Saturday, October 4, 2014

Boot up: another US vendor hack, Microsoft layoffs?, Apple patent decision

A Black Friday shopper counts her dollars at a Target store in Torrington, Connecticut Currently the safest way to shop in the US. Photograph: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters

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

Brian Krebs:

C&K Systems Inc., a third-party payment vendor blamed for a credit and debit card breach at more than 330 Goodwill locations nationwide, disclosed this week that the intrusion lasted more than 18 months and has impacted at least two other organisations.

On 21 July, 2014, this site broke the news that multiple banks were reporting indications that Goodwill Industries had suffered an apparent breach that led to the theft of customer credit and debit card data. Goodwill later confirmed that the breach impacted a portion of its stores, but blamed the incident on an unnamed "third-party vendor."

Krebs comments:

the entire credit card system in the United States seems currently set up so that one party to a transaction can reliably transfer the blame for an incident to another. The main reason the United States has not yet moved to a more secure standard for handling cards, for example, has a lot to do with the finger pointing and blame game that's been going on for years between the banks and the retail industry. The banks have said, "If the retailers only started installing chip-and-PIN card readers, we'd start issuing those types of cards." The retailers respond: "Why should we spend the money upgrading all our payment terminals to handle chip-and-PIN when hardly any banks are issuing those types of cards?" And so it has gone for years.

Mary Jo Foley:

Later this week, Microsoft will lay off another group of employees as part of its planned cuts of 18,000 announced back in July, according to sources close to the company.

Microsoft officials said in July that the company would be realigning its worldwide workforce by cutting 18,000 jobs, with 12,500 of those cuts coming from employees Microsoft acquired as part of its acquisition of Nokia's handset and services business. Microsoft officials said the layoffs would happen over the course of several waves. Microsoft officials said 1,351 of the first round of employees cut would be based in the Redmond area.

Shares of VirnetX plunged as much as 59.8% after the decision by the U.S. Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington. The company and its lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Apple had appealed a November 2012 jury finding that it infringed VirnetX's patents for virtual private network, or VPN, technology through the FaceTime feature on its iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad products, as well as on its Mac computers.

While agreeing that some patents were infringed, the appeals court said the verdict was tainted by incorrect jury instructions from the trial judge on how to calculate damages, and that the error was not harmless.

It also agreed with Apple that testimony from a VirnetX expert over how to determine potential royalties should have been excluded, saying it did not reflect the extent to which the patented features were a factor in product sales.

10m devices sold in the US. And also:

Just over six years ago we shipped the very first Roku player to stream Netflix to the TV and now our players are synonymous with TV streaming. Today Roku players feature more than 1,800 channels – that's 1,000 more channels than available on other streaming players.

And because of this vast selection of entertainment, Roku players stream more than other streaming players. In fact, new NPD data found that Roku is the popular choice among streaming players and accounts for an aggregate 37m hours of video streamed per week compared to Apple TV at 15m hours, Chromecast at 12m hours and Amazon Fire TV at 6m hours.

One of Google's emerging rivals for online ad dollars is also its biggest search-ad buyer.

Amazon spent $157.7m on Google US search ads in 2013, by far the most by any company, according to Ad Age DataCenter's first ranking based on data from AdGooroo, a Kantar Media company focused on search marketing.

It may raise a few eyebrows to see Amazon atop the list of Google's biggest spenders. Over the past few years Amazon has ramped up its business of selling search and display ads on its own and others' sites, putting it in direct competition with Google's ad business. Last year Amazon generated $750m from worldwide advertising revenue and is expected to pull in more than $1bn this year, according to estimates from digital data firm eMarketer.

Compared to Google's overall revenue, that's not so big.

After you turn it on, well, what does software as part of the experience of a luxury product look like? Nokia's venture Vertu had a go at this, though I always struggled with the concept of an old low-end Nokia in a platinum box as a luxury good, but Apple is trying to do this for far more people. Apple always talks about delighting users, but for a 'watch', it seems to me that delight is central, and it needs to be the delight of the 'normal' person, not the delight of the technical user seeing a cool piece of engineering. That's the delight that comes from milanese loops, sending your heartbeat to your friend, or a butterfly flapping its wings on your wrist, AND knowing that your team scored or your bus is here.

Danny Sullivan:

News publishers often want to be listed in Google. News publishers also often want to have paywalls or registration barriers. The good news is Google has rules that allow for this. The bad news is that Google routinely fails to enforce these rules.

Below, a case study involving content in a major publication authored by Google's own executive chairman, Eric Schmidt.

Few days ago, Apple introduced iPhone 6 Plus. The new iPhone substantially changes the way graphics are rendered on screen. We've made an infographic to demystify this.

This may be one of the only occasions where an infographic actually does the job it's required to with no wasted drawing or words.

Chris Nerney:

If you absolutely must own a smartwatch now, you can't do better than the Motorola Moto 360 (unless you're really into rectangular watch faces). The Moto 360 is a functional and great-looking device that will attract attention, but not in that potentially dangerous Google Glass kind of way.

I've already decided I'm buying the Moto 360. It's a quality piece of hardware that will serve as an enjoyable platform for the early days of Android Wear. I'll be using the Moto 360 to explore the many apps developers will be rolling out for Android wearables in the coming months and years.

The real problem will be finding one: Google's Play Store is sold out, only three Moto 360s were shipped to my local Best Buy last week (all are long gone), and the device is going for $400 on Hopefully Motorola will soon catch up to the demand.

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