Start up: SWIFT’s hacking problem, Apple swoons, the emoji war, the medical firm shut by filesharing, and more


The price tag isn’t necessarily about what it’s worth to the maker. It might be what it’s worth to you. Photo by DaMongMan on Flickr.

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A selection of 10 links for you. (Check against delivery. Might not be decimal-based.) I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Exclusive: SWIFT warns customers of multiple cyber fraud cases » Reuters

Jim Finkle:

»SWIFT, the global financial network that banks use to transfer billions of dollars every day, warned its customers on Monday that it was aware of “a number of recent cyber incidents” where attackers had sent fraudulent messages over its system.

The disclosure came as law enforcement authorities in Bangladesh and elsewhere investigated the February cyber theft of $81m from the Bangladesh central bank account at the New York Federal Reserve Bank. SWIFT has acknowledged that the scheme involved altering SWIFT software on Bangladesh Bank’s computers to hide evidence of fraudulent transfers.

Monday’s statement from SWIFT marked the first acknowledgement that the Bangladesh Bank attack was not an isolated incident but one of several recent criminal schemes that aimed to take advantage of the global messaging platform used by some 11,000 financial institutions.

«

Let’s see – since the Bangladesh hack we’ve gone through “not affected” and “isolated incident” and now “multiple incidents”. I believe the next stage is “it emerged that hackers have known for years…”
link to this extract


Apple ends 13 years of continuous quarterly growth » NBC News

Everett Rosenfeld:

»Shares in the company fell more than 6 percent in after-hours trading.

Speaking with CNBC, Apple CEO Tim Cook said the company is in “the early innings of the iPhone” and that they “feel good” about their business in China.

In fact, Apple beat Wall Street’s estimates on iPhone shipments, reporting 51.2m for the quarter. Analysts had expected 50.3m, according to StreetAccount.

Still, that iPhone unit count was a 16% decline from the 61.17m shipped during the same period last year.

Looking ahead to the fiscal third quarter, Apple said it expects revenue between $41bn and $43bn — Wall Street had expected $47.42bn on average, according to StreetAccount.

«

That’s a long way down. Notable that Google, Microsoft, Intel and others have also had poor earnings. So one asks…
link to this extract


The End of Hardware? » LinkedIn

Bob O’Donnell:

»Whether it’s PCs, tablets, smart watches or now, even smartphones, the outlook for most major hardware device categories is not looking good, particularly here in the US.

The issue is that both consumers and businesses have already bought a lot of these devices. Plus, they’re hanging on to their purchases longer than they used to, and longer than many people originally thought they would.

Many companies, including both Intel and Qualcomm, have been forced to make some painful employee reductions as a result of these challenges, and there are likely more from other vendors still to come.

So, does this signal the end of hardware as we know it?

On one hand, yes, we are arguably at the peak of these key hardware categories, particularly when you add them all together. As a result, we are likely to see modest declines in unit shipments from this point forward. After a 30+-year run of growth, that’s tough news to take.

But there is hope in hardware-land. It just requires thinking about the market in a different way.

«

link to this extract


‘It sounded like my child’: the ‘virtual kidnappers’ scamming Americans » The Guardian

Sam Levin:

»Tracy Holczer was driving with a friend to their writers’ group in a suburb of Los Angeles when she got a terrifying call on her cellphone from a number she didn’t recognize. A hysterical girl was screaming on the other end of the line.

“Mommy, please help me! Someone grabbed me, and I’m in a van. I don’t know where I am!”

It was 4.45pm on 22 March, and it was immediately clear to Holczer that she was experiencing the most unimaginable horror any parent could comprehend: her 14-year-old daughter, Maddy, whom she had left at home 30 minutes earlier, had been kidnapped.

A man quickly got on the line and demanded that the mother withdraw money from her bank and transfer it to his account. He told her that if she or her friend contacted anyone, he would know, and if she refused to comply, he would kill Maddy – whom Holczer could periodically hear screaming in the background. “He said they are happy to send body parts,” the 48-year-old mother recalled.

«

Terrifies people enough that they don’t think to ask to speak to the child, or get an identifying detail, or anything else that would prove it’s anything but a scam. You can understand it, though. And how do you stop this scam?
link to this extract


Inside “Emojigeddon”: the fight over the future of the Unicode consortium » BuzzFeed News

Charlie Warzel:

»There’s trouble afoot inside the Emoji Council of Elders, or, at the very least, signs of a low-simmering schism that’s being referred to by some of its participants — perhaps with less humor than one might expect — as “Emojigeddon.”

Emails seen by BuzzFeed News reveal an emerging tension at the Unicode Consortium — the 24-year-old organization that was established to develop standards for translating alphabets into code that can be read across all computers and operating systems.

The series of frustrated messages show a deepening rift between those who adhere to the organization’s original mission to code old and obscure and minority languages and those who are investing time and resources toward Unicode’s newer and most popular character sets: emojis, a quirky periodic table of ideograms and smiley faces that cover everything from bemused laughter to swirling, smiling piles of poop. The correspondence offers a peek behind the scenes of the peculiar and little-known organization that’s unexpectedly been tasked with building what some see as the first digital universal language.

«

🤔
link to this extract


The first rule of pricing is: you do not talk about pricing » Medium

Tom Whitwell, in a terrific essay that has been doing the rounds, but should be bookmarked by everyone who ever has to set a price:

»It’s tempting to talk to customers about price.

Your customers — real or potential — will certainly have views about prices that they are keen to share.
Ignore them.

“It is not your customer’s job to set pricing. An optimal price is one that is accepted but not without some initial resistance” as Ash Mauyra explains in this great piece.

It is almost impossible to predict how a customer will react to a particular price by asking them. That’s because they don’t know how they will react.

They have no idea.

“Are you in the market for tea lights on this trip to IKEA?” you might ask. “No” They might say. Or “Yes”. Neither is a useful signal, because they don’t have a clue.

There’s one easy way to find out what customers think about prices. By selling them things.

«

Whitwell was one of the teams at The Times digital edition, which raised its price in 2010 from zero to £2. Calamity didn’t follow. Why not?
link to this extract


A revolutionary new way to access all your files » Dropbox Business Blog

»With Project Infinite, we’re addressing a major issue our users have asked us to solve. The amount of information being created and shared has exploded, but most people still work on devices with limited storage capacity. While teams can store terabyte upon terabyte in the cloud, most individuals’ laptops can only store a small fraction of that. Getting secure access to all the team’s data usually means jumping over to a web browser, a clunky user experience at best.

Project Infinite will enable users to seamlessly and securely access all their Dropbox files from the desktop, regardless of how much space they have available on their hard drives. Everything in the company’s Dropbox that you’re given access to, whether it’s stored locally or in the cloud, will show up in Dropbox on your desktop. If it’s synced locally, you’ll see the familiar green checkmark, while everything else will have a new cloud icon.

«

I suspect this is going to be a business- (or paid-)-only thing. It’s a clever upsell. Here’s the user interface problem you have to figure out, though: if I download a file but now want to free up that space on the hard drive, when I hit “delete” should it be deleted from the cloud? I expect a three-option dialog (Cancel, only from hard drive, from cloud too). But it gets messy.
link to this extract


The iPhone 6 Blip » Beyond Devices

Jan Dawson argues that iPhone sales growth was on a slowing long-term trend which was artificially interrupted by the larger-screened iPhone 6, for a year:

»The iPhone 6 blip is over, but if iPhone sales land roughly where the analysts expect them to, they’ll be right back on track with where they were headed before the iPhone 6 launched. That’s a big “if” – sales could come in above or below that number, which would suggest either that underlying growth had slowed more dramatically in the past, or that Apple has successfully pushed to a slightly higher long-term growth rate off the back of the iPhone 6 and 6S.

The other big question is what happens in the next few quarters, and whether Apple is able to stay on or above that long-term trend line. Remember that the trend line calls for a 1-1.5% reduction in year on year growth per quarter – on that basis, growth would slow to 6%, 5%, and 4% over the remaining quarters of 2016 with 1% shrinkage, or drop as low as a 1% decline by the end of the year. This is obviously far too precise for a real-world projection, but it gives you some sense of that trajectory if it does continue. It’ll be very interesting to see Apple’s guidance for the June quarter – on the basis of the trajectory, Apple would sell between 39 and 41 million iPhones next quarter. But of course, it’s just launched the iPhone SE, which could change things. Anything below 40m iPhones (or $40bn in revenue guidance) is a sign that Apple is dropping below its long-term trajectory, and would be bad news. Anything above that is cause for optimism, at least in the short term.

«

As noted above, Apple is guiding $41-43bn.
link to this extract


Your media business will not be saved » Medium

Joshua Topolsky (a key mover behind the original Engadget, and then The Verge, who then went to Bloomberg, where things didn’t go well; he’s currently freelance):

»The truth is that the best and most important things the media (let’s say specifically the news media) has ever made were not made to reach the most people — they were made to reach the right people. Because human beings exist, and we are not content consumption machines. What will save the media industry — or at least the part worth saving — is when we start making Real Things for people again, instead of programming for algorithms or New Things.

So what will matter in the next age of media?

Compelling voices and stories, real and raw talent, new ideas that actually serve or delight an audience, brands that have meaning and ballast; these are things that matter in the next age of media. Thinking of your platform as an actual platform, not a delivery method.

«

This sounds great; there’s also an excoriation earlier of the business model of most publishing sites, and an overdone – to my view – criticism of news organisations for not “getting” digital; the ones I’ve been at have got it all too well. But this sound like a recipe for targeting premium readers/viewers, which already happens (FT, WSJ, New York Times). And I don’t quite see what “thinking of your platform as an actual platform” means in terms of “compelling voices and stories”. Clearly Topolsky does, but he isn’t quite willing to share it yet.
link to this extract


A leak wounded this company. Fighting the Feds finished it off » Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Dune Lawrence:

»That Tuesday, LabMD’s general manager came in to tell Daugherty about a call he’d just fielded from a man named Robert Boback. Boback claimed to have gotten hold of a file full of LabMD patient information. This was scary for a medical business that had to comply with federal rules on privacy, enshrined in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. I need proof, Daugherty told his deputy. Get it in writing.

Boback e-mailed the document. It was a LabMD billing report containing data, including Social Security numbers, on more than 9,000 patients. Boback quickly got to the sales pitch: His company, Tiversa, offered an investigative service that could identify the source and severity of the breach that had exposed this data and stop any further spread of sensitive information.

LabMD’s four-person IT team found the problem almost immediately: The manager of the billing department had been using LimeWire file-sharing software to download music. Without knowing it, she’d left her documents folder, which contained the insurance report now in Tiversa’s possession, open for sharing with other users of the peer-to-peer network.

«

You think (because of the headline and that last sentence) that you know where this story goes. You don’t. Read it; it’s shocking and disquieting.
link to this extract


Errata, corrigenda and ai no corrida: none notified.

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