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Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps

April 18, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Microsoft has accused Google of pushing Android handset makers to use its apps like YouTube and Maps.
Microsoft and Google clash over smartphone apps
Along with Oracle, Nokia and 14 other tech firms, Microsoft has filed a complaint with the European Commission.

The group, known as FairSearch, argues that Google is abusing its dominance of the mobile market.

“We are asking the commission to move quickly and decisively to protect competition and innovation in this critical market,” said Thomas Vinje, Brussels-based counsel for FairSearch.

“Failure to act will only embolden Google to repeat its desktop abuses of dominance as consumers increasingly turn to a mobile platform dominated by Google’s Android operating system,” he added.

Android is now the dominant mobile operating system, accounting for 70% of the market, according to research firm Gartner.

The complaint describes Google’s Android operating system as a “trojan horse”, offered to device makers for free. In return they are “required to pre-load an entire suite of Google mobile services and to give them prominent default placement on the phone,” the complaint reads.

Google is also under fire for its common user privacy policy which groups 60 sets of rules into one and allows the company to track users more closely.

Last week six European data protection agencies, including the UK and France, threatened legal action if Google did not make changes to its policy.

In October a European Commission working party said its privacy policy did not meet Commission standards on data protection.

It gave Google four months to comply with its recommendation. Google maintains that the new policy “respects European law”.

Microsoft itself is no stranger to EC criticism- in March it was fined £484 million for failing to promote a range of web browsers in its Windows 7 operating system.

Music sales increase for the first time since 1999

February 27, 2013 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Dr Search, Ecommerce, Hackers, Mobile Marketing, Search Clinic, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Global music revenues had risen for the first time since 1999 according to new research.Music sales increase for the first time since 1999The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) said that accelerating digital music sales had caused a 0.3% upturn in global revenues – a total of  £10.9 billion.

“It is hard to remember a year for the recording industry that has begun with such a palpable buzz in the air,” said Frances Moore, chief executive of IFPI.

“These are hard-won successes for an industry that has innovated, battled and transformed itself over a decade.

“They show how the music industry has adapted to the internet world, learned how to meet the needs of consumers and monetised the digital marketplace.”

Global singles best sellers in 2012

Carly Rae Jepsen, Call Me Maybe, 12.5 million units
Gotye, Somebody That I Used To Know, 11.8 million
PSY, Gangnam Style, 9.7 million
Fun, We Are Young, 9.6 million
Maroon 5, Payphone, 9.1 million
Michel Telo, Ai Se Eu Te Pego, 7.2 million
Nicki Minaj, Starships, 7.2 million
Maroon 5, One More Night, 6.9 million
Flo Rida, Whistle, 6.6 million
Flo Rida, Wild Ones, 6.5 million

Source: IFPI

The music industry has undertaken a sizable campaign over several years to see illegal sites and services put out of business.

In the UK, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI) took action to the courts, obtaining a court order to force internet service providers to block access to file-sharing site The Pirate Bay.

The music industry has also started to refocus its efforts by targeting those who make profiting from illegal music possible, such as advertisers, as well as the piracy sites themselves.

Elsewhere, search engines like Google have been pressured to demote piracy websites in their search results.

More needs to be done on that front, IFPI said: “Searches for the names of popular artists followed by the term “mp3” still return a large number of results for illegal sources on the first page.

“In August 2012, Google announced it would take into account the number of valid copyright notices it receives when returning search results.  That was a welcome step in principle but unfortunately has not been translated into results.”

Nokia launches it’s own streets map to battle Google and Apple

December 07, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Dr Search, mobile phones, Nokia, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

Nokia has launched it’s own Maps service after a user-backlash led Apple to apologise for the quality of its iOS6 Maps update.Nokia launches it's own streets map to battle Google and AppleThe Finnish firm quickly capitalised by beating Google to the release of an app in Apple’s iPhone and iPad store.

Giving away a product that cost millions of dollars to create to owners of a rival’s products might seem like an odd business decision, but behind it lies a critical point.

If Nokia’s 25-year-old mapping business is to survive the evolution from dedicated sat-nav systems to smart devices it needs to secure as much feedback data as it can.

That means attempting to woo smartphone and tablet users with a series of innovations.

You can already see a hint of the importance of feedback data in the colour codes Nokia uses to show which streets are suffering from busy traffic. It does this by taking anonymised GPS and movement readings from users’ phones and other Nokia-powered sat-nav systems to work out road conditions.

Its upcoming Living Maps feature aims to take this a step further by colour-coding areas according to each user’s leisure tastes.

The unit traces its roots to Barry Karlin, a South African immigrant to Silicon Valley who had the idea of a computer mapping solution after becoming lost while driving in the area in 1984 and finding the large map he owned unwieldy to use.

In 1987 he launched DriverGuide – a printed door-to-door driving guide sold from kiosks which was targeted at rental car drivers in San Francisco.

Over the following years the company changed its name first to Navtech, then Navteq and for a time came under the control of Philips.

But after research costs mounted, the Dutch company decided go in a different direction and by 2004 the business had been floated on the New York Stock Exchange with a valuation of about $2 billion (£1.2 billion).

Its public status proved to be short-lived when Nokia announced it wanted to acquire the firm in 2007. It paid $8.1 billion for the privilege the following year.

Nokia already powers the default map apps on Windows Phone handsets, Windows 8 computers and Amazon’s Kindle tablets.

The True cars are fitted with a range of sensors including high-precision cameras and an inertial measurement unit which measures the slope of each road – a feature which could allow trucking companies to identify the least hilly routes in order to cut fuel costs.

But the critical feature is a rotating sensor called Lidar (light detection and ranging) which uses 64 lasers to capture 1.3 million points of digital information every second of each vehicle’s journey.

“The lasers bounce off any reflective surface that allows us to capture lane markings [which use reflective paint], it shows us the exact location of road signs and it also allows us to capture the world in 3D,” explains Mr Fox.

“That’s the primary purpose… we are able to create at street-level a digital representation of the real world.”

While Google’s Street View offers panoramic photos, Nokia intends to offer a computer-created graphics-based version of the planet by combining Lidar-collected data with colour information gathered by panoramic cameras.

The advantage, Mr Fox suggests, is that Nokia can offer a highly-detailed depiction of the environment to pedestrians, but a less distracting version to motorists.
6,366 people are employed by Nokia’s location division.

Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profits

November 14, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apple, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Cyber Security, data security, Dr Search, Ecommerce, Google, internet, mobile phones, Online Marketing, Search Clinic, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

As more people around the world are using smartphones and downloading apps, bank, and conduct business, there’s more and more of an incentive for criminals to attack phones- as they used to attack PCs in the past.Cyber thieves target smartphones and mobiles for future profitsCrimeware kits, which let novice cyber thieves create their own viruses with a few mouse clicks, have been behind the huge rise in the number of malicious programs that plague PCs.

Now, such kits are starting to be made for mobile malware.

What criminals like about mobiles is their intrinsic connection to a payment plan. This made it far easier to siphon off cash than with PC viruses.

All phones that have access to SMS are able to charge money to their phone bill via premium rate SMS processes.

Almost 70% of the millions of scams try to steal cash by surreptitiously racking up premium-rate charges.

Malicious apps made it hard for people to realise they were being scammed, because they could work surreptitiously while phone owners used a different application.

Alongside the growth in mobile malware is a rise in junk or spam text messages being sent to phones – many involving fake offers in an attempt to sucker the recipient into revealing their credit card number.

The ways to keep your mobile phone safe are:

  • Stick to official marketplaces and app stores
  • Be suspicious of offers that look too good to be true
  • Check your bill for rogue charges
  • Be wary of sites offering for free apps that cost money elsewhere
  • Be extra wary of Android apps as Google’s vetting is not as strict as Apple’s.

eBay thirdquarter sales and profits increase

October 22, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Customer Service, eBay, Ecommerce, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Pay Per Click, Pay Per Click Advertising, smart phones, Tablets, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

The auction site eBay has reported a rise in third quarter sales and profits- as more consumers used the website.eBay thirdquarter sales and profits increaseNet profit for the three months to the end of September rose 14% from a year earlier, to £445 million ($718 million), eBay said.  Net revenues rose 15% to £2.125 billion.

The company has also been looking to take advantage of the increasing number of people who use mobile smartphones to shop and pay for things.

“We had a great third quarter across our company, with Marketplaces and PayPal accelerating customer growth,” chief executive John Donahoe said in a statement.

“Mobile continues to be a game changer for us, and we continue to be a clear leader in mobile commerce and payments.”

The group forecast sales of between £2.46 billion and £2.5 billion in the fourth quarter.

Whilst the results were impressive, EBay shares fell nearly 1% in extended trading in New York after its results came out as analyists had been hoping for even better results.

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4G mobile network roll out to start this month

October 10, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Telecommunications Companies, Uncategorized

EE has announce that it will start to roll out it’s 4G mobile network at the end of this month.4G mobile network roll out to start this monthIt had planned to start the network several weeks ago but had held off announcing a date while peace talks between rival operators were brokered.

Rivals were annoyed that the company would gain an unfair advantage by launching ahead of them.

O2 and Vodafone have now agreed that they would not pursue legal action to block EE’s roll-out.

In return they have been promised that officials will accelerate the auction of the spectrum so they can offer their own high speed data services.

Their 4G networks are due to launch in the spring of next year.

EE’s network will cover initially 16 cities this year.

The firm’s target is be able to offer the facility to 98% of the UK’s population by 2014.

AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8

October 08, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Android, Apps, Computers, Customer Service, Google, Microsoft, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Further to our last post on the ongoing Microsoft and Google battles– here comes another twist as Microsoft is working hard to convince developers to make apps for it’s Windows 8 operating system.AMD supports Android apps on Windows 8What this means is that some Windows 8 laptops and PCs could end up running more Android apps than those written specifically for Microsoft’s software.

Machines built around chips made by AMD will come optimised to run the Android apps.

A collaboration between AMD and software firm Bluestacks lets the devices run the 500,000 apps more usually found on Android phones.

By contrast, Microsoft reportedly only has a few thousand apps written specifically for Windows 8 at launch.

The Android apps will be available on Windows 8 devices via AMD’s AppZone player.

Inside this is code from Bluestacks that acts as a wrapper around the mobile phone programs so they can run on desktops, laptops and tablets.

AMD has made changes to the core code that runs its processors and graphics cards to ensure apps built for the small screens on mobile phones look good and run well on larger displays.

The player also lets users synchronise their apps across both a PC and an Android phone or tablet.

AMD has about a 25% share of the market for desktops computers with the UK’s ARM chasing them rapidly.

As Windows 8 has been developed to work well with portable devices such as tablets, Microsoft has been working to create an ecosystem of apps for the operating system.

Bluestacks’ Android-running software also works on Intel-powered devices, including Macs, but typically has to be installed after a gadget has been bought and booted up.

Bluestacks is also talking to other PC makers to get its software installed as PCs are put together in a factory.

Google ends old Office file formats app

October 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Apps, Computers, Google, Microsoft, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Google has warned it’s app users that they will be unable to download documents to their computers in Microsoft Office 1997-2003 formats from the start of the month.Google ends old Office file formats appThe decision continues Google’s continuing battle against Microsoft.

However Google Apps runs in the cloud- which provides an alternative to Microsoft’s Office productivity suite.

Users of versions of Office bought before 2007 may be unable to open documents modified using Google Apps.

The formats which are no longer supported are .doc, .xls and .ppt.

Google issued the warning on its Google Apps update blog earlier this week.

Google Apps users will still be able to open and edit documents that were created in the older formats once the change comes into effect, but they will be unable to save them on their computer or pass them on to others in their original format.

For people who use Office 2003 or earlier, the move creates an obstacle to sharing documents with Google Apps users.

That is because once modified in Google Apps, a document created in Microsoft’s suite may no longer be usable by the document’s original author.

Google now supports saving documents in Microsoft’s newer .docx, .xlsx and .pptx formats used in Office 2007 and Office 2010, as well as other formats including Open Document Format (.odf and .ods), a freely available standard used as the default format by free office suites including OpenOffice and LibreOffice.

Nokia launches key Windows Phone 8 smartphone

September 05, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Customer Service, Ecommerce, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, Nokia, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized

Nokia has unveiled its first handsets powered by Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 operating system.Nokia launches key Windows Phone 8 smart phoneThe flagship device – the Lumia 920 – features wireless charging and a “PureView” camera which the mobile firm said offered better video and still images than rival smartphones.

Its New York press conference comes in the midst of a number of other smart phone launches.

Samsung has already shown off a Windows Phone 8 device, and LG and Sony have also recently revealed their new top-of-the-range Android mobiles.

Apple, Motorola and HTC all have events planned over the next three weeks creating extra competition for Nokia as it heads into the busy winter holidays shopping period.

Key features include a Snapdragon S4 processor, a 4.5in (11.4cm) curved screen, and can be used while wearing gloves.

Nokia’s new smartphones feature all kinds of impressive technology from a company which has always been an innovation leader in its industry. From the augmented reality City Lens app, to wireless charging and the PureView camera software, Nokia is promising consumers that its Lumia 920 will deliver better experiences than is available on rival smartphones.

Before another executive unveiled the new phones, chief executive Stephen Elop made great play of Nokia’s success in delivering affordable mobile phones to the developing world and in pushing forward with new technology.

But he knows that it’s the main plank of his strategy – winning market share from Apple and Android for his Windows Phone handsets – which is crucial to the company’s future.

If the new Lumia fails to win over smartphone consumers, then Nokia will have a troubled time ahead.

UK 4G gets go ahead from Ofcom

August 24, 2012 By: Dr Search Principal Consultant at the Search Clinic Category: Broadband, Customer Service, Dr Search, internet, Mobile Marketing, mobile phones, smart phones, Technology Companies, Uncategorized, WiFi

Telecoms regulator Ofcom has authorised Everything Everywhere- the company behind Orange and T-Mobile in the UK, to use its existing bandwidth to launch fourth generation (4G) mobile services.UK 4G gets go ahead from OfcomThe move means 4G, which allows much faster downloads, could launch in the UK earlier than previously planned.

Ofcom said the move would deliver “significant benefits” to consumers that outweigh any competition concerns.

But Vodafone and O2 expressed surprise and disappointment at the decision.

Ofcom plans to auction 4G bandwidth to other providers next year.

Everything Everywhere will be allowed to offer 4G services from 11 September.

But, as the regulator pointed out, the timing will be a commercial decision for the company itself. The operator has been trialling 4G services at a number of local businesses in Cumbria in the north of England since the end of June.

Ofcom said delaying the mobile operator from launching 4G would be “to the detriment of consumers”.

“4G will drive investment, employment and innovation and we look forward to making it available later this year, delivering superfast mobile broadband to the UK,” the company said.

The firm’s two main competitors in the UK mobile market were less than pleased with the ruling.

They claim that they are disadvantaged as only Everything’s spectrum can be reconfigured to handle 4G, while they will have to wait to buy spectrum at an auction next year.

“We are hugely disappointed with today’s announcement, which will mean the majority of customers will be excluded from the first wave of digital services,” said a spokesperson for O2.

Vodafone was more forthright, saying it was “shocked” at Ofcom’s decision.

“The regulator has shown a careless disregard for the best interests of consumers, businesses and the wider economy through its refusal to properly regard the competitive distortion created by allowing one operator to run services before the ground has been laid for a fully competitive 4G market,” a company spokesperson said.

Analysts said the two companies were right to be concerned, with the examples of other countries suggesting those network providers that got a head start on their rivals were often able to build successful 4G networks.

Everything Everywhere has also announced that it will sell some of its 4G spectrum to rival Three.

This was a condition of the European Commission allowing the 2010 merger of Orange and T-Mobile in the UK.

Three’s chief executive Dave Dyson said this deal would “more than double the capacity available to customers”.

As Everything is not obliged to make the spectrum available until September 2013, this deal will not give Three a head start in launching its own 4G services, however.

Ofcom has issued Everything Everywhere with licences to launch what are called Long-Term Evolution (LTE) services. This is one of a number of broadband technologies that allow the transfer of high-bandwidth data such as video streaming and mapping services.

Other mobile phone networks will be allowed to bid for 4G bandwidth early next year.

The auction will offer the equivalent of three-quarters of the mobile spectrum currently in use – some 80% more than released in the 3G auction which took place in 2000.

Ofcom wants to see at least four wholesalers of 4G mobile services, so that consumers will benefit from better services at lower prices.

The auction will sell chunks of radio spectrum to support 4G, which will allow users to download data such as music and videos at much faster speeds.