Start up: Apple stalls, Japan’s zombies, Samsung on iOS?, the truth about terror, and more

But what are your respective ratings? Photo by ChrisGoldNY on Flickr

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

Apple’s iPhone growth era comes to an end » FT.com

Tim Bradshaw:

Total revenues for Apple’s fiscal first quarter ending in December rose by just 2% to $75.9bn, a marked slowdown compared with 30% growth in the same period a year earlier, as iPhone sales in the US and Japan declined.

Apple increased net profits to $18.4bn, beating its own record set a year ago for the most profitable quarter in US corporate history, with earnings per share up 7% to $3.28, in line with expectations.

However, iPhone unit sales for the holiday quarter were less than 0.5% higher than the same period a year ago at 74.8m, despite chief executive Tim Cook’s firm insistence three months ago that the iPhone “will grow” in the most important period in the Apple calendar.

Wall Street’s fears that the March quarter would see iPhone sales drop for the first time since its 2007 debut were confirmed by Apple’s revenue guidance, which was below analysts’ consensus of around $55bn.

According to a note by RBC Capital Markets before the release of the results, $50bn in sales would imply iPhone unit shipments of 45m, down 26% on the same period a year earlier.

Sic transit gloria mundi. Like many premium smartphone makers, Apple is now hitting the point where the slowing market, combined with the slowing economy, creates a ceiling for sales. Apple legitimately blamed currency, but that’s hurting everyone.
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Japan must let zombie companies die » Bloomberg View

Noah Smith:

Imagine that you’re a Japanese 26-year-old with big dreams. You graduated from Waseda University, an elite private school, with a degree in electrical engineering. You and your college buddies used to hang around your apartment, watching anime on your LCD television, which was made by Sharp Corp. — the world’s 10th-largest LCD TV manufacturer. Even then, you had ideas about how to improve the product.

Now, after graduating and working for four years in the research division of an LCD manufacturer, you’re sure that you have figured out how to make LCD panels more cheaply, at higher quality. You also believe that you could market these TVs more effectively to young people with cool, fun designs. Instead of giving the idea to the higher-ups in your giant corporation — which, knowing Japan, might get you little more than a pat on the head — you decide to leave your job and start a business with your college buddies. You just know that you can beat lumbering, struggling incumbents like Sharp.

Sharp, which is perennially struggling. But is to be bailed out by the Japanese government. Which makes it a zombie which is blocking progress.
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I found out my secret internal Tinder rating and now I wish I hadn’t » Fast Company

Austin Carr:

Referred to inside the company as an “Elo score,” a term the chess world uses to rank player skill levels, Tinder’s rating system helps it parse its user base in order to facilitate better matches…

…Tinder CEO Sean Rad confirmed the scoring system to me while I was reporting Fast Company’s recent profile of the company. Rad, who tells me his Elo score is “above average,” stresses that the rating is technically not a measure of attractiveness, but a measure of “desirability,” in part because it’s not determined simply by your profile photo. “It’s not just how many people swipe right on you,” Rad explains. “It’s very complicated. It took us two and a half months just to build the algorithm because a lot of factors go into it.”…

…Rad teased me about it several times over dinner one evening, gauging what my score might be as he swiped through a slew of Tinder profiles on my phone. It was one thing to know my Uber rating, but did I really want to know my Elo score on Tinder? When I asked whether he could look up my rating, Rad responded, “Do you want me to do it now?” All he needed was my email address.

But of course Sean Rad is above average. And that’s not a worrying security hole. Is it?
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Exclusive: Samsung plans to bring almost all its apps to iOS » SamMobile

Asif S:

We’ve recently received information from our trusted insiders that Samsung is planning to bring most of its apps (if not all) to Apple’s iOS platform later this year.

According to the information that we’ve received, Samsung is working on Gear Fit Manager for iOS. This will allow people who own the Gear Fit to pair it with an iPhone. To compliment the Gear Fit Manager and Gear Manager apps, Samsung will also release the S Health app for iPhone. S Health app can be used to log daily activity, workouts, food intake, and sleep.

In terms of home entertainment, Samsung is bringing iOS support for the Galaxy View. The company is developing the Remote Control and Family Square apps for the iOS, which can be used to remotely control the Galaxy View using an iPhone and allow different users to stream content to the movable display. There are plans to release the Level app for Samsung’s Level audio devices as well, which will enable iPhone users to use these devices and make use of various effects and an official way of control.

Looks like a way of expanding the total addressable market (TAM) for its peripherals and other products to iPhone users. Sensible.
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The Google Pixel C Review » Anandtech

Brandon Chester and Joshua Ho were really, really unimpressed:

On top of the issues with this specific Android build, Android itself is simply too far behind the competition as far as functionality and apps are concerned. I have commented on this in several Android tablet reviews, but the fact that Google is shipping their own tablet makes it important to go over it once again. Quite frankly, I still have yet to see a single app that has an UI that is both optimized for tablets and is as fluid as its iPad counterpart, and with the iPad offering multitasking while Windows offers an entire windowing system, there’s absolutely no way for the Pixel C and other Android tablets to be competitive. This applies just as much to Google’s own apps as it does to third party ones, and it’s really not a stretch to say that they behave like you’re using a blown up smartphone. In the past few years both Apple and Microsoft have stepped up their games with their respective tablet OSes go, but it feels like Android has never really advanced past the first generation of tablet OSes, which leaves Android badly lagging the competition.

Statements from Google engineers make it clear that Google has some changes coming to Android in the future to bring features like multitasking, but at this point it seems to me that either nobody Google really understands what a tablet should be, or they are unable to come to a consensus to get something developed. Adding multitasking doesn’t do anything to fix the fundamental issue with application quality, and Google doesn’t want to take the first step in making proper applications so that other developers can follow.

Note too that Chester points to terrible graphics transitions – and yet in the GPU benchmarks, the Pixel C beats everything else. Another case where benchmarks don’t tell the whole story.
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Unpacked: global ad blocker usage on smartphones » Tech.pinions

Ben Bajarin (on a paywalled piece, hence no diagram below) has data much the same as Global Web Index:

over 20% of the global internet audience is already using an ad blocker on their smartphone. 16.1% have not begun using an ad blocker but are interested in doing so. Just over 30% haven’t used an ad blocker and aren’t interested in going through the trouble to install one.

In light of what Matt and I discovered, I decided to slice the answers by demographic to see how different age groups answered the same question.

In line with the discovery Matt [Richman] and I made, ad blocking is most common among the millennial demographic. I can’t stress enough how valuable this demographic is from an advertising standpoint. As ad blocking becomes more the norm with this group, on smartphones and on PCs, it will require significant adjustment. What is also interesting is many of these ad blocking services are not free. Currently over 25% of millennials using an ad blocker paid for it. This has massive consequences for this with advertising-supported business models.

I’ve articulated before my conviction that free-with-ads business models may become things of the past. They certainly are no longer viable in emerging markets.

The point about emerging markets is important: India is a big source of adblocking on mobile, for example.
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OPPO sold 50m smartphones in 2015 » Gizmochina

OPPO’s R7, R7S and R7 Plus constituted 15m units in sales alone which is an incredible figure. Specifically speaking the smartphones priced between 2000 Yuan [£210,$300] to 3000 Yuan [£320,$450] segment were highest selling smartphones.

That’s up 67% year-on-year. That would put it around fifth in the world, nudging LG and Sony and behind Xiaomi, Huawei, Apple and Samsung. The big Chinese name nobody in the west has heard of.
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The threat is already inside » Foreign Policy

Rosa Brooks (formerly a senior advisor at the US State Department):

By now, the script is familiar: Terrorists attack a Western target, and politicians compete to offer stunned and condemnatory adjectives. British, Chinese, and Japanese leaders thus proclaimed themselves “shocked” by the Paris attacks, which were described variously as “outrageous” and “horrific” by U.S. President Barack Obama; “terrible” and “cowardly” by French President François Hollande; “barbaric” by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi; “despicable” by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; and “heinous, evil, vile” by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who possesses a superior thesaurus.

The Paris attacks were all these things. One thing they were not, however, was surprising.

Occasional terrorist attacks in the West are virtually inevitable, and odds are, we’ll see more attacks in the coming decades, not fewer. If we want to reduce the long-term risk of terrorism — and reduce its ability to twist Western societies into unrecognizable caricatures of themselves — we need to stop viewing terrorism as shocking and aberrational, and instead recognize it as an ongoing problem to be managed, rather than “defeated.”

Politicians don’t like to say any of this. But we’re not politicians, so let’s look at 10 painful truths.

Essential reading, really.
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Xavier Niel explores move to enter UK mobile market » FT.com

Niel set up Free, a French mobile network which has been a great hit, as Daniel Thomas explains:

Interest from Mr Niel’s telecoms group in the British market will worry rivals, given its record of offering low prices that deeply undercut existing offers.

The launch four years ago of Free, Iliad’s mobile offering in France, disrupted the market, leading to an intense price war that slashed profits among the existing three operators. Orange’s proposed acquisition of Bouygues Telecom is an attempt to reverse the effects of the introduction of the low-cost rival.

A similar deal is being proposed in the UK with the purchase of O2 by Three, the UK’s smallest mobile group, which is owned by Hong Kong’s CK Hutchison. If the deal were to go through, it would reduce the number of competitors from four to three.

However, the deal is set to be challenged in the next week by the European competition regulator, which will set out a range of objections given the potential loss of competition for customers as well as third-party mobile providers that use the two networks under wholesale contracts.

The UK mobile market really is very competitive. Adding Free would shake it up even further.
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Internet of Things security is so bad, there’s a search engine for sleeping kids » Ars Technica

JM Porup:

Shodan, a search engine for the Internet of Things (IoT), recently launched a new section that lets users easily browse vulnerable webcams.

The feed includes images of marijuana plantations, back rooms of banks, children, kitchens, living rooms, garages, front gardens, back gardens, ski slopes, swimming pools, colleges and schools, laboratories, and cash register cameras in retail stores, according to Dan Tentler, a security researcher who has spent several years investigating webcam security.

“It’s all over the place,” he told Ars Technica UK. “Practically everything you can think of.”

We did a quick search and turned up some alarming results [of a sleeping baby in Canada, kitchen in Spain, classroom in China, someone’s house].

The cameras are vulnerable because they use the Real Time Streaming Protocol (RTSP, port 554) to share video but have no password authentication in place. The image feed is available to paid Shodan members at images.shodan.io. Free Shodan accounts can also search using the filter port:554 has_screenshot:true.

Shodan crawls the Internet at random looking for IP addresses with open ports. If an open port lacks authentication and streams a video feed, the new script takes a snap and moves on.

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Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida:

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