Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Boot up: Chromebooks v bloggers, FirefoxOS v Android, Google in China, and more

google chromebook pixel Sundar Pichai holds a Google Chromebook Pixel. Photograph: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A burst of 8 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

Conor Friedersdorf:

As a college student and later as a newspaper reporter, I was subject to all manner of vile and ad hominem insults in comments. I nevertheless subscribed to the prevailing ethos of the time: that unmoderated comments were the least bad approach, because they acted as an important check on the writer or publication that was hosting them, a particularly important feature in an era when anyone could publish anything. My 25-year-old self felt confident that, having been subject to vitriol as serious as death threats, I was fully aware of the costs of the approach I advocated. Like many bloggers, I quickly developed thick skin, especially with regard to trolls. It wasn't always easy, but it seemed a small price to pay for all the excellent comments I got to read as compared to the prior world of boring letters to the editor.

Then I guest-blogged for Megan McArdle.

And he found out what it was like to be a woman writer on the internet. Coming after the conviction of two people for aggressive tweets at Caroline Criado-Perez, it's a thought-provoking piece.

"There has been a ton of misreporting as many lazy reporters and bloggers have characterized this as all sales, which it wasn't, or even consumer sales, which it most assuredly was not," said Stephen Baker of the NPD Group, in an email reply to questions. "It has been very personally distressing to me that so many reporters/bloggers refuse to read, or don't know what commercial channels mean."

Baker was referring to information NPD released 23 December that said Chromebooks accounted for 21% of all U.S. notebook sales through the commercial retail channel for the first 11 months of 2013.

In his email, Baker defined the commercial channel as the distributors - like CDW and Ingram Micro - that many businesses, government agencies, schools and other organizations use to buy personal computers and other devices. His data did not include consumer sales, nor PCs sold by OEMs, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, directly to businesses...

"On the subject of Chromebooks versus clamshell notebooks, I don't subscribe to the idea that [the former] are taking sales from Windows," Baker said. "In my view, they are just as likely, actually more likely, to be taking sales from Android tablets or iPads, or just expanding the market than they are taking sales from Windows PCs in these business-to-business and education markets."

Smart TVs (does it matter which OS a TV has?), and this:

ZTE launched the first Firefox OS phone via Telefonica in Spain, which was well-­received and is exceeding expectations in the European and Latin America markets. In 2014, ZTE will develop a new Firefox OS line to give their users more choice. New Firefox OS phones from ZTE will include higher-­end and dual core options like the Open C and Open II.

Spain is one of the countries where Android is super-dominant. Is Firefox OS going after the low end there?

Famed cryptographer and security guru Bruce Schneier has moved on from his seven years at BT. Just one month later, he has accepted the role of CTO at incident response startup Co3 Systems.

…Co3 Systems makes co-ordination software for incident response. Schneier had previously served on Co3 Systems' advisory board and by joining the firm full time he will be reunited in a working partnership with people he worked with at Counterpane Internet Security prior to the security services firm's purchase by BT in October 2006.

Status quo ante, pretty much.

It's all about Baidu (63.1%) and Qihoo (22.5%) and slightly less about Sogou (11.4%):

Google had already been struggling since early 2010 when the Silicon Valley giant shuttered its Chinese search engine – it was at – so as not to comply with China's media censorship laws. However, its Google Hong Kong search engine is partially blocked by China's Great Firewall, and it's a lottery if the page loads or not. Google has a mere 1.6% market share as a search engine in China in December 2013, compared to the 11.25% share it had in December 2010. It was already tanking in 2012, but 2013 was the year that Google slid into oblivion in China, barely ahead of Bing and Yahoo.

Easy to forget how different other parts of the world are.

China Telecom, the nation's third-largest wireless carrier, cut contract prices for Apple's iPhone 5s by about 15% ahead of next week's release of the device by larger rival China Mobile.

China Telecom is offering a combination of price reductions and gift packages that together amount to an 800 yuan ($132) cut off the list price of 5,288 yuan ($873) for a 16GB iPhone 5s, according to promotional material at the carrier's Beijing retail locations today.

China Telecom has around 100m 3G users; China Mobile, around 180m.

A clever wrong-footing headline:

Like Mark Zuckerberg, who represents the corporate face of privacy infractions, and Edward Snowden, who exposed government overreach, Billy Hawkes is, at least among wonkier circles, the regulatory face of the privacy debate.

It is not a role he relishes. "When I started off in this job, the focus would primarily have been domestic. You wouldn't be talking to me if I was only concerned with schools and supermarkets. It's become a far more complex job. I used to have a quiet life [but] that is no longer the case," Hawkes said in a recent interview with Quartz in..

Can you guess where it is yet?

Rockstar Consortium, a group created by Apple Inc., Microsoft Corp. and other technology companies to acquire patents from Nortel Networks Corp. in 2011, has sold a portion of that portfolio to Spherix Inc.

The patents in the sale cover technologies including access, switching, routing, optical and voice communication network devices, Spherix said in a statement today. Spherix disclosed in a filing last week that it issued $60m in stock to acquire 101 Rockstar patents.

Couldn't get them to monetise, so sold them.

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