CES 2007 SanDisk this week used the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) to launch up its latest industry consortium chartered with furthering demand for USB Flash disks. A couple of years ago, it was the U3 takeway-apps technology. This time it's the USB TV Forum, a body whose goal is to persuade TV makers to equip their products with USB ports and the ability to display content stored thereupon.
ColumnColumn I'm a developer. I spend my time sitting at a computer, working on our IT infrastructure. Contrary to stereotype, I have just a cheapo computer and no fancy gizmos. I take pride in the Apache hat I wear to write this column. But sometimes we need to take a step back, and look at the why of it. As we enter a new year, let's share a glimpse into that question. Alice stood up nervously. This was her big day, the presentation she'd been working towards for longer than she cared to remember. For the first time ever, she had the full attention of the Red Queen and the board. The Queen gave her a nod, and she plucked up courage to start. "Ladies and Gentlemen. As you know, energy is one of our principal costs. We have a target of an eight percent reduction in energy usage on existing business. Since the introduction of emissions trading, this represents not just a cost saving, but also a new asset we can sell. My proposal today is to reduce energy usage not by eight percent, but by one hundred percent!" "Are you proposing a complete cessation of our business?", asked the Red Queen critically. "Yesyesyes," interrupted the March Hare enthusiastically. "It's like agricultural setaside, where we get paid because we own land but don't farm it. Now we own emissions quotas because we're a highly polluting business, and we can get paid not to use it." "Beats working for a living," added the dormouse. "No, that's not what I mean," said Alice. "I'm not proposing to abandon any of our current business. I just want to do it more efficiently." "But 100 per cent", asked the Caterpillar. "You can always grow or shrink a budget, but that doesn't eliminate it altogether. Unless ..." "Look, dammit, we need energy just to make the tea," he continued, as the Mad Hatter poured another cup. "Sorry, that's not what I meant", replied Alice. "I don't mean we eliminate all energy use. The 100 per cent figure is rounded to the nearest percentage point, because the actual saving is greater than 99½%. Our clients save time and hassle, too." At this point, the White Rabbit rushed in, in a great fluster. "Terribly sorry about that. You wouldn't believe the traffic!" Alice sighed, but the Queen just nodded: travel delays are a fact of modern life. "What is it that we do that uses energy?" Alice continued. "We move people around. But why do we move people around?" "We're a travel business. That's what we get paid for." "Only in an old-fashioned literal sense. But our clients aren't the people we move: it's their companies who pay us. In fact, the people themselves are quite an expense, what with the airmiles and other kickbacks. Why can't we service our clients' needs more efficiently?" "Our clients need to move people around. To keep the wheels of commerce running. That's what they pay us for!" "No!" replied Alice. "Our clients need is communication, with other companies around the world. That used to mean travel, but today we have better alternatives. We can provide our clients with the best ever communications infrastructure to meet their needs. And with the profits from emissions trading, we can do it all at no charge to them! And in place of airmiles, we can offer an honest incentive: business-grade connections to every employee's home, which it would be futile to try and restrict to business use alone." "That'll save them commuting hassle and expense, too: they're not in the same emissions market as us!", added the White Rabbit. "And I need never be late for another frightfully important meeting again!" "Exactly!" replied Alice. "It's not just the company that stands to gain!" "So, we become our own client too. Our service stands out so much we'd be fools not to!" "I'm sorry Alice," said the Queen. "It's a great idea, but if we adopt it, we're no longer a highly-polluting company, and the subsidies no longer apply. Do you think we can ..." Alice woke with a start. Mother was telling her to get up. Of course, mum had to leave stupidly early to get to her meeting today, which meant dropping Alice off at the greasy spoon café across the road from school even earlier. Sigh. At least she could dream of a more sensible world. ® Bootnote Nick Kew notes: This year marks the 20th anniversary of his starting to bang on about the transport debate being altogether the wrong argument. While freight needs transport, most of our economy today is non-physical, and information needs communication instead. Even today, we take universal road access for granted (courtesy of the taxpayer), yet you cannot even guarantee broadband availability on a house you want to move to. So the information society is still at a huge disadvantage. This is what motivates my work in developing our communications infrastructure, including my work with Apache and the W3C. Readers interested in a more serious take on the subject are referred to my online manifesto, and the dedication to my book, [which is actually about Apache development, and is available for pre-order here - Ed]: To all who share my dream, and are working to help make it happen. ... the dream of a world where your work, your colleagues, and your opportunities in life are not dictated by where you live, or how far you commute. Where the old-fashioned office of the 19th and 20th centuries has passed into history, along with its soul-destroying bums-on-seats culture and Dilbertian work practices. A world inclusive of those who cannot work in a standard office. A world inclusive of those who reject car-dependence, but embrace a full and active life. A world inclusive of those who seek to fit study and learning in to a busy life, yet have no accessible library, let alone university. Of those who are housebound ... Our information infrastructure is poised to liberate us all. We who develop with Apache are playing a small but exciting part in that. This work is dedicated to all of us! I was motivated to write this slightly-seasonal sketch when I heard they might be introducing emissions trading including free quotas for airlines. The underlying assumptions are truly worthy of the original Alice's world. We make a big fuss about tiny reductions in pollution, yet put obstacles and disincentives in the way of huge reductions!
IT union Amicus expects up to 300 members working for Fujitsu in Central Park, Manchester to strike on Thursday and Friday this week, following a protracted dispute over pay and conditions.
Storage switch vendor Brocade has bought privately-held network accelerator chip start-up Silverback Systems for an undisclosed sum.
OpinionOpinion EnterpriseDB (which is the name of both the company and the product) is normally thought of, by those who have merely heard of it, as being yet another of the open source database vendors. However, this is not the case. As its name suggests, the company is focused on providing an enterprise-class relational database and it charges for its product and it charges for support and it charges for all the other things that you would expect an enterprise software vendor to charge for. Where it differs from the mainstream database vendors is that it a) charges a lot less and b) is based on open source database technology.
The man behind a £54m VAT fraud gang has been sentenced to 15 years in prison - the longest ever UK sentence for such a crime.
Systems Solutions and Medicom are set to merge and form Ireland's largest indigenous provider of IT services to the healthcare industry.
The US's largest internet provider has enshrined the principle of internet neutrality in an agreement to treat all web traffic equally. The move has reignited the debate about net neutrality. AT&T's agreement comes as part of a merger deal with Bell South Communications (SBC). The agreement was a condition of the Federal Communications Commission's approval of the $86bn deal and reverses the position of the telco. SBC chief executive Ed Whitacre effectively began the net neutrality controversy just over a year ago when he said that major internet companies were 'nuts' if they thought he would continue to carry their traffic for free to consumers' homes. But now it is the merged AT&T/SBC business which has provided a model which others may have to follow in how to guarantee neutrality. Whitacre is now head of the merged firm and has agreed not to sell premium access to homes for a period of two years. Though there are some caveats to the commitment it could set a precedent which other firms may be encouraged, or even ordered, to follow. "AT&T/BellSouth commits that it will maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband internet access service," said a letter to the FCC from Robert Quinn, senior vice president of AT&T's regulatory division. "This commitment shall be satisfied by AT&T/BellSouth's agreement not to provide or to sell to internet content, application or service providers, including those affiliate with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth's wireline broadband internet access service based on its source, ownership or destination," said the letter. AT&T said that it still opposed net neutrality in principle, and there are some exceptions to the rule. It will not apply to the high speed internet television (IPTV) service planned by the company, or to other similar services that it might develop. The company is also free to change its behaviour after two years, unless a law is passed in the meantime outlawing preferential treatment of data. Activists, though, hailed what they saw as a milestone. "AT&T capitulated to supporters of an open and neutral Internet," said Ben Scott of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition. "The agreement once and for all puts to rest the bogus argument that no one can define Net Neutrality. The FCC just did it, and the sky hasn't fallen. The conditions placed on this merger will show irrefutably that net neutrality and phone company profits are not mutually exclusive." Whitacre had started the debate in late 2005. Alarmed at the amount of investment needed to keep applications such as video and games coming into homes at fast enough speeds, he suggested creating a separate, fast service for companies that were prepared to pay his telco for guaranteed fast delivery. The comments caused outrage amongst internet activists who said that what made the internet unique and valuable was the fact that it was essentially free and that all information was treated equally for network transport purposes. They said that telcos were paid by consumers to deliver all information for a monthly fee, not to set up additional toll booths for their own gain. A law enforcing net neutrality was defeated in the US Congress last year, but the make up of Congress has changed significantly since autumn elections and legislation may be reintroduced, political observers said. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons. Related links Google will seek antitrust action against 'fast track' ISPs, OUT-LAW News, 06/07/2006 US net neutrality amendment rejected, OUT-LAW News, 29/06/2006 Defeat for Net Neutrality, OUT-LAW News, 09/06/2006
Nokia have announced an update to its internet tablet - the N770, and have equipped the newly-announced N800 with Skype support. The N800 adds support for miniSD cards (following the rest of the Nokia range in the move away for RS-MMC), greater processing power and more memory. It also gets an updated look, as well as an updated operating system, though battery life remains a diminutive three hours of Wi-Fi usage. The Nokia Tablet was a real departure when launched in 2005: it had (and has) no cellular connectivity and uses a Linux-based operating system. Most operators viewed it as an interesting experiment from a company which, it should be remembered, leads the world in set-top box developments amongst other things, as well as mobile phones. The N770 had nothing to do with the mobile phone business, and so was largely ignored. Nokia have worked hard to build up developer support for the N770, with some success as the range of applications available for the device demonstrates. But it was the announcement, in 2006, of support for Jabber VoIP, and thus the Google Talk service, which attracted attention from the network operators: suddenly this geek-toy was starting to look like a telephone. Support for Skype; the largest VoIP service, is an obvious development, and it’s only a shame that the client won’t be available out of the box (it must be downloaded), though the demographic that the N800 is aimed at should have little difficulty downloading and installing an application. Luckily that demographic is quite well-heeled: having no cellular connectivity means no network subsidy, leaving the N800 costing over 200 quid, when the similarly-equipped P990i can be had for nothing with the right contract.®
Iris scans will not form part of the UK Government's planned identity card system the National Identity Register (NIR). The only biometric information to be held on ID cards will now be fingerprints, in contrast to previously stated plans. The Home Office's Strategic Action Plan for the National Identity Scheme, published in December, said that iris scans were now just an option, and only fingerprints will be taken from those enrolling in the scheme. "When you enrol into the Scheme, your fingerprint biometrics (all 10 fingerprints) will be recorded and stored in the National Identity Register," said the document. "A subset of these will be held on your ID card or passport, in line with International Civil Aviation Organization standards. The introduction of iris biometrics also remains an option." James Hall, the chief executive of the Identity and Passport Service, told IT Week that the decision was down to cost. "Collecting every biometric involves significant extra cost and I believe we can achieve the objective – securing people’s identities – without irises," he said. A Home Office spokeswoman said that the government would focus on facial and fingerprint recognition but that a return to iris scanning in the future would not be ruled out. "The reason we are not having iris scanning is to do with international obligations, most international countries are using facial and fingerprint recognition so it is to come in line with that," said the spokeswoman. The Government had previously planned for a scheme that would use photographs, iris scans and fingerprints. The revised plan will make the cards cheaper to make and process but may raise fears about the level of security of the identification it provides. The move is the latest policy climb-down for the ID card scheme. The Government also announced in December that it would no longer be building one new single database on which the NIR would be stored. The information will sit on three existing Government databases. The Department for Work and Pensions database will hold biographical information; biometric data, such as fingerprints or eye scans, will be held on the Home Office system; and the Identity and Passport Service system will hold the remaining information. The decision came despite the fact that the Government had previously avoided that plan in an attempt to avoid replicating existing flaws in those systems. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
Security vendors are talking up the potential for attacks on IP telephony systems, reckoned to be the next major market for security defences.
Linden Lab is to make some of the code which powers its online game Second Life available under the GPL.
Spam levels suddenly dropped 30 per cent last week, according to managed security firm SoftScan, which attributes the let-up to a "broken" botnet.
Dell's love affair with Linux is a clandestine affair these days, conducted in secret, away from disapproving eyes. But now the pair have been spotted in China.
Cross-licensing negotiations between Qualcomm and Nokia have broken down to the point that arbitration might be necessary to get the parties together before their current agreement expires in April. In an interview with Reuters, Qualcomm chief executive Paul Jacobs said the idea of bringing in an arbitrator had been discussed as "We aren't making much progress on the substantive issues." Qualcomm makes much of its money from technology licensing; the ownership of key technologies used in CDMA networks has been important to the company, though as networks migrate to 3G and beyond that will be a less reliable revenue generator. While it does own some property in W-CDMA (3G GSM technology) it is not as significant as the virtual monopoly it has had with CDMA. Frequently accused of manipulating standards to incorporate its technology, Qualcomm has spent an enormous amount on research and development to ensure ownership of intellectual property in a wide range of wireless standards. The whole wireless business is a nightmare of cross-licensing and patent concerns, with each company firmly convinced their IP is worth more than anyone else’s, so the fact that this agreement has stalled is unsurprising. Escalation of the spat should prove interesting as it might mean we’ll get to see who is licensing what, though the amounts paid are generally confidential.®
The Chinese postal service is releasing a special edition of sweet and sour pork flavoured stamps to celebrate the year of the pig, which begins February 18. The stamps feature a cutesy cartoon of a sow an her suckling piglets. Scratching and sniffing reveals what said piglets would smell like slow roasted and then covered in sugar, rice vinegar and monosodium glutamate. According to Metro, the Royal Mail launched its own set of scratch and sniff stamps in 2001 which smelt of eucalyptus. But since that triumph the UK stamp innovation bunker has laid idle, and now been humiliated by the Chinese taking olfactory postage technology to the next level: the glue on the back of their New Year stamps has been primed with the taste of sweet and sour pork too. Which leaves us with one question: when oh when will the UK catch up with the Far East and release stamps which taste of the Queen? ®
It's good to see that, after a temporary lull in which the Lads from Lagos seems to have been suffering a creativity crisis, the inventive 419 email is back with a bang. Try this strange offering, courtesy of John Dudmesh: Dear Beneficiary, The Priory Of Sion Society of Edinburgh under the jurisdiction of the all Seeing Eye, Master Nick Cobb has after series of secret deliberations and random ballot as selected you to be a beneficiary of 2007 first quarter foundation laying grants and also an optional opening at the round table of the Priory Of Sion Society. These grants are issued every first quarter of the year around the world in accordance with the objectives of the Priory Of Sion Society as stated by King Francis Aurthor I in 1815 which is to ensure the continuous freedom of man and to enhance mans living conditions. We will also advice that these grant funds awarded to you which amount to $350,000.00 be used to better the lot of man through your own initiative and also we will go further to inform you that the open slot to become a Priory Of Sion is optional. I hope you understood and for more information's on what you are to do to make claims of your grant funds awarded to you, do contact the Grant Claims Office Co-Secretary, Name: Barr. Richard Salter, E-mail: grantclaimoffice@Safe-mail.net, and do send along your personal information’s (Names, Residential Address,Occupation,Tel/Fax Numbers Sex, Age and Country) for the procurement of the necessary document that will enable you make claims of your awarded funds promptly. Yours Sincerely, Mrs. Judith Ernest. Co-ordinator. Priory Of Sion Society of Palmerston Place Lane, Edinburgh Spooky. Those of you who like a good conspiracy will be aware that the Priory of Sion was allegedly founded in the 11th century, subsequently established the Knights Templar as its military wing and has since cast a dark shadow over world affairs (see The Da Vinci Code for more fuel for your black helicopters). In fact, and entirely appropriately, the Priory of Sion was a hoax perpetrated in 1956 by one Pierre Plantard, who reckoned he could put together a sort of masonic order to back his claim to the throne of France - an entertaining concept worthy of the great 419 fantasy architect MARIAM ABACHA herself. Still, $350k and a place at the all Seeing Eye's round table is not to be sniffed at, even though we suspect the latter is more of an ordinary square affair in a downtown Lagos internet cafe. ®
CES 2007CES 2007 Stun gun manufacturer Taser International has electrified CES with a new "consumer friendly" version of its crippling high voltage weapon at the low, low price of $299. The firm's new ergonomic C2 comes in a range of jazzy colours for the style-conscious vigilante; Black Pearl, Titanium Silver, Electric Blue, and Metallic Pink.
It may have been abandoned last year, but plans for the adult-only dot-xxx domain could be staging a comeback in 2007. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) is considering revised proposals for the new top level domain (TLD) from ICM Registry, who will administer the domain, after the body promised that it would keep a close watch on the sites that sign up for the new address. The new obligations include ensuring that child pornography is banned, that the sites' content is labelled and tagged correctly, and that the sites won’t be used to spam web users. Geographically and religiously or culturally sensitive domain names will be reserved. In addition to these measures, ICM will also have to fund child safety organisations, and will be obliged to sponsor the development of technology designed to enhance the ability of internet users to control their online experience. The original plans for the dot-xxx TLD were shelved in May 2006, after a number of concerns over how the domain would be policed were raised. ICANN directors voted nine to five against the agreement to introduce the dot-xxx address, which would have effectively created an online red light district. However, ICANN wasn't the only opposition to its introduction. Groups opposed to pornography claimed it would legitimise the adult entertainment industry, and although supporters claimed it would make adult-only websites easier to avoid, the dot-xxx TLD is entirely voluntary. This means that sex sites could keep their dot-com addresses too. The original plans for the dot-xxx TLD were delayed on several occasions as the protests mounted. The US government has led the charge, after it found itself under pressure from conservative groups to oppose the domain. Meanwhile, ICANN has created a new position of chief operating officer, with Doug Brent stepping into the role. Brent has a 25-year record in Silicon Valley, working with companies such as IBM, Packet Design and Andes Networks. Copyright © 2007, ENN
ColumnColumn One of my girlfriends is so funny. She says to me, "I joined Second Life to admire the architecture, but I started cybering within twenty minutes of arriving. That was months ago, and I still haven't seen more than a handful of the buildings".
Hosting firm Fasthosts has apologized to customers who lost web servers held by the company because a denial of service attack. The company offers a range of website and email hosting and other server hosting services. In a statement sent to the Register Fasthosts said: "Just prior to 11:00am today we detected intermittent losses of connectivity inbound and outbound to our networks. Our monitoring systems indicated significant levels of traffic originating from multiple sources directed at our network, also known as a Distributed Denial of Service Attack. "Our network team followed our standard procedures to stop this attack and all but one of our web servers were restored to normal service by 11:30am. This last web server is being worked on as a matter of urgency and will be back online shortly. "We sincerely apologise for any impact this attack has caused our customers." Fasthosts told the Reg that all customer data was safe. Fasthosts last suffered downtime back in June when it was hit by fallout after two cables belonging to Telewest were deliberately damaged.®
CES 2007 Newton Peripherals, the company behind the MoGo Mouse, a wireless optical rodent skinny enough to fit inside a PC Card slot, has introduced a version for ExpressCard 54 bays. It also showed off the world's smallest USB Bluetooth dongle.
LettersLetters As is traditional whenever I'm forced at gunpoint into the Vulture Central letters cupboard ("Don't come out until you've condensed readers' thoughts on matters of international import into 500 words or less"), today's insightful round-up contains at least one derisive attack on El Reg's ongoing and shameless destruction of the English language.
CES 2007 It's probably unwise for the companies behind the HD DVD next-generation optical disc format to talk to loudly about numbers. Last night, the HD DVD Promotion Group proudly claimed some 175,000 HD DVD players were sold in the US by 5 January this year. An impressive number for a totally new format, but one eclipsed by the 475,000 Blu-ray ready PlayStation 3s Sony sold in the period between the console's 17 November launch and Christmas Day.
DatingDirect, the Brummie-based dating service, has been sold to French dating company Meetic for £27.3m. The company was started in 1999 by Darren Richards and Andrew Pike and now claims over 4.5 million members - 3.5 million of them in the UK - which makes it the UK's largest dating service. But as well as running its own very successful service the company also offers white label services for other brands like Channel4 and TrinityMirror. DatingDirect turned over about £11m last year. The acquisition also includes the Chemistry company which organises real-world dating events. Meetic is a French company which does pretty much the same thing across Europe. Meetic said the acquistion would put it in a leading position in the UK market without the need for an expensive advertising and marketing campaign.®
British car lovers have told Prime Minister Tony Blair just how dearly they cling to the romantic idea that they can find freedom on an open road. A protest over Department of Transport plans to have all cars in Britain tracked by satellite has topped the e-petitions web site launched by the Prime Minister last November. A call for the government to "Scrap the planned vehicle tracking and road pricing policy" has attracted 152,628 signatories, nearly 9 times more than the second most popular plea, to ditch the hunting ban. "The idea of tracking every vehicle at all times is sinister and wrong," said petitioner Peter Roberts in his call for road freedom, "Road pricing is already here with the high level of taxation on fuel. The more you travel - the more tax you pay." In 2005 the government announced plans to have all cars install a black box that would allow satellites to track them and charge for every mile of their road use. The Association of Chief Police Officers also expressed a desire to use the system to remotely disable cars. Such a plan could spell the end of the road movie as we know it. A metropolitan theme can be traced down the list of top 50 petitions to the Prime Minister. No.3. on the list is an appeal to have identity cards scrapped. Other petitions call for the banning of digital rights management (which prevents digital music being copied), fishing in British waters (to save fish stocks), and faith schools. They also call for the government to prevent the Freedom of Information Act from being watered down, halt the proposed ban of violent pornography, cease the persecution of smokers, scrap tuition fees, legalise cannabis, build the world's best network of cycle lanes and give a knighthood to Ringo Star. And blogger Tim Ireland has petitioned the Prime Minister to stand on his head and juggle ice cream. Right on.®
Microsoft is to work with Ford to supply voice-activated software that will allow drivers to make mobile calls or play songs stored on digital music players without taking their hands off the wheel.
LettersLetters Bill Ray's analysis of the economics of the handset market, and Apple's prospects of success, drew quite a crowd. Three dozen people spontaneously agreed that today's phone user interfaces are awful. (We agree - sometimes they are). But the sight unseen "iPhone" would be better. Good enough to succeed, though? Not a single of these correspondent challenged the economics. But where rationality was in short supply, the dreams were big and beautiful. The user interface would conquer all. Lay off the juice, ya grumpy old curmudgeon (or are you still pre-puberty? )! What's sickening are articles that predict the end of products that haven't even been announced and that no one know anything much about let alone if they are real. Josh Orzech How about articles that predict the stunning success of products that haven't been announced and that no one know anything much else about let alone if they are real. Well, fans were happy to oblige. Here is why I believe Apple's "iPhone" will be another amazing hit: The iPod m's will be available on two different technologies - GSM and CDMA (I believe this is the other major tech...). Apple will also be offering their own service at an amazing price (via T-Mobile) and will again turn the razor-blade game on it's head. For those willing to pay the penalty for moving to an Apple one-year program they will do so. For those currently in the wild, Apple's program will look like the perfect plan. Apple will hit the market from both sides, with both wireless technologies. Count on the smart phone version to be a VOiP phone as well, making cell minutes less and less a consern. iChat video on the smart phone will also be a unique experience. Count on iPod mobile to surplant iPod sales to some extent, but count on iPod HD (full-screen 720p) making the device a completely different animal many will just want for pure entertainment purposes. Mark Reschke I think you are wrong about existing mobile phone interfaces. They all suck. They are all horrible. I am on my 8th phone in the last 3 years, desperately searching for a phone that doesn't make me want to throw it against a wall. I think I am out of phone makers to buy and try. I am currently using a Sony Erricson that is now almost four years old. No camera, usable address book and the least sucky interface out there. I want an Apple phone, and will pay good money to have a phone that has had actual work done on the interface by competent designers, not engineers. I suspect that Apple will create a phone that is elegant and simple with a fantastic interface and the lines will extend out the street from their stores while the clueless analysts still won't understand why it is successful. Richard Stacpoole Doug Petrosky has a vision, too - The one HUGE compromise that every handset provider always makes is in limiting the functionality between your computer and your phone. Apple will not do this. Music will flow between the two devices and custom ring tones will be easily created (maybe even custom hold/ring music for callers). Contacts, calendars, email, and IM will all join together on this device. Call logs and timers will pull down, photos and video will move between and a number of other things I have never even thought of. Tantalising. I gotta say you are sooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo wrong. I have played with just about every music/pdas phone out there. I have a brother who works for Cingular - product development and gives me phones to test/play with. There is not a single handset manufacture from Nokia to Moto to Samsung to Sony Erricson that has a clue about human-factors and interface design. And I have to say MS smartphones and Win Mobile are a joke. The phone I have compromised on is the Samsung BlackJack. It sync great with my Macbook Pro using MissingSync. I can transfer photos that are automatically scaled down to the phones screen size, pulls MP3 from iTunes playlists, and will transfer my video and photos from the phone to my computer. The phone works with all the subscription music services and has a great 3G connection. I have 3 pop accounts set up for email. Sounds great?? What you and all of these handset makers don't get is that the user experience with these products is horrific. The BlackJack can't even connect to a stereo or a pair of headphone... there is no 1/8" jack, there is no adaptor, and you can't even stream the music. The battery last half a day, This may seem minor but it's an example of how backwards thinking these companies are. Nothing is consistent in the way menus and choosing options work. These guys don't get it even though they have been in the business for eons. Everything is 5 or 6 clicks... apple will take all the clutter and BS and make a phone that is actually usable... "less is more" shaun i am being a tad cheeky, but i think users are ready for "less is more" and no one gets more than apple does... cheers, Marcos New York City its may be a question, if a iphone only with the add on of music may be a success, anytime the author seems to be paid by Zune for his unlogical consequences. Michael Wendt Paid by Zune. Love it. Article is rubbish. The ups and downs of Apple and their phone are neither here nor there. Speculation for titillation. Just garbage, and YOU know it, which almost makes it an act of evil. Go and help a homeless person, anything useful - not this junk. The Register will be gone within 2 years, probably less. It will fail, and fail badly. Why? Well its empty, isnt it, Billy? Harry Wolf Wow . . . you really don't like Apple do you! You mentioned how people related their experience of opening their iPod box sickened you, why? In recent weeks I've seen countless videos on Youtube of people gleefully opening their new (insert new latest gadget here). It's what people do. Increasing people are finding joy in the details and that's a good thing. You fail to mention that Apple need only capture about 2 or 3 percent of the market in order for the iPod Phone to be a massive success. The Worldwide Mac market stands at about that and I don't know anyone who would say that the Mac is failing, and failing badly. James Burland Mike Swaine - hey, Mike! - has a good point. I kinda doubt there will be any Sony Walkman on the shelf next to Apple's phone. Think for a moment about whose shelf it will be. Just imagine if mobile phone makers had Apple's kind of retail access. I can never find one when I'm out. You can walk for miles in our high streets and malls without seeing a single shop that sells mobile phones... [that's enough sarcasm - ed.] Here's a chink of sanity - I'm sitting in front of a quite probably terminally ill iMac G5 (hence the length of this mail, sorry...) and you'll likely notice a lack of capitalisation in this email 'cos the shift key is dying on my PowerBook so I'm hardly in the mood for a zealous and impassioned defence of Mr Job's products. Not only that but, looking back at your list of previous articles you quite obviously know one hell of a lot more about the mobile industry than I do. I do still find your article a little confusing though. I think there are a couple of points you are missing. You say that one of the reasons the ipod made a big splash because when it came out it because it was so much better than the competition which is entirely correct but what you fail to note is that it's STILL much better than most of the competition. A number of friends of mine have opted to save a bit of cash by going for A N Other mp3 players and inevitably I, as their techy friend, have been called round to show them how to use them. Well, that sums it up really doesn't it? My Mum can use an iPod with no help at all and she has to be the least technical person on the planet! The ipod also demonstrates that people will pay a premium for a desirable product. It's not a massive mark up on the competition but it is still significant and yet more apple sell more ipods than the sum of all their competitors. So what we are potentially looking at is a phone which, while its functionality may be limited, will be very easy to use; has more storage than most of the competition; will back up all my contacts every time I plug it in to change or add music; which works with software I already have on my PC (itunes) and which has instant global brand recognition. There would be no need for any heavy subsidy from the mobile operators because people will happily pay a (small) premium to own one. Given that, I don't see why any operator would object to adding it to their product line, which seems to be the main thrust of your article. Of course if Apple, in their infinite arrogance, don't accept the fact that to survive in the ultra competitive mobile market they're going to have to accept lower margins and this thing ends up costing consumers a few hundred quid extra then you'll probably be entirely correct. We shall have to wait and see... Andrew Smith Where your logic is flawed is that most mac users will have compelling reasons to buy the phone if it enhances the mac experience. The ipone doesn't have to have the same market penetration as the ipod to be a success for Apple's strategy. Loud inflammatory headlines may get your article read but ultimately harm your credibility and that of your employer. You sound like a member of the anti-apple shill industry employed by hedge funds. Throw away your nasty ipod now so as not to be tainted by having a product from a doomed company such as apple. Keep writing this type of trash and fool yourself that you are helping mankind. Joseph Condon That's right, Joseph. Making rational, well-informed analysis of the phone industry harms our reputation - whereas making conspiracy theories only enhances yours. You must spend much of your time in a pub. That, or you are a shill getting cash for an article that will, for a short time, drive down AAPL stock. Do you get paid by day traders or do you short AAPL yourself? Perhaps you are simply drunk. Tom Condon That's two Bitter Condons! And a packet of crisps please, barman. "I don't know what it will look like, how well it will work, what features it will have and what features it won't have, how it will be marketed and what carriers will carry it but I do know it will fail, and fail badly." Do you have any stock picks? How accurate is the crystal ball you use to review unreleased, unannounced products? Did you lose money betting against the widespread acceptance of the iPod? If I'm going to use your analysis for financial gain, I must know your track record. Alan Williams In another few months, when Apple has redefined the mobile phone, and their stock splits again, your article will look even more stupid than it does right now. Nunuvyer Bizniz What's better than an iPhone? No iPhone at all, reckons Jorge - "But creating a simple interface for a single function is one thing. Replicating that experience to manage all the functions of a mobile phone is another thing entirely." You know, somewhere I have the feeling that Apple realises this. The whole 'design' concept is not something they come across happenstance, they're kind of big on the idea. If they design a phone, and Apple has not made one peep about it that it would, I'm taking it as a given that it will blow the socks off of anything out there on the market today. Let me make a bold statement here: Apple is -not- going to launch an Apple phone. For the same reason you mentioned before. ROKR was a bust. A major industry player couldn't hack it. Why would Apple throw good money after bad trying to make something they're not good at in a market they have no hope of controlling. It's nowhere near Apple's core business. Cell phones are as commoditized as frozen concentrated orange juice, and just about as sexy. People dump their cell phones faster than they do their unmentionables. Apple would have to enter this market and have an extremely aggressive development cycle, pumping out a new puppie every n months. It's a bad idea. It really is. The only reason why everybody, but Apple, has been hyping an Apple phone is that Apple would make it look cool and easy to use. The phone business is where Apple should stay the hell out. I'm pretty sure they crunched the numbers and looked at the business real closely. Why not. It would be a bad idea for them to enter that market. Why would they run the risk of killing iPod, an immensely successful product, just to try to enter a market they don't know, their competitors don't want them in, and where the profit margin is razor thin. I hope they don't do it. I hope Apple sticks to computers and iPod, and the whole digital lifestyle concept. They're extremely good at computers, they have shown they can create a cultural icon. They should have enough sense to know that an Apple phone is sheer hubris. Let others have a wet dream about an Apple phone. That is why they are sheep in the first place. Jorge Wow, did you really "have to" sit in that pub and listen in on a conversation that was not meant for you? Hope you brought the barf bag that comes with every Zune - i.e., an actual production model "bomb". And, as an aside, Apple's packaging has elicited more positive responses than a great deal of the tech world's actual products. My mother knew that the combination of exquisitely prepared food demanded exquisite presentation as well. She was a master of both. Can you name a product since the "Cube" that has bombed for Apple? Is it possible that you and other journalists could wait for this non-product to exist and fend for itself in the wild before calling it dead on arrival. Most of the speculation I read about the iPod phone at least give me a chuckle. Yours is about 100 clicks below chuckle-level. Speculation and rumors are usually kind of fun, therefore, I occasionally read them. But actual substantive information that bring one to a conclusion might better serve your level of credibility. David Garon Wow! Finally, a sensible article. Given that you have accurately predicted the certain demise of a device that its purported manufacturer hasn't even announced or admitted to be working on, you are in the wrong calling -- as a Wall St. investor you could make a killing shorting Apple stock, or better yet, by knowing exactly what devices to avoid, you would really make a wonderful and visionary Apple CEO instead of that loser what-his-name. After all, all he does is spin a hype around products that he doesn't even mention. P Kishor And proving that sceptics can be just as illiterate as Apple's Angry Brigade - how can the apple iphone fail ? it wont, because it wont be a phone ! itll be the new apple newton . ;-) neil Finally, this from a major manufacturer. Bill, Thanks for the thorough summary of what Apple is up against. The carriers will be a major hurdle. On the other hand, I believe that Apple will measure success in PC market share rather than strictly iTunes or unit sales. They will probably use the phone to sell the entire Apple ecosystem rather than just the iTunes aspect. Easy photo download, seemless contact sync, etc. It will be interesting to see if they can make it work; and how Jobs will sell the carriers on it. If he can sell it as a mobile gateway (messaging and handling calls via laptop), then he may settle the ARPU question. [name withheld] We shall soon see. Or, er... not. ®
CES 2007 This year's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has been quiet, very quiet. However the absence of mega announcements from Microsoft, Sony et al has left space open for some of the smaller, quirkier manufacturers to grab their share of their limelight. Here then, much more fun than an LG Blu-ray/HD DVD player, are the ten best things we have seen at Vegas so far...
An Iraqi news site has posted a 27-second clip of a post-execution Saddam Hussein apparently lying on a hospital stretcher, news agencies report. The footage was seemingly shot on a camera phone, and features one participant pulling back a white shroud covering the former dicatator to reveal his head and neck with the former "unnaturally twisted at a 90 degree angle to his right", as The Guardian puts it. The paper adds: "His left cheek is marked with red blotches, and there is blood on the shroud where it covered his head." A voice on the video is heard to say: "Hurry up, hurry up. I'm going to count from one to four. One, two ... . Hurry up you're going to get us into a catastrophe." Another voice, presumably that of the cameraman, replies: "Just one second, just one second, Abu Ali. I'm about finished." A third voice adds: "Abu Ali, you take care of this." The film appeared on a website "known to support Saddam's outlawed Baath Party" under the headline: "A new film of the late immortal martyr, President Saddam Hussein." It is likely to provoke further angry reaction as to the manner of Hussein's execution, especially among the deceased's fellow Sunni Muslims. ®
A Brazilian judge has lifted an order which caused the country's ISPs to block access to YouTube following a ruling last week over a sex-romp video of footballer Ronaldo's former missus Daniela Cicarelli. According to local reports, confirmed by Register readers on the ground, Brasil Telecom and Telefonica responded with enthusiasm to the court order issued in Sao Paulo "requesting that YouTube be shut down as long as the video is available to users", and duly blocked the site. The film in question shows Cicarelli and Tato Malzoni giving it some stick on a Spanish beach. It proved quite a hit with Brazilian YouTubers, prompting the couple to seek an injunction. Sao Paulo state Supreme Court Justice Enio Santarelli Zuliani clearly thinks things have got a bit out of hand, and has accordingly "asked the companies to unblock the site and let him know why they can't simply prevent the video from being seen", according to AP. The companies had already explained that the "only way they could ensure that the video would not be seen was to block the entire site". YouTube last week reported it had purged the video. ®
CES 2007 Nokia has begun shipping the latest incarnation of its Internet Tablet line, this time rolling the product out as part of its N series of so-called "multimedia computers". Alongside the N800, Nokia also unveiled a more standard-sized N series machine, the Razr-esque N76.
Microsoft really wants to put a rocket up its users. The software giant, together with AMD, has launched a competition to promote Windows Vista, with the tag line “Most of you won’t figure this out” and the opportunity to win a sub-orbital flight with Spaceplane Limited.
LettersLetters Recently, we invited top UK photojournalist Sion Touhig to describe the grim economics facing photo journalists. His passionate essay prompted dozens of emails over the holidays.
The US's largest internet provider has enshrined the principle of internet neutrality in an agreement to treat all web traffic equally. The move has reignited the debate about net neutrality. AT&T's agreement comes as part of a merger deal with Bell South Communications (SBC). The agreement was a condition of the Federal Communications Commission's approval of the $86 billion deal and reverses the position of the telco. SBC chief executive Ed Whitacre effectively began the net neutrality controversy just over a year ago when he said that major internet companies were 'nuts' if they thought he would continue to carry their traffic for free to consumers' homes. But now it is the merged AT&T/SBC business which has provided a model which others may have to follow in how to guarantee neutrality. Whiteacre is now head of the merged firm and has agreed not to sell premium access to homes for a period of two years. Though there are some caveats to the commitment it could set a precedent which other firms may be encouraged, or even ordered, to follow. "AT&T/BellSouth commits that it will maintain a neutral network and neutral routing in its wireline broadband internet access service," said a letter to the FCC from Robert Quinn, senior vice president of AT&T's regulatory division. "This commitment shall be satisfied by AT&T/BellSouth's agreement not to provide or to sell to internet content, application or service providers, including those affiliate with AT&T/BellSouth, any service that privileges, degrades or prioritizes any packet transmitted over AT&T/BellSouth's wireline broadband internet access service based on its source, ownership or destination," said the letter. AT&T said that it still opposed net neutrality in principle, and there are some exceptions to the rule. It will not apply to the high speed internet television (IPTV) service planned by the company, or to other similar services that it might develop. The company is also free to change its behaviour after two years, unless a law is passed in the meantime outlawing preferential treatment of data. Activists, though, hailed what they saw as a milestone. "AT&T capitulated to supporters of an open and neutral Internet," said Ben Scott of the SavetheInternet.com Coalition. "The agreement once and for all puts to rest the bogus argument that no one can define Net Neutrality. The FCC just did it, and the sky hasn't fallen. The conditions placed on this merger will show irrefutably that net neutrality and phone company profits are not mutually exclusive." Whitacre had started the debate in late 2005. Alarmed at the amount of investment needed to keep applications such as video and games coming into homes at fast enough speeds, he suggested creating a separate, fast service for companies that were prepared to pay his telco for guaranteed fast delivery. The comments caused outrage amongst internet activists who said that what made the internet unique and valuable was the fact that it was essentially free and that all information was treated equally for network transport purposes. They said that telcos were paid by consumers to deliver all information for a monthly fee, not to set up additional toll booths for their own gain. A law enforcing net neutrality was defeated in the US Congress last year, but the make up of Congress has changed significantly since autumn elections and legislation may be reintroduced, political observers said. Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
The US Government has admitted that it broke privacy laws in its domestic airline passenger data scheme. The Homeland Security Department has admitted that it gathered more information than it had said it would. The admission will be a boost to campaigners who want to derail a deal between the European Commission and the US on passenger data sharing on the grounds that the US does not protect personal information well enough. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)'s own privacy office was conducted into some aspects of Secure Flight, the successor to the CAPPS II passenger screening programme which is run by DHS's Transportation Security Administration (TSA). That programme had already been suspended by the time the privacy office produced the report. Angry at inadequate privacy protection, Congress has specifically barred the Government from operating another passenger screening programme unless watchdogs are first satisfied that privacy, accuracy and security are good enough. "As ultimately implemented, the commercial data test conducted in connection with the Secure Flight program testing did not match TSA's public announcements," said the report. "Part of the reason for this discrepancy is the fact that the Fall Privacy Notices were drafted before the testing program had been designed fully." "Material changes in a federal program's design that have an impact on the collection, use, and maintenance of personally identifiable information of American citizens are required to be announced in Privacy Act system notices and privacy impact assessments. In addition, not meeting these requirements can significantly impair a program's credibility," it said. The Government Accountability Office, which audits government on behalf of Congress, produced a similarly damning report in 2005 which said that the TSA "did not fully disclose to the public its use of personal information in its fall [autumn] 2004 privacy notices as required by the Privacy Act". The DHS's own report admitted as much. "TSA announced one testing programme, but conducted an entirely different one," it said. The revelation will be fuel for privacy activists who have condemned the European Commission's passenger data sharing scheme with the US. Opposed by the European Parliament, that scheme was ruled unlawful on a technicality by the European Court of Justice, but an almost identical but technically correct replacement was put in place. See: The report (18-page / 711KB PDF) Copyright © 2007, OUT-LAW.com OUT-LAW.COM is part of international law firm Pinsent Masons.
CES 2007 AMD today launched its latest promotional programme, Better by Design, which, it said, will highlight "outstanding performance and superior technologies in desktop and notebook PCs designed by leading global OEMs". No explicit connection there to AMD products, you'll note, but we'll give the company the benefit of the doubt.
CES 2007 It sounds like Ikea's latest dinning table, but Journi is in fact Griffin Technology's latest portable iPod speaker set, built into a slimline package and with a wrap-around cover that cleverly doubles as a stand. And for your lounge - or dinning room - how about Evolve, the company's new wireless speaker set?
MacworldMacworld Ending months of rampant speculation and anticipation, Apple CEO Steve Jobs unveiled plans for the iPhone, a svelte and sexy device that melds the features of an iPod, a smart phone and an internet communicator.
AnalysisAnalysis It's nice to be right once in a while. Apple today announced it has sold more than 2bn songs through its online iTunes music store - just as Reg Hardware forecast almost a year ago.
National Security Agency (NSA) spooks have taken time out from eavesdropping on US citizens to field-test Microsoft's latest operating system.
Microsoft out-gunned Google on R&D in 2005 in dollar terms but was out-innovated by its rival and got less value for its money, according to a new study.