Sunday, November 16, 2014

Boot up: drone racing, Japan forgets, Poodle dealing, iPad stalls

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

Star Wars! In a forest! This is great.

A Japanese court has ordered Google to delete about half of the search result for a man linked to a crime he didn't commit. Judge Nobuyuki Seki of the Tokyo District Court said that the search results "infringe personal rights," and had harmed the plaintiff. A recent poll also found that 61% of Americans favour the EU Court of Justice decision regarding the right to be forgotten. And Canada is now debating the establishment of a similar legal right.

Only half the search results?

Gregg Keizer:

The top three browser makers announced yesterday how they will deal with the design flaw in SSL 3.0 after researchers revealed that their "POODLE" attack method can steal encrypted information and pilfer browser session cookies.

Microsoft, Google and Mozilla all told users of their browsers -- Internet Explorer, Chrome and Firefox, respectively -- how they will handle the SSL 3.0 flaw, which cyber criminals could exploit using "man-in-the-middle" attacks to make off with session cookies. Those stolen cookies would let the hackers impersonate their victims, automatically logging into sites to, for example, make online purchases, read email or lift files from cloud storage services.

Mozilla was the most definite in its plans.

Pity none of them was "change the name of the vulnerability from 'Poodle' to 'Deathblaster' because it would make people take notice".

Ben Thompson:

Obvious though larger iPhones may have seemed to many of us, Apple still deserves praise for pushing ahead with the iPhone Plus in particular. Anyone who thinks this won't have an impact on iPad sales is surely kidding themselves. And make no mistake: that's bad for Apple in the short term. Sure, the iPhone Plus has much better margins – both in percentage and absolute terms – than the iPad mini especially, but one iPhone Plus per customer is still much less money for Apple than that same customer buying both an iPhone and an iPad.2 Apple though, just as they did with the iPod and Mac previously, has proved itself willing to cannibalize itself.

To be sure, Apple is certainly not too worried: the downside of a bigger phone is reduced convenience and portability, opening up room for a device that is even more portable and always with you – the Apple Watch. And, just as the iPhone was much more profitable than the iPod it replaced, the Watch will almost certainly be much more profitable than an iPad.

The iPad, he argues, has become part of the "squeezed middle" between phones and desktop/laptop PCs; but also Apple has failed to enable business models on the App Store that would enable developers to thrive through iPad apps.

Farhad Manjoo:

the Note 4 has a stylus, which Apple fans have long argued was proof of its inferiority. They're wrong; despite Steve Jobs's objections, the stylus is a handy tool for manipulating such a big phone, and after using the Note, I often found myself missing it when I went back to the iPhone.

With the Note, Samsung is aiming for something transformative, a device that is more than just a big phone: The Note 4 feels like an ambitious effort to reach for the future of computing, in which our phones are more useful and powerful than PCs, and in which we barely bother with any other kinds of computers.

While owners of Samsung devices continue to drive the majority share of North American Android Web traffic, LG posted the largest usage share gains among any Android brand between June and September 2014.

ComScore data for August 2014 shows Samsung having 50m out of 90m Android smartphones in the US, so the 57% share in this graph looks consistent. The Amazon figure - at 6.9%, up slightly year-on-year - means the figures include tablets too.

Kyle Wagner:

In many ways, Gamergate is an almost perfect closed-bottle ecosystem of bad internet tics and shoddy debating tactics. Bringing together the grievances of video game fans, self-appointed specialists in journalism ethics, and dedicated misogynists, it's captured an especially broad phylum of trolls and built the sort of structure you'd expect to see if, say, you'd asked the old Fires of Heaven message boards to swing a Senate seat. It's a fascinating glimpse of the future of grievance politics as they will be carried out by people who grew up online.

You can ignore the Gamergate-related stuff, but it's that last sentence which makes this piece worth reading.

Erin Griffith:

According to former Hailo employees, the company struggled because what worked in London didn't translate to New York. London cab drivers are highly trained and equipped with smartphones. There, cabs are a luxury product. Meanwhile, New York's grid system–far more regimented than London's cowpaths—makes it easy for new drivers to learn the streets and take the job with very little training. It's also not standard for yellow cab drivers to have smartphones as part of their job. Many New York drivers were suspicious of a service like Hailo, former employees say. Besides, it's not difficult for New York drivers to find new fares, leaving Hailo's value proposition thin.

Further, when e-hailing was approved by New York, the city's pilot program was delayed because of an appeal from the black car lobby. Uber's response to legal issues has been to continue operating, as it did when it met resistance in Germany.

Hailo also faced technical issues in New York. Because the city works with payment processors that use outdated technology, Hailo found it difficult to integrate its services with them, according to one former Hailo employee.

…a large proportion of the apps that matter are fundamentally local. To say that Citibank in the USA, Tesco in the UK or Carrefour in France will pull their iOS apps because it's the 'minority ecosystem' is actually to say that they'll abandon the best half or best third of their users because there are lots of Android users in Indonesia. Equally, the hot new startup in India or Indonesia may well go Android first, and not care how many iPhones there are in San Francisco. The size of the broader global ecosystem is not necessarily that relevant if the target market is local and the local market is large enough to sustain development by itself. So some of these will go global (or try to) but many may not need to.

This in turn means that the question of what platforms are sub-scale or minority is different in different places and so you will get different levels of support for these platforms in different places:

• In very big markets such as the USA (over 200m smartphones) China (at least 400m already) and India (perhaps 100m) you can build big businesses without worrying much what's used in other places.

• Small, low income markets may be dominated by Android but also not be able to sustain local developers, and so float on the global services alone.

• In markets like Spain one can clearly see signs that Android has 'won' and that local brands are slow to support iOS. 

• In some middle income markets, iOS may have a small relative share but (due to income inequality) a wildly disproportionate share of the most valuable customers. 

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