Start up: Samsung’s S6, why clickbait works, the music industry’s pain, Lenovo’s clean pledge, and more

What happens when you don’t have enough people in these? The music business hurts. Photo by eldeeem on Flickr.

A selection of 10 links for you. Adjust for daylight savings. I’m charlesarthur on Twitter. Observations and links welcome.

Samsung Galaxy S 6 and Galaxy S 6 edge » Business Insider

The Galaxy S 6 is made entirely of metal and glass and will come in two variations: The “regular” Galaxy S 6 and the Galaxy S 6 edge, which has a curved screen.

Samsung started designing the Galaxy S 6 from the ground up about a year ago under a program it called Project Zero. Whereas the last few Galaxy models were designed with the previous model in mind, the Galaxy S 6 is entirely new. Samsung even abandoned some of its earlier principles in order to highlight the design of the Galaxy S 6. It’s not waterproof. You can’t swap out the battery. And there’s no slot to insert extra memory.

Both models do all the same stuff, except the Galaxy S 6 edge has a few extras. It lets you swipe over from the curved portion of the screen to view a list of your favorite contacts and get alerts when you have a missed call or text from one of them. Other than that, Samsung says the curved screen doesn’t serve any function other than to look good. (It’ll also be more expensive, but Samsung hasn’t said how much either phone will cost yet.)

Besides the physical design, Samsung has cleaned up its software too. The phone isn’t bogged down with a bunch of unnecessary features and extras. The new version of Samsung’s TouchWiz skin for Android is cleaner and easier to navigate. All the basic apps like email, calendar, and music have a new look. Plus, the phone will ship with some of Microsoft’s Android apps like OneNote, OneDrive, and Skype.

As expected (and using its own Exynos processor), though Samsung appears to have used the iPhone 6 as its design template – from some angles you wouldn’t know which was which. I linked to Business Insider because it was the only site I could find easily which had a concise and balanced overview of what’s there in the phone and what’s not.

The list of features it has dumped from previous Galaxy flagships is now longer than those still there. Stuff that’s been dumped yet was previously “essential”: waterproofing, battery swapping, SD card slot, and of course things weird software “features” such as Air View, Air Gesture, Smart Stay and so on.

I have a feeling that this will actually be a bigger success for Microsoft than Samsung. “A curved screen that just looks good”?

Lenovo’s promise for a cleaner, safer PC » Lenovo Newsroom

After that Superfish shenanigans:

by the time we launch our Windows 10 products, our standard image will only include the operating system and related software, software required to make hardware work well (for example, when we include unique hardware in our devices, like a 3D camera), security software and Lenovo applications.  This should eliminate what our industry calls “adware” and “bloatware.”  For some countries, certain applications customarily expected by users will also be included. 

Lenovo is the biggest PC maker in the industry. Rival companies including Acer preinstall third-party apps. Will this force them to stop those installations, with the consequent impact on their margins? If so, that’s going to make it harder for them to thrive against Lenovo – which will get bigger, until Acer (and Asus?) are forced into a niche in the industry.

Why the Music Aficionado was to blame for declining music sales in 2014 » Music Industry Blog

Mark Mulligan:

Music Aficionados are consumers that spend above average time and money with music. They represent just 17% of all consumers but a whopping 61% of all recorded music spending. These consumers shape the fortunes of the music business. In the past this did not matter so much because:

• So many passive majority music fans were spending strongly
• Aficionados were behaving predictably

Now that has all changed. Passives are sating their appetites on YouTube while Aficionados are making major changes to their buying habits. Last year 14% of Aficionados said they were stopping buying CDs while 23% said they were buying fewer albums of any kind and 23% also said they were buying fewer downloads. The 2014 revenue numbers show us just what impact these changes had.

If we extrapolate those percentages to Aficionados’ share of spending in those markets in 2014 we see:

• Aficionados spent $192m less on CDs, which was 67% of the total $326m lost CD spend in 2014
• Aficionados spent $250m less on downloads, which was 86% of the total $290m lost CD spend in 2014

Amazing how concentrated it is – rather like the games app industry which relies on “whales”.

Yes to the Dress? » Medium

Paul Ford, in a masterful piece about media organisations’ reactions to That Story About The Dress (about which in two years’ time we’ll all say, “oh, yeah, wasn’t that stupid?”), and how Buzzfeed got 25 million page views in a day for it:

What I saw, as I looked through the voluminous BuzzFeed coverage of the dress, is an organization at the peak of a craft they’ve been honing since 2006. They are masters of the form they pioneered. If you think that’s bullshit, that’s fine—I think most things are bullshit too. But they didn’t just serendipitously figure out that blue dress. They created an organization that could identify that blue dress, document it, and capture the traffic. And the way they got those 25 million impressions, as far as I can tell from years of listening to their people, reading their website, writing about them, and not working or writing for them, was something like: Build a happy-enough workplace where people could screw around and experiment with what works and doesn’t, and pay everyone some money.


This is not said as an endorsement of BuzzFeed.

Oh. But it is an endorsement of building organisations that work. Trouble is, most media organisations experiment, but they don’t do it scientifically. That’s the real, fundamental fault.

Microsoft to cut 9,000 Nokia jobs in China » MarketWatch

Microsoft plans to shut two mobile-handset manufacturing plants in China formerly run by Nokia Corp., cutting about 9,000 jobs in total, various reports said Thursday. Microsoft, which bought Nokia’s handset business last April, scheduled the closure of the plants – located in Beijing and the southeastern city of Dongguan – earlier this month and plans to ship some of the manufacturing equipment there to Vietnam, according to a report in the government-run Beijing Youth Daily.

It quoted an unidentified Microsoft China executive as saying the closures and transfer of production capacity to Vietnam would likely be completed by the end of March. The layoffs are part of an estimated 18,000 job cuts which Microsoft announced in the wake of its purchase of the Nokia unit for $7.2bn.

At one time, according to Tomi Ahonen, it was the largest and most modern handset manufacturing facility in the world. Not sure when that time was, though. Think there are probably lots more factories making handsets now.

Why is the internet overrun with clickbait? » The Makegood

Tom Hespos:

I have an undergrad degree in journalism, I’ve been a business journalist for over 15 years, and I’ve worked at newspapers and even started my own. So I like to think I’m a decent headline writer. I wrote the original headlines for a handful of content pieces and watched the numbers roll in.

Some pieces bombed. Others did well. On the suggestion of our sales rep, we decided to test multiple headlines for each content piece. So we wrote 10-12 new headlines for each piece and tested them in isolation. Some of those headlines were typical of what a newspaper editor might write after reading the content. Others were deliberately controversial or, in some cases, playing to fear or uncertainty. You might even say they were starting to skirt the “clickbait” line.

So everything else was kept the same – the visual, the content, the media environments and everything else.  We just ran different headlines. Sure enough, the provocative headlines outperformed campaign averages. Big time. As in 15x lift.

We like to make fun of done-to-death lines like “You’ll never guess what happens next…” or “You’ve been doing [X] wrong your whole life…” We might even wonder out loud how many people actually click on such things. Perhaps we shouldn’t make fun.

I wonder what would happen if newspapers were to do the same with their headlines. You can see it being done by organisations like Taboola, where you can see an evolutionary progression going on with the headlines trying to get people to click through to stories.

Then again, businesses that rely simply on clicks are going to create clickbait. It’s as logical as night following day.

Futures of text » Whoops

Jonathan Libov:

I’m skeptical of a future where we communicate with computers primarily by voice. The visions in 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Her portray voice as the most effortless interaction, but voice actually requires a lot more cognitive and physical effort than pointing with a mouse, typing on a keyboard, or tapping on app icon and then navigating the UI. Consider all those times you’ve exchanged a million texts with someone while making plans when voice would have resolved it much more quickly. Text is often more comfortable even if it’s less convenient.

I believe comfort, not convenience, is the most important thing in software, and text is an incredibly comfortable medium.

Great piece looking at developments in messaging.

Cybergeddon: why the Internet could be the next “failed state” » Ars Technica

Sean Gallagher:

“If we think our kids and grandkids are going to have as awesome and free an Internet as the one we have, we really have to look at why we think that,” Jason Healey, director of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative at the Atlantic Council of the United States, told Ars.

The alternative futures for the Internet are not pretty. In presentations at multiple security conferences, Healey has suggested that the Internet could “start to look like Somalia”—a failed state where security is impossible, going about daily life is hazardous, and armed camps openly wage war over the network.

Healey’s analysis has been reinforced by events over the past two years: record data breaches, zero-day vulnerabilities released that affected a preponderance of Internet services, and visibility into the vast state surveillance of the Internet. The Internet has been “weaponized,” not just by the NSA and its foreign counterparts but by other states and Internet crime organizations. A thriving market for vulnerabilities attracts the bright and ambitious to work on discovering “zero days” for profit.

Sometimes you need an “e-” prefix, sometimes you need “cyber-“. Odd how “cyber-” wins for bad news – cyberwarfare, cyberhacking, and “e-” wins for the nice stuff. Apart from email, obviously.

Google just bought the entire .app web domain for $25m » Cult of Android

Killian Bell:

Fancy a .app web address? You’re going to be buying it from Google. The search giant has splashed out just over $25m on the entire .app web domain, which is around $19m more than any other company has paid for a top-level domain so far.

The actual figure Google paid to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICAAN) is $25,001,000. The second-most expensive domain is .tech, which sold for $6.76m, and the third-most expensive is .reality, which sold for $5,588,888.

Google applied for the top-level domain (TLD) back in 2012, Business Insider reports, four years after ICAAN decided to expand the overall number of TLDs. The company also applied for .docs, .android, .free, .fyi, .foo, and others around the same time.

Makes sense, though now it has all the fun of being a registrar. Will all Google Play apps automatically get a .app address to make them visible in search?

Also, most expensive? Has nobody bought .sex?

Samsung’s rise and fall » Business Insider

Terrific, detailed piece by Steve Kovach:

The success of Samsung’s Mobile in the US began a rift with the Korean headquarters. Sources say the more successful Samsung was in the US, the more complicated the relationship with headquarters got. Instead of getting credit, the US team felt they were being chastised for doing their jobs well. (Samsung declined to comment on this story.)

It got so bad, a source told us, that Samsung flew a plane full of executives to the mobile division’s office in Dallas for an unannounced audit that lasted three weeks in 2012. The Dallas-based employees had to go through all materials they used to sell and market Samsung’s mobile products. They were accused of falsifying sales, bribing the media, and a bunch of other damaging actions that hurt morale in the office. The same US-based office that helped turn Samsung into a brand as recognizable as Apple was suddenly being punished for its work…

…during one meeting with the global teams at Samsung’s headquarters in Korea, executives made the US team stand up in front of several hundred of their peers in an auditorium. The executives told the employees to clap for the US team as encouragement since they were the only group failing the company, even though it was clear to everyone the opposite was true.