifte” or something. Or perhaps this was just another outgrowth of the ire felt among independent musicians. Apple Music (or more accurately the move to streaming and away from downloads) is going to cause yet another earthquake in the industry, rather like when CDs stopped being big.


Samsung’s mobile OS dilemma » Monday Note

Jean-Louis Gassée:

When we look at what it would take for Samsung to come up with its own mobile OS, the first thing to note is that “operating system” is a misnomer. Surely, iOS and Android are operating systems in the old-school “kernel” sense: They manage drivers, memory, input and output streams, user tasks, and the like. But today, an “operating system” is much more than just a kernel, it includes rich frameworks that support a wide range of applications, games, maps, social networking, productivity, drawing… Building these frameworks is a much harder task than adapting a Linux kernel.

And the OS is just the beginning. What Samsung really wants is its own ecosystem, a set of services that will ensure its autonomy, growth, and lasting importance. It wants its own app store, maps, music/video, cloud storage…

How long would it take for Samsung to build all of this? Three years, four years? Add to this the difficulty of “skating to where the puck will be”, to divine where the industry will land four years from now.

Samsung hasn’t been much good at building an ecosystem, either: look at all the content companies it has bought and then dumped, or services (ChatOn) it has started and stopped.


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