Start up: the forcePhone, analysts cut Samsung Q2 forecasts, bogus Beats?, the jailbreak economy, and more


Like this (from a MacBook), but in a phone. Photo by LoKan Sardari on Flickr.

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

Apple suppliers start making iPhones with Force Touch » Bloomberg Business

Tim Culpan:

Apple has started early production of new iPhone models with a feature called Force Touch, which senses how hard users are pressing down on a screen, people with knowledge of the matter said.

Its newest iPhones, in the same 4.7in and 5.5in versions as the current iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus devices, will have a similar exterior design, the people said. Volume manufacturing is scheduled to ramp up as soon as next month, they said.

Apple is bringing Force Touch, first unveiled for the Apple Watch and the newest MacBook model, to the iPhone at least two years after it started working with suppliers to perfect the pressure-sensitive displays.

Totally makes sense; why do you think Apple has been making so much noise about this feature on its PCs?


China adds 20 million 4G users in May » Chinadaily.com.cn

Xinhua (the official Chinese news agency):

The number of 4G users in China continued to grow in May, with 20 million added during the period, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) said on Thursday.

There are now 200 million 4G clients in China, as the country steps up investment in the telecom industry to expand broadband coverage. In total, there were 657 million mobile broadband users, including 3G and 4G users, at the end of May.

Even if it’s a some way off, China is still the biggest 4G provider in the world.


Taylor Swift may have triumphed, but Apple will still call the tune » The Guardian

I wrote about the whole Apple/Swift/streaming shenanigans:

Martin Goldschmidt, the founder and chief executive of independent record label Cooking Vinyl, whose artists include Marilyn Manson, Amanda Palmer, Billy Bragg and Groove Armada, says that Swift’s decision could certainly not have been because the video service pays better.

“YouTube has a revenue-sharing scheme from adverts, not per-stream, but compared to Apple or Spotify it pays one-tenth to one-twentieth as much per play,” he says. “People see music on YouTube as promotion – wrongly – and Spotify as the destination, the endgame. The reality is that YouTube is the biggest place for music consumption on the planet.

“The reason is that YouTube has colossal reach. We’re in the strange situation where 10m plays on Spotify is viewed as lost sales, while 10m plays on YouTube is a marketing success.”

It’s often overlooked that YouTube’s ad-supported streaming makes Spotify’s look like chicken feed.


Of Ma and malware: inside China’s iPhone jailbreaking industrial complex » Forbes

Great piece by Thomas Fox-Brewster:

Any hacker who can provide the full code for an untethered jailbreak, where the hack continues to work after the phone reboots, can expect a big pay check for their efforts. “Many experts agree the price for an untethered jailbreak is around $1 million,” says Nikias Bassen, aka Pimskeks, a lanky 33-year-old iOS hacker who is part of the evad3rs hacker collective. More often, sellers of iOS zero-day vulnerabilities – the previously-unknown and unpatched flaws required for jailbreaks – make thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars from Chinese firms, private buyers or governments, in particular three-letter agencies from the US.

Such big sums are on offer due to the explosion of the third-party app store industry in China. There are at least 362 million monthly active mobile app users in China, according to data provided by iResearch. Whilst smartphone owners in Western nations are content within the walled gardens of Apple and Google app stores for their games, media and work tools, the Chinese are fanatical about apps and want the broadest possible choice from non-Apple app stores. Jailbreaks, which do away with Apple’s chains and allow other markets on the device, are thus vital to meeting that demand.

Super-detailed piece, which also points to Alibaba’s involvement in this shady practice.


Google helps British criminals polish their image – but what about the innocent » The Register

Andrew Orlowski:

Just to make sure of Google knew its obligations, the Judges pointed out that information had to be “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” for an applicant to succeed. This would seem to rule out figures in public life wanting details related to their professional lives from succeeding in scrubbing them away … or serious criminals: under UK law, a conviction resulting in a sentence of more than four years is never “spent” under the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. In serious criminal cases the public interest is unambiguous.

However, someone who has committed no major crime – or merely done something embarrassing – should usually be allowed to have it forgotten at some point rather than having the incident follow them around on the internet forever.

How do ordinary people who have done ordinary things, for whom the law was designed, fare? It’s difficult to say. No deletion requests have been sent to the ICO for the Courts to decide – Google has acted as judge and jury, voluntarily. Google says it has removed 39,000 links and declined to remove 66,000 in the UK. In many cases, academic Julia Powles explained to us, it’s an incidental character such as a witness who actually lodged lodged the request rather than the subject of the story. Requesters are understandably reluctant to attract publicity. Until an academic conducts a credible study.

Yet from the Telegraph and BBC lists, it’s clear that people convicted of serious crimes are getting their reputations cleaned – even if they didn’t request the original deletion. Surely that’s the opposite of what the law intended: Google is rewarding the guilty.


Uh-oh: Beats teardown apparently used Beats knockoffs » Core77

Rain Noe:

The prototype engineer who did the breakdown, Avery Louie, never mentions what model of Beats he tore down. But he refers to the price as $199, which is consistent with Beats’ Solo 2 headphones. However, the color scheme in Louie’s photos doesn’t match the Solo 2 offerings, indicating he used Beats’ discontinued Solo HD, which also retailed for $199. And here’s where it starts to unravel.

Louie found just two drivers, one per ear, in his teardown. But the Solo HD contains four drivers, two per ear. So it appears Louie’s been given a bogus pair.

Entirely possible – wander around Shenzhen and there are “Beats” headphones absolutely everywhere.


Between Kickstarter’s frauds and phenoms live long-delayed projects » Ars Technica

Casey Johnston:

Ethan Mollick, a professor in management at University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, does some of the most quoted research on the business of crowdfunding. In a 2013 study, he found that 316 of the 471 successfully funded projects analyzed—all with estimated delivery dates of July 2012 or earlier—promised to deliver a physical product. Only three of those 471 projects had declared failure and offered refunds, while another 11 dropped off the map and stopped responding to their backers. Actual shameless fraud appeared rare.

“The concerns about the ability of projects to deliver, however, are supported,” Mollick wrote. Only 24.9% of the projects analyzed delivered on time, and 33% “had yet to deliver” at the time of analysis. The average delay measured 2.4 months. Projects that raise ten times their goal are half as likely to deliver on time.

Mollick also found a correlation between how much money a project raised and delays: projects that raised under $50,000 had a near-perfect delivery rate after eight months’ delay, while projects that raised more than $50,000 hovered around a 75 percent delivery rate eight months later. According to the New York Times Magazine, Mollick reported that since his 2012 evaluation, another 14 percent of projects had delivered either nothing or a subpar product.

Mollick takes the opposite stance. “I’m impressed so many things get delivered at all,” he told Ars.

Good to have some statistics on this.


The Samsung Galaxy S6 is the world’s fastest smartphone » Tom’s Guide

Sam Rutherford and Alex Cranz:

A fast phone shouldn’t just score well in benchmarks. It should deliver swift, everyday performance, too, whether it’s opening a large file, gaming without lag or firing up its camera faster than you can say “cheese.” We pitted six of the latest smartphones against each other in nine rounds of competition, and the Galaxy S6 blew away the field, finishing first in 6 out of 9 real-world tests and synthetic benchmarks.

The LG G4 is our runner-up, turning in the fastest camera-open time and storage benchmark score. The iPhone 6 finished third, tying for first in our real-world gaming test and second in our PDF load-time score. The biggest letdown was the Nexus 6, which finished fifth overall and dead last in opening our PDF, camera-open and gaming tests.

Turns out there’s barely any difference – could you tell the difference between a camera load time of 52.5 milliseconds v 61.5ms? OK, the Nexus 6 load time of 128ms is a lot more. But many of these are the sorts of “differences that don’t make much difference”.


Estimates of Samsung Electronics’ Q2 profits adjusted downward » BusinessKorea

Cho Jin-young:

Korea Investment & Securities adjusted its forecast downward from 7.717trn won (US$6.957bn) to 7.046trn won (US$6.352bn) on June 24, adding that the profits of every business unit but semiconductors are predicted to fall short of expectations.

[Other analysts cut their forecasts too.] According to financial information provider WISEfn, the average estimate fell from 7.4565trn won (US$6.7222bn) to 7.3488trn won (US$6.6244bn) between late March and early this month, and then to 7.2518trn won (US$6.5376bn) on June 24. As recently as a month ago, Hyundai Securities, IBK Investment & Securities, and HMC Investment & Securities used to expect that it profits would exceed 8trn won.

The drop in estimates can be attributed to sluggish smartphone sales. “It seems that the sales volume of the Galaxy S6 and the Galaxy S6 Edge have been less than expected, due to a supply shortage and consumer preference for the iPhone 6,” Mirae Asset Securities explained. Nomura Securities recently lowered its Galaxy S6 shipment estimates for the second quarter by three million to 18m units.

18 million is still a lot.


Start up: S6 battery life, Datasift squeezed, notifying Apple Watch, and more


Endangered species (one of many)? Photo by DaveCrosby on Flickr.

A selection of 8 links for you. Spread straight from the fridge. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

A Japanese court has ordered Google to take down negative business » Quartz

Google was ordered by a Japanese court today to take down anonymous negative business reviews of a medical clinic, written by people who said they were former patients. The decision is the latest sign of the spread of the “right to be forgotten” concept from Europe to Asia.

The case pitted a Japanese medical clinic against the search engine, Japan’s largest. The plaintiff, an unnamed doctor, said in a signed affidavit that the reviews complaining of poor service were false, one person briefed on the case said.

In the ruling, which was not made public but was reviewed by Quartz, Chiba District Court court ruled that Google must remove the reviews from its local and global search results, or face a ¥300,000 ($2,494) fine.

Google will appeal, but reversal is unlikely.


A ‘darker narrative’ of print’s future from Clay Shirky » NYTimes.com

Margaret Sullivan, the New York Times’s ombuds..person, relaying emails from Shirky, who thinks we’re currently in a lull of print decline (which he says will go fast – which the US saw in 2007-9 – and then slow, as now, and then fast at some time in the near future:

The problem with print is that the advantageous returns to scale from physical distribution of newspapers become disadvantageous when scale shrinks. The ad revenue from a print run of 500,000 would be 16 percent less than for 600,000 at best, but the costs wouldn’t fall by anything like 16%, eroding print margins. There is some threshold, well above 100,000 copies and probably closer to 250,000, where nightly print runs stop making economic sense. This risk is increased by The New York Times’s cross-subsidy of print, with its print+digital bundle. This bundle creates the risk of rapid future readjustment, when advertisers reconsider print CPM in light of reduced consumption and pass-around of print by all-access subscribers. (Public editor note: C.P.M. is the cost to the advertiser per thousand readers or viewers, a common measurement in advertising.)

Both your Sunday and weekday readerships are already near important psychological thresholds for advertisers — one million and 500,000. When no advertiser can reach a million readers in any print ad in the Times (2017, on present evidence) and weekday advertising reaches less than half a million (2018, using the 6 percent decline figure you quoted), there will be downward pressure on C.P.M.s. [cost to the advertiser to reach a thousand readers; high CPMs are good for a publisher].

And then things unravel, Shirky suggests.


Galaxy S6 Edge battery life – first 24 hours » Android Authority

Nirave Gondhia is starting a series where he tests the battery life on his new phone:

Testing battery life can be subjective as each person’s usage will vary widely but to try and provide some context to these battery tests, I copied all my data and apps from my Galaxy Note 4 (running Lollipop). Whereas the Galaxy S6 Edge lasted just over 14 hours, my Galaxy Note 4 would usually last 18 to 22 hours with largely the same apps and services running.

The first thing you will notice about the Galaxy S6 Edge battery is that the first 10% seems to drain very quickly. After this initial short burst, the battery begins to level off and settle down. It’s a strange occurrence that many people have reported but it’s possible this is due to the handset being new – after a few days usage, will it still drain the first 10%?

Reviewers have pointed to the S6 having less battery life than the S5; worth watching how this pans out in real life.


Lost In Mobile to close on 18th April » Lost In Mobile

Shaun McGill:

It’s been a good run, but the time has come to finally close LIM. As you will be aware, the content has dropped significantly in recent weeks and this has been due to workloads elsewhere and a continual problem finding mobile news that I consider worthy of sharing.

The mobile industry has changed to the point that I believe that one-man blogs are unable to offer the kind of benefits readers used to receive and with so many resources and larger services out there, I am struggling to find the motivation to keep posting content.

Been going 13 years. A sign of the times?


It’s time to stop tiptoeing around Joni Mitchell’s health condition » The Globe and Mail

Russell Smith:

No news items have revealed what exactly caused her sudden hospitalization, but all have mentioned that she “suffers from Morgellons disease.” This is because Mitchell herself described the affliction and used its name in an interview in 2010. News stories may then carefully allude to the fact that this “disease” is “mysterious” or even “controversial.” But the damage is done: The phrase “suffers from Morgellons” is quite simply inaccurate, and even harmful, in that it perpetuates a delusion.

Those who claim to be suffering from it are more likely suffering a psychiatric illness, experts say. If that’s the case with Mitchell, we should really be saying she “revealed in 2010 that she suffers from delusional parasitosis.” The name Morgellons was invented by a person who is not a doctor and is not employed by any hospital, university or research institution. It was intensely studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, and the CDC’s conclusions, released in 2012, were straightforward: Researchers found no common cause of the disease, and say those who believe they have it have often self-diagnosed after encountering websites that describe it. In other words, it is a delusion that is spread by the Internet.

The fact that newspapers are being so tactful about the possibility of psychiatric disturbance in Mitchell’s case is incongruent with the supposedly new attitudes about mental illness that are being trumpeted in those same newspapers. Aren’t we constantly reading about how we should “end the stigma” when it comes to mental illness? Aren’t we being told that there is no shame in psychiatric disorders, that their sufferers should not be morally judged, that they should be open about their ailments?

Smith’s article makes the point strongly: artists are separate from their creations. If Mitchell (whose music I love) has a mental problem, that doesn’t subtract from her music or any of her achievements. It just means she has a mental problem.


To our users: a community update » PressureNet.io

Pressurenet is an Android app that measures barometric pressure and then tries to crowdsource it for, well, weather and related forecasting. But as happens, it has to try to make some money somewhere – including the sale of past data that it collected:

We are aware of the sensitive nature of selling user-contributed data and we want to be open about exactly what information we collect and what control you have over it.

The data is anonymous and is comprised of: an alphanumerical user id that is not directly linked to any personal user information, atmospheric pressure, location (latitude, longitude, and altitude) and time of the pressure reading, phone model type, whether the phone was charging at the time the reading was sent, as well as some other metadata. PressureNet does not and has never collected any personally identifiable information.

Umm. A location doesn’t identify a person, but if you could track the phone by any other means, you’d have a ton of data.


Twitter ends its partnership with DataSift – firehose access expires on August 13, 2015 » Datasift Blog

Nick Halstead:

With the end of our partnership with Twitter the disruption is not only measured by the impact on our 1,000 direct customers, but on the tens of thousands of companies that use applications that are “DataSift-powered”. Many of these companies create insights that drive direct advertising revenue back into Twitter. A direct switch to Twitter/GNIP will not mitigate that disruption. Today, 80% of our customers use our advanced processing capabilities that are not available from Twitter/GNIP.

Really bad news for Datasift (a British company that was one of the first into the “big data” social space), which is now going to turn to Facebook. What happens if that decides to go in-house, though? Maybe DataSift needs to look at processing for private clients such as finance.


What the Apple Watch means for the Age of Notifications » Medium

Steven Levy:

the Age of Notifications is about to face its biggest mess yet, as alerts move from phone screens to watch faces. Notifications are just about the entire point of a smart watch — you’re not going to be reading books, watching movies or doing spreadsheets on them. And a tilt of the wrist is the perfect delivery system for those little blips.

But having that delivery system on your body makes notifications much harder to ignore. It’s jarring enough to get a phone-buzz notifying you of an alert. When it’s something zapping your skin, it’s even more compelling. What’s more, because it’s so easy to simply twist your wrist to see what the fuss is about, the temptation is all the harder to resist.

I don’t get this. It makes it sound as though people are helpless children who can’t figure out what classes of notification (as in, from which app) interest them. The example he gives – a pointless notification from MLB – would have me deciding that MLB was never again going to get the chance to bother me. You don’t need to know about every incoming email (VIPs is fine, for me). Perhaps some people need to retreat a bit from their phones. But that’s no bad thing, whether it comes from buying a smartwatch or just realising they’re failing to live in the moment.