Saturday, February 1, 2014

Boot up: scammers' new target, ATMs' XP woe, non-wearing pirates, and more

ATM Thousands of ATMs in the US are running Windows XP. Photograph: Lisa Pines/Getty Images

A burst of 9 links for you to chew over, as picked by the Technology team

While paying for ads requires a certain budget, ads have the advantage of funnelling higher quality prospects because people are actually already experiencing an issue.

In contrast, cold-calling is a very wasteful approach (low ratio of interested people for the number of outgoing calls) and not to mention that in many countries cold-calling is completely illegal.

The following (Figure 1) is a search that was performed directly from an Android tablet, querying the Bing search engine for "android slow tech support".

The top two results are actually paid ads (as opposed to organic results) which guarantees the buyer best placement and therefore more traffic.

Same old scam, though.

The rumour [of payments] was started by Eldar Murtazin who doesn't have the greatest track record when it comes to these things. He claimed that a few OEMs that were coming back to Windows Phone in 2014 would get a big stack of cash from Microsoft. Out of those Samsung was supposedly taking the lion's share with more than $1bn in payments. On the face of it this makes sense, Microsoft trying to push WP hard by supporting manufacturers just like they did with Nokia.

However, Frank Shaw, Microsoft's head of communications called these numbers fiction. In a tweet earlier Shaw said that Microsoft does indeed spend money on OEMs in co-promotions. We've seen the company do this a few times with Nokia and even HTC. However Murtazin is standing his ground saying that in fact the company is doing a lot more than promotions, they're covering OEM's R&D costs and helping them to switch to Microsoft's OS in order to launch new devices.

Google Now cards are available in the latest Chrome Canary build for Windows and Mac (34.0.1788). You only need to go to chrome://flags/#enable-google-now , then switch from "Default" to "Enabled" and click "Relaunch Now" at the bottom of the page to restart the browser. Chrome Canary and the stable Chrome can run at the same time, but the Canary version is updated daily, has the latest features and it's for developers and early adopters.

There are 420,000 ATMs in the U.S., and on April 8, a deadline looms for nearly all of them that underscores how sluggishly the nation's cash delivery system moves forward. That's the day Microsoft (MSFT) cuts off tech support for Windows XP, meaning that ATMs running the software will no longer receive regular security patches and won't be in compliance with industry standards.

Apple and Samsung were the winners as more consumers migrated to their flagship devices.  iPhone ownership increased from 35% in Q4 2012 to 42% in Q4 2013. Likewise, Samsung Android phones increased from 22% of smartphones owned in Q4 2012 to 26% in Q4 2013. In contrast, fewer smartphone owners reported having an HTC, Motorola, or Blackberry device in Q4 2013.

Note - this is ownership, not sales (and for over-18s). BlackBerry ownership down to 2% of the smartphone population.

"I've never seen a knock-off Gear in this whole town," said a young woman working in a shop full of Samsung products. Her shop is one of the few outlets that sell the real Gear but she said "they don't sell well."

"[Counterfeiters] don't care about the Gear as consumer demand is too weak," said another shop assistant in his early twenties, who was selling a number of what he said were real Samsung products, but not the smart watch. "We don't sell it anymore. It was not popular."

They don't seem to have asked about Google Glass, but there's a terrific anecdote about Nokia phones in there too.

"Google's barrister] Mr White… added that the Article 10 rights [under the Human Rights Act] of Google Inc 'plainly are [engaged] by reason of its right to disseminate information to others (for example in the form of advertising) and the right of internet users to receive that information."

In arguing that the case before the UK High Court over Google's hacking of Safari browsers to run DoubleClick cookies was without merit, and should be heard in California, one of Google's arguments was that stopping it collecting information interfered with its human rights. The ruling is long, but comprehensible.

Samsung's own smartphone platform effort, Tizen,  can't seem to catch a break. Its biggest supporter among mobile carriers – NTT Docomo – just officially announced that they are delaying Tizen smartphone launch plans indefinitely.

Samsung and Intel unveiled Tizen OS way back in September 2011, with first devices scheduled to ship in late 2012. That got pushed to spring 2013, then summer 2013, then again- to Q4.  And, obviously, nothing happened.

Tizen increasingly looks like it will never happen. Samsung's S-apps work to retain users, while Google is happy to be its outsourced OS development arm.

How to lay an undersea cable, in a GIF. It turns out to be the opposite of "how do you build a bridge".

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