As passwords have become more annoying and less secure over the years, several of tech’s brightest minds have looked at one another and said, “Surely there must be a better way?” And although Google has typically been the most visible face in the crusade to kill the password, it looks like Microsoft will put more of its own resources into the effort as well. IDG News, via Network World, reports that Microsoft has joined the board of directors of the FIDO Alliance, an industry consortium founded in 2012 to reduce Internet services’ reliance on passwords. The alliance, which includes heavyweights such as Google, Lenovo and LG, is working on “standardizing authentication technologies will lead to better interoperability and innovations in biometrics, PINs (personal identification numbers) and secondary authentication technologies,” IDG News says.
If you think there have been a lot of reported “frontrunners” in the search for a new Microsoft CEO, you aren’t mistaken. First we had former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop, then we had Ford CEO Alan Mulally, followed by whispers that the company might go with its own enterprise boss Satya Nadella if Mulally turned down the job. Now that Mulally is seemingly out of the running, we’ve started hearing reports that Microsoft is not quite sold on Nadella after all and might look harder for an outside candidate. More →
Just two months ago, Google looked poised to skate free in the European Union’s antitrust probe into whether the search giant was unfairly favoring its own sites and services in its search results. The Wall Street Journal reports, however, that EU officials may scrap their proposed settlement with Google after rival tech companies and consumer groups blasted the deal for not going nearly far enough to restrict Google’s powers to unfairly hurt its competitors. If the EU’s antitrust officials can’t come up with a settlement that finds favor with both Google and its rivals then it could issue a formal complaint that the Journal says would end up “unleashing a legal process that could culminate in large fines for the U.S.-based company.”
While cord cutting isn’t yet a threat to cable companies’ profits, many in the industry can see where the market is headed and seem to understand that consumers aren’t as willing to pay for expensive bundles when they have cheaper alternatives in the form of Netflix and Hulu. According to Forbes‘ Dorothy Pomerantz, cable and telecom companies are considering adapting to this new world of online television by doing what had previously been unthinkable: Embracing cord cutting. More →
Here’s something America needs more of: Former high-ranking industry executives taking on crucial positions at key government regulatory agencies. Reuters reports that Michelle Lee, who previously served as Google’s head of patent strategy, has been named deputy director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and is set to run the agency until it finds a new full-time director. More →
Along with Apple, Samsung is one of only two companies to consistently make money selling smartphones. Bloomberg reports, however, that Samsung is getting antsy about keeping its margins high amid slowing growth and is moving some of its production from China to Vietnam where it can “secure even lower wages and defend profit margins.” In all, Bloomberg says that Samsung’s new $2 billion plant in Vietnam will be fully operational by 2015 and will produce around 40% of the company’s smartphones. It’s a good thing that Samsung has been able to find a source of even cheaper labor because otherwise it might have had to cut its marketing budget that bombarded us with $14 billion worth of ads this year.
Apple’s products will likely never have the top market share for very long, especially in a world where low-cost Android vendors can pop out super-cheap smartphones and tablets and sell them close to zero margins. Apple knows this all too well which is why it doesn’t particularly care much about what its market share is. What does Apple care about, then? Per AppleInsider, Needham & Co analyst Charlie Wolf writes in a research note that Apple would much rather have a smaller, more engaged user base that will deliver more revenue to app developers than a larger user base that doesn’t use their devices as much and that delivers less revenue to developers. More →
Is a la carte cable really a “farce” as 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey claims? Well we’re about to find out because our neighbors to the north are doing us the favor of giving it a try. Per The Hollywood Reporter, TV subscribers in Ontario this week will be able to buy channels a la carte from IPTV startup VMedia, whose UChoose Store will charge subscribers around $2.12 per month for each channel they subscribe to. Subscribers will also have the option of buying small bundles of 6 channels that will cost $1.65 each per month or 12 channels that will cost $1.41 each per month. More →
It seems that everyone hates cable bundles these days, including the creators of South Park who recently ridiculed cable companies as nipple-rubbing monopolist greedheads intent on shaking consumers down for every last dime. But there are two groups that still think bundles are terrific: The cable companies themselves and the entertainment studios that benefit from consumers subsidizing content they’ll never watch with their monthly cable bills. Multichannel reports that 21st Century Fox CEO Chase Carey recently lashed out at cable critics and said that bundles were good for most consumers even if they didn’t know it. More →
When the Federal Aviation Administration this year announced plans to lift restrictions on the in-flight use of personal electronics, many people cheered. But when word got out that the FAA and the Federal Communications Commission were also considering allowing cell phone calls during flights, many of those cheers turned to loud boos. The Washington Post reports that FCC chairman Tom Wheeler is insisting that the plan to ease restrictions on in-flight calls is a good idea even as he acknowledges its potential shortcomings. More →
It seems that learning about a dead teenage Pegatron worker has got Apple’s attention. Bloomberg reports that Apple has sent a medical team over to China to inspect a Pegatron factory to make sure that working conditions at the plant are not leading to a rash of worker deaths. Pegatron this week acknowledged that “several” of its young workers, including 15-year-old Shi Zhaokun, have died in recent months although the company insists that the deaths were unrelated to conditions in its factory. In a statement sent to Bloomberg, Apple said that while Pegatron has “found no evidence of any link to working conditions there, we realize that is of little comfort to the families who have lost their loved ones,” which is why it’s sending its own team to evaluate the situation. Pegatron, which has been largely responsible for manufacturing the iPhone 5c, has come under constant criticism from labor activists who say that the manufacturer provides even worse working conditions than Foxconn.
The iPhone is staging a major comeback in China… and that’s before Apple has sold even one smartphone through the country’s largest wireless carrier. New data from Counterpoint Research show that Apple’s iPhone has seen a major resurgence in China over the past couple of months as its market share in the country has jumped from under 5% in September 2013 to around 12% in October 2013. This surge in iPhone sales, which unsurprisingly coincided with the launch of the iPhone 5s and the iPhone 5c, vaulted Apple from sixth place all the way up to third place in just the span of a month. More →
Earlier this week we brought you the harrowing tale of a man who tried to get his burnt Galaxy S4 replaced but was told by Samsung that he needed to keep quiet about it before they’d send him a new device. wp-Hub points out that Nokia has now graciously/opportunistically offered to fill the hole left by the man’s scorched Galaxy S4 smartphone by offering him a free Lumia device with no strings attached, which is probably the strategy that Samsung should have used instead of sending him a letter asking him to take down his YouTube video of the burnt Galaxy S4. Nokia says it wants to send the man a Lumia so he can “experience how customer service should really work.”