Start up: HTC and LG struggle, Getty’s Google complaint, Circa’s bad news, and more


Now adjust your calendar. Geographical layout of the London Underground by DigitalUrban on Flickr.

A selection of 10 links for you. See how they run. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Optus hands over customers’ numbers to websites » ZDNet

Josh Taylor:

Optus is sending the mobile phone numbers of customers to websites that those customers are accessing, but has defended the practice, stating that information is only handed to “trusted partners”.

Last week, a user on broadband enthusiast website Whirlpool found, when visiting certain websites that Optus has a commercial relationship with, that their phone number was included in the HTTP header of the web request to that site, through a practice known as HTTP Header Enrichment.

The poster said that they discovered the number had been passed on after receiving premium subscription services to a site they had not signed up to.

Optus is in Australia, but such amazingly sleazy behaviour is likely found elsewhere too.


Getty Images takes Google grievance to EU antitrust regulators » Reuters

Foo Yun Chee:

Getty Images has become the latest company to take its grievances with Google to EU antitrust regulators as it accused the world’s most popular Internet search engine of favoring its own images service at the expense of rivals.

The complaint comes as the European Commission waits for Google to respond to charges of abusing its market power in a dozen EU countries since 2007 by distorting search results to favor its shopping service.

The renowned photojournalism archive said its troubles with Google started in early 2013.

“Web search results that link directly to the Getty Images website are placed low in the search results, frequently, and remarkably, not on the first page of results,” the companysaid on its website.

“This means Google is benefiting from the use of Getty Images content, used to generate results within Google Image Search, without sending the image searchers to the Getty Images website or other competing image search engines.”

It never rains but it pours..


Debugging and reverse engineering: Samsung deliberately disabling Windows Update » BSOD Analysis

Patrick Barker, who is a Microsoft MVP:

On my home forum Sysnative, a user (wavly) was being assisted with a Windows Update (WU) issue, which was going well, aside from the fact that wavly’s WU kept getting disabled randomly. It was figured out eventually after using auditpol.exe and registry security auditing (shown below later) that the program that was responsible for disabling WU was Disable_Windowsupdate.exe, which is part of Samsung’s SW Update software.

SW Update is your typical OEM updating software that will update your Samsung drivers, the bloatware that came on your Samsung machine, etc. The only difference between other OEM updating software is Samsung’s disables WU.

Terrible move by Samsung. It said it did this to prevent WU screwing with Samsung’s drivers.

The bigger puzzle to me is why Samsung continues with PCs. It sells a tiny number (perhaps a couple of million a quarter?) and can’t be making any profit worth writing home about.


HTC ships 4.75m HTC One M9 in three months; unlikely to make new breakthrough in China » Digitimes

Kai-Ti Chiang and Steve Shen:

HTC has so far shipped only 4.75m units of its new flagship smartphone, the HTC One M9, since the model launched in the latter half of March, down 43.75% as compared to shipments of the HTC One M8 during its initial three months, according to a Chinese-language China Business Journal report.

HTC’s market value has also declined to around US$2bn recently compared to its all-time high of US$33.8bn a few years ago, the paper added.

The mid-range to high-end smartphone market (models priced at CNY1,600 (US$258) and up) in China has become mature, but HTC’s flagship models are still set at CNY4,000, pushing consumers to pick up iPhone devices, the journal quoted China-based iiMedia Research as saying.

This would explain the profit warning earlier this month.


Farewell to Circa News » Medium

Matt Galligan:

It’s with great disappointment that we let you know that Circa News has been put on indefinite hiatus*. Producing high-quality news can be a costly endeavor and without the capital necessary to support further production we are unable to continue. Our mission was always to create a news company where factual, unbiased, and succinct information could be found. In doing so we recognized that building a revenue stream for such a mission would take some time and chose to rely on venture capital to sustain. We have now reached a point where we’re no longer able to continue news production as-is.

“Continued negotiations” around its assets and staff.


iOS 9 and Safari View Controller: the future of web views » MacStories

Web views on iOS 9, that is, where apps will be able to present browser windows without needing their own browser code – which will be handled by Safari:

Apple is making sure that user privacy and security are highly valued in how Safari View Controller operates. Safari View Controller runs in a separate process from the host app, which doesn’t “see” the URL or navigation happening inside it. Therefore, Apple claims that Safari View Controller is entirely “safe”, as private user data stays in Safari and is never exposed to a third-party app that wants to open a link in it.

Because of this, Apple has been able to port many of the features that users know from Safari to any app that uses Safari View Controller in iOS 9. Safari View Controller shares cookies and website data with Safari, which means that if a user is already logged into a specific website in Safari and a link to that website is opened in Safari View Controller, the user will already be logged in. This alone could make for a drastically superior experience when tapping, for instance, links to services like Amazon, Pinterest, or Facebook from third-party apps. If those services use Safari View Controller and the user is already logged in from Safari, she’ll get a continuous and consistent experience.

But there’s more.

Popular with developers; likely to roll out fast.


Apple Music signs Beggars Group, Merlin: sources » Billboard

Shirley Halperin and Lars Brandle:

In a letter sent to Merlin members, CEO Charles Caldas writes, “I am pleased to say that Apple has made a decision to pay for all usage of Apple Music under the free trials on a per-play basis, as well as to modify a number of other terms that members had been communicating directly with Apple about. With these changes, we are happy to support the deal.”

The announcement comes on the heels of the company’s 180-degree turn on a deal term asking labels to forego royalty payments during a 90-day-free trial offered to Apple Music users. Criticism was loud and prompted Taylor Swift to write an open letter asking the company to reverse its policy.  

In a way, Swift’s blog helped ward off a slew of bad publicity the company had weathered in recent weeks. Apple was staring down a full-scale revolt from indie labels not affiliated with the majors and major-owned distributors. As it stands, most indie distributors say their labels hadn’t signed, anticipating a new contract for indies with revised terms.

Impossible to know whether this was coming with or without Swift. Seems likely she was the final, very public, straw.


Why adblocking is the new speeding » The Next Web

I wrote this because it occurred to me that the two sides of this debate just can’t hear each other, for the most part:

people who use adblockers aren’t interested in what the publishers or journalists say: just as when you’re in a car, cut off from the world with the radio turned up loud, the complaints of the people standing on the pavement really don’t impinge on your world. The two sides of the argument are cut off from each other. The speeding driver in their air-conditioned car, the adblocking reader at their desk, are both in essence the same.

I’m not condemning adblocking, by the way. I’m not condoning it either. I’m trying to show the two sides why they can’t agree.

So what’s the solution? You know how it works with speeding in local communities: the community organises, and either gets the police (who turn up occasionally) or get something concrete done – usually in the form of actual concrete ‘sleeping policemen,’ or other ‘road calming’ that makes it impossible for drivers to speed.

Publishers and advertisers need to find the online equivalent of road calming too.

Note, above all, that I am not suggesting that adblocking can kill people. Also: contains GIF of kangaroos fighting.


Google owns the platform – twice over » Eerke Boiten’s blog

Boiten wants the granular permissions of Android M because he doesn’t like the landgrab of Android apps at present, as he tweeted:

An interesting discussion with the makers of the London Tube Map (@TubeMapLondon) followed. It turned out that the app actually didn’t have a feature using the calendar! Rather, they were catering for adverts that might want to add calendar events. My first objection to that was that ads could use apps with the appropriate permission to change the calendar, rather than doing it themselves. More importantly though, surely this couldn’t scale? All apps with ads, grabbing all the permissions that all their ads might potentially want? I stuck with not installing the app (it also wants in-app purchases, media, and call info, by the way) and thought no more of it.

Weeks later, on my next visit to London, I used the London Tube Map app again (still the old version, of course). With ads. And suddenly it all became crystal clear. Ads served by … Google. The same Google who give whatever permissions they like to the built-in Android apps that you can’t remove. They own the platform. By serving the ads on third party apps, they own the platform twice over.


Analysts cut Q2 profit forecasts as the LG G4 underperforms » AndroidAuthority

At launch, the LG G4 had been expected to sell 8m units in 2015, meaning that around 2.6m G4s would need to be sold in each remaining quarter of the year. However, second quarter shipments are expected to come in at less than 2.5m units for Q2, meaning that actual sales will be even lower than that. This is a rather poor result for the flagship’s first quarter on the market. Last year’s LG G3 sold 5.9m units in its first year and LG was hoping to beat this target by at least 20%.

There are several possible reasons as to why LG G4 sales may be lower than initially expected. Pricing could be a factor, as could the lack of major differences from last year’s G3. It’s also possible that LG’s promise of another higher-end flagship later this year has resulting in potential customers deferring their purchases.

In addition to under performing sales, LG has also seen its marketing expenditure increase this quarter.

Analysts halved their forecasts for LG mobile operating profit to 60-65bn won ($54m-58m), down from 1Q of 73bn won. The G4 was well received critically, and has a great camera.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s